25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask a question of the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is it not well within his knowledge that De Havilland Aircraft Pty. Ltd. of Bankstown has for many years serviced jet aircraft and has many trained artisans mechanically equipped to render excellent service? In view of this, is the Minister aware that a move contemplated by the Department of Civil Aviation will doubtless cause a number of these well trained employees of the De Havilland company to be dismissed in the almost immediate future and that as a result they may be lost for ever to the branch of the aviation industry that services the needs of jet aircraft in Australia?
– The first part of the honorable member’s question is correct. I have for long known - especially since I was once Minister for Air - that the De Havilland company has a first class establishment situated, I believe, in the honorable member’s electorate. It is capable of carrying out work the equal of that done by most companies here or, for that matter, in the United Kingdom. As to the second part of his question, I am not aware of the facts. The whole matter of aircraft construction and maintenance is now under the control of my colleagues the Minister for Supply, the Minister for Air and the Minister for the Navy. A question on this line would be more suitably directed to them.
– Will the Minister have a look at it?
– Yes, I will.
– I ask the Minister for the Navy: In view of the limited transport services between the Nowra area and Sydney will the Minister consider permitting the use of the naval air station at Nowra for a civil service between Nowra and Sydney?
– This would be a matter not only for my Department but also for the Department of Civil Aviation. I understand that in the past some effort has been made to secure this service.
– Yes, by me.
– I appreciate that, too. After next year there will be improved ground control and radar surveillance installed at Nowra which will make the station suitable for use by civil aircraft. I will, therefore, take up the matter with the Minister for Civil Aviation to see what can be done about the honorable member’s request.
– Has the Prime Minister’s attention been directed to statements of a Japanese industrialist who said that Japanese steelmakers feel that Western Australian iron ore mines, ports and railways belong to them and should be manned with Japanese labour and, further, that if a Japanese tender to deepen the Geraldton harbour were accepted the Japanese would expect to do the work under Japanese labour conditions? If so, has his attention also been directed to the reply of the Premier of Western Australia which suggests a possibility that the Western Australian Government may not raise any serious objection to such proposals? Finally, if the Prime Minister has seen these reports, does he support the comments of the Western Australian Premier? If not, will he make a statement to this House setting out quite clearly where the Commonwealth Government stands in relation to the whole question of Japanese intrusion into Australian industry?
– Mr. Speaker, I regret to say I had not heard of the statement by the Japanese or of any comment by the Premier of Western Australia. I will certainly look into this matter. I think I might have pretty strong views on it myself.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. By way of preface, I refer to the question I asked the Prime Minister on 16th March last inquiring whether, to avoid confusion, the Government would consider using the words “Australian” or “Federal” whenever possible, in lieu of the word “ Commonwealth “, in order to distinguish the “ Commonwealth of Australia” from the “Commonwealth of Nations” and other Commonwealth countries. I remind the Prime Minister that he promised to consider my question. I ask whether he has yet been able to do so.
– This is not a matter on which we can make some legislative . prescription except in a very limited way. I remember that many years ago, when I was Attorney-General, I had something to do with changing the name of this area we are in to the “ Australian Capital Territory”. It used to be the “Federal Capital Territory”. That was right. I myself have, been in the habit of referring to the “ Australian Government “ wherever I go. This is something I commend to all honorable members.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral - and I ask as one who hates to see the means of mass communication and mass’ persuasion in the hands of a few millionaires: Will the Postmaster-General act on the view of the President of the Federation of Australian Commercial Broadcasters that the Australian Broadcasting Commission should cater only for the minority audience and leave popular programmes to commercial stations? Or rather, will he commend the A.B.C. for coming out of its ivory tower and providing programmes for all tastes over its two networks? Is it his view as Postmaster-General that the A.B.C, which is supported by the licence fees of all listeners and viewers, has a right under its charter to provide entertainment as well as information for all?
– Recently I saw some remarks which were attributed to the President of the Federation of Australian Commercial Broadcasters and which criticised the Australian Broadcasting Commission for altering the basis of its broadcasts. I noted also the reply of the Assistant General Manager of the Commission that, in fact, such an alteration had not taken place. My own view is that the A.B.C, under its charter, has the responsibility for, and is quite capable of, looking after its own affairs. Many alterations have been made in the field of radio broadcasting over the years to cater for the changing tastes of the Australian people. It is the prerogative of the A.B.C. to make that sort of change.
– 1 address my question to the Treasurer. As many country bank managers are telling their clients that they have no money to lend for drought relief purposes because of the policy of the Reserve Bank of Australia, will the Treasurer say whether any restrictions are imposed on the Reserve Bank by the Com.monwealth Government?
– If bank managers are passing on to clients comment or information in the term suggested by the honorable gentleman, that would suggest to me that the gentle art of buckpassing is not confined to members of this institution. Certainly there is no basis in fact for such a statement. I have, made the position clear in this House on more than one occasion. I have kept closely in personal touch with the Reserve Bank on these matters. I am able to assure the House that the Reserve Bank, in its general advice to the trading banks, has made it clear that whatever restraint may be applied to lending generally, the Reserve Bank imposes no such restraint in respect of lending for drought relief purposes. It has made it clear that any lending of this kind can be considered by the bank in question as being additional to any other stipulation which the Reserve Bank has made. I am advised also that there is no evidence before the Reserve Bank to suggest that lending for this purpose is in any way inhibited by lack of liquidity at the present time. I may add that since my return from overseas I have been in touch with the Governor of the Reserve Bank and he has told me that at the next periodical consultation which the Reserve Bank will be holding with the trading banks - I understand this will take place next week - the trading banks will be asked again to report on requests received by them for bank assistance as a result of drought experiences. The. trading banks are being put on notice that this matter will be specifically discussed at that time, so that we will have the latest possible information on the subject.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. Has he seen a report of a statement by the Chairman of the Australian National Airlines Commission that because of the extensive network of non-competitive air routes not open to Trans-Australia Airlines, Ansett-A.N.A. now handles almost 20 per cent, more traffic than T.A.A.? Has the General Manager of T.A.A. asked that that airline be given access to certain areas for developmental purposes, to help it obtain equality of opportunity with Ansett-A.N.A.? What is the Government’s attitude, to such a request?
– I have seen the report referred to by the honorable member. I point out that last year T.A.A. expanded its business considerably on trunk line routes. Its receipts exceeded those of the previous year by £4.8 million. It has carried more passengers and it has built up its freight business. I think it is quite obvious that T.A.A. is expanding, even though it is limited to particular routes.
– Following upon the answer given by the Prime Minister to the honorable member for Ryan, I would like to address a question to you, Mr. Speaker. Would you be prepared to direct that the notice paper be headed in future “The Parliament of Australia” instead of as at present “The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia “?
– I will give consideration to the point raised by the honorable member.
– 1 ask the Minister for External Affairs a question. The Minister will have noted that a former Rhodesian Prime Minister, Mr. Garfield Todd, whom he and I met at the Commonwealth Relations Conference in New Zealand in 1959, has been served with an executive - not a judicial - order that he is not to leave his farm for 12 months. The Minister will have realised that Mr. Todd was born in New Zealand and remains a British subject. I ask him: What steps have been taken to ensure that any British subjects who were born in Australia are free to leave Rhodesia unless they are subject to orders of civil or criminal courts?
– We have no reason to believe that any Australian citizen who is a British subject will be under any sort of restraint in Rhodesia or that any action is likely to be taken against such a person. If an occasion did arise when the interests or the liberties of Australian citizens were involved, the Government would, of course, take prompt action to protect the citizens of this country.
– I direct a question to the Minister for National Development. Has a decision yet been made on the application for an export licence for iron ore from the Savage River area?
– Yes, the Government has approved of the export from Tasmania of 60 million tons of iron ore under certain conditions. I have communicated this decision to the Tasmanian Premier and to the company concerned. It is intended to export the iron ore in the form of pellets over a period of 20 years. The ore will be mined and concentrated at the mine. It will then be formed into a slurry and taken by a pipeline some 55 miles to a harbour which is to be formed at a place called, I think, Brickmaker’s Bay, on the north coast of Tasmania. This is the first occasion on which such a technique will have been used in Australia, and probably one of the first instances of its use anywhere in the world. I think that this now brings the total quantity of the iron ore for which export permits have been granted to about 547 million tons.
– My question is directed to the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry. Is it a fact, as reported in the Sydney “Daily Telegraph” of Friday last, that the Australian Wheat Board is determined that it will meet commitments to mainland China next year even though this will leave some States, particularly New South Wales, short of premium grade wheat? Will this, as alleged, force up the price of bread and associated products all over Australia? If these are facts, does the Government intend to condone this action, which will penalise Australian consumers so as to assist what is often described by the Government as “ the Communist horde most likely to endanger our future national security “?
– I have no knowledge of the newspaper paragraph to which the honorable member’s question refers. I do not know whether it is soundly based or not, because I am not closely familiar with its terms. I think the honorable member will appreciate that the policy in the past of the Australian Wheat Board has not been to regard China as one of its customers to whom it has annual commitments, but rather, when the Board has a surplus to dispose of after meeting the needs of its regular customers it has entered into trade with China for that surplus.
– Will the Minister check on the position?
– I address a question to the Prime Minister. Prior to the last Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference the United Kingdom Prime Minister said in the House of Commons that he was desirous of exploring the possibility of entering into long term contracts and commodity ‘agreements providing guaranteed markets for Commonwealth primary produce at stable prices, and that he hoped the matter would be dealt with at the next Prime Ministers’ meeting. Can the Prime Minister say whether this matter was raised and whether any useful action can be expected to follow?
– When this proposal was put up at the last Prime Ministers’ Conference it was agreed that the first step, if we were to have useful discussions, would be to get the officials in .this field from the various countries together and let them confer so that they might assemble a body of agreed material on which Ministers could have a ministerial conference. That programme is in hand and will be pursued.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. Is it a fact that airline operators to Canberra do not provide economy class travel for their patrons, but at the same time occasionally seat them in economy class seats although they have paid the higher tariff? Are the companies legally entitled to do this, or is it being done to ensure still greater profits at a time when the companies are intent on increasing fares? Will the Minister ascertain whether it is a practical proposition to adopt economy class travel for people wishing to avail themselves of it on the Canberra routes or, alternatively, will he request the airline companies to refrain from charging first class tariffs for second class travel?
– I am not aware of the position. I will pass the question on to my colleague and ask him to give me a reply so that 1 can pass it on to the honorable member.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs a question. In view of the Minister’s statement yesterday on Indonesia, in which he stated that Major*. General Suharto revealed that members of the Indonesian Communist Party, the P.K.I., took part in the assassinations of Indonesian generals, what action does the Government propose to take to curb the activities of the Communist Party of Australia, MarxistLeninist - whose leader not so long ago visited the leader of the P.K.I., Mr. Aldit, in Indonesia - which has been working in close co-operation with the P.K.I, and the Djakarta-Peking Communist axis?
– The honorable member has done a service to the House by reminding us that the Communist Party in Australia is not a domestic group engaged in domestic politics but has very strong international sympathies and links with Communist parties in other countries. As the honorable member’s question indicates, those links include links with the Communist Party of Indonesia. As to the action that we can take to ensure that the Communist Party in Australia does not allow its international sympathies and links to override its duties to Australian citizens, this is a matter of policy which will be considered by the Government.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry a question. Does the Queensland Department of Primary Industries or the Central Sugar Cane Prices Board advise the Minister when it is intended to increase sugar cane growing assignments? If so, is the Minister satisfied that the granting of further assignments, coupled with those recently granted and not yet in full production, will not create an excess of sugar on the present depressed world markets or necessitate a revision of the domestic price of sugar?
– My understanding of the situation is that the Central Sugar Cane Prices Board allots assignments to growers. As the honorable member is well aware, in recent years there has been an increase in the allocations. I do not know whether the Board has allotted all the assignments it was originally intended to allot. As regards world markets, although we did not succeed in getting a new international agreement we have quotas for the sale of sugar to America, the United Kingdom and Japan. These quotas are an advantage when we consider the low world price now prevailing.
– I ask the Minister for National Development a question. In view of the low rainfall conditions applying in the headwaters of the. River Murray this season, can the Minister say what quantity of water will flow through the systems of dams and lakes above the River Murray for urgent household supplies and agricultural purposes in South Australia?
– The honorable member correctly implies that this has been one of the driest seasons on record. It has been the cause of some concern to the River Murray Commission. Storages are by no means at full capacity. The Hume Weir, which has a capacity of 2.5 million acre feet, contains less than 1.7 million acre feet. This water for irrigators in South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria may be supplemented by 500,000 acre feet from Lake Victoria and about 60,000 acre feet from the Menindee Lakes. The quantity available will still be short of requirements. It is certain that some restrictions will be imposed by the Commissioners. They are discussing the. matter now and I think the restrictions will be announced soon.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral a question. Has it been established that resignations and the shortage of suitable new employees in the Post Office are due to the poor conditions under which employees are forced to work? Is the Minister aware that those poor conditions include ridiculously inadequate salaries and an excessive number of increments before attaining the maximum standard salary; a six day working week; three weeks annual leave - a condition unaltered since Federation - compared with four weeks annual leave applying in other sections of the Department; a longer working week-
– Order! I ask the honorable member not to continue to give information but to ask his question.
– A longer working week of 40 hours compared with-
– Order! The honorable member will ask his question. I think he has already framed it adequately.
– I will leave it to the PostmasterGeneral. I would like to know the reasons for this.
– Two or three weeks ago, I think, in answer to a question by the honorable member for Banks, I said that wages and other conditions within the Post Office are a matter for the Public Service Board, which is under the ministerial control of the Prime Minister. Therefore, I do not intend to embark on a discussion of all the detail that has been referred to by the honorable member. I would like to say, however, that the Post Office has been able to maintain the number of its employees at least as well as other large employers in the community, both private and governmental. The difficulties that are being experienced in certain fields flow naturally from the prosperity in the community, which is the direct result of the policies of implemented by the Government
– My question is addressed to the Minister for External Affairs. Can the honorable gentleman confirm that both the Soviet Union and Communist China have established large economic and military missions in many African countries and that Communist China is training armed forces in several of them? Will the honorable gentleman consider making available to the House all the information he has on the matter?
– I will ask the officers of my Department to examine the material that they have to see whether it is possible to furnish the House with the sort of information that the honorable member seeks.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. At what stage and to what extent was the right honorable gentleman consulted on the proposal that Prince Charles should spend a term at a school in Australia? Did he himself suggest or agree that the chosen school should be the Geelong Church of England Grammar School, which is generally accepted as the most exclusive school in Australia? If his opinion was sought, why did he not suggest that Prince Charles, like the great majority of his future subjects, should attend one of the excellent State high schools that are to be found in any of the States?
– I read this suggestion in one of the evening newspapers yesterday, so I am not unprepared for it. Of course, I will not recount my discussion, except to say that, being on a short visit to Edinburgh, I went to Balmoral and there had a talk, at their request, with Her Majesty and Prince Philip. They expressed their idea that the Prince should come to Australia to attend school for a term or possibly for two terms. They invited me to give them some advice. I was quite detached personally because I went to another school, which, presumably from the honorable member’s question, is not so exclusive or toney. Geelong Grammar is a school of high repute and it is not difficult for people to understand that a school that has a rural branch has attractions in this instance. I would be very sorry for the young Prince if he were at a school in the middle of a crowded city in Australia, with people gazing at him, with people trying to get pictures of him and with people making him a raree-show. That is not what he will be here for. He will be here to go to school and to mix with ordinary Australian boys.
– I ask the Prime Minister: Does he recall that, about a month ago, I asked him about the conditions of life assurance policies as they applied to Australians on active service? I do not want to hurry the right honorable gentleman, but is he now in a position to answer my question?
Sir ROBERT MENZIES__ I can assure the honorable member that if he lived my life he would know that I am always in a hurry. There are twice as many things to be done as can be done in the available time. I have not forgotten this matter. It has been put in hand. It has involved the Treasury in a considerable amount of work in examining the circumstances and communicating with a large number of associations, societies and companies. So far as I know, this examination is not yet complete. I have not’ had >a chance to speak to my colleague on the matter but I expect that the information will be available soon.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry: Will he let us know the carry-over of wheat in New South Wales this season and the amount to be exported? Has he power under section 1 3 of the Wheat Industry Stabilisation Act to direct the Australian Wheat Board concerning the export of wheat? If he has this power, will he ensure that the carry-over will be sufficient to meet the needs of the people of New South Wales, particularly stock feeders, so that they will not have to pay excessive freights to obtain wheat from other States if the current season’s crop in that State is not sufficient for their needs?
– It is difficult to assess the size of the current season’s crop. When I answered a question asked by the honorable member last week, I had checked in the minutes of the Australian Wheat Board and had found that its estimate of the New South Wales crop was at that stage 55 million bushels, but I was advised 24 hours later that the estimate had been reduced to 15 million bushels because dry weather and burning heat had been experienced at the seeding stage. I am glad to be able to inform the honorable member, however, that because of recent rains the Board has become more optimistic and now estimates that the New South Wales crop will total 50 million bushels. Everybody is a lot more optimistic now because of the helpful rains in some of the wheat ‘areas of the State. The honorable member need have no fear that there will be a shortage of wheat in Australia generally. Western Australia expects a record crop this season. The estimate for that State is 90 million bushels, far in excess of its previous best.
– What about freight?
– That is a matter to be determined. Unfortunately, some of the drought stricken areas of New South Wales have not had sufficient rain to enable wheat to be sown. Somebody will have to arrange for the transport of wheat from other areas, and the question of freight will be considered.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Air. He will be aware that observers from the Royal Air Force, the United States of America and Indonesia were in attendance at the recent air manoeuvres held in conjunction with units of our allies. Can the Minister explain the criticism levelled at the Department of Air by one of the overseas observers for the blunder of using different types of ammunition in our aircraft? Will the honorable gentleman see that interchangeable equipment is fitted in aircraft purchased in the future so that there will be no wastage of taxpayers’ money?
– I can assure the honorable member that there is no wastage of taxpayers’ money by the Royal Australian Air Force. He doubtless knows that within the last two or three years a joint international agreement has been entered into by the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia in order to achieve greater integration and exchange of information and equipment between the
Services of the four nations. Work to achieve this end is going on continuously and great progress has been made. Many of the items mentioned in the report to which he referred were bought many years ago. An example is the Sabre aircraft and some of the weapons used in it. Progress towards integration and interchangeability has been made and will continue to be made.
– I direct a question to the Postmaster-General. I ask: Has New South Wales nearly 51,000 outstanding applications for telephones out of a total of 83,290 throughout Australia? Since the Telephone Branch of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department earned a profit of more than £2 million last financial year will the Minister, who comes from a State where there are only 5,294 applicants waiting for telephones, institute a crash programme to divert some of the Department’s profits in order to redress the neglect and inequality from which New South Wales has suffered in respect of telephone installations for more than a decade?
– I thought that most honorable members understood the basis on which the Estimates were presented to the Parliament. The money which is received by the Post Office as revenue is paid into the Treasury and the money which is used for expenditure comes from the Treasury. The crash programme to which the honorable member has referred is obviously a works programme, the money for which comes as a special vote in the normal Budget context. The amount for this year is £90 million, compared with approximately £80 million for last year. I say to the House, and to the honorable member in particular, that I believe it would not be possible to obtain the materials and the work force necessary for the expenditure of more money than is being spent at the present time, particularly in New South Wales.
The situation in New South Wales has developed over a period of years because the demand in that State has been much higher than in any other State of the Commonwealth. We are doing our best to overcome this problem and we caught up to some degree last year. I am hopeful that 6,000 of the deferred applications will he written off during the current year. As I mentioned to an honorable member a few days ago, provided that the demand rate does not exceed 7i per cent, it is expected that within two or three years we will not have more than, perhaps, 5,000 deferred applications in New South Wales.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Social Services. I ask: Is the Minister aware that the granting of social service pensions and the consideration of social service problems for the large and growing population of Sunraysia in north western Victoria are dealt with in Ballarat, approximately 291 miles away? Although the service given from this regional office is excellent, will the Minister give further consideration to establishing a regional office of his Department at Mildura?
– Like all honorable members, I know full well the concern of the honorable member for Mallee for the advancement of the best interests of this fruitful part of Australia. I am delighted to be able to inform him that at the present stage there is under consideration the staffing of a three-man office of the Department at Mildura. The Department has. been allocated space within a proposed Commonwealth office block which is to be completed in about six months’ time. In the meantime it is hoped to be able to arrange temporary accommodation for the Department.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation a question. Is there any truth in the current rumour that a large section of the Repatriation General Hospital at Concord has been cleared to accommodate the expected increased number of Australian war casualties returning from Vietnam?
– I would have thought that even the honorable member for Hunter would know better than to listen to rumours to this purport. I can assure him that there is no substance in the report and that the facilities available within the Repatriation General Hospital at Concord are available, as they have always been, for all persons entitled to repatriation benefits.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. I ask: Does the Minister know that during the last harvest of the Australian dried fruits industry crop insufficient labour was available for the speedy completion of picking and that only the continued sunny weather saved the industry from heavy loss? As the officers of the Department of Labour and National Service contribute so largely to the supply of the labour force, will the Minister alert them to the urgency of the situation so that they may make forward arrangements for the harvest which is now only four months ahead?
– I was aware that there was some shortage of labour for the harvesting of the crops mentioned by the honorable gentleman. I can assure him that my Department is always anxious to get the maximum amount of labour that is available. He will realise that under conditions like those obtaining at present, when there is a substantial demand for labour that cannot be met in most industries throughout the whole of the Commonwealth, it is not always possible to get the amount of labour needed for the harvesting of crops. Nonetheless, I will again take the matter up with my Department, as I always do about this time, and see that it does its best to meet the honorable gentleman’s requirements.
– I address a question to the Minister for Immigration. In view of the Minister’s ‘ decision regarding the issue of visas to the East German pentathlon team, can it be assumed that he will apply the same ruling to the 1967 world table tennis championships in Melbourne? Does it mean that he will refuse to issue to both the mainland Chinese and East German teams visas to enter Australia for these championships? Is he aware that the mainland Chinese hold practically every world table tennis title and that Melbourne would almost certainly lose this important sporting event if these people were refused entry to Australia in order to compete?
– I can tell the Leader pf the Opposition that an application for visas was made to my Department and that we replied on 30th September to the effect that there would be no objection in principle to the entry into Australia of members of associations affiliated with the International Table Tennis Association, in order that they might compete in these championships. It was pointed out to the Association, however, that it was not possible to give an unqualified assurance that every applicant for a visa would be admitted. All applicants must have acceptable travel documents, which would normally be passports issued by the countries of residence. However, Australia does not recognise certain governments. In cases where we do not recognise the government of a country, other acceptable documents of identity may be used. For example, visas have been issued to applicants from mainland China upon production of affidavits as to identity and personal description. The Department of External Affairs has indicated in discussions with my Department that it would wish to examine the question of the mainland Chinese flying their national flag and playing their national anthem.
– My question to the. Prime Minister concerns the recent visit to Vietnam by the Australian entertainer, Lucky Starr. Will the right honorable gentleman investigate the. possibility of sponsoring visits to Vietnam by Australian entertainers to entertain troops - visits similar to that made by Mr. Lucky Starr at, I believe, his own expense? Perhaps the Government will consider appointing someone from the Public Service to act as a liaison officer with Australian entertainers. It might even consider appointing Mr. Lucky Starr to do this work.
– I shall discuss this matter with the Defence Ministers. I must show how little I am “with it” - I think that is the expression - on modern entertainment by saying that all I know about Lucky Starr is that I remember that when I was very much younger there was a song called “ You are my lucky star “. I did not know there was a chap called Lucky Starr.
– I ask the Treasurer whether he is aware that farmers who apply to trading banks for loans to purchase stock are advised to apply to their stock firms and that those, who apply for loans to buy machinery are advised to go to hire purchase firms. Can the honorable gentleman give any explanation for this redirection which is a departure from what has been normal banking business?
– I am not able to give a direct answer from my own experience. If there is an incidence of events of this kind it would be a suitable subject for discussion at the conference that the Reserve Bank will be holding next week with representatives of the trading banks. I shall see that the question that the honorable member has put to me is conveyed to the Governor of the Bank so that it may be included in the range of discussions.
Consideration resumed from 19th October (vide page 1969).
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.
– In the administration of the Department of Trade and Industry a practice has grown up under which important trade agreements have been made. The agreements are worked out by senior officials of the Department with officials in other countries. We now witness the Department making a long list of trade agreements that have the effect of binding Australia for many years ahead. I believe that this is being done in a way that bypasses parliamentary consideration, in that the Parliament is presented with a finished article - a fait accompli. The trade agreement has been signed, the Government has approved of it and all we are left to do is to say what we think of it; and the agreement may be operative for 15 years. I instance one agreement with underprivileged countries. About 100 nations have made an agreement with Australia. I feel that the effect of such agreements may be to inhibit the Australian entrepreneur, the Australian manufacturer or the Australian producer in some way. We are tying our hands for the future, for probably the lifetime of many members of the Parliament. The Parliament itself does not get a proper chance to look at these matters.
I say with great respect to the senior officers of the Department of Trade and Industry that they are not as close to some of the industries with which they are dealing as are some members of the Parliament and some industry leaders. It is a pity that these agreements are made with such tremendous speed. The first we know is that an agreement has been written out and signed within a few days. It becomes binding on everybody in Australia because it is an international agreement under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. I view this practice with some dismay. I think that we will be sorry about some of these agreements. I know they contain safeguard clauses. I know that there are means of getting out of the agreements if they damage any Australian industry, but it is too late when this is discovered, because at this stage of Australia’s expansion and development the important thing is the amount of capital available to start an industry. When these trade agreements are signed no capital oan be found to start a new industry under their umbrella.
We have had some intellectuals in this place who have trotted out as an example the European Common Market. They have been entranced with the idea of low trade barriers, free trade or the removal of artificial customs duties between the six members of the Common Market. They have said: “ Well, let us have for national security, co-operation “ - and all these lovely ideas - “ an agreement with New Zealand “. So we now have proposed an agreement with New Zealand. The honorable members who used the Common Market as a pattern for this purpose did not read the fine print. They did not know, or they deliberately ignored the fact, that the European Common Market is now in great trouble over the very matters which are the basis for our agreements with other countries, particularly primary producing countries. The German industrialists want cheap food; the French want higher prices for exports of food. The clash between De Gaulle and the German Minister has been a classic clash going on for many years. Speakers in this chamber have used the idea of the European Common Market as a reason for doing what has been done in respect of New Zealand. Their argument is based on an entirely false premise, because the European Common Market has not solved the problem of agricultural commodity prices, and at any moment difficulties can arise. Perhaps a bit of shadow sparring has been going on. De Gaulle says that he will walk out of the Common Market unless the French farmers are protected and given a chance to sell on the German market at their prices and not at the reduced German prices. The German Government subsidises some of Germany’s commodities, so bringing them down to a false low price.
The traditional approach - and I think the Australian Country Party has included this in its policy, and I have supported this idea - is that because Australian rural producers must export at world parity prices, which are often very low, or dump, prices in London or some other market, as wool, wheat, beef and dairy producers have found, the Australian market must be protected. Sir Earle Page introduced a subsidy for dairy products. We also had what was known .as the Paterson scheme, introduced by a former honorable member for Gippsland, which ensured rather high prices in Australia to protect the rural industries. Rural producers have had to export at low prices but they have always had to pay, for machinery, motor cars, tractors, chemicals, including urea, and all manner of things, artificially high prices brought about through the effects of tariffs in Australia. The rural community must sell its products abroad at very low prices yet buy its goods inside this country, in a hothouse atmosphere, where the prices are high. That has been the traditional policy of the Australian Government and the Country Party has played its part in doing this. Now we find a complete change in the thinking behind our trade agreements and particularly in respect of the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement. It is thought that the manufacturers of Australia who have enjoyed high prices here behind the tariff wall have now said: “ Let us co-operate with New Zealand. Let us take those goods from New Zealand which are being sold at low prices on the world market so that we can sell more of our manufactures.”
