25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. ACTING SPEAKER (Mr. Lucock) took the chair at 2.30 p,m., and read prayers.
– 1 desire to ask the Prime Minister a question. Doss he yet know that buildings have been erected in South Vietnam for the arrival of a third battalion of Australian troops? -Does he yet know that military advisers of his Government are preparing plans for the despatch of a third battalion of Australian troops? Does he yet know that General Westmoreland, the commander of the American forces in Vietnam, has asked when the third battalion will arrive? Does he yet know that Mr. Clark, the Ambassador of the United States of America - a distinguished Ambassador - has said that the next step in the American campaign will be the bombing of dams and canals? If he does not know any of these things, what does he know about the war in Vietnam and Australia’s commitments thereto? When will he be honest enough to tell the Australian people what his Government plans to do in regard to the escalation of the war in that unhappy country?
– The honorable gentleman makes what is in effect a scries of assertions. I do not know the source of the statements that he makes.
– What do you know?
– I do know that decisions as to Australian forces in Vietnam or anywhere else are decisions taken by this Government. When this Government takes such decisions it will announce them.
– I ask the Minister for Health a question regarding a statement made by Dr. Lindell, Chairman of the Hospitals and Charities Commission of Victoria, that the Australian Government should pay public hospitals the same allowance for pensioners attending an outpatient department as is now paid to medical practitioners under the pensioner medical service. Was not the pensioner medical service introduced in order to save, specifically, pensioners from having to go to the outpatient departments of public hospitals by being attended in their own homes or in the surgeries of local doctors? Has not the pensioner medical service been responsible for considerably reducing the pressure on the outpatient departments of public hospitals, both in costs and in time?
– [ believe that what the honorable member for Isaacs says is broadly correct. 1 have no doubt that the introduction of the pensioner medical service has greatly assisted in reducing pressures on outpatient departments and therefore on the finances of hospitals. 1 make the point that the object of the pensioner medical service is specifically to relieve pensioners of the responsibility of meeting the expense of medical attention. Traditionally, outpatient services in public hospitals in Australia are provided free of charge to pensioners. In those circumstances, therefore, it could be of no benefit whatsoever to the pensioner if the Government were to provide a payment for the rendering of medical services at outpatients departments.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for the Interior. In view of the large percentage of informal votes which are normally cast at elections and the new system adopted for the filling of a casual vacancy in the Senate which will be used for the first time at the elections in November, I ask: Can any arrangements be made or will they be made by the Commonwealth Electoral Officer for widespread publicity to be given on television, radio and in the Press to the method of voting and the need to place a number in every square to record a formal vote?
– It has been the practice of the Commonwealth Electoral Office in recent years to use publicity to encourage people to understand the electoral system and to cast a forma! and intelligent vo’e. The honorable member mentions that publicity should be given to the new form of voting for filling a casual vacancy in the Senate. This system is new only in the way that it applies when one casual vacancy is to be filled. In that event the ballot paper will be similar to the one used for elections to the House of Representatives. It will be a straight out preferential vote with all the names in one column. However, where more than one vacancy is to be filled, the ballot paper will be similar to that used in a normal Senate election. We can encourage people to cast a formal vote by telling them how the system works, but I am afraid it is the responsibility of political parties to excite interest and to sell their story if they are to have a considered and intelligent vote.
– Is the Minister for Trade and Industry aware that Australian designed textile furnishing prints are being copied by textile printers in Hong Kong and Malaysia, presumably at the request of Australian importers? As this unfair competition is damaging the market created by Australian textile printers, a market incidentally which is not protected by tariff duties, will the Minister have his department investigate the matter with a view to stopping the importation of textile prints that are copies of original Australian designs? I should add that samples of the fabrics being original productions of Silk and Textile Printers Ltd. of Hobart and imported fabrics which are copies of the Australian originals are available here for the Minister to see.
– I had not known of this situation until today when I had put before me samples of a product of Silk and Textile Printers Ltd., of Hobart, a very competent firm in this field and a firm which, without the benefit of local tariff protection, is exporting its products widely to various parts of the world and even to Italy. That must establish it as a very competent firm.
I have had put before me a printed furnishing fabric made in Hobart by this company and an almost precise copy of the material printed in Hong Kong. Similarly, I had another product printed in Hobart and one from Malaysia which seemed to me to be a photographic copy of the Hobart product. This is a very reprehensible state of affairs. I have asked my Department to study the facts closely and to consult the Crown Solicitor’s Office as to what may be done.
I assure the honorable member and the company concerned that the Government will not accept this situation without taking some step. I do not know yet what the legal position is, but I will be informed of it. However, I do make the observation that the powers of this Parliament do not extend to taking action against those who may do the copying in another country. The disabilities of whatever step may be taken will become obvious when such disabilities are visited upon the importer of the product.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Is he aware of a report in the American magazine “ Newsweek “ of 22nd August which states that two surveys, one made by the Pentagon and the other by the United States Marine Corps Commander in Vietnam, Wallace Greene, reveal that a minimum of 750,000 U.S. troops would be needed in Vietnam to pacify the Vietnamese people, and the period of time needed to achieve this would be 6 to 10 years at an anticipated cost of 100.000 U.S. lives? In view of the Prime Ministers policy of “ All the way with L.B.J.”, will the right honorable gentleman tell the Parliament and the nation the anticipated number of Australian soldiers to be committed to Vietnam, and the anticipated number of casualties?
Government supporters. - Oh.
– That is a fair question.
– I have no doubt that the Opposition regards it as a fair question. I think most people will realise that it is an absurd question. It is based on a magazine account which is not authenticated and has no authoritative base, and the honorable member who puts it then proceeds to ask what Australia will do in a series of hypothetical circumstances.
– What is your policy?
– The honorable gentleman knows our policy. It is to join with other friendly forces in resisting Communist aggression in South Vietnam. What is the policy of the honorable gentleman? Opposition members throw a taunt about “ All the way with L.B.J.”. Their policy is: “ Run the other way with the A.L.P.”. That is the Opposition’s policy in South Vietnam. What support is the Opposition giving to the resistance of Communist aggression in that country?
– Order ! The honorable member for Reid, who is interjecting, will resume his seat. I warn the honorable member for Reid. I remind the House that we are now in question lime, which is arranged so that honorable members may ask questions and receive answers.
– And answers should be given.
– Order! The honorable member for Eden-Monaro has been in this House long enough to know the Standing Orders. If he does not obey men 1 will take action. I suggest that honorable members remember that this is question time. I feel that the Prime Minister should have been given the opportunity lo reply without hindrance to the question asked by the honorable member for Hunter. I suggest that interjections from the left of the chamber did not give the Prime Minister the opportunity to do so. 1 suggest also that the House come to order. If question time is to proceed honorable members should obey the Standing Orders.
– I direct a question to the Minister for the Army. Is he in a position to inform the House as to whether statements to the effect that national servicemen in Vietnam are being pressured into joining the Regular Army are correct? If he is unaware of the statements will he immediately investigate the allegation made in them? If he finds the statements are correct will he take steps to prevent any further pressuring?
– I have made some inquiries about this matter and according to the information available to me there is certainly no attempt on the part of the Regular Army to pressure national servicemen into joining the Regular Army during or at the end of their term of service. If the honorable member has any particular instance in which be thinks this has happened, I will certainly have that investigated also. I point out that the Army wants willing recruits; recruits who are attracted to Army life and by the conditions and the opportunities available within the Army. It is certainly our hope that, because they are such good soldiers, some of the national servicemen, including some who become officers after a course at the officer training unit, will decide that the Army offers a life worth pursuing as a career, and that at some time during their service they will decide to transfer to the Regular Army. But 1 believe and I suggest that any national serviceman who at any time considers making such a decision should leave it until some time towards the end of his two year term of service. I know that this is the view taken by the Army itself and that there is even some discouragement of persons who indicate that they wish to make an early decision, so that they may take full opportunity to learn as much of the Army as they can before they decide to transfer. Since we do want recruits, especially those who like the life in the Army, obviously the career opportunities that are available within the Army are pointed out to as many people as possible, not only within the Army but outside it as well. However there is no evidence of pressure of any kind being brought to bear.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister, ls it a fact that the right honorable gentleman proposes to bring down a supplementary Budget before the Parliament is dissolved, for the purpose of correcting the situation resulting from the decline in the value of war pensions as compared with the Commonwealth basic wage? Does not the Prime Minister believe that the pension for totally and permanently incapacitated exservicemen should be at least equal to the basic wage, that the 100 per cent, war pension - the general rate pension - should be half the basic wage and that this rate should also apply to pensions for war widows? Finally, is the Prime Minister aware that the general rate war pension has declined in value to such an extent that it is now lower in value than it was in 1 949?
– There is no intention to introduce a supplementary Budget, as suggested by the honorable member. The provision by this Government for various repatriation services compares favorably. I suggest, with any scheme operating in any other country. In the preparation of every Budget the Government has carried out a very careful and sympathetic review of the various aspects of our repatriation scheme, and the honorable member knows that some adjustments have been made in the Budget recently presented. Those adjustments represent the sum of The additional provision it is proposed to make this year.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. In view of the continuing anti-religious and anti-Semitic discriminatory practices by the Soviet Union and its failure to allow religious freedom to Jewish and other religious orders, will the Prime Minister assure the House that this Government regards racial discrimination as intolerable and that Australia will continue its efforts in the United Nations to condemn strongly and to oppose religious suppression?
– As the honorable member knows, the Australian Government has shown deep concern for the welfare of the Jewish people.
– I take a point of order, Mr. Acting Speaker. If this is a question without notice. 1 direct your attention to the fact that the Prime Minister is reading from a document.
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– I was saying that the honorable gentleman knows that the Australian Government has shown deep concern for the welfare of the Jewish people and about their treatment in the Soviet Union. Australian sympathy, as expressed by our representatives at the United Nations in previous Assemblies, is well known, and I am sure that the honorable member appreciates that Australia has played a vital part in urging upon the Soviet Union a policy of religious tolerance and non-discrimination against the Jewish minority. I understand it is possible that the matter could arise in some form in discussion in the General Assembly. I will take an early opportunity to discuss the matter with my colleague, the Acting Minister for External Affairs. The honorable gentleman may be assured that his concern for the welfare of the Jewish people and his advocacy on their behalf will be kept fully in mind by the Government.
– is the Minister for Trade and Industry aware of a statement made by Mr. J. L. Shute, Chairman of the Australian Meat Board, that overseas shipping lines won a major victory over exporters of refrigerated cargoes when the Meat Board reluctantly agreed to accept a JO per cent, increase in freight rates on meat exports to the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe? Is the increase the result of standover tactics by the overseas shipping monopolies? Have these monopolies indicated to exporters that if they do not agree to the new freight rates, contracts to carry cargoes will not be entered into next year? Have they said, in effect: “ Pay our price or get your exports to market the best way you can.”? In the light of Mr. Shute’s statement what is the Government doing to break this stranglehold on Australian trade by these overseas pirates? Will the Government establish an Australian overseas shipping line so that this monopoly may be broken immediately and freight rates stabilised?
– 1 have explained to the House a number of times that there was a time when the Government stood ready to enter into discussions between Australian shipper interests and the shipping lines on the matter of freights. In 1956 the combined organisations of shipper interests decided that they wanted to conduct their own negotiations. This is their prerogative. It is their property that is being shipped.
– It is Australia’s property.
– It is not. The wheat and the wool are the property of the man who grows them. They are not the Government’s property. The view expressed by the honorable member for Lalor is the Socialist view.
– lt is the right view.
– Here we have the philosophic difference between the Opposition and the Government parties. The produce is the property of those who produce it. They, through their organisations, have negotiated a formula to determine freights. The formula was negotiated freely by them with the shipping interests. It has applied since 1956. lt was my responsibility at that time to say that the exporters were acting in their own right in this regard but if they were to pit themselves in negotiation against the great shipping companies, I and the Government would like to feel that they were well equipped to enter into these negotiations. The Government put up a good many thousands of pounds to see that these organised shipper interests had a capacity for unitary organisation. We equipped .he Federal Exporters Oversea Transport Committee with a secretariat and funds to finance its operations, lt is out of that arrangement that current freight rales have ‘-.en determined.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral a question. Complaints have been made in the bayside suburbs of Melbourne that letters take an undue lime to be delivered. Will the Minister inform me whether this is due to letters being sent to Melbourne for sorting and returned to an adjacent post office, time for delivery often taking from 3.15 p.m. Friday until Monday? Or is the delay caused by the great volume of second class mail dealt with? If the delay is caused by the volume of second class mail, could this mail be again classed as second class with a suitable reduction in rales, thus allowing quicker handling of first class mail?
– I think that any recent problem in Melbourne is not duc to the volume of second class mail. In fact, in general terms. Melbourne suburbs ure well served wilh a very fast service for the sorting and delivery of mail. However, on the last two Fridays, because of the incidence of illness in the Melbourne Mail Exchange, it has not been possible to clear all the mail on Friday evening, lt. has had to bc left over and this has caused the delay that the honorable member has mentioned.
– 1 ask the PostmasterGeneral: ls it a fact that the Australian Broadcasting Commission is seeking a new musical theme for its news broadcasts? Moreover, is it true that the Commission has invited members of the Australian Composers Society to submit compositions? May I ask the Minister for an assurance that all composers throughout Australia, irrespective of their membership of any society, will be given the opportunity to provide the theme music for the A.B.C. news services?
– 1 have no doubt that the Australian Broadcasting Commission, if it has asked on a broad basis for compositions for any particular use, will properly consider any composition submitted to it by anybody.
– My question is addressed to you. Mr. Acting Speaker. I refer to an article by Mr. Ian Fitchett in the “Sydney Morning Herald” of yesterday which chiefly concerns the Minister for the Army, Mr. Malcolm Fraser. It states that Mr. Fraser shares with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Whitlam, the honour of being the tallest man in the Commonwealth Parliament.
– Mr. Acting Speaker, I rise to order. What has this to do with the administration of the Parliament?
– Order! The honorable member for Mallee may proceed.
– The Australian Country Party has a challenger.
– I take a point of order. I suggest that the honorable member is misquoting the article and that what it stated was that the Minister for the Army and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition were the two brainiest men in the Parliament.
– Order! I call the honorable member for Mallee to proceed with his question.
– The Australian Country Party has a challenger for this honour in the person of the honorable member for Gwydir, Mr. Ian Allan. I ask: Will you. Mr. Acting Speaker, provide accurate measuring equipment so that the claim on behalf of Mr. Allan may be proven?
– I rise to order, Mr. Acting Speaker. That is a nonsensical question and an insult to the House. I ask you to rule it out of order.
– 1 rise to order.
– Order! The question asked by the honorable member for Mallee. 1 would say, has nothing to do with the Speaker or whoever may be acting for him. I suggest that the honorable member wait for a frosty morning and take the three members concerned out to see whose ears get cold quickest.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral a question relating to section 92 of the Broadcasting and Television Act, which limits a person to the control of no more than two commercial television stations. I ask: Is it correct that this limitation of control is proving to be an obstacle to the establishment of low power commercial stations in remote areas of Australia where there are concentrations of population? If so, will the Minister arrange to have the Act amended so as to remove or ease the limitation of control for low power stations in such areas? If not, why not?
– The present provision in the Broadcasting and Television Act relating to the control of television stations was introduced some 12 or 18 months ago to overcome what were seen on both sides of the Parliament, I believe, as real problems. It is said that section 92 has affected some areas with small, concentrated populations by causing some of those who control one or two licences not to be prepared to seek a licence in these areas of smaller population. la point of fact, we have been unable to get applications for licences for television stations in some such areas. In some other districts for which licences have been proposed, a request for applications to be lodged has not yet been made, because those areas are at present under investigation by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, which will make inquiries before it advises me or the Government. It is not my intention to recommend to the Government any alteration to that particular section because I believe that as it stands the Act broadens the ownership of television licences in Australia to the extent that is desirable.
– My question, which is directed to the Prime Minister, relates to the recent very important appeal by Pope Paul for world peace. I ask whether it has been brought to the right honorable gentleman’s notice that leaders in our community have seen fit to take this message out of its true context and that they have purposely avoided the passage which reads: “ but this peace must rest on justice and liberty of mankind and take into account the rights of individuals and communities. Otherwise it will be shifting and unstable.” Will the Prime Minister emphasise to the people of Australia, and to the Leader of the Opposition, that these sentiments expressed bv Pope Paul are also the strong and determined views of this Government?
– I can confirm that the passage quoted by the honorable gentleman appears in the full statement of the appeal for peace which was made by Pope Paul. I am sure all members on this side of the House welcomed that appeal. This Government has joined in supporting the moves repeatedly made by the United States of America to bring about peaceful negotiations in relation to Vietnam, and I am quite certain that His Holiness the Pope has a very real concern for the substantial Roman Catholic community in South Vietnam which is threatened by Communist aggression.
– He wants peace. You want war.
– We want peace, just as he wants peace. We also believe, as he does, in liberty and justice for free men and in resisting any aggression that would threaten that liberty and that justice.
– 1 address to the Prime Minister a question which, in its first part, is supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Phillip, and in answering which the right honorable gentleman expressed very commendable concern for the plight of the Jews in Russia. Will the right honorable gentleman explain why his Government has failed to take any action to protect the rights of Israel, a country which deserves the greatest possible support, to use the Suez Canal? Why, in fact, has the Australian Government failed in any way to extend the services of Qantas Empire Airways Ltd. to Israel? Why has it allowed itself to surrender to oppression? Why does not the Government’s concern for the Jews of the world extend to doing something practical to help them? Secondly, and supplementary to the question in answer to which the Prime Minister expressed his views about justice to all men-
– This is a speech.
– It is a good question and a good speech.
– Order! The honorable member for Wills will resume his seat.
– Mr. Acting Speaker, do you rule the honorable member’s question to be out of order?
– I would remind the Leader of the Opposition that the honorable member for Wills has admitted that he was making a speech.
– Mr. Acting Speaker, I think you should reconsider your decision and allow the honorable member’s question, up to the point where he spoke about a speech, to be answered by the Minister concerned.
– 1 ask the honorable member for Wills to direct his question.
– The second part of my question refers to the right honorable gentleman’s remarks about justice for all men. Will he add his efforts to those of others who are trying to bring justice to the Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory in the present wages dispute there?
– Dealing with the second part of the honorable gentleman’s question first, I point out that it is the policy of this Government to have these industrial questions resolved by the appropriate tribunal and for the Government to give its support to the tribunal when a decision has been made. That remains our policy. As to the first part of the question, it is of course a quite unwarranted reflection upon the consistent attitude of governments from this side of politics to deny our friendship with the people of Israel. Relations between our two countries have been warm and cordial and there have been repeated references by distinguished spokesmen for the Israeli Government - diplomatic representatives and others - to the appreciation felt for Australia’s continuing and practical friendship for Israel. This Government maintains that same attitude of friendship. I think I am correct in saying that there is a forest in Israel named after my distinguished predecessor as a mark of respect-
– There is one named after Dr. Evatt. One is named after me, too.
– I am sure that that one is thickly wooded.
– In addressing my question to the Minister for Labour and National Service I refer to a statement in the Press attributed to the Leader of the Opposition to the effect that the latest figures issued by the Commonwealth Government show a definite decline in employment. I ask the Minister: Is this correct?
– I did happen to see the statement in the Press attributed to the Leader of the Opposition and it seemed to me to deal not with the unemployment figures themselves but with his own interpretation of them. I understand from the statement that he was dealing with seasonal adjustments to these figures.
– That is right.
– If seasonal adjustments did in fact contain mainly a constant element from year to year and were not unduly affected, as for the most part they are by many non-recurring factors - I have looked at this matter pretty closely over a long period of years and I know this to be the position - there would be much greater value in them. Seasonal adjustments, when used by people who understand their meaning and who at the same time discount the other factors involved after careful study, are very useful but in the hands of the Leader of the Opposition, whom one could hardly regard, even in the most generous spirit, as an informed person in this respect-
– You deliberately misrepresented the position and I corrected you.
– I gave the figures.
– Of course you did, cooked figures.
– Order! The Leader of the Opposition will come to order.
– That is an extraordinary statement for the Leader of the Opposition to make, that the employment figures were in fact cooked. I was asked by the honorable member for Parramatta to deal with the interpretation of these statistics by the Leader of the Opposition. I have suggested that he has produced a very contorted interpretation. However, I should like to mention some of the things which have happened, to put the current figures in perspective. To look at these matters properly we must consider a lengthy period, so J inform the House that for the 10 year period from 1957 to 1966 the average number of unfilled vacancies for August was 29,200. In August 1966 there were 37.432 unfilled vacancies. The number of unfilled vacancies was in fact higher in three years - 1960. 1964 and J 965. The average number of persons registered as unemployed for August in the same 10 year period was 60.516. This August the figure was 54,279 - a lower figure except for the four years 1957, 1960, 1964 and 1965. These figures are, of course, interpreted in different ways. Some of (he better known seasonal adjustments are those of Dr. Hall, who has made a remarkable contribution in this field. I do not know how Dr. Hall would interpret his own seasonal figures in relation to other special factors existing at this particular time. Not long ago I read an interesting article of his in which he seemed to foreshadow that in the first half of next year there might emerge a considerable degree of inflationary pressure. There are others of considerable status outside official circles who think the same wave there are still others who think differently and suggest that some kind of stimulus is required. One thing seems fairly certain; that if a sharp stimulus were applied to the labour market in its present position it would not be very long before we had some pretty chaotic and difficult economic circumstances to deal with. I instance what could occur should our supply of overseas capital fall off rapidly. We should indeed need higher savings from our own people in those circumstances. I deplore the effort on the part of the Leader of the Opposition to spread gloom and depression, obviously with the idea of creating what he hopes will bc a favorable situation for himself at the end of November, when, however, he will be bitterly disappointed.
– Will the Minister for Shipping and Transport act on the report in which the Chairman of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission, Captain Williams, states that ships of the Australian National Line could profitably carry cargoes to overseas ports? Will the Minister allow the National Line to expand its limited role in overseas trade so that the greater proportion of the profits now being earned by foreign ship owners can be retained in Australia?
– If the honorable gentleman had read the report carefully he would have seen that Captain Williams referred to participation - and f emphasise that he used the word “ participation “ - in bulk cargoes overseas. Again, if the honorable gentleman had read the report carefully he would have seen that the Australian National Line already has carried out several voyages overseas during the past year wilh the “ Jeparit “ and, more recently, the “ Talinga “ carrying cargoes of steel. These voyages were quite apart from the overseas voyages the National Line undertook for the Australian Army. The Broken Hil! Pty. Co. Ltd. has also transported coal cargoes from Gladstone to Japan in Australian registered ships. The opportunities are being studied constantly and as they occur advantage will be taken of them.
– I address a question to the Minister for National Development concerning allegations made mainly by members of the Opposition that mineral deposits being developed in Australia are owned to an excessive extent by overseas interests. Can the Minister inform honorable members whether he has noticed any marked difference between the present Government’s policy and the policy of the Labour Government during the time it was in office? I cannot remember when it was, but during that time.
– The honorable gentleman has raised a most interesting point, because it seems to me that the Australian Labour Party has one poiicy on overseas ownership when it is in Opposition and a quite different poiicy on it when it is in office.
– For instance?
– I will give the Leader of the Opposition some instances if he will wait a moment. We are all interested in seeing Labour Premiers going overseas and welcoming capital - in fact, searching out capital and offering concessions to people to persuade them to come to Australia to develop areas. In regard to the development of iron ore resources, I can say that I have seen no difference at all in the approach of the Western Australian Liberal-Country Party Government and the Tasmanian Labour Government. In fact, Mr. Reece, the Labour Premier of Tasmania, pressed me very strongly indeed to allow a company that was almost wholly overseas owned to develop the Savage River iron ore deposits after locals were unable to carry out this development. As the honorable gentleman has asked me to give him instances, it is interesting to remind him that it was a Labour Government in Western Australia that just before the war gave concessions to four Japanese companies to develop the Yampi iron ore deposits. There was to be no Australian equity of any sort and there were no provisions for processing of any sort. The royalty was not 6s. 6d. a ton as it is now; it was to be 3d. a ton. The ore was to be extracted at a rate of 10 million tons per annum. This would have meant that the entire deposits in Yampi would disappear in 15 years.
– In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1965, I present the report relating to the following proposed work -
Development at Royal Australian Navy Armament Depot, Kingswood, New South Wales.
I ask for leave to make a short statement in connection with the report.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– This proposal is to be carried out in two stages. The need for the work has been created by the requirement to handle increased supplies of conventional ammunition and explosives for a growing fleet, but more particularly by the use of more sophisticated weapon systems in newly acquired ships, such as the Charles F. Adams destroyers and the Type 12 antisubmarine frigates. The introduction of Tartar and Seacat sea to air missiles and the Ikara system requires additional store space and provision for examination, testing, assembly and repair facilities. This in turn is causing a growth in staff for which additional administrative and amenities facilities are needed.
Stage I of the work includes extension to messing facilities, a new mechanical workshop for maintenance and repair work, three category “Z” stores for the storage of ammunition and explosives with a mass explosive risk, one store for non-explosive components and an appliance shed. It is expected that this stage will be completed within 18 months and that concurrently Stage II will be commenced. Stage II will provide further extension of office and changeroom accommodation, two more category “Z” stores and one laboratory area store. It is also proposed to build five three-bedroom houses for married staff, a new mess room and store for empty packages. The estimated cost of the proposals as referred to the Committee was $790,000. The Committee recommends the construction of the works in this reference.
Ordered that the report be printed.
Motion (by Mr. Fairbairn) agreed to -
That Government business shall take precedence over general business tomorrow.
Consideration resumed from 20th September (vide page 1085).
Department of Housing.
Proposed expenditure, $4,457,000.
