25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr. JOHNSON presented a petition from certain electors of the Commonwealth praying that the Commonwealth Government immediately grant a basic pension rate of £8 10s. per week, formulate a national housing plan for low rental homes for pensioners and provide all pensioners within the permissible income with the medical entitlement card.
A similar petition was presented by Mr. Peters.
Petitions severally received.
Mr. UREN presented a petition from certain citizens o.f the Commonwealth praying that the Government remove section 127, and the words discriminating against aborigines in section 51, of the Commonwealth Constitution, by the holding of a referendum at an early date.
Petition received and read.
Similar petitions were presented by Mr. Hansen, Mr. Minogue, Mr. Devine and Mr. Bryant.
Petitions severally received.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Immigration. By way of preface, I refer to the recent marriage of an Australian woman to a Chinese, purely and simply so that the Chinese could stay in Australia, the fee paid to the bride being £300. Has it been estimated that 40 Chinese have paid Australian girls to marry them, for the same reason? Is it a fact that a gang based in Hong Kong is sending Chinese to Australia, providing wives for them, and charging up to £2,000 for making the arrangement? If these are facts, will the Minister give the House any information available regarding those responsible for these arrangements and what is being done to combat them? Furthermore, in view of previous action taken by the Department of Immigration against people holding visitors’ permits, will the Minister say what action, if any, it is intended to take against the person who has already admitted his guilt in evading the immigration laws?
– It is a fact that there has been one specific case in which it has been proved that an arrangement such as that referred to by the honorable member has been made. It is also a fact that there is a suspicion that there have been other cases. The amounts mentioned as bride prices are, of course, fairly high, and I would think that further investigation may reveal that the figures have been somewhat exaggerated. Investigations are being carried out. This practice was uncovered by members of the Department of Immigration who suspected that these marriages between Australian women and Chinese were being arranged. Steps are being taken to tighten up the visa procedure in Hong Kong. I can assure the honorable member that when anything definite does emerge, as in the case to which the honorable member referred, it will be the subject of full prosecution. We are not condoning this practice in the slightest. However, there is nothing further that I can add. The department is making full investigations and will prosecute wherever evidence is obtainable.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Repatriation a question about the training of under-graduates in the faculty of medicine at the 113th Repatriation General Hospital. Will the training scheme be continued? If so, can it be extended?
– The Government agreed last year to reintroduce medical teaching at the Repatriation General Hospital at Concord in Sydney and it is intended to continue this system in the future. Last year, the first year of operation of the scheme after its reintroduction, we had 16 students undergoing clinical training. This year we have 40 and we expect that there will be 72 in 1966. After that we will be able to take 100 students providing the University of Sydney, which is working in very close co-operation with us, requires us to take that number. At that particular time we will have also, for the first time, twelve first-year residents working within the hospital system. I think I should point out, too, that, in addition to the normal medical services the same visiting specialist service will be available to repatriation patients. This service will be valuable for the guidance of undergraduates from the University of Sydney.
– I ask the Prime Minister: Is he aware that, in some country areas of New South Wales at least, petrol companies are giving secret discounts and rebates to primary producers which enable them to purchase petrol for lid. a gallon cheaper than the price at which the ordinary country motorist can obtain it from a bowser and as cheaply as the city motorist can obtain it? As the petrol companies are able to do this and still make very large profits, will the Prime Minister ensure that in the scheme to reduce the disparity in petrol prices those companies will make a contribution by themselves in reducing prices to all country consumers? Will he also take action to ensure that when the new scheme is introduced primary producers will not be deprived of the discounts which they now receive?
– I shall be very happy to convey to my colleague the matters laid before the House by the honorable member. As he knows, we are still in the stage of discussion of this subject.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. I refer to a question addressed to him by me about nine months ago and again about a fortnight ago, and I ask whether he is yet in a position to make any announcement about the participation of members in the planning of the proposed new Parliament House.
– I had hoped to be able to say something about that to-day. but I am afraid I cannot produce that result. I shall be very happy to have a talk with the honorable member about it.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs: Was he correctly reported as having expressed the view, when addressing the annual conference of the Australian College of Education, that Australian diplomacy in southern Asia would be futile unless it recognized that mainland China has vast potential power for determining issues in that area? If so, is this an indication of a possible change in the Government’s present policy of not recognizing mainland China?
– Broadly speaking, the version which the honorable member gave of what I said is correct, but it does not foreshadow a change in Government policy. If the honorable member had had the opportunity of hearing what I said further, he would know that I drew attention to the necessity for considering what it is that might restrain mainland China - the emphasis was on the word “ restrain “ - in certain courses of policy and subsequently to what might induce mainland China to end those courses of policy which have created a great deal of the fear that exists in southern Asia.
– I address a question lo the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. The Minister for National Development has stated that the results of the work of the Australian Water Resources Council are beginning to accumulate. What steps, if any, have been taken to publish those results in a form suitable for those who have a healthy appreciation of what this council can do for Australia in the future?
– Last July a paper setting out the membership and functions of the Australian Water Resources Council was published. Each time the council meets, it issues a detailed press statement at the end of its deliberations. It proposes to issue periodically a newsletter dealing with the development of water resources both in Australia and overseas. The first of these papers was put out in October last, and another, I believe, is about to come out. The council is also nearing finality with two publications, one of which is a survey of the water resources of Australia and the other a report on the hydraulic laboratory resources available in Australia. The council has also established a number of panels which cover work on desalination, the training of staff for work in hydro-electric installations, evaporation problems and also problems associated with catchment. The results of the work of these panels will be published when they become available.
– I address a question to the Minister for Repatriation. Was the Minister’s refusal to allow me to peruse in Canberra the repatriation file relating to one of my constituents based on the usual procedure of his department, or was it because he did not wish to discuss the case with me? Will he say why it took him more than five weeks to make up his mind about this matter? Will he deny that other members of this House have been able to have similar files made available to them in Canberra? If repatriation files are to be made available to honorable members only at a State branch office, will the Minister treat all members alike and, further, will he ensure some sort of privacy for members, rather than have them crowded up at the end of a repatriation officer’s desk during the time that they are examining files?
– I direct the honorable member’s attention to the fact that when he wrote to me I acknowledged his letter within a few days. In addition, I conducted some investigations into the matter that he had raised. Naturally, that took some weeks. If files were to be distributed about each State or sent to Canberra when requested, that would become a major operation. That is the reason why I indicated to the honorable member that if he had written authority from the person concerned he could at any time view the file in the Sydney office. Had there been some extreme difficulty for the honorable member in doing that I would have been happy to arrange for the file to be brought to Canberra so that he could view it here. However, I knew that the honorable member frequently passes through Sydney and I saw no reason why he could not examine the file while in Sydney. However, if there is a special reason why the file should be brought to Canberra, I will arrange for that on his behalf.
– I preface a question to the Minister for Repatriation by directing his attention to the fact that returned servicemen who are in receipt of a war pension and also a service pension have the amount of the war pension taken into account as assessable income. This means that as the department increases the repatriation benefit because of a worsening of the disability, in many cases no additional benefit is thereby conferred on the ex-serviceman. Will the Minister consult with his colleagues, the Treasurer and the Minister for Social Services, and give budgetary consideration to removing the first £5 a week of war pension from the operation of the means test so that the repatriation benefit to those suffering from a war-caused disability will be preserved?
– No means test applies to war pensions, which are paid as a form of war compensation. However a means test does apply to the service pension which, as the honorable member knows, is a type of social welfare payment. When a person is entitled to the two pensions a ceiling limit does apply. I should direct attention to the fact that it was this Government which in 1955 introduced the scheme whereby a person could obtain the two pensions. Prior to that a person could obtain only the war pension and no service pension as well. Now an exserviceman may have the benefit of not only his war pension but also of some additional service pension at the same time, but within a ceiling limit. This is a matter of policy, and any submission that the honorable member wishes to make will receive consideration when other matters are under review for the forthcoming Budget.
– I ask the Prime Minister: Did he say in his policy speech that the Representation Act would be amended to avoid Western Australia and Queensland each losing a seat in the next redistribution? Has he since discovered that the proposed amendment is ultra vires the Constitution? If this is not so, when will the Representation Act be amended?
– Mr. Speaker, 1 have not discovered, nor do I expect to discover, that there is some unconstitutionality about the proposed alteration of the Representation Act. It is intended to proceed with the alteration at a convenient time. ] do not want to take it a bit at a time, but it will be dealt with.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for the Interior. I ask the honorable gentleman for his help in identifying a member of the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council. By way of very brief explanation, may I say that on 19th February of last year, Dr. T. H. Harrison was reported as having given as an opinion to the Advisory Council that the first principle of British law and justice is that government should be by the people for the people. Can the Minister say whether this gentleman is the same Dr. T. H. Harrison who was chairman of the Advisory Council Special Committee on Fluoridation?
– I am afraid that I am not aware of all the expressions of opinion made by members of the Advisory Council. However, I am aware that a Dr. Harrison serves on the Advisory Council and he does express his opinions and those of the Canberra people.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral to inform me how the experiment with dog repellant for postmen is proceeding. Is it true that it works on little dogs, but that big dogs love it and lick it off the postmen’s gumboots? Does the honorable gentleman know that the repellant smells like lilies, which involves many postmen in difficulties in explaining to their wives that they have really been at work? Is the cost of this postman protection prescription justified so far?
– It appears to me that the honorable member’s researches into this matter are ahead of mine. I am not aware that any further information is available at the present time.
– I ask the Treasurer a question. In view of the. slow-down warning relating to strains developing in the Australian economy issued by the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, Dr. H. C. Coombs, will he assure the House that possible government action in this regard will not include a reduction of capital expenditure in the Postmaster-General’s Department, faking into account the present serious shortage of rural automatic exchanges and the backlag in. telephone installations?
– The honorable gentleman introduced his question by referring to a comment of the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia. I think all honorable members will agree that it is rather dangerous to pick up a phrase and try to develop it as though it represented a full and detailed statement of a view, particularly when the phrase is taken from a speech which Occupied a considerable length of time. The honorable member referred to the vote for the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. This is a large and growing department in a growing economy, and we have tried to maintain an orderly progress in the development of the department in all its phases. The vote for the Postmaster-General’s Department will be carefully analysed by the relevant officers leading up to Cabinet discussions on the Budget. The judgment of all members of Cabinet will be brought to bear upon what is a reasonable provision, having regard to the general economic situation in the forthcoming financial year.
– I also wish to ask the Treasurer a question. It concerns the warning by the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia about the need to slow down Australia’s economy. Does the Government share Dr. Coombs’s hope that the rate of growth of public expenditure and housing will steady a little? Will the Treasurer give an assurance that this warning of boom conditions will not precipitate another credit squeeze or any curtailment of expenditure on housing and public works?
– I shall not enter into a public economic debate on matters of this complexity at question time. Yesterday, I made the comment that, in the course of the next month, the Government will make its usual mid-year review of the economic situation. We are moving into the period when we have discussions with the Premiers in the Australian Loan Council and with representatives of industry, followed by a scries of Cabinet discussions that resolve the details to be embodied in the Budget to be presented to this Parliament a little later in the year. Quite clearly, it would be premature to attempt now to make a review that can be made much more effectively when we have a larger body of material available to us as well as a wider expression of views towards the end of the financial year.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. I ask: Is it possible that, with advances in medical science, certain practices of the quarantine service, excellent though they were when introduced, have now become obsolescent? Would it be possible to review the operations of this service and, in particular, to examine the possibility of relinquishing the present quarantine station at North Head, in Sydney, which now seems to be performing no very useful function in the operations of the quarantine service?
– I shall refer the honorable member’s question to my colleague in another place and obtain an appropriate answer.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. What is the reason for the delay in announcing the name of a replacement for Sir Garfield Barwick in the Ministry? Has the right honorable gentleman decided that the present Ministry is too large and that no new Minister will be named, or is he reluctant to make the announcement, as he is already over-loaded with inexperienced and inefficient Ministers?
– I am delighted with the Ministers that I have. I would be very happy to have a lot more. There are one or two aspects of this matter that 1 am not in a position to discuss publicly. But they are being resolved, and ] will make an announcement at an appropriate time.
– My question, which is addressed to the Treasurer, is supplementary to the one asked a few minutes ago by the honorable member for New England. Will the right honorable gentleman, when the Cabinet is considering the allocation of capital funds to be made to the Post Office, bear in mind the fact that, about eighteen months ago, when the Postmaster-General of that time answered a question on notice concerning the matter, there were more unsatisfied applications for telephones in my electorate than in the whole of Queensland? Will the Treasurer bear in mind also the fact that, over the last few years, the number of unsatisfied applications in Australia at the end of each year bas been greater than at the end of the preceding year - in other words, that the position is getting worse and worse?
– The honorable gentleman has recited what purport to be some facts. I am not in a position to contradict them. I believe that, broadly speaking, what he has said about the growth in the number of applications and the problem of the Post Office in satisfying these is true. This directly reflects the widespread nature of the prosperity existing in Australia at present and the great increase in the number of houses being built. It reflects also, in no small measure, the fact that telephone services are being provided at a cost to the subscriber that represents only a very small fraction of the cost to the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. All these factors are in our minds when we come to decide what would be a reasonable allocation for the Postmaster-General’s Department having regard to the multitude of other claims upon the Commonwealth Budget. I know the honorable member studies these matters very closely and he will bc aware that the great problem in an economy such as ours is the reasonable allocation of resources - physical resources, labour resources, equipment, material and so on. There must be some balance in these matters, and that is the kind of judgment that Cabinet must bring to bear on these issues when dealing with the Budget.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. I refer him to figures released last week by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics which show that last year 1,000 persons migrated to Queensland. Has the Treasurer any reason to doubt the authenticity of these figures or any other figures released by the bureau? 1 am prompted to ask this question by the statement of the Premier of Queensland that the figures are obviously wrong and a more accurate method of calculation should be found.
– I am not able to comment in any precise way about the figure quoted by the honorable gentleman. I do know that there are very real practical difficulties in a country of the dimensions of Australia with such freedom of movement between the States. There is a good deal of temporary movement to and from Queensland. Queensland offers attractions at particular times of the year and these lure people from southern States. It is no easy matter for the Commonwealth Statistician to record these movements between one State and another. However, I shall make some inquiries from the Commonwealth Statistician and, if I feel I can add to the quite limited information I can convey now to the honorable gentleman, I will see that he is supplied with it by letter during the recess.
– I desire to ask the Postmaster-General whether supplies of the new crossbar type of equipment required for rural automatic exchanges are coming forward in satisfactory quantities. If funds continue to be made available, will these deliveries of new equipment make it possible to accelerate the installation of rural automatic exchanges?
– I would like to mention that when Australia accepted this crossbar equipment several other countries followed suit and there did arise a difficulty in the supply of the equipment. Last ‘year there was, we believe, a reasonable number of installations. I assure the honorable member that provided funds are available next year there should be an increasing number of installations in the country. I believe that the overall result will be satisfactory, particularly to country members on both sides of the House.
– I desire to ask you a question, Mr. Speaker. Are you aware that while you are reading prayers each day some Ministers and members on the Government side of the House do not bow their heads in reverence? Would you keep an eye on the offenders, Sir? (Question not answered.)
– 1 ask the Treasurer whether the lack of adequate telephones for businesses is adding to costs and is therefore inflationary. Is it a fact also that advice given to the Government is that public expenditure should be curtailed in the rapidly expanding economy? Will the right honorable gentleman examine these implications with a view to removing telephone services from that particular type of government expenditure and regarding their provision as a very necessary corollary to growth in Australia?
– I assure the honorable gentleman that the points he has raised are considered by the Government when reaching its decision on the vote for the Postmaster-General’s Department. In my experience, Postmasters-General in the past have not been lacking in the ability to bring in full detail and with considerable vigour to the notice of Cabinet all the points that they think should be borne in mind in determining the vote for their department.
– I preface my question to the Minister for External Affairs by directing his attention to two very brief statements. The first was made on 18th April last by his predecessor in office, who said that the United States of America must act if Australian troops in Borneo were attacked. The other statement was made on 22nd April last by the Prime Minister, who said that it is very wrong to be dogmatic about what the United States would do. I ask: Is it correct that the United States and Australia, as has been recently reported, have warned Indonesia that the United States could be involved if there was an extension of hostilities in Borneo? Was this warning actually issued? If so, is this the most positive condition that we have been able to obtain from the United States in respect of its action in Borneo in the event of hostilities?
– The House is aware that the subject of the obligations of the United States of America under the Anzus Treaty was very fully canvassed recently. The Prime Minister made a carefully considered statement on behalf of the Government, setting out the position as it was seen by Australia. We have received clear indications from the United States that the Prime Minister’s statement accorded completely with American views. I have nothing to add to that statement.
– I ask the Treasurer a question. Because of the growing influence of hire-purchase companies on the general state of the economy and because the Government is pursuing a policy of stability as well as growth, will the Treasurer endeavour to obtain an all-States agreement to bring these fringe finance companies under control similar to that now held by the Reserve Bank of Australia over the trading banks?
– Some time ago discussions were held, if I recall correctly, by the Commonwealth Attorney-General wilh the various State Attorneys-General to see whether some greater degree of uniformity could be obtained in Commonwealth and State legislation relating to the activities of hire-purchase companies. It was not found practical at that time to secure the degree of uniformity that was sought. This matter has not come under my consideration in recent times. I have made it my practice to confer with members of the hire-purchase conference at half-yearly intervals or at shorter intervals between the regular conferences if circumstances appear to make that course desirable. As I said yesterday, I have found that a high degree of responsibility is manifested at these discussions. So far at any rate I feel that more is to be gained by the close co-operation that we have developed in this fashion than by attempting to go through a rather tortuous process of looking for legislation which then has to be applied in a rather arbitrary manner. I assure the honorable gentleman that the matter to which he has referred will be kept in mind against the situation inside the country.
– I ask the Minister for Air a question. Has a decision yet been made on an interim replacement for the Canberra bomber? Has the Government declined the American offer to lend B-47E aircraft? When are interim bombers likely to be in operational service with the Royal Australian Air Force?
– As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition knows, his question relates to a matter of policy and generally matters of policy are not discussed at question time.
– Can the Minister for Shipping and Transport say whether a bulk carrier will be launched next month at Whyalla for the Australian National Line? If that is so, for what type of trade will the vessel cater and on what routes will it operate? Does the Australian National Line intend to add further to its fleet? Is the construction of these vessels subsidized by the Government?
– The “Musgrave Range” - a bulk carrier of about 20,000 tons dead weight - will be launched at Whyalla next month. It is intended for the bulk carriage of iron ore and will operate mainly on the Yampi Sound route. In reply to the rest of the honorable member’s question, I say that the Australian National Line places orders for new ships as business requires it to do so. Currently, the line has arranged with the Australian Shipbuilding Board for tenders to be called for two 47,000-ton cargo vessels and is engaged in consultation with the board in relation to other cargo vessels for operation in the Australian coastal trade. The building of these ships is subsidized in the same way as is the building of ships for any other shipping line; namely, a subsidy of up to 33) per cent, of the cost of building the ships is paid.
– Will the Minister for Social Services explain to the House why he has directed his department, in conjunction with the Department of Health, to refrain from paying tuberculosis allowances to aborigines at the same rates as they are paid to other Australians? I understand that that applies particularly in Queensland. How can the Minister justify that discrimination in view of the fact that only five or six years ago he announced with some pride, if I recall his words correctly, that aborigines would receive the same social service benefits as other Australians receive? I realize that this action has been taken in conjunction with the Department of Health; but I understand that the responsibility for this matter is primarily the Minister’s.
– The honorable member for Wills is wrong in this instance, just as he is wrong in a great many instances. The tuberculosis allowance is paid under the provisions of the National Health Act. If the honorable member will direct his question to the appropriate Minister, he will receive the reply-
– But your department is-
– Order! The honorable member has asked his question.
– If the honorable member will direct his question to the appropriate Minister he will receive the reply that he requires.
– I direct a question to the Postmaster-General. Is it a fact that the British Post Office has been divorced from the Treasury and now has been placed on a full commercial basis? Will the Minister have the British system investigated to see whether it could be adopted in Australia?
– I will be pleased to investigate any changes that take place in post office operations in various countries in order to see whether they are suitable to be recommended for adoption in Australia.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Supply. What is the approximate cost of the manufacture and firing of a Blue Streak rocket of the type which is to be fired at Woomera in the near future?
– Unfortunately, I cannot give the honorable gentleman the correct figure of the cost of the Blue Streak rocket. As he knows, it is manufactured by the United Kingdom and will be supplied by that country to the European Launcher Development Organization. Unfortunately, I cannot segregate the cost of firing the rocket either. The matter will be carefully analyzed and the cost of firing will be fully chargeable to Eldo.
– On behalf of the committee, I present the following report of the Public Accounts Committee: -
Sixty-sixth Report - The Reports of the AuditorGeneral - Financial Year, 1962-63.
I seek leave to make a short statement.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Your committee is specifically directed by the Public Accounts Committee Act of 1951 to examine each statement and report of the AuditorGeneral. This Sixty-sixth Report relates to a detailed examination of criticisms raised by the Attorney-General in his reports for the financial year 1962-63 and to public inquiries subsequently held by the committee. The Auditor-General referred to several instances of inadequate internal audits. In this report, we have directed the attention of departments to the desirability of maintaining internal audit sections as near to full strength as is reasonable in the circumstances. The committee has expressed concern at the procedure adopted by the Department of Primary Industry of making very substantial payments in excess of written ministerial approvals. The payments concerned were not in strict compliance with the Audit Act provisions and the action, therefore, displayed a disregard for legislative safeguards.
This report refers also to an apparent laxity on the part of the Department of Trade in regard to Treasury regulation 77 (2) (b) which deals with temporary advances. We have recommended that specific instructions be sent from the Secretary to the Treasury to all chief officers pointing out that this regulation should be observed implicitly. The committee has expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of effort on the part of the Stores Supply and Tender Board with regard to the obvious need for revision of its constitution and related instructions, notwithstanding that these matters have been the subject of comment by the Auditor-General over many years. This matter will be pursued by the committee at an early date.
Ordered that the report be printed.
[1 I.J 81 - J move the motion standing in my name -
That the Attorney-General lacks the confidence of the House because he deliberate!)’ misled it while purporting to give it official information in his position as Attorney-General and as Minister in charge of security when, as he subsequently admitted, his statements were based solely on a report which appeared in the Communist newspaper “ Tribune “ and which even then he quoted incorrectly.
I move this motion on behalf of the Opposition with mixed feelings. In the first place, we believe that the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) has given us no alternative to the course we are now pursuing because of his actions in the House last week. In the second place, we are impelled to do what we are doing with reluctance. The third consideration is that we believe that the standards of ministerial responsibility, the administration of justice, the dignity of Parliament and the rights of its members demand that the Attorney-General should be censured in the most forthright and most powerful terms we can command. That means, of course, that if we are right the Attorney-General cannot continue in office.
This motion of no confidence arises solely out of the events that took place in this House last week. I do not propose to canvass the rights or wrongs of the dispute between Croatians and other Yugoslavs in Australia or elsewhere. My remarks will be confined to one issue only, and that issue is the conduct of the Attorney-General here last week. I propose to show that the AttorneyGeneral’s conduct indicates four things - first, that he deliberately misled the House by making statements which were false, and which he knew to be false; secondly, that he purported to give information as the Minister in charge of security which, by its nature, origin and proved falsehood has brought security into disrepute; thirdly, that this action, and his subsequent statements, showed a reckless disregard for the standards of justice and impartiality demanded by his office as chief law officer of the Commonwealth; and fourthly, that he abused his position as a Minister, and particularly his position as Attorney-General and Minister in charge of the administration of security, to attack the rights of a private member for the purposes of intimidating him and of damaging his reputation. To put the position in another way, I want to emphasize certain basic principles which I feel must govern ministerial responsibility. They are -
By all these standards, the Minister now under censure has failed.
We may start our examination of the Minister’s conduct by turning to the “ Hansard “ report of the question asked by the member for Balaclava (Mr. Whittorn) on Wednesday of last week. It is unlikely that the Attorney-General was caught unawares. His reply certainly showed that he expected the question or one similar to it. He did what he did with his eyes open. What was his source of information? The source which he had studied was the Communist newspaper “ Tribune “, and it was on the basis of a report in this publication that the man in charge of the security administration, who is also the Commonwealth’s chief law officer, proceeded to smear the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns). Let there be no doubt whatsoever that a smear was intended. The Attorney-General betrayed his motives by a slip of the tongue at the end of his answer. Having stated that the honorable member for Yarra had spoken at a meeting held in the club rooms of the Yugoslav Settlers Association in Melbourne on Friday, 6th March of this year, and having stated that this speech and another made by a Mr. R:lph Gibson had been reported in the “ Tribune “, the Minister went on to say -
Sir, insofar as the information that I have relates to the story which has been published, it includes as a speaker the honorable member for Yarra and, as an attender, the honorable member for Gellibrand.
When you, Mr. Speaker, said you thought the Minister had made a mistake, he apologized to the honorable member for Gellibrand (Mr. Mclvor), and named the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) as the attender. The Minister made it quite plain that he thought that attendance at this meeting was discreditable - so discreditable that, as he said, he would certainly not suggest that the honorable member for Gellibrand could have attended. The Minister meant it for what it was, and it was a smear without the slightest justification. By using the significant phrase -
Thus, all that day, the honorable member for Yarra lay under a serious imputation made by the Attorney-General. But the Minister was not content with that. On the adjournment debate that night he returned to elaborate his charge. It was at this point that the Attorney-General changed from making false and malicious implications, and resorted to what I suggest, and the Opposition suggests, were untruths. He said -
The honorable member was on a platform with Ralph Gibson, a well-known Communist, and spoke.
The Minister changed from the indirect falsehood, which is so difficult to nail, to the direct falsehood. The honorable member for Yarra nailed it in the bluntest possible fashion and, as a result, was suspended from the service of this House. It was only on the following day, the Thursday, that the whole tissue of misrepresentation and misinformation on which the Minister was basing his case began to be exposed. The Minister was now in deep and he proceeded to go in deeper - deeper into irresponsibility, deeper into conduct unworthy of a Minister of State, and particularly unworthy of the holder of his special office. He revealed that he had no other information than that which he had stated the day before and, in reply to a question asked by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), he said -
The basis for my statement was the “ Tribune “, a Communist newspaper. This is the whole point.
He continued -
I said last night in recounting what 1 had said at an earlier point of time, that the honorable member had spoken on the same platform. The basis of my information is this Communist newspaper.
By this time the Attorney-General knew that he had spoken falsely in stating that the honorable member for Yarra had been on the same platform with Gibson. Yet he was still not prepared to admit it openly, to withdraw his misstatement or to apologize for it. In justification of his extraordinary behaviour he gave the most extraordinary explanation I have ever heard. He said -
If he - the honorable member for Yarra - contested the accuracy of the statement he had only to make the statement and then it could bc shown as a matter of fact whether he did or did not.
– The onus of proof.
– Yes. In other words, the chief law officer of the Commonwealth says, in effect, “ If a Minister makes a false allegation, the onus is on the victim to disprove it “. This is the Attorney-General’s idea of justice. This is his view of the responsibility of a Minister and of the rights of a victim. It is nothing less than’ an open endorsement of calumny and falsehood. It demonstrates a standard of behaviour that you, Mr. Speaker, could not permit in an ordinary private member of this House. For a Minister to adopt this standard, and that Minister the very one charged with the administration of justice - the guardian of the integrity of our courts - is surely beyond defence. It’ is almost beyond belief.
But to make it worse the Minister not only invited the honorable member to disprove his allegations, but expected him to refute what appeared in a Communist journal. The Minister made a charge based wholly on his reading of a Communist newspaper and then had the audacity to complain that the honorable member for Yarra did not rush in to dispute the report. The Attorney-General went on to say -
If the honorable member for Yarra is prepared to go to the point of denying that he spoke from the same platform, the next question is: Did he speak at the same meeting?
The Attorney-General was determined, even at the height of his embarrassment - even when he had been found out - to persist wilh his smear. He was deliberately couching his answer in such a way as to imply that the honorable member for Yarra had done something discreditable - that he had something to he ashamed of.
What are the facts concerning this meeting which the Attorney-General has used in such an improper way? What are the facts, not the “ Tribune’s “ version of them or anybody else’s version? These are the facts: A meeting was called for 6th March at the club rooms of the Yugoslav Settlers Association in Fitzroy, Melbourne. It was called to discuss the activities of a certain Croatian movement known as Ustasha and, in particular, three incidents in which the property of the club had been damaged. Invitations were sent to a number of persons likely to be interested, including representatives of all political parties - the Liberal Party as well as the Communist Party - and representatives of all the metropolitan newspapers. The chairman of the meeting was Mr. Ernest Platz, a member of the Australian Labour Party and several times an election candidate in our interest. With him on the platform were the honorable member for Yarra, the honorable member for Wills, Mr. J. O’Connell, and Mr. Doug Elliott, member for Melbourne Province in the Victorian Legislative Council, Mr. Clyde Holding, member for Richmond in the
Victorian Legislative Assembly, and the two senior officers of the Yugoslav Settlers Association, Mr. Jurivic and Mr. Kent, both members of the Australian Labour Party. In other words, every person on the platform was a member of the Australian Labour Party and all but two were members of Parliament.
It is this meeting which the AttorneyGeneral, by a series of untruths, halftruths and innuendoes, has depicted as sinister. According to him, this very meeting was a discreditable one. It would have been discreditable, in his view, for the honorable member for Gellibrand to have attended. The Attorney-General found it necessary to apologize to the honorable member for Gellibrand for having wrongly stated that he did so attend. Why would the Attorney-General think this meeting discreditable? Because the meeting was reported by the “ Tribune “, and because it was attended by a Communist, who also spoke briefly from the floor. This is the opinion of the honorable member charged by this Parliament with the responsibility of upholding freedom of speech and freedom of peaceful association. This is the Attorney-General’s idea of justice. Docs the Minister deny - I put this question to him now - that the meeting was a perfectly legitimate one, held to discuss a matter of considerable public importance? Does he deny the right of a Communist to attend such a meeting and to express a viewpoint? Does he claim that the attendance of a Communist at such a meeting justifies his use of his office as a Minister of State to try to intimidate members of Parliament and deter them from acting not only in a legitimate way but also in what to them seemed to be a commendable and public-spirited way7
The Attorney-General has refined the idea of guilt by association into a doctrine which would make it absolutely impossible for any member of this House to do his duty without fear or favour. There is not one member of this House, from the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) down, who has not attended a meeting at which Communists were, or might have been, present. Indeed, at election times the Prime Minister goes to considerable trouble to emphasize that everybody who disagrees with him at his meetings is a Communist. It has been left for the Attorney-General alone to suggest that the simple fact of attendance by a Communist at such a meeting is sufficient to render everybody else who attends suspect.
But it is not only the nature of the charge brought against the honorable member for Yarra that is reprehensible. Even worse, considering the office that the Minister holds, was the evidence with which he supported his charges. That evidence was, on his own admission, derived from his reading of a Communist weekly. He not only read and used this material in the Parliament; he misread and abused the whole story that appeared in the Communist newspaper. The Minister who did this is the Minister who is charged with the responsibility of authorizing telephone tapping and with giving legal opinions on behalf of the Commonwealth of Australia in respect of security and subversion. Is this the sort of outlook that the Attorney-General should be permitted to bring to his post? The Attorney-General has shown that this is his attitude and thus he has proved his unfitness for his office.
There was just one more act in the sorry drama in which the Minister was the chief actor last week. I refer to the manner of his withdrawal of his statements which resulted in the re-admission of the honorable member for Yarra and the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren). The best that can be said for the Attorney-General is that he preferred to maintain his personal dignity at the expense of the dignity of his office. He did not, and presumably would not, apologize, but so couched his personal explanation as to imply that the officers of his department had checked on the accuracy of the “ Tribune “ report and found it inaccurate, or that they had pointed out to him that he had misinterpreted the “ Tribune “ report. Had he apologized last week it is possible that this motion would not have been moved to-day. But he did not apologize. He did not admit his fault. He put himself into a pitiful position as a Minister. He not only put himself into a pitiful position but he put a great Government department into a similar position. The department concerned is the law office of the Commonwealth, and the security police of Australia, who work under that department, are all busily and earnestly engaged in checking a Communist propaganda sheet to justify or disprove the allegations of a Minister of State. Though the Minister was forced to admit that he had made a completely false and unjustifiable accusation against a member of this Parliament, he allowed all the innuendoes and all the insinuations to remain. Is this justice? Is this common probity? In our view, and in the view of all fair-minded people, such conduct is irresponsible and malicious, unworthy of any member, doubly unworthy of a Minister and absolutely intolerable in the case of an AttorneyGeneral.
It may be said that the Minister should not be penalized because he has made only one egregious blunder. There are three compelling arguments against that viewpoint. Firstly, one blunder is sufficient, as the present Minister for Housing (Mr. Bury) well knows. And his lapse - it deserves no worse description than that - in no way involved the integrity of the Parliament, his ability to administer the portfolio of Ministry for Air, which he then held, or the probity of the legal or security systems of Australia. The Attorney-General’s blunder impinges upon all these very things. Secondly, the Attorney-General’s behaviour last week was not merely a single blunder or lapse from good taste, to be excused by the exigencies of ministerial or parliamentary responsibility or the business associated with the Parliament. It originated in a prepared and deliberate intention to use his official position to calumniate a member of this Parliament, and was continued and worsened in a series of statements spread over two days. Thirdly, and most importantly, it indicates an attitude of mind, a vindictive and reckless temperament that automatically disqualifies the possessor of such a temperament from the office of chief law officer for the Commonwealth.
The most charitable thing that can be said in defence of the Attorney-General is that he temporarily forgot his responsibilities as a Minister and behaved with the partisanship of the most reckless and irresponsible back-benchers on the Government side. In that case, the kindest thing would be to restore him to the position to which he is temperamentally suited.
The issues for the House to consider are these: U the first responsibility of the chief law officer of the Commonwealth to his party rather than to the standards of justice which he has sworn on oath to maintain? Is the Minister in charge of security entitled to base a case against a member of parliament on cursorily-read but deliberately and vindictively used material in a Communist newspaper? Is the Minister in charge of security entitled to mislead the Parliament and the people by making false charges against a member, or any citizen, and by appearing to found those charges on accurate information when, in fact, the source of his information is a Communist newspaper? Are members of parliament, or any other citizens of Australia, to be intimidated from the proper exercise of their democratic rights by the weapons of falsehood and misrepresentation wielded by a Minister? If, as I believe, the answer to these questions is “ No “, then a Minister guilty of such behaviour must resign. If, as I have shown, the Attorney-General has been guilty of such behaviour, and has been proven guilty, then there is no alternative but his resignation. Only by his resignation can the rights of the Parliament, the integrity of his office, the probity of justice and the democratic rights of all Australians, all of which he has so recklessly abused, be vindicated and upheld.