Look how unfair this is. The manufacturers have been sheltering behind an artificial trade barrier. The protection for the manufacturers has been laid down by the Tariff Board. The manufacturers sell such things as tractors to the rural producers. The rural producers send their surpluses - and they are vast ones, of a value up to £1,000 million - overseas where they are sold at the lowest possible prices that rule when huge tonnages are being dumped. For primary producers, the London market, because of its low prices, is probably one of the worst in the world. The reason for this position is that the British manufacturer can do well in an economy where food prices are low. These rural producers are faced now with a new situation. I call it the thin end of the wedge. The socalled efficient New Zealand dairy farmer, who has one inch of rain a week on his pasture and runs four cows to the acre, now has access to the Australian market in competition with the Australian farmer who suffers not only from the effects of the present drought - we have heard plenty about this drought - but also has imposed on him through the effect of tariffs, the burden of an artificial, high price for the goods he purchases. Because manufacturers and trade unions go to the Tariff Board, and the farmer is not as well represented there as he should be, very high prices are charged for the goods the farmer uses. There is no escaping from these facts. They are true. Now the dairy industry has to meet the competition of low priced commodities from New Zealand and no tariff is to be imposed on them.
– On a limited basis.
– Yes. I said that this might be the thin end of the wedge. I want no more of it. This kind of action was based on the false assumption that the European Common Market could handle the matter. But it cannot handle agricultural prices. If our rural industries are to be preserved, they cannot be exposed to this sort of competition. “ On a limited basis “ means that the best matured New Zealand cheese which was available on the Sydney wharves at 3s. 2d. per lb. will now be available, on a different basis under the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement. The tariff of 6d. will be removed off 400 tons of that cheese in the first year of the operation of the Agreement. That quantity will rise to the ceiling of 1,000 tons of cheese. Who is to get the 6d. reduction? Is it to go to Woolworths? Will the New Zealand farmer get it? Is the 6d. broken up? That is what we would like, to know. If the Government wants to sacrifice the Australian farmer and reduce his standards, this is the way to start doing so. Before the trade officials have another go at this sort of agreement, we should have a look at it. I would like to know the names of the people who conferred with the Government on this matter and gave their okay to it. Let them come out. into the open.
– It was the Australian Dairy Produce Board.
– The honorable member for Maranoa has a lovely feeling of irresponsibility because he will not be sitting in this House very much longer. He is the only one who is talking about this subject. To me it is a serious matter. The principle which has been observed in formulating trade agreements all these years has been changed, so radically and so tremendously. I say again: If the Government wants to destroy the rural community, this is the way to do it. Have a look at the future reservoir of population in Australia. It is the rural community. The large families are in the country. President de Gaulle knows that the rural community is the reservoir of nationalism and patriotism in France. A lot of people seem to want to pull down the dairy industry but they should have a look at what would be the sociological effect if this happened. - Mr. Brimblecombe. - Who fixed the price?
– I think the honorable member for Maranoa ought to remember that he will not be sitting in this Parliament after this term. He does not have to worry.
I turn to the subject of timber. New South Wales is the largest user of timber in Australia. It is also the greatest producer and the largest importer of timber. New South Wales opposes the removal of duties on dressed timber from New Zealand because of the harmful impact this would have on its country dressing industries particularly as it would allow the duty free entry of precut house frames, as distinct from prefabricated houses, in the guise of dressed timbers. At the present time, many millions of super feet of precut hardwood house frames are produced each year in New South Wales and supplied direct to project builders. Any interference with this market by New Zealand imports, must have disastrous effects on important sections of our country saw milling industry. The most heavily hit area would be the central coast of New South Wales between Dungog and Grafton. This area is not in the electorate of Maranoa. We are told about Article 9 of the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement. This Article provides for the necessary remedial measures where scheduled goods are in the opinion of a member State - that is, Australia or New Zealand - being imported into the territory of that member State in such increased quantities and under such conditions as to cause or threaten serious injury to its producers of like or directly competitive products. One difficulty here, however, is that it probably would be necessary to establish that current imports were causing or threatening serious injury to the producers. Therefore, it might not be possible to take any action until it was much too late to avert serious damage to the New South Wales industry. I protest against the import of precut and predressed timbers into New South Wales.
.- It is only on a very rare occasion that I find myself in agreement with the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate). Indeed, in the words of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) a few days ago, Heaven forbid that I should be in agreement with him other than only on very rare occasions. I do not agree with him concerning, and I do not want to debate the question of, the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement. I do not agree with his comments on it but I do agree with the honorable member’s first comment on the fact that we are presented with a trade agreement which is signed, sealed and delivered and which this Parliament is not asked to ratify or otherwise. To my way of thinking, it is a form of contempt of this Parliament when we are presented with such an agreement as a fait accompli, and we have no say whether or not we agree in fact with its provisions. We may or may not have the opportunity of debating the statement which the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) made some time ago. It could be that in the rush of Parliamentary business between now and December we will not get this opportunity. To me, this procedure is a form of contempt of Parliament. It seems to me that it is another example of the increasing power of the Executive and the diminishing power of Parliament itself. However, I want to speak not on the estimates of the Department of Trade and Industry but on the estimates of the Department of Primary Industry.
Like ali honorable members, I am delighted that rains have fallen over many of the areas afflicted by the worst drought for decades. Of course, the fact that rain has fallen in these areas does not return the situation to normal. Indeed, even if follow up rains eventuate, the problems of the farmers will not be easily solved. Some farmers, unhappily, still await a break in the drought. Consequently, I want to address myself briefly to the meagre drought relief measures the Government has provided. Perhaps “ miserable “ is a better word for certainly the Government has shown little recognition that the drought is approaching the dimension of a national calamity or that many individual primary producers are in a desperate position. To the individual farmer already up to his ears in debt, the Menzies Government offers recourse to banks for loans.
For every farmer the drought is a personal tragedy. Already the farmers’ overdrafts have reached the limit. Already they have debts which will hang around their necks for years, and the Government assures them that credit will be available. Whether it will be available, of course, in some cases is questionable, as the honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes) - you will be acquainted with him, Mr. Temporary Chairman - indicated in a question asked today at question time. It is a matter of State responsibility, says the Prime Minister.
I say it is a matter of national concern, and the nation itself will show the scars in trade and export income for years to come.
There is every indication of a sharp reduction in the wheat harvest and a consequent loss of export income. In addition, tens of millions of bushels of wheat have been used for stock feed which might otherwise have been sold overseas. The Bureau of Agricultural Economics forecasts a drop of more than 100 million lb. in the 1963-66 wool clip; certainly there will be a drop in the quality of wool produced. The losses of stock, and particularly breeding stock, will affect our meat exports for years to come. Certainly Australian housewives are made aware every time they visit a butcher’s shop of what the shortage of stock costs them. The drought has had other serious effects such as an increase in production costs. In the poultry industry, for instance, costs have increased because of feed shortages. All these things add up, in my view, to a severe setback to the nation’s economy.
From the Government has emerged a contrast in attitude. A month or so ago the Prime Minister, in his first statement on the drought and when considering drought relief measures, discounted any serious effect on the economy. A little earlier the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) laid stress in his Budget Speech on the effects of drought. Whatever the various members of the Government say, the effects are serious to the economy and disastrous to the individual. What does the Government offer? It offers credit to the individual, credit to the States in the form of ‘treasury-bills, and an indefinite, roundabout statement by the Prime Minister in these words - lt is likely that the Commonwealth would find it appropriate to aid New South Wales and Queensland with general purpose, assistance grants.
How vague can you get? No wonder the Premier of New South Wales was caustic with his comments. What he wants is a direct financial grant now. Why not a definite statement to the effect: “ We will back your efforts to minimise the . effects of this disastrous drought “? How can the Premier of New South Wales or of, any State give appropriate, aid when his only possible source of adequate finance for the job is as vague and indefinite as it appears to be at present?
It is not as though there were no precedents for direct aid. In 1944 and again in 1946-47 the Chifley Labour Government made direct grants for drought relief to the States. In total they amounted to almost £1.5 million. The precedent has been set and it is up to this Government to act. The fact that rain has fallen in certain districts does not end the problem now. I recall when the Mount Isa strike affected the national export income and only a constitutional barrier prevented Commonwealth intervention. The Government would have been delighted to intervene. Now, with our export income affected to a far greater degree, the Menzies Government says that this is a matter in the field of State responsibility. Labour governments in the past have recognised the serious effects of prolonged drought and have taken positive steps to grant effective relief. The Labour Party now contends that the effects of the drought that are still to be felt, and which will be felt for a long time to come, are of national concern and warrant direct and immediate action by the National Government to grant aid.
I wanted to touch on another aspect of primary production. A great number of difficulties have arisen in recent years in the tobacco industry. There has been turmoil in the industry and many growers have lost their livelihood. There have been great reductions in the production of tobacco leaf in various districts because of what I call the very dubious actions of tobacco manufacturers on the auction floor. The stabilisation scheme which has been in operation during the past year aims at the sale of all usable Australian tobacco leaf at prices considered reasonable for the various trades - and so it should. If we can produce good quality leaf in Australia - and there is no question that we can - then we. should use it, and our farmers should get a fair return for their labour. I do not think anyone, even the tobacco growers themselves, would seek to gain a guaranteed market for scrap or unusable leaf. I view the stabilisation scheme as a fair attempt to give Australian tobacco growers a reasonable opportunity to sell their product on the Australian market.
I remind the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) that in agreeing to the scheme the growers have already made concessions. They claimed that a fair figure for production per annum on which to bass the scheme was 29 million lb. of tobacco.
The manufacturers claimed that the figure should be 23 million, and finally 26 million was agreed upon. This, of course, necessitated the application of quotas in the various States and individual quotas for many growers. This will mean for growers a reduction in acreage, a reduction in production and perhaps a reduction in income.
In my view the manufacturers should keep to the scheme by buying usable Australian leaf up to the quantity proposed or forfeit the right to concessional rates of duty. The two principal manufacturers, Rothmans of Pall Mall (Aust.) Ltd. and W. D. and H. O. Wills (Aust.) Ltd., are campaigning for the withdrawal of the penalty of forfeiture of concessional rates of duty. If the Government gives way it will earn the contempt of growers generally. As 1 see it, the basis of the companies’ campaign is ill-founded, to say the least. The actions of these companies in the past have left me in no doubt that they have manipulated the market to the detriment of the growers, many of whom have grown good quality tobacco leaf for as long as 30 years. The two companies claim that the leaf they are asked to buy is unusable. What I would like to see, and undoubtedly what growers also would like to see, is a comparison of some of the leaf imported by these companies from overseas with some of the Australian leaf which they reject. I suggest that such a comparison would be enlightening indeed. The fact is that the arbitrator appointed to decide finally whether to accept or reject the leaf is a former employee of W. D. and H. O. Wills (Aust,) Ltd., and a very experienced one at that. He has accepted leaf as usable which the companies have said was unusable. I do not think the companies could say that the arbitrator is either an amateur or is unfair. Indeed he has rejected leaf submitted by growers which they have said was usable but which he has decided was unusable. So he seems to have done the fair thing both ways.
Last year, in company with the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), I observed tobacco auctions in progress at West Footscray in Melbourne. To my mind, they were a complete farce. There were never more than four buyers in action at the one time or even present, and competition was. to say the least, at the very minimum. Coming along behind the auctioneer were the negotiators, who were negotiating with the growers on behalf of the tobacco companies. When a grower’s bale or bales of leaf failed to attract the reserve price these negotiators came along behind the auctioneer and dickered with the grower for a sale below the reserve price. Because so many of the growers were desperate, their livelihood being tied up with the tobacco on the floor of the auction room, they were compelled to accept the offers made, and deals were made at prices considerably below the reserve prices for the respective grades of tobacco.
I want to mention briefly two occurrences pointed out to me in the auction room which seemed to me inexplicable. I remember a bale of tobacco which attracted an offer of about 8s. per lb. This price was rejected by the grower because it was below the reserve and was not satisfactory to him. The bale was resubmitted at a later date and did not attract a bid. The question is: Was it usable or not? It was worth 8s. per lb. on one auction day and nothing the next. Certainly the grower was mystified and angered by this turn of events. Then there was the complete contrast. A bale which had been rejected at a previous auction - no bid was received for it and apparently it was no good - was resubmitted in the same bale, not even repacked, and attracted a bid of 120d. per lb., a top price. As far as I could see there were no satisfactory explanations for these happenings. It seemed clear that the manufacturers were playing ducks and drakes with the growers, and I believe they deserve what they are now apparently getting from the Government. I received a letter from a person in my area, although he does not live in my electorate. Not a leaf of tobacco is produced in my electorate. He was complaining about the recent auction and had this to say amongst a number of other things -
Scrap leaf was bought while usable good quality leaf was returned to the grower.
That is difficult to explain. He continued -
While we were grading we discarded large quantities of doubtful leaf. Therefore we expected to sell all the leaf we presented.
My comment on that is that it is quite evident that there is a voluntary setting up of standards by the growers. They are not sending everything into the auction room but are sending in good leaf, and they have a right to sell it. The man who wrote this letter then made the comment -
More farms are idle because the grower cannot face a new crop when he has had usable good leaf returned to him.
That is the unfortunate story of the tobacco grower who has to sell his leaf alone and unprotected. He is like the wheat grower in pre war days who was a prey to the wheat buyers of the world because he acted as an individual and not in a group. Now wheat growers can sell their wheat as a group through the Australian Wheat Board. The indications are clear that tobacco companies have concentrated on a deliberate campaign against Australian produced tobacco leaf. I hope that the Minister in his speech at the end of the discussion of these estimates will make clear to the Parliament - 1 know that he has said it outside - that the failure of the tobacco manufacturers to adhere to the stabilisation scheme will mean the withdrawal of concessional tariff rates.
.- I should first like to pay a tribute, to the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) who has shown infinite patience and determination in dealing with the many problems connected with primary industry. I do not suppose there are any more difficult people to bring together than primary producers. Having been a primary producer all my life, and having been associated with many primary producer organisations, I have had the practical experience of bringing many of these individuals together and attempting to get them to co-operate. I think that the Minister’s feat alone in getting the various members of the. wool organisations together on the Australian Wool Industry Conference was a tremendous success. The establishment of the Australian Meat Board, the Commonwealth Egg Marketing Association and many other boards is a tribute to the Minister’s infinite patience and understanding. I can assure the Minister that he has the confidence of the. great bulk of the primary producers of this Commonwealth.
The Minister for Primary Industry administers one of the most important departments in the Commonwealth. The annual appropriation for the Department is now very close to £50 million. It is a department that fosters industries which earn the great bulk of our export income and thus supply the life blood of this coun try. Sir John Allison, the Chairman of the Export Development Council, has stated that our manufacturers still earn only 12 per cent, of our export income. Moving about the larger cities one is often told by those who should know better that our primary industries are not as important in earning export income as once was the case. In the last six years the percentage increase of export income earned by secondary industry has been .4 per cent. Sir John Allison went on to say that if this country is to maintain its present rate of growth we must have at least a 5 per cent, annual increase in export income. That would represent an amount in the vicinity of £2,500 million a year, which is a tremendous sum.
The Department of Primary Industry is concerned with research into various phases of primary industry. It is interested also in research in connection with increasing production, packaging, marketing, processing and things of that nature. It is very important that our primary industries maintain a progressive rate of development. To do so, their returns must be adequate. The present drought has proved this point very strikingly. Unless primary producers have reserves they will feel for many years to come the effects of a drought such as we have experienced. Perhaps the most serious deficiency in primary industry - I do not think there is a greater deficiency - is the provision of long term finance. By long term finance I do not mean finance for 5, 6 or even 10 years, but finance for 15 and up to 20 years.
Many people consider that primary industries in Australia are not as efficient as they might be, but they do not realise that Australian primary industries are still more efficient than similar industries in many other nations. Australia’s production per person engaged in primary industry is approximately double that of primary producers in the United States and three times that of primary producers in Great Britain. A great deal of this efficiency is due to the fact that we have been able to build up our research facilities and development organisations and thus enable individual primary producers to increase their production, to carry more stock and to carry it in a better manner. Perhaps there is no more striking proof of this than in the production of beef. The spectacular rise in the last year or two of the production in the beef industry has made some predict that in the foreseeable future beef will even replace wool as Australia’s most important export. Undoubtedly the production of food is a sounder proposition than the production of wool. People must eat. They can wear something other than wool, although it might not be as efficient as wool. In Europe, Greece has become our third best customer for meat and Italy has become our fourth best customer. We have a great potential market in South East Asia. At present Japan is our best customer for mutton, although it was not so long ago that the Japanese did not eat meat at all.
This tremendous increase in the export of meat has brought with it problems which have fallen for solution to the lot of the Minister for Primary Industry and his Department. There are problems associated with quality. To maintain our market in the United States we have had to improve the standard of our abattoirs. It is necessary for us to keep up this high standard. The inspection and supervision of our export meat processing plants is under the direction of the Minister. He has also had to control shipping accommodation and ensure correct packaging. The Australian Cattle and Beef Research Committee, which deals with scientific, economic and technical problems, also comes under the direction of the Department of Primary Industry. The work of the Australian Wheat Board is well known. There is no more efficient or successful organisation than this Board, which is largely grower controlled. We have to thank the Minister for the work that has been done by his Department in fostering research into the growing of better varieties and research into providing better handling facilities for wheat.
One other industry for which I think a great deal can be done - and it is an industry which affects my own electorate - is the potato industry. At present it is in a very unsatisfactory state. It is a much more important industry than many people might assume. We all know that the price of potatoes is one of the principal factors taken into account in calculating the cost of living figures. Meat and potatoes have probably a greater effect there than any other products have. Only last Monday I attended a meeting of the Commonwealth Potato Advisory Council which considered the problems of bulk handling. The Council found that most potato growers were in too small a way to even consider bulk handling. The damage done to potatoes by the ordinary means of transit is tremendous. I do not think many people are aware of the full extent of this damage.
Everybody knows the position regarding potatoes. Due to reduced plantings or droughts potatoes reach prohibitive prices. The housewife is unable to buy them and the returns to growers are small except in the case of growers with access to irrigation. We have either a feast or a famine. There is only one way to stabilise the market for a perishable product, and that is to process the product. I have advocated this course for some time. Potato growers in my area have asked me to approach the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization with a view to having that body conduct more research into the processing of large quantities of potatoes. At present one factory in Victoria is processing potatoes. Processed potatoes are as yet too dear for the average housewife. So. too, were frozen peas and beans when they first came on the market but what housewife now wants to shell peas? Everything depends on turnover and efficiency. I think Australia could process a great deal more of the potato crop. In the United States of America, about 40 per cent, of all potatoes grown are processed. It is estimated that within five to ten years at least 80 per cent, of the crop in the United States will be processed. If we processed more of our potato crop not only would the grower get a better return but also we would have a commodity that we could readily export or which we could hold against times of shortage. Not only would we have a product that would give a better return to the industry and help small farmers but we would have something that would be in great demand by people to our north, whose standard of living will improve. If potatoes are obtainable at reasonable prices, these people - there are millions of them - will include potatoes in their diet.
Potatoes have been grown extensively in Victoria and Tasmania. They have been grown to a large extent in Western Australia, but except for one or two areas they have not been grown extensively in New South Wales. However, there is a tremendous potential for potato growing in that State. - The processing industry could be decentralised, as it is in Victoria. Our processing plants could be in country towns. A great deal of work remains to be done in this field of processing and marketing potatoes.
A great many bodies come under the auspices of the Department of Primary Industry. 1 think of the important work done by the Australian Agricultural Council. The contribution of the Minister tor Primary Industry to the Council is well known. We have the Australian Apple and Pear Board, the Australian Canned Fruits Board, the Australian Dried Fruits Control Board and the Australian Dairy Produce Board. The Dairy Produce Board is one of our longest established boards. There is a great future for dairying in this country if it is carried out efficiently. Not many years ago, the Commonwealth Government conducted research into the cost of producing butter fat in Australia. The difference in production costs as between Victoria on the one hand- and New South Wales and Queensland on the other was astounding. I know from experience that a great deal of the higher cost in New South Wales was due to the fact that the average dairy farmer in New South Wales was not nearly as efficient in the management of his herd and in the feeding, grading and testing of it, as was his Victorian counterpart. There is a lot to be done so far as the dairying industry is concerned. Here we have a product that will be in greater demand in the underprivileged countries. Protein is the great need of the people in underdeveloped countries. There is a developing market in these countries for our meat, milk and eggs.
The Department of Primary Industry has a function with regard to the Australian Wine Board and other organisations. Since the last war we have lost many of our markets for wine, but we are regaining some of them. As living standards throughout the world increase, there will be a greater demand for better foods. Australia has a tremendous future. Our markets will grow quicker than we can increase production. We must at all times strive for greater efficiency, more scientific knowledge and increased production from our rural indus tries. A lot remains to be done in the field of long range planning and drought alleviation. These things are perhaps of greater importance than the immediate problem of drought relief. The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton) should lead again the Prime Minister’s statement and the answer to a question that I asked the other day. If he reads carefully he will see that the Prime Minister has offered help to the States. If the States accept that offer at its face value I am sure they will get the support that they need.
.- Sugar is a commodity of great export value to Australia, but more particularly it is of great economic consequence to my State of Queensland. The value of commodities exported from Queensland to overseas markets last year was £244 million. Of this amount sugar accounted for £56 million. Apart from a small area of northern New South Wales around Murwillumbah, Queensland is the only sugar producing State in Australia. So the negotiations taking place in Geneva are of great moment to Queensland.
The principal industry associated with the development of northern Queensland in recent years has been the sugar industry, although other industries have been involved. In 1963-64 sugar exports from Queensland amounted to 1,116,000 tons, worth £78 million. In 1964-65 the amount had increased by 152,939 tons to 1,269,000 tons, but the income had dropped by £22 million to £56 million. Is it any wonder that the eyes of every citizen in Queensland, particularly the primary producers, are focused on Geneva? It would be wise not to be over optimistic about the outcome of the negotiations. I am afraid that undue optimism has been exercising the minds of quite a number of people in Government circles, from Ministers down, as well as people associated with the industry. We should heed remarks passed by Dr. Prebisch, who spoke on behalf of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development when opening the proceedings at Geneva on 20th September. He referred to increased production throughout the world and to the present state of over production. He said that, while the consolidation of expansion in less developed countries must be looked after, the urgent need to remedy the present situation was a standstill to expansion and current excess stocks might be dealt with in due course. He stressed the importance of calling a halt to expansion in the sugar industry. This is not good news for Australia. We realise that the conference was attended by the representatives of 55 exporting and importing countries, but I am afraid that the importing countries dominated the conference.
When the price of sugar, which reached a record level of £112 Australian a ton in 1964, fell to £30 Australian a ton in March 1965, the Premier of Queensland airily brushed aside inquiries and said that this situation would pass in a short time. But the position has deteriorated further. The price of sugar is now down to £25 Australian a ton on the free market. This is a disaster for the Australian industry. We know that three prices, are paid for sugar. There is the price on the Australian home market, which is about £60 a ton; there is a negotiated price with various countries with which we have agreement, the price being £42 a ton; and there is the price on the free market, on which so much of our sugar is sold, and this is £25 a ton. Those associated with the industry estimate that the average economic price for sugar is £50 a ton. This shows the situation in which the sugar industry is today. It is of no use. being unduly optimistic about the outcome because, although the sugar industry in Australia is very efficient, considerable expansion is taking place in other parts of the world. I shall refer to this aspect a little later, if time permits.
Some two or three years ago, the Australian Country Party Government of Queensland decided to allow an increase in the assignments of land for sugar production, and it increased the acreages very considerably. This placed a responsibility on the sugar mills to increase their treatment capacity and arrangements were made to expand the capacity of the mills. But now the mills have run into trouble because of the position on the overseas markets. Sir Douglas Forbes, who has banking interests in Queensland and other parts of Australia and who is also the Chairman of the Millaquin Sugar Co. Ltd., referred to the troubles that the sugar industry can expect to meet in the near future. As honorable members know, all bankers are conservative in their observations. He merely said that the out look is not too bright. That would be an understatement. When he said that the outlook is not too bright he really meant that there are very dark clouds ahead. But the banks themselves are placing difficulties in the way of the sugar industry. The mills must meet the commitments they have undertaken to expand their productivity so that they can treat the huge increase in the tonnage of cane that is now being encouraged. There is much concern about the action of the banks and much criticism of their policy in restricting credit. In fact, they have been accused of retarding the expansion of the industry. No doubt in the future we will hear more of this when the sugar industry asks the Government to make the money available to meet the charges.
Another disaster has befallen the industry. I can assure the House that I am not speaking on this matter with any relish. I want to see an expansion of this industry which has provided much employment and has helped to develop Queensland. I learned today that the United States of America has blasted the industry’s hopes by further reducing the quota of sugar that can be sent to the United States market. This matter has gone to the United States Congress. Relations between Cuba and the United States are improving. Cuba is a large producer of sugar and is adjacent to the United States, and it is very probable that the sugar market in the United States, which Cuba lost a few years ago, will become available to it again in the near future. This again hits Australia hard.
I want to refer to the great leap forward of the sugar industry in Rhodesia. I would describe what is taking place there as the miracle of this age. It was my good fortune to pay a visit to Rhodesia some little time ago and to be taken to what is called the lowveld, an area of land that is some 2.000 feet above sea level. Some large rivers flow through it and they may be likened to the Burdekin River in north Queensland. They flow at certain times of the year and are dry at other times. A programme of damming these rivers has been implemented so that the land can be irrigated and used for the production of sugar. The known potential of the lowveld is 600,000 acres, and plans are proceeding apace to irrigate the area. These plans apply particularly to the Lundi River at a town called Chiredzi
A report that I have shows what is taking place on one estate and compares the position in 1964 with the position in 1963. The total area of cane on this estate in 1963 was 2,900 acres and by the next year it had jumped to 4,158 acres. In 1963, 151,000 tons of cane were milled and this leapt to 216,000. tons in the next year. Expansion of this order is occurring in quite a number of areas in Rhodesia and there are plans now to irrigate and plant another 250,000 acres to be used for sugar production. The production rate is very high. This poses a threat to the sugar industry generally throughout the world. This sugar is more readily available to the markets of the consuming countries than is sugar produced in Australia. African labour is in ready supply in Rhodesia at very low rates of pay and is employed under very poor living conditions. So there are no labour problems there. Furthermore, the sugar industry in that country is not subject to vagaries of the weather such as we experience in northern Queensland, where every year there is a cyclone somewhere. Rhodesia, because of its elevation, is not subject to storms, cyclones and hurricanes.
I have made these points, Mr. Temporary Chairman, because I believe that they are important. I hope that the International Sugar Conference will prove to be of value to Australia. But in view of present trends I am pessimistic about the outcome. I believe that the future of the sugar industry is very dark indeed. I am sure that it will go through a period of recession before it emerges into the economic sunshine again. I sincerely hope that I am wrong, Sir, but I fear that I am right.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, I listened with great interest to the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Coutts). I know, as do all other Queenslanders, that he is a keen exponent of support for Queensland’s great sugar industry and a very helpful legislator for it in this chamber. I do not share his fears about the future of the industry. I have been associated with it for about 32 years and I have seen it go through bad times and good times, but it has always come out on top. We have always come out on top because our productivity has always been higher than that of most other sugar producing countries, regardless of the kind of labour on which they depend. We in Australia use only European labour in the sugar industry. That is high cost labour. But for that high cost our productivity is the best in the world. While it is best, we can compete with countries like Rhodesia and the emerging nations in Africa and Asia that are now trying to grow sugar. So let us not fear for the future of the sugar industry. All we need is the help of the Australian Government and the support of the Australian people when we need assistance. We do not ask for help unless we really need it and unless we have a really good case for it and can demonstrate that in return for the help we are given we do a good job for the Australian people.