– I wish to refer to several aspects of the homes savings grant scheme. I first refer to the manner in which the publication issued by the Department of Housing has misled applicants for this grant. This matter was mentioned last night by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Holten) in a speech that suggested some alterations in the Act itself. The honorable member expressed surprise that the matter had nol been raised previously. I would point out that I raised this matter with the Department as long ago as November of last year. The official booklet issued by the Department, entitled “ A Grant for Your Home “, makes it abundantly clear that, in order to be eligible for a grant, a young couple, qualified in other ways, must be married. At page 5, under the heading “ Who is Eligible for a Grant? “, the very first condition laid down is -
To be eligible for a grant, a person must be married;
Then, at page 14, under the heading “ What Information Must be Submitted with the Application?”, the booklet states -
The completed application form must bc accompanied by the marriage certificate of the applicant, or a copy issued by a Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages;
As honorable members know, a grant cannot be approved if the application is delayed for more than 12 months after the date on which a contract to buy or sell is entered into or the date on which the applicant himself commences to build. Many young couples have been deprived of their entitlement to a homes savings grant simply because of the failure of the Department of Housing to provide the information publicly that people can apply when they are about to marry. This is still the only official booklet that is available to applicants; this is the booklet that is provided to applicants. lt may be in process of revision; it may be that a new edition is to be published. But young people who seek information about housing secure this booklet and it makes it abundantly clear that to be eligible they must be married and that the application form must be accompanied by the marriage certificate or a certified copy of it. lt is true that since early this year the Department of Housing has been accepting applications from people who are about to marry, but that information has not been made generally known. Many young couples have missed out, some by only a few days, because they were not married within the 12 months from the ending of the savings period or the date on which the contract was entered into. One young couple contacted me this year. The husband wrote to me, and I will summarise his letter in these terms. He said - 1 began courting my wife in January 1964. T purchased the leasehold to our block of land in lune J964, placed the foundations to our house in April 1965, became engaged to my wife in June 1965 and we were married in May 1966, at which lime we moved into the house. The house is still only 91 per cent, complete and is without floor coverings or any furniture.
It is obvious that the $500 as a homes savings grant would have been extremely valuable to that couple. But, because they were married in May 1966, after having entered into a contract or commenced to build their home in April 1965, they were beyond the limit of 12 months and denied the grant. They did not know that it was possible to lodge an application before they were married. They wrote to the Department of Housing about this. The Department wrote back saying that the Act laid down certain requirements and did not permit the payment of a grant in their case. The Department said -
In your particular case, a grant cannot be paid because the application was not lodged within 12 months of the date construction of the home commenced, the maximum time limit permitted under section 21 (1.) (c) of the Act. There is no way in which this condition can be varied.
I ask you, Mr. Deputy Chairman, to note that the letter from the Department goes on to say -
The points raised in your letter have been taken into consideration but it is felt that adequate publicity has been given to this aspect of the scheme by myself and the parliamentary member for the A.C.T. in public statements during November last.
This is an official letter from the Department of Housing to an applicant couple. I appreciate the compliment, but whilst the 83 per cent, who hear my telecast and broadcast would know of this advantage, the 17 per cent, who do not have the opportunity to hear them miss out. It is not sufficient for the Department to say that “ adequate publicity has been given to this by myself “ - that is, the writer of the letter in the Department - “ and by the parliamentary member for the A.C.T.”. It is not sufficient for a Government Department to write in that way. If there has been a change in policy or a change in the interpretation of the Act and the Department now accepts applications from persons about to marry, whereas the Act and the official booklet lay down that they must be married, the widest possible publicity should have been given to that change and those who were deprived of homes savings grant because they were not aware of this change should be given the grant. I know that the answer will be that the Act does not provide for that situation, but neither does the Act provide for applications to be accepted from people who are about to marry. The Minister may care to answer that suggestion when he replies.
I refer now to the cost of housing. Honorable members will know that the homes savings grant can be attracted to a house only where the cost of the house and land does not exceed $14,000. This is a level which applies throughout the length and breadth of Australia, in every State and every Territory. People seeking to build homes and to secure the homes savings grant can obtain the grant only if the house and the land upon which it is built, together with other improvements, do not exceed $14,000.
– It is the value. There is a difference.
– If the honorable member who has interjected will look at the booklet he will find that the grant is available only if the cost of the dwelling, including the cost of the land and any other improvements, does not exceed $14,000. The term is “ cost “, not “ value “. I refer to the report of the Secretary of the Department of Housing touching on this aspect of the cost of housing. In a reference to building contracts for houses which have attracted the homes savings grant, it is revealed that in the six States the average value of a building contract, as distinct from the value of the land, was $8,531. The range of values was remarkably even, going from $8,058 in Queensland to $8,867 in South Australia. But the average value of building contracts in the Australian Capital Territory was $11,705; that is to say, it was more than $3,000 above the average of building contracts in each of the six States. Quite obviously, in those circum stances, the figures quoted, whilst not a comparison of costs per square of actual building construction, do reveal that building costs in this Territory are very considerably higher than the average of costs in the six States.
If the Government seeks to give an advantage to people who have saved towards the construction of their homes, obviously the advantage to people living in the six States to receive a grant for a home which costs not more than S14.000 is greater than the advantage given to people in this Territory where the building costs are higher. I suggest to the Minister that it would be wise, and 1 think equitable, to amend the Act so that a variation can be made in relation to proved costs of building in various parts of Australia. If it is the intention of the Government to give everybody an equal opportunity to secure the advantage of a homes saving grant, in areas where costs of building are demonstrably higher I should think the Government might well provide a higher level at which the cost of the home and the land would be regarded as acceptable savings. Section 20 (2.) of the Homes Savings Grant Act 1964 sets out the conditions under which grants shall not be made. That sub-section states -
A grant under this Act shall not be made to an eligible person in respect of a dwelling-house -
in the case of a grant in respect of the purchase of a dwelling-house, if the Secretary is satisfied that -
where the dwelling-house is situated in the Australian Capital Territory - the dwellinghouse is being purchased from the Commonwealth or any moneys will, upon completion of the purchase, be owing by the purchaser to the Commonwealth in connexion with the purchase;
In shorter words, the grant shall not be provided to an eligible applicant if he is purchasing a home on which he owes money to the Commonwealth. When the Bill was first before the House the Minister referred to this clause in his second reading speech, but he made it clear, and these are his words -
A strange situation arises affecting young people in Canberra, if they are building a home with the assistance of a loan from the Commissioner for Housing they are eligible to receive the homes savings grant. But if having become tenants of the Commonwealth they are purchasing the home from the Commonwealth on 5 per cent, deposit they are not eligible to receive the homes savings grant.
I point out to the Minister that the only opportunity available to many young people in this city to secure their own home is by first becoming tenants of a government home and then purchasing that home upon mortgage. But because of the advantageous terms upon which the homes are sold to tenants, the Government has decided that these homes will not be eligible for the homes savings grant. I suggest that young people who have waited out their time on the housing list to secure the tenancy of a government home and then arrange to purchase it, which they cannot do without saving, should be eligible and should receive the grant. More particularly [ would refer to the conditions applying to war service homes. The Minister made it clear in his second reading speech that homes acquired with the assistance of war service homes loans would be eligible even though the loans were offered on exceptionally favorable terms and conditions. He went on to say -
The reason for this decision - I am sure it is one with which all honorable members will agree - is that Commonwealth financial assistance to ex-servicemen in home ownership is a repatriation benefit in the nature of a post hoc payment lor services rendered lj ,ne nation.
But if the man who has rendered this service to the nation occupies the home as a tenant and then seeks to purchase that home wilh a war service loan, he is not eligible for the grant which is provided. 1 suggest he could be eligible in one way; that is, if he purchases on mortgage he can attract war service homes finance but cannot attract the homes savings grant. If he chooses to purchase on contract of sale - that is the system under which the Director of War Service Homes purchases the home and then sells it to the war service beneficiary - he can then attract the homes savings grant.
I suggest that the Minister look at all aspects of this matter; that he should ensure that young people who are purchasing homes of which they are tenants become entitled to the homes savings grant; and, most particularly, that the ex-serviceman who seeks to purchase with war service finance the Government home of which he is the tenant should be eligible for the homes savings grant. I ask the Minister to look at those points carefully in order to see that action is taken to protect the interests of these young people.
– I do not want to take up much time but the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) referred to certain matters relating to the homes savings grant. As I understand it, both value and cost come info consideration; that is whether or not the value or cost of a home exceeds the amount of £7,000, the amount laid clown as the highest that could be paid. Where a nian puts his personal labour into a building and then produces a cost sheet showing that the price is less than £7.000, but the valuers from the Department of Housing value the property at more than £7,000. I understand he is not entitled to the grant. Therefore both value and cost are taken into consideration, but if I am wrong no doubt the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Bury) will put mc right on that point.
There are a couple of matters which, I suggest, might be looked at very closely. This homes savings grant scheme is a magnificent one, as has been shown by its popularity and the progress it is making. It has done all the things that the Government expected of it. There are, unfortunately, still many young people who take no interest in political matters and so forth, who are not aware of their rights and privileges under the homes savings grant scheme. The widest possible publicity should be given to the scheme so that they will know their rights. There is one matter which I put to the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Bury), when he was Minister for Housing, which ought to be rectified. Whilst the point is not as pertinent today as it was before, it is important. I refer to what is called the date of contract as prescribed by the Homes Savings Grant Act. The Act provides that the relevant date shall be the date of contract. Any person would think that that was the date appearing on the contract. But the date of contract has been held to be, in many cases - and this is the law - the date of exchange of contracts between a vendor and a purchaser and not the date that appears on the contract. There is, in effect, no contract until the exchange takes place between the parties.
I would like to say a few words about the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation. This scheme is also progressing. I know, as a director of one or two permanent building societies, that the permanent building societies are using the scheme very extensively, lt is becoming of very great value to the building society movement. One can say without fear of denial that the building society movement is really the best means by which people can save money in order to get a home; indeed, it is the best vehicle that could be used in Australia today for the financing of home ownership. All honorable members know that permanent building societies in particular are accepting deposits from people and paying 6 per cent, for that money. They can do this. In every case where a demand has been made for a deposit to be refunded, for whatever purpose the money is sought - usually for the purpose of paying a deposit on a home - the money has been refunded. I know of no better place in which people can put their savings, receive 6 per cent, interest and still be recognised for either the homes savings grant or under the Corporation scheme. This Government is to be commended on the impetus it gave to the establishment of the building society movement in Australia. This movement, as honorable members know, was first established in New South Wales, but since this Government came to office it has developed in every other State. Now it is probably the most accepted vehicle for the financing of homes.
I should like to mention a few things about the money provided by this Government under the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement. The Agreement has been in force since 1946. There are tens of thousands of people who are renting homes, under the Agreement, from State Governments. The Agreement^ has always provided that the money advanced under it is to be used in the main to provide homes for the low income group in Australia who find it difficult to obtain them by any other means than through bodies such as the State Housing Commissions. Because of the prosperity in Australia over the years that the Agreement has been in existence, many people who were in indigent circumstances or on very low incomes when they went into a Housing Commission home are now in affluent circumstances. They are in receipt of very big money and are well able to pay the current market value of rents. Until the last few years there were not many homes or flats available for rent in any State, but today the position has changed. In every State there is a considerable number of houses and flats available for rent by the average person at the current market value. It annoys me to think that there are many thousands of people living in Housing Commission homes who are well able to pay the economic market rental but who are getting the benefit of a subsidy from the Government.
There is a subsidy on all this money advanced by the Commonwealth to the States and which pays the Commonwealth only 1 per cent, below the long term bond rate. So there are thousands of tenants in Housing Commission homes in Australia whose rent is being subsidised quite unfairly and unjustly by the taxpayers of Australia, in complete contradiction of the terms and the spirit of the Housing Agreement. That is a position which should be rectified, because there are many thousands of other people in indigent circumstances who cannot get a home to rent because these homes are occupied by people whom State Governments, for political reasons, are afraid to deal with. State Governments are afraid to force them to get homes elsewhere for which they would have to pay the proper market rental.
I do not care what anyone else says about this situation, I say it is unjust and unfair. I deplore that there should be any government, whether it be Liberal, Labour or anything else, not game to face the facts of the situation and allow people who sadly need homes to get them instead of allowing those homes to be occupied by people who can well afford to pay reasonable rents. I think the present situation is entirely wrong. I will not stand by and refrain from expressing my views simply for the sake of political expediency. It is political expediency that has created a condition in the housing field today that is quite wrong.
I would like to ask the Minister for Labour and National Service what the Commonwealth is doing about ensuring that the States keep faith with the agreement that exists between the Commonwealth and the States in regard to housing. 1 know of my personal knowledge that there are many thousands of people occupying homes provided by State Governments who could well afford to pay proper rents. Who is checking on this? Are the States checking on it? Does the Commonwealth know whether the States are checking on it? What is the position? Let us find out whether the money that is provided by the taxpayers of Australia through the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement is being used in the proper way for the benefit of people who need homes and not for those who can afford to go out and provide homes for themselves.
.- We have just heard the usual kind of speech from the honorable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer), who, ai we all know, is a representative of the Real Estate Institute, and who, every time he gets up in this Parliament, advocates increasing the rents paid by the people of this country. He said he condemned people who enjoy substantial incomes and live in Housing Commission homes. I do not know what was in his mind when he made this statement. I do not know who he thinks these people are. I believe we should look at the issues that are before us. 1 say that nobody who lives in a Housing Commission home is subsidised by anybody else, because the State Governments have to pay the Commonwealth Government interest on money that has been taken from the taxpayers. If this Government was sincere it would be providing money to the States free of interest so that they could construct more homes for the people.
– This is the socialist idea.
– Of course it is the socialist idea. If the Commonwealth Bank can lend money to its employers at 2 per cent, interest and make a profit, why cannot the Commonwealth Government lend money to the States on similar terms? If this Government wanted to show some sincerity, this is one way in which it could do something to overcome the housing lag.
Let us consider something else that the people occupying Housing Commission homes have to do. They all have to pay a share of the subsidy that is provided to build homes for aged persons. This Government, whose responsibility it is to look after the pensioners, does not give one penny to the States for building these Darby and Joan homes for aged persons. Everybody who lives in a Housing Commission home has to pay something to provide the subsidy for this purpose. And what about slum clearance? People who live in Housing Commission homes have to pay to provide a subsidy towards slum clearance. This is the kind of policy that the present Commonwealth Government believes in.
I do not know whether the honorable member for Bennelong also had in mind tenants of Housing Commission homes whose children grow up and start earning money. Does he expect these people to move out of their homes? These are the considerations that honorable members should keep in mind when they speak of these matters. The New South Wales Government has now imposed a means test on applicants for Housing Commission homes. Many members of this Parliament believe that the Commonwealth should do something about the means test that operates in respect of social services, but the Commonwealth Liberal Government has done nothing about this for the last 16 years. Now we find that as soon as a Liberal Government takes office in New South Wales it applies a means test in respect of Housing Commission applicants so that if a couple receive more than $60 a week their names are scrubbed off the Housing Commission list. Is this what honorable members opposite believe in? Young people have to try to find places to live, and many of them have to pay 8, 10 or 12 guineas a week for flats. What chance have they of saving between $4,000 and $6,000 in order to purchase a home? They have no chance at all. I suggest that honorable members opposite should get down to tintacks and think of helping the people who really need help, the people in the lower income brackets.
Since the last election we have been waiting for this Government to introduce legislation designed to increase the rate of dwelling construction, but although the Government did introduce certain legislation many anomalies have continued to exist. Members of Parliament have had to make representations on behalf of constituents, and some have spoken in the Parliament about individual cases. Yet anomalies continue to exist and no legislation introduced by this Government has managed to overcome them. I believe that the present Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) should at least have had a look at some of the anomalies and made representations to the Cabinet, and we should have had measures introduced into the House. Many anomalies have appeared in connection with the homes savings grants scheme. I believe the Minister for Housing should treat every application under that scheme individually. If she thinks that a person should be given a grant, then she should be able to accept the responsibility of treating the case on its merits and making a grant.
There is one matter in particular that I wished to raise in this debate. I refer to the blatant injustice of the Homes Savings Grant Act, which this Government framed deliberately to destroy the credit union movement. The savings banks are very keen on this legislation because, after all, it was designed to protect them, but there are 200,000 Australians who have saved §80 million in 500 credit unions throughout Australia and who consider the legislation a travesty of justice. What has the exclusion of credit unions from the provision of the Act meant to many thousands of young people in Australia? It has denied them the benefits of a $500 grant because they have elected, as their democratic right, to save their money for a home in the savings organisation of their choice, a credit union.
It would appear that the secondary purpose of this Act was to assist the private banks to strike a blow at the credit union movement. Credit unions were excluded from the permanent benefits available under the Act mainly because they did not lend money for long term housing loans. What does the Minister regard as long term? Some organisations which are eligible under the Act lend money for both long term and short term housing loans. These are the permanent building societies. Savings banks no longer provide all their available money for long term housing loans. We know that there are today many of these lending institutions who require repayment over terms of 10 or 15 years. One could not suggest that loans granted on these conditions would be long term loans. Yet these organisations are covered by the Homes Savings Grant Act whilst credit unions are excluded. This is an injustice which should be rectified. We know that, as a result of the activities of credit unions, the banks have entered into fierce competition with them in the field of personal loans. Does the Minister for Labour and National Service know that recently the Bank of New South Wales increased the amount of its personal loans to $1,000? The other private banks are making personal loans without security of amounts up to $720.
– What is wrong with that?
– It is all right.
– What is the interest burden?
– That is the point. If it is good enough for the banks to enter the field of personal lending, the same privileges should be extended to the credit unions. The credit unions are teaching young people to save money. Many of these people have never saved before and do not wish to save with a bank. They prefer the convenience of a credit union. Many of them like to have their payments into the credit union deducted weekly from their wages. A good deal of the savings in credit unions is used in lieu of second mortgage finance, to bridge the deposit gap and for the purchase of land. Probably thousands of young Australians have been assisted by the credit union movement to purchase homes. Today 200,000 Australians have about $80 million in credit unions. These members feel a tremendous sense of injustice at the exclusion of credit unions from the provisions of the Homes Savings Grant Act. 1 am confident that after 26th November the incoming Labour government will remove this discrimination against this section of the Australian community.
A home owner cannot live in an empty house. The credit unions assist home owners to purchase furniture and the other things required in a home. The credit unions have been done a great injustice. It is time the Government recognised the value of these organisations. The Government has excluded 200,000 Australians from the benefits of the legislation, lt has discriminated against these people and it should now immediately rectify this injustice.
Notwithstanding what Government supporters have said, we know that today in Australia a great crisis exists in housing. The Government has claimed that the Homes Savings Grant Act was designed to stimulate home construction. If this is so the Act has failed dismally, lt has failed to overcome the lag in housing. The worker in the low income group has been denied a decent home for his family. The Government has failed in its duty to compel financial institutions to channel money into home building. Large developers in the capital cities are spending millions of dollars on the erection of huge buildings for which there is no real need, because there is plenty of office space available in existing buildings. Some city buildings have been empty for up to two years. But the family man has to wait at least five years, if he is lucky, in order to get his name on the housing commissions’ lists. These people are deprived of a decent home in which to live. A big insurance company is demolishing a perfectly good building in Martin Place, Sydney. The building is only 20 years old. It will be replaced by a new building. Are these ventures necessary? Are they so urgent at a time when our population is increasing every year and while home construction continues to lag? It is time the Government did something to assist the people who are in need of housing. The Government has the power to instruct lending institutions to use their money where it will most assist the people who need assistance.
I would like to refer to the matter of the homes savings grant as it applies to persons who build their own homes. We know that before the grant is made the Department of Housing sends an officer to value the completed home. Everybody knows that the cost of labour and the builder’s fee for constructing a home amounts to between 60 per cent, and 70 per cent, of the final cost. It is natural for a carpenter, a plumber or a bricklayer to save money by doing all he can towards the construction of his home.
After building his home he applies to the Department for the grant of £250. If the Department values the property at more than the maximum prescribed under the Act, the owner is deprived of the grant. All that is allowed for a builder’s fee is 10 per cent. We all know that the builder’s fee is the amount the builder makes after he has finished the building. In other words the 10 per cent, is the builder’s clear profit. In these cases when the Department values a house it subtracts only 10 per cent, from the valuation for the builder’s fee. If the house still exceeds in value the £7,000 prescribed under the Act, the owner does not get the grant of £250. No regard is paid to the amount of work put into the house by the young owner. More and more young people are building their own homes today because they know that this is the only way to get a home at a reasonable price. The Government should review this aspect of the legislation. An injustice exists here. It should allow at least 40 per cent, of the cost of a home for labour and enable more young home owners to obtain the grant.
– I assure the Committee that I have carefully noted all the points made by honorable members. These will be submitted to the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) for her consideration.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Department of Civil Aviation.
Proposed expenditure, $42,948,000.
Department of Shipping and Transport.
Proposed expenditure, $49,500,000.
Proposed expenditure, $15,682,000.
Mr. COLLARD (Kalgoorlie) L4.31. - According to the interim report on the operations of the Commonwealth Railways for the year 1965-66, the Railways is still unable to hold fettling staff for any great length of time. In fact, the position is becoming worse, as is disclosed on page 14 of the report. There the Commissioner states -
Notwithstanding that with regular Saturday overtime higher wages were available to track maintenance employees, the turnover of 3,572 during the year constituted a record, bringing the total turnover of fettling staff for the last twenty years to over 40.000. Of the men lost this year, almost 7 5 If had less than three months’ service. Wilh a view to attracting fettlers, display advertising was adopted for a trial period, but at no time was there sufficient labour offering to fill all vacancies.
I submit that the report shows a rather interesting although, perhaps, ridiculous situation. By offering regular overtime and by his reference to higher wages, the Commissioner for Railways has surely admitted thai the ordinary low wage paid for the normal working week of 40 hours is one of the main reasons why the Commonwealth Railways is not able to hold track repairers. While admitting this to be so. the Commonwealth Railways must at the same time realise that in summer on the Trans-continental Line a five day week of eight hours it day, week after week, is a pretty good effort. Yet the Commonwealth Railways is not prepared to make any worthwhile addition to the pay packet of fettlers unless additional hours arc worked, even though under existing circumstances it must bc costing several thousands of pounds a year to meet this exceptionally high turnover of labour. I suggest that no man is likely to remain on a job very long if he is obliged to work six days a week in order to obtain a reasonable sort of living wage to support himself and. in some instances, a family also. Yet it seems that that is what this Government expects men to do.
As I have said, the position is worsening. This is proved. Mr. Deputy Chairman, by reference to the figures for previous years. In the year ended June 1961, 1.588 mcn were engaged and 1.507 left the job. In 1961-62. 1.502 were engaged and 1,613 left. In 1962-63, 1.569 were engaged and 1,501 terminated their employment. In 1963-64. 1.414 were engaged and 1,484 left the job. During those four years a total of 6.073 men were engaged and a total of 6,105 terminated their employment - an average of 1,526 each year. As I have pointed out, in 1965-66 there was a record turnover of 3.572. with only 25 per cent, of that number remaining for longer than three months. The average turnover in the past 20 years has been 2,000 a year. Apparently, the only move that the Commonwealth Railways or the Government can make in an effort to slop the drift is to extend working hours. This display advertising that has been mentioned is of little use if one cannot hold the men there when they are engaged. The best possible attraction would be provided by an increase in wages and an improvement in living conditions. It is very disturbing to have a situation in which track maintenance gangs are always below strength. Not only are they below strength, but also, apparently, they lack sufficient numbers of men with experience in the art of maintaining railway lines.
I have mentioned living conditions, Mr. Deputy Chairman. It must be borne in mind that even if the men were prepared to work overtime continually to earn a reasonable wage the majority would still object to the conditions under which they are expected to live, especially when the authorities show so little regard for their welfare. I am concerned particularly about conditions that apply at the main centres on the transcontinental railway and at the camping areas between those centres. From what I can see of it, the Commonwealth Railways and the Government for a number of years have done very little to try to make living conditions more attractive. This applies particularly to housing at places where there are quite a number of women and children. Amenities at most of these places are practically nil. Where any have been provided the authorities are allowing them to fall into disrepair. Until something is done to provide proper amenities, the present large turnover of labour is unlikely to decrease.
Something which could surely be provided, at least at the main centres, and which would certainly be appreciated would be either septic systems or hot water systems, or even both. About four years ago, 1 raised the question of the installation of septic systems. The only reply from the authorities was that insufficient water for such installations was available. I therefore made some inquiries, and I found from the Public Health Department in Western Australia that there was available a septic installation that operated on something like a couple of pints of water for each flushing. When I put this up to the Commonwealth Railways for consideration, the only reply was that the ground was not suitable for septic installations anyway. However, 1 have noticed at Rawlinna, for instance, that although the houses have not septic systems the train crew barracks has a septic installation. I am pleased to find that the barracks has this system installed. This is only proper. But the question that I ask is: Why cannot the houses at . that centre be fitted with installations of the same type? The barracks at Rawlinna also has a hot water system. This is right and proper. But surely hot water systems should be installed also in the houses occupied by the men working on the line and their families. These services would undoubtedly mean a great deal to both the men and their families.
I understand that at some of the centres where the old steam trains used to take on water there are still available good supplies that could be piped where required. Even if the water were not suitable for domestic use, it would be valuable for lawns, gardens and the like. We do not need very vivid imaginations to realise what it would mean to most of the housewives in these centres along the transcontinental line if water supplies could be provided to enable them to have gardens and plant lawns, shrubs and the like in that dusty and dry area. It is most unlikely that the present Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) will be with us after the general election on 26th November. He most certainly will not sit on the side of the chamber on which he sits now. However, I ask him, should the remote possibility of his retaining his present office come to pass, to examine the possibility of making belter and more plentiful supplies of water available to residents of the centres along the railway line. I ask him also to consider providing better and more extensive sporting and social facilities. At present, there are practically none. The interim report of the Commonwealth Railways for 1965-66, at page 12, states -
A further amenity proving popular with employees on the Trans-Australian Railway is the prevision of deep freeze cabinets in the stores van attached to the “ Tea and Sugar “ train. This facility enables railwaymen and their families to purchase goods of a perishable nature, which would be otherwise unobtainable in outlying areas, at least during the long summer period.