– I second the motion and reserve my right to speak to it.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) will have demonstrated to all those who were present throughout the various proceedings which relate to this matter the truth of the saying that there are two sides to every question. I hope that by the time some of the facts which the honorable gentleman did not include in his statement have been presented to the Parliament, the Parliament will have come to a conclusion as to where the responsibility really rests, if it is seriously argued that this House has been misled.
The honorable gentleman opened his attack by referring to the need to uphold the dignity of the House and the standards of ministerial conduct. In somewhat different circumstances, it would be refreshing to find this endorsement by members of the Opposition of the need to maintain the dignity of the House. In this episode, I recall one particular incident. After a process of considerable harassment from the Opposition side, my colleague the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Snedden), in trying to answer a question from the Opposition, was faced with eight interjections which are recorded in “ Hansard “ and five calls to order from you, Sir. Honorable gentlemen on this side, at least, will recall that time and time again the Attorney-General’s efforts to get over in a calm, earnest and judicial fashion the comment he desired to make in reply to questions put to him were frustrated or hindered by the conduct of honorable members opposite. But that might not be the issue here to-day. We are as resolved as any honorable members in the House to uphold the standards of ministerial conduct. I question whether any Prime Minister in the history of this country, or, for that matter, of any democracy which honorable gentlemen may care to name, has been as scrupulous as our own Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) in ensuring that his Ministers did uphold proper standards of ministerial conduct.
We do not treat this motion lightly. It is a very serious motion. It is couched in terms which make it as serious a charge as an Opposition can bring against an individual Minister or member of the House. It calls for censure by the House. It implies a judgment by the AttorneyGeneral’s peers, his fellow-members of the House. But we know what a travesty of justice this is so far as the Opposition is concerned. The Opposition has already made up its mind as to how it will vote on this matter before it has heard one word of comment from this side of the House. Caucus has taken its decision. It may interest honorable members to know that, whereas a part of this jury is rigged before the case enters upon discussion, we on our side of the House have told our own members that they are to feel themselves free to record their votes according to their judgment. That is the fact of the matter. Honorable members opposite may try to brush that aside, but the cynicism of their response to what I have said proves the truth of what I am putting before the House, Honorable members opposite know how they are going to vote. Regardless of the facts - and some of them will be facts not previously disclosed in this House - they have made up their minds on how they are going to vote.
The real issue we have to resolve is not whether the Attorney-General has made an error of fact. He has already acknowledged that. In order to clear the ground a little, let me just point out that although some sections of the press, usually found to be favorable to the Opposition, are spreading the story that he did this under duress from the Prime Minister and myself, the fact of the matter is that, when his error was discovered, the Attorney-General came to the Prime Minister, reported the fact and said that he would be taking action in the House to acknowledge his error and to move a motion in relation to the two members who had been suspended. Let us establish that at the outset. Let me come to the real issues which I believe this House should resolve. The first is: Was the House misled? The motion speaks first of the House having been deliberately misled, but we need not put it on ground as high as that, because a first test is whether the House was misled. I propose to show that the House was not misled as to the substance of this matter, that in a point of form an error occurred, but that as to the substance of the matter there was no misleading of the House and certainly no attempt by my colleague deliberately to mislead the House in any material particular. I do not think honorable gentlemen opposite seriously believe that in making his reference to the platform the honorable gentleman was attempting deliberately to mislead the House. That is one aspect. The other is whether the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) was unfairly treated in this matter. Was he misrepresented as to the part that he played in the situation. Finally, taking all the circumstances into account, does the action of the Minister merit the censure of this House, with all that that implies - his inevitable resignation from the Government and the discredit which would fall upon him?
Those are the issues, and I propose to face them quite squarely. The facts which I shall now put before the House will, I believe, bring this whole matter into a better balance and will demonstrate that if there is any charge to be sustained that this House was misled, that charge lies against members of the Opposition, and in particular against the honorable member for Yarra. I say that the facts will establish that, I believe unwittingly, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) misled the House as to the circumstances of this gathering at the Yugoslav Settlers Club. The Leader of the Opposition referred to this organization, which has functioned very closely in association with the Labour Party, and although it is painted in rather rosy terms by the Leader of the Opposition I think the House would be interested in one example of its activity, evidence of which I hold in my hand.
We heard the other day the Minister for Immigration, the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Opperman), give to this House in bald, actual terms the circumstances under which he came to attend a meeting in his own electorate - an electorate which abounds with new settlers of various nationalities. Does anybody in this place challenge the accuracy or the fidelity of the account that the Minister for Immigration gave of that occasion? But let us see how this was treated by the Yugoslav Settlers Association. A pamphlet issued by that organization and headed “ War Criminals in Australia “ begins by saying -
Until recently, the existence of the Fascist Ustashi Organisation in Australia was kept secret by those whose duty it was to prevent their criminal activities in this country.
The pamphlet goes on to say -
The Menzies Government, and its ally, the Democratic Labor Party, have given the Ustashi open or secret support.
It refers then to the function which the Minister for Immigration attended, and it says, among other things -
Mr. Opperman denied at first that he was present-
The Minister has never denied at any time that he was present at this function - but later his boss, Sir Robert Menzies, admitted it in the House of Representatives.
The pamphlet adds -
Can it be an unhappy co-incidence that Mr. Willis, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party in
New South Wales, also attended an Ustashi meeting in Sydney. . . . Mr. Willis also sat under the photograph of Pavelic . . .
Of course the Democratic Labor Party and the Government knew they were supporting a gang of war criminals who were guilty of genocide during World War II.
Of course they knew that the Ustashi organisation in Australia is pledged to future violence and terrorist activities.
This pamphlet was authorized by the chairman of the Yugoslav Settlers Association of Australia and it was circulated to do harm to the Minister, struggling to hold his seat it. the electorate of Corio.
Let us consider the evidence regarding this meeting and see whether my colleague has misled the House as to the substance of it. It is said that the evidence came from a Communist newspaper. I can give the House some additional facts from a very authoritative source - from no less an authoritative source than the office of the Yugoslav Settlers Association of Australia itself. I refer to a letter to my colleague the Attorney-General, signed by the secretary of the organization. At the bottom of the letter is a reference to the fact that copies of the letter were forwarded to the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition - so I assume that he has it in his possession - and Dr. Cairns, M.H.R., referred to in the letter as patron of the association. In the course of this letter the secretary mentions that he heard an answer to a question which he interpreted as suggesting that there had been something secret about this meeting, that it was a clandestine kind of meeting - the word “ clandestine “ appears in the letter - and so he writes to the Attorney-General in these terms. I should state that I am quoting only the relevant parts of the letter, but I am quite happy to incorporate fully in “ Hansard “ any document from which I quote, if honorable members opposite wish that course to be followed. The letter states -
I wish to inform you, that r, as the secretary of the Yugoslav Settlers Association, invited beside various organizations and trade-unions, the representatives of the Melbourne press and political parties as follows: The Liberal Party, The Australian Labor Party, The Country Party, and Communist Party.
Please find attached a copy of our circular of 15lh February, which I forwarded t-> your party.
I repeat that copies of this letter were sent to the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and Dr. Cairns, who is described as “Patron of the Association”.
I turn now to the circular which is dated 15th February, 1964, and headed “Yugoslav Settlers Association of Australia “. The letter to which I have referred was signed by Lewis Kent as secretary; this circular, which is a roneoed document, was signed by M. Jurjevic as chairman. This document sets out the circumstances which produced the gathering. But first I ask the House to note that this was no ordinary public meeting, as honorable gentlemen opposite were at great pains to try to persuade the House to believe. This was a meeting held in the club rooms of the Yugoslav Settlers Association, and the part of the circular which is relevant to the gathering is in these terms -
Our association decided to call a conference -
A conference! A conference is a rather different thing from a public meeting, as I think most honorable members will agree - sponsored by J. Cairns, M.P., Senator S. Cohen, J. Tripovich, MLA, Mr. C. Holding, MLA, and Mr. E. Platz, journalist, of the representatives of various trade unions and other democratic organizations, to discuss and work out a plan for united action against the Ustashi, on Friday 6th March, 1964, at 8 p.m., in the club of Yugoslav Settlers Association, . . .
We hereby invite the representative of your union/organization to attend the proposed conference.
We are sure that you are aware of the importance and urgency of this matter.
So a conference is proposed and invitations are sent out to various political and other organizations, including the Communist Party. The patron of the association could hardly have been unaware that the Communist Party had been invited. I should be very surprised, seeing that it was a conference that he was sponsoring and of an organization of which he was patron, if he was not aware of the invitation list.
I have a copy of a letter which was sent by the sponsors of the conference to the Liberal Party in Victoria. 1 assume it was signed by them. The names appear in type on the cop’y I have; I do not want to misrepresent the honorable gentlemen. The names are: G. Bryant, J. F. Cairns, S. Cohen, D. Elliott, C. Holding, J. 0’Connell and J. Tripovich. In the letter they invite the Liberal Party to be present at the conference. I think it is a fair inference that this is a standard letter which they sent out to all the various invitees, including the Communist Party.
– And the Liberal Party.
– Yes, including the Liberal Party and the Communist Party. 1 accept it. That, 1 hope, establishes my point. The point I am trying to make is that the honorable member for Yarra - and following him and absorbing the atmosphere which he radiated were the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition - has created an atmosphere that somehow or other Mr. Gibson, who is the Victorian secretary of the Communist Party, hearing that a public meeting was being called wandered in and when the matter was opened for discussion, he got up on the floor and uttered a few well-chosen words. What appears beyond, 1 say, reasonable doubt in this matter is that the Communist Party was selected as one of the democratic organizations to be invited - democratic in inverted commas, in my case at an’y rate - and that this follow-up letter from the sponsors of the conference came along.
Perhaps I should add a little more detail, even if it involves me in seeking the indulgence of the House for a few minutes to allow me to proceed beyond my normal time. I have, Sir, and on this occasion I make no apology for presenting it, a report not from the “ Tribune “, which is the Sydney organ of the Communist press, but the Melbourne “ Guardian “ of 12th March, 1964. The report to which I shall refer appears on page 3 of that edition. I am disposed to believe that this is at least a reasonably accurate version of what occurred, because not only is the letterpress there, but there is a photograph of the prominent Labour personalities who sat at the main table. Indeed, when one looks at the photograph one wonders where the Yugoslav settlers came in, because the table is completely occupied by four Labour politicians and the aforesaid Mr. E. Platz A photograph appears with this caption -
Dr. J. F. Cairns addressing last week’s meeting which condemned Ustashi activities in Australia. Also in the picture (from left): Mr. C. Holding, M.L.A.: Mr. E. Platz, Mr. G. Bryant, M.H.R., and Mr. D. Elliott, M.L.C
The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) will be pleased to know, if he has not already placed it in his scrap book, that this particular publication does report a few of his remarks.
I would like to let the House have an account of the organizations present, because I want to emphasize the point until it really registers with members of the Opposition, that this was not, as they would have had the House believe, an ordinary public meeting to which any interested person could go along; or if it was, it was certainly not called in that fashion. Set out in the body of the report is this account -
Representing the Communist Party, the Victorian State Secretary (Mr. Ralph Gibson) said:
The report quotes a short passage from Mr. Gibson’s speech. A resolution was carried, according to the report which also states -
Other speakers included Mr. Felix Martin of the Moulders’ Union and Mr. C. Holding, M.L.A., representing the Victorian Executive of the A.L.P., many migrant organisations and the South Africa Protest Committee. Organisations represented at the conference included the Electrical Trades Union, Furnishing Trades Union, Boiler-makers’ Society, Moulders’ Union, Liquor Trades Union, the Victorian Executive of the A.L.P., the Communist Party, Committee for Victims of Nazi Persecution, [Extension of time granted.] I thank the House. I think it important to have the matter once and for all fully stated. The report continues - . . Italo-Australian Labor Council, ItaloAustralian League, Democritus Club, the Iberian Centre, the Yugoslav Settlers’ Association, the South Africa Protest Committee, and the Jewish Council to Combat Fascism and Anti-Semitism. There was also an observer from the Eveleigh Railway Carriage Shop Stewards Committee (Sydney).
From that information, Mr. Speaker, I think honorable members will now have a rather clearer view of the nature of the gathering. In all these circumstances, was it an error of substance foi the AttorneyGeneral to say that Mr. Gibson was there and that he was on the same platform? They were sitting in the club premises of this particular organization by invitation. I put to the House that whatever the error of fact may be, the substance was as presented to the House by the AttorneyGeneral.
Now we come to the question: Where was the House misled and by whom? When the Attorney-General made the comment that Mr. Gibson was on the same platform, the honorable member for Yarra burst out, “ Liar “. He knows the forms of the House and he is not a man who loses his temper easily or for long. He is as cool-headed a customer as we have seen in this place for a long time, and he knows that normally an honorable member, if he wants to register the word “ liar “ and does this to impress upon those looking on us from on high that he has at least rejected the truth of what has been said, withdraws the remark when called upon to do so; that has happened repeatedly in my experience in this place. Why did the honorable member for Yarra persist? He was suspended from the House, not because he called some one a liar but because when invited by Mr. Speaker to obey the normal standards of the House and to maintain the dignity of the House - as we have been told by the Leader of the Opposition - he said “ I have no intention of doing so “, because he wanted to create a demonstration on this issue. He wanted to create his own smokescreen and divert the attention of the House from the fact that in substance what the AttorneyGeneral had said was true.
Subsequently the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition followed up with questions, all of which conveyed that in some serious way the honorable member for Yarra had been misrepresented, that he had attended a public gathering into which had sauntered for his own purposes the representative of the Communist’ Party. It was implied that it was quite an embarrassment to the honorable member for Yarra to find the representative of the Communist Party there and uttering his views. If I have not fairly represented the kind of atmosphere they were getting over, I invite denial of it. I think that those honorable members who were here at’ all relevant times will agree that this was the atmosphere.
This morning we have the honorable member for Yarra presented as an injured innocent, the martyr in this situation. I am not here to express a comment on the merits of inviting these people along. All I am saying is that if anybody has misled the House as to who was present and in what circumstances, it is not the Attorney-
General. It has been done, wittingly or unwittingly, by speakers from the other side of the House.
Having said all that, I suggest that there is no justification for any fine, fair-minded member of the Opposition to pin a charge of censure on my colleague. He has made a mistake, he has acknowledged it, and he has expressed regret for it.
Opposition members. - No, not to the honorable member for Yarra.
– Well, he has to the House. On the facts, should he be expressing regret to the honorable member for Yarra, because in substance, Sir, what the honorable gentleman said was true of the honorable member for Yarra? The honorable member cannot run away from that.
The next comment I want to make is that the charge falls to the ground. If there is a charge to be sustained, it is to be sustained against honorable gentlemen opposite. They talk about the dignity of the House. I invite honorable members to go over the “ Hansard “ record of this episode in their calmer moments during the recess and see how repeatedly they have thrown across this chamber words such as “Nazi “ and “Hitler”. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) himself, in one of his more vivid moments, branded us with the word “ Ustasha “, importing all the scorn that he could muster into the use of that word. So the Opposition does not come into this contest with very clean hands, as I hope I have established.
My final comment is this: Here is a very unhappy set of circumstances relating to rival, violently hostile groups in this community. It is well known, as a matter of history, that the Balkans have been the cockpit of Europe for centuries. We know that ancient hatreds exist there. Obviously, some of these have been imported into Australia. Having regard to the vital importance to this country of our migration programme and of the successful assimilation into our midst of hundreds of thousands of people of so many different nationalities, I say that I believe it is not for us as members of the Parliament to meddle in these ancient feuds and to attempt to foment hostility or bitterness of one against another. All of us ought to combine in a common Australian purpose of attempting to demonstrate to the new settler in this country that he or she must put ancient hatreds behind and that it is of no use to look back to a bitter past. We must demonstrate that we offer new settlers, if they are prepared to take the opportunity and to settle down peacefully with us, a brighter, happier and peaceful future in this great country.
I say to the honorable member for Yarra and others who have engaged in these activities with him that they are treading on dangerous ground in meddling in affairs of this kind. We have law enforcement officers and appropriate organizations to deal with such matters.
– Why do you not use them?
– If the honorable member feels that they are not effectively used, that belief itself is a legitimate ground for parliamentary discussion, and we can deal with such a matter on its merits if it is raised. But gathering together, for what I suggest, on the basis of the evidence, must be considered as largely party political purposes, to sharpen the hatreds of these people is damaging to Australia and does no credit to those who participate in such activities. 1 hope that once this episode has been fully resolved by way of discussion, we as members of this Parliament will come together and do what we can to dissipate these bitternesses and to see that these new settlers not only live lawfully with us but also are encouraged to co-operate fully and take their place in the Australian community.
Mr. WHITLAM (Werriwa) fi 2.9].- Mr. Speaker, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) correctly said that the form of the Opposition’s censure against the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) is the most serious which can be devised in this Parliament. He then proceeded to condone the AttorneyGeneral’s conduct, to compound it and to divert attention from it. The AttorneyGeneral’s conduct on this occasion was not a matter of mere error. It was quite deliberative. He stated that the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) had appeared on a platform with Ralph Gibson, a well-known Communist, and had spoken. Only one inference can be drawn from the Minister’s statement. He can have intended only one imputation by that statement. That imputation is that the honorable member for Yarra had sponsored this meeting with Gibson and at the meeting had expressed the same views as Gibson.
– I bet he did.
– The AttorneyGeneral’s statement, as he himself said, was based on the Communist newspaper, the “ Tribune “. That was the authority which he cited. But the “ Tribune “ docs not bear out the interpretation which the AttorneyGeneral gave. He embroidered the report in that newspaper.
– r do not think that the honorable member has his heart in this.
– Mr. Speaker, neither of the previous speakers was interrupted. Am I to be interrupted?
– Order! I ask the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to be respectful to the Chair, as well. Was there an interjection?
– It was out of order.
– The Minister for the Army interrupted me for a second time.
Government Supporters. - Oh!
– Order! I point out to the House that this is a very serious debate and that, under the Standing Orders, interjections are out of order. We expect a proper example to be set.
– The “Tribune”, which the Attorney-General cited, does not bear out the statement which he made in the House. The other Communist newspaper which the Treasurer has quoted does not bear out the statement which the Attorney-General made in the House. The pamphlet and the circular which the Treasurer quoted do not bear out the statement which the Attorney-General made in the House. That statement is completely unsupported. It was not correct, and it came from a Minister who, administering security and legal affairs on behalf of the Commonwealth, had every opportunity lo know that it was not correct. In any other British democracy, an honorable gentleman in that position would have felt compelled to resign. The Prime Minister in any other British democracy would have compelled the resignation of a Minister who did not do the decent thing of his own volition.
The Attorney-General was not caught by surprise in this instance. He was not caught on a side issue. He spoke on a matter which was central to the administration of his department. It was an issue which had been agitated quite recently in the House and in public. He was not surprised by the question that he was asked. He himself, it would seem, had sponsored the first question he was asked. He spoke in the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House on the same day. He answered further questions the next day. He occasioned the suspension of two honorable members. He showed that he was temperamentally unsuited to the position that he occupies as law officer of the Crown and Minister in charge of security, because he elaborated and embroidered a report, putting his own interpretation on it and challenging his victim to repudiate the construction which he put on it. He reiterated that construction and, after having admitted that his interpretation was inaccurate, he expressed no contrition whatever.
The Treasurer was not always oblivious of and indifferent to the activities of the Ustasha. He should remember that, ten years ago this month, when he was Minister for Immigration, I brought to his notice the distress which was being caused to many migrants by a programme on one of the Sydney commercial radio stations. On the Sunday nearest to 10th April; that station had been used to broadcast a programme for the Croatian national day. That was the anniversary of the welcome extended by Dr. Pavelic in Zagreb to Hitler’s troops. When I put a case to the right honorable gentleman as Minister for Immigration, he said that he had no authority over the radio station in the matter. But those celebrations and the attendant Slovakian national day celebrations forthwith ceased. The right honorable gentleman was happy for me to have the impression that he had been instrumental in removing this sort of irritation and disruption from our community.
The present matter has come to the fore very much in the last few months. Last year, it will be remembered, members of the organization concerned were training with troops of the Citizen Military Forces at Wodonga. Also last year, the present Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) attended a meeting at which certain portraits were displayed on the platform. Since we are sensitive to what appears on or above platforms, it is important to note that there were displayed on this platform a portrait of the Queen and a portrait of Dr. Pavelic - a quisling. He was the leader of a puppet Hitlerite state which had subverted one of Australia’s allies in the last war and as well one of Australia’s allies in the First World War.
In the last month or so, extra precautions have been taken, as the Minister for Immigration has told me, to vet applications for passports by Australian citizens of Yugoslav origin. A fortnight ago, an Australian citizen from the Croatian region of Yugoslavia was hoist with his own petard in Sydney. All these are public matters and it is perfectly proper for the Parliament to consider them. The honorable member for Yarra has used every method open to him to raise these matters in the House, to obtain information in the House and to direct the attention of the responsible Ministers to them. His questions have been on the notice-paper ever since the first sitting day of this new Parliament. They repeated questions which were placed on the noticepaper last September or October. The honorable member for Yarra has, with perfect propriety and firmness, brought these matters to the attention of the Prime Minister himself, but he has done nothing. In order to head him off and to intimidate him, the Attorney-General has maligned him in a way that he was able to do as a backbench member and which we did not take so seriously when he was a back-bench member. But now he does this as AttorneyGeneral and his conduct is condoned and compounded this morning by the Treasurer.
The statement that he made can have only one inference. There was no basis for it. The Treasurer still does not admit that there was no basis for it. The Treasurer, a much more experienced parliamentarian, still does not do the decent thing. I do not want to elaborate on the actual manners of the Attorney-General in this matter, but the fact that a man would not withdraw or apologize for a statement of this character is monstrous. It would not be tolerated in any other British democracy. What are we to say of the Attorney-General who quotes in the House a private conversation with an honorable member who was giving him the office as to where he had gone wrong? The Attorney-General in this case has made and reiterated all his statements that were wrong and he has continued with his conduct in this manner.
I must now come to some of the functions which the Attorney-General has to fulfil. 1 ask honorable members to consider whether the present Attorney-General is fit to carry out these functions. He is entrusted with the security of the country and the liberty of everybody in it. He has not shown that he has the temperamental fitness to carry out those functions. Can we be satisfied that the security of the country is in safe hands and that the liberty of its residents is in safe hands when an honorable gentleman, a learned gentleman, will misinterpret and embroider a Communist newspaper report in this way and will use this public forum to malign and intimidate one of the members who raises a matter of public moment in it?
The Attorney-General is responsible as chief law officer of the Crown in right of the Commonwealth for the institution of a very great number of criminal proceedings. In fact, he is responsible for the administration of the Commonwealth Police Force. Not only is he responsible for the administration of this police force insofar as it has permanent members, but he can at any time and on such terms and conditions as he thinks fit appoint such special Commonwealth police officers as he thinks fit, and during the continuance of their appointment, they will bo Commonwealth police officers in the fullest sense under the act he administers. Can we be satisfied that this man would appoint suitable special Commonwealth police officers?
Again, he has many functions under the Commonwealth Crimes Act. Under Part 11., Offences Against the Government, he is responsible for the institution of proceedings under the sections dealing with treason, treachery and sabotage. No proceedings for the commitment for trial of a person or for the summary convict/on of a person for treason, treachery or sabotage under the Crimes Act can be instituted except by the Attorney-General or with the consent of bini or of some person authorized by him. How safe are residents of this country from those charges when the Attorney-General can draw an inference from a Communist newspaper report which cannot be justified by the report? Anybody could bc put on trial for these serious and capital offences, and even if such a person were acquitted he would have all his costs to meet. Furthermore, it is possible for a person to be summarily prosecuted under the seditious enterprises sections of this part of the act with the consent of the Attorney-General. Such a person is tried by a magistrate and not by a jury, ls anybody safe in those circumstances with a man who cannot interpret evidence accurately and who will act upon a Communist newspaper report?
Under Part Na., Protection of the Constitution and of Public and other Services, the Attorney-General can apply to the High Court or to any Supreme Court for an order calling upon any body of persons incorporated or unincorporated to show cause why it should not be declared to be an unlawful association. The Yugoslav Settlers Association could in his view, be called upon by him on the basis of one of these pamphlets or circulars or the Communist newspaper report to show cause why it should not bc declared an unlawful organization. After the proceedings had been protracted and the association had incurred expenses and people had been blackguarded in proceedings which could be reported in any newspaper with complete privilege, they might be acquitted. The action may fail, but what disruption to their careers and cost to their reputations would have occurred in the meantime. Again, if such an organization is declared unlawful, the Attorney-General can require its officers to answer questions, furnish information and produce documents.
– Don’t you think you arc exaggerating?
– No. I am quoting from the act. I will give you the exact reference to the sections, if you wish. I would have thought that the honorable gentleman, who not only appears proper in his public conduct but emphasizes the proprieties in others, would have admitted that the Commonwealth Crimes Act places extraordinary powers as to the security of the country and the liberty of the individual in the hands of the Attorney-General. I would hope that he would concede this and would exercise his free vote to-day to demonstrate that he believes that the Attorney-General is not able to reach a judicious interpretation of evidence for the institution of such proceedings.
– I think you are exaggerating.
– Are you condoning his conduct, too?
Under Part VII., Espionage and Official Secrets, the Attorney-General can in writing declare any person to be an authorized officer for the purpose of seeking any information concerning suspected spies from a person thought to be harbouring them in his premises. The AttorneyGeneral can appoint anybody to call on anybody and to ask about spies that may be there. It does not have to be an official person; it is a person whom he selects and perhaps selects on evidence such as that upon which he has acted in this present situation. If any injustice is done to any person as a result of proceedings under this part of the act, the Governor-General decides the compensation, and he decides it on the advice of the Attorney-General. Here again any prosecution under this part can be instituted only by or with the consent of the Attorney-General. Has he shown himself fit to decide on prosecutions and compensation under this part?
Other sections of the Crimes Act leave it not to the courts to inflict a penalty but to the Attorney-General to decide whether there shall be any deportation of a person who was born overseas and is convicted of a crime. There are seven such sections. This matter is not left to the courts but to the Attorney-General to decide whether a former migrant shall be deported from the country. Here again, how can we rely on his judgment and his discretion in a matter such as this? He has powers also under the Extradition Act. It must be quite plain that the present AttorneyGeneral is not the sort of man who can come to a proper judgment in these matters or properly exercise his discretion in the investigation of crimes, the institution of proceedings, the exercise of the prerogative of mercy and, in fact, the deportation of such convicted persons as may be migrants. As the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has pointed out, the AttorneyGeneral has made and reiterated the statement that it is for members of the House to clear themselves of charges that he makes. He reverses the onus. This is not just an error or a slip of the tongue. He makes and reiterates the allegation.
The concluding objection that 1 must make relates to the honorable gentleman’s functions as Minister in charge of security in Australia. It is true that the DirectorGeneral of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization has greater immunity than the head of any government department or the judges of any court in this country. Nevertheless, opportunities exist for the Attorney-General - the responsible Minister - to influence the practices of security. I point out that applications for naturalization are rejected or deferred on the basis of security reports. Nominations by any person in Australia for the admission of a relative or friend to this country are rejected or deferred on the basis of security reports. Deportation orders are made against persons in Australia on such reports. Australians who seek employment with the United Nations have their applications vetoed on the basis of reports from the Australian security service. Members of the Public Service are discharged, demoted, transferred or otherwise disadvantaged in their employment on the basis of reports from the security service. Can we have any confidence in the security service when the Minister in charge of it is prepared to blackguard and intimidate members of the Parliament on the basis of reports in a Communist newspaper which in fact do not bear the construction which the Minister puts upon them?
As my Leader pointed out also, the Attorney-General is the Minister responsible for authorizing the tapping of telephones. We have the assurance of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) that the telephones of members of Parliament are not tapped, but the Attorney-General was prepared to make statements about a member of Parliament based on a Communist newspaper report. On such a report he would unquestionably be willing to authorize the tapping of telephones. Other people would not know of the security reports. Other people would not know of the issue of warrants to tap telephones. Members of Parliament cannot know of the reports or of the warrants. The Attorney-General has shown his unfitness to administer the department that is responsible for making these reports. He has shown his unfitness to authorize the issue of warrants to tap telephones. His interpretation of the newspaper report was dishonest. His subsequent conduct in this Parliament has been dishonorable. He has shown reckless indifference to the facts and to the reputations of members and other citizens and residents of this country. He does not deserve to retain the confidence of the House.
Motion (by Mr. Howson) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 21
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the motion (Mr. Cal well’s) be agreed to.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 19
Question so resolved in the negative.
Sifting suspended from 12.41 to 2.15 p.m.
Bill presented by Mr. Freeth, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The proposals I now lay before the House follow an undertaking given by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) in his policy speech last November. On that occasion the Prime Minister indicated that the Commonwealth would “ helpfully discuss “ with the States the desirability of establishing a national roads authority. He said that “ the nation would benefit from a thorough-going survey and appraisal of the existing road system and of foreseeable roads requirements “. The Commonwealth raised its proposals at the Premiers’ Conference held in Canberra last March, and has had regard to these discussions, and to the views expressed by a variety of interested sources, in framing the present legislation. The proposals were referred to by my colleague, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), when introducing the Commonwealth Aid Roads Bill in the House on 16th April last. He indicated the Government’s intention to establish a Commonwealth Bureau of Roads in order that the Commonwealth might have the benefit of a continuing study of the national roads situation. The bill now before the House presents the Government’s legislative proposals for establishing the bureau.
For a number of years proposals have been put forward that the Commonwealth should set up some sort of body to deal with roads. Suggestions as to the role of such a body have varied widely, some going so far as to advocate that it should be responsible for the planning, construction and maintenance of major roads in Australia. However, our decision to establish a Commonwealth Bureau of Roads arises primarily from the Commonwealth’s deep and increasing involvement in the financing of roads expenditure in Australia. From being only a marginal contributor to the financing of roads in the early 1920’s, the Commonwealth is now contributing rather more than one-third of the total amount spent annually throughout Australia on roads and bridges. Under the measure recently passed by the Parliament, the Commonwealth will over the next five years be providing an aggregate sum of £375,000,000 to the States for roads purposes. In addition it will be providing substantial sums for roads in the Australian Capital Territory, the Northern Territory and also for special roads projects in the States. The Commonwealth Aid Roads contribution of £375,000,000 to the States represents an increase of 50 per cent. on the amount of £250,000,000 being provided in the five years ending 30th June next. There is little doubt that, with the need for more and better roads growing apace, increasingly heavy demands will be made on the Commonwealth as time goes on to provide finance to the States for roads purposes. Apart from the importance that roads finance has assumed in the Commonwealth Budget, road works and expenditure on roads have also acquired a considerable economic significance. Transport costs make up a substantial part of total production costs, and road transport now represents the largest element in land carriage of goods and people. Moreover, expenditure on roads now comprises approximately one-quarter of all public works expenditure in Australia, and its impact on economic conditions, both generally and in particular areas, is significant.
It will thus be evident that the Commonwealth has great and growing responsibilities for the financing of roads. Up to the present, however, the Commonwealth Government has found itself in the position of having to discharge these responsibilities without having available to it data which is fully adequate for its purposes. We do receive a great deal of information and advice from authorities and organizations concerned with roads and road transport. We have official statistics and we obtain the views and assessments of the States. Inevitably, however, this falls short of what we require. Necessarily the views and’ representations put to us stress particular - and, in the nature of the case, sectional - aspects of the problem. But the Commonwealth must be in a position to make a competent and reliable appraisal of its own. It has to do this in the context of its many other responsibilities. It has to try to see the problem as a national whole and not simply as the sum of particular views of it. It must be able to satisfy itself, when it settles upon an amount for grants to the States for roads, and the basis of their allocation, that it really has a firm and closely analysed foundation for its judgment. It is in the light of these needs of the Commonwealth that we have approached the question of the establishment of a Commonwealth Bureau of Roads. We have felt it is essential for us to have a body capable of investigating roads and road transport with a view to assisting the Government in reaching its decisions as to the nature of the financial assistance to the States for roads and road transport. While this would be the bureau’s primary purpose we also envisage it investigating any other matters affecting roads and road transport, which are the concern of the Commonwealth, referred to it by the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Such references will for the most part relate to special requests by the States for Commonwealth financial assistance for particular roads projects. However, the bill is drawn widely enough to permit such references to the bureau by the Minister to extend to any matter with respect to roads or road transport that relates to a purpose of the Commonwealth, such as roads in a Commonwealth Territory.
The bureau will report to the Government on its investigations but it will be for the Government to decide whether or not such reports will be published. I emphasize that the bureau will be an investigating and advisory body only. It will not be in any way a roads construction authority and it will not have any power over the States. Having decided on these functions we felt that they could best be undertaken by a statutory body, to be called the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads, responsible to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. It has been suggested in some quarters that we should set up a Commonwealth roads authority on the pattern of the United States’ Federal Bureau of Roads, which is concerned, inter alia, with the selection, planning, construction, as well as financing, of national roads projects throughout the United States. We have studied the United States system but find that it does not meet our situation. In Australia, the planning, programming, design and construction of roads in the States, and their subsequent repair and maintenance, are the responsibility of the States which have developed organizations for the purpose. We have no intention or desire to take over the States’ functions on road matters.
It has also been suggested that the Commonwealth might rely on the National Association of Australian State Road Authorities for advice on roads matters. The N.A.A.S.R.A. consists of the heads of the main roads authorities in the States with the Commonwealth Director-General of Works, by virtue of his responsibility for the construction of roads in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. This body thus provides essentially a conspectus of State views and requirements, and is inappropriate, both as to composition and function, to carry out the responsibilities which are envisaged for the proposed Commonwealth Bureau.
We expect, of course, that the bureau will develop working relationships with relevant State and local government authorities for the purpose of carrying out its task, and we hope that such relationships will readily develop.