The failure of the first session of the International Sugar Conference means that the existing marketing arrangements for Australian sugar will continue. Prices had dropped below £20 sterling a ton to the lowest level for many years. For a considerable time, they have remained at little better than £20 sterling a ton. That figure is far below the cost of production in all exporting countries. Less than two years ago, the world price was £105 sterling a ton. We need to bring world production and world consumption nearer to equality so that prices can be maintained at a stable level which will be reasonably remunerative to efficient producers and which will ensure adequate supplies at fair and reasonable prices to meet the needs of importing countries.
Approximately 335,000 tons of Australia’s production has been sold annually under the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement at a negotiated price of about £42 sterling a ton. The Australian industry, of course, relies heavily on its home market of about 600,000 tons a year, for which the producer receives about £60 Australian a ton. We now have a particularly valuable market in the United States of America, where we are selling 200,000 short tons a year at the American domestic price, which, this year, should return to our producers about £54 Australian a ton. It is hoped that Australia will have a continuing allocation in me United States market under the American legislation, which is at present being reviewed. I have no fears about this, for I believe that the Americans recognise the stability of Austraiian production and our unity with them in many other fields. For this reason, I believe that they will not sacrifice us in order to help Cuba in the far distant future. Believe me, any prospect of help for Cuba lies in the far distant future so far as the American Government is concerned. The Agricultural Committee of the United States House of Representatives proposes that after the current year Australia shall have an allocation of approximately 183,000 short tons in the American market. I know that the relevant legislation has still to be approved by quite a few committees and has yet to pass Congress, but I have no doubt that those who arc representing Australia’s interests, both Australians and Americans, will ensure that we get a fair deal when the legislation is considered both by committees and in the Congress.
Australia also has an assured substantial market in Japan. This is very important to us although it is based on world market prices, lt represents sales of 400,000 to 500,000 tons per annum. We have won that market because we produce the kind of sugar that the Japanese people and the Japanese refiners want. We produce it at the standard they require and we are able to supply it to their market at the time they require it. Substantial markets for Australian sugar are available also in Canada, New Zealand and Malaya. These, too, are based on world prices, but in those countries the operation of the. British preferential tariff gives a price advantage to Australia. The real problem for the Australian sugar industry is that we now have to sell annually about 800,000 tons of sugar at below world parity prices, some with and some without preference. Our total production this year will be about 2 million tons. Production is expected to exceed this figure next year and may even reach 24- million tons. The increase will accentuate the economic difficulties being experienced by the industry because of present low world prices if they remain at the current depressed levels. If this happens, a much greater surplus of Austraiian production will be at the mercy of unstable world prices.
The answer to the problem, of course, is to stabilise world prices under the terms of the International Sugar Agreement. I have great faith in the capable leaders of the Australian sugar industry and of the Govern ments concerned, which are represented by the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) and the Honorable Frank Nicklin, who are leading, the Australian delegation at the current International Sugar Conference. I expect that they will lead the. Australian delegation in 1966. I have no doubt that as a result of their efforts finality will be reached on a world basis in 1966 ‘and. that the outcome will be in our favour. Let us not think that the Australian sugar industry is disheartened about the present situation, lt is not. This is a great industry which was built up over many years by men of proven ability and courage. However, at ‘all times, the industry is given added strength to continue fighting if it believes that the Australian people are with it, and particularly if it knows that it has the goodwill of this Parliament. The industry has built up overseas markets at a time when Australia’s credit has been declining and when we need greatly to improve our credit. Even though prices are low, the industry has kept on trying to expand its markets and thereby has helped Australia’s credit. This has brought great satisfaction to the industry and to the Australian people. The sugar industry has earned the right to our support by its courage in continuing to seek more markets instead of being content to say: “We shall restrict our production and do nothing to help ourselves or the nation. We shall just satisfy ourselves and let others look after themselves.” That has never been the policy of the sugar industry, and I hope it never will be.
I intend now to show the Committee how the industry helps itself, particularly in the field of research. This is a pet subject of mine, as honorable members know. ‘ I have spoken on this subject in this chamber on quite a few occasions. The sugar industry does ‘a tremendous amount of research, all of which is paid for out of its own pocket. The Queensland Government contributes about £7,000 a year towards research, but the industry receives no assistance from any other Government or from any organisation such as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. The sugar industry provides all the money needed for its own research. I shall cite an instance of what is being done in one field. I could talk for an hour on this subject and mention many things that are being done.
In research on the milling side, officers of the Sugar Research Institute, which is owned solely by the industry and which is a milling organisation, had a very busy time this year trying to attend at the starting up of each mill in order to get the earliest possible assessment of sugar quality. Their purpose was to rectify the shortcomings of the sugar as demanded by overseas refiners who buy our sugar. In many instances the officers have been able to assist in evaluating performances of the incubation tanks and clarification equipment. They have run die tests to check short circuiting in incubators and have recommended modifications as found necessary. The simple design of incubation tanks proposed by the Sugar Research Institute has proved to be particularly successful in providing plug flow, which is the regular passage of juice without the mixing which occurs in many designs. This provides a uniform retention time and thus a maximum effect in reducing the starch level. This also is demanded by overseas refiners. This year we have been able to satisfy overseas buyers in this respect.
A number of mills have sought consultations on mill settings and pressure feeder operations. In fact, some of the settings recommended by suppliers and manufacturers were found to be wanting and dangerous and in some cases caused failures. The Sugar Research Institute has been working for the sugar mills to ensure that we have an efficient industry that can compete with any sugar industry in the world. The engineering staff also have been able to help in modifying bagasse conveying systems for wet and dry bagasse handline. especially with plowing off into the mill and at transfer points.
Colour in sugar is another feature that is required by overseas buyers. Every time we establish a new standard of sugar for an overseas buyer he comes up with something else. He is able to do so because it is a buyer’s market and we have to provide him with what he wants. The colour of sugar, which is another demand by overseas refiners, has occupied a substantial part of the work of the Institute. Research has shown that temperature is very important in colour development - that is, the development of a dark colour - and that the molasses film on the sugar crystal is the part f the product which gives the colour determination. With time the intensification of colour is readily demonstrated at the higher temperatures experienced in storage. When sugar is stored in a great bulk store it generates its own heat and, because of the heat, the colour becomes darker as months go past. But when the sugar is sold to an overseas refiner he complains that the colour is wrong and that he does not want it so dark. All this work that is going on is to enable us to give the buyer exactly what he wants.
We have, used sodium sulphite in various concentrations to delay the onset of colour and its use has been successful. Unfortunately, it appears that the use of sodium sulphite in the concentration that is necessary is prohibitive since there may be a smell associated with sugar when the hold of the ship is opened. This becomes important when labour is employed. Difficulty is experienced in getting people to understand that, although we want to treat the sugar in this way, we cannot do so, as the men cannot handle it because of the very bad smell.
In the short time left to me I want to say that if this industry ever comes to the Government and the Parliament for help it will have, as it has had in the past, a well documented case which will be open to any scrutiny. I hope that in the future the House will be as fair with the industry as it has been in the past because the whole foundation of the industry is based on the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement which has always enabled sugar to be supplied to Australian consumers at fair and reasonable prices. It is well known to all honorable members that sugar in its present attractive form is the cheapest energy food available to the Australian public.
.- In dealing with the estimates for the Department of Trade and Industry one must, of necessity, refer to the frightening adverse trade balance of 1964-65 and of the first three months of this financial year. This has resulted in a serious run down of our overseas credit balances. These balances, as we know, are governed by what we sell, what we buy, overseas loan raisings and capital inflow to Australia. To the cost of our imports we must add freight, insurance and other invisibles which last year amounted to about £300 million, this huge sum will be increasing year by year. To keep our ship on an even keel, as it were, we must export goods worth at least £250 million more than the value of our imports. The alternative is to borrow and to keep borrowing overseas.
To put it in the words of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen), we will be selling Australia bit by bit by allowing the amount of capital inflow to Australia that we have seen over the past decade and particularly over the last five years. Except for three recessions brought about by the mismanagement and lack of planning of this Government, the prosperity over the past 15 years has been a false prosperity. Putting it in simple words, we are not paying our way. That is evidenced by the fact that in the immediate past 15 years our trading balance plus freight, insurance and other invisibles has become £2,000 million in the red. Our prosperity is due to capital inflow and overseas loan raising - a most unsatisfactory position.
Unless we raise our export earnings by at least £250 million a year above the cost of imports we certainly cannot keep going at the same pace. We must - I emphasise the word “ must “ - cut down on our buying spree of imported goods, particularly non-essentials and imported articles which are abundantly produced in Australia. Let me cite some examples of the types of goods imported by Australia. I refer, first, to domestic electrical appliances. Mingay’s “ Electrical Weekly “, a popular journal which circulates throughout the electrical trades industry, shows that we import television picture tubes, radio valves, tubes and rectifiers, radio receivers, television receivers, cooking ranges, stovettes, grillers, pressing irons, electric fan and fan heaters, radiators, domestic water heaters, toasters, refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers, vacuum cleaners, floor polishers, frypans, air conditioning units, electric jugs, cake mixers and many other items that I could state. Yet all these goods are readily available and produced in abundance by our own Australian manufacturers. It is interesting to note that in the financial year 1963- 64 we imported goods of this nature to the value of £13,967,000. However, in £17,713,000, an increase of 26.8 per cent, on the previous year.
I come now to the non-essentials, the luxury items in particular, which are imported into Australia. I interpose here to say that 82 per cent, of our imports are essential and 18 per cent, non-essential. It is the 18 per cent, that we must cut down. Let me quote some of the luxury items which we could well do without. I might say that many of these articles would certainly not be within the reach of the pocket of the average wage or salary earner. I mention, for example, limousine motor cars as well as mink coats and other valuable items in the fur trade. Some of these cost up to £2,000 each. I have seen them displayed on television. Then there are expensive jewellery items, such as watches costing up to £500 each. Only last Friday I noticed in a jewellery shop in Sydney a diamond ring which was offered for sale at £2,800. I doubt whether even the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) would pay that price for an engagement ring. Not many people in Australia would be able to afford rings at that price; but we continue to import them just to satisfy the whims of the few who can afford to pay. We also import tinned meats, fruit preserves, vegetables, European cheeses, prawns and many other primary products despite the fact that we are endeavouring to find overseas markets for our own products in this field. We import steel notwithstanding that we have the world’s greatest supply of iron ore and the wherewithal to produce steel also in Queensland if the Government would adopt the policy advocated by the Labour Opposition and establish a steel works there.
I come now to the question of the balance of trade between Australia and various other countries. It has been said by the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) that trade is a two-way traffic. By that he means that if we expect to retain good customer countries for our exports, we must reciprocate and buy from them. That makes common sense, but I am mystified to know why the Minister does not apply that policy in reverse, to countries which are now enjoying very favourable trade balances with Australia. For example, in the last five years we exported goods valued at £684,479,000 to the United States of America while our imports from that country during the same period totalled £1,239,166,000. We had an unfavourable trade balance of £554,670,000 with the United States of America. In the same five years, the value of exports to the United Kingdom totalled £1,119,890,000, while our imports totalled £1,645,888,000. So we had an unfavourable trade balance of £525,982,000 with the United Kingdom. We exported goods to a total value of £99,081,000 to Canada during that period, while our imports from that country totalled £232,267,000, leaving us with an unfavourable trade balance of £123,186,000. Our exports to the Federal Republic of Germany totalled £189,164,000 while our imports from that country totalled £322,552,000, leaving us with an unfavourable trade balance of £133,388,000. Switzerland enjoys a seven to one favourable trade balance with Australia, as also does the. Netherlands. It is remarkable that most of the countries to which I have referred as having favourable trade balances with us are the very places from which we have borrowed money. I do not know whether there is any significance in this, but it is an interesting fact.
I venture the opinion that this Government will be forced to reintroduce import licensing within the next six months in order to conserve our overseas credit balances, particularly in view of the uncertainty of a continued inflow of capital and the tightening of the world money market. In addition, we must face the fact that the sale of our primary produce, which represents the bulk of our exports, is at the mercy of fluctuating world prices. For example, recently there was a catastrophic drop in the price of sugar and this has had a devastating effect on the economy of Queensland.
Finally, I should like to refer to tourism, which could be of great importance to the Australian economy. 1 think most honorable members will agree that Australia has a great potential in this field. Our climate is excellent, we have many places of great interest, we have the finest beaches in the world, we have the most beautiful harbour in the world, the deep sea fishing around our coasts is excellent, we can offer the wonders of the Barrier Reef and we have the beautiful capital city of Canberra. But if we are. to enhance our prospects of improving our tourist industry, we must adver tise Australia as a mecca for tourists. I suggest that we should produce more films like “ From the Tropics to the Snow “ for display overseas.
I think most honorable members will agree that when they travel overseas - I have been twice to South East Asia - they very seldom see the name of Australia advertised. Certainly very little is said of what Australia has to offer tourists. I believe that we should spend a lot of money in trying to build up a tourist industry. Tourism is one of the most important industries in Japan and Hong Kong, and I do not think those places have anything better to offer tourists than we have. Tourism is an industry in which the only expenditure required is that for advertising. Money spent in Australia by tourists from overseas helps to build up our overseas credit balances. I believe that we are not making sufficient effort to build up our tourist industry. As I have said already, we have everything to offer tourists from all over the world. Admittedly Australia is many thousands of miles from those countries which provide most tourists, but I am confident that many people would willingly come here if they knew what we had to offer. I hope that when the Minister for Trade and Industry is giving consideration to ways of building up our overseas reserves he will consider taking the risk of spending a few million of pounds on advertising Australia overseas for the purpose of attracting tourists.
– I have been caught somewhat by surprise. [Quorum formed.] I am prompted to say something about the estimates for the Department of Trade and Industry by an excellent address that was delivered by the Secretary of that Department, Sir Alan Westerman. It was entitled “The importance of the Australian Seaport to Australia’s International Trade “ and was delivered on 15th September this year. I feel that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) would do well to read that address. If he will listen to the few gems of wisdom that are about to fall from my lips, he might learn something about the real problems of the waterfront. Those who are tempted to blame the waterside workers for everything that is wrong in regard to handling charges ought to read what Sir Alan Westerman had to say about them.
I am disappointed that the Minister for Labour and National Service, who possibly more than anybody else would learn something from what Sir Alan Westerman had to say, has gone out of the chamber as though treating the whole of Sir Alan’s remarks with utter contempt. This, of course, indicates the general attitude of the Department of Labour and National Service to the Department of Trade and Industry. It seems that the personal feud between the Minister for Labour and National Service and the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) is carried on down to the departmental level, even to the point where the Minister for Labour and National Service will not even listen to what the Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry had to say on this very important matter.
Sir Alan Westerman said that it is useless to blame the waterside workers for the high costs of handling cargo, at Australian ports. He said that before we can really get down to the business of making the cost of handling cargo meet the recognised requirements of trading costs we have to introduce more up to date handling facilities in the various ports. He drew attention also to what has happened with mechanisation in the coal mining industry and he gave figures to prove that we are now producing coal 20 per cent, cheaper than we did in 1952 through the application of new techniques. He said that what the coal mining industry could do by introducing mechanisation and up to date production techniques could be done by the stevedoring industry if only it would stop blaming the waterside workers for everything that is wrong with the industry and give some attention to the improvement of port handling facilities and the modernisation of handling methods.
– Who said that?
– Sir Alan Westerman, the head of the Department of Trade and Industry.
– And he is not in politics, is he?
– No, which makes this statement all the more important. I am obliged to the honorable member for that interjection. Sir Alan Westerman is not bound by some petty party political point of view. He is talking as an Australian and expressing a viewpoint that he hopes will benefit all Australian people irrespective of politics.
– His position would be different if he were the Minister for Labour and National Service.
– I agree with the interjection, and I am obliged to the honorable member for it. Let me read what the learned and knighted doctor had to say on this matter. He said - lt is just as ludicrous to think that the complete solution rests with the waterside workers or the port authorities as it is to think that the shipowners or the shippers can go it alone.
Of course the shippers are not to blame entirely; nor are the stevedoring companies to blame entirely. But, similarly, neither are the waterside workers to blame entirely. I should like to see the Minister for Labour and National Service in conjunction with the Minister for Trade and Industry do - or if they are not on talking terms then arrange for some other way for it to be done at the governmental level - what has been done in England already, namely, to get representatives of the waterside workers, of the stevedoring industry and of the Department to travel overseas to investigate the most up to date port loading facilities in the more advanced countries. Let them see for themselves what is going on in these various ports and then come back and be prepared to give the States the necessary assistance to see that our ports are made the most up to date in the world. Sir Alan Westerman also said -
Recognition of this fact also carries with it acceptance of the fact that true port efficiency is not merely a matter of a physical addition by a government or port authority to the existing facilities, lt also implies that such additions should not be made, or planned, without the pooling of the most complete knowledge that is available of just what can be expected in the future by way of cargo volumes, handling techniques and ship designs. And each of the foregoing statements implies co-operation from all the parties concerned.
What greater innovation has there been than the roll on roll off system of loading vessels in Australian ports. We have it in South Australia on a small scale on the “ Troubridge “, which services Kangaroo Island and Port Lincoln. This has cut handling costs tremendously. This sort of thing - not it exactly, but this sort of thing - and new techniques and a new bold approach to the problem of reducing cargo handling costs are what we need. We also need an imaginative government which is prepared to tackle the problem in the only way it can be tackled, namely, by sending the people most vitally interested in the problem - waterside workers, stevedoring industry representatives and, if desirable, representatives from the Department of Labour and National Service - overseas to investigate these matters thoroughly.
Waterside workers are not opposed to modern techniques. They do not oppose the building of more storage sheds and better facilities for stacking cargo and for transporting cargo to and from the ports. They would like to see them, but it is utterly impossible for the waterside workers to produce better handling figures with the antiquated and outdated port facilities they are required to use now. The port of Sydney is possibly one of the worst equipped ports of its class and size anywhere in the world and yet the Minister for Labour and National Service comes into this chamber and blames the waterside workers for the problems there. I have a hunch that the Minister introduced his recent Bill into the Parliament in order to enhance his personal prestige in the struggle for power that will be going on when the Prime Minister relinquishes his position.
Order! I do not think the honorable- member should refer to other Bills when discussing the estimates for the Department.
– I am just trying to show the Minister’s motives. He has really been having a shot at your Party too, Mr. Chairman, as well as at our Party.
Order! I have no Party when I am in this chair. I think the honorable member should restrict his remarks to the matter before the Committee.
- Sir Alan Westerman went on to say that he believes that another thing that ought to be done is to determine whether by changing the existing methods of loading at individual ports where this can be achieved the total cost to shipowners can be substantially reduced and a service extended to shippers which, although fundamentally different from what they have been used to, will not, in the final result be inferior to the service that is now enjoyed. What the learned doctor meant by that is that we ought to examine systematically the possibility of utilising each major line of general cargo to see what can be done with pre-slinging, compressing, palletising off the wharf or any of the many ways of reducing the amount of individual handling. He said that the concept of coordination from Australian producer to overseas importer should be pursued as vigorously as possible both for existing conditions and with pre-planning for the future.
I am sick and tired of hearing the Government, of listening to other people, and of reading articles in the newspapers, pinning all of the blame and all of the responsibility for high handling charges on the wharves on to the waterside workers. It makes me sick because it is so terribly unfair to be blaming the waterside workers for high handling charges when, as Sir Alan Westerman properly points out, the real blame ought to rest, in many cases - not all cases - on the people responsible for not providing proper port facilities. Who are responsible for this? Here again the question prompts an answer that helps to give us an insight into the real difficulty. Those responsible for providing port facilities for handling cargo are, of course, the State Governments. This does not let the Commonwealth Government out entirely, because we have the odd situation that while the Commonwealth is responsible for maintaining proper trade relations - and so it ought to be - and is obliged, as a consequence, to try to bring about the cheapest and most expeditious methods of handling cargo, the States have the sole control over what kind of machinery will be employed to handle the cargoes. The Commonwealth Government has control over manpower, and the State Governments, unfortunately, have control over the machinery which the men have to use.
The States, of course, say: “ We are not going to spend enormous sums of money from our budgets, which are already overtaxed, to meet port facilities that primarily are the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government “. This argument is, to a point, reasonable enough. We can understand the position of State treasurers who have enormous education expenses to meet. Their States need more hospitals. State funds are in great demand for the construction of roads, bridges and other projects which, in the past, State Governments have been required to provide. The States have said: “We are not going to do without hospitals in order to provide port facilities “.
At this point, the Commonwealth Government ought to come into the picture. It has the right,’ under section 96 of the Commonwealth Constitution, to make grants available to the States to enable them to bring their port handling equipment up to date. I would like to see the States transfer the control of their ports to the Commonwealth. That is where the control should reside. I believe that the Commonwealth could do a far better job than the States do now. At the moment, the Government of Western Australia says: “We think that our system of handling cargo is the best and most efficient “. The Government of Victoria says something else. The Government of New South Wales says: “ We are going to be different if it is for no other reason than to show Victoria and Western Australia that we are not going to allow them to lead us “. That is not the way to handle the problem. I believe it can be dealt with properly only on the basis of the Commonwealth Government providing the finance and working out the cheapest and most efficient methods for handling cargoes.
Sir, I will not go on with the next point I wish to make because time will not permit me to do so. I will however, take the opportunity, if I have it later, to continue my remarks.
– I suppose I must return last night’s compliment paid to me by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) by agreeing with him at least to some extent. I do not agree with all he had to say. I am sorry about that. It is true that some of the port installations in Australia, particularly in Sydney, are not up to world standard. It is not true that these are the sole reasons for the unsatisfactory conditions on the waterfront. The facilities in Sydney, bad though they are, have improved significantly over the last four or five years - not sufficiently, but significantly. There has not been a corresponding increase - indeed, in some cases, there has been a reduction - in the amount of cargo handled per gang per hour. So, although it is true that the situation is unsatisfactory, it is not true to say that this unsatisfactory situation is the cause of all the trouble on the waterfront.
It is worth remarking also, I think, that the waterfront unions have effectively opposed mechanisation on the wharves. They have refused, for example, to cooperate with inquiries into the best ways of mechanisation. They have refused to allow mechanisation to be used to its full capacity. So, again, the honorable member for Hindmarsh is wrong, I consider, in endeavouring to absolve the waterfront unions in this regard.
I think the honorable member is right when he says that the installations in the port of . Sydney are unsatisfactory. Of course, he is right also in attributing the major part of the blame for this state of affairs to the New South Wales Government. We had in New South Wales for a long time - approximately 25 years, I think - a Labour administration. It was a very inefficient administration. It spent very large amounts on the port of Sydney. It was not money that was in short supply. What was short was the planning and efficiency, because large amounts of money were wasted. It is well known, for example, that the Maritime Services Board of New South Wales was considered in Sydney almost an appendage of the State Labour Party. The inefficiency of the port of Sydney can be very largely attributed - it should be - to 25 years of Labour administration of the affairs of New South Wales. I have no doubt that the position will now alter and that the physical position of the wharves in the port of Sydney will be very much improved in consequence of the change in State Government.
However much is done in Sydney, it cannot be made a really efficient port for big ships. The reason is that there is neither sufficient flat land behind the wharves nor rail connection to the majority of the wharves so that the railways system can be used in conjunction with shipping. This situation has been faced and met in Melbourne. The port there has flat land behind the wharves on which adequate cargo sheds can be erected and adequate handling provided. The rail system is brought down to the side of the ships at the major docks in
Melbourne. The port of Melbourne has used the flat land available to it intelligently and has created the basis of an efficient port although I must say in passing - and this I am afraid runs rather counter to the thesis of the honorable member for Hindmarsh - that the waterfront troubles in Melbourne, in spite of the more efficient physical apparatus available, are still quite considerable. The honorable member cannot quite absolve the waterfront unions in the easy way he has tried to do. Melbourne, as opposed to Sydney, has the layout of an efficient port with adequate flat land behind the wharves, adequate rail terminals and facilities; yet, the position in Melbourne remains unsatisfactory because of the approach of the waterfront unions to these matters.
Let me leave these matters of trade unionism and come back to the physical position at the port of Sydney. Sydney is, of course, a first class passenger port. Large passenger liners can be brought right into the centre of the city. These are very good conditions. Sydney as a passenger port is perhaps as good as any passenger port in the world. In the past, the handling of cargo was very much interwoven with the handling of overseas passengers. This is no longer true. Apart from bringing certain small high quality goods, big passenger liners do not carry very much in the way of cargo today. So, it is possible to do something now which would not have been reasonable a decade ago, that is, to consider the separation of the passenger and cargo business insofar as overseas shipping is concerned. Sydney should remain a passenger port of first quality - or, it may be made so. Indeed, Sydney can be a good port for certain specialised cargoes and for small ships trading interstate or along the coastline. But because of the lack of adequate flat land behind its wharves, the port of Sydney can never be a good port for cargo ships handling general merchandise because they themselves are large and, therefore, the shipload requires big facilities. In these, circumstances Sydney has to look for another port, and that port is readily available in a very good location at Botany Bay.
Botany Bay has a deep water anchorage for oil tankers that are now coming in, but it is a little exposed if there is a swell or the wind is in a certain quarter. These troubles could be quite easily cured by putting a breakwater on the northern side of the Bay, and this breakwater would make possible the construction very cheaply and efficiently of a first class port. The position on the northern side of the bay at which I suggest a breakwater could be constructed would enable a rail connection to be made very cheaply with the existing Botany goods line, which goes around the aerodrome and which, at the head of the creek which runs into Botany Bay, is only 400 to 500 yards from the flat land that 1 am speaking about. There is an adequate area of flat land available here and most of the adjacent hinterland is owned by the Commonwealth Government, including the land on which some big wool stores stand. There is plenty of room in the vicinity. There are no dredging troubles because the bottom to a considerable depth is sand and very easily dredged. There would be no trouble whatsoever in providing in this position a permanent port with 40 or 45 feet of water, or whatever depth is required.
– How much dredging would have to be done?
– It would be fairly cheap in comparison with the kind of money which is normally spent on ports. It would not be a matter of terrific expense. The most expensive part would be the retaining walls, which have to be built in any case wherever a port is provided in order to form the wharves alongside which the ships lie. The construction of such wharves is a matter of very considerable expense wherever the port is situated. The dredging involved would be a small matter in terms of money when compared with the expenditure which has to be incurred in providing a modern wharf in any situation. It would be possible to provide two or three miles of wharfage at this place, with flat land behind it and with rail connections, and this would enable the business of the port of Sydney to be handled on a reasonable basis.
I have expressed some measure of agreement with what the honorable member for Hindmarsh has said. I was not able to go all the way with him. 1 felt that he was arguing a specific case and perhaps endeavouring to make the picture as good as he could make it for the waterfront unions, which cannot be absolved from blame either in Sydney or in Melbourne. But the honorable member does have some basis for what he has said. The port of Sydney is not an efficient port. For this I think we must blame the unimaginative approach of the Labour Government which controlled the affairs of New South Wales for far too long. That Government wasted many tens of millions of pounds on works in Sydney harbour. If that money had been spent, as it should have been spent, on the improvement of Botany Bay we would have obtained for the same expenditure an efficient port.
– But the wharves in Sydney harbour were built 100 years ago.
– Perhaps the honorable member for Batman would take the trouble to look at the accounts of the Maritime Services Board of New South Wales over the last 25 years and see the amount which has been spent by the State Government on the kind of works I have mentioned. If he will do so, he will find that what I am saying is correct. If the money which has been laid out inefficiently and wastefully by the New South Wales Labour Government over the last 25 years had been properly allocated we would have had in Sydney a really efficient and good port. I am not going to detain the Committee any longer. I have expressed some measure of agreement, although not complete agreement, with what the honorable member for Hindmarsh has been saying.