It is very good to know that this action has at last been taken, even though it has taken so many years for the Government to get round to it. During the Estimates debate in 1964, I directed the attention of the Minister’s predecessor in office to the need for deep freeze installations. I pointed out the great benefit that families living along the line would derive and what a boon these installations would be to them. Just prior to raising the matter in 1964. 1 had received a reply to a letter that 1 had written to the authorities about the same matter. The reply to my letter stated that though it was agreed that a supply of ice cream and frozen food would be a worthwhile amenity, all avenues had been explored and it had been found that the installation of a deep freeze unit on the tea and sugar train was not practicable. It was also said that the matter had been under continual review since 1957. So it is just nine years since the authorities began to investigate the possibility of installing a deep freeze unit on this train. At last we have it. This is really amazing. If this sort of action could be continued and if this Government were allowed to remain in office, we could possibly see some of the houses along the line fitted with septic systems by 1973 or 1974 and even with hot water systems by 1975. This thought will be very encouraging to the people who live at centres along the line.
The Government should realise that workers and their families expect to be treated as human beings, not simply as animals. Unless better amenities, better services and better living conditions are provided in the very near future, we shall be unable to get any men at all to work on the line or, at least, the numbers offering will be so small as to make it impossible to maintain the line at the required standard. If we ever reach a stage at which plenty of employment and plenty of housing are available elsewhere, people will not bother going out to the remote areas along the transcontinental railway and putting up with the conditions that are offered them by this Government.
The next matter with which I wish to deal relates to the Trans-Continental Express. Over the past two or three years I have received numerous complaints from travellers about the meals, the breakfast in particular, provided on this Express. As a result of those complaints I decided to travel home by train on one weekend, rather than by air, as I normally do, to see for myself what the position was. Certainly I was not favorably impressed. In fact. I was rather disgusted at what was provided for the passengers. I emphasise that no fault rests wilh the dining car staff or the kitchen staff. They are ali very courteous and very kind, and they do everything they possibly can for the passengers; but I am sure that at times they feel embarrassed at what they have to dish up. 1 have before me a menu for what is called the breakfast tray service. Breakfast is brought to your cabin if you are a first class passenger; if you are a second class passenger, you must go to the dining room for it. For breakfast, you may have either tomato juice or orange juice. You may also have cornflakes or compote of fruit, and toast and butter with marmalade or honey. You may also have coffee or tea, and even have it white or black. I understand that this is the menu for what is known as a continental breakfast. Perhaps the Department feels that that is quite appropriate for a trans-continental railway, but I can assure the Minister that the passengers on the train do not see any humour in it. 1 admit that ample food is provided, if one likes this type of breakfast, but I know from my observations that the majority of passengers prefer a more substantial breakfast, such as steak and eggs or bacon and eggs. I suggest to the Minister that even those people who have only a piece of toast and a cup of tea for breakfast at home enjoy a good breakfast while travelling or on holidays. Perhaps this is because they then have better appetities or because they do not have to prepare the meals. The fare to Adelaide from Perth first class is S48 and the second class fare is $34.75. Therefore, this is not exactly a cheap trip, and it surely warrants the provision of decent meals. I have referred to breakfast only, but the other meals being served on this train are well below the standard that they should be. I sincerely hope the Minister will pay some attention to these matters and see to it that the meals are improved.
.- As has been announced, the proposed expenditure stated in these estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation, to which I wish to direct my remarks, is $42,948,000 for this year, but in order to gain a proper appreciation of the total expenditure on civil aviation activities in this country, it is, I submit, necessary to take into consideration also the $6,250,000 provided for in Appropriation Bill (No. 2) and the $25,364,000 provided for in the public works programme. This gives a total of $74,562,000. The estimated income, as stated in the appropriate document circulated with the Budget papers, is $15,053,000. This leaves a balance of approximately $60 million to be expended on civil aviation in this financial year.
The proposed expenditure of $42,948,000 by the Department of Civil Aviation Administration represents an increase of 10.5 per cent, over the actual expenditure by the Department last year. The increase of slightly less than $1 million in the amount provided in Appropriation Bill (No. 2) represents an increase of 17.5 per cent, over the amount for last year. The proposed expenditure on public works of $25,364,000 represents an increase of 66 per cent, over the actual expenditure last year. We are all anxious to keep Government expenditure, especially in the non-recoverable fields, down to the absolute minimum, but with the spectacular development that has taken place in civil aviation in this country over recent years one must expect an expansion of costs.
Looking at these Estimates, we see that of the extra amount of slightly less than $4 million to be spent by the Department this year, $1.3 million is for the payment of salaries and payments in the nature of salaries and $1.8 million is for the provision of civil aviation facilities under Division No. 140. I submit that these are reasonable increases when one considers the increases that have occurred in the basic wage and in the cost of maintaining and operating facilities. It must be admitted that, with the great increase in traffic, civil aviation facilities need to be expanded to keep pace with demand.
Although it is slated in the report of the Department of Civil Aviation that there has been a tapering off of traffic, especially in the domestic field, I do not believe that this calls for any great reduction of the Department’s activities. If we examine the position at one of the major airports - Melbourne - we see that between 1964 and 1965 there was an increase of something over 200,000 in the number of domestic airline passengers, and of about 6,000 in the number of international passengers. At Sydney, the increase in the number of passengers on the domestic airlines in the same period was 260,000, and there was an increase of about 75,000 in the number of international passengers. On my calculations, the total number of passengers carried by domestic airlines into and out of the airports of Australia in this period was 9,067,000. There was an increase also in the number of passengers travelling on international airlines. It is true, however, that the figures do show a perceptible decline in the number of passengers carried by the two major domestic operators in the 12 months up to 30th June of this year. The number of passengers carried by TransAustralia Airlines in 1964 represented an increase of 16 per cent, over the number in 1963. I am taking periods of 12 months, ending in December of each year. The increase continued in the following year, when the figure was 17 per cent, higher than that for the previous year. But if we take the period of 12 months to 30th June of this year - there is an overlap here - we find that the increase in the number of passengers carried by T.A.A. was only 2.6 per cent., or 44,000 passengers. These figures are subject to final correction, but they serve to make my point.
Ansett-A.N.A. showed an increase of 19.4 per cent, in the number of passengers carried in 1964 over the number carried in 1963, and an increase of 18.5 per cent, in the number carried in 1965 over the number carried in 1964. In the period of 12 months to 30th June 1966, the increase was only 3.3 per cent., or 53,000 passengers. 1 submit these figures to the Committee to indicate why I believe that the increase in expenditure in the administrative field of civil aviation is reasonable.
Setting aside the proposed allocation of $6i million mentioned in Appropriation Bill (No. 2). but not dismissing it as a small and insignificant amount, I find there is an allocation in excess of $25 million for civil works. There is a total allocation of almost £3li million and although the increased allocation is substantial I believe that it is well placed. If the Government is to be subjected to any criticism on this, such criticism should not go beyond the fact that it has had to allocate such a substantially increased amount in the one year. I think it must be said that capital expenditure on civil aviaion over the last 10 or 15 years, particularly in the 1950’s and early 1960’s, has been what might be described as a little tardy and a little low. In the 1950’s the annual allocation for works hovered around the S4 million mark, and it inevitably happened that by the end of each year not even that amount had been expended.
The Department of Civil Aviation today finds itself in a situation where extensive capital works are required at airports and heavy expenditure is involved in providing facilities to match the sudden upsurge of aircraft and airline development in this country. Civil aviation may have suffered a setback as a result of a measure of downturn of business activities during 1960, 1961 and perhaps in 1962, but at all events there is no question that since then, as has been proved by the figures I have submitted in relation not only to domestic but also to international airlines, there has been a spectacular uplift in the amount of traffic moving in and out of airports in Australia. May I digress for a moment to point out that in December 1965 there were 1,315 aircraft movements each week at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport, the major airport in Australia. There were 940 aircraft movements each week at Melbourne airport and 520 each week at Brisbane airport. Despite the downturn in traffic generally, I have no doubt that there has been a slight increase in the number of aircraft movements.
Frankly, I commend the Government for its attitude towards capital expenditure in the field of civil aviation, but it still has a long way to go. Having regard to the remarkable developments in aviation, I believe that we have not yet reached the zenith in this field and that in the future a continually increasing allocation of funds will be necessary and a greater degree of application to this subject will need to be displayed by the Government, and particularly by the Minister. He certainly has the job ahead of him in the next few years to cope with the rapid expansion of traffic which the past two years have shown can be expected in the future.
No debate on civil aviation is ever complete without some reference being made to aircraft noise and the action being taken to overcome or reduce its effects on the community at large. In the short time remaining to me I should like to indicate that I have noted the Minister’s remarks on this subject, not only in reply to questions and statements made in the House by myself and other honorable members but also on his recent return from overseas. 1 was hoping that the estimates this year would show a specific allocation for research into the suppression of aircraft noise. 1 note in Division No. 144 an allocation of S200,000 for aviation research. If this research is to cover the question of aircraft noise the allocation is, to say the least, meagre. I believe that there should be a specific allocation for this purpose. I have studied the report of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in an endeavour to learn whether there was any specific reference to this matter but there was none. Nor did 1 find anything specific in this regard in the report of the Department of Civil Aviation. Mention has been made of contributions by the United Slates Air Force and the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration, but lest there be any misconception let me point out that these contributions were made for specific projects and had no relation to the suppression of aircraft noise.
At this juncture 1 hasten to say to the Minister that I. detect a quite perceptible change in the pattern of operations at KingsfordSmith Airport. This is extremely acceptable to people in the area, particularly in the St. George district Which I represent. I believe there has been a move to introduce, or to put into greater effect, a fishbone pattern for planes operating in and out of Mascot Airport. I have, noticed that a number of the heavy aircraft, particularly the 727s, now turn to the left as they rise off the western end of the runway, move up the Scarborough Park playgrounds, over the George’s River and into the National Park area. All of these districts in some small way absorb a measure of the sound. The noise is now spread over more districts instead of falling directly on people living below any of the regular approach and departure paths. I acknowledge the development in this field and hope this is a forerunner of a wider application of ideas for the suppression of noise as they come forward. Indeed, I hope a step will be taken into the field of research. 1 have noted the Minister’s remarks on investigations being carried out in England into the soundproofing of homes below approach and departure paths, and that the results of these investigations and experiments will be forthcoming shortly. I hope that the experiments will prove beneficial to people living in districts surrounding airports all over Australia because the noise factor is a problem which must be solved. I support the estimates which have been presented to the Committee.
.- In rising to speak to the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation and the Department of Shipping and Transport may 1 first protest at the delay in making available to honorable members the reports of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission. The Department of Civil Aviation and the Commonwealth Railways. I challenge the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) who is at the table to read these three reports in the time which was allowed to honorable members to read them, to understand their contents, to come into this chamber today and deliver a speech and refer in detail to some of the items contained in them. I ask that the appropriate Ministers take action to ensure that these reports are tabled well in advance of the date set down for the debate so that honorable members will have an opportunity to read them and, if need be, to carry out further research and inquiry into their contents because those are the things which should be discussed in a debate on departmental estimates.
I shall deal first with the report of the Australian National Line. I should like the Minister to extend my congratulations to Captain Williams and to the captains and crews of the Line’s ships for the excellent work that they have done in bringing this socialised shipping line to its present level of efficiency. We hear a great deal in this chamber about Socialism. I am proud to claim to be a Socialist and glad to see the Government advocating and supporting a policy for the socialisation of transport, particularly in the shipping industry and with Trans-Australia Airlines, Qantas Empire Airways Ltd. and other organisations too numerous to mention at this stage.
The main points to be referred to in the report of the Australian National Line are, once again, the record profit and the record dividend to the Government which, after all, is what the Government insists on from the A.N.L. and also from T.A.A. The profit disclosed, after taxation, was $3,316,000, which was a reasonable return on the capital invested. The return to the Government by way of dividend was $2,151,000, which is also reasonable. I note also that the Australian National Line is continuing its policy of building ships in Australia. It is concentrating on the development of two specific projects, namely, the carriage of bulk cargoes and also the move to passenger vehicle cargo and vehicle traffic. These are two important phases of traffic in which the line is specialising. In the years ahead Australia is going to need the best possible information as well as the most skilled and trained men to help her with her export trade in iron ore, bauxite and other products. Australia needs experience in handling bulk cargoes and in the field of containerisation. The latter is a new field of transport which has, to a large extent, been pioneered in Australia and it is interesting to see the A.N.L. specialising in this type of transport.
Our long coastline lends itself to ships transporting motor vehicles. Cargo can be loaded into vehicles in the workshops and the vehicles carried on the vessel and later offloaded at the point of destination. It is pleasing to me, as a member representing a shipbuilding electorate, to see the A.N.L. continuing to build ships in Australia and also developing the Australian trade. 1 notice in its report that new terminals and special shore facilities are to be provided at Cairns, Mackay, Townsville and Brisbane, and additional berths at Melbourne and Sydney. However, I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth): What is the matter with Newcastle? Newcastle is a port that lends itself to this type of trade. A survey conducted by the New South Wales Department of Motor Transport in 1961 disclosed that in that year 34,000 heavy lorries travelled between Sydney and Newcastle carrying 306,000 tons of goods and 32,000 heavy vehicles travelled from Newcastle to Sydney carrying 288,000 tons of cargo. It would be appropriate for the Department of Shipping and Transport to examine the practicability of introducing this type of shipping transport to Newcastle which, after all, is the sixth largest city in the Commonwealth of Australia. It is also the centre of two principal steel producing industries, so there are many rea sons why the A.N.L. should include Newcastle in its vehicle and deck carrying cargo ships. The Minister should give this early and serious consideration. The Director of of the Newcastle dockyard two or three years ago drafted a plan and submitted it to the State Government suggesting that two ships of this type should be built exclusively for trading between Sydney and Newcastle. Not only could the ships be used in handling cargo between Sydney and Newcastle, but they could be used on the interstate runs connecting Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania. There is every justification for serious consideration of my suggestion.
Another factor that concerns me is the apparent failure of this Government to do something practical about establishing an overseas shipping line. I am pleased that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) is in the chamber at present because I want to refer briefly to some reports that come through his Department. For instance, in its interim annual report for 1965-66 the Australian Dried Fruits Board expresses great concern at the increase in overseas shipping freights. The Australian Apple and Pear Board’s annual report for the year ended 30th June 1966 states that with the recent increase in freight costs between Australia and overseas markets we have reached the stage where freights represent 80 per cent, of the f.o.b. value of the product. The report stated that the Board was most concerned to note that further increases in freight rates were indicated by the latest results of the formula used. The Australian Dairy Produce Board expressed similar concern. It is interesting to note that the introduction of new packaging resulted in freight rates on butter not being increased. But instead of the new methods of packaging bringing some benefit to the industry by producing a reduction in freight rates all that has happened is that the new methods have absorbed the increased charges that have applied to other exports. For instance, the freight rates on cheese exports increased by 6.61 per cent. Butter freight rates would have increased similarly but for the new arrangement of using cartons instead of the old box method.
I refer now to the recent dispute between the Australian Meat Board and the overseas shipping lines. I questioned the Minister about this today. He did not answer my question about whether the overseas shipping lines were exploiting the Australian meat exporters, as I firmly believe they are doing. He hedged. He was not prepared to give a clear undertaking that the Government would do something about this and try to establish an Australian overseas shipping line so that we could provide some competition for the private overseas shipping lines. Competition can be valuable, as was indicated when the shipping lines trading between Australia and the west coast of North America were planning to increase freight rates. The Israeli shipping line came into the field and this immediately halted increases of 10 per cent, and 17 per cent, which the other shipping lines were trying to impose on the Australian exporters. These increases would have cost Australia an additional $li million a year. I believe that competition can bring about a reduction in freight rates, so it is to be hoped that the Government will try to provide means for establishing an Australian overseas shipping line.
On 26th August last Mr. W. P. Nicholas, the executive officer of the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council said that higher wool shipping freights were having a dampening effect on the wool market. The Minister for Primary Industry should think seriously about these freight increases and should agree with the Labour Party in this Parliament that only an Australian overseas shipping line can provide the necessary competition whereby the private overseas shipping lines will cease making exorbitant increases in freight rates. I have in my possession Press cuttings dating back to 1935 - indeed, some go back to the late 1920’s - which disclose that freight rates have been increasing for the last 30 to 40 years. Overseas shipping lines have been able to increase their charges unreasonably and unnecessarily, and this has made the Australian primary producer’s position in overseas markets untenable on many occasions.
I believe that the Australian shipbuilding industry is capable of producing the ships we need, but there must be a fresh approach to this subject. I do not think we can go on building ships in Australia using the present system that is followed by the Government. Several orders are given to shipbuilding yards over a period so that they have a continuous run of orders, but they do not know whether they will receive other orders when the ships they are building have been completed. The Government should be able to say to the three major shipyards at Whyalla, Newcastle and Brisbane - Cockatoo Docks and Engineering Co. Pty. Ltd. almost exclusively does naval work - that it intends to have a positive, rationalised shipbuilding programme under which large ships WIll be built at Whyalla, medium sized ships at Evans Deakin & Co. Pty. Ltd., and the smaller and more specialised ships at Newcastle. If the Government introduces a programme on this basis, some of the problems that have beset the Australian shipbuilding industry will be overcome.
In Japan, a ship is built in six to nine months from the time an order is placed. Australian shipyards cannot match this rate at the moment, but I believe that they can produce a better type of ship, and produce it more quickly than they are doing now, if a more rationalised approach is made to our shipbuilding programme, with the shipyards specialising in the construction of certain types of ships. In this way, they will be able to build up the efficiency of the yards and will be able to develop the yards in a manner that will enable them to carry out the work much more expeditiously than they have in the past. Whyalla is capable of building ships up to 55,000 or 60,000 tons. A bulk carrier of 54,000 tons is already on the slipway there. It built a tanker of 32,000 tons for Ampol Petroleum Ltd. and it has also built ships of about 2,500 tons. I cannot accept that this is economic planning, that this is the way to run a shipyard. As I said a few moments ago, we should have one shipyard building large ships, another specialising in medium sized ships and the third specialising in smaller ships. If we were to go about our planning in this way, Australian shipyards could compete with overseas yards and deliver their ships in a reasonable time - a time comparable with that taken in overseas yards.
I am personally very much concerned when I read details of the types of ships built and the methods of shipbuilding in Japan. If the Japanese shipyards continue to develop their present methods, with the research and automation that is being used there, there will not be a shipyard in existence in Australia, unless the Government is willing to examine the problems of shipbuilding. We should have a planned shipbuilding programme and not the higgledy piggledy method we now have. Now, everybody tries to obtain whatever orders come on the market, everyone quotes for them, and no-one specialises in any one type of ship. Unless we introduce a better system than this, the people who compete with Australian shipyards will be able to say that the Australian yards are inefficient and cannot match the products of overseas yards.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Failes). - Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Mr. WENTWORTH (Mackellar) [4.481. - I want to make a few remarks about these estimates. I want to refer first to the small matter of the loose ends of the railway standardisation plan. I hope that the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth), in his reply to this debate, will be able to give us some information about these loose ends. There is the question of the Silverton Tramway Co. As honorable members know, there is a small gap of a few miles between the terminus of the New South Wales railway system in Broken Hill and the South Australian system at Cockburn. The gap is at present spanned by the privately owned system of the Silverton Tramway Co. This line, with a 3 ft. 6 ins. gauge, was built initially to serve the town of Silverton and was subsequently extended by a dogleg to serve Broken Hill. I understand that, in place of broadening the gauge of this line, as could undoubtedly be done, the more economical solution is to take a line directly from Broken Hill, avoiding the dogleg, into Cockburn by the route known as the Pinnacles. This route was originally surveyed by the New South Wales Department of Railways, I think 60 years ago. The exits from Broken Hill are relatively easy. They were examined by the old Government Members Standardisation Committee some time ago and no difficulties exist.
Unfortunately, it would seem that so far no finality has been reached in the negotiations with the Silverton Tramway Co. I will not go into the complexities and the various possibilities: but I do think that it is essential that these negotiations be brought to finality in the very near future. We are at a disadvantage because of the delays that have occurred so far. In my view, it would be unwise to protract negotiations any further, because of the timetable date of 1968 for the completion of standardisation across Australia. There is still unsatisfied this little link between Broken Hill and the New South Wales-South Australia horder. I hope that the Minister in his reply will be able to give us the details of what has to be done in this regard. I feel that already too much time has been lost in finalising this matter and any further loss of time may prove an embarrassment to the completion of the project.
The second loose end is the standard gauge connection between Port Pirie and Adelaide. This is a matter for negotiation with the South Australian Government. Our negotiations with this Government stand on a little different footing from our negotiations with other State Governments. Honorable members will recall that the South Australian Government formally accepted the old standardisation proposals and has. therefore, some claim as of right with respect to them. I would say that the foresight that Sir Thomas Playford, who even in those days was Premier of South Australia, exercised in 1948 and thereabouts, is now paying off for the people of South Australia. I hope that the Minister will later be able to give us the details, but I suggest to the Government that this is now the time for a plan to be announced for the extension of the standard gauge line from Port Pirie into Adelaide. The South Australian Department of Railways in the time of Sir Thomas Playford, and I think with his active advice, produced a tentative plan for this extension, lt seemed to me on looking through it that the plan was a good and reasonable one. I hope again that the Minister will in his reply give us full details of the Government’s proposals and I hope he will be able to say to us that the proposals will be complete and operating in 1968 to fit in with the remainder of the standardisation scheme, which is to be in operation by that date.
What I am speaking of does not involve a great deal of money. The narrowing of a 5 ft. 3 in. track to the standard gauge of 4 ft. 81 in. is not a very big job. The
South Australian plan will require the provision of certain new tracks, particularly in the vicinity of Adelaide, but these are not major matters. If the matters I mention were taken in hand now they could be completed by 1968. lt would not be possible to complete them by 1968 unless there were some reasonably expeditious decision by the Government in regard to them. It may well be that the Cabinet has already made these vital decisions and that the Minister is waiting to announce them. I hope this is so. I hope that during the course of this debate the Minister will be in a position to tell us what is to be done. If he cannot do so this evening, I hope it will be possible to see that they are included in the policy speech which I understand the present Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt), who will be the future Prime Minister, will be delivering at the beginning of November.
The Commonwealth Department of Shipping and Transport does not have a tremendous amount of executive authority, except perhaps in shipping, but it has a most important junction in that it should be the controlling authority for the co-ordination of the different Forms of transport in Australia and the architect of the overall plan for Australian transport stretching across the borders of the various States. I am not implying that it should be in a position to dragoon and bludgeon the States; rather am I implying that it is in a position to give them helpful advice and, what is more, to give them helpful advice which can be implemented, because the Commonwealth Government itself can be the source of the finance for the implementing of proper plans. The railways of Australia can do for us a much greater service than they are doing at present. However, I believe that this will require a good deal of co-operation from the States and a good deal of coordination. I know that many of our railway lines are redundant as railway lines because of the development of motor transport which, for short hauls and for the concentration of production at key points, is probably more efficient than rail transport. But for heavy transport, for long distance transport, for transport which can move from one specialised terminal to another, road transport should not be able to compete with rail transport. It is to the national advantage that this kind of traffic should go by rail, just as 1 believe it is to the national advantage that the short haul traffic, the concentrated traffic, should go by road rather than rail. This involves the better use of our rail facilities, both by their co-ordination in a proper plan and by the reduction of the basic freight rates.
I am not happy about developments at the current time which involve an increase in some of the basic rail freight rates. It seems to me rather that it would be in the national interest if the Federal Government would undertake some of the interest load which is at present borne by State railways, on condition - and strictly on condition - that freight rates were reduced and rail services rationalised. 1 believe this would be to the advantage of the whole of the Australian economy. One thing which goes with this is the increased use of containerisation.
Containers are the answer to transfer between the various forms of transport. The traffic which is concentrated by road and transferred to rail, or taken from rail and put on ship, or even taken by road and put on ship, can. be most economically and effectively handled in most cases if it is fully containerised. This means that the terminals and the intermediate staging points must be properly equipped, and this in turn means that there must be fewer of them. The present practice of trying to do everything in every small railway station has to be changed. If we can change this outlook and can use some of the railway lines almost as tram lines - that is to say, have no passenger traffic on them, have no shunting because only one train at a time would be permitted upon them, and use them for the carriage of heavy goods such as fertilisers, wheat and heavy minerals - we shall have a much better system. I do not believe that any State can undertake this kind of thing by itself. It is the responsibility of the Commonwealth to give the lead and to lay down a constructive plan. I hope that we will be going further in this direction in the future than we are going at the moment.
If I may I propose now to pass from these rather important national matters to something which is of a more parochial nature. I hope that the Minister, in his function as co-ordinator of forms of transport, will be taking a closer look at the situation at Mascot Airport and Botany Bay. We have heard statements recently to the effect that the Concorde and other new aeroplanes will not be able to use Mascot if they are fully loaded. This would be a tragedy. The extension of the Mascot runway, even beyond what is at present planned, is obviously something which should be done. But while it is being done perhaps we might consider also two things. First is the development of Botany Bay as a port. The extension of the runway could be used to form one of the necessary breakwaters for the interior port and the area of the Bay which is dredged for sand to make a runway could form the necessary deep water. If these things are put together and co-ordinated the whole plan becomes more practicable. Secondly, 1 would say that some of the wasteland which lies to the west of Mascot at about the creek area where the canal begins might well be used as the area where the cargoes could be assembled, the containers packed and the general work carried out. This area is connected by a convenient rail. Also it could be connected by a convenient road to the port area, only a little distance away, in Botany whose development I have suggested.
.- 1 should like to speak to the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation. J do so because recently in this place I asked the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Swartz) a question in reference to a petition which had been presented to him on behalf of certain pilots. I know that the petition requesting performance tests on DC3 aircraft was sent to the Minister in March of this year. I have a copy of the petition here and, if the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth), who is now at the table, agrees I shall incorporate it in “ Hansard “. 1 feel that it is something that every honorable member should know about. Will the Minister give me permission to have this material incorporated?
– No arrangements were made to do so. I do not know what is in the petition.
– The Minister for Civil Aviation is in the chamber and he knows what is in the petition.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order! The honorable member has asked for leave to incorporate a copy of a petition in i! Hansard “. Is leave granted?
– Leave is not granted. There is a procedure laid down and it has not been followed. I cannot give permission.