The bureau, as proposed in the bill, will bc constituted by a full-time chairman, who will be the chief executive of the bureau, and two part-time members. In deciding that the bureau should be so constituted, we have in mind that we do not expect the bureau to bc a large organization and that the appointment of more than one full-time member would not bc warranted. At the same time, we believe that there could be drawbacks in having the bureau’s powers and responsibilities vested wholly in one person and we have felt that the chairman of the bureau should be assisted by two part-time members.
With regard to staff, it is provided in the bill that the bureau will have power to appoint such officers and to engage such employees as it thinks necessary for the performance of its functions. The total size of the bureau’s staff is not, however, to exceed a maximum number determined by the Minister from time to time, and the terms and conditions of employment determined by the bureau will require the approval of the Public Service Board.
In addition to the power to employ staff, the bureau will have power to engage persons, or arrange for persons, to advise and inform it on any matter which is being investigated. This provision is designed to enable the bureau to use the services of consultants and research organizations, such as universities, if it decides that it would bc appropriate for it to do so.
In this connexion I should perhaps mention that the bill docs not contain any provisions specifying how the bureau is to go about its work or, indeed, the precise nature of the work it is to do- We believe that these are mailers for the bureau itself to determine and that it should be free to make its own assessment from time to time of the kind of investigations it should undertake.
The remaining provisions of the bill are on lines that are fairly standard in other Commonwealth statutory authority legisla tion. They relate to such matters as the conduct of meetings of the bureau, disqualification from office, provision of funds to the bureau, the keeping of proper accounts and the auditing by the Auditor-General of the bureau’s financial transactions, and do not call for special explanation.
The decision to establish the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads marks the Government’s recognition of the great and growing importance of roads and roads transport in Australia and the widening national interest in this field of growth. At the same time, we have sought to preserve and, indeed, support the major interest the State governments have in this matter. We believe that the establishment of the bureau will carry forward into a new stage the valuable forms of co-operation which have grown up between the Commonwealth and the Slates in this field. With that thought I commend this bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Webb) adjourned.
– I move -
That, in accordance wilh the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1960, the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report: - Proposed lengthening and strengthening of the existing runway and strengthening of the apron and taxiways at the Cairns Airport, Queensland.
The proposal provides for the strengthening of the existing runway at an estimated cost of £400,000, the extension of the existing runway by 1,000 feet at an estimated cost of £180,000 and the widening and strengthening of taxiway B and the strengthening of portion of the terminal apron at an estimated cost of £60,000. The total estimate for the complete works, including repairs and maintenance of the existing levee banks, to cost £3,000, is £643,000. The proposal covers the lengthening and strengthening of the 150- degree runway at Cairns airport. I table plans of the proposed works.
– The Opposition offers no objection to this proposal because, laudable as it is in itself, it is to be referred to the Public Works Committee for examination. Cairns airport, Canberra airport and the old Cambridge airport near Hobart have been the three most dangerous airports in Australia, and tragedies have occurred at each of them. The proposal to enlarge and modernize the airport at Cairns is one that should, perhaps, have been brought forward years ago. At least something is being done about the matter now.
The honorable member for Leichhardt (Mr. Fulton) has asked me to say that he strongly support’s this move. He is absent at the moment because of illness, but if he had been present he would have said these things himself. Cairns is one of the most northerly of our regularly used airports. It is important to us from a developmental point of view and also from a defence point of view. The great airport at Garbutt, adjacent to Townsville, was famous at the time of the Coral Sea battle, and it is still very important from the point of view of defence. But anything that can be done to develop Cairns airport is to be applauded. Anything that could be done to strengthen some of the war-time airstrips at Cooktown and further north should also be attempted.
– You mean the one at Higgins?
– Yes, that is the one. There was also, a very good airstrip during the war at Argyle Downs station for the protection of Wyndham. That might also be considered in the context of what I look upon as our comparative defencelessness. We need good airstrips to take jet bombers and jet fighters, and the only airstrips we have in northern Australia of first-class standard are those at Darwin and Garbutt. There are other airports of lesser importance at Katherine and Alice Springs. I hope that when the committee brings down its report it will say that this work ought to be undertaken. If it does I hope the Government will get on with the job as quickly as possible. The more airports we have in the northern part of Australia the better it will be, not only for the development of that part of the continent, but also for the protection and security of the rest of Australia.
.- I can inform the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) that the Public Works Committee intends to undertake the investigation of this work during the coming recess and report to the House early in the Budget session.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That, in accordance with 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: - Katherine-Willeroo-Top Springs Road, Northern Territory
The total estimated cost of this work is £1,500,000. The road forms a part of the northern Australian programme of road construction for the transport of beef cattle, approved by the Government and is associated with the road construction programmes being undertaken by the Governments of Queensland and Western Australia in their States. In view of the nature of the work, its urgency and its relation to similar works being undertaken by the State governments, it is recommended that it. be carried out without being referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works.
– The Opposition takes the view that all works of the magnitude of the Katherine-Willeroo-Top Springs road in the Northern Territory should be referred to the Public Works Committee. The Public Works Committee has never been dilatory in the performance of its duties. Speaking to a previous motion a few minutes ago, the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Dean), the chairman of that committee, said that investigations into the improvement of the Cairns airport as soon as practicable would be made in the recess which starts as from to-night.
– To refer this project to the Public Works Committee would mean a delay of a whole year.
– The Minister may say that in reply. The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) wants to put his view on this matter also. We feel that any work involving the expenditure of £1,000,000 or more should be the subject of an investigation by the Public Works Committee.
We do not deny that roads of this type arc necessary. There are all too few of them. We have only 1,200 miles of bituminized road in the whole of the Northern Territory, which is 500,000 square miles in extent and represents onesixth of the total area of Australia. In that part of Australia there are only 18,000 people of our blood, and a growing number of aborigines. They number now perhaps 18,000. In all, there are only 36,000 human beings living in the Northern Territory, so that every job that is done there is to be commended. I understand that this is a dirt road, not a bituminized road. One of the tragedies of our history is that we only build roads in or develop the northern part of Australia when we are at war or are threatened with war. If it bad not been for the last war, we would not have even the 1,200 miles of bituminized road that are there now. That 1,200 miles is made up of a road of 900 miles from Darwin to the 26th parallel of latitude which delineates the border between the Northern Territory and South Australia and another 300 miles of road from Tennant Creek to Mount Isa in Queensland.
Although the Minister said by interjection that there would be a delay of twelve months if this matter were referred to the Public Works Committee for consideration and report, I am sure that the committee could take this job into consideration before it considers the one that has already been referred to it. If there is any urgency, that could be considered by the committee. I believe that the committee is hard-working. Almost all of its recommendations over the years have been supported by every one of its members. Perhaps there were one or two members who had dissentient views on some aspects of jobs that have been investigated by the committee, but, by and large, the committee has reached its decisions in a bi-partisan way, having in mind at all times only the good of Australia. I think that it could consider this proposal in the same way, without the inordinate delay about which the Minister speaks.
I hope the committee will be allowed to investigate this matter because if we start to breach the principle that the expenditure of public money on public works should not be undertaken by the Executive but should be subject to consideration and recommendation by a statutory committee of the Parliament, the tendency will be for the Executive or the Minister to give out more works, and perhaps wrong decisions will be arrived at on one or other of such occasions. Urgency is, of course, an important consideration when we are discussing the expenditure of public money on work such as this. Indeed, there are so many urgent works that ought to be done if this country is to be saved for us and our descendants that I wonder whether we can get round to them all.
If the Minister will let the committee investigate this work, and put a time limit on it for furnishing a report, I am sure that the committee will give him much more valuable information than he can get from departmental sources. A good deal of money is being spent in the Northern Territory and in the Channel Country of Queensland on dirt roads. I am not sure that all of it is being spent wisely, although that may be the case. I do not set myself up as a judge on any of these matters. However, I always like to have a parliamentary committee, representative of all sides of the Parliament, put its seal of approval on a job and report back to the Parliament before the work is undertaken. In that spirit, I suggest to the Minister that he ought not to go on with this work at this particular moment, and that he ought to refer it to the committee of which the honorable member for Robertson is the chairman.
– Although we disapprove of his method of procedure, the proposition which has been put forward by the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) does show a very welcome change of attitude to the building of beef cattle roads in the Northern Territory. Hitherto, the policy has been to allow meat produced in the Northern Territory to be taken to other parts of Australia for processing.
This proposal recognizes the need, now that meatworks have been established in the Northern Territory, to channel the meat inwards for processing at those works. To that extent, we welcome the fact that this road is to be built. I would point out, however, that it is now over twelve months since the need for constructing this road was urged upon the Government of the day. I can recall the previous Minister for Territories attending the opening of the meatworks at Katherine. On that occasion everybody present urged upon him the desperate need for building this road. It was realized then that unless a first-class road was constructed to service the meatworks in that part of Australia we would very soon experience difficulty in getting cattle to those works. Transporters from all over Australia brought vehicles to the area for the purpose of transporting cattle to the meatworks but they soon found themselves up against a very difficult proposition indeed with the roads. At that time I think some 10,000 cattle had to be transported over a road that was in very shocking condition.
The point that the Minister has just made is that if this work were referred to the Public Works Committee for investigation and report the project would be delayed for twelve months, but I point out that the Government knew twelve months ago that this work was necessary. I remind the Minister that representations were made by Administration officials, businessmen, cattle producers, meatworks operators and others, all stressing the vital need for this road to service not only the meatworks at Katherine but also the meatworks that had been established a few months earlier at Daly Waters. On that occasion 10,000 head of cattle went over a road that was in a shocking condition, but this season something in the vicinity of 20,000 or 30,000 head of cattle will have to travel over the road, and it is in no better condition now than it was last year.
It is of no use the Government spending £1,500,000 on this road if it does not propose to seal the road. Sealing is a vital part of road construction in the Northern Territory. We know that from bitter experience. We have found that within one month after bringing dirt roads up to a good standard, we have had to start grading them flat again. Under those conditions a dirt road can never be satisfactory and, in addition, it will cost between £20,000 and £30,000 every year to grade the bumps from the road. The result is that within two, three or five years the road is back to the bed of earth from which it started. I cannot see the economics of that.
This road should not be considered on its own. It will serve not only the Katherine meat works but the Darwin meat works as well. I venture to say that within five years 50,000 to 60,000 head of cattle will be transported along that road. Honorable members should visualize the size of the transports and the speed at which they must travel along those roads to get the cattle to the meat works within a reasonable time and in good condition. The roads will have to stand up to great stresses and. strains. That part of Australia has a very high rainfall, and if roads are not sealed they wear away or wash away. If a road is sealed, once it is built it is there for all time and it does not require the annual and recurring expenditure of grading and maintenance, which otherwise is virtually wasted money. However, people in the Northern Territory believe that as a road it will be better than what they now have. During the first year the surface will be harder, but it will be washed away at times of the year and be under water in parts at other times. The recurring wear and stress on the road will continue and the situation will soon arrive when for a certain period of the year a great deal of inconvenience could be caused through excessive wear and tear on vehicles. In addition the condition of fattened beasts will deteriorate.
This is not the only road to be built in that part of Australia The Public Works Committee has done a remarkably fine job in this connexion in the Northern Territory. I have seen the conditions under which members of the committee have to perform their task and I know what a miserly pittance they are allowed with which to do their work. I know also what poor facilities they have at their disposal. The committee has already considered a proposal for a road that feeds into the road now under discussion. I refer to the Wave Hill-Top Springs road, with regard to which I have suggested that important alterations should be made. Eventually we hope to see those alterations embodied in the project. The construction of that road has been delayed. Why is it that the work is not proceeding on that project at the present moment? In addition we have the Timber Creek road which is also a feeder road. In fact, these are all feeder roads leading to the main cattle-processing centres of the Northern Territory.
It is vital that these roads should be put in first-class condition and then kept in first-class condition as a means of providing assistance to the cattle industry. As honorable members know, industries are lacking in the northern part of Australia. One would have felt that when private enterprise made a decision to build meat works and establish industries in the Northern Territory, the Government would have committed itself to build all-weather roads to service the industries. Instead, there is a two years’ lag. The road will not be fit for use this year. The wet season will soon be approaching and this will further delay the work. It is doubtful whether the road will be available for use during the next killing season. It certainly will not be completed by the end of the wet season, and the cattle will still have to be transported along dirt roads. One killing season is now in operation, or is just completed, and it is very doubtful whether the road will be available for the next killing season. So three seasons will have gone by during which the producers and the operators of meat works have had added expenditure and inconvenience.
Other parts of the Northern Territory also require sealed roads. They are required in central Australia and in many parts of the Northern Territory. We need feeder roads to the main bitumen highway which runs north and south. Feeder roads are needed south of Alice Springs, east of Alice Springs and west of Alice Springs. All these roads must eventually be sealed if they are to be used as feeder roads for the railway to the south or for the highway and railways to the north. The sooner this work is undertaken the better. It is idle for the Minister to say that this work has now become urgent. The Government has known for twelve months about the need for this work to be done, but has done nothing about it until now. This road should be sealed; otherwise, £1,500,000 will have been thrown down the drain. Moreover, work on this project should have begun twelve months ago. That would possibly have resulted in the saving of a large amount of money. When formulating this proposal the Government should have taken into consideration the views of persons vitally interested in this road, its construction, operation and location. The Government should have heeded the advice of those in the area as to location and construction. I know that had this matter been considered by the Public Works Committee it would have recommended that, as a matter of urgency, the road be sealed.
.- I do not think that the Parliament should idly allow the Public Works Committee to be by-passed in this way. I want to know what the chairman of the Public Works Committee has been doing when he allows this situation to occur. The parliamentary committee system, which has been used in only one or two instances here, is an important contribution towards democratic government and democratic control of the administration of the country. It is making a farce of the whole system for everybody if the Government, through its procrastination, has reached a stage when it becomes urgent that we quietly act as a rubber stamp and give it the authority to proceed without its referring the project to the committee. I believe that honorable members should consistently reject such propositions. We have had this morning the remarkable demonstration from one Minister of his incapacity to handle his job, and we have no evidence that the Ministry concerned with this project is any better.
The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) has pointed out the fallacy of road-building by this method. So at this moment I simply ask honorable members as a body to remember what their duties are. We should strive to keep control of the affairs of this nation in the hands of the Parliament. We appoint committees and entrust them with particular duties. If these committees are not conscious of this trust and if their chairman - whom the Parliament entrusts especially with duties - do not do their job, this failure will strike at the whole fabric of our structure and our parliamentary government will fail. I believe that this is an instance where we ought to put our foot down and resist the continuing tendency of the Government to regard the parliament as a rubber stamp.
.- I oppose the motion proposed by the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) simply because I cannot understand why, at this late stage of the present session, it should be presented to the Parliament. The proposed road is very important - probably one of the most important roads in the Northern Territory. It appears to me that somebody is trying to wag the horse by the tail in this matter. I appreciate that in this the Minister is merely representing another Minister, but in his former capacity as Minister for Works he had extensive correspondence with the Public Works Committee in respect of earlier work in the Territory in relation to roads. One road which is complementary to the proposed road was the Top Springs-Wave Hill road. The Public Works Committee examined that reference for many weeks and came to the conclusion that the reference should be investigated further before any attempt was made to recommend to the House that the work should proceed.
The work on the construction of beef roads in the Northern Territory did not begin just this year or last year. Right back in 1960-61 Cabinet apparently adopted the report of the Division of Agricultural Economics which contained the interdepartmental committee’s recommendations in respect of beef roads in the Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia. The amazing thing to me is that although the minister has come into the House to-day and urged the non-reference of a job of work which will cost £1,500,000, at the time when the major work was referred to the Parliament he could not include this work as an important project from the point of view of the Government. This is the correspondence that he passed to the chairman of the Public Works Committee on 16th October, 1962, in which he said -
Following a report in July, 1961, by a Committee of Officers of the Departments of the Treasury, Primary Industry and National Development, on the construction of beef cattle roads in northern Australia, Cabinet approved the provision in the 1961-62 Estimates of £350,000 for the construction of roads in the Northern Territory by the Department of Works. Cabinet then approved a programme of £700,000 to ensure construction at full capacity to 30th June, 1962, and a continuity of work into 1962-63 to maintain the works potential. The roads concerned and the cash expenditures approved for 1961-62 are as under: -
There is no need for me to go into great detail, but the programme was for £700,000 and £350,000 had been allocated for four roads. He goes on and indicates what will be the major roads to be attended to. They are the Stuart Highway-Yuendumu £300,000; Barkly High way- Anthonys Lagoon £700,000; and Stuart Highway-Top Springs-Timber Creek-Western Australian border £2,520,000. The last-named is the road which I believe has been a colossal waste of public money. I did not think there was, and T still do not think there is any need for hundreds of thousands of pounds to be spent in cutting through Jasper’s Gorge in order to make this a major road. That is why, as a member of the committee, I stood out adamantly in relation to the Wave HillTop Springs road. I maintained that if that road were to be proceeded with, so should the Top Springs- Willeroo-Katherine road have been proceeded with at the same time, because it was the major work for the movement of cattle, both stores and fat cattle, through to Katherine meatworks and to Darwin meatworks, and ultimately to the eastern and American markets.
The next works were the Stuart HighwayJervois Range, £250,000, and Top SpringsWave Hill road, £800,000. The Public Works Committee yet does not know what the Government intends to do with the Top Springs-Wave Hill road. The total expenditure for these roads is £4,570,000, but a little further on the Minister said -
Provision of £1,000,000 has been made in the 1962-63 Estimates. Although these road works have been included as a special total programme, the Estimates for the Territories in recent years have always provided for road development of a total order exceeding £250,000.
The amount provided in the 1957-58 Estimates through to the 1961-62 Estimates totalled £2,084 - £486,000 of which was included in the 1961-62 Estimates - spent on roads in the Northern Territory. When honorable members realize that is the amount of money being spent to upgrade roads they will have an appreciation of the reason why the Top SpringsWillerooKatherine road is such an important one, because the Minister approved of expenditure of about £2,500,000 for the construction of a road between Dunmarra, Timber Creek and Newry, for which it was necessary to strike through Jasper’s Gorge. This seems to indicate that no cognizance whatever was taken of the report of the committee.
For the information of the House I shall quote what the committee has said -
Katherine-Willeroo-Top Springs Road. This will be a major road for the turn-off of stores for proposed land development schemes further north. It is mainly on high ground, and has been chosen as it avoids location problems associated with the more direct route from Katherine to Top Springs via Dry River.
I am not too sure whether that is the best route. I believe that the committee should at least have travelled across that portion of the country to determine whether a more direct route would have been preferable to following the old road. The committee then said -
The road is in the process of being reconstructed, and most of it is now a wide, formed earth road roughly equivalent to “ Class C “ standard. Major construction work will be completed during the current financial year.
This report was released in Canberra in May, 1960.
– Four years ago.
– Yes, yet according to the committee this road was one of the major roads of that time. But in 1961-62, when the Minister by-passed the Public Works Committee with this £4,500,000 project, he could not even take into consideration the road which to-day he asks Parliament to approve of at a cost of £1,500,000, again by-passing the Public Works Committee. I think it is up to Parliament to say to the Minister from time to time, “ You are not going to by-pass the Public Works Committee for approval of work which possibly could have been more economically carried out if it were placed in the correct area “. The report continues -
Continuations of this road from Top Springs to Wave Hill (101 miles) and from Wave Hill to Nicholson in Western Australia (180 miles) have been suggested. Although probably desirable from the point of view of national development and no doubt with some potential as a beef road, the latter proposed extension does not have the same claim to development as the first. The heaviest concentration of cattle in the Victoria River District is in the central eastern section and roughly includes Wave Hill, Sandford, Humbert River, Victoria River Downs and the Top Springs area, so that the Wave Hill-Top Springs road could become quite important if road transport develops. Cattle from further west could be walked to Wave Hill for loading on transports if required.
I agree wilh that statement. I believe that there should be central marshalling points where cattle from Mount Sanford - I think Humbert River is too far north - or from Inverway or from one of the other places in that area could be loaded. It was my argument that rather than spend £800,000 on the road from Wave Hill to Top Springs it should be constructed straight across the semi-desert country with which the committee has also dealt in part. The report states -
From the point of view of stations in the south of the District, including Wave Hill and Limbunya, a direct route from Wave Hill to Helen Springs would be more desirable, -
Helen Springs is the place where the Wave Hill people and also some other station owners rest their stock for fattening purposes and for agistment in other forms. The report continues - . . reducing the length of this journey by about 100 miles. There is an old track not visited by the survey party, which crosses the semi-desert and meets the bitumen in the vicinity of Muckety Bore. Without knowing the problems involved, an alternative road from Wave Hill to Newcastle Waters, or preferably Attack Creek, suggests itself. This would be some 160 miles shorter than the proposed route to Helen Springs via Dunmarra and would also link up with the Barkly stock route. Either of these last two roads could conveniently serve the area of greatest concentration of cattle numbers. On the other hand, dipping facilities have been provided at Top Springs.
It will be seen that there is considerable merit in the Public Works Committee’s looking much more closely into these references. There is not the slightest doubt that if a road is built across the semidesert country it would avoid the gullies and major run-off areas, because the country is almost completely flat. It is true that at the present time the water resources of the area for watering stock are not known. If suitable roads were built, the use of motorized transport would avoid the need for watering stock travelling across the area from Wave Hill and Muckety Bore, Attack Creek and Newcastle Waters.
We arc told that sixteen major transport companies are at present operating on the cast-west road from Alice Springs to Dunmarra, then through to Newry, on the Western Australian border and on to Wyndham. They are carrying oil-boring equipment, general merchandise and beef cattle. In my view, from the stand-point of defence, it is imperative that this Government do something to open up the mid-section of Western Australia. The tourist industry could be developed and the transport of beef cattle and merchandise could be improved. A road could be taken from Attack Creek. Renner Springs or Helen Springs through Wave Hill and on to Nicholson to join the main highway system running from there to the south in Western Australia, or up to Wyndham.
If the report on the transport of beef cattle is accurate, I cannot for the life of me understand why it should be necessary to spend £1.500,000, without any reference to tar-sealing, on a road of 295 miles in length. I cannot understand why the Minister for Shipping and Transport has seen fit to ask the House to by-pass the Public Works Committee and approve the work. I believe that the country would benefit if the proposed road and other roads were referred to the committee. In my view, the Government did the wrong thing in the first place when it refused to allow the committee to examine proposed beef roads estimated to cost more than £4.500,000. The road at present under consideration, which will cost £1.500.000. will follow a route that will not. in the main, be the most beneficial route for the movement of store cattle and fat stock, especially the movement of fat stock into Queensland from the Northern Territory through Mount Isa and down through the Channel country. 1 believe that the House should at least direct that this project be referred to the Public Works Committee and that the committee be asked to examine again the proposal for a road from Wave Hill to Top Springs, about which the Government has done nothing since the project was referred back to it by the committee, which proposed that the matter be further investigated.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, 1 wish to make a few observations on the points raised by honor able gentlemen opposite. I shall confine my remarks to the motion before the Chair. The beef roads scheme in the Northern Territory was approved by the Cabinet in July, 1962, at an estimated total cost of £4,570,000. After some discussion with the present Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth), who was then Minister for Works, one of the proposed roads, namely, that from Top Springs to Wave Hill, was referred to the Public Works Committee. When the beef roads scheme was first visualized the meatworks at Katherine and Darwin were not established. When the committee was investigating the proposal for the road from Top Springs to Wave Hill, the need to provide a good road from Top Springs to Katherine became evident. Two routes in particular were under discussion, and part of the relevant discussions came into the evidence that the committee took at the time. However, the route was not definitely fixed.
The. problem is not to be solved by referring the project to the committee and setting a time limit within which the committee must report to the House, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has suggested. The fact is that the work cannot proceed, once it has been referred to the committee, until the committee has reported to the House. As I intimated earlier this afternoon when another matter was being considered, the committee might not be able to report until some time early in the Budget sessional period. This would mean that work on the proposed road would be held up until next season. I believe that all members of the Public Works Committee are seised of the importance of the road and of the need to have it constructed as quickly as possible. Our endeavour is to meet that need.
– The honorable member is just another-
– I shall come to the honorable member for Wills in a moment. A few minutes ago, the need to seal these roads in the Northern Territory was mentioned. I wish to inform the House that the proposal is to construct these roads to a standard appropriate to sealing with bitumen, but, because of the cost of sealing in the Territory, it has been decided that the traffic pattern will first be studied and the roads will then be sealed in order of priority.
The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) apparently wants to know what I, as chairman of the committee, am doing to ensure that the work that is the subject of the motion now before the House is referred to the committee. Once again, Sir, I regret to inform you that the honorable member shows his ignorance. The committee is not the authority that determines whether a work shall be referred to it. The determining authority is this House itself.
– The honorable member investigated the project last year as a member of the committee, and he knows all about it.
– If the honorable member for Wills will keep quite for a moment and listen to what I am saying, his questions will be answered. As is well known to all members of the committee, some Ministers show courtesy by consulting it and informing it of works that are proposed from time to time. But the fact remains that the committee itself is not the authority that determines whether a work shall be referred to it. This House alone determines that.
The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) referred to the need for the proposed road and also - I think rightly - directed the attention of the House to the fact that the matter had been discussed earlier. I agree with what he said. I think it would be of advantage to the committee if the Minister for Shipping and Transport were to inquire from the present Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) why this motion could not have been submitted to the House earlier, for the committee could not possibly discuss the matter on the last day of this sessional period.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, first, I want to say that I too am opposed to the action taken by the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) in submitting a motion that the construction of the road in question be undertaken without reference to the Public Works Committee. I am not opposed to the route decided upon, however. Let me put the record straight. The honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Dean), who is chairman of the Public Works Committee, spoke of projects not being referred to the committee. The road from Top Springs to Wave Hill was referred to the committee only because members of the committee, including the chairman, expressed hostility at the idea that projects costing nearly £5,000,000 would be undertaken without reference to the committee. Let us not indulge in too much humbug or be too self-righteous on this issue. What I have said is true, and each and every member of the committee would only commit perjury if he said otherwise.
I am amazed at the by-passing of the Public Works Committee in this way. The evidence submitted to the committee when it investigated the road from Top Springs to Wave Hill was so conflicting that I would have expected the Government and the Minister for Shipping and Transport to take heed of the conflict and of the fact that the committee did not see fit to recommend that the work be undertaken expeditiously. I would have expected an attempt to prepare a suitable plan and to let the House know what was really happening in the Northern Territory. But this has not been done. Certain matters were raised with an officer who gave evidence before the committee in the Northern Territory when it investigated the road from Top Springs to Wave Hill. He was asked about the specifications that would be laid down for the road. He was asked to give his reasons for saying that the road would not be sealed. The answer was, “ Because we do not know how many people will use it “. That is the sort of thing we have to put up with. What the honorable member for the Northern Territory said is true. The evidence, including that taken from officers of the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory, would convince any one that if the roads are not sealed most of the £1,500,000 that is proposed to be spent will finish up in the creeks and rivers of the Northern Territory after the first decent wet.
Let us look at what was said under oath. I asked what the cost of maintaining the proposed road would be. I was referring to the road from Wave Hill to Top Springs. The estimate was £2,200 a mile or £22,000 a vear. The Government is prepared to allow £22.000 a year to be washed into the creeks and rivers of the Northern Territory.
– Over a short section.
– That is right. The Government is not prepared to get down and do the job properly. This has been evident over the years. The only answer to the problem of the Northern Territory is roads and more particularly sealed roads.
When we w-re discussing the road from Wave Hill to Top Springs, I, as a member of the committee, was amazed at the conflicting evidence given by officers of the various departments. At one stage I was horrified. One of the pastoralists there was absolutely opposed to the Wave Hill to Top Springs road being constructed along the route that had been selected, and he voiced his opposition in no uncertain terms. After our return to Darwin and after a consultation with a member of the Department of Works, he altered his position and told us that, as the department was prepared to run a spur road into the proposed road at a cost of some £22,000, I think it was, he would withdraw his opposition. He did this after a discussion with an officer of the Department of Works.
It was evident that this work was being undertaken without a plan having been formed. It was admitted that, until the siting of the road was proposed, the pastoralists had never been consulted. It was evident practically from the time we arrived in the Territory and started to take evidence that the road we should have been considering was the Top Springs to Willeroo road.
I cannot understand the suggestion now being made by the Minister at this late stage. I agree with him that this work is urgent: but we also urgently need a plan for the Territory so that the £5,000,000 and more that will be spent on construction and the £22.000 a year on maintenance that will be washed into the creeks will be used to better advantage for the Territory and the nation as a whole. No thought has been given to defence needs, to the requirements for the development of our mineral resources and the encouragment of our agricultural pursuits in the Territory. The Parliament will be amazed to learn of one instance. Although this cannot be put on oath. I am sure other honorable members will back up my words. During the trip in utility trucks from Wave Hill to Top Springs, it was said that the authorities started to lay down one of the beef roads and found they would run slap bang into a swamp. They had to change the siting of the road. So much for the £5,000,000 that is to be spent.
I am all for public works. I suppose I have taken as much interest in the Northern Territory as any member of the Parliament has since I have been here. 1 say that the most important requirement of the Territory is good roads and feeder roads to the Stuart Highway. However, when suggestions such as this are placed before the Parliament I must express my opposition to dirt roads being constructed when over the years evidence has been given that such roads have become merely ribbons of roads. We heard a responsible public servant in the Northern Territory say that he cannot get enough money to maintain his roads at the moment, but the Government is prepared to go ahead with the construction of this type of road, lt would bc better to build one good road than to build half a dozen bad roads.
It was pretty evident from what we saw up there at the start and from what I have seen previously that the whole action taken in relation to the Wave Hill road was wrong. It was also evident from the start, after listening to the pastoralists there, that they were of the opinion that the road was being constructed for only one property, and this almost appeared to be so. Strangely enough, we could not be told who, except tourists, would use the Dunmarra to Jasper’s Gorge road on which £2,500.000 would be spent. We were told that it would take £800,000 to build the Wave Hill to Top Springs road, but this gradually increased to about £1,000,000. It was admitted that the existing road could have been brought to beef roads standard with the expenditure of £1,000,000, and that is the standard of construction they wanted for the Wave Hill to Top Springs road.
I am’ forced to the conclusion that the whole framework of the scheme is wrong. We must encourage the beef industry and we must encourage all other industries in the Territory. The Northern Territory has become one of the most vital parts of Australia. lt is vital to our defence. Although I make that statement, I believe it would be far better for the Government to give a committee the job of formulating a plan for roads in the Territory, with particular emphasis on roads needed for the beef industry, defence, the development of mineral resources and agricultural interests in the area. If this were done, we would be achieving something. But as the honorable member for the Northern Territory and others have said, the construction of an unsealed road particularly from Top Springs to Katherine is only inviting trouble. Apart from the £1,500,000 that would be spent and wasted, £22,000 a year for maintenance would be thrown down the drain. No matter how we may look at this, it is wrong and it is absolutely wrong.
It is wrong for the Minister to by-pass the Public Works Committee in this way. It is wrong to by-pass the committee when any public money is being expended on works of this nature. The committee should be given a chance to consider the proposal. Any one who reads the evidence that has been given will be convinced that action is necessary to bring down a definite plan for roads in the Northern Territory to meet the needs of the beef industry, defence, the development of mineral resources and of agricultural pursuits.
– Generally speaking, I agree that this project should have been referred to the Public Works Committee. I hear some of my colleagues saying “ Oh “. As a member of the committee I will exercise my right to place my views before the House on this matter, provided I am not gagged by my colleagues. I resent the demonstration that is being made by my colleagues against my speaking now. It is not very often that I rise to speak but I do so on this matter with some emphasis. It is regrettable that this project has not been returned to the committee for further investigation. As the honorable member for Gellibrand (Mr. Mclvor) pointed out, there has been ample time to do that.
The road which is the subject to the motion before the House was part of an overall project submitted to the Parliament some years ago. The committee investigated the project but could not reach agreement on the construction of the road. I do not intend to oppose the motion. I believe it is urgent that this road be proceeded with.
I want the Northern Territory to have this road without undue delay. I think my colleagues on the committee will agree that when we investigated this matter the road in question was fully considered.
I am aware of the difficulties referred to by the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson). I know that if a start is not made on the road now its construction will be delayed a further twelve or eighteen months. I register my protest at the Government’s action in not referring this project to the committee sooner, but I agree wholeheartedly that the building of the road should be proceeded with immediately. There is sufficient evidence available to justify the proposal but I hope that this will be the last occasion when anything of this nature happens in the House and when the Public Works Committee is by-passed due to lack of foresight in connexion with the overall programme of roads in the Northern Territory.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill presented by Mr. Opperman, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This is a short bill designed to effect what technically are two relatively minor, yet important, amendments to the Migration Act 1958. The objects of the amendments may be stated briefly. The first is to enable the Minister for Immigration to facilitate the entry into Australia of important visitors and their parties, and other persons and groups of persons, whose admission, on a temporary basis, it is desired to facilitate - for example, delegates attending international conferences in Australia - the number of which has increased in recent years. The second object is the simplification of passenger documentation required of carrier companies operating water-borne transport to and from Australia. This will not only ease considerably an existing clerical burden on the companies themselves, but will provide the Government with a more effective record of the entry and departure of persons, and control over such movements.
Section 8 of the Migration Act at present exempts four specified categories of persons from the need to be granted an entry permit on arrival. The categories are - (a) members of the armed forces of the Crown entering on duty; (b) diplomats, consuls and trade commissioners, and their staffs and dependants; (c) members of the complement of vessels of the regular armed forces of a government recognized by the Commonwealth entering Australia on leave; and (d) members of the crew of any vessel landing on leave during the stay of their vessel in port.
The present provisions of this section do not permit the Government to give full effect to the provisions of the Status of Forces Agreement which has recently been concluded with the Government of the United States of America, in relation to the admission of United States Service personnel and civilians within clearly defined categories. Nor do the provisions permit important visitors to be exempted from the need to be granted an entry permit. The amendment to the act proposed in clause 3 of the bill will remedy this, and will enable entry of these additional classes to be properly facilitated.