.- The economy of Australia is in the process of heading quickly downwards towards the wastes of unemployment and depression. The trade balance is still heavily in deficit and our foreign reserves are being rapidly depleted. These are statements taken from the leading article in today’s “Canberra Times”. The warnings in the article are merely a repetition of what economists, newspaper writers and businessmen have been saying more and more loudly during recent weeks. The economy of Australia depends upon imports from overseas, and the extent of that dependence has been increased by the present Government. The pattern of Australia’s trade can be shaped by policies inaugurated by our Department of Trade and Industry. The costs of the Department have increased immensely in recent years and are still increasing, as are our trading deficits. Australia has had trading deficits over the last 15 years amounting to well over £2,000 million. This vast amount is represented by imports from overseas that could not be paid for by the returns from the sales of our exports. Overseas countries financed our purchases of these imports. Australia secured loans or sold some of its farms, mines and factories to foreign firms because the products of our farms, mines and factories failed to pay our indebtedness on current account.
What should the Department of Trade have done that it has neglected to do? It should, of course, have designed its trading policies to discourage or prevent the importation of unnecessary goods from overseas. Luxury goods or goods similar to those being produced on Australian farms or in Australian factories should not have been encouraged or even permitted to come to this country: The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope) pointed this out in a speech a little while ago. Australia should have encouraged the processing of its primary products at home. It should not have permitted their export as raw materials and their subsequent importation as manufactured goods, as it has done in the case of iron ore. This raw material has been exported from Australia and we have later imported steel manufactured from it. The honorable member for Watson referred to this. But iron ore is, of course, not the only commodity that this country has exported as raw material and which has been processed elsewhere into manufactured goods with the use of cheap labour, the finished products subsequently being sent back to this country. Not only are these goods brought back to Australia to compete with articles manufactured here; they also compete in overseas markets with Australian made products exported to those markets. This acts to the detriment of our opportunities of securing increasing markets overseas for the sale of manufactured goods such as steel produced here from our own iron ore or textiles processed from Australian grown wool. In 1963-64 foodstuffs of vegetable origin to the value of £31 million, animal substances, mainly manufactured, to the value of £7 million, and foodstuffs of animal origin to the value of £15 million, were imported. Made up clothing, toys and articles of that nature, to the value of tens of millions of pounds were imported into Australia in one year. Hundreds of millions of pounds worth of unnecessary goods have flooded into this country. This is how the policies of the Department of Trade and Industry have betrayed the interests of Australia. For example, we have in Australia in our factories the necessary equipment to produce adequately all the shoes and boots needed for this community, but we import shoes in vast quantities from Italy, Czechoslavia and China to the detriment of the trade within Australia. The trade in Australia could increase its manufacturing capacity but is unable to do so because it has to compete with products coming either from cheap labour markets or from nations with planned economies which can export goods to countries like Australia at cost of production, or less than the cost of production is in a country with a capitalist economy, such as Australia.
Will anyone dare say that the hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of manufactured clothing that have come from Italy, toys from Japan, packaged peas from Holland and canned foods, such as fruit and chicken, from America, have added anything to the economy or development of this country? Of course no one would dare to say that. Why, then, has this Government permitted these products to continue to come into Australia? They are not essential. We are not able to pay for them with the goods that we export. Somebody must pay for them. They are paid for, of course, byrne inflow of capital from Britain and the United States of America. Capital from those countries has flowed into this country to the tune of £2,000 million in 14 years, in the form of goods. It does not come in the form of English banknotes, American dollars, Swiss francs or Dutch guilders; it comes in the form of packaged peas, canned chicken and canned fruit.
– What should we import?
– We should import those things that we can afford to pay for or those things that promote the economy of Australia.
– Name them.
– We should import large aircraft that we cannot produce here. We should import ships that we are unable to manufacture here. But even so, we should always tend to increase our production, or to encourage production of those things that today we cannot produce.
– We import citrus fruit juices.
Mr. PETERS__ Yes, we import citrus fruit juices from California. Does the honorable member for Mallee, who represents the dried fruit industry, say that we should bring fruit juice into Australia?
– I did not say anything of the sort.
– Should we bring in peas? Should we bring in chicken? Should we bring in all those things that destroy not merely the secondary industries but also the primary industries of Australia? Is that the contention of the honorable member for Mallee?
– Of course it is not. Do not say that it is.
– If it is not, why has the honorable member been silent at his Party meetings. Why does he allow the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) to so design the trade policies of this Government that we have introduced into this country during a period of 15 years £1,000 million worth or more of the goods I have just specified, with the result that today that we are in difficulties with our balance of payments. If we were able to pay for these goods with the produce of our own country it would be bad enough, perhaps, to import them. Then importation applies the brake to the increasing development and expansion of our own industries. But it is much more serious when the goods have to be purchased - not with the products of our mines, our fields and our factories but must be paid for with loans on the mines, fields and factories themselves. Our assets are becoming foreign owned because we are not able to pay for unnecessary imports that should never have been permitted to come into Australia at all.
Where ace we going now? The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has just returned from overseas. He sought to obtain loans for Australia. I do not know what parts of the world he sought to obtain them in, but I know that the Press of this country pointed out that the Treasurer endeavoured to obtain loans. In an interview on his return the Treasurer said that overseas money was tight. If money is tight, if we cannot obtain loans, if the British Government is not going to permit investment in this country to the extent that it did, and if in the immediate future the Government of the United States of America is - as it declared the other day - going to compel its investors to retain their money within the United States and not export it to other countries such as Australia, then we will be in difficulties. We will not be able to continue to purchase the imports that are flowing into this country at present. They are coming in despite the fact, as I have already said, that a large proportion of them are unnecessary. But, as the honorable member for Watson has said, the major proportion of these imports have become essential to the smooth working of this country. Our economy depends on about 80 per cent, of the imports. Our factories and primary industries depend on goods coming into Australia because the Government, over a period of IS years, has made the country more and more dependent upon these goods. We cannot pay for them with our exports. England will not pay for them. The United States of America refuses to pay for them. In spite of the Treasurer’s begging trip around the world parading the bleeding heart of Australia in his appeals for loans, he was not able to obtain loans to finance our imports. Because we cannot get them this country is in difficulties. The “ Canberra Times “ was right in saying that the economy is in the process of heading quickly downwards towards the wastes of unemployment and recession. The Government must act at the earliest possible moment.
.- I was interested in the remarks of the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters), particularly those directed towards production. At the outset I would like to join my colleague, the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Pettitt), in paying the highest possible tribute to the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) for the tremendous amount of work he has done in the interests of stimulating production, for his interest in primary industry research projects and particularly for the interest he has -displayed in trying to find a solution to that greatest of problems which primary producers have faced since time immemorial - the problem of satisfactory marketing arrangements and long term stability of prices.
The increases achieved in primary production during the term of years that Mr. Adermann has occupied the position of Minister for Primary Industry are so well known that they do not need to be recounted by me at this stage. Every primary producer will readily concede that the Minister’s efforts in the field of research have made a tremendous contribution to the improved primary production figures that are being established today. Side by side with these activities has gone the Minister’s work in the field of marketing, particularly organised marketing and stabilisation plans.
I wish to devote most of my time this afternoon to a discussion of the position that is arising in New South Wales as a result of the dry season being experienced in that State and the very small harvest in sight. In a discussion of this problem it is very necessary tq look back over the immediate history of New South Wales. If we do this I am certain that we will arrive at a more realistic appreciation of the present situation. We may arrive at a realisation that the situation is not as grim as it may appear at first sight. Last year, New South Wales delivered to the Australian Wheat Board about 137 million bushels of wheat and at this time last year there was tremendous agitation in New South Wales on the subject of who was to provide the additional storage to receive this very big crop and whose responsibility it was to find the additional money to provide the necessary storage. New South Wales has a storage capacity for about 100 million bushels of wheat. From the last harvest, it was necessary to receive about 10 million bushels into open storage sites. Notwithstanding this hazardous procedure, considerable inconvenience was experienced by growers and the handling authorities during the receival period. In the light of this situation and the indication that New South Wales growers were all set to embark on another ambitious cropping programme it was only commonsense for the Australian Wheat Board to make every endeavour to start moving this big harvest onto the world’s markets as early as possible. We all know that the best possible storage for any crop is a ship to take it overseas and put it into consumption.
It would be dangerous to lose sight of the fact that New South Wales has only two ports through which it can shift this harvest. One of those ports - Newcastle - has limitations in a number of respects. Listening to the remarks of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) and the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) one inferred that there arc limitations not only at Newcastle but also at Darling Harbour. Obviously to move a harvest of such magnitude through the New South Wales ports and the New South Wales transport system requires careful planning over a full year. As honorable members will be aware, the New South Wales transport system represents a bottleneck through which everything must be moved to the two ports. Had the Wheat Board not made an early start to shift the harvest and had it not made long term contracts for the sale and shipment of the crop, we could well be facing a situation today in which we had another big harvest in sight considerably in excess of the storage capacity, while valuable storage space was taken up with carry-over wheat. In a situation of this kind it is not difficult to visualise the amount of criticism which the Wheat Board would face and the amount of pressure which would be applied to the Stale Government to provide funds for emergency storages.
Turning to the current position, we find that everybody close to the wheat industry is busily engaged in the very dicey exercise of making what might be called a “ guesstimate “ of this year’s crop. It has always been most difficult to estimate the extent of the crop in New South Wales, and in the difficult situation existing today it is not surprising to find some wide variations in the guesstimates. My opinion is that a fair estimate, based on present conditions in New South Wales, would be for a crop of about 40 million bushels. Allowing for about six million bushels to be retained on farms for seed and for an above average quantity to be retained for feed purposes, deliveries to the Australian Wheat Board in New South Wales this year could probably amount to 20 million bushels. The carryover in New South Wales on 1st November will be about 15 million bushels. This will make a total of about 35 million bushels available in New South Wales for next year. So it may be seen that although the situation is a difficult one, it certainly is not a desperate one when all the facts are taken into consideration.
One of the areas of New South Wales hardest hit by the dry season has been the north western part of the State, which is the traditional supplier to the Sydney market of high protein flour used in the very big fancy bread trade in Sydney. But we must realise that the protein content of fair average quality deliveries in New South Wales has always been in excess of the Australian f.a.q. We know that in dry seasons, such as that now being experienced in New South Wales, protein content is always above normal. These considerations should lead to some reduction of the demand for premium grain. To some extent Queensland fortunately can help, because it has been traditional even in a normal year for some of Queensland’s high protein grain to be delivered into New South Wales. In all the circumstances, it is not unreasonable to expect a greater than normal movement of high protein grain from Queensland to New South Wales to meet the demand in New South Wales, particularly in the Sydney area, for high protein flour.
It is interesting to note, also, that Queensland will have wheat surplus to its requirements for home consumption. The present estimate in Queensland is that the crop will be 15 million bushels this year which will enable sufficient quantities of high protein grain to be moved into New South Wales. Looking at the general Australian picture, it is estimated that the Victorian crop will amount to 60 million bushels delivered. South Australia will have a delivery of about 40 million bushels. Western Australia could quite easily reach a delivery of 100 million bushels. This year, Western Australia is expecting delivery of an all time record wheat harvest and a very high delivery of the. other two major grains in that State, barley and oats - probably of 25 million bushels. This will make a total grain delivery in Western Australia of about 125 million bushels.
I think it is important to look at this situation. The emphasis that is being placed on the difficulties in New South Wales rather tends to cause these difficulties to overshadow the whole of the Australian situation and to create a pessimistic outlook. This is not in the best interests of the industry or of the Australian economy. I am quite sure that plenty of people will try to seize on the present situation in New South Wales, particularly as the milling industry in this State today is very substantially owned and dominated by overseas capital. We also have the unfortunate situation associated with this that most of the big bakeries, if not all the big bakeries, are today owned by millers. In this sort of situation, it can confidently be expected that these people, running true to form, will try to use this difficult situation to increase the price of bread unnecessarily. This Parliament, of course, can do nothing about the situation; if it is to be dealt with at all, it must be dealt with at the level of the State Government in New South Wales. I am confident that, notwithstanding the difficulties, New South Wales will come through reasonably well and, although the production of grain throughout Australia will not reach last year’s record figure, it will be very substantial. It will still be above the long term average of Australian harvests. I see absolutely no reason why the economy of this country should not continue to roll along and expand at its normal pace.
.- I would like to speak on the estimates for the Department of Primary Industry. I think it is necessary for me to refer again to the war service land settlement scheme on King Island, because events there in recent weeks have caused a great deal of worry to everyone who is interested in the soldier settlers and in the economy generally on King Island. I do not intend to go over past history, apart from referring briefly to one or two events so that the picture will be reasonably clear.
It is obvious that the scheme had a very bad start some 15 years ago. A great many mistakes were made on both sides, by the settlers and by the authorities. The full extent of the situation may be brought out in an inquiry that the settlers are seeking. I believe that a great deal of good would come from an intensive inquiry into the history of the scheme. I came into it in about 1958, which was the year after the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) took over his portfolio. I pay a tribute to him, because immediately the financial position of the settlers and the bad state in which the farms had been left by the authorities were made known to him he very kindly agreed to certain concessions. Some £750,000 was given for the redevelopment of paddocks that had been left in a bad state by the authorities and about £1 million was credited to the accounts of the settlers at that time. These were only short term measures. Whilst we appreciate them very much, they really did nothing to stop the rot within the scheme. It was not long before the settlers’ accounts deteriorated further. This showed up to such an extent that they sought a further investigation, and the Tasmanian Government set up a committee of inquiry to look into the position.
We follow on from the concessions of 1959 to the proposals for 1965. I think it is important for the record that I outline briefly what these involve. Following an inquiry into the affairs of the island over the past eight years, settlers in recent weeks were called in, one by one, for an interview with Commonwealth and State authorities on the island. When the settler was called in he was given a statement of accounts. This is headed “Summary of the Account Balances”. It is in three columns. One column gives the ledger balance as at 15th September 1965, the next column shows the credits as per adjustments and then is shown the balance of the account after the allocation of the adjustments. The adjustments are taken over the last eight years according to each year’s productivity under average management, the amount of loan, the period of the loan to the settler and the rate of interest. I might mention that also taken into account in the adjustments is whether the settler was on permanent or temporary lease over the last eight years or whether he served some time on both. Set out on the left hand side are the various headings under which advances were made - working expenses, stock, plant, both standard and non-standard, improvements, structures, interest, rent and insurance. The total against each is set out and this is balanced against the credits that were given in an adjustment of the settler’s finances. On the other side is shown the balance of the account after the allocation of the adjustments.
I have a photostat copy of one of these documents. It was made available to me and I will quote from it. The ledger balance at 15th September was £12,975 8s. Id. This represents advances made to the settler. The credits given to him, after the adjustments were made and after an inquiry into productivity and so on over the last eight years, amount to £1,000. He is left with a balance after adjustment of £11,975 8s. Id. I apologise for quoting the figures, but I think it is important to quote them so that we can have a picture of what has happened on the island and then be able to understand the proposals that have been made for this year. The balance of £11,975 8s. Id. is then broken up into two amounts. We have unmatured advances totalling £9,213 17s. lOd. and arrears after adjustment of £2,761 10s. 3d. The arrears after adjustment are made up of money that the settler was supposed to have paid but has not paid up to this time. In other words, these payments have fallen due and he has failed to meet them. The unmatured advances are made up of amounts that have been advanced to him for such items as stock, plant, improvements and structures. The settler has a period of years in which to repay these advances. They have not yet fallen due but they will fall due at some time in the future.
After these particulars were set out, the officers concerned assessed the productivity of the farm and told the settler that, on the basis of the likely annual return from the farm, it had been decided that he should pay a certain amount for rent, interest and instalment of principal. In this case, the sum was £829 a year. I ask the Minister to tell me, when he replies, whether this could be taken as an average. Because the inquiry is still going on, I have not yet been able to obtain other examples. For this reason, I have placed on the notice paper a series of questions seeking information about the amounts owing by settlers. But perhaps the Minister could give us some indication whether the example I have given is a normal case or whether the figure is above or below average.
As I have said, the amount to be paid this year for rent, interest and instalment of principal is £829. In addition this settler will have to pay £2,761 10s. 3d. in matured arrears. The settlers have been told that if they cannot make the payments asked for, they will be put under control. I ask the Minister to let me know whether it is correct to say that some offer will be made so that the £2,761 10s. 3d. can be found on a mutually agreed basis or whether the full sum will have to be paid all at once. For example, could £500 a year be paid off it? The settlers have been told that if they cannot find these sums immediately, they will be put under control. This is the thing that some of them find very difficult to accept. We must remember that some of these settlers have been on their farms for 10 or 15 years. They are ex-servicemen who served in World War II and their ages range from, say, 40 to 55. I am sure that things would have gone smoothly if the system now proposed had been adopted in the early days of the settlement scheme, but many of the settlers concerned are not psychologically fitted to make the adjustment necessary under a form of control like that now envisaged.
How will this control operate? If a settler cannot find the money to pay the amount assessed this year for rent, interest and instalment of principal, as well as the matured arrears, he must submit to control. His accounts will then be divided into two kinds. On the one hand, there will be the consolidated account, which will include all the money owing for plant, both standard and non-standard, improvements, structures and arrears of rent, interest and insurance. This consolidated account will be repayable over 25 years in equated instalments with interest at 3t per cent. In the case that I have described, repayments on this account will work out at something like £480 a year. The other account will be an overdraft account to be known as a trading account, which will comprise principal matured and unmatured on stock and working expenses and on which interest will be charged initially at 3 J- per cent. Lessees will be required to maintain stock so as to ensure that there will be no loss in security.
Once the settler’s accounts are divided between the consolidated account and the overdraft account, we come to the preparation of a budget, and a budget is duly drawn up. I have here a photostat copy of a statement of estimated revenue and expenditure. At the top, there is provision for the setting out of the revenue expected to be derived from the farm. Below, there is provision to set out estimated expenses, including provision for living expenses and the balance available for allocation. I shall describe how this works out. A settler will be allowed living expenses of up to about £26 a week. So we can allow £1,300 for living expenses. Then we can allow £800 for rent, interest and instalment of principal, giving so far a total of £2,100. Let us work out revenue on the basis that I understand is adopted by the departmental authorities - 12,000 lb. of butter fat at 4s. 6d. per lb. This gives an income of £2,700. 1 believe that the authorities allow approximately one third of this figure for income from items such as cull cows, calves, baconers and porkers. This gives another £900, making total revenue £3,600. If we deduct the expenditure of £2,100 already allowed for, there is £1,500 left for working expenses. However, not all this sum will be available for working expenses. Expenses must be approved, and explanations must be given to the authorities to show where money has gone. Any balance left will be available to pay off the accounts owing.
My time has almost run out, Mr. Temporary Chairman, and I shall have to be very brief. I believe that general feeling on King Island is not so much against control as such. Inquiries that I have made lead me to believe that there is general agreement that control is necessary, and it appears to be accepted by the settlers who are in debt. These sentiments will no doubt be crystallised at the meeting that the settlers are to hold. They look upon control as normal business procedure in this instance. But what concerns the executive of the settlers’ association is the causes that have led to the present situation. In other words, the question is: What has happened over the last 15 years to bring it about? It is to probe questions such as this, and to find the answers, that an inquiry is sought jointly by the settlers’ association and the Returned Servicemen’s League, and this is the reason for the joint meeting on Monday night. They want an inquiry into the whole set-up, and they intend to draw up a list of reasons why they are asking for it. These reasons will be submitted to the State Branch of the R.S.L. and they will go before the National Executive of that organisation, which wil’ be meeting in Adelaide on the 28th and 29th of this month.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, I have been struck by the bracket of estimates that we have before us at present. The three departments concerned work in well together. We are at present considering the estimates for the Department of Primary Industry, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Customs and Excise. The Department of Primary Industry is responsible in the field of activity that produces the product. Without our primary products, we would not be able to trade. That brings us to the Department of Trade and Industry. In the process of trade, we sell goods to other countries and buy their products in return. We try to lower trade barriers against the products that we wish to sell and the Department of Customs and Excise is particularly concerned with the raising of trade barriers against certain imports if that is necessary in this country.
I want first of all to rebut one or two things that have been said, and then I shall outline certain suggestions that I wish to make concerning the estimates that we are now considering. The honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) said that we are importing many goods that we should not import. I have long known that one cannot hope always to sell and never to buy. We must encourage reciprocal trade. The fact that our balance of trade with a particular country is adverse does not mean that we should not continue to trade with that country. In the international cycle of trade, this balances out. With some countries, we have an adverse trade balance and with others we have a favourable one. This sort of thing happens all round the world in trade, and so trade is balanced out. This great cycle of trade is to the benefit of all trading nations, and Australia is a great trading nation.
The honorable member for Scullin named many goods which he said we should not import. 1 have heard him speak on this subject before in this chamber. If the honorable member had his way, Australia would not import anything. He said on one occasion - this goes so well with the Opposition that I shall risk repeating it - that we should not import anything that would deprive an Australian worker of one day’s work. The point to remember about that opinion is that although a worker in secondary industry in Australia may be deprived of one day’s work, or perhaps 50 days’ work, the importation of goods allows us to get a market overseas for our primary products and by so doing we import raw materials which cannot be produced in Australia and which provide employment for hundreds of thousands of workers.
In the kindliest way that I could muster I made a very simple interjection while the honorable member for Scullin was speaking. I asked: “ What does the honorable member think we should import? “ He made an amazing statement then: “ Big ships and aeroplanes”. Let us consider that reply. I thought that the Australian Labour Party had always maintained that we could build ships in our own shipyards. I thought that honorable members opposite always said that more ships should be built here and that we should not import them. Yet here was a prominent member of the Labour Party telling me that we should import ships and aeroplanes. I suggest that we should be self sufficient so far as aeroplanes are concerned and I would advocate building them in Australia rather than importing them when practicable.
– Hear, hear!
– I am pleased to note that the honorable member for Scullin who, generally speaking, is quite an estimable member, has said “ Hear, hear “ to that suggestion which, I believe, is right in every way. The question remains: What should Australia import? There are some products that we must import. One such product is crude oil and another is rubber. How long would this country have a progressive and satisfactory economy without those two materials? They are tremendously important.
Some countries do not produce rubber and they do not produce crude oil, but we trade with them very largely and we must buy something from them. If they have certain goods to sell and we have been selling wheat, wool and other products of the soil to them, are we to say, just because we can produce some of those goods here, that we will not trade with them? They would immediately say that they would not trade with us unless there was some reciprocity in the trading. I am very conscious of the fact that we import some goods that could be produced here and that we could get along without them. But we must import them because of the long established truth that a country cannot always sell and never buy. For this reason I can never understand the attitude of the Australian Labour Party.
I have referred to primary production, and trade and customs matters. The Government must be careful to ensure that it does not impose on such items as tractors a duty which is too high. I heard the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Brimblecombe) speaking quite anxiously about the importation of certain tractors, the possibility that the bounty system on local production might be eliminated and tariff protection given to the manufacture of tractors in Australia. He said that we would have a higher barrier than we now have on the import of tractors and this would act against the primary producer. A suggestion of this kind must be fought, everywhere we hear it, by those people who are interested in and advocate the fostering of primary production in Australia.
The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton) spoke about drought relief. I wrote down his words. He said: “The Prime Minister made a statement regarding the drought and it was vague and indefinite”. I shall read to the Committee the salient points made by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) in his statement on drought relief.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– Prior to the suspension I referred to a statement on drought relief made by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). He said -
The State Governments (of New South Wales and Queensland) will have access as necessary to treasury bill finance at an interest rate of 1 per cent, per annum to meet their temporary needs during the financial year. Deferment until later in the year of a decision on the question of general purpose assistance grants by the Commonwealth should not, therefore, present the States with any serious cash problems between now and then, arising from the need to meet the cost of drought relief measures.
That does not seem to me to be vague and indefinite. On the contrary, it seems to be very definite. The Prime Minister had made it possible for the States to make relief available immediately, at an interest rate of 1 per cent., to sufferers from drought. It will be noted that in his statement the Prime
Minister made reference to a further decision on general purpose grants by the Commonwealth later in the year, when the facts became known. This is something definite. It should be very pleasing because, after all, the man suffering from the effects of drought needs grants, not loans. He needs grants to put him back into production in a satisfactory manner, to the benefit not only of himself but of the whole of the Commonwealth.
I want to rebut the statement by the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope) that for the last 15 years we have had a state of false prosperity. I cannot imagine why he said that, because, during the period of almost 16- years that this Government has been in office, we have built a nation. During that period, the population has increased by millions, new country has been opened up and all kinds of minerals have been discovered. This nation today is the envy of the world for its sound economy, its great volume of commerce and agriculture, and the amount of trade it does all round the world. We have built a nation, but the honorable member for Watson calls this false prosperity. I cannot comprehend what the honorable member was thinking about when he made that statement. I am sure that, on a more sane survey of the position, he will be of the same opinion as I am.
I have not much time left and I want to make one or two suggestions. Some time ago, I suggested to the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen), in a question, that he should appoint what I called a wandering representative of the Department of Trade and Industry. I did not mean a man to wander aimlessly around the world. I was suggesting the appointment of a man who would visit our Trade Commissioners in various parts of the world, discuss trade matters with them and carry information to other Trade Commissioners on what was going on in the world so far as Australia is concerned. This system has been most successful in private enterprise. People who have businesses with branches in different parts of Australia often appoint a representative who keeps in touch with all the branches and co-ordinates their work. The appointment of such a representative by the Department of Trade and Industry would be of great value to Australia.
The Minister replied to me that no such officer was employed. He said that if the Department had information that trade might be built up for Australia in certain parts of the world, an officer from the nearest Trade Commissioner post would be sent to those parts to discuss the matter. I believe that we should not wait until we receive advice about some place where trade might be built up; we should go out to win markets. An officer of the type I have suggested could, in moving round, coordinate the work of the Trade Commissioners, I believe, to the great advantage to Australia.
I come now to the question of wheat research. We know that in the Wimmera area of Victoria there is being established, with money provided by the Government to the Wheat Research Committee, a Wheat Research Institute. This Institute will be set up at Horsham in Victoria. Here 1 should like to refer to Councillor Rupert Levitzke of the Horsham Shire Council. He has suggested that in order that the survey by the Institute might be made accurately land should be purchased in different parts of the State for research purposes. I would like to see some land bought in the Mallee area, because Mallee land is different from Wimmera land. Councillor Levitzke is a man of great knowledge. He has contributed much to the efficiency of many institutions. He is regarded very highly by me. If I were to say just how high an opinion the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. King) has of him, it would embarrass the councillor. The honorable member for Wimmera has said that Councillor Levitzke is a man of outstanding integrity, a man of outstanding experience and a man with great knowledge and wisdom. His suggestions should be heeded. If wheat research is to be successful, the Institute conducting the research must be able to work on land in different parts of the wheat belt in the State. I believe that wheat research has been of great value to the wheat industry. It can be of even greater value in the future if money is spent in the right way. I therefore make my last suggestion tonight. It is that the Committee which will be administering the Wheat Research Institute work along the lines suggested by Councillor Levitzke His vast experience should be used to the best possible advantage.
At the beginning of my remarks 1 said that primary industry, trade and customs were linked and are three most important items in Australia. I repeat that. Primary industry is the main source - the very basis - of the national wealth of Australia. Once primary industry is established, we come to trade. Next we must have customs and tariffs if it is desired either to limit or increase trade. The three Departments that we are discussing tonight are very important. I believe that this Government has administered them admirably with the result that we now have stability and our future is bright. I should be remiss if I closed my remarks without paying tribute to the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) and the Minister for Trade and Industry, who have combined in a great contribution to the building of a great Australia.
– I have no intention of depriving the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) of the opportunity to speak, but as I have an appointment I should like to make some comments now. Firstly, the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) advocated the labelling of textiles in such a way as to indicate the contents of a particular material. He suggested that there should be a clear indication as to whether the material used was woven from virgin wool or reprocessed wool. The information I have is that this distinction was applied at one stage in the Commonwealth and State uniform labelling legislation but was subsequently dropped because of the difficulties encountered in policing compliance with the law. This was due to the fact that no readily applicable tests were available to identify reprocessed wool in blends with virgin wool. Also manufacturers complained that enforcement of compliance with the regulations caused considerable delay and inconvenience to industry and commerce. Although there has been an improvement in testing techniques in recent years, it appears that the stage has not yet been reached where a commercially practicable test is available. Research work on this aspect is continuing and the whole matter is being kept under review.
