25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I have to inform the House that the Right Honorable Arthur Bottomley, O.B.E., M.P., Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations in the Government of the United Kingdom, is within the precincts. With the concurrence of honorable members, I propose to provide him with a seat on the floor of the House.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear! (Mr. Bottomley thereupon entered the chamber, and was seated accordingly.)
– On 1st April I informed the House that I had asked the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) to pay a brief visit to Washington to have talks with the United States Administration on the action being taken by that Government to improve the balance of payments position of the United States of America. I now advise honorable members of the ministerial arrangements during his absence and also of arrangements during the absences of the Ministers for National Development, Immigration and External Affairs, each of whom is undertaking an overseas mission or will do so in the near future.
The Treasurer left for Washington on 23rd April and will be away until 4th May. Until his return, I shall act as Treasurer.
The Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) is at present in New Zealand where, at the invitation of the New Zealand Government, he has been participating in ceremonies to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Gallipoli landing. He will return on Thursday next. In the meantime, the Minister for Supply, Mr. Fairhall, is acting as Minister for National Development. The Minister for Immigration, Mr. Opperman, also left Australia on 23rd April. He will be engaging in extensive discussions on immigration matters, mainly in Europe. He will return early in July. The
Minister for Housing (Mr. Bury) will take charge of the Immigration portfolio while the Minister for Immigration is away.
The tenth meeting of the Ministerial Council of the South-East Asia Treaty Organisation will be held in London from 3rd to 5th May. The Australian delegation to the meeting will be led by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) who will leave for overseas on 28th April. Until his return, I will act as Minister for External Affairs.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Shipping and Transport been drawn to Press reports over a considerable period advocating the construction of a road running north and south through western Queensland designed to drain the trade of the western portion of that State into New South Wales, thereby doing considerable damage to the economy of Queensland? Can the Minister inform the House whether or not he has considered this proposal and, if he has considered it, whether he is sympathetic to it? In any case, will the Minister undertake to seek opinions from Queensland authorities and organisations concerned, particularly those organisations in the central and northern portions of the State, before arriving at any decision?
– Some representations on this matter have been made to me by a Government senator, I think in connection with possible effects on one of the northern Queensland ports, but I have had to reply that this does not really concern the Commonwealth Government at this stage. The Commonwealth Government has assisted the States to build developmental roads, but until a State proposes the project mentioned by the honorable member, it can hardly be a concern of the Commonwealth Government. In any event it would be more properly within the province of the Minister for National Development than in my province.
– Has the Prime Minister noticed reports of remarks made a few weeks ago by Sir John Cockcroft, the Chancellor of the Australian National University, as to the desirability of providing a large optical telescope in Australia for the observation of the southern hemisphere skies and to supplement the radio astronomy work now being carried out so ably in this country? Is it possible that the Governments of the United Kingdom and the United States of America will be helping in the provision and construction of this facility? In the meantime will the Australian Government give every encouragement and help in the programme of site testing which is being carried out under the auspices of the Australian National University to discover the most advantageous location for this telescope?
– As the honorable member for Mackellar, with his constant interest in this matter, will know, the Australian Academy of Science and the Royal Society in London have had expert committees investigating this matter so that they may present the results of their inquiries to the Governments of the respective countries. The Australian National University, supported by us, has been carrying out a site testing survey which costs some thousands of pounds a year. The Carnegie Institute is. I gather, testing a site in South Australia. When the expert committees have arrived at their conclusions we expect that these will, as far as they relate to us, be conveyed to the Australian Government. We will give them the most prompt consideration.
– Will the Prime Minister say what action, if any, is proposed regarding the provision of docking and ship repair facilities on the Western Australian coast? I understand that certain discussions involving the right honorable gentleman have taken place recently concerning this matter.
– I am sorry, but I can throw no light on this matter. I will find out whether discussions have been going on. They may have been going on at the official level and I may not yet have been informed of them. However. I will find out and advise the honorable member promptly.
– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. What action is being taken to ensure that Austarama Television Pty. Ltd., the holder of the licence for Channel 0 in Melbourne, carries out the guarantee of performance given in its application for the licence, on the basis of which it won this extremely valuable concession from several other applicants? Is it a fact that this company promised a 58 per cent. Australian content in its programmes and that it is now barely achieving a figure of 15 per cent., and so is not living up to its obligations?
– 1 cannot be sure of the accuracy of the proportion of Australian content referred to by the honorable member. I do know that this company had had no experience of operating a television station when it made its application and that because the station concerned is a single unit operating without a network in association with it, the company has not been able to carry out the promises that it made when it submitted its application. The matter is constantly under the inquiry and supervision of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, and I hope that when other new stations in Sydney, Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane come into operation - the Sydney station has already commenced operating - the new network facility will then enable the company referred to by the honorable member to carry out the obligations required of it by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether he will convene a meeting of Commonwealth and State Ministers for the purpose of defining respective responsibilities essential to the promotion of balanced development including industrial growth in country districts. If the right honorable gentleman agrees to call such a meeting, will he make specific commitments on behalf of the Commonwealth Government to supplement the valuble aid given by the New South Wales Government? Finally, will be give special consideration to reducing telephone charges, granting taxation concessions and establishing uniform charges for basic materials required by industry?
– I appreciate my friend’s motive in raising this matter because I understand that a little controversy will come to its peak in New South Wales on Saturday. The honorable member rather suppresses this Government’s achievements in the field of rural development. If time permitted I could read to him quite a long lecture on the matter. As for his particular proposal, I understand that the honorable member for Bendigo proposes to raise this matter in a debate of a fairly widespread and comprehensive kind. Perhaps we should defer debating the matter until then.
– My question, which I direct to the Minister for External Affairs, concerns photographs and film shown in this country of what purport to be scenes of destruction caused in North Vietnam by United States of America air strikes and military activity against the Vietcong. Will the honorable gentleman say whether he knows who arranges for the despatch from North Vietnam of the photographs and film and their entry into Australia? Assuming the photographs and film to be genuine, will the Minister inquire whether similar facilities will be provided for showing the results of Vietcong atrocities? Finally, will the Minister assess the prospects of reciprocity being offered by the Communist authorities of North Vietnam?
– At present I am unable to give the honorable member any exact information how this propaganda material - a good deal of it is consciously directed propaganda - enters Australia and obtains currency. I will have inquiries made into those particular aspects of the question. It has caused the Government some concern that a good deal of publicity has been given in this country to photographs and other material which purport to show that most, if not all, of the dreadful deeds that take place in war are being committed by what I will term “our side” and that nothing is given of the deeds of brutality and terrorism which have been committed over a long period by the North Vietnamese and Vietcong forces. We recognise that war is a horrible business. None of us wants to try to strike a balance sheet of horror, but the Australian public, I am sure, would be gravely misled if they imagined that most of the horrid and barbaric actions were not being carried out by the forces to which we are opposed - the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese.
– I ask the Minister for Air whether it is true, as has been stated in a recent report, that he has directed the Royal Australian Air Force to recommend the purchase of the Japanese Fuji TIF3 jet trainer rather than English, Canadian or American proven types of trainers. Could this decision have something to do with Australia’s balance of payments position in relation to Japan or is it an attempt by the Government to channel further funds in the direction of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd., which, as the Minister no doubt knows, holds the Fuji Heavy Industries agency in Australia through its wholly owned subsidiary, National Instrument Co. Pty. Ltd. of Melbourne?
– The quick answer to the honorable member for Kingsford Smith is: No. The Royal Australian Air Force recently sent a mission overseas to evaluate training aircraft available from six different countries. Japan is one of these countries and the others are Sweden, France, Italy, Canada and the United Kingdom. The mission is still overseas; it has not finished its tour. No decisions of any kind have been made. The mission will return to Australia in the next few weeks and will then report to me, and in due course a decision will be made. Until the mission has finished its tour, it is impossible for it to arrive at any conclusions. Therefore, until I have the report of the mission, obviously no decision can be made. When a decision has been reached, it will be announced.
– I address my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. Has the Minister seen Press reports alleging that the Boeing 727 at present in use by Australian airlines and the DC9 presently to replace the Viscount lack a safety feature to overcome static and dynamic stall? Can he inform the House whether there is any truth in these allegations?
– I have heard of the news item, but I have not had the advantage of reading it. However, I can tell the honorable gentleman that a complete statement dealing with both the Boeing 727 and the DC9 will be made by the Minister for Civil Aviation in the Senate this afternoon.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Is it a fact that the Australian trust territory of Manus Island, which is off the north-east coast of New Guinea, is at present being used by the United States of America and that a radio tracking station is under way, as reported in the Sydney “Daily Mirror” of 23rd April, without the Parliament and the people of Australia being informed? Has any statement in this regard been made to the House by the Prime Minister or by the Minister for External Affairs?
– There is in existence a long standing agreement with the United States under which it can use Manus Island for a geodetic mapping survey. I understand that the survey party will be handling the tracking of certain satellites, the purpose of the work being to make some contribution to the problem of the accurate measurement of distances. The usual period for which a survey party continues in one spot on this work is about three months. Newspapers have given some currency to stories of an entirely different kind. I think the foundation for some of them was a report from a correspondent in Hong Kong. In the course of being repeated from one newspaper to another, the report was built up into fantastic stories. These were denied most explicitly by my colleague, the Minister for the Navy, in a statement issued in Perth, but, as is often the case, the denial and the exposure of the falsity of these stories did not receive the publicity that the original false stories did.
– I desire to ask the Minister for External Affairs a question, lt has been announced that the Indonesian Government has decreed that all private foreign companies are to be placed under the control of the Government. Has the Australian Government received confirmation of this announcement by the Indonesian Government? If so, is reparation to be paid for this compulsory acquisition? If reparation is not paid, does the Government propose to review its economic aid to Indonesia?
– The Indonesian Government does not proceed in its actions of this kind with the neatness and precision that we are accustomed to in countries like our own. It is true that the Antara Newsagency did publish a statement purporting to be a decree to the effect that all foreign companies were to be taken over, with some indication of the terms on which they were to be taken over. We have been kept closely in touch with successive developments by our Ambassador in Djakarta. Up to date, no action affecting any Australian interests has been taken. If the decree is to be put into effect it will, of course, involve a major operation against businesses belonging to a wide number of countries. There are only two major Australian interests concerned, the Naspro organisation - a large pharmaceutical factory in Indonesia - and, of course, Qantas Empire Airways Limited, which operates through Indonesia. Up to date, no action has been taken against either organisation. The Government is watching the situation very closely, but I would prefer not to make any comment until there is some evidence of precise action on which we could base a comment.
– Has the Prime Minister received replies from any of (he companies from which he sought information on how their operations in Australia will be affected by President Johnson’s proposals to reduce the outflow of capital from the United States? Will he make available the names of the companies to which he wrote?
– I would have some hesitation about publishing the names, because thereafter inquiries might be made which tended to disclose their affairs; but I can say that there has been a very good response to the letters - so much so that on Saturday I signed letters of thanks to about 25 of the companies concerned.
– They were not intimidatory letters?
– No. They were in my characteristic style - extremely friendly. I am friendly with all sorts of people. I should not like to be held down to a figure, but 1 think we have had replies from 30-odd of the companies concerned. and I confidently expect we will have had answers from all of them in the next two or three days.
– Can the Minister for the Navy indicate whether a report that a shortage of technicians is holding up the flight clearance of the Navy’s’ Westland Wessex helicopters is true?
– I am pleased to be able to say, at least, that the hold-up is not due to any shortage of technical experts. As honorable members will be aware, quite recently two Westland Wessex helicopters of the Royal Navy ditched during exercises. As a result, the Wessex helicopters of the Royal Navy are grounded, because the trouble was thought to be due to microbial contamination of the fuel. Technical experts whom we have available from the Rolls Royce company, together with experts of the Defence Standards Laboratory, which comes under the control of my colleague the Minister for Supply, have been working continuously to try to find the real cause of the problem. In the meanwhile, because there is no immediate operational necessity, the helicopters are not flying, except in the case of a few attached to the Royal Navy, which are engaged in land flying in Borneo.
– My question to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation refers to the failure of the Government to accept the verdict of the High Court of Australia and the Privy Council in favour of the New South Wales Labour Government against Ansett-A.N.A. and to grant a licence to East-West Airlines Limited for an air service to Dubbo. Has the Minister’s attention been directed to the visit to Dubbo of the Minister for Labour and National Service who, when speaking to what was said to be a non-political gathering, implied that if East-West Airlines Limited took over the Dubbo service the Commonwealth would not be responsible for the safety of the passengers? He insinuated that if that airline ran the service there could be a terrible wreck. If so, will the Minister state whether the Minister for Labour and National Service was speaking for the Government? If he was not, will the Minister disassociate himself and the
Government from this blatant slur on EastWest Airlines, made in an effort to further the interests of Ansett-A.N.A., and from the Government’s repudiation of verdicts of the Courts?
– First of all, the honorable gentleman has his facts rather badly mixed. We have had very little co-operation from the New South Wales Government in trying to solve this problem. My colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service, is quite capable of answering the honorable gentleman’s question himself and I am sure he will do so.
– May I give a supplementary answer?
– I address to the Prime Minister a question relating to the meeting of State Premiers with Commonwealth Government representatives which was held in Canberra for the purpose of having pre-Premiers’ Conference discussions. As some newspaper reports seem to indicate that certain decisions were made at this meeting, I ask: Is this so or was the meeting confined to a statement of the case for decision at the June conference?
– The conference proceeded along these lines: I said, on behalf of the Commonwealth, that we were very willing and anxious to hear what each State Premier had to say because, at the. beginning of June, we would need to consider the nature of a new formula for the payment of tax grants to the States. So that we might be able to study their cases, their complaints and their suggestions more closely, I said we would be very glad if they would develop them in full detail so that they could be recorded and we could study them. Each State Premier followed this course, and, I am bound to say - I said this at the end of the conference - that we had presented to us the most comprehensive set of submissions by individual States that I have been able to listen to in my time. I indicated at the end of the conference that these matters would at once be put in study so that we would be in a position to discuss them will full knowledge when we resume in June. We went further than that. There was no decision taken, of course. That follows from what I have said. But I indicated that, in order that we might facilitate our resumed discussions in June, I would arrange for Commonwealth officials and State officials to sit down together, say, 10 days before the end of the month, in order to discuss any controversial aspects of fact so that we might have an agreed basis for our discussions. This was agreed to, and this will be put in hand. The meeting then concluded. There was no decision. But on the whole, I am bound to say there was a most helpful presentation of the views of the States.
– I address a question, to the Minister for the Army. What progress has been made in the stationing of the battle group at Townsville, referred to by the Prime Minister last year? How many men will be there finally, and when does the Government expect to complete this move?
– There will eventually- I hope at the end of 1968 - be not a battle group, but a task force of the Army at Townsville. This will consist of three infantry battalions, a field regiment, a field squadron of engineers and other minor units, including logistic units. As to progress with respect to barracks, we expect to call for tenders for the first stage of the barracks at Townsville for these troops in or about September, and we hope that all stages will be finished, as I say, by the end of 1968. We expect to have at least one major unit - an infantry battalion - in Townsville by the end of 1966. As well as 4,000 soldiers at Townsville, we shall eventually have 4,000 dependants. These will require a considerable amount of housing, and a start will be made on that as soon as possible.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is it a fact that the Minister did discuss, at a meeting at Dubbo, the question of East-West Airlines Limited in the terms recklessly indicated by the honorable member for Grayndler?
– 1 had the great good fortune to go to Dubbo, not in pursuance of my departmental responsibilities, but to take part in a political campaign. I addressed three public meetings. The main one was fully reported in the Dubbo “ Liberal “. I am quite willing to answer for any statement published by the Dubbo “ Liberal “ in inverted commas. In answer to a question, I did say that I believed that the action of the Renshaw Government was an act of deliberate confiscation - confiscation of the assets of a man which had been built up by strenuous efforts.
– Mr. Speaker, I raise a point of order. The Minister is reflecting on Commonwealth judges.
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– I told the meeting that the action of the Renshaw Government was an act of confiscation of assets that had been built up by a man over a period of 16 years. I also pointed out that the action taken by the Renshaw Government had been arbitrary; that the people of Dubbo themselves had stated to me that they had had a “ beaut “ air service - that was their word - three times a day, and that this service had been arbitrarily stopped by the attitude of the Renshaw Government. I went further and I pointed out that this matter could be settled very easily by the Renshaw Government agreeing to the Commonwealth’s proposal that if the State Government ceased being arbitrary then the service to Dubbo could be re-established in a very short period of time. As to the inference of the alleged statement mentioned by the honorable member for Grayndler, I have read a scurrilous article in another newspaper. I say emphatically that the implications in statements which the honor.orable member alleged were made by me were not in fact made. I do not think the newspaper concerned quoted me, nor did it put my alleged statement in inverted commas. I do not think it intended the inference. In fact, the statements were not made.
– I raise a point of order. May I read the article to the House?
– My question is addressed to the right honorable the Prime Minister. I ask: Has any legislation been drafted which would honour the promise the Government made away back in 1963 to reduce the price of petrol in country areas to a figure no more than fourpence a gallon above the capital city prices? If so, has a conference been held with representatives of the State Governments to discuss the legislation and if not, when is such a conference likely to be held? Finally, when does the right honorable gentleman, who, incidentally, told me 12 months ago that this matter was under active examination, expect the promised legislation to come before this House?
– This matter has been, in fact, proceeding quite strongly. It is not without its complexities. That does not mean that the scheme will not be produced. It will be produced. The negotiations have been in the hands of two of the Ministers who are not present today. If the honorable member will renew his question tomorrow I will see that one of the Ministers concerned is able to tell him of the present position.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for External Affairs. Recently, some publicity has been given to suggestions that the Government of France intends to withdraw from the South East Asia Treaty Organisation. Also, I understand that the French CommanderinChief in the Pacific area has denied any knowledge of this possibility. Is the Minister in a position to give any information on this matter?
– The only fact of which we are aware is that the French Government has decided that, at the forthcoming meeting of the Council of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation, France will be represented by an observer - a senior and experienced official of the French Foreign Office - and that the French Foreign Minister, Monsieur Couve de Murville, will not attend. There is no other fact of which we are aware.
Mr.J. R. FRASER. - I ask the Minister for the Interior: As a change in procedures in the accounting section of the Department of the Interior has meant that home owners in Canberra have received within six months demands for the payment of two years’ rates, the rates notice for 1964 having gone out in September/ October last and the rates notice for 1965 in March/ April of this year, will the Minister consider granting a further extension of 90 days for the payment of the second year’s rates? I think he will recognise that this double payment within so short a period, and especially within the one financial year, will create hardship for a number of people. Further, will the Minister make it clear that the Commonwealth, which collects the rates, makes no concession to pensioners in the assessment of rates, but permits payment by pensioners to be made on easy instalments over a 12 months period?
– I noticed in the Press this morning a statement the effect of which was similar to what the honorable member has mentioned. I shall look into the matter, but I certainly cannot promise anything at this point of time.
– Mr. Speaker, with your permission, I would like to add something to my answer to an earlier question about the letters addressed to companies owned by United States interests. I have now been provided with the exact figures. Seventy-four letters were sent and I have received, since I was the signatory of the letters, 42 substantive replies - that is to say, replies covering the field about which we sought information - and 9 interim replies. This makes a total of 51 replies to the 74 letters sent.
– I wish to ask the Minister for External Affairs a question. Has he yet received an authoritative translation of President Sukarno’s recent speech on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Afro-Asian Conference held at Bandung - a speech in which the President was reported to have made statements which were relevant to peace in the Pacific and which also possibly referred to Australia and New Guinea? When such a translation is available, will the Minister see that copies are made available to honorable members?
– We have in our possession an English text of the speech delivered by President Sukarno. I shall arrange for copies to be placed on the table in the Parliamentary Library.
– I wish to ask the Minister for External Affairs a question. Earlier in question time he stated that no action had been taken by the Indonesian Government against Australian companies in Indonesia. Has he been advised that the Australian Broadcasting Commission, in its 12.30 p.m. news session today, reported that the Indonesian Government had issued a decree for the takeover of Nicholas Pty. Ltd. several hours ago? If this report is correct, will the Minister inform the Parliament, at an early date convenient to himself, what the Government intends to do about the question of the takeover of Australian firms by Indonesia?
– Since I answered the earlier question, I have been informed of something of which I was unaware at the time. This is the fact that the Australian Broadcasting Commission had broadcast a news item to the effect intimated by the honorable member. We have had no official confirmation of the accuracy of the report. I still prefer to refrain from comment of any kind until 1 am in full possession of the facts.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Interior. Has he seen a reported statement, attributed to the Premier of New South Wales, that the Federal Government had built an artificial lake at Canberra and had then had to put two bridges over it, at a total cost of £12 million? Will the Minister state whether or not this figure is correct and will he give the House the facts relating to the cost of providing this excellent addition to the natural features of the National Capital?
– It is true that Mr. Renshaw, the Premier of New South Wales, has been gallantly going about the country trying to sell reasons for the mismanagement of the Opera House construction project in Sydney. One of his excuses involves a comparison with the Lake Burley Griffin project in Canberra. I have read a number of statements in which he has said that the lake project cost £12 million. This does not reflect very much credit on a Premier who should be able to find out the exact cost. The cost of the lake project was £2i million, and in any case it was necessary to build two bridges over the Molonglo River. The whole project including the bridges, cost £5.3 million. This is in vast contrast to the Opera House which was to have cost £4 million but now looks like costing £20 million. Another contrast is that our project was started on a definite time schedule.
– I rise to order, Mr. Speaker. Is the Minister entitled to talk about an opera house when he was asked a question about a lake?
– Order! The Minister is completely in order.
– The Opposition may like to laugh this matter off, but I know that the people of New South Wales are quite concerned about £20 million being spent on a project that was estimated to cost £4 million. The truth of the matter is that the construction of the Canberra lake was undertaken on the basis of a definite time schedule and a definite estimate of cost. We finished the project on time and at just about the estimated cost.
– I address a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Has the Minister had any consultation as yet with the Australian National Line on the urgency of building another ship for the Tasmania-mainland service, especially from northern Tasmanian ports? In view of the constant- pile-up of cargoes, principally timber and paper, on Tasmanian wharfs and the long wait that tourists to Tasmania have to experience if they wish to use the “ Princess of Tasmania “, would the A.N.L., with Government encouragement, consider a dual purpose ship, a “ Princess “ - “ Bass Trader “ combination as a solution of the problem? May I suggest that our request for another ship is not greediness but an attempt to ensure Tasmania’s trading and export survival as sea transport is the life blood of that State.
– The question of shipping to the north coast of Tasmania is constantly under review within my Department and by the Australian National Line. Every effort is made to provide an adequate service. The possibility of adding to the Australian National Line’s fleet is also constantly under consideration. No firm decision to build another ship has yet been taken, but the question is being examined.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. In view of the fact that the Leader of the Opposition has apparently overcome his previous objections to formal dress and decorations, judging by the pictures of a certain function that appeared in the Press recently, would it not now be appropriate for him to pay full honour to the representative of Her Majesty at the parliamentary dinner next week? If the Leader of the Opposition has been granted - very rightly, I think, in the view of all of us - permission to receive and to wear a foreign decoration, why has not similar permission been granted to Australian soldiers serving in South East Asia?
– The honorable gentleman strikes a certain note of fear in my mind. Docs he mean that we ought to wear white tie and tails? I would do a great deal to oblige him, but I would draw the line at that point. After all, the last picture that I saw of our gallant and honorable friend displayed him sitting on a horse and looking quite magnificent. That is a course thatI would be willing to recommend to the Leader of the Opposition.
– by leave - In view of the interest of honorable members in the defence forces retirement benefits scheme, the Government believes that they would wish to know now that it has decided to introduce legislation to amend the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act in respect of those who joined the forces before 1959. The main cause of concern among these members has been that, as the Act now stands, an increase in pension entitlement shortly before retirement, resulting from a promotion or increase in pay, may mean a high rate of fortnightly contribution. This is caused by the short period within which these servicemen must meet the additional cost of their share of the higher pension entitlement.
The proposed variation is confined to the pre-1959 entrants to the scheme because the contributions of those joining the forces since that date are expressed as a uniform percentage of pay throughout service and they do not face this difficulty when their pay is increased towards the end of their service. The Government has decided that, in future, a pre-1959 entrant to the scheme whose pension entitlement is increased will have the option of electing to receive the Commonwealth’s share of the increase in that pension entitlement without having to contribute for his own shave. I might here point out that whilst the share provided by the Commonwealth varies according to age on retirement it amounts, on the average, to 771/2 per cent, of the cost of all increases in pension entitlement. Once having made such an election, the member will then receive all subsequent increases in pension entitlement on this non-contributory basis.
