25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. JESS presented a petition from certain electors of the Commonwealth praying that the Parliament will amend the social services legislation to make an immediate increase in the basic pension rate paid to all social service pensioners.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Housing. Is the target of about £141 million for the current financial year for housing loans by Australian savings banks 6 per cent, below that for 1964-65 and 10 per cent, below that-
– Order! The honorable member is now giving information. He may only seek it.
– With due deference, Sir, 1 shall rephrase my question, I preface it by this comment-
– Order! The honorable member will be out of order if he makes a comment.
– Is it a fact that the target of about £141 million for the current financial year for personal housing loans by Australian savings banks is 6 per cent, below that for 1964-65 and 10 per cent, below that-
– Order! The honorable member is repeating the information. He will direct his question or resume his seat.
– Quite frankly, I am bewildered by your ruling, Sir. My intention is only to ask a question. Surely I may preface it-
– Order! The honorable member will not canvass the interpretation of the Chair. Does he wish to direct his question?
– Honorable members who are laughing may have a queer sense of humour, but I have a duty to my constituents.
– Order! The honorable member will now resume ‘iis seat.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Services. I ask whether it is a fact that there are some 20,000-
– 1 rise to order, Sir. In view of the ruling that you have just given on the question asked by the honorable member for Cunningham, I take it that the honorable member for Robertson is now giving information.
Mr. SPEAKER__ Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– I ask whether it is a fact that there are some 20,000 persons who are eligible to receive the pension increases approved by the Parliament some weeks ago and who are not receiving them. If this is a fact, can the Minister let the House know what steps are being taken to advise pensioners of their eligibility?
– Some 105,000 pensioners automatically received the 10s. a week increase in supplementary assistance and 18,000 pensioners automatically received the standard rate.
– I rise to order, Sir. Would you say that this question was asked without notice?
– Order! The honorable member is out of order and will resume his seat.
– Approximately 40 per cent, of these persons who were entitled to increased supplementary assistance and to increased standard rate pensions were within New South Wales. The figure of 20,000 persons mentioned by the honorable member would be an outside limit of persons who may have been eligible for other benefits and who at this stage would not have received these payments. The Department has tried through Press releases and through statements to advise as wide a range of people as possible as to their eligibility. It is intended, so far as possible, to continue to issue statements to ensure that everyone who is eligible for the increases in social service benefits passed recently through this House will be aware of his entitlement. Any person who feels that he may be entitled to an increase in pension can, of course, receive brochures from his nearest post office or through the nearest office of the Department of Social Services and in that way can ascertain his eligibility.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. What justification can the Government give for the recent increase in air fares, considering the profit made by the airline companies in the last financial year? Is the increase considered to be just, seeing that motorists were compelled to carry increased petrol prices with no increase in wages? Was this the Government’s way of channelling back to airline operators the customs duty that the operators had to pay on imported Boeing 727 aircraft?
– I shall bring the question before my colleague in another place and see that a reply is obtained as speedily as possible. However, I understand that both airline companies in Australia make a profit which is regarded as a very small percentage of the capital that they have invested.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior a question. In view of the great success achieved overseas by many publications and films originating with the Australian News and Information Bureau, can the Minister find some way of informing honorable members of this excellent work being carried out by the Bureau and also arrange a limited distribution of its publications within Australia?
– I thank the honorable member for his remarks about this aspect of my departmental responsibility. Obviously he is better informed than certain commentators about what the Bureau does. I am aware that the honorable member has studied this matter in the United States of America and also in other countries. However, the News and Information Bureau is essentially a publicity organisation established to make Australia more widely and more favorably known overseas, lt has not the resources nor is it one of its functions to become known in Australia. It would be impossible with our resources to circulate various publications issued by the Bureau. However, we do circulate films produced by the Bureau to various film centres and to television stations and, as all honorable members know, these films are shown twice a week in Parliament House.
– I address a question to the Minister for Immigration. Four weeks ago the Minister told the Leader of the Opposition and other honorable members that his Department would issue visas to East German competitors in next year’s pentathlon championships if they came as part of a combined German team. What have been the changes in international or internal circumstances which have now permitted his Department to issue visas to separate East German exhibitors at the Sydney Trade Fair?
Mr. OPPERMAN__ The two circumstances mentioned by the honorable member are not comparable. One is concerned with national teams and national athletes and the recognition by Australia of a separate country. The trade delegation is something entirely separate. It does not involve international recognition of a country in any shape or form. It involves only a trading arrangement. The Immigration Department administers Government policy. If, as is the case on this occasion, the Government’s policy is to recognise a trade fair, we will issue the visas. With regard to the Pentathlon Games, it has been laid down quite clearly that the East German team must first obtain recognition from the Allied Travel Board. If that Board issues the necessary documents, the visas will be granted by Australia.
I should like to say to the honorable member that, owing to the change in the outlook of the Olympic Federation, this matter is being kept under close scrutiny. This situation is under discussion internationally and 1 would ask the honorable member to put any further questions about the Pentahlon Games on the notice paper. I shall then enter into consultation with my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs, who is concerned with Government policy on international matters.
– I address a question to the Minister for Social Services. By what date must pensioners and others who are eligible for pensions or allowances, or increased benefit, under the recent social services legislation lodge claims so that they may receive payment for the full period of their entitlement?
– As I explained a few moments ago to the honorable member for Robertson, all those who are entitled to increases in supplementary allowances and standard rate pensions would have received those increases as from the last pension pay day. The other pensioners who are to receive increased benefits will all be entitled to payment of those increases retrospectively to the first pension pay day after the passing of the legislation, no matter when they lodge their applications. This does not apply to widows who become entitled to a widow’s pension because they have student children in the extended 18 to 21 years category. These widows should make their applications before 31st December next. If they do so they, too, will be entitled to the increased benefit as from the first pension pay day after the passing of the legislation.
The Department of Social Services is constantly watching the number of applications from persons who are entitled to increased benefits. The officers of the Department and the Government are concerned that no person who is entitled to the increased pensions shall miss out.
– I address to the Minister for Immigration a question supplementary to that asked by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. The Minister will remember that when he answered earlier questions about the admission of a separate team from East Germany to the Pentathlon Games he said that the question of security was involved and that the security reason was sufficient to keep an East German team out of this country. I now ask: What is the difference between a sporting team and a team of business men coming to this country from East Germany? Is security no longer involved when a separate delegation comes from East Germany in the field of big business?
– There is a difference. It will be remembered that the German trade delegation applied for visas some time ago. Those applications and the composition of the delegation have been studied. Therefore, any question of security has been examined. I have already explained the situation with relation to the German athletic team. There is no similarity between an East German sporting team and an East German trade delegation.
– I ask the Minister for Social Services a question supplementary to the question asked by the honorable member for Riverina. As it is rather obvious that many pensioners are unaware as yet of the new benefits to which they may be entitled under the recent Budget proposals, will the Minister consider enclosing with pension cheques sent out by his Department notices about the new benefits, and also placing in post offices similar notices for the guidance of those persons who prefer to collect their cheques rather than have them posted to them?
– I thank the honorable member for Henty for this suggestion. In fact, the Department has already sent to most post offices throughout Australia a list of the amended benefits, and it is hoped that through Press publicity, which has very fortunately been given to the extended social service benefits, all ‘those persons who feel they may become entitled to the increased pensions because of the legislation passed by the House will apply to the Department to test their eligibility. However, I will look at the suggestion of the honorable member to see whether it is possible to implement it in the way stated.
– Will the Minister for Supply enlarge on his recent Press statement to the effect that a satellite launching base will be built at Darwin in the Northern Territory? Does this decision envisage extensive research activities being transferred to this area and, if so, what might be the gain to the Northern Territory and Australia?
– Unhappily, at times some distortion creeps into the Press reports of these matters. There is some penalty in the launching of a satellite into equatorial orbit from a position so far south of the equator as Woomera. As the European Launcher Development Organisation programme moves into its second phase no doubt there will be a commercial need to put satellites into equatorial orbit, and to do this there will be need to fire from a position much closer to the equator. For this reason a study will be undertaken by the Department of Supply of the possible establishment of a launching site in proximity to Darwin. This report is only for study in turn by the E.L.D.O. conference which will meet next year. At the moment it is only a proposal; there is nothing more definite than that.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. While Australia awaits new and up to date airports would the Minister consider the acquisition of a simple and inexpensive means of avoiding great discomfort and sometimes costly storm damage to passengers’ clothes and belongings because of present diluvian loading methods? Is the Minister aware that during wet weather passengers are forced to struggle through wind and driving rain between terminal buildings and distant aircraft. Does the Minister realise how wet clothes and shoes make the ensuing journey a misery, and that women often have-
– I rise to order. In what way does this question differ in form from the question asked by the honorable member for Cunningham (Mr. Connor) which you, Mr. Speaker, ruled out of order?
– I think I should point out to the House that question time is for the purpose of obtaining information on urgent matters. I think also that I should ask for the co-operation of all honorable members at question time so that questions may be heard and answers may be heard and interjections, which are out of order, will be restrained. If this happens, some degree of latitude regarding what I describe as propaganda may be allowed. I ask the honorable member for Evans to refrain from comment about wind, rain, shoes, storms clothes and so forth.
– Mr. Speaker, 1 point out that women with babies are often in a dangerous situation because of the circumstances I have described. I ask the Minister whether he would consider the acquisition of low-platform specially designed buses, similar to those provided in Singapore, to load and discharge under cover in terminal buildings and to convey passengers directly to or from the gangways of aircraft?
– I will refer the honorable member’s question to my colleague in another place. Frankly, I believe that most of us are able to walk through a little rain. In fact, most of us are glad to see rain if it is there to walk through. Having done this in Sydney yesterday, I realise that there may be some slight inconvenience, but, after all, the Department of Civil Aviation is spending over £20 million a year on improving the facilities at aerodromes in Australia. I think wc should be prepared to put up with some slight inconvenience.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. How does the right honorable gentleman justify the increase of £1,500 a year in the salary of the President and Deputy President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission when, 24 hours later, his Government rejected an application for four weeks’ annual leave by Commonwealth employees supported by the Australian Council of Trade Unions? Was the increase in salaries to which I have referred based on an increase in salaries paid to the members of the New South Wales Industrial Commission? If this is correct, why was not the same formula applied to the annual leave claim in view of the fact that New South Wales Government employees have been in receipt of four weeks’ annual leave for some considerable time?
- Mr. Speaker, il is very hard for me to follow the association of ideas in the honorable member’s question. The judges’ salaries were dealt with as part of a general overall review of judicial salaries. We made this having regard to the importance of their duties - in the case of the High Court, their particular status and function in the country - and we. also took into account salaries paid in comparable posts in the States. When we found that, in a great number of cases, if not all, State judges in these various categories were being paid more than the judges of the High Court and of the Commonwealth tribunals, we came to the conclusion, which I am sure the honorable member would have reached also, that that was something which ought to be corrected. The question of four weeks’ annual leave for public servants stands on an entirely different footing.
– They are workers. They could not get four weeks.
– Well, I would not cry too loudly because I will venture to say that the honorable member has never had four weeks’ leave in his life. I certainly have never had it in the whole of my life. It is not a matter for moaning and groaning very much. This was a request for an additional week’s leisure and, as I pointed out in my reply to the deputation which saw me on this subject, this would be extremely expensive, not only in terms of money, running into many millions of pounds, but also in terms of demand for and supply of manpower. I indicated all these facts. If the honorable, member has not seen the text of my reply to the deputation I will be happy to give it to him.
– My question is addressed to you, Mr. Speaker. Are you aware that in King’s Hall of this Parliament there is a notice which states that strangers are not allowed in certain parts of the House? Does the Speaker know that the traditional parliamentary word “ strangers “ now appears to be out of date, except, perhaps, when applied to certain persons who may enter this chamber, especially as it is intended to apply to many Australian taxpayers who are not strangers, but men and women visiting Canberra with whom many of us are closely acquainted? Will the Speaker confer with the President of the Senate with a view to bringing up to date this notice by substituting the word “ visitors “ for “ strangers “ and so making our people feel at home in their Parliament House?
– I think I should point out to the honorable member that we have visits to this Parliament from delegations, from very distinguished visitors and from others. On occasions we are graced with the company of the honorable member’s wife as a visitor to Canberra. Why she married him I do not know. But I think I should say that there are two types of visitors. There are strangers who are not permitted to use certain parts of the House-
– In this chamber.
– That is so. I refer to the corridors, too. I know that the honorable member for Mallee is not unreasonable. I shall certainly discuss the matter with the President, but I want to warn the honorable member that we do not want to create another problem by altering this particular phrasing which we draw from a very wise source.
– I direct a question to the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry. Is it a fact that the Minister for Trade and Industry stated in Geneva on 5th October that he hoped agreement on a new sugar price would soon be reached at the sugar conference held in that city, although at that time the representatives of the 55 countries taking part in the conference were deadlocked on the issue? In view of the failure of the conference to agree to a new economic price for sugar based on the cost of production, and also the prospect of great losses being incurred by Australia in exporting at the world free market price, will ‘the Minister say what measures are proposed to meet the severe recession threatening the important sugar industry in Queensland? Further, is there a likelihood that a new Australian agreement may be drawn up which will involve an increase in the domestic price of sugar?
– With deep respect to the honorable member, I think he is allowing his thoughts to race ahead of events. It is true that after very strenuous work on behalf of Australia at Geneva the Minister for Trade and Industry was disappointed in the immediate results at the sugar conference, but I do not think the honorable member should assume that there is going to be immediate calamity for the Australian sugar industry. He can be assured that not only the Minister for Trade and Industry but also other members of the Government will be giving the closest possible attention to ensuring the welfare of the Australian sugar industry.
– I address a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. In view of the urgent need for labour in Australia, will the Minister tell the House of the shortages of manpower in the Pilbara district of Western Australia, where contracts for the sale of millions of tons of ore have been negotiated? Is it possible to formulate plans for using temporary immigrant labour on mammoth projects in such remote areas?
– Some time ago it was thought that it might become necessary to grant temporary immigrant visas for people to come to this country and take part in construction projects in the Pilbara district. However, representatives of the Department of Labour and National Service had conferences with the contracting authorities and were able to persuade them in many cases to phase their operations in such a way that the large numbers of people that we originally thought would be needed simultaneously will not now be needed. Roughly the position is that with the exception of specialists we have been able to recruit from within Australia most of the labour required and we do not expect any great difficulty in finding the extra numbers in the coming months. As to specialist labour, we have induced people coming from, say, the United States of America under contract to come here on what is called a teacher-learner basis. These people will teach the Australian technical personnel how to do various jobs, and when Australians have learned those jobs the teachers will return to the countries from which they came. As to granting temporary visas to immigrants, as I have already said we are now doubtful that this will be necessary because the labour is being provided. I and my Department take the view, and I am sure it is the right one, that as wages in the Pilbara district are high, if Australians want to work there and participate in the development of this country they have every right to do so.
– I direct a question to the Treasurer. Did the Deputy Prime Minister give an undertaking four months ago that complaints by troops in Vietnam about their living allowances would be investigated without delay? Did the special Treasury and Defence committee go overseas several months ago to investigate and report on this matter, and was a decision on it delayed because the Prime Minister when acting as Treasurer recently refused to make a decision until the Treasurer returned? When does the Treasurer expect to make a decision on this matter?
– 1 wrote to my colleague, the Minister for Defence, on this matter before I went overseas. The matter did receive consideration in the Department of Defence while I was away and I am at present completing the preparation of a submission to Cabinet, which I hope will be in the hands of the Cabinet secretariat within the next day or so. As to delay, the honorable gentleman will appreciate that the amounts which may ultimately be decided by Cabinet will operate retrospectively, so none of the members of the forces will be deprived of the benefit of any decision which Cabinet may make in this matter.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Housing. Has a target rate of £141 million for the current year been fixed for personal housing loans by Australian savings banks? Is this target 6 per cent, below that for 1964-65 and 10 per cent, below that for 1963-64? Is the real rate of this lending for new building even lower because a rising proportion of these loans is being used for the purchase of existing homes? Did total housing loans by life assurance companies increase by only 5 per cent, last year compared with an increase of 30 per cent in the shareholdings of those companies? What action does the Minister propose to take to correct these trends? Will he act to ensure that savings banks increase their home loans to the full 35 per cent limit?
– The particulars given by the honorable member are approximately correct. Savings bank home loans in fact reached their peak in September last year when the rate was about £40 million a quarter. That rate has since fallen largely because the rate of accretion of new deposits by the savings banks, upon which their lending depends, has also fallen. In these circumstances, since the figure fell to £35 million in the June quarter, the Reserve Bank has taken up with the savings banks the question of preventing any further fall below this new figure. The statement of the honorable member in relation to insurance companies is also approximately true because at the present time money is tight and limitations have necessarily spread over to the housing sector. This is the case with other lenders too. All these matters, and the measures which might be taken with regard to them, about which the honorable member has asked, are matters of policy which currently are engaging the attention of Cabinet.
– My question also is addressed to the Minister for Housing. I ask: Have representations been made for the housing grant scheme to be extended to cover adequate household furniture? Would such a move produce a scheme similar to government assistance available to young married people in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries? Did the representations also stress that the development of Australian family life would be greatly encouraged if this grant were increased in this way?
– Yes, representations of this character, amongst many others, have been made. 1 might inform the honorable member that when largesse is distributed many attempts are made for extensions in different directions. The Government has introduced a very satisfactory scheme of grants which is operating extremely well, but no current move is afoot to increase the grant in the direction mentioned by the honorable member.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Labour and National Service been directed to the fact that waterside workers in Queensland are liable to jury service and also liable to be penalisedif they fail to appear when called upon? Is the Minister aware also that the Stevedoring Industry Authority in Queensland refuses to recognise that a waterside worker is so liable, and penalises men called up for jury service for not being available for work on the waterfront, with the result that they cannot avoid being penalised? Will the Minister have this matter investigated with a view to permitting the men to serve on juries without penalty?
– I was not aware of the position stated by the honorable gentleman. I would be very surprised if the statement is accurate. I will look into the matter and let him have a reply.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that television technicians depend largely on test patterns from television stations for accuracy when installing and adjusting television sets? Some technicians in Victoria have stated that they have difficulty in giving best service owing to some television stations showing test patterns for only a short period each day. Will the Postmaster-General ask television stations to show their test patterns for longer periods and at set times, of which technicians can be advised?
– I presume that the honorable member is referring particularly to country areas where television transmitters have recently been installed and not to metropolitan areas where programmes are televised for a substantial period of the day. This is the first time this matter has been brought to my notice. It is as expensive for a station to transmit test programmes as it is to transmit normal programmes. I am sure that in most areas technicians and others who install television sets are satisfied with the transmissions now available. If the honorable member brings particular instances to my attention I will have them investigated. This is not a matter for the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. It is a matter that can be dealt with by negotiation. I will look further into it if the honorable member will give me details.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that considerable discontent exists among employees of the Post Offices Branch of his Department? Is he aware that this discontent is due mainly to the current extreme staffing crisis? Is the Minister aware also of the extreme, frustration suffered by the more senior officers of the Branch because of their inability to maintain the standard of service to which the public has become, accustomed? What does the Minister intend to do about these matters?
– I assure the honorable member that the Post Office is perhaps the most contented area of employment in the Commonwealth. It is true that at the moment we suffer from certain shortages. We have difficulty in providing sufficient postmen in all areas. This problem has been indicated in the Press and it receives constant attention by the authorities. I assure the honorable member that there is no real falling off in the service provided to the public. I do not believe that the area of discontent to which the honorable member refers exists.
– Has the Minister for Primary Industry seen a statement claiming that Australia is in danger of losing beef and veal markets in Europe due to the drought and changes in costs? How correct is the statement? If there is a sharp drop in meat exports, will the Minister confer with the Minister for Labour and National Service with a view to ensuring that any decline in the meat industry in Townsville, Rockhampton and Brisbane does not adversely affect employment and business activity in those areas?
– I think the world demand for beef exceeds supply. There is a constant and firm demand in meat importing countries for more and more meat. We know that droughts increase costs and that we can never adequately compensate for those increases, but we must bear in mind that the local selling price for beef has increased, which would compensate the meat producer to a great extent for his increased costs. I do not have any fears that we will lose export markets because of increased costs. Markets overseas are quite firm.
– Mr. Speaker, I desire to ask you a question on a subject dear to my heart. Is it a fact that the Leader of the Australian Country Party and Deputy Prime Minister is having installed in his suite at Parliament House a private toilet for his exclusive use? Can you tell me how much this is costing and whether the same privilege is to be extended to all members of the Parliament? Has the Deputy Prime Minister any special disability that necessitates this special privilege?
– I will have a look at the question asked by the honorable member but I win not undertake to take up the matter with the Minister for Health.
– I desire to ask the Treasurer a question supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Kingston. The Treasurer said that the payment of active service pay for troops in Vietnam would be retrospective. However, I believe that there is a question of the morale of troops in the field. Can the Treasurer assure the House that this will be treated as a matter of urgency and that it will not be necessary to await the return of the Minister for Defence before the decision is announced?
– I can assure the honorable gentleman that, so far as I am concerned, this matter has been so regarded throughout and there will be no avoidable delay in bringing it to finality.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. In view of the gravity of the situation in Vietnam, where Australian servicemen are engaged and. according to reports, are suffering considerable casualties in battle, has the Prime Minister considered visiting Vietnam to observe at first hand the conditions under which Australians are fighting and other matters related to their welfare? If not, will he favorably consider visiting the troops in Vietnam now or when national service trainees are drafted to the battle area in the new year?
– I am not in a position to answer off hand a question about some travel engagements that I may undertake. At the moment, I am busy recovering from the last trip abroad and I am not in a hurry to take on another. However, I will bear in mind what the honorable member has said.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation. Is he aware of any current complaints about inadequate eye testing equipment in the main repatriation hospitals? Will he ascertain whether the provision of equipment known as a slit machine would enable eye specialists to extend far superior service to patients seeking assistance for deficient sight?
– I am not aware of complaints of the kind to which the honorable member refers. However, I shall refer his question to my colleague in another place. At the same time, I assure the honorable member and other members of this House that the medical and hospital equipment provided in repatriation hospitals throughout the Commonwealth is as up to date as -any equipment in any civilian hospital. Consequently, those persons who are receiving or are entitled to receive treatment in repatriation hospitals will find that the best equipment available is used.
– My question is addresed to the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry. Has Cresco Fertilisers Ltd. been taken over by a foreign company? If it has, what effect will this have on the national economy? Will the Minister consider establishing a national fertiliser corporation so as to ease the burden on the average taxpayer who, willingly or otherwise, contributes to the superphosphate bounty for the benefit of primary producers?
– Although the honorable member has raised a matter of policy, I can assure him that the Government will not nationalise the fertiliser industry and it would not regard nationalisation as the short cut through any of these difficulties. So far as the activities of Cresco Fertilisers Ltd. are concerned, I will have inquiries made so that I can give the honorable member an exact and detailed answer.
MILITARY DECORATIONS. Sir WILFRID KENT HUGHES.- I desire to ask the Prime Minister a question. In view of the fact that a ribbon and a star have already been awarded for the Borneo campaign, can he give the House any advice as to when a decision is likely to be made about the granting of either that ribbon with a different star, or a different ribbon, to the troops who are fighting in the front line in Vietnam?
– The honorable gentleman has raised this subject before and there are papers relating to it on my desk at present. 1 hope to have some finality on the matter within the next day or two.
– by leave - The purpose of this statement is to give the House an account of the present position in three areas of conflict - Indonesia, Vietnam and the sub-continent of India and Pakistan - in which recent events have caused deep concern to the people and the Government of Australia. Most of the facts I shall recite have already been published but my statement may be helpful to honorable members by indicating those reports which the Government believes to be reliable and significant.
I refer first to the attempted coup d’etat in Indonesia on 30th September. According to the information available to us at this moment a relatively unknown officer in the Palace Guard, Lieutenant-Colonel Untung, attempted a coup d’etat on the night of 30th September. He led certain units of the Palace Guard and had the support of Communist elements. As explained by him, his alleged purpose was to forestall a coup against the President which he alleged was being planned by high ranking Army officers and was to take place on 5th October, Indonesia’s Armed Forces Day. Time will no doubt clarify both the nature of the support which Colonel Untung expected and received and the purpose of his action. But it is clear that his action was intended to remove the senior Army generals known for their anti-Communist views and so change the character of the Indonesian political structure. The rebel group seized control of radio and communications media in Djakarta and six of Indonesia’s leading Army generals were murdered, including the Army Commander, General Jani. The Defence Minister, General Nasution, was fortunate to escape from the assassins but he was severely wounded. Despite the loss of its leaders the Army, under the command of Major-General Suharto, the Commander of the Army Strategic Reserve, effectively moved to restore the authority of President Sukarno’s Government. Lieutenant-Colonel Untung fled to Central Java where he has now been captured and the remnants of his military support have been broken. General Suharto has been appointed Commander of the Army.
In Djakarta itself, and elsewhere throughout the country, strong antiCommunist sentiment is finding expression in public demonstrations and in steps being taken by the Army to arrest persons suspected of complicity in the coup and of illegally carrying arms. Major-General Suharto revealed that members of the Indonesian Communist Party, the P.K.I., took part in the assassinations. The leading Communist newspaper supported the action of the coup group on the morning of 2nd October. The Army has also drawn attention to statements and activities of Communist Party branches throughout the country which indicate that the Party was expecting some revolutionary act to occur late in September. The Army is now engaged in a thorough search for weapons which were believed to have been distributed at the time of the coup attempt to Communist sympathisers in Djakarta, particularly among the members of the Communist youth organisations. On a significant scale, political parties and national bodies are reducing or eliminating Communist influence within their organisations. Confirmation is being awaited of reports that the Communist Party and affiliated bodies have been banned in the Djakarta area.