I might add that the International Wool Secretariat has registered the trademark “ Woolmark “. Distributors throughout Europe and other countries are licensed to use the trademark “ Woolmark “ to indicate that nothing but virgin wool is being used in their materials. “Woolmark” cannot be used on anything containing reprocessed wool. We are hopeful that this will apply in Australia in the near future. Negotiations that are under way need to be completed before it can be used in Australia. When the trade mark “ Woolmark “ applies in Australia people will know whether it is truly virgin wool that is being used.
– When will the campaign commence?
– That is not included in the referendum.
– But the campaign for this development?
– When the negotiations that are under way are completed. Some obstacles have to be overcome before the trade mark can be used, but there is a real demand in European countries for licences to use the “ Woolmark “. Promotion is really getting under way overseas to good effect for the wool industry. 1 am sure it is already having a good effect although it was launched only a few months ago. The honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) said that the New ZealandAustralia Free Trade Agreement represented a reversal of policy that was to the detriment of the primary producer. Indeed, the whole approach has been to preserve our Australian market. New Zealand has long indicated that she wants some protection for her market in Australia. We cannot have it all one way. Since a large percentage of our trade with New Zealand is on behalf of our primary industries, we must protect that trade. The honorable member said that dairy products can come into Australia. He used the term “ dairy products “ loosely. Under the agreement the embargo on the importation of butter still stands.
– Is margarine permitted to enter Australia?
– Margarine is doubly embargoed, if I may so describe the position. The only dairy products that are allowed in are fancy cheeses and a limited quantity of cheddar cheese. From memory, in the year before last 337 tons of cheddar cheese entered Australia from New Zealand and last year 277 tons, and there was no limit to the quantity that could be imported prior to this agreement. Of course, a 6d. per lb. duty applied to cheddar cheese. Under the agreement there will be no duty, but there will be a limit on the quantity. For the first two years the limit will be 400 tons each year, for the following two years 800 tons each year and then 1,000 tons a year. If this proves to be detrimental to the Australian industy the matter can be taken up with the New Zealand Government. The agreement provides for this eventuality. Secondly, the price at which the cheese is to be sold in Australia is to be determined by arrangement between the Australian Dairy Produce Board and the New Zealand Dairy Board. I would not know how there could be any real detriment to the Australian industry.
– How does 1,000 tons compare with our total consumption?
– Our manufacture last year totalled 58,000 tons and we had to export some of that. Against that, however, an undertaking has been given by the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) to refer to the Tariff Board the question of protection for the Australian cheese industry against imports of cheese of types other than cheddar. Fancy cheeses have been imported without any protection and as I have just stated this aspect is now contained in a reference to the Tariff Board. The honorable member for Braddon (Mr. Davies) has taken a very keen interest in the affairs of the King Island settlers. I have made two visits to the Island to keep myself conversant with what is happening there. The honorable member rightly stated the position according to his information. When I visited King Island in 1959 I found that many of the farms had not been developed to the proper standard and I arranged for redevelopment - which is the term we u33 - to bring them up to the necessary standard. Redevelopment has been proceeding ever since. It is not quite complete, but the standard is the standard that we have applied to King Island, Flinders Island and Kangaroo Island. These are areas distant from the mainland and they suffer from freight disabilities, so the Government has applied a higher productivity standard to farms on each of the island areas. Experience has shown that this higher standard does not necessarily meet the position. After I agreed to redevelopment the Government was approached by the settlers of King Island about the heavy freight imposts they had to meet and the Government granted a subsidy on shipping rates from King Island. This has been invaluable to the growers, particularly those who must send large quantities of produce or big numbers of stock to the mainland. The largest benefit that any settler has received as a result of this subsidy has been £600. The Government has given considerable help to King Island.
The honorable member referred to the adjustments that have been made in recent days to the accounts of settlers. We examined all the accounts from 1957-58 up to the present and adjustments to the accounts of 71 dairy farmers and 18 fat lamb producers under the war service land settlement scheme on King Island have been completed recently. The credits the settlers received ranged from £800 to £2,609. The total credits allowed to these 89 settlers amounted to £116,902. As a result of the credits that we have granted, 19 dairy farmers and 11 fat lamb producers under permanent lease have no arrears at all. We thought that if we were to give credits we should give them to the good farmers as well as to the men who have accumulated debts. It is only fair that the good farmers should receive their rightful due and, as a result, 30 under permanent lease have no arrears. The arrears of the other dairy farmers range from £72- and any farmer with arrears of £72 has not much to pay off- to £3,802.
– The man with arrears of £3,802 has a fair wad to pay.
– It is quite easy for a farmer to have such a debt if he has invested in machinery and so forth. The debt results from machinery and so forth in which he has invested. The arrears of the other fat lamb producers range from £102 to £7,136. There are 37 dairy farmers on full commitment, which means that their farms are up to the necessary productivity standard. These commitments include rent interest and repayment of principal. The commitments range from £180 a year to £1,025 a year; the average is £647 a year. So, the instance that the honorable member for Braddon mentioned is well above the average. The wide variation arises first, through the extent of the borrowing by the individual, and secondly the repayments that have been made by the settler. Some settlers have repaid all borrowings. Some have large debts, the highest being in excess of what the honorable member gave as an example this evening. The case quoted by the honorable member is one of the highest borrowers and, consequently, the borrower has a large commitment due to interest and principal instalments well above the average.
I think it must be assumed that a prudent farmer will borrow only to buy stock and plant, and to make improvements from the use of which he can see an adequate return to service his debt and make a profit. If he is improvident enough to overcapitalise his farm, he must accept the responsibility for his action. The wide variation in the financial affairs of settlers, as shown by the figures quoted, substantiates the wisdom of the policy agreed to between the Tasmanian Minister for Agriculture and myself to negotiate with individual settlers regarding any arrangements for the repayments of amounts owing by them. The honorable member for Braddon mentioned that, in the case he quoted, the settler had to meet an annual commitment of £829 plus some arrears. I have not the figures for the arrears. The honorable member asked me whether a settler is required to pay his arrears immediately or over a period of time. The settler has been given a choice of proposals. He can arrange payment of arrears immediately, in a short period or over a 25 years period. If the settler chooses the 25 year repayment period, he necessarily comes under some control. In other words, the Closer Settlement Board of Tasmania watches his income to ascertain whether it is possible for him to meet the rent, interest and principal repayments after allowing for reasonable living expenses.
– How long would he be given if he did not want to come under control?
– He would need to pay his arrears immediately. If he is going to accept the very short term, he will not necessarily be under control. If it is found he is not facing the position honestly, he will be put under control. It is a matter of his own choice and the circumstances that are concerned. Having regard to that provision, the Government has been generous enough to review all these individual accounts and, where farms do not come up to the required standard of development, we have granted credits to the settlers occupying them. We have done this by assessing year by year the productivity of the farm, and making an assessment of charges relative to that productivity and crediting the settler with any excess previously debited to him. In addition to that, as the honorable member for Braddon knows, every settler received a grant of £800. This was because we regard King Island as a place where farmers face excessive depreciation, more particularly on the machinery that they buy. They need to replace that machinery more speedily than is necessary in other areas. So, we have given them a credit against their accounts to the extent of £800. I think we have been quite fair and honest about this matter. I appreciate the points that have been raised by the honorable member for Braddon. I hope I have answered the questions which have been raised. Whether there are other Ministers who wish to say something about the matters that have been discussed concerning their Department, I do not know. I have dealt with the matters pertaining to my Department. I hope I have answered all questions addressed to me.
.- I wish to speak on two matters. The first is the veterinary service in Australia. Secondly, I would like to refer to the New ZealandAustralia Free Trade Agreement, if I have time to do so. In Australia, there are two levels of veterinary services - Commonwealth and State. The Commonwealth service is a recently improved and expanded one. The Commonwealth has increased the number of veterinary surgeons it employs throughout Australia quite dramatically in the last four years. Provision is made for 134 veterinary surgeon positions in Australia. Of this number, 96 have been filled and 46 will be occupied by cadet veterinary surgeons now in the universities. Four years ago, the Government asked the Public
Service Board whether it would allow the Commonwealth to train its own veterinary surgeons. This was approved. The 46 cadet veterinary surgeons have just about finished their five year course at the universities and will come into the veterinary service pretty soon. The service has the vital role of inspecting meat for export from this country. Commonwealth veterinary surgeons are stationed in the export establishments around the coastline. Their task is a most important one because the United States of America, which is taking so much of our meat, is very particular about the quality of meat it imports and its freedom from disease.
The cadet veterinary surgeons are under bond to the Commonwealth for three years. A percentage of them gravitates to the private veterinary services in Australia after their bond period finishes. Some of them even buy their way out of their bond if they want to leave within the three year period. Recruitment for the Commonwealth veterinary service does not interfere with State veterinary services. I have checked this point today with the Secretary of the Department of Primary Industry. The Department advertises in the United Kingdom for persons who wish to become permanent officers of the Commonwealth veterinary service. The Department pays the fares of applicants to Australia. Secondly, the Department also seeks foreign veterinary surgeons who have the necessary qualifications. It asks them to come under a three year contract. If they come, the fares of themselves and their families to Australia are paid. If the foreign veterinary surgeons want to leave Australia at the end of the three year contract and return to their homelands the fares of themselves and their families are paid. Thirdly, cadets are recruited also from the Australian universities. So, in these three ways the Commonwealth Government has built up and is maintaining its splendid veterinary services in Australia. State, municipal and Commonwealth veterinary surgeons work together in some parts of Australia on the projects that I have outlined.
I want to stress now a particular aspect and make a suggestion in respect of the State veterinary services. Many more of these services are required in all States and the officers need better pay, better condi tions and an increased status in the community. This increased status is particularly important, for the veterinary science course is nearly as long as the course a doctor has to undertake. It is a five year course. We cannot afford to make veterinary science the cinderalla science. It is based on our agricultural economy which is certainly no Cinderella, but is a very vital section of the economy. Highly qualified veterinary surgeons are as important to our primary industries, as doctors are to our community. Increased salaries and status would give an additional incentive to students to take up the veterinary science course at our universities and make veterinary science their profession rather than a career of desperation, as is the case with some students at present. Some students who have failed to become doctors to human beings now become doctors to animals. I do not know whether this is a good thing or a bad thing.
Would it be possible to introduce at the State level an animal sickness insurance fund or an animal medical benefits fund? This has never been suggested here before. I was thinking along these lines last May. I worked out a medical scheme for animals. I was not game enough to mention it to anybody. I thought it would be laughed at. Since then - interestingly enough, in August in fact - a very important farmer in my electorate in Tasmania made the suggestion to a newspaper. He did not give his name, but it is interesting to note that he suggested we should have a medical benefits fund for animals to offset what he considers to be the high cost of veterinarians in private practice. I had thought of this idea in May, as I have already said. I thought of an animal sickness insurance fund on a State basis. It could not be on a Federal basis because it is the States that handle the kind of veterinary services to farmers which I have mentioned. I thought we could work out a scheme something along the following lines. A grazier might pay 5s. a year for each 100 sheep. A cattleman could pay ls. a head while dairy farmers might pay 2s. a head for their dairy cows each year. A pig farmer might pay 2s. a head a year for his stock. The scheme could be extended to cover pets. The rates could be worked out after a study of animal populations in each State, and perhaps the rates I have suggested might be reduced.
Let me make a few suggestions as to how the scheme could operate. First, all premiums would be paid into the animal sickness insurance fund. Secondly, money paid to the veterinarians for treatment of stock would come from the fund. The fund would cover the entire cost of the veterinary service throughout the year for all farmers, no matter how many of their animals became sick. Thirdly, each veterinarian would be paid a fixed salary. I suggest a salary of about £3,500 a year, which is a good deal more than they are getting at the present time. To make the scheme work the veterinarians would have to do a lot more work than they do now and they should be paid a high salary. This in itself would increase their status in the community and encourage more recruits. Fourthly, the insurance fund would have to be properly governed and operated by the State government insurance offices in each State. In my own State the Tasmanian Government Insurance Office would handle this new fund. Fifthly, premiums paid to the fund by primary producers or pet owners should be deductible from income for taxation purposes, just as amounts paid to medical benefits funds for humans are deductible.
Sixthly, I suggest that five State scholarships each year be provided out of the fund for young men in State universities who wish to make a career of veterinary science. The Commonwealth Government announced the other day that it will provide 1 6 scholarships in agricultural science each year throughout Australia. This is hopelessly inadequate, working out at little more than two for each State. This is really putting agricultural science on a pretty low level indeed and I believe the Commonwealth should do a good deal better. My suggestion is that five scholarships in veterinary science be given each year in each State to encourage young men to enter the State veterinary services. These scholarships should be paid for by the fund that will be built up under the scheme I have outlined.
There is a seventh aspect of the scheme to which I should refer. The scheme would, of course, dispense with private veterinary services. Whether private practitioners could compete with a service that is Government sponsored and paid for by the fund I would not like to suggest, but I believe a situation would gradually develop in which we would have overall State schemes with veterinarians in all parts of the States paid by the States. We would have more of them than we have now. First, we need more even in the present situation and, secondly, we would need more to operate the scheme I have outlined. I believe this is a suggestion that the Commonwealth Government should have a look at because it might be able to help the States in some way to implement such a scheme.
The next matter to which 1 would like to turn my attention is the New ZealandAustralia Free Trade Agreement. This has met with a lot of criticism, especially in my own State of Tasmania because of the portion of the agreement which is designed to phase out in eight or nine years the tariff on peas, cheddar cheese, pig meats and beans. This agreement, which was signed some time ago in Canberra, will have a very serious effect on pea and bean growers in Tasmania and also on dairy farmers and pig meat producers in various parts of the Commonwealth. I am quite sure that the primary industries affected by this trade agreement cannot compete with imports from New Zealand of the products I have mentioned. They will not be able to do so even in seven to nine years time, as a study of cost factors over recent years shows. For one thing, the general farm worker in New Zealand receives £13 5s. a week, while such a worker in Tasmania gets £17 2s. 6d. a week. The wages cost alone, therefore, is 29 per cent, greater here than in New Zealand. Tasmanian primary producers are tending to grow more peas and lesser quantities of potatoes. In the year ended 30th March 1965 there was an increase of 21,000 acres under crop in Tasmania as compared with the previous year. The acreage sown to green peas increased by 26 per cent., from 12,070 acres to 15,210 acres, with an increase of 56.7 per cent, in production, while potato acreage decreased by 13.1 per cent. We have greatly boosted our production of peas and beans in recent years, and this is the section of primary industry that will be hit hardest. The production and processing of peas and beans is a major Tasmanian industry. It is worth £1 million in an average year. There are 1,014 producers of peas and beans in Tasmania, with a casual labour force of 1,900 for three months for the year and several hundred permanent employees.
I have before me an article which appeared in the Melbourne “Age” of 24th August 1965 headed “Expanding Trade Across the Tasman “. I have suspected for some time that this Government is using a roundabout method of implementing the recommendations of a dairying industry committee of five years ago which suggested that 3,000 dairy farms throughout Australia, 800 of them in Tasmania, should be taken out of production because they were uneconomical. The gentleman who wrote this article said -
Five years ago, the dairy industry committee of inquiry reported to the Federal Government that some dairy farmers had no prospect of being successful and should be eased out of the industry.
The Government would like to do away with the dairy subsidy, which inflates land and produce prices.
But so far Federal Cabinet has not agreed on a method of eliminating the subsidy without damaging social, economic and political consequences.
The Trade Department says that, so far as it knows, the Government did not agree to admit N.Z. cheese as a means of forcing marginal producers out of cheese production or out of the dairy industry.
We have a strong suspicion, however, that this could be so. The article went on - lt may indicate that the Government is setting the stage for action on the five-year-old recommendations of the Dairy Industry Inquiry Committee.
This would mean that by means of the trade agreement, over a period of years the recommendations of the dairying industry committee, which the Government is not prepared to implement directly, could be implemented indirectly.
.- The debate on the estimates for the Department of Trade and Industry concerns two main problems, a short and a long term problem in trade policy. During the course of the debate this afternoon considerable emphasis was given to the short term problem by the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters). The debate so far leaves one with the feeling that the Government and its supporters are rather underestimating the significance of the short term problem. There can be no doubt that it exists. There may be some doubt that it is as acute as the “ Canberra Times” - quoted by the honorable member for Scullin this afternoon - indicated. That newspaper was quite dramatic about the effect of the short term crisis. As I have said, there can be no doubt that a short term crisis exists. It is quite plain that the deficit in our balances is running down our London funds at the rate of at least £300 million a year. There is no reason to believe that the position will improve much, if at all. It might become worse.
If prices continue to move as they are the position will worsen, and if the volume of exports is materially affected by the drought it will become still worse. The situation is definitely serious and there is no sign that the Government is taking any notice. Credit is certainly fairly tight in Australia, but it is clear that the Government is relying on monetary policy alone to ease the position. I think it is necessary to emphasise that reliance on monetary policy has in itself a number of adverse effects. This does not seem to be. clearly recognised in Australia. It is clearly recognised in other countries that reliance on monetary policy to meet a short term crisis of this sort will not necessarily restrict expenditure in places where ft is perhaps desirable to restrict it. By relying on monetary policy we are restricting expenditure in places by accident without any positive connection between the restriction and the Government’s intentions. Small scale units which have to depend very largely on the banking system for funds are much more adversely affected than large monopolistic organisations which have accumulated earnings upon which to draw. It is clear also that the effects of the drought are not going to make it easy for restocking to take place as rapidly as it should, and nothing that the Government has done in recent times is going to meet the needs of restocking and the recouping of losses necessary as a result of the drought in the greater part of the eastern States of Australia. It is clearly time that the Government used funds from the Central Bank to make direct grants to those who have run into difficulties through the drought.
There is no indication that the Government is going to meet the short term crisis any better than it has met other crises in the past. We have not much to hope for from the Treasury, whose advice is hopelessly conservative. I have more hope in the Department of Trade and Industry. The Government hopes that the rundown in our overseas funds will not be great enough in 1966 to cause any significant tightening of credit before the next general election. It is hoping to get through the next general election some time next year before it has to tighten credit significantly. The Government remembers what happened when it tightened credit before the 1961 general election. It lost its large majority of seats and was returned with a majority of only one seat. I do not know that the Government will run that risk again.
So much for the short term crisis that undoubtedly exists. I think it is the responsibility of this Parliament to emphasise the existence of the short term problem and to require the Government to give some indication, at any rate, that it is prepared to deal with the crisis. But we have this short term crisis, with little prospect of a positive policy beneficial to the economy emerging, because the long term crisis has not been adequately dealt with. It is clear that an increase in the relative volume of trade is in Australia’s interests. It is also in the interests of other countries, particularly the underdeveloped countries that need more trade in order to develop. It is clear also that any increase in the volume of trade for Australia will mean changes in Australia’s economic structure. These changes will be associated with different groups of producers whose influences are such at the present time that they cannot accept the changes because of the losses that the changes would impose upon them. The pressures of these groups will prevent anything significant from being done in this field. We heard the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) tell us a few minutes ago that the trade agreement with New Zealand is so insignificant that it is not going to do any harm. He said, for instance, that the import of cheddar cheese is limited to 400 tons a year for two years, 800 tons a year for another two years and 1,000 tons a year thereafter. The agreement is so limited, and there are so many checks and balances on it, that it will do no harm. That simply means that the agreement is marginal in its effect and is not going to increase significantly either Australian or New Zealand trade. Unless we are able to make the structural changes in the Australian economy that trade agreements require us to make there is not much point in making agreements anyway. It seems to me that the import of a number of commodities from New Zealand under the agreement, and even without the agreement, will increase. Even if there were no agreement the import of cheddar cheese could continue to increase.
The problem that arises, of course, is seen very largely, therefore, in terms of increasing exports. It is clear that exports cannot rise rapidly enough to allow us to have the rate of growth that even the Government accepts as necessary. We have had an annual growth rate of 2) to 3 per cent, over the last 10 or 12 years, but it is clearly not enough. Before the last election the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) said that the Government considered that we ought to have an annual rate of growth of 4 per cent. The Vernon Committee says it should be 5 per cent. It is clear that exports will not increase rapidly enough to allow us to achieve a net annual rate of growth of anything like 4 per cent. Therefore we have to look in a number of other directions. The first direction in which the Government looks - and it is the only direction in which it looks - is capital inflow. This has been of considerable significance over the last 15 years, and it is clear that we could not have achieved anything like a 2i per cent, or 3 per cent, rate of growth unless we had had this volume of capital inflow. It is also clear that capital inflow is not going to fulfil the functions that it has fulfilled in the last 15 years. The Government has obtained its rate of growth very largely by encouraging capital inflow from overseas and as the result of borrowing here, there and everywhere, but clearly it is not going to be able to borrow its way into a satisfactory rate of growth in the future. Unless something happens the Government will have to turn sooner or later to regulating imports. This can be done by tariffs, by devaluation or by physical control. I think that the Government will follow its ordinary pro-tariff policy. I do not think it will be likely to turn to physical controls or to devaluation.
– The first thing to do is to get rid of the Government. There is another avenue, namely higher prices for exports. Finally there is a reduction in domestic expenditure. In dealing with the short term aspect of the crisis the Government has always turned to a reduction in domestic expenditure.
The other possibility - and one that still holds a considerable amount of prospect - is the writing of bilateral commodity agreements. Unfortunately the failure of the international trade organisation to come into existence gave a setback to the prospects of development of this kind of thing, but it is clear when one looks at our trade situation with the United States that something specific should be done. We know how fond the honorable member for Higinbotham is of talking about the United States. I direct this matter to his attention. First, we are exporting to the United States a number of commodities that are significant in the Australian trade situation. We export meat, but the quantity is limited to a maximum of 260,000 tons by 1966. There is no reason why we should not do more to get the ceiling lifted above 260,000 tons. As regards wool, the United States is about the only country that has a tariff on greasy raw wool. The American tariff is 25i cents per lb. If we think that our special relationship with the United States has the kind of significance that I am sure the honorable member for Higinbotham visualises, we should try to capitalise on it. America has placed a virtual embargo on the importation of Australian butter and cheese. In the case of lead and zinc-
– Why does the honorable member not-
– Interjections are out of order. They may be in order if I can hear them, but I cannot hear the honorable member for Lilley. Our export to America of lead and zinc is subject to a quantitative control based upon 80 per cent, of the 1953- 54 figure. If honorable members opposite who are interjecting want to do something about these matters I urge them to use some of their persuasion and influence upon the leaders of their parties to have this aspect of our trade with the United States explored extensively. I say that because, taking the average of the years 1961-62 to 1963-64, the value of our exports to the United States was £382 million, but the value of our imports from that country was £675 million. Some people think that these imbalances in trade with a particular country are not important. The Vernon Committee, for instance, took that view. I think this is a completely unrealistic view. We must look at our trade with particular countries and endeavour to improve it directly and, if possible, by bilateral agreements. There is a fertile field for this action in the United States.
– If the Labour Party were in government does the honorable member think that it would be successful in this regard?
– The Government of which the Minister for Air is a member claims to have some special relationship with the United States. In this event I ask the Government to do something about this matter. That is my challenge to the Government. The Vernon report looked at all of the factors involved in the short term and long term crises. Because the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) or some of his advisers found something wrong with some of the projections basic to the report they tend to dismiss the problem. The problem exists whether those projections are accurate or inaccurate. You do not dismiss the problem by dismissing the report. The report has made an adequate and complete survey of the possibilities open to Australia, although it reaches somewhat conservative conclusions regarding what we may do about them. But the report correctly identifies the possibilities. The report says, in effect, that there are seven possibilities. As to the first four it does not think that in the short term or in the long term, much can be done in respect of them. If the honorable member for Higinbotham wants to know what the Opposition would do, I invite him to pay careful attention to the last three of the possibilities referred to by the Vernon Committee. The first was a higher rate of saving; the second was greater efficiency; and the third was more exports. In respect of the first of those three, attention must be paid to taxation and public authority charges. A national pensions and health scheme could be developed to increase the rate of savings in the Commonwealth. We could be far more concerned than we are with education and research. Education was the subject of debate here last week. Honorable members opposite did not distinguish themselves by their contributions to the debate. They had nothing to offer. The honorable member for
Higinbotham was the only Government supporter who treated the subject seriously. We must do more in the fields of education and research if we are to solve the problem of efficiency.
– Recently, I was a member of a delegation from this Parliament to Latin America. I pay a tribute to those officers of the Department of Trade and Industry who are working in severe conditions in South America. I have in mind men such as Mr. Maxwell Roberts, who is stationed at Lima, Peru, and whose territory covers much of the western portion of South America. He is doing a grand job for Australia in building up trade with South America. This month an international trade fair at which Australia will be represented is being held at Lima. I am pleased that one of the main features of the Australian exhibit is a piece of machinery construction by my former employers, Walkers Ltd. of Maryborough.
Our officers stationed in South America work under difficulties of language and exchange. That the work done by Mr. Roberts in the three or four years during which he has been stationed at Lima has been valuable is borne out by the way in which trade with South America has increased. I wish to refer also to Mr. Mcconnell, a former officer of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, who has been appointed as a trade commissioner in Argentina. He formerly worked in Uruguay. Some of these countries produce commodities similar to those produced in Australia and, to this extent, are in competition with us in the world’s markets but many items produced in Australia find a ready market in South America. Such items include farm machinery and, in particular, milling machinery.
I am sure that we can learn a great deal about animal husbandry by closer cooperation with these countries. I know that this subject should perhaps have been raised more properly when the estimates for the Department of Primary Industry were under discussion, but it has some relation to the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement which has been mentioned tonight. Members of some branches of the Queensland dairymen’s organisation, not only in my electorate but in the electorate of Fisher which is represented by the Minister for
Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann), feel that, as far as the Agreement is concerned, they have been sold out by the Australian Country Party and particularly by its leader. They feel that this is an instance of the Country Party tail failing to wag the Liberal Party dachshund. They feel that the interests of the dairying industry are being sacrificed for the sake of Liberal Party industrialists. These people are concerned at the proposal to allow pig meat to enter Australia duty free or 3d. per lb cheaper than formerly. I know that since April this year no pig meat has been imported because of an outbreak of disease, but formerly pig meat imported into Australia was subject to a tariff of between 2id. and 3d. per lb.
Under the Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement, 3,000 tons of pork will be admitted free of duty under the customs by-law in the first year and the quota will be increased by 5 per cent, each year. Dairymen have used pig raising to supplement their income from the sale of milk or cream for the manufacture of cheese. They know from experience that every time the price of pigs over the scales rises, an increased quantity of pig carcass meat is imported, mainly from New Zealand, by the processors, who are the people who will be allowed to import pork under the agreement. With those imports, the price to the Australian pig raiser has immediately dropped by 3d. per lb. This may not seem very much, but it is the margin between ‘a profit and a loss. The dairymen are very concerned that the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen), who is the Leader of the Australian Country Party, has allowed himself to be talked into entering into this agreement to the detriment of primary producers.
Dairymen are also concerned about the importation of New Zealand cheddar cheese. The Agreement provides for the importation of 400 tons in the first year, with the amount increasing to 1,000 tons for the fifth and subsequent years. They argue, and rightly, that the consumption of cheese in Australia will not rise at this rate and so the importation of 1,000 tons of cheese from New Zealand means that Australia must export an additional 1,000 tons. The load on the equalisation scheme will become greater, because it is based on the difference between the local price and the price received overseas. These people are concerned about an agreement that permits the free entry of 3,000 tons of pork with an increase of 5 per cent, each year and up to 1,000 tons of cheese. Australia’s production of cheese is 1,000 tons more this year than it was last year. We have been fortunate during the last 12 months because our sales of butter and cheese on the United Kingdom market have improved. But our products are sold there in competition with products from New Zealand. It is interesting to note that last year Australia’s exports to the United Kingdom were only 15,500 tons and New Zealand’s exports were 79,700 tons. We have been importing cheese from New Zealand and other places for some time, but our imports have been mainly fancy types of cheese. Our imports have amounted to 3,130 tons. Probably our taste for these fancy cheeses has sprung from the international atmosphere that has developed with the great flow of migrants into Australia in the post-war period.