– Perhaps the Minister would like to have a look at the petition and then make up his mind. However, 1 will quote from it to enlighten honorable members about what is going on in the Department of Civil Aviation. This petition was signed by 125 licensed Australian airline pilots, and the Minister signed a letter acknowledging receipt of it in March. Yet he stated in this House that he had not received the petition. I want to know why this is so, because after all he should be aware of everything that he is signing for his Department.
I am also aware that the Minister has since rejected the request on the ground that the DC3 has a good record. I know that the Department of Civil Aviation leans heavily on statistics when making decisions, but does the Minister really think that 125 pilots could be wrong? Does he really think that the pilots have no good reason for requesting these tests? Surely the Department would have investigated the performance of these aircraft. If it had, the Minister must have learned that the aircraft do not meet the requirements of certification. This point is made clear in the petition. One requirement I speak of is that the aircraft must be able to climb at a rate of 221 feet per minute following an engine failure on takeoff and with the propellor of the failed engine windmilling. It amazed me to find from the petition that AnsettA.N.A. in its journal, claims that the rate of climb after the power of one engine has been lost is only 116 feet a minute.
I also gather from the petition that the Department becomes very evasive when questioned on the performance of DC3 aircraft. The Department replied to the Australian Federation of Air Pilots when it requested information on these performance tests, and said -
You will appreciate that your questions involve considerable time and effort in delving into records of many years ago. Questions on the performance of DC3 aircraft have been discussed from time to time, and resolved wilh tho Head
Office of your Federation. The Department therefore considers this matter resolved with your Federation and can ill afford the lime required for researching your questions. “ Can ill afford the time “. I think it is about time the Department did something about this matter. For the benefit of honorable members who have not seen this petition I will quote some pertinent points. It States -
Pilots and public alike arc entitled to expect thai they will benefit from the latest advances in aviation.
At no time should their lies be jeopardised by failure to provide the safes! possible operation. If DC3’s are to continue in operation there seems no valid reason why this philosophy should not also be applied to these aircraft.
As properly conducted performance tests and the introduction of take-off charts wilh accountability for temperature, pressure and humidity would ensure that pilots and passengers of DC3 aircraft enjoy a degree of safely comparable lo thai of more modern aircraft, we urge that you give this request your immediate acceptance.
If the engines of these aircraft were exceptionally reliable, and the maintenance likewise, there could be some reason for the complacency of the Minister on this matter. F have here information showing that on one Ansett-A.N.A. DC3 aircraft a port engine malfunction was reported by pilots 36 times in 12 weeks. This seems incredible, but it actually happened and the information is included in the petition. Surely the responsible Minister must realise that safety is involved. He should have ordered immediate testing of these aircraft. This means that the Department is licensing aircraft that are not up to specification. The Minister is responsible and he should look after it.
I think that when one flies a lot one becomes concerned about air safely. 1 read an article in the “ Sunday Telegraph “ on 15th May which contained some shocking revelations about the unreliability of safety instruments in aircraft. I decided to make some inquiries and I discovered the number of unserviceable items permitted in an aircraft. These items are listed in company operating manuals in what is known as the allowable deficiencies section. Included in this section are such items as windscreen wipers, artificial horizons, pressurisation systems, generators, fuel quantity gauges - just to name a few. Many pilots are amazed at the apparent ease with which companies can obtain D.C.A. approval for listing some items in this category. They say that such items as fuel gauges particularly are essential and should not b_> included as permissible unserviceable items. A fault could develop in one of the fuel tanks in an aircraft and fuel could leak into the wings with the result that the aircraft could become a flying bomb.
I think these are matters which the Minister should look at; so should his Department. However, when such items are reported unserviceable by the pilots the engineers simply write them down as satisfactory to overnight service, or they say that nil spares are available at that airport. This means that if the aircraft is at Mr Isa or Darwin and these spares are not available the plane can be flown back to Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, or wherever the case may be, for repair. This sort of thing is going on ali the time because the Department does not follow up and make checks on these items. There are no safety officers going round the airports checking on these things. Pilots who refuse to accept these conditions are subject to company intimidation. This is not so much so in the Government airline, but in the private airline pilots are intimidated. In the interests of safety the Department should see that companies do not abuse any concessions. f could talk for quite a long time about these things after making only a few inquiries. There is another matter I want to refer to. It relates to the carriage of life rafts on aircraft flying over Bass Strait. For four years the Federation has been negotiating with the Department to make the carriage of life rafts compulsory on DC3 aircraft crossing Bass Strait. The Department has at last issued an air navigation order, making this compulsory. However, the order will not be effective until 1st November. I would like to know why this order is not made effective immediately. Surely there is the same risk now as there would be after that date. After all, the Department recognises that there is a risk of ditching, as it already compels aircraft crossing Bass Strait to be equipped with life jackets. Why are they not equipped with life rafts? Is it because a certain large private operator does not contemplate using DC3 aircraft over Bass Strait after 1st November and therefore will not suffer any economic penalty as a result of the air navigation order? I wonder what action the Department would take if the pilots requested the order to be amended to include all aircraft flying over Bass Strait? This is quite a possibility, as the arguments in favour of it are really strong. Let me explain this point. I recall to honorable members the uncontrollable fire that occurred in the No. 1 engine of an AnsettA.N.A. Viscount on a flight from Sydney to Melbourne on the night of 4th August 196.1. Because the aircraft’s fire fighting facilities failed to extinguish the fire, the pilot was faced with the alternatives of either continuing on to Melbourne, and so greatly increasing the risk of the fire burning through the wing, or making an emergency landing at Mangalore. The pilot made a decision that any other pilot would have made and landed al Mangalore. This action probably averted complete catastrophe.
Honorable members will also recall a Royal Australian Air Force aircraft losing a wing in similar circumstances some years ago. resulting in the death of all those on board. If the pilot of the Viscount aircraft had been flying over Bass Strait he would have been faced with similar alternatives, and in this case he would have ditched. The survival rate without life rafts would, of course, be low. A consideration of this possibility should, 1 think, stir the Department of Civil Aviation into action, lt is of no use to say that suitable rafts are not available. They arc. Qantas Empire Airways is one organisation whose aircraft carry them. Brain and Brown Airfreighters Pty. Ltd.. which operates a small freight service over Bass Strait, also has life rafts carried on its aircraft, as does the Royal Australian Air Force.
It is amazing what one can sometimes come up with after making a few inquiries. I have found that the Department of Civil Aviation does not have stationed at any of the major airports people to act as safety officers. The personnel whose duties come most closely within the safety officer concept belong to the Airworthiness Surveyors Section. The officers of this Section carry out investigations following accidents and incidents and after receiving what are called incident reports. Their duties do not provide for spot checks to see that aircraft in the process of being overhauled or on the line are being serviced in accordance with laid down procedures. They try not to interfere with company engineers in this regard. In any event, their working hours are from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., so that they are not in attendance at night or during weekends.
There are no D.C.A. people stationed at Sydney airport charged with the duties of supervising the overhaul and/ or maintenance of airline aircraft, or of adjudicating in disputes between a company and its pilots. A pilot might refuse, as he is entitled to do, to take up an aircraft and he might then be subjected to intimidatory tactics by company officials. They might say to him, for instance: “ Don’t you like your job?”. In these circumstances many pilots would back down and go out and fly. There is also no one appointed to carry out spot checks to ensure that aircraft are correctly loaded or that they are not overloaded, that the tyres are in good condition, being without cracks and not treadless, and that trim sheets tally with the actual aircraft weight and weight distribution.
These are some of the items that I thought I should bring to the attention of the Minister, lt is time that the Government did something about these matters. ] would also like to ask the Minister about the incident in which an engine fell ofT a DC6B aircraft over Melbourne earlier this year. I notice that there is nothing about it in the annual report of the Department of Civil Aviation. Is there any reason why this incident was not mentioned in the report?
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- In discussing the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation I wish to bring forward my evergreen complaint about the airport at Townsville. First, however, I would like to compliment the Department on its attractive and well presented report. It is a most comprehensive one. I read it with interest and found it well worth reading and well set out. There was nothing in it with which I could find fault, and I may say that I have been poking around aeroplanes for many years. There is nothing like civic or national pride in a project or organisation to give it impetus to proceed above the average, and to say other than that we are extremely proud of our civil aviation, with its high safety level, would be to trifle with the truth. I would like to compliment all the officers of the Department for the part they have played in the preparation of the report that we have before us. I offer congratulations to the officers of the Department in Townsville, where there is a particularly large section of the Department under the charge of Mr. Gregory.
I have always been very interested in flying and the problems associated with it, especially since I spent most of the wartime years as a member of air crew in the Royal Australian Air Force, flying in various parts of the South East Asian area. I can remember before the war the beginnings of air services to North Queensland. The services began in 1935-36 with tri motored Fokkers of the Southern Cross vintage, and also little trimotored Stinsons. In those days there was no evidence of any Department of Civil Aviation. I imagine that it did exist, but in my memory it did not show any signs of being around. That was not the fault of the Department, because it was not really needed. The war had a significant effect on aviation and on the Department. One result was the ready availability of regular air services with DC3 aircraft. I was sorry to hear my friend speak ill of those aircraft. I always held them in high regard, although I would not argue with some of the things that the honorable member said. Of course we also spent a lot of money during the war on airfields such as those at Townsville, Eagle Farm and many other places. We had aircraft available and we had airfields, all as a result of the war, and this made possible rapid and consistent improvement in flying. This expansion of flying activities was accompanied, of course, by a corresponding expansion in the Department of Civil Aviation.
I doubt very much that any government civil aviation organisation in the world is as efficient as the Department of Civil Aviation in this country. This is reflected in our safety record, which we are all happy to know is the highest in the world. I am personally particularly happy about it because I have always done a lot of flying and still do a good deal, as most honorable members do, and I am always happy to see safety regulations enforced. To my way of thinking they can never be strict enough.
Having said all the nice things about the Department - and it deserves to have them said - I now come to the complaints section. I do not have to ask the Minister to listen to my complaints because he probably knows exactly what I am about to say. I have spoken about this matter on many occasions and have raised it with various Ministers and others in this place and outside it. I refer to the conditions prevailing at Townsville airport. As I have said before, nobody who has been to that airport could fail to remember the terminal building. From time to time it has had additions stuck on to it, but during the last 10 years it has been very much the same. It is 25 years old, a barn like structure about 100 feet long and about 40 feet wide. It was built during the war and like most things built at that time it was built for the duration of the war and, I imagine, 12 months thereafter. It has been there for quite a long time now. It has not been used as the airport terminal building for the whole of that length of time, although it has served that purpose for 15 or 16 years. To me it looks like a fowl house. In fact it rather resembles one of those small buildings that one sees in the backyards around Hughenden. It is quite inadequate for its purpose. In the 25 years or so since its construction the population of Townsville has grown from 40.000 to 60,000 and air services have changed from a DC3 once a day, through the Convairs and the Viscounts and now to Electras. Once we had one DC3 flight each day by the one company. It carried fewer than 30 people. Today we have two Electra flights in the morning, sometimes involving 1 50 people, to say nothing of the hordes who come to meet the aircraft and to see the passengers off. Grandma, auntie and everybody else come out. With the 150 or so people in the two aircraft and the people who come to see them off I can assure honorable members that there is a great performance at the airport on any morning. Two Viscounts come in from Brisbane at 12.30 p.m., one from each company. They go back to Brisbane almost immediately. At 2.30 p.m. there are two more flights in from Brisbane, one by each company. They return to Brisbane at 3.30 p.m. The two
Electras conic in at 7 p.m. They slop at Townsville on the way to Cairns.
– The honorable member has a wonderful service.
– The service is one thins; the airport terminal is another. I am not talking about the service. We have additional flights to New Guinea and out west. The facilities at Townsville are inadequate. Anybody who cares to go there, including the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) will agree with me. The facilities are inadequate from the point of view of the airlines. There is no reasonable facility for checking your ticket. There is a checking point if you call a counter about 2 ft. long, designed to accommodate 50 people, a ticket checking facility. The two companies share the same facilities. The queues of people waiting to check their tickets are longer than those we see in Sydney or Brisbane.
– And this is supposed to be the capital of the north.
– One would not think so. This is a case not only of neglect of the north but also of discrimination against the north. The situation at Townsville Airport shows the Government in a bad light as far as northern development is concerned. On some mornings the place reminds me of Flinders Street Station, except that the people in Flinders Street would look happier than do the people at Townsville Airport.
No provision exists for passengers waiting to embark on a flight west or south to obtain a cup of tea. Honorable members will be aware that incoming flights do not all immediately connect with outgoing flights. A year or two ago the Government spent a bit of money on this wreck. The Government’s action was like putting a gold knob on a toilet door. Provision was made for a coffee bar. This turned out to be something like a telephone booth. It was little bigger than a telephone booth. The menu was about as good as one would find in a telephone booth. The result is that any attempt to buy anything other than newspapers, which we know do not have to be cooked, is a waste of time. By the time your order was filled your aircraft would be more than half way to Brisbane.
Most air travellers from Townsville and district live within 100 miles of the Airport.
They may come from Ingham, Ayr and Charters Towers or from the Burdekin area. They prefer to drive to Townsville and then catch a flight to Brisbane. This is only commonsense. I would have thought that being aware of this increase in air travel the Department would have made some attempt to remedy the situation that exists at Townsville Airport. If it were only the people of Townsville who used the airport the problem may not be so great, but the whole district is involved. As anybody who comes from the area knows, people from well outside Townsville prefer to use Townsville Airport rather than their local airports. This may be because, for example, passengers from Ayr to Brisbane have to fly in that funny little Beechcraft which lands at Mackay and Rockhampton. If they come from Ingham it is the old milkrun job all the way. I would have thought that some attempt would have been made by the Department to overcome these problems in at least the last five years during which I have been raising the matter. At times there are special flights out of Townsville, such as when school children are coming home. I know that when my children come home from boarding school the Airport is like a madhouse with all the special flights. When the Brisbane Show is on or at other holiday times conditions are worse than T could possibly describe.
The other thing that disturbs me about the northern area is the poor consideration given to the type of aircraft used. The route from Cairns to Brisbane is over 1,000 air miles. From Townsville to Brisbane is 800 miles. In no other part of Australia do people have to travel such vast distances in other than jet aircraft. Until the companies purchased their fourth jets we often had to put up with the old 700 series Viscounts, which are smaller and slower by 30 or 40 miles an hour than the 800 series. They are not nearly as comfortable as the 800 series. It used to be common to go to Townsville Airport in the morning and be shoved into one of these wretched things and have to change in Sydney in order to come on to Canberra. This was done away with only when the fourth jets were purchased and the Electras released the 800 series Viscounts for service. It takes three hours in a 700 series Viscount to go from Brisbane to Townsville. Now that we have Electras the flight is not so bad. that is if the Electras are not required elsewhere. Unfortunately we do not always get Electras when we are supposed to get them. Last week they could not come to Townsville because they had to cart people to Mount Isa to see the Premier of Queensland open a new shaft there. Although the service to and from Townsville has improved, Townsville still does not get the treatment that its air traffic warrants. In Townsville there are 60,000 people. In addition there are those who live in nearby districts. The people of the north are sensitive to the treatment meted out to them by governments sitting 2,000 miles away in Canberra. All the figures in the world will have no effect if first thing in the morning when you take somebody out to the airport you find this antiquated, archaic, ugly, useless and depressing eyesore which the Department of Civil Aviation year after year forces us to put up with at Townsville. I hope that the Minister has plans to improve the Garbutt Airport at Townsville in the next 50 years.
.- The estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation always present an opportunity for honorable members to be a little parochial. I certainly would not want to adopt anything but a parochial attitude on an occasion such as this, so I would like to say one or two things about developments at Brisbane Airport. I will refer to most significant developments at Brisbane Airport and to plans for the quite close future. One most important feature of Brisbane Airport is worth considering, lt has been shown to be the fastest growing international airport in Australia. I am sure that the honorable member for St. George (Mr. Bosman) will readily acknowledge this.
– Who told the honorable member that Brisbane Airport was the fastest growing in Australia?
– Let me explain: In the five years from 1960 to 1965 the number of international passenger movements through Brisbane Airport increased by more than 400 per cent. The number of international aircraft movements increased by more than 220 per cent. No other airport in Australia has increased its capacity and its international movements as has Brisbane Airport. Flights from Brisbane to some of the Pacific Islands, New
Zealand and Manila are responsible for some of this increase. The figures show clearly that Brisbane Airport’s place in the international scene is important.
It is often said that Sydney Airport shows a great increase in its international character. In the same five years from 1960 to 1965 passenger movements through Sydney Airport increased by 160 per cent, compared with 400 per cent, in the case of Brisbane. Aircraft movements of an international character at Sydney Airport increased by only 75 per cent, compared with an increase of more than 220 per cent, at Brisbane. I give those figures to illustrate how Brisbane Airport has developed. 1 am delighted that the rebuilding of the international terminal at Brisbane is proceeding. I am delighted to know that the new terminal will be opened in the middle of October. I understand that it will be opened by a local member of Parliament. Many honorable members now listening to me might be invited to attend on that occasion, too.
The works currently proceeding at tha Brisbane Airport are quite significant. The current civil engineering development programme totals more than one quarter of a million dollars. I emphasise that this represents just the programme of works that is in progress at present. This includes the construction of runway and taxiway requirements and roads, the provision of parking space in the operations area and the like. The estimated cost of works in progress totals $915,000. These are significant sums. One is delighted to know that structural tests are being made now for the siting of a completely new terminal at the Brisbane Airport. I understand that this will proceed as a very early part of the next five year programme.
– That will be after 1976.
– The honorable member need not be so pessimistic. These things will proceed after the middle of 1968. We have been given an assurance on this. No assurance that we have been given so far has fallen foul of anything and not been honoured. This being a large airport, and an international one, there are many problems related to noise. In view of the proposed development of the new north east to south west runway and of a completely new one at right angles to it - from north west to south east - I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Swartz) to consider making detailed investigations into the development of noise patterns at the Airport. This is an important factor. The noise factor becomes more important the closer one approaches the tropics. Commonsense tells us that this is so. At this point, I refer to the work of the expert committee appointed by Viscount Hailsham in the United Kingdom in 1960 to consider the problems of noise at airports. The members of this committee included such eminent men as Sir Alan Wilson and Sir Arnold Hall. Various suggestions have come out of the investigations of the committee and various factors have been revealed by its report which was submitted in 1963. The general principles underlying its conclusions apply just as well in 1966 as they did in 1963.
So one would ask that the noise factor be considered in the development of the Brisbane Airport as an international airport. Hardly an airport at any other major capital city in Australia has available as much space and as adequate facilities for damping down noise as are available at Brisbane. The factors that we ask to be considered are, first, the intrusiveness of noise, the effects of noise in the tropics compared to colder climates, and the special effects of noise on timber dwellings compared to brick or concrete ones. At times, a timber house can be almost like a violin sounding box. It can be a veritable sounding box if it is situated close to a large airport. We ask that these factors be considered very carefully and very precisely in relation to developments at the Brisbane Airport in the years to come. I know that the Minister is well aware of these problems, for he has taken a great interest in them. We suggest that he look at the possible development of noise screens such as have been adopted, I understand, at the London Airport.
One last factor related to noise should be considered, Mr. Deputy Chairman. I refer to the development of what are known as quick change aircraft, sometimes shortly referred to as Q.C. aircraft. It is clear that these will come into general operation. Merely because of the economic need for the greatest possible use of aircraft, the use of passenger machines for the transport of cargo at night must be increased. I do not think that one can really argue against this unless one accepts compensating effects all down the line. If aircraft are not to be used economically, we shall have to accept compensating increases in fares and freight charges. I understand that Fokker Friendship aircraft that are on order can be used for quick change operations. With operations of this kind, the noise factor will become even more important, since the use of airports at night will increase considerably. In any event, night use of airports will not be reduced. 1 understand that DC9 aircraft are now being considered for development as quick change machines to carry freight at night between airports at major cities. As yet neither of the two major domestic airlines has ordered quick change versions of this machine, but their use is quite a possibility because they are now being developed in the United States of America. 1 believe that these developments make clearer and more urgent the need to consider noise problems when planning works at airports. Any provision necessary to reduce the noise problem can certainly be included in works projected at the Brisbane Airport rather more easily than would be the case at any other major airport in Australia.
There is one other important matter that the Minister might consider. This concerns the rationalising of timetables, which constitutes an immense problem. We might almost describe it as a problem of logistics concerning what ought to be done and what can be done economically. One would ask that the Minister look at the rationalising of timetables giving particular attention to safety factors at airports near capital cities. I understand, for example, that banking up of aircraft, or stacking, to use the normal civil aviation term, occurs within a range of 60 or 70 miles of the Sydney Airport now. As stacking extends farther and farther from the centre of operations, safety factors become more critical. The present aircraft timetables certainly accentuate the need to stack aircraft and render control tower operations more difficult. These are important considerations related to safety in the area adjacent to airports.
Various inconveniences to travellers result from the present timetables. They prevent the choice of service from being particularly wide. I realise, of course, that if one travels between Sydney and Melbourne so many aircraft are available that one is hardly concerned about this. But in the far flung outposts of civilisation farther north, we are concerned with these matters. We ask that they be looked into. The present timetables also cause serious overworking of staff because they prevent the work load from being distributed equitably. This is inevitable when quite a number of aircraft take off and arrive at an airport at the one time. This also causes serious overloading of airport facilities such as telephones and restaurants. We all know of the overloading of the post office facilities at Sydney Airport. The existing timetables cause a rush of customers at certain times and at other times the facilities are hardly used at all. They are vacant of passengers. But even more important than all these factors is the free enterprise approach to our airline activities. If it is economically necessary to have a two airline system - I do. not think it can be argued at the moment that it is not - then obviously we cannot have competition between many airlines. The competition must occur further down the line in relation to timetables, facilities, and so on. With the rationalising of timetables, competition occurs further down the line in the field of facilities available to passengers. I ask the Minister, when considering the rationalisation of timetables, to consider these factors.
Let me return to the case which 1 intended to make originally. It concerns the new plans for the reconstruction of the Brisbane airport after 30th June 1968. 1 suggest that the Minister, when considering these plans, pay due regard to the noise factor. The Brisbane airport is situated in a sub-tropical region, so that noise is very important - possibly more important than is the case with airports situated .in the colder regions. I know that the planned siting of the terminal will be most satisfactory for the convenience of passengers and from the point of view of considerably lessening the noise nuisance.
.- In dealing with the estimates for the Department of Shipping and Transport, I should like first to refer briefly to the item which relates to the provision of financial assis tance to the shipping service between Melbourne and King Island. I note that the expenditure under this heading in 1965-66 was $161,107, and that the amount to bc appropriated this year is $160,000. I draw the attention of honorable members to the following passage from the notes which have been presented for our information -
The Commonwealth is continuing to provide financial assistance for this service for a period which commenced on 1st January 1965 and is under regular review. It is hoped that by June 1968 the increasing volume of cargo carried will enable the Government to review the need for continued assistance in the light of the improvement in the island’s economy.
This assistance is provided by way of interim payments which are subject to adjustment in tho light of actual operating results.
I sincerely hope that this subsidy will be continued long after June 1968, and that before it expires the Government will make a full and detailed investigation, not so much of the increasing volume of cargo carried, but of the cost of getting livestock from King Island to Newmarket in Victoria compared with the cost to be met by mainland farmers living a similar distance from Newmarket, who have the benefit of regular road and rail services for the transport of their stock. Before the subsidy on the King Island service was introduced, the cost of transporting stock from the island to Newmarket was crippling. Therefore, I suggest that, while considering the increasing volume of cargo carried, the Government should also look at the comparative cost of transporting livestock over a similar distance by rail or road. In considering the question of the increasing volume of cargo carried, the Government should remember that the “ John Franklin “, which plied between Launceston and King Island, is no longer on that run. It was taken off because it lost cargo due to the fact that no subsidy was payable on services between Tasmania and King Island.
The payment of this subsidy represented a shot in the arm to the economy of King Island, lt was urgently required at the time it was granted, and its removal would mean higher freight rates with resulting higher prices for groceries and higher living costs generally, together with depleted returns to the people of the island. For these reasons, it must be continued. In addition, greater interest is being taken now by land buyers from Victoria and the other States in investing in and developing land on King Island. There are two groups there at the moment, but they are considering the project in the light of present freight rates and other existing conditions. This subsidy must not be removed. If it were removed, then, instead of seeing a much needed rise in the island’s population, we would be faced with further evacuations.
I turn now to the Australian National Line. I pay great tribute to the Line for its very fine annual report for the year ended 30th June 1966. I think that the Line won an award for the best compiled and prepared annual report a couple of years ago. Last year it received the runner-up award. This year also a very fine report has been published, and I compliment those responsible on a very fine job. Let me refer briefly to the following statement by the Chairman of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission, which operates the Line, as published on page 5 of the report -
Considerable publicity has been given in recent months to the introduction of special container or pallet ships into overseas trades, with services rationalised and transhipment to and from one or two major ports. The Australian National Line has kept in close touch with the course of these events and considers itself ideally suited, with the facilities outlined above, to keep abreast of and to participate in these developments, and at the same time, maintain its leading position in the carriage of coastwise cargoes.
This question of special container or pallet ships in the overseas trade is very important. Many shipping interests in various places, certainly in Tasmania, fear that the introduction of this system, with goods in containers or pallets sent from feeder ports such as ours and transferred to overseas ships at one central port - Melbourne, Sydney or wherever it may be - could lead to an increase in freight costs. This would certainly put Tasmania at a disadvantage, because we have no central port and would have to meet the cost of transhipment on the mainland. The Government will need to watch this question very closely indeed. Perhaps the Minister has some further information about the operations of container or pallet ships in the overseas trade. I understand that the first ship of this type to arrive in Australia will be a Swedish ship, which is due here in November. So far, we have been starved of information relating to this evolution in the movement of goods overseas, and any information that can be supplied by the Department will be much appreciated.