It would be of little purpose, Sir, and indeed it would be inappropriate, for me to offer conjecture about the future course of events and their possible outcome. I should express, however, the Government’s attitude towards these events. These happenings remind us again that Indonesia is still under great internal stress in its search for a form of government and society best suited to its own conditions. We in Australia are gravely disturbed at seeing our nearest neighbour, Indonesia, shaken in this way, for we sincerely hope that Indonesia can be blessed with stability and prosperity and being realistic we know only too well that any other state of affairs could only serve the interests of those who seek to profit from unrest, discontent and turmoil. Within Indonesia itself, there is clearly growing concern at the lack of economic progress and development. Either the work of economic construction is soon to be undertaken or further upheavals will follow. There is a great task to be done in concentrating resources upon domestic construction and development. Should the effort be made, I am sure that, to assist in this work, genuinely disinterested international assistance would be available. While we in Australia are determined in our support of Malaysia against Indonesian confrontation, we have tried to keep open the doorway to such co-operation with our neighbour, and if that one occasion of conflict is removed there are many ways in which we could work together for mutual benefit.
I turn now to South Vietnam. The monsoon season will shortly be over without the Vietcong having made the gains they might have expected when the weather favoured guerrilla operations. The Vietcong have suffered very heavy casualties; there is some evidence that morale has been affected; they are resorting more openly to terrorism in an attempt to bring unwilling recruits into their ranks. They are adopting brutal methods in taking food supplies from the people. Happily, more and more of the South Vietnamese people have been sufficiently freed from the imminent risk of Vietcong retaliation to give information about the movements and intentions of the Communist forces. The numbers of South Vietnamese Government forces have risen by some 40,000 men in recent months. The increase in United States forces announced by President Johnson in August, to which I referred in my last statement on Vietnam, has taken place and continues. The Australian battalion has been built up to a battalion group. A combat division from the Republic of Korea - itself a victim of Communist aggression 15 years ago but now able to release forces to assist others - has arrived in Vietnam. Some roads have been re-opened through territory where Vietcong forces are strong. The mobility of forces in Vietnam has been improved, so that they can quickly respond to Vietcong attacks. Vietnamese Government forces and those of countries supporting them, including Australian troops, have mounted operations, by land and air, against the Vietcong war zones in which they are established in strength. It was a recent operation of this nature - an operation to penetrate and drive out the Vietcong from forest country which they have occupied for years without challenge - that has brought Australian casualties. All of us in this House, Sir, I am sure, are saddened by these losses and we extend our sympathy to the bereaved.
There are signs of greater political stability in South Vietnam and the Vietnamese Government is developing programmes, such as the recent distribution of land to farmers, for economic and social improvement of the lot of the people. Our own Australian contribution is continuing. Honorable members will be aware that I recently announced that the Australian surgical team which served with great distinction in Vietnam .has been replaced by another team which will spend twelve months there, and that, in addition, the Government has decided to send a second surgical team. The Australian engineering team which went to Vietnam in April is continuing its most useful work, and we are considering how our aid might contribute further to the needs of the many Vietnamese who have left Vietcong areas to find refuge and security under the Vietnamese Government. The Government, I should add, is most grateful to the skilled and devoted Australians who have gone to Vietnam and, in difficult times, given great assistance to the people there. But we must remember that Vietnam is a country which has known war and the economic and social strains of war for a long time. The Government of South Vietnam faces problems of great magnitude and complexity, including the problem of the hundreds of thousands of refugees from Vietcong areas. The
Vietcong are shrewd manipulators of the strains that exist; like Communists everywhere, they exploit discontent and the discontented. Currently they are seeking to disrupt the marketing of rice and other products and so add to inflationary pressures.
The Communists also retain considerable military strength. Men and supplies are still being sent to them from North Vietnam and they have reserve units and stockpiled food and weapons on which to draw. There are large, comparatively sparsely inhabited areas of South Vietnam in which the terrain is particularly well suited to guerrilla operations, and from which it will be a long and hard process to dislodge the Vietcong. The Vietcong and the political authorities in Hanoi have said they will, if necessary, continue the struggle for 20 years and more, and they have given no clear indication that they are interested in any settlement other than one which would be, in effect, a Communist takeover in the South and which would deny the people of Vietnam the right to decide their own future. Until Peking and Hanoi cease their contemptuous rejection of every effort to find a way to a guaranteed, just and lasting peace, we must stand firm in our resolve to oppose, with determined but restrained force, their efforts and’ those of their agents to conquer South Vietnam militarily. It may well be a long struggle. But, long or short, it will be a struggle of crucial importance. Its outcome will strongly influence the course of future events in South East Asia and elsewhere, wherever the same technique of covert aggression may be employed.
I now turn to the recent hostilities between India and Pakistan, which caused such concern and distress to the friends of both countries. Happily the worst manifestations have now subsided as a result of the efforts of the United Nations. The situation is, however, still tense, and the danger remains that continuing incidents along the cease fire line could lead to a renewal of the conflict. But it is our present hope that both India and Pakistan will exercise the fullest restraint and co-operate with the United Nations to prevent this from happening. Australia has profound goodwill towards India and Pakistan and values highly its friendly relations with both countries. We have always wished to see relations between them develop in friendship and co-operation. lt was therefore deeply distressing for us to see this serious outbreak of hostilities with its tragic loss of life and destruction of property, lt was harmful to the stability and progress and security of both countries and, indeed, of the whole region of South-East Asia. We have, therefore, a direct interest in the outcome, apart from the humanitarian considerations involved.
Our first anxiety has been that the fighting should stop and that the two countries should settle their differences peacefully. We have therefore given from the outset our full support to the strenuous and effective efforts of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, U Thant, to bring about a cease fire. U Thant is to be commended for the initiative and dedication he has shown once again in discharging his high office. It is gratifying that the United Nations has been able to act effectively in bringing an end to hostilities. The co-operation between the permanent members of the Security Council which led to the unanimous adoption of the cease fire resolutions is particularly encouraging. It should be emphasised, however, that a cessation of hostilities will not in itself end the conflict. Major problems still demand attention. The Security Council recognised this in its resolution of 20th September when it assumed the further responsibility of considering, after the cease fire and withdrawal of forces has been effected, what steps might be possible to resolve the political problems underlying the conflict between India and Pakistan. The Australian Government will support the efforts of the United Nations to discharge this complex and delicate task and we hope that the members of the Security Council will be able to preserve for this purpose the same unanimity that led to the cease fire. To supervise the cease fire and withdrawal of forces a considerable expansion in the number of United Nations military observers in Kashmir will be required. Australia has provided a number of such observers since 1950, and, if required, would consider providing more.
Finally, Sir, I should like to refer- briefly to the threatened Chinese intervention in the conflict between India and Pakistan. As honorable members will be aware, I have previously indicated our concern at this dangerous and irresponsible attempt by Communist China to interfere for its own mischievous purposes. Fortunately, the firm determination of the Indian Government to resist a new Chinese attack and the condemnation by the major powers, including the Soviet Union, of these attempts to exploit the situation, forced the Chinese to retreat from their ultimatum to India. Nevertheless the incident has provided a clear illustration of the continuing threat of Chinese pressure throughout the Asian area and adds greater urgency to the need for avoiding a repetition of the hostilities between India and Pakistan.
– by leave - I thank the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) for making a copy of his statement available to me this morning. I shall be, as was the Minister, brief in my comments. The Minister’s reference to Indonesia consisted largely of a factual, chronological account of events that have taken place in the last fortnight so far as he and we can trace them. He quite rightly refrained from delivering judgment on those events, fraught though they are with the most important consequences for the whole region and for Australia. They are, of course, fundamentally internal matters and, therefore, are to be dealt with by the Indonesian people. In what is happening in Indonesia we can only be observers, though highly interested and careful observers.
Our interest, and our hope too, I suggest, is for a stable Indonesia, developing for the welfare of all her people the vast resources of the archipelago, living and growing peacefully without interference from her neighbours and without interference on her part with her neighbours. To this end we must keep our channels of communication open and we must show ourselves to be prepared to assist actively and generously with aid and trade. In this connotation I do not disagree with what the Minister has said. Our hope is that Indonesia will desist from her policy of confrontation. This policy is indefensible and dangerous. It is dangerous to the peace of the area and even further afield. If Indonesia were to carry out the policy that the Minister has suggested, and which I endorse, I am sure that nation would become a source of stability in the area rather than a source of friction and instability. Instability, economic backwardness and poverty are the things upon which Communism thrives and these things will exist while the resources of a nation are channelled into external adventures and while the population is diverted from its domestic problems by the creation of an atmosphere of permanent crisis.
If we want to get rid of Communism, we must remove the things that cause Communism. We cannot deal with the effects by military means; we must remove the causes that produce the effects. There is a real and immediate food crisis in many parts of Indonesia and it is not to be wondered at that Communism is strong in Indonesia. Our Government should consider the possibility of Australia’s making an immediate grant to relieve suffering and to show our continued goodwill towards the people of Indonesia. It is also our hope that Indonesia will reconsider its withdrawal from the United Nations. We believe with Pope Paul that the United Nations must strive for true universality of membership. That body cannot be regarded as truly universal when great and important nations like Indonesia refuse participation in the work for world peace.
The Minister’s references to the situation in Vietnam were brief. I think they show that vagueness and lack of purpose which have characterised the Government’s policy in relation to that unhappy country. The Minister has admitted that the war in that country will be very long and very difficult, but still he does not define what he means by “victory” or tell us what can be done by military victory - if it is possible to think that victory in any meaningful sense can be achieved. Does the Government believe that the partition of Vietnam into north and south areas is to be regarded as permanent? Are the Vietcong and the National Liberation Front to be admitted to the negotiations? Or will no negotiations take place until the Vietcong have been totally annihilated? These and other pressing questions remain unanswered. The Government has never tried to answer them, nor has it given any signs that it has even asked them either of itself or of the United States.
The Minister quite properly extended the sympathy of the House to those of our fellow Australians who have been bereaved by the loss of their loved ones in the war in Vietnam. What the Minister did not refer to is the fact that the casualties there seem to be extraordinarily high. Nor did be say what has been achieved by these operations. At a high cost in deaths and other casualties - an extraordinarily high rate of one in ten of the troops engaged - Australian forces made a foray lasting several days. The Vietcong retreated and disappeared according to the normal practice of guerrilla warfare. After this foray, our men have returned to base and then, presumably, in a short time, the Vietcong will return to the area which has allegedly been cleared. If the object of military action is to hold or seize territory, then little would seem to have been achieved by the present operations in Vietnam.
What control do the Australian authorities exercise over the operations and the planning of operations in which Australian troops are engaged? One of the tragic facts of Australian military history is that whenever our troops have been under nonAustralian or non-American command losses have been extremely high. This was certainly true of World War I. The Parliament and the people should have assurances that we shall retain full control over the operations of our troops. The Government, so far, has failed to give any such assurances. The high casualty rate makes it plain that replacements for the battalion will be. needed sooner than was originally expected. This makes it indeed certain that, despite the denials of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon), conscripts will be included among the replacements which will have to be sent to Vietnam soon. At the time of the introduction of conscription last year, and during the Senate election campaign, the Government was very silent on this point. Indeed, its spokesmen tried to ridicule suggestions that, by means of a lottery system, Australian boys would be conscripted to fight in the jungles of Vietnam. Yet, that is exactly what is going to happen. I do not believe that the people, of Australia realised this in November last; if they had, public opinion would have rejected such a proposal.
The Minister then dealt with the. recent hostilities between India and Pakistan. This was, and indeed remains a crisis full of tragedy and danger. The most encouraging feature - the only encouraging feature - is the fact that the United Nations was able to act effectively, and with speed, to bring about a cease fire. The United
Nations has not yet been able to produce a solution, but the fact that its intervention was able to bring about a cessation of fighting was, in itself, a great gain for the countries concerned and for the world. Let those who try to denigrate the United Nations and those who seek to by-pass it take note of this. And let those of us who believe passionately in the United Nations as the only real hope for world peace take encouragement from it.
The way to a genuine and lasting settlement in Kashmir will be long and difficult. It may be that an independent Kashmir will be the only possible solution. I put that suggestion forward very tentatively because India will probably never agree to any further partition of the Indian sub-continent. If the Secretary-General of the United Nations, U Thant, who deserves the world’s lasting admiration and gratitude for his energy and dedication in this crisis, comes to the conclusion that independence is indeed the only solution, Australia will have to consider whether or not to use its good offices with our Commonwealth partners to bring that solution to fruition. The situation is full of frustration and difficulty.
We should also signify our willingness to participate in any United Nations peace keeping force that may be sent to Kashmir, and to maintain it there for a very long time if necessary. The world will find, despite the prophets of doom and disaster, that we must come back to the United Nations again and again if the peace of the world is to be kept, or if peace in particular areas is to be kept and if mankind is to be saved from nuclear annihilation. We must strive to make that organisation truly effective by making it truly universal. This means that we must seek for ways by which to bring China into that body and to give China the obligations as well as the rights that derive from membership of the comity of nations.
I do not underestimate or understate the difficulties in the way of the achievement of that ideal, but sooner or later it will have to be achieved. China must be brought into the disarmament talks as has been suggested by Senator Robert Kennedy and endorsed by the United States Senate majority leader, Senator Mike Mansfield.
We cannot talk about peace for four-fifths of the world without recognising the existence of that one-fifth who will continue to behave as an outlaw nation as long as it is treated as an outlaw nation.
I can say for the Opposition that we hope that the news from Indonesia, from India and Pakistan and from Vietnam will improve very soon and that after that it will continue to improve, because Australians are surely the last people in the world who want to be involved in these internecine and fratricidal struggles in other countries. We are people who want 50 years of peace in order to develop this great country and from that development to make a substantial contribution to the wellbeing of people everywhere.
– I present the following report of the Public Accounts Committee -
Seventy-second Report - Treasury Minutes on the Fifty-fourth, Sixty-first and Sixty-sixth Reports together with summaries of those reports.
I seek leave to make a short statement.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
- Mr. Speaker, this report deals with three Treasury minutes relating to the 54th, 61st and 66th reports of your Committee. The first two Treasury minutes, which relate respectively to your Committee’s reports on the form of the Estimates and the reports of the AuditorGeneral for 1961-62 have been examined and found adequate. In its examination of the Treasury minutes relating to your Committee’s report on the Auditor-General’s reports for 1962-63, however, your Committee found that several of the statements made reflected incomplete or tentative action. In these circumstances your Committee felt that it could not accept the Treasury minute without qualification and submit it to the Parliament as a completion of the inquiry concerned. Your Committee proposes to discuss with the Department of the Treasury the elements in the Treasury minute which are commented upon in chapter 5 of this report and will, in a subsequent report relating to Treasury minutes, inform the Parliament of the outcome of the discussion. I move -
That the report be printed.
– Mr. Speaker, is it proper for me at this stage to comment on what has been said?
– No. The honorable member can only make up his mind on whether or not he wants the report printed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Consideration resumed from 14th October (vide page 1900).
Department of Civil Aviation.
Proposed expenditure, £18,705,000.
Department of Shipping and Transport.
Proposed expenditure, £13,303,000.
Proposed expenditure, £6,996,000.
– I should like to make some brief comments on the rail gauge standardisation programme. As honorable members will know, it is perhaps some eight or nine years since the Government Members Rail Standardisation Committee presented its report, which was in substance adopted by the Government. It is, in general, being implemented by the Government at this moment. The line from Melbourne to Albury has been standardised, the line from Cockburn to Port Pirie is being standardised and the line from Kalgoorlie to Fremantle is being standardised. This leaves only one or two loose ends to be tied up, and I want to refer to these, particularly as I was somewhat disappointed with the answer I got from the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) last Thursday when he told me that there was, as yet, no finality regarding the section between Broken Hill and Cockburn. Broken Hill is in New South Wales, and a short length of privately owned railway connects it with Cockburn on the South Australian border. This link is of 3 ft. 6 in. gauge. From Cockburn the line runs down to Port Pirie, and this section is in the process of conversion from 3 ft. 6 in. to standard gauge and no doubt it will be linked up with the Trans-continental line, thus enabling trains to go through on standard gauge from Brisbane to Fremantle when this short link of a few miles between Broken Hill and the South Australian border is standardised. I know that the Minister has plans under consideration regarding this matter and I know that this link will not be left uncompleted, but I think it is reasonable to ask for some determination about it without delay.
There are two matters to be considered. First, the route of the railway and, secondly, the arrangements that are to be made with the, Silverton Tramway Co., which at present owns and operates that short private line. I think it is only fair to Broken Hill, to the company and to Australia that we should not delay this decision indefinitely. In the old days, Silverton was a more important town than Broken Hill. In fact, the inhabitants of Silverton used to refer to Broken Hill as the “ hill of nothing ‘. The railway was planned to go to Silverton and that is why it is called the Silverton tramway. Subsequently it was extended by some sort of dogleg to Broken Hill. At that time the New South Wales Government made a survey of a direct route from Broken Hill via Pinnacles to Cockburn - not only a shorter route but a better route than the one occupied at present by the Silverton trams. There was an old survey of this route. I remember about seven or eight years ago obtaining a copy of this survey from the New South Wales Department of Railways. The survey was made 50 or 60 years ago. I gave the copy to the then Minister for Shipping and Transport. That route was not entirely suitable, because of gradients and so forth, for the high class railway we now propose, but it could quickly have been adapted and it would have required only a little more cutting and embankment and very minor deviations to have been a completely satisfactory route. Let me emphasise that there are no survey difficulties here which could not have been competently cleaned up in two or three months. It is quite ridiculous to say that there are survey difficulties that would take years to resolve. I have looked at the ground; I have seen the route. I remember delivering a copy of the old plan to the Minister years ago. The old plan would need only quite small adjustments. There are no survey reasons why this matter should not be cleaned up.
Concerning the entry of this line into Broken Hill, I remember many years ago taking, not the Minister, not his predecessor, but his predecessor’s predecessor in office, to Broken Hill. I remember going over the ground with him and showing him that there were no survey difficulties in getting into Broken Hill and making a satisfactory junction with the existing railway system. I went into this matter in some detail. I am not going to weary the Committee with it, but again I say that this is a small detail which presents little or no difficulty at all to a practical man. There is no complexity that could not be solved after a few hours investigation. The idea is to bring the line in beside New Broken Hill Consolidated Ltd. and through Consolidated Zinc by the director’s cottage and get in to the main line at the point where the standard gauge, if honorable members will remember, goes to the Zinc Corporation Ltd.
– Is that on the Sydney side of the main railway station at Broken Hill?
– It is not on the
Sydney side. It is on the Adelaide side.
– I thought that area was owned by the Silverton Tramway Company.
– No. It does not own that line. There was considerable confusion about the ownership of the line. I think that I was instrumental in having that confusion cleared up. The ownership of the line in Broken Hill does not in general reside in the Silverton Tramway Company, with the exception of one spur line, I think, which is unimportant. As I say, this matter should have been cleaned up because the programme of the mines depends on their having their transport arrangements satisfactorily fixed. We do not want to think of the transport arrangements as being separate, either from the concentrate loading operations or the concentrate unloading operations. There are questions to be considered about tipping trucks. There are questions as to whether there should be joint loading or whether the present situation should continue. All these questions depend upon a decision being made. None of these questions are terribly complicated. They could be answered by any reasonably competent man almost in a few weeks. There is really no good reason for delay but be cause of it the efficient development of the industry and its transport arrangements are being held up.
May I again remind the Committee that this is not simply a question of the terminal at Broken Hill? It also involves the terminal at Port Pirie. These two matters must go together. The arrangements made at Broken Hill for the marshalling of trucks, and things of that description, will determine the precise nature of the arrangements which have to be made at Port Pirie. Because of the delay in making a decision - which I believe is quite unreasonable - the efficiency of the whole operation is being jeopardised to some extent. I would not complain if this matter had arisen only a year or two ago, but it has been going on year after year. The shareholders of the Silverton Tramways Company, in fairness, should know where they stand. It is unreasonable to leave them up in the air. It is unreasonable also to leave the officers and employees of Silverton Tramway up in the air. So what I plead for in this case is for the Government to stop the delay. For heaven’s sake let us get this comparatively simple matter - and it is covered by only a small part of our complicated report, most of which has been adopted by the Government - cleaned up. I get a litle bit sick of seeing the way this matter is being messed about. After all, it is our report and we should have some voice in its implementation.
Let me go further: There is also the small question - small in terms of money, but relatively important - of the standard gauge connection between Port Pirie and Adelaide. Again, this is a matter where a detailed proposal has been made by the South Australian Commissioner for Railways, I think, perhaps five or six years ago. It was quite a long time ago. His proposal was a satisfactory and reasonable one, but no finality has been reached in regard to it. It is one of the matters which is up in the air. If the standard gauge system is to reach full efficiency there should be a connection from Port Pirie to Adelaide. This matter again ties up with the bogey changes and the other work which is to be done either at Mile End or somewhere else in Adelaide. It also determines, to some extent, the layout at Port Pirie and Port Augusta. Because the Government has failed to make up its mind on this matter there is quite considerable administrative inefficiency.
There is one other matter that should be dealt with and that is the strengthening and reballasting of the track from Broken Hill to Parkes. This matter concerns New South Wales. The present track is lightly constructed and is perfectly suitable for the light traffic which it bears at present. There is no reason why the line should be substantially up-graded except for the standardisation programme. When the line from Broken Hill to Port Pirie is completed as a standard gauge line, then this lightly constructed track from Parkes to Broken Hill will be called upon to bear all sorts of heavy trans-continental traffic which it is not capable of bearing now. Therefore the upgrading of this line is properly a part of the standardisation programme and should be financed in the same way and on the same terms as other parts of the programme. The Minister for Shipping and Transport is a West Australian. I would say that to do what has been done for Western Australia under the standardisation programme and not give New South Wales the benefit of the same conditions for the up-grading of the Parkes-Broken Hill section of the line would be gross favouritism. I know that parochial considerations come into this matter. I speak, perhaps, as a New South Welshman. But it is not parochialism to rebutt the parochialism which has been going on. New South Wales is entitled to these benefits on the basis that they have been given to South Australia, or Western Australia or Victoria. To deny New South Wales the benefit of standardisation conditions for this small work is wrong. I know the Government has made a tentative decision to deny the benefit to New South Wales, but if it holds to that view the Government will be wrong. I am hoping that the Government, in all fairness and equity, will see that this request is met. We recommended this assistance in our report. We see this project as part of the overall standardisation plan. New South Wales would be quite capable of operating its railways with this light line from Parkes to Broken Hill if it were not for the fact that the trans-continental traffic, which will result from the standardisation plan, will need a heavier track in this location. So the improvement to this line, which is necessary because of the standardisation programme, should be financed on the same conditions as the rest of the work done under that programme. I say to the Minister: “ Western Australia has been very well treated, thank you. What about giving New South Wales a fair go? “
.- I would like to congratulate the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), who has just resumed his seat, because when discussing railways he makes a contribution to the debate. He shows himself to be a true nationalist when he puts forward his argument, like the late Eddie Ward. We owe them a lot. 1 hope that the Government will listen to what the honorable member had to say.
– The Government will not listen to him or the honorable member for Batman or to anyone else.
– I hope that the Government does listen. I do not wish to speak on rail standardisation but on the estimates for the Department of Shipping and Transport. Referring to Division No. 450, under item 1, Salaries and Payments in the nature of salary, there is provision for payment to the Secretary of the Department of Shipping and Transport of a salary of £7,500 a year. I am glad to see that because he is worth every penny of it. But when we come to Division No. 455, we see provision for the Assistant Secretary of the Marine Services Division to receive £4,365. Then there are six regional controllers who receive £3,114 and 49 nautical advisers, engineers, surveyors and examiners who each receive £3,014. I get that figure by dividing 49 into the total amount of £147,682. Some may get a little more and some a little less. However, my point is that the amount paid to the professional men is too far below that paid to the Secretary. I would not like to see a Gilbertian situation develop such as that which was epitomised in “ H.M.S. Pinafore “ in the famous words -
Stick close to your desks and never go to sca And you all may be rulers of the Queen’s Navee
I sugguest that the salaries of professional men and technicians should be closer to those paid to persons who work at desks.
An important matter that I want to bring before the Committee in this debate is the position in Australia with respect to dry docks. The situation is becoming quite an alarming one. We have very few dry docks capable of docking ships more than 400 feet in length, and a ship 400 feet long is not, after all, a very big ship. In Brisbane there is the Cairncross dock which is 830 feet long and a government dock 431 feet long. In Sydney there is the Captain Cook dock, 1,139 feet long, the Sutherland dock 690 feet long and the Fitzroy dock 500 feet long. When we get down to Melbourne we find Duke’s and Orr’s dock, 507 feet long, which is shortly to be resumed. Then there is the Alfred naval dock, which is only 470 feet long. In Newcastle there is a floating dock getting to the end of its days of usefulness, which is capable of docking ships 630 feet in length. In Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania, there are no docking facilities, except for slipways capable of taking small vessels.
The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) - and I say this sincerely - must feel great concern at the lack of docking facilities in his own State of Western Australia, which is going to be a very important shipping State. I have listened with interest to the statements made in this Parliament by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Collard), whose huge electorate takes in some of the seaports where spectacular development is about to occur. The honorable member has made constant pleas for docking facilities in Western Australia. We all know of the progress that is being made in the establishment of ports in the north-west of Western Australia to take big iron ore carriers. We will also have very large tankers coming into Cockburn Sound and to Kwinana. These will be quite big ships, and if anything goes amiss with them, there will be no facilities whatsoever for their dry docking.
Now is the time for the Government to step in, while vacant stretches of coastline are still available for the building of docks. The provision of a dock becomes a very costly business after an area has been built up. Houses and other buildings have to be pulled down and roads diverted, and this all increases the cost.
There is also the defence angle to be considered. We cannot afford to have only one dock in Australia capable of taking the new type of ship that we are about to build - the 47,000 ton bulk carrier. Perhaps such a ship could be docked in Brisbane. At present the only dock in New South Wales capable of taking it is the Captain Cook naval dock, which is quite often required for naval purposes. I hope that this matter will be given consideration when the dock in Newcastle is being replaced. Although Newcastle Harbour cannot take ships of the 47,000 ton class when they are fully laden, such ships would be able to enter the Harbour in a lightened condition. Newcastle would be an ideal place for them to be docked because the heavy industries are there which are necessary when repairs are being carried out. That kind of industry is being built up in Western Australia also, and again I hope that the Minister will see his way clear to urge the Government to make suitable docking arrangements in Western Australia.
