House of Representatives
3 May 1967

26th Parliament · 1st Session

Mr BRYANT (Wills) [12.3 a.m.] - I would just like to place on record what I think is the inherent danger in the remarks passed by the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder). The assumption that Australia is incapable of developing this kind of area from within its own resources is, I think, invalid. I know a good deal about Australia. I have been around Australia as much as any other member of the House has. I have done as much to try to develop my little bit of it as the honourable member for the Northern Territory has done for the land that he has inherited. Therefore I am prepared to speak on the subject.

The honourable member for the Northern Territory advocated the surrender of Australia’s proprietary interests in its land to people who have no basic interest in this country. Their only interest is to extract what they can from it. This is part of the menace that this country has suffered in recent years through the complete inadequacies of the developmental policies of the people who sit opposite me. I rise on this occasion to challenge not the integrity nor the sincerity of the honourable member but the very basis of the philosophy upon which the Government Parties operate in this field. I hope that the people of Australia will soon wake up to what this Government is doing to this country with the policies that it is pursuing.

Dr PATTERSON (Dawson) [12.4 a.m.] - I rise to comment also on the statement made by the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder). It is quite obvious that he has not even read the proposed amendment relating to agricultural leases and the prohibition by the Government on the right of resumption. Perhaps he and the Minister for Territories, who sits with a smug look on his face, will tell this Parliament now-

Mr ACTING SPEAKER-Order! I suggest that the honourable member for Dawson restrain himself in his remarks concerning the Minister.

Dr PATTERSON- Perhaps the Minister will explain to this Parliament how it is that the Government will resume land in the interests of public importance - closer settlement for agriculture, of course - under this new legislation to enable agriculture to be introduced on pastoral leases. Under the current legislation it is possible to do this, but nowhere in the Minister’s statement can it be found. Nor did the honourable member for the Northern Territory tell us how it can be done. How will the Government resume land for agriculture and closer settlement as a matter of importance under this proposed ordinance? That is the first question. It is a great coincidence that today in the precincts of the House there happened to be members of the Legislative Council. Of course it is merely a coincidence that this is the time when the honourable member for the Northern Territory makes a statement about this matter. We shall make more statements about Sir William Gunn and the reason for rushing this land resumption tenure through the Legislative Council.

Mr Robinson - He does not own the Northern Territory.

Dr PATTERSON- -Goodness, he will own most of it, the way you are going. As I said before, and the Minister has never refuted it, the proprietors of Lakefield and Sir William Gunn had access to the contents of this ordinance before it reached the Cabinet.

Mr Barnes - Nonsense. What is the honourable member suggesting?

Dr PATTERSON - Perhaps next week I might table a document which actually states this in writing. We shall then see how much the Minister for Territories knows about it. I do not join issue with the honourable member for the Northern Territory on the agricultural aspect of the proposal. I have not commented on any part of the proposed ordinance except that part of it affecting Tipperary and enabling the Lakefield Company to take over the equivalent of one million acres of the best soils at the top end of the Northern Territory - the Tippera and Blain soils - for its own benefit. The proposal is that 500,000 acres of this country be subdivided and sold to the highest bidder. The Company would like to keep the other 500,000 acres with the ultimate object, of course, of its becoming freehold. Under the proposed ordinance relating to these agricultural provisions, there will be an increase in the agricultural holdings from 38,000 to 200,000 acres. That is 200,000 acres for one interest. The legal definition of interest is one person or one company. Two pseudo partners can have 400,000 acres. There are plenty of examples in Australia and overseas of what can be done in a properly conceived land settlement scheme that is backed by scientific knowledge and finance. The Queensland brigalow scheme, for which a Bill was introduced tonight, is an excellent example of what can be done. It is no good pointing to half-baked pilot farms. Who will go to the Northern Territory, to Marrakai and farms in that area, to try to prove that agriculture can be carried out when there are no basic amenities for families to live there? While you are chiding me, Mr Deputy Speaker, you are allowing the Minister to interject all the time.

Mr ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member for Dawson will resume his seat. I suggest that he consider certain things he has said. I point out to him that during his speech interjections have been coming not only from one side of the chamber but from both sides. I suggest that he reflect upon that.