The Government has also decided that, because some members’ contributions had increased substantially as a result of the June 1964 increases in pay, this option of “ freezing “ contributions and electing to receive the Commonwealth’s share of an increase in pension entitlement without a matching contribution will be available with effect from the date immediately priorto those increases in pay. A period of three months will be available for this election in relation to the June 1964 increases in contribution.
I present the following paper -
Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund - Ministerial Statement 27th April 1965 - and move -
That the Housetakenote of the paper.
– In view of the constant representations that honorable members receive, I ask the Minister to consider preparing a comparative statement of defence forces retirement benefits in, say, Great Britain, the United States of America, Oanada and New Zealand.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Whitlam) adjourned.
Assent to the following Bills reported -
Raw Cotton Bounty Bill 1965.
Pollution of the Sea by Oil Bill 1965.
Parliamentary Presiding Officers Bill1965.
Homes Savings Grant Bill 1965.
Customs Tariff Bill (No. 1) 1965.
.- The Committee will recall that in discussing Customs Tariff Bill (No. 1) and the associated Bills some weeks ago the issue between the Government and the Opposition in respect of the legislation was the proposal to remove a temporary 25 per cent, duty on processed continuous filament manmade fibre yarns. At that stage the Opposition stated that it intended to oppose the clauses which removed this temporary duty. We gave our reason for this, namely, that the five or six processors of these yarns in Australia - and they are all in Victoria, some in country areas - were going to find themselves in great and increasing difficulties in selling their products if the temporary duty were removed.
We were also aware at that time that the Special Advisory Authority was being asked to reconsider this matter. Recently there have been reports that consideration has been given to it and I understand the recommendation is that the temporary duty be reimposed. At this stage the Opposition is anxious to know what the Government’s attitude is to the proposal, when it is to operate and how it is to operate. In the absence of some explanation and some pre cision in the matter the Opposition intends to proceed with its stated intention of voting against these schedules.
– All of the schedules?
– The schedule which removes the temporary duty. It is the Second Schedule, Division XVI, item 460.
– Order! I point out to the honorable member for Yarra that at present the First Schedule is before the Committee. I suggest that when we dispose of the First Schedule the honorable member can then debate the Second Schedule.
Schedule agreed to.
– I rise on a point of procedure, Mr. Chairman. Would it not be belter to consider the items separately? This schedule contains four items. I understand it is the Opposition’s intention to agree to the first three items. Perhaps they could be considered together and the fourth item could be taken separately.
Items 261, 273 and 330- by leave - taken together.
.- I intend to speak to item 330, headed “ Hides, Leather, and Rubber”, which relates to polybutadiene and polybutadiene-styrene. The recently imposed duty on styrene butadiene rubber follows a Tariff Board report published in October 1964. This was a sad document and continued the sad tale of failure which seems to surround the whole sad Altona complex. Because this is a technical subject I will have to go into it in some detail. Styrene butadiene rubber is made by Australian Synthetic Rubber Company Limited, which is completely overseas owned by the Mobil Petroleum, Esso Standard and Goodyear Tyre and Rubber companies of the United States of America. Its main raw material is butadiene which is procured from Altona Petrochemical Company Pty. Ltd., a company owned entirely by United States oil interests, as is the refinery from which the raw material is drawn. Styrene is obtained from C.S.R.C.- Dow Pty. Ltd., which is owned half by the Dow chemical company - owned overseas - and half by C.S.R. Chemicals Pty. Ltd., in which Distillers Ltd. have a 40 per cent, share. I mention these facts because I know that the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) is always anxious, and often angry, about the assistance given to overseas companies, lt is quite clear that synthetic rubber production is big business, and it is nearly all overseas owned. It is none the worse for that, and many people would agree with me, but there are others who do not like to see overseas interests looming too large. They object to selling off our national farm, paddock by paddock, as it were, to pay their dividends. I do not express an opinion on this. 1 simply point out that the complex which we are looking after so generously is almost entirely owned overseas, and it is made up of some of the biggest companies in the world.
The company which makes the synthetic rubber is Australian Synthetic Rubber Company Limited. This company has been in trouble ever since it started to make rubber in 1961. One of the reasons for this is that the company constructed a plant far bigger than the market justified. It was warned against this by the tyre companies which are the main users of the product. Sir Robert Blackwood, representing the tyre companies at the original inquiry, said -
The producers had prepared a forecast of rubber requirements in Australia which envisaged a projected usage by 196S of 78,000 tons of total new rubber and a usage at that time of 31,400 tons per annum of net styrene butadiene rubber polymer.
The tyre manufacturers distrusted this estimate and made their own projection, which was that styrene butadiene rubber net polymer usage in 1965 would be 19,600 tons. Sir Robert Blackwood gave reasons for the difference in the estimates. The tyre companies were only too right. The annual demand is now about 20,000 tons and not the 30,000 tons or so estimated by the Australian Synthetic Rubber Company, and the user is expected to make up the difference. It is interesting to note that since the new duty was announced last year - one of the reasons advanced in support of the application for the duty being that the industry had to be profitable and that one of the diffitulties it faced was that it had extra capacity that was not being used - a new company has been formed by the amalgamation of Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Limited and Phillip and Petroleum (U.S.A.) to make even more synthetic rubber. So we will now have in Australia even more over-capacity than we had before, and to pay for this the consumer will have to dig even deeper into his pocket.
And does the consumer have to dig! Does he have to dig even now, before the new company comes into operation! Listen to these figures. The Tariff Board recommended, and we are today being asked to confirm, a duty of 6d. per lb. on styrene butadiene synthetic rubber or s.b.r. It does not sound much, but let us look at it more closely. We use about 20,000 tons of this material each year and it will cost us 6d. per lb. more than it would if we could import it duty free. Twenty thousand tons at 6d. per lb. amounts to £1,120,000, so the users of s.b.r. will be paying an annual subsidy of £1,120,000 to Australian Synthetic Rubber Ltd., or A.S.R., as I shall call it. lt is big business, of course, with A.S.R. having £5 million in the enterprise to make the s.b.r. But Altona Petrochemical Company, or A.P.C., has invested about £12 million which it uses to produce ethylene as well as butadiene. In fact, it produces about twice as much ethylene as butadiene. But let us be generous, as we usually are, and let us assume that half of the £12 milion investment of A.P.C. can be charged to the cost of producing butadiene. We would then have £5 million invested by A.S.R. and £6 million invested by A.P.C, giving a total of £1 1 million. The consumer of s.b.r. will pay an annual subsidy of slightly more than £1.1 million and so will be paying a 10 per cent, subsidy on the total investment.
But we must not be harsh or bitter about this. These are big and powerful companies, and I cannot help remarking that size is pretty important in activities conducted on such a scale as those of the petrochemical industry. It is also obviously important when it comes to obtaining generous protection. But let us not turn aside from our main exercise, which is to measure what ‘our generosity is costing us. We pay £1,120,000 extra for the s.b.r. that we consume in Australia. But it is said that this creates employment. It does, too - for 300 men, so the Tariff Board says. This means that the consumer of s.b.r. is paying £3,700 extra for each man employed in the industry. I mention this only in passing, of course. It is not an important argument, except to those who think that we ought to be able to create work for people. I merely point out that to create work in this way is costing us £3,700 for every man employed.
But the cost does not end there. A new kind of synthetic rubber is being developed. It has the awe-inspiring title of polybutadiene synthetic rubber, shortened, I know not why, to b.r. This material is not made in Australia. The Australian Synthetic Rubber Company admits that in many ways it is superior to s.b.r. It also now carries a duty of 6d. per lb. We used 3,000 tons of it last year, and on that basis the consumer will pay an extra £168,000 a year for it. Imports of the product are likely to increase quite rapidly as the superior qualities of the new material are recognised. Evidently it makes the tread of car tyres last a lot longer, and this would seem an excellent quality for any material to have. But against the present extra cost of £168,000 which, as I said previously, will rapidly increase, there must be set a net income gain from the Customs revenue that will be paid. I have not, therefore, counted this £168,000 when making my measurement of the cost to the nation. It is a cost to the consumer, though not a cost to the nation, and it is not included in the £1,120,000 annual subsidy which the consumer is paying.
There are many people who think that a subsidy of this size does not matter much. It is said that perhaps the tyre companies will absorb the extra cost and will not pass it on. I do not take much comfort from such statements. The tyre companies seem to me to be quite good at making arrangements to pass things on. However, it will be difficult for them to do so in this case, with the Japanese inclined to undersell them even now, price-wise, and, according to the latest issue of “ Choice “, annihilating them quality-wise. I suppose it will not be long before we have another Tariff Board inquiry on tyres, with the object of stopping our best wool customer from selling us good cheap tyres. I suppose there is some sense in the whole system somewhere, but really it is sometimes very hard to see.
.- The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) has again discussed an aspect of tariff protection which is frequently encountered in our tariff making system. The honorable member has queried the wisdom of imposing a duty on a commodity which is produced in Australia in operations which are subsidiary to the production of other materials in a particular industry, in this case the chemical industry. The honorable member has raised a question that we have frequently discussed. I, and probably many other honorable members, have expected the Tariff Board to say in its reports what its intentions are in recommending the protection of this kind of subsidiary process, lt is quite clear that if an industry is to continue to develop while seeking and gaining protection so that it will never stand to lose on any of its subsidiary work, the granting of this kind of protection can well be said to be unreasonable. It seems to me to be unreasonable for a manufacturer operating on the scale involved in the operations of the companies concerned not to be prepared to take his aggregate turn-over into account instead of asking for protection for each and every item of his output.
The Opposition has been concerned about this matter for some time, but in the absence of a comprehensive and adequate view of what is occurring we have not as yet reached the stage of opposing a recommendation of this kind. It is apparent that the cost of protecting a small subsidiary process is. included in the total expenditure of a particular manufacturer, and when we find that the consumer is required to meet a much greater cost than he would otherwise be called on to pay, it is apparent that sooner or later proposals of this kind will have to be looked at with a very critical eye.
I believe, therefore, that the point taken by the honorable member for Wakefield requires emphasis. I do no more at this stage than to say that it needs emphasis and that a closer examination in the future is called for. Before very long we will receive the results of the Tariff Board’s inquiry into the industry as a whole. I hope that that inquiry will produce some more detailed critical attention than we have seen for some time.
.- I should like to recall briefly the facts about this matter and how it arose. It arose originally from a request by the Australian Synthetic Rubber Company Ltd. for increased assistance to meet the increased competition which it was facing. As reasons to support its request the company stated that in 1963-64 4,000 tons of styrene-butadiene, the item concerned, was imported and that masterbatch, a premix of carbon black and synthetic rubber, as well as imported polybutadiene were also displacing the local styrene-butadiene. After investigating the matter, the Tariff Board concluded - these conclusions should be noted at this stage - that increased assistance in the production of styrene-butadiene was warranted. The first ground for the provision of assistance was, as the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) has pointed out, that this is a product of a highly capital intensive industry in which unit costs rise very rapidly when output goes down. In the face of undue competition, output does go down and costs rise very considerably. As has also been pointed out, the company concerned is part of an integrated industry and is a very important unit of the Altona petro-chemical complex. The failure of the Australian Synthetic Rubber Company Ltd., which made the request for assistance, would place in jeopardy the entire complex, which involves an investment of £30 million. As the honorable member for Yarra pointed out, duties on all these synthetic rubber products are now under review in the context of the general chemical inquiry that is being conducted by the Tariff Board. In this inquiry the taking of public evidence has been completed and the Board will make an overall review of the problems of the capital intensive integrated industry, which are complex. This duty is necessary, at least for the time being, to keep the Australian Synthetic Rubber Company Ltd. and the Altona complex in good working order.
Items agreed to.
– The Opposition opposes the proposal in regard to this item. The Bill proposes here the removal of a temporary 25 per cent, duty on the production in Australia of processed continuous filament man-made fibre yarns. We oppose this item because webelieve that all the evidence since 1961 - not just over the last two or three months - when the first wider inquiry was held by the Tariff Board into the production of these yarns indicates that they cannot be processed on what you might call a secondary level in Australia without tariff protection. The Tariff Board and the Special Advisory Authority, on the other hand, seem to have taken a view which differs from ours.
In 1961 there was an inquiry by the Board. At that time the Board recommended that the rates of duties on processed nylon and Terylene yarn should remain at the same levels as the duties on unprocessed yarns, that is to say, free in the case of British preferential tariff and 121/2 per cent, ad valorem in the case of the most favoured nation rate. The Board said that there was no evidence to justify any increase in the duties on other types of processed yarn and it was recommended that the duties on processed yarn should be fixed at the same level as those on unprocessed yarns. At that stage the Board was of the view that no more assistance than this was required. The industry continued, as far as I can make out, in a condition of uncertainty, with very small profits and with an inability to undertake some of the reasonably necessary developments in plant and technique, as one would expect in a condition of uncertainty of this kind. There was no significant trend in imports during this period but by May 1963 the condition of the industry was such that the Minister requested a Special Advisory’ Authority examination under the Tariff Board Act. After a time the Special Advisory Authority recommended a temporary duty of 25 per cent, on processed continuous filament polymide and polyester yarns. That duty operated until the result of the present inquiry was carried into effect in, I think, October last year, when this 25 per cent, duty was removed and thelevel of protection - or absence of protection - that existed prior to June 1963 continued to operate - that is, free in the case of British preferential tariff and 121/2 per cent, in the case of the most favoured nation provision.
Immediately after this was done the industry put forward two submissions: One was that the Board should recognise the existence of the condition that I have been suggesting is a permanent condition of the five or six firms concerned - that they operate in conditions of uncertainty and on relatively low profits, with inability to undertake the necessary capital and technical development that might put the industry in a better competitive situation. Secondly, it was submitted that from soon after the middle of last year there was a significant increase in the volume of imports, so the situation had become more severe. It was anticipated by the Board in its report last year that something of this kind might happen, because the Board reported on 8th October 1964 - .
It is apparent, however, that there has been pressure from imports in the not far distant past and evidence by witnesses suggests that this could be repeated in the future.
That evidence had been given to the Board in its inquiry. So what we discovered and submitted to the Parliament some weeks ago as something that had been occurring from about the middle of last year was also known to the Board. The Board also recognised that substantial increases are at present taking place in overseas capacity. It said -
If these increases are not matched by increased overseas demand, there could be a downward pressure on overseas prices.
Apparently the increases in capacity overseas were not matched by an increased overseas demand, because it would appear that there has been a pressure on overseas prices and, therefore, on the prices of imports into Australia Also, there has been an increase in the volume of those imports. The Board said -
However, it is not possible to predict the extent of any future price movements of processed yarns. Similarly, no prediction can be made in respect of raw yarns, the prices of which will affect the competitive position of processed yarns.
The Board also said it considered that the five firms in the industry constituted a worthwhile industry which would warrant assistance, if such were necessary and could be afforded at reasonable cost. The question was whether such assistance was necessary and whether it could be afforded at reasonable cost. On the first point, it seems clear that even at the date of the Tariff Board’s report there was evidence that assistance was necessary. There was hardly any direct evidence as to whether this could be afforded at reasonable cost, although the Board’s report shows the differences in the cost of the yarns produced in Britain and in Australia. I am referring to the raw yarn which is used by the industry in the first place. Those differences were not very great. They ranged up to a percentage no higher than a little over 11 per cent.
Since the Board’s consideration of the matter in October and since the argument submitted by the Opposition some weeks ago, I understand that the matter has been reconsidered by the Special Advisory Authority and a recommendation has been made that the temporary duty should be re-imposed. In other words, the position taken by the Opposition several weeks ago in stating that we would oppose the removal of the temporary duty has now been confirmed by the recommendation of the Special Advisory Authority that the temporary duty should be re-imposed. I hope the Minister will have something to say about this. He did not, of course, have anything to say when we last debated the matter. He gave no intimation of what he thought should be done and neither met nor dealt with any of the arguments made by myself or the honorable members for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton) and Scullin (Mr. Peters) in the debate. The Committee was left uncertain about the attitude of the Government. Had a vote been taken before Easter, undoubtedly the Bill would have been passed despite our opposition and the removal of the temporary duty, which operated from October of last year, would have been confirmed. Therefore, I would expect that the Minister would be anxious now to give some explanation about what has been happening.
However, beyond some assurance from the Minister about the position taken by the Special Advisory Authority and about the accuracy of the newspaper reports about the re-imposition of the temporary duty and a statement as to whether this will be a temporary duty, we believe also that the attitude of the Tariff Board, of the Special Advisory Authority and of the Government towards the industry has not been satisfactory. There is a very strong suggestion - I put it no higher than that, because to do so I would need to be able to see the industry much more closely than I have been able to do in the period certainly since 1961 - that this matter will not be dealt with by temporary measures of any kind, whether they be temporary duties or other provisions. I think fairly strong evidence has now accumulated that the condition of the industry is such that it needs some permanent assistance; some assistance that it can rely upon in future planning. There should be some hope of it getting rid of the uncertainty that seems to have dogged it now for a number of years.
The report of the Tariff Board gives the names of the firms operating in this industry. I do not need to repeat them. Everyone who is interested in the matter knows who they are. But the particularly significant point about them - the honorable member for Bendigo will have something to say about this - is that three of these firms, I think, operate in country areas. This is of considerable importance, because some of the raw nylon yarns that are used substantially - not altogether but substantially - by these firms are in fact being produced in Australia by Courtaulds (Australia) Ltd. and Fibremakers Ltd., two very large chemical industries. They are producing a considerable part of the raw yarns used by these firms and they are expanding their capacity, lt would be absolutely stupid and unreasonable for firms as large as these to continue to expand their capacity if they were doubtful about the processing of the yarns in Australia. They must feel confident that a significant part of the yarns will be processed in Australia. The question that arises is: Who will process these yarns? I think to treat this matter as one that can be dealt with by a temporary on-and-off duty leaving the original firms in a condition of uncertainty suggests that these firms have not a place in the industry, according to the estimates of the Government and the Tariff Board. The alternative is that some firm or firms closely associated with Courtaulds (Australia) Ltd. and Fibremakers Ltd. and perhaps integrated with them will eventually take over the processing. We will perhaps then have processing as a subsidiary part of the operations of Courtaulds (Australia) Ltd. and Fibremakers Ltd. There may be some argument that this can be more economically done - I do not know - but I guarantee that we will have an argument that there should be a tariff to support Courtaulds (Australia) Ltd. and Fibremakers Ltd. if in fact these subsidiaries come into existence in the future or if they already exist.
The five firms now in the industry should be treated as firms that will find a place in the industry and they should be given a permanent basis for production that will give them such a degree of certainty about the future that they will be able to establish the efficiency that they require. I do not think that an industry of this sort, consisting of fairly small firms, could be expected to establish that efficiency if they are left in the condition that they have been in since 1961. In addition to the particular points of explanation that we would like to have from the Minister concerning the recent action of the Special Advisory Authority, I would also like some indication of the attitude of the Government to this industry. I would like to know whether the Government regards it as a permanent industry and whether it intends to continue treating it as an industry that can be dealt with by temporary and emergency legislation.
– I would like to deal with some of the points raised by the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns), both now and in his earlier remarks. Earlier, the honorable member objected to this part of the Bill and claimed that it encouraged a monopoly. He claimed that the processing would fall into certain limited hands and notably involved a kind of preference to the large raw yarn producers. He suggested, as he repeated just now, that these producers would set up as processors and thus drive out the smaller processing companies. He also suggested the imposition of the duties on processed yarns that are now proposed. First, I should like to suggest that this preference for the raw yarn producer is not, in fact, well founded at all. Protection for raw yarn was refused in 1960, the Tariff Board then finding that there was no import competition. The duties on raw yarn remained free, under the British Preferential Tariff heading, and 124 per cent, under the Most Favoured Nation heading, as they had been for many years.
The recent anti-dumping measures taken against imports of this yarn were antidumping measures as such and did not represent any preference to the large companies concerned. The imposition of the duty was designed to do what all antidumping duties are designed to do, namely to safeguard against unfair competition. This protection against dumping is available to all industries in Australia without distinction, whether they are large or small.
There was, and there is, a more urgent requirement for action to be taken on processed yarns, but there is no temporary protection in relation to raw yarn. The Government, as always, does protect small industries as I am sure the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton) will know, and it certainly has done so in this case. The objection to the current duties proposed for processed yarn amounts, of course,, to a disagreement with the finding of the Tariff Board in 1964. The Board made its recommendations in the light of circumstances then prevailing. This is a difficult industry. The world position changes from time to time and the problem must be looked at in this light. It is not clear what the Opposition proposes in relation to this matter. It must have in view some arbitrary fixing of duties without a proper and thorough examination. The policy of the Government in these matters is quite clear. Duties are changed only after a proper Tariff Board inquiry, and adequate tariff machinery exists for the purpose.
For the past six months the nylon yarn industry has been kept under close watch and, as has already been noted, circumstances changed quite considerably in the early part of this year. Whereas only a short while ago there was relatively a world shortage, that shortage has been now overcome, with the result that overseas prices have come down. In these circumstances, of course, a possible injury to the industry is involved, in fact because of the changed position. In its report the Tariff Board pointed out quite clearly that there is liable to be a changing situation. It pointed out also that the Special Advisory Authority exists to meet just this eventuality. Even before this debate commenced the Government had already put its inquiry machinery into action, because on 19th March this matter was referred to the Special Advisory Authority. The Authority was asked to inquire into the position of raw and processed yarns and was asked also whether urgent action was warranted before the completion of a normal Tariff Board inquiry. On the 15th of this month, the Special Advisory Authority recommended temporary duties on processed yarn. It noted that imports were not heavy but that there was some evidence of likely low priced imports from the United Kingdom. It did find, however, that the threat of imports was disrupting the industry and that in this respect urgent action was necessary.
On the other hand, as far as raw yarn is concerned, the Special Advisory Authority did not find any cause for urgent action although there was some evidence of import competition. There has been some voluntary restraint by Japanese suppliers and no sudden market disruption seems likely. The Government has, of course, already acted on the report it received. Temporary duties were imposed on processed yarn on 23rd April and the question of processed and raw yarns has been referred to the Tariff Board. This exercise does, in fact, demonstrate how the tariff machinery works. When the matter is urgent speedy action is taken and temporary duties are imposed, but only when necessary. In this case there has been voluntary restraint on the part of the raw yarn suppliers and certainly there is time now for a Board inquiry into this subject. It is interesting to note this clear evidence of the good trading relations that are developing with Japan. I repeat, action has been taken by the suppliers on a completely voluntary basis.
The Opposition seems to be making out that the industry is in a distressed state. Everything points to the fact that the Tariff Board did go into the matter thoroughly. It made the recommendations on which the Bill is based after very complete and deliberate inquiries. When the situation changed, and some further action was required to protect the industry, the matter was referred to the Special Advisory Authority and the necessary action to protect the industry was taken.
.- We have received a very lame explanation from the Minister for Housing (Mr. Bury) about this part of the Schedule. I am rather sorry for him, because obviously he is in an awkward situation. In fact, he is in a ridiculous situation, because we are debating a Tariff Board report which has been superseded. It is old hat. It is out of fashion. Something else has happened and the Board’s report has gone by the board. The plain fact is that the acceptance of the Tariff Board’s report which we are debating today, and which we debated some weeks ago, was a mistake on the part of the Government, as I propose to show as I proceed.
Before doing so I should like to comment on something that the Minister said. In commenting on the Opposition’s attitude he said that it is necessary to have a proper and thorough examination of these matters by the Tariff Board. The Opposition does not quarrel with that. It supports having Tariff Board inquiries. But I suggest that it is necessary for the Government, and for this Parliament, to have a proper and thorough examination of Tariff Board reports. It is quite clear to me that that has not happened in this particular case.
The debate on this matter started some weeks ago, and it may be worth while to recount briefly the situation regarding this item - processed continuous filament fibre yarns. Honorable members may recall that the Special Advisory Authority recommended the imposition of a temporary 25 per cent, duty in June 1963. The Authority, Sir Frank Meere, recognised that a serious threat existed from overseas competition. Large quantities of processed yarn were available at prices below local levels. The imports represented 25 per cent, of the total Australian consumption. There was ample evidence to convince Sir Frank Meere that a substantial temporary tariff was necessary. The temporary tariff was applied and consequently the position of the industry improved. Imports fell to about the level of 10 per cent, of the Australian consumption.
Then came the next process in our tariff machinery to which the Minister referred a little while ago. I refer to the Tariff Board inquiry and the Board report. To the consternation of the industry, the report recommended the removal of the temporary duty. In the few minutes available to me now, I have not time to examine in the detail with which I examined it during the second reading debate the evidence which the Tariff Board had before it, or its conclusions. They are all contained in the report, and I think that I, the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) and the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) have proved that the conclusions which the Tariff Board arrived at were illogical when related to the evidence which the Board presented in its report. Among other things, the Board said this in its conclusions -
It is apparent, however, that there has been pressure from imports in the not far distant past, and evidence by witnesses suggests that this could be repeated in the future. Substantial increases are at present taking place in overseas capacity. If these increases are not matched by increased overseas demand, there could be a downward pressure on overseas prices. However, it is not possible to predict the extent of any future price movements of processed yarns. Similarly, no prediction can be made in respect of raw yarns, the prices of which will affect the competitive position of processed yarns.