It is heartening to read in the Australian National Line’s excellent report a reference to the fact that investigations are now being pursued by the Line into the possibility of engaging in further overseas trade. We urgently need our own overseas shipping line, and the Australian National Line should be given the green light to go more and more into this field. I hope this will be done. We must do everything possible to break the stranglehold which the conference lines now hold on freights. These lines merely follow the criteria of the shipping companies that operated on the coast of Australia before the Australian National Line introduced its roll-on roll-off vessels in 1959. Up to that time, whenever there was an increase in costs, the shipping companies immediately increased freights. They made no attempt whatever to investigate means of either reducing or absorbing the costs. In 1959, of course, the Australian National Line really got its teeth into the matter and did an expert job. The other companies made no attempt to reduce costs. They gave no consideration whatever to the practicability of introducing new techniques or new handling methods with a view to reducing costs. But the Australian National Line has done this. The story of the Line, commencing from 1959 when the first roll-on, roll-off vessel came on the coastline, is indeed a fascinating one.
Despite the rising freight costs which have been imposed by the conference lines and by all other shipping companies without due regard to the exporters of this country, it is worthy of note that the Australian National Line in January this year was able to reduce freights on Bass Strait cargoes by 1 per cent. This in itself is an indication of the value of this line. It has been possible to reduce freights by the introduction of new techniques and by the imagination and foresight displayed by the people in charge of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission. To illustrate this, let me refer to the “ Bass Trader “. which is doing an excellent job. To minimise time lost by mechanical breakdowns the “ Bass Trader “ has a spare engine weighing about 5 tons always on hand. If there is a breakdown there is no long hold up for mechanical repairs. The engineers simply lift out the defective engine and replace it with the standby. The ships of the National Line have been giving a regular, fast and good service to the northern part of Tasmania as a result of the initiative, foresight, engineering ability and design capabilities of the people in charge of the Commission. The qualities they have displayed make for greater efficiency, and efficiency in a shipping line means reduced costs and freights. As I have indicate, the Line has reduced freights this year by 1 per cent, but whenever there is an increase in costs the conference lines automatically increase freights.
Since this Government came to power in 1949 freight rates on wool and refrigerated cargo have increased by 106 per cent. The annual freight bill on Australia’s imports and exports is almost $600 million, and shortly this will be increased by 6.2 per cent, on most types of cargo and 10 per cent, on refrigerated cargo. I should like to mention, as I have mentioned before and as has been mentioned by the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) and the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie), the effect that this increase will have on the apple and pear industry in Tasmania. No doubt my remarks will apply to the rest of Australia. As we have pointed out, the apple and pear industry is an important one. At present the freight on a case of apples is $1.90. It costs $4 to present a case of apples in England so that freight is almost 50 per cent, of the total cost of presenting a case of apples in the Old Country. This is a shocking state of affairs. This new increase of 10 per cent, will mean roughly an increase of 19c on each case of fruit, and as we export about six million cases a year, an additional impost of about $1 million will be spread over the industry by the action of the conference lines.
We know the outlook for our fruit on the European market next year is not good. We have had a disastrous season. We receive from a little more than $1 to a little more than $3 for our mid-season varieties which cost us $4 to present on the market. We have to get at least 70c to earn a reasonable, not an excessive, margin of profit if we are to continue. Having regard to the price we receive for our fruit and the fact that we are now faced with an increase of 19c in freight alone. 1 hope the Australian National Line will be given the green light to extend its operations further into the field of overseas shipping. If we are to remain one of the world’s great exporters of primary products we must take this step. We realise that when primary producers are saddled with extra freight costs they have nowhere to place them. They cannot pass them on as the furniture maker does when the price of timber rises. All he has to do is increase the cost of the finished article and in that way recover the higher cost of timber. But the primary producer cannot pass on his increased costs. He is saddled with them and that is why we now find a lack of confidence in farmers operating in the Huon, Tamar and Mersey Valleys and in other parts of Australia. The establishment of an overseas shipping line is one of the planks of the Labour Party’s platform. I sincerely hope that soon we will see a change of heart all round and our own overseas shipping line to look after our own exporters. 1 want to turn briefly to the Bass Strait services. As I indicated earlier, I am very proud of the vessels of the Australian National Line. The “ Princess of Tasmania “ made her inaugural voyage on 2nd October 1959 and up to June this year had made 2,083 crossings between Melbourne and Devonport and had carried an average of 87,600 passengers a year, taking 1,000 people each week into Devonport. With the concurrence of honorable members 1 incorporate in “ Hansard “ statistics relating to the roll on, roll off aspect of Bass Strait services.
The document reveals a fascinating story. Prior to the introduction of the passenger vehicle ferry “ Princess of Tasmania tourists who travelled to Tasmania by sea came on the “Taroona”. Between 1954, only 12 years ago, and 1966 the number of passengers carried across the Bass Strait has increased by some 140 per cent. We are very pleased to note provision in the Estimates for the building of a sister ship of the “ Princess of Tasmania “ and that it is expected that the new vessel will be on the run by December 1968. I am sure this will be an excellent vessel.
I am pleased that the Australian National Line has taken heed of the many requests and representations made by honorable members on this side of the House and by the Labour Government in Tasmania to do away with chairs and to have only berths in the new vessel. She will carry 200 passengers all of whom will be accommodated in either two berth or single berth cabins. The four berth cabins which were a feature of both the “ Princess of Tasmania “ and the “ Empress of Australia “ will not be fitted but it will be possible, by combining the two berth cabins with a connecting door, to provide a family suite. There will be space for some 90 passengers’ cars. This new vessel will give a much needed boost to the Tasmanian tourist industry. It is wonderful to realise that in 1968 we will have a passenger ship between Melbourne and Devonport six nights a week.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Stewart). - Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Sitting suspended from 6.2 to 8 p.m.
.- One of the rather strange tendencies that the Government displays so regularly in policy matters is the tendency to treat matters in an ad hoc fashion - that is, matters within the economy which really need a perspective coming from an overall view of the performance of the economy. So we get the situation where in some cases on a particular issue we get overlapping with another issue. In other cases we get gaps where the policy on one point falls short of the commencement point of policy on another point. This illustrates the need for economic planning in the economy, and really this is the position in which we ought to be looking at transport. The very fact that we have a Minister for Transport and Shipping and a separate Minister for Civil Aviation is evidence of what I am talking about, namely, that the Government treats in isolation matters that should be seen as integrated sectors of a whole. This is most undesirable and certainly does not allow the Government to make the most efficient contribution in an economic sense.
The fact that transport involves about 25 per cent, of our gross national product in terms of the total expenditure associated with this field must give us cause for reflection and concern that the Government does tend to treat this important subject in a disjointed way. After all, transport is a very important factor in reducing costs of production, because better roads mean reduced costs of movement of goods from point A to point B in the distribution process. Better railway services, or railway services integrated with road services; better shipping services, the encouragement of the transfer of passengers from railways to planes for longer distance travelling, all can have most beneficial effects within the economy. In mentioning this point I immediately think of something that constantly comes to my mind when I travel by air and I see what seems to be the ridiculous procedure of tourist class travel and first class travel. The tourist class travellers do not get meals during flight. The tourist class travellers occupy slightly less seating room than the first class passengers. To gain these advantages the first class passengers have to pay a few more dollars. I cannot see the sense of this situation, because it adds to the cost of transportation by air. It means the plane carries fewer passengers. A flight from Brisbane to Sydney takes an hour to an hour and a half, depending on the type of aircraft. Hostesses are obliged to run backwards and forwards serving meals and so forth to the first class passengers. The whole situation seems silly. We would be far better off if all air transport were economy class and meals were not served. Let us make travel by plane cheaper and therefore more attractive to more people. This would help divert a large proportion of the passenger public away from trains, because economically trains are not the most successful means of carrying passengers over long distances. Also, this would allow trains to concentrate on heavier haulage over long distances. lt seems to me that because of the disjointed approach of the Government we have not done enough with shipping. We hear little about the development of the open ship. Like so many things wilh which this country has to grapple from time to time, innovations are upon us before we can get action from the Government. We should have reports to this Parliament regularly, in the form of white papers, on what the various departments are considering. At least the Treasury does this now and again, and I am sure many other departments - not the least the Department of Shipping and Transport and the Department of Civil Aviation - could do likewise with more success in informing us what is being done and what is anticipated for the future. This would allow us to formulate our own concepts on policy details for the future rationalisation of cargo despatch methods. I have not heard much of value on this from the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth). When I pass the ports of Brisbane. Sydney, Melbourne and some other ports and see so many ships tied up in the coastal trade loading a certain amount of cargo for the same ports and probably ail calling at three or four ports in between their departure port and final destination, picking up small consignments of cargo. I realise what an expensive procedure this is. lt probably costs the best part of 51,000 in port dues and other charges for a ship to enter and leave a port. This is a clear field of exercise for rationalisation of shipping procedures to reduce costs.
We have over 90 ports in Australia controlled by more than 30 authorities. This is th£ sort of thing that contributes to endemic inefficiency. Of course, we ought to nationalise these various stevedoring authorities to try to get efficiency and to improve the wharf handling procedures as well as to rationalise shipping procedures. I should like to mention one glaring example that 1 feel illustrates this type of inefficiency, this type of dithering, this lack of integration in planning in transport. The New South Wales Maritime Services Board under a 10 year plan is going to invest about $74 million in developing containerisation handling facilities in Sydney. It is going to use about 1 5 acres for this containerisation project. I am assured that this area is totally insufficient for the demands that will be forthcoming in a containerisation port area. The excuse of the Maritime Services Board is that it is going to set up, 10 miles away from the port, a central handling depot at Homebush. This means unnecessary duplication, therefore extra cost. Not only is extra cost involved in terms of actual handling, but there will be horrible delays in traffic movement (hat will add considerably to the overall cost. This, to me, is just another example of the very narrow, shortsighted approach that the Government adopts on these issues.
The Sydney port will provide six container berths. Melbourne will provide eight container berths. The argument is that the Balmain foreshore, where these facilities will be provided, has sufficient space for only six container berths. It was suggested that the container berths should be provided at Botany Bay on the north foreshore. This was recommended by a marine engineering firm from Britain - Sir Alexander Gibbs and Partners. The argument is that by 1968 we have to be ready for containerisation. Japan is going to be active by that time because of the tremendous investment she is putting into this sort of facility. If we are going to have to make some sort of temporary arrangement - so long as it is understood that it is temporary in Sydney, where it is totally unsuitable, as Sydney is at present, with its traffic congestion and insufficient space - a plan should be prepared and a statement presented to the Parliament indicating what is going to bc done at Botany Bay or in some other area in the long term development of containerisation facilities. We need to know these things. After all, this is the Federal Parliament. I am sure that it is extremely convenient, if not absolutely necessary, for the Cabinet to know about these things; but if the Cabinet really believes in the theory of democracy it ought to let us know a few of these secrets, which do not need to be secrets, and which are necessary matters of knowledge for ordinary back benchers in the Parliament if they are to discuss the people’s welfare in this house of debate.
But most of all I am concerned about the way in which the airlines have been rationalised to suit Ansett-A-N.A. The whole history of civil aviation in Australia has been the regulation of the airlines to make the maximum contribution to Ansett- A.N.A. The .1957 Civil Aviation Agreement Act was the first step in this direction. The 1958 Airlines Equipment Act tightened up the regulations, or the rationalisation, and prevented Trans-Australia Airlines from taking a very progressive step and introducing Caravelle pure jets. It was forced then to select Electra aircraft, because Ansett wanted Electras. I have spoken to quite a few overseas airline pilots and they have assured me that the Caravelles were much superior to the Electras at the time the Electras were chosen in preference to them.
The 1960 cross charter agreement was further penalisation for T.A.A. It was forced to accept two DC6B’s for three Viscounts. Anyone who thinks that the DC6B’s are good aircraft in which to travel should be at the Canberra airport some morning and hear the comments of members of the Parliament when these aircraft instead of Viscounts arrive to take them to Sydney. The latest development is that T.A.A. will not be allowed to take early delivery of the DC9 aircraft. They were originally programmed for progressive delivery, one in August 1967, a second in October 1967 and a third in November 1967. Now delivery will be in November 1967, November 1968 and August 1969. Why do honorable members think that this has happened? It has happened because Reg Ansett wanted it to happen. He has not yet written off in terms of depreciation the huge cost of his Electra aircraft, so he wants delivery of the DC9 aircraft to be staggered over a longer period. It does not matter whether T.A.A. is in a position to accept these aircraft and operate them on Australian airlines for the benefit of the Australian public. Of course, the cost of the aircraft will rise during the longer period we must wait for them.
But the significant point here is this: Where is the free enterprise? Where is the competition? I am a Socialist and a member of a Socialist party - a democratic Socialist party. I promote the interests of public enterprise as much as possible, but I believe also that the purpose of these activities is to serve the welfare of the people. If private enterprise can do a better job, obviously public enterprise is not desirable. On the other hand, the Government believes that we should not have public enterprise, or, if we must put up with it because it is a legacy from a Socialist Government, we should put as big a damper on it as possible. In the meantime, the Government postulates the virtues of free enterprise. But there is no evidence at all of free enterprise in the operations of the airlines of this country. This is rather shocking. The Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Swartz) is able to present a case to the Parliament most eloquently and in a way that suits the Ansett interests ‘but does not suit the interests of the Government instrumentality, T.A.A. We see that, of the 118 airports in the Commonwealth of Australia, T.A.A. serves only 40 but 91 are served by Ansett. Unfortunately I do not have much time to devote to this aspect, but there is a whole history of the gobbling up of smaller airlines by Ansett. There is a history of T.A.A. being forced to transfer some of its successful services to Ansett-A.N.A. The loss to T.A.A. in respect of the Darwin services transferred to Ansett amounted to SI million a year. Now T.A.A. is asking to be given a fair go in competition. I am sure that Ansett will not allow similar transfers to take place at his expense. This is the way the public purse is being plundered for his benefit.
There is another matter I want to mention. Is it not about time that the Minister for Civil Aviation spoke independently and rather courageously for a change about the way in which Ansett absolutely refuses to provide a separate balance sheet for the airline activities of his interests in this country? I think it is absolutely shocking that the whole of the activities of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. are lumped into one balance sheet. When this is done, we do not know what is happening with public moneys. This is important, because certain air routes operated by Ansett are being subsidised by the Government. I would also like to know at this point, for instance, how Austarama Television Pty. Ltd. is being subsidised. Austarama is an Ansett interest and Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. has provided $6.6 million to keep Austarama afloat. But this is $6.6 million of public money. I think this is shocking. We want to know, and we have a right to know, whether this amount is coming from money being derived in the airline sector. If it is, we want a breakdown of the balance sheet so that we will know just how much public money is going into Austarama and all of the other activities of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd.
The shocking result of this preferential treatment given to Ansett at the expense of T.A.A., a public enterprise, is that Ansett route miles are approximately two and a half times greater than T.A.A. route miles. The only satisfactory feature of this is that, with everything thrown in the path of progress of T.A.A. to obstruct it, T.A.A. continues to prosper on those main routes where it competes on equal terms with Ansett. On these routes, T.A.A. gains a greater percentage of the traffic than does Ansett-A.N.A. If the Government really believes that we live in a free enterprise economy - if it really stands for free enterprise and competition - here is a good opportunity for it to allow free enterprise and competition to operate. If it did, we would have only one airline, and with our population that is all we can really afford.
.- I want to make a very few remarks before the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) makes his contribution to the debate on the estimates for his Department. I would like to direct my remarks to the question of roads. As honorable members know, early this year the necessary appointments were made to the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads. The Chairman is Mr. Loxton, and he has two assistants. They have not been at work for very long. They have made the necessary staff appointments and have fitted up an office. But in spite of this short period of operation I believe that the Chairman has been very active in moving around the various States and making himself familiar with the huge task that he has before him.
At this stage, I should like to remind the Committee of the words of the previous Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, in discussing the road problem at the Premiers Conference in 1964. He said -
We have a great deal of information on road matters and a big volume of advice from authorities and organisations concerned with roads and road transportation. We have official statistics and we obtain the views and assessments of the several State Governments. This falls short of what we require because the views and representations put to us stress particular, sectional aspects of the problem and do it very cogently and persuasively. But the Commonwealth must obviously be in a position to make a competent and reliable appraisal of its own.
I hope that the Commonwealth Bureau will make an interim report at the appropriate time and that the Minister will make it available to the Parliament. Many people are waiting anxiously for any contributions that this body can make towards the solution of the problem that confronts us now. I do not know of any greater internal problem than the problem of roads.
Capital cities in the eastern States are progressively choking themselves with traffic bottlenecks and our country highways are inadequate to meet the demands of increasing traffic. Perhaps worst of all is the appalling rate of road accidents. I notice that the Australian Automobile Association assesses it as one death every three hours and one person maimed every seven minutes. Australia is amongst the four most highly motorised countries in the world, but it is the worst for traffic accidents. This is appalling. It is obvious that the all too familiar situation must stop, and that will when a competent and reliable appraisal of the road situation is made public by the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads. When I say this “ all too familiar “ situation on our roads, I do not want my meaning to be misunderstood. I now refer to this sectional aspect of the road problem. In this country we have the six States and the Federal Territories, each with an independent road authority, each with a particular sectional interest, each with logs to roll and none with sufficient resources to meet the huge demands being made upon them. Between these States is a limited area of agreement, paraded now and then for special occasions, and a large area of jealousy, State rightism, parochialism and so on. If the Minister at the conclusion of this debate will tell us of the progress that is being made by the Bureau I am sure that we will all be very pleased to hear what he has to say.
– I support the remarks of the honorable member for Isaacs (Mr. Haworth) in regard to roads. We are all concerned with the state of the roads throughout the Commonwealth and the tragic road deaths which are taking place. We would all like to get as soon as possible whatever information we can on what is being done about this very important matter. However, I should like to confine most of my remarks tonight to the Department of Civil Aviation. In doing so 1 refer to the administration of that Department.
I support the remarks of the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Hayden) regarding the preferential treatment that has been given by this Government to Ansett Transport Industries to the detriment of TransAustralia Airlines. This shocking airlines story goes back for some years. In fact it goes back to 1952 when legislation introduced by this Government forced T.A.A. to comply with an agreement made between the Government and Australian National Airways Pty. Ltd., which was the alternative airline at that time. It will be remembered that this agreement reduced air route charges claimed by the Government from A.N. A. and guaranteed to A.N. A. at that time £4 million in loans. The Government made T.A.A. surrender half its carriage of airmails to A.N.A., gave A.N. A. other business and made T.A.A. pay tax and a dividend which was specified by the Treasurer from time to time. The policy of the Government has been to destroy competition in favour of Ansett-A.N.A. Sir Warren McDonald, a former chairman of T.A.A., said -
What has been done is the very negation of competition.
Despite this favorable treatment. A.N. A. failed in 1957, defaulted in respect of Government guaranteed loans and sold out to Ansett for £3.3 million. That meant that all the benefits of the 1952 agreement and the concessions which were contained therein went to Ansett. The terms of the loans were extended and guaranteed to the extent of £3 million by this Government. In 1960 the then Minister for Civil Aviation compelled T.A.A. to hand over three Viscounts to Ansett in exchange for two out of date DC6s. That is just one of the incidents associated with this shocking airlines story.
This history of sabotage by the Government against its own airline was continued in the Airlines Agreement Bill 1961. It will be remembered that on the eve of the general election, when the Government feared defeat and almost was defeated - it was returned by a majority of one - the Government extended the 1952 agreement which was to have expired in 1 967 and still had many years to run. The Government extended the agreement by .10 years. The result was that future governments were bound so far as subsequent agreements were concerned.
That agreement gave Ansett further benefits. For example, it gave the Ansett company access to Darwin from its eastern State runs. It prevented T.A.A. from investing in its own business reserves which had been created through carrying ils own insurance. But the act of sabotage goes even further. The Government has assisted Ansett to take over all except one of the private airlines. First of all it took over A.N. A. and then Southern Airlines Ltd. of Victoria, Guinea Airways Ltd. of South Australia, Butler Air Transport Ltd. of New South Wales, Queensland Airlines Pty. Ltd., New Guinea Airlines and finally MacRobertson Miller Airlines Ltd. Ansett tried to take over East West Airlines Ltd. in New South Wales, but because of the alertness of the State Labour Government it was prevented from doing so.
I shall refer particularly to the takeover of MacRobertson Miller because that occurred in my own State. The Minister for Civil Aviation at that time admitted that T.A.A. had been stopped from acquiring shares in the MacRobertson Miller company. T.A.A. had wanted to acquire shares in that company but was stopped from doing so by the Government which also refused to amend the legislation to give T.A.A. equal rights with Ansett to the air routes in
Western Australia. In 1957 the Western Australian Government agreed to allow T.A.A. to operate intrastate services in Western Australia. The Minister at that time threatened that the subsidy for MacRobertson Miller Airlines would be withdrawn if T.A.A. were permitted to operate in that State. Recently T.A.A. again sought authority to operate in Western Australia, but the Minister refused permission. The Minister claims that T.A.A. has not been damaged by his action and frequently points out the profits that are made by that company, but the facts are that the profits would be even greater if T.A.A. were allowed to run untrammelled and to compete on these air routes. The profits which were made could then be returned to the public in the form of cheaper fares and lower freight rates. Then we could have what could truly be called competition between the two airlines. The Government calls it rationalisation, but the facts are that this is one industry which is actually divided into two halves, one privately owned and the other publicly owned.
Honorable members will be aware that there has been rapid development in Western Australia, particularly in the north west. This development has been referred to in reports of the Director-General of Civil Aviation in recent years. Why should Ansett have the advantage of all this development? Surely the time to go into an area with two airlines is when the area is being developed. Yet this monopoly is being given to Ansett and T.A.A. is not being allowed to go into the area. It is being shoved aside. T.A.A. has asked for authority to run from Perth through the north west to Darwin, but that has been refused. I remind honorable members that MacRobertson Miller is not only an intrastate airline; it also holds a licence to operate to Darwin, which is in the Northern Territory and is administered by the Commonwealth. In effect this means that Ansett can operate right round Australia while T.A.A is barred from running from Perth to Darwin up the west coast of Western Australia. T.A.A. is barred from operating along a tremendous strip of coastline, yet Ansett can operate right throughout Australia. It is true that T.A.A. is now running a connecting flight to Darwin, but this is via Adelaide.
There is a big advantage to Ansett in being able to link its capital city flights with the private intrastate airlines acting as feeder services to the main routes. The Government’s policy has allowed Ansett to get a virtual monopoly of intrastate airlines. The former chairman of the Australian National Airlines Commission, Sir Giles Chippindall, has said that Government favoritism shown to Ansett Transport Industries has created an imbalance to Australia’s two airlines system. A report of his remarks in the “West Australian” on 15th July 1966 stated - . . the imbalance between T.A.A. and A.T.I. , which operates Ansett-A.N.A. presented a significant threat to competitive situation. it had developed since the amalgamation of Ansett Airways and Australian National Airways in 1957 and the steady enlargement of the route structure, traffic volume’ and revenue and profits of A.T.I. “ Personally, I know of no company or industry that has received for good reason more government help and support than A.T.I. ‘’, Sir Giles said. “ 1 know many that would dearly like such treatment and 1 question whether, if they received it, they would still be passing the plate for more.’’
The report continued - “Since 1952 T.A.A. has received no airline licences of consequences within Australia while A.T.I, has acquired many by taking over independent airlines and through Iiic rationalisation machinery,” Sir Giles said. “ Within Australia, A.T.I, is licensed to operate over 125 routes, of which 88 are monopoly licences. “ By contrast, T.A.A. is licensed over 68 routes, of which 28 are non-competitive.”
Sir Giles said that in the year ended June 30th, 1965, there were 118 airports in the Commonwealth, excluding Papua and New Guinea, which handled more than 2,000 passengers a year.
Only 40 of the 118 were served by T.A.A., while A.T.I, served 91.
There is a statement from a man who was chairman of the Australian National Airlines Commission for some years, and surely that speaks for itself. The statement has not been questioned by the Minister for Civil Aviation. Sir Giles also compared the taxation burden of the two airlines. This is very interesting to note. The report said -
The meagre information in the Ansett Transport Industries’ balance sheet in the last two years showed that the company did not pay more than $20,000 in taxation. . . .
Me said that in the same period Trans-Australia Airlines, which Ls controlled by the Commission, paid $1,800,000 in taxation.
When I saw that report I asked the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) a question in regard to it. I asked him what amounts the respective airlines paid in taxation. His answer was -
The secrecy provisions of the taxation laws preclude the Commissioner of Taxation from divulging this information.
That being the case, we must accept Sir Giles Chippindall’s statement that Ansett Transport Industries paid §20,000, or less, in taxation while T.A.A. paid S 1,800,000. lt is reasonable to accept those figures. We can see that the Government is continuing to protect Ansett. The Minister for Civil Aviation, in reply to Sir Giles, and in protection of Ansett, had this to say - and I quote from the “ West Australian “ of 9th August -
Referring lo statements by the former chairman of T.A.A., Sir Giles Chippindall, Mr. Swartz said: “ T.A.A. is not debarred from operating intrastate services. It already operates intrastate in Tasmania and Queensland. “ A.T.I.’s entry into the intrastate field is nol a result of the government’s two-airline policy. “ The government’s two-airline policy is designed specifically to maintain two major airlines in competition on the main trunk routes. “ The A.T.I, group - of which Ansett-A.N.A. is only a part - has entered the intrastate field by the normal commercial practice of buying a number of small feeder airlines. “The government’s two-airline policy did nol give these airlines, or their routes, to A.T.I. They were acquired by A.T.I, in normal commercial dealings on the open market “.
What he did not say was that T.A.A. was stopped from acquiring shares in MacRobertson Miller Airlines - that is only one instance - and has been refused equal rights with Ansett in regard to that airline’s particular run. Also, he did not say that only in Queensland and Tasmania does T.A.A. have the right to compete with Ansett in intrastate flying. It does not have this right in the other States. Ansett has a monopoly in South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia. T.A.A. cannot even compete for the substantial Government traffic to Woomera in South Australia. It cannot compete for the increasing traffic in Western Australia. Traffic carried by M.M.A. has increased tremendously. Its passenger and freight traffic rose by 50 per cent, in 1965-66. It has a monopc’7. This is referred to in the report of the Department of Civil Aviation which was handed down the other day.