Immigration control, regarding admission, normally exercised by means of the vise system will not be affected by the proposed amendment. Nor will the control over the length of stay and the departure of such temporary entrants be in any way reduced. The remaining clauses of the bill, that is, clauses 4 and 5, are designed to include in the Migration Act of 1958 the necessary authority for the furnishing or obtaining of information in respect of persons arriving in Australia, and of their departure. At present travellers entering Australia by air complete a passenger card, which is prescribed in the regulations under the Migration Act. Travellers leaving Australia by air complete a passenger card prescribed under the air navigation regulations, which are administered by the Department of Civil Aviation. In both instances the carrier company compiles a simplified form of passenger manifest. Travellers by sea, on either entering or leaving Australia, complete an interrogatory form, which is prescribed in the regulations under the Navigation Act, from which the carrier company compiles a detailed passenger manifest.
It is proposed that the passenger card at present completed by travellers by air should in future be completed as well by all persons travelling by sea on entering or leaving Australia, and that the legislative authority for the passenger cards should be included in the one statute, the Migration Act. The proposal will have the following advantages: - First, all travellers will be required to complete a minimum of identical documentation which will be the same for sea and air travellers. Secondly, it will enable the Government to establish and maintain a simple register of all movements into and out of Australia. Thirdly, it will facilitate arrival formalities by reducing the number of forms at present completed by a traveller for health and immigration purposes from three to one. Fourthly, it will ensure more thorough identification, especially at the time of arrival of passengers, thus strengthening controls. Fifthly, it will provide a check against malpractice in the use of passports generally. The introduction of passenger cards for use by travellers by sea will meet the request of shipping companies that they be required to comply only with the minimum immigration documentation that has applied to air carriers. In anticipation of the introduction of passenger cards for use by travellers by sea, the procedure has already been applied on a trial basis to the arrival of three large overseas passenger vessels, both British and foreign. It was found to be eminently satisfactory from all aspects by passengers, carrier companies and Commonwealth authorities alike. I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Galvin) adjourned.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill aims to encourage the search for petroleum in Australia and Papua-New Guinea and in off-shore areas by extending the period of the operation of the Petroleum Search Subsidy Act 1959-1961 for three years. That act has resulted in a great increase in geophysical surveys and drillings by the oil exploration companies. One oilfield has been brought to production, oil has been discovered in several wells at Richmond, near Roma, Queensland, and natural gas has been discovered in many wells near Roma, at several wells at Rolleston, Queensland, at Gidgealpa in north-eastern South Australia, at Mereenie in the Northern Territory and in Papua. Total annual expenditure on exploration for petroleum has increased from £7,100,000 in 1959 to about £23,500,000 in 1963. The Government contribution by way of subsidy payments in 1963 was £5,259,606. Total disbursements to 30th April, 1964, under the subsidy Scheme amounted to £13.172,919. This work has resulted in a very large increase in the amount and reliability of information available about the geology and prospectiveness of the many sedimentary basins, and the upgrading of the prospects of several of them.
Petroleum remains one of our larger resource deficiencies, and its importance in both the economics and the defence of our nation requires no emphasis. The Government is firm in its view that it should help to ensure that adequate reserves of petroleum are discovered and that it should continue its direct support until such time as the number and size of discoveries provide adequate incentive to the exploration companies to continue the search. Apart from the direct contribution through subsidy and income tax concessions, the Commonwealth Government encourages and assists the search for oil in several other ways; e.g.. by providing scientific and technical services. I have given only a brief summary of what the Government has done to assist oil search and what the results have been. I am circulating a paper, for the information of the House, providing additional information, because I know the subject is one in which we arc all interested.
I turn now to discuss the way in which this bill will give effect to the Government’s proposals. This bill will amend the Petroleum Search Subsidy Act 1959-1961 to extend its operations explicitly to include the sea-bed and sub-soil of the continental shelf contiguous to the coast of Australia and Papua-New Guinea and, in order to set doubts at rest about past operations over these areas, to make the legislation retrospective to 1959.
The bill widens the scope of “ test drilling “ by removing from the definition the requirement that such drilling must bc done on an established structure. In some circumstances where the sequence of rocks and the prospective strata are established, only drilling can determine whether or not a situation ma’y be present that favours accumulation of petroleum. The new definition will allow this sort of drilling to be subsidized.
The bill amends the definitions to combine the stratigraphic drilling and offstructure drilling of the present act into the one category of stratigraphic drilling, which will be subsidized at the relatively higher rates which formerly applied only to offstructure drilling. Drilling in any unknown rock sequence, whether on a geological structure or not, must be regarded as a high-risk operation, both technically and economically. On the other hand, such drilling is essential if the regional subsurface geology is to be understood as a basis for test drilling.
Two kinds of operations for which subsidy was available have been little used. Bore hole surveys were included when it was thought that logging of older bores and of water bores might be done to provide additional information. As oil exploration companies have shown r.o interest in this work, the bill provides for discontinuance of subsidy for it. There have been few applications for subsidy for detailed structure drilling, lt is generally a low-cost operation and, where necessary, can be undertaken by any interested exploration company at its own expense. The bill deletes detailed structure drilling from the operations for which subsidy is payable.
At present the rate of subsidy nominally payable in respect of each kind of operation is laid down by the act but is subject to the Minister being able to fix a limiting amount of subsidy. In order to make the legislation more flexible to meet changing circumstances, it is proposed to amend the act so that the rate of subsidy for each category may be determined by regulation but so as not to exceed the rates in the present act. In agreements that have been made to date, and in the act, there is no provision for an upward revision of the approved limiting amount of subsidy. This limit is based on a cost estimate which itself may be based on average conditions; whereas, in unknown areas, there is no standard of reference. The bill, therefore, provides that in these circumstances unforeseeable costs reasonably incurred may be subsidized.
All applications for subsidy for operations which began before 30th June, 1964, are covered by the present act. The amended act will apply to operations begun in the period 1st July, 1964, to 30th June. 1967, both dates inclusive. As some operations begun within that period will not be completed by 30th June. 1967. the bill provides that an operation may qualify for subsidy if it is completed before 30th June, 1968. Subsidy is payable out of moneys appropriated by the Parliament for the purpose of this act. The amount appropriated for 1963-64 is £5,000,000. Subsidy liabilities are carried forward in respect of approved operations so that there is no break in the continuity of the subsidy scheme.
Events of the last few years have confirmed the early opinion of the Government’s advisers that oil should be present in Australia and have justified the Government’s policy in stimulating the exploration effort by direct and indirect assistance to the exploration companies. By its actions the Government has clearly affirmed the importance it attaches to the discovery of oil. This bill aims at continuing the task of assisting exploration in the hope that enough discoveries may be made to ensure that the exploration effort will continue without interruption.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Luchetti) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 19th May (vide page 2006), on motion by Mr. Freeth -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The Opposition supports this bill to amend the Explosives Act 1961. The bill seeks to remove any doubt about the provisions of the present act as far as the dumping of explosives at sea is concerned. It also provides power to make orders for the carriage of Commonwealth explosives by rail similar to the power that already exists in relation to handling explosives through ports. It provides for the necessary regulatory control of the storage, handling and transport of Commonwealth-owned or controlled explosives which are not for defence purposes. The great difference between the act and the provisions of the bill is that the bill brings within the ambit of the act explosives that are not for defence purposes. It provides for the handling, on the same basis as other Commonwealth explosives, of explosives manufactured by the Commonwealth and intended to be supplied to the governments of other countries. Provision is made for the Commonwealth to have power to direct by order in emergency conditions the way in which Commonwealth explosives can be carried in State railways on a far larger scale than that provided by the provisions of the States for the transport of commerciallyowned explosives. The bill will facilitate the transport of such explosives within Australia.
These are all measures which the Opposition agrees are necessary. It should be pointed out. though, that when the Explosives Bill 1961 was debated, the present Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) pointed out how the ambit of that bill should be widened. Had his advice been taken in 1961 it would not have been necessary, in the main, for this bill to be before us to-day. It is worth repeating portion of the speech made by the present Deputy Leader of the Opposition in 1961. I quote from “ Hansard “ of 1 8th October, 1961, at page 2164. He said -
I would not like to sit down, Sir, without referring to the general limitations on this Parliamentin dealing with explosives at sea or in our ports. This Parliament could pass a wider act than it has passed. It could pass an act dealing with explosives at sea or in ports which were being handled in the process of trade and commerce with other countries or amongt the States, or which were being handled by the Australian Defence forces or by Commonwealth instrumentalities. The Parliament has confined itself, in the previous three acts, as well as in this bill, to Commonwealth explosives in the context of defence.
It is clear that, in 1961, the present Deputy Leader of the Opposition pointed out what could or should have been done.
It may well be necessary in the future for the act to be broadened again. The Opposition realizes the importance of its being extended.It is only common sense that the power of the Commonwealth governing explosives, whether they are for defence or other uses by the Commonwealth, should be clear. The Opposition supports the measure, but it is our hope that, on future occasions, the wisdom of the advice that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition passes on to the Government will be accepted. If that is done, perhaps there will not be so great a need for such amending legislation as this.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Fairhall) read a third time.
Discharge of Morions
Motion (by Mr. Fairhall) - by leave - proposed -
That the Customs Tariff Proposals being part of Order of the Day No. 13, namely - Customs Tariff Proposals Nos.1 to 6. Customs Tariff (Canada Preference) Proposals No. I, Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Proposals Nos.1 to 4, Customs Tariff (Papua and New Guinea Preference) Proposal No. 1, be discharged.
.- Can the Minister tell me what the procedure is? Will these customs tariff proposals have to be revalidated in the next session? Will they have to come before us in the next session?
– in reply - These proposals concern motions that have been already assented to, after having been fully debated in the House.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
[Customs Tariff Proposals (No. 15).]
– I move -
Mr. Speaker, Customs Tariff Proposals No. 15 which I have just tabled relate to proposed amendments to the Customs Tariff 1933-1964 to give effect to the Government’s decisions following receipt of the Tariff Board reports on - sewing machines fluorocarbons shipbuilding.
On sewing machines there has been no change in the level of duties except that the most-favoured-nation duty on heads for domestic type treadle or hand sewing machines has been reduced by 5 per cent, to the non-protective level of 71 per cent, now applying to similar heads for electric sewing machines. Local production of fluorocarbons is being assisted by new protective duties of 10 per cent. British preferential tariff and 20 per cent, mostfavourednation. On the question of dumping, the Tariff Board has found that imports of fluorocarbons have been made at less than normal values and that such imports have caused injury to the Australian industry. My colleague, the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty), has therefore taken action to make fluorocarbons subject to dumping duties whenever appropriate.
The Government has accepted in principle the Tariff Board’s recommendation for continued assistance to the Australian shipbuilding industry.
The present subsidy on vessels built in Australia for the Australian coastal trade, or for use on Australian inland waters, will be continued on vessels over 500 tons gross and will be extended to cover vessels over 200 tons gross and not exceeding 500 tons gross, which are built in Australia in existing recognized shipyards. It is proposed to continue the subsidy arrangement until the end of 1969 prior to which the industry will again be examined by the Tariff Board. The present tariff proposals provide for protective duties on vessels of types and sizes excluded from the subsidy scheme. Duties of British preferential tariff 30 per cent, and most-favoured-nation 40 per cent, ad valorem are proposed for vessels not exceeding 200 tons gross and duties of British preferential tariff 30 per cent, and mostfavourednation 421 per cent, for vessels imported for temporary operation in Australia. In the latter case, however, the duties may be refunded in the event of the vessels being re-exported within a stipulated period. New vessels not exceeding 200 tons gross will be exempted from the provisions of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations. A gazette notice to this effect will be issued by my colleague, the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth). 1 commend the proposals to honorable members.
.- I move -
That the debate be adjourned.
In doing so I would like to protest against the late arrival-
– Order! The honorable member will be out of order if he continues. He will exhaust his rights.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Reports on Items.
– I present reports by the Tariff Board on the following subjects: -
Caterpillar Tractor-Scrapers (By-law).
Copies of correspondence between the Minister for Trade and Industry and the chairman of the Tariff Board on the Shipbuilding Report accompany the reports.
Ordered to bc printed.
Debate resumed from 13th May (vide page 1856), on motion by Mr. Fairhall -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This bill proposes to extend the operation of the Cellulose Acetate Flake Bounty Act until 31st December, 1964. The existing act expires on 30th June, 1964. This measure is introduced at a time when a review of the cellulose acetate flake industry is being made by the Tariff Board. We expect that before very long we will have a report from the board as a result of that inquiry.
This is one of a number of tariff proposals that have been submitted to th: House in recent times in relation to the chemical industry. I suppose we have haO more proposals in relation to this subject than we have ever had in relation to any other subject. What the board is being asked to do, and is doing, is to examine on different occasions small sections of a very extensive, complicated and detailed industry. We are getting recommendations for tariff proposals in respect of those small parts of this very complicated industry.
There are two things only that I want to say about this bill at the present time. I hope a little later to-day to say more on this subject, in respect of another measure. I think the time is long overdue for the board and the House to make a much more thorough and detailed examination of the chemical industry in Australia. 1 do not feel that the board or the House can arrive at an adequate decision about what should be done for the future development of the industry on the basis of separate examinations of very small and detailed sectors of the industry. Speaking for the Opposition, we cannot be expected to support, or to refrain from opposing, measures of this kind for much longer unless a more thorough review of the indusrty as a whole is made.
This bill extends the current cellulose acetate flake bounty legislation for six months to allow the board to make its examination of the section of the industry that is concerned. The Opposition does not intend to oppose the bill at this stage, but 1 give warning that we intend to make a pretty thorough examination of the board’s report and the circumstances surrounding it when, at the end of six months or some longer period, the matter comes before this House. The Opposition is not opposing the bill but will be concerned to see what happens at the end of the six months period.
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. Fairhall) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 1 9th May (vide page 2104), on motion by Mr. Fairhall -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This is a much more substantial matter than the one we have just discussed. It arises from the report by the Tariff Board dated 3rd April, 1964, which recommended an increase in the rate of bounty on sulphate of ammonia from £2 to £4 a ton. The Government has accepted this recommendation and has introduced a bill for the purpose of increasing the bounty for three years. While accepting the board’s recommendation, the Government has decided that the increased bounty provision shall operate only until 31st March, 1966. As the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall) put it in his speech, it will operate until 31 st March, 1966, “at the latest”. Tha bill also provides that the bounty may be terminated by proclamation at an earlier date, but not before 1st April, 1965. So what we will be doing if we pass this bill is giving a bounty on sulphate of ammonia of £4 a ton until 31st March. 1966, or. if a proclamation is made reducing the period, until such earlier date as may be proclaimed, but not, of course, before 1st April, 1965.
Under the present legislation the bounty is payable to Australian producers on their sales within Australia of sulphate of ammonia for use in Australia as fertilizer and the increased rate will operate from 21st May of this year. The cost of the measure is quite significant. It is estimated at £400,000 to £450,000, the estimate being based on present production in Australia, which is more than 100,000 tons a year. There is an annual limitation of £450,000 on the total amount of bounty and there is a provision in the present legislation for a profit limitation of 10 per cent., which will continue. The parties interested in this measure divide, roughly, into two sections. The first is the producers, who are three in number, being Electrolytic Zinc Company of Australasia Limited, Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and Australian Gas Light Company. These three producers are interested in the measure, and, of course, their employees, though not exactly in the same category, are also affected. Although their opinions about what might be done to protect the industry differ a little, they are in general agreement that it should be protected, and there seems to be support for the permanent maintenance of a system that provides for a little more protection than does this bill. On the other hand, the product of the industry is used mainly by primary producers. The biggest consumer is the sugarcane growing industry in Queensland. The Tariff Board’s report makes it clear that each and every one of the spokesmen for primary industry would like to see cheaper sulphate of ammonia used in the various kinds of fertilizers. For that reason, they oppose the protection of the industry. They would like to see increased imports from overseas. However, if there is to be protection, they say they would like to see it accorded by way of bounty rather than by way of tariff.
Of course, protection by way of bounty would give the primary producers an obvious advantage, in that the cost of the bounty would be met from revenue. Under that system the producers would be given a cash payment periodically to cover what are considered to be excess costs. The cost of the bounty would not be transferred to the final cost of the protected product. Under the bounty system, the product could be obtained at a lower price. The price to the primary producer would be lower and in the final analysis the extra cost would be borne by the taxpayer from Government money. That is how the economics of the system operate.
There would seem to be quite a strong case for the more general use of bounties for the protection of industry. One of the reasons is that, if there were a more general use of bounties, applications for assistance would be scrutinized and resisted more strongly than are applications for protective tariffs. It is a relatively easy matter to slip into a tariff that results in nothing more than an increase in the price of the commodity produced. Under that system, the extra cost is dispersed into the national production and no one in particular appears to be carrying it. On the other hand, if protection is given by way of bounty the Government has to make provision for that in its budget, so it is much more likely to resist protection or to require an adequate demonstration of the need for the protection in the first place.
I want to say something now about the structure of the sulphate of ammonia industry, because I think it is on this that the validity or otherwise of the protection that we are providing in this measure rests. As I have mentioned, there are three companies producing sulphate of ammonia in Australia. They are Electrolytic Zinc Company of Australasia Limited, Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and the Australian Gas Light Company. The works of Electrolytic Zinc are situated at Risdon in Tasmania. The plant commenced production there in 1956 and has a capacity of about 62,000 tons of sulphate of ammonia. Its production of ammonia is based on nitrogen produced by the fractional distillation of liquid air and hydrogen obtained by electrolysis of water. The company makes its own sulphuric acid from sulphur dioxide gas, which is a by-product of the smelting of zinc concentrates. The production by Electrolytic Zinc is obtained as a by-product resulting from the smelting of zinc. This does not provide a direct cost of production in any real sense of the term. There is a real cost of production involved in the production of sulphuric acid, but the Tariff Board’s report does not give us any clear indication of what that is. All that Electrolytic Zinc does is to decide on a notional cost of production, as this is substantially a by-product process. The B.H.P. organization began making sulphate of ammonia in about 1914. Tt has two plants, one at Port Kembla and one at Newcastle, with a total capacity of about 35,000 tons. The output is determined by the amount of ammonia gas becoming available from steel coking operations. This company does not make its sulphuric acid. It buys from what are called local suppliers. We are not told by the board who the local suppliers are, or whether they are owned or controlled by B.H.P. I strongly suspect that they would be.
These, then, are the main producers. Electrolytic Zinc and B.H.P. are the two greatest industrial structures in the whole of Australia. The third producer, Australian Gas Light Company, is a fairly small and fairly insignificant producer. It is situated in Sydney and produced sulphate of ammonia as far back as in the nineteenth century. It uses ammoniacal liquor for the production of its ammonia, and this is a by-product of the manufacture of town gas. The company makes about 5,000 tons of sulphate of ammonia a year and obtains the sulphuric acid which it uses from what is called a local supplier.
The problem arises here because of a difference in costs of production. The overseas costs are lower, and the main competitor is Canada. We are told that the Australian industry has claimed that it operates at a disadvantage of scale, compared with producers in Canada. The board tells us that, according to the journal “Nitrogen” of November, 1962, a copy of which was accepted in evidence, the two Canadian companies which exported sulphate of ammonia to Australia in 1962 have capacities to produce 61,000 to 75,000 tons of nitrogen in the form of sulphate of ammonia, ammonium phosphate and urea. We are told that the performance of Electrolytic Zinc, which has the largest capacity of any of the Australian producers, is about 13,000 tons of nitrogen in the form of sulphate of ammonia. So we have a difference in capacities of between 61,000 and 75,000 tons on the one hand and 13,000 tons on the other. Electrolytic Zinc claims that overseas manufacturers of sulphate of ammonia produce from hydrogen more cheaply. I would like to know somthing more about this, as the board’s report does not tell us much about it. There is a difference in scale, but there is also a technical difference in the processes being used to produce hydrogen in the two places.
I should think that the first thing we would want to know, before deciding what to do about the production of sulphate of ammonia in Australia, is what is going to happen about this question of scale. Is there going to be any solution of the question of scale? Are we in Australia going to be able to reach a scale of production that will allow us to approach the much more economical Canadian level? I should think that there could be argument as to whether the Canadian level is the ideal. Our production probably could be more economical if it was at a level even higher than the Canadian level. It would appear to be fairly clear that the question of scale in Australia is not determined only by the quantity of sulphate of ammonia that we require here in any given year. That requirement might be a little over 100,000 tons at best, and it is fairly clear that Electrolytic Zinc would have the capacity to produce all of this themselves.
– The honorable member for Wakefield says not, but they could produce a substantial proportion. My point is that this is not only a matter of the size of Australia’s consumption in any one year; it is a matter of how many producers are producing that quantity. The question of the development of an appropriate scale of production in Australia is going to be affected significantly by how many producers there are in the industry. I should think that if we were setting out to solve the technical problems associated with the production of sulphate of ammonia in Australia, we would not be setting out to produce it in two or three different plants - we would be setting out to produce it in one plant.
If we had what might be called a more rational or better planned economy we would be setting out to produce our sulphate of ammonia as a by-product of an industry in one particular place. If this happened to be a by-product of the process of producing zinc - I refer to the process used by Electrolytic Zinc in Risdon - if we were to decide that the best fundamental source of this by-product was the production of electrolytic zinc, we would decide to produce our sulphate of ammonia at Risdon, and decide also that the B.H.P. plant in Port Kembla or Newcastle, where we produce this material as a by-product of the coke ovens, would give us resources to be used for some other purpose. We would not try to duplicate our production in two different places. Surely, in the end, this is the kind of thing that the Tariff Board and this Parliament have to decide upon.
We have to decide how we would go about producing rationally this sort of commodity. We are not doing that now. I do not think we can go on indefinitely simply accepting the structure of industry as it develops, with hardly any interrelationship of planning between various units of industry. Therefore, the question which is fundamental to this, and a question which is fundamental to the development of so many other aspects of Australian industry, remains unsolved. It is not just a matter of recognizing that in so many fields the Australian consumption is at a figure which is low because the country is small, and saying that for this reason we cannot reach a satisfactory scale to allow production to reach the point of lowest cost. It is a matter of how many plants are going to operate in the industry.
In Australia, where we have a relatively small industrial structure with two ot three large basic units, like the chemical unit that Electrolytic Zinc represents and the iron and steel unit that B.H.P. represents, we are getting a great deal of inefficient duplication in the development of industry. It is for this reason that I call for an overall and critical examination of the development of the iron and steel and the chemical industry structures in Australia. The very fact that we are receiving so many detailed reports recommending - sometimes not recommending - protection for various aspects of, particularly, the chemical industry, calls into question the whole process we are using. The other question that arises and remains, I think, fairly substantially unanswered, is the difference between the processes of production of nitrogen used in Canada and those used in Australia. I do not know enough of the chemical process to know what the differences are, but there are significant differences, and I think we are entitled to know what they are. We would expect the Tariff Board to want to know and to report on what these differences are and why the Canadian process cannot be developed here. The industry is not a large one.
The Minister told us in his second-reading speech that the funds employed in production amount to about £3,000,000 and that employment is given to about 400 people altogether. So we have the spokesman for the £3,000,000 on the one hand and the spokesman for the 400 people on the other approving of this process. No doubt we will hear, from the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly), the spokesman of the primary producers, the consumers of the products of this industry, criticism of this whole procedure. Here again I want to make and to stress the point that I have made on several occasions this year when speaking to other bills, that even putting aside the question of scale and the technical questions involved in the production to which I referred briefly earlier to-day, the Parliament should expect the large industries concerned - iron and steel and the electronic industry - to be able to carry in certain cases more costly processes when they are producing by-products of their own industry which otherwise they would not easily be able to profit from. The alternative, very often, would be a complete waste of the by-products instead of their being sold at some return to the industry. Here it would seem that the Australian producers are fixing, in some cases, a notional cost of production, and they are expecting satisfactory profits on these by-product sections of their industry. I believe that this process is one that we must look at fairly critically in the future.
This matter comes to us in the context of imports from Canada which will damage the Australian industry severely if something is not done about them. In various parts of the mainland of Australia, and in Tasmania, if protection is not given men will lose their jobs and production will decline. With this picture of urgency and loss to individuals, we would therefore be expected to find if difficult to oppose a measure of this type. But it is not good enough for it to be considered in that light, nor is it good enough to have to make a decision at the point of some significant change in the industry. Again I want to stress the absence of any longer-term view. I shall not use the word “ planning “ again, although it has relevance to what I mentioned before, but these matters seem to me to show a characteristic absence of any long-term view. Certainly there has been a fairly sudden increase in the imports of sulphate of ammonia.
The Tariff Board report tells us that in 1961 our imports were only 110 tons, all of which came from the Federal Republic of Germany. In 1962 there was an import of 15,883 tons from Italy, but then the imports from Italy fell by 1963 to 3,911 tons. The significant thing is that in 1963 we suddenly, out of the blue, imported 23,140 tons of sulphate of ammonia from Canada. What will happen next year if the Canadian imports behave in the same way as the Italian imports? They might fall to one-third of that quantity next year. What is the explanation of these fantastic variations in imports from those countries? Why did we get 15,883 tons from Italy in 1962, and why did that figure fall to 3,911 tons in 1963? Why has the Federal Republic of Germany almost completely disappeared as an exporter of this product to Australia? If we imported 23,140 tons from Canada in 1963, and if these are the imports that are causing the trouble, what will happen to imports from Canada next year?
Then when we consider the imports of other fertilizers - “ NPK “ fertilizers, as they are called - we find that whilst there has been some variation, there has not been any very remarkable change. In 1961 the imports of these fertilizers amounted to 12,436 tons; in 1962, imports reached 15,345 tons; and in 1963 we imported 15,580 tons. This is not a significant change, and it is hardly likely that a case for an increase in bounty on these fertilizers because of increased imports would be plausible. But within the totals I have just mentioned there have been some more significant variations. Exports from the Federal Republic of Germany have fallen from 11,199 tons to 9,240 tons. Exports from Italy have increased from 984 tons to 5,565 tons. The totals of other importers to Australia - the United States of America and other countries - are quite insignificant.
We have evidence of the strange and quite erratic pattern of international trade in a number of these chemical products. It would be difficult for any industry to stabilize itself if it were prepared merely to react one way or another because of the quite sudden and marked fluctuations that occur. No doubt much of the trouble arises from the fact that output varies very much with production of by-products from industrial and chemical processes of manufacturers in various parts of the world. From time to time, they find themselves with a surplus or a shortage, and this affects their actions.
I do not suppose that there is any alternative. I will be very interested to see what happens in the exports of sulphate of ammonia next year from Canada to Australia. I will be very interested to see the figures that appear in the official accounts. We must not forget that if there is a significant fall in imports from Canada next year, the Australian producers will have been paid by the Australian taxpayers from £400,000 to £450,000 in the year that occurs between now and then. The provision to give power for the termination of the bounty by proclamation that can be issued at any time after 1st April of next year is perhaps included because of the possibility of this occurring.
I am not at the moment equipped to examine these sections of the two very important industries any more closely than I have done this afternoon, but I want to say that we must be prepared to examine these developments much more closely. I foreshadow that the Opposition, at any rate in the coming months and next year, will be showing a much more critical attitude to proposals of this type. In those circumstances, we do not propose to oppose the bill at this stage.
.- I fear that I will disappoint the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) because I support the Government in this exercise in protection. I do so for the particular reason, which I must emphasize, that if the protection were to take any other form than a bounty I would be very angry indeed. One of the significant developments in Australian agriculture is the present increasing use of nitrogen. This will be even more apparent in the future. The Tariff Board’s figures show that the total use of nitrogen, expressed in terms of sulphate of ammonia, rose from 130,000 tons in 1961 to 167,000 tons in 1963. This is a rapidly increasing proportion of the fertilizer market.
One of the big differences between our system of agriculture and that of, say, Britain, is the method of use of nitrogen. One of the things we are learning in Australia now is to use nitrogen economically. I paid a visit to Western Australian about a year ago, and saw Eric Smart, who is growing three crops of wheat in succession because of the wise use of nitrogen manure. The same thing can be seen in the Esperance district and in soil conservation work where quick growth is needed to protect the soil.
A really significant aspect of Australian agriculture will be the wise use of nitrogen. It would be a disaster at this stage to impose a duty on sulphate of ammonia to make it dearer when we are learning to use it wisely. We have to sell it in competition with other countries which very often subsidize the production of their crops and in many cases subsidize their primary producers in the purchase of nitrogenous fertilizers. The exporting sector would be placed in an impossible position if we had to pay an increased price for sulphate of ammonia. That is why I support this method of protection. I believe that it must be done by a bounty and not by a duty.
The honorable member for Yarra spoke on some matters, the significance of which he did not fully realize. I do not blame him for that, because rather more technical principles are involved than many people realize. I believe that the Government is to be commended for departing from the Tariff Board’s report. The Tariff Board recommended that the bounty should stand for three years. The Government - wisely, I think - has narrowed the field and has said that the bounty can be taken off, by proclamation, in April, 1965, and that it should not run for longer than 1966. The Tariff Board said that the bounty should run for three years.
I feel that the Government has made a wise decision because another significant development in the nitrogen story is the increasing use of urea. Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Limited is just on the point of producing urea in Australia. I would contest most vigorously any proposal that LCL should receive the benefit of a duty on urea. If help is needed, it should be given by a bounty. This is to be the picture of the industry.
The honorable member for Yarra suggested that we should have a clearer idea of what will happen in the industry and of the planning that should take place. It is almost impossible to plan in this field because of the impact of a comparatively new fertilizer, the use of which we are not quite clear about. I think it would be silly to go ahead and say that we are to have a nitrogenous fertilizer system of industry based on this pattern, when we simply do not know, for good technical reasons, what the pattern shall be. This emphasizes the difficulty in making decisions as to what the pattern of the industry is to be and to do such planning is a good deal more difficult than most people realize.
Several other interesting points are hidden away in the Tariff Board’s report. It is interesting to find that the bounty is estimated to cost about £400,000 a year and that there are only 400 men employed in the manufacture of the product. Using the measuring stick which the honorable member for Yarra castigates me for using, I find it will cost the Australian taxpayer £1.000 for every man employed in making sulphate of ammonia. I do not say that this is of overwhelming importance, and I do not say that it is wrong. I do not wish to be misunderstood, but I think that it is a measure that ought to be run over any industry if you wish to use the argument that employment is the object of the exercise, as some people do.
The report contains other points of interest. I was very interested to hear the honorable member for Yarra develop the unused capacity thesis. This is one of the things we ought to look at clear-eyed continually. The Australian Industries Development Association has again given birth to one of its rather unusual pieces of thinking. It has advanced the thesis that because there is a certain amount of unused capacity in Australian industry generally we should impose tariffs high enough to ensure that industry is used to its full capacity. The association conveniently forgets that as soon as you do that and encourage the unused capacity to be used, there is nothing to stop other companies opening up factories with unused capacity which in turn has to be filled. So this often-used argument should always be looked at clear-eyed. To-day the honorable member for Yarra used it. I am sorry to say that the arrangement is not now as good as it often is. According to the Tariff Board, the capacity of the industry is only about 100,000 tons a year. The output may go a little beyond that on occasions. It seems quite certain that Australia’s requirements of sulphate of ammonia will be considerably more than that this year, because of rapidly increasing production and particularly because of a sharp increase in the acreage of sugar cane grown.
Secondly, the Tariff Board, in its report, made the point that it seems reasonably certain that no sulphate of ammonia will be available to us from Canada. The point that arises is: From where are we to get the supplies that we need? We have not sufficient capacity in Australia to meet all our needs. Additional supplies seem unlikely to be available in Canada. One company appears to have an option on all the sulphate of ammonia that will be produced in Australia and it has large orders for imports as well. Obviously, the Australian industry will be flat to the boards, and we must obtain additional supplies of sulphate of ammonia from other countries.
In my opinion, the picture will change with new developments. The battle between urea and sulphate of ammonia will be a most interesting development with important implications for technical advances in Australian agriculture. I repeat my previous warning that urea will become one of the basic tools of trade, so to speak, of Australian agriculture. Any development that would make it dearer for the man who produces for export would be a disaster. I urge the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall), who is now at the table, to use all his efforts to see that if the factory that I understand is to begin producing this month - I believe that it is in Sydney - needs protection, it will receive it, as the industry that produces sulphate of ammonia received it, in the form of a bounty rather than duty.
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.
Motion (by Mr. Fairhall) proposed -
That the bill be now read a third time.
.- Mr. Speaker, several pointsarose in the earlier discussion, and I hoped that the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall) would be able to tell us something about them. There were quite a number, but I do not propose to deal with them all. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) spoke about the pattern of the industry in the production of nitrogen in Australia. This is surely a technical matter - one for chemists and engineers. I suggest that we could obtain evidence from some independent sources in the universities or elsewhere. I would expect the Tariff Board to be anxious to obtain evidence about the future structure of the indusry from persons other than representatives of interested parties, whether they were for or against certain commercial enterprises and processes. There are people who could give evidence to the board and who are quite independent of the existing commercial structures such as the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Limited and the Electrolytic Zinc Company of Australasia Limited. I believe that we have a right to expect that, before long, independent evidence will be before the board.
At present, when we examine Tariff Board reports, we find lists of witnesses who, no doubt, are competent in their own way. But either they are interested in supporting a structure, industry or development in which they have a vested interest or they resist those things. The trouble about the witnesses who appear before the board from time to time is that, one way or the other, they are soaked in vested interests. Rarely do we find any witness with competence and a claim to independence. The cost of witnesses’ fees paid to people from, say, academic life who can speak as chemists and engineers about the future pattern of the industry may be very small compared to some of the costs incurred at present.
The honorable member for Wakefield made another point concerning the future of urea production. That matter is involved here. I think that Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand is developing that industry now. But I would like to have an independent opinion about the future of the industry and not have to rely on evidence given to the board by representatives of that company or other interests who are resisting a case put by it. We cannot be certain of the future prospects for imports of sulphate of ammonia from Canada. That is pretty clear. Problems will arise if the situation suddenly changes. Developments such as these should be anticipated and we should not be content to consider them only after the event.
Those are several of the points that I hoped the Minister would discuss. I trust that they will at least be taken further before long. Many other points as well were brought out in the earlier discussion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
– I present the first report of the Printing Committee.
Report - by leave - adopted.
Debate resumed from 14th May (vide page 1945), on motion by Mr. Freeth -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The measure before us gives permanent form to the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, which over the past two years has been an interim body. The function of the institute, as set out in the bill, is to promote aboriginal studies, to publish or assist in the publication of aboriginal studies, to encourage and assist co-operation amongst the universities, museums and other institutions concerned with aboriginal studies and to assist universities, museums and other institutions in training research workers in fields of aboriginal studies. The institute, while being empowered to assist universities and museums in their work, has power to make grants to individual workers, linguists, musicologists, anthropologists, ethnologists and so on to work independently in the field of aboriginal studies.