I have before me a magazine entitled “The Australasian Ports Cargo Handling Quarterly “ for the quarter November 1964 to January 1965. At page 80 we find some information which is known to me and to many other members of this Parliament. The article is headed “Where Will They be Dry Docked? “ and it reads -
In Western Australia the dry docking resources are such that the State Shipping Service (whose ships do not exceed 5,000 tons gross) is obliged to send “ Koojara “ and “ Kangaroo “ east foi docking and survey, a procedure that results in loss of considerable earning time away from the Western Australian coast.
Even small ships of only 5,000 tons gross have to go all the way from Western Australia to the eastern States for dry docking. This has been the position ever since I have been at sea. All the Western Australian Government ships have to go to the eastern States for dry docking. Before the war they used to go to Singapore. A similar situation exists in South Australia. The same article in the magazine I mentioned says -
The situation in South Australia is similar. “ Troubridge “, 1,800 tons gross, the largest intrastate vessel, has to sacrifice a week’s work each year to come to Melbourne for cleaning, painting and survey. The state’s largest slipway can handle no more than 1,500 tons deadweight.
This is the position in Australia at the present time. We sadly lack docking facilities. We are talking about bringing ships to Australia capable of transporting 100,000 tons of petroleum. Those ships will go to western ports. Some of them will go to South Australia and some to Western Australia. The approach channels to Kwinana are being dredged to take such vessels. If we ask people to bring vessels of that kind to Australia we must offer them the facilities of a normal modern port. If we do not we are falling down on the job. I hope the Government will take steps to remedy the situation speedily.
One matter that is causing a great deal of concern is the increase of freight rates for carriage of goods on overseas vessels. I merely want to mention this briefly because I know it has little to do with the Department of Shipping and Transport. I think we must have some ships of our own trading overseas so that we can combat these steep freight increases. Reports issued by various authorities affected by these freight rates indicate the concern that is felt. The Australian Canned Fruits Board, for instance, has expressed great concern. The Australian Dried Fruits Control Board has pointed out that it ships 82,000 tons of dried fruits overseas each year and that it has nothing to do with the freight rates charged. We must have our own ships trading overseas. I would like to see a fleet established by the Government, other people would like to see private enterprise do the job. I know very well the troubles that will beset any person or authority which undertakes such a venture, whether it is a government or a private enterprise undertaking. It will be very difficult to make a go of it. But something must be done. Are we-going to pay away more in freights or be prepared to suffer a small loss on our ships trading overseas for the benefit of our industries - the dried fruits industry and other primary industries - which produce the goods that are shipped out of this country? The time must come when either the Government or Australian private industry will have to engage in overseas shipping. I make a plea to the Government to see that the time is soon.
I am very glad that we have now twelve tankers on the Australian coast. The House is well aware just how difficult it was to get this tanker service established. Reports I have received indicate that the tankers are running efficiently. Their turnround is quicker than was expected. This is mainly because the masters of these ships are exempt from pilotage. While other ships may have to wait to meet certain port requirements these ships can come straight in. I should like to say more about this matter if I had the time. These tankers have shown that they can operate quicker under the Australian flag than they could under the flag of some other country.
Something should be done to try to get the various authorities which go to make up a port operating under one flag, so to speak. Much has been said about delays to overseas ships carrying passengers into the port of Melbourne. One department says that it is the Department of Customs and Excise which causes the delay. I suggest that a conference of representatives of the various departments associated with the port of Melbourne should be held. This conference would include representatives of the Ports and Harbours section of the Victorian Department of Public Works, of the Melbourne Harbour Trust Commissioners, of the Department of Customs and Excise, of the Department of Health and of the Department of Shipping and Transport. When an overseas ship enters Port Phillip Heads it still has approximately three hours to go before berthing in Melbourne. Just after passing through the Heads the ship passes a little town called Portsea. I suggest that the officers of the Department of Customs and Excise should board the ship at Portsea. They could attend to their duty while passengers were asleep, or if people were about they could have their baggage examined. By the time that the ship arrived at Melbourne everything would be cleared. The same procedure could be adopted in regard to medical examinations. A doctor from the Department of Health could join the ship as it passed Portsea. The ship would not have to go one mile off course to pick up either the officers of the Department of Customs and Excise or the doctor. If that procedure were adopted it would stop a lot of things being said about the port of Melbourne. The port of Melbourne is not a bad port. I should like to hear people say something about the port well before they make their last trip. Usually a person who makes an adverse report about Melbourne does not intend to come back.
If we could get representatives of the bodies I have mentioned together a number of matters could be straightened out and there would be less delay caused to ships. Baggage could be inspected while the ship was under way. Then when the ship arrived at Melbourne passengers could leave immediately, their baggage having been cleared, and there would be far less delay. I suggest that the Department of Shipping and Transport get these people together so that something worthwhile can be achieved.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Concern at the net profit of the Australian National Line being the lowest on record since the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission was established nine years ago has been expressed by the Chairman of the Commission. Even so, the Commission’s report shows a net profit of £783,737, after making provision for the payment of all current liabilities, including income tax. The declared profit of the Australian National Line of last year is £251,674 less than was recorded the year before, and £16.097 less than the previously lowest recorded profit, in 1959. Whether or not there should be a general freight rise, or whether there should be an upward adjustment on only certain sections of the trade that can absorb an increase in freight, I leave to the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth), the economists and actuaries, but I trust that full consideration will be given to Australia’s net gain in having complete control of such a line to service our coast.
The Commission admits that it is having extreme difficulty in maintaining an efficient and economically sound general cargo service round the Australian coast with the use of orthodox ships and cargo handling methods. It has planned to extend its fleet to make provision for vehicle deck vessels, and to extend the container principle over a far wider field. This modern method has already been proved to be the most economical and efficient method of transporting certain cargoes, and I welcome its further introduction in coastwise trade, trusting at the same time that it will, as it should, keep interstate and intrastate freight rates to a reasonable minimum. I shall refer later to adjustments in freight rates made by the Australian National Line over the past seven years, as this in itself is added proof that the continuous upward trend in freight rates imposed by foreign shipping companies on the transport of Australia’s overseas cargoes is not justified.
Overseas companies place the blame for rising freights on the slow turnround in Australian ports, port congestion, the waterside workers, rising costs and wages or, in some instances, on an occasional shortage of total tonnages. The Minister and the Government frankly admit they have no control over freight charges by overseas shipping lines. It is of interest to note the answer given by the Minister for Trade and Industry on 15th September last to a question which I placed on notice. I asked -
Is the Government concerned at the imposition of steep increases in freight charges on Australian exports?
The answer given by the Minister was -
The second question I asked was -
Has the Government any control over freight charges for the carriage of our exports or imports?
The answer to that question was -
No. The Government, however, works closely with Australian exporters and shipping companies on all matters affecting the carriage of Australia’s overseas trade.
My third question was -
Can the economy or individual industries, for example the wool and wheat producing industries, afford the continuing increase in freight charges?
The answer given by the Minister was -
Bulk items, such as wheat and sugar, are shipped mainly on charter terms, and rates are determined on individual shipments in accordance with the world wide demand for the type of vessels required.
Later in his answer the Minister said -
Australian exports face severe competition in overseas markets and any costs which adversely affect the competitive position of such products must affect the Australian economy.
So we find the Minister frankly admitting that the Government is concerned at the steep freight increases on overseas cargoes, and just as frankly admitting that it has no control over freight charges. The Minister admits that Australian exports face extremely severe competition in overseas markets, which adversely affects our competitive position and the Australian economy, yet all that the Government can or will do is to keep an eye on things to see that the Australian producer gets a fair go. It should be recorded, however, that there is, to my knowledge, no case on record where the Government has been successful in having the freight rates reduced after the imposition of increases.
Honorable members should note that the Minister stated that the Government works closely with overseas shipping companies in regard to freight charges. They may have good cause to think that the Government might be working a little too closely when freights continue to soar and we find a continuous increase in freights charged for our main overseas exports. Taking the same reference time of seven years - as I will later, when referring to the Australian National Line - freights to the United Kingdom rose between 1959 and 1965 by 52s. 6d. a ton on a parcel of wheat. Barley freights rose by 40s. a ton; freight on wool by 93s. 4d. a ton; on butter by 51s. 8d. a ton; on eggs by 39s. 3d. a ton measurement, and on lamb by 90s. 9d. a ton weight. Since July of this year, when the Conference line shipowners announced a further increase of 10 per cent, on North America-Australian freights, Australian Meat Board Officials have vigorously opposed the increase by every means at their disposal. They realised that such an increase could price Australian meat out of our overseas markets, and asked for permission to inspect Conference line books because they were positive that there was no justification for the increase. Permission was refused, which seems to prove that the increase was neither just nor necessary. Strange at it may seem, freight space at the old price was offered on vessels not owned by the conference lines, but a two year guarantee was required. As a result of this firm challenge by Meat Board officials the Department of Trade has intervened and reopened negotiations. Meat Board officials have been given permission to inspect the books of the conference lines to see whether the figures have been cooked. The rise of 10 per cent, in freight charges has been deferred from July to 1st December this year.
Surely this is a matter calling for a full inquiry by the Government. If, as has been intimated, no action can be taken by the Government, this would seem to support the argument that if we had a Commonwealth owned and controlled vessel on the run a proper assessment of freight rates and running costs could be made and our meat exporters would have an opportunity to place their goods in foreign markets at competitive prices.
One of the outstanding advantages of having our own line is referred to by the Chairman of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission in the Commission’s report for 1965. The Chairman said -
In earlier Annual Reports and notably that for last year, 1 have referred to rising costs and falling margins of profit, and the probable effect of these on the future earnings of the Australian National Line. Over the past seven years, the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission has been able to absorb the steady increases in operating costs experienced by the shipping industry without any general adjustment in freight rates. At the same time the dividend payments have been maintained at 6 per cent, on capital.
The Chairman pointed out that for the last seven years cargo has been carried all round the Australian coast and to many out of the way places without any general adjustment in freight rates. All but an infinitesimal percentage of the Australian National Line’s cargoes have been handled under exactly the same Australian conditions as overseas lines complain about. The profits of the Australian National Line may not be sufficient or large, but its value to the Australian people whom it serves and to the economy can be fairly assessed if we consider what foreign owned vessels would charge to do the same work and even whether they would call at some of our smaller and more inaccessible ports. The balance sheet of the Australian National Line shows the financial growth of the Line. It gives details of the Line’s assets, including ships, land, buildings, plant, furniture and equipment. These are now valued at £7,369,000 more than the value placed upon them eight years ago. The liabilities of the Australian National Line have more than doubled in the same period. Since 1958 its capital and reserves have increased by £3,084,000 to £20 million. The Australian National Line paid out in taxes in the last eight years £8,321,000- an average of more than £1 million a year. In the year ended June 1965 it paid taxes amounting to £1,255,047, which is about £470,000 more than it retained as a profit for its enterprise.
The Australian National Line employs Australians who pay taxes in Australia. The Line owns 39 vessels, all but four of which were built in Australian dockyards, employing Australian workers and using mainly Australian materials. If the Minister for
Shipping and Transport were to set his actuaries to work to assess the real income to the Treasury from all these sources he would be forced to agree that although a small profit may be necessary and desirable, the overall economic value of the Australian National Line cannot be assessed solely by its book profit without having regard to the service it renders to the community and without remembering the further sources of income for the Government created by the Line’s operations. Bearing these things in mind, surely at this stage of our national growth we should be seeking to provide an overseas line with which to enter the lucrative overseas trade and assist Australia to compete in foreign markets.
Recently I visited Whyalla and spent some time in the dockyard. I inspected the “ Darling River “, which is under construction for the Australian National Line. This is a vessel of 47,500 tons. It has a wide beam and stretches to the limit the present capacity of the yard. All work on the vessel is at least up to schedule. Much of the work is well ahead of schedule. The management of the yard has been concerned with greater efficiency in management. It has employed new and modern shipbuilding techniques. I am convinced from what I saw that in a short time this yard will be able to produce vessels as good or better than any produced by other yards, and at less cost. Greater sections of the vessel are being prefabricated. Increasingly fittings are being placed into the prefabricated section before it is placed in position. The engine and many other fittings are placed in position as soon as their bases are laid. This technique simplifies the work and enables heavy objects to be handled more conveniently and efficiently. The amount of rigging is reduced. Many fittings are placed in permanent position while construction is in progress. The method used is similar to that employed in Japan, whose shipbuilding industry leapt forward after the last war with the introduction of American production techniques. Japan is now the leader of the big four in shipbuilding.
It is interesting to note that Japan claims to be building 46 per cent, of the world’s shipping. In 1964 she was building 38 per cent. Reports indicate that this upward trend is likely to continue. A number of reasons are given for Japan’s progress in shipbuilding. First, Japan has a superabundance of manpower. Japanese yards employ thousands of workers on a vessel compared with hundreds employed in Australian yards. Secondly, the Japanese Government is backing the industry with credit facilities for overseas customers. The trend in Japanese ship design is towards a decrease in length and an increase in beam and depth.
It is interesting to note that the Whyalla yard is making an earnest endeavour to reduce costs and to compete with overseas yards. Incorporated in the “ Darling River “ are some of the advantages of modern design and shipbuilding methods. Particular reference should be made to the use of the type of hull which forms a bulbous bow. This is said to save about 700 tons of steel fabrication and represents a saving in construction costs of about £35,000 a vessel.
Many observers believe that the Commonwealth Government has imposed on Australian shipbuilding yards a rationalisation programme which has for its purpose the maintenance of full employment in the industry at current capacity levels. This objective may be laudable from a narrow view but the Whyalla yard and, no doubt, other yards are ready to increase their capacity. They realise that they are losing ground in the international fight for shipbuilding. They need encouragement. They need a continuity of orders for vessels over a longer period. They need to know the Government’s plans for the future of shipbuilding in Australia. If their needs are met they can show Australia and the rest of the world that they can successfully compete with overseas yards.
I wish to refer now to the road leading to Woomera. On 18th August last year I told honorable members of the state of the road. Nothing has been done since then to improve the road, and it is now much worse than it was last year. I have presented to the House a petition signed by residents of Woomera and have pointed out that the Federal Government has a responsibility in the matter. In answer to a recent inquiry the Minister for Shipping -and Transport said: “This is largely a matter for the State Government. If the State Government decides to give it priority, it will be done.” We have had two different versions of Woomera’s future. The Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall) has said that there is enough work at Woomera for the next decade and many years after that. But Mr. Jenkins, the United Kingdom Minister for Aviation, has said in effect: “ Pack up. You have had it.” I would like the Minister for Supply to place before honorable members his views about Woomera’s future. I would like him to indicate what financial assistance his Government is prepared to give South Australia in order to repair a road that is not fit to serve a town the size of Woomera. The road is quite inadequate for private travellers or for the carriage of supplies to the range area. Will the Minister say whether the Port Augusta to Woomera road is an access road to Commonwealth property? If so, how much use is made of the road by Commonwealth vehicles or by vehicles owned by contractors for Commonwealth projects?
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I wish to address a few remarks to the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation. Estimated departmental running expenses for 1965-66 are £17,175,000, compared with an expenditure of £15,873,000 in 1964-65. Of the estimated increase of £1,302,000 for this year, £193,000 will go towards salaries and administrative expenses. The remainder will go towards the maintenance and operation of facilities generally. As honorable members are aware, the only airline service between Darwin and Perth is operated by MacRobertson Miller Airlines Ltd., and since June of last year, Ansett has had a 70 per cent, controlling interest in this company. Honorable members may or may not be aware that, apart from some small charter aircraft, MacRobertson Miller Airlines Ltd. has a complete monopoly of the air routes in Western Australia. All intrastate flights and all Darwin to Perth flights are controlled by this company. If honorable members look at Chart 1 in the report of the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) they will see that with every service between capital cities, with the exception of Darwin to Perth, air travellers have a choice of two major airlines, Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett-A.N.A. The aircraft used on flights between other capital cities include Fokker Friendships,
Viscounts, DC6B’s, Electras and Boeing 727’s. But the best aircraft used on the Darwin to Perth service is a Fokker Friendship and most of the intrastate flights are serviced by DC3’s. As I say, this airline is controlled by Ansett.
Let us compare flight times. The flight from Perth to Darwin by MacRobertson Miller Airlines Ltd., using a Fokker Friendship, is scheduled to take 11 hours 15 minutes or 12 hours, depending on the number of stops, and quite often it takes longer. So we have a flight of Hi to 12 hours to cover a distance of 1,834 miles, whereas the Boeing 727 can cover the distance of 1,796 miles from Perth to Melbourne in 4 hours 10 minutes, including a stop at Adelaide. The direct flight to Melbourne takes about 3 hours by the Boeing 727 or about 4i hours by Electra. So to fly an extra 40 miles with MacRobertson Miller Airlines Ltd. takes an additional 7 hours or more. There is, of course, an even worse trip. The flight of 1,378 miles from Perth to Derby by DC3 takes 10 hours. If this were still a MacRobertson Miller airline, I would not be critical, because it has certainly done a good job in a number of ways over the years. But when Ansett obtained a 70 per cent, controlling interest in June of last year, the public was told that there would soon be an improved service. Unfortunately this has not happened. The only hope we are now given is a suggestion that we will have jets in 1969-70.
Since Ansett has taken control, the service has become worse. I will point out a little later that passengers are really receiving a rather poor deal. The Commonwealth. I suggest, has encouraged Ansett’s attitude by refusing to give the green light to T.A.A. to operate between Perth and Darwin either on direct flights or on intrastate flights. MacRobertson Miller Airlines Ltd.. or Ansett-MacRobertson Miller Airlines Ltd. as it should now be called, has no fear of competition. It is not worried about losing passengers or freight to another airline company. The application by T.A.A. to enter into the Western Australian services should be approved. I would go so far as to say that there is a better reason for two companies to operate between Perth and Darwin than there is for two companies to operate between Adelaide and Darwin. As we know, for quite some time now the Adelaide to
Darwin service has been operated by the two major companies.
Both passenger and freight traffic carried by MacRobertson Miller Airlines Ltd. have increased considerably. This year, for the first time, it has carried more than 100,000 passengers and about 1,250,000 lbs. of freight. This clearly shows that passenger and freight requirements between Perth and Darwin and generally within Western Australia are becoming far too big for one company to handle properly, unless it puts on more and bigger aircraft. Unless T.A.A. is allowed to enter into this field of operations, the service will become worse. I am well aware that MacRobertson Miller has increased the number of flights and has added a DC4, but this does not mean that the service generally has improved. The fact is that the demand for air travel and air freight has increased so much that it goes far beyond the additional services provided. This being so, it quite naturally follows that the service today, when measured against demand, is worse than it was a few years ago. As a result of the inadequate service, the people generally are inconvenienced and development of the north is suffering. Despite this, the Government is not willing to allow T.A.A. to. enter the field. The previous Minister told us that the Government’s policy is against establishing a second airline when the existing airline is receiving a subsidy. I suggest that the truth is that the Government’s policy is to keep T.A.A. out as much as possible and allow Ansett in as much as possible.
The Liberal Party Minister responsible for this matter in the Western Australian Parliament has admitted that delays occur in passenger travel and in the despatch of air freight. It is interesting to note that his replies suggest that MacRobertson Miller has a system of express air freight at double the cost of ordinary freight. This is a handy money spinner. The Minister in Western Australia told the member for Pilbara that ordinary freight could be delayed by three days where priority was given to express freight. He also said that express freight represents at least 10 per cent, of the freight carried by MacRobertson Miller. In the 12 months ended August last, MacRobertson Miller carried 5,242,531 lb. of freight. This means that at least 524,253 lb. of freight was carried at double rates. As ordinary rates for northern areas range from ls. 2d. to 3s. 2d. a lb., it can easily be seen that this has become a racket and that costs to the people trying to develop the north have increased. Of course, the more money that is recovered by imposing express rates the less subsidy the Commonwealth has to pay to MacRobertson Miller. I do not know whether the Government supports and encourages this system.
Only last year, or it may have been the year before, the Minister for Civil Aviation at that time, speaking in a debate, referred to a certain provision of the second schedule of the Airlines Agreement Act. He said this provision prevented either the Government or a private airline from having a monopoly. It would appear, if this is so, that the Government is not enforcing the provision. It could be that it had no bearing while MacRobertson Miller operated as an independent company. But I would suggest that today, when Ansett has a 70 per cent, controlling interest, the provision should be enforced. Surely it is only right and proper that an agreement should be entered into for the benefit of Western Australia. At the time that Ansett took over the control of MacRobertson Miller Airlines Ltd. the Minister stated that Western Australia could be assured that its future traffic needs would be met properly. He also said -
I intend to watch closely the continuing operations of the airline to see that the legitimate needs of the area are served and not neglected.
It is now obvious that what the Minister said would be done has not been done, or the Government has a rather peculiar idea of the legitimate needs of air travellers and other users of air transport in Western Australia.
I have already referred to the delays in passenger travel and the transport of freight and the inconvenience that occurs because of the delays. I now wish to deal with the studied contempt, as I think it is, by this Ansett controlled airline for the comfort, welfare and convenience of a number of its passengers. The Minister apparently considers that this is legitimate. Some months ago, MacRobertson Miller Airlines Ltd. brought a DC3 aircraft into operation. It was named the “ Lynden “ at the time this airline bought it. The aricraft is used to carry passengers. I understand it was originally bought for use on the service between Perth and Rottnest Island, which lakes about 25 minutes. This aircraft is equipped with seating which today would not be tolerated on any road bus service or even on a service around a city. The seats do not recline and the back of the seat comes halfway down the passenger’s back. It is impossible for a passenger to obtain a comfortable reclining position. Each passenger is obliged to sit up like the proverbial Jacky. There are no racks above the seats on which to place hats or overcoats and the like. If one hangs a coat or a cardigan on the hook provided at the side of the aircraft, one covers the window and blocks the view. The passenger in the window seat may be prepared to put up with this, for he may still have some view, but the passenger in the aisle seat would not be very happy about it, and I suppose that he is as much entitled to a view through the window as is the passenger in the window seat.
Conditions were bad enough when .the aircraft was used on the short run between Perth and Rottnest Island, but for a considerable time it has been used also on the services between Perth, Kalgoorlie and Laverton, Perth, Kalgoorlie and Albany, and Perth, Esperance and Kalgoorlie. I have even seen it at Port Hedland. The flight from Perth to Laverton takes, I think, 4i to 4i hours, the Perth-Kalgoorlie-Albany trip about 6 hours and the PerthEsperanceKalgoorlie service about 5 hours. I would hate to hear the uproar if conditions like those prevailing on this aircraft applied to journeys occupying comparable time - say, between Perth and Melbourne or Melbourne and Brisbane. On the Western Australian flights that I have described, meals are usually served. Honorable members can imagine what takes place. It is necessary to balance the meal tray on one’s knee. That is not so bad, perhaps. But, to do that, one has either to put one’s hat and overcoat on, because they were on one’s lap before, or put them on the floor and put one’s feet on them. Indeed, someone else may obligingly put his feet on them. The overcoat, of course, may be thrown over the back of the seat, to the inconvenience of the passenger seated behind. If a passenger has a brief case or umbrella, he is in serious trouble.
– An umbrella might be handy to put up if the plane were forced down.
– That may be so. Doubtless, there would be many other inconveniences then. At meal time, the passenger, having put on his hat, overcoat and any other spare item of clothing that he is carrying, and having balanced the tray precariously on his knee, has still further troubles. He is obliged to crouch in a very awkward position, because, if his shoulder protrudes half an inch into the aisle, it becomes an obstruction to the hostess and impedes her movement up and down the aircraft. If she bumps into a passenger while he is having his meal, the cup of coffee intended for his own lips may finish in his lap or down the neck of the passenger beside him. But that is not all. Probably, before starting the meal, the passenger was comfortable and warm, for the hostesses are very kind and courteous and they make all the necessary adjustments to the air conditioning in the aircraft to make conditions comfortable for the passengers. As I have explained, when the meal comes along, the passenger has to don his hat, overcoat and any other surplus wearing apparel that he carries with him. It is then not long before he becomes rather hot and uncomfortable. Immediately he completes his meal, he removes all this surplus apparel. It is then no time before all the passengers are sneezing and blowing their noses as a result of the consequent sudden change in body temperature.
– It would be better to go walkabout.
– If the distances to be covered were not so great, it would be better to walk or even to buy a push bike.
My criticisms are not directed at the aircrews or the ground staff of either AnsettA.N.A. or M.M.A., Sir. The staffs of these airlines compare favorably with those of other operators. They are always very kind and courteous and they go out of their way to make one’s journey comfortable. They provide every convenience that it is within their power to provide. But it is quite beyond their capacity to overcome the inconveniences and discomforts imposed by those higher up. I am sure that the aircrews are greatly embarrassed by the complaints that they receive about the “ Lynden “ aircraft. The operating company, of course, does not make any adjustment in the fare as compensation for the. passengers putting up with all the inconveniences and discomforts that I have described. Passengers are still expected to pay full fares. This service - if it can be called one - is disgraceful. It should not be allowed to continue. I ask the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn), who is now at the table, to use his good offices in an effort to prevail on MacRobertson Miller Airlines to do something to improve the seating in this aircraft or else to remodel the passenger accommodation completely.
Order! The honorable member’s time ha« expired.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, I have had occasion from time to time to make a comparison between the great speed with which the Government promulgates regulations in the field of civil aviation to cope with situations which arise within Australia, and between Australia and other countries, and, on the other hand, the extraordinary difficulty which the Government finds, and the lethargy which it manifests, in promulgating regulations in the maritime field relating to situations on the Australian coast and between Australia and other countries. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Collard) has demonstrated the reasons for the difference between the earnestness and expedition which the Government shows in the one field and that which it exhibits in the other. If there were in the maritime field a private operator to whom the Government was as indebted as it is to the Ansett group in the civil aviation field, undoubtedly similar expedition and efficiency would be shown in both fields. The difference in speed and earnestness is all the more remarkable in that it used to be shown when the same Minister - the present Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge)- held both the Civil Aviation and the Shipping and Transport portfolios.