The latest win for Ansett has been in connection with the purchase of the DC9 aircraft, which was mentioned by the honorable member for Oxley. T.A.A. wanted to bring six of these aircraft into service by the end of 1967, but Ansett would not agree. The Minister, to suit Ansett, then fixed a delivery date for each airline to get the fourth DC9 by the end of 1967, the fifth being deferred to 1968 and the sixth to 1969. These are the delivery dates that Ansett wanted. So T.A.A. was overruled in the interests of Ansett. The Minister, in support of this decision, stated that the rate of traffic growth had been overestimated. Surely if T.A.A. wanted-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Peters). - Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Australia is a highly motorised country, amongst the top four in the world, and from my knowledge of people generally 1 would say it is the aim of every Australian to own a motor car. This aim, worthy as it is, creates problems throughout Australia, particularly with regard to roads. Our record for accidents is the worst in the world on a percentage basis, and the position is not improving. It is true that large sums for roads are made available to State Governments by way of grant from the Commonwealth Treasury each year. The money is raised by excise on petrol. The States are spending this money on road construction and in many cases are augmenting these funds from their own resources. But whilst much is being done the number of deaths on the road in Australia is mounting.
We are spending a large sum each year on road safety. For this year a sum of $234,000 has been appropriated for the promotion of road safety. In addition a further amount of $116,000 is to be disbursed to the States for this purpose. Whilst this is a very worthy project and has been going on for some time I am afraid that the money is wasted. It is used mainly for advertising and to warn motorists of the dangers of speed, bad driving and those other factors which cause road accidents. Although the project is worthy I feel that it is failing. I would prefer to see this money - although it amounts to less than half a million dollars - made available for further improvement of our roads. There is no doubt that there is room for great improvement on the main highways. Much is being done to improve the highways - and I pay a tribute to the various State Governments for this - but a lot more has to be done. I would like to see the standard of road construction improved, particularly in relation to width and the state of edges. The condition of the roads, particularly the edges, is responsible for forcing motorists - especially drivers of heavy transports - towards the right side of the roadway. The rule of the road is to keep as near to the left as possible, but when there are bad edges the drivers of heavy vehicles, and motorists generally, tend to disregard this rule. They are forced to do this because of the deterioration of the edges. I think that the authorities should insist on a minimum width of at least 24 feet for all major highways when there are only two lanes provided for traffic.
If these two factors were taken into consideration in road construction I believe they would make a major contribution towards the elimination of accidents. Of course there are factors that no government can control. Many motorists, for instance, completely ignore warning signs and double lines painted on the roadway. If these are disregarded, of course, fatalities must follow. There is a tendency on the part of semi-trailer drivers, of whom there are very many on our country roads, to travel in convoy. This is forbidden in my State but I do not know what the traffic rules are with respect to this practice in other States. I know that the practice is particularly prevalent in New South Wales, and it presents a temptation to drivers of cars to try to pass these vehicles moving in convoy. If two or more semi-trailers are travelling together at a high rate of speed the motorist who wishes to pass must obviously travel very fast indeed for a short distance.
The greatest contributor to safety on the roads is the driver himself, but there is always a tendency towards impatience on the part of motorists. I confess to this sin myself. There is this tendency towards impatience but it is perfectly natural when one has the irritating experience of travelling behind a line of two or three semi-trailers, or behind a driver who is travelling very slowly and not allowing an opportunity for the following motorist to pass.
I hope that the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads, which has only recently been launched and has not really got into operation as yet, will start rolling very shortly and do something towards recommending improved road construction. I hope it will also recommend to the Minister that increased amounts be voted for the improvement of certain of our highways. It is on the major highways that most accidents occur and there is certainly a great need for improvement. One of the main matters to be given attention in roadway construction is the provision of adequate visibility. It is when a man can see that there is danger ahead that he is shocked into sensibility and applies commonsense to his driving.
I have made these few points on this important subject because road traffic accidents have reached serious proportions in Australia. They are causing more casualties than the Vietnam war, and we all know what a costly experience that is for Australia. We cannot afford a continuation of the loss of valuable lives through carelessness and neglect. Of course, carelessness is something for which the driver himself is responsible, but I believe that the road constructing authorities should make every effort to ensure that safety is given priority in road construction.
There is one other matter to which I would like to refer in discussing these estimates, and that is the condition of certain of our airports. I want to speak again about the Brisbane airport. Brisbane is being slighted by this Government. The third largest capital city in the Commonwealth is being completely ignored by the Government. I am indebted to one of the Government supporters for the remarks he made about the Brisbane airport before the suspension of the sitting this evening, when he said that during the last five years the number of passengers going through the international airport had increased by 400 per cent, and that the number of international aircraft using Brisbane airport had increased by 200 per cent, during the same period. These are greater proportionate increases than those that have applied in the greatest city in Australia, Sydney.
The Government is proposing to spend $43,626,000 this year on Sydney airport, while the amount to be spent in Brisbane is 5958,000. Despite the provision for this large expenditure in Sydney I notice that no provision is being made for the full use of the modern aircraft that Qantas Empire Airways Ltd. proposes to acquire, the Concorde. A considerable amount of money has been spent on extending a runway at the Sydney airport into Botany Bay, to bring the runway up to a length of 8,500 feet, but we are now told by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Swartz) that the Concorde, operating under full economic load, needs a runway length of 10,500 feet. While the Minister seems to think - and I cannot follow his reasoning - that a runway of 8.500 feet will be sufficient, if the Concorde cannot operate with maximum load from such a runway I believe that very shortly it will be found necessary to extend the runway by another 2,000 feet. These aircraft must carry their full load if they are to operate profitably.
While I. have mentioned the amount that is to be spent in Sydney, I must not disregard entirely the work that is to be done in Melbourne, where the Commonwealth Government is pouring money into the construction of an international airport. There is a vote of $34,423,000 for the Tullamarine airport, while we find that the international airport in Brisbane is to have $40,000 spent on it to improve a galvanised iron igloo that was built during the war. This is only to glamorise it a little, not to effect any great improvement. Certainly there will be some lino tiles on the floor and there will be some new paint. There will also be a coffee lounge. But when we see that only $40,000 is to be spent on it we can realise that not much will be achieved. 1 have been informed that a very prominent Government politician is going to open this improved international airport just prior to the coming election. If I were a member of a government that was spending only $40,000 on the international airport building I would hang my head in shame and would certainly not be prepared to perform an opening ceremony for this airport building, if such a term can be applied to it.
Brisbane is worthy of more attention from this Government, and I think that if the Minister for Civil Aviation wanted to be worthy of the State from which he comes, Queensland, he would follow the examples of his predecessors in that portfolio, who lost no opportunity to improve airport conditions in their own States. Perth, Adelaide, Launceston and Hobart are all located in States which have been represented by previous Ministers for Civil Aviation and they are all very proud of their airports. The only capital city in Australia that is using an international airport building of pre-war standard is Brisbane. So I challenge this Government to do something for Brisbane, which is a growing city and is improving in every respect. The only public authority holding back the development of the city is the Commonwealth Government, through its reluctance to spend money on the international airport there.
– I wish to make one simple point relating to road safety. Each year in Australia nearly 3,000 people are killed on our roads and about 70,000 are injured. These numbers may be hard to visualise, but anybody who has seen an Army brigade on parade will have some idea of what 3,000 people look like. I have never seen 70,000 people assembled in one place. That is more than three divisions. I have never seen an Army corps assembled at one time. This is a vast number of people and is difficult to envisage. 1 say nothing about the pain and suffering associated with road accidents because nothing can be said except that many who meet death on the road suffer as much as those who meet it on the battlefield. As for the cost to the economy of road accidents, I merely say that I have no figures. But if you consider the widows and children of the 3,000 killed on our roads each year you can imagine what this toll means in terms of money, the sorrow of widows and perhaps the devastation of the lives of children. I say no more because the picture is obvious.
Many things have been done about safety on the roads. A lot has been done about highway engineering. A lot has been done about traffic control, detection of breaches of the rules and punishment - deprivation of licences, fines and so forth. I say nothing about these things, because I do not have time.
I want to deal with one simple matter: The safety of cars themselves. Whatever highway engineers do and whatever is done by police, it is as certain as it is that the sun will rise tomorrow or, being Canberra in winter, as certain as it is that there will be a fog on Lake Burley Griffin tomorrow, that in the course of the coming year thousands of people will meet with collisions on the roads, whether they be collisions with other cars, telegraph poles or something else. There will be collisions. So I say something about the safety of cars themselves. Within 18 months any car sold in the United States will have to conform to certain safety standards which are to be issued by 31st January 1967. These are expected to include most of the famous 26 safety points already compulsory for cars bought by the American Government. This is what is being done in another country, where manufacturers are being given a certain amount of time to make necessary adjustments. This is something practical. It should be done here. There is not the slightest doubt that in the next 12 months there will be many collisions of cars involving primary impact - that is, the crushing of the front, the rear or the sides of a car involved in a collision - and secondary impact, resulting from passengers being thrown against the interior of the oar. I will not go through the 26 safety points compulsory for cars bought by the American Government. Restrictions in the United States call for cars to have safe locking doors that do not fly open on impact, collapsible steering columns, padded dashboards, shatterproof glass and Safe anchorages for seat belts. Those are a few of the 26 safety points laid down by American law.
The Commonwealth has various powers with which to deal with this matter. It may be that it could have introduced a differential sales tax for cars that did or did not conform with conditions laid down. It may be said that such a tax would not be a genuine tax law within the powers of the Commonwealth, but would be designed to do something which lies constitutionally within the sphere of the States. It may be that the Commonwealth does not buy enough cars for it to be able to do what the American Government do«s when it says that all cars bought by its departments or agencies must conform with certain safety requirements. But a bureau has been set up recently, representative, I understand, of the Commonwealth and the States. The States certainly have ample powers in this matter because they may refuse to register a car if it does not conform with certain safety requirements. I see no reason why the Commonwealth should not take the lead in this matter. Surely the need for this to be done shouts to high heaven. Surely the Commonwealth Minister for Shipping and Transport should take the lead in this bureau and urge the State Ministers for Transport to do something in the matter. It may be said that when car sales are flagging and when the industry faces unemployment and so forth it is not the time to upset it further. I know of no reason why, when the lives of thousands of people are involved, this or any other time is not the right time to ensure that motor manufacturers adjust themselves to the situation. I believe that this should be done. It cries to heaven that it should be done. The Commonwealth can and should take a lead. This carnage on the roads should be reduced in this respect at least, in which something plain and specific can be done as it has been done on the other side of the Pacific.
.- I wish to raise tonight the matter of the extremely high level of transport costs in certain areas of Australia, particularly the more remote areas of Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia. This subject has been debated before in the Parliament. Honorable members will remember that prior to the 1963 general election the former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, gave considerable importance to this subject and in fact promised to set up a special expert committee to look into the level of transport costs in the northern part of this continent. After this Government’s return to office in 1963, the Loder Committee was appointed very quickly. It consisted of some excellent men, well versed in transport development and industry development in the northern parts of the continent. The Chairman of the Committee was Sir Louis Loder, a former Commonwealth Director-General of Works. Members of the Committee were Mr. Peter Baillieu, an experienced cattleman in the Northern Territory and a person well versed in the problems of transport costs in the north;
Mr. Gordon Blythe, a former managing director of the air-beef project in the Kimberleys and a man well versed in air transport problems in Western Australia; Mr. B. Callaghan, the present Managing Director of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation; Mr. Fisher, Chairman of Mount lsa Mines Ltd.; and Captain Williams–
– Mr. Deputy Chairman, I rise to order. I do so not because 1 want to silence the honorable member but I think he will find that this matter does not come within the estimates for any of the departments currently under consideration. The Loder Committee reported to the Minister for National Development and it would have been more appropriate to discuss this matter when the estimates for that Department were before the Committee. There is no expenditure in the estimates for my Department which relates to the matter now being raised by the honorable member.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Mackinnon). - Order! I think that is so. The honorable member should confine himself to the estimates now before the Committee.
– Surely transport costs - shipping and air transport costs - come within the province of the Department of Civil Aviation or the Department of Shipping and Transport. The Loder Committee took substantial evidence in relation to shipping costs and road transport costs–
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order! The honorable member may not canvass my ruling. I have ruled that the estimates before the Committee have nothing to do with the Committee to which the honorable member has referred. The estimates for the Department of National Development have already been dealt with, so the honorable member has missed an opportunity to raise the matter in debate on those estimates, but at some other time he may employ the forms of the Parliament to raise the matter. We are considering the administration of only the Departments now before the Committee. “The matter the honorable member has raised does not come within the ambit of the estimates we are now discussing.
– Well, it would appear that the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) is not prepared to listen to a discussion of the problems of transport costs in northern Australia.
– At the appropriate time I am prepared to listen, but we are now discussing other estimates. The forms of the Committee must be observed.
– Then let me deal first with the problems of air transport. I assume that the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Swartz) will listen to what 1 have to say about them. Despite promises made by the previous Minister, who stated that the Mackay Airport would be developed to a standard that would enable it to serve jet aircraft, we have in recent months heard the news that this development will not take place. If this does not represent a shortsighted policy on the Government’s part, I do not know what does. The Mackay Airport serves an area that has been described as the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. Perhaps no other area in Australia has greater potential for tourist development than this. With the development that has been taking place on the islands off the coast of northern Queensland, the area needs a first class airport at Mackay, particularly as the airport there will provide for feeder services to other airports. Operations from the recently constructed Shute Harbour Airport are to be integrated with the Mackay Airport. Unfortunately, the use envisaged for the Shute Harbour aerodrome appears to exclude the potential of the Prosperine district. People in the Prosperine area, and particularly members of the Prosperine Shire Council, are at present extremely concerned because AnsettA.N.A. has now relinquished the lease of the Prosperine Airport. The Council, unless it is able to find another lessee, will have to control the Airport itself. The net result of the integration of services to and from Shute Harbour with services operating from Mackay is that Prosperine will lose a considerable amount of tourist trade.
Quite a few articles relating to this problem have appeared in the newspapers in the north. The Commonwealth Treasury preaches continually the policy that we should not look at projects in isolation, that we should look at them keeping in mind their complementary and supplementary characteristics in relation to others. One would have thought, for example, that the proposed use of the Shute Harbour Airport would have taken into account the possibility of raising the Prosperine Airport to a higher standard and the desirability of constructing a good all weather road between Prosperine and Cannonvale. This would not only give a tremendous boost to the town of Prosperine but also help to promote the earning of export income. Many international tourists go to Queensland and most of them visit the Barrier Reef. Furthermore, many of them want to look at the sugar producing areas and districts such as Prosperine. They do not want to alight from a normal airline service at an airport and be whisked off the next moment in an Ansett-A.N.A. helicopter or a small T.A.A. plane to the particular island to which they are going.
I would now like to discuss the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads. I assume that it comes within the administration of the Minister for Shipping and Transport. In directing my remarks to the operations of the Bureau, f feel obliged to mention beef roads. I suppose that I may discuss them, although they are not under the Minister’s jurisdiction. I understand that the Bureau is considering certain beef roads.
– They do not come under the estimates for my Department, Mr. Deputy Chairman. I cannot give the honorable member an answer about them.
– I understand that the Bureau of Roads is considering beef roads. Am I or am I not entitled to discuss them, Mr. Deputy Chairman? 1 want to see whether the Minister knows what is happening in his own Department.
– I do not think he can find out.
– I do not think he knows. The Australian Labour Party applauded the establishment of the Bureau, but we have not yet heard much about its doings. Just what it does is something of a mystery to a lot of people. I assume that the talented persons who have been appointed to the Bureau are working on the many problems associated with road development in Australia. The whole problem with roads is the lack of co-ordina tion and the duplication of road and railway facilities in certain parts of Australia. We now have established- another body - the Bureau of Roads - to work on problems that are being dealt with already by the Department of Works, the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, the Northern Division of the Department of National Development, the Treasury and I do not know which other departments. All of these organisations are working on the same problems. I hope that the Bureau of Roads will do something to co-ordinate activities and thinking in all these bodies concerning this subject. The problems of satisfying the need for sealed roads and for a well co-ordinated road system not only in the rural areas but also in the cities are some of the most important and most difficult problems that we face today. One of the consequences of an inefficient road system is a high level of transport costs, which causes unwarranted increases in the cost of production of many important primary products, particularly those that we sell competitively on export markets, such as wool, wheat and beef. In some parts of the north, we have roads that are still not fit even for horse traffic. Yet they are being used today by prime movers towing two or three trailers for the transport of cattle to meat works.
A road which I have mentioned often and which has been omitted from the beef roads programme is the Nebo road. The omission of this road from the programme permits transport costs in the area that it serves to remain extraordinarily high. The effective co-ordination of rail and road facilities, in conjunction with airports, represents one of the most important tasks facing the Department of Snipping and Transport. But I have never yet seen anything that resembles a plan for a co-ordinated transport system. This Government, of course, docs not believe in planning. But how can one develop a proper transport system unless there is a plan. Unfortunately, all the plans that are dealt with by this Government are looked at in segments and in a completely unco-ordinated fashion. Transport in Australia, throughout its history, has shown this pattern of unco-ordinated development, with duplication of rail facilities by roads. We have now reached a farcical situation in which State Governments levy road hauliers so heavily that transport operators refuse to use their trucks in one State and move to other States to carry on their business. This is happening in certain cattle areas in the north. Because of the combination of poor roads and high road taxes, especially as the poor condition of the roads causes heavy depreciation and excessive repair and maintenance costs, road hauliers will not use the roads in these areas and graziers are forced to walk cattle to meat works as they have done for the past 100 years. The freight rate policies of some of the States are quite unique, and I suggest that the Commonwealth could well look closely at some of them. Freight rates are of paramount importance in the areas to which I refer - the areas in which our export income is being earned. 1 know of no single factor in central or north Queensland which is inhibiting the growth of primary industries and even of some mining industries more than is the high level of transport costs. Most of this could be avoided if we adopted a more realistic attitude towards the level of these costs.
.- I have listened very carefully to the debate on road safety, and 1 agree with practically everything that has been said. In my opinion, road safety depends mainly on the man at the wheel. A car can be as safe as it is possible to make it and roads can be quite good, but it is the man at the wheel who has control over whether there will be an accident or not. I do not mean that he has complete control, because even though he may do everything possible to avoid an accident someone at the wheel of another car may cause it. Curves have been taken out of roads in an effort to reduce the number of accidents, but it is on record that most road accidents happen on straight roads. In my opinion, curves in roads tend to slow motorists down and in this way help to prevent accidents. When a man sees a beautiful straight road ahead, he is inclined to exceed the speed limit.
There are speed limits of 35 miles an hour and 40 miles an hour in Victoria, but I suggest that if anyone cares to make a close check he will find that four out of 10 motorists do not think it necessary to comply with them. Again, stop signs are ignored. As I drive from my home to Melbourne on my way to Canberra I notice that very few people indeed comply with the stop signs which are to be seen near Melbourne. I cannot understand why police are not stationed at these spots to ensure that the stop signs are obeyed. These are all things that are of importance to road safety.
Another important factor is the dimming of headlights at night. Most motorists will agree, I think, that often, when driving at night, it is necessary to dim and then brighten one’s headlights a couple of times before an approaching motorist will dim his headlights. This is a very serious matter. I should like here to give my definition of what 1 believe to be a gentleman. A gentleman is a motorist who will dim his headlights for an approaching pushbike, with its very weak light. How many motorists will dim their headlights for an approaching pushbike? In my opinion, the man who does that is a gentleman. Most motorists only dim their headlights because the fierce headlights of an approaching vehicle compel them to do so.
Again, often when travelling at night one meets an approaching car or transport vehicle that has only one headlight burning. If the headlight that is not working happens to be on the right hand side of the vehicle, this can be extremely dangerous. Very often the driver is not aware that only one headlight is burning. We all know that a motorist can start a journey with both headlights in perfect order and that one can go out during the course of the journey. He is not aware that he is committing an offence unless he is stopped by the police.
I compliment the Government on the amount of money being made available to the States under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act for road construction and maintenance. The Act is to operate for five years, and the amount to be provided under it is §750 million. If my memory serves me rightly, the five year period commenced on 1st July 1964. The Act has been in operation for two full years and we are now in the middle or third year. It has two more years to go after that. Taking an average, the sum of $150 million should be available this year. As time goes on, the figure should be higher. The amount allocated in each of the two years already completed was less than $150 million. But the amount finally to be provided represents a magnificent sum.
The Government’s purpose in keeping these payments entirely separate from the revenues derived from the collection of excise duty on petrol was that the States might know exactly how much money they could expect over the five year period. When grants for roads came from what was known originally as the petrol tax - it is now an excise duty - the States did not know how much they would receive over a five year period. If honorable members care to calculate how much is being collected by way of the excise duty on petrol and to compare that with the amount made available to the States under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act. they will find that less of this money than ever before is being retained in the Consolidated Revenue Fund and that more than ever before is being made available for road construction and maintenance.
This is all to the good of the motorist. I believe that the formula, under which the money is allocated is very fair. Before the Act was renewed, the formula provided for distribution on the basis of area and population. Under that arrangement. States with great tracts of country were getting very large sums. This seemed to be unfair to the other States. Those honorable members who were here at the time will recall that many of us advocated the inclusion in the formula of a third factor - motor vehicle registrations. This suggestion was adopted, with the result that there are now three factors governing distribution - area, population and motor vehicle registrations. This makes the formula very fair. As a result, roads throughout Australia are improving considerably. Wherever one goes, one sees roadworks being carried out.
One important matter to which 1 want to refer is that the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act stipulates that 40 per cent, of the moneys made available to the States - that is. 40 per cent, of the $750 million - must be spent on rural roads. These are not highways or main roads; they are rural roads. This is a good thing, because good roads arc an important factor in encouraging decentralisation. Without this provision, I doubt very much whether anything like what is now being spent would be spent on roads in country areas. Right throughout the area I represent - many other honorable members represent similar areas - the roads have been improved. Good access roads to our primary producing areas are of vital importance because they facilitate the movement of the things which those areas are producing for the benefit of the Commonwealth. They are essential to good school bus services. Indeed, good country roads are an important factor in the whole life of the Commonwealth.
I wished to speak only briefly tonight, so I shall conclude by again congratulating the Government on the smooth working of the five year plan contained in the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act.
– I thank the Committee for the very interesting discussion that has taken place on the Estimates from my Department. Naturally, one would not expect complete agreement on all matters that have been discussed; they cover a very wide range of subjects. But most of the debate has been constructive, and I want to reply briefly to some of the points that were raised. In some cases they were a little provocative, and I think the Committee should be in possession of some information relating to them.
I shall deal with railways first. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Collard) made some fairly critical remarks about the system of employment of Commonwealth Railways staff and the conditions under which the staff work on that section of the Trans-Australian line between Kalgoorlie and Port Augusta. I do not blame the honorable member for Kalgoorlie for going out and trying to pick up a few votes in this area. Everyone knows that he will be particularly hard pressed in the next few months and will need every vote that he can get, but I. would have respected him a little more if he had presented a more accurate picture. No-one pretends that conditions on the Trans-Australian Railway line are ideal. The country is harsh and inhospitable, it is practically deserted and it has very few of the amenities of civilisation. Irrespective of what labour conditions were provided I am quite certain there would be a high turnover of labour just as there is a high turnover of labour on the various projects now going on in the north west of Western Australia because climate and everything else are uncongenial.
The honorable member mentioned wages. The conditions that I have mentioned are taken into account when wages are being decided by an arbitration tribunal, and they are fixed accordingly. He mentioned housing. The houses are of good standard. They provide the normal accepted amenities. They are fitted with refrigerators, they are kept in good repair and they have the distinct advantage of carrying an extremely low rental. He pointed out the desirability of septic systems. A septic system that works is a wonderful asset to a house but a septic system that does not work is a menace to health and a great source of discomfort. Anyone who has seen the TransAustralian Railway line knows that the provision of water is an enormous problem. The country is so flat that drainage conditions are not always suitable for septic systems. In addition, it is difficult to maintain them in constant repair. Experience has shown the Commonwealth Railways that septic systems are not always properly maintained where they have been installed.
The honorable member did not mention the many things that the Commissioner of Railways has done in order to try to improve the conditions under which people live there. For example, there is the welfare car which provides medical, dental and spiritual help; the mobile picture theatre which visits the locations; the recreation halls which have been built in the larger camps; the sporting and recreation equipment which the Commissioner has supplied; the institute library facilities; the scholarships to help the line staff with the advanced education of their children; and the holiday homes at Glenelg which are provided for railway workers at a very low tariff to enable them to enjoy a holiday when their turn comes. The picture presented by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie was not an accurate one.
The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) mentioned two matters in relation to the standardisation of rail gauges. First, he referred to the Silverton Tramway Company. I would like, as much as he would like, to be able to inform the House of the exact details of what will be done to achieve the standardisation of this section of the line but 1 must ask him, and the Committee, to recognise that this matter concerns three Governments, and during the time that I have been Minister for Shipping and Transport there have been changes in government in tb/e two States. Consequently, there are some differing views among those Governments about what should be done primarily in this area.
The question really concerns the Governments of New South Wales and South Australia rather more than it concerns the Commonwealth, because after all the Commonwealth is committed only to assist in this as a standardisation project and to provide 70 per cent, of the cost of the work. It is a question either of the South Australian Government conducting a railway on New South Wales territory and making the necessary arrangements with New South Wales, with the Commonwealth assisting to arrive at an agreement, or of the New South Wales Government laying down the conditions under which it wants this railway established. One cannot very well conduct discussions between the three Governments in public and disclose all that is going on. As soon as an agreement is reached on what shall be done I will be delighted to announce it to the House.
The honorable member also mentioned the Port Pirie to Adelaide railway and suggested that this line should be standardised in time to coincide with the 1968 programme. I cannot give him an undertaking that this will be done. The former Premier of South Australia asked us some time ago to have a look at this. At that time the estimated cost was $12 million. More recently, I think, it has risen to SI 7 million. This is currently being examined because the Commonwealth undertook to examine the feasibility of fitting this work into the whole programme. As I have said, at this stage I cannot give him any assurance as to when the work will be undertaken. Of course, if and when it is undertaken it will be part of the standardisation programme which has a statutory basis with relation to the South Australian Government.