It is, of course, a terrible reflection on the Commonwealth that it is 63 years after the formation of the Commonwealth and 52 years after the Commonwealth accepted the Northern Territory, that for the first time we are passing legislation to establish an institute, the function of which will be to record aboriginal languages, ceremonies, customs, nomenclature and everything else associated with them as a people. In 1962, largely because of the representations of the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), the institute was set up in interim form and this measure represents the restoration of an earlier situation in which some governments took an enlightened interest in the aboriginal people. It is quite extraordinary that, since the days of Walter Edmund Roth, who was appointed as an ethnographer by the Queensland Government and who functioned in the 19th century, and early into the 20th century, and since the South Australian Government sponsored the expeditions of Sir Walter Baldwin Spencer and Francis J. Gillen to central Australia, no government of the Commonwealth has done anything to make a record of the lives, customs and so on of the aboriginal people.
True there has been a tremendous amount of anthropological work done, but no government thought that it was its function to sponsor these studies. No government considered it was its function to apply the findings of such sciences as anthropology and linguistics to carry out aboriginal policies. Now at this late stage, 50-odd years after the work of Walter Edmund Roth, Sir Walter Baldwin Spencer and Francis J. Gillen, the Government has entered officially into this field. The Governments of the States, which have primary responsibility for aborigines, are doing practically nothing to record their languages or life. The honorable member for Mackellar, with a sense of urgency occasioned by the speed with which some of these languages, customs and ceremonials are dying out, pressed for the establishment of this institute. All the anthropologists, linguists and others of significance in Australia were brought together and became the institute. A governing council of the institute has been set up and it is now clothed in statutory form. Initially, Commonwealth expenditure on these functions will be in the vicinity of £150,000.
There seem to me to be certain cheering features about this legislation that are not revealed in the text of the legislation itself. One cheering feature is that for the first time officially in Commonwealth history the Commonwealth is recording its appreciation of aboriginal life, and of the aboriginal people. The very extensive work begun in this century by State government sponsored scientific expeditions is revealed if we look at the work of Walter Edmund Roth, who was an official of the Queensland Government for some years. The following list of his publications shows the kind of work that he was doing: -
Australian Canoes and Rafts.
Australian Huts and Shelters.
Burial Ceremonies and Disposal of the Dead.
Decoration, Deformation, and Clothing.
Domestic Implements, Arts and Manufactures.
An Elementary Grammar of the Nggdrikudi Language.
Ethnological Studies among the NorthWestCentral Queensland Aborigines.
Marriage Ceremonies and Infant Life.
Miscellaneous Papers: 1. Tabu and other Forms of Restriction; 2. Counting and Enumeration: 3. Signals on the Road; Gesture Language; 4. Progressive Koko-yimidir Exercises.
Note on a Queensland Aboriginal Drill.
Notes of Government, Morals and Crime.
Notes of Savage Life in the Early Days of
West Australian Settlement.
On Certain Initiation Ceremonies.
Postures and Abnormalities.
Report of Northern Protector of Queensland.
Report of the Royal Commission on the Condition of the Natives of Western Australia.
Social and Individual Nomenclature.
String and other Forms of Strand: Basketry, Woven Bag, and Net Work.
The Structure of the Koko-yimidir Language.
Superstition, Magic, and Medicine.
Transport and Trade.
He also did a whole series of studies on food, fighting weapons, games, sports and amusements.
It is clear from these titles that early in the century, with government backing, a very thorough study of the aboriginal people was being made. Then, for some reason or other, the inspiration died out and no State Governments appointed ethnographers. I do not know what the governments hoped their policies would achieve for the aborigines, but there certainly was not an attempt to formulate a policy based on any understanding of them. I hope that the respect for the aboriginal people that this legislation implies carries over into other items of policy. I know that it is not a function of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies to make any comments on aboriginal policy. It is not a policy-making body; it is a scientific body. But it is inevitable, if the government is enlightened, that what the institute does will affect policy, even though that is not its primary aim. Already the work of the institute has very clear implications for education. It has very clear implications for psychology. It has very clear implications in understanding the whole question of linguistics - that is, how languages came into being. It has very clear implications in health policy. All these studies, I hope, will affect policy, though the institute does nothing to set out to suggest policy.
There is a contradiction in Commonwealth policy. With a great sense of urgency, we are trying to record aboriginal customs and aboriginal languages, but the educational policy of the Commonwealth is not in any way designed to preserve any of the aboriginal languages. Even where education, as at Hermannsburg, could be given in the vernacular, Commonwealth policy is to discourage it. I hope the establishment of this institute will encourage the State Governments to restore their own sponsoring of aboriginal studies. I hope that the work especially in linguistics will induce governments in Australia to train their staffs in aboriginal languages. I know that there are men whose personal enthusiasm in the Commonwealth’s service, such as Mr. Gerry Long, has given them the mastery of some aboriginal languages. This has been found to be useful for the Commonwealth. Those of us who were on the select committee inquiring into the grievances of the Yirrkala aborigines saw how seriously Commonwealth policy can go astray. Commonwealth officers generally do not understand aboriginal languages. They were transmitting to the Commonwealth Government what they thought concerned the aborigines, but when our parliamentary select committee went to Yirrkala with competent linguists as interpreters, the welfare officer concerned was amazed at the opinions the aborigines were expressing. He was surprised at the problems concerning the aborigines and admitted that the entire proceedings were to him a complete revelation. Yet the Commonwealth tries to conduct relations with thousands of people, many of the adults amongst whom do not speak English. In point of fact, the Commonwealth has no communication whatever with large numbers of Australian citizens.
I hope that the establishment of this institute will encourage Australian governments to utilize the knowledge of anthropologists, linguists and ethnographers in framing policy, particularly educational policy, in relation to the aborigines. “ Conform to us “ seems to be the demand made on the aborigines. There seems to be a general lack of technique designed to facilitate aboriginal adjustment to the problem of living with the dominant European society.
About a year ago, I think, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) wrote to the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) asking for the scope of this proposed institute to cover certain points of policy and urging the early introduction of the legislation. The Opposition supports this measure because it believes that everything that was suggested is covered in the form of legislation that has been set out in this bill. The Leader of the Opposition wanted the expansion of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies to enable it to do a number of things adequately. One was the recording of what can be detected of aboriginal pre-history. A great deal of good work has been done in this field by amateurs who have found evidence of aboriginal pre-history in caves and excavations. We now have the technique of carbon dating which has enabled us to estimate with a high degree of accuracy the age of things. This has so far given the scientists a clue to the antiquity of man over something like 8,000 years in the Australian continent. This is important for the study of all mankind.
The Leader of the Opposition desired that the institute should be so formed as to enable it to start action to assess the archaeological, cultural and historical significance of aboriginal sites. The Leader of the Opposition also desired that the institute should record aboriginal history since European settlement. This is related to another object that he had - to collect and record the letters and early memoirs of Europeans concerning contact with aborigines since the first exploration and settlement of this continent by Europeans.
It is astonishing how much has been detected about aboriginal history since the institute came into being. Some of the information is in such places as the maritime museums in France. The early French explorers who landed on Tasmania and elsewhere had contact - sometimes unfortunate contact - with aborigines. There were navigators such as Freycinet, Dentrecasteaux and D’Urville and others. They explored our coasts at a time when the leadership of the French Navy was aristocratic. It was a very unfortunate time for French aristocrats. Navigators spent time away from home while the French revolution was developing and returned to find a changed France. The officers of the French Navy were the targets of revolutionary hostility. Some were thrown into prison, and their works were scattered to the four winds. Very valuable descriptions of the aborigines of Tasmania, who have now become extinct, have been located in the French maritime museums. Something more of the history of Australia has been collected. This work has been sponsored by the Institute of Aboriginal Studies quite early in its period of temporary formation. Many family diaries and letters revealing the observations of early settlers have been collected or recorded and have disclosed interesting historical material about the aboriginal people. It is not important that those observations were made by people who were not qualified anthropologists. Some of them were effective observers.
We do not have an entirely efficient indexing system available at some central place which can tell Australian scholars and others exactly what material has been accumulated and may be studied in places such as universities and museums in Australia. In his letter to the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition suggested that the collection and recording of all that could be detected of such history would be an important function of the institute. He asked also that the institute should record further the study of linguistics so that more Europeans might learn to speak aboriginal tongues. He asked for the establishment in Canberra of a library and museum of significance concerning the aboriginal people. I believe that is something that should be developed in the Australian Capital Territory. The Leader of the Opposition asked for the indexing of what is possessed by museums, libraries and individuals of significance to the knowledge of aborigines. He asked for the filming and description of aboriginal rites and ceremonies. Those of us who have been privileged to be on the Interim Council of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies have seen many of the films which the institute has financed or caused to be made or assisted to be made, some of them by the Australian Film Unit. A fascinating world is opened up to anybody who sees those films. One can appreciate how priceless they are in the records of this nation when one considers that the speed with which European contact is taking place is rapidly extinguishing all aboriginal ceremonial by undermining the convictions and concepts upon which that ceremonial is based. Something is indicated to us about our own minds by the study of the functioning of the minds of the aboriginal people.
In a sense, the aborigines are of value because they represent an extreme type. The aboriginal is not a person of a materialist turn of mind. The significant thing in many aboriginal cultures was the dream time - the spiritual concept of the origin of mankind and of the origin of creation. The aboriginal actually lived out a life that was entirely related to this fundamental belief. He was a transcendental thinker, not an immanent one. He was interested primarily in the explanation of everything. Where anything was in being, whether it was Ayers Rock or some other feature of the landscape, a complete explanation of it was part of his cult and his life was related in a very detailed manner to what he believed.
That was a completely opposite point of view to that of, say, the Chimbu highlanders of New Guinea. They are primitive people, but they are thorough-going, hearty materialists who are rapidly adapting themselves to a money economy. Their philosophy is immanent. As soon as Europeans showed them the possibilities of coffee plantations and cash crops, they seized the idea, and before long their cooperative effort was earning £200,000 a year. In their culture they could not care less about the ultimate explanations of things. They were not like the aborigines, who are regarded by anthropologists, in their own sense, as the intellectuals of the primitive world. Studies being made under the auspices of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies show how subtle are the thought patterns in the minds and thought processes of aborigines. Some of these concepts may have a considerable bearing on education.
The work of the institute in the recording of films obviously will be one of the more popular aspects of its functions. I believe that if some of the films that we have seen can be shown to the general public at a centre in Canberra, if a real museum of aboriginal studies is established here, it will be a centre of the utmost interest to men all around the world and to people who visit the Australian Capital Territory. Obviously, it will be something that can co-ordinate well with disciplines in the other intellectual and academic institutions that are being developed in this Territory. Such a centre would be a sign that the Australian people are developing an interest in every aspect of the history of this country. After all, our history teaching so far has been based on the superstition that something is discovered only when a European sees it. That, of course, is egocentric; it is not actually the history of the world nor does the history of an inhabited land begin with European discovery. Egocentrically we seem to believe that when Columbus discovered the Americas that was the beginning of North America. Whilst that was an event of vast significance in that it began the relationship of Europe with that continent, it was not the discovery of the North American continent by mankind. That continent was discovered earlier. Whilst it is very important that Captain Cook saw New Zealand, Maori navigators saw it about 400 years before him. Now New Zealand has developed a great interest in those Maori navigators and regards the whole of their story as part of the history of that country.
The institute established by this legislation is designed to give us a fuller study of the history of Australia by recording what can be recorded, of the thought processes of aboriginal Australians who are not vanishing now - which is very fortunate - but whose culture is vanishing. One very important aspect of the work of the institute is that, as it has gone among the aboriginal people and recorded their ceremonies and sometimes shown them the films that it has produced about their affairs, a very great new self-respect has developed among them. They realize that their ways of thinking and acting are of some significance. Where they have lived with the white community, which always has acted as a steamroller or Juggernaut going over them, we have never developed any conception of any rights of theirs to land.
The early governments of New Zealand made treaties with the Maoris because they recognized that the Maoris had some land rights. The early governments in the United States of America made treaties with the Indians because they recognized that the
Indians had some land rights. But there are no treaties with the aborigines - except for Batman’s bogus one - because none of us recognized that they had any possession. We were not able to recognize that they had any possession because we were not able to understand their concept of possession. We were not able to understand that they did not regard land as a commodity to be traded. But the early belief that aborigines saw no significance in particular land was quite wrong. The whole of their religion and of their philosophy was based upon the personal relationship of each man with some land. That was spiritual concept, a dream-time concept. I believe that a new respect for their rights will come about as we understand more of them.
With great speed, great efficiency and great devotion, the people who have been working for the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies have done significant work in a very short time. Future generations of Australians who give consideration to it will thank them for their work. It is a characteristic of every nation that as it becomes more and more conscious of itself it seeks to appreciate every aspect of its own past. Our whole European-Australian fixation has been on the past of our people in Europe. Much of our education concentration is on the past of our people in Europe and the continuing parallel development of our peoples in Europe, and in Australia. In a sense, we have lived on the surface of this continent, but not in it. As we are developing a greater sense of our own distinctiveness as a people, so there is developing a greater interest by the Commonwealth and the people of the Commonwealth in the aboriginal people.
I hope that this respect which underlies the development of this institute - for which the people of the future will be deeply indebted to the honorable member for Mackellar - will express itself in the ratification of some of the conventions of the International Labour Organization such as the convention that makes it possible for people to have primary education in their mother tongue and the convention that recognizes some sort of land tenure for all primitive peoples living in conjunction with more developed economies. I hope that appreciation of the aborigines will lead to a more humane policy. Assimilation is the policy, and it will be carried out more readily if the aborigines’ conception of themselves is one of self-respect and respect for their own culture and their rights. In those circumstances their adjustment to the European majority in this country will be so much easier.
We hope that the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies always will be given considerable latitude in its choice of fields for study. There can easily develop, among welfare officers and many authorities who are administering aboriginal affairs in the Commonwealth and in the States, a possessive attitude towards aborigines, a resentment if somebody else comes into the field and a particular resentment if somebody else’s study reveals things that are inconvenient. There may be uncomplimentary implications about some aspects of Government policy. Ministers and administrators, being human, have a tendency to regard anything that does not suggest that all is well as a personal attack. Up to the present there have been no signs of any of those attitudes of mind in the representatives of the Commonwealth Government on the interim council. I am not making this as a form of attack. But such a tendency could easily develop because I believe that there is a clear contradiction between a general policy of assimilation, which means the disappearance of the aboriginal culture, and this battle to preserve, at least in record form, the aboriginal culture. A contradiction can easily develop between two sets of persons - the people who believe they are administering the policy of assimilation and the people who, for the sake of their studies, are encouraging the performance of ceremonies, the recording of languages and so on.
I am quite certain that if, in the course of time, all aboriginal languages die out, there will develop a considerable resentment that they have disappeared from Australian life when an educational policy could have preserved some of them, even though the aborigines concerned may also master English. After all, Australia has not had a number of languages supported officially.
If we do not take steps to preserve the knowledge of the ways of thinking and the languages of the aborigines, our own people in the future will resent this generation which assisted in the disappearance of these things.
I believe, therefore, that the Commonwealth Government, as well as the State Governments, ought to be sensitive to the findings from these studies. The Commonwealth Government should not regard the aboriginal race as a race for museum study; nor should it regard aborigines as curiosities, examples of stone-age men living in Australia and, therefore, something to be looked at as a spectacle. It should regard them as people whose ways of thinking, like the ways of thinking of all people, throw light on the human mind.
Although the fact has not been appreciated, we acknowledge there are some lessons to be learned from the aboriginal people. When I was last in the Northern Territory I noted that the Australian Army, for example, in teaching its men survival under certain conditions which they might experience has been utilizing the knowledge of the aborigines in regard to such matters as what can be eaten in the desert and in the bush, and how to live off the land. Nutritional studies that have taken place in the Northern Territory and elsewhere - not under the auspices of this institute - have led to the discovery that many of the foods which aborigines utilize for survival have a high vitamin content. It will be remembered that in the folk medicine of Europe, rose hips had twenty to thirty times the concentration of vitamin C that oranges had. There are many parallel cases to be found in the foods that aborigines utilize for their survival. These studies have quite an important bearing on medicine and, in the instance I have given, they have proved also to be of military significance.
The Opposition supports this bill and congratulates the Government on introducing it. We express the hope that there will be early imitation by the States of the Commonwealth’s action in supporting aboriginal studies so that there will be an intelligent appreciation of the work of this institution not only by the Government but also by people, such as missionaries and station-owners, who have so much to do with aborigines. It is our hope that, in this atmosphere of appreciation, the implications of the dignity and the rights of aborigines will begin to be worked out.
– I am very glad to have the opportunity of supporting this bill and what has been said so eloquently by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley). As the honorable member said, this bill provides for a permanent Institute in place of the interim body which was set up as an emergency measure and which has done a great deal of work already. I would like, as I am sure other honorable members of the House would like, to express thanks to a number of people in this regard. First, I express thanks to the Government, which has seen fit to introduce this measure and also to provide the very necessary funds for the interim council to work; secondly, to the members of the Opposition, because I am very grateful for the constructive help given by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), as well as for the work done by the honorable member for Fremantle. I think that the introduction of this measure is something which the Opposition might well consider to be a matter where cooperation with the Government has borne fruit in the national interest. I think mention should also be made of Dr. W. E. H. Stanner, who chaired the first introductory conference, and subsequently was the first executive officer of the council. Professor J. A. Barnes of the Australian National University and Mr. F. D. McCarthy, the distinguished scholar from the Australian Museum in Sydney, subsequently held that position. We are all grateful to Professor A. D. Trendall who has carried out the difficult work of chairmanship of the interim council and for whose guidance the Institute should have a very great measure of gratitude. I think we should also congratulate ourselves that we have got so far. I agree entirely with the point made by the honorable member for Fremantle that, although the intentions of this institute are academic, it will help us to handle the problems, whether they be in regard to assimilation or anything else, of our relations with aborigines a little better than they have been handled. Understanding of aborigines has been lacking in the past. I find myself in complete agreement with the statement by the honorable member for Fremantle that this institute will help in the administrative policy although the Institute itself will have, and should have, nothing to do with policy in the first degree. It is an academic organization which may provide instruments for other people to use, but in itself should have no part in policy.
I believe this can be a very important measure. But its importance is going to depend upon the way in which it is worked out. It will depend upon the Institute itself and the way in which it applies its resources and uses the skills available to it. The provision of the necessary funds will also be a factor. The amount of funds needed is so small in comparison with the total budget of the Government that I do not think that this matter will turn out to be of very grave consequence. In point of fact, the Institute has not been short of funds up to date. It has been short of skilled people who can apply its funds, because the obtaining of skilled staff, and people who are capable of operating in this field, is by no means an easy matter. The Institute is gathering momentum gradually. Indeed, it is important that the Institute should show that it has some future because, unless that future can be shown, the necessary skilled people to do the work cannot be attracted to it. The Institute’s policy is paying off now, and it is rapidly increasing its tempo of operations.
I do not think that it is going to be short of funds in the future, because the amount needed will be quite modest. The honorable member for Fremantle suggested it would be £150,000 a year. That is the magnitude of the amount that will be needed, although it may rise a little higher before it reaches its peak. It is different from Government departments which have a tendency to grow, and grow and grow. But this Institute should indeed grow as quickly as possible in the near future while the very scarce material, the vanishing, evanescent material, still exists. Then, its work in a few years’ time will tail off because there will no longer be this invaluable field available for study.
So I think our task is, in so far as we can do so with the resources of scholarship available to us, to increase our operations as quickly as possible. But they will be only small operations even at their peak, and their peak will not be held for any length of time, because the fields of study are vanishing with the vanishing of the old knowledge and the old ways.
It is indeed a vanishing field. I had not appreciated until the last few years, during which I have been looking at the subject critically, how fast this field of study is evaporating. Even in the last few years, when I have had the opportunity of examining the matter, a significant contraction has been evident. If 1 may use a physical metaphor, I would say that the field has a halflife of about six or seven years. That means that six or seven years from now there will be only half as much left to study as there is to-day. Six or seven years after that there will be only a quarter as much left as there is to-day, and twenty years from now there will be only about one-eighth as much as there is to-day. This being the case, the big dividends in terms of results will come from commencing operations quickly.
Much has gone, but much still remains. It remains not only in the customs and lives of the more primitive people, but also in the memory of old men, both aboriginal and white, men who are, in the nature of things, not going to live very much longer but who can still remember things of value. I give one instance. It may not, perhaps, be of prime importance, but it is something susceptible of numerical measurement. We know that in Australia there were 633 languages which we can name. These were separate languages. They might be spread over, perhaps, 150 major language chains, but still they were separate languages. There were 633 that we can now enumerate; there were probably another 200 or 300 that we know nothing of and that have vanished. Of the 633, there are still speakers of well over 300. These are not just dialects but 300 separate languages. In many cases the repository of tradition lies in one or two old men. I am afraid that I myself missed by only a few months recording on tape one of the most important languages in New England because the last remaining speaker of it died just a few months before I went to see him.
This is the situation that confronts us. A tremendous amount of ceremonial is vanishing, but still a good deal remains. Quite a lot of art also remains. As well as living art, there are the means available to us, through living men, of appreciating the meaning of recorded art of long ago. There are problems of physical anthropology and of prehistory. The problems of prehistory are perhaps of lesser urgency than the other problems, not because prehistory is less important but because the evidences that remain are more permanent. All these things and a good deal more are of value for study. The whole field of aboriginal music is important. Honorable members perhaps have heard it discussed by such people as Trevor Jones of the University of Western Australia, late of Sydney. This whole field is important for the understanding of musical theory generally.
As I say, quite a lot remains, and our prime task surely is not so much to understand and interpret what remains as to record it. We need, of course, to have some understanding so that we can record the significant things after separating them out. But there is not time to do a complete analysis. This can come later and can come at the hands of, perhaps, authorities and bodies other than this institute. The final studies should not, I feel, be in the hands of the institute, but are properly the field of the universities and other such learned bodies. The institute’s prime responsibility is to record, just as, for instance, the prime responsibility of the Bureau of Mineral Resources is not so much to interpret geological theory as to record the geological structure, although in that case, of course, there is not quite the same urgency because the geological structure will remain for future study. For us with the aborigines it is now or never. What is available now will not remain for future study.
Somebody will say: “ Why bother? What does it matter? These are only the aborigines; does it matter if this knowledge is lost? “ I believe that this is the crux of the matter and here we see the real importance of our study. We are not just studying aborigines although the aborigines are important people in their own right for whom we have a responsibility. We are studying man and man’s nature. We are laying up the raw material for future psychologists and sociologists. We are preserving the linguistics, the semantics, the material for art studies, for studies of material culture, of the nature of authority and, indeed, of the nature of man. What is available for study here cannot be studied anywhere else. It can only be studied in Australia, now.
If we had been approaching this matter 200 years ago it might have been very different, but we are not. We are approaching it to-day, and our feeling in this regard should surely be influenced by the longer perspectives which have, only in the last few decades, come into this study of man. It is only a few decades ago that it was believed that man was 25,000 or 30,000 years old. In those circumstances prehistory might not have been of tremendous importance. But now we know that man is more than 1,000,000 years old and “ man “ includes our ancestors as well as the ancestors of the aborigines. It is, of course, wrong to think that all people throughout the world lived in the way in which the Australian aborigines have lived. Climates are different and material culture is different, but I think there is probably very great similarity between the way in which the aborigines and other people lived. Carbon dating, the means which enables us to give an absolute age to objects, seems to show that only 10,000 years ago the aboriginal inhabitants of Australia stood, materially, not very far behind the aboriginal inhabitants of the Old World. They may be, as some say, a retarded people. But I wonder whether this is true. If you simply talk on the basis of a span of 20,000 years, then the gap that has occurred between the races of the Old World and the Australian aboriginal is big indeed, and it does allow you to talk about retarded people; but if you take a time scale of 1,000,000 years or more, then the few thousand years that our race has gone ahead do not mean very much in terms of absolute value.
I believe that one great thing we are finding out is the fragmentation of early life. I have spoken of the fragmentation of languages - 600, 700 or 800 of them. Does the House realize what this means? It means that a separate language was the private property of 300 or 400 people. This goes back, and back and back. It may easily ‘be that this separation of language is one of the ways in which groups were kept small. That may be an important part of the mechanism. It is almost certain that our own ancestors, if you go back only 300 or 400 generations, lived in very small and nearly self-contained groups, and had lived in them for 70,000 or 80,000 generations before that time. Do you imagine that this has left no mark on our psychology? Do you imagine that it has left no mark on man’s nature?
I have said that Australia is the only place in which this old state of affairs can be studied. Only in Australia will you find a pre-agricultural community, living without tools of metal and without any of the appurtenances of civilization. As the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) well reminded us, there are communities which, from our white perspective, are less contacted. There are areas in New Guinea that are wilder than Australian areas, but this does not make them of the same theoretical importance, because the New Guinea areas represent a later stage in human development.
I feel that what we are endeavouring to do - ‘Heaven only knows whether we will succeed in doing it - is to put on record for future scholars facts about the nature of all men which are invaluable and irreplaceable. This is the raw material of social science. We are trying to lay it up now and, if we fail in our task, it will never be laid up in human history.
I think the honorable member for Fremantle made a good point when he spoke of the way in which these studies add to the self-respect of the aborigines themselves. This is something which I have seen. Even in my own limited experience in this field, when aborigines have come to understand that what they have is of real value it takes on, in their eyes, a new and better significance. If their culture must go - and it is going; it cannot be saved - then perhaps it is of some human satisfaction to them to know that at least a record of it is going to be preserved for eternity, so far as the human race is eternal, and that what they have and have lived for will not be squandered, lost and dissipated in the way in which many of them have seen their tribal treasures and old rituals go, but will be laid up m the treasury of human experience. I think we are doing something for them as human beings in this regard.
We are the trustees for all humanity in this respect. Neither in Africa, where you have the bushmen and the people of the Kalahari Desert, nor in the districts of the hill tribes of India, Malaya and Ceylon, is there left available for record the kind of thing which is still available in Australia, although even here only for a very limited time. I cannot help being reminded of the story of Tarquin and the Sybilline books. When Tarquin was asked to buy a number of books at a high price and refused to do so, the Sybil who had the books burnt one and offered the remainder at the same price. This went on day after day until only one book remained, which had to be bought at the price for which all could have been obtained earlier. We are the trustees for humanity in the last place where these things can be studied. That is how we stand. I support the bill and hope that it will go through.
.- Let posterity note that for once I am in complete agreement with the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). He and the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) have given scholarly dissertations which I hope all members of the House will read with profit. I add my voice to the support which we on this side give with all the force that we have to the principles embodied in the bill and to the establishment of the new institute.
I express the hope that the institute will not become just an academic body, spending its time examining the past or recording the present. I hope that from it will flow a greater appreciation of the problems of the aboriginal community in being integrated - I use that word instead of “ assimilated “ - or living in conjunction with the community in which we live. I know many of these people very well. I do mot refer to the people of the remote tribes, which have been living in the same places for some 10,000 years. I know how keenly the aboriginal person feels his lowly status in this community and how valuable has been the sudden surge of interest in his or her culture in building up morale. One of the things we have to build up in the aboriginal community is a sense of morale, a sense of community, a sense of selfreliance. The continued studies of an institute such as this and the scholars associated with it will help to do just that. So there are these two projects which arc subsidiary to the scholarships. There is that of giving the aboriginal people a sense of community with us, a sense of morale and some sense of toeing of importance; the other one is giving them the sense of partaking in production in the Australian community, the feeling of being regarded as human beings, the feeling of the importance of the preservation of their human dignity. This is a social enterprise of soma order. I commend and congratulate the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) on the initiative which he took in the first instance in having this scholarly institute established. I understand that it was through his activities and his pressure on the Government that it has been established.
In my own way, whilst I have not been disinterested in the academic or scholarship side of aboriginal work, I have been particularly interested and more active in the social question of raising their morale and getting them to work together and to stand up and speak as free and independent Australians. I hope that from this bill will flow a proper appreciation of the status of the aboriginal people in Australia. The historical background of the problem was given by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), who spoke of the first consciousness of the need to do something more about the aboriginal community than merely to preserve its culture. This is a need in which the Commonwealth had been interested for some years in a dilatory fashion. The honorable member referred also to the great loss of cultural heritage among these people.
Here we are establishing a new principle. This is a very important moment in the aboriginal history of this country. We are stepping into the field and showing that, so far as the aboriginal people and the preservation of their culture are concerned, this Parliament is intimately concerned and has a high and important duty. We on this side of the House believe that that is the case with the whole aboriginal question.
I refer honorable members opposite to the inconsistency of this view with the ons expressed on the constitutional question last week. I put that to honorable members only because I am anxious and concerned that we accept this full and complete responsibility for the aboriginal people. The institute, I hope, will do more than achieve a preservation of scholarly studies on matters of academic interest in linguistics and so on. I hope that it will step into the social field and examine the problems of, to use the term that seems to be the only one applicable, a primitive people coming into contact with an advanced technological community such as ours. I found last year, when examining the problem of the Yirrkala people, that there was no body of knowledge to which we could turn to ask what is the impact of that kind of operation upon an aboriginal people and how we find the answers to it. I hope that the scientific side of this question will not be restricted to cultural preservation but will include the sociological implication of the existence of these people.
I agree with the comments made by the honorable member for Mackellar that these people, although backward to our view, are not retarded in the strict human sense. They have lived in Australia for some 10,000 years in a pretty tough continent where it was a hard day’s work just to get food to survive - and survive they did. One nf the reasons for their failure to advance as much as other people was that they had to spend all their time in just surviving. I have seen and have spoken to people who have lived with groups of aborigines in the Northern Territory and in Arnhem Land - one of the better parts of the Northern Territory - and they have gone out with groups who have spent the whole day getting perhaps three yams. Except for a small proportion of the group that had eaten that food, for what it was worth, the group would go to bed hungry that night. Here we have a people who have been living in a tough continent, spending all their lives in the single job of surviving. The whole effort of their lives was given to the gain of food. The result was that they had nothing left over to develop the civilizations that developed in other parts of the world - nothing left over for the provision of clothing and the other amenities of civilization.
In conferring on this bill the blessing of this side of the House we hope that this is only one step in the right direction, and that progress will not stop here. I make the point also, for the benefit of “ Hansard “. the draftsmen and others, that a capital “A” should be used when referring to the aboriginal people. If we are to have their cultural position preserved we should consider the significance of that capital letter. In the act the words “ aboriginal “ and “ aborigine “ are spelt with a small “ a “, and that spelling was used also in the copy of the Minister’s speech. I hope that “ Hansard “, the draftsmen and all those responsible will confer upon the aboriginal people the dignity of a capital letter when referring to them, in the same way as we do for Maori, Indian, British or Venetian people, as I see in a book which I have beside me. This is a part of the recognition that here is a group of people - human beings - with a dignity and self-respect which has to be developed. This Parliament, in taking this step this afternoon, is heading in a direction which will be important for the future of the nation, but I hope that it will be only one step in that direction and not the whole way.
.- I rise merely to pay a tribute to the great work of the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) in this matter. I feel that it should be said in this House at this time that the nation in years to come will owe a tremendous debt to the work that he has done in this field during the past three years. This evening both sides of the House have paid tribute to one man. We extend that tribute also to the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), because, on the Opposition side, he has done an equally grand job. These two members, one on each side of the House, have earned our gratitude to-day, and I think we should say so.
I should like to add one or two small points. Those of us who have read the papers that have already been produced during the interim stage of the council have been able to see already the grand work that has been done. There are many fields of study that have already been announced and that already point the way to the great value that Will materialize from this work in the next few years. I think it is important, as the honorable member for Mackellar said, that this question should be envisaged in two phases: First, the short-term urgent phase in which this evanescent material shall be collected; secondly, the longer-term phase in which it can be evaluated and of which the first culture, the relics and other more concrete material form parts. These can be collected at greater leisure. In the longer-term phase possibly we can see the other evaluations of this work referred to by the honorable member for Fremantle.
But in the first urgent short-term phase I think we must have regard to what the honorable member for Fremantle referred to as the museum activities rather than the anthropological phase of working with the aborigines. He described the museum phase as the more important, because otherwise this material could never be collected.
I think there is only one matter to which the honorable member for Mackellar did not refer; it is a matter that I find of tremendous interest. I refer to the way in which these people have adapted themselves to living in the desert. I refer not so much to just the material job of surviving, but also to the psychology and the manner of thought that have developed while they have lived there for many generations. The prophets of Israel who lived in the desert .for years developed a mode of thought that has been of tremendous significance to all of us who have embraced the Christian religion and have received our heritage from the days before Christ. People living in desert lands seem to acquire a mode of thought that is all their own. It is something that needs recording before it completely dies out.
I am glad that some work has been done on extra-sensory perception by a team assigned the task, as reported in one of the institute’s news letters which has been circulated. There seems to be a wealth of evidence of the fact that these people have a method of communicating with each other that we just do not understand, and no one in this materialistic age in which we live can properly understand it unless he lives in desert lands for long periods as they have. I hope that much work will be done in this field before the time is too late for it to be recorded and evaluated.
It is pleasing to note that overseas foundations are coming to realize the great value of the work that has already been done. They are co-operating with the institute by sending teams to help in this wonderful work. Although the focal point is Australia, the money is provided by Australians and it is an Australian institute, people from all lands are coming to play their part in this work. The work now proceeding and to be done in the very near future as a result of the institute’s activities owes its impetus almost entirely to the honorable member for Mackellar. In the years to come, this work will be valued by the whole world. I am very glad that we can all be associated with this bill and can pay our tributes once again to the great man who has done so much in this field.
Sitting suspended from 5.58 to 8 p.m.
– Mr. Speaker, it was felt that, as a Queenslander, I should make some modest contribution to this debate because of the vital significance of this measure to Queensland. We on the Australian Labour Party side of the House, of course, support the bill, which, for the first time, will provide for a co-ordinated national plan for research in the field of anthropology in this country. The ground has been well covered already to-day in the brilliant speeches made by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) and the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) in particular. I, like previous speakers, pay tribute to the honorable member for Mackellar, who took the initiative in this important matter in 1960 and who has displayed great interest in what is known as section F of the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science. Over the years, he has made a great contribution to the study of these matters in Australia and, of course, has associated the Australian Parliament with this important national question.