On this occasion, I shall deal with the maritime regulations alone. The whole matter was brought to a head on 26th August in an article in the Sydney “ Sun ‘. In that article, Mr. Lou d’Alpuget, a special writer, described the five years’ delay which the Government has shown in implementing the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea. The present Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) was hurt by the article. On the same day, he issued a statement in rebuttal of it. Among other things, he said -
Notices to shipowners and mariners have been prepared for some time and will be issued in the usual way.
They were in fact issued and dated on 30th August - four days later. The regulations were to come into force internationally on 1st September. Honorable members can probably be forgiven for being unaware of all the implications of these maritime regulations. Until today, the Parliamentary Library did not have a copy of the proceedings of the International Conference on Safety of Life at Sea, 1960, at which they were drawn up.
I had asked a few questions over the years about the Regulations and Convention drawn up at the conference. At the conference it was resolved that, as soon as there was substantial unanimity on the acceptance of the revised international regulations for preventing collisions at sea, the Inter-governmental Maritime Consultative Organisation should give to all the governments concerned a year’s notice of the date when the regulations would come into force. On the 14th of this month, in answer to a question of which the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) had given notice on 2nd September, the Minister stated that this position was not reached until August 1964, when 1st September 1965 was set as the commencement date. On 18th August of last year, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck), in a written reply, told me that the question of Australia becoming a party to the regulations was under consideration. On 16th November, the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), who was then Acting Minister for External Affairs, told me that at the conference in 1960 Australia had supported the regulations and that at that date 32 countries had already implemented them. Among them were the principal countries whose ships trade with Australia, namely France, Greece, Japan, Liberia, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. He said that the Convention was to come into force on 1st September this year. He said -
The regulations have been examined and instructions have been given for the preparation of legislation to enable Australia to become a party to them. It is not possible at present to say when the legislation will be ready-
On the 12th of this month the Minister for External Affairs gave me a written reply which showed that five more countries had ratified the Convention, making 37 countries in all. Among the additional great trading countries so far as Australia is concerned was Germany.
It might be wondered why we have taken so long - five years - to gain the advantage of these regulations for Australian shippers and shippers in Australian waters. On 22nd September the Minister for Shipping and Transport supplied me with an answer which gives some of the explanation. The Department of Shipping and Transport Stated in the document dated 30th August, to which I have referred, that the regulations required Commonwealth regulations in the Australian Commonwealth sphere; for the first time it was revealed that there would be regulations in the different States. Pursuant to the view which the Department takes in this matter, the State Ministers were advised in February 1961 at a meeting of the Australian Transport Advisory Council that the Commonwealth accepted the Convention and was taking legislative action with a view to ratification. I am quoting from the written reply the Minister gave me on 22nd September. On 5th May 1961 letters were sent from the Prime Minister’s Department to all State Premiers Departments. On 28th March 1963 further letters were sent to the Premiers Departments. On 5th May 1964 the Prime Minister wrote to the State Premiers. In July 1 964 the State Ministers were reminded of the matter at another meeting of the Australian Transport Advisory Council. There was further correspondence between the Commonwealth and the States during 1964 and 1965, and on 7th May 1965 the Prime Minister yet again wrote to the Premiers. It will be noticed that the States have required constant prodding over 4i years to carry out this international obligation. In such matters the Federal system is clearly inefficient. It is depriving everybody who sails in an Australian ship and all people who sail in Australian waters of the benefits of an international convention which alone can extend their security.
The Minister told me in the same answer of 22nd September that the States were at last moving in the matter of their regulations. He said that in Victoria and Queensland the regulations relating to collisions at sea would come into force on 1st September this year, that in New South Wales they would come into force on 17th September, that in South Australia the regulations would come into force this month, that in Western Australia they had come into force on 10th December 1964, and that in various Tasmanian ports they would take effect as from August and September this year; Hobart, however, was not included among the Tasmanian ports. The Minister added -
In any case, however, the British High Commission has advised that a new order made under the British Merchant Shipping Act 1894 applies the new International Collision Regulations to all Australian States except Queensland.
I am prompted, therefore, to ask the Minister questions which I have asked on several occasions. First, why did not the Commonwealth apply this Convention to all Australian ships and waters under its external affairs powers? Secondly, why did the States pass all these regulations to implement the Convention when the British Government has done it also? Therefore, what is the position in regard to the States? It would appear that in Queensland if any law applies it is that of Queensland alone. In all the other States there are duplicated laws, British and State, and there were different commencement dates for the British and State laws in every case. I repeat: Why is it necessary to go through this elaborate and inefficient procedure? Why does not the Commonwealth implement this Convention under its own external affairs power? If the present position is to continue, what is held to be the situation between British and State laws within the territorial waters of the different States?
This was only one of the international arrangements made in 1960. The other was the Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, which was to come into force 12 months after the date on which not less than 15 acceptances, including seven by countries each with not less than one million gross tons of shipping, had been deposited.
Again, the text of this Convention was not available in the Parliamentary Library until this week. It has taken the Parliamentary Library five years to secure a copy of this Convention which Australia was committed to ratify. In these circumstances, how can honorable members check on the Government? On 20th May last year the Minister for External Affairs told me that instructions had been or were in the course of being given for the preparation of legislation to enable Australia to become a party. He said that 16 countries had already ratified the Convention. On 18th August last year he said that the question of Australia becoming a party to the Convention was under consideration. On 22nd September last year he agreed in another answer that the requisite number of ratifications had been achieved on 26th May 1964 and that the Convention was to come into effect on 26th May 1965. He said that extensive legislative changes would be necessary to give effect to the Convention in Australia and that it was not possible at that time to say when the drafting of the legislation would be completed. He said that the drafting of the legislation had begun. He declined, however, to say whether enabling legislation would be prepared before 26th May this year.
On 16th November last year the Acting Minister for External Affairs told me that we had supported the Convention at the conference in 1960, that 18 countries had already adopted it and that among those trading to Australia were France, Greece, Japan, Liberia, Norway, Britain and America. On the 12th of this month the Minister for External Affairs told me that 17 more countries had adopted the Convention, making 35 in all, the principal ones trading to Australia among the additional parties being Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands. So again we have not even in interstate or international trade the benefit of this Convention. In other words, it is not as safe to sail in Australian waters or in Australian ships as it would be if the Government had adopted the Convention, as has been done by 35 of the principal maritime nations, including the largest ones trading to Australia.
I have not time to go through the 33 transport conventions with ancillary protocols which, on 22nd October last year, the Minister for External Affairs told me had been drafted since the First World War and which we could still adopt. He told me this month that we have adopted no more yet. In addition, there are 21 maritime conventions which have been drawn up at International Labour Conferences and which we have not yet adopted. In fact, the International Labour Conference has made many new conventions to supersede old conventions which we have not yet adopted; that is, the Conference has overtaken conditions with which we have not yet caught up.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I wish to direct a few remarks to the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation. It will be noted that the proposed expenditure for this year is divided into two categories. The first amounts to £17i million while the other, which relates to civil works amounts to £9 million, making a grand total of £261 million or an increase of £5 million over the expenditure for last year. I am particularly interested this afternoon in asking whether the Department of Civil Aviation has decided on a definite programme and whether it is sure that it is working in the right direction for the best development of our major airports. I am concerned to discover, too, whether the taxpayer is obtaining from this expenditure by the Department the maximum return for his tremendous investment in civil aviation.
In 1962-63, the amount authorised to be spent by the Department on its works programme was £2,353,000 and it would seem that this figure had not varied for a number of years. This year, however, the proposed expenditure is £9,050,000, which represents an increase of approximately 280 per cent, in three years. As I have said, the amount provided for 1962-63 did not appear to vary greatly from what had been provided in previous years, but in 1963-64, the amount provided increased by 60 per cent, to £3,955,000. Then, for some unknown reason, the increase in 1964-65 over the amount provided in 1963-64 was only 40 per cent. In that year, the amount authorised was £5,436,000. Now the proposed expenditure in 1965-66 is £9,050,000 which represents an increase of 65 per cent, over the amount provided for last year.
The reason why I mention these figures is that it would seem that in the short time since 1963-64, there has been some major rethinking on the part of departmental officers as to what is necessary to meet the demands of modern subsonic and supersonic aircraft. Why is it that the Department has adopted this attitude only in the last two or three years, especially in view of the fact that fast subsonic aircraft have been in operation in Australia since 1959? The Department’s attitude in this respect appears to be somewhat incongruous when compared with the policy adopted by Qantas Empire Airways Ltd., the Government’s other aviation utility which I am sure all honorable members will agree has played a very significant part in the development of civil aviation, not only in this country but throughout the world and which is recognised as being in the forefront of airline administration and operation.
Although the Department of Civil Aviation has not until this year adopted a positive approach to the development of major airports, 1 hope that it now realises what is required, not only to meet modern demands in civil aviation but also to cope with likely future development. The programme now being undertaken is not expected to be completed before at least 1971 or 1972. It includes projects at Perth, where much has been done within a very short time, at Tullamarine in Melbourne and at KingsfordSmith in Sydney. In addition to all this work, serious consideration must be given to possible requirements at Brisbane and perhaps Adelaide.
I make these comments - advisedly, I hope - because over the period of years to which I have referred, there has been a significant variation between the amount of money allocated to the Department and the amount spent. There has consistently been work outstanding although this has not necessarily been significant because it is added to year by year. There has been a significant variation between the amount allocated to the Department and the amount it has been able to spend in each year since 1961-62. I do not for one moment blame the departmental officers entirely for this underspending because expansion during the last two years in civil aviation has been most rapid. From my dealings with them as a member of the Public Works Committee in recent months I know that they are conversant with what is needed now and what is likely to be needed in the future. Nevertheless the figures are interesting.
Out of the £2,351,000 allocated for works in 1961-62, the Department was able to spend only £1,789,492. In 1962-63, the figures were somewhat similar. In 1963-64, out of an allocation of £3,955,000, the Department was able to spend only £2,524,218 or about two-thirds. Last year the expenditure authorised was £5,436,000 of which only £4,731,552 was expended. This year, the Department is being given the tremendous sum of £9 million. 1 am aware that it has many, substantial contracts well under way and I hope - without wishing to see any undue haste in expenditure - that it will be able to spend the whole of that amount.
The second point with which I wish to deal briefly is the question whether the Department has established the best possible order of priorities for carrying out its works. I find it difficult to appreciate how the very beautiful city of Perth, which is developing very rapidly, and which has international and domestic aircraft movements, amounting to 7,200 a year and involving about 200,000 passengers should have had for the past two years at least the best capital city airport in Australia. Melbourne is not expected to be able to make full use of Tullamarine for another two years, despite the fact that even now its aircraft movements total approximately 48,000 a year and its turnover of passengers is approximately 1,500,000 a year. That is quite significant business. Neither the passenger facilities nor the runway lengths at Melbourne are up to the. standard required for such heavy traffic.
In order to avoid being parochial, I shall bypass Sydney and move on to Brisbane. I wonder where Brisbane finds itself placed in the order of priorities which the Department has seen fit to apply? Brisbane has 24,700 aircraft movements a year and a turnover in passengers of more than 700,000. I have no doubt that anyone who has travelled to Brisbane in recent times would not for one minute think that the facilities compare in any way favorably with those available in Perth. Then, of course, I have not mentioned Adelaide and what it may be able to expect in the next four or five years, or even the next decade. I wonder on what basis the Department of Civil Aviation works out its system of priority. I should hope it might have another look at it to see what it offers.
I have not mentioned the value at which the Department shows its assets in its annual report. It refers to an amount of £80 million plus an average of £26 million per annum. This year there has been an increase of £5 million on previous years. From that £80 million investment, taking into consideration a great measure of services, we have an income of about £5 million. I am fully aware that the airline industry in the 1950’s experienced a particularly difficult period, but I think it fair to say that the airline industry is now on the brink of very rapid expansion - indeed, this has commenced and shows no sign of abating. It can look forward to a substantial increase in traffic, profit and turnover, with associated receipts anr1 expenditures. I wonder whether the Department is obtaining a reasonable return from the airlines and from the people who use the expensive facilities provided by it. I do not suggest that charges should be increased to exorbitant rates that people and the airways cannot meet, but I question whether the Department is obtaining a reasonable return for the taxpayers’ money that has been invested and from the application of the talents of the Department. I wonder, too, whether expensive installations are being utilised fully, not only by domestic aircraft but also by international aircraft. This is related to the timetabling of services. It is common knowledge that most international aircraft arrive in Sydney - Australia’s main international terminal - in the early hours of the morning. I do not know the reason for this, but possibly it is for the conveniece of the international operators. I appreciate that millions of pounds are at stake in international airlines. I understand that the cost of a standing position at Tullamarine and at Mascot will be about £175,000 to £200,000. It is expected that eight standing positions will be required at Tullamarine and twelve at Mascot; but do we need eight at Tullamarine and twelve in Sydney? Could not timetables be allocated to rationalise the use of the airport terminals so that a lesser number of standing positions would be required, thus lowering the capital costs of airports? Further, I wonder whether the domestic operators could expand their activities and obtain more revenue, thus bringing more revenue into the Department and thence to the Commonwealth Treasury. I hope that the Department knows where it is going and that it has a target for the developments at our major airports. I certainly hope it will catch up with requirements as quickly as possible and continue to keep pace with the needs of civil aviation, one of the fastest developing facets of our way of life today.
.- In dealing with several aspects of the proposed expenditure before us I wish, first, to refer to shipping freight rates. I think the whole question is interlocked with the activity and programming of shipbuilding and the extent to which the Government is prepared to extend Australia’s shipping interests not only in the coastal trade but in overseas trade. The Government’s participation in shipping can have a direct effect on the freights we have to pay on our imports and exports. Recently discussions have been taking place over a possible increase of 10 per cent, in freight rates. This increase could cost our overseas balances about £15 million a year. This cost will increase as freight charges increase annually, so while at present the cost is about £15 million it will continue to rise. Therefore, we must look at the question of whether an Australian overseas shipping line can have an effect on the situation. I honestly believe that it can, because the various boards and people responsible for exports have been complaining for some time. I have in my files a heap of Press cuttings that I do not propose to read out but with which honorable members are familiar. I should like to quote from a cutting dated 17th May 1955, under the heading “Challenge on Ship Freights “ as follows -
The President of the Australian Exporters Federation (Mr. R. C. Vine) told members that the Federation would fight the proposed 10 per cent, increase “ boots and all “.
Have we not heard similar statements in the last couple of weeks? The Australian Meat Board, for instance, is fighting a proposed increase of 10 per cent, on freight charges between Australia and the west coast of the United States of America. We keep on talking about this matter but doing nothing else about it. We have had a practical example of what can be done with shipbuilding and with operating a coastal shipping line. About two years ago 142 overseas tankers operated with single voyage permits on the Australian coast, but in ;he last 12 months this number has been reduced to 75 vessels. I believe our actions to provide for ourselves have an effect on the attitude of overseas shipping lines. The Government should be prepared to make a clear and positive statement on what it proposes to do about operating an Australian overseas shipping line.
I believe that Australian export industries have been taken for a ride by overseas shippers. As an example, I refer to wheat exports. In “ The Wheat Situation “, a publication of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, it is disclosed that the charter rates for bulk wheat shipped to the United Kingdom have been subject to great variations. For instance, on 13th January 1964 the charter rate was 100s. sterling per ton whereas on 25th May and on 3rd June it was 80s. a ton. What is the real reason for this reduction in the tonnage rate for wheat from January to June - a drop of 20 per cent., from £5 to £4 a ton? What is the real explanation of it? Surely it is not the increased cost because the wheat is going the other way. It is not the increased cost of labour and of handling the material. It is just the fact that at that particular time the number of tramp steamers available for transporting Australian wheat was much greater and so there was much more competition. The result was a reduction from £5 a ton to £4 a ton. The latest figures available relate to 28th May 1965 when the price had risen to £5 4s. 6d. a ton. What explanation is there for this other than that when there is more competition between the shipping lines they are prepared to reduce their prices when they have to? When there is no competition and no pressure being applied they lift prices and charge more for transporting Australian wheat to the United Kingdom.
– There is a great deal of difference between bulk carriers and the Conference lines cargoes.
– I realise that, but I suggest to the honorable Minister for Shipping and
Transport (Mr. Freeth) that he might examine in detail Sir Alan Westerman’s proposals on this matter. He went to a great deal of trouble to prepare a report on the subject. Incidentally, I do not believe that that report is available to the public or even to honorable members. I believe the facts in the report reveal that Sir Alan Westerman went to a great deal of trouble to prepare estimates and examine the operations of the overseas Conference lines. He was able to produce facts and figures which showed that by this group getting together and working as a team it could reduce freights on Australian goods by at least 12.5 per cent. That could be done just by rearranging the number of trips in each year and by reorganising the collection and disposal of cargo. Instead of vessels hopping round the coast as if on a milk run, as they are at the present moment, they should be organised and should not be worrying about cost. I say that because, at present, all the shipping companies have to do is to say: “ As from this date, freight is to be increased by 5 per cent., 7i per cent, or 1 0 per cent.”. They can produce figures to show that their costs have increased during that time notwithstanding the fact that they have made no attempt to reorganise the collection and disposal of the cargoes they are required to carry.
I believe the situation requires a decision by this Government to enter into overseas shipping and to establish an Australian overseas shipping line which can go into competition with these other shipping concerns. On the Australian coast, the Australian National Line has shown it is capable of competing with the existing and long established shipping lines. It has had the experience for many years now. Why does not the Government give it approval to move into the field of overseas shipping? By doing so, I believe it would provide the competition required.
I have another newspaper cutting which gives an example of what has happened when there has been a dog fight between shipping lines. The cutting is from the “Australian” of 20th August 1964 and it refers to wool freights from New Zealand. I will refer to it quite briefly. It says that in August 1964 the freight rates on wool from New Zealand to the United Kingdom had increased by £500,000. The article referred to the fact that between 1961 and 1963, when a Dutch shipping line was interested in New Zealand freight and moved in against the Conference lines, New Zealand was able to save over £1 million. This was because this company had entered the field and provided some competition for the Conference lines. I believe that an Australian overseas shipping line would provide this competition which is so necessary. Therefore, I believe the Minister should make a very clear statement that the Government is going to do something about this in the very near future.
I believe such a statement would have a very definite effect on the Australian shipbuilding industry. I agree that at the present time the Australian shipbuilding industry has never been more buoyant. Each shipyard has a substantial order at the moment. The Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd. has bulk carriers of 47,000 tons to build, the dockyard at Newcastle has the B.P. tankers, Evans Deakin & Co. Pty. Ltd. is taken care of with the number of orders that it has, and the Cockatoo Island dockyards are catered for. But the latest date of completion is January 1968 and I believe that that time will be considerably reduced when the work on those particular tankers is started. Therefore I believe the Minister, at this time, should be prepared to give some indication of what the Government intends to do about this matter. So far as the withholding of orders is concerned, we know that orders closed some time ago for three 22,500-ton tankers for R. W. Miller & Co. Pty. Ltd. Tenders have been called for, and have closed, for three roll-on roll-off ships similar to the “ Empress of Australia “. There have been orders for two 1,850-ton hopper barges for Westminster Dredging Aust. Pty. Ltd. There has been no indication of the name of the successful tenderers.
This has had an effect on the shipyards. It means that they are not prepared and not game to go on with the necessary development of their yards. I believe the Government has to give a clear indication that it proposes to guarantee that a certain amount of shipping will be made available year by year to these yards at a fair and reasonable cost. I know that a number of yards in Australia today have quoted prices below the real cost of the work. In other words, they have had to cut their prices to the bone to ensure that they got the tender. There has been competition between the yards. This has had a very adverse effect on labour employed in these places. I can speak with some experience of the dockyard at Newcastle. I know that the establishment there has quoted prices much lower than it should have been done in an endeavour to obtain contracts to build certain types of ships. The over award payment to tradesmen in the metal industries throughout Australia is far in excess of award rates. Because of the firm prices submitted by the shipyards as required by the Australian Shipbuilding Board, many yards have lost much of their skilled labour because outside industries are paying much more. Evidence of this was tendered to a conciliation commissioner recently. He endeavoured to give some relief by granting a paltry increase of lis. a week in the margin. That increase did not scratch the surface.
These shipyards should be allowed to submit fair and reasonable tenders. I do not mean that they should be exorbitant tenders; I am not advocating any exploitation of the situation. I believe that they should be permitted to submit tenders which are fair and reasonable so that they can pay fair and reasonable wages to the workers in that industry. We can develop a most important industry in this island nation of ours. We should have an excellent and first class shipbuilding industry.
To do this, I believe that certain things are necessary. First of all there must be continuity of orders placed by the Australian Shipbuilding Board. We must have this continuity so that shipyards can carry out the necessary development to compete with overseas shipyards. Secondly, we have to be prepared to move into the overseas general cargo carrying industry. We have to develop the capacity of the Australian National Line so that it can compete and have an effect on our freights.
A most important subject is our imports of crude oil. At the present time, Australia is building up an export industry by exporting millions of tons of iron ore and iron ore pellets to Japan. I am not advocating for one second that we should demand the transportation of all that iron ore to Japan in Australian ships. 1 believe that Japan, as the buying nation, is entitled to move that iron ore in her own ships. But whilst agreeing with that principle - and 1 believe it is an important one - we are entitled to claim and demand that every ton of crude oil brought to Australia should come in our own ships. At the moment we are importing in the vicinity of 10.65 million tons of crude oil annually. There is not one reason in the world why it should not be moved in Australian built and Australian owned tankers. If it were so carried we could ensure continuity of employment and continuity of development of Australian shipyards for many years to come. The maintenance of these ships alone would easily guarantee continuity of employment in this important industry. 1 appeal to the Minister to make a clear statement at an early date about an overseas shipping line and an overseas tanker fleet which will transport all the crude oil that we require in Australia.
.- I would very much like to support the plea of the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) for the extension of the operations of the Australian National Line to include an overseas service. We believe that the Line has fully qualified itself during the last 10 years or so to undertake this venture in a new field. The work of the Australian National Line around the Australian coast has been absolutely outstanding. Perhaps the greatest feature of Australia’s trade internally has been the development of the A.N.L. It has filled many gaps. It has assisted the various States with the carriage of all kinds of cargoes, including experimental and difficult cargoes, and in spite of all the pressure that this Government has put upon it the Line has come out on top.
I have before me the annual report for 1965 of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission, which is the authority administering the Australian National Line. This is another of the Commission’s excellent reports. Honorable members received it last week. It shows at page 17 that the net profit after tax was £783,737. Last year the Line had a profit of £1,035,411, so that there was a reduction of about £241,000 on the operations over the 12 months. But the fact that the Line made any profit at all is pleasing in view of the circumstances on the Australian coast. There has been a considerable increase in wages, which in- volved the expenditure of an additional amount of £700,000 in the 12 months. There was a big increase in bunkering costs and substantial increases in stevedoring costs. In spite of all these increases and other increases in wharfage and port charges - and particularly in terminal costs - the Line made an outstanding profit on the year’s operations.
The Australian National Line, therefore, is no longer a baby. It is a mature, well established and experienced line. It has first class staff from top to bottom. It has the full support of the Waterside Workers Federation. The Federation has a special agreement with the Australian National Line under which the Line makes contributions towards, I think, the Federation’s pension scheme. This has helped relationships between the Federation and the Australian National Line in no small measure. Two private companies have also made similar agreements with the Waterside Workers Federation under which, I understand, they pay 10 per cent, of the amount represented by total wages into a pension fund for waterside workers. If this kind of co-operation was carried on right down the line by our recalcitrant shipowners we would not have the strife on the waterfront that exists today. These men are seeking something that all other workers in industry seek, a pension scheme.
– The Australian National Line does not make a contribution to a pension scheme.
– Well, it is probably the other scheme.
– It is for permanent employment.
– That is right. I am sorry, it is for permanent employment. It is not the same thing, but the contribution is made in the same spirit. It is a very substantial contribution to make to ensure the employment of men who lose their jobs on the waterfront through mechanisation, and thousands have.
The Australian National Line has 39 ships with a total deadweight tonnage of 251,501. A remarkable trend has been apparent during the last 10 years with regard to types of ships and their purposes. The Australian National Line now owns and operates 19 motor ore and bulk cargo ships around the Australian coastline. This group of ships represents a deadweight tonnage of 189,960, which is about 75 to 80 per cent, of the total A.N.L. tonnage. These types of ships are growing in importance and extent of operations. 1 have taken a note of the years in which they were built. Two were built in 1954, two in 1955, two in 1956, four in 1957, three in 1958, two in 1959, two in 1960 and two in 1964. The construction of those vessels represented a substantial proportion of our shipbuilding operations. It has been all to the good and a great help to the shipbuilding industry which has languished for many years at various points on the Australian coast.
I want to stress the urgency of Australia entering the overseas trade with its own ships. This is more and more pressing as freight rates continue to rise. There was a recent increase of 10 per cent, in respect of cargoes to North America. This was a very substantial single increase. There are many other reasons why we should enter the overseas trade. Our . competition could gradually bring freight rates down or at least stabilise them. Even if we did no more than stabilise the rates it would be of great benefit. On 28th September I asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth), a question in this House as to whether there had been a conference between the Waterside Workers Federation and the Australian National Line with regard to the building and operation of two bulk ore carriers for our trade between Australia and Japan. I asked -
Is this evidence that the Australian National Line has a firm policy to begin an overseas shipping line with or without this Government’s blessing?