Turning now to roads, one of the other matters touched upon by a number of honorable members, I should perhaps mention briefly the matter of road safety which obviously is in everyone’s mind. From what was said in the debate one must come to the conclusion that nearly every person has a different theory as to the major cause of road accidents. Indeed, it is probably right that this is so because no-one can say that any one factor is a prime cause of death on the roads. There are many complex causes. One of the problems is how to tackle all these causes - whether one should undertake driver education, seek to improve the standard of roads or do something else. Every time we look at any one of these factors we must come up against a number of contradictory features. For example, it would generally be assumed that if our roads were of a higher standard there would be fewer deaths, but in truth the standard of our roads has been improving enormously over the years and if one looks at the facts relating to the places where deaths occur one finds that very often major highways, which are of a high standard, are the places where most road fatalities occur. So this alone is not the answer.
The honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) suggested that if the Commonwealth Government were to insist, as the United States Government has insisted in its own sphere, that 26 certain safety features be incorporated in every car bought by the Commonwealth Government this would be a useful lead in making car manufacturers produce these safety features in all motor vehicles. I think one must have a sense of proportion in this. The number of cars purchased by the Commonwealth each year in relation to the total number of motor vehicles purchased is insignificant and it would not be difficult for motor vehicle manufacturers to incorporate these safety features only in the cars they sold to the Commonwealth. No-one can claim that Commonwealth car drivers have a bad safety record. They probably have the best safety record of any set of drivers anywhere in Australia. I feel that what wc really need is closer consultation between the States, a greater pooling of information about traffic accidents and possibly a higher degree of research.
It is in this field of co-ordination that the Commonwealth has to play its part, because we cannot drag the States by the scruff of the neck and force them to do things they do not want to do. The question of safety features in motor vehicles was considered at a recent meeting of the Australian
Transport Advisory Council. The States were all agreed that uniformity of safety features was desirable. Therefore as a beginning a sub-committee was set up to examine which features should be made compulsory for incorporation in vehicles and to set down the specifications for such features. It is all very well to say that motorists must have seat belts and seat belt anchorages, but the strength of these safety features must be specified and details must be determined. This type of consideration is going on at present. The State Governments and the Commonwealth Government are immensely conscious of this tremendous problem. Many people will say - as, indeed, the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) suggested - that this is a problem of driver education, driver manners or driver behaviour generally. This is part of the problem, but many other factors come into it too.
I will be very brief in discussing the question of shipping. I am grateful to honorable members who praised the work of the Australian National Line. It is, indeed, doing a magnificent job. I would join issue with the honorable member opposite who sought to take comfort from this by suggesting it was because it was a socialised organisation. I believe that the reason for the Australian National Line’s success lies in the fact that it operates under the policy laid down for it by this Government in exactly the sam£ way as private enterprise operates. Tt has to go out and compete. It has to use initiative, lt has to go out and seek business, and it is in open competition.
– Is that not socialisation?
– If the honorable gentleman who is so enthusiastic about Socialist enterprises will bear with me for a moment he will realise that I am trying to explain the difference between a nationalised and socialised enterprise as I see it. What we have done with the Australian National Line is to ensure that the men who run it - the Commissioners of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission - are all experts in the field of private enterprise who themselves are interested in private enterprise operations and who bring the same mental approach to the work of the Australian National Line. Nowhere in the world where
I have seen socialised enterprises operating have I seen this kind of approach. So I believe it is different from most socialised enterprises, and in this difference is one of the big reasons for its success.
Once again honorable members opposite have been guilty of a great gap in their logic on the question of an Australian overseas shipping line. It is all very well to say that we must break the grip of overseas conference lines on our trade and then to come from that conclusion immediately to the assumption that we will get cheaper shipping by having an Australian overseas line. There is no evidence whatsoever to indicate this. If this were so then undoubtedly the Australian Government, or indeed Australian private enterprise, would be engaging in overseas shipping operations. This is evident from the report of the Australian National Line itself. It is evident from what the Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd. has been doing in carrying coal from Gladstone overseas in the last few months. Where there is an opportunity to get cargoes because cheaper shipping can be provided, the Australian National Line and other shipping enterprises will be taking advantage of that opportunity. However, I have illustrated the gap in the logic of members opposite. Overseas shipping freights are going up but nobody opposite has indicated how in their view an Australian shipping line could operate more cheaply. I am quite certain that if they contended that it could, they could not produce any evidence to support their contention. I suggest that before they leap into this with too much enthusiasm they study the additional cost that Australia would have to pay if it contemplated setting up an Australian overseas shipping line. They may be able to use the same sort of freight figures-
– Does not the Government subsidise-
– The honorable member has some sort of schizophrenic personality - a split personality. He thinks he is going to get a cheap shipping freight and not have to pay for it as a taxpayer. But he is a taxpayer, and the Australian community as a whole will have to pay for the subsidy if we subsidise a shipping service. That is elementary logic.
– Does not the Government subsidise shipping?
– I daresay it does. I am trying to point out to honorable members opposite the complete lack of logic they exhibit when they talk about saving money for the Australian community by establishing an Australian overseas shipping line. They would not in fact be saving money. The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones), who interjects, has spoken once already, but I do not suppose I will ever manage to keep him quiet. There is a complete gap in the logic of honorable members opposite. The honorable member for Braddon (Mr. Davies) mentioned the King Island shipping service and the fact that the Australian National Line was able to reduce freight rates across Bass Strait to Tasmania. This is very gratifying, but I point out that this was the result of an undertaking given to the port authorities in Tasmania if they reduced their port charges. Overall, of course, in the general picture the Australian National Line has had to increase charges as its operating costs have increased. However, the reduced freight rates arose from the honouring of a bargain. I do not know how much longer that bargain will be able to be kept, but I am delighted that the A.N.L. has been able to give a cheaper service across Bass Strait. The King Island shipping situation has shown a vast improvement. I agree with the honorable member that the subsidy did bring about a beneficial change for the residents of King Island, but one of the problems arising from this sort of subsidy is that as soon as one service is subidised and custom is attracted to it - which was the object of the subsidy - the people who lose the customers come cap in hand seeking subsidies also. This happened in this instance. So subsidies are not a satisfactory solution and I express the hope that the King Island shipping service will be able in the near future to operate without the need of a Commonwealth subsidy. These are all the points I wanted to make in connection with the departmental estimates.
.- There are just one or two matters that I want to touch on briefly that were raised during the debate on civil aviation. I do not want to appear to be giving Queensland any special preference, but the last two speakers dealt with matters concerned with aviation in Queensland. The last speaker, the honorable member for Dawson (Dr. Patterson), referred to the strengthening and extension of the runway at Mackay airport. The present position is that we have just concluded tests for the strengthening of that runway with a view to lengthening and strengthening it to take larger and faster aircraft, but I cannot give any assurance about the actual commencement of the work. The tests have now been completed so we will be in a position to plan to go ahead with the work. I cannot comment on the position regarding the statement that a predecessor of mine made in relation to this matter, although 1 understand that the statement was not made exactly in the context indicated by the honorable member for Dawson.
He also referred to the problem at the Proserpine Airport. I realise the difficulty that arises. I had the opportunity to discuss this matter fairly recently with members of the local council and I arranged for my regional director in Queensland to contact them again to discuss the matter further with them. To the best of my knowledge, those discussions have taken place, and I think the council is pretty well aware of the pattern of aviation in the northern part of Queensland into which the Proserpine airport will fit. I think ultimately the council will understand the position fully that, as a result of the changes that have taken place there and the additional facilities provided, the service will be far better for the people in the whole of the region.
The honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Coutts) raised the matter of the Brisbane airport. Some reference to this was made by my friend, the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Kevin Cairns), earlier in the debate. I point out that a considerable amount of work has been done recently on the airport or is now nearing completion. The runway there was extended recently and it has been strengthened to take the largest and fastest type of international jet aircraft now operating. Some new aprons have been provided and strengthened, a new control building is now being completed and should be ready for operation in the near future, an entirely new radar system and building is being completed and has partially been brought into operation, some temporary improvements are being made to the international terminal and, as was mentioned tonight by the honorable member for Lilley, work on the testing of the foundations at the site of the new terminal complex has now commenced. So I think I can give an assurance that the future for Brisbane will perhaps be parallel to that of the States represented by my predecessors.
The honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) adopted a critical attitude towards the two airline policy. He used arguments which, of course, we had heard from him and from other members of the Opposition before. He referred mainly to restrictions placed on Trans- Australia Airlines and said that this had been to the disadvantage of T.A.A. I would answer that merely by pointing out that, if this is so, T.A.A. is indeed a very healthy example of neglect. It has in operation today in Australia a jet fleet which, in quality and in size for the normal operation, is one of the best in the world. On the main trunk routes where it is in competition with Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. it is winning more than 50 per cent, of the traffic. At the same time, it is maintaining the high profit ratio that is laid down for it each year in existing circumstances. In other words, T.A.A. is operating on a very satisfactory basis indeed and we are proud of the operations of this very efficient domestic airline.
The honorable member for St. George (Mr. Bosman) raised the matter of expenditure under the various categories for the Department of Civil Aviation. He intimated, quite rightly, that he thought the expenditure was warranted. I would like to point out also that, in addition to the expenditure allocated under the estimates at present, there is some revenue contribution made by airline operators which is perhaps overlooked in the complex of the departmental estimates. First, they contribute to revenue by the payment of air navigation charges which, as honorable members know, will be increased further this year. They also contribute substantially through taxation on fuel and by import duty on certain types of aircraft. Reference was also made by
The honorable member for St. George also referred to aircraft noise. This is a matter in which he has displayed a keen interest in the years he has been in the Parliament. He asked for information regarding the expenditure within the Department on research into this problem and the administrative action taken to deal with it. Unfortunately, it was not possible in the estimates to separate this item from others, because the staff engaged in this activity is also engaged in other work. However, I can assure the honorable member that a considerable amount of work is being done within the Department by specialist officers in this field. Apart from expenditure by the Department on this work, we have the benefit of overseas research. We keep closely in touch with countries such as the United States of America and the United Kingdom. In addition, we are doing a lot of work, as he suggested, on approach patterns, particularly at major international airports. Of courst. the new runway at Sydney when opened in the near future will make a substantial difference in the noise level as a result of the approach patterns that will be laid down then. I said recently that I was to have discussions with the authorities in the United Kingdom. I had the opportunity to discuss the matter in the United Kingdom and in other countries over the last few weeks. I hope when some further information is provided, particularly by the United Kingdom authorities, that I will be able to make a further statement on this subject in the near future. As has been indicated already, a conference on
The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) lodged a minor complaint about the tabling of the report of the Department of Civil Aviation. I must say that everything possible was done to expedite the provision of this report so that it would be ready before the estimates were debated. Unfortunately, it could be tabled only yesterday. A tremendous amount of work must be done in collating information after the end of the financial year and the report itself must be prepared and printed. It came from the printer last week and the first opportunity to table it was yesterday. We hope that next year we may be able to get it even a week earlier. This would give a better opportunity for study of it before the debate commences.
The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) referred to the runway length at the Sydney airport and again said that he thought that the main runway should be extended beyond the present 8,500 ft. The 8,500 ft. on the new north-south runway, when it is opened in the near future, will be sufficient for the subsonic aircraft now operating to and from Sydney. Qantas in particular has very definitely supported this view. In the future changes will no doubt have to be made to cater for new types of aircraft. I made a statement the other day in which I said that the Concorde with an all-up loading at sea level will probably require approximately 10,500 ft. That has notyet been confirmed, but it is the best possible information that the companies in Bristol and Troulouse can give us at the present time. Also by the end of this year the United States Government will be making a decision regarding the supersonic civil aircraft to be developed in that country. Of course, until they go ahead with the projects we will not know exactly what their requirements will be. So at this stage we cannot say what the future runway requirements will be in Sydney or at any other international airport in Australia. However, I can give an assurance to the honorable member for Mackellar and to the Committee that before supersonic aircraft are operating in Australia action will be taken to see that the facilities are made available for them.
The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Devine) raised a number of matters which I believed had been submitted to him by members of the Australian Federation of Airline Pilots. It is perhaps quite right that the matter should be raised in these circumstances. The honorable member referred first of all to the operation of DC3 aircraft. The petition to which he referred was received in about April or May. At any rate, it was just a few months ago. When it was submitted it went through my Department and ultimately I sent an acknowledgement. I checked on this matter after the honorable member had raised it in the House a couple of weeks ago.
The petition was submitted by the New South Wales branch of the Australian Federation of Airline Pilots and it referred to certain suggestions in relation to the operation of DC3 aircraft. Although the New South Wales branch had submitted the petition, within a matter of days a letter had been received from the Federation headquarters dealing with the same subject. Consequently we advised the branch that the reply would be sent through the Federation. lt was subsequently sent to the headquarters of the Federation in accordance with normal procedure.
It is considered that the DC3 aircraft is still a safe and reliable aircraft which has proved itself by long and outstanding service. There is nothing technically to suggest that the performance of the DC3 has fallen to an unsafe level in recent years. It is true that the DC3 is operated to what we term less sophisticated standards than modern day aircraft. However, it has had, right from the beginning of operations in Australia, and still has, an excellent record of safety and reliability. I think the public should be made aware of this because criticism of an adverse type tends to make people uncertain regarding the operation of these types of aircraft which at the present time are being watched very closely by my Department and will be maintained on this safe operational basis for the future.
The honorable member for East Sydney referred also to what I think he termed “ no air safety officers stationed at major airports in Australia “. This, of course, is entirely incorrect. At 30th June, as can be seen from the annual report, a staff of 1,286 was employed by the Department of Civil Aviation directly on operational air safety in Australia. This number includes examiners of airmen, airways and airworthiness, surveyors, air traffic controllers, communication officers and air safely investigators. The staff is located in the various States throughout the Commonwealth. Air safety investigators are on regional as well as head office establishments. Aircraft surveyors are stationed on primary and secondary capital city aerodromes. The Department’s operational control staff are in close and constant contact with the day to day operations of the industry. The Department supplements its own supervisory organisation by approving certain persons and organisations, as well as check captains, to carry out specified responsibilities under the air navigation regulations.
The success of this co-operation between the Department and sections of the industry, including its well trained capable pilots, is demonstrated by Australia’s air safety record. In addition, the Department has an incident reporting system under which all incidents as well as accidents are fully investigated. Remedial action taken on an incident report may well prevent an accident. The Department has introduced a number of measures to encourage incident reporting and the system has played a very significant part in the good safety record which is referred to in the annual report. At page 58 of the report the heading begins with the words -
Australian airlines, including Qantas, have completed their fourth successive year without a passenger fatality.
The honorable member for East Sydney also asked why reference was not made in the section of the report dealing with air accidents to the loss of an engine by the DC6B aircraft over Melbourne this year. I am sorry to have to tell the honorable member that he is two years out of date; this loss of an engine occurred on 14th April 1964 and was reported in the Civil Aviation report for 1963-64. The report even contains photographs which the honorable member may see if he cares to look back on the record. Three pages of the report were devoted to that accident, so rather than trying to conceal the evidence it was stated publicly in very clear terms.
The honorable member for Lilley referred to problems of the Brisbane airport, particularly in relation to noise, and made a certain number of proposals regarding operations there. I assure him that his thoughtful contribution in this regard will receive every consideration. The final pointthat he mentioned was in regard to parallel timetables. I should like to point out that tha committee of investigation into parallel timetables is at present in Queensland conducting investigations. We hope that as a result of the committee’s report when it is received early in the new year some satisfactory action can be taken which will overcome to some degree this annoying problem.
Proposed expenditures agreed to.
Department of Immigration.
Proposed expenditure, $43,606,000.
.- At the commencement of the discussions on the estimates for this Department I want to refer to a statement made by the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) on 17th August in which he said that new financial arrangements would be introduced immediately to make it easier for thousands of
These decisions are a realistic recognition by Australia of the toughening world conditions in which we must continue our highly successful immigration programme so vital to our development.
The Minister indicated throughout his speech that competition for migrants is becoming very keen and that it will be necessary not only to enter into agreements of that nature but also to use every effort to continue to atlract the right type of future citizens. In this regard 1 wish to make a few helpful suggestions to the Minister and the Department in respect to what is probably vital in the programme to inspire migrants to this country.I refer in the first place to publicity.I notice that this year there is an allocation of$922,000 for this purpose. That is an increase of about $ 1 1 6,000 over last year’s expenditure under this heading. I have studied the publications of the Department. They are excellently produced documents. I do not offer criticism tonight of what has been produced, but I wish to make suggestions which, if put into effect, may assist to sell Australia to those whom we want to be settlers here. Some of the improvements I will suggest may already be in operation. T do not know whether it is generally realised - I presume it is, by the Department - that Australians are amongst the world’s greatest city dwellers. Roughly two thirds of our population live in the various cities of the Commonwealth. I often wonder whether this is stressed enough in our immigration publicity.
Does not the Minister think it is true that there is too much emphasis in our present immigration publicity literature on sunshine, animals and beaches? lt is necessary not only to create an impression in that category but also to stress the great thriving cities that we have. I wonder what impressions our publicity creates abroad if that sector of our community life is not stressed enough? From time to time every honorable member receives some form of complaint from a migrant claiming that he was misled by our immigration propaganda about jobs or housing or something of that kind. Consequently, these are vital matters in the programme. I have seen documents to this effect, but I ask the Minister whether immigration publicity literature is available in various languages, dealing with matters in which prospective migrants may be vitally interested? I think that is important.
I sympathise not so much with the Minister - because he is responsible for the policy - but with the officers of the Department, who have to try to sell our social services to migrants from Europe and other places, considering how bad these services are compared with those in the countries from which migrants come. Great Britain and the European countries are much more advanced in the field of social services than we are, and I can appreciate the difficulties of the Department in this respect. I would like to know whether prospective migrants are clearly told in immigration publicity of the difficulties here compared with the position in those countries which have no means test and have fully free medical services and so on. It is important to migrants to know that they are going to be up for pretty big costs for those essentials of living when they reach Australia.
It is true that Australia offers living space and a warmer climate. Things of that nature must be publicised, as they are attractive. But can it not be said that the beach and the bush dominate our publicity? Can migrants be blamed for thinking that they are coming to a country flowing with milk and honey, as it were, where it never rains, is never cold and never snows? I pose these questions in view of complaints which are brought to the attention of honorable members from time to time about some of oar publicity over selling Australia while some undersell it. Does the publicity about jobs state the wages situation clearly? Does it state what wages are available for the various occupations? Does it say whether jobs for which migrants say they are qualified are available at the wages stated? Does it give a clear indication to migrants that sometimes you do not get the jobs for which the top money is paid unless you have been in a place for some years? A question of priority might be involved? I think the Department does stress these things successfully. But it may fall down in another respect. Does the publicity inform people of the real costs involved in living in Australia? Are they told that, for instance, they will not know from day to day whether the price of anything you might mention in the way of commodities will double, because the Government has no price stabilisation scheme to stop prices from rising? Are migrants told of the difficulties of getting a rented home? I do not think the most optimistic honorable member could paint in a glowing light the housing situation in Australia. Naturally, preference in housing should not be given to those coming here as against people already here who need a home. But it is important to reveal this situation to prevent dissatisfaction in migrants on arrival and to prevent them waiting to leave immediately the facts are known to them. I hope these aspects, such as the high cost of living and the high costs of rents, are stressed, because they involve things which are necessary to comfortable living.
There is another matter under this heading that comes to the attention of honorable members from time to time. Docs the Department of Labour and National Service provide the Department of Immigration with a realistic appreciation of just how little some of the qualifications held by intending migrants are worth in Australia, particularly so far as tradesmen are concerned? Are migrants fully informed of these matters? It might be that people are taking a punt. Occasionally a migrant says, when he applies, that he is a tradesman, and he is accepted by the Department, but when he arrives he finds that his qualifications are not worth much, except in a job as a process worker. These matters are terribly important and should be borne in mind by the Department.
On the question of films, I think that most migrants from Europe speak German and Greek. I often wonder whether the sound tracks of immigration publicity films, which are vital, should be dubbed or sub-titled in other languages for those who see them but may not be able to absorb the English spoken in them. If this is not done, perhaps the Department might consider adopting this practice. I would like to point out to the Minister that there is an excellent film series called “ Life in Australia “, which deals with the main cities and some of the country towns, being shown at present. I recommend to the
Minister a similar film called “ Sound of a City “, produced by Cinesound for the Victorian Government. This is a very fine film of Melbourne. The only thing I have against it, of course, is that it deals with Melbourne and not with Sydney.I suggest that the Minister look at that film. Perhaps the Department can purchase it or get permission to show it.I think it would be advantageous to our immigration programme, because it is an excellent production.
I think such films would probably be more beneficial to migrants from go-ahead common market countries than are some of the commentaries, which must naturally get a little out of date as time goes on. Any money spent on publicity films is well spent, but unless the films are up to date and portray the immediate situation in the country, migrants will be misled in some respects. I think that the attractions of Australia as a go-ahead country, free from prejudice and the constrictions of the old world, and information about our wages, living costs and things of that nature, should be presented to migrants in the most modern and up to date films and in the most attractive way. This should be the basis for selling the country in a way which will not only get the migrants but will make them more satisfied when they get here. I would like to see more emphasis given in publicity to the developing cities and less to the wide open spaces, because many Europeans, like ourselves, may prefer living in cities to living in country areas. This may be an attractive selling proposition. A programme of publicity of this kind might well be sponsored. By saying that, I do not mean to criticise the excellent publications and documents that have been sent to me whichI have studied.
These suggestions are made because the Department may have to adopt a new approach, as indicated in the statement of the Minister to which I referred. The other night I saw that Australian film production “ They’re a Weird Mob “. It is a good production. Whilst it had some bits and pieces that I think were a bit overdone, it gave a fair appreciation of the difficulties facing a migrant in Australia in the initial stages. I thought it also showed a few human elements in the mateship and comradeship that exist in the country. It also appeared to me that it would give many Australians a better appreciation of how to deal with migrants and to recognise their difficulties. I do not know whether it would frighten off prospective migrants if it were shown to them in England and other countries before they came out here, but the quality of the photography and the presentation as well as the Australian talent would at least demonstrate to prospective migrants with qualifications in these directions that if we have a Government farsighted enough to sponsor a film industry there is plenty of scope in this country for careers in that industry. I thought the film was a pretty good one. Apart from other aspects of it, it was produced in Sydney, which automatically gave it considerable merit. There is much in it that would appeal to migrants and also to those who have not in the past understood the problems of migrants. I have made these comments - constructively I hope - in an endeavour to assist a programme that has the unanimous support of everyone in this Parliament, irrespective of party affiliations. I hope the suggestions I have made will be of assistance to the Minister and the Department. I wish to conclude by congratulating the Department on another of its activities, the “ Learn English Free “ programme. I think this was originally started on. ships bringing immigrants to Australia. It has been continued and I believe it is financed by the Department of Immigration and administered to some extent by the State Departments of Education. I believe that for an immigrant to be happy he must have a good knowledge of our language, and I think that this programme, for which Inotice there is a provision this year of $990,700, which is an increase of$1 24,000 on last year, is fully justified. I hope there will be an expansion of the “ Learn English Free “ programme and that, to those migrants who do not speak English, it will make a marked contribution towards providing, free of charge, an opportunity to become fluent in the language and also assist them to a large extent to settle happily in this country.
Before concluding I would like to thank the officers of the Department of Immigration for the attention they have given from time to time to representations I have made. As the Minister knows, I have a fair proportion of immigrants in my district and
I have had very extensive correspondence with the Department. I thank the officers of the Department for their courtesy and 1 also thank the Minister.
.- I want to compliment the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) for the constructive and thoughtful views he has expressed as the opening speaker in the debate on this section of the Estimates. 1 would like at the outset to congratulate the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) and his Department on another year of successful endeavour in this very important field of immigration. Naturally when we are considering the Estimates for the financial year ahead it pays us to dwell a little on the year just gone by - to learn what lessons we can from what has happened and try to project our thoughts into the period that lies ahead. The target for the year ended 30th June 1966 was 145,000. The actual intake was only a few hundred short of that figure, being 144,055, of whom 89,190 were assisted migrants and 54,865 unassisted. The net settler intake - and this, after all, is what we are really interested in - in 1965-66, after allowing for the departure of 16,363 former settlers, was 127,692. I am sure that all honorable members would regard this as a splendid result and that from it we can take heart for the period ahead.
The net intake to which I have just referred represents an increase of slightly more than 1 per cent, of the present population, and, as is fairly well known, it is the aim of the Government, and has been for some years, to achieve a net annual increase of our population of 1 per cent. But for the British seamen’s strike of recent months there is no doubt that our intake for the 12 months to 30th June last would have been even greater. 1 think it should be emphasised that departures from Australia during 1965-66 included quite a number of migrants who had in fact arrived here at various earlier points of time, so that the number of departures cannot be directly related in any accurate fashion to the number of arrivals in 1965-66. I understand that a special committee of the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council is preparing, together with officers of the Department of Demography of the Australian National University, a report concerning this very important problem of returnees.
Some increase in the number of full fare settler arrivals is expected during the current financial year. It looks as though Australia will benefit from the dissatisfaction caused in Great Britain by the Wilson Government’s rather severe economic measures. Our immigration officers in Britain have, according to reports, received applications during July from about 15,000 prospective migrants. This is the highest number of applications received in the month of July in any year for quite a long time. Our existing agreement with Great Britain provides that the United Kingdom Government is to contribute $150,000 sterling per annum towards the cost of moving assisted British migrants to Australia, and of course Australia appreciates this help. NonBritish general assisted passage migrant arrivals have recently shown a substantial increase and have represented an important factor in the very fine results achieved in the year just ended. There have been quite a number of Yugoslav refugees. Possibly as our new Belgrade immigration office becomes better known, many of these people will choose to come to this country as ordinary migrants. Conditions in Europe, as is generally known, have been rather prosperous, especially in West Germany. This, of course, has made it harder for many of our immigration officers to attract skilled workers. Skilled workers are inevitably in wide demand in many of our traditional source countries as well as here in Australia, where we are trying to fill some notable gaps.