So much of the research in anthropology in Australia has been done in a haphazard way. As we know, various schools at the universities and sundry museums have cultivated interest in a very scientific pursuit. So it is that in Sydney, under the guidance of Emeritus Professor A. P. Elkin and Dr. F. D. McCarthy, in Adelaide under the guidance of Norman B. Tindale and Professor A. A. Abbie, and more recently in Melbourne, where Dr. D. J. Mulvaney has done outstanding work, great interest has been taken in the science of anthropology. Unfortunately, in some of the other States in which a great number of the aboriginal people of Australia reside, no similar degree of interest has been taken up to the present time. This bill will make a great contribution to anthropology by providing for the establishment of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, and will ensure that research is carried out in the areas where the need is greatest.
I understand that the present arrangement is that the collections of material made by the institute will be housed in the Australian Institute of Anatomy in Canberra. I believe that forward thinking about the National Capital should envisage on Capital Hill a national museum of anthropology. That is one kind of museum we ought to have on that site, and it could be supervised by the institute. It is true that there are in various parts of Australia museum collections of material that cover various aspects of the life of the aborigines. It is equally true that there is nowhere in Australia a museum that has a comprehensive collection anything like the collections housed in some overseas museums. I hope that the proposed institute not only will carry out the kind of research work that is necessary but also will be assisted by the Government to establish a proper Australian national museum of anthropology in Canberra, the National Capital.
I hope, also, that the institute will turn some of its attention to publishing and republishing of anthropological papers that have been published overseas but are not available to students in this field within Australia. A notable example of this is the paper by Dr. Mulvaney entitled “The Stone Age of Australia “. which introduced an entirely new conception into ideas on Australian anthropology. That paper is not available in this country. Any student who wants to study it must buy a copy of the journal of the Prehistoric Society, in London. So I earnestly hope that the institute will turn its attention to publishing and republishing of some of the important anthropological papers published overseas but not at present available in Australia.
As has been rightly pointed out, the field of Australian anthropology is one in which a great deal of urgency exists. The honorable member for Mackellar suggested a half-life in this field of, I think, seven years. Therefore, I agree with those anthropologists who hold that a great degree of urgency exists and that we ought to do everything we can to cultivate the interest of laymen. We certainly should make sure that interested laymen are intelligently informed. In the course of my travels in the country areas of Queensland. I have found that there is a great deal of knowledge in various places.
Many people know where there are local paintings and carvings in sandstone and the like. This knowledge has never been reported to the authorities and has never been recorded in papers published by any scientific institute, university or museum. Therefore, I suggest, that the proposed institute turn some of its attention to the production of a manual or handbook for field workers so that intelligent and interested laymen may be encouraged to take an interest in this field of study. Many of them would contribute if they felt that they could make a worth-while contribution.
I should also like to see the institute establish some form of associate membership so that interested members of the general public could associate themselves with it. They could perhaps pay a comparatively small subscription and receive the excellent newsletter and, with it, a bibliography of the kind that was recently circulated to members of this Parliament and other interested persons. Associate members of the institute could also be informed about other publications issued by the institute from time to time.
In the very early days in this country, the pattern followed in other countries prevailed. In South America, for example, when European colonization took place - sometimes in the name of Christianity and sometimes purely in the interests of colonialism - the cultures of the native peoples were almost completely destroyed. Likewise, in this country, we have in many respects destroyed the culture of the aboriginal people. There are now some indications that, by the turn of this century, there will be living in Australia something like 300,000 aborigines or people of aboriginal derivation. That is approximately the same number thought to have lived here when Captain Cook sailed up the east coast in 1770. I put it to the House that, not only for the reasons stated by the honorable member for Fremantle and the honorable member for Mackellar and because of the importance of these anthropological studies to mankind in general, but also because of
She importance to the aboriginal people themselves of the study of their primitive customs, family life, sociological system and religion, more ought to be learned of their culture and what is learned should be more widely published.
Last Saturday morning, a very prominent person in the aboriginal community in Queensland came to my home for a discussion on aboriginal problems. He borrowed a book by Spencer and Gillen on the native tribes in Central Australia, which I was very happy to lend him. In discussion, he made a few points that seemed to me to be very valid indeed. They were these: Most of us who are of European origin - possibly of English, Irish or Scots extraction - are very proud of our national and ethnic background and, of course, of the cultural patterns from which we have sprung. The aboriginal people of this country are equally proud of their cultural background. Unfortunately - this, of course, is largely the fault of our forms of society - most aboriginal people know very little about their cultural background. Just; as we want to know ours, they would like to know theirs. Not only from the standpoint of the importance of anthropological work to mankind generally, but also from the standpoint of the national selfrespect and cultural integrity of the Australian aborigines, the value of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies should be obvious.
So much of the discussion so far has hinged on the investigation of people who are living in a near tribal state, Mr. Speaker. Very few of these remain in Australia. Not only is it necessary to preserve historical material in the interests of all mankind and in our own national interest, but also it is vitally important that anthropological information be made available to the various departments in charge of native affairs and the people responsible for the administration and well-being of the aboriginal people of Australia so that that information can be used in the best interests of the aborigines. The work of the proposed institute will enable us better to understand our aboriginal people. That work should enable the people of Australia, including governments, both Commonwealth and State, local authorities and all others charged with responsibilities in this important field, to do a more efficient and more effective job in bringing about proper assimilation and equality of standards of living as between the aboriginal people and other Australians. For all these reasons and because, for the first time, a proper co-ordinated plan of study in this important field has been brought about, the Australian Labour Party supports the bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Motion (by Mr. Fairhall) proposed -
That the bill be now read a third time.
.- There was a matter that I wanted to bring before the House and which I omitted earlier. It refers to the membership of the institute. Clause 12 (1.) (d) provides that six persons shall be appointed by the GovernorGeneral. I hope that in making these appointments the Governor-General will attempt to find some aboriginal people who could become members of the institute. I think it would be sound policy for people of aboriginal ancestry to be nominated or appointed to bodies of this kind, wherever it is possible to do so.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 19th May (vide page 2150), on motion by Mr. Bury -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The Opposition is gravely concerned with the serious gaps in attempts to meet our fuel needs. We are impatient with the progress being made to ensure that this nation’s fuel requirements are met. The Australian Labour Party insists that the Government should take immediate action to develop our resources in a more purposeful manner. The bill, whilst continuing the subsidy for the research for flow oil in Australia, does not in our estimation realistically deal with this important matter in the way we desire. The bill in the main extends the payment of the subsidy from 30th June, 1965, to 30th June, 1968. The Government intends to continue the subsidy until the number and size of discoveries give adequate incentives. That, as a platitude, may be accepted, but it does not deal with the problem in the way that we feel is necessary at this critical time in our nation’s history.
The bill also includes the sea bed and subsoil of the continental shelf of Australia and its territories in areas that would attract the oil search subsidy. This is a natural and necessary development, and the Opposition applauds the provision that the continental shelf should be considered and that action should be taken to provide for the subsidies necessary to encourage prospecting and ‘thorough testing of the continental shelf. It is true that work has been done on the continental shelf. The work is referred to in a document that I have received from Dr. Raggatt, secretary of the Department of National Development. It lists the places where tests have been made from 1960 until present time and deals with aeromagnetic surveys and seismic surveys. The total subsidy approved for these operations is £544,311. This is an extensive document and with the concurrence of honorable members I incorporate it in “ Hansard “.
Subsidies in the amounts shown have been approved for the following off-shore operations. Figures given in brackets have actually been paid.
In total £544.31.1 subsidy has been approved and £478,352 actually paid for off-shore operations.
The bill provides for payment to be made retrospective to the 1959 act. I feel that in this regard further information might have hean provided by the Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner). The Minister for Housing (Mr. Bury) represents the Minister for National Development in this House and he may have some difficulty in obtaining the information readily for the Parliament. The bill excludes from the subsidy two classes of little used operations. They are bore hole surveys and detailed structure drilling. These of necessity are being excluded. The Government believes that a more effective way of dealing with the search for oil in Australia is to reduce this to a simple, straight-forward proposition that would enable the rates of subsidy to be determined by regulation but not to exclude the rate fixed by the bill. The amount of the subsidy is not to exceed one-half of the costs of approved operations. It seems that the subsidy for stratigraphic drilling is to cover one-half and not two-thirds of the cost.
– I take a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The honorable member is reading extensively from his prepared speech.
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– If I am informing the honorable member for Mitchell, I am delighted. I hope that I will be effective and that I will strengthen his knowledge of this important subject. I am quoting from the bill and references made by the Minister to the conditions in the bill relating to the subsidy. Of necessity, I am obliged to refer to these matters. This is not something of my creation. I am directing the attention of the House to proposals made by the Government. If the honorable member for Mitchell objects to the Minister’s proposals being stated specifically and categorically by me, I can only feel sorry for him because he seems to misunderstand the purpose of the bill and the necessity to refer to these matters.
The bill authorizes the Minister to conclude a subsidy agreement and to vary upwards or downwards the rate of subsidy. This replaces the power in section 10 (b) only to reduce the subsidy. These matters, of course, are of great importance. Legislation of this type has been before the Parliament for a number of years. The first act was No. 90 of 1957. It was followed by Act No. 22 of 1958, Act No. 60 of 1959, Act No. 74 of 1961 and now the measure that we have before us.
The Opposition, in expressing its agreement with the action that is being taken, is not satisfied that all that should be done and could be done is being done. We are not satisfied that the Commonwealth has taken the lead that it should take in the search for oil in Australia and the Australian Territories. We are not satisfied that there is sufficient co-operation between the Commonwealth Government and the Governments of the States in the search for oil. The Commonwealth is not financing this search in the purposeful way that it should. We are also concerned to learn that the activities of the Bureau of Mineral Resources are not being expanded in the way that they should be expanded. We believe that Australia should have a national fuel policy which would have regard not only to the search for oil in this country but also to the development of our existing oil resources. We must encourage the production of oil from the various sources in which it exists in this country. We must harness our oil resources so that Australia, in keeping with other nations, may have a clear-cut policy on fuel production which will be understood by the people and give them leadership, comfort and security. With that objective in mind, I move -
That all words after “That” be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: - “the House is of opinion that the Government should: -
lake the lead in the search for oil in Aus tralian Territories;
seek the co-operation of the Governments of the States in a joint governmental search for oil;
greatly expand the activities of the Bureau of Mineral Resources in mapping, geological and geophysical surveys and in drilling for oil: and
implement a planned development of the nation’s fuel resources.”
Section 7 of the 1961 act dealt with test boring and provided that in the event of oil being found the Minister may require that any subsidy paid be refunded. Generally speaking, the Government makes its investment in the search for oil in the form of a subsidy. We are most anxious to find oil in Australia in quantities sufficient to satisfy the national needs, but we believe also that if the taxpayers’ money is to be used to provide subsidies to companies searching for oil, the Commonwealth itself should have a share in that investment.
If oil is found, the money provided by the taxpayers in the form of a subsidy should not be returned to them but should be regarded as paying for shares in the oil found. Surely it is not too much to expect the companies searching for oil to agree to that proposition. When all is said and done, I cannot think of anything better than co-operation- between the Commonwealth and private enterprise in this matter. We had that co-operation in other days when. Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited was owned by the people. One of the unhappy decisions made by this Parliament was that the Commonwealth should terminate its interest in Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited. It is essential that the Commonwealth should have a positive stake in Australia’s oil potential. If need be, the Commonwealth could use its defence powers to ensure that our defence commitments in respect of fuel are satisfied. In its role of satisfying our defence requirements, the Commonwealth controls defence establishments such as munitions factories, naval dockyards and ammunition filling factories. What sort of defences can we have unless the Commonwealth ensures that the fuel requirements of our defence forces can be satisfied?
In the search for oil, it is vital to guard against wildcat ventures or doubtful company promotions and to protect by the closest supervision the investments of shareholders. I believe that the Bureau of Mineral Resources is most vigilant in this regard. I appreciate the work that it is doing. The bureau is ever on the alert, but this Parliament should take steps to see that no latitude is given to wildcat ventures or to operations that would rob the taxpayers or the shareholder who may invest in particular companies. This is a safeguard that should be written carefully into the legislation.
The purpose of the search for oil is patently obvious to all of us. Our defence commitments depend very greatly on fuel oil. We are obliged at present to import large quantities of petroleum products. In the last year for which statistics are available - 1962-63 - imports of petroleum and petroleum products cost Australia £114,800,000. Against that sum must be offset the value of our exports of these products, which in 1962-63 amounted to £24,300,000. The figures indicate that the cost of importing petroleum products is particularly steep and a serious burden on our overseas balances. The quantity of petroleum products imported has reached staggering proportions. No fewer than 1.054,268,000 gallons of oil were imported during the last year.
We should be doing more to find oil in this country. We can do this in a number of ways. We can do it by the search for flow oil - by finding another Moonie. We can do it by utilizing our natural resources. We can proceed along the lines indicated by the charter of the Bureau of Mineral Resources and by the charter of the Joint Coal Board and try to win from our coal and shale the oil that can be won. It should be remembered that Australia has the world’s richest deposits of oil shale. In the Newnes-Capertee field the shale produces 100 gallons of oil a ton. This was a thriving industry 30. 40 or 50 years ago. It was a thriving industry during the First World War. At that time our naval vessels depended on oil produced from the Newnes field. During the Second World War oil from the Glen Davis shale field helped to satisfy our defence requirements. If the Opposition’s amendment is accepted, Australia will be able to develop great wealth from its shale oil deposits and will ensure that its defence requirements will be met. Development of our shale oil deposits will lead to a reduction in imports of oil. Nobody suggests that we can produce all of our oil requirements from these deposits, but they can fill an important gap and go a long way towards satisfying our defence needs. Development of these deposits would be a very valuable insurance policy for the people of Australia.
The operations of the shale oil industry in the past may be open to criticism, but we must remember that mining methods have improved over the years. If the shale oil industry in Scotland is a worthwhile industry, bearing in mind that production in that country is 20 or 30 gallons of oil a ton, surely we should be able to produce oil from our extremely rich shale deposits, which yield 100 gallons a ton, and thus make a serious contribution towards our national and defence requirements. Our coal resources also could be developed in that way. Expert after expert has referred to what might be accomplished in this field. The price of coal has been reduced over recent years. By means of new methods of production, more coal is being produced to-day by 10,000 fewer men than was produced at the peak period of employment in 1952. That is an indication that coal is being produced at considerably lower cost. That should indicate the possibilities of this important industry. I repeat that if certain countries, such as South Africa, can develop their coal resources and produce oil by the gasification of coal, we ought to be able to do that, too.
When we look at the figures on the expenditure of money in the search for flow oil or petroleum in Australia, we find that since 1959 the companies have spent £47,000,000, the expenditure on subsidy has been £10,800,000, the Commonwealth and State Governments have provided £7,400,000 and the total expenditure has been £65,200,000. I am not quibbling about the expenditure of money in the search for flow oil. We support it. We want to see more being done in this direction. But I say this to the House: If we can spend that money in the search for flow oil, which is a chancy business, why cannot we invest some of our money in a positive certainty, namely, in winning oil from coal and shale, and so guarantee the satisfaction of the oil needs of this nation? That is the submission that I make to the House this evening. There is nothing new or strange in that submission. Other nations have done this and are doing it at present. A lot of money has been spent in the search for oil. We have found oil at Moonie and we have found reservoirs of natural gas. I hope that in the course of time that natural gas will be harnessed for the benefit of the industries of Australia, particularly in northern Australia, to enable the rapid development of that area. Surely the north of this continent ought to be developed.
On other occasions I have stressed the need for a national fuel policy and for consideration of the use of oil from Moonie, oil from coal and shale, hydroelectric power, natural gas, and eventually uranium or nuclear power, particularly in northern Australia. That area is short of other types of fuel; but it is where our uranium deposits are and where development must take place. In looking at some examples of what has been done and is being done in this field in other parts of the world, I find that this matter has been discussed in some detail in the United States of America. The Government of that country, the late President Kennedy and other people have expressed themselves as being strongly in favour of having a national fuel policy. What the United States officials and leaders have said on this topic might well be taken to heart by members of this Parliament. An article in the “ Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report “ for the week ending 26th August, 1960, under the heading “Two Lobbies Clash Over Fuels Policy Issue “, stated -
The 1960 Democratic platform stated: “We support the establishment of a national fuels policy” and also a national transportation policy. “We favour creation of a council of advisers on resources and conservation, which will evaluate and report annually upon our resources, needs and progress.”
The 1960 Republican platform pledged the GOP to “ long-range minerals and fuels planning and programming, including increased coal research, and assistance to mining industries bridging the gap between peak defence demands and anticipated peacetime demands.
Kennedy in West Virginia April 16 said - “ The time has come for the federal government to adopt a national fuels policy … a concrete set of plans and principles to restore fair play and prosperity to our hard-hit, neglected fuels industries.
I can only hope that honorable members, particularly members of the Government, will heed those words of the illustrious and dedicated former President of the United States and follow his thinking on this important matter. The “ Congressional Quarterly Almanac “ for 1961 stated -
An NCPC spokesman in 1961 summarized the coal industry view on the need for a national fuels policy: “ A national fuels policy would consist of coordinated and effective standards, criteria and principles for a course of action designed to achieve the continued development of energy supplies and resources fuels in the United States, with the aim of strengthening the national defence, providing orderly industrial growth, and assuring supplies for our expanding national economy and for any type of future emergency”.
I submit those views to the House this evening because they deserve the respect of honorable members and the careful thought of the Government.
Unfortunately, very often these matters are quickly brushed aside. I point out that we are not alone in advocating a national fuel policy. I refer to statements made by very prominent people who have supported the Government and are leaders of the Liberal Party and of industry. No less a personality than Sir Edward Warren, the chairman of the Australian Coal Association and a member of the Legislative Council of New South Wales, was reported in the Sydney “ Sun * of the 14th of this month, in an article headed “ Fuel Policy Need - Plea For Mining Industry “, as follows: -
The Federal Government had shown no evidence it had a national fuel policy, or thought one necessary, Sir Edward Warren said to-day.
Sir Edward is chairman of the Australian Coal Association.
He said repeated pleas to the Federal Government for assistance to the coal industry had been met with “lofty governmental silence”.
Sir Edward is a spokesman for the coalowners. Normally he is a supporter of the Government parties. I submit his views for consideration by the Government.
The urgency of the need for a national fuel policy and for the co-ordination of the search for oil is undoubted. The Bureau of Mineral Resources certainly has a charter to deal with this matter. The Government is responsible for the bureau not carrying out its charter. I can appreciate the frustration of Sir Harold Raggatt and his officers. I am sure that they would like to play a more purposeful role in the production of Australia’s fuel. I have in my hand a booklet entitled “ Commonwealth of Australia - Department of National Development - Summary of Activities 1962 “. In a section of that booklet headed “ Bureau of Mineral Resources - Geology and Geophysics “, the functions of the bureau are set out. They include the following: -
To explore for, investigate and encourage the development of mineral deposits.
To carry out geological and geophysical surveys and investigations, and advise on all aspects of applied geology and geophysics.
Make geological surveys and investigations (both regional and retailed) and carry out research relating thereto.
Make geophysical surveys and investigations (including airborne, regional gravity and magnetic surveys) and carry out research related thereto.
Supplement geological and geophysical investigations by drilling or other means.
When specifically directed by Cabinet, undertake the mining, treatment, purchase, sale or control of any mineral.
I emphasize the words “ when specifically directed by Cabinet”. In this case, it is a matter of Cabinet responsibility. The Bureau of Mineral Resources had a charter to do this. Unquestionably, it had the willingness and the eagerness to do it. The reason why it is not doing it is that the Cabinet has not directed it accordingly.
The amendment proposed by me this evening, on behalf of the Opposition, provides for an expansion of the bureau’s activities in the search for oil. Surely the Government and the people of Australia should see to it that surveys for oil are carried out and are not left to the oil companies from the United States and other countries. The Parliament, through the Government, should have this country’s forces at work exploring, testing, boring and searching for oil, in the interests of our nation. Australia should control and own its own resources. More purposeful Government action is necessary to enable the Bureau of Mineral Resources to go ahead with this work. The Government’s attitude to the major oil companies - the oil monopolies - is not good enough. This nation in the past has been betrayed by overseas organizations. We are not likely to forget the difficulties that the company operating on the Moonie fields - A.O.G.- Kern - experienced in endeavouring to get a just price for its oil. It encountered quite considerable difficulty in getting a fair price. Neither are the people of Australia likely to forget the fact that, with the sale of C.O.R. and the destruction of Glen Davis plant, a great pay off was made to the overseas oil companies.
It is necessary therefore that we should go ahead and use the Bureau of Mineral Resources to extend our activities to the degree that is provided for in the charter of the Joint Coal Board. This splendid document gave the board a charter to develop the coal industry and attain the satisfaction of our coal requirements. Among the powers of the Joint Coal Board, the charter states -
The efficient and economical use of coal, the development of uses or markets for coal, and the recovery of the by-products of coal.
That is what I have referred to this evening. It is further provided in the charter that the Joint Coal Board shall have among its powers and functions -
Collaboration with other persons and authorities in the establishment and provision of amenities and of health, educational, recreational, housing and other facilities for communities of persons in coal-mining districts, and in the promotion of the development and diversification of industry and of town and regional planning in such districts.
Diversification, production, development and planning are the matters to which I have referred this evening that can be used for the purpose of carrying out the terms of the amendment.
Again I emphasize that we should not gamble on these matters and treat them as matters of chance. It will no doubt have been notified that the Australian Gaslight Company is likely to leave the use of coal for further use of oil. This, under national fuel policy, ought to be discouraged. We as a nation cannot afford to have all of our eggs in the one economic and security basket, so to speak. We should spread our resources as widely as we can. I think it is a calamitious thing, irrespective of what government is responsible, that this nation will be compelled in the course of time to be dependent almost exclusively on the use of oil. In other lands we find that this is not so. In another debate on this subject, quite recently, I referred to certain European countries and the European Economic Community. All of these places have dealt with the question of a fuel policy. They have set about to look at their requirements. All I am saying is that we in Australia will have to be loyal to ourselves. We will have to take action to see to it that we satisfy our requirements. The amendment proposed by me to deal with this matter would effectively strike a blow for Australia, but it would not satisfy all of our immediate needs. However, we would go forward with a more purposeful attitude in the search for flow oil. We would deal with the latent wealth of this country. We would guarantee our defence requirements. It is true that today we are importing approximately 90 per cent, of the petroleum products required for the defence of this country, from the great problem places of the world. We are obliged to import these petroleum products from such trouble spots as the Middle East and Indonesia. This country, with all its potential, is dependent upon these places for the supplies of petroleum products necessary for our economic and defence needs.
I ask the Parliament to accept the amendment that I have proposed so as to give to this nation the right to go ahead and satisfy its requirements and to meet, as far as possible, our defence needs at least. I move this amendment so that this country can go forward with confidence not only in the economic field but also with regard to our defence requirements. If we could do this, certain depressed mining areas could be helped quite substantially. Is it too much to ask the Parliament that the people working in the various mine-fields of this country should have their economy strengthened, and that there should be full employment for them? The proposal which I make to the House this evening is to give to these people, who have lifted production to satisfy the demands of industry, the opportunity to fulfil their place in these areas and live happily where they have been reared. This proposal will give them the opportunity to continue to prosper and will not necessitate their leaving these places in search of employment elsewhere. The amendment demands the respect of this Parliament.
I commend it to ‘the House.
– Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment, and reserve the right to speak.
.- Mr. Speaker, we have listened for a considerable time to the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) who, in the early part of his speech, made some quite valuable points with which I am sure almost all members of the House would agree. It came as something of a surprise, however, to hear that he was proceeding to move this amendment, which requires very careful scrutiny, particularly in the light of the bill and of the secondreading speech of the Minister for Housing (Mr. Bury), who introduced the bill. The bill provides for a number of notable advances which were foreshadowed by the Government and are now to be implemented to provide even greater assistance to enterprises engaged in the search for oil than has been available to them previously by means of the Government’s already generous subsidy. There are many aspects of the bill that are full of merit and which would be completely lost if the Opposition’s amendment were to be carried.
Let me turn to one or two of the proposals contained in the amendment. In this way I can demonstrate to the House the realities of the bill itself and the unrealities of the amendment. First, the amendment suggests that “ the Government should take the lead in the search for oil in Australian Territories “. That, of course, is unexceptionable. Of course, the Government should give a lead in the search for oil. We are all agreed about that. But the question is: How is this lead to be given? What is the method by which the Government, as a government and through its governmental institutions, should enter into this field of oil search? As we read the amendment a little further we see what is behind it and we discern the intentions of the Opposition. The second suggestion in the amendment is that “ the Government should seek the co-operation of the governments of the States in a joint governmental search for oil “. Now we have it. Although I admit that the honorable member for Macquarie mentioned that what was envisaged was a joint government and private enterprise operation, nowhere in the amendment is this joint activity specifically suggested. It is certainly not made mandatory or obligatory. Indeed any contribution of independent companies to such a joint operation could be completely omitted, for all this amendment suggests.
One of the greatest authorities in the world on oil search, Dr. Levenson, has said emphatically that if he were asked to find a place where a drop of oil would be safest from discovery he would look in one of those countries where the search was being carried out on exactly the basis proposed in paragraph (b) of this amendment - where governments carried out a joint governmental operation in the search for oil.
Anyone who knows anything about oil search in Australia to-day realizes that there is one outstanding feature of the operation, and that is the enormous extent of country covered by the leases at present being explored by independent or single entities. It is because of these great areas of territory that necessarily there is a restriction on the amount of activity that can take place in any one area. But if you were to make the whole of the sedimentary basins of Australia the province for exclusively governmental oil search you would be setting back the search for oil in Australia, not merely by a decade, but perhaps completely and irrevocably. The only way to find more oil in Australia is that which was pointed out by the Minister. He told us that the only way to continue to develop our discovery of oil is to increase the number of search entities - the number of brains thinking about it, the number of drills probing beneath the earth’s surface and the number of seismic teams in the field garnering geophysical information.
This is the task that confronts Australia. No doubt we have had a stepping-up of the tempo of the search, but compared with what is going on in the United States of America we have hardly started to look for oil. There are vast areas of enormous sedimentary basins that have not even been scratched or have been as yet lightly examined. We are bringing into the country, largely through the activities of the Government in its efforts to encourage the search for petroleum by means of subsidies and the very generous conditions available, various companies and firms which are all helping Australia to find oil. It is because of this policy that is being followed by the Government that advances are now being made.
Then there is more to this amendment. In paragraph (c) it is stated that “the Government should greatly expand the activities of the Bureau of Mineral Resources in mapping, geological and geophysical surveys and in drilling for oil.” We would agree that it would be a good thing if the activities of the bureau in mapping, geological and geophysical surveys were expanded. This again is undoubtedly unexceptionable. But again we find the catch in the Oppositions suggestion; the bureau is to be encouraged to go back to its drilling activities. The bureau has done some drilling for oil on its own, notably in Western Australia. This activity has not been crowned with very great success. It is a highly specialized professional activity. The men on the job on the rigs in different areas have been highly trained. Until recently they had all gained their experience overseas but now we are beginning to train our own men. This activity needs all the resources that these companies and their skilled employees can bring and if we are to sidetrack a completely new development by setting up a governmental entity as a drilling company we would be restricting one of the areas where expansion must necessarily take place.
Of course the real objective of this amendment is not seen until we come to paragraph (d). We listened for twenty minutes to the honorable member speaking on this matter in what seemed to me to be a very questionable contribution which was bordering on the irrelevant. The honorable member took us back to an earlier discussion in this House when the Opposition proposed, as a definite matter of public importance, a discussion concerning a national fuel policy. We heard a great deal quoted at length from coal manuals and we heard of many matters not strictly related to this bill. But the real objective of this amendment is to bring about the nationalization of the oil search industry and to harness the whole activity within the kind of fuel policy which would put oil in its place, having regard to other sources of energy. This, of course, is very good Opposition policy. The words “ planned development “ were not lost on us, and they suggested what any loyal member of the Opposition would naturally want to see take place. But it is my firm opinion that if we were to embark on this activity we should irrevocably set back the tempo of the search for oil.
This does not mean, however, that I am unequivocally in agreement with everything that is happening at the present time in the search for oil and saying that everything proposed by the Opposition is nonsense. Far from it. But I believe that in the framework of the bill before us there is to be seen a continuation, and indeed an expansion, of the enlightened attitude - some would say the most enlightened attitude in the free world - which has been displayed by this Government in its encouragement of the continual and expanding search for oil within the borders of our nation.
Let me direct the attention of the House to one or two very important features of this bill. It proposes to expand the operation of the subsidy to include the sea-bed and the sub-soil of the continental shelf around our shores and those of Papua and* New Guinea. It is in such areas that enormous developments are taking place oni the world scene to-day. Some of the larger overseas operators are already drilling in waters up to 300 feet deep. They are drilling in waters where enormous waves are caused by terrific storms. They are drilling in areas which in times past, would have been considered to be absolutely beyond consideration. We know, for instance, that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited has a lease of an area between Tasmania and the mainland and that this area is considered by some of the world’s best geologists to be one of the best prospective areas for oil discovery. Already great amounts of money have been spent on marine seismic and aeromagnetic surveys of that off-shore area and plans are also being made to drill at sea in approximately one year’s time.
The legislation that is before us recognizes the enormous value and also the tremendous cost of this kind of operation. It is beyond doubt that if a well is to be drilled at sea in this area, £1,000,000 will not go very far towards meeting the cost of drilling a single hole. That is real money. When we are considering the kind of legislation that is before us, we have to keep these enormous costs in mind. One Australian company drilling for oil in the north of Western Australia has already spent £1,000,000 on a single well, and is still spending money, but the information that is coming to light - the kind of information which we see published in the press tonight, about the discovery of source rocks and potential reservoir beds in that area - could be priceless information for the future.
The situation is that Australia is a capital hungry nation, relatively poorly equipped to carry on this tremendously expensive search. The United States of America has undoubtedly been brought to a position of economic strength, indeed made an economic giant, largely because of the discovery of oil within its own borders and the development of the oil resources it has discovered in overseas countries. Having regard to the kind of expenditure that is required in the search for oil in Australia, there are very few Australian entities - this includes even the biggest companies - that have the financial resources to enable them to go very far with this operation. So it is that the Government realizes that we must attract both overseas know-how and overseas capital to undertake this search in co-operation, we hope, with Australian companies.
I want to say here and now that I would like to see much further insight into the way in which we can ensure Australian participation and partnership in these operations. It is undoubtedly true that the very small amounts of capital that Australians are able to muster behind their own Australian companies is very quickly expended on drilling operations. In South Australia, one of the potentially highly successful companies - Santos Limited - is already very largely owned by overseas interests. It is estimated that about 70 per cent, of the shares in Santos Limited are held by overseas interests at present. This is due to the fact that throughout Australia the attitude towards this whole operation is far from enlightened. The other night we were treated to a demonstration of that in this House when some one described me as a gambler because I had invested money in the search for oil and am a director of an oil search company. The only way in which Australians can participate in their heritage, the only way in which they can come to own a single square foot or acre of an Australian sedimentary basin, and the only way in which they can move ahead in this field is to own a share in a company engaged in the search for oil. At a recent conference of petroleum interests in Melbourne, the Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner) made a telling point when he said that he hoped that every Australian who could possibly afford to do so would acquire a small shareholding in this tremendous national enterprise. He said that, in his opinion, the large financial institutions, as a matter of national interest, ought to be lending more support to the Australian content in oil search.
This subsidy is making possible new developments. We find that the scope of test drilling has been enlarged, and this is highly desirable. Only to-night I was talking to the managing director of Australian Oil and Gas Corporation Limited, one of the very successful Australian companies. I asked him his opinion of the present subsidy situation. At the moment, if you are drilling on a completely known prospective target, just drilling straight down to where there is no structure likely to hold oil - an off-structure well - the maximum amount recoverable by way of subsidy is 46 per cent. If you are not drilling on that kind of information, I think you can get up to 30 per cent. only. This is generous and I am not denying that. Nevertheless, in view of the requirements of the Bureau of Mineral Resources for information a great deal of additional work is necessary to obtain the subsidy. The time that is lost in actual drilling by going down and taking up the drill strings, and then putting in core barrels instead of going straight ahead with the drilling, particularly in a deep well, makes the job extremely costly. The gentleman to whom I spoke told me that on many occasions it does not pay to seek the subsidy, and that it is better to go right ahead with straight-out drilling, forgetting the informaation which the Bureau of Mineral Resources is seeking by offering a subsidy.
These are things which I believe we have to face. As was stated by the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti), this nation is very dependent upon petroleum imported from overseas. Just pulling a figure out of the air, I think that at the moment up to £150,000,000 a year is required to pay for imported petroleum. This is an enormous drain on our capital resources. It is a tremendous sum for any nation to find. When one considers also that £43,000,000 has been spent since 1959 on the search for oil, the matter is put into perspective. However, the rewards are enormous, even though the costs may be very great.
The bill that we have before us brings two things together. In his second-reading speech the Minister said -
The bill amends the definitions to combine stratigraphic drilling and off-structure drilling.
Now it will be possible to drill a whole new series of wells for stratigraphic tests, and the wells will attract the 40 per cent, subsidy which was applicable previously only to off-structure holes. We know that in Queensland in particular the oil search technique has been to drill the closed anticline structures, and these holes have attracted a maximum of only 30 per cent. However, it has been found there that these large structures no longer contain petroleum. The porous sands in which petroleum would have been found in reservoir con ditions have long since been flushed out by the water of the artesian aquaflow. Therefore, the search is turning, not to these closed saucer-like structures but to other structures, called stratigraphic traps, where the reservoir rocks butt up against other impervious rocks and form different types of structure altogether. The subsidy payable for this type of drilling in the past was only 30 per cent. This bill amends the situation and makes this very important section of oil search activity in Queensland and elsewhere eligible for a 40 per cent subsidy.
There is one part of the Minister’s second-reading speech which does cause me some concern and about which I would like more enlightenment. It relates to the removal of the subsidy for detailed structure drilling. This could mean that developmental wells, if discovered on a single structure, would no longer be eligible for subsidy. I hope it does not mean that. Perhaps “ detailed structure drilling “ is a nicer term that relates to the completion of an already determined oil field. If that is so, I have no quarrel to make with this provision, but if it means that after a discovery has been made further development wells to detail the structure are involved at once, and if this is no longer to attract the subsidy then I believe we will be setting back to some degree the enthusiasm wi:h which operations are going ahead at the moment. I refer to operations such as the very extensive but most exciting one in central Australia at Gidgealpa, where Gidgealpa No. 3 has just been completed and has revealed an enormous potential gas reserve. But many more wells, at any rate along the 50 mile structure, will be needed before it can be determined whether these are a commercial proposition or not. The pipeline experts are here and are already surveying the field and the possibilities of pipelines into the capital cities. They are highly excited about it. But if the subsidy is not to apply to future wells drilled on that same structure, it will be a body blow to the companies concerned. As I have said, I am not certain that this is involved, but if it is, I trust that the Minister will have a second look at it.