The Board considers that the processing of continuous filament yarns in Australia is a worthwhile industry which would warrant assistance if such were necessary and could be afforded at reasonable cost. The local producers are, however, in no immediate need of assistance and the Board is unable to assess their possible future needs.
Let us dissect those two paragraphs. Quite clearly, the Tariff Board was not sure itself. It admitted that there had been pressure from imports. It admitted that there could be pressure from imports again. It admitted that substantial increases in overseas production capacity were taking place. It admitted that there could be downward pressures on overseas prices. It said that it was not possible to predict the extent of any future price movement. But the Board considered that the industry was a worthwhile industry which would warrant assistance if necessary. Finally, the Board said it was unable to assess possible future needs.
In the light of those five or six statements that the Board itself made, was it logical for the Board to determine that the 25 per cent, tariff should be removed? I submit to honorable members that it was not logical at all, and that certainly the Board’s decision was wrong. Subsequent events, of course, have proved exactly that But, of course, the Government accepted the report. Within two days after the Tariff Board report being presented, and after the removal of the duty, the industry was under threat again. Within two days after that date, there was ample evidence of deterioration in the industry’s position. In fact, two days after the Tariff Board’s report was presented, it was indicated by cablegram to the Australian industry that there were large quantities of processed yarn available overseas, and available at prices lower than those with which the Australian industry could compete. So it is quite clear that, two days after the Tariff Board’s report was tabled and the temporary or emergency tariff removed, the industry was under threat again. The Minister said -
We have had a close watch on the industry over the past six months.
A close watch! All that was needed was two days’ watch after the Tariff Board’s report was presented. I suggest that the Tariff Board report was never closely examined by the Government’s machinery, whatever machinery the Government may have for that purpose. I shall come to that later.
A remarkable situation has now arisen. We are debating a report which is, in effect, superseded. It is out of date. As a result of the deterioration that has taken place in the industry, the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) again referred the matter to the Special Advisory Authority and, in fact, while the Parliament was debating the particular report now under consideration. The obvious has happened, of course. The Special Advisory Authority has recommended emergency tariff protection again. I should like to quote the following, not from the Special Advisory Authority’s report on the industry in 1963, but from its 1964 report, in which Sir Frank Meere said -
The Board found that the processing of continuous filament yarn in Australia was a worthwhile industry which would warrant assistance if such were necessary. I believe that protection is now necessary if this industry is to achieve stability.
The word “ stability “ is an important word. The report continues -
In the past it has had periods of high activity but because of the absence of protection there have been periods when imports, or, as in the present instance, the threat of imports has resulted in the industry’s activity being suddenly reduced or maintained only at distress prices.
I put it to the Minister and to the Government that there, surely, we have clear evidence in the form of a clear statement by Sir Frank Meere that the instability which has been facing this industry - a worthwhile industry, to use the words of the Tariff Board - has come about because of the Government’s boom and bust policy of protection one day and no protection the next. I think the Government ought to make up its mind one way or the other. It should decide whether it is going to protect this worthwhile industry and give it the opportunity to achieve the stability which Sir Frank Meere has suggested it should have.
I point out, too, as did the honorable member for Yarra, that quite a number of the firms which constitute this industry about which we are speaking are located in country areas. They are what we term decentralised industries and I suggest that they warrant special consideration from the Government because of the important role they play in providing employment in such country and outback centres as Bendigo, Wangaratta and Shepparton.
If this industry is to have long term stability, it has got to have long term protection and i suggest that the Government ought to look very closely at the position. What I want to know is how, in the light of the evidence that the Tariff Board report contains, the recommendation was accepted by the Government. What machinery has the Government for examining and cdn’sidering not only this particular report but Tariff Board reports generally? I may be wrong, but I understand that the Minister for Trade and Industry makes recommendations to Cabinet and that Cabinet, in effect, examines the reports. No one can tell me that Cabinet really examines every Tariff Board report. I am sure that Cabinet never looks at them - that it merely accepts the Minister’s recommendation. Quite frankly, if the Minister did nothing else, be would be busy examining Tariff Board reports from morning till late at night because there are so many pf them, and because they are so complex. He would have no other job to do. If the position is as I understand it to be, then there is something lacking in the Government’s machinery for examining the situation.
– Ministers have departments.
– Of course Ministers have departments but, as far as I am concerned, the decision as to whether an industry is protected or not is one for Parliament. It has nothing to do with departments. Parliament is supreme and it is the Parliament’s job to decide whether protection should be given to an industry or not. Certainly we have access to the Tariff Board inquiries and reports. It is most important that these detailed inquiries take place and that we be given copies of the recommendations and reports. But it is the Parliament’s responsibility and the responsibility of no other body to accept or reject those recommendations and reports. I suggest that the Parliament does not look closely enough at the Tariff Board reports. Certainly the Government has not done so in this particular case. I am sure that this is one report that has slipped through. I am sure that if the Minister were frank about the matter be would admit that in this instance a mistake has been made.
The three Bills before the Parliament at the moment contain proposals on 18 separate items ranging from furs to ginger, shotguns, motor scooters and mushrooms. What a mixture. I will wager that fewer members than I have fingers on my right hand have examined these reports. This is not a satisfactory situation. I believe that the report on processed yarns has got under the Government’s guard and that it should npt have been accepted. I submit that, on the evidence we have and in view of subsequent events, the recommendation to remove the temporary duty was wrong. I am not critical of the Tariff Board itself. It does a good job. It had the evidence before it but I think it came to the wrong conclusion and made a wrong recommendation. The decision to impose the temporary duty vindicates the stand of the Opposition. The assessment of the Opposition, on the evidence contained in the report, was that the recommendation was wrong. It is difficult, in our view, to understand how the Government accepted it. I think that there is merit in the proposal put forward originally, as I recall, by the honorable member for Yarra that an all party committee should be set up to examine in detail these reports which are, in effect, reports to Parliament. The Parliament is supreme and I do not think it should accept, without question, reports from the Tariff Board or from any other board. Parliament should examine thoroughly every decision of the Tariff Board.
The decisions of the Tariff Board vitally affect the well-being of Australian industry, broadly, in two different ways. The Board can either refuse protection or it can provide inadequate protection and, consequently, disrupt an Australian industry. In the reverse, the Board could give excessive protection and increase the costs to industry generally and develop an industry in what we call a hot-house atmosphere, free of competition. I know that the Government has recourse to a one-man committee, self-appointed as he may be. I refer to the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly). I disagree with many of the honorable member’s conclusions but he does do a service to Parlia ment in tearing apart, as it were, the Tariff Board reports. On the Opposition side we have a trade committee which examines these reports. But I believe that the institution of an all party committee to examine Tariff Board reports could provide a more effective watch and ensure that the Government and the Parliament do not accept recommendations without question.
I believe, too, that there should be more research staff available to members of Parliament so that they have the opportunity to find information on these important matters. I only have half a minute left and I want to refer to something which I mentioned in my second reading speech.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Very briefly I want to say one or two things regarding the speech made just now by the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton). It appears that the honorable member wants two or three things done. First he said that the Parliament should decide tariff matters. Then he said he wanted an all party committee to advise the Parliament. Finally he said, more or less, that the Parliament should advise the Tariff Board. Tariff matters are difficult enough to deal with no matter what party is in Government. The honorable member’s proposals would only complicate the matter more. But what struck me most of all was that although the honorable member found fault with the Government’s attitude on a few occasions, he did not give it any credit at all. He did not give the Government credit even for the very thing on which he based his whole argument, and that was the Special Advisory Authority. Before the Minister for Trade and Industry established the Authority, if there was a sudden change in conditions the position of an industry had to be submitted to the Tariff Board and honorable members know very well that its decision might not have been known for six or twelve months. So the Minister for Trade and Industry, in his wisdom - supported now by the honorable member for Bendigo although he will not give any credit to the Government - set up the Special Advisory Authority. It is no use the honorable members for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns), Bendigo and Scullin (Mr. Peters) starting to argue against this. They agree that the setting up of the Authority was a move in the right direction. Now they lay their whole case on it. This is the position, as the honorable member for Bendigo stated. Of course, Government supporters agree with the honorable member for Bendigo. But surely he can be liberal and concede that the Government has set up the Authority. I know him to be fairminded so surely to goodness he will give the Government some credit. If he wants to argue that the Special Advisory Authority should do this, or do that, he should be prepared to admit that the appointment of such an authority was the idea of one man - the Minister for Trade and Industry. The honorable member for Scullin claims that the Australian Labour Party had such an appointment in view. If it did, it did not implement the proposal although it had many years in which to do so. Of course Labour did not even think about these things. It takes brains to think of them and legislation to implement them.
Now the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) is entering into the argument with a disparaging interjection about me. Anybody can make derogatory remarks about other honorable members, but such statements do not establish the honorable member as a great brain trust. Apparently he delights in making personal attacks on other honorable members. If he were devoid of that ability he would be naked in debate.
– Like your head.
– Well, there is a typical remark: “ Like your head “. Could there be anything more personal than remarks like that? Too often in debates in this House he uses personal and derogatory remarks. They will get him nowhere.
– The honorable member ought to be thrown out of the Parliament.
– The Australian Labour Party has tried to throw me out on many occasions but it has not been successful so far and 1 do not give honorable members opposite much chance of success in the future. But all these arguments are away from the point and they do not help the debate. They merely enable me to gain points from the Labour Party. So I shall return to the tariff debate. When something arises to make a tariff on a certain commodity too high or too low the Minister for Trade and Industry, in order to save time, refers the matter to the Special Advisory Authority, who, in turn, recommends certain action. This has been a splendid system. Now, two matters enter into a debate of this nature. The first is the details of the report we are debating. However, honorable members may forget about those details altogether and deal, quite properly, with the wider conception of tariff. The view of the Australian Country Party has always been that tariff protection should not be allowed to go wild. It is well known that if unduly high tariffs are permitted they build up the cost of the goods and as a result prices rise. My colleague, the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Holten) points out that sometimes prices will fall. I concede that point to him. But when prices rise through tariffs, all that secondary industry has to do is to put a higher price tag on commodities and reef the difference from the community. But honorable members in this corner - members of the great primary producers’ party - know that the primary producer cannot do this.
– The honorable member is getting away from the point.
– I shall just finish the sentence. The primary producer cannot do this and therefore high tariffs chiefly act against him in many ways. I commend the Minister for establishing the Special Advisory Authority. I commend him for what the Authority has done. I believe that in the future it will be just as valuable as it is today in making quick decisions.
.- The honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) pointed out that there is an emergency committee which is capable of applying emergency tariffs.
– I did not mention the word committee. I said the Special Advisory Authority.
– The Government, of course, deserves special commendation for having brought the Special Advisory
Authority into operation. But this took not months but years. The Australian Labour Party argued in nearly every tariff debate that there was too great a delay between the reference of a proposal to the committee and the committee carrying out its investigations and putting its finding before this Parliament. We raised this matter not once but dozens of times, until ultimately with the aid of a particular circumstance that occurred we were able to force the Government of the day to initiate, first, an increase in the number of officials conducting Tariff Board hearings and then the creation of this new advisory authority and the adoption of emergency procedures. So, if credit is due to anybody for the hastening of tariff investigations, it is due to honorable members on this side of the chamber who have suggested improvements in tariff procedures.
However, the issue that is now before us is this: The emergency committee recommended the introduction of a tariff of 25 per cent, on a certain commodity. The Tariff Board subsequently decided to remove that temporary tariff which had been imposed on the recommendation of the emergency committee, although, apparently, at the very same time, the committee was again considering the question of the tariff on the commodity concerned and, as a result of reconsidering the matter, recommended continuance of the duty. What an absurd situation this is. The honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns), the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) and the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton), assisted by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Holten), have been discussing a Tariff Board recommendation that another government board has decided is utterly and absolutely absurd. That is exactly the situation.
The honorable member for Indi has pointed out to honorable members, rightly, that the Australian industry requires the support and protection of a tariff, first, because the industry is essential to Australia’s security. This is an important defence industry, and without its products Australia’s defence could be impaired because our defence would become more or less dependent on other countries. That would be most undesirable. The honorable member for Indi pointed out that the Aus tralian industry requires the support and protection of a tariff, secondly, because the products of this industry are so essential in peace time as well. Without them, goods could not be transported from one end of the country to the other, because nylon fibre has to be used in the manufacture of tyres and other transport essentials. All these are good reasons for tariff protection for the Australian industry. The honorable member for Bendigo pointed out that this was a decentralised industry employing 600 or 700 Australians. He said that for this reason it should be adequately protected.
This debate has been absurd enough up to the present time, Mr. Temporary Chairman. It is nothing less than absurd for a deliberative assembly such as this to be considering the removal, on the recommendation of the Tariff Board, of a 25 per cent, tariff at the very time when a board is recommending the continuance of the tariff. In these circumstances, it is completely absurd for this Parliament deliberately and solemnly to consider the removal of the tariff.
– It is ridiculous.
– It is completely ridiculous. But it is no more ridiculous than the consequences. If the tariff is removed as an act of policy, the present Government, within a very short time, will cease to impose tariffs on the recommendation of the Tariff Board or an emergency committee in order to limit or prevent imports of specific commodities. It will introduce licensing procedures to prevent imports entirely where expenditure on a specific import will tend to reduce our overseas funds and make it more difficult to meet our overseas obligations.
Mr. R. W. C. Anderson, Federal Director of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia, said recently that £200 million worth of commodities imported each year should not be imported and that, because they are entering Australia, the Government will have to impose restrictions to curb this flow of imports. Mr. C. P. Puzey, Director of the Australian Industries Development Association, last week went even further than Mr. Anderson has gone. Mr. Puzey said that most of our imports in recent years have not been necessary to our way of life.
– What about our sales overseas?
– What an absurdity it is to suggest that they have been essential to our sales overseas. Apparently, the honorable member suggests that we should sell our good wool overseas and receive in return shoddy material from some other country. Apparently, he believes that we should sell our iron ore overseas and receive in return the kind of Brummagem footwear that comes from behind the Iron Curtain and elsewhere. The Australian Labour Party has never objected to the sale of Australian products overseas if Australia receives in return goods that are essential to our development in time of peace or our security in time of war. We have imported £144 million worth of made up clothing, £33 million worth of toys and £17 million worth of footwear during the last 15 years. Furthermore, we have imported £503 million worth of foodstuffs, although this is one of the greatest food producing countries. These importations are not in the interests of the development of this nation or essential to our security in time of danger.
Order! The honorable member is getting a little wide of the Bill.
– In other words, Sir, you suggest that I get to the point. Is there any point more important to Australia than the exclusion of imports not merely of manmade fibres but of all commodities imports of which tend to impair the industries and curb the productive power of this nation, particularly when such imports have to be paid for, not only by the sale abroad of the products of our industries, but also by the sale of the products of our farms, our mines and our pastoral properties as well? Is anything more important than this? This is the whole issue involved in relation to the protection of our manmade fibre industry, Sir. This has been pointed out not merely by members of the Labour Party, but also by an exponent in the ranks of the Australian Country Party, the honorable member for Indi, who, I take it, spoke on behalf of the Country Party on this issue.
– Just before mc taster recess. He pointed out the things that I have discussed this afternoon. He told us that this industry is vital to our security in time of war. The honorable member mentioned that the fabric which is manufactured is used in aircraft and other equipment. He then added that this fabric was a necessary component with rubber for the transport industry. I was very much impressed by what he said, so much so that 1 commended him when I spoke on that occasion. The honorable member for Bendigo, as 1 have already mentioned, made it clear that hundreds of people in Australia depend for their employment on the production of artificial fibre. He mentioned also that this industry operates in country areas and for that reason it was doubly important to the nation and the nation’s development.
Industries within the metropolitan areas are useful and desirable, but if they can be encouraged to operate in the hinterland they become of vital importance to our development. An industry established in the country is more beneficial than a similar industry established within the metropolitan area or near the metropolitan areas of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane or one of the other capital cities. It is for those reasons that we have spoken during this debate. We suggest that Australia must ensure that this material always gets the maximum possible protection and that products of similar character also receive the greatest possible protection. We must decide that the selling price of a manufactured article and the tariff protection of an article are different and separate questions that must be tackled separately. It must be realised that we cannot maintain an existing price or reduce a price by bringing in imports. That may have the effect of reducing a price here or there temporarily, but inevitably the result of encouraging imports is a flood of goods into the country until the local industry has been destroyed. Once the local industry has been destroyed we become the victims of the predatory interests of the exploiters who are foreign to our country and who have no interest in its development. They lack local patriotism which distinguishes - at least, sometimes - our local manufacturers.
.- No one could listen to the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) without a feeling of complete and utter hopelessness that we will ever be able to get him to understand anything clearly on this subject. He could not even .get his terminology right. He said that the Labour Party was. instrumental in establishing the emergency committee, as he continually called it. What he meant to say, I presume, was the Special Advisory Authority. Listening to his speech, with what patience I could muster, I had a feeling that here we had a demagogue, a man who speaks without thinking, but who is happy so long as he is speaking.
This is in many ways a tragic kind of debate because it brings home to the Parliament - or it should bring home to the Parliament - the lack of preparation that goes into these debates. Even the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns), who now leads for the Opposition, made the silly mistake - I think he would now agree with me that it was a mistake - of trying to oppose the whole Bill because he objected to one of the 14 items. When we started to deal with this Bill today, the honorable member began to speak on Schedule 1, but he knows that he should have been speaking on Schedule 2. Surely if we are going to do this job properly, as we ought to do, it should be given more attention than it is generally given. I was hoping when the honorable member for Yarra accepted this burden that he would bring his academic qualifications to bear on it. Instead, he seems to have just let his task go by default.
Let us look at the tariff system and the need for some kind of improvement. This debate exemplifies it to perfection. As I understand it, the debate centres on the damage that the B.L.B. Corporation of Australia is suffering at Bendigo. The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton) is naturally concerned about that. I remind honorable members that we have a Tariff Board system so that decisions will not be made in the political arena but will be made by an independent body which looks at these things. This enables us to get away from this kind of political log rolling. No one criticises the honorable member for Bendigo for trying to defend his industries, but what kind of tariff system would we have if every honorable member could influence the Government to alter duties to suit industries within their own electorates. If the tariff system is to work these things must be decided by an independent body. It was this and this alone that led to the establishment of the Tariff Board system. That having been accepted - it has been accepted for years now - we have seen an alteration and improvement in our debate on tariff measures. We now have the second reading stage and committee stage. It is a very great pity that honorable members have debated during the second reading stage particular industries which should properly be debated at the Committee stage.
Let us look at some of the criticisms that have been made. 1 refer first to criticisms voiced by the honorable member for Yarra, who had two main concerns. First, he was angry or concerned about a take-over by Fibremakers Ltd. I remind the honorable member that that firm is the only manufacturer of the original fibres coming within this classification. Courtaulds (Aust.) Ltd. certainly makes the rayon fibre, but it is not engaged in the manufacture of fibres in the polyester group. The honorable member was concerned that Fibremakers Ltd. would make, or get the opportunity to make, a take-over. Nobody can say that I have on other occasions defended Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Ltd., which are Fibremakers Ltd. At the Tariff Inquiry to which reference has been made Fibremakers Ltd. appeared for the purpose of supporting the industry, so it does not look to me as if it is trying to disadvantage the industry or take it over as the honorable member for Yarra suggested. The honorable member’s second main concern was the amount of attention that we were giving to international overseas companies. He said: “ We have already gone too far in our willingness to make concessions to overseas companies”. I remind the honorable member that the B.L.B. company at Bendigo, for which the honorable member for Bendigo was fighting so valiantly, is a wholly owned subsidiary of a French yarn company. That does not square with what the honorable member for Yarra said. He said that we must not give way to these overseas companies, but in the next breath he criticised us because we are not doing enough for them.
I turn now to the remarks of the honorable member for Bendigo who spoke of two things. He referred first to the natural disadvantage under which industry in Australia suffers or labours. Later he mentioned that in Australia five companies are processing or throwing yarns. That is a queer kind of phrase to use - throwing yarn - but they are throwsters or processors. He was quite right when he said that there were five companies and that if they had a larger throughput they could operate more economically. I cannot help asking the honorable member for Bendigo why there are five companies. Would it not be better if there were three companies or only two? They would then have a better throughput. If we are to reward them and protect them in this way, will we not naturally encourage the setting up of more inefficient groups? I do not say that the present companies are inefficient, but the honorable member for Bendigo mentioned that this is a natural disadvantage under which they suffer in Australia. There is a very important point that goes right to the basis of the tariff structure in Australia, so I should like to know what would happen if we were to protect, or overprotect, certain groups of industries. I suggest that it would lead naturally to the formation of smaller firms which have a smaller throughput and which are less economic.
The main argument advanced by the honorable member for Bendigo seemed to me to be that he would not agree to any leg-roping of Australian industries and he would not see them disadvantaged. Let us be clear on this matter. Surely it is obvious that if the increased duty, for which he is asking and which is now granted, is imposed on this yarn, that will disadvantage other industries, including user industries such as Bruck Mills Ltd. in Wangaratta, for which the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Holten) speaks so valiantly and so often. Those industries will pay the increased cost. Goodness knows, their position is difficult enough now. They are up against problems. I do not know whether they want more protection at the moment, but they often do.
One of the reasons why they need protection is that when the duty is increased the raw material becomes dearer. The processed fibres that the B.L.B. Corporation at Bendigo and the other four firms are making are the raw materials for Bruck Mills Ltd. and other industries. It is no answer to the problems of those industries to say: “ Increase the duty on piece goods using this yarn “, because as soon as we do that the demand will switch to cotton. That is why we have our Tariff Board system. The Board weighs things up carefully. If the solution of our problems were just a matter of increasing the duty, there would be no problems anywhere in the tariff field. But we have to remember that tariff increases are paid for by the consumers or the user industries. This is a case in point. The maker of man made fibre piece goods will pay for the increase in duty at the rate of 2s. 6d. per lb. from now on.
I turn now to the remarks made by the honorable member for Indi, who spoke, I presume, for the Country Party. The honorable member for Scullin assumed that he did.
– Does the honorable member speak for the Liberal Parry?
– I am sorry. The honorable member for Scullin assumed that the honorable member for Indi spoke for the Country Party. The honorable member for Indi seems to be the only one who speaks for the Country Party, although I am gratified to find that this afternoon the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) also spoke. Generally speaking, it is the honorable member for Indi who speaks for the Country Party on tariff questions. Let us look at some of the things that he said.
First I deal with something that surprised and disappointed me. I refer to his attitude. I do not expect people to agree with me. Many people in this chamber do not agree with me. But I am always prepared to say straight out whether or not I agree with someone. The thing in the speech made by the honorable member for Indi which disappointed me was the kind of veiled insinuation that was made. He did not mention me by name. In answer to the following interjection by the honorable member for Yarra -
Whom is the honorable member criticising? the honorable member for Indi said -
I say: Whomever the cap fits, let him wear it. I am criticising the antagonists of tariff protection of any kind of industry.
The honorable member for Indi and I often do not agree with one another. I am not ashamed to say that often I do not agree with him. I would think better of him if he would stand up and say that he does not agree with me. I am sure that he does not agree with me. I am sure that he is quite proud of that fact. I would think better of him if he made his position quite clear. In the community in which I live we have an old fashioned system. If we have anything to say to a person with whom we disagree, we do not throw stones on his roof and then duck around behind a haystack; we tell him that we do not agree with what he is saying. I would appreciate it if in the future, when the honorable member does not agree with me, he would make that quite clear to me.
Let us look at some of the comments that he made. He was very critical of the statements made by economists. He played on the fact that economists cannot agree. I understand that he will have an opportunity to reply to me. I want him to say quite specifically whether he agrees with the economists when they say that tariff increases have to be paid for by the export industries. If he does not agree with that, he should say so. He should make his position quite clear vis-a-vis Mr. Chislett, the economist who speaks for the graziers. This is a matter which should be cleared up between us and the Country Party. Many members of my party do not agree with me; but many members of the Country Party used to agree with me and what distresses me is that now we do not hear from them as we would expect to hear from them.
The honorable member for Indi spoke continually about the importance of nylon yarn from the defence point of view. The honorable member for Yarra referred to this matter, too. Both of them should know that nylon comes into Australia in the form of nylon chips or nylon polymers; none of it is produced here in the first instance. If we need nylon for defence, then we have to import either the yarn or the chips. It is just as easy to bring in the yarn as it is to bring in the chips. The yarn would probably take up less space in a vessel than the chips. It seems to me that it is no good tackling this issue from the defence point of view if the original material has to be imported.