Dr PATTERSON- This is the first time that I have heard you or any other member occupying the chair allow a Minister to sit on the back bench and-

Mr ACTING SPEAKER-Order! The honourable member for Dawson will resume his seat. The question is:

That the House do now adjourn.

Mr Webb- What about the-

Mr ACTING SPEAKER-Order! The honourable member for Stirling will resume his seat.

Mr Webb - If the Minister wants to interject, why can he not go to his own seat?


Mr Charles Jones - I rise to a point of order, Mr Acting Speaker. Tonight the honourable member for Dawson has been subjected to a continuing fire of interjections by the Minister for Territories (Mr Barnes) and by members of the Minister’s Party. I believe that the honourable member for Dawson was most tolerant in accepting the interjections for as long as he did. I suggest to you, Mr Acting Speaker, that the honourable member for Dawson be permitted to complete his remarks. Only about three or four minutes of his time is left. Quite frankly, I think that he was entitled to appeal to the Chair for some protection from the interjections coming from the other side of the chamber.

Mr ACTING SPEAKER-I remind the honourable member for Newcastle that I pointed out to the honourable member for Dawson that interjections had come not only from one side of the chamber, but from both sides. I do not desire to name any of the honourable members concerned but there was a running fire of interjections from one side of the chamber to the other. I suggested - I thought reasonably - to the honourable member for Dawson that he might reflect on that fact But the moment that the honourable member continued his remarks after I had made my comments to him he made a further reflection on the Chair. Again I suggest to the honourable member that he should bear in mind what I have said. I call the honourable member for Dawson.

Dr PATTERSON - Thank you, Sir, for your indulgence. The main point 1 wish to make in the few minutes remaining to me is that when I sought leave to make a statement or to ask a few simple questions of the Minister for Territories after he had introduced these proposals, I was refused leave. There was no reason to refuse leave unless something very fishy is behind these proposals. It did not take me very long to find out what was behind them. I have said before and I will say again that as long as these proposals contain the clauses relating to a maximum area of 200,000 acres - designed for the benefit of overseas companies so that they may take the pick of the Northern Territory for agricultural purposes - they do not have a bolter’s chance of being passed by the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory.

It is completely wrong for a company to have access to an ordinance before it has reached Cabinet. It is particularly wrong for a company to be able to say to the Commonwealth Government: ‘We want an answer by June or we will pull out’. This is exactly the attitude of Sir William Gunn and his American colleagues and this is what the Minister for Territories is fostering.

Mr BARNES (McPherson- Minister for Territories) [12.13 a.m.] - The honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) said that he has not been able to discuss in this chamber the statement I made. I point out to honourable members that on several occasions the honourable member has initiated discussion on matters of urgent public importance and all the rest of it. Had he wanted to discuss this matter he has had ample opportunity to do so under the forms of the House.

Mr TURNER (Bradfield) [12.14 a.m.]J want to correct a small matter and to put the record straight. What I have said has been misrepresented by the Minister for the Interior (Mr Anthony). The Hansard report of 20th April 1967 shows at page 1533 that in the course of the debate on the Dairying Industry Bill I said:

I should like to correct my friend, the honourable member for Macarthur, who did not know that the consumer subsidy in New Zealand was withdrawn in January of this year.

Later in the debate the Minister for the Interior who, of course, was not in charge of the Bill and certainly was not the Minister for Primary Industry, said:

I want to make one comment on what the honourable member for Bradfield said. It is not an important comment. I just want to correct him slightly. He referred to what the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon) said about the dairying subsidy paid in New Zealand.

I think he was really referring to what 1 said in respect of the speech of the honourable member for Macarthur (Mr Jeff Bate). The Minister continued:

The honourable member for Bradfield said that the subsidy in New Zealand had been eliminated and was now being paid by the consumer. I would like to inform the honourable member, Mr Chairman, that in New Zealand there is a guaranteed price scheme for all butter exports. There is a guarantee that the dairy farmer will net a return from export sales of 330s per cwt. The price during the last two years has been only 300s per cwt. This means that the central bank in New Zealand has had to make up the difference, which has amounted to about £NZ8m each year for the past two years. The honourable member should not say that New Zealanders do not get assistance. They do. Every single dairy industry in the world has some sort of prop beneath it. This may seem ridiculous and ludicrous, but that is the situation. Honourable members should not ask Australian dairy farmers to stand up against subsidised dairying industries in other countries if they have to export in competition with them.