Then we are told that it is proposed to amend the act so that the rate of subsidy for each category may be determined by regulation but so as not to exceed the rates in the present act. This, again, is a great development because it means that there will be a flexibility about the whole thing. The officers of the Bureau of Mineral Reseources will now be able to look at the specific operation which is put before them and determine there and then what percentage of subsidy will attach to that operation, without being necessarily bound to the five separate categories which are rather stringently determined by the act as it now stands without this very desirable amendment.
Finally I should like to underline and re-enforce what has been said with regard to the optimism of the Government. The events of the last few years have confirmed the early opinion of the Government’s advisers that oil should be present in Australia, and those events have justified the Government’s policy in stimulating exploration. I believe this to be true. I believe that we are at present moving ahead in very substantial ways and will make further break-throughs in this vital field. The value of natural gas is not appreciated largely throughout Australia. Many people think of it merely as a fuel, but as a chemical raw material it is even more valuable and, one day, it will be of enormous assistance to our petro-chemical industry, to say nothing of industries which deal in, for instance, the supply of fertilizers. This will become especially important in 30 years time when our resources in Nauru have been expended. These are exciting days of development. I put forward the view that the bill as amended and submitted to the House is the obvious way in which the next step is to be taken. On the other hand, the amendment moved by the Opposition would only delete many of the desirable things that I have mentioned and set back the search for oil. It would bring us back into a confused polemic situation with coal and other competing interests and would serve only to confuse this very necessary national development in oil search. I oppose the amendment.
.- I support the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti), who has proposed an amendment to the Petroleum Search Subsidy Bill with which we are now dealing. I suppose one would have to be described as intrepid to choose to follow the honorable member for Evans (Dr. Mackay) in this debate, because there is no doubt that, as he has indicated, he has some expert knowledge on this subject, being something in the nature of an oil baron in Australia.
– Cut it out.
– Not a beer barrel - an oil baron. The honorable member for Evans is well known as the author of “ 1962 Australian Oil Adventure “, and we know that he has a very personal involvement in this legislation. I understand that his personal involvement - he can deny this if I am wrong - represents a fairly substantial amount of capital. If he were in some other arm of government he might be said to have a pecuniary interest in the matter being discussed and probably would not be permitted to participate. But democracy prevails here, so it is a fair thing to contend that we have heard the voice of the investors in the oil industry, and probably those who derive benefit from it as well.
The honorable member for Macquarie has explained his amendment. This amendment has been off-handedly referred to and dismissed by the honorable member for Evans as an attempt to nationalize the oil industry. He obviously is more interested in capitalizing on the oil industry. But let us look for a moment at the proposition put before the House by the honorable member who led for the Opposition and see how offensive the proposal is. He proposed that the Commonwealth should take the lead in the search for oil in the Australian Territories. I know that as an aside he proposed also that we should take the lead in initiating a national fuel policy. To me, this does not sound subversive or offensive, nor does it sound undesirable, regardless of the manner in which the honorable member for Evans wants to besmear it. You just cannot do injustice to propositions of this kind so easily, because there is a great necessity in Australia for the Government to give a lead on oil research and oil production. Does the honorable member for Evans really claim to oppose this aspect of the amendment?
In paragraph (b) of the amendment we seek the co-operation of the governments of the States in a joint governmental search for oil. I do not know whether or not this is bad. When all is said and done, the States have a constitutional prerogative in this matter. I know that the honorable member for Evans is a recent arrival in this chamber but I do not think that even he would deny this to be a fact of the situation. 1 doubt very strongly whether the Commonwealth can go far in this matter unless it has the co-operation of the States. The extent to which we had this cooperation in the past probably reflects itself in the limited success that we had in oil exploration. Seeking more co-operation from the six States is not an undesirable aspect of the amendment moved by the honorable member for Macquarie. The honorable member for Macquarie proposed also that we should extend greatly the activities of the Bureau of Mineral Resources in mapping, in geological and geophysical surveys, and in drilling for oil. I understand that the first several proposals were defensive, but when it was suggested that drilling should be engaged in by the bureau the honorable member for Evans started to become concerned.
It is not so terribly long ago that the bureau was actively engaged in the search for oil in Australia. It is a matter of great discredit to this Government that it disposed of the bureau’s deep oil well boring equipment. It gave it away for a song when, possibly, we were on the very threshold of success. It could have been public enterprise that discovered oil at Moonie, instead of a concern that is dominated by overseas interests. Why is the honorable member more interested in private gain and private welfare than he is in public welfare and public interest? After all, who started off owning the oil in this country, apart from the aborigines, who were the subject of earlier debates in this chamber to-night? We would all concede that the people owned the oil.
There is too much legislation going through this place at the present time which is designed to bolster up those who want to exploit the public interest all the way along the line. This case is rather like that of the bauxite deposit at Weipa, if I may say so as an aside. There we have the great red cliffs of Weipa on the Gulf of Carpentaria, and for practically nothing you can scoop off the over-burden and take away the primary material used to produce aluminium. The deposits of bauxite at Weipa are sufficient to supply the world’s needs for 300 years, yet we give them away to some other country in another part of the world. It is a simple business to exploit these resources. Oil found in Australia belongs to the Australian people, and it does not do much credit to the reputation of the honorable member to be so anxious to give it away to people in other parts of the world. That is the first that comes to my mind about paragraph (c) of the amendment.
Paragraph (d) seems also to have offended the honorable member for Evans. This is a similar proposal which is designed to implement the planned development of the nation’s fuel resources. What is the alternative to planned development? The operative word is “ planned “. Does the honorable member stand for chaos? He probably wants to call it free enterprise and adopt the type of hit-and-miss approach which is responsible for boom-and-bust economies. Many things come to one’s mind, one of which is the number of tradesmen in the country. Should we leave the intake of apprentices to private enterprise and as soon as something goes wrong and there are insufficient tradesmen, make the whole scheme a charge on and liability of the Commonwealth? This is the sort of attitude that is adopted as an alternative to planning. It results in haphazardness. Honorable members on this side of the House make no apology for their attitude. We are concerned about the need to plan the development of our economy in such a way as to achieve the best possible results for all our people.
So we have initiated the four points of the amendment which had so appalled the honorable member for Evans. Probably he would be eulogistic and enthusiastic about an amendment which set out to laud or encourage private enterprise, particularly if it were instigated by overseas interests. But we do not stand for that. An appreciation of Australiana has moved the honorable member for Macquarie and the Opposition to a very substantial degree. This spirit motivates us in proposing and supporting the amendment.
– You are not fair dinkum. That is a piece of Australiana, too.
– About the only time we hear the voice of the honorable member for Ballarat is when he interjects. I say to him that the Government seems to be intent on abandoning our oil deposits to overseas interests. This is true not only of Australia but also of the Government’s policy in respect of the trust territories - particularly Papua and New Guinea. The Australian people may be able to suffer the consequences of the Government’s bad policies, but when we start to dish out such a raw deal to the indigenous people of Papua and New Guinea for whom we have a responsibility to the United Nations, something is very seriously wrong. I am aware of the extent of intrusion into Papua and New Guinea of the matters to which I refer. Only last week, an announcement was made about a new development company which is to operate in Papua and New Guinea. Apparently no limit is to be imposed on the extent to which such companies can usurp the agricultural and industrial potential of that country. The indigenes will be left with very little of their national heritage. Just as we members of the Labour Party stand for the preservation of the resources of Australia for the Australian people, we adopt a similar view about the people of Papua and New Guinea, especially its indigenes. We believe that it is desirable for the Government to place a limit on the extent to which agricultural and industrial resources can be taken over in New Guinea by overseas concerns.
The Government has substantially abandoned oil exploration on behalf of the Australian people by providing substantial subsidies for overseas companies. I intend to quote figures to substantiate this contention. The Government has abandoned the production of petroleum. I concede that not much production is taking place at Moonie. Despite heavy subsidies paid to develop the Moonie oil-field, the Australian Government has no direct control over this activity. It has also abandoned responsibility for the transportation of petroleum and its distribution outlets. In other words, it has substantially sold out to overseas interests.
Honorable members opposite seem to take pride in their individual prowess to make a quick quid, as if this were a great virtue.
The honorable member for Evans represents about 70,000 to 80,000 voters and other honorable members opposite each represent about 40,000 to 50,000 voters, but collectively they seem to ignore their capacity to make a quid on behalf of the people whom they represent. From a money-making point of view, tremendous results could be achieved, but honorable members opposite should not come here thinking only of their own pecuniary interests. They should start to recognize public interest.
There is evidence of substantial collusion by oil cartels in respect of the price to be paid for Moonie oil. This is most undesirable. Activity in oil exploration should be directed now to prevention of a recurrence of that type of development. On this side of the House we take the view that it is a good thing to have a regulatory public authority operating in the oil exploration field. Qantas Empire Airways Limited operates in the field of air transport, the Commonwealth Bank operates in the field of banking and we have a national shipping authority of sorts. It is only a national shipping authority of sorts but it has some beneficial effects. Our national air transport authority has caused the privately operated airlines to have as much regard for public safety as they have shown. The Commonwealth Bank has caused the trading banks to have some regard for public interest.
I put it to the honorable member for Evans and other Government supporters that it is not a bad idea to have public instrumentalities operating in a regulatory capacity. This is the principle we have proposed for oil search and it is incorporated in the amendment moved by the honorable member for Macquarie. We could profit from a public instrumentality in the refining field where there is need for competition. If a publicly operated refinery had been able to bid for the Moonie oil, a fair price would have been paid for it. If the privately operated refineries are not prepared to pay a fair price, a publicly operated refinery should be available to set an example. A public authority is also necessary for the carriage of petroleum. We should have our own tanker fleet. However, none of these things seems to receive much consideration from honorable members opposite.
I was interested to read a report by a French mission which came here recently and was charged by the Government with the task of investigating oil exploration in Australia. The mission issued a report which was headed “ Recent Developments of Petroleum Prospects in Australia “. It is dated September, 1963. The director of the investigation team was Dr. Trumpy; I believe he is a Frenchman. Having thoroughly examined oil exploration here, the mission made the point that some companies which were attracting handsome subsidies and substantial allocations of funds were skimping their work and not doing justice to the job which was absorbing large amounts of public money provided by the taxpayers. The Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner) mentioned this fact on 12th April, 1964. He said-
The report is critical of the quality of some of the exploration work in Australia.
The report went on to propose minimum programmes that should be undertaken by all the companies engaged in oil exploration. For example, it was critical about borehole logging and a number of other matters listed under various sub-headings. The report laid down a number of requirements that ought to be fulfilled. In general terms, it indicated that the money was going too easily and that the original motivation for the subsidy scheme was no longer manifest.
I was interested to sec some figures cited by the Minister for National Development in his second-reading speech on this measure in another place. He provided statistics showing expenditure on oil search and said that they showed that expenditure had risen steadily. The statistics showed that in the calendar year 1959 £5,800,000 was spent by companies and £700,000 by governments on oil search. In 1963, company expenditure was estimated to be £16,000,000 and Government expenditure £2,500,000. I have made a note to the effect that in 1959 the Commonwealth subsidy represented about 10 per cent, of company expenditure, whereas, on the estimated figures, by 1963 it had increased to no less than about 3 1 per cent. These figures alone seem to be sufficient to substantiate the case that I am putting.
I should now like to describe the extent to which overseas concerns are participating in the search for oil in Australia. Investment in oil search is substantially dominated by overseas interests at present. On 19th September of last year, the Minister for National Development provided some figures that substantiate this view. He stated that, to the end of September, 1962, private enterprise had invested £86,286,399 and the Commonwealth, by way of subsidy, had invested £13,837,866. This gives a total of £100,124,265. Of the amount invested by private enterprise £52,200,000 was provided by overseas concerns. On later advice, this figure was subsequently amended, and the Minister now says that 57 per cent, of the grand total of £100,124,265 has been contributed by overseas interests. In the calendar year 1962, 98.6 per cent, of the investment by private interests overseas came from the United States of America and Canada and only 1 .4 per cent, came from the United Kingdom and France.
When I looked at the subsidies paid to 31st July last year, I found that Austraiian companies had attracted £3,055,948, companies completely owned and controlled by overseas interests £2,931,686 and companies jointly owned by Australian and overseas interests £4,041,102 - a total of £10,028,736. The significant thing is that those companies that were owned cither completely or partly by overseas interests attracted the larger part of the total subsidy. The Minister for National Development said recently -
The Commonwealth Government does not expect to participate directly in any oil production as a result of its expenditure on oil exploration by way of subsidy or otherwise.
Having regard to the substantial sums invested by the taxpayers under the principal act, we are not satisfied with the present state of affairs. Let us consider the areas held under petroleum exploration rights at 30th June, 1963. Overseas companies held in their own names 722,250 square miles or 27.65 per cent, of the total area held. Companies owned partly by overseas interests and partly by Australian interests held 798,973 square miles, or 30.58 per cent, of the total. Companies wholly owned in Australia held 1,090,816 square miles, or 41.77 per cent, of the total. Ownership by wholly Australian companies of only 41.77 per cent, of the total area held is not good enough. On this basis, it appears inevitable that we in Australia shall miss out. We shall not own our own deposits of oil if any are discovered. It is fair to take the view that oil resources will be discovered by Australian interests in proportion to Australian endeavour. This being so, there seems to be no alternative to the prospect that most of the resources discovered here will be owned by overseas concerns.
We all recall the unfortunate situation that arose on the Moonie field. This could bc repeated again and again. We know that at Moonie an Australian company and a United States company were involved. The American participants appeared always to be quickly informed of developments. When analyses of flows were being made during testing, there was daily communication with the United States, and, as a result, when it became apparent that oil would flow in commercial quantities, the overseas interests largely swallowed up the share that had been held by Australians. This kind of technique will continue unabated and undeterred by this Government if present indications are anything to go by. Not only have we at present a substantial measure of control of oil search by United States and Canadian interests, but this overseas control will increase in the manner that I have described with respect to the Moonie field, where the degree of overseas ownership was increased as soon as oil was discovered.
I was interested to read in the “ Canberra Times” a few months ago a report that a Japanese oil exploration company was planning to begin drilling operations in Australia. We were told that this was a £20,000,000 organization and one of the biggest single companies of its type in Japan. But there is an interesting feature. It is 50 per cent, government-owned. The Japanese, apparently, have adopted a concept that is completely foreign to Australia. But let me tell honorable members opposite that this kind of idea is not foreign to most countries other than Australia where there is great national pride, especially some of the AfroAsian countries that we tend to think of offhandedly with a considerable measure of indifference, although many of them have populations larger than our own. These are recently emerged nations that have one common factor in particular: They will not deny their birthright and sell out their resources to any other country. This Japanese company, which is 50 per cent, government-owned, plans to take complete control of an oil exploration enterprise in Australia. If oil is discovered, the Japanese company will control the deposit entirely.
There is an alternative to this sort of thing. It is nothing new. I have not thought it up. In most other countries, foreign investors who wish to participate in oil exploration are told that in the event of their efforts resulting in the discovery of oil, automatically 49 per cent, or 5 1 per cent, ownership will reside in the government of the country concerned. No payment of money is involved. Nor is there any need for payment of money to be involved in the Australian situation.
– What did Mr. Chifley do when he wanted to have an Australian motor car industry established?
– I suppose the honorable member is talking about the Holden motor car. I doubt very much whether it is an Australian motor car now. The first thing that we should remember is that the Holden manufacturers did not bring any money into this country, not one solitary penny. The capital needed to launch this endeavour came from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and millions of pounds have since been repatriated from this country because of the Government’s failure to understand the need to obtain effective control.
People in other parts of the world have been waxing fat on profits made from industries here. This happened in the motor car industry and it has happened with most other major industries in Australia. I would suggest to the honorable member that he, as an Australian and one who I have no doubt has a decent and wholesome interest in this country, should take the view that overseas interests should not be allowed to exploit our petroleum deposits. We need do no more than almost every other country has done and that is to ensure that we have complete control. When we look at these arrangements, we find that tremendous concessions, such as taxation concessions, have been made to these companies. I refer to a booklet called “ The Search for Oil in Australia “. which was issued by the Minister for National Development in 1958. I will not have time to refer to it at any length. However, it mentions the taxation concessions available to these companies. It says that in 1958 a new section was incorporated in the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act and then outlines the taxation benefits available to companies engaged in oil exploration. If these companies happen to strike oil, they benefit from the reciprocal taxation arrangements which are of tremendous consequence and enormous advantage when available to overseas investors. These companies also benefit from the subsidy provided under this bill. What it comes down to substantially is that these people from other parts of the world are steadfastly taking over our country. The concessions I have mentioned and the failure of the Government to safeguard the best interests of the Australian people mean that these companies will receive very big dividends and bonuses without incurring a very large outlay.
The time allotted to me has almost expired. I mean to talk about the need for a national fuel policy and to support my colleague the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) in this regard. As one who lives in a coal-mining area, I am aghast at the way our own indigenous fuel is being ignored and fuel oil is being allowed to come into this country. Fuel oil is being allowed to invade our markets at a price that is well below cost and so our own fuel is placed at a disadvantage. This does no credit to the Government and it is high time that we started to evolve a comprehensive programme designed in the long run to benefit the people who own this country and the taxpayers of this country rather than to give all the advantages to those who bring investment from other parts of the world.
.- I support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) and seconded by the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) on behalf of the Opposition. The amendment seeks to add the following words -
The House is of opinion that the Government should: -
take the lead in the search for oil in Australian territories;
seek the co-operation of the governments of the States in a joint governmental search for oil;
greatly expand the activities of the Bureau of Mineral Resources in mapping, geological and geophysical surveys and in drilling for oil; and
implement a planned development of the nation’s fuel resources.
The amendment is limited by the scope of the bill. The Opposition would like to move an amendment which would provide for much more extensive activities in the oil search and the development of oil and fuel resources. However, we are limited by the nature of the bill.
The amendment highlights the difference between the Government and the Opposition in matters of this kind. The Government states that it stands for private enterprise and private interest. In this equation of things, the Opposition stands for the public interest. What is the significance of this difference and how does the amendment bring out this significance? First, the private enterprise for which the Government stands is not, as many people would think, the small private shopkeeper, farmer or factory owner, but under the heading of private interest and private enterprise we now find that the Government stands for large corporate monopolistic industrial structures which control and dominate the raw material resources and the processing of those resources in this country. Oil is an example of this. Australia depends and will continue to depend for many years upon supplies of imported petroleum. These supplies are completely under the control of the American monopolistic system. The Opposition believes that it is necessary for Australia to have at least its own refining facilities in this country and that unless the facilities are publicly owned - that is, owned by the Commonwealth or State governments independently or in cooperation - they will provide no competition or independent influence at all.
What might be called private capital is from time to time invested in oil search, with which we are specifically concerned in this measure. Perhaps the honorable member for Evans (Dr. Mackay), who spoke earlier from the Government side, is an example of this relatively small investment.
The truth of the matter is that if oil is discovered and if a well becomes worthwhile, it will not be long before that oil and that well are owned and controlled by the monopolistic structure. There will be no other way in the future to provide effective competition or some independence in the development of our own resources, unless we do it by public enterprise. The significant difference that emerges between the Opposition and the Government is to be found in this approach.
I think the Australian Labour Party must increasingly make it dramatically clear to the Australian people that it stands for the public interest in this country and that those on the other side of the House who say they speak for private enterprise do not speak for the small Australians, the small manufacturer, farmer or shopkeeper, but for the large-scale monopolistic industries.
– The Government speaks for very few Australians at all.
– That is so. This bill comes at an interesting time. Four or five years ago, any one with any sense of realism must have seriously doubted whether oil in payable quantities would ever bc discovered in this country. Some changes have occurred since 1959. Some oil has been discovered in payable quantities and it is now possible for people to look at the situation in a commonsense way. They can say, “There are prospects of oil being discovered in payable quantities in this country “. It is now not just a matter for the pure speculator or gambler, as it was so significantly before. The development of the oil search in Australia is really in any significant sense only about four or five years old. In 1959, there were only 60,000 feet drilled in this country in the year. By 1963, it had risen to 666,000 feet. The development of the oil search has been a significant factor in the last four or five years. During that time, a considerable amount of money has been spent upon it.
By passing this bill we will extend until 30th June, 1967, the operation of the oil subsidy which, under the existing legislation, would terminate on 30th June, 1964. In evaluating this legislation we must have regard to achievements up to date and their cost. I suggest that we look at those achievements, not in any pessimistic fashion but in a realistically critical fashion. So far we have one commercial oil field at Moonie in Queensland, where about fifteen wells out of fewer than twenty are producing oil at what are called satisfactory flow rates. Oil has been discovered in three wells at Richmond near Roma, in Queensland, but drilling has been irregular and results have not been on a commercial basis. There have been good oil shows in one or two other places - in Western Australia at Rough Range, at a couple of places in Queensland and at Puri in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. But those discoveries have not been worth while. There is oil at the bottom of those wells in many cases, and in some cases in fairly large quantities, but it does not pay to get it out. This is what we have achieved over four or five years of relatively intensified drilling.
What has been the cost of this achievement? In the four years during which the act has operated the Government has spent £10,800,000 in subsidies on the search for oil. During that time the private companies operating in the search for oil have spent a greater amount than £10,800,000. It is estimated that about 50,000,000 barrels of oil is in reserve in the Moonie field. If we assess that oil at £2 a barrel it means that we have about £100,000,000 worth of oil in reserve. But last year alone oil search in Australia cost £23,500,000. The year before, it cost £17,800,000. The year before that it cost £8,800,000, the year before £8,000,000 and the year before that £7,100,000. Between £65,000,00 and £70,000,000 has been spent on the search for oil in those years and it is estimated that our full reserves in our only payable oil field would be worth about £100,000,000 - perhaps a little less than that figure. In other words, in this period we have spent on oil search almost as much as the value of our reserves in the best field that we have found. This demonstrates what everybody knows - that we still have a long way to go in the search for oil.
The Government in various ways has been exercising a role of increasing significance during this time. The honorable member for Hughes referred to this matter. If we look at the table provided by the Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner) when introducing the bill in another place and compare the amount paid in subsidy each year by the Government with the total amount spent on the search for oil throughout the Commonwealth we find that in 1959 the amount paid by the Commonwealth in subsidy as a percentage of the total amount spent on the search for oil was a mere 0.8 per cent. In 1960, the amount provided in subsidy had risen to 12.5 per cent, of the total amount spent. In 1961, the percentage had arisen to 13 per cent; in 1962 to 17 per cent.; and in 1963 to 21 per cent. It is probably clear that the percentage will continue to increase until it reaches a significant figure. Although the honorable member for Evans may not bc satisfied with the amount that is being provided by the Government, it is worth noting that the percentage is rising significantly as the years go by.
A significant thing about the oil industry is that the search for oil is often conducted by the relatively small capital units. The big companies in oil make their money out of refining, transporting and selling oil on the retail market. It is in these fields that the enormous financial resources and power of petroleum lie. Even in a country like the United States of America, where oil is much easier to find than it is in Australia, the search for it has been carried out largely by relatively small capital. The small producer, as it were, of oil on a relatively small capital basis finds that his oil has to flow through pipes into the monopoly structure. This is true of petroleum all over the world and it is significantly so in the case of Australia. Of course, oil search is the critical thing. Oil cannot be used unless it is first found and the unsymmetrical condition of the industry is revealed by the fact that the millions of pounds that are made out of oil are made in that part of the industry which gives little chance of the money going into oil search. So, in a country like Australia the Government must assist considerably in the search for oil.
The amount of money that can be put into oil is illustrated by the activities of the Amoco organization, which recently entered into retail business in the eastern states. That company spent £9,500,000 in establishing more than 100 service stations in a period of little more than twelve months. During that time the organization lost £2,500,000. In a relatively short period of time that organization will get back from the distribution of oil products not only its losses but also the amount of its capital outlay. The enormous resources employed in the refining and retailing of oil and the enormous profits that are made on this side of the industry are separated from the actual search for oil. Those moneys do not find their way into oil search and they do nothing significant to encourage the search for oil. Consequently we find that the section of the industry engaged in the search for oil is short of funds and unless the Government assists considerably the rate of search will not be satisfactory. This is a most unfortunate situation in the industry and we in Australia are suffering very greatly because of it.
If the Government is to provide increased funds to assist in the search for oil it should require more direct control on behalf of the people of Australia over the oil when discovered and when it goes into the system. The Labour Party does not agree wholly with the methods adopted by the Government to encourage the search for oil but it does agree that something should be done in this regard. The only way in which the Government can ensure that it has a say in what happens to the oil after it is brought out of the ground is by establishing an Australian refinery capable of refining Australian oil and oil imported from competing sources. In all probability our present refineries would not handle Australian oil even if we had it.
It is unfortunate that the public interest was so lost sight of in recent years that the Government was willing to sell Australia’s share of the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Ltd. It will not be long before the Government will again be forced to establish a Commonwealth oil refinery, because there will be no other way of ensuring that the Australian people have a share in the control of Australia’s petroleum industry. The idea put forward a little while ago by the honorable member for Evans that the ordinary Australian can have some control over the industrial structure of this country by buying a few shares is a fairy story. There is no basis here for an Australian to have any control over the resources of his own country. The only way that an Australian can have any real say in the control of Australia’s resources is through this Parliament - the place where he by his vote can help to achieve a national fuel policy. Such a policy would give that Australian some control over wealthy people such as the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes), who is interjecting and who is in such a strong position, economically and socially, that the ordinary Australian would not be in the contest with him. The only way in which an Australian can have any real say is through public enterprise. Public enterprise is the enterprise over which the Australian flag flies and on which the future development of Australia depends so much.
The amendment moved by the honorable member for Macquarie brings out clearly the difference between the Government and the Opposition in this respect. It refers to the importance of the Government taking the lead in the search for oil in Australian Territories; seeking the co-operation of the Governments of the States in a joint governmental search for oil; greatly expanding the activities of the Bureau of Mineral Resources, particularly by setting up a separate section of the bureau to deal with oil search so that when oil is discovered it can bc exploited to the full under public control; and lastly, implementing a planned development of the nation’s fuel resources.
It is not good enough to leave things to the haphazard conditions of the market, to so-called conflicting and competing private enterprise. That is the method of the past, of the nineteenth century. If we look at the Australian economy in twenty or 30 years’ time, we will find that the voices of the Australian people will have been heard through this Parliament and public regulation and public initiative will be safeguarding the public interest, for they are the only things that can do so. Therefore, I support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Macquarie.
– in reply - In the course of his remarks, the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) sought an explanation why at least a part of the bill had to be made retrospective to 1959. He will appreciate that the bill increases the area to which subsidy applies, to cover the sea-bed and sub-soil of the continental shelf. In fact, some drilling operations in that area have been subsidized previously. In order to put those operations beyond all doubt, it has been necessary to make the relevant part of the bill retrospective.
The honorable member for Evans (Dr. Mackay) was concerned about the removal of the subsidy for detailed structure drilling. Detailed structure drilling is the drilling of a number of shallow bores in order to determine whether or not a near-surface structure is present. It is used only when other methods such as geological or seismic surveys are unable to give definite results, lt does not refer to developmental drilling after the discovery of oil. Such drilling is not subsidized either under the existing act or under this bill.
The honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) mentioned the Japan Petroleum Exploration Company Limited, which is known as Japex. In fact, that company made inquiries only. It is not going to participate in oil search in Australia. He mentioned taxation benefits, too. The benefit is the complete exemption from tax of new issues by oil search companies. In fact, it is available only to Australian taxpayers who invest money in oil exploration. This is a very substantial additional contribution that taxpayers in Australia make to oil search over and above the subsidy. All subscriptions to new issues by oil search companies are completely deductible for taxation purposes. It is a pity, in a way, that that fact is not known more widely. If it were more good money might be going into the search for oil.
The amendment moved by the honorable member for Macquarie is not acceptable to the Government. I oppose it. It carries oil search into the wider field of fuel policy. It widens the whole scope of this bill and traverses ground that was covered last week in the debate on a matter of public importance proposed for discussion by the honorable member for Macquarie. The amendment cannot be accepted.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Bury) read a third time.
The following bills were returned from the Senate: -
Without amendment -
Apple and Pear Organization Bill 1964.
Processed Milk Products Bounty Bill 1964.
Dairy Produce Research and Sales Promotion Bill 1964.
Dried Vine Fruits Stabilization Bill 1964.
Dried Vine Fruits Contributory Charges (Collection) Bill 1964.
Act Interpretation Bill 1964.
Evidence Bill 1964.
State and Territorial Laws and Records Recognition Bill 1964.
Rules Publication Bill 1964.
Mint Employees Bill 1964.
Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Bill 1964.
Without requests -
Dairy Produce Levy Bill 1964.
Dried Vine Fruits Contributory Charges Bill 1964.
Motion (by Mr. Bury) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until a date and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker, which time of meeting shall be notified by Mr. Speaker to each member by telegram or letter.
Motion (by Mr. Bury) agreed to -
That leave of absence be given to every member of the House of Representatives from the determination of this sitting of the House to the date of its next sitting.
Air Accident at Newcastle - Universities - Telephone Services- Dried Fruits - Television - Croatian Liberation Movement.
Motion (by Mr. Bury) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I wish to bring a matter to the attention of the House. I bring it forward quite reluctantly because it is never my wish to air in this Parliament personal negotiations between taxpayers and Commonwealth departments. However, in my opinion, it is necessary for certain actions and negotiations that are talcing place at the moment to be aired in this Parliament so that everybody will be aware of what is happening. 1 am prompted to bring this matter forward by a question which was asked in this chamber last Thursday by the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock). He asked what progress had been made and was being made in regard to a claim for damages by a Mrs. Tillitzki of Newcastle, whose home was destroyed when a Royal Australian Air Force Sabre aircraft crashed into her home and burnt it out on 12th November, 1963. The Minister in his reply said -
We are now in a position to make to her an offer for the replacement of her house. Other portions of the claims are still the subject of negotiations, but I am hopeful that they will be settled. We have also made offers to two other people who suffered in the accident.
I entered into correspondence with the Minister, and he assured me that this claim would be dealt with expeditiously and brought to a satisfactory conclusion as early as possible. I wrote to the Minister again as a result of a letter that I received in December, 1963, on behalf of Mrs. Tillitzki from her son. One of the paragraphs in the letter written by young Mr. Tillitzki said -
I am very concerned at the lack of courtesy and help to my mother and would respectfully ask you to inquire into same.
What has to be borne in mind is that Mrs. Tillitzki is an aged pensioner. She is not a young woman; she is a very elderly lady who would need all the assistance possible. It is fortunate for her that she has her family living in Newcastle where they can give her some assistance. The Minister furnished a reply very quickly to the letter I wrote as a result of the letter that I received from Mrs. Tillitzki’s son. He said -
Mrs. Tillitzki has been asked orally on numerous occasions to make a claim and, as soon as one is received, it will be handled as expeditiously as possible.
Mrs. Tillitzki sought legal representation. Her claim was lodged on 20th February, 1963. I emphasize the point that her claim was lodged on 20th February, 1963. In her name, her solicitor set out her claim in this fashion: He claimed the cost of the replacement of her home; he detailed the furniture and personal effects that had been lost or destroyed - and I would ask honorable members to bear in mind that this portion of the claim covered fifteen pages, and I shall refer to it later; he claimed the cost of replacing gardens, lawns and paths; and the cost of demolishing the damaged and dangerous building. The cost of that demolition was set out in the claim as being £110. Pausing there, I point out to the House that Mrs. Tillitzki requested the Royal Australian Air Force to demolish a wall which was then in a dangerous condition as a result of being burnt out by the fire and having the aircraft removed from it by the R.A.A.F. The R.A.A.F. then told Mrs. Tillitzki that her family could go ahead and make its own arrangements for the demolition of the building. That, in itself, in my opinion, was not a very cooperative attitude on the part of the R.A.A.F. The R.A.A.F. should have taken the necessary action to demolish this part of Mrs. Tillitzki’s home which had been destroyed by this aircraft.
– What about the case of the young couple who made a claim?
– I shall tell the House something about that matter later on. The Minister in his reply to the question by the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock) said that the cause of this accident was the fact that there was a fault in the flying instructions issued to the pilots. In the final sentences of his reply, he said -
These instructions have been circulated to pilots and the pilots’ notes are being rewritten. The basic flying training unit has also been informed of the results of this research.
So, it has been proved that this aircraft, which was destroyed, crashed as a result of the faulty training of the pilot who was flying the aircraft. It is not an unusual occurrence where aircraft have crashed to find that the pilots of those aircraft have got into trouble as a result of manoeuvres they were carrying out. Nobody can lay the blame for this crash on Mrs. Tillitzki. The blame lies fairly and squarely on the shoulders of the R.A.A.F. because of the manner in which it trained the pilot to fly this aircraft.
The claim submitted by Mrs. Tillitzki’s solicitor listed further a claim for £4 a week for temporary accommodation. Also, an amount was claimed in respect of a deterioration in the health of Mrs. Till itzki It has since been proven that this woman has an ulcer directly attributable to the crash and to the worry it occasioned her. Those are the whole details of her claim. On 10th April, the Crown Solicitor requested further particulars of that section of the claim relative to furniture and personal effects. I remind honorable members once again that this portion of the claim covers fifteen foolscap pages and sets out all the things that this lady had accumulated during her lifetime. The Crown Solicitor asked to be supplied with details of the date of the purchase of each individual article, from whom it was purchased, and the cost of the purchase. If requiring this elderly age pensioner to supply this information following on an accident for which she was not responsible is not an extreme case of bureaucratic action, then I believe it is certainly taking things to the extreme.
On 5th May, Mrs. Tillitzki’s solicitor replied that the request for this information was unreasonable and that it was almost impossible to make the information available. However, he said he would try to make the information available for the Crown Solicitor as to the details of those items on which the Crown Solicitor wanted information. Back came the Crown Solicitor’s reply on 18th May. It said in the concluding paragraph -
If your client, Mrs. Tillitzki, wishes to negotiate a settlement of her claim, she should make available to me the particulars that 1 have requested in my letter dater 10.4.64 so that I will be able to make a proper assessment of the amount of compensation due to her.