When this matter was raised in the House previously by my colleague, the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Hayden), he was immediately accused of peddling a line that had been fed to him by a pro-Communist organisation. The people who have made this approach can never be accused of being proCommunist - at least not by me, even though Government supporters may care to suggest that they are. The Australian Dairy Industry Council has written to honorable members individually. It wrote to the Minister for Trade and Industry when it first heard of the Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement. The Council expressed its concern and asked a series of questions. This is not a left wing organisation at all. It is concerned with the welfare of its members. It is wondering whether the agreement will be used to implement the plan that was proposed by the Dairy Industry Committee of Inquiry, which presented its report on 9th November 1960. The Committee’s plan was never adopted, but honorable members will recall that it recommended doing away with unprofitable farms, reducing the number of dairy farmers over a period of ten years and reducing the subsidies that are paid to dairy farmers. On many occasions, members of the Liberal Party have advocated the reduction or the abolition of subsidies on dairy products. I believe that, if the members of the Australian Country
Party want to get anywhere, they should join forces with the members of the Australian Labour Party to ensure that dairy farmers obtain a fair living instead of being simply pushed off the farm.
The Dairy Industry Committee of Inquiry said that if these people had to leave their farms they should be assisted by loans, grants and . other means to find alternative employment. But this has never been the policy of the Government. Miners from the electorate of my friend, the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James), and miners who were displaced when the coal fields at Burrum and Ogmore in Queensland were closed, were told to go and look somewhere else for a job. No interest was taken in their rehabilitation. It has never been the Government’s policy to do this, and I do not think the dairy farmers can expect to be treated any differently from the way the waterside workers in the north and the miners from the coal fields in the Hunter Valley have been treated.
The Australian Dairy Industry Council asked a series of questions. It wanted to know whether the Government’s policy was to discourage any increase in dairy production, to hold dairy production at existing levels or to encourage producers in certain areas to cease dairying or to convert their farms to other forms of production. I do not know what the other forms of production would be. The Council is disturbed at the poor answers that have been given to its questions. It has been told that the position will be watched. These assurances have been given before, but once a process has started it is never stopped. It is no wonder that dairymen’s organisations are protesting at the way they were treated by the Government when it entered into the agreement with New Zealand. They wonder why the members of the Australian Country Party, particularly the Minister for Trade and Industry, have allowed dairy farmers to be treated in such a manner. Vegetable growers also are concerned about the importation of peas and beans from New Zealand under this agreement in direct competition with local production.
In the short time left to me, I want to say a few words about customs and excise duties. Each time the Government requires additional funds, it increases the excise duty and slugs the wage earner who has a few beers at night before he goes home or has a drink of rum in the cold weather, mainly for medicinal purposes. I would like to refer to the inequality of excise duty that has existed now for 11 years. This differentiation was introduced when sales of brandy fell in comparison with sales of rum. The anomaly still exists. The excise on brandy is £2 18s. 6d. and the excise, on rum is £3 5s. 6d. On overproof brandy, the excise is £4 5s. and on overproof rum it is £6 2s. This inequality hits at the person on the lower income in the main, because honorable members will see in any bar, even in the bar in the refreshment room here, that most of the people drinking brandy are those who belong to the more affluent section of society. Those who drink rum are mainly the workers, and most likely, as 1 said before, they drink it for medicinal purposes. This matter may have some relevance also to the estimates for the Department of the Navy. When the order is given to splice the mainbrace and sailors line up for another tot of rum, the Navy’s expenses are increased because of the higher excise on rum. So the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Chaney) has little cause to laugh.
.- In discussing the, estimates for the Department of Trade and Industry, we would be well advised to consider first the world economic climate and secondly Australia’s trading position within it. We are at the end of an era of postwar reconstruction and postwar boom. The world demand for materials for reconstruction, and particularly for the traditional primary commodities, has reached its peak and is now declining markedly. Although we have endeavoured - with some success - to stimulate industry within Australia, Sir, we still depend heavily on exports of primary commodities. In this situation, we suffer from all the vicissitudes of nations that are exporters of primary products and especially from the vagaries of commodity prices. What is our exact position? This Government faces with complete equanimity an adverse balance of trade for the current financial year of some £250 million. Our overseas reserves are hovering around the £600 million mark. In the last few months, we have had two large monthly falls in those reserves of £32 million and £20 million. Internally, we have experienced one of the most severe droughts of the last 20 years, with a consequent drop in primary production. We have also encountered a decline in commodity markets. Sugar provides a notable instance of this. In the last 18 months, world sugar prices have fallen from more than £100 sterling a ton on the London market to about £22 sterling a ton. The average price of greasy wool has fallen from 61 d. per lb. in the September quarter of 1964-65 to 53d. per lb. in the. September quarter of 1965-66.
Our worthy Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has come home empty handed. He went first to meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. But naturally he circulated around the United States of America and other countries with a view to picking up any loan moneys that might have been available. Instead of returning with a flourish of trumpets, he has come home with a very muted story to tell us. The best that he could announce was that New Zealand had to pay interest at a little more than £7 0s. lid. per cent, in order to borrow money and that we in the near future may have to fall back on our second line reserves - our borrowing rights in the International Monetary Fund.
In the last 10 years, this Government has depended on an average annual flood of some £250 million a year of overseas investment to keep this country on a reasonably level trading keel. Concerning the question of overseas investment and the dependence of this Government on it, it is worth noting what the American magazine, “ Time “, had to say in its issue of 15th October. It reported that the American banks had been told flatly by the United States Government not to increase their foreign loans by more than 5 per cent, and that they had kept within that limit. The magazine stated that complaints had been made by many bankers that major American companies with overseas interests were not complying with the strong suggestion by the President that they should curtail their overseas investments. It added that the Administration now intended to harden the programme and that the voluntary - that word is emphasised by the insertion of inverted commas - limits on overseas invetment are to be further intensified and companies are to report precisely on each planned move abroad. So much for our prospects of continued capital inflow.
I come now to the views of the redoubtable Mr. Staniforth Ricketson, as reported in yesterday’s “ Sydney Morning Herald “. He was dealing with the report of the Committee of Economic Inquiry, which is known as the Vernon Committee. Mr. Ricketson, who is a principal of J. B. Were and Co., a Melbourne firm of stockbrokers, had this to say -
Apparently it is politically unwise to admit to planning which would tell a private enterprise society what is expected of it, and politically prudent to disown such planning as inappropriate and unacceptable.
In this instance, of course, the Government has no plan. Mr. Ricketson’s next words are of the utmost significance. He stated -
It is regrettable that failure to marshal our own capital resources to their fullest extent has, in many instances, provided opportunities for overseas concerns to gain a foothold in our markets and has worked against our best interests as a nation.
To show the true economic situation in which we are expected to develop our export trade, let me quote from an article in the issue of “ Quadrant “ published in September of this year. The writer, Mr. Neil Mcinnes, referred to the statement by the Reserve Bank that between one quarter and one third of Australia’s industry is owned by overseas investors, a proportion that is exceeded only by Canada among the nations with high living standards. In Canada, of course, 50 per cent, of industry is under overseas control. The overall picture is presented in this article, which shows how far we in Australia have come under overseas control. The article states - . . the degree of foreign ownership is much more striking: 95 per cent, of the motor car industry, 97 per cent, of pharmaceuticals and toiletries, 95 per cent, of petroleum refining and distributing, 83 per cent, of telecommunications, and 80 per cent, of soap and detergents . . . 85 per cent, of oil exploration, three quarters of bauxite and aluminium, three quarters of iron ore (leaving out B.H.P.’s own captive supplies), at least 60 per cent, of chemicals, and half of food (and this is increasing), motor parts and accessories, and lead-zinc-copper and mineral sands. For numerous products like sports goods and adhesives the figure is almost 100 per cent.; for heavy engineering it is only 30 per cent, but significant increases are in the offing there.
– Who said this?
– This was stated by Mr. Neil Mcinnes in the September issue of “Quadrant”. Let us see what our objectives have to be in the reasonably near future. 1 now quote from the Roy Milne Memorial Lecture delivered earlier this year by the Minister for Trade and industry (Mr. McEwen) as reported in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ on 6th July. The Minister was reported in these terms -
At the moment, Australia needed about £1,000 m. a year in foreign exchange to pay for the imports to keep industry going.
Above this, about £200 m. to £300 m. of consumer goods, were imported and £150 m. was spent on freight and insurance.
I shall come to that matter later -
Therefore to pay its way in the world, Australia needed about £1,500 m. in overseas funds each year.
If the growth of imports in the next five years was at the same rate as in the past five years, the overseas funds needed then would be more than £2,200 m.
After hearing this with some concern, we come to the final statement that in 1974-75 Australia’s annual exports would need to be about £2,500 million - a tremendous figure. What does this Government propose to do about that? Its behaviour, as I see it, Sir, is rather like that of a mesmerised rabbit. It has not the slightest idea how to face up to Australia’s problems. Despite the assertions of certain individuals, we have a derivative culture, a derivative economy and also a derivative foreign policy. These things are very closely interconnected. We are not prepared to do anything about the situation. We are not prepared to stand on our own feet and think in terms of what is best for Australia. If we want to talk in terms of the sale of our birthright, let us consider Australia’s mineral deposits. We in this country have a veritable Golconda. We have already let the robbers in. The economic Danes have invaded this country and, instead of resisting their invasion, we have opened the door for them and let them in. We are the biggest fools in world economic history.
On the question of the value of our resources I should like to quote from an address by Dr. John Dunn to the Australian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy iri June 1964 in which he said there was a call for ever-increasing quantities of mineral and metal commodities which would lead to the extraction of ores from deposits different in type and grade from those commonly worked to date. Dr. Dunn listed Australia’s wealth in five different groups. In the first group he referred to commodities in which there would be world supply problems between now and the end of this century. In that group he listed the traditional nonferrous metals - copper, zinc, tin and petroleum. In the second group he placed those in which world supply problems would occur early next century. In that group were such minerals as nickel, ilmenite, rutile, zircon, sulphur and possibly uranium. His third grouping was of minerals of which world resources are so great that the life of the known reserves will extend far into the future. In that group came iron ore, bauxite, aluminium, manganese ore, chromite, phosphate and coal. He gave other listings of minerals of which we have no useful picture of world reserves, and the final group was of minerals of which there are obviously unlimited resources.
I state in passing that’ it is notable thai Australia is particularly deficient in supplies of phosphates and other minerals in the Leibig formula of nitrogen, potassium and phosphate on which the fertility of any soil depends. In each of those three we are notably deficient and we have no deposits of them of any commercial consequence. As a matter of fact, it was Dr. Dunn who once said that the discovery of commercial deposits of phosphate rock in Australia would be of even more importance to our economy than the discovery of flow oil. With riches of that order and with world scarcities coming, what does this Government propose to do in the way of extracting the best prices on the world commodity market? In the last 19 years - again I quote Dr. Dunn - more of the base metals that I have already mentioned lead, zinc, tin and copper - have been consumed than in the whole of the world’s previous history.
– Where does the honorable member tie this up with phosphates?
– I do not. I mentioned phosphates in passing. I am sorry that the Minister did not follow the trend of my address.
– I did; I followed it very clearly and closely.
– It should be well known, particularly to the Minister, that our main sources of phosphate at the present time are Nauru and Ocean Island. The reserves in those two places are being steadily depleted and we do not know where to turn for new supplies. I quote also from Sir Maurice Mawby, another authority in metallurgy. Sir Maurice Mawby corroborates exactly what Dr. Dunn said in regard to our mineral wealth and he makes exactly the same point, namely, that certain of the world’s known primary mineral resources in the base metals will be exhausted long before the end of this century. World population, of course, will be doubled; new nations are emerging; new uses are being discovered and we are in a period of a new technology which is being operated by vast and omnipotent international corporations. This Government has been incapable of stopping the depredations of those corporations on the Australian economy.
Motion (by Mr. Aston) put -
That the question be now put.
The Committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Mr. F. E. Stewart.)
Majority . . . . 17
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.
Proposed expenditure, £12,800,000.
Department of National Development.
Proposed expenditure, £14,479,000.
.- The proposed appropriation for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation is £1,100,000 smaller than last year’s appropriation. Government expenditure, as a whole, is to be 12 per cent, greater than last year. If there had been a proportional increase in the expenditure on the C.S.I.R.O., the additional expenditure would have been £21/2 million. The overall assumption in the Budget was that defence expenditure had to take priority over all other expenditures. It is an extraordinary assumption that, in order to improve Australia’s military security now, we must put Australia’s long term economic security in jeopardy. Our ability to maintain our place and our standards within the increasingly competitive world of the future depends in no small measure on the quantity and quality of our basic and applied scientific research and technology today.
There is thus no co-ordination between the Government’s defence and science policies. This need not cause surprise, since the Government has no science policy and only recently discovered the need for a defence policy. The basic philosophy with regard to C.S.I.R.O. seems to be to keep it marking time. Last year it was refused any increases in staff. This year, it is to have more staff but less cash for that staff to spend. The Labour Party utterly repudiates the attitude of the Government that a policy for science and technology is superfluous.
The Australian Labour Party is the only party which has proclaimed a science policy. We are grateful to the great number of Australian scientists who contributed to the formulation of the Party’s science policy. The next Labour Government will see to it that the voice of science and technology is heard by Cabinet through a Minister for Science assisted by an Australian Science Council composed largely of scientists and technologists. Labour believes that scientists and technologists have a vital role to play in Australia’s future development. Furthermore, the next Labour Government will give Parliament a real voice in the implementation of policy through a standing committee on science, provided with a suitably staffed secretariat.
For some time now, the Government has been saying that the C.S.I.R.O. is growing too large. The Minister who, in another place, assists the Prime Minister with scientific matters - a rather extraordinary application of the principle of ministerial responsibility - has implied that a ceiling should be placed on the C.S.I.R.O. while research in the universities is strengthened. Why, we might ask, is the C.S.I.R.O. thought to become too large? Is it in danger of becoming bureaucratised? Some of the Government’s friends would want it more so, it seems. What is to become of the increased number of Doctors of Philosophy who will be turned out by the universities as research facilities in the universities expand? Are they to go overseas? What is to be the connection between basic and applied research? The effect of the Minister’s suggestion would be that this connection would be weakened, to the detriment of both aspects of research. Or does the Minister expect the universities to become engrossed in applied research?
Admitedly, university research is important. It must be strengthened. But such strengthening must go hand in hand with the development of the C.S.I.R.O. Why cannot certain of the new research facilities, where appropriate, be joint university- C.S.I.R.O. ventures? Take conservation, for instance, a field not adequately covered in any of our universities but a field in which many university scientists are interested. Why cannot the universities and the C.S.I.R.O. Division of Land Research initiate something in this field? We have an urgent need of it if we are to use our resources wisely and preserve parts of our national heritage for the future. Without conservation, we shall have, in years to come, a scarred landscape, a fine blend of quarry, desert and suburban sprawl. Why has the Government done nothing to promote the interchange of personnel between the C.S.I.R.O. or Government scientific departments and the universities? Much would be gained by such an interchange. But superannuation is not transferable. Thus the interchange is blocked.
Perhaps the C.S.I.R.O. is getting so large that there is danger that it will become bureaucratised. The Labour Party proposes to ask the Australian Science Council, which I have mentioned, to look into this matter, to examine the whole of the Government’s activity in civil science to see whether it may be organised more effectively. The Government is fond of charging that Labour, in office, would overrun the country with socialist bureaucrats, but we see, as the Government has not seen, the grave dangers that bureaucratisation has for Australian science as for other areas of endeavour.
We are well aware that instrumentalities like the Bureau of Mineral Resources are being administered to death, that geologists have been leaving the Bureau in large numbers and that this year 35 per cent, of the salary allocation for the establishment in the Bureau is expected to remain unexpended. Last year, 27 per cent, was unexpended. My colleague in another place, Senator Murphy - one of the two or three members of the Parliament who have scientific qualifications - has asked questions about the staffing of the Bureau.
I can summarise the effect of two answers he got yesterday in this way: In 1963-64, the geological, geophysical, petroleum exploration and operations branches of the Bureau had an establishment of 219 professional officers. Twenty-three of them resigned during that year. In 1964-65, the establishment was down to 193. Thirty-four of them resigned. Among the 34 who resigned from those four critically important branches were 26 with honours degrees or better, including five Doctors of Philosophy. In the whole period about which Senator Murphy asked - the period between 1961 and 1965 - nine Doctors of Philosophy resigned within the four critically important branches in the Bureau of Mineral Resources. The senator was told that at present 78 of the 567 positions in the Bureau - 14 per cent. - are vacant. This is largely because of bureaucratic control and inadequate salaries. We see in the Bureau of Mineral Resources the full impact of bureaucracy on scientific activities. They simply do not mix, and we believe that by ignoring this the Government has failed lamentably to provide for Australia’s present and future needs in the field of geology and mineral resources.
In dealing with the estimates for the C.S.I.R.O. one can profit from the experience of the Bureau of Mineral Resources. I draw honorable members’ attention to the statements appearing on pages 9 and 10 of the Organisation’s annual report, where the following appears -
Negotiations on the salaries of research scientists extending over several years culminated during the year in a short hearing before the Public Service Arbitrator who handed down his judgment . . . in September. The Executive retains some misgivings that the salaries available at the higher levels may make it difficult to recruit scientists of the desired ability and eminence to take charge of the Organisation’s laboratories.
Earlier in the same paragraph the Executive pointed out that the market for research staff is an international one. lt must be doubted whether the Public Service Board should have a place in the determination of salaries of scientists because it is neither qualified to judge nor competent to influence realistic salary levels. The Government scientific and civil engineering staffs should, as far as possible, be removed from the aegis of the Board which inevitably thinks in bureaucratic terms. These staffs should be remodelled along the lines of C.S.I.R.O., if not placed under the C.S.I.R.O.
I turn now to the capital estimates for the C.S.I.R.O. We see that, as was the position last year, the sum available for buildings has been reduced. This has been done despite the statement of the Executive in 1964 - a statement which has been repeated and amplified this year - that the Organisation needs more buildings. The annual report points out as follows - at the present rate of progress, accommodation will remain acutely restrictive for at least another 10 years.
Why has the Government not acted to remedy this? We cannot expect the best results from our scientists and technologists if they are unsuitably accommodated. Has the Government considered the suggestion made here last year that the C.S.I.R.O. should have a triennial budget? The forward plans for seven of the Organisation’s divisions, detailed on page 4 of the report, demonstrate that the development of the Organisation would be greatly facilitated by a triennial budget. If it is possible for the universities to have a triennial budget it is possible for the Organisation. This, however, means planning - more planning - and planning, as the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) describes it, is a dirty word. He much prefers the anarchy of autocracy.
On the subject of finance the report reveals that a serious situation has arisen as a result of the increasing dependence of the Organisation on industry funds. Research programmes started with these funds have to be approved by outside bodies, and this adds to the administrative duties of research scientists while limiting their freedom of action. This arrangement, which has grown to significant proportions during the term of the present Government, is based on the curious assumption that the best people to tell scientists how and where to conduct their research are laymen. We have the ludicrous contrast of the Robertson Committee of 10 prominent academics administering £1 million of Federal money for research while the Australian Wool Board, which contains no scientists and is advised by committees on which there are few scientists, administers £2,600,000 of wool reasearch money. Significantly, it is the Wool Board that has taken it upon itself to insist that the C.S.I.R.O. shall do no work on blends of wool with synthetic fibres, despite scientific opinion that this is a field which holds promise for future wool utilisation. It should be perfectly obvious to the Government that the only people competent to design research programmes are the scientists themselves and that if they can be trusted to spend wisely the £131/2 million provided by the Treasury they can also be expected to use wisely the £41/2 million from other sources without having to justify their progress in detail to lay bodies. Why has the Government allowed this situation to arise? Is it that it distrusts experts and wishes to restrain them, or is it merely that the Government, lacking a science policy and any means of reviewing and coordinating its activities in scientific fields, has simply failed to notice the inconsistency and waste involved? From time to time Government spokesmen have emphasised the need to get the maximum value from money spent on scientific research. One way to get more value from existing money is to give the C.S.I.R.O. Executive a freer hand with the quite large amounts of the taxpayers’ money that are now administered by such bodies as the Wool Board.
I express the hope that next year we will have either in the Budget Papers or in the explanatory notes for these estimates a statement detailing the appropriation for each division of the C.S.I.R.O. so that the Parliament can assess better which divisions are being held back and why. If the Government is really serious about getting value for money it had best look closely at present arrangements to determine their inefficiencies before carrying out far-reaching projects such as those mooted by the Prime Minister in his statement on the Martin Report. I have already pointed out one inefficiency, but there is another even more glaring one.
Nowhere in the estimates do we find recognition of the existence of a development gap. The Government seems to assume that the C.S.I.R.O. will produce inventions or develop products and that thereupon Australian industry will take them up and manufacture them for the benefit of all. The report refers to automatically controlled interferometers and mentions that two of these instruments have already been exported to Germany and that an Adelaide firm has been licensed to manufacture them. It does not say that the technological resources of the firm were inadequate and that they had to be developed in the C.S.I.R.O. laboratories and that future inventions will be manufactured under licence in the United States of America. Once again American industry is to be the prime beneficiary of a C.S.I.R.O. invention.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I do not find myself in very great disagreement with some of the things the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) said. We all agree that it is necessary to encourage the operation of science. I think the C.S.I.R.O. has done a splendid job. However, what the honorable member does not seem to realise is that these activities have to be carried out on a balanced basis. That is to say, we cannot get things out of balance with our ability to carry out production for the country. Taken in isolation there is much in what the Deputy Leader said, but when a government is dealing with a Budget it has to deal with these things in a practical sense. There is no criticism by the Deputy Leader that is worth answering.
My purpose in rising is to refer to the activities of the Department of National Development which is, so to speak, a comparatively new department started by this Government. The Department is doing a first class job. Three Ministers have held the portfolio. Lord Casey, the GovernorGeneral, was the first Minister for National Development. He was followed by Senator Sir William Spooner who did a really first class job, and now the present Minister (Mr. Fairbairn) is doing a first class job. Under the direction of this Department specific projects have been undertaken, including the greatest ever carried out in Australia’s history, the Snowy Mountains scheme. This has been a revolutionary project and is a credit to Australia. It is admired by every other country because of its development of power and its provision of water for irrigation. The Department has also done splendid work in all fields of mining. One has not time to refer to them all, but I think particularly of uranium and coal. I remember that, before the establishment of this Department, we were really in trouble about coal. This Department assisted to develop the production of coal until we now have a healthy condition in the industry and a healthy coal export trade. Oil search, too, is another field in which great work has been done, culminating in the discovery of oil in the last few years. Credit for this achievement goes not only to this Department but also to this Government. Notwithstanding this great record, in my opinion we are still not organised on a basis that is truly national. I think that we have reached the stage where the Department of National Development must take much wider responsibility in relation to our development. I believe that the time has come when we in Australia - that means all Australians in all States - must develop an outlook as one nation regarding development. We have grown up to nationhood. Without doubt we are recognised throughout the world as a nation. But I believe that our own people need to develop in themselves a national outlook. Too much division exists in Australia.
What are we doing about national development? We are fewer than 12 million people in a country which is the last great continent on God’s earth to be developed into a great new nation. Australia has an enormous potential; yet it is largely undeveloped. At this moment we are actually laying the foundation of a great nation. This is a part of western democracy. We have the know-how and the benefit of a great tradition. It is part of our heritage. We are completely free, completely uninhibited, to develop this country as we will. Geographically, we are of great importance because of the strategic position we occupy in the free world. Therefore, the question of national development becomes one of great importance at this time.
I believe that we must produce plans now on an ultimate population basis of at least 100 million people. Experts have said that this country could not support more than 20 million or 25 million people. I disagree with them entirely. I believe that we need to plan now on the basis of a population of at least 100 million people. To do so, we have to prepare plans to support and provide a high standard of living for the people as we develop and to keep pace over that period with our political and social development. I do not want to touch upon all these subjects tonight even though they are related to the matter of which I am speaking. We must set up the machinery to establish the basic needs for power and reticulation to meet that kind of development. Water conservation and distribution, transport, roads and communications, economic development of national resources and decentralisation plans have to be considered. A population of this s.<. will not be reached and Australia will not be properly developed unless these thin are taken into consideration.
As I see it, the greatest job of the Department of National Development apart from the projects that it has to handle - and 1 know it has to handle these projects - is to co-ordinate the functions of develop, ment in Australia. I think this is the job of the Department of National Development, so that we shall work to a plan in which first things are done first. We are inclined to talk of projects we have undertaken such as the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Scheme. I am not decrying that Scheme in any way. But was the spending of all that money necessary at that time in that way? These are the things we must consider. I am not trying to answer that question: I am posing it. In this plan of things we must avoid overlapping and duplication of effort and expenditure in a growing country. Many departments are associated with the activities of a department of the type of which I am speaking. Looking at the position quickly, I find that the responsibility of such a department impinges upon such departments in the Commonwealth as the Department of Primary Industry, which is also a very new Department, the Department of Shipping and Transport, the Department of Trade and Industry - a Department that has been discussed recently by the Committee - the Department of Immigration, the Department of Housing and, inevitably, the Treasury and the Department of Territories. These are only some of the Departments which are concerned with our planning for national development.
But above all these departments and the Federal scheme of things, the six States should be involved and co-ordinated in the activities of the Department of National Development. It astounds me that we have reached this stage in our development yet have no body of any kind on which the six States and the Federal Departments which are concerned with national development are represented. No body of this kind has been organised. We need such a body to discuss and plan the priorities to be given to projects necessary to achieve proper national development. We can do this within our capacity only. Today we find that partisan deterrents are creeping in on our national development. These include State jealousies and the individuality of States which are planning not on a national basis but on a purely State basis. These State jealousies have some effect upon the whole national development that we are hoping to achieve and which we must have to become a great new nation. Then there are the interested pressure groups which bring pressure to bear upon both State Governments and the Federal Government in relation to certain fields of development. These matters have to be looked at by some authoritative body. Yet we have no body of this kind which will look at these matters in an impartial way in the national interest.
We have also to stand up against political propaganda. This is one of the things that can be a great deterrent - I say this advisedly - to national development in its true sense. It is all very well to say that we have a Government and an Opposition. I know we have a party system in accordance with which it is quite right for the Opposition to oppose certain things. But we must always bear in mind that when we oppose anything we should do so in a constructive manner. We must not allow political propaganda to interfere with the ordered and proper development of our nation as a whole. Yet this is being done in many fields of endeavour in Australia today. One could speak at great length on this type of interference with national development. I put it to the Government, and I put it to you, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that it is about time we really got down to the job and organised as a nation. We should set up a proper body to do this work. So many important matters are being considered in isolation now. If I had the time, I could enumerate these projects. The Ord River scheme is one. It is a good scheme. I am not decrying any schemes. No doubt, the Ord River scheme has vast possibilities.
Then there is the great question of northern development which, to my way of thinking, is one of the most important projects that we are in the process of undertaking at the present time. But while we say in isolation that northern development is very necessary, no authoritative body representing the States and the various interests concerned has -been established to plan the way in which this sort of development should be undertaken and how much money and time should be spent on it. Northern development is of .tremendous importance to the nation and will attract vast expenditure, which is necessary. I know that during the course of this debate many honorable members will speak on this subject. I know that the Government is fully aware of the necessity for northern development. I know that the Minister for National Development has made an intimate study of this matter. What I am trying to say is that a great scheme like that should not be considered in isolation - quite apart from the general national development and growth of Australia. There must be a certain planned objective for the future. I can think of quite a few projects, although time will not permit me to enumerate them, which within the various States are quite good in themselves. Perhaps they are of great benefit within the boundaries of particular States. But the question we must ask is whether they are good for the ultimate development of a great nation which is moving, as I said previously, towards a population of 100 million people in the future. Do not let us dissipate our forces on projects that could act as a deterrent to our development. Let us get together in the way that I believe we should. Unfortunately we have in this country constitutional barriers that are difficult to overcome, with State sovereignty and powers delegated to the Commonwealth. In such a situation it is difficult to arrange efficient co-ordination, so we must find sensible people to get together around a table and work towards placing the nation first. We must agree amongst ourselves that the most important thing is to develop as an Australian nation which will inevitably be one of the great nations of the future.