The Minister gave a very interesting reply. He said -
Not only has the Australian National Line this Government’s blessing, as the honorable member puts it, but it has the blessing of Parliament because in the statute which created the Line it is given power to operate ships- overseas. There is a deal of difference between operating an overseas shipping line and carrying cargoes overseas in ships when the opportunities are available. One connotes a regular service with a large number of vessels; the other connotes merely taking advantages of opportunities .that exist. The Australian National Line and the Government have frequently looked at opportunities which have occurred from time to time to take part in overseas trade. Unfortunately, at the moment they seem to be very limited. There will be new opportunities in con nection with shipments of bulk cargoes in association with many new aspects of our mineral development. AH these are being carefully examined by the Government and by the Australian National Line.
The Minister at least admitted that the Australian National Line can carry on overseas shipping operations when it wishes to, because this is in its charter.
– Which Minister said that?
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport. He pointed out that there are two types of overseas trade, the first being a regular service and the second what we might call a slap-happy hit or miss service, under which the service operates when a cargo is available. 1 know that in past years the Australian National Line has chartered vessels for trading to Asian port’s, but only about one or two services a year, and the ships involved have belonged to other countries. The situation at present is most unsatisfactory. We are at the mercy of the Conference Lines all the time. They use their own ships and they fix freight’ rates without reference to this Government. The farmers and other exporters in Australia are completely at their mercy. Japan has an extensive overseas shipping fleet. Czechoslovakia, Switzerland, Norway and other small European nations have their own overseas shipping lines. There is an independence about the establishment of a nation’s own shipping line, a statesmanlike attitude about it which is lacking in. this country. Fancy a great island continent like Australia, with a distance of 12,000 to overseas ports in one direction and 9,000 miles in another direction, having not one vessel of its own operating in the overseas trade. 1 trust that the Government will encourage the Australian National Line in its investigation into the possibility of commencing an overseas service. Such a service is long overdue and desperately required in order to reduce competition. The “Australian” and the Hobart “Mercury” have come straight out in support of an overseas shipping line, and I know that some of the mainland newspapers also have supported the proposal. Tasmanian farmers’ associations and other organisations have also supported the establishment of an overseas shipping line by Australia,
We only need to start humbly. It would take at least 10 years to establish an overseas line on a worthwhile basis, but if we were to start by acquiring two ships a year, in eight years we would have 16 vessels. If the Government had a will to do this it could do it. There is nothing that Australia cannot do when it has the will to do it.
– And better than other people.
– Yes. We have proved this in many fields - in industry, science, technology and the like. It is only because this Government has not the will to establish an overseas shipping line that we are in the mess that we are in at present.
In speaking of the waterfront I should like to mention a subject that was raised by the Minister for Shipping and Transport in a speech at the opening of the National Textile Congress at the Albert Hall in Canberra recently. The speech was reported in the “ Age “ of 1st October. In this speech the Minister showed a measure of statesmanship that he has failed to show in the Parliament. The newspaper report is as follows -
Australia was less fortunate in one sense than European countries which had their wharves and shipping berths bombed to pieces 20 years ago, the Minister for Shipping (Mr. Freeth) said yesterday. “They had to start anew, redesign and rebuild efficiently,” he said. “ Many of our ports have been-
Listen to this - content to carry on with old facilities, and there are costly delays because of inadequate berths, cargo sheds and obsolete methods.”
– Who said that?
– The present Minister for Shipping and Transport who is seated at the table. He speaks differently outside the House from the way he speaks inside it. The report goes on - and the Opposition agrees with every word of his that I have read out - “ In general, State Governments are responsible for wharf and harbour facilities, although the Commonwealth has given direct financial assistance where the improvement is a matter of urgency to develop an export trade,” he said. “ Shipping, the next great method of transport with railways, has suffered an unfortunate decline in recent years.” “ But there are signs that the problems are being solved and the great challenges met.”
There is an appreciation in that speech that all of the trouble on the waterfront is notto be laid at the feet of the waterside workers. This was said by a Minister of the Crown who sits in the Cabinet alongside the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon), who has become the king maker on the waterfront. How proud he is about it, and now he struts around this Parliament in his newfound power. The Minister for Shipping and Transport sits alongside the Minister for Labour and National Service in the Cabinet. The Minister for Shipping and Transport says that wharf facilities, cargo handling facilities and the like are absolutely out of date.
– Not all of them.
– Not all of them, admittedly, but that is the position generally. They play a tremendous part in the delay in the turnround of ships. The way this Government has blackguarded and blackened the men on the waterfront in recent days is a tragedy, and criminal. I have no time to go into that at present, but it is the lowest form of attack I have seen since I came into this place. Government supporters have stated that the men who work on the waterfront are criminals. In some cases the crimes alleged to have been committed were committed 15 or 20 years ago, yet the Minister had the temerity to come into this Parliament and give the impression that these men were criminals.
– What is the honorable member talking about? I did not say that.
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport did not, but his mate did. Finally, on behalf of the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) and the honorable member for Braddon (Mr. Davies) and myself, I invite the Minister to visit northern Tasmania. I do not know when he last paid a visit to northern Tasmania. I do not even know whether he knows that there is such a place as northern Tasmania. Timber is exported from the northern ports of Tasmania to the mainland. Shipping is inadequate. Ships have been taken off the run by private shipping companies. The Minister needs to come to Tasmania to make a personal assessment of the problem. I hope that when he does make his visit be will see the need for the Australian National Line to make more ships available for the timber trade from the northern ports of Tasmania to the mainland. We are running short of shipping space and the Tasmanian timber industry is losing markets in Sydney hand over fist as a result. I should like-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I want to address a few brief remarks on the estimates of the Department of Civil Aviation. I first want to deal with the Sydney (KingsfordSmith) airport at Mascot. I do not know whether the same position prevails elsewhere as prevails there, but one of the most difficult things to find out at Mascot is the arrival times of aircraft. There is an indicator board, not very large, which shows the departure times of aircraft. It could be doubled in size, to start with. But to my knowledge there is no indicator board at Mascot showing the arrival times of aircraft. I see no reason why, out of an expenditure of £10 million this year on civil aviation, a small amount could not be spent on a board to tell passengers and other people the times of arrival of interstate aircraft. The Sydney airport is one of the major airports of the world, and a board showing the arrival times of aircraft is only one of the many amenities for passengers and public which should be provided. It would be a very minor improvement. I suggest that the Minister discuss this suggestion with his departmental officers with a view to having installed at every capital city airport indicator boards, if they are not already there, showing arrivals and departures so that passengers and the public generally will know just what the situation is. There is nothing more annoying than to have to wait for an aircraft from Melbourne or some other airport and have no idea of its expected arrival time until such time as an announcement is made. I think that a small item of this nature would be very beneficial and a great convenience to the public. I hope that the Government will consider my suggestion.
I wish also to support the remarks of other members on this side of the House about the rationalisation proposals of this free enterprise Government in relation to air transport services. For reasons best known to itself the Government, at tremendous expense to taxpayers, has decided that, come what may, Ansett-A.N.A. must fly in this country in order to provide airline competition. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Collard), in an excellent speech today, showed how passengers were being treated in his own area in Western Australia by an airline company. This form of competition evidently brings about that state of affairs. Why should the planes of both companies leave Sydney for the same destinations within five or ten minutes of each other? Under the rationalisation scheme which affects Ansett-A.N.A. and TransAustralia Airlines competition has gone by the board, so far as I can see, because at times other than peak hours very few aircraft are available. I see no reason why the planes of the two companies should not leave at different times during the day. I see no reason why there should be long gaps when no planes leave, just because that suits the convenience of the airlines. Transport is a public utility and must meet the convenience of passengers. Railways and other transport services have to meet the convenience pf the public as to departure times even though not many passengers are available at certain times. I suggest to those responsible for. this rationalisation scheme, with which I am not in agreement, that something should be done to prevent these two major airlines having their aircraft leave within a few minutes of each other on the various capital city services. There is no reason why there should not be a full coverage given between the capital cities throughout the day.
I notice that air fares are to be increased again. It seems to me that the service on some aircraft is going down as the fares increase, and this is especially the case on some country services. There is one airline - I think it is an Ansett subsidiary - which operates between Sydney and the Riverina. The fares charged on the flight are by no means tourist fares. T have been on this flight - I think it is between Sydney and Hay - and all you get by way of refreshment is a sandwich and a cup of tea, served at some time between the time of take-off and 4 p.m. Some of my colleagues and I had to take our own lunches on the flight, notwithstanding that we were paying first class fares. We shared our cut lunches with other passengers who felt the need for something to eat during the trip.
I have raised this matter with the Ansett organisation. A full meal should be provided on the flight. On other flights that depart in the early hours of the morning you are lucky to get a cup of tea and a biscuit. One such flight that I have in mind is from Sydney to Dubbo. Fares have been increased, but the service has been reduced. It is an extraordinary situation for a passenger paying a first class fare to have to take a cut lunch-
– And share it with others.
– Yes. We shared what we had with a couple of colleagues and one or two other hungry passengers. But that is in the true spirit of a socialist. The Department of Civil Aviation should look into the matters I have raised because, after all, it is the public who is paying. 1 cannot understand why the airlines do not provide tourist travel on flights between Canberra and the other capitals. Why should the thousands of people who annually visit Canberra by air be denied tourist class services? Tourist fares apply between all other capitals but, for some reason, this reduction is not available on flights to and from Canberra. This is a simple matte?, but it merits the attention of the Government. While fares are going up and services are coming down there is no reason why the public should not have the full benefit of tourist fares on flights in and out of Canberra. I notice in Press reports that tourist fares to and from Coolangatta are to be reduced. This is desirable, but there is no reason why a person wishing to visit Canberra should be forced to pay a first class fare. I am not concerned whether this is a decision of T.A.A. or Ansett- A.N.A.; some provision should be made for the people of this capital and the people who wish to visit it to have tourist fares available.
The Government’s airline policy is remarkable. This is claimed to be a free enterprise government. It claims that it Stands for open competition in the air and in all transport services. So that we may have competition in the air we have two airlines but the Government has denied the I.P.E.C. organisation the right to set up an air transport service. The Government claims that it can provide only for two airline operators. This is a free enterprise government believing in free competition. Why does it worry if 100 airlines compete against each other? The Labour Party was condemned in days gone by for creating one government airline. This Government has gone a step further and provided for two airlines. But the Government is adamant that there shall be no more than two airlines, lt does not care what happens to the public, how high fares go, or how bad the service becomes, so long as there are only two airlines. I would like the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) or his representative in this place to say why the Government, believing as it does in free enterprise, seeks to restrict the number of airlines operating in this country. If the Government believes in free enterprise, why does it stand idly by and permit the present airline operators to increase fares? I am convinced that T.A.A. could carry on with fares at the old rates. I am sure that if the Government gave full expression to its policy of free enterprise, T.A.A. could run Ansett-A.N.A. out of the air. The public should be told why T.A.A. has increased its fares. The Government insisted that T.A.A. increase its fares in order to protect the Government’s favourite son - the man responsible for the organisation of AnsettA.N.A. It would be interesting to see the documents relating to the increase in fares. I would like to know whether T.A.A. supports the request made by Ansett-A.N.A.
The circumstances surrounding the increase in fares are similar to those that have surrounded applications to purchase new aircraft. In days gone by T.A.A.’s competitor gained advantages at the hands of this Government. Nobody will convince me that a great company like T.A.A., established by a Labour Government and making substantial profits, despite the restrictions of rationalisation imposed upon it by a free enterprise government, could not carry on satisfactorily under the old fares.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– I want to conclude the few remarks I have been making about civil aviation. Before the suspension of the sitting, 1 dealt with the increases in fares and I said that I considered that T.A.A. was the innocent party and increases had been forced on it by the Government’s policy of rationalisation of airlines. I also mentioned competition. The Government has stated publicly that its policy, clear and undeniable, is one of free enterprise. Free enterprise, if it means anything, means that any person can commence a business, be it a fish shop or an airline, and the policy of survival of the fittest applies. But the Government splits its ethics. It has done this also with margarine and butter. Under the Government’s policy, the manufacture of margarine is restricted so that it will not interfere with the market for butter. I make that passing reference to show that the Government does stretch its policy of free enterprise.
The Government opposed Labour’s policy of one airline, T.A.A., and decided to maintain the system of two airlines, one of them Ansett-A.N.A. and the other” T.A.A. This has resulted not only in an increase in fares and in the expenditure of a tremendous amount of the taxpayers’ money on guarantees and so on to keep a private airline operating, but it has also meant that there is really no competition between the airlines operating services between the State capitals. These are called trunk routes. To support my argument, I cite the report of the Minister for Civil Aviation for 1964-65. The report discusses rationalisation and refers to inquiries that were made into an application for equal access to trunk route services. Mr. Justice Spicer is quoted quite often. I cannot read all the references to Mr. Justice Spicer in the limited time at my disposal, but I would like to read one of his comments. He was dealing with the trunk services between the major capitals.
The report contains the following statement -
If that definition is applied there can be no doubt that these are trunk routes and Mr. Justice Spicer has said that ‘ In the case of trunk route airline services, disparity in frequencies is clearly one of the matters which may render either the Commission or the Company incapable of effective competition with the other ‘.
In other words, T.A.A. and Ansett-A.N.A. are not really in competition when they depart at the same time, charge the same fares, operate over the same routes and land at the same places. Under the guise of free enterprise, the Government has, in effect, one airline operated by two separate organisations. That is the Government’s policy of free enterprise. I have not the time to read other passages from the report. However, I point out that throughout the final chapters of this excellently produced report on civil aviation will be found criticism by Mr. Justice Spicer of the policy of the Government in respect of airline services.
I suggest to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation that he should try to justify the limiting of airlines to two only under the Government’s policy of free enterprise. Why is Ipec-Air Pty. Ltd. not allowed under Government policy to operate freight aircraft in competition with the established airlines? Surely free enterprise means unlimited enterprise, if the Government is sincere. Perhaps the Minister will also explain how it can be said that airlines are competing with each other when they both charge the same fares, use the sams types of aircraft, charge the same freight rates, take off at the same time and land at the same time. Both the major airlines rely on the Government for finance. T.A.A. is financed almost entirely by the Government, but Ansett-A.N’.’A. is almost as dependent on this Government for financial support as T.A.A. is. On this basis, how does the Government justify its policy of permitting two airlines to operate? Above all else, how can it justify its contention that the airlines are run in competition with each other and are giving the public a choice? A passenger wanting to travel to Melbourne can choose between the two airlines, but one departs only a few minutes later than the other. A limited amount of elasticity is permitted in the departure times of the airlines. On other services, the airlines operate on alternate days. They do not operate in competition. A passenger can fly to Darwin on one day with one airline or the next day with the other airline. This is only a phony kind of competition, but it is done at tremendous public expense. It even leads to a substantial increase in fares. These are some of the questions that the Government should answer in the course of a debate on civil aviation and 1 hope that the Minister will try to do so.
.- There is probably nothing so engaging as listening to the honorable member for
Grayndler (Mr. Daly) talking about the split ethics of the Government in relation to civil aviation. I would suggest that, of a lot of honorable members in this place, the honorable member for Grayndler is not one who can talk about split ethics in politics. I would be very far from ever saying to him that he would practice something of this nature in politics. When one talks about competition as between airlines, I would emphasise that there can be efficient competition and inefficient competition. It is because competition between multi-airline systems may be inefficient that the Government has set its face against this policy. This is not the kind of debate, however, in which one would seek to become a little parochial. One would not suggest, of course, that the concern of the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) with the injustices to Sydney airport is unrelated to his position as the representative of a New South Wales electorate. One would not say that his concern with a railway line a little to the east of Broken Hill has any relation to his responsibility to a New South Wales electorate. Far be it from me to do so, but, if the honorable member for Mackellar can adopt anything but a parochial attitude in these matters, let me adopt a national attitude and talk about Eagle Farm airport.
A lot of accusations have been made about the expenditure of money by the Department of Civil Aviation on airports at major capital cities. Two aspects of this expenditure are worth looking at. When we look at the amount spent on terminal buildings at the major city airports over the past six years - again we are not being parochial - it is clear that the Brisbane airport has received less attention than any other airport in Australia has. Furthermore, when we consider the allegation of injustices to Sydney, we should ask: What is the total expenditure since the Second World War on the major city airports in Australia? Until quite recently, Sydney airport has had £12 million spent on it. The next major city airport has had in the vicinity of £4 million spent on it. I understand that this will be corrected with respect to one of the airports associated with a major southern city. However, it is perfectly clear that, in the years since the Second World War, Sydney has not fared too badly.
Once again, not pursuing a parochial attitude, we can look at Eagle Farm airport in Brisbane and ask: Has it any claim at all to attention by the Department of Civil Aviation? Has it contributed anything special to the development of Australia? Has it any special relationship to other airports in such matters as the increase of passengers, freights and services? If we consider international flights and the movement of international passengers, we find that the Brisbane Airport at Eagle Farm is the fastest growing international airport in this country. In the triennium from 1962 to 1964, the number of international passengers passing through this airport increased by something like 190 per cent., whereas at Sydney there has been the magnificent increase of only 75 per cent, and the increase at Melbourne has been a little less. The international passenger traffic through the airports at the other capital cities has increased by only 50 per cent., 60 per cent, or 75 per cent. I have just heard an interjection about facilities. I shall come to them later.
International freight traffic through the Eagle Farm airport has trebled, whereas increases at the other capital cities have ranged only from 50 per cent, to 60 per cent. The number of international flights into and out of Eagle Farm has increased by 200 per cent. They have trebled in the three year period that I have mentioned. On the other hand, the increases at Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney have ranged between 40 per cent, and 50 per cent. So, quite clearly, the Eagle Farm Airport is the fastest growing international airport in Australia. I suggest that, as such, the Government should not neglect it. This is an important airport and it is of vital concern to the prestige of the northern capital of this country. I am not arguing that Queensland has been neglected with respect to airport facilities. A great number of facilities has been provided outside the capital city. In spite of the claim made over the years by the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti), Queensland is the most decentralised State in Australia. Consequently, this Government has far greater obligations and responsibilities there with respect to the distribution of air traffic. Queensland has done very well in the development of airport facilities outside Brisbane, and we appreciate this. But we know that nights to the Far East and the Pacific from Eagle Farm have increased greatly in number. Therefore, the international responsibilities of this Airport ought to be recognised by the Department of Civil Aviation.
It has been suggested that the plans for the next five years provide for certain work to be done at Eagle Farm. This work is to be undertaken for a number of reasons and is not unrelated to the case that I have just made. The work at present planned falls into several categories. There is at present at the Airport a secondary runway, which is known as the north west-south east runway and which is something like 4,500 feet in length. This is to be lengthened, but a completely new runway will have to be developed if a longer one is to be provided. If the Department proposed merely to rehabilitate the existing runway and lengthen it in its present situation, I would not support such a scheme. Indeed, I would vote against it if I had the opportunity.
It is proposed also that a new terminal building be constructed on a site less than half a mile to the north east of the existing terminal buildings. As far as I can learn from officers of the Department, the site proposed for the new building is only about 400 yards to the north east of the present building. This is just not far enough from the present buildings. To avoid inconvenience to the residents of the surrounding area, and for other social reasons, the new terminal building should be about three quarters of a mile to the north east of the present building. An honorable member has interjected to say that this might put the new building nearly in Moreton Bay. It will still be a long way from the Bay. Rumour has it that when the new terminal building is constructed, the present terminal buildings will become maintenance hangars. I can imagine nothing that would be more unsatisfactory. This would be as bad as setting off fire crackers in the present terminal buildings, which are very close to houses in the adjacent residential area. I would not support this course if it were proposed by the Department. So there are three aspects of development at the Brisbane Airport that need to be looked at. These are the siting of a new north west-south east runway, the construction of a new terminal building, which will house the international terminal as well as the local terminal, about three quarters of a mile to the north east of the present terminal buildings, and the construction of new maintenance hangars.
The international character of the Eagle Farm Airport makes it necessary to consider the noise factor, which is a particular feature of international airports. Noise increases as the number of international flights grows and the power of aircraft increases. I suggest that the Department of Civil Aviation form an expert committee to consider this problem. In I960, Viscount Hailsham, who was Minister for Science in the Macmillan Government in the United Kingdom, appointed an expert committee to consider the noise problem in areas adjacent to airports. This committee was a body of highly talented men. It numbered among its members people such as Sir Alan Wilson and Sir Arnold Hall. This expert committee submitted its report in 1963, and some aspects of the report are worth considering in relation to airports, particularly international airports, in Australia generally, not only in Brisbane. They have application also to the airports at Melbourne and Sydney.
A number of aspects of the noise nuisance ought to be considered. They all flow from the work done by the United Kingdom committee. The first matter is the measurement of noise and the assessment of the problem of noise. These things can be measured, as the United Kingdom committee demonstrated. As the committee showed, precise and specific tests of the intrusiveness of noise ought to be made. This relates to the effect of noise on the ability to carry on normal activities, whether in industry, school rooms or in ordinary family life at home. Furthermore, Mr. Temporary Chairman, ground running procedures at airports should be revised. At London Airport, aids such as noise screens are being used in efforts to alleviate the noise nuisance. Matters such as these should be investigated by an expert committee formed by the Department of Civil Aviation. One of the questions that most needs consideration is the increase in the number of night flights. Modern aircraft entail heavy capital expenditure, and it is only reasonable to expect that airline operators will want to use their aircraft as efficiently and as fully as possible.
The United Kingdom committee appointed by Viscount Hailsham has made it clear that the noise problem at airports increases as one approaches the tropics and in proportion to the number of surrounding homes constructed of timber. This means that the problem of aircraft noise at airports applies particularly in a city like Brisbane. An intriguing recommendation by the United Kingdom committee proposed that the British Government assist in the insulation of homes in the vicinity of airports against noise. The committee, referring to a particular method of insulation, stated -
We feel that the improvement of the insulation of houses, or portions of houses, by this, or some other similar method, is the only practicable means of ameliorating the lot of those who are subjected to excessive noise.
For various reasons, the committee’s recommendation on this matter was not accepted by the United Kingdom Government. I trust that the honorable member for Grayndler will not immediately suggest that the Wilson Government will accept the recommendation. I do not believe that it will. The problem of noise at airports is a matter that ought to be considered by an expert committee formed by the Department of Civil Aviation. Many of these problems are associated with the fact that Brisbane airport, as I suggested earlier, is the fastest growing international airport in Australia.
– Sydney would be.
– No, the honorable member for Mackellar is exaggerating. There is one thing further. If this work is not done now the cost will escalate. When the committee suggested this in 1963 in the United Kingdom it said that it could be done for about £500,000, but in 1970 it would cost £1 million. These are suggestions which one would hope the Minister would accept and the Department of Civil Aviation would adopt. It is to be hoped that when they are accepted the Department will not delay in implementing them until the costs become quite impossible.
.- I appreciate that the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Kevin Cairns) is following in the footsteps of his predecessor in advocating improvements to the terminal at Eagle Farm.
– Do not be parochial.
– I thought the honorable member would appreciate a little support I, with other Queensland members, supported a former Labour Party member for Lilley, Mr. Cameron, on a previous occasion without being parochial or following a party line. I supported Mr. Cameron in a deputation to the then Minister for Civil Aviation in which we requested that certain improvements be carried out at Eagle Farm - improvements not only at the international terminal but also at the existing terminals of both major airlines. Since that delegation met the Minister for Civil Aviation approval has been given for work to be carried out at Perth and Launceston. Perhaps, as the Minister suggested, in the order of priorities Brisbane was lower than other airports, particularly Mount Isa. I know that my colleague, the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Harding), is very concerned about the lack of facilities at the Townsville airport. But all these things are being placed in some order of priority, as we were told by the Minister for Civil Aviation, so we are getting a little closer to having something done. Perhaps the next honorable member for Lilley will be more successful in having improvements carried out at Eagle Farm.
I am very concerned about the announcement made in the Press on Saturday that a 6 per cent, increase in all air fares on domestic airlines would operate from midnight last Friday throughout Australia. The newspaper article stated that the Department of Civil Aviation and the Government had given approval to these increases. I do not doubt that a good case could be made out to justify the increase, but I cannot help making a comparison between this increase and the increases sought in basic wage cases. A similar comparison can be made with increased freights . on goods transported from Australia to me United States of America and to Europe. The first that most people know about these increases is that they are being considered and that an increase will apply from a certain date. How different this is from an application by workers for an increase in the basic wage or in margins. In that case the workers must have learned men, such as Mr. Hawke, who are prepared to give of their time because of their interest in and concern for the workers. They have to prepare a case which, on all occasions, has been opposed by the Government. The application is heard in public and any persons who are interested or who would be affected in any way have the opportunity through their organisations, or even individually, to oppose or support the application by the trade union movement for an increase in the basic wage or to have cost of living adjustments applied to their wage. Although wage cases are held in public, increases in fares are announced in Press reports. In most cases there is merely the statement that some consideration will be given to an increase or that a claim has been made for an increase in fares and freights. The next thing is an announcement that an increase will operate from a certain date.
On 1st September this year the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) answered a question about freights and outlined the method by which freights were increased. He said that a formula had been agreed to in 1956 between the shippers and the shipowners with no interference from or intervention by the Commonwealth Government. The Government should have been concerned, but no more concerned than the Leader of the Australian Country Party because an increase in freights does affect the people whom the Country Party is supposed to represent in this Parliament. But there was no intervention by the Commonwealth and a formula was agreed to, as a result of which freights were increased. This brings me to the question of an Australian overseas shipping line. All developing countries, including Indonesia and India and smaller countries which do not enjoy the standards of living that we have in Australia and which have not been independent for as long as we in Australia, are developing their own overseas national shipping lines. It was very pleasing to note recently that the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) in a speech in Melbourne said that he hoped that one day Australia might have an overseas shipping line. This seemed to be a great breakthrough. However, it was only an expression of hope. Perhaps our representations on this subject are achieving results.