This appears at page 1553 of Hansard for 20th April 1967. What the Minister said was a complete misrepresentation of what I had said. I have checked this and I put it to the House because the record should be straight. The Minister was wrong. The facts regarding the consumer subsidy on butter in New Zealand and the return to New Zealand dairy farmers from export sales of butter show that the Minister’s statements were misleading regarding the role of the New Zealand Central or Reserve Bank and that he wrongly quoted what I had said about the consumer subsidy. He implied that the Reserve Bank df New Zealand stands the loss for any deficit between the guaranteed price to farmers for exports of butter, which is calculated annually, and the actual returns from export sales, and, because of this, New Zealand’s dairy industry must be considered as being subsidised.

What happens in fact is that there is a self-balancing fund held at the Reserve Bank by the New Zealand Dairy Production and Marketing Board on behalf of the dairy farmers. Surpluses from export sales of butter and cheese are paid into this fund and deficits are withdrawn. When the fund becomes depleted, as it did in 1966, further deficits are met by the Bank by way of overdraft at a very low rate of interest. This overdraft has, however, to be paid off by the farmers out of surpluses from sales in subsequent years when the guaranteed price is adjusted. It is not always possible to estimate accurately what the guaranteed price should be, so surpluses and deficits keep recurring. The price fixed for butter in any season must not vary by more than 5% from the maximum price fixed for the previous season. The overdraft from the Reserve Bank is thus a debt incurred by the farmers, not a gift from the Bank. The New Zealand Government stands guarantor to the Bank for the overdraft. Basically the New Zealand dairy farmer in the long run receives only what he earns and cannot be described as subsidised.

The Minister quoted me as saying that the subsidy in New Zealand had been eliminated and was now being paid by the consumer’. What I said, of course, was that the consumer subsidy in New Zealand was withdrawn in January of this year’. This appears at page 1533 of Hansard for 20th April 1967. This was the subsidy the New Zealand Government paid to the local butter market to encourage domestic consumption by lower consumer prices. At the time of its removal in January it was equivalent to 9.25d per lb in New Zealand currency or 9.6c per lb in Australian currency. As a result of the removal of the subsidy the local price of butter rose from 2s to 2s lOd in New Zealand currency or from 25c to 35.4c per lb in Australian currency. This was to reduce the load on the Treasury. Subsidies on some other foodstuffs were removed at the same time. It is quite clear that the Minister misrepresented me. He said that I had made a little mistake. This was very clever. It suggested that all I had said was wrong. But the Minister was inaccurate and not me. Anybody who chooses to read what I said and what he said, and what I say tonight, will know that I did not make a little mistake but that the Minister misrepresented me. Sir, the record is now straight.

Question resolved in the affirmative. House adjourned at 12.21 a.m. (Thursday).

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The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:

Department of Health: Medical Officers (Question No. 78)

  1. What is the establishment of medical officers of all ranks in his Department?
  2. How many medical officers were in service at 1st January 1967, and where were these officers located?
  3. How many of these medical officers possess post-graduate qualifications in (a) public health and (b) medicine, surgery or medical specialities?
  4. How many medical officers are engaged in (a) full-time and (b) part-time medical research?
  5. How many of the medical officers are engaged fully in administrative tasks?
  6. What steps are taken by his Department to ensure that its medical officers keep abreast of modern developments in medicine and public health?
  1. One hundred and ninety-eight.
  2. A total of 180 medical officers were in service at 1st January 1967. The locations of those officers were as follows:

New South Wales:

Sydney- 47

Tamworth - 1

Lismore - 1

Newcastle - 1

Wollongong - 1

Lithgow - 1

Albury - 1 Victoria:

Melbourne - 26

Geelong - 1

Bendigo - 1 Queensland:

Brisbane - 8

Toowoomba - 2

Townsville- 2

Cairns- 1 South Australia:

Adelaide- 5

Woomera- 2 Western Australia:

Perth- 7 Tasmania:

Hobart- 3

Launceston - 1 Australian Capital Territory:

Canberra - 31

Northern Territory: Darwin - 24 Alice Springs - 7 Katherine- 2 Tennant Creek - 1

Other locations: London - 2 Cocos Island - 1 3. (a) 58. (b) 52. 4. (a) 1. (b) 4.