.- The Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) has recently arranged for the distribution to members of a document on northern development, concerning which I propose to offer some criticism. Before I do let me say that in my opinion, and I think in the opinion of most people, there can be no development without people. Unless a permanent population can be put into an area, that area cannot be developed. It can be exploited. Large quantities of minerals can be discovered, mined and sent wherever desired. But unless people are put permanently into an area there will be no final development in that area.
In this document the Minister has listed all the items that he considers are credits in the account, and for this I suppose we cannot blame him. Nevertheless there are debits, and some of the credits are, to say the least, suspect. As to items in or near a member’s own electorate, I suppose that member is in a position to sum up the situation more correctly than those people who have no connection with the area at all. The first item I see here is concerned with the Shoalwater Bay Army area. How this gets into the list as a development item is beyond my comprehension. Before the land was taken over there were 38 graziers and about a dozen other people permanently resident in the area, together with their employees. After the land is taken over there are three civilian caretakers. The others have all gone. The money listed in this document has been given as compensation to the people who were in the area and they have simply departed. Furthermore, this area contains the only stand of millable timber in central Queensland, with 109 employees engaged in logging operations. Owing to the good graces of two other Ministers, the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) and the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes), these logging operations can continue for five years. But as far as development is concerned there is practically nil. We still have to wait and see what the Army will bring into the area, but at the best this will be a temporary proposition that will provide some benefit for perhaps two or three weeks in the year. Therefore I suggest that this item should be on the other side of the ledger.
Then we come to the brigalow land development which is listed here for millions of pounds and which will bring 100 or 200 families into the area. But let me tell the Committee something else. While we are putting this couple of hundred families into the brigalow land area, if we get that far, what is happening to the people who were there before? In central Queensland a few years ago there were 3,511 dairy farmers supplying the butter factories belonging to the Port Curtis Co-operative Dairy Association Ltd. Where there were 3,51 1 previously there are now 1,549. So while we are putting 200 families in, 2,000 have gone out. May I also say that out of the 1,549 who are there today, 516 are in the rather extraordinary position of having incomes of less than £500 per annum gross. What sort of development is this? Perhaps here again we should put this matter on the debit side, and we then find that very little is being done in brigalow land development in the overall picture.
Now we come to the Callide Dam with its associated power house. Of course we are building this dam and power house and this is put in as an item of development. But what about the fact that the power house will replace the existing power house in Rockhampton, which is scheduled to close down next year because power will come from Callide, Callide being on the seam from which coal can be obtained more cheaply and easily? Perhaps here again we have a debit. Then we have the Moura coal mine development. A mine has been opened up and a town is being expanded, but what about the mines that have been closed down? What about Ogmore which until recently was a little coal mining town but has now gone out of existence? What about The Bluff, which no longer will operate as a coal mining centre?
The Gladstone-Moura railway which is associated with this piece of development will be a new railway but no mention is made, of course, of the railways that have closed down. A couple of years ago there was a railway from Rockhampton to Emu Park, but it is not there any more. This Moura to Gladstone railway will shorten the haulage of coal but it is estimated that it will put about 180 railway workers out of employment. The coal will be moved more easily and more quickly, no doubt under a more modern system, and men will depart from the area. This is the type of development which in the final analysis will do not much more than produce probably one of the greatest collections of holes in the ground to be found anywhere and a fine assortment of ghost towns, because eventually these, projects will peter out. There can be no development unless there is a permanent population.
Nobody can hope to stand in the way of what we call progress, although that is perhaps a questionable description of some of the development we are getting. But what we want in these areas is not just mineral development, which in many instances is not being paid for by the Government in any case, although it is entered in this document as Government developmental work. We are told that £55 million is to be spent on the expansion of the aluminium industry in Gladstone. This would probably be one of the classic misrepresentations of the year. Actually £50 million of this is being spent in the United States and Japan, and it is currently being said in Gladstone that twothirds of the structural steel necessary for the work in the area is being imported from Japan. The Japanese are not giving that steel away for nothing. If we finish up with £5 million of this amount we will be fortunate.
But what accompanies this kind of activity? We do not achieve these changes for nothing. There are other people in various types of employment in Gladstone. For instance, there are Post Office employees and others on fixed salaries and today these people are paying up to £12 1 2s. a week for housing because of the influx of construction employees who are highly paid and prepared to pay almost any price for accommodation. But what about the victims in the community? They are not listed in these circulars. What about the people who are paying £15 a week to live in a caravan? Why does not the Government spend some of its money on housing these people?
Nothing whatever has been said about the facts that the aluminium processing works, a precipitation plant, is being constructed on a site formerly occupied by a meat works which employed 640 men and that it is estimated that the processing plant when in full blast will employ 40 less than that number. What sort of progress have we here? We have progress in the giving of permanent employment instead of seasonal employment, and that is all. Again I say that we are pleased to get this. We hope that Gladstone will obtain other industries and that it will build its work force to a much larger number than it had before, but at present the position is as I have stated. The housing shortage in Gladstone is having another effect. Married men cannot get houses and therefore cannot bring their families to Gladstone. They earn, perhaps, £40 or £50 per week. What do they do with it? They spend as little of it in Gladstone as possible and send the rest to Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne for the use of their families. We cannot blame them for doing this. They live as single men in quarters and pay what they have to pay for board to the company that is employing them. So less money is circulating in the town.
Some of the people who regard this £50 million project in Gladstone as development should have a talk to business people in Gladstone and find out what the position really is. They should talk also to some of the civil servants - employees of Federal and State Governments - to find out how difficult it is for them, on fixed salaries, to liv: in a town that is a boom town, for the moment, because construction workers are paying 15 per cent, to 20 per cent, higher for accommodation. Recently 30 oz. tins of water - ordinary water, I emphasise - were selling in the town for ls. 2d. each because the tap water supply could not keep up with the demand. The position became so bad that mothers could not use the tap water for children so up went the price of water - just imagine - to ls. 2d. for 30 oz.
– Was there any fluoride in it?
– No. It would not be worth even ls. 2d. if it had fluoride in it. There are two sides to all these problems, and we must see them both. The population of central Queensland is falling. If men go on to the brigalow land to work men are lost from the land elsewhere. New industries are replacing old industries. We have a new meat works in Rockhampton, but the total number of men employed in the new meat works and in the Lakes Creek meat works, which has been in existence for many years, is less than the number employed in Lakes Creek 10 years ago.
– What about Mackay?
– Mackay is not in this area. I am dealing with areas which are inside my own electorate. I assume that in other areas similar conditions exist, but I am referring to the conditions that have to be faced in my electorate. As I have said, we fully appreciate all we get, but we should not delude ourselves that because large amounts of money are committed to certain projects this will be the measure of development and prosperity in the area concerned. We have today not only problems of development but we have also problems of mechanisation and automation. These are affecting the population of this country to the same extent as the developmental expansion mentioned by the Minister in this document. I reiterate that unless permanent population can be brought into an area we will not get development.
We are not unmindful of the fact that perhaps we can do better than we are doing. It has been published in Queensland that bauxite from Weipa is being sold at £2 a ton and that the processed aluminium is being sold by the Japanese at £240 a ton. Perhaps the greater portion of the prosperity we are bringing into being is going overseas and is actually passing into the pockets of somebody else. If that is not a fact it is up to the Government to demonstrate that it is not.
– What about the bauxite that is going to Bell Bay?
– I am not talking about Bell Bay. I am talking about the bauxite that is being shipped directly overseas.
– lt is also being shipped to Bell Bay.
– Perhaps it is, and we are very pleased that that is so, but we cannot overlook the fact that the amount going to Bell Bay is a fleabite compared with what is going overseas. We do not want only to precipitate alumina in Gladstone, we want to see the day when we will be smelting and refining the product in Gladstone and when we will get rolling mills as well. When that day comes not only will there be development and progress in this area but we will have a much larger population also. It is population that we want, not only to exploit the natural resources of the country but also to enable us to develop and defend the country. That is one of the most important things that Australia needs today. We must get population into these northern areas so that Australia can be more efficiently defended. I bring these facts to the notice of the Committee. I repeat that we cannot measure development by the figures contained in the document circulated by the Government. It is necessary to visit the area so see exactly what is happening before any idea can be gained of the extent to which development is actually taking place. It is not as great as the Government would have the people at large believe.
.- -The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) in his speech earlier on the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation mentioned the science policy of the Australia Labour Party and the lack of a science policy of the Government. I think that he has his terms mixed, because what he was really talking about was a structure for science and not science policy. It could have been possibly a policy for science. I have here a report of a conference held in Vienna earlier this year on “Science and Parliament “ which deals at great length with this subject. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition spoke as if Australia was the only country that did not have a science policy. After reading the report of this conference in Europe I submit that no country has an effective science policy. These terms need to be straightened out.
The estimates for the C.S.I.R.O. disclose that the Organisation proposes to spend £19,240,000 during the next 12 months if we include expenditure of £4i million on industry funds which, of course, contain a fairly large amount of Treasury funds in Commonwealth grants for primary industry research schemes. The amount to be expended by the C.S.I.R.O. is large and if the research that is to be carried out is successful we will never be able to measure the value to this country of that research, for who today can measure the value to our primary industries, and consequently to the country as a whole, of myxomatosis? I am sure that all honorable members will join with me in highly commending Sir Frederick White, the executive and staff of the C.S.I.R.O. and the advisory councils on which men act in a voluntary capacity, and give a lot of their time. These men include two members of this House, the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) and the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly).
I have read with great interest the annual report of the C.S.I.R.O. and the brief explanatory notes on the present estimates. These are interesting documents. They describe the work being done. They tell us how much this work cost last year and how much it is estimated to cost this year. It is important information, but it is only half the story. It does not answer the major questions which are: Are we spending enough on research? Are we spending too much or are we spending too little? What are the major problems that the C.S.I.R.O. is actually trying to solve? There is a description of the divisions of the C.S.I.R.O. but not a statement of the major problems. In looking at this information we should evaluate what is happening in the other research organisations in Australia - not only the universities and State departments but also the various institutes. This is the kind of information which we in Parliament need if we are to make a proper evaluation of the work that we are doing and need to do in research. It is disturbing that there should be such a wide disparity between the information upon which Cabinet bases its decisions and the information available to private members upon which to ratify, amend or discuss those decisions. The reason for this state of affairs is that government is getting more complex as the years go by and science is becoming more technical and far more important. This situation will become worse as the country grows and as the Government becomes more involved in the area of science, by sponsoring research activities, or by getting into the field of higher education and technical matters.
This lack of information and inequality of knowledge is not peculiar to Australia. This is apparent from a perusal of the report entitled “ Science and Parliament “ of the second Parliamentary and Scientific Conference organised jointly by the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The Conference was held this year in Vienna. The report highlights the problems faced by parliamentarians in Europe and gives details of what they are trying to do about them.
I refer honorable members to the hearing before the Sub-committee on Accounts of the Committee on House Administration, House of Representatives, Eighty-eighth Congress, on bills H.R. 6866 and H.R. 8066, “ To increase the effectiveness of the Congress in carrying out its functions by establishing a science advisory staff in the Senate and House of Representatives “. The evidence given before that hearing is interesting for its outline of the problems facing the Americans. They have a more organised basis of science and give more information to their legislators than does any other country. I commend to honorable members an article written by Mr. Austen Albu, M.P., Chairman of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee of the United Kingdom House of Commons. He is a Labour member. The article is entitled “ The Member of Parliament, the Executive and Scientific Policy “. It was published in “ Minerva “, volume II, in the autumn of 1963. Another article, written by Kenneth Lindsay, who is also a member of the House of Commons, is entitled “ Science and Parliament, a New Problem in Government “. Another article is that published in “ Parliamentary Affairs “ in 1964 and written by S. A. Walkland. It is entitled “ Science and Parliament; the Origins and Influence of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee “. Those articles highlight the problem that exists in other countries and they show what is being attempted by those countries. There is a great area of bipartisan facts and matters, not touching on policy, that may be discussed.
We face this same problem in Australia and we should do something to close the gap between the knowledge at the disposal of the Executive and the knowledge at the disposal of private members. The House of Commons has this unofficial committee called the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee. It comprises members from both sides of the House of Commons, peers, and scientists representing various organisations conducting research. In 1962 the Committee comprised 130 members of the House of Commons, drawn almost equally from both sides, 63 peers and representatives of 127 scientific organisations. The Committee is self-supporting. The organisations represented contribute a certain amount, depending on what they want from the Committee in terms of information. Members of Parliament pay a nominal 10s. membership. This allows the operation of a small secretariat. There is a two way flow of information. Reports are published. Copies of debates and questions in the House are sent to the member organisations. I suggest that we in this Parliament should set up a similar committee, with some minor adaptations. With the concurrence of honorable members I incorporate in “Hansard” the aims and objects of the House of Commons Parliamentary and Scientific Committee.
The Parliamentary and Scientific Committee is a non-Party body formed with the object of providing a permanent liaison between Scientific bodies and Parliament. It seeks to become a centre for the consideration and discussion of scientific information bearing on current proceedings in Parliament.
The Committee was constituted on November 8th, 1939, to take over the functions of the Parliamentary Science Committee which suspended its activities on the outbreak of hostilities.
It is felt that substantial benefits should result if the numerous Societies concerned with scientific activities combine their influence with the object of ensuring that Parliament shall have proper regard for the importance of scientific methods in relation to public affairs.
The Committee endeavours amongst other things -
Subscribers with a regular summary of scientific matters dealt with in Parliament.
Although such a committee would not solve all of our problems or equalise the present differences in knowledge, it would go a long way towards helping us. It would give us liaison with scientists at the parliamentary level. It would give us a greater understanding of their problems and of their research work. It would give the scientists a greater understanding of our problems. For a long time there has been need of greater co-operation between members of Parliament and scientific organisations. In this regard the A.N.Z.A.A.S. Conference held at the Sydney University in 1962 or 1963 was important. We could adapt the constitution of the British Committee to meet Australian conditions.
We have in this country seven Parliaments. If we were to establish this committee it is possible that branches could be formed within the State Parliaments. Then we would get an exchange of knowledge between the Parliaments. If this were done it may be feasible to hold an annua! or biennial conference at which non partisan matters of common interest could be discussed.
Science is becoming increasingly important not only in the community at large but in virtually every matter that comes before the Parliament. Clemenceau is reported to have said: “War is much too serious a matter to be left to the generals”. David Sarnoff, President of the Radio Corporation of America, paraphrased that remark and said: “ Science is much too serious a matter to be left to scientists “. He may have been right because of the involvement of government with science, but today science is weaving its webb into every facet of our lives - into government and into industry. This is as it should be if we are to continue our growth as a nation and maintain our standards of living, but we as members of Parliament must understand to a far greater extent than we do now not only science but the problems of scientists. The Government must necessarily depend to a greater extent on its expert advisers, and so too private members must draw on expert knowledge. Some major decisions that have changed the course of world events have resulted from scientific knowledge. If Roosevelt had not acted on Einstein’s letter on atomic energy I suggest that the history of the last three decades would be completely different. If the British Government had not put some money into pure research in radar, history would have been different. If the former New South Wales Government had had greater knowledge of technical matters or had had better liaison wilh scientists and technical people I doubt very much whether the Sydney Opera House would have been built in the way it has been built. This is a serious matter. Unless we as parliamentarians understand science and come to terms with scientists, some day somebody may say: “Politics is much too serious a matter to be left to politicians “. If that happens our democracy will fall.
– I do not want to make a speech, but I want to say that I listened with very great interest to the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Bridges-Maxwell). I will convey his suggestions to the Minister who is responsible for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. I know that the Government will look at the suggestions very closely because they are, I think, of great interest to the Government. We certainly should be able to see whether something can be done along these lines.
.- In speaking to the estimates for the Department of National Development, I intend to devote most of my time to that section dealing with the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. Let me, therefore, immediately place on record my appreciation of its report which was recently presented to the Parliament. It is a document worthy of very close study by all honorable members. Clearly it contains the ingredients of a plan for the future development of Australia. The Commission has provided the Parliament with the material to assess the nation’s potential and capabilities in the nuclear energy field, lt shows clearly the development of nuclear power in countries overseas. The Commission’s report is a challenge to the Parliament. We have the responsibility to decide how quickly we should introduce nuclear power here. We should, therefore, examine the question of nuclear energy coldly and without emotion, and divorce from our minds the horrors of war and the destruction caused by nuclear weapons. We must channel our thoughts into lines that will lead to the development that must take place in Australia within the next 10, 20 or 30 years. Let us prepare now for the developments that can take place with the aid of nuclear power and the benefits that will come to our country and our people.
Australia is an exceedingly dry continent. At this moment in our history we are experiencing the worst drought in 50 years. We have a consistently expanding population. Industries are increasing daily and the nation requires power for domestic and industrial purposes. Our low yearly rainfall poses serious problems. Water is always, even in the best of times, short in some parts of our country. In 1949, the Chifley Labour Government commenced the greatest development plan in our nation’s history. With great foresight of the future needs of
Australia, the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority was set up. Now, almost 20 years afterwards, the Authority is supplying power and water for the nation’s needs. When the Snowy scheme was suggested, many people claimed it was a fairy dream, that it was a plan long before its time, that it was a scheme the nation could not afford. Today, all Australians are proud of its success. With the Snowy project drawing to a successful conclusion, we should now be planning for the nation’s future needs. Now is the time to consider the most modern methods of providing power. This is the time to think in terms of nuclear energy, which is unquestionably the power of tomorrow.
The Australian Atomic Energy Commission’s report shows that overseas countries have proved that nuclear power plants are now competitive with conventional power plants, particularly in the high fuel cost areas. In its report, the Commission stated that nuclear power will have a significant rok in this country within the foreseeable future. If we study the progress made in other countries, we must agree. Australia should now be deciding the type of nuclear reactor most suitable for our needs. We should be gearing the nation’s resources to the construction of such reactors. Although we appear to have substantial reserves of coal, oil and natural gas for conventional power stations, this should not delay us in planning the alternative source of power. There is no doubt that nuclear power plants can now be justified on economic and technical grounds. Reports from overseas countries, not all of which can be regarded as highly developed - certainly some of them cannot be compared with Australia in terms of wealth - have proved that commercial nuclear plants provide for safety in operation and are reliable. Even more significant is the fact that the costs of nuclear reactors and the costs of producing electricity from these plants have shown a definite downward trend.
The Australian Atomic Energy Commission suggested that the needs of South Australia might well be the target for the first nuclear plant. This is not only because of the power supply but also because of the very dry conditions in that State and the shortage of water which, in ten years or more, could well be a barrier to any large population increase or industrial development in the State. The modern nuclear energy reactors provide not only for power but also for the desalination of water. The present drought proves that it is not only South Australia that needs an adequate water supply but that practically the whole nation falls into this category. It has been suggested that a commercial plant of 250 megawatts capacity could cater for South Australia’s power needs and could also be used for the desalination of water. Given water and power, not only South Australia hut also the north of Australia could really sturt to develop.
Recently, the United Kingdom authorities developed a commercial nuclear plant known as the Dungeness “B” of 1,200 megawatts capacity. It may well be fitting if at this time I quote an opinion expressed by Professor Titterton, who is head of the Department of Nuclear Physics at the Australian National University. He said -
In the Australian context 1,200 megawatts is a very large installation . . . Such a station at the present time would provide more power than could bc consumed in the entire State of South Australia. It may well be that, when the time comes to invest in nuclear power here, a station of the Dungeness ‘ B ‘ type could be located in the Snowy Mountains complex. There its power could be fed into existing transmission lines for distribution to the two heavily industrialised States - New South Wales and Victoria. Operating as a base load station, with the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority ‘providing the peak load power, the nuclear and hydro-stations would be complementary and operating in their most economic roles.
Power stations of this size take five to six years to build and during this time demand grows. In Australia consumption over the last few years shows a doubling time of about eight years. It is clear, then, that we are approaching the point where the possibility of installing the first nuclear station in Australia will need to be considered carefully.
The choice of the reactor, of course, is one for the experts - people like the members of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission and Professor Titterton. I believe that the Commission should be asked now to select one or more suitable nuclear plants for Australia. It may decide on a Dungeness type for the Snowy, as suggested by Professor Titterton, or a 250 megawatt plant for Port Augusta in South Australia. Such a plant in South Australia would not only supply the power needs of the State but could also be used to desalinate the ocean salt water and thus ensure adequate water and power for future South Australian requirements. Like the Dungeness type plant in the Snowy, the 250 megawatt reactor at Port Augusta could be complementary to the conventional power stations now there. Perhaps a 250 megawatt reactor could be considered for Darwin, where it could service the Northern Territory and parts of Queensland and Western Australia.
Seventeen countries have constructed or have plans for the construction of nuclear plants. They are Belgium, Canada, Czechoslovakia, France, East Germany, West Germany, Holland, India, Italy, Japan, Pakistan, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom with 15, the United States of America with 24 and Russia with 3. Nearly 40 countries have plans for nuclear plants and the capacity of these plants is geared to the needs of the next 20 years. A few of the nations taken at random are Israel, Spain, Portugal, Pakistan and Italy. If countries such as Spain, India and Portugal can afford nuclear power plants, I am sure that Australia can. India has, for some years, been pursuing a policy designed to attain nuclear self sufficiency and is now regarded as one of the leading nuclear powers. Spain, like other countries, has adopted long range plans for nuclear power. The Spanish Government has set a target of 1,000 megawatt capacity by 1972. Well informed people say that this target will most likely be exceeded. Let Australia not lag behind other countries less fortunate than we are. Australia is blessed with what appears to be an ample supply of the raw material, uranium, needed for a nuclear reactor. At the present time the supply of uranium exceeds the demand. The leading uranium producing countries, including Australia, are today stockpiling uranium concentrates. It is said that this is being done because there is general agreement among both producing and consuming countries that the Western world’s known reserves of low cost uranium are inadequate to meet the world’s needs during the decade ending in 1980.
Under the Atomic Energy Act, the Australian Atomic Energy Commission is charged with the responsibility for developing Australia’s resources of uranium. It is empowered to undertake and organise the search for and the mining of uranium and to co-operate with other authorities, including State instrumentalities, in the development of uranium resources, except as may be necessary to the defence of the Commonwealth or its allies, the Commission is not empowered to undertake the development of the uranium resources of the States. In this field, it can exercise its powers only in the Territories of the Commonwealth. I have no doubt that State authorities would co-operate with the Commission if powers were sought to enable it to conduct a nationwide search for, and the development of, uranium. We stockpile today, but we have been warned that uranium is likely to be in short supply in the near future.
Fifteen minutes is not sufficient time for me to deal with this subject as I would like, Mr. Temporary Chairman. Therefore, I have to condense my references to many matters that I believe are vital to the subject. Nuclear reactors would produce the product plutonium, which could be used to meet the great mining and excavating needs of the nation. So, in addition to providing power, light and water, we would, at minimum cost, be able to remove overburden in mining, undertake tunnelling operations and provide large water storages. We could easily .blast a storage reservoir the size of Sydney Harbour with the plutonium produced. The Atomic Energy Commission’s report deals also with radio isotopes and recent research and development carried out in this field. Isotopes have been used to trace the movement of silt and sand in rivers and harbours. Two large scale experiments with radio isotopes in sand have been carried out in Botany Bay. Quantitative estimates of sand movement will assist in plans for the future development of the Bay. Nuclear energy is developing energy.
Recently, natural gas has been the subject of speculation as a fuel to fire conventional power stations. In my own State, South Australia, there is much talk of its future in this field. Let me issue a warning to those who advocate the use of natural gas for this purpose. I suggest that they consider a point that is causing many thinkers in the field of power to ponder the problem of whether the use of natural gas for this purpose would be in the best interests of the nation. Today, Australia faces a serious threat to its economy as a result of an adverse balance of payments, caused to a large extent by our demands for petroleum and associated chemical gases. Our future needs of petroleum gases will not diminish.
In fact, they will vastly increase. Unless there, is some drastic change in our way of life, our balance of payments situation could become even more precarious in the years ahead. We might deeply regret using our natural gas resources for the firing of conventional power stations when we have uranium available and the potential to use nuclear power for this work. Let us develop our natural gases to supply our petroleum and allied chemical needs and use nuclear energy to supply our water and power needs.
Nuclear reactors would not cause any drain on our physicists and other highly trained men. As I have pointed out, we could purchase reactors complete. We have the raw material that we need to supply them with fuel. We have the Australian Atomic Energy Commission to plan the nation’s requirements and we have the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority, which is well fitted to undertake the construction work required. Fortunately, we have also men like Professor Titterton to advise us on nuclear developments. Let us not tarry in getting on with the job. Nuclear energy could provide us with power and water for both the metropolises and the outback. It might well be the answer for those who say that we must develop and people the north. Australia’s destiny and its development are in the hands of this Parliament.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, I should like to correct a wrong impression that apparently has been gained by some honorable members if one can judge by the opinions expressed by some speakers when discussing the estimates for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. In the year ended 30th June last, more than £H million was devoted to the installation of a computer and to the Townsville research station. This was capital expenditure and does not come within these estimates. So the amount devoted to research was actually greater than in the previous year, not less.
It has recently been claimed that in the last 20 years scientific research has resulted in more discoveries than in all the previous years. We can think of developments in nuclear power, faster flight, space research, advances in medical science and something that particularly applies to Australia in the economic field - the great advances in synthetics and plastics. These fields illustrate the great developments that have taken place in the last 20 years. Whether the keen race for scientific knowledge, particularly in the field of space research, will in the long run be of especial benefit to mankind is greatly in doubt. There can be danger for a community that has too many people with their heads in the clouds and too few with their feet on the ground. In my work in primary industry, I suppose, I have become acquainted with much of the scientific research of the C.S.I.R.O., and I must say that I have yet to find one scientist in that Organisation who has not tried to be practical and to get results that will be of use to primary industry.
Tonight, expenditure on scientific research in Australia has been compared with expenditure by various great powers. Last year, the United States of America spent some £10,000 million Australian on research and development. This was nearly seven times the rate of annual expenditure twelve years before and three times as much, in proportion to national income, as in the early 1950’s. The greater part of this expenditure was devoted to rocketry and weapons research, and about £1,500 million Australian was spent on developing new products and improving productive techniques. Australia has not the resources to engage in this large scale and costly research. Neither has Australian industry the ability to finance this kind of research. In the United States, there are some 350 companies with 5,000 or more employees. This has been accepted as the optimum size for a company if it is to devote reasonably large resources to research on a sound basis. About half the research undertaken in the United States and England is for defence purposes.
It is interesting to compare the percentages of gross national product spent on research. In the United States, the proportion is 3 per cent.; in the United Kingdom, 2.4 per cent.; in Canada, .9 per cent.; and in Australia, .7 per cent. Incidentally, only about one in five of the new products developed is commercially successful. So it is clear that only large concerns can afford this intense research effort that entails large expenditure. An example is the development of nylon. It took the Du Pont interests 10 years and something like £13 million Australian to develop this product. Although about 70 per cent, of research expenditur in America is devoted to industrial research, only 1 per cent, is devoted to research on food products. The C.S.I.R.O., being our main source of scientific and industrial research, shows in its annual report the breakdown of its expenditure on research. Agriculture takes up 39 per cent., processing of agricultural products 9 per cent., chemicals 10 per cent., minerals and coal 5.5 per cent., fishing 2.5 per cent., secondary industries 23.5 per cent, and other services and administration 10.5 per cent. That goes to show that the efforts of the C.S.I.R.O. are not all devoted to primary production by any means.