General criticisms have been made against this Tariff Board report from the standpoint of decentralisation. First, I point out that the Tariff Board is a tariff board and not a decentralisation board. It is the Government’s responsibility to weigh up the factors and say whether certain industries ought to be encouraged in order to promote decentralisation. Similarly, on the defence aspect, the Tariff Board is not a defence board. It reports to the Government which then, in the light of the economic decisions made by the Board, says whether or not it can go along with the report, from the point of view of defence. Those are the matters which seem to me to have come out of this debate. I do not think it has been a debate of any great quality. I hope that from now on the position of the Country Party will be made clear.
– It will be made clear.
– There seems to be some hesitation among members of the Country Party. Obviously, many people will disagree with this statement, but I submit that I have carried the burden of fighting for the export industries in this chamber rather too often.
– No, you have not.
– From the point of view of tariffs, I have.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I do not intend to interfere in this dispute between the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) and the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Holten); between the “ free trade “ section of the Country Party and the protectionists in the Liberal Party; or between the free traders in the Liberal Party and the protectionists in the Country Party. This is the kind of squabble which is of some significance in the political life of this country and which is hardly ever reported in a line with some of the petty differences which are given great prominence in the newspapers when they occur in the Labour Party. It is interesting to see the intensity of feeling that occurs between the honorable member for Wakefield and the honorable member for Indi. 1 leave them to sort it out between themselves.
I have no hesitation in saying that I disagree with the honorable “member for Wakefield. It is not necessary for me to go down behind the haystack and throw some stones at him. I say that most of the points that he introduces into this chamber when he criticises tariffs are so petty and so insignificant that they hardly deserve attention at all. I would not go out of my way to say this about the honorable member for Wakefield if he were not inclined to be so petty himself. In order to participate in this debate this afternoon he selected two points of criticism of my handling of these matters. As a rule I do not defend myself against allegations made by members from the other side of the House, because I would be doing nothing else if I did, but I intend to look at these two points. He said that I was mishandling the situation in proposing to oppose the Bill as a whole instead of item 460 in the Schedule. I went to some little trouble before Easter to explain to the honorable member for Wakefield and also to the Minister that I did not mind whether we opposed the Bill so long as it was clear that we were opposing the removal of this temporary duty. I said that if it suited the member for Wakefield, as Government Whip, and the Minister, for us to oppose the Bill I would be quite happy to oppose it but if, on the other hand, we were going to take the Bill in stages and we could oppose some part of the Schedule I did not mind - I had no feelings one way or the other.
When the matter reached the Committee stage the member for Wakefield in his usual petty detailed way hardly saw the forest for the trees. He is like the monkey up the tree nibbling away at nuts every time tariff proposals come before the House, and he impresses me just about as much as the monkey does. The honorable member, choosing to have another nibble at the nut, said I did not know which schedule we were considering. I do not know whether the honourable member has any experience in the centre of the House, but very often when we are about to commence debating a bill after question time it is very difficult to hear what we are to consider, and today I was under the impression that we were debating Schedules I and 2 together. I began speaking under (hat impression and it was not until the Minister, quietly, by interjection, conveyed to me that we were not dealing with tha second Schedule that I was aware of that for the first time.
I think that the honorable member for Wakefield in his petty attention to detail has rather excelled himself this afternoon. Of course, he went on to tell us that we do not do our homework as he does his homework. I find that the honorable member’s homework is done almost entirely with the object of opposing tariff proposals. Three weeks ago he had the opportunity of considering this measure to remove a temporary duty - it was also being considered by the Government’s own special advisory authority, and within 24 hours the Special Advisory Authority was presenting’ a report that the temporary duty should not be removed - but the honorable member had not done sufficient homework to be able to speak about it at all. I think that is characteristic of his attitude to tariff measures. He will trot out all sort of details to indicate that tariff protection should not be given to some section of Australian industry but he will not concern himself when it is proposed to remove, improperly, a 25 per cent. duty.
The honorable member chose to have another shot when he said that he could not understand how I and the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton), when we say we must not give way to overseas companies, could support the B.L.B. Corporation of Australia, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of a French concern. I would expect the honorable member for Wakefield, if his level of intelligence is as high as he thinks it is - which I doubt, because I do not think that would be possible - to be aware that that is not the attitude of the Opposition to foreign capital investment. We have never taken the attitude that all foreign capital investment is wrong. From the very first day we began to debate this topic in this House we said that the Government was wrong in treating all overseas capital investment as though it were the same. In fact, we have distinguished and differentiated between certain kinds of overseas investment. We have said that some kinds of investment are good and that some are bad. That has been the position the Opposition has taken all the way through, and that is the position which the Government now, after four or five years, is coming to. However, that is by the way. We have made it clear that if overseas investment helps to bring in a process or helps to establish a company in Bendigo or some other place - a concern which would not otherwise be there - that can be an advantage. Clearly enough, it is an advantage in the case of B.L.B. This is just another instance of the honorable member for Wakefield not having done his homework sufficiently well. He does his homework when it suits him, but he does not do his homework if it would disprove the presuppositions with which he enters all considerations of tariffs. His presuppositions are those of the 19th century classical economist, not even brought up to date by a smattering of Keynesianism. I doubt whether the honorable member would even know to whom I am referring in that noun. All his considerations are in respect of efficiency. He does not consider the aspects of the importance of industry. He does not consider whether a proposal can give employment in certain regions or can contribute to development. He does not consider whether it will aid the diversification of industry in areas, a subject on which he spoke a short time ago.
He said that these are things with which the Tariff Board should not be concerned. I do not think that the Tariff Board, any more than the honorable member for Wakefield, can split itself up into abstract sections and say: “ When we are giving a decision of this kind we will consider it only from the point of view of efficiency and will ignore all these other factors”. Efficiency is not something to be measured alone in pounds, shillings and pence. It is much more important than that. It is our responsibility, when tariff proposals are before us, to consider all these matters.
In an interjection to the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Holten) some time ago I said that if as a result of some change an industry like Bruck Mills Ltd. in Wangaratta would be put out of operation the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) would have every right in acting to protect it. This Parliament has to be concerned with affairs of this sort and we are the people who eventually have to make the decisions about whether industries will be established or continued. We are the people who have to make decisions about whether or not there will be decentralisation. We have to accept the responsibility of making these decisions and I believe we have to indicate to the Tariff Board what we want it to do. I do not go along with the 1 9th century impression of the independence of the Tariff Board. I realise how objective one has to be in these things. One does not get an objective and fair decision merely by repeating 19th century habits and customs which are long out of fashion and which, incidentally, were not in fashion even in the 19th century. Government was always conducted in a different way, even in those days.
The Minister said that he had a number of objections to what was put by the Opposition, and I want to deal briefly with those objections before I conclude. He said we were saying that the Government had encouraged monopoly. He said we had asserted that the Government was encouraging monopoly because it had given preference to raw nylon yarn processors. I do not think we said anything of the sort at all. We said there was a tariff on the yarn, and there is; there is a most favoured nation tariff on it. I think we were all aware that there was no British preferential tariff on it. This was not the reason we had for saying that the Government was giving preference to monopoly. The reason we had for saying this was that we believe the Government is prepared to see the development over a period of an industry which gives a preference to monopoly.
It is not necessary for Fibremakers Limited or Courtaulds (Aust.) Ltd. or one of those standing at the basis of this industry to take over some of the existing firms. It is not necessary for them to have a preference to get into a position of monopoly. This can be done as the result of the normal development of the industry, unless something is done to offset it. The very thing we are suggesting should bc clone to offset it this time is that a 25 per cent, tariff should be provided for the four or five small firms that are in the industry. We can help to prevent the growth of monopoly by protecting the four or five competitive firms that are in the industry. It may well be, as the honorable member for Wakefield has said, that at some time in the future these firms will be two or three in number. Perhaps at that time they will be more efficient. If you want to offset a little the growth of monopoly you will be inclined to encourage the maintenance for a little longer of the competitive sector of the industry.
The Minister asked what the Opposition proposes in respect of this matter. The Opposition’s proposal is that the 25 per cent, duty now being re-imposed as an emergency measure - and, by implication, a short term measure - should be the normal duty. The Minister for Trade and Industry, in the statement he made when announcing the decision of the Tariff Board, and of which I received a copy only a little while ago, said that the question of the industry’s normal protective needs has been referred for inquiry and report to the Tariff Board. The question of what is going to be the normal protective need of the industry has now gone back to the Tariff Board. We say that there should be no hesitation about this. We say that the evidence seems to us to prove conclusively - it has done so certainly since October and probably since June of last year - that the temporary duty should not be removed at all. This should be the normal protective requirement of the industry.
Let me refer, by way of contrast, to what the Government has done about this duty. In February 1962,- the Government said “ no “ to a 25 per cent. duty. It said: “ No protection.” In June 1963 it said “ yes “ to a 25 per cent. duty. In October 1964 it said “no”, while in April 1965 it said “yes*. On 23rd April 1965 the Minister said that the normal protective needs of this industry were still in doubt and were being referred back to the Tariff Board for consideration. The view of the Opposition is that a “no” in 1962, a “yes” in 1963, a “no” in 1964, a “yes” in 1965 followed by a “ we are not certain “ is simply not good enough. In answer to the Minister’s question as to what the Opposition proposes, I say that we propose that the 25 per cent, duty should be the normal protective tariff for this industry. We have no hesitation in saying this.
In conclusion, I merely want to support the remarks of the honorable member for Bendigo, in respect of the way in which the Parliament is required to handle tariff bills. It is not much good anyone saying that the eventual decision on these matters is not made in this House. This is the place where the decision is made. It is not made in the Tariff Board, it is not made in the
Department of Trade and Industry, it is made in this Parliament. I say without hesitation that this Parliament is not equipped to make these decisions. I suggested last year- and the suggestion has been repeated by the honorable member for Bendigo - that we should have a joint committee to give us an opportunity to consider these matters in some detail and that, above all, we should have available some kind of research staff to obtain for us the evidence that we need to make up our minds on these matters. Unless these suggestions are accepted the Parliament will not be able to discharge its responsibilities adequately in respect of the imposition of tariffs.
.- As my electorate has been mentioned quite a few times in this debate during the last hour and a half it seems appropriate for me to say a few words. First, let me thank the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) for his unsolicited complimentary remarks. If he agrees with what I have said I am quite happy about that. It is entirely within his own province to do so if he wishes. My remarks of a fortnight ago were mainly directed to my contention that the Tariff Board had not made a correct recommendation and that the matter would have to be referred back to the Special Advisory Authority in very quick time. As the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton) has said, it was two days later when this actually occurred. This bore out the correctness of the proposition put forward not only by me but also by others that the Tariff Board in this case had made an error of judgment in making its final recommendation. So much for that aspect of the matter.
The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) made several points in his speech on which I would like to comment. I shall deal with them in the order in which he put them forward. In commencing hia speech he made a remark to the effect that this had been a tragic debate. He implied that there had been a lack of preparation on the part of every honorable member but himself. The whole tenor of his opening remarks indicated a superior, lofty attitude towards the other members of this Parliament in respect of tariff matters, particularly as they concern this debate. I am not particularly upset about that. As the saying goes, I have been insulted by experts. I thought, however, that the honorable member made a most unfortunate start by reflecting on other honorable members who had taken part in the debate. The honorable member then commented on the independence of the Tariff Board, and how important this was. The fact is that the honorable member for Wakefield is the greatest pressure merchant in this Parliament in matters affecting the Tariff Board. He represents a greater threat to the independence of the Tariff Board than practically anyone else in Australia and certainly anyone else in this Parliament.
As other honorable members have said, it is the responsibility of the Parliament to take an interest in these matters, because we are responsible for the development of Australia, in partnership with the Australian people, whether they live in country or city areas. It is the Government’s responsibility to ensure the development of the industrial potential of this country. For the purposes of this contention I include all industries throughout the nation. The honorable member for Wakefield, again reflecting on other honorable members, said it was a great pity that in this debate individual industries had been mentioned and the cases of individual industries had been discussed. I have checked the “ Hansard “ report of the honorable member’s speech of a fortnight ago and I find that he has devoted half his speech to talking about two industries. He said that it was a pity that individual industries had been referred to in this debate, but he himself devoted half his speech to two great industrial complexes in this country, Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Ltd. and the Repco group.
The honorable member then told us that a duty represents a cost to industries in Australia. It is not always a cost to industries; the imposition of an import duty is not always a cost to the users of a commodity. In fact, we could make a list of hundreds of articles the prices of which have been reduced to Australian consumers and users because an import duty has been imposed. My point is that because an article is imported it does not necessarily follow that the price is very much less than the price of a similar article would be if it were made in Australia. In fact, it might be only fractionally less than if it were made in
Australia. The importers do not bring these articles into the country for nothing. They make what they consider to be a legitimate profit on articles they import. So the actual difference between the landed price of an imported article and the price of a similar article manufactured here is not a difference that is necessarily available to the consumer or the manufacturer as the case may be. The honorable member for Wakefield referred to Bruck Mills (Aust) Ltd., and I shall not in any way retreat from the points raised by the honorable member. He referred to the extra cost to Bruck Mills (Aust.) Ltd. of a quantity of yarn. I do not think that Bruck Mills would complain about this because it is a firm that supports the development of Australian industry. They realise that other industries must have protection from imports in order to make jobs available for Australian workmen.
Then the honorable member for Wakefield commenced to deal on a personal level with the honorable member for Indi - with me. He accused me of throwing stones onto his roof and then hiding behind his haystack, implying that nobody would know to whom I was referring in my remarks on 1st April. The honorable member wants me to name him and to say that I do not agree with him. I do not know whether such a statement will satisfy the honorable member’s personal ego or whether it will mean more publicity for him in the newspapers, but if he wants me to say that I personally disagree with him in this debate I will do so: I disagree. In the last debate on this subject the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) interjected and asked with whom was I disagreeing. It was with the honorable member for Wakefield. I disagree also, in this debate, with the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Giles). I disagree with anyone who is antagonistic towards tariff protection for all kinds of industry. If the cap fits, let the honorable member wear it. 1 make myself perfectly clear in this regard.
The honorable member for Wakefield said that I. was apparently speaking for the Country Party as a whole. I have a feeling that the honorable member has at last nearly declared himself - nearly declared his reasons for talking unceasingly in this Parliament about tariffs. Not only has he spoken unceasingly on this subject since he has been here but he also adopted a onesided attitude and his remarks about tariffs have been unbalanced. I have a feeling that he has adopted this attitude in order to try to embarrass the Australian Country Party. I have a feeling that, at last, he has been goaded into declaring himself almost completely. His purpose is to embarrass the Country Party, particularly the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen), who is Leader of the Australian Country Party. This is not the only place in which he states that members of the Country Party do not often support his attitude towards tariffs. I think the honorable member says these things in other quarters in a calculated attempt to damage and bring the Country Party into disfavour with its traditional supporters. But the results of the last general elections show that the honorable member’s tactics have not been at all successful in taking support away from the Country Party. On the flimsiest of grounds the honorable member attempts to interpret my remarks as representing completely Country Party policy. This Party has 20 members in the House of Representatives and seven in the Senate. The honorable member for Wakefield seeks to imply that what I say in a debate on these matters represents the policy of my Party. Everybody who has been in this Parliament for any length of time knows, that in the main, individual members of the Country Party speak for themselves. They have a greater opportunity than have members of the other parties in this Parliament ito speak independently and to voice their own views on the subjects that concern the people of Australia. I could make a remark about the rural committee of the Liberal Party and say how much I would like to know its policy on redistribution and on the principle of one vote, one value. I slip in that comment.
– Order! I suggest that the honorable member refrain from slipping in any more irrelevant comments at this stage.
– The honorable member for Wakefield asked whether I was the spokesman for the Country Party. Let me rephrase the question: Is the honorable member for Wakefield the spokesman for the Liberal Party on tariff matters? Is he opposed to the development of Australian industry and the provision of more jobs for Australians? I do not claim to speak for the Country Party at all. I am voicing my own philosophy, developed mainly through my association with Mr. McEwen. I believe in the defence of Australia. I believe in building up Australia’s population by immigration and by the provision of jobs for all. I believe in the interdependence of the primary producer and persons engaged in secondary and tertiary industry in this country. It cannot be said that these people are not inter-dependent. As for other matters, I have said my piece in the last IS minutes.
.- I am sure that members of the Opposition are saddened at the spectacle of what is obviously the beginning of the disintegration of the Government - this Jekyll and Hyde Government. It appears that on the one hand, in the Liberal Party we have protectionists and free traders. On the other hand, in the Australian Country Party we also have protectionists and free traders. It does not appear that they hit it off too well together. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) referred to me in his remarks. I was honoured to be mentioned among other honorable members. I suppose that I should feel something of a new boy and that I should be somewhat diffident about speaking in this debate because it is clear to me that the honorable member for Wakefield was suggesting that I and other honorable members did not know what we were talking about, that we had not done our homework, and that we should sit down. I think the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Holten) dealt with this aspect quite well. I think he handled the honorable member for Wakefield satisfactorily and I will not dwell on the matter any further.
The honorable member for Wakefield posed a couple of questions to me. He said that I was endeavouring to interfere with the independence of the Tariff Board. That was a remarkable accusation. Of course, the honorable member was dealing with a speech that I made two or three weeks ago. He is very good at digging up something that happened a few weeks ago and then doing his homework. He had not done it at the time at which I spoke. He was not prepared to speak when the debate was c.t the second reading stage, but he is ready now. He was not ready earlier because this measure was removing a tariff and, as the honorable member for Indi and the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) have said, the honorable member for Wakefield is somewhat one-sided. He has a great deal to say about removing or restricting tariffs but he has little or nothing to say when a tariff is needed. In fact, from the tenor of the honorable member’s remarks a few minutes ago he must be construed as being opposed to the protection of Australian industry. He is a free trader. In respect of trade and tariff policy I would go so far as to say that the honorable member is one of the great minds of the 19th century as far as protection is concerned.
The honorable member said something about me and the independence of the Tariff Board. I said quite clearly that an objective inquiry by the Board was essential. Once the Board has assembled the facts, taken evidence and reached conclusions, its report comes to this Parliament. This is where the decision to accept or reject the Board’s recommendations is made. The Government certainly makes a decision and puts its proposal to the Parliament, but the Parliament is supreme. It makes the decision, and so it should. The honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) implied that I was trying to interfere with the Tariff Board. That is not so. The Tariff Board should function as it does. But the point is that the report of the Tariff Board comes to the Parliament to be accepted or rejected. We must make the decision and we are entitled to pull the Board’s report apart, if we wish to do so. Indeed, it is our duty to do so. The honorable members for Yarra and Scullin (Mr. Peters) and I on this side of the chamber and the honorable member for Indi on the other side, have accepted that duty today.
I want to deal with a comment made by the honorable member for Wakefield. I do not quite have his exact words. He was talking behind a haystack or something of the kind at the time. He said that protection given to industry increases costs and he spoke about over-protection. I suggest that the honorable member should come out from behind the haystack and face the reality of the situation. If we did not have protection for Australian industry, we would have very little secondary industry. The great mass of the Australian people works in secondary and tertiary industry, and these secondary industries are protected. If they were not protected, they would not be able to give employment to workers. The honorable member for Wakefield is a free trader. When he picks up a report of the Tariff Board, he is solely concerned with the cost to the farming community.
– That is a good point.
– That is true, but surely there must be some balance in our approach to tariffs. I think the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) made a statement a year or two ago-
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Lucock).Order! I remind the honorable member for Bendigo that he is going more into a general debate than a discussion of the item before the Committee. I suggest to honorable members who speak in this debate that they keep to the item that is before the Committee.
– The item under discussion is processed yarn, and I will admit that there has been some yarn spinning this afternoon. I finish with my passing reference, in deference to you, Mr. Chairman, by saying that the Minister for Trade and Industry said that the Tariff Board should take note of Government policy. This was a greater interference with the Tariff Board than any I could have attempted, and I have no doubt that, as the honorable member for Indi said, the honorable member for Wakefield was sniping at the Minister for Trade and Industry.
Having deviated for a moment, I shall now deal with the matter of processed yarn. The honorable member for Wakefield was concerned about increased costs. It is true to say that processed yarn could be imported from overseas at a lower price than it could be produced in Australia. This is the whole crux of the problem. Should we import this processed yarn from overseas where processors have a surplus of production capacity and an over-supply? Overseas producers are able and willing to sell at prices below the normal price of yarn. Does the honorable member for Wakefield suggest that Australian industry should be forced to compete with these producers?
Does he suggest that if Australian industry cannot reasonably engage in such competition it should go by the board? That is a ridiculous suggestion and I reject it.
– What was it?
– You said that the tariff would increase costs. I said that costs would be increased if the base costs were taken as the price overseas where producers have over-supply and surplus capacity. Overseas producers would be able to dump their surplus in Australia. Obviously Australian industry could not compete in such circumstances. Certainly the Australian Labour Party does not expect it to do so.
The honorable member for Wakefield referred to the B.L.B. Corporation of Australa, which has a factory in my electorate. I spoke about this company some three weeks ago. The honorable member said that it is foreign owned. I do not know that this makes any real difference. The plain fact is that foreign capital came into Australia and built a new factory. It introduced a new technique and it brought employment to a country centre where employment was not previously available for the people. The Opposition has never at any stage objected to the inflow of foreign capital for this purpose. We have said that we are prepared to have foreign capital come into this country if it can supply new ideas and new employment opportunities. We do not accept that foreign capital should come in willy nilly and take over established industries or buy land for speculation or indulge in portfolio investment. The inflow of such capital should be restricted. But this company competes against other companies in Australia and provides a service to this country. It provided a new technique, a new factory, an efficient organisation and a service for the Bendigo community and for Australia. Consequently, we have no objection to its being foreign owned. It brought something new to Australia and therefore we welcome it. The Australian Labour Party should never be misrepresented on this matter. We have always said that we welcome foreign capital in these circumstances. I am speaking about the processed yam factory which is under item 460.
– Order! I remind the honorable member that that does not include a debate on foreign investment.
– In the last few minutes available to me, I want to mention several matters of concern to me. I am not a legal expert and I want to know the legal situation. We have ourselves on a merrygoround. In 1963, the Special Advisory Authority, as a result of a reference by the Minister for Trade and Industry, applied a 25 per cent, tariff on processed yarns imported into this country. The reference went to the Tariff Board for a proper and full inquiry, and the Tariff Board’s report, which we are debating now, recommended that the tariff be removed. In the meantime, the merry-go-round went a bit further and the matter again went to the Special Advisory Authority, Sir Frank Meere, who recommended the imposition of an emergency tariff of 2s. 6d. a lb. This is about 20 per cent. As I understand the position, if the Parliament today accepts the recommendation of the Tariff Board to remove the tariff, this will be the last word until the next report of the Tariff Board. The Special Advisory Authority has already given his decision and the new tariff has been applied, but now it would seem that we will remove an old tariff. What is the legal position? I do not know. We are on a ridiculous merrygoround. It is absurd, because we are debating a report that is old hat, obsolete and out of date. I would like the Minister to tell me where we stand. Is it competent for the recommendation of the Special Advisory Authority to be put into operation before the Parliament has rejected the recommendation of the Tariff Board? It would seem to me to be all topsy turvy
I spoke earlier of an all-party committee to inquire into this and other matters, and I think the Government should consider the suggestion. I will be quite frank. I have never had time to read all the Tariff Board reports. I am sure other honorable members have not had time to do so and I doubt whether even the honorable member for Wakefield has read all the reports of the Tariff Board. He certainly reads those that apply to protective tariffs because he wants to attack them here. As the honorable member for Indi said, he applies great pressure on some Tariff Board reports. But I am sure he has not read those reports that remove tariffs, such as this report does. I am sure he has not gone into the detail of this report. The evidence the Opposition put forward three weeks ago on this item and the subsequent events confirm that the removal of the 25 per cent, emergency tariff was a mistake. It was wrong. This recommendation should never have been accepted by the Government, but it got through somehow, la the circumstances it should not have been accepted.
I want to mention now what the Tariff Board had to say about this matter. It admitted that there was pressure from imports and that there could be pressure again from imports. As we know from recent history, the pressure started two days after the report was presented to the Parliament. The Board admitted that substantial increases were taking place in overseas capacity - in other words, that other countries were able to sell at a much cheaper price and in greater quantities through the increase in capacity. The Board admitted also that there could be a downward pressure in overseas prices. This turned out to be so, because the downward pressure came two days after the Tariff Board’s report was presented to this Parliament. The industry knew about it. It received cablegrams from Britain indicating that the product was available in large quantities at lower prices. The Board admitted too that it was not possible to predict the extent of any future price movements of processed yarns.
The report of the Board indicates clearly that the Board was not sure of itself. I ask: Why did the Government accept this report willy-nilly? Why did it accept the recommendation of the Board in this instance? My opinion and the opinion of the Opposition is that the Government made a mistake.