The costs of freight have been increasing steadily over the years. In the paper, National Income and Expenditure 1964-65, which was provided by the Treasurer at the time the Budget was presented, we see in the Oversea Current Account that the costs of transport have increased steadily. In 1960-61 the cost of transport was £164 million, in 1961-62 it fell to £139 million, in 1962-63 it rose to £155 million, in 1963- 64 it was £170 million, and in 1964- 65 it reached £199 million. With the increases in freights there must be consequent increases in the cost of insurance on goods bought overseas. For this reason I feel that there is some justification for Australia entering into overseas trade with its own national shipping line. It is no good pretending that increased freights are caused directly by the waterside workers as was suggested recently by the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes). In referring to the exports of beef and veal from Australia to the United States of America the Minister said that the freight on a beast with a dressed weight of 576 lb. had increased by 24s. He said that this meant, in effect, a loss of 24s. to the man who had raised that beast and had sold it for slaughter. It cannot be. said that the waterside workers are responsible for this. The people mainly responsible for the increases in freight rates are the overseas shipping lines which are able to increase rates at will because they have no competition. They get together in conference and decide on a certain figure.
Let me digress for a moment to point out how overseas shipping companies can in some ways retard the development of various ports in Australia. Recently a company which began mining in the sand on the beach just south of Fraser Island had hoped to be able to transport its products to the deep water port of Urangan where, unfortunately, trade has fallen off since the introduction of the bulk loading of sugar. Sugar is now transported to the port of Bundaberg for bulk loading into ships. This mining company wished to ship its products over the Urangan jetty because Urangan had deep water and was much closer to the scene of its operations. Upon investigating the matter thoroughly, this company discovered that, after undertaking the cost of erecting storage sheds and installing handling facilities at Urangan, it would be at the mercy of one overseas shipping company which would be in a position to demand whatever freight it liked, knowing full well thai the mining company would have to ship its products through the port of Urangan. Therefore, the mining company decided against Urangan and transported its products to Brisbane, which is three times further than Urangan. It decided to do that because at Brisbane there are numerous overseas shipping companies operating and it would be safeguarded against being held to ransom by one company. This, of course, has meant that the development of the port of Urangan has been retarded.
In today’s issue of the “ Australian Financial Review “, an interesting article is published under the heading “ Plans for freighters “. lt states -
One of America’s oldest shipping lines, with services to Australia, New Zealand and the Southwest Pacific islands, has submitted plans to build a new fleet of 22-knot freighters.
Farrell Lines Inc., of New York, submitted the plans to the maritime administration of the Department of Commerce.
Each ship will cost 14.7 million dollars (£A6,562,000).
The company is one of the subsidised lines of the Merchant Marine and has asked for a construction subsidy.
Farrell Lines recently acquired the Pacific route from United States Lines, to add to its traditional service to Africa.
With the purchase it acquired six freighters which it now wants to replace.
The new freighters will be 577 feet long and have a deadweight capacity of 13,000 tons.
That company saw the need for fast ships built specially to suit a particular trade. In the same way, the Australian National Line should also enter overseas trade with vessels specially suited to transporting those goods upon which freight rates have been increased recently. I remind the Committee of the days before 1928 when Australia did have an overseas shipping line. In 1921 that line reduced the freight on sheep skins from Hd. to lid. per lb. It also reduced the freight on frozen rabbits from 168s. to 140s. a ton. It reduced the freight on butter by 6d. a box and on general cargo by 10s. a ton. All these reductions meant consequent benefits to our primary producers.
Many people have ridiculed the Australian Labour Party for its policy with regard to an Australian owned overseas shipping line and in opposing us have quoted the cost of building a complete fleet. We do not envisage a complete fleet at the start; we envisage as a start the purchase, or construction in Australia, of ships to operate on special cargoes. We certainly do argue that they should be manned by Australian crews. One of the matters which concern us greatly is the fact that last year the Commonwealth paid out £13,044,100 for the transport of migrants to Australia by shipping companies and airline companies, all of which are owned overseas with the exception of Qantas Empire Airways Ltd. There is a particular need in Australia for passenger ships that could be used for the transportation of troops should the need arise. In these days there are very few passenger ships operating on the Australian coast that could be used for this purpose. We believe in the establishment of a national overseas shipping line and in the building up of an Australian merchant marine through the training of cadets, especially engineer cadets, not only for the Australian National Line but also for service in other ships on the Australian coast.
.- I rise to refer in particular to the provision of financial assistance to the shipping service between Melbourne and King Island. The expenditure on this subsidy last year was £25,343 and the appropriation for this financial year is £90,000. The explanatory note submitted by the Minister in relation to this matter reads -
The Commonwealth has agreed to subsidise this service by means of an operating subsidy which will apply as from the 1st January 1965 until June 1968, prior to which date consideration will be given to the question of continuance. This operating subsidy is to be provided by way of interim payments which will then be subject to adjustment in the light of the actual operating results.
This subsidy was agreed to as a result of requests made by the King Island Municipal Council supported by primary producer organisations, settler associations, and other bodies on the island. The case was supported by the Tasmanian Government which submitted it through the Premier, Mr. Reece, to the Commonwealth Government. The subsidy was agreed to and is payable for a period of three years. It has enabled the people of King Island to enjoy the benefit of a good shipping service between the island and Melbourne. The subsidy payable is £2 10s. a ton on general freight with various other rates for the carriage of stock. 1 should point out here that for many years the Tasmanian Government has been paying a subsidy of 10s. a ton to the operators of this service as well as to the operators of the service between King Island and Tasmania. The payment of the subsidy by the Commonwealth has led to what might now be called an anomaly. Attention has been drawn to this by the members of both the major political parties in Tasmania. Representations have been made by the members of those two parties, by the Tasmanian Government and by the people of King Island, because the Commonwealth subsidy could lead to the elimination of the very valuable shipping service that operates between Tasmania and King Island. Because of the very good subsidy paid by the Com.monwealth ships trading between King Island and Melbourne are able to transport cargoes for 83s. a ton compared with a freight rate of 108s. a ton charged by the ships operating between King Island and Tasmania.
Because of good management and the adoption of stabilisation methods in the past, the organisations operating ships between King Island and Tasmania were able to hold freight rates at a very reasonable figure. That stabilised figure has operated for some time to the benefit of both importers and exporters. I feel sure that the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) will agree that it is a pity that the operators who have built up this very valuable service between Tasmania and King Island are now being practically forced out of the business. They cannot compete when they have to charge £5 8s. a ton for freight compared with £4 3s. a ton, which consistently applies between Melbourne and King Island.
The agents for the “ John Franklin “, one of the vessels that have operated in the past between Launceston and King Island, have indicated that a subsidy of 30s. a ton would have been required to bring parity with the King Island-Melbourne rates. The Premier of Tasmania has said this would cost his Government, if the State were to supply the subsidy, some £17,000 a year. He has said that if he were required to find this amount he would have to find a similar grant for trade between Tasmania and Flinders Island. As he pointed out, Tasmania cannot afford this, because it would mean an adverse adjustment by the Commonwealth Grants Commission and Tasmania would be penalised. Because of this, representations have been made repeatedly to the Commonwealth Government, but it says that only one service can be subsidised and that the competing service cannot be subsidised. Up to date the Commonwealth has refused to listen to the case put up on behalf of the Tasmanian operators. I ask the Minister to give further consideration to this, because it is a great shame that a vessel like the “ John Franklin “ should be tied up in Launceston. She was taken off the run last Friday because of insufficient cargo and she is to be put up for sale. This fine vessel has completed no fewer than 750 trips to King Island and has rendered very good service. She is a veteran of the trade and it is a shame to see her lost to the service. At present the “ Davara “ is operating out of Ulverstone. I hesitate to think what will happen if the current trend continues and the “ Davara “ is forced off the run. We would be left in the hands of the monopoly service operating between King Island and Melbourne if the Commonwealth Government at the end of the three year period removed the subsidy. The local vessels would have been sold and would have disappeared from the service. In view of the statement by the Premier of Tasmania that Tasmania would be penalised by an adverse adjustment by the Grants Commission if the State subsidised the service, and in view of the wonderful service given by the operators and the fact that they have stabilised their freight rates for so long, will the Minister again consider granting a subsidy to these people as he did, through the Government, to the operator of the King Island-Melbourne service? We are not complaining about the subsidy paid to that line. It has been a great boon to us and to the primary producers on King Island. The Minister knows only too well, without my going into the facts of the case, the tremendous freight rates we were paying to get our stock from the Island to the mainland.
Before continuing to discuss shipping matters I want to support what the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) said about the policy that has been adopted by the two major domestic airlines in Australia. I refer particularly to the seemingly stupid arrangement of their aircraft chasing each other around the country only minutes apart. When a Tasmanian senator, Senator Henty, was appointed Minister for Civil Aviation one of his first announcements was that he would see that this sort of thing was investigated with a view to stopping it, but since then we have heard nothing more on the subject. I am particularly concerned about the service to the north-west coast of Tasmania. I have no doubt that other honorable members could refer to cases in their own electorates, but I instance the services from Wynyard and Devonport to Melbourne. How stupied it is that with one flight a day both Trans- Australia Airlines and Ansett-A.N.A. land at Wynyard between 11 a.m. and 11.30 a.m. within a few minutes of each other and then take off within minutes of each other for Devonport, where the same procedure applies and then take off for Melbourne within minutes of each other. A few years ago one airline used to fly from Melbourne to Wynyard and the other airline from Melbourne to Devonport. They would then cross the island and depart from the alternative port. This was not a bad arrangement, because it gave a person who did not want to have the trouble of landing again in Tasmania before proceeding to Melbourne an opportunity of leaving from either Wynyard or Devonport. However, the present situation is utterly stupid. It is ridiculous that planes should chase each other around as they are doing at present. Surely there could be some improvement in the service in the interests of the travelling public. There are night landing facilities at Devonport and similar provision will be made at Wynyard soon. Surely there could be some arrangement worked out whereby there could be a morning plane to one of those airports and an evening plane into the other. This would be a great boon to Tasmanian businessmen who had business in Melbourne and mainland people who had business in Tasmania. They could fly to their business meetings and return home the same evening without having to remain overnight. If a man had business in Melbourne that would last two or three hours he could fly over, transact the business and return at night without the added expense toeing foisted on him of having to stay overnight in’ Melbourne. It is absolutely stupid and ridiculous that this sort of thing should be allowed to continue. I sincerely hope that the Minister for Civil Aviation will give due heed to the requests made on behalf of the people of Tasmania for better flight arrangements.
The honorable member for Grayndler said that sometimes some centres have only one aircraft a day. That position applies on the coast at present. If a person leaves Tasmania today he flies with Trans-Australia Airlines. Tomorrow the person leaving Tasmania will fly with Ansett-A.N.A. The companies operate on alternate days. It so happens that tomorrow’s Ansett-A.N.A. flight to the north west coast of Tasmania is booked out and people who want to travel there will be obliged to go via Launceston, some 100 miles from the destination of their choice. This situation arises because of the arrangement between the two airline operators. Even when both airlines operate a service on the same day, the flights are scheduled within a few minutes of each other to the detriment of the general public.
I refer now to the repeated requests from the Tasmanian Government and people for a second “Princess of Tasmania”. This request has been referred by the Tasmanian Minister for Transport to meetings of the Australian Transport Advisory Council. Figures show that we would have had an increase of 15,000 passengers a year had a second Bass Strait ferry been operating. The “Princess of Tasmania” carries 333 passengers, and in 1963-64 - the latest year for which figures are available - she carried an average of 296 passengers a trip on 151 trips. We believe that a duplicate service would mean an additional 200 passengers a trip with an overall benefit of £1± million to the Tasmanian tourist industry. I point out that the demand for berths on the “ Princess of Tasmania “ cannot be satisfied. We thought that with the introduction of the “ Empress of Australia “ we would be able to satisfy the needs of the travelling public and of tourists to Tasmania. Bookings show that even with the “ Empress of Australia “ there is a big demand by Sydney people who want to travel to and from Tasmania on the “ Princess of Tasmania “. A survey indicates that 46 per cent, of the bookings made in Sydney were for travel to and from Tasmania through Melbourne on the “ Princess of Tasmania “. We cannot satisfy the demand. I refer briefly now to other figures. When plans for the “Princess of Tasmania” opened on 31st August 1964, for bookings for the period from 5th July 1965 to 25th June 1966, the Melbourne office of the Tasmanian Government Tourist Bureau made certain requests for the allocation of berths. For example, for the sailing on 20th December 1965 it applied for 36 reservations but could only be allotted 13. That indicates that the demand was there but the Department could not get what it sought. For the trip on 26th December 1965 the Melbourne office of the Tourist Bureau applied for 202 berths but could get only 57. For the voyage from Devonport to Melbourne on 15th January 1966, 197 reservations were applied for but only 53 were allotted. The demand for berths is borne out by educational tour parties. All honorable members know the benefit of educational tours. One operator applied for reservations for four educational tours in September 1965. He wanted to take 148 students and teachers across to Tasmania. He was offered berths for 111 passengers - sufficient to take only three of the four parties. This is the type of thing that goes on. I say that the Government should give consideration to building another “ Princess of Tasmania “.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– The question of transport is one of the most important to be discussed by the Parliament because Australia is in a unique position. In fact, it suffers from unique disadvantages. According to the most reliable statistics, we have to spend about 35 per cent, of our national income on transport. For the purposes of comparison, Canada spends 10 per cent., the United States of America 9 per cent., New Zealand 7 per cent., Japan 8 per cent, and the United Kingdom 10 per cent. Of course we lack the economies of size. We lack an adequate population. But apart from that aspect we have, in fact, the nucleus or the framework of an internal transport system which is capable of serving a population three or four times greater than what we now possess. In considering transport we should give some thought to the vastness of Australia; to the fact that 11 million people occupy, or attempt to occupy, a continent of 3 million square miles. In point of fact we have not even taken physical possession of this continent. Our main development has been what the economists and transport experts have called a “ crescent settlement” in the area which runs from Moreton Bay down the eastern and southeast coasts of Australia and round to Adelaide. We have a coastline of 12,000 miles. We have great distances and, as a further phenomenon, we have an urban or city population of nearly 60 per cent.
Our railway systems radiate from the mainland capital cities with the notable exception of Queensland where there are other parallel systems of railway development. But, taken as a whole, our problems are unique and the heaviest of their type in any major socalled capitalist Western democracy. In other respects, in terms of railway development, we find that we are attempting, with our small population, to finance three miles of railway for every 1,000 head of population. In the U.S.A. the figure is 1.4 miles per 1,000 of population. In the U.K. it is exactly one mile and in Japan .3 of a mile. Added to that we still have the crowning lunacy of the various breaks of railway gauge which are well known to honorable members.
The question of transport is always one of major importance. We have learned our lessons, I hope, from the experiences of the Roman empire, the vastest empire until that time, which was held together by an excellent system of roads and by staging stations. These were to be found every three miles and changes of horses could be obtained there for the imperial couriers and those using the transport system of that day. Our road system - and I speak particularly of New South Wales - followed similar lines in the early stages of our development. Now we have 132,000 miles of road - primary, secondary, main and trunk, call them what you like - serving 4.25 million people. In the British Isles there are 160,000 miles of road serving a population of 52 million. In other words, we have the burden of maintaining a road system in N.S.W. - and no doubt the position is similar in other States - which is about 12 times as great as that facing the taxpayer in the U.K. The commercial supremacy of Great Britain in the nineteenth century was accompanied by leadership in transport facilities, whether road, marine, canal or rail. We remember such notable names as Macadam, Telford, Watt, Stephenson and Brunei, and others who made notable contributions to the de- velopment of the first modern transport system. In Australia we started with marine transport and until the various colonies were settled and internal road systems built we relied on marine transport. In New South Wales, with the notable exception of Sydney, most of the natural harbours - and I speak particularly of Twofold Bay and Jervis Bay - were located where the hinterland did not permit immediate economic development.
I now want to refer to the stevedoring industry. The Government recently introduced legislation which will not solve anything. By a process of character assassination in this chamber and by using as a club the threat of deregistration of the Waterside Workers Federation, the Government believes that it has coerced the members of the Federation into its form of discipline and quiescence. But I am concerned with the fact that, irrespective of the disciplinary intent of that legislation, the problems of the stevedoring industry will remain. That Bill has only swept them under the carpet. In point of fact, the losses by such industrial disturbances as there were in the last 12 months represented less than the increase in overseas snipping freight, notably of 6.6 per cent., to Great Britain and the Continent.
At present the conflict with regard to the freight of meat to the United States of America is being hotly waged. We are one people in possession of a whole continent and we ought to be the common carriers of the Pacific. For that purpose we ought to have, and would have had if it were not for the present Government, a national shipping line. I am credibly informed that in 1921 the Commonwealth of Australia had some 60 vessels of various types being used for overseas transport. Today there are even land-locked European nations which have some sort of merchant marine. Let us consider our main trading partner and perhaps our most likely potential rival in marine transport - Japan. We find that, thanks to our Australian coking coal and to the wonderful iron ore which Japan is taking from this country in her own bottoms, Japan is now the major shipbuilding country of the world. At the present time, there are 7.8 million tons of shipping under construction or on firm order in Japan. We find that the “Tokyo Maru”, the largest ship built in the world - a ship of some 150,000 tons and 1,000 feet in lengthwas built in Japan from keel to launching in a period of less than five months. Australia lags behind. There is one notable exception, of course. That is the recent passenger ships which we built and which are serving the island State of Tasmania. I think we should give, also, proper credit to the ore carriers which have been built and are in use by Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd. Of their type and for the purpose for which they were built they will hold their own with any ship in the world. I know of no ships which can stand up to a battering better, which are more economical and which are more efficient. They are a credit to Australian workmen.
We are in a position today to roll steel plates of types suitable for any form of shipbuilding. Our steel is the cheapest in the world. Notoriously the shipbuilding industry is the main consumer of steel plate and there is no reason why we should not be bringing tradesmen out from England to add to our own, and why we should not be entering into marine carriage in the Pacific Ocean. If the Government of this country wants to solve its overseas financial problems, if it wants to reduce its trading deficit, it can do so at one stroke because, according to the figures I have received, we spent last year about £185 million on overseas shipping freights. It is true that a proportion of this was spent in Australia, but probably £120 million would be the net figure for the amount spent outside Australia. If we could obviate this expenditure, this alone would cut our adverse trading balance in half. But this Government proposes to do exactly nothing about the matter.
I had the pleasure recently of seeing a television programme on the port of Rotterdam. It made me hang my head in shame to compare the efficiency of that port with the wretched condition of the average Australian port, its wharfage and its equipment. I would like to quote some portions of the Basten report of 1952. There is no need for me to tell anyone in this chamber who Mr. Basten was or the treatment he received. He said in his report -
A most pressing need of the waterfront in New South Wales is to increase and improve the port installations. It is necessary not only to make good the lack of maintenance and development during the years of depression and of war, but also to provide for the growth of traffic consequent on the current rate at which the State and Australia are developing.
In paragraph 9 of Appendix 1 of his report he said -
The need for the reconstruction of the older berths in Sydney is pressing and undoubted, but whether new construction to meet the expanding needs of the State should take place there is less certain. The city has been growing at an annual rate exceeding S per cent, of its population. Access to the existing berths is difficult already and the city presses hard on them. Although only about 3 per cent, of its imports and 10 per cent, of its exports are now carried by rail, a demand for enlarged marshalling yards to serve the port would create a most costly problem for the railway.
Then follows paragraph 10, which is of the utmost significance -
It is a serious question whether new port facilities for the State’s trade should not be situated elsewhere than in Sydney Harbour. I have, of course, had neither the authority nor the opportunity to study the problem . . .
I quote also from the Australian “ Financial Review “ of 28th January 1965 -
The brutal fact (is) that Sydney is a badly organised, run-down, obsolescent, inefficient port.
In the same article the following remarks also appeared -
For those who imagine Australia as an advanced, efficient trading nation a tour of the Sydney dockside area is a shattering experience. Chaos has ruled for so long that it is now regarded as the norm by those who work there . . .
Unless this is realised by the New South Wales authorities and something done about it they will face the tragic picture of a once great port decaying.
It has been reliably estimated that it will cost about £100 million to renovate the port of Sydney alone. The problem is a national one. It is a problem for which a solution can be found only by providing finance on a national scale. We have around the Australian coastline a multiplicity of ports, port authorities, maritime services boards, all doing their best with inadequate finance and all trying to service modern liners and cargo ships with cranes and other equipment and wharfage which were designed for the days of horse drawn vehicles. It is an impossible situation and one that cannot continue. It is one that the overseas shipping combine will not face up to. It is one that the State Governments cannot face up to because they lack the essential finance. But it is one that Australia must face up to. Failure to do so is one of the issues that will help to put this Government out of office.
It is notorious that there are today strong lines of cleavage between the Country Party and the Liberal Party on the question of costs of overseas transport - and so there should be. The members of the Country Party should not only be prepared to ventilate their differing views in the joint party room but should also be prepared to come out and speak as Australians in the best interest of the Australian nation. This Government has opened a Pandora’s box of difficulties and problems which it will not be able to overcome. The mere fact of passing stevedoring legislation may give the Government a disciplinary power but it will not give it the economic means of solving Australia’s marine transport problem.
.- I want to speak tonight about the development of the airport’s at Mascot and Tullamarine. Members of the Government committee inquiring into the development at these airports received from the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) today a letter in these terms -
A lot has been said and reported in the press over the past few months about the Sydney airport, which despite repeated denials, continue to give an inaccurate representation of the facts. Some reports have quoted very misleading figures’, costs, and runway lengths, and these in turn have given rise to further inaccurate comment and speculation. In particular, D.C.A. has been accused of favouring Melbourne to the detriment of Sydney. For this reason I think it would be valuable for you to have a brief summary of those facts concerning both airports which are indisputable.
Mr. Temporary Chairman, I think that the figures supplied by the Department of Civil Aviation show that in certain respects Tullamarine is being given preference over Mascot. The Department referred to what it called “ the general improvement programme designed to maintain Sydney as Australia’s number one international airport” and said that the cost at Mascot will be £20 million. But it must be remembered that the improvements at Mascot are being carried out piecemeal, so that the cost will be considerably more than if the job were done in the same way as the improvements are being effected at Tullamarine. The Tullamarine project is to cost £17 million plus £2.3 million for tha acquisition of the land, so that the actual cost of improvements at the two places will be almost identical.
Figures provided by the Department of Civil Aviation indicate that it is expected that by 1980 passenger traffic at Mascot will reach the level of 1,400,000 persons a year, while the traffic at Tullamarine will be 850,000 persons. The Department’s own figures show that the number of passengers annually as Mascot in 1980 will be about 60 per cent, greater than the number at Tullamarine. Yet we find that the Department is making provision at Mascot for a departure lounge to handle only 5,000 passengers and friends and onlookers per hour. At Tullamarine the Government intends to build an airport which will handle 4,000 people an hour, only one quarter less than will be handled at Mascot. On the Government’s own figures it should be building at Mascot facilities and equipment capable of handling in excess of 7,000 people. The forecast of the Department of Civil Aviation is that 2,000 people will arrive per hour at Mascot and that 1,500 people will arrive per hour at Tullamarine. In order to keep Mascot in proper perspective arrangements should be made to accommodate between 2,500 and 3,000 per hour. Despite the opening paragraph of the letter I have read, a comparison of the projects at Mascot and Tullamarine will show that after a period Tullamarine will have the edge on Mascot as a major airport. Target dates show that the runway extension at Mascot will be completed by 1967 but that the airport amenities and accommodation will not be completed until 1969. At Tullamarine the international airport will be completed during the second half of 1968. Tullamarine is to have precedence and preference as far as the completion date is concerned, as the work at Mascot will not be completed until 1969. At Tullamarine the terminal for domestic airlines will be completed in 1969. It will be seen that despite what the Department of Civil Aviation has stated it is, even on its own statements, showing a slight preference right throughout for Tullamarine.
There has also been a difference of opinion on the length of runway required at Mascot. Certainly the new runway being established at Mascot will be 8,500 feet, but it must be remembered that once the dredge which is working on the project at present returns overseas further extensions to that runway will be most costly. On the other hand, when supersonic commercial aircraft come into operation and it is found necessary to extend the runway at Tullamarine the same difficulties as at Mascot will not be experienced. No better body to express an opinion on the length of runway is required than the Australian Federation of Air Pilots. The Federation has stated that a runway of 8,500 feet is not sufficient for large modern aircraft, fully laden with passengers and fuel, to take off, allowing for a margin of safety. I understand that overseas operators desired a longer runway at Mascot but that aircraft operated by Qantas Empire Airways Ltd., which has landing rights at Fiji, can take off with a lesser fuel capacity, and for that reason Qantas did not support the case for the longer runway. On the other hand, the Australian Federation of Air Pilots is quite definite that a longer runway is necessary, and therefore it would be prudent for the Government to construct a runway of 10,000 feet out into Botany Bay. The cost of such a runway will be much greater if the work has to be done at some time in the future. It would be far better to err on the side of safety than to make do with a restricted runway.
The extension of the runway into Botany Bay would have a twofold effect. As well as providing additional runway it would enable Botany Bay eventually to be used as a port. This in itself would be of great advantage. On the figures supplied by the Department I think I have shown that the money being spent at Tullamarine will be to the disadvantage of Mascot, which is Australia’s number one international airport. I suggest that the Department of Civil Aviation and the Minister have another look at this matter and do something to ensure that Mascot will remain for all time the premier international airport of Australia. There is evidence that an overseas airline has invested a lot of money in acquiring hotel facilities in Melbourne. This suggests that that airline will use Tullamarine in preference to Mascot. I suggest, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that from what I have said it is quite evident that Tullamarine could become the premier airport of Australia, to the detriment of Mascot.
.- I am particularly pleased to have the opportunity to follow the honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Irwin) in this important debate on the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation. I wholeheartedly agree - I look around in trepidation at the House - with the observations he has made and his comparison of the airports at Tullamarine and Mascot. I believe that there is evidence of political favour in the decision to spend such an enormous sum of money on the construction of airport buildings at Tullamarine. I know that Tullamarine is on the outskirts of the second city in Australia.