I ask any honorable member in this chamber whether he would like to list every item of personal effects m his home, where and when he purchased that item and how much he paid for it. It is absolutely impossible to supply such information. Unfortunately, the Minister is not in the chamber. He knew I was going to speak on this subject. I ask the Minister to do something about the bureaucracy that is demonstrated by this ruling of the Crown Solicitor’s Department and make a decision so that this woman can have her claim finalized. Let me say further that there is a clear indication that the Crown Solicitor does not intend bringing this matter to finality, because he has arranged a medical appointment for Mrs. Tillitzki with a Macquarie Street doctor on 1st June of this year. It can clearly be seen that no finalization can be expected of her claim for at least another fortnight after she has been to see the doctor. I point out again to honorable members that it must be borne in mind that this lady was not in any way responsible for the crash of this aircraft. It was the fault of the R.A.A.F. because of the faulty training and instructions given to the pilot. I have quoted the remarks of the Minister and I emphasize to honorable members the points he made in his reply in this chamber.
I wish to refer also, in conclusion, to another young couple who had their personal effects destroyed. They made a claim for £56 for the loss of personal effects. The Crown Solicitor offered them £30. This young couple had been back only ten days from their honeymoon. When they claimed the loss of personal household effects, the Crown Solicitor wanted to cut their claim in half. Once again, that clearly indicates the unreasonableness of the Crown Solicitor in the handling of these cases. I ask the Minister to do something about these matters as soon as he can. As he said three months ago that upon the receipt of a claim from this lady the matter would be dealt with as expeditiously as possible by the department, and as the department has already taken three months in dealing with the claim expeditiously, I would hate to have the department take its time over the matter.
Unfortunately, I have not all the time I should like to have to deal with the question of apprentices, which I have raised with the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon). In this matter, I support completely the action being taken by the trade unions to-day in opposition to the Government’s adult training scheme. I support all the strikes that are taking place, and I call on the trade union movement to do more about this matter. Two weeks ago I brought to the attention of the Minister for Labour and National Service the case of five young lads in my electorate who had obtained their intermediate certificates and who had unsuccessfully applied for apprenticeships with as many as twelve to fourteen companies. When I referred the letter which I had received to the Minister, he sent it through to his department in Newcastle. The department there sent for the young fellows to come in and have an interview. What do you think the department told them to do at the interview? They were told, “ Watch the newspapers, and see if you can find yourselves positions”.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– While I am aware that one gets the best result by dealing with only one subject on an adjournment debate, although I have not very much time at my disposal I want to deal very briefly with three subjects. The first concerns an article in a Victorian newspaper in which this statement was made by a prominent Victorian -
The Universities Commission was composed of professors from ail over Australia. They made a report which had not yet been seen by the State, but indications were that the university would have to be in Melbourne area, or Commonwealth money would not be available.
In the Federal House Senator Gorton and the Prime Minister said the Commonwealth had given no direction as to where it must be. Both were correct, but if the Universities Commission said that the next university must be within five miles of Melbourne University, what was that but direction?
I want to clear this matter up if I can. I asked the Prime Minister a question on this subject and he said that the governments of the States determine whether additional universities are to be established and where they shall be located. I say definitely that the Victorian Government cannot shirk its responsibility to say definitely where the third university in Victoria will be located. I have advocated on many occasions the establishment of the university away from the metropolitan area of Melbourne. It is misleading for a prominent Victorian to make a statement in the press such as I have read.
Now I come to the second subject I wanted to deal with. I would have dealt with it by means of a question this morning, but unfortunately I did not get the call.
– Your tally is high on the question list, with 25 questions this session.
– It was not my turn. I was proposing to ask the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Hulme) this question: -
Will the Postmaster-General use all means at his disposal, including seeking an increased financial allocation, to have more automatic telephone exchanges installed in rural areas? Where such installations are impracticable at present, will he conduct investigations with a view to increasing participation by his department in the repair and general maintenance of existing party telephone lines and general telephone services?
I shall speak only briefly on this matter. In decentralized Victoria there are many party lines, and many have fallen into disrepair. It was expected by the Postmaster-General and by the people themselves that it would not be very long before we had automatic exchanges. When these are installed the party lines all have to be re-organized, and the party lines must be kept in a state of repair in the meantime so that they will give a good service. 1 suggest that the PostmasterGeneral’s Department should participate more widely in this maintenance work. In city areas nobody is asked to keep his telephone service in order. I know that in the country private participation is necessary, but I believe that we should have more participation in this upkeep work by the Postmaster-General’s Department. I am pleased to hear remarks of approbation from my colleagues behind me. I am glad that they are with me on this matter, as are some members of the Opposition who represent country areas.
Let me say, Mr. Speaker, that we have had a very fruitful session. We have had legislation concerning the Apple and Pear Board and the stabilization of the dried fruits industry. Something of a coincidence occurred with regard to the dried fruits. You will remember, Mr. Speaker, that honorable members in this corner of the House have been fighting for a long time for the stabilization of the dried fruits industry. You will also remember that you were kind enough to ensure, at our request, that dried fruits were placed on the tables in the members’ dining room. The gentlemen who are interjecting most loudly now were the ones who participated most enthusiastically in eating those dried fruits. No doubt this put some pep into them, which they are demonstrating to-night. But let me return to the coincidence I mentioned.
On a certain day the Dried Vine Fruits Stabilization Bill was passed through all stages in this House, and on that very day the dried fruits disappeared from the tables in the members’ dining room. Some members, of course, were saying that the provision of the dried fruits was only a publicity stunt. They said to me, “ As soon as you got your stabilization plan through the House you took the dried fruit off the tables “. The fact that it disappeared from the tables on that very day was only a coincidence, and you, Mr. Speaker, can support me in that statement. I am hoping that you will also arrange for dried fruits to be on the dining room tables when we come back here for the Budget session. Those dried fruits were greatly appreciated by members, not only for their sweetness and pleasing taste, but also because of their health-giving qualities. I have noticed that since the dried fruits came on the table there have been very good attendances in this House. I ask all members of Parliament who have enjoyed those dried fruits to publicize this great Australian product in their electorates throughout Australia. After all. honorable members have a unique coverage. It includes the whole of Australia. I ask them to give this product as much publicity as they can.
– May I use your name?
– Use anybody’s name, but publicize the product. You can even use your own name in South Australia if you like; it may have some effect. But I say to honorable members: Wherever you go, tell the people that you ate these dried fruits in the dining room of the House of Representatives. Tell them how delicious and health giving they are and tell the people that they should try them. In this way honorable members will be advertising one of Australia’s best products.
.- We all regret that there are no current supplies of dried fruits in the dining room.
Mr. Speaker, I think it is fair to say that the successful working of the democratic system of government is very much dependent on the extent to which the voting public are properly informed on the public issues on which they vote. To-night, I want to refer to a most unhappy event that occurred in recent times involving the gagging of public discussion. This action was taken by TCN Channel 9 in Sydney. I think many honorable members present are aware of the matter to which I refer. Let me briefly summarize the history of the matter.
Since June, 1960, the Workers Educational Association of New South Wales and the Department of Tutorial Classes of the University of Sydney have arranged for regular adult educational television programmes, under the title of “ Doorway to Knowledge “ to be telecast on TCN Channel 9 in Sydney. Very recently - this year, as a matter of fact - TCN arbitrarily cancelled a scries on South-East Asia after only three of the scheduled 22 sessions had been shown. TCN then also laid down as a new policy that no programmes of a current controversial political nature were to be presented on “ Doorway to Knowledge “ in the future. Negotiations took place between Channel 9, the Department of Tutorial Classes and the Workers Educational Association regarding the discontinuance of these programmes.
That briefly is the situation but I shall give a little more detail. According to information obtained from the Workers Educational Association and the Department of Tutorial Classes, there had never been any complaint, throughout nearly four years of the showing of these programmes, by the management of Channel 9 about the content of the programmes. They were presented over four hours each week and they simply gave the public information on a wide variety of subjects. At the beginning of this year the two educational organizations I have mentioned were scheduled to present this series of programmes on South-East Asia. As I have already said, there had been no complaints made by this station with regard to the political content of the sessions that had been presented up to that time. In fact, there was no party political content in the three earlier sessions of the programme “ South-East Asia “. As I understand it, most of the information that had been given in the programme up to that time had been background material, including geographical information about the countries that were to be treated. Then, out of the blue apparently, it was intimated to these two educational organizations, both of which provided lecturers of university standard to present the programme, that the management of Channel 9 was not prepared to allow the programme to continue.
Naturally enough, this was very upsetting to these organizations, which had arranged to present 22 of these sessions. They requested the management of the station to put in writing its reasons for discontinuing the programme. The management promised them that it would do so, but no reason has been submitted in writing yet. It was always admitted by the W.E.A. and the tutorial classes lecturers that the station had a right, as a private organization, to discontinue the programme at any time, but, on the other hand, the lecturers had been given to understand right from the outset that there would be no censorship whatsoever of the subjects that were to be presented or of the content of the programme. The station agreed to pay all expenses, but I understand that there was complete agreement that there would be no censorship.
This was one of the few programmes dealing with controversial issues that are presented in Australia. It is true that controversial issues are discussed in the daily newspapers, in the Parliament and in other forums throughout Australia, but most of the discussions that take place are, more often than not, somewhat slanted. They are engaged in by vested interests. In this programme, we had something almost unique. There was discussion of controversial public issues in an objective fashion, with no attempt to present propaganda.
– What can we do about it?
– I think we can do quite a lot, but I shall come to that point if you allow me a few more minutes. This was one of the rare opportunities that are available to present in an objective way a discussion of great issues. As I said before, there were no vested interests concerned. In that respect, it was a very valuable programme.
Sir Frank Packer, acting quite arbitrarily through his representatives on the board of Channel 9, said that he was not prepared to give any reasons why the programme was to be discontinued, nor would he allow the educational authorities to make any kind of announcement as to why it was to be discontinued. These two bodies were also told that in future no discussion of - here I quote the actual words used - “ current controversial political issues “ would be allowed. I suppose those who have had to put up with the propaganda machine of the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ will readily understand that. Nevertheless I do not think it should be allowed to pass without some sort of protest.
After all, these great interests are given licences to operate television stations, which are probably the most effective and most powerful media for publishing news throughout the community. Our protest would not be so strong, nor would it be so valid, if an opportunity were given to other organizations in the community, such as educational organizations, to acquire licences to operate television stations. But the licenses issued are comparatively few - so few that possession of a licence represents something approaching a monopoly. Television stations have immense power to inform or to misinform the public.
In this programme, an attempt was being made to present in an objective way matters of great public moment, matters on which the public ought to have available to them objective studies such as the programme apparently gave. In this instance, we have one of a favoured few people - Channel 9 or the “Daily Telegraph “ outfit - denying the public as well as these educators an opportunity to present such a programme. I suggest that the Government ought to look into the matter. I suggest that it ought to tighten up the regulations so as to ensure that organizations such as the two of which I speak will be guaranteed opportunities to present their programmes with no censorship, subject to good taste.
– The Government has a vested interest in this kind of censorship.
– The honorable member for Eden-Monaro suggests that the Government has a vested interest in protecting this kind of censorship.I suggest that when television licences are being allocated in this country in future, much more consideration should be given to organizations such as universities, the W.E.A. and groups which, either individually or in combination, could present programmes of this kind and give the Australian people an opportunity of hearing public issues discussed in a way befitting an enlightened democracy.
– Like the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds), I want to say something about television. Earlier to-day, in Room No. L56, the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) and I recorded a television programme for Channel ATN - acrimoniously, I fear - which is to be televised tomorrow. During the course of the discussions, the honorable member for Yarra said he would be willing to enter into a television debate with me upon the operations of the Communist Party in Australia. I am very willing to do this. I now challenge the honorable member for Yarra to do it, and I hope that we shall be able to make arrangements to do just that in the very near future.
During the course of our discussion on this television programme, the honorable member for Yarra challenged the accuracy of a statement that I had made that Government spokesmen had mentioned two extremist organizations. Naturally, at that moment, I was not able to put my finger on the exact quotations, but I was correct. I promised the honorable member for Yarra that I would give him the quotations. The first reference is the “ Hansard “ report of the debates in the House of Representatives on 12th May, at pages 1734 and 1738. The other is the “ Hansard “ report of the proceedings of the Senate on 13th May, at page 1089. I think the honorable member used very strong language in saying that I was incorrect, butI was correct and he was wrong.
There is one matter which I want to raise with the honorable member for Yarra. Perhaps he will be able to assist me by telling me what has happened. On page 1887 of the House of Representatives “Hansard” for 14th May, 1964, he is reported as having said -
I tell the Attorney-General now that 1 am associated with an organization that was formed only a few weeks ago to protect its own members from the threats and attacks that have been made upon them by the Ustasha, and to oppose anyone who is willing to use force, violence or the threats of it against anyone in Australia or elsewhere.
Let me look first at the operative words, “only a few weeks ago”. I remind the House that this was said on 13th May. I have in front of me a copy of the Communist “ Guardian “ of 14th November last, which shows that this New Settlers’ Association, as long ago as 7th November last, was in communication with the Eureka Youth League. So it was not formed just a few weeks ago; it was in operation on 7th November last, and I do not know for how long before that. It was in active communication with the Eureka Youth League, a Communist auxiliary.
It may be asked why I rely entirely on the Communist “ Guardian “. I do not. I have also a copy of a letter which Mr. Jurjevic, the chairman of this association, signed on 15th February, 1964. Mr. Jurjevic is chairman of the New Settlers Association.
– He is chairman of the Yugoslav Settlers Association of Australia.
– Yes, of the Yugoslav Settlers Association.
– You said the “New Settlers Association “. They are two different organizations.
– Order! The honorable member for Yarra will have an opportunity later to reply.
– I was referring to the Yugoslav Settlers Association of Australia and that is how it appears on this document
– But you said “ New Settlers Association “, which is a different organization altogether.
– In that case I made a slip of the tongue. It was the Yugoslav Settlers Association of Australia and it appears as such in the “Guardian”. The Yugoslav Settlers Association wrote on 15th February, 1964, in issuing the invitation to the meeting of 6th March, to tell about the circumstances of its own foundation. It said that because the Ustasha had started to organize in Australia, last year it had issued a leaflet dealing with it and stated that it had used every occasion to inform fellow Australians, through the press and television, as to the real character of the Ustashi organization. The letter continued -
However, because of our progressive and democratic stand we became the first target of the Ustasha terrorist attacks.
This is altogether at variance with what was said by the honorable member for Yarra, who said, as reported in “ Hansard “, that this organization was formed only a few weeks ago to protect its own members. The organization says of itself that it was formed because of the existence of the Ustasha and that it engaged in active propaganda against what it calls the “ Ustashi “. Then it says, in effect, because of this we then became the first target of their terroristic attacks.
Honorable members can see that these two accounts are utterly at variance, one with the other. What the honorable member for Yarra said will not stand up in the light of the facts that I have produced. He has endeavoured to convey the impression that this was a new organization formed only a few weeks ago to protect its members. Actually it is an organization of quite long standing which was formed in order to attack other organizations. It was because of reprisals for these attacks that it alleges that it has become the object of attacks by those other organizations.
Honorable members can see that there is something about this statement by the honorable member for Yarra that does not quite add up. It may be that the honorable member is ignorant of these things, but according to papers read in the House today he is the patron of this association. He should know what it is about, and he certainly wrote with others a letter and circulated it on 19th February recommending the association’s conference and asking people to attend.
There is something here that needs to be explained, is there not? These accounts do not add up. It looks as if there has been an attempt in this House - it was made outside the House also in a press interview which was published, I understand - to put a totally false construction on these events.
Perhaps the House has been wondering why on Wednesday night the honorable member for Yarra burst out with extreme vehemence, with the words “ You are a liar” when the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden), who had only made a slip of the tongue - in substance what he said was correct - said that he was “on the platform “. Now the meeting or conference was organized by the Yugoslav Settlers Association and invitations were issued to the Communist Party, among others.
– And the Liberal Party.
– Yes, indeed; that is right. Why was the honorable member so sensitive? I think I know the answer. Apparently in Labour Party circles there is a ruling that you must not get up on the platform with Communists. Apparently they arc getting round that ruling by the device of inviting or arranging for the invitation of Communists to the meeting. The Communists are seated in the body of the hall, but those conducting the meeting ensure that they get what is called “the floor “ and are at liberty to make speeches. This, it would seem, is the reason for the abnormal sensitivity of the honorable member for Yarra on this issue. It would seem that whether he is party to it or not, there is here a deliberate plot to get round the Australian Labour Party ruling. This is being done in a devious and ingenious way. No wonder the honorable member is sensitive on this point.
.- There is nothing devious or ingenious about the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). He is desperately trying to cover up his very close association with a Fascist organization in thu country which is willing to carry on genocide in another country and willing to carry it on in this country.
– Order! The honorable member is making a charge against the honorable member for Mackellar that he is a Fascist.
– Quite distinctly not, Mr. Speaker; I said that he was willing to cover up his association with a Fascist organization. That distinctly does not make the honorable member for Mackellar a Fascist. I do not think he is. But he was associated with this Ustasha organization at a function in Sydney just before Christmas last year. He was photographed on the platform with a flag and a shield of the Ustasha organization behind him, under a photograph of Ante Pavelic. The Ustasha was an organization which had been responsible in four years in Croatia for exterminating 750,000 Serbs because of their religion, for exterminating 65,000 Jews and 23,000 gypsies. The honorable member for Mackellar is willing to associate publicly with that organization in Australia, and the tactic that he has introduced to-night is for the purpose of covering up that association. 1 charge the honorable member for Mackellar with being willing to support genocide, if it goes under the flag of anticommunism, and I do not think a more serious charge could be made against anybody. The record of the honorable member for Mackellar in this country proves that to be true. Let me refer now to the undevious suggestions that he has made to the House to-night. He has stated that we appeared in some television programme this afternoon - and we did. If honorable members will go to the trouble of viewing that television programme I think they will come to the conclusion that the honorable member for Mackellar should never appear in another. But if the honorable member is prepared to have another shot on any subject that he likes to name, at any place that he likes to name and in any circumstances that he would like to choose, I would be happy to accommodate him.
Let us look at the points of detail that the honorable member has dragged in this evening to try to protect his friends in this Fascist organization, which is willing to kill people in other countries - and in this one too, if it serves its purpose. I charge the honorable member for Mackellar with being prepared to support an organization ready to use force and violence in pursuit of its aims, here and anywhere else, and with being associated closely with an organization that should have no place in this country.
I have been demanding in this House for more than seven months that a proper and full inquiry should be made into this organization and into any other organization about which there is any evidence of this kind that it, too, is prepared to follow this course - any organization at all. I have been demanding that, but the AttorneyGeneral sat in silence. I am not referring to the present Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) because he has had only three weeks of it, but he wishes that he had sat in silence during that time. I have been making these submissions to the House to have a full inquiry and a full statement of the results. There is on the notice-paper a question containing 21 parts. It was placed there in September of last year, and remained on the notice-paper during the life of the last Parliament. It has been on the notice-paper since 5th March of this year. If you want to know what the truth is, why does not the Attorney-General answer that question? If any assistance is needed, why do you not get the honorable member for Mackellar to help you?
The situation is clear. The honorable member for Mackellar is endeavouring to build up a smoke-screen which his colleague, the Attorney-General, was unable to do, to divert the inquiry that has been directed upon this body by Opposition members. He has no other purpose, and he has done it very unsatisfactorily. He began his speech to-night by making the point that this morning we had differed on a television programme. What the honorable member said on television that I differed with this morning was that a Minister in this House had pointed out that there was in this country a revolutionary brotherhood of Croats and he had warned that revoluntionary brotherhood. I have carefully checked through the pages of “ Hansard “ mentioned by the honorable member for Mackellar and there is no word whatever to support that statement. I say again that the honorable member for Mackellar was wrong on the television programme this morning, and I say that he is wrong now.
Let me have a look at the second point by means of which the honorable member seeks to divert attention from the real subject matter in issue here. He says that I am wrong in saying that some organization recently came into existence in Melbourne. The honorable member, by a slip of the tongue, gave himself away, because he was quoting from a list of organizations that had appeared in the Communist newspaper the “ Tribune “. He quoted the “ New Settlers Association “, which is quite clearly and distinctly a different organization from the Yugoslav Settlers Association.
The reason why the honorable member is able to capitalize on some ambiguity in respect of the Yugoslav Settlers Association is that there is a Yugoslav Settlers Club. On 6th March, the Yugoslav Settlers Association was formed. It had been thought of before, but the meeting referred to by the AttorneyGeneral was the first meeting ever held by that organization. Previously there had been the Yugoslav Settlers Club, and he tries to suggest that this was the place where these activities started. He suggests that if it had not been for that, there would have been no need for those members of Ustasha to walk around in gymnasium uniforms using automatic weapons near Wodonga, and there would have been no need for 100 members of Ustasha in black uniforms to line up in formation at the beginning of 1962 in a field at Wodonga on a property owned by a Mr. Southner. He suggests that there would have been no need for this sort of thing. The honorable member for Mackellar is saying these things would not have happened if there had not been a meeting of the Yugoslav Settlers Club on 6th March of this year. What a lot of rubbish! What a lot of rot!
Why did that meeting take place? The meeting took place, Mr. Speaker, because the Yugoslav Settlers Club was begun some time in 1962 at 220 Gertrude-street,’ Fitzroy. It was begun by a number of members who had no association with any Serbian organization. The secretary was a member of the British Navy during the war and fought with the allied forces; that is Mr. Yurovich. He was not concerned with any racial or religious feuds in Croatia during the war period. He was serving with the British Navy in the Mediterranean. He is secretary of the Yugoslav Settlers Club and of the Yugoslav Settlers Association which came into existence on 6th March as a formal and official body.
Why did he do this? Because Mr. Yurovich had had three ribs broken by thugs of the Ustasha in 1962, and in November, 1962, three members of the Ustasha broke into a social evening at the club and threw ether bombs in plastic containers into the middle of a group of men, women and children taking part in that social evening. On New Year’s Eve three different thugs of the Ustasha did the same thing. Then in February of this year, men broke into the club at night and did £500 worth of damage there. They wrote slogans on the walls and on the property in the club, slogans to which the honorable member for Mackellar subscribes in desiring to see set up in Yugoslavia a government which would now carry out a programme of mass extermination, if it was successful in setting itself up there; a government which would carry out genocide in the interests of anti-communism, the kind of thing that the honorable member stands for. Anything will do, so long as it is anti-Communist, for this honorable gentleman who loses every semblance of reason once the word “ Communist “ is mentioned. If you keep him on the subject of fish or of petrol he will talk sense, but immediately he sees the word “ Communist” a peculiar transformation takes place in his mind and he takes on the condition of paranoia.
– Order! That remark is unparliamentary, and I ask the honorable member to withdraw the term.
– Not quite-
-The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it, Mr. Speaker, quite willingly. I think it is a question for an expert. I do not think I am fully qualified to diagnose the condition of the honorable member for Mackellar. As it is a matter for an expert I. am quite happy not to pursue it any further.
Those incidents had occurred in the Yugoslav Settlers Club and its members were affected. As a result, it was decided to call a meeting for 6th March for the purpose of doing something to protect members and bringing information to the attention of the Attorney-General and any one else who was prepared to investigate it. This information has been taken to the Assistant Chief Secretary of Victoria, who decided there and then to put on duty two detectives to investigate these men. This was a very different kind of reaction from that which we have received from this Government.
I say, therefore, in the time at my disposal, that I want answers to these questions. I want action to be taken against any man in this country, whatever organization in the Yugoslav community he belongs to, if he is prepared to use force and violence here or anywhere else. I want to know what is the truth. I have eight unanswered questions on the noticepaper
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honorable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, I have been misrepresented on four points and I wish to correct them. First, I have never attended a meeting of the Ustasha. The meeting to which the honorable member for Yarra referred was at the Croation Club where hundreds of people were present. I had delivered an address asking for a reduction of tension between various factions. If that is not the right thing to do, I do not know what is.
The second point is this: The honorable member says that I have supported genocide. That is completely and utterly untrue. It is a shameless thing to say. I resent it, Sir. It is completely and utterly untrue, and the honorable member knows it to be untrue.
He says that I have given no evidence of the Government’s reference to the two extremist factions. He says that he has read “ Hansard “ and that it is not in “ Hansard “. It is in “ Hansard “ and I read the passage. Senator Gorton said -
There has been formed from the Croation group an organization which is known as a brotherhood of some kind. The actual name escapes me at the moment. There are some tens or more of those people who wish to act as a strong-arm squad to stir up trouble outside this country against Serbs or Slavs - whichever it may be - in Yugoslavia. This is something which no Government could condone and which the Australian people would not wish to happen.
The quotation entirely supports what I said, and it gives the lie to what the honorable member for Yarra said a moment ago.
Finally, the honorable member entirely misquotes me in regard to the Yugoslav Settlers Association. It is not a club. It is the Yugoslav Settlers Association. May I have permission to table the first document concerned - the copy of the M Guardian “?
– The honorable member seeks leave to table a document. Is leave granted?
– Leave is not granted. I ask the honorable member not to get into another debate.
– Then, Sir, the organization which called this meeting of 6th March, which has given in its own letter calling the meeting the account I gave of its origin and which thus gives the lie to the honorable member for Yarra has on its letterhead “ Yugoslav Settlers Association “. I shall table this document if permission is granted.
– The honorable member seeks leave to table a document. Is leave granted?
.- Mr. Speaker-
Motion (by Mr. Hasluck) agreed to -
That the question be now put.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11 p.m., until a date and hour to bc fixed by Mr. Speaker.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1, 2, 3 and 4. The names of the ships sold by the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission, the purchasers, the prices paid, the ages of the ships when sold, the dates of the sales, the names of brokers and the brokerage fees are indicated in the following statement:-
n asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Chairman- J. P. Williams, C.M.G., O.B.E.
Vice-Chairman - H. P. Weymouth, O.B.E.
Commissioners - D. C. L. Williams, C.B.E.;
A. G. Thomson, O.B.E.; D. Bell.
Captain J. P. Williams - Managing director, Fleetways Transport and Agency Proprietary Limited and subsidiaries; managing director, Fleet Forge Proprietary Limited; consultant, United Stevedoring Proprietary Limited; director, Stothert and Pitt (Australia) Proprietary Limited; senior partner, J. P. Williams and Associates.
Mr. A. G. Thomson ; Shipping manager, Hobart, A. G. Webster and Woolgrowers Limited.
In addition, the company, acting as agents for the Australian National Line, has been reimbursed for other payments made as follows:
n asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
Is work for the Australian National Line carried out by the following Victorian companies: -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has supplied the following information: - l and 2. Members of the Literature Censor ship Board and their qualifications are: -
Mr. K. Binns, Emeritus Commonwealth Parliamentary Librarian Chairman.
Professor E. R. Bryan, M.A. Dip.Ed. (Melb.) Professor of English, Royal Military College, Duntroon - Deputy Chairman.
Professor E. K. T. Koch-Emmery- M.A. Ph.D. Senior Lecturer in German, Australian National University, Canberra - Member.
Mrs. A. H. Hewitt, M.A., B.Comm., Lecturer, English Department, Australian National University, Canberra - Member.
m asked the Minister for Externa! Affairs, upon notice -
To what extent and with what results has further consideration been given, since his reply to me on 6th November, 1962 (“Hansard”, page 2105) to acceding to the UNESCO Conventions -
concerning the International Exchange of
Publications and Government Documents between States (1958) and
k. - The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The problem of Australian accession to all of these Conventions is a complex one. Some progress has been made in overcoming certain problems connected with Australian adherence to the Convention concerning the International Exchange of Publications and that concerning the
Exchange of Official Publications and Government Documents between States. Further consideration, however, is being given to a number of aspects of the Conventions such as the cost of their implementation.
The subject matter of the Convention against Discrimination in Education is of concern to the States as well as to the Commonwealth. The States have been informed of the terms of the Convention and it is hoped that it will be possible for Australia to adhere to this Convention before very long.
m asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
m asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Cumulative Index No. 1, pages 280-281.
Cumulative Index No. 2, pages 155-157.
Cumulative Index No. 3, pages 202-203.
Interim Index (Volumes 301-350), pages 6-8.
No index to the United Nations Treaty Series relating to treaties registered after that date is yet available.
The treaties to which Australia has become a party, and which since 16th February, 1960, have been or are being registered with the Secretariat of the United Nations, or in relation to which the Secretariat since 16th February, 1960, has been or is being notified of Australia’s participation, are those printed in the undermentioned numbers of the Australian Treaty Series: - 1958 Nos. 10 and 12.* 1959 Nos. 2, 5, 13, 16, 17, 26, 27 and 29.* 1960 Nos. 2 to 16* 1961 Nos. 1 to 10, 12 to 20 and 22* 1962 No. 1 and Nos. 3 to 17.* 1963 Nos. 1 to 30.** 1964 Nos. 1 to 8.**
The Australian Treaty Series is available in (he Parliamentary Library.
The treaties printed in the other numbers for these years were (if not mentioned in paragraph 2 of this answer) registered before 1 6th February, 1960.
Some numbers for 1963 and those tor 1964 arc In the course of being printed. 1946 Migration Agreement with Britain. 1946 Exchange of Notes with Netherlands concerning Financial Matters relating to the operations of Australian and Netherlands Indies Forces. 1946 Protocol relating to the Dissolution of the International Institute of Agriculture. 1947 Universal Postal Convention and Protocols. 1932 International Telecommunication Convention. 1954 Agreement concerning the International Institute of Refrigeration. 1955 Convention establishing the International Organization of Legal Metrology. 1957 Money Orders Agreement with the New Hebrides. 1957 Migration Agreement with Malta. 1957 Arrangement concerning the International Classification of Goods and Services to which Trade Marks Apply. 1958 Constitution of the Eastern Regional Organization of Public Administration. 1959 International Telecommunication Convention and Protocols.
n asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
m asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
The Commonwealth, as mortgagee in possession exercising power of sale, has sold areas at public auction as follows: -
These sales were effected on the basis of 20 per cent, deposit with the balance payable over terms of up to 10 years, plus interest at 5i per cent, per annum at annual rests.
y asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. The daily operating cost of particular vessels operated by the Australian National Line is confidential as the disclosure of such information would confer an advantage on the line’s competitors. The principal items in the operating cost of “ Bass Trader “ expressed as a percentage of the total daily operating cost, are as follows: -
m asked the Minister for Air, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice -
In respect of each ship which carried crude oil imports to Australia in 1962 and 1963, what was the (a) name of the (i) ship and (ii) owner; (b) tonnage of the ship; (c) tonnage of the cargo; (d) port of (i) loading and (ii) discharge; and (e) date of discharge of the cargo?
– In answer to the honorable member’s question regarding crude oil imports, I am unable to provide the information in the detail required. However, it may be of interest to the honorable member to know that Australia’s crude oil and other refinery feedstock imports for 1962 and for 1963, sources of supply, and the Australian States importing this oil were as follows: -
m asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
What amendments must be made to Australian laws before Australia can ratify (a) the 1957 International Convention relating to the Limitation of the Liability of Owners of Sea-going Ships, (b) the 1960 International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, (c) the 1961 International Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules relating to the Carriage of Passengers by Sea, (d) the 1962 amendments to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution of the Sea by Oil, and (e) the 1962 International Convention on the Liability of Operators of Nuclear Ships?
k. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 3. Instructions have been or are in the course of being given for the preparation of legislation to enable Australia to become a party to the first, second and fourth of the conventions mentioned by the honorable member. In the case of the first and fourth of the conventions complementary Commonwealth and State legislation is proposed. The precise form which the legislation will take has not yet been finally determined. Until the necessary legislation is enacted Australia will not be in a position to become a party to the conventions in question. Consideration has not yet been given to the legislation which would be necessary to enable Australia to become a party to the third and fifth of the conventions mentioned by the honorable member. It is unlikely that these conventions will enter into force for some considerable time. The third convention has attracted very little international interest, and certain provisions of the fifth convention are not acceptable to countries operating nuclear ships. In these circcumstances the Government is not presently proposing to become a party to these two conventions.
Peru. 1960 International Convention for Safely of Life at Sea.
Algeria. 1961 International Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules relating to the Carriage of Passengers by Sea.
Cuba. 1962 Amendments to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution of the Sea by Oil.
United Arab Republ
Netherlands. 1962 International Convention on the Liability of Operators of Nuclear Ships.
n asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
The Government is fully aware of the problems which Australian flour millers are facing in export markets and is actively engaged in attempting to maximize export opportunities for Australian flour, particularly by the development of new markets.
rns asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions follows: -
I was not previously aware of the matter to which the honorable member refers. However, from inquiries which I have since had made, it appears that the request (which involved three men) for a holiday on the day mentioned was not made seriously, nor was it accepted as such by the management of the factory in question. If icy further inquiries disclose anything to the contrary, the matter will be fully considered.
b asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice: -
– The answers to the honorable members questions are as follows: -
Up till 1949 all subjects of the Crown had the common status of British subject. The adoption of the Citizenship Scheme enabled the then member countries of the British Commonwealth to create their own separate citizenships, and to decide not only who would then become their citizens but how citizenship could be acquired or lost in the future. The Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948 which came into force on 26th January, 1949 created Australian citizenship and declared that an Australian citizen shall be a British subject. The Act provided that certain categories of British subjects would automatically become Australian citizens as from the date of commencement of the Act, and laid down the conditions under which Australian citizenship could be acquired or lost in the future. Section 25 of the Act provided that any person who was a British subject on 26th January, 1949, automatically became an Australian citizen if: -
So far as (d) is concerned, any British subject who did not have the status of a permanent resident of Australia was excluded and did not therefore become an Australian Citizen. The only British subjects who have entered Australia since 26th January, 1949, who may still be affected by Section 25 of the Nationality and Citizenship Act, are the children of persons who acquired Australian citizenship automatically by reason of birth in Australia or New Guinea or by naturalization in Australia prior to 26th January, 1949. Such children automatically become Australian citizens at the time of entry into Australia, provided they are admitted for permanent residence.
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following replies: -
The following are the dispensed prices of different brands of the drugs referred to by the honorable member: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 20 May 1964, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1964/19640520_reps_25_hor42/>.