– The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton) asked me a question. The answer to his question is that the new duty recommended by the Special Advisory Authority has been imposed and will, of course, prevail until such time as the final report of the Tariff Board is considered by the Government. I direct the attention of the honorable member to the statement issued by the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) on the 22nd in which he explained the position.
This matter has been raised in similar form to that in which it was raised on other occasions, and I shall just refer to those earlier times. Experience shows that the position of the industry changes continually - and a changed position calls for changed action. For instance, when the Tariff Board went into this matter it found, as a result of evidence submitted by the throwsters, that the profits for 1962-63 were at a higher level than the Board normally associates with an application for an increase of the existing level of protection. It is true that the position has changed since then. At the end of its report in March the Tariff Board stated quite clearly -
It is apparent, however, that there has been pressure from imports in the not far distant past, and evidence by witnesses suggests that this could be repeated in the future. Substantial increases are at present taking place in overseas capacity.
Finally the Board pointed out very clearly that it noted that provisions exist for urgent action which could be used to counter a sudden adverse change in the position of the Australian industry. That, in fact, is what has occurred. The machinery exists for dealing with such matters. That machinery has been used and now the Tariff Board will be going into the matter again and making its recommendations to the Government.
.- One or two things have been said which I desire to rebut. I have observed that during the first five minutes of a speaker’s time, Sir, you have allowed him to do this, but that in the latter part of his speech you have made him keep to the subject matter of the debate. I want to refer to some things said by the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly), the ‘ honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) and the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters). The honorable member for Yarra said that as the honorable member for Wakefield was the Whip of the Liberal Party he was, in fact, speaking for the Government. I do not know that being the Whip gives a member any special authority to speak on behalf of the Government. The honorable member for Wakefield is not the Whip. But the honorable member for Yarra made that misstatement, I hope not intentionally. I think that what the honorable member for Yarra said was a misrepresentation of the highest order. Surely he is not so devoid of a knowledge of the practices of this House that he should make a statement like that by mistake.
The honorable member for Wakefield said that although the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Holten) speaks about Country Party policy on tariffs he does not get any support from Country Party members. He asked why Country Party members do not get up and support the honorable member for Indi. There is a new Stetson hat for anyone who can prove that 1 have not spoken on this subject in this House more than any other member of our party. The honorable member for Wakefield was completely wrong. The honorable member for Yarra referred to the fact in an effort to drive a wedge between the ranks of the Liberal Party and the Country Party. 1 am personally acquainted with the honorable member for Wakefield and I appreciate his friendship and sincerity and above all his integrity. I do not think he really meant to do this, but anybody listening to the debate could assume from what he said that he did mean it.
The honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) spoke about bringing goods into this country which are not wholly necessary. I interjected to say that we cannot always sell our goods overseas and never buy from overseas. Trade involves selling and buying. Certain countries supply us with goods that perhaps are not essentials, but the point is that the housewives and others in the community can decide whether or not to buy these articles. Some time ago in this regard mention was made of pickled chicken legs that were being imported from a country with which we have a very favourable trade balance. It is up to the housewife to decide whether she will buy these. These was not sense in the argument of the honorable member for Scullin. The honorable member went on record as saying that any import that affects employment in Australia should be prohibited.
– That is right.
– He says: “That is right”. It depends on how much good the import of the particular article is doing in assisting the sale of our products overseas. Its import might affect the employment of a very small number of people, but it may allow us to sell thousands, or perhaps even millions, of pounds worth of our goods overseas.
– Order! I suggest that the honorable member keep to the subject of the debate.
– I was about to draw your attention to that necessity, Mr. Chairman. I am pleased that you took action before I was able to do so.
– On the importation of goods to this country, whether they be yarns or anything else, the policy of the Australian Country Party rings out clear and unchallenged. As I understand it, the Country Party does not believe that tariffs should run riot. That would affect the very stability of the economy of the country. The Country Party believes in the imposition of reasonable tariffs where they are necessary. Honorable members will recall that the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton) said that the first thing that the honorable member for Wakefield wants to know is how much any Tariff Board action will cost the farming community. If that is the attitude of the honorable member for Wakefield I applaud it. If he keeps along that line he will render a great service to the Australian nation.
.- There have been several criticisms voiced about me which I find rather surprising. First, the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton) said that I had been critical of him because he had said that the independence of the Tariff Board should not be questioned. Let me make it quite clear that I was not being critical of the honorable member for Bendigo for coming here and defending the industries in his area. What I did say - and I hope I made it clear - was that I thought that, because of the political pressures that are exercised within electorates, it is important that the independence of the Board be beyond all doubt. I want the honorable member for Bendigo to understand that clearly. I was not suggesting that he was impugning the independence of the Board.
– I said that the Board should be independent.
– Yes, but if I remember rightly, you were saying that I was suggesting that you wanted a board that was not independent.
– It sounded like that.
– Then I am sorry if you got that impression. I certainly did not mean to convey such an impression.
The second point made by the honorable member for Bendigo is one that I have denied often in this House. It has been made in a carping kind of critical way continually, particularly by the Opposition. It is the suggestion that I am a free trader. As I say, I have often denied that. I have always made it quite clear that I believe in a wise and well implemented protective system. I realise that the tariff system has a part to play in any economy such as ours. The object of my exercise all the way through has been to try to point out that protection can be abused. I have attempted to do that in this case. The honorable member for Bendigo made the point that employment depended to a large extent on secondary industry. He should know that only about 28 per cent, of the work force is engaged in secondary industry.
– Is that a small percentage?
– No, but employment certainly does not depend entirely on secondary industry. The figures for Australia are typical of those for any developing country, and an increasing proportion of the work force does depend for its employment on tertiary industries.
Then the honorable member went on to say something else on which he ought to be corrected. I hope he will forgive me if I correct him. I hope he will not suggest that I am trying to be pontifical, because I am hot; I am merely setting the records straight. I would say that at least 40 per cent, of Australia’s secondary industries do not depend on tariffs at ali.
– I did not say they all did.
– You said most of them did. Most of them do not. There is a very important section of Australia’s secondary industry that is efficient and which provides a great deal of benefit to the nation without cost to the community. I refer to industries which have a natural potential and to those which are good at their jobs. To pretend that I have advocated a free trade policy because I have attacked some particular duty that I have thought unduly high is unworthy of those honorable members who have made the suggestion. I remind honorable members that under the system by means of which these proposals come before us we are presented with 20 or 39 proposals together. Would honorable members have me speak on each one. whether I agree with it or not?
– I am glad to hear that. I would not like to do it, and I am sure other people would not like me to do it. Because so many come together, one tends, naturally, to select those of which one is critical for particular reasons. Let me revert briefly to the statements made by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Holten^ and referred to by the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull). The honorable member for Indi said that I had some ulterior motive. The honorable member for Mallee denied that I was trying to drive a wedge between two political parties. I have not a tremendous knowledge of party politics. The whole object of the exercise in which 1 have been engaged has been to present a reasoned case for a wise protective system. For my part, personalities certainly do not enter into it. They do not enter into it one little bit.
– Then why did you bring us into it?
– I did not bring you into it. I brought the Country Party into it deliberately because I have been looking anxiously for aid from the Country Party whose voice I would have thought would have been raised to help me on this occasion. It has helped me in some cases.
– It has helped you.
– The honorable member for Mallee has been helpful, but we have so many stalwarts of primary industry in the Country Party that I have been looking with longing eyes to the time when they will get up and help me in this exercise in which I am engaged - the presentation of a reasoned case for a clearer look at our tariff policy, not for a wholesale reduction of duties. I would not suggest a wholesale reduction of duties for one moment, but 1 do ask for a recognition of the fact that Australian exporter’s costs are affected adversely in many cases when tariffs get too high. There is nothing party political in this. I am merely saying that I would naturally expect my allies to come from the group in the corner of the chamber. I have continued to look with longing eyes for support from those people whom I believe support the general principles that I support and who believe that the primary producer has an important part to play in the economy, particularly now that the need for exports is going to be increasingly great. To suggest that I have been trying to drive a wedge between the two parties is silly. What I am doing is looking round for allies in a battle in which I think, generally speaking, honorable members on the crossbenches and I have a great deal in common.
– Has not the honorable member been looking for support from the Liberal Party, too?
– I do not pretend to speak for the Liberal Party.
– Order! I suggest to the honorable member for Wakefield that all this has nothing to do with the subject before the Committee at this stage.
– Statements have been made during this debate-
– Order! I have been lenient in allowing the honorable member for Wakefield to deal with the statements which were made by previous speakers during the course of the debate. I think the debate has ranged very wide of the subject before the Committee and I suggest now, as I did earlier, that honorable members come back to the item under discussion.
– I thank you for your ruling. I feel that I have said all I can on the particular item under consideration. I was only concerned to rebut the criticism that has been made of me personally. As it is not in order for me to pursue that line, I shall reluctantly resume my seat.
Question put -
That Item 460 be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 16
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Remainder of Bill - by leave - taken as a whole, and agreed to.
Customs Tariff (Canada Preference)
Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Bill 1965.
Bills - by leave - taken as a whole together, and agreed to.
Bills reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bills (on motion by Mr. Bury) together read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 6.7 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from 14th October (vide page 1896), on motion by Mr. Anthony -
That the House take note of the following paper -
The Future Canberra - A long range plan for land use and civic design - Report by National Capital Development Commission.
– Mr. Speaker, the item of business that we are now to discuss has achieved the sort of rapid promotion that a good soldier would dream about. It has, as it were, risen from gunner to Commander, Royal Artillery, in a matter of about three seconds. From the humble position of No. 22 on the notice paper, in which it could not have been expected to be debated probably for another two weeks, it has been advanced to the top of the bill and to the prima donna hour.
I must admit that this sudden transition has caught me less well prepared than I should have liked to have been to discuss this excellent report by the National Capital Development Commission, which is designated “The Future Canberra”. It deals with the projected physical development of Canberra beyond the original plan for the city. I suggest to the House that the future Canberra exists in more than the maps, plans, graphs and projections of this report, excellent though they may be and essential as they are to the Commission, which is charged with responsibility for the planning and construction of Canberra but not its administration. I suggest that the future Canberra lies not so much in maps, plans, graphs and projections as in the lives, hopes and aspirations of the people of this city. The present and the ultimate city should provide the opportunity for people to lead full lives and to see their hopes fulfilled and their aspirations achieved. It is to this thought that I want to direct my remarks in the minutes that are available to me.
The population of Canberra at present is approximately 85,000. Official projections indicate a population of 100,000 by 1967. The National Capital Development Commission is planning on estimates that there will be 250,000 people in Canberra by 1984-85. That is no longer the distant future. It is almost tomorrow. It means that, by the time today’s baby is having his 21st birthday - and, incidentally, putting his name on the electoral roll - the city’s population will have more than trebled the present figure.
– I hope that he will then be voting for a member who will have full voting rights in this House.
– I hope that he will vote for the right candidate, too. It is obvious, Mr. Speaker, that long before that time we shall need in this city avenues of employment far greater than are presently available if our young people, well trained in our excellent high schools, our technical college and our university, are to be encouraged and enabled to remain in this community. Recruitment into the Public Service, and into commercial and business enterprises, and employment in the service and distribution industries will not be enough, although, in addition, there will still be a large field of employment in the apprenticeship trades and in professions associated with the building industry, which must continue to expand. It seems to me that whatever major industries can be established must be in some way related to the primary production of the region.
There should be possibilities here for food processing factories using cereal products, root crops, fruit and vegetables. This development would be greatly helped by the opening up of the potentially rich agricultural areas which are in the Canberra region but which are outside the boundaries of the Australian Capital Territory. It has been claimed, for example, that a major road linking Canberra with Tumut, through Brindabella, would open up extensive areas of rich country capable of producing anything, even citrus. Such a road would also provide access to great stands of magnificent mountain ash and other native timbers as well as developing pine forests controlled by the Forestry Commission of New South Wales. Construction of this road with financial assistance from the Commonwealth was recommended as long ago as 1959 by the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory, but so far the Commonwealth has failed to act on this recommendation. 1 believe that the establishment of food processing factories could encourage a more varied pattern of land usage within the Territory. Many areas at present used only for grazing could be immensely productive of cereals and root crops of many descriptions. Possibilities for orcharding and for berry fruits also are excellent in this area. It has been suggested that the proximity of maturing pine plantations could support paper pulp and newsprint mills, and there could be scope for the development of other forest products.
But, Mr. Speaker, perhaps the best opportunity for developing the industries that will provide the varied avenues of employment that we should have for the young people of this city lies in the possibilities for wool scouring and processing. I believe that this activity could be undertaken here. Canberra is in the very heart of some of the best wool producing country in Australia, and 1 see no reason why this city could not maintain large woollen and knitting mills. Launceston, in Tasmania, with a population of only 58,000, has several large spinning and weaving mills and various factories engaged in the production of woollen goods. The largest of these enterprises, Patons and Baldwins (Australia) Ltd., provides a worthwhile example. In a city of 58,000 people, it provides employment for 2,000 workers, working two shifts regularly and sometimes three. In that city there are no fewer than four other mills employing between them about 1,000 people. Canberra, which is approaching a population of 100,000 - indeed, we are more than approaching it; we are galloping towards it - and which is assured of progression within 20 years to more than twice that total, should be able to maintain a clothing facory. There should be many other possibilities also in electronics and light industries of that kind. Touching now on a matter that will be debated in the House later this week, I suggest that we could benefit from a decision by the Commonwealth to establish here a teachers’ training college, which would provide another avenue of employmen for young people and enable them to remain in this community while they train.
There are many ways in which the Commonwealth could offer encouragement and assistance to attract industry here. For example, leaseholds could be offered to major undertakings free if need be. If we recognise the need to attract industries to this area and to provide varied avenues of employment for young people in this city, the Commonwealth should look to the possibility of offering inducements to large undertakings to establish themselves here. One way would be to offer leaseholds free. It is to be remembered that the Commonwealth owns all the land within the city area and most of the land in the Territory outside the city boundaries. Other inducements could be low cost electricity and low cost water. I know that water supply is rather a sore point at present. Although we have an adequate basic supply, we have inadequate piping and reticulation services. Under the drive of the present Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) who, let me say to the House, is doing an excellent job, that problem is being overtaken now. It is a problem that has remained here far too long, but at last we see steps being taken and contracts let for the construction of the gravity main from the Bendora Dam which will bring to this city a water supply adequate not only for domestic purposes but also for the establishment and maintenance of the industries that I believe we should have.
Another way in which the Commonwealth could provide inducement to large undertakings would be by providing schemes for low cost housing for workers. I use the term “ low cost housing “ not to mean inferior housing but housing constructed by the means now being developed by which attractive housing can be built on a low cost basis. The Commonwealth could outdo the States in offering development loans for industries prepared to establish in country areas, and ours is a city in the heart of a country region. The thinking that is going on must be converted into planning and into action if we are to attract the industries that we must have here if we are to become a really great city. The name of the report that we are discussing, of course, is “ The Future Canberra “. But not only are there problems iri the employment field which must be met. We talk glibly of increasing our population from today’s 85,000 to 250,000 in the space of 20 years. We have to give more thought to where these people are going to be housed, how they are to live, where they are to be employed, where they will worship and all the other necessities that go to make a complete, thriving and happy community.
One of the problems that will have to be resolved is the disposal of land - the preparation of land for use for home building, for office construction, for the establishment of factories and all the rest of the development that is needed. This is another matter upon which I am pleased to say that the present Minister for the Interior has acted. He has acted on the advice of his Advisory Council. I do not always agree with the advice that is given by the Advisory Council to the Minister, but in this case he has acted on a recommendation from the Advisory Council and has asked the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory to investigate the need for the release of more land within the city. Although 1 have not seen the terms of reference - I suppose they are not yet available - J would assume that they would include all the factors concerned with the preparation and release of land for all civic purposes in Canberra. The report touches on this question in chapter 2 which deals with the outline plan. The report states -
In the particular situation that exists in Canberra, in which the land is owned by the Crown, the authorities responsible for planning are presented with an opportunity, almost unique as far as Australia is concerned, of fashioning growth in a manner which will achieve the highest conceivable measure of convenience and amenity for the resident’s together with the character and qualities required by the Government for areas in which national institutions are located. The problem of preparing a new plan is an exercise in choice and judgment in the light of all the known facts tempered by an assessment of the resources available.
Of course, we must come back always to the resources that are available. I would amend that description to say: “The resources that are made available “. I believe that the resources are available and I believe that they should be made available to the National Capital Development Commission for this task.
On the subject of the scarcity of land - wc speak in Canberra of a land famine because never is sufficient land released to meet the demand that exists for home construction I quote from the annual report of L. J. Hooker Ltd., a firm established in Canberra. I believe that there is some truth in the report for the previous financial year where it says -
The old conception of Canberra as a parasite growth on the nation is also fast being dispelled. Australians generally are much more conscious of the value of a National Capital and, more important still, are beginning to realise that the prices which the Government is obtaining for its developed sites in Canberra and the income which is building up from its leases, make the Capital Territory probably the greatest real estate development of all time. Perhaps if people were informed that the dearest price paid by the Government for the land on which Canberra is built was approximately £4 7s. 6d. per acre, and that portion which is now being sold is making a premium on the lease of probably nothing less than £4,000 per acre, of which a fraction would cover development and holding costs, there would be less outcry about an increased Government allocation for the development of the city.
In the Budget presented in this House in 1964 the amount made available for the National Capital Development Commission for works and services was £15,400,000, which was almost £H million more than was made available in the previous year. The whole of that allocation was expended, but from that allocation the Commission was able to allot only sufficient to build 800 houses and 76 flats at a cost of £3,460,000. In addition it was able to allocate £2,207,000 to provide services to subdivisions for Government and private home construction for Government officers and private commercial builders. One of the greatest tragedies in this great period of development in Canberra has been the failure of the Commonwealth to provide sufficient funds for housing. It is true that today the Commonwealth is building only slightly more than half the number of family dwellings a year that it was building six years ago. We have an increase in population of approximately 7,000 a year and we are building between 700 and 800 houses a year. More than 3,000 people are on the waiting list for housing in Canberra today and the waiting time for a cottage on today’s figures is about three years. It seems to me that there is a duty on the Commonwealth, which is responsible for the development of Canberra and the provision of funds for the National Capital Development Commission to carry out its task, to see that the allocation is sufficient to enable a doubling of the housing programme and to double the vote available for the provision of services to sub-divisions for private home development not only to increase its own programme of home building for rental but also to make it easier and cheaper for people to secure land and build their own homes in Canberra.
There are, of course, a dozen and one matters on which one could speak in reference to this report, but in the space of 20 minutes which is available it is just not possible to touch on all of them. But there are many things that need to be spoken about. For example, we need to speak about the form of government. We still await a decision on the ultimate form of government for the Capital Territory. There has been report after report suggesting, forms of government, but we still do not know and there has still been no decision. Again I pay tribute to the present Minister for the Interior. He has commenced an inquiry into the means of separating what are properly national expenditures and what could properly be regarded as expenditures for which the people of this city should accept responsibility. At last we are on the way, I hope, to some form of self-government. At present in this capital city, this city of 85,000 people which is engaged in the very business of government and where in the senior brackets the public servants are actually framing the government’s policy, we are denied the right that is enjoyed by every other resident of this Commonwealth. We are denied the right that belongs to the people in Kookabookra or Mogg’s Swamp or anywhere else - the right to govern ourselves in our day by day affairs. This must come, and 1 hope that it will come quickly, whether it be by legislative council, by city council or by some other form of municipal council. The people of Canberra should no longer be denied the right to govern themselves and they should no longer be allowed to escape the responsibility of governing themselves. Rights bring responsibilities. That is one of the great lacks in Canberra at present. This will never be a great city and will never be the future Canberra which is envisaged in the report until the people are given that right and are required to accept that responsibility.
.- I wish to associate myself with this important debate. I believe that I have an obligation to do so because my party has honoured me by appointing me, together with the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) and Senators Tangney and Toohey, to the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory. Each of us in this Parliament has devoted himself to the general welfare of the country and has specialised, to a certain degree, in certain fields. Whilst I concentrate my efforts on the advancement of my home State and its citizens, I find some time to view and to associate myself with the development of Canberra, the capital city of the nation. I derive a great deal of pleasure from that.
Australia is very fortunate in having had the statesmen who directed the welfare of the nation some two generations ago. It is particularly fortunate in having had that irrepressible, driving, and to some degree irresponsible, Minister for Home Affairs, Mr. King O’Malley, who decided that this was to be the place for the capital city of Australia and took action to acquire the sheep stations which lent themselves to the planning and development of the magnificent city that we have today. We are fortunate in that the area was sheep grazing country with nothing other than a few homesteads and shepherds’ cottages on it. That gave the planners a grand opportunity. It is to the credit of the founders of this city that the designer, Mr. Burley Griffin, at last has been honoured by having his name given to the centrepiece, as it were, of the city - the lake which covers the vast area of waste land which was flooded periodically after heavy rain. The lake is now a jewel in the crown of Canberra. This is a great city. It will grow and become even more beautiful as Australia develops and as the government of the nation is prepared to spend more and more money on its development. I believe that, although there may be some envy, there can be no criticism of the amount of money that is spent on the development of Canberra.
The principal industry in Canberra today is the tourist industry. The one million people who come here every year want to sec something that really fills them with pride and makes them feel justified in spending the time, energy and money that they spend in coming to visit Canberra. The large number of people who visit the Australian War Memorial, and who go away very loud in their praises of that wonderful place and also of the beauties of Canberra, justifies the action of the Government in continuing the development of the city. The money spent on that development is not begrudged, but there is a degree of envy among people in the other capital cities who see the great civic works which are being carried out here and which are not being carried out in the other capital cities. I speak with some knowledge of my home city of Brisbane, the capital of the State of Queensland. But I am prepared to be big enough - I know that the vast majority of the electors of the division that I represent are, too - to take the right view of this matter.
Canberra was planned to accommodate about 73,000 people; but, as Australia has progressed in recent times, the population has outstripped the plans for development of the city. If I were bold enough, I would ask for permission to have the whole of the report that we are discussing, “The Future Canberra “, incorporated in “ Hansard “ so that all the citizens of Australia could read it; but I would not presume to impose on the indulgence of the House to that extent.
– People can buy copies of it from Angus and Robertson Limited for two guineas each.
– Yes, I understand that that is so. According to the report, the projected population is 400,000 and that is in the not very distant future. It is good to see a city developing at such a rate in this delightful area. The action of the Government in recent times, in bringing the Commonwealth Public Service to the National Capital with some degree of speed, is 10 be commended. I hope that it will be my privilege to be in this Parliament when the whole of the administrative section of the Commonwealth Public Service is centred in Canberra. Contrary to the opinion expressed by my friend from Darling (Mr. Clark), I hope that I will not be an old man when that has been achieved. I hope that the present rate of growth in Canberra will be maintained and perhaps accelerated.
I know that the National Capital Development Commission has plans for the very rapid development of Canberra. Only recently it was my privilege to read a report which stated that the Commission had made provision for the acquisition of 15,000 acres of land in the north western part of Canberra, which is called Belconnen. It is expected that the development of that area will provide accommodation for 122,000 people. At present, most of the development is taking place in the south western part of Canberra, in what is called the Woden valley. Canberra is planned in a way that is the envy of the people of many cities. We are fortunate that it is a young city, many parts of which are merely paddocks at the present time. That gives the planners a golden opportunity to give expression to their ideas and opinions.
At the present time, in the heart of the city, on the southern side of the lake, in the parliamentary triangle, there is a good deal of traffic congestion. This is one of the weaknesses that exist at the moment. When the streets were planned by Mr. Burley Griffin there was no thought of the ownership of motor cars by the great mass of the people. In those days motor cars were merely a dream. Today large buildings are being erected in the parliamentary triangle for the administration of Australia through the Commonwealth Public Service, and almost everybody who works in those buildings possesses a motor car. Transportation in Canberra is not usually by public transport, that is, by bus. The individual uses his motor car to go to and from work. The streets which were designed to carry only moving vehicles are now being used for parking vehicles.
I have spoken on the next aspect on other occasions, often to the horror of some of my colleagues, but 1 believe that in a city planned as Canberra is planned the area made available for single unit dwellings is too large, particularly compared with the provision in other cities. Canberra is a city of vast open spaces. In every district are large parks, playing fields and open spaces for use by the people, and I can see no reason why large blocks should be provided for single unit dwellings. The economic factor must be faced in this regard, because the Commission insists on the provision of all services before land is made available. This is not normal practice in other cities. However, it is a good feature making for good planning and for a good city. No land is made available until all services - water, electricity, sewerage, roads and kerbing - are provided. All other cities in Australia would strive for this requirement, and it is a goal which Canberra has already achieved.