I wish to refer to other matters in connection with the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation as they affect what will within a few years become the premier State of the Commonwealth. I refer to Queensland. In the not far distant future, Brisbane’s population will increase considerably. Aviation is important to Australia because we are a nation of travellers. Australia is an island continent with an area almost as great as that of the United States of America. Our settlement is mainly on the coastal fringes. Australian citizens have a great urge to travel. Because of the vast distances involved, the principal means of travel is by aircraft. Certainly railways are being developed for the transportation of freight, but people generally travel by air. Air transport is a matter of vital concern to the people of Australia.
Brisbane - the third city of the Commonwealth and a city of which I am proud to be a citizen - has been sadly neglected in the past by this Government. I deplore the fact that since 1949 the portfolio of Minister for Civil Aviation has always been held by a member of the Liberal Party. Had it been held occasionally by a member of the Australian Country Party a greater degree of tolerance may have been displayed towards Brisbane. Unfortunately, Brisbane has been penalised by this Government in the matter of civil aviation, as have the people who pass through that very important city. The report of the Department of Civil Aviation shows that large sums of money are to be spent on aviation facilities in various parts of the Commonwealth. I notice that a large amount will be spent to extend the runways at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport into Botany Bay. Ultimately, a large and modern international airport will be built there. Notwithstanding that Melbourne, already has a modern airport, a most ambitious and modern terminal is to be built at Tullamarine to supersede the existing airport. Expenditure on the second superior international terminal for Melbourne will amount to about £17 million. Tullamarine is taking precedence over Sydney. Those of us who have passed through the international airport building in Sydney know how primitive it is.
The report of the Department indicates that a most modern airport, with ancillary buildings, is to be constructed at Launceston. The contract for the new terminal and administrative and operations building, together with a maintenance centre, has already been let. The amount of the contract is more than £900,000. By Australian standards, Launceston is not a large city, although it is perhaps an important city for Tasmania. But Tasmania’s population is not as great as the population of Brisbane. A contract for £541,150 has been let for the improvement and development of facilities at Hobart Airport. I do not for a moment doubt that this expenditure is desirable, but surely there should be some priorities in these matters.’
Brisbane has a population more than double that of Tasmania. Brisbane’s airport is at Eagle Farm, which honorable members will know is a well patronised racecourse. The airport is adjacent to the racecourse. During the war years, the Americans took over the airport and developed it. They erected some igloo buildings. Igloos are to be found nowhere in Australia except at Eagle Farm. Igloos originated in the Arctic Circle. Their architects were the Eskimos. Igloos were designed to withstand the fall of snow during winter. With the coming of warmer weather, the snow melted and slid down the sides of the igloo. But we do not have snow in Brisbane. We enjoy a tropical climate. You, Mr. Temporary Chairman, will know that in hot weather the hot air inside the Eagle Farm igloos rises. This chamber is not the only place where you find hot air. The buildings at Eagle Farm are roofed with galvanised iron. There are no ceilings. The sun beating down on the galvanised iron roof increases the temperature of the already hot air imprisoned within the igloo. Honorable members will appreciate how intolerable the heat can become under such conditions.
Is the Government prepared to do anything to alleviate this problem? A perusal of the report of the Department of Civil Aviation shows that nothing is contemplated for Brisbane. Millions are to be spent on Tullamarine. The expenditure of millions is contemplated for Mascot. Almost £1 million is to be spent at Launceston. About £500,000 is to be spent at Hobart. But nothing is to be spent at Brisbane. I think this is very unfair. I do not want to be political on this issue, but I think it is worth pointing out that, after the 1961 election, great interest was displayed in conditions at Eagle Farm. At that time Brisbane had five Labour members in this place and two Liberal members. After the 1963 election, the situation was changed and Brisbane had two Labour members and five Liberal members. From that time, the interest of the Government and of the Department of Civil Aviation, which is administered by a Liberal Minister, has completely disappeared and there is no interest at all in the proposal to construct a new airport building at Brisbane. I have travelled throughout the mainland of the Commonwealth. I have not been fortunate enough to visit Tasmania, but I hope to remedy that situation in due course. I am amazed at the luxury and magnificence of airport buildings at Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne.
– The building at Adelaide is not too good.
– I assure the honorable member for Grey that the citizens of Brisbane would be delighted to have a building similar to that at Adelaide. The building at Brisbane needs to be improved. The Lord Mayor of Brisbane is visiting Paris at present. On every occasion he leaves the city he tries to persuade people to come to Brisbane. It is the premier tourist resort of Australia. It is in close proximity to the magnificent area at Surfers Paradise where people can lie on the glorious golden sands and absorb the sun beating down on them, encouraging them to greater vitality, or they can go into the surf. On the beach, they are kissed by the sun; in the surf, they are caressed by the waves. Mr. Temporary Chairman, what more could one want? But the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia is doing all that it can to restrain people from absorbing this magnificence that is on the front doorstep of Australia.
I hope that the Government will realise the importance of the tourist industry. It is one of the biggest earners of overseas currency that any country has, and this applies to Australia. We should do everything we can to encourage the wealthy tourists to come to Australia from other countries. I am at one with the Lord Mayor of Brisbane. He is a most progressive Mayor; he is a member of the Australian Labour Party. In the short time that he has occupied the position of Lord Mayor he has done much to improve the conditions of the City of Brisbane and to promote the interest of people of other countries. I agree with him that this Government and the Department of Civil Aviation have a responsibility to improve the conditions in the airport building in Brisbane. We are way behind every other capital city in the Commonwealth and that is not fair to Brisbane. I fear that politics are being played, but I hope that this issue can be divorced from politics and that the Government will soon remedy the present position. If this Government will not, the next Labour Government will.
.- This afternoon I contrasted the legislative performance of the Departments whose estimates we are discussing, the Department of Civil Aviation and the Department of Shipping and Transport. There are two striking instances in each case which have occurred since the estimates for the Departments were debated a year ago. In the case of the Dubbo airline dispute, the Department of Civil Aviation gazetted regulations which suddenly sought to cut the ground from under an order which the State Government had made under laws which had stood for many years. In the I.P.E.C. case, the Department gazetted regulations which suddenly sought to cut the ground from under an appeal which was pending before the Privy Council. On the other hand, the Department of Shipping and Transport has not yet ratified two conventions which Australia had signed at the International Conference for the Safety of Life at Sea in June 1960. One convention, it was announced on 26th May of last year, would come into force on 26th May of this year. Most countries have now ratified it, including all the principal countries whose ships trade to Australia.
Australia has not yet ratified it. The International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, we were told in August of last year, would come into force on 1st September of this year. The regulations are not yet in force in Australia.
– That is not so. They are.
– 1 assure the Minister that we have not ratified the regulations. The position as he has described it in written answers to me is that the Commonwealth had made regulations for what it thought to be its own sphere. At the same time, at the time he gave me an answer, the State Governments, with the exception of South Australia, had all made regulations. Meantime, the British Government had made regulations applying the international arrangement to all the States except Queensland. In respect of the Northern Territory, no regulations have yet been made. We find the humiliating position that, after prodding by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) and the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) and his predecessor ever since the beginning of 1961, the States had at last made regulations and then the British Government had made regulations for them. It did so on 11th August of this year. As the Minister knows, I have pressed the view in this place that the court decisions concerning civil aviation in the international field should make it quite plain that, in the maritime field, the Australian Government *an itself implement all its international obligations.
The matter I now wish to discuss arises from an answer which the Minister gave me today to a question I put on the notice paper a month ago. It had come to my notice that departmental instructions of one form or another had been issued purporting to modify regulations made under the Navigation Act in respect of the Navigation (Compass) Regulations, the Navigation (Examination of Masters and Mates) Regulations and the Navigation (Grain) Regulations. The Minister’s reply bore out the general lines of the information which had been given to me, although it did not appear to specify all the instances which had come to my notice. 1 shall first deal with the Navigation (Grain) Regulations. The Minister told me that, in June 1959 and again in September 1963, departmental instructions were issued, in effect, exempting grain ships from the regulations as they stood at that time. In fact, the regulations have not since been amended. In another part of his reply, the Minister told me -
Amendments to the Navigation (Grain) Regulations have not been made but are included in amendments to give effect to the Safety of Life and Sea Convention 1960 which are being drafted and will shortly be made.
I have learned of a striking instance of the consequences of our failure to comply with the grain regulations. The ship “ Limerick “ loaded a full cargo of grain in Sydney on the 27th, 28th and 29th of last month. Going through the Great Australian Bight it encountered severe winds, and developed a list of 8 degrees and had to be diverted to Fremantle. The cargo had to be reloaded on the 8th, 9th and 11th of this month, and the ship has now resumed its voyage to Britain with a list of only 3) degrees. This vessel was not loaded in accordance with the Australian Navigation (Grain) Regulations, and it is not fitted as a grain carrier as defined in the terms of those regulations.
– What caused it to list?
– The details are perhaps too technical for me to go into at the moment. The list arose from the obligation to load grain by a method known as saucering. If a vessel is not fitted in accordance with the grain regulations, as this ship was not fitted, the grain can shift and the vessel is potentially unsafe.
– Did the honorable member say that the ship loaded grain at Fremantle also?
– No. The ship had a list of 8 degrees when it put into Fremantle, and I am told that the grain already on it had to be resecured
– The regulation uses the words “ where grain is to be loaded at more than one port”.
– My information is that this ship is not a grain carrier in the terms of the Navigation (Grain) Regulations as they at present stand and, presumably, as they will continue to stand until the Convention on the Safety of Life at Sea 1960 is implemented by new legislation.
The next regulations which I wish to discuss, Sir, are the Navigation (Compass) Regulations. The Minister for Shipping and Transport told me that in December 1-J59 there were issued departmental instructions which, in effect, declared that cargo ships did not have to obey the compass regulations as they stood. My information is that a letter sent out over the signature of the Assistant Secretary (Marine) of the Department of Shipping and Transport contained a statement to the effect that, in anticipation of a proposed amendment of the Navigation (Compass) Regulations, one regulation should be interpreted as if the word “ passenger “ were printed before the word “ ship “. The letter stated that amplification of the regulation in the form of an amended consolidated instruction would be promulgated in the immediate future. I see nothing in the Regulations which would permit the Department to modify them by consolidated instructions. The Regulations stand until they are amended by other regulations. In effect, the Department declares that it will not enforce the safety regulations in regard to compasses so far as cargo ships are concerned. The compass regulations were amended in 1963 and 1964 but not to cover the instruction which had been issued - without any authority, it seems to me - and which purported to amend them. The Minister tells me that amendments to the Navigation (Compass) Regulations have not been made but will be considered in conjunction with new construction requirements made necessary by the Convention on the Safety of Life at Sea 1960.
The third set of regulations with which I wish to deal, Sir, are the Navigation (Examination of Masters and Mates) Regulations. On three occasions in 1961, and again in August 1962, notices and instructions were issued reducing the qualifying service for persons seeking certificates and also varying the syllabus and notice for examinations. In fact, it was not until March 1964 that amendments to the Regulations were made to validate these variations which had been made in the meantime. So, for three years masters and mates were receiving certificates in conditions which were not permitted by the Regulations. It is possible that the certificates received in that period are not valid. In all these matters under the Navigation Regulations, the safety of crews and passengers, the legal liability of skippers and owners and (he qualifications of all certificated people aboard come into question. Earlier today I directed attention to the great delay that the Department of Shipping and Transport shows in carrying out its international obligations, even though court cases decided in the last few months have made it plain that the Department’s constitutional powers are much greater than it had previously thought. The two cases that I mentioned extended over five years. This evening I have directed attention to tha Department’s delay in amending regulations which it has always said it had full constitutional authority to amend. I believe that, in respect of the grain, compass and examination of masters and mates regulations, the Department has purported to vary the law and has thus called into question the safety, the legal liability and the qualifications of many of the men who go down to the sea in ships.
There is one other matter relating to this Department which I want to mention. This is the question of road safety, Sir. I make bold here to quote from the report of the despised Committee of Economic Inquiry, which was known shortly as the Vernon Committee. The report states -
One non-material aspect of living standards b particularly important in Australian society, and here the Australian record appears to be bad and becoming worse. This is the incidence of fatal road accidents. About one person in 4,000 dies each year in a road accident, and this rate is increasing. One death a year occurs for every 1,200 motor vehicles. This was above the rate for nine other countries in 1961. In the United States and New Zealand, the rate was one death for every 2,000 motor vehicles, and in Canada and the United Kingdom about one for every 1,400.
As the National Association of Australian State Road Authorities has pointed out, the United States, Canada and New Zealand, although they have a greater density of vehicles, have a lower fatal accident rate than Australia has.
The Road Safety Council is quite inadequate and ineffective. It should be reconstructed along the lines proposed by the Australian Automobile Association. The Minister has said that he is unable to do this because it is a constitutional right of the States. What is needed is a road safety research institute constituted as an independent statutory authority with a chairman or executive responsible directly to the Minister but with a freedom similar to that given to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization to carry out research. The implementation of the findings of such a research institute should be the responsibility of the State and municipal authorities. It should undertake an independent assessment of the safety of motor vehicles and of stretches of highway, and it should regularly investigate accidents in the same way as aeroplane crashes are investigated. Australia cannot afford to allow the highway death toll to remain at its present level. In this respect, the Department of Shipping and Transport should not plead constitutional difficulties as an excuse.
.- I want to reply very briefly to just one or two matters that have been raised on the estimates of the Department of Civil Aviation. First, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Collard) mentioned that there is a shortage of aircraft on the north-west coast. I agree with him. I was in that area not so very long ago. I think the reason for this shortage is that there has been a considerable increase in the demand for air transport in that area. As all honorable members know, there has been a tremendous development of iron ore resources in the north-west of Australia, particularly around Port Hedland, and very often it is difficult to obtain air transport or bookings as quickly as desired. I shall bring this to the notice of MacRobertson-Miller Airlines Ltd. to see whether anything can be done, but 1 realise that that company has a very real problem with fleet availability.
The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) mentioned the very recent fare increase. He gave the impression that this was an increase which had been asked for by Ansett-A.N.A. but that Trans-Australia Airlines did not want an increase in fares and would have been perfectly happy to carry on with things as they were. I am sure that honorable members will realise that the fare increases were applied for by both companies and that T.A.A. applied just as much as did Ansett. Last year T.A.A. made a profit of £705,000 and the increases that the airline has had to face in the last 12 months would have brought an increase in cost of £1.2 million. In other words, it would have run at a loss had it not been able to get an increase. The increased costs were brought about by the increase in fuel tax, increased air navigation charges, by the li per cent, increase in margins and by various other wage and material cost increases. The net result was that T.A.A. and Ansett each asked for a 6 per cent, increase in fares. The increase was granted and this will enable both airlines just about to cover their increases in costs this year and to make the same profit as they made last year. I just want to correct the honorable member for Grayndler who gave the impression that only Ansett wanted an increase and that T.A.A. did not.
Lastly I want to reply to my colleague, the honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Irwin), who compared the work being done at Kingsford-Smith airport with the work being done at Tullamarine airport. 1 hesitate to clash with the honorable member for Mitchell because he was flying Sopwith Camels just’ about the time I was born; so he has a good deal more experience in aviation than I have had. But I want to draw to his attention a number of his statements which were not truly in accordance with the facts. Obviously he has not understood fully the notice which was circulated by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty). The first matter which the honorable member mentioned was that the cost of Kingsford-Smith and of Tullamarine will be almost identical. He mentioned a cost of £20 million for Kingsford-Smith and, I think, £17 million on Tullamarine plus an acquisition cost of £2.3 million. But what the honorable member has not realised is that the £20 million put down for KingsfordSmith airport is only for the work that is being done now to extend the north-south runway from 5,500 feet to 8,500 feet and to construct the new international terminal, which will cost £20,000,000. Already Kingsford-Smith airport has cost £16 million, and by the time the entire work is finished at Kingsford-Smith the total cost will have been £36 million as against a total cost at Tullamarine of some £19.3 million - in other words, considerably more. There is no doubt whatever that the Department of Civil Aviation regards KingsfordSmith Airport as the No. 1 international airport and intends to maintain it as such.
– Is that definite?
– Yes, it is definite. Mascot is being planned, as the honorable member for Mitchell mentioned when he was reading out the figures, to cater for about 50 per cent, more aircraft than Tullamarine and to cater for about 25 per cent, more passengers than Tullamarine. So there is no doubt whatever that, looking at the two airports, Kingsford-Smith is to be the international airport.
The honorable member said also that there would not be an adequate safety margin when the north-south runway is extended to 8,500 feet at Mascot. I point out only that this extension originally was to be to 7,500 feet plus an over run of 500 feet, making a total of 8,000 feet. This was considered by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works. One of the people who gave evidence to the Committee was Mr. Shields, who appeared on behalf of the Australian Federation of Air Pilots. When giving evidence he said -
We would conclude by saying that the extension of runway 16/34, as at present envisaged, will not alleviate the noise nuisance at Sydney, as most heavy and therefore low-flying jet aircraft must continue to use runway 07/25- -
That is the east-west runway - with take-off profiles over noise sensitive areas; that a landing length of 7,500 feet, particularly when the runway surface is wet or affected by other adverse conditions, is marginal for landing aircraft of the Boeing 138B type, and we would therefore urge an initial runway length of 8,000 feet plus 500 feet of stopway. . . .
So he was asking for 8,500 feet. The Public Works Committee recommends this length. The matter then went to the Government which said that it agreed. Since then three other committees have looked at the same problem - the Government members committee consisting mainly of honorable members from New South Wales, an Opposition members committee and then a special New South Wales parliamentary committee. Each of the three committees said that 8,500 feet of runway was adequate.
– The Minister cannot quote the Opposition as saying that.
– There are 109 different countries which have accepted the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s recommendations and it is on these recommendations that this length of runway has been worked out at 8,500 feet. It is all very well for honorable members to suggest that other runways are longer. The runway at Perth is to be 10,500 feet, but the reason for that length is that aircraft have to fly from there to Mauritius, a distance of 3,600 miles, and there is no alternative aerodrome at Mauritius. In other words, the aircraft must carry sufficient fuel to travel this distance and to return, if necessary, if the weather clamps down. Sydney is in the fortunate position of having a ring of aerodromes around it. There is Nandi, the Philippines, Singapore and Darwin, and there is not the necessity to have a runway from which an aircraft can take off with an absolute maximum all up weight. That is why 8,500 feet has been regarded as being perfectly adequate, both for range for aircraft taking off and for safety for aircraft landing. The fact of the matter is that we have in the last six years had jets using Sydney airport and landing on a runway length of 8,300 feet and without one accident in six years. Yet some people are trying to tell us that that length is not adequate and if we extend the runway to 8,500 feet it will be inadequate.
– Does the Air Pilots Federation agree with that length?
– I shall read again to the honorable member what the representative of the Federation said in sworn evidence. If the sworn evidence is what Mr. Shields did not believe then I do not understand why he would want to make the statement. He said - we would therefore urge an initial runway length of 8,000 feet plus 500 feet of stopway. . . .
That length is not only adequate for the Boeing 707’s; we are led to believe from everything that we can learn of supersonic aircraft that it will be more than adequate for the supersonic aircraft. These aircraft are not yet flying, but Sir Hudson Fysh who came back recently from abroad where he has been studying the supersonics said that he has been led to believe that they will not require as much as 8,500 feet.
– That statement was made three years ago.
– And it has been repeated since. The Government and four Committees have decided that this is. adequate. If one must be insular and compare Sydney with Melbourne, one can say that the two airports are being built so that identical aircraft can take off and fly to identical aerodromes with identical weights. It is true that because Tullamarine is, I think, 300 feet higher, a minute additional take-off distance of 100 feet might be required. There might also be a little bit further to fly from Tullamarine because it is further south, but generally speaking, identical planes will be able to take off with identical weights and fly to identical aerodromes from either Mascot or Tullamarine.
– That is not the issue at all. The issue is whether it is adequate compared with overseas aerodromes.
– Of course, it is adequate. As I have already said, there may be longer runways overseas, but there are reasons for that. For example, the runway at Nandi is over 10,000 feet. That is because planes can take off only in the one direction. Sometimes they may have to take off down wind and therefore a runway length of 10,500 feet is required. Further, planes taking off from there have to fly a good deal further because Nandi has not a ring of aerodromes around it like Sydney has.
The same situation exists at Hong Kong airport. Planes can take off only in the one direction and if they have to take off down wind, naturally they require a considerably greater length of runway. We are fortunate at Sydney in not requiring additional lengths of runway. Why spend some millions of pounds extra when the present runway will be quite adequate? It has proved to be quite adequate for all our purposes for the last six years.
I conclude by repeating that this matter has been looked at by the Government and four separate committees. All have agreed that the runway length should be sufficient. If additional money were available to the Department of Civil Aviation, it would not be spent on this work because it has not been given highest priority on the Department’s list.
– I would like to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honorable member claim that he has been misrepresented?
– I remind the honorable member that he has not spoken during this debate. Therefore he could not have been misrepresented during the debate.
– The debate on the estimates for the Department of Shipping and Transport has ranged over a very wide field, but I do not think one speaker dealt with the estimates as such. If silence can be taken as meaning consent, we must assume that the Committee approves the proposed expenditures for this Department during the ensuing twelve months.
– I spoke to the estimates.
– That is true. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) did relate his remarks to a line in the Estimates. I want to refer briefly to what has been said by various speakers and I must do so briefly because a tremendously wide range of policy matters was covered.
I should like to reply first to something that was said by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) concerning the railway line from Cockburn to Broken Hill. The honorable member connected his remarks to the rail standardisation plan which was submitted to the Government some time ago by a Government members’ committee. While I pay full credit to that committee for the information contained in its report and for the research work it did, I must point out to the honorable member for Mackellar that if the Government’s arrangements for standardisation depart from the committee’s plan he cannot take the Government to task on that account because at no time has the Government adopted precisely the plan which the honorable member’s committee submitted.
– It adopted the plan submitted by the Opposition’s committee.
– Not that either, if the honorable gentleman does not mind my saying so. The Government has pursued standardisation plans as the opportunities for economic projects have occurred. To lend point to what I say, I point out that the standardisation project between Kalgoorlie and Kwinana did not become a reality until the Western Australian Government had actually concluded an agreement with the Broken Hill Company Pty. Ltd., a condition of which included the standardisation of that section of the line. At that point of time, when the economics of the scheme were demonstrated to the Commonwealth Government, the Commonwealth undertook to play its part in the standardisation project.
In the same way, the South Australian project for the standardisation of the line from Broken Hill to Port Pirie followed the standardisation of the line from Kalgoorlie to Kwinana. So whatever differences there may be between the plan submitted by the honorable member for Mackellar and his committee and the Government’s programme, the honorable member cannot take the Government to task on that account alone.
The honorable member for Mackellar then said that there had been intolerable delays in making a survey of the track from Cockburn to Broken Hill. The Government’s intention, as has always been stated, is to have this section of the line completed by the time the standardisation of the track from Port Pirie to Cockburn and of the track between Kalgoorlie and Kwinana is completed so that by 1968 there will be a standard gauge line from Perth to Brisbane through Broken Hill. There are no indications at present that this will not be accomplished. The survey has already been completed, again not without some difficulty, for which the honorable member for Mackellar made no allowance. Some of the difficulty was caused in the first place by the New South Wales Government. The line from Broken Hill to Cockburn runs over territory within the State of New South Wales and, constitutionally, neither the Commonwealth Government nor the Government of South Australia, nor anyone else but the Government of New South Wales can run a line over that territory without the permission of the New South Wales Government.
– Has it withheld its permission?
– For some time the New South Wales Government did withhold permission, requiring as a condition of its approval that the Commonwealth Govern ment should finance the work on the section of the line from Parkes to Broken Hill. This was nothing more nor less than sheer blackmail. The Commonwealth Government could not accede to that condition. Eventually, the New South Wales Government saw reason and gave its approval but submitted an appeal through its Premier to the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) for assistance in upgrading the section of line between Parkes and Broken Hill.
Here again I must differ slightly with the honorable member for Mackellar because I think he has accused me a little unjustly of being parochial in this matter. It is quite true that I come from Western Australia, but that is only incidental. What happened was that a request was made by the Premier of New South Wales to the Prime Minister and the decision not to make a contribution to the upgrading of that section of line was made by the whole Cabinet. No-one can suggest that there was anything parochial in that decision. So, on that score alone, the honorable member’s attack cannot be sustained.
Let us look at the proposition. The standardisation project as such has been undertaken where there has been a break of gauge. It has never been undertaken with a view to helping those States that already have the advantages of a standard gauge line to upgrade their own lines. All State railways have been regarded as being responsible for the maintenance of their own rail tracks. Therefore, it can hardly be said that the New South Wales Government is justified, on a rail standardisation project, in asking the Commonwealth for assistance in upgrading the section between Parkes and Broken Hill. New South Wales has enjoyed the advantages of a standard gauge track. If other States - Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria - ever come to the point of having to standardise all their railway lines to fit in with the main lines they will be up for considerable expenditure that the New South Wales Government, of course, will not have to face. So much for that. I cannot deal at any greater length with this particular argument of the honorable member for Mackellar.
Most Opposition members dealt with the proposition that the Government should immediately engage in the formation of an overseas shipping line. Several quite illogical reasons were advanced for this. Some honorable members cited countries of varied standing internationally that already have overseas shipping lines and suggested that Australia, in some attempt to keep up with the Joneses or for purely prestige reasons, no matter what the cost, should engage in overseas shipping. I point out that some countries with far lower living standards than we have in Australia have been able to engage in overseas shipping business for the very reason that their standards of pay and conditions are so much lower than ours that they can afford to do it.
– What about the Americans?
– I will come to them in a minute. Let me deal with this topic piece by piece. This was one of the reasons that was advanced. Another reason concerned the question of saving overseas exchange. This is a very real reason, but I should like to point out that depending on what methods we adopt we might very well lose overseas exchange. It is true that the United States of America subsidises shipbuilding and overseas shipping operations. It has protective laws that require certain percentages of cargo from America to be carried in American ships.
– That is a darned good idea.
– The honorable member says that that is a darned good idea. America is feeling the pinch. She is losing overseas trade. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) knows this, because he is very familiar with the wheat industry. The fact that America requires a certain percentage of wheat exports to be carried from America in American ships is costing her a part of the overseas wheat trade.