Our planned migrant intake must, of course, continue to have a degree of flexibility. We must maintain a proper ratio between skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled workers. We must also preserve a balance between the sexes. Factors operating in our economy must be kept constantly under review. This applies in the current financial year as it has applied in previous years. The two principal factors to watch, I think, are employment and housing. Fortunately our economy is sound and the outlook for the future is good. Needless to say, a stable economy helps to attract good migrants. Adequate hostel accommodation for migrants and the rate of turnover are important aspects, and these are always taken carefully into account in the planning of our annual intake.
Details of our 1966-67 programme will no doubt be announced by the Minister in the course of this debate. As honorable members will recall, there have been one or two occasions in recent years when the Government has found it necessary to change the target figure in the course of the 12 months period. This emphasises what I said before about the necessity for a flexible programme. The availability of suitable migrants, together with Australia’s absorptive capacity, from time to time, make some fluctuations inevitable. If I may be forgiven for introducing briefly a personal note, I recently completed my fourth year as Chairman of the Commonwealth Immigration Planning Council and I should like to say how much I have appreciated the privilege of serving in this way. Immigration is still, in the words of our former Prime Minister, the greatest single dynamic factor in our economy. I believe that our bipartisan approach to immigration has contributed very greatly towards Australia’s development. One of the very happy features of our immigration programme is that it has the united support of all political parties in the Parliament.
Some changes have taken place recently with regard to the Inter-governmental Committee for European Migration, known for the sake of brevity as “ I.C.E.M.” lt will be interesting to learn whether the proposal to widen the scope of the organisation to include increased emphasis on refugee movements outside Europe has been approved. I understand that this matter is still under consideration.
Australia has benefited considerably from I.C.E.M. over the years. We are aware of this. We are aware also that there may he increased costs to Australia following the progressive withdrawal of the United States. Nevertheless, it may well be decided that these increased costs will pay good dividends to this country. Australia’s attitude towards the future of I.C.E.M. will no doubt be influenced to a considerable extent by the attitude of other member nations. New methods of financing assisted migration and special arrangements for transporting migrants under the general assisted passage scheme have been proposed, as honorable members are aware. During this financial year emphasis is to be given to bringing workers and their families from Europe. I need hardly remind honorable members that the family unit is and always will be one of the bases of our society. In planning our migrant intake we bear this constantly in mind. The Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) has also announced that special provision is to be made for assistance to voluntary agencies which for many years have been active in helping migrants to travel to Australia. The key to our migration policy was given by the Treasurer in his Budget speech on 16th August when he said -
Clearly the only sound and sensible policy is to keep on seeking and encouraging a greater inflow of migrants.
With that policy I am sure we are all in complete agreement.
.- In rising to speak to the estimates for the Department of Immigration, I would like initially to express my personal appreciation to officers of the Department for the cooperation I have received through the Department’s Sydney office in matters of naturalisation, expediting applications to come to this country and straightening out misunderstandings, if I may use that term, involving people who have run into trouble in respect of persons whom they have nominated to migrate here. But although we have very harmonious relations with the Department, matters have come to my attention which indicate that a limited number of migrants in the community misunderstand and are dissatisfied with a number of things pertaining to their life in this country. I raised this matter on the estimates 12 months ago and I propose to continue to raise it until the Minister for Immigration does something about it.
Having adopted such a substantial immigration programme it is unfair that the final decision in so many matters affecting migrants should be left entirely to the Minister and his Department. Members of Parliament hear of numerous complaints from time to time affecting migrants. For example, southern Italians feel that they are given a rough deal in not having the same opportunities to migrate to Australia as have northern Italians. I am not in possession of concrete facts to support these complaints but this is the type of thing one hears from time to time. One thing we do know is that very few migrants are refused naturalisation if they can satisfy the residential qualifications. The same may be said of people desiring to migrate to this country. A limited number of applications have been rejected from time to time. I think it is unfair to require the Minister to make the final decision in these matters, on the recommendation of his officers. I believe we should have an immigration appeals tribunal consisting of three appointed members, one of whom is a Commonwealth judge. These people should have the responsibility of examining the cases of persons whose applications to migrate have been refused. They should examine also those cases in which applications for naturalisation have been refused. They should examine also appeals against deportation orders and other matters affecting migrants. Let me make it plain that I do not suggest that in cases where applications have been refused on grounds of security the complete files of the Australian Security Service should be laid bare and the source of information disclosed. But 1 do feel that when a person’s application is rejected on these grounds, somebody should have an opportunity to look into the matter.
This matter of appeals is not new. If a person thinks that he has been dealt with unfairly by the Commissioner of Taxation he may lodge an appeal before a Taxation Board of Review. If a person is dealt with in a civil court or a criminal court he has a right of appeal, almost invariably as far as the Privy Council.
Migrants who feel that they have been dealt with unfairly should be able to appeal to a tribunal. Look at our repatriation system. Australia has a very good repatriation system for assisting our ex-servicemen. If an ex-serviceman’s application to a Repatriation Board is rejected he has a right of appeal to the Repatriation Commission. If the Commission rejects his appeal he has a right of appeal to an Appeals Tribunal. He must bring in fresh evidence if his appeal is to be accepted by the Tribunal. The report of the Repatriation Commission discloses that in the last 12 months 11,136 appeals were dealt with by Appeals Tribunals. Of that number 1,542 were upheld. In other words, about 14 per cent, of appeals were upheld. Bear in mind that the Repatriation Board and the Commission had already rejected those applications. They were finally granted by an Appeals Tribunal. In other words they went to the last avenue of appeal. That is where those 14 per cent, of applicants who were dissatisfied with the rulings of the Board and the Commission were successful. I think the same thing should apply to our migrants.
I do not propose to deal with specific instances tonight. All honorable members know of cases where applications have been rejected and where, following representations by a member of Parliament, they have been reopened and re-examined. We know that many of these applications are finally approved, either by the head of the Department or by the Minister who, on review, found that some grounds existed for changing the original decision. There should be an immigration appeal tribunal where applications for naturalisation and deportation orders, among other things, may be finally determined. Some of the complaints that are made from time to time would be removed if such a tribunal were set up. I do not say that it should be constituted exactly on the lines I have suggested, with a Commonwealth judge and two other members, but it should operate along thu lines I have outlined. 1 would like to deal with one or two other matters tonight. Australia is missing out on the opportunity to bring to this country much larger numbers of British migrants, who must be anxious to get out of the United Kingdom now because of the economic trouble in which it finds itself as a result of many years of Conservative government. I believe that since 1945 about 2,561,000 permanent migrants have come to this country, of whom approximately 1,278,000 were British. Both the Government panics and the Opposition have continually stated that as political parties their policies are that approximately half the migrants brought to this country, either under the assisted passage scheme or at their own cost, shall come from the United Kingdom. We are all anxious to maintain that policy both in this Parliament and within our own political parties.
As I have said, the United Kingdom is at present having economic troubles. There must be thousands of people who wish to leave that country. I want to mention one of the problems that British migrants have when they come to Australia. I am talking now not about non-British migrants, who have language problems and all the rest of it, but about migrants who speak the English language as well as you and I, Mr. Deputy Chairman. They have no language troubles. Only about a fortnight ago, a young British migrant came to my office and told me his story in these words: “ I love this country. It is a great place. 1 am a sponsored migrant. I was sponsored by relatives who, shortly after my arrival, because of employment problems, vacated their home and went to Queanbeyan. 1 am an electrician. I have a wife and two children. We have nowhere to go. We are paying over 516 a week for two furnished rooms. My wife and I and two children are sleeping in one room. We have one room in which to eat, sleep and live.” This is the sort of position in which many British migrants find themselves. They had their own homes in England. I would say that there are thousands of cases like this. The problem is not so much that their sponsors or relatives have deserted them and left them on their own resources. The problem is that, having left England or Scotland, for example, they find themselves living in this country in hostels or in accommodation for which they have to pay exorbitant rentals such as are being asked throughout Australia today. This does not apply only to one State. Migrants can apply for a Housing Commission home the moment they arrive in Australia. But, in New South Wales, they have to wait for two years to get the accommodation, and the waiting period in other States is similar. The position wilh respect to homes savings grants shows our attitude to migrants. Eligible savings have to bc accumulated over three years, but for migrants only savings in Australia are counted.
Why cannot this matter be reconsidered? We have a large scale immigration programme, ff we are to continue it, why cannot we look into these matters? I do not say that migrants should be given homes the moment they step ashore in Australia, leaving Australians to wait for another two or three years. The trouble is that this Government has not done sufficient to provide adequate housing not only for people born in Australia but also for migrants whom we are bringing here from overseas. Can honorable members imagine a professional man or tradesman in the United Kingdom being prepared to leave his own home to come out to Australia and lake pot luck in a migrant centre or pay the exorbitant rentals that are being asked today in this country for very ordinary accommodation? As a tradesman myself, I know that I would not be prepared to accept the responsibility for taking my family from Australia to England to take pot luck in obtaining housing. These migrants whom we are bringing from the United Kingdom have their own housing there. I do not want to convert this debate into a discussion on housing. However, I believe that the Government must thoroughly examine this matter of housing.
I turn now to social services, and I am pleased to see that the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Sinclair) is present. This is another field in which migrants from the United Kingdom often find themselves in trouble when they come to Australia, particularly in relation to health services, when they need medical or hospital treatment shortly after their arrival. This is another subject that should be looked at very closely. J realise that the Minister for Social Services is not responsible for health matters. If a migrant has a health condition before he leaves the United Kingdom and needs medical or hospital treatment for it after he arrives here, certain limitations are imposed by hospital and medical benefit funds. Great problems can arise when a migrant has to go into hospital, for example, within a few weeks of arriving in this country. Only the other day I was visited by a woman who had had first hand experience of these problems. She had had her breast amputated because of cancer within a short time after her arrival in Australia as a migrant. Problems that arise in these circumstances are very upsetting for migrants. We ought to look seriously at our housing and social services policies as they affect migrants. 1 have only a minute or two left. I would have liked very much to deal with a statement by Archbishop Strong who advocated the admission of Asian migrants to Australia, lt would take me at least half an hour to discuss the attitude of people like him who are advocating the admission to Australia of non-European migrants. All I can say to those people is that they ought to look at the immigration policies adopted in the countries of origin of the people whom they suggest we ought to accept as migrants in this country. I do not want to sec arise here the sort of situation that exists in Britain, where the authorities had to impose an overall policy of restriction applying not only to Asians but also to Australians. That is all that I have time to say very briefly on that subject. 1 ask the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman), in his reply to what has been said in this debate, to give the Committee some information about a migrant who created a scene outside Parliament House and who was brought before a court in Canberra. I refer to Mr. Tomislav Lesic. a Croatian, who was involved in a bomb incident at Petersham, in Sydney, some two years ago, when he was allegedly handed a parcel that contained a bomb which went off while he was carrying it. My information is that he was not handed the bomb, that he was carrying it for someone else. If my information is not correct, I would like the Minister to tell me that I am wrong. I would like him also to tell me why this man was refused naturalisation. Was it because he was carrying the bomb for somebody else, as I have been informed? If he was, why has he not been deported? The explosion may have cost him his legs and arms, but if my information is correct, why was he not deported to the country from which he came? If he belongs to an organisation in Australia that is subversive, why has that organisation not been dealt with? Why has not the Parliament been told about it? These are some of the questions that I believe should be answered. We in this Parliament should be advised just what is taking place. Our security service should ferret out those who bring to Australia the hates and dislikes that existed in their own country. If need be, the whole box and dice of them should be deported. We do not want the hates and problems of Europe brought to this country.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Deputy Chairman, I am pleased to have an opportunity to bring to the attention of the Committee some observations and comments on the activities of the Commonwealth Department of Immigration. The proposed expenditure for the Department in the current financial year is S43.606.000. Examination of the estimates for the Department shows that in most divisions in the estimates of the Department the provision being made this financial year represents a normal increase compared with actual expenditure last financial year, until we get to Division No. 270, subdivision 4, Embarkation and Passage Costs, under which the increase is some $2 million in round figures. The reason for this is highlighted in the Budget speech made by the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) and in an announcement made by the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman). At the outset, I take the opportunity to express our thanks to the Minister and the officers of the Department for their splendid co-operation, which, I am sure, has been extended to all honorable members. I speak also on behalf of the Government Members Immigration Committee. As we have addressed our queries, as we have sought assistance and as we have asked for key men to be made available lo advise us, we have received nothing but courtesy and co-operation. It is splendid indeed to have an opportunity, on behalf of that group of my colleagues and myself, to put this on record.
How different is the Australia of today from the Australia of 1946-47? What tremendous strides will have been made in the progress of Australia in a few years? We may, of course, take what has happened for granted because we are in such close proximity to the activities of our own community. We may take note of what is happening at present and we may make some reasonable assessment of the contrast between yesterday and today, but I believe it is our visitors from overseas who are able to make an unbiased assessment of the new suburbs, of the increased population of the whole country, of the changed face of many of of our cities and, of course, of the complete transformation of the industrial activity of Australia. Basically, the post-war immigration programme - the immigation programme over the period that we are mentioning - has been the prime generator of this outstanding progress and development. For this reason, I feel that, as we approach now the end of a parliamentary term of three years, we can, with pride, take a look at the immigration achievements of the years between 1963 and 1966.
The population of this country at 30th June 1963 was 10.9 million, and it is estimated that at 30th June last the figure was 11.6 million. This is an increase in a three year term of .7 million, or no less than 6.4 per cent. As we are dealing with achievements, let me put on record that in the first of those three years - 1963-64 - the new settler arrivals in Australia numbered 122,318. In the following year, the number lifted to 140,152, and in the year just closed it was 144,055. So we have had a new settler intake in that three year period of 406,525 people. Because most of us, as members of this Parliament, are in regular contact with naturalisation ceremonies, we are aware of Hie broad range of countries from which our new settlers are drawn. In this three year term, 1 note with approval, we received 208,000 new settlers from the United Kingdom and Ireland, and from Germany 9,500. New settlers from Greece numbered no fewer than 47,500, and the number coming to us from Italy was 34,000. New settlers arriving from the Netherlands numbered 7,000, and we received 16,000 from Yugoslavia. It is most interesting to note that 5,000 came from the United States of America. I lay emphasis on the fact that, for the last six months of this term, the figures are estimates.
Because from time to time we have had occasion to look at Australia’s needs in the fields of industrial and other activity, I think the worker content of these 406,500 new settlers is more than encouraging. If time were available, I could talk at greater length about our need for professional and technical men, but we received 18,600 of these in the total I have mentioned. Farmers, fishermen and timbermen numbered 11,500, and craftsmen, whom we have been seeking assiduously, reached a total of 72,000. The total number of workers in the whole intake was 1 96,000.
Dependants, of course, made up the balance of 210,500.
We believe in migration not only because we need men and women but also because we know that as they come in their families will add, in the most desirable way, to the population of the country. It is on record that in the three year term, 1963 to 1966, children born to migrants - that is, where both or one of the parents was born overseas - numbered 198,600. No-one can say that these are migrant children. They have been born here in our own country and, in the truest sense of the term, they are Australians. But I want to underline, as my colleagues on both , sides of the Committee have done from time to time, that because of our efforts to have sound assimilation in the Australian community, these children, we find with, great approval, are invariably indistinguishable from those of Australian born parents. We are delighted with the results of our postwar immigration programme, particularly on this point.
This year’s Budget decision with regard to additional funds in connection with embarkation costs will undoubtedly help to maintain the flow of migrants from Europe. It will be remembered that the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon), as he brought to us the challenging Budget for 1966, said that it was proposed broadly to increase our contribution to the passage costs of certain categories of migrants, particularly workers in Europe who wished to migrate to Australia with their families. He said that many were at present unable to do so because they did not benefit from the financial assistance available under existing bilateral arrangements with countries of emigration. The Minister for Immigration will be making clear just what form this assistance will take, but I would applaud the understanding that some of the funds will go to assist migrants by reducing the amount of their loans from the Intergovernmental Committee for European Immigration. I believe it is splendid that we have recognised the need to make money available for assisted passage costs so that the people mentioned in the Budget speech, who would not be assisted on the same basis as people were assisted under the bilateral arrangements of earlier years, can be helped. Voluntary agencies have been sponsoring the reunion of wives and children with their breadwinners already in Australia. I put on record my view that it is a splendid decision indeed that there should be a per capita grant to such agencies to help them with this work. lt may not be known to all members of the Committee that, to intensify the recruitment of migrants, there have now been opened three new migration offices. These, I note, are in Beirut, in Lebanon, Stuttgart in West Germany and Belgrade in Yugoslavia. I hope that our representatives from the Department who will be placed in these new overseas offices will meet with early success in outlining to those who may bc interested in opening a new life and a new existence for their families in Australia the advantages that this country has to offer. 1 want to spend a few moments, in the interests of the migration programme, in defence of a splendid group of hundreds of thousands of migrants with whom so many of us have been pleased to associate and whom we have been pleased to encourage as they have faced a new life in Australia. I want to say a word in defence of migrants because all of us have noted in the last few days with some great concern entirely untrue criticism of their activities in the realm of crime and other offences. I refer to unfortunate Press articles here in the eastern States last week. I know that the Minister, having been concerned with this, has already made his own statement indicating that the references in the Press are without foundation, but notwithstanding the Minister’s forthright words the newspapers concerned have not given his statement the prominence necessary to contradict the grossly inaccurate statements which were used. 1 feel it is only fair that I should place on record in the last few minutes available to me that over the years, through the agency of the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council, sponsored by the Department of Immigration, there have been not less than three separate inquiries into the incidence of crime among migrants. These inquiries were undertaken in 1952, 1955 and 1957. Then, in 1964, the Dovey Committee found that the previous reports stood without need of amendment. The comments of police chiefs from not less than three States of the Commonwealth are available for all who would like to make a study of this. It is interesting to note that the Acting Commissioner of Police in New South Wales pointed out within the last few days that the alleged statement used by the newspapers 1 have mentioned did not come from the Police Department. He said that the Police Department does not subscribe to it because it is inaccurate and there is no evidence to support it.
We would simply say that gross misrepresentation in certain sections of the Press reflects unfairly on the reputation of migrants generally. From our own contact with them we, as members of the Committee, believe that their activities within our various communities are highly commendable. You will always find, even amongst our own people, a percentage who will commit offences. You will find this also with those who may be new settlers from overseas, but overall their conduct has been of outstanding merit and worthy of praise. We deplore the gross inaccuracy of any newspaper article such as that which we were distressed to read last week.
Overseas Investment in Australia.
Motion (by Mr. Fairbairn) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- The President of the British Board of Trade is at present in Australia or, if he is not at present in Australia, he was here very recently. The object of his visit was to promote the export of goods from Britain to Australia. The President of the Board of Trade is reported as having said that the level of tariff protection upon Australian secondary production is too high. He quoted lawnmowers as an example and suggested that a 30 per cent, tariff on the value of lawnmowers coming from Britain was too high and that it should be lowered. This gentleman apparently desires that the tariffs upon the products of the secondary industries of this country should be so lowered as to enable British goods to compete upon the Australian market to the benefit of the
British manufacturers. He would not, I presume, go so far as to suggest that the tariffs should be so lowered as to enable goods from Japan, which is a cheaper labour market than Britain, to compete upon the Australian market with both the British and Australian manufactured articles to the detriment of both.
In stressing the services which have been rendered to Australia by Britain which justify him in making his request that we import more manufactured articles from that country, the President of the Board of Trade said that in a period of 10 years British investors had invested $2,500 million in Australia and that that was a reason why we should make a reduction in our tariffs. He went on to say that British investments in Australia and elsewhere could increase only if Australia bought more British goods - he was most emphatic about that - and if British exports increased further and faster. In a question to the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) I asked, amongst other things - ls not this figure of $2,500 million the amount by which the value of goods imported into Australia from Britain has exceeded the value of goods exported from Australia to Britain?
The Minister replied in this way -
There is no mathematical relationship between the amount of capital inflow and the value of imports from Britain.
He, of course, disagrees with the President of the British Board of Trade who has said that investment in Australia can be increased only if we purchase more goods from Britain. That is correct. In reality Australia’s adverse trade balance with Britain was much greater than the inflow of capital because the advantage that we had with favorable balances with Japan and elsewhere all went to Britain and the United States of America to pay off portion of our adverse trade balances with them, and only the difference was equivalent to the amount of investment capital which came to Australia.
In 1957 at a convention in Canberra it was decided that it was necessary to increase our exports or create further import replacement industries, or both; but apparently this Government is so anxious to continue the flow of capital from Britain to Australia that, despite the contention of the British Government that it should reduce the outgoings of capital from Britain, that it is going to give advantages to Britain and other countries. Those advantages will enable them to put their goods on the market to the detriment of Australian industries, and for the purpose ultimately of destroying Australian industries - and not merely those manufacturing lawnmowers and the like, but industries making every kind of manufactured article that Britain can produce and which she desires, quite naturally, to place upon the market under conditions that will enable her to undersell the Australian manufacturers. Our adverse balance of trade down the years has been worse than Britain’s trading balance, and we should not be a party to permitting the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) to sell out the interests of Australian manufacturers and Australian employees - the workers in secondary industry - in order to secure overseas capital that will be only a temporary panacea for the economic ills from which this country is suffering. This action will only put off the day when out of our own industries and from the toil of our own people we must meet our overseas obligations, when we must buy the imports that we need with the exports that we produce and not get them, as it were, upon the long finger - that is, by the inflow of investment capital from other countries.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.3 p.m.
The following answers to questionsupon notice were circulated -
Pensions. (Question No. 1909.)
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows - 1. (a) At 30th June 1966, approximately 90,000 age pensioners were in receipt ofa part pension,
On the same date, it is estimated that about 560,000 persons of pensionable age were not in receipt of an age pension. Included int his number were about 76.000 persons whowere in receipt of invalid, widows’ or repatriation service pensions, or were ineligible for age pension on residence grounds.
This estimate is based on the rates as proposed in the Budget speech and takes account of the expenditure incurred for people of age pension age who would be in receipt of invalid, widow’s and repatriation service pensions.
Pensions. (Question No.1 942.)
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
y asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
Poliomyelitis Vaccines. (Question No. 1820.)
m asked the Minister for
Health, upon notice -
To what extent is (a) Salk and (b) Sabin vaccine (i) manufactured in Australia, (ii) imported into Australia and (iii) used in Australia?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
(i) In recent years about 1.5 million doses per year of Salk vaccine have been produced by the Commonwealth Scrum Laboratories, the sole manufacturer in Australia. It has been decided that production at the Commonwealth Scrum Laboratories will be discontinued.
Sabin in the near future, lt is proposed to commence giving Sabin vaccine in the Australian Capital Territory this month, and in the Northern Territory next year. Total annual demand for Sabin vaccine will not be known until the States provide details of their requirements.
m asked the Minister representing the Acting Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
On what occasions and with what results has consideration been given to negotiating an agreement with Italy, similar to the agreement between the United States and Italy, on the military service obligations of naturalized persons?
– The Acting Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following reply to the honorable member’s question:
Cases have arisen in recent years of naturalized Australians of Italian origin being informed by the Italian authorities, after returning to Italy, that they would be required to perform military service there. Some of these cases gave rise to suggestions from the persons concerned that the Australian Government might consider negotiating an agreement with Italy for the exemption of naturalized Australians from military service in Italy.
Inquiries showed, however, that a naturalized Australian of military age returning to Italy could obtain exemption for twelve months from liability to undertake military service by applying to an Italian Consulate in Australia. This was regarded as a reasonable period of exemption. A similar period of twelve months is the standard employed in the Australian National Service Act as prima facie evidence of a person being ordinarily resident in Australia and therefore liable, under certain conditions, to register for military service.
In the circumstances no further consideration has been given to the matter.
n asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
n asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
What percentage of (a) radio and (b) television viewing time was provided in 1965 by (i) the Australian Broadcasting Commission and (ii) commercial stations for (A) Australian music and (B) Australian drama?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions based on programmes broadcast during the year ended 30th June 1966 (relevant statistics with respect to calendar years are not available) and according to records of the Australian
Broadcasting Control Board are as follows -
Australian Broadcasting Commission -
Commercial Stations -
Australian Broadcasting Commission -
Commercial Stations -
Australian drama -
Metropolitan - 2.3 per cent.
Country - 1.7 per cent.
n asked the Minister for Terri tories, upon notice -
What amounts were spent by the Commonwealth in each financial year commencing on 1st July 1945, in respect of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea on (a) direct grants to the Territory budget, (b) special grants and (c) expenditure by Commonwealth departments in respect of the Territory shown separately under such heads of expenditure as health, education and defence?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
The direct grants made to the Territoryby the Commonwealth and other specific financial provisions for the Territory are shown below -
m asked the Minister repre senting the Acting Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
What additional Status of Forces Agreements concerning (a) Australian forces in other countries, and (b) the forces of other countries in Australia have been concluded since his predecessor’sanswer to me on 16th November 1964?
– The Acting Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following reply -
No additional Status of Forces Agreements have been signed since the reply of the Acting Minister for External Affairs on 16th November 1964, concerning Australian forces overseas or the forces of other countries in Australia.
However, the United States President issued a proclamation on 10th October 1965, under the provisions of the Service Courts of Friendly Foreign Forces Act, which permits Australia to exercise within the United Stales jurisdiction over offences committed by members of the Australian Armed Forces in the United States. Negotiations are now being actively pursued with the United Slates on the terms of a reciprocal Status of Forces Agreement, in accordance with the protocol to the Agreement of 9th May 1963, concerning the status of United States forces in Australia.
y asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answersto the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
y asked the Minister representing the Acting Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
Could he supply the following information with respect to South Vietnam -
What is the population?
How many persons are (i) males and (ii) females?
How many male persons are aged between 18 and 21 years inclusive?
What number and what percentage of this age group is serving in the Armed Forces?
What number in this age group is not serving in the Armed Forces?
How many persons areservinginthe Armed Forces?
– The Acting Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following reply -
Vietnamese Armed Forces at the end of July 1966 was 706.099 (comprising regular forces 317,402; regional forces 141,287; popular forces 138,739; national police 55,409; Civilian Irregular Defence Group 31,370; and combat youth 21,892).
m asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 21 September 1966, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1966/19660921_reps_25_hor52/>.