The siting of offices in various areas where there are large concentrations of public servants ensures that there is no excessive concentration of employees in one set area. The plan contained in the excellent publication “The Future Canberra” shows that the population, from an employment viewpoint, is being decentralised. Recently the Royal Australian Mint has been established in the Woden Valley area. Provided the Mint employees reside near their employment there will be no need for them to use the transport facilities and roads going to the heart of the city. This document shows that offices will be established in other parts of Canberra. Provision is made for the employment of 6,000 persons in the Woden Valley. These persons will be employed by the Government and by commerce. Ultimately in the heart of the city 23,000 persons will be engaged in com merce. This, of course, is the ultimate planning of the Commission. In the parliamentary triangle, with which we are most concerned, provision will be made for the employment of 8,000 public servants.
The Commission is very concerned, as are honorable members, with the controversy that has developed recently about the siting of the future Parliament House. The Commission is definitely of opinion that the building should be constructed on the lake side. Whether the Commission will be forced to change its mind I cannot say, but as a private member I believe that there would be no more beautiful setting for the future Parliament House, which I hope will be erected in the not very distant future, than on the site on the south bank of Lake Burley Griffin. Already the Commission has made preparations for the construction of the future Parliament House and has given some rough ideas of the type of building which should be erected. I hope that soon the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), as spokesman for the Government, will give the green light to the Commission to go ahead with plans for the construction of the future Parliament House.
Other bodies are following the excellent lead of the National Capital Development Commission in the construction of modern buildings. It is pleasing to note that private industry has erected modern office blocks for private business. It is a pleasure to visit the shopping area of Civic and to go through the Monaro Mall, which is a fine example for other cities. Private industry is playing an important role in the architectural development of Canberra. I was happy to read recently that the Roman Catholic Church proposes to erect a cathedral in Canberra. This will be a national shrine. It will be another architectural adornment in Canberra. It will be another jewel in a crown of beautiful buildings which grace this city at present.
The disease which has afflicted many of the older cities of the world and which it is feared will afflict some Australian cities - namely, traffic congestion and the slow movement of traffic in the heart of the city, which is causing people to move from the city and sounding the death knell of city business areas - will never grip Canberra because of the way in which the city has been planned and the way in which that plan has been followed by the developers. In generations to come Canberra will be the envy of other nations. It has been planned to present the Australian outlook of spaciousness. Australia is a land of 3 million square miles and in Canberra spaciousness is evident in the present development and in the future planning. I hope that in this great city we will always be able to maintain the Australian outlook and that the development by the Government and by private enterprise will continue as it has done, framed by parklands containing trees of different colours at this delightful time of the year, the autumn.
It is a grand experience to be a member of the Parliament in Canberra. It is a great thrill to walk to the House each morning through parklands or to drive along the roads and to see the glorious trees in all the beautiful colours nature has provided. I believe, Mr. Speaker, that we are all priviledged to play a part in the development of this grand city. I commend the National Capital Development Commission for the work it has done and I hope that the Government will continue to aid the Commission in the important developmental work it is doing for this great city of Canberra.
.- While this debate is based upon the statement delivered by the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony), under the heading “The Future Canberra “, I note with interest that quite recently the Minister introduced to the public of Australia a book entitled “The Future Canberra”, produced by the National Capital Development Commission. I am sure that it was with very great pride that the Minister released the book to the public. If I recall the occasion correctly, he indicated as much in the remarks he made when introducing the book. I believe that not only the Minister’s statement, which is now the subject of debate, but also the book to which I have referred, deserve to be commended, and we cannot commend the book without commending the National Capital Development Commisson, which is administered by the Minister for the Interior himself.
I have here a copy of the volume entitled “The Future Canberra”. I hear honorable members opposite suggesting that I hold it up. I am very glad to do so. It is an excellent production, published by Angus & Robertson Ltd. at the request of the National Capital Development Commission. I note that most of the photographs in it were produced by our own experts in the Australian News and Information Bureau. A tribute appears in the publication to certain other people who produced some of the photographs, and also to the work of Mr. Kenneth Jack, who supplied some of the excellent sketches.
All of us have noted with very great appreciation a change in recent years in the attitude of many people residing in the various States who may never have had the privilege of visiting this Federal Capital. The better appreciation of Canberra which has become evident encourages some of us to contrast the things that were said about the Federal Capital a few years ago with the opinions prevailing today. In distant Western Australia, from which State I have the privilege to come as one of its representatives, there was current a few years ago a constant stream of criticism, it being frequently alleged that the Federal Capital was receiving too great an appropriation for its developmental expenditure. However, I have noticed that of the very many tourists from Western Australia who have visited the Federal Capital in recent years virtually all have returned to their home State with most commendatory reports of what they had seen. I personally have noticed with great appreciation the change of attitude of people who have come here as critics and who have gone away full of praise. It is important to note that criticism of Canberra invariably comes from those people who have never seen it.
In recent years we have had the pleasure of seeing the Burley Griffin plan being brought closer to fulfilment by the completion of the central lake. Without any shadow of doubt the lake scheme has added considerably to the attractiveness of this lovely city. Only a couple of days ago the annual Anzac Day ceremony was carried out at the Australian War Memorial, and the newly completed Anzac Parade, along which one looks from the War Memorial to Parliament House, was used for that ceremony. Although most of us have been back in Canberra a matter of hours only and were not privileged to take part in the Anzac Day ceremony here, we have heard the remarks of many residents that the ceremony was greatly enhanced by lae use of the newly developed Anzac Parade. Here again we have an example of the way various features of the capital are being consistently improved, and again 1 say that the National Capital Development Commission is worthy of praise.
The work of the Commission has been extremely heavy. The Commission was established at a time when a new bridge was required, and the Commissioners were given the heavy responsibility of moving quickly into action so the public could see something being done without delay. I do not mean to imply, of course, that nothing had been done previously, but there had not been the consistency of development that one could have desired. From the ‘time that Mr. Overall and those associated with him assumed their responsibilities we could not help but note the development that was apparent from day to day and from month to month. When we receive the annual reports of the Commission we read avidly not only of what has been achieved in the previous year but also of what is being planned for the years ahead. This is the kind of planning which so many of us, members and senators, have advocated in so many areas of Australia’s development, and which is of such vital importance to the development of the future Canberra.
I would like to make some reference to the improvement in housing. I make the initial comment that some mistakes were made in the early years. There are still to be seen groups of houses, hidden away in some Canberra suburbs, which are not up to the desired standard. Such errors are no longer made and I believe that the standard of housing now is very acceptable indeed. We can give the Minister some commendation for this.
– You are dreaming.
– The honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory may raise his voice even more strongly later on and tell us why he believes that I am dreaming. Let him make his protest and tell us what new types and designs of houses are required. Surely any man with only one eye must appreciate that what is being done today is infinitely better and on a much wider scale than what was done in earlier years. I suggest that the honorable member should seek another opportunity to raise his voice on this subject.
I wish also to refer to the Civic Centre and some of the other shopping centres which we have seen developed from very small beginnings to the thriving centres that exist today. I believe that the various buildings in Civic Centre are most acceptable indeed. One cannot fail to be impressed by some of the major shopping buildings, such as the Monaro Mall. However, when I utter these words of praise of many of the buildings that have recently been erected, I remain aware, as one who visits Canberra only for the sittings of the Parliament and for a few extra days each year, that there are still temporary buildings which we would like to see disappear completely and quickly. We seem to be clinging to many of these buildings, some of which are housing Commonwealth Departments. It is apparent that further funds must be appropriated in the interests of Commonwealth Departments housed in buildings provided so many years ago as temporary accommodation. I trust that before I finish I will have an opportunity to refer to our own Parliament House as a temporary structure. Some of these temporary buildings, which can be seen as one comes from the airport and crosses the bridge in this direction, are far from desirable. Of course temporary structures are not confined to Canberra. In many of our capital cities there is reclamation work waiting to be done and there are many old buildings that should be torn down. We must be content to have these buildings removed gradually; they cannot all be torn down overnight.
Much has been said in this Parliament about local government for the Australian Capital Territory. I find myself in very close agreement on this subject with the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser). I believe that people in Australia, wherever they live, have a right to be given responsibility and should be desirous of accepting responsibility at the various levels of government, local government, State government or its equivalent. But when we come to the privileged residents of the Australian Capital Territory - a term which is regularly used by those who do not live here - we find that many of them are not desirous, apparently, of accepting the full responsibility of ratepayers and of taking their place in a community where local government will be similar in status to that to which we are accustomed in other parts of Australia. I have watched with interest the development of the Advisory Council in Canberra and I appreciate that there are men and women who, over the years, have given of themselves freely as members of the Council. Some have been personal friends of mine and I am well aware of the sacrifices that they have made, just as other men and women have made in local government in other parts of Australia. But I believe that as the population increases quickly in Canberra there must be an equivalent movement at the level of local government. So I express the hope that not only will there be some measure of local government for the Australian Capital Territory but also that the status of the member who represents the Australian Capital Territory will soon be the same as is enjoyed by other members of this House. We cannot forget that at present the member for the Australian Capital Territory is not free to exercise a vote on matters that do not relate to the Territory. The only proviso for full representation is that this cannot be granted until the population and the number of persons on the electoral roll reach the acceptable level.
As we talk of the development of the Federal Capital I feel that we should note again the figures which indicate just how rapid has been the development that we debate. In the last decade the population of Canberra has increased from 28,000 to more than 80,000. The very excellent book which has been referred to and the Minister’s statement indicate that plans have now been approved, in outline at least, for a population in this Federal Capital of 250,000. So as we talk of these matters tonight we have a responsibility to look into the future. Not only will this place attract Commonwealth public servants who will man the centres of major departments of Commonwealth activity but there must also be other activity which will develop around the Federal Capital as we have known it in years past. Development of this kind carries with it a terrific strain and, because thousands of public servants have flocked here from Melbourne and Sydney at the request of the Government so that there may be a centralised control here of all departments of the Commonwealth, there has been a substantial allocation of funds. Without those funds we would not have seen the city develop to the stage it has reached today. I believe, therefore, that we should pay our tribute to the Government which has seen to it that there has been this consistent development, this fundamental planning and the approval to look into the future and to make provision by funds for the steady work that is required.
I have spoken about the Federal electorate status and about this excellent volume. If more time were available I would be happy to move through the various chapters of the book to remind honorable members, as I would remind myself, of some of the amazing achievements in such a relatively short time. Next year we all will face the impact of the new currency. How pleasing it is to know that for the first time Australia will have its own mint, which is now open and which is preparing for the introduction of decimal currency. This is not a building that has been thrown up quickly. It has been designed by those dedicated architects of the National Capital Development Commission. As well as serving an essential purpose, the building is functional and fits into the whole design of the city.
Now I come to the facilities required for this Parliament. This is not just a selfish expression of opinion by an elected member. There are members and senators who have served in this building as the elected representatives of the people for much longer than I have, but in my nine or ten years’ experience I have seen the facilities of this Parliament House stretched to breaking point. We have had to influence the Presiding Officers and the Government to expand this building when we would rather have had a new Parliament House provided more quickly. But the money being spent on extra office accommodation which we will be so pleased to use, probably from August next, will not be wasted because although this is a temporary Parliament House it is still a substantial building which for many years will be used for one government purpose or another, and the offices now being built will be used in accordance with that concept. But we are talking of a Parliament House which will be a traditional building, built to meet the demands of the future development of this Parliament- a building which will take its place as one of the feature and central buildings of the whole plan. As for the siting of the new Parliament House, I speak tonight enthusiastically in support of the location in the present plan. I hope that the new Parliament House will come to fruition in the city’s parliamentary triangle, situated in the splendid position on the edge of the lake. I am aware, of course, that some critics feel that there is a better site on which Parliament House could be built. I express the hope that the new Parliament House will not be a figment of our imagination but that the Government, through our young and virile Minister for the Interior, to whom we pay a tribute tonight, will see that an early and regular appropriation of funds is made year by year even before the expenditure has to be faced so that the impact of a costly but splendid building will not be felt, as so often a large task makes its impact upon a Federal budget.
I am delighted tonight, at very short notice, to make my comments in this fashion. I came to Canberra as a member of this Parliament some nine or more years ago. I had visited the Federal Capital only fleetingly some years before. When I came here as a member I was staggered at the development that had taken place in those nine years but, in my regular contact with Canberra since, I have often stood amazed, year by year, as I have seen the population increase and so many buildings erected. Like so many other honorable members I think Canberra is one of the most pleasant places in Australia. This book “ The Future Canberra “ will stand for years to come as a memorial to those who have served us so well on the National Capital Development Commission and in 101 other spheres of activity. Canberra is a place we may hail with delight. We can pay a tribute not only to the early planning of Walter Burley Griffin but also to those who have administered the Department of the Interior over the years, to the men and women who have served on the Advisory Council and to those who have been associated with the production of such works as this book to which I have referred. Tonight, we have an opportunity of placing on record our thanks to all those people for their enthusiasm and dedication and for a task well done. Let us hail the future Canberra with all the enthusiasm possible. Let us put our mark of approval upon any sensible amount of funds which has to be spent in creating the Canberra of the future - the Federal Capital of Australia. Let it be a place of which we all shall ever be proud.
.- in reply- I would like to reply to the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver) who said that the Australian Capital Territory has a vigorous and virile Minister at the helm. Judging by the sound of my voice tonight I do not think many would say that I am virile at the moment. I am pleased that “ The Future Canberra “ has had an airing in the Parliament tonight. I am sorry that more honorable members have not spoken in the debate. Canberra is an exciting place. As the Minister in charge of it, I take a great deal of pride in it. I find that my job is a wonderful and interesting one. Many problems arise, but there is a great deal of satisfaction in trying to solve them.
Canberra was first selected by a surveyor named Scrivener who was with the New South Wales Government. He selected the site because an artificial lake could be made and around it could be built a beautiful city. This site having been accepted, a world contest was held for a design of a city. This was won by an American town planner named Walter Burley Griffin. He prepared a plan for a city of 25,000 people. This target was reached after some years, but he had made provision for the city to take up to 75,000 people. Last year, we passed the figure of 75,000 and it was therefore necessary to prepare a second plan. This is the plan I have presented to Parliament in the document “The Future Canberra”. This is a detailed town plan to take the population of Canberra up to 250,000. That figure will be reached in about 20 years’ time. Today, we are increasing our population by about 10,000 a year. Therefore, by 1984 or 1985 we will reach the figure of 250,000.
Honorable members who have spoken here tonight have made constructive comments about Canberra. Some of these comments have been critical, and I accept them. Some of them are fair; very few of them are unfair. I would like to reply to the remarks of the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) on housing. It is true that we have a housing problem in Canberra. The big influx of population creates difficulties in meeting the demand for houses. On an average, we are building 800 houses a year, but we are concentrating mainly on encouraging private individuals to build their own homes and on encouraging developers to build homes here and sell them, so that public moneys will not be used for this purpose. The number of houses being built privately is increasing rapidly. It is true, as the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory said, that we built more homes in 1958-59 than we are building now. In that year, the Government built 976 homes. More homes were built then than now because at that time we had a large influx of Service personnel. We had a large movement of Service personnel into Canberra so that we could centralise departments such as the Army, Navy, Air Force and Defence. The Commonwealth had the obligation of providing housing for these people. But today we are trying to restrict the movements of Commonwealth public servants into Canberra to take up administrative jobs to 360 a year. We are providing accommodation for these people if they want it and we are also trying to meet the housing demand, in particular the demand that comes from people who cannot afford to build their own homes.
In 1960-61, 1,180 houses were built. Of these, 729 were built by the Government. At this time, private enterprise was building only about 50 per cent, of the homes in Canberra. In the year just completed, 1964- 65, we built only 800 homes, but the total number of residences completed in Canberra was 2,300. So, some 1,500 residences were built by private individuals. We are pleased that so many individuals have sufficient confidence to invest their capital in Canberra.
The honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory said that we should be heading towards self-government, and I agree wholeheartedly with him. I am aiming to achieve this objective, but it is not a simple matter. The matter of selfgovernment in the National Capital is most complicated and intricate. The standards of a national capital must be maintained and the onus of this should not be placed on the local citizens. If the complete onus of building a national capital were placed on the local citizens, their local government charges would be tremendous. If these charges were not tremendous, the standards would drop considerably, and I do not think we want either one of these alternatives. My ambition is to have an examination made so that we may be able to segregate the national responsibilities in the City of Canberra, the State responsibilities and the municipal responsibilities. I say “State responsibilities”, although Canberra is not part of a State, lt is all Commonwealth. But 1 do not think it would be fair to add State responsibilities to the municipal responsibilities. ( have in mind such matters as schools and other civic affairs for which a State government is normally responsible. As a case in point, let us consider the gardens of Canberra, the lawns and the parks. We must try to decide which of the parklands are a national responsibility, which are a Slate responsibility, such as the parklands mound civic areas, schools and ovals, and which are purely municipal responsibilities. This is very difficult, and this difficulty arises in every sphere of activity in Canberra. We must discover how to determine the matters for which the local people should be responsible and the matters for which they should not be responsible. But do not let us be defeatists about this. Let us try to get on with the job and give the local people the responsibility to look after certain of their affairs.
As the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Coutts) said, the image of the national capital is changing in the minds of Australians as a whole. I believe that in the last two or three years Australians as a whole have started to accept the National Capital for what it is. The image that I am trying to create amongst Australians as a whole is that the National Capital belongs to them as much as it does to any person who lives in Canberra. This is their capital; this is a place in Australia that belongs to no State and yet belongs to every individual. It is from Canberra that the expression of the Australian people is exhibited to people from other parts of the world. It is Canberra that unites all the people and all the States together as one body. Therefore, I think it is most important that Canberra should be a place of which everyone can be proud and which has the respect of everyone. Today, many of our international visitors come only to Canberra. Some may visit one or two other places. But if they are impressed with Canberra, if they gather the atmosphere of growth and dynamism and if they feel that this place is expanding and exploding, they will have the impression that Australia as a whole is a nation on the move, a nation with aspirations, ambitions, ideals and aims. I believe that the people who visit Canberra today leave with this impression of Australia as a whole.
I can understand people who come from other areas, particularly local councillors, resenting somewhat the high standards that are set in Canberra. I can understand their viewpoint; but we must have a starting point. And what better starting point could there be than the National Capital? Here we have standards at which everybody else in Australia can aim. If we build new schools, let us build new schools of a first class standard so that others may come here, get ideas and plan schools of similar quality.
The honorable member for Griffith mentioned car parking around Parliament House. At the moment the parking problem is a little accentuated because the street on the eastern side of Parliament House is blocked off by the work on the extension that is taking place. But there are other parking facilities near Parliament House. Over at West Block there is a large parking area.
From time to time people have the idea that the Commonwealth Government is allocating too much money to the development of the National Capital. They have this impression merely because they do not know all the facts. When an appropriation is made to the National Capital Development Commission - as the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory pointed out, last year it was £15.3 million - it represents a complete allocation for all of the functions of this Territory. A State receives tax reimbursements, loan money, Commonwealth Aid Roads money and housing grants, as well other types of special grants. None of these special grants is given to the Australian Capital Territory. If all these were taken into consideration the appropriation for the development of Canberra would not appear to be nearly as great as some people might think it is.
– The £15.3 million was only for works and services; the appropriation is £23 million otherwise.
– It is mainly for capital expenditure, and most of the grants to which I have referred - loan money, housing grants, Commonwealth Aid Road grants and other special grants - received by the States are for capital purposes. In addition, there are the contra accounting items that go into Consolidated Revenue from charges in the Australian Capital Territory. No off-setting is shown in the Budget papers of moneys that have accrued from the sale of land in Canberra, the sale of homes, the renting of homes and other local government charges. While it might appear that a large sum is appropriated for Canberra, a considerable amount of revenue comes from the items I have just mentioned, totalling about £7 million. Although £15.3 million is being appropriated for capital charges, £7 million is now being returned annually to the Treasury. Although members of this House might have the idea that the sum appropriated is an astronomical amount it is not as great as it might first appear to be.
I am glad that the Parliament has received this document, “The Future Canberra “. It is important that people who have an interest in investing in Canberra should know something of what is ahead of them. A number of investors, businessmen and organisations want to know what is happening in Canberra. This document helps them to understand the city’s future. I might add that the growth of Canberra is not due entirely to the fact that the Government is moving public servants into the Territory. Today only 30 per cent, of the people employed in Canberra are public servants; the rest are employed in the private sector. Canberra’s growth is due to a number of factors. First, as I have mentioned, there is the Public Service. Secondly there is higher education. There are the Australian National University, the Canberra Technical College and research organisations such as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. The tourist industry is becoming a very big industry. There are many other organisations established in Canberra.
The Government says that for every one person coming to employment in Canberra eight other people follow. Let me give an example. The Americans decided to set up a deep space tracking station at Tidbinbilla. There are 120 people employed at this station. As a result of the decision to set up that one deep space tracking station 1,000 more people will come to Canberra. Because of the decisions of organisations and Government authorities to locate in Canberra we have this growth of the National Capital. I am sure that the growth will be sustained as is predicted in “ The Future Canberra “. 1 have no doubt at all that if the thorough job that the National Capital Development Commission is doing is continued at its present standard it will result in Canberra being one of the finest capital cities to be found anywhere in the world.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 30th March (vide page 421), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt -
That the House take note of the following paper -
India - Drawing from International Monetary Fund - Australian Contribution - Ministerial Statement, 30th March 1965.
.- This debate is on a statement made by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) on 30th March in which he indicated that Australia was prepared to make resources available, through the International Monetary Fund, to enable India to borrow a sum of £5.6 million or - as the Fund expresses its transactions in dollars - 12.5 million dollars. It is at least gratifying to find an occasion on which Australia is being a lender in the international sphere rather than a borrower. A number of debates have taken place in this House in which the Opposition has directed attention to the fact that Australia has been going here, there and everywhere to find a receptive source of money from which it could borrow. On this occasion the Government is to be commended because Australia is to lend to a country which, from an economic point of view, can be regarded as being less developed than Australia is. We are to lend to the fellow Commonwealth country of India, which has a population of about 500 million people but has many more perplexing economic problems than Australia has.
I should like to read an extract from a statement issued by “Barclays Bank
Review “ for February 1963 which illustrates some of the transactions of the International Monetary Fund. The review asks the question “ What is the I.M.F. for? “ It then goes on to answer that question by stating -
The International Monetary Fund, which was created immediately after the Second World War, has as its prime function the provision of shortterm financial aid to member countries which are in balance of payments difficulties. It normally does this by providing such countries with foreign currencies in which they are short, in exchange for deposits of the members’ own currencies.
Apparently India is in temporary short term financial difficulties as far as its balance of payment transactions are concerned, and it proposes to borrow, in various places, 100 million dollars, of which the sum of 12.5 million dollars is to be provided currently by Australia, on the terms that if within 12 months India requires a similar sum a further 12.5 million dollars shall be made available.
Australia has been a subscriber to tha International Monetary Fund since its inception. From statistics published by the Fund I notice that Australia’s present quota in the Fund is 400 million dollars. As a result of what is called the quinquennial review, or the five year periodical review, of the International Monetary Fund, a suggestion was made - I think Australia has agreed to the recommendation of the governors of the Fund - that within the next 12 months Australia’s quota shall be increased by a further 100 million dollars. No doubt, in due course, we in this Parliament will have before us legislation asking us to increase Australia’s quota to the fund from the equivalent of 400 million dollars to the equivalent of 500 million dollars. On previous occasions when Australia has made use of the Fund, she has done so as a borrower, not a lender. The Treasurer told us in his speech that as recently as 1961 Australia borrowed from the fund 175 million dollars or £A78 million against her quota of 400 million dollars because at that stage we were in temporary balance of payments difficulties. The Treasurer is not with us this evening because he is in Washington drawing attention to the action taken recently by the American President which he thinks will prejudice our balance of payments position. I draw attention to the words which the Treasurer uttered in this House on 30th March which is not very long ago and since which time Australia’s balance of payments position has not deteriorated very much. It might have dropped £10 million or £15 million. On 30th March, the Treasurer said -
In selecting the currencies to be used in drawings -
On this occasion the currency that is to be used in drawing is the £1 Australian - the Fund does not seek assistance from a member unless the member’s balance of payments and reserves position is reasonably strong.
Bearing in mind that the Fund only makes requests if it thinks the country to which it makes the request has a strong balance of payments and reserves position, one might reasonably ask why, if at 30th March 1965, Australia’s balance of payments and reserves position was regarded as reasonably strong, the Treasurer is now abroad doing what he is doing. That brings us to the fundamental point that some time ago we on this side of the House said that Australia was not facing any immediate balance of payments problem, but unless certain action were taken it may well be in a difficult position in the not very distant future. Surely the obligation is on Australia to do as is being done in the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Surely there is an obligation on Australia to do something herself to remove herself from the position of being a borrower internationally rather than a lender. That is why we of the Opposition commend the change that is being made in the small proposal now before us. At least it displays some recognition that Australia has some obligation in the Fund. I shall deal with the purposes of the Fund in a moment. Towards the end of the statement which he made a week or two ago in this House, the Treasurer, in effect foreshadowed certain discussions concerning what is called “ international liquidity” at the level of the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. This matter is of some significance, not only to this country, but to the world as a whole.