– That is not the reason at all.
– That is part of the reason. If we go about it in that way and our overseas shipping costs rise simply because we put a protective blanket on Australian ships operating overseas, the saving of exchange by having our ships carry cargoes overseas would be cancelled out because we would lose portion of our overseas trade. The other alternative, of course, is to subsidise overseas shipping. For the first time since honorable members opposite have raised this subject we have heard an admission from some of them that it would be necessary to subsidise an Australian overseas shipping line.
– Why should we not subsidise?
– I would be interested to know how honorable members opposite can seriously suggest that we can compete with oversee; ships without some sort of subsidy, because every analysis of cost that has been made has shown that, with ordinary general cargo trade, overseas ships can operate at a small percentage of the cost of Australian ships.
– Do not other countries subsidise their shipping lines?
– The honorable member says that other countries subsidise their shipping lines so why should we not do so. If he allows me to develop my argument I will make the point that we cannot operate an overseas shipping line without subsidising it. I am satisfied of that. No-one opposite has proved otherwise, although some honorable members opposite have suggested by implication that we could operate without a subsidy. 1 want to make the point that if this Government, pressed as it is on all sides for resources for national development and for the development of new exports of minerals and the like, has to divert some millions of pounds to establishing an overseas shipping line that has to be subsidised, then it could very well have fewer resources to devote to increasing our exports of minerals and so forth. It is a question of judgment as to where our resources should be expended. It is all very well for America, which has gone much farther than Australia, to be able to devote expenditure to overseas shipping. We might well reach that stage at some time or, alternatively, with improvement in mechanisation we may be able to compete. This is a situation that the Government would hope would arise, but it is quite false to suggest that simply because overseas shipping lines have increased their freight charges we can operate Australian ships more cheaply. There is no foundation in fact for this suggestion.
– Qantas competes with other airlines and makes a profit.
– That is true, but that is not comparing two like things. The cost of operating ships with part Asian crews cannot compare in the slightest degree with the cost of operating Australian ships. We cannot compare the costs of operating two overseas shipping lines with the costs of operating two airlines. This subject, of course, is a matter of policy.
– Does the Minister agree that we should have our own shipping line?
– If the honorable member for Stirling would cease shouting as though he were at a football match we could conduct this debate in a more reasonable way. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) raised a number of points about the ratification of overseas conventions. His main point concerned the delay in which the Commonwealth Government has been involved in ratifying some of these conventions. The honorable member suggested, in a quite light-hearted sort of way, that we should ignore the rights of State Governments that administer intrastate shipping and should use such constitutional rights as we may have under our treaty-making powers to ratify these conventions immediately and enforce the ratification on the States. It is quite true that there have been delays at times. It is quite true that the Commonwealth has not been able to get its legislation drafted or the States have not been able to get their legislation drafted promptly. It is true that consultation between the States and the Commonwealth has led to delays. However, there are many areas of legislative and administrative control that are exercised by the States. They have the staffs and facilities to exercise this control and administration, and it is desirable that they should continue to do so. If we are to live with the States, as we do in a Federal system, it is just as well to get along with them in harmony and in co-operation. In some cases the Attorney-General’s Department advises us as to the most appropriate and practical legislative pattern by which the Commonwealth and the States can give effect to a particular convention, but the conventions are not always identical and we may have to look at a particular convention to determine the most appropriate method of ratifying it. We have to ensure that when we ratify a con vention the arrangements, ° both legislative and administrative, give full and proper application to the provisions of the convention. Perhaps I can illustrate this by one example. Chapter 8 of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1960, deals with nuclear ships. Many of its provisions will be incorporated in a code for nuclear ships visiting Australian ports. This code has been drawn up by the CommonwealthState committee and will be promulgated by the States and administered by the various States’ port authorities using their existing organisation and facilities, lt would be quite impractical and impolitic for the Commonwealth to deal with this matter by itself. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition raised one other matter concerning regulations on which instructions have been issued from time to time by some officers in the Department for variation or deviation from the letter of those regulations.
– Before the Minister deals with that matter would he comment on the British Government’s duplicating or displacing the State collision regulations?
– Yes. Quite frankly the possibility of this British legislation intervening had been overlooked at the time when discussions were being held with the States. The matter is being examined at the present time. The Deputy Leader qf the Opposition mentioned questions of regulations and suggested that the deviation from these regulations was likely to affect the safety of life at sea. As an illustration of a deviation from the Navigation (Grain) Regulations he cited the case of a ship, the “ Limerick “, which, according to him, loaded a full cargo of grain on the 27th, 28th and 29th of some month in Sydney and, while proceeding across the Great Australian Bight, developed a list. In the first place, I fail to see how this particular case could be an illustration of danger arising from the particular instruction because the instructions stated that a notice of intention to load grain at more than one port need not be given other than at the first port of loading. The master of this ship did not intend to load grain anywhere else than at Sydney. How could he have given notice of an intention to load grain at Fremantle when he did not intend to do so?
The ship called at Fremantle because it developed a list. Secondly, the reason why this instruction was given was that regional controllers or surveyors are required to send all relevant data to the next port of loading in any case. So this is only a duplication of a procedure. This is why that particular instruction was given. So in that particular case there was no breach of any regulation. The “ Limerick “ was a British registered ship, was loaded according to British regulations and left port perfectly safely.
– Was the ship fitted in accordance with the Australian Navigation (Grain) Regulations?
– It was when it lelt Sydney. In connection with the other regulations, so far as the examinations go, the regulations governing requirements lor masters and mates have been amended in accordance with the deviations that went on for some time. So far as the Navigation (Compass) Regulations are concerned., they are regarded as an interpretive instruction. In other words, the alternative means of steering in the steering flat, which I understand is where the ship’s steering mechanism is housed, is not to be interpreted as an alternative means of steering for the purposes of those regulations. It was never intended to be such. This is the reason for that deviation.
I turn, now, to more detailed matters concerning the operations of the Australian National Line, particularly relating to Tasmania. The honorable member for Braddon (Mr. Davies), particularly, raised once again the question of a second Bass Strait ferry. I can quite understand the wishes of the people of Tasmania to have a second ferry. It is quite true that at the peak periods the existing vessel cannot accommodate all passengers wishing to travel. But I do suggest that the Tasmanian Government could play its part in assisting the Australian National Line to arrive at a decision as to when it becomes economical to operate some other passenger vehicle across Bass Strait. The northern coast of Tasmania, and Tasmania as a whole, has done remarkably well out of the operations of the Australian National Line. Some £2.5 million of capital has been spent on roll-on roll-off terminals which the Australian National Line is pay ing off in addition to paying normal wharfage and port dues.
Over a period of a few years, the wharfage and port dues which have accrued to various Tasmanian ports from the Australian National Line have increased by a considerable amount. I understand that at Devonport they increased from £73,000 in. 1959 to £282,000 in 1963, and 80 per cent, of that sum came from ships operated by the Line. Tasmania exacts a passenger tax on all passengers who travel across Bass Strait. If that tax were remitted, fares could be lowered and there would be a possibility of attracting more passengers. The “Bass Trader” pays port dues to such an extent that 37 per cent, of its total operating cost consists of payments to harbour authorities. Payments of this kind are a burden. The economics of the whole matter are affected by these expenses which are in large measures exacted by the Government of Tasmania or by various port instrumentalities in that State. Some discussions have been going on with the Tasmanian Government about the possibility of reducing some of these charges and standardising them between the various ports. I understand that some progress is being made in this direction.
The honorable member for Braddon also referred to the subsidy for King Island. That was an odd complaint because the Government gave the subsidy of £2 10s. at the request of the Tasmanian Government to assist the operations of ships from King Island to the mainland. Now either the Tasmanian Government has suddenly discovered something which it should have thought of before - that this is upsetting the balance of trade between Tasmania and King Island - or else this was some sort of plan to get the Commonwealth Government in gradually and then get it to subsidise freights from King Island to Tasmania as well as subsidising interstate freight.
– It was done to help soldier settlers on King Island.
– That may be correct. But the Government granted to Tasmania what it asked for after having made a very careful examination of the whole problem. All kinds of anomalies have grown up because of the high cost of shipping between King Island and the mainland. There was the situation in which it was cheaper to send stock by air than by ship. There were other similar situations. The Government took notice of these things and paid the subsidy. Now the aircraft operators have asked that the Government, having removed these conditions which we recognised as anomalous, should now assist them and assist the purely intrastate shipping between King Island and Tasmania. This is something which the Tasmanian Government should have had in mind or should have raised at the same time as it put the original request. At any rate we regard this as a problem for the Tasmanian Government, we having granted that Government’s request for a subsidy on the purely interstate service, lt is a serious problem, I know, but we cannot take on our shoulders all the problems of the Tasmanian Government.
I do not want to delay the Committee any further. I have replied to some of the points raised during the course of the debate. If there are others I have not dealt with I can only plead that the debate has covered such a wide field that I would be here all night if I tried to deal with every point that has been raised.
– 1 wish to express my appreciation of the way in which the two Ministers have answered the criticism that has been levelled at their administration. In saying this I do not imply that I accept all that they have said as being correct and as answering the criticism satisfactorily. However, the fact is that tonight we have seen two Ministers pay respect to the Parliament which for many years the Parliament has not been accustomed to receiving. The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) in particular answered the various points of criticism fairly comprehensively. I repeat that I do not necessarily agree that his answers were convincing - to me at any rate - but at least he did give the Government’s explanation of its policy and its reasons for what it has done. 1 rose principally to defend the point of view put forward by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). I do think the Minister was a little unfair to the honorable member in the way he answered his criticism. The Minister criticised the honorable gentleman for his reference to the New South Wales portion of the standardised trans-continental line - the portion between Parkes and Broken Hill. He said that the honorable member for Mackellar was quite wrong in suggesting that the Commonwealth was in error in this connection. Yet almost in the same breath he went on to admit that the previous blackmail, as he called it. that had been brought to bear by the New South Wales Government against the Commonwealth Government’ had apparently been withdrawn, and that this was no longer a problem. Well, I do not know how long the new situation has existed, but I think that what the honorable member for Mackellar was trying to say was that there is no longer such a problem and that from whatever date the problem was solved or the blackmail lifted, to use the Minister’s expression, the Commonwealth has been in error in not having acted more promptly than it’ has done. I think the Minister was unfair also to the honorable member for Mackellar in taking umbrage at his reference to parochialism. It is perfectly true that New South Wales has not been treated in the same way as Western Australia or South Australia or, indeed, Queensland-
– Or Victoria.
– Yes, or Victoria. 1 am obliged to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition for the reminder that Victoria also has shared in the Commonwealth’s bounty in relation to this matter of rail standardisation. The Mount IsaTownsville line attracted Commonwealth bounty and Commonwealth assistance.
– That was a loan.
– I realise that was a loan, and to that extent it is somewhat different from what we are talking about now, but the honorable member for Mackellar made a very powerful point. I think his logic was rather compelling when he asked what is the use of spending millions of pounds in providing an up to date line from Fremantle to Broken Hill, a line that will carry heavy loads and large trains, if we do not similarly improve the section of line from Broken Hill to Parkes. Unless we do a comparable job on that section of the line our whole effort will have been nullified. This is all that the honorable gentleman was trying to put, and I think that when the Minister looks over what the honorable member said he will agree that for once the honorable member for Mackellar kept on the rails and made a worthy point.
– My only answer is that this is a matter within the jurisdiction of the New South Wales Government.
– I realise that it is within the jurisdiction of the New South Wales Government. Now 1 would like to refer to paragraph 23 of the agreement made under the Railway Standardisation (South Australia) Agreement Act 1949, which says that the Commonwealth shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that the Silverton tramway and the locomotives and rolling stock thereon shall be acquired and vested in the South Australian Railways Commissioner. This is one of the things that have got to be done at some stage.
– Not if the South Australian Government agrees otherwise.
– Has it agreed otherwise?
– Not necessarily.
– If it does not agree differently then I assume that the agreement still applies. It seems to me that sooner or later - and the sooner the better - the shareholders and directors of the Silverton Tramway Co. should be told just where they stand in the matter. Just what are we going to do? Are we going to reach agreement with the New South Wales Government to follow the newly surveyed track that the honorable gentleman referred to, thus cutting out the whole of the existing dog-leg, as he called it - and if one looks at the map one sees that that is as good a description as anything else - or go via the shorter cut direct from Cockburn to Broken Hill? I simply remind the Committee the agreement that was made with the South Australian Government and has been in existence since 1949. Nothing has been done so far to my knowledge to implement it, at least insofar as it affects the Silverton Tramway Co. It seems on the Minister’s own admission that there is no longer any problem as between the Commonwealth Government and the New South Wales Government over the refusal to make available the land necessary for the construction of the line from Broken Hill to Cockburn. If this is so, what is holding this up? I think the honorable member for Mackellar has a valid point of criticism.
Before I sit down I should like again to express my honest appreciation of the Minister’s rather good explanation of the various points raised. From the Government’s point of view he made a quite courteous and honest endeavour to answer the criticism. Let me once again pay tribute to the honorable member for Mackellar in respect of this matter of rail standardisation. When the history of this country is written the name of William Charles Wentworth will go down as that of one who did quite a lot to make this nation realise the need for the standardisation of railways. I can remember when the honorable gentleman first-
– The Labour Party’s committee put its report in before he did.
– It did, too. The honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) was the chairman of it and did a good job. But what I am saying is that perhaps the Government would not take much notice of us. However, to whatever extent the Government was prompted, the probability is that it was prompted by the constant hammering that the honorable member for Mackellar gave the Government in the party room and in this Parliament. Whatever else I might disagree with him about I must say that he has certainly done something that he has every reason to be proud of in the matter of rail standardisation, and I should like to see the rest of the job completed while he is still a member of this Parliament.
Motion (by Mr. Aston) put -
That the question be now put.
The Committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Mr. E. N. Drury.)
Majority . . . . 21
Question so resolved inthe affirmative.
Proposed expenditures agreed to.
Department of Customs and Excise.
Proposed expenditure, £7,292,000.
Department of Trade and Industry.
Proposed expenditure, £6,003,000.
Department of Primary Industry.
Proposed expenditure, £17,318,000.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, I suggest that the amount to be appropriated for the services of the Department of Primary Industry for the year 1965-66, to wit £17,318,000, is not an extravagant sum for a department which has such an influence on the primary production of this country, taking into consideration the fact that that sum includes £13,500,000 for the payment of subsidies on the dairy products, butter and cheese. The amount remaining after the payment of these subsidies is exceptionally small. In discussing the departmental estimates it is my intention to ask the Minister to undertake that something will be done in regard to the problem of textile labelling inasmuch as it affects the wool industry of Australia. There is in operation at the moment a wool textile labelling requirement under which manufacturers of wool in Australia, per medium of complementary State legislation and regulations are, I understand, required to label locally manufactured woollen goods indicating their pure wool content. If the goods are not of pure wool content the manufacturer is required to label the goods so as to show the content of other fibres in the material.
I always buy woollen suits and other woollen clothing as far as I possibly can. The suit I wear is labelled “ pure wool “. The label is a complete fraud, because the woollen mills in Australia use a substantial proportion of what is known as shoddy. Shoddy is material collected from tailors’ cuttings - from old uniforms and other old woollen garments. It is torn into shreds and a percentage is woven into suit lengths and other woollen materials. Under the regulations manufacturers of woollen materials who use a percentage of shoddy are entitled to label the material “ Pure Wool “. If a man went into any establishment in Sydney, Melbourne or elsewhere to buy a suit and asked the salesman: “ Is this virgin wool? Will you guarantee that I am buying a suit woven from virgin wool?”, the salesman would not know what the person was talking about. If he were to tell the salesman that the suit or other woollen article contained up to 25 per cent, of shoddy the salesman would be astonished.
A legalised fraud is being perpetrated on the public. This practice is rampant not only in Australia but also in other parts of the world. Recently I sought from the Commonwealth Statistician information about the amount of shoddy exported from Australia and I was not surprised to find that the amount is substantial. In the three years 1962-63 to 1964-65 we exported 7,600,000 lbs. 10 million lbs. and 9 million lbs. respectively. The value of those exports was £495,000, £792,000 and £727,000 respectively. The exports go to Japan, the United Kingdom and other countries. As the regulations now stand, a person can buy a woollen suit or a roll of material labelled “ Pure Wool “ which contains a substantial proportion of shoddy collected not only in the country in which the material is woven but also in Australia and exported to the manufacturing country.
My interest in this matter was aroused many years ago by the late. Mr. Douglas Boyd, who was Chairman of the Australian Wool Bureau. For a long time we struggled to draft a regulation to prevent the marketing of woollen articles unless they were described as virgin wool or as containing a proportion of shoddy or other textile material. In view of the importance of this matter I appeal to the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) to renew efforts to see that all imported textiles carry a label clearly indicating the percentage of virgin wool contained in them and the percentage of any reworked or shoddy wool.
This matter is of greater importance than most Australians realise. In 1948 I encountered great difficulties in drafting regulations to meet this problem. The United Kingdom interests, particularly the people of Bradford, who weave shoddy with virgin wool and sell it in Australia as pure woollen cloth, were so concerned that they sent a delegation to Australia to interview me. After a long discussion one of their number threw on to my table a piece of yellow stained wool and said: “ Surely you would not assert that shoddy does not make a better suit than could be woven from that piece of stained wool “. Having some little knowledge of the woollen industry I replied: “What you are not telling me is that wool of that character would not be used in a garment”. Most stained wool is woven into carpets and similar commodities. The time is long overdue for some action in this matter. I know that there are difficulties. I was never able to reach a satisfactory solution of the problem. Before I could do that I lost my job when this Government came into office. So great were the pressures of commercial interests that it was not until 1953 that this Government was able to draft the existing legislation, which requires only that the commodity be labelled “Pure Wool”. Of course it is pure wool, but some of it is wool that might have been used three or four times. When you tear second hand wool you break the fibres and a suit made from such material is not as satisfactory as a suit made from virgin wool. Nobody could object to a useful fibre being torn, sterilised and rewoven into a suit provided the customer knows exactly what he is buying. The suit that I am wearing, although labelled “ Pure Wool “, may contain 10 per cent; or 20 per cent, of shoddy. I am entitled to know whether it contains shoddy and, if so, I am entitled to get it at a price taking that fact into consideration. Although new, my suit has a shine. If one looks at the right place he does not need a mirror to see the shine. The shine is caused largely by shoddy being woven into the suit, Material containing shoddy will shine more readily than material that does not contain shoddy. This is a matter which I think the Minister should undertake to investigate.
I refer now to another matter that has caused me some concern. I noticed in the Press on 13th October a statement that of the £80 million needed to finance the reserve price scheme for wool, £50 million will be lent by a consortium of the eight trading banks. This announcement was made by Dr. Melville at a meeting recently of the Australian Wool Industry Conference. He pointed out that the growers must raise £30 million per medium of levy. If in five or six years time the growers’ contribution is found to be inadequate, additional money will be made available by the Commonwealth at not more than 4i per cent, interest.
– Not less than 4) per cent., but the present rate is 5 per cent. It is the short term bond rate.
– The Minister says that the rate will be 5 per cent. This brings me to another point. We find that £50 million may be required if a lot of wool is bought in. We are told that a consortium of eight private trading banks has been formed to partake of this juicy morsel - to lend all or portion of the £50 million should it be required at 5i per cent. The private trading banks regularly advertise that they are in active competition with one another. Is there an arrangement between the Reserve Bank and the consortium of the eight private trading banks for the trading banks to draw, if necessary, on the special reserve deposit held with the Reserve Bank and to lend the money to the reserve price authority at 5i per cent., thus getting a rake off of 1 per cent, or more? If so, it is an outrage. The Australian Wheat Board can obtain money from the Reserve Bank at the current overdraft rate of 4£ per cent. Would anybody tell me that wheat in store is a better security than wool in store? From time to time we are scared by reports that there are huge surpluses of wheat in the world and that we may not be able to sell all our wheat. But never in my lifetime, except during the war, have I been told that we have huge surpluses of wool in store that have not been sold and may have to be dumped. Wool is non-perishable and is a first class security. But when £50 mil lion is required, the consortium of banks will receive 51 per cent, for it. This is an outrage.
It has also been announced that, if more than £80 million is required, the Government will provide the amount over the £80 million. If the Government can provide any amount over £80 million - that is, £30 million from the growers and £50 million from the private trading banks - surely the Government can in the first instance provide the £50 million at a rate not exceeding that currently being paid by the Australian Wheat Board. I ask the Minister to say what the rate is now. Two months ago it was 4i per cent. It may be 5 per cent. now. However, I want to ensure that the trading banks do not have put into the palms of their hands the juicy morsel of interest on £50 million lent on a security that is better than gold. There is no better security than wool. If it should so happen at any time that there is £50 million worth of wool in store, it would be as good as gold, and the rate of interest paid by the Australian Wheat Board ought to be available for wool.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
House adjourned at 11.3 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated -
b asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following information -
Kunnunurra will also be suitable for this aircraft when works now in hand are completed.
n asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -
Shipping Regulations. (Question No. 1289.)
m asked the Minister for
Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
Upon investigation so far as the Department has been able to ascertain, the following cases have occurred -
In June 1959, departmental instructions were issued stating that a notice of intention to load grain, required under regulation 7 of the Navigation (Grain) Regulations, need be given by the owner, agent or master only at the first port of loading (or at the port of fitting out) where grain is to be loaded at more than one port. (Note: Regional Controllers or Surveyors are required to send all relevant data to the next port of loading.)
In September 1963, departmental instructions were issued stating that a notice of intention to load grain, required under regulation 7, was not required when bagged grain only, of a weight not more than one half the deadweight cargo capacity, is to be carried.
In December 1959, departmental instructions were issued stating that where a cargo ship which is not required under Lloyd’s Rules (para. 2703) to have an alternative means of steering, has controls for operating the steering gear in the steering flat, these controls are not to be regarded as being an alternative means of steering and an additional compass at this position is not required. This was an interpretive instruction issued in respect of regulation 6 of the Navigation (Compass) Regulations.
In August 1962, a notice to shipowners and examination candidates was issued stating that up to nine months’ remission of sea service would be granted to candidates for certificates of competency who possessed certain specified academic qualifications not provided for in the regulations.
In 1961 instructions were issued that candidates for certificates of competency as Masters and Mates should lodge applications with the examiner at a port one clear week before the date of the examination. Regulations current at the time required notice to be given to the Superintendent at least fourteen days before the examination for Extra Master and at least four days before examination for other certificates.
In 1961 an instruction was issued advising that changes in the syllabus for certificates of competency would be those laid down in the United Kingdom Ministry of Transport Regulations. These varied the syllabus as then prescribed in the Navigation (Examination of Masters and Mates) Regulations.
In 1961 an instruction to examiners stated that the minimum qualifying service for a certificate of efficiency as lifeboatman was six months’ sea service in any capacity. This varied the prescribed requirement of twelve months for apprentices and other ratings.
Communications Link from Eastern States to Western Australia. (Question No. 1298.)
d asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
t asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
What is the cost, including pay and allowances, of maintaining Australian troops in (a) South Vietnam (b) Malaysia?
– The Department of Defence has provided the following reply -
The above costs relate to personnel of the three Services.
n asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -
To our knowledge the Vietcong have not used gas. Recent press reports that the Vietcong had used toxic gas in combat followed a Vietcong attack against a government post in Quang Nai province, South Vietnam, on 16th September. Thirty minutes after this attack the defenders of the post experienced difficulty in breathing and swallowing, nausea, dizziness and fatigue. There were no fatalities but three of the victims were still hospitalised on 20th September. Subsequent medical investigation showed that these symptoms were probably produced by shell smoke and magnesium fumes.
rns asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
Is it a fact, as recorded in Keesing’s Contemporary Archives, 1952-54, page 13689, that the Final Declaration of the Geneva Conference, 21st July 1954, providing for an election in Vietnam in 1956 was signed by representatives of France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of China, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and the Viet Minh Government?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
The Final Declaration of the Geneva Conference, made on 21st July 1954, was not signed by representatives of delegations attending the Conference. The manner in which delegations associated themselves with or expressed their views on the Final Declaration is set out in the verbatim record of the final session of the Conference, the relevant extracts of which are published in the United Kingdom Command Paper Cmd 9239, Miscellaneous No. 20 (1954) a copy of which is available from the Parliamentary Library. The full text of the Final Declaration is also reproduced at pages 15-17 of Select Documents on International Affairs, No. 1 of 1964, “Vietnam since the 1954 Geneva Agreements “ published by the Department of External Affairs.
r asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
m asked the Minister for Housing, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
Maximum housing loans are -
The following maximum housing loans were operative during April 1965, which is the date of the latest of the periodic surveys conducted by the Department of Housing -
The maximum housing loans made by savings banks vary according to the type and age of the house. The practice of most of these banks is to make individual loans up to £3,500, usually for brick or brick-veneer houses, with higher limits considered in special circumstances.
Housing loans made by trading banks are in the form of overdraft advances of no specified limits.
There is no specified limit on housing loans made by these companies.
The maximum loan limits of these societies vary from State to State. They range from £3,250 to a maximum of £4,250 now being considered by the New South Wales Parliament. Also, in Queensland, there is a maximum limit of £5,000 on a loan to convert a house into flats.
War Service Homes- 17th March 1962, by amendment to the War Service Homes Act 1918-1962.
Department of the Interior (Australian Capital Territory) -
Department of Territories (Northern Territory) -
Leases Ordinance, 1947-1964, and the Crown Lands Ordinance, 1931-1964.
Northern Territory Housing Commission - 11th November 1963, by Housing Ordinance No. 74 of 1963 amending the Housing Ordinance, 1959-1965.
The limit of £3,500 on a housing loan by the Commonwealth Savings Bank was fixed on 7th March 1963, by amendment to the Commonwealth Banks Regulations.
The dates on which loan limits were last fixed by State authorities and the acts or other instruments involved are not readily available.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 19 October 1965, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1965/19651019_reps_25_hor48/>.