Budgeting for research projects as wide as C.S.I.R.O. is required to do is difficult because once a project is commenced it must be thoroughly dealt with for an effective solution to be found. This means that the Organisation cannot chop and change. When a scientist has been obtained, probably from overseas, full support is essential until the particular task is fulfilled. But the great achievements of the scientist are of no value unless the people who are going to use his accomplishments are thoroughly acquainted with what has been achieved. The co-operation of industry is required if this end is to be achieved, and this cooperation often requires considerable resources. In the field of agricultural and pastoral pursuits it depends largely on further research and extension work by the State Government departments. There is, without doubt, much to be done in this field. Although there are many good officers in the State departments it is doubtful whether there are enough of them. It is true that most Departments of Agriculture are geared to an old state of affairs. Too many young graduates in government departments become frustrated and go to private industry and, not often but too often, the clammy hands of seniority grasp at the throat of efficiency and if it is not entirely strangled it is at least slowed down to a snail’s pace. One reason why C.S.I.R.O. is such a great success is that it is not impeded by this state of affairs.
Scientific research is something that cannot be slowed down. It must have continued momentum. The momentum probably slackened off a bit in the year just ended, but it has picked up somewhat this year. I hope that it can be continued because there is no doubt that the C.S.I.R.O. research staff has in places, perhaps, been too thinly spread over too many enterprises. Whether we make full use of the equipment we have provided is open to question. I feel that probably more scientists are needed in this field and in others and that they should travel overseas more than they do at present.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) referred to superannuation. I agree that an anomaly exists at the moment, but I draw to his attention a paragraph on page 9 of the annual report which he did not read. The last sentence states -
This problem is currently being examined in C.S.I.R.O. and in a number of other interested quarters.
This problem is agitating the minds of competent people and I feel that something will come about to improve the situation. Better liaison between the scientist and the extension officer is vital and better extension services for the man on the land are equally vital. However, nothing is of any value if the man who is to make practical application of the knowledge is restricted by inadequate finance.
Much has been said on this subject within the last few weeks in this place and in others. I should like to draw to the attention of the Committee an article which appeared in the Queensland “ Producers’ Review” in September. It stated -
The recently released annual report of the Rural Reconstruction Board draws attention to the plight of the farmer seeking prudent finance to enable prudent farming. The report states: “Bankers, economists and others are stressing the need for improved farm management and the adoption of sound business principles by the rural community. But farmers, on whom we are still substantially dependent for export income, are being denied the opportunity to adopt those principles by the absence of finance on suitable terms and conditions.
One thing that is vital to this country if we are to make full use of the results of our research is adequate water storages on a national basis. Much has been said lately about employing the Snowy Mountains Authority on northern development. Both of these subjects have, to my mind, become something of a political football. Generally when that happens someone goes in and kicks the ball in the opposite direction or uses hobnail boots and that usually deflates anything.
I agree with what my colleague, the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Pettitt), said about the Snowy Mountains Authority. He said it should be used to its fullest endeavour to see that everything is done to contain the waters in the upper reaches of the Murray and Murrumbidgee rivers. The impounding of the available water for the Murrumbidgee from the Snowy area will be virtually achieved with the completion of the Blowering dam and other upstream works now commenced. However, a great deal more can be done in the upper reaches of the Murray and we should proceed with development where we have the know-how and the wherewithal before we do anything else. Speaking again on the subject of northern development, I consider that a great deal more is being done in the northern regions than is generally admitted. I have known the north of Australia for about 30 years and over that period I have seen tremendous changes taking place. Reference was made in the annual report of the Department of National Development to the sums that are being spent on beef roads. In addition to this expenditure, £75 million per annum, which is granted to the States under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act, is based on a formula which is very favourable to Queensland and Western Australia. Communications are vital for people in those areas if we are to develop the interior. There must be compensation for the disadvantages of isolation and costly communications. Because of the difficulties with which the people of that area are confronted some incentive should be considered. Just as pastoral awards have a tropical loading, some taxation concessions for residents should also be considered.
A great deal of development is going on in the north. We have heard considerable talk in this place about overseas capital. I believe, just as other honorable members have said, that there is a point of balance in this kind of investment. It is of interest to read a breakdown of expenses of Mount Isa Mines Ltd. for 1963-64. In each £1, wages accounted for 5s. 5d., other expenses 7s., depreciation ls. 10d., taxation 2s. 2d., dividends overseas 10d., Australian dividends 9d. and profits retained for expansion 2s. I am thoroughly convinced that these areas definitely deserve some degree of priority but that we need balanced development after proper considerations of the propositions have been put before us. I have in my hand a document “ Develop the North “ in which one economist presents a case for development and another economist presents a case against it. I am reminded of the words of the leader of the Scottish trade delegation that is in Australia today. He said that a managing director of a huge concern in Scotland had said to him that he was thinking, after having advice from a great many economists, of advertising for a one-armed economist because so many economists had said to him that they could do one thing on one hand but could not do it on the other. I do not suggest that we should make disparaging remarks about people, but that document does serve to show how careful we must be to proceed on a sound basis and not do things that will turn out to be only expensive experiments and take a lot of undoing.
Australian Forces in Vietnam.
Motion (by Mr. Fairbairn) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
Mr. REYNOLDS (Barton) 111.2].- A number of us had the opportunity tonight of looking at a very fine film showing the privations endured by servicemen and servicewomen during World War II. At the end of that film, we were enjoined to remember those people. As well as remembering those who fought in past wars, I think we would do well to do some thinking about those who are fighting on our behalf in various theatres of war right now. I invite the House tonight to pay particular attention to the submissions which I have to make on behalf of the mothers and wives of servicemen fighting in Vietnam.
The first complaint made to me concerned servicemen with the 105th Field Battery unit in Vietnam. They are about ten miles out from Saigon and are not receiving their mail in what can be considered a reasonable time. From what one informant has told me, it would seem that it takes two weeks or even longer for air mail to reach those troops. I think that in some cases air mail letters posted about three weeks ago have still not reached these servicemen. Apart from this apparent delay in the delivery of air mail to the troops, there is also the question of cost. One complaint refers to the cost of sending parcels to troops in the area. I was informed that to send a parcel containing two cakes of soap and one tube of toothpaste cost 10s. 6d. if the parcel is sent by air mail, and that to send by air mail a Sydney Sunday newspaper costs 6s. 6d. I was told also that it cost £1 18s. 6d. to send by air mail a parcel containing a cake - I presume it was a fruit cake - weighing about 4 lb. I think that the mother of the private soldier concerned - she is not terribly well endowed with this world’s goods - is entitled to claim that a charge of £1 18s. 6d. for sending a cake to her son - admittedly it was by air mail - is an exorbitant charge.
Having regard to what these young men are doing for this country, and bearing in mind how little is demanded from the rest of us in connection with our commitments in Vietnam, I think we ought to be able to do a little, better for them than we apparently are doing. Honorable members might ask: “ Why doesn’t she send commodities of this kind by ordinary mail? “ She thought of that alternative and made inquiries of the Postmaster-General’s Department but could not get any clear and precise answer as to how long it would take a parcel to reach this particular unit in South Vietnam by ordinary mail. She was unable to get any kind of assurance. She could not find out whether it would take two weeks, three weeks, a month or longer. She felt, and this man’s wife felt, that he should not be deprived of these amenities.
– I do not know whether it can be bought there or not. This is just an indication of how long it takes for parcels to get there. One problem is to find out exactly what is available in that area. Certainly, in the case of the newspapers, there is an understandable situation. I understand from the son’s complaint that it is very difficult to get information about Australia in South Vietnam. The troops can listen in on transistor radios to the American broadcasts but they give very little information about our part of the world. A further pleading inquiry for reading matter - for books and general matter - was contained in his letters. The lady in question made inquiries of the Red Cross Society in Sydney and was told, according to her remarks to me, that the Red Cross was not in a position to provide books for troops in South Vietnam as it was fully taxed in providing such material for servicemen in hospital. She said the Red Cross representative also told her that that organisation had received numerous complaints on behalf of these servicemen about the lack of reading matter for the troops.
– Did the honorable member check these complaints?
– I am not able to check them. I am not bringing these matters up by way of complaint; I have been asked questions and am hoping tonight that the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes) will be able to give solace to a lot of anxious parents, sweethearts and wives and tell them what information is available. I come back to that point now. The Minister can tell us whether these types of commodities are generally available, and readily available, to servicemen. He can tell us whether newspapers are available. If they are not available, does it cost so much to send them? Can he tell us what the Post Office was not able to tell us? How long does it usually take for ordinary mail to get there by means of the ordinary facilities? If he is able to give us that information he will provide information that these people have not been able to get from the places from which they ought to have been able to get it.
On this next matter, concerning pay, I cannot be at all precise. I find it very difficult to get a precise answer from my constituents. The particular serviceman concerned has been in South Vietnam for a month and, according to his letter, he has not received any money as yet. I find this difficult to believe. I hope the Minister can tell me fairly definitely whether that situation could arise. The serviceman is not in a position to buy commodities, presumably because he has not received his allowance since he has been at Bien Hoa. I cannot guarantee that these statements are correct, but apparently the troops had been given to understand that they would receive a ration of two cans of beer per day. They were also given to understand that it would be free.
– Well, that would not be so outlandish a thing to do for people who are fighting in those blessed places and suffering privations and disabilities. It would not be such an outlandish idea to give them two cans of beer a day. I do not think it is such an outlandish idea as the Minister seems to think. I know that we did not get it during World War II or World War I, but that is no reason why we should not have advanced somewhat in our thinking. There is plenty of beer for people who come to parliamentary receptions, and all the hangers-on around the place seem to crowd in here to partake of it.
I do not know about other honorable members, but I was rather annoyed at the facetiousness of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) this morning when he answered a question about Lucky Starr. I happen to know this young man, although not very well. He was sufficiently patriotic to volunteer his services to entertain Australian troops in South Vietnam. I understand from newspaper reports that an application was made on his behalf for his expenses in going there but that the application was rejected. I think that is a pretty poor show.
– Does he sing “ You are my lucky star”?
– The troops up there probably do not think themselves lucky. I do not want to give the impression - and the mothers and wives involved do not want to get the impression - that the morale of the troops is affected in any way. They are irritated, but I understand from the testimony of those who have communicated with me that the morale of the troops is quite high despite these irritations. I ask the Minister for information. I am seeking information more than speaking in a critical vein. I have the testimony of only a few people to go on and their letters can be misinterpreted. I ask the Minister whether he can give any information about the mail service, about the pay provisions for troops in this unit and whether any arrangements are being made for the entertainment of the men? The Minister has been in the Services just as other honorable members have been, and he knows how important these things are, especially if the disabilities are anything like as bad as they have been represented to us.
– He has seen the troops up there also.
– I understand that, so I hope he can give us the benefit of firsthand knowledge.
– I should like to say in answer to the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) that I am delighted that he - or any member of his party - should be taking an interest in the welfare of our troops overseas. This sort of interest has been noticeably lacking, and it intrigues me that he and members of his party should start to take an interest for the first time in Australian servicemen overseas when they are in South Vietnam, where there is an ideological motivation for their interest. I should like to remind him that Australian troops have been serving overseas and fighting overseas virtually ever since the end of the last war. It is only in the last six months or so - since the ideological basis, as they see it, of the war in South Vietnam became evident - that we have this newfound interest in Australian servicemen. Honorable members opposite have been popping up on all sides expressing interest in entertainment, amenities, pay and so forth for our troops. Not a word did the members of the Labour Party say about the Australian servicemen who have been enduring just as great hazards in Malaya and in Borneo at the same time as this has been happening. The honorable member’s remarks were directed to South Vietnam. Everything that has been said in this vein by honorable members opposite has been directed to South Vietnam. I think that, to put the matter in prospective, it is necessary for me to say this: We have Australian servicemen serving in places other than South Vietnam, and they are enduring just as great dangers and giving just as good an account of themselves. I say this in no way to minimise what our troops in South Vietnam are doing. I have tried to bring the matter back into perspective.
Let me deal now with the specific matters that the honorable gentleman raised. First, he made it clear that his remarks were based on views expressed by relatives or friends of soldiers serving in the 105th Field Battery which, as I am sure he knows, has been in South Vietnam for less than three weeks. It is perhaps understandable, therefore, that there are difficulties in relation to mail and that the system which has now become quite well established is not clearly understood by the relatives or friends of the soldiers concerned.
We did have some difficulty with mail in the very early stages after the First Battalion and its supporting troops went to South Vietnam. The honorable gentleman will recall that we had had members of the Australian Army training team in South Vietnam for up to two years prior to that time. We employed the mail system which had worked quite satisfactorily for them for 18 months or two years. In the event, it did not prove to be completely satisfactory and my colleague, the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Hulme), and I took steps to improve the situation. For some time now there has been a daily air mail service from Sydney to Vietnam. Mail posted in Sydney takes an average - we have checked this - three or four days to reach its destination. Coming the other way, there is not a daily service, but there is an air mail service on six days a week. The normal concession postage rate for servicemen serving overseas applies. The honorable gentleman will recall that this is 6d. per half ounce. I say that to discount any fears that he or the people to whom he has been speaking might have about the normal letter service.
He also re. erred to the parcel service. I cannot understand why the high rates that he mentioned have been charged for parcels sent to South Vietnam because that is one place in which Australian troops are serving for which an air mail service is provided for parcels at the normal sea mail parcel rates. It was quite unnecessary for the honorable member’s constituent to send parcels at the air mail rate, which he obviously did in view of the postage rates mentioned.
Having said that, I should like to make lt clear that our troops in South Vietnam are serving in a very different material environment, if I might so term it, from that which existed during the Second World War. It is not necessary for anyone to pay air mail rates to send soap, which I think the honorable member mentioned, socks or things like that to Australian servicemen.
Not only are our troops very well equipped in the sense that their clothing is provided for them and that adequate replacements are available, but also in addition they can obtain, if not free then at very cheap rates, all the amenities which, during the Second World War, were normally provided by amenities organisations. Indeed, the American PX system operates in the camp at Bien Hoa and the other places in which Australian servicemen are located in South Vietnam. Although I realise that many of these attempts to send troops things of this nature are well meaning and are motivated by well meaning considerations, it just is not necessary for people to spend their money in this way. The troops are adequately provided for in relation tq what one might describe as the necessities of life.
The honorable gentleman mentioned the Red Cross, reading matter and amenities in general. May I take this opportunity to do various bodies credit. A large number of organisations in Australia - rotary clubs, the Country Women’s Association and organisations in all places - have approached us and offered to provide comforts and amenities to the troops in South Vietnam. I would like to place on record how much the Army appreciates these gestures, and how much we welcome the offers. What we are saying to these people is that we have two philanthropic organisations - the Salvation Army which has a representative with the unit there and the Red Cross - actually operating in South Vietnam. We suggest to every body which desires to provide comforts and assistance to our servicemen in Vietnam that it channel its help through those two organisations. They are represented on the spot. They know what the troops and the units lack. Therefore, they are in a position to make suggestions as to how these offers can be best channelled. This has been done quite regularly-
– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Speaker, I did not rise to speak on the matter on which the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes) and the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) have spoken. But I could not let the undisguised insult of the Minister for the Army to the Australian Labour Party pass unnoticed. I suppose no more despicable statement has been made in this Parliament for a long time than the statement by the Minister that the Labour Party has no consideration for troops overseas. Let me tell the Minister that had it not been for a Labour Government this country would have been under Japanese domination today. The Minister is a member of the Party that, when it was the Government of that day, marched the cream of Australia’s manhood off ships in Singapore into years of captivity as prisoners of war. That Party, when it was the Government of that day, sent boys ill equipped and unable to face the Japanese because of the downright incompetence of that Government for which the present Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) was thrown out of office by the members of his own Party. Fancy the Minister telling us that he knows what is going on in his own Department. Of course he does not know. Who will ever forget his unforgettable statement to the Returned Servicemen’s League Conference in Hobart when, as Minister for the Army, he said that no conscription was to be introduced into this country? Within two days, the Prime Minister had publicly disowned him and the Government had announced the policy of conscription which was to be introduced. Why, the Prime Minister does not trust the Minister for the Army. He could not tell the Minister the secrets of his own Department. The Minister for the Army was making public pronouncements of what would not happen when, all the time, this decision had been made by Cabinet which was not prepared to tell this juvenile office boy Minister what was happening in his own Department.
The Minister for the Army knows that he has gone from blunder to blunder. Do honorable members remember the night he sat in this House with the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Chaney) and both Ministers were sunk by the torpedoes from this side of the House because of their incompetence in the handling of the Army and Navy portfolios? Today he says that the Labour Party has shown no interest in the serviceman overseas. I would like him to know that during the second world war servicemen abroad elected the Curtin Government with votes from every field of battle because they realised that the only Party in this country prepared to give u the serviceman the things he desired and which were necessary was the Australian Labour Party. Let us remember that in the period from the 1914-18 war to about 1941, the Government, which was of the same ilk as the Government of which the Minister is now a member, never overhauled the Repatriation Act. lt was not until the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) headed a committee which was appointed immediately after the Labour Government came into office, that the great reforms that were necessary in the Act were introduced. Honorable members on the Government side of the Parliament must be the greatest flag wavers in the country. They are always telling the people what they are doing for the soldiers and the ex-servicemen. But they will not grant justice until they know it is absolutely necessary to do so in order to win votes.
Honorable members opposite know as well as I do that they are the guilty men in this country. They sent into battle armies that were ill-equipped and unable to defend Australia at a time when it was necessary to defend it. Tonight when the honorable member for Barton stated in this House that the Government is allowing entertainers to go to Vietnam at their own expense to entertain the men who are prepared to die for their country, the Minister jibed at and insulted the Opposition. He did not mention any of the matters to which I have referred. Neither did he mention, as the late Eddie Ward often did in this House, how in days gone by the Government was prepared to give this country away from the Brisbane line. Honorable members opposite do not like to be reminded of these things. I wonder whether they, and the Minister in particular, will tell us that there are sufficient able bodied men who have been trained by the Army to defend this nation at the present time. I wonder whether he will tell the people of this country that very shortly - and Lord knows what equipment they will use - boys who are being conscripted by the most unjust and unfair method in any democracy in the world are going to be sent to the jungles and the paddy fields of Vietnam to fight for Lord knows what under the fantastic policies of this Government. These are the matters that the Minister attempts to hide when he jibes at members of the Opposition.
I could not let pass unnoticed the sorry record of this Government and the fact that honorable members opposite say that they are the only defenders of servicemen. If a vote were taken of servicemen there is no doubt that they would vote against the Government. If the Government is certain of the votes of the servicemen, why would it not give a vote to the 18 and 20 year old boys who are being dragged away from their homes? Honorable members opposite know that the Government will not give them a vote because they object to the defence policy of the Government and would vote against the Menzies administration. Therefore, when the Minister speaks of what the Government is doing for servicemen and how the Labour Government neglected them, let him take his mind back a little. I understand that he was a rather distinguished serviceman. The Labour Government made possible his survival and that of countless thousands of men who fought in the Services. I do not think that these matters should pass unnoticed.
If the Minister wants to make cheap jibes, let us take him back over the record of his Government. Let us go back to 1939 and 1941 when the present Prime Minister was the only Prime Minister in the British Commonwealth to be thrown out of office in wartime because he could not save the nation. Who will ever forget that in the war years a government of the political ilk of the present Government was voted out of office by its own supporters because of its neglect of servicemen at home and abroad and of the defence of this country? I can hear the jibes of honorable members opposite who sit on the back benches. These are grim stories of which they do not like to be reminded. There are a few skeletons in the cupboard. They are as old as the hills. But people do not forget that the supporters of the Government today have the same political point of view as that which would have placed this country in the hands of the Japanese.
Let us remember the fact that, when we on this side of the House appealed to America for assistance, we were called disloyal for turning our back on Great Britain which at that time was sorely pressed. Today honorable members opposite say that they are the great patriots, the defenders of servicemen and the only people who are prepared to look after their welfare. Every member on the Government side is aware that most of the time the Minister does not know what is happening in his Department. What has he done about the shoddy equipment that is being given to the troops in Vietnam? What has he done to the firms concerned and those who are responsible for ordering the equipment? Lord knows whether they have the proper equipment there to defend themselves. I will say now that the Minister is probably not revealing to this Parliament the full extent of the casualties in Vietnam. The Government is keeping from the Australian people what is happening. The Minister knows as well as I do that the Government’s policy abroad, particularly in Vietnam, is shrouded in mystery. I cannot understand why Australian troops are conscripted to fight in Vietnam, but this Government will evidently send Australian troops anywhere, without the security of treaty arrangements, will let them serve under foreign command if necessary, and will accept minimum responsibility for their welfare.
The Minister for the Army would be better occupied in gaining the trust of the Prime Minister, finding out what is happening in the Department of the Army and seeing that our troops abroad get proper equipment and adequate rates of pay. Instead he has skimmed over the matters raised by the honorable member for Barton and has tried to make the people think that all is well. He should have tried to answer the questions raised by the honorable member, which were founded on fact and on reports which had come to the honorable member, and which were submitted by him sincerely in the interests of the men serving in Vietnam and on behalf of his constituents. If honorable members opposite have anything to say in defence of the Minister, let them get up and say it instead of remaining dumb. Let them tell us why they or their predecessors were prepared to give the country away and to condemn men to prisoner-of-war camps during the war years. Let them say why they are not now prepared to provide proper entertainment facilities for the men serving in Vietnam and why they prefer to bide behind the insults that they have offered to members of the Opposition.
.- If there was any reason for criticism of the remarks of the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes), who spoke immediately before the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), his remarks were mild compared with the jibes we have heard from the honorable member for Grayndler. He has talked about what the Labour Party did in the last war and about how the Labour Party saved Australia then. He has given one of the most astounding speeches I have heard. I was under the impression that it was the fighting troops that saved this country. Some of those who now talk most did least then. The honorable member makes cheap jibes and asks the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) questions about whether he will go to Vietnam. Let the honorable member for Grayndler look at himself in the mirror every morning and ask similar question*. The people of Australia admire the courage that permits a man to confront someone of the same age and challenge him to do something, but they frequently regard as a coward somebody who has skulked behind what be speaks of as responsibilities and yet accuses people of greater age who have done much more and whom he will never be able to touch in prowess.
The honorable member for Grayndler referred to what the Minister for the Army said in reply to the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds). The honorable member for Barton referred - perhaps with justification - to a communication he had received from a constituent who complained about the cost of sending a couple of cakes of soap and a tube of toothpaste to a soldier stationed outside Saigon. She also complained that she could not find out how long it took for a parcel to get there or why it should cost £1 18s. 6d. to send a fruit cake. She said that this soldier could not get any books. I suppose the honorable member did not intend to raise doubts in the minds of the parents of all the other men serving in the area. I suppose he did not intend to raise the matter on the motion for the adjournment with the object of having it reported in all the newspapers of Australia. But, before bringing the matter into this Parliament did he approach the
Minister for the Army or the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Hulme), as I think any honorable member in normal circumstances would have done? That is the usual course for members to follow. They raise a matter in the Parliament only when they have not got from a Minister a satisfactory answer to their complaints. It is interesting to see what various honorable members opposite are doing to maintain the morale of our troops abroad, to raise the morale of their parents and to raise - perhaps intentionally - disquiet among the parents of our troops and other people who take an interest in our forces serving in Vietnam.
We find the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) being written up in the local talent sheet, the “ Guardian “, as having addressed an anti-conscription rally. Very good. Of course, the “ Guardian “ approved of it and gave him a good Press. We find that the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) has written a book on Vietnam which is advertised in the “Guardian” as a book which should be read by thousands. The “ Guardian “ states that if 12s. is sent to its office it will send out 12 copies of the book post free, but I will bet the appendage is not included. The honorable member for Grayndler talked about shoddy equipment and all the things our soldiers have not got and about their being sent into areas ill equipped and without sufficient support in all the things they need. Why the devil does not the honorable member go to Vietnam and have a look for himself as other honorable members on both sides of this House have done? If he did so it would give him some cause to keep his clacking tongue quiet, allow the people of this country to do the things that are necessary, allow our troops to serve with the backing of the people in the things they need, and allow the troops to do the job which it is essential for them to do.
Now that the subject has been raised, I have no doubt that, within itself, the Labour Party is not happy about what some of its members are doing. Ask the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Gray) whether he is confident that when the troops go to Townsville he will get 100 per cent, of their votes. Ask other honorable members opposite, such as the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson), whether they agree with the attitude of some of the more verbal members of the Labour Party on these matters. It will be found that although those honorable members genuinely - and perhaps with some justification - may not agree entirely with what is being done and the method by which it is being done, they deprecate this knocking of our troops and the effect it has on the parents and relations of the men who are serving in most difficult areas, about which we, in this chamber, have very little realistic idea.
If honorable members opposite want to undermine the morale of the people at home they are going about it in the most effective way possible. I contend that what the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes) said was realistic. I think the Labour Party should well re-examine its policy and it may then, at some election in the far distant future, gain office.
– Mr. Speaker, I claim to have been misrepresented by the honorable member for La Trobe (Mr.Jess). He compared my war record with that of the Prime Minister. Let me say that my war record is exactly as good as the Prime Minister’s.
– Order! The honorable member is out of order.
.- The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) in a moderate speech this evening brought before the House some complaints made to him by the relatives of troops serving in South Vietnam. The honorable member spoke very moderately and said he had been unable to verify the statements made to him by those relatives. He asked the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes) to answer the questions that he posed.
– Why did he not write a letter? He just wanted cheap publicity.
– The Minister for the Army, in an egotistical, uninterested and high-handed manner did not attempt, in the first five minutes of his speech, to answer any of the questions posed by the honorable member for Barton. He used the typical strategy of the Red-baiters on the other side of the House. He accused the honorable member for Barton of raising this matter in order to interfere with the morale of our troops in Vietnam, and he stated that the Australian Labour Party members had never shown any interest in Australia’s overseas troops until such time as troops went to Vietnam.
The Minister for the Army has never made a great mark since he has been in this House. If he cares to read tomorrow the things that were said about him by the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) he will see that his record is not one of which he can be particularly proud. He accused the honorable member for Barton of bringing this matter up in order to interfere with the morale of our troops in Vietnam. He said that the Australian Labour Party is not interested in our troops. In all of the small wars that have taken place since the 1939-45 war Australian Labour Party members in this House have, on every occasion that a complaint or objection has been brought before them, raised it in this House. If the Minister cares to study “ Hansard “ he will see that members of the Labour Party have spoken in similar vein about our troops in Malaya and about our troops in Korea. It is of interest to note the attitude of Government supporters on these issues, particularly that of members like the honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess) who has only one thought in his mind and that is to vilify every member of the Opposition. The honorable member for Bowman (Dr. Gibbs), I think, is interjecting.
– I did not interject.
– Order! The honorable member for Bowman did not interject.
– I was the one who interjected.
– The honorable member for Denison is now in a position where he can afford to sit back and make a laughing stock of the Parliament. He does not even need to go out to work, because he is going to marry a millionairess. There is not need for him to be serious in this place because he can afford to live on his wife to be. This the attitude–
Motion (by Mr. Kelly) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 22
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.49 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated -
m asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
Amendments of uniform Companies Act.
Draft legislation authorising the probation and parole officers of one State to act in aid of their counterparts in other States in the rehabilitation of persons convicted of crime.
Uniform law of domicile.
son asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
S, 6, 7, 8. As the appointment and regulation of notaries public in the States is not a subject for Commonwealth legislation there are no Commonwealth records as to the numbers or locations of notaries public in the various States and the Commonwealth does not have information on whether there are sufficient notaries to meet public convenience. In relation to the Australian Capital Territory, the drafting of legislation to provide for the appointment of notaries public by the Supreme Court is in hand.
Travel Facilities for Members of Parliament.
– On 18th August 1965, the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) asked me, without notice, a question relating to travel facilities for Members of Parliament to visit New Zealand. In reply I said that this was a matter to which I had been and was giving particular attention. 1 can now inform the honorable member that the Government’ has decided that travel warrants issued to senators and members may be used to cover travel to New Zealand under conditions similar to and supplementary to those under which they are available for travel between Australia and New Guinea.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 20 October 1965, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1965/19651020_reps_25_hor48/>.