Australia is a country which is relatively more dependent upon international trade than are many other parts of the world. Economists have developed an index which may be regarded as rather peculiar. The index is arrived at by adding together a country’s aggregate exports and its aggregate imports. After all, what a country is able to import depends largely upon what it earns by its exports, but for the purpose of making certain comparisons of what is called the “ international dependency “ of various countries, the index used is a figure which is arrived at by adding the annual imports to the annual exports. At the moment, our exports are running in the region of £1,000 million per annum and our imports at something like £1,200 million per annum so that when the two are added together, we get over £2,000 million which is more than one-quarter of the value of Australia’s gross national product for last year.
Let me refer to the position in some other countries. Let me take the United States of America, as the best example. Whilst America’s aggregate exports and imports are much greater than ours, relatively, they are not nearly so significant. When you add America’s exports to her imports and relate the total to the gross national product, America’s degree of international dependency is something less than 10 per cent, whilst Australia’s is something like 25 per cent. Of course, this serves to show how vulnerable our economy is to events that occur not within our own boundaries but internationally. Therefore, it is of some significance to Australia to participate in these discussions about international liquidity.
I think it is also incumbent upon the Government to be much more frank in this Parliament and to give us a lot more information about this sort of significant problem than it has. I remind honorable members that there is now talk about creating something called international currency with a view to developing what might be described as an international central bank. One of our difficulties in this country at the moment is that we cannot even properly control our own internal banking mechanism. At the moment, we have something like one third of the mass movement of credit entirely outside the province of any proper internal control at all. Therefore, I would think that, being a country that cannot even control itself internally, at least we ought to be wary about entering into any very firm commitments externally.
When the Treasurer concluded his statement here a week or two ago on the correspondence between President Johnson and Sir Robert Menzies he gave a very brief glimpse of the discussions that have been taking place at the international level on this question of liquidity. I said then that
I hoped that the House would be given the opportunity to discuss that very important problem. When we speak of world trade, we tend to express totals in dollars. At the moment, world trade is running at the level of about 150 billion dollars a year. Translated into Australian money, the volume of international trade is running at about £70,000 million a year. In the aggregate, Australia is responsible for approximately 3 per cent, of that trade. Certainly Australia’s share is over £2,000 million a year. Australia is nothing like three per cent, of the world in terms of population. I think we are rather more like .3 per cent. We are
I I million people out of 3,000 million, which is about one in 300, if I do my arithmetic correctly, and that is about 3 per cent. Yet we are responsible for 3 per cent, or more of the world’s trade. So, in international trade we are ten times as significant as we are in population. We have to be pretty careful about commitments that are made in our name. Apparently the Treasurer feels sometimes that he cuts a very big figure in international financial circles, but I am rather inclined to think sometimes that he is dazzled by science or flattered by the circumstances, and does not quite realise how small we are in numbers or stress how significant we are in terms of trade.
I am sure honorable members on this side of the House support me when I say (hat I believe that trade, properly conducted, is one of the best cements for world friendship and that nowadays trade, to an extent, has to be buttressed with something that is called aid. After all, aid is only a sensible recognition in 1965 that, because there have been different rates of economic development in some parts of the world as against others, if some nations are to be brought up to the circumstances and standards of 1965 the benevolent help of other more advanced nations will be required. However, sometimes benevolence, when bestowed internationally, is not very willingly received. There can be very good reasons for that. I am gratified at least to see that with respect to India, which as I said earlier is a fellow member of the Commonwealth, there is a recognition that Australia although very much smaller in numbers - 11 million as against perhaps 440 or 450 million or about 40 times as many people - can be useful in helping India to improve its machinery for trade and, in this instance, its ability to feed its people in circumstances of inadequate harvests. But I still feel that one of the greatest deficiencies in relations between Australia and India is that the right people - that is a rather vague term but I mean people who are significant enough in the conduct of economic life in India and those significant enough in the conduct of economic life in Australia - do nol get together nearly often enough to try to bridge the very real problems that exist in the two countries. This could be beneficial to both countries.
We have to realise that Australia, with its very small population, is cast in a part of the world where something like two-thirds of the world’s people live, and that, perhaps, our traditional channels of trade may not continue to be as important in the future as they have been in the past. There is an incumbency upon us to develop new channels but one of the difficulties is that whilst there are plenty of potential customers about, their economies are not at the stage where they have money in their pockets and can be regarded as consumers. They can only become consumers as their economies become much more sophisticated than they are.
We in Australia are fortunate people in a way. We have become a European country economically, nevertheless we are faced with the problem of living with economies that are relatively under-developed. At least here is an improvement on Australia’s part, a recognition that perhaps we are more fortunate than some other countries and that perhaps we have resources that we can do without temporarily in order to improve the positions of other countries relatively permanently.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, first of all 1 am glad to note that the Opposition, through the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean), does commend the Government on the action it has taken in this matter which, of course, is designed directly and immediately to assist India. Every honorable member in this House, of course, wishes to assist India within all reasonable limits of our power. This contribution by Australia to the International Monetary Fund follows a gift of wheat. Although the honorable member for Melbourne Ports may advocate a more regular and more expanded get together of Indian and Australian governmental authorities to discuss mutual problems, do not let us overlook the fact that there is already a very large measure of consultation through one channel or another. This does not depend only on direct formal representation through diplomats and trade commissioners. There is also a regular interchange of information in London where both countries are represented on various Commonwealth economic bodies. So, in fact, there is within the Australian Government a continuous picture of what is going on in India in the economic field. We also have our representatives on_ the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank. Then there is formal machinery in the shape of the Colombo Plan which regularly brings the economies of India and other countries before our notice. So, in advocating that we in Australia can easily and, perhaps, profitably increase our exchange of information, we must not overlook the fact that there is already taking place a J very large scale interchange of information between our two Governments at various levels.
The honorable member for Melbourne Ports noted the fact that the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) said just recently that our present balance of payments position is reasonably strong. So it is. We have built up large reserves but we know from Australian history that good years can be followed by bad years; that we have to live with fluctuations. In fact, one of the major purposes of accumulating reserves is to save up for when the swing goes the other way, as it has done in the past and will certainly do in the future.
The honorable member for Melbourne Ports asks why the Treasurer, in these circumstances, has gone abroad. The fact is that our position does depend, and has depended for most years since World War II, upon importing, not so much finance directly because we can be too bewildered by finance, but upon importing real resources from overseas in order to promote Australian development. In fact we are developing quicker and we have more resources at our disposal because we do attract overseas investment on a large scale and if this was seriously diminished or cut off, our pace of development would be slower. This would not be catastrophic. It would be quite absurd to pretend that we could not adjust ourselves to a position where the foreign resources available to us for Australian development were diminished. But we are keen to maintain our pace of development and any diminution of flow which might possibly occur because of recent measures by the United States of America would inevitably limit our pace of development. Therefore the Treasurer, very rightly, has gone overseas to obviate this eventuality.
The honorable member for Melbourne Ports referred to this vexed problem of international liquidity. Very rightly, I think, he emphasised our great dependence on international trade, and particularly our relatively great dependence on it compared to other countries. He pointed out our percentage of the total. However one reads these figures, there is no doubt that we, as one of the advanced countries, are very highly dependent on international trade, whereas the dependence of the United States of America is relatively much less. Therefore, anything that happens in the international trading sphere is of very great and immediate significance to Australia.
The honorable member suggested that this Government might supply more information. A great deal of information is supplied already, of course. There are the annual reports of the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Statements are issued by the Treasury and by the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Commonwealth Banking Corporation. All this information is quite apart from that provided by local and overseas publications available to us all. I refer particularly to local journals such as the “ Australian Financial Review “ and to overseas journals such as the “ Economist “ and the “ New
York Times “. So there is virtually no difficulty in following at least the broad trend of events if one is a member of the Australian Parliament or, indeed, of the Australian public. The great trouble, of course, arises in persuading people to interest themselves in these matters and to realise what some of the implications for Australia are likely to be in not too long a period. If the honorable member for Melbourne Ports puts his remarks in that spirit, 1 entirely agree with what he has said. I am sure that if he can point to anything specific in the way of additional information which the Government should provide, and which would play a useful part and be read and heeded, the Government will lend a sympathetic ear.
The honorable member pointed out that world trade is running at the level of ISO billion dollars per annum. Because of the growth of world trade and the influences that have promoted and assisted this growth, one of which has been increasing international liquidity in recent years, as the honorable member pointed out, anything that disturbs this process of world trade must be a worrying problem for us all. This problem of international liquidity is one of the major matters that the Treasurer has gone abroad to discuss. Many proposals of various kinds are in the field. When it comes to informing the House more fully, one can say only that, unfortunately, these proposals are not yet the subject of any close negotiations that have brought specific results. Nevertheless, this is a problem with which the world’s financial authorities are becoming increasingly familiar.
I should now like to turn to the particular features of this proposal for a drawing from the International Monetary Fund by India. The arrangement is that India will have the right to draw a certain amount immediately and there is a standby arrangement for a possible further drawing. In the first instance, the sum to be made available by Australia is 12.5 million dollars, and there is a contingent liability to provide a further 12.5 million dollars or its equivalent in Australian currency if India chooses to make use of it and its position is such as to demand that this sum be drawn. Australia’s quota in the Fund, out of which this sum is to be made available, is represented by a subscription of 100 million dollars in gold and 300 million dollars in a non-negotiable noninterest bearing note. The sum now involved will be provided out of this note.
Payment of this sum will become a charge on our Budget. The authority for this stems from the International Monetary Agreements Act 1947, which was introduced by the Labour Government. “ Drawing” is the correct technical description for a borrowing from an international fund such as this. The first drawing by Australia from the International Monetary Fund was made by the Labour Government when Mr. Chifley was Prime Minister and Treasurer. So the basic authority for the arrangement now proposed stems from the International Monetary Agreements Act 1947, and the precedent for borrowing from the Fund when in temporary difficulties with our balance of payments overseas was set by Mr. Chifley, as Australia’s record shows. I do not want too forcibly to remind some honorable members opposite that the Labour Government borrowed from the Fund, because I think the action taken was wise and sensible at the time. Here we see the great advantage of the International Monetary Fund, for it provides a ready source of finance for countries in difficulties with their balance of payments.
– In the short term.
– Yes, in the short term. The International Bank is the international institution that provides loans on long terms. It is interesting to see that at last it has come round to the turn of Australia, with its comparatively flush balance of payments situation, to become a lender under the umbrella of the International Monetary Fund instead of a borrower. This, on the whole, is a rather happier position to be in.
For many years, most drawings from the Fund were in dollars. It is interesting to note that, with recent changes in the international payments position, even the United States has borrowed from the Fund. From memory, I think that country has drawn about 450 million dollars to correct its balance of payments position and to prevent an otherwise likely outflow of gold. However, in recent times, western European currencies have been drawn quite extensively, and so have those of Spain, Sweden,
Japan and Canada. So, in one sense, it is pleasing that Australia is in a position to help India in the way now proposed. We are doing for the International Monetary Fund and other countries what other countries and the Fund have done over the years for Australia.
I presume that India, like Australia, keeps its reserves in sterling and that the sum involved will be converted to sterling. Indirectly, this drawing by India, although it will mean an immediate reduction in Australia’s reserves, will enhance our own potential for future borrowing from the International Monetary Fund. Over the years, there have been quite a few changes in the relative positions of various countries in their relations with the Fund. India, unfortunately, has been forced by circumstances to maintain a pretty close network of foreign exchange controls, whereas, in 1958, Australia was able to join a movement the object of which was to make payments of a current nature by non-residents fairly free. Since that time, for Australia, such payments have been relatively free. This policy is not applied to residents in the same way, although now, normal, curTent payments required by residents are in fact freely convertible. In practice our exchange control now is virtually a control over capital movements and not over current payments.
It is also interesting to note - I think the honorable member for Melbourne Ports just touched on this matter - that currently there is a proposal to increase the quotas of the Fund. The proposal agreed to by the Governors at their meeting in Tokyo in September 1964 was that there should be a general increase of 25 per cent, in all quotas, which would carry the Australian quota of 400 million dollars up to 500 million dollars and would mean a number of special increases to countries whose quotas were unduly low relative to their economic position. The use of the Fund has grown. Until 1960 the drawings in any year had never been more than 1,000 million dollars - 1 billion dollars. In 1961 the drawings shot up to almost 2i billion dollars, and there is no doubt from the world payments point of view that a further increase in quotas is required because, generally speaking, a country can borrow or draw from the Fund for short term purposes about 125 per cent, of its quota. As world trade increases and, therefore, the likely swings and balances from time to time increase, greater funds are necessary because the swings are of greater magnitude. This is why it is very greatly in Australia’s interest to support the Fund, to support increases in the quota and, above all, to support the International Monetary Fund as being the centre piece and general manager of international liquidity.
Unfortunately, it is worthy of note here that although a number of special increases in quotas were recommended to certain countries whose economic position justified it - this is over and above the normal 25 per cent, increase - Germany, Japan, Austria and Spain all accepted their increases in quotas, whereas France, which was also asked to increase its quota, proved unwilling to do so. There is very little doubt that international management of these things in competent hands is very much to be preferred to a very narrow group of central bankers who get together and try to dominate the whole world scene. It is pleasing that Australia is now able to play its part on the credit side to assist India, and it is also very gratifying that the Opposition gives such ungrudging support to the movement which has been made.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 30th March (vide page 422), on the following paper presented by Mr. Hulme -
Post Office Charges on Conversion to Decimal Currency - Ministerial Statement, 30th March 1965.
And on the motion by Mr. Swartz -
That the House take note of the paper.
.- This measure, which was brought before the House on 30th March 1965, is to take effect on 14th February 1966. In the statement made by the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) on 30th March he said -
Because of the need to place firm orders with the Note Printing Branch of the Reserve Bank as soon as possible for the printing of postage stamps to be used from 14th February 1966 on the introduction of decimal currency -
That has been rather grandly described as “D Day”- and the need for Australian companies selling franking machines to order any new value dies required from overseas before the end of May 1965, the Government feels that honorable members and the public should bc informed of its decisions concerning postal, telephone and telegraph charges which will operate on the changeover to decimal currency on 14th February 1966.
The Postmaster-General supplied with his statement a schedule of proposed new charges for postal services as from 14th February 1966 expressed in the decimal currency rather than in our present system of pounds, shillings and pence. Not too many pounds apply in Post Office dealings, except in the grand total which adds up to a considerable number of pounds. Most Post Office transactions are in comparatively small sums - 5d. stamps, 5s. postal notes, money orders for perhaps somewhat greater sums, and charges for parcels which are transported comparatively large distances for reasonably small sums. That is the nature of the Post Office as an economic undertaking as well as a public utility, lt has hundreds of millions of transactions in a year and its annual turnover is in the region of £200 million.
What was gratifying was the indication given by the Postmaster-General that the Government did not intend to make windfall profits from the fact that when we change from the present currency to decimals in some instances there will be no exact equivalent in the new currency for an old price. One example is the 5d. postage stamp for which there will be no exact equivalent. The alternative is either to go from five old pennies to five new cents, which will be the equivalent of six old pennies, or to go to four new cents, which will be equivalent to 4.8 old pennies. As has been mentioned on this side of the House on some other occasions, there will be an opportunity to mulct the public in a multiplicity of relatively small transactions, but it is gratifying that the PostmasterGeneral has indicated that on the basic unit of 5d., which is the standard postage rate, he does not intend to charge five new cents, which would be 6d., but intends to charge four new cents, which will be the equivalent of 4.8 old pennies. In other words, the
Post Office will be involved in a loss of 2d. on every stamp which now costs 5d. On a percentage basis, 4 per cent, of its revenue from this source will be lost.
The Postmaster-General has estimated that that and some other transactions will mean a loss of revenue to the Post Office of some £800,000. That gives some indication of the manifold transactions of the Post Office, when if it loses .2d. on a number of transactions it adds up in a full year to the rather large sum of £800,000. The Opposition is pleased, at least so far as this aspect of Government activity is concerned, that the Government is carrying out what the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) stated when he introduced the Currency Bill on 17th October 1963. He said-
Certainly I can assure you that the Commonwealth Government itself will not be using the introduction of a decimal currency system as an excuse for raising its taxes and charges fractionally. . . Some charges may have to be increased slightly by force of circumstances, but there will be offsetting reductions in other related charges.
The normal letter transaction is by far the most significant of the transactions of the Post Office, leaving aside the Telephone Branch for the moment. The Government is prepared to sustain a loss of 4 per cent, on the effective charges for that service.
A number of other items are contained in the schedule that the Postmaster-General has supplied. For a letter weighing 2 oz. instead of 1 oz., the new charge will be 7 cents, which is equivalent to 8.4 old pennies, instead of the present 8d. So there will be an increase of .4d., or about 5 per cent. However, in my view it would be rather trivial to try to make capital out of that because the loss of revenue in respect of ordinary letters - the majority of letters do not weigh more than 1 oz. - is not outweighed by the gain that the Post Office might make on letters weighing more than 1 oz. The same applies to most of the other transactions.
However, I suggest that in respect of the postal note the Postmaster-General might consider making the margin not 45 cents but 50 cents. As he knows, quite a number of postal notes are taken out in quite a number of the States for the sum of 5s. which is equivalent to 50 cents. They are taken out for transactions to which I do not subscribe but in which hundreds of thousands of people throughout Australia indulge every week. I refer to the various State lotteries. As the charges are at present, it seems to me that people will pay 3 cents, which is the equivalent of 3.6d., compared with the current charge of 3d. The PostmasterGeneral might consider that transaction when he is considering this whole question. I do not think the charges have to be gazetted finally at this stage.
I was a little mystified to see on page 7 of the schedule an item called “Bees in separate bags “. There is certainly no change in the charge. The charge is to be 20 cents per consignment, which is the equivalent of 2s. per consignment. But what is a bee in a separate bag?
– A bee in a bonnet?
– I have heard of bees in bonnets, but they are in one bag. These are bees in separate bags. That item mystifies me somewhat.
I take this opportunity to point out that other groups in the community have not very long now to indicate their intentions. As the Postmaster-General knows, the changeover to the new currency is to take place on 14th February 1966. He has indicated that the Post Office will not make a profit on normal postage as a result of the changeover; rather will the price of the service be reduced somewhat. He did not do quite the same thing in respect of the charge for telephone calls. He beat the gun a bit on the charge for telephone calls from public telephone boxes. That charge was increased to 6d. Will it go down to 5 cents or will it be 6 cents?
– It will be 5 cents. It will remain the same.
– But it is an increase on the old charge of 4d. The PostmasterGeneral may. have a separate explanation for that increase.
There are a number of other groups in the community whose prices for individual transactions involve a small number of pence. The newspapers are a very good example. It would be salutary if the newspaper companies indicated that the price of newspapers that are now being sold for 4d. will be dropped to 3 cents. If such newspapers continue to be sold for 4 cents, that will represent a gain of almost 20 per cent. to the newspaper companies. The fares for short journeys on buses in Canberra and buses, trams and trains in other metropolitan areas are also expressed in pence. We ought to have an indication of the authorities’ intentions in regard to those fares between now and February 1966.
Until prices settle down and are adjusted, the Government ought to reconsider its decision not to have a half cent in the new coinage when it comes into operation. If we had a half cent we would have an opportunity to mitigate by 50 per cent, many of the increases that may occur because there is no direct equivalent under the new currency to prices that were in force under the old currency. It seems to me that the Treasurer has not given a very satisfactory explanation of this matter. I can understand that at this stage it is no good discussing whether the major unit should have been 8s. 4d. or £1, instead of 10s. Events have moved so far that it is impossible to reverse that decision; but it would still’ be simple enough administratively to arrange for the production of enough half cents to alleviate or mitigate some of the difficulties that will be experienced when the change takes place.
The Treasurer said that he would not have a half cent because it would break what he called the purity of the decimal system.’ In my opinion, that is a pretty shallow argument. After all, when it suits the Government, it draws on the experience in South Africa, and the South Africans had a half cent in their coinage. In the years ahead the half cent might gradually be withdrawn; but it seems to me that some of the difficulties that may occur could be lessened if we had a half cent, which would be smaller than what is now intended to be the lowest unit, namely, 1 cent.
I ask the Postmaster-General to bring that matter to the notice of the Treasurer and the Government for reconsideration. It does not seem to me to be an impossible task to reverse the decision not to have a half cent. It would not alter the basic unit in any way. It would mean the minting of millions of coins; but that is not an insuperable task. It could be done in the new Royal Australian Mint or in other mints in other parts of the world. The use of a half cent would help to mitigate some of the injustices that may occur. I do not think it is always appreciated how many transactions in the normal household budget involve expenditures in which pennies are part of the price, and where one penny is still a fairly signicant unit. In articles that cost less than 4s. - say 3s. lid. - a penny is 2 per cent, of the total price, and if there is no exact equivalent a person can be robbed of 1 per cent, or so on the total transaction. The smaller the price the greater the proportion of injustice that is done.
On another occasion I quoted a survey which was undertaken by a gentleman in the electorate of the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton). He went into a supermarket, or chain store, and found about 140 separate prices containing a penny component where the actual price was less than 5s. He estimated that if a certain number of these were bought on a regular household budget there could be a loss of as much as 2s. a week through there being no exact penny equivalent in the proposed decimal coinage. At least a half cent would tend to break down - in fact would almost eliminate in many cases - this effect. The Government ought sometimes to be a little more solicitous in respect of small things. It likes to take pride foi being careful in big things. Here is a matter which is of significance to ordinary people in the community. At least we have an assurance so far as postal transactions are concerned. I do not know, but the PostmasterGeneral can probably indicate, how many letters the average Australian would post each week. At least the ordinary person will not be robbed on postage stamp transactions by the Postmaster-General’s Department.
The Treasurer has indicated that so far as other government charges and taxes, as he calls them, are concerned, there will be no fractional disadvantages where they can be avoided. Of course he can speak for the Government, but he cannot speak for other sections of the community. He could help the problems to be lessened somewhat in the private sphere if he would introduce a half cent coin. I thank the PostmasterGeneral for the information he has given us about his proposed charges. I hope we will get similar information concerning other Government charges. I also throw out the challenge to those in private industry who sell items with pence components in their price to indicate what they intend to do. If they do not all do what they ought to do. at least some of the sins could be lessened by the introduction of a half cent unit in the proposed coinage.
– 1 do not want to take up much time at this stage, but I thank the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) for his comments on the statement I made to the House several months ago. I point out that in estimating the expected loss of £800,000 in revenue that I mentioned in that statement the figure arrived at was based not only on the change over from the basic 5d. letter rate to the new 4 cents rate but also on the charge for each additional ounce. This is not a case of £800,000 being lost through the forfeiture of .2d. a stamp on the sale of stamps, now costing 5d., at the new rate of 4 cents after decimal currency is introduced; this loss arises in relation to the whole category of postage charges, including the charge of 3 cents for the second ounce instead of the present 3d. I feel that what the Government has done in this case not only carries out the promise which was made by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) but also is an example to other sections of the community which make small charges. One can think of a number of them without endeavouring at this time or in this place to tell other people what to do. There are tram fares, bus fares, suburban rail fares, and within the retail shopping area there is a substantial number of small charges for small articles. I know, and I appreciate, as do other honorable members, that some manufacturers - ‘and I am thinking in terms of sweets - are already packeting for sale at ls. items which previously cost 10d., and giving a little more in weight. They are producing a situation to enable an easy change to decimal currency. It may be thai where the community seems to be losing, in fact it will not lose because of this type of adjustment.
The honorable member for Melbourne Ports referred to postal notes. In regard to postage I was not able to give him the number of letters posted which, of course, total millions annually, but in relation to postal notes the amount of traffic is to the value of about £16 million per annum. He has suggested that the denomination under decimal currency be taken to 50 cents as against 45 cents. I point out that whereas the previous minimum poundage of 2d. applied up to 2s. 6d., which is the equivalent of 25 cents, the new rate will be 2 cents or 2.4d. up to an amount of 4s. 6d., the 45 cent equivalent. This was one of the situations where it was impossible to get what we might call the exact equivalent, and we tried to make adjustments through the whole scale. For his information I point out that through the whole scale there will be a loss of about £8,000 per annum in the poundage received by the Post Office.
The honorable member referred to public telephones. He will remember that by accident, or by fate, I was not in this place for a short period, and he with other honorable members decided during that time that public telephone charges should be increased from 4d. to 6d. So I plead not guilty in relation to this particular charge, whioh was in existence when I came into office. I believe that what has happened with all these charges will not cause injustice to the community. I know one can say in relation to overseas airmail that the charge will increase from 2s. 3d. to 2s. 6d. or its equivalent on 14th February next year.It so happens that this is an area where we are losing quite substantially in relation to our receipts as against our actual payments. Honorable members may recall that when I answered a question some little time ago I pointed out that our airmail postage overseas is much higher than the British airmail postage but that the vast majority of airmail letters from Australia go substantial distances. A few go to New Zealand and a few to some of the islands of the Pacific, but broadly speaking America and Europe are the main receiving points of airmail from here, and the distances are great. A big percentage of English airmail goes into Europe, which is like going from Victoria to New South Wales. I believe there is justification for a higher airmail rate overseas from Australia than could be expected from England to overseas countries.
I believe that the Government has done the right thing. Circumstances perhaps have caused the Government to make its decision at this time because, as the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has said, it is necessary for the Note Printing Branch to print stamps in millions and to print them in every category. But I agree with the honorable member that we have set an example and I join with him in saying that I hope it will be an example that will be followed by other sections of the community. I hope also that the public will appreciate that in this year there is some evidence that the postal services, as distinct from the telephone services, will move into a deficit situation, and that the Government has nevertheless made the decision to take this action, which will involve an extension of the deficit situation into the period after the introduction of the decimal currency system. I thank the honorable member for Melbourne Ports for his support, and also other honorable members of the House.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 27th February 1964 (vide volume 41, page 99), on motion by Mr. Hulme -
That the Mouse take note of the following papers -
Australian Broadcasting Control Board - Report and recommendations to the PostmasterGeneral on applications for a licence for a commercial television station in the Brisbane area, in the Adelaide area and in the Perth area.
Commercial licences - Ministerial statement, 27th February, 1964.
.- Mr. Speaker, the business of the House is giving us a rare opportunity to refer to the subject of television. I do not know whether you follow the proceedings of the other place, but I can say that there senators have been making efforts without success for quite some time - as have members of this House - to debate the report of the Senate Select Committee on television and film production and allied aspects of television. However, the silence of the Government on television policy in general is as nothing to the silence of the mass media on this subject. One of the unfortunate features of the ownership by newspapers of television stations in this country is that one can never read anything about the control and manipulation of television by newspaper proprietors. There has been a scandalous silence in the Press on the Senate Committee’s report on television. At least in Britain, where the Pilkington Committee made some unfavorable remarks about television, what that Committee had to say was reported in the newspapers, even if the newspapers then proceeded to abuse and, in fact, misrepresent the Pilkington Committee. In this country the report of the Senate Committee on television has been banned from the newspapers.
The papers which we are now noting in this debate were tabled by the new PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Hulme) on 27th February last year. He tabled the recommendations of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board concerning the new television licences to be granted in the Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth areas. The Board recommended the granting of, and the Government granted, licences to Universal Telecasters Qld. Ltd., South Australian Telecasters Ltd. and Swan Television Ltd. It should be pointed out that the last named company has no relation to a similarly named company with which the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver), a partner of his and some of his associates were associated two or three years ago, and whose activities led to various proceedings in the Western Australian courts.
The only station to which I wish to devote much attention is the one in respect of which a licence was granted for the Brisbane area. The Board recommended that a licence be granted to Universal Telecasters Qld. Ltd. This company was not the only applicant. There were two others. One of them was Panorama Television Pty. Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. The Board recommended the grant of the licence to Universal Telecasters Qld. Ltd. rather than to Panorama Television Pty. Ltd. for various reasons. I will quote the principal reasons which it gave -
A study of the constitutions of these applicant companies, which are set out in Part III. of this report, immediately raises questions which affect in particular the application of Panorama Television Pty. Ltd. This company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd., and a licence for a commercial television station in the Melbourne Area has recently been granted to Austarama Television Pty. Ltd. which is also a wholly owned subsidiary of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. The application of Panorama Television Pty. Ltd. also proposed a substantial measure of combined operations, especially in programme production, with Austarama Television Pty. Ltd. Section 92 of the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942-1963 provides, among other things, that a person shall not be in a position to con trol more than two licences in respect of commercial television stations in Australia, and there is therefore no prohibition in the Act against the granting of the Brisbane licence to Panorama Television Pty. Ltd. It would, however, seem to us that there are strong reasons in principle why licences for two capital city commercial television stations should not be granted by the Minister to what is, in effect, the same company, and for a discussion of this principle we adopt here, without repeating, the reasoning in our first Report on Brisbane and Adelaide licences (25th July 1938), in paragraphs 129 and following. In reaching this conclusion we have not overlooked the fact that, since the licences were granted for the capital city stations now in operation, changes in the shareholdings of certain of the licensee companies have produced the result that, in more than one case, two stations in different cities are controlled by one company. This is a development which, under the provisions of the Act as it now stands, has been beyond the control of the Minister. Another matter which affects, we think, the application of Panorama Television Pty. Ltd. is the extent to which it could be claimed to be a local company. Although the evidence indicated that some 20 per cent, of the shares of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. (the parent company) are held by Queensland residents and it has extensive business interests in Queensland, we do not think that we would be justified in regarding Panorama Television Pty. Ltd. as a local company. We take the view that if there is an applicant which satisfies the criteria set out in our Sydney-Melbourne report, and which, moreover, answers lo !he description of a local company independent of companies holding licences in other capital cities it should be preferred to Panorama Television Pty. Ltd.
The Board then proceeded to give the detailed qualifications of Universal Telecasters Queensland Ltd. as a local company, a Queensland based company, a company substantially independent of interstate companies.
This report was tabled and the Minister accepted the report on 27th February last year. Shortly afterwards, the shares of Universal Telecasters Queensland Ltd. were made available for sale, there was a sudden surge of interest and in the course of the first morning’s trading half the shares were sold. The Minister deferred granting a licence until he had made an investigation. It turned out that the shares had been bought by none other than Ansett Transport Industries Ltd.
– Who are they? I have never heard of them.
– You know them best from their multiple subsidiaries, but they are all subsidiaries of the one company which the Government has underwritten.
The Minister was a little embarrassed by the proceedings, but nevertheless on 22nd April last year he issued a statement saying that he had to accept the position and that there had been no breach of the law. It turned out that the Ansett group had bought a 48.9 per cent, interest in the successful applicant and that there was a sale of another 6 per cent, of the successful applicant company’s shares. That is, the people who had been granted a licence, or who had been recommended by the Board for the grant of a licence, and to whom the Minister had promised to give the licence, no longer owned the shares in this company, and the corollary was that the rejected applicant, in fact, became the successful applicant. The Board’s decisions were set at nought and the Minister’s decisions were set at nought. The considerations which the Board had in mind and which the Minister accepted, that there should be no more interstate tie-ups in addition to those which had already come about and that there should be a local company, were frustrated. It must be conceded that Mr. Ansett was completely frank about the matter. Once he got the shares, he was quite barefaced about it. He told the facts to a member of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and when the Government at last asked him what had happened he said: “ Yes, of course it has happened. I have got the station.”
– He must have a winning personality.
– Well, he knows where to make his investments. We drew the attention of the House to the preferential treatment given by the Government to the Ansett group of companies, as a definite matter of public importance on 5th May 1964. The Minister stated in the course of his explanation of this particular transaction -
I want to point out that my predecessor in this office, Mr. Davidson, indicated that because this difficulty had arisen . . .
That is, the fact that companies can own a majority of shares in several companies but they do not breach the Act as long as they have no more than a 15 per cent, voting strength in more than two companies - the Government was giving consideration to amending the Act. I have occupied the office of Postmaster-General for only a few months and it is a portfolio which has many implications. I am giving consideration to this matter, and I hope that before very long we shall have before us an amendment which will help to clarify situations such as this.
That was on 5th May. I felt constrained to contribute to the debate on that occasion and I pointed out the difficulty which the Government had already had with its legislation and its licences concerning the television companies. I said -
The Act was last amended in this respect four years ago, and this is not the first time that the Government’s wishes in carrying out its television policy have gone astray. The former Attorney-General, now the Chief Justice, drafted conditions which were to apply to the use of programmes by the provincial stations, but the High Court held those conditions invalid. The Government has had a great deal of defiance from the companies and has had a lack of success in the courts over the present act, which has not been amended for four years.
So not only had the Government had difficulty in framing conditions which would stick in the courts to regulate the monopolisation of programmes, but also it was having difficulty in preventing the monopolisation of the ownership and control of the stations themselves. That was on 5th May. We were patient, and six months later, on 10th November last, 1 asked the honorable gentleman this question -
The honorable gentleman will remember that over six months ago he told the House that the present Broadcasting and Television Act imposes no limit on the number or percentage of shares which may be held by any individual or company in any number of television companies so long as the shares carry no more than 15 per cent, of the voting rights in any but two of the television companies. He went on to say that he hoped that before very long we would have before us an amendment which would help to clarify situations such as this. I now ask the honorable gentleman: As we have already had, since the introduction of the Budget, two bills amending the Broadcasting and Television Act in other respects, does he still hope to bring in further amendments to clarify this situation? When does he hope to do so?
The Minister replied -
I am sure the House will appreciate that this is a. (natter of considerable complexity. Unfortunately, I will not be able to do anything about it prior to the House rising. Perhaps, in the next session of the Parliament, we may be able to have a look at the matter.
Well, four weeks of the next session have passed but there is no legislation on the subject and no date for its introduction has been set. This is typical of the Government’s delay in dealing with any subject which turns upon monopoly and restrictive practices. There are many fields in which the Government can deal with monopolies and restrictive practices within its administrative powers as they stand at the moment. Broadcasting and television are clearly among those fields. However, the Government has been considering the matter of monopolisation of programmes and ownership and control for years, but still has done nothing about it. We might not have expected that this report would ever come up for debate again in the House, but the Minister has the opportunity now to state what he has in mind to do about it. It has been reliably reported that he and the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) did in fact bring before the Cabinet proposals to tighten up the Act but that they were overruled by their colleagues there. This was another respect in which precise restrictive practices legislation was abandoned or at least postponed.
– Is this person to whom you have referred the man who owns Airlines of New South Wales?
– Yes. This was a matter lying entirely within Commonwealth control, so he got his own way. The only occasion when there is any restriction on Mr. Ansett getting his own way is when powers outside the Liberal Party’s control have any say in the matter. This is not a question of a distinction between Commonwealth and State powers. It is a question of the difference between Liberal monopolistic philosophy and Labour competitive philosophy.
The significant thing about subsequent developments in the television field is that the new stations in the principal cities are losing money. The biggest loser among television companies in Australia is Austarama Television Pty. Ltd., the Ansett subsidiary in Melbourne. It was pointed out at the time by the television companies that in granting three commercial licences for Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide, in addition to the national stations in each of those cities, Australia was aspiring to have more channels than Britain or the United States of America. In Britain and the United States in each case there are three channels. Accordingly, the whole of television production is geared to producing enough programmes to supply three channels. Here in Australia we are aspiring to have four channels, and accordingly all of the channels are competing for the three sets of programmes produced in Britain and the United States. The consequence iti that the latest stations in the field are losing money but the previously established stations also are making less money. This does not matter to Austarama Television Pty. Ltd., nor will it matter to Universal Telecasters Queensland Ltd. under Ansett ownership in Brisbane, when it gets under way, because every Ansett activity is guaranteed by the Menzies Government.
Senator Paltridge, when he was Minister for Civil Aviation and therefore taking a direct benevolent interest in Ansett’s activities, announced that conditions should prevail so that Ansett could pay its shareholders, that is Ansett Transport Industries Ltd., 10 per cent, on capital after tax and reasonable reserves. Whatever activity Ansett undertakes, whether it is road transport, instruments, hotels, morels, airlines or television stations, Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. can never lose as long as the Menzies Government is in power. The Government has said to the holding company that it can be sure of a 10 per cent, dividend after the payment of tax and the setting aside of reasonable reserves.
– This is only supposition on the honorable member’s part.
– No. Every piece of legislation, every annual report relating to the company’s activities, whether it be in the field of airlines or television, bears out the announcement which Senator Paltridge made years ago. In this respect Senator Paltridge is a man of his word. Accordingly, this latest activity in the field of television is being promoted by the Menzies Government to the detriment of all the existing television stations - the pioneering television stations - in Australia and to the detriment of the Australian film industry as a whole.
The Minister has an opportunity to clear up this matter. What legislation has he really tried to get through Cabinet or is he confident of getting through Cabinet? To what extent is he to continue to allow his decisions to be set at nought in the future by companies which the Government has guaranteed in other respects?
– in reply - We have listened for the past 20 minutes to a number of very interesting comments by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). He has gone back to a statement that I made to the House some IS months ago when I placed before the House a copy of the report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board in relation to television licences in three of the capital cities - Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.
It was very interesting to hear the honorable member, who I suppose understands law as well as most people in this House and better than anyone else on the Opposition benches, suggesting to us that he did not understand very clearly the provisions of the legislation relating to the control of television stations. I think it can reasonably be said that lawyers discovered the holes in the Act and, therefore, to some degree the credit must go to his profession for not ensuring that what had been stated as Government policy was carried out. I do not blame lawyers for finding holes in an act. I suppose two-thirds of the income tax legislation represent attempts to block up holes which have been found in it.
– What about the holes that Ansett has found?
– I am coming to Mr. Ansett’s operations because it is very interesting to study them. At the time when I was appointed to this portfolio - in fact the day after I was sworn in as PostmasterGeneral - I was handed the particular report which I presented to Parliament in February of the following year. That report related to the hearings that had been conducted prior to my appointment as PostmasterGeneral. I think the Deputy Leader of the Opposition will agree that it was my responsibility to bring that report to the Parliament.
I do not think there has been one occasion when the recommendations of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board relating to the granting of television licences or, going back a little further, relating to broadcasting licences have not been accepted by the Parliament. What was done on this occasion followed precedents that had been created. The report was presented when the Act was in its present form, but when opportunity had been taken by people to circumvent the Government’s policy. The Government’s policy was that nobody could, control more than two television stations and that control would be determined on the basis of voting power in excess of 15 per cent. In fact, some people got around the provisions of the Act by altering the articles of association of many of these stations so that voting power was limited to 15 per cent. This happened with the Brisbane station. As I said on one occasion, the Board knew when it wrote its report that this was a local company and that it would be possible for somebody to take advantage of the articles of association of the company. The company did not take any real steps to protect itself against this situation, because right from the commencement it inserted an article which said that voting rights were restricted to 15 per. cent. It virtually made it easy for Ansett, or for anybody else who wanted to get a substantial holding, to have his voting rights restricted to 15 per cent. I suggest that it was impossible for us to close the stable door after this horse had bolted.
This is a great investment that Ansett has made. I know that some honorable members may not appreciate this, but I am sure the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) will. Ansett purchased 49 per cent, of the shares for approximately 6s. a share at the point of time when 6d. had been paid on each share. At least a substantial number was bought at this price. He incurred an unpaid liability of 4s. 6d. a share and this took the cost price to 10s. 6d. a share at the maximum point. I am informed that on Friday last the shares were quoted on the Brisbane Stock Exchange at 4s. 6d. and 4s. 9d. So he invested 10s. 6d. to have an asset valued at this time at a maximum of 4s. 9d. No dividend is payable and no dividend is likely to be paid. I do not know what sort of investment this would be called, but I suggest the honorable member for Melbourne Ports would not like to have his money invested in this way with little prospect of accretion in capital value and little prospect of a dividend.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition apparently thinks that television stations should make money. He said that new stations are losing money. This is not extraordinary for television stations. Indeed, it is quite usual. I do not believe there is one station in Australia that did not lose money in its first and second years and did not make money until it was in its third year of operation. Austarama Television Pty. Ltd. in Melbourne, to which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition referred, has not made money, butI think it is virtually in its first year. It may have operated for a few months last year and perhaps is now moving into its second year. The honorable gentleman suggested that it has not made money. There is nothing unusual in this for a television station and I believe it will probably be four or five years before it will have the opportunity to recover its losses and pay a dividend. This has been the experience of similar companies. We should remember that in the case of the Brisbane station, the dividend would be paid on shares that cost up to 10s. 6d. each.
It is interesting that the Deputy Leader has referred to questions that have been asked, to answers that have been given and to statements that have been made. But he did not refer to a statement I made on 17th December last year. In the scheme of things, this was not unimportant. In that statement I indicated that the Government had taken a decision which would be incorporated as an amendment to the Broadcasting and Television Act. This would make it impossible in future for any person to obtain an interest exceeding 5 per cent, in any station beyond two.
I do not want to indicate now what could be contained in legislation that might come before the House. All I want to say is that I believe when the legislation comes before the House, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition more than most other people will realise the complexity of this type of legislation. I cannot give exact dates but let us cast our minds back to 1956 when legislation relating to the introduction of television was introduced. In 1960 there were amendments to that legislation followed by further amendments in 1962 or 1963. No member of this House suggested ways and means to close some of the doors which were open to those who were shrewd enough to find their way through them. I believe that what we are trying to do now will substantially achieve that result. If we do achieve that result, a delay of some three to six months will not make very much difference having regard to the statement I made on 17th December last. Unfortunately I have not a copy with me now.
I assure the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and other honorable members that as from 17th December I do not believe there is any prospect of anything happening such as happened in relation to the Brisbane station. If the Deputy Leader of the Opposition checks the dates relevant to the stations in Adelaide and Perth, I think he will find that they were fairly close to the dates when stocks were going on the market. This was done with the special purpose of avoiding a situation similar to that which arose in Brisbane. I do not think there is any need for me to say much more but I hope to produce the legislation in this session of the Parliament. I repeat that it can only be a hope because of the complexity of the legislation and the problems facing the Parliamentary Draftsmen. Unfortunately I cannot give any absolute guarantee, but I shall do my best.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.54 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated -
b asked the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
I do not know of any moves by the U.S. Administration to alter the present arrangements regarding imports into the U.S. of beef and veal and mutton. These arrangements provide for the imposition of quantitative restrictions on imports of these meats if the volume of imports exceeds specified levels. However, quotas are not currently in effect and are unlikely to be imposed so long as the present pattern of trade continues.
b asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following replies -
Carriage of Copra from Papua and New Guinea. (Question No. 830.)
b asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows-
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following reply -
The Articles of Agreement of the International Monetary Fund - of which Australia is a member - require members to seek the approval of the Fund for any restrictions on the making of payments and transfers for current international transactions. The Articles also require member countries to seek the Fund’s approval for any such restrictions which discriminate as between one country and another. Profits in the form of current dividends on overseas investment in Australia would therefore fall within the category of transactions covered by these Articles. This is not to say, however, that Fund approval is not readily given when such restrictions are deemed appropriate to a country’s balance of payments situation. A large number - indeed, the majority - of Fund members maintain, and have obtained approval for, various restrictions on current payments which are necessary for balance of payments reasons.
d asked the Minister for Trade and industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following information -
It is not really appropriate to refer to a “clash” of timetables. It is true that both operators provide services in essentially the same time slots, but there are very sound reasons for this. The operation of air services on the important route between Melbourne and Sydney over the years has demonstrated that the public have very clearly defined requirements, and thus the timetables are set to cater for the vast majority of travellers. The increasing speed of travel, with the progressive modernisation of fleets has made the peak demands even more marked, largely because of the great facility made available to business men. Naturally, each airline must serve the peaks, for otherwise the public would derive little benefit from a competitive system.
It should be recognised that in serving the particular demands on this route, the airlines concurrently seek to provide the greatest possible number of connecting flights so as to extend the facility of one-day journey over the greatest possible area of the Commonwealth. As an example, the present time-tables allow a traveller to leave Geraldton in Western Australia and proceed by Perth and Sydney to Canberra or Brisbane or on to New Guinea. In all the circumstances, I have to repeat that the airlines are meeting the convenience of the travelling public to the greatest possible degree.
n asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
s asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following replies -
y asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following replies -
m asked the Minister for Air, upon notice -
What refund has the Commonwealth secured through the British Aircraft Corporation in respect of the Ferranti Company’s excessive profits on the Bloodhound missile pursuant to his predecessor’s reply to me on 20th May 1964, and his own reply on 22nd September 1964?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
Since the honorable member’s last question on this matter, officers of my department have had discussions with the British Aircraft Corporation, the prime contractors of the Bloodhound system. I have now raised some aspects with the Minister of Aviation in the United Kingdom Government. When these further inquiries are complete, I shall make a statement about the matter.
s asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
In the financial year 1963-64, a total of 2,216 “Calaids” were produced and fitted. Of these, 709 were supplied to children, 1,487 to repatriation cases, 7 to Social Service beneficiaries and 13 to other eligible persons.
Water Supply for Alice Springs. (Question No. 942.)
n asked the Minister for
Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
y asked the Minister for Air, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
b asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following information -
Taxation. (Question No. 9S1.)
son asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following replies -
A very large proportion of requests for reference are settled administratively without the necessity for transmitting the case to a Board of Review. Settlement may occur either by the taxpayer’s withdrawal of his request or by the Commissioner’s total or partial allowance of the claim. In this way most requests for reference are finalised within a few months.
Of the cases actually transmitted to Boards of Review, about 40 per cent, are settled or are withdrawn by the taxpayer prior to the hearing. An analysis of the residue which required decisions by boards since 1st July 1964 discloses that, on the average, 29 months elapsed between the lodgment of the taxpayer’s request and the issue of the Board’s decision.
So far as the Taxation Office is concerned, the Commissioner has taken action to streamline the procedures in his offices with a view to expediting the transmission of references to Boards of Review. He recently stated, however, that in a great number of instances delays at this stage are occasioned by failure on the part of taxpayers or their agents to furnish relevant information.
After the reference has been received by the Board of Review, difficulty is frequently experienced through taxpayers seeking adjournments of hearings or withdrawing their references after the cases have been set down for hearing, all of which tends to delay the hearing of those cases in which taxpayers genuinely seek adjudication. As a positive step towards reducing the time required by boards to issue their decisions, in appropriate cases not involving questions of principle, boards are not now asked to state in writing their findings of fact and their reasons in law for the decision.
d asked the Minister represent ing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following information -
s asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
m asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
Now that Mr. Justice Spicer, on appeal from the Director-General, has determined that AnsettA.N.A. should share equally with Trans-Australia Airlines in all traffic between Darwin and Adelaide, has the Director-General given T.A.A. permission to share equally with Ansett-A.N.A. and its subsidiaries in all traffic between (a) Darwin and Perth, (b) Sydney and Melbourne via the Riverina and (c) Canberra and Cooma?
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following information -
The present position is that Trans-Australia Airlines is not licensed to operate any of the routes mentioned.
s. - On Tuesday, 6th April, the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) asked me without notice how many United Nations missions have visited West Irian since that country was placed under Indonesian care in accordance with the Bunker plan and if visits by United Nations officials had been made, would I obtain the relevant reports so that honorable members might make comparisons between the happenings in that country and in Papua and New Guinea.
The answer is that there have been no Visiting Missions sent to West Irian by the United Nations similar to the United Nations Visiting Missions to the Trust Territories. West Irian is not the subject of an agreement under the Trusteeship provisions of the Charter.
The only United Nations presence in West Irian since it passed into Indonesian control, as far as is known, has been -
Mr. Rolz Bennett, as special representative of the SecretaryGeneral, visited West Irian last May.
No reports on any visits by United Nations officials have to date been made public.
Loans to Primary Producers.
– The Treasurer has provided the following information -
On 30th March the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock) asked me in a question without notice whether I would have discussions with the banking institutions to see what could be done to assist farmers in drought-affected areas in the way of long term loans at special low rates of interest.
I have discussed this matter with the Reserve Bank, which has regular consultations with the trading banks. The Reserve Bank has again assured me that it is well understood by the trading banks that preferential treatment in the provision of finance to rural industries is in accordance with Reserve Bank policy.
The trading banks are by far the largest group of suppliers of rural credit in Australia and, although most of their lending is by way of overdraft, which in form is repayable at any time, in practice much of it is longer term. Further, in April 1962 special arrangements were introduced to enable the major trading banks to make fixed term loans for capital expenditure in the rural and other fields. Within the rural industries term loans are made available for the purchase of land for development, heavy equipment, building and fencing, land clearing, pasture development and herd improvement. Loans made under this scheme range generally from three to eight years or a little longer. The banks extend preferential treatment to producers in rural industries within the general structure of their lending rates of interest.
The Reserve Bank has emphasised that it has been traditional for the trading banks to give specially sympathetic consideration to the requirements for bank finance of primary producer clients in areas adversely affected by seasonal conditions, and 1 have no reason to believe that they will not continue to do so. Banks would of course need to consider individual cases on their merits and in the light of all circumstances relevant to the particular proposition.
m asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
How many officers in the Second Division of the Commonwealth Public Service are graduates in (a) arts, (b) economics,(c) engineering, (d) laws, (e) medicine, (f) science and (g) agriculture or veterinary science?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
As at 5th November 1964, 85 per cent, of Second Division officers held post-secondary qualifications.
Details of the number of officers at the various salary levels and the types of post-secondary qualifications which they held are given in the following table-
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 April 1965, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1965/19650427_reps_25_hor45/>.