  1. Seventeen.
  2. Each year an average of three medical officers are sent to the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Sydney, to undertake postgraduate study leading to the Diploma of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. In addition, a total of seven medical officers are sent overseas each year for study purposes. One such officer, a pathologist, is sent to obtain specialist qualifications. The remaining six officers study quarantinable diseases.

All officers are encouraged to attend scientific and professional conferences. Conferences attended include those arranged by the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science, the North Queensland Medical Society, the Royal Australian College of Physicians, the College of Pathologists, and many other professional and scientific bodies.

Capital Punishment (Question No. 85)

When was consideration last given to abolishing the death penalty for any of the crimes listed in his predecessor’s answer to me on 13th October 1965?

The penalties for the offences referred to in the answer on 13th October 1965. are at present under review, together with other provisions of the criminal law.

Motor Vehicles: Safety Standards (Question No. 87)

  1. Does the Commonwealth lay down minimum standards of safety for the motor vehicles it purchases for its own use as the United States Government does?
  2. If so, where are the standards published?
  3. If not, when was consideration last given to laying down such standards?

There is a number of Commonwealth transport authorities each of which, when purchasing vehicles, sets rninimum safety standards in accordance with its technical requirements.

So far as motor vehicle safety in Australia generally is concerned, I draw the honourable member’s attention to the Australian Motor Vehicle Design Advisory Panel which was set up in 1965 by the Australian Transport Advisory Council, which is under the Chairmanship of the Minister for Shipping and Transport. The Panel comprises experts in various fields associated with road safety and was set up to investigate and report on motor vehicles and their component parts and accessories, with a view to reducing road deaths and minimizing the extent and severity of accidents to road users and pedestrians by the production of a safer road vehicle. The Panel has already made a number of recommendations and is continuing its investigations.

There has also been functioning for many years an Australian Motor Vehicle Standards Committee on which the Commonwealth Government is represented. The main function of this Committee is to advise the Australian Transport Advisory Council on standards for motor vehicle construction, equipment and performance, including braking and lighting efficiencies, with a view to improving road safety and obtaining uniformity of relevant legislation in the States and. Territories.

Glaucoma (Question No. 207)

  1. ls it a fact that between one and two people in every one hundred suffer from glaucoma, making this eye disease three times more prevalent than diabetes, and more common in people over forty years than tuberculosis?
  2. ls this complaint more prevalent in the northern parts of Australia where the sunshine is brightest?
  3. What research is being carried out in Australia for the treatment of glaucoma?
  4. Will he consider setting up clinics, in cooperation with the States and staffed by qualified personnel, for the treatment of glaucoma on similar lines to the tuberculosis and cancer clinics?

However, surveys in other countries indicate an average incidence of 2.5% in persons over forty years of age. A small private survey conducted in Victoria during 1965-66 revealed an incidence of 1.75% in the same age group. Further, expert medical opinion is that bright sunshine is not a causative factor in glaucoma.

With regard to diabetes no official records of the incidence of this disease in Australia generally are held by my Department. However, a small private survey conducted in the Australian Capital Territory during 1961 revealed an incidence of approximately 2.5% in the Territory.

The incidence of tuberculosis in Australia, in the over forty years age group, is well below 1%.

  1. Basic scientific and clinical research relating to glaucoma is currently being carried out in eye hospitals in Sydney and Melbourne.
  2. The establishment of clinics in the States for the treatment of glaucoma is a matter for which State authorities are primarily responsible.

Pharmaceutical Benefits (Question No. 216)

  1. Has his attention been drawn to an article in the Australian Financial Review of Sth April 1967 wherein it is claimed that one in four Australian women between the ages of twenty and forty years use the contraceptive pill, that its use is rapidly increasing, that chemists retain 46.9% of the consumer price as profit, that sales tax on the pill does not apply in other countries, and that doctors’ prescriptions are regularly required by women seeking to obtain it?
  2. As the cost of purchasing the pill represents a very heavy charge on the income of low wage earners’ families, and as the pill is quite obviously established as an accepted and important factor in our modern day family life, will he consider making the pill available as a pharmaceutical benefit, or, at the very least, will he take steps to free it of sales tax?
  1. Yes.
  2. The basic aim of the Government’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme is to assist members of the community to meet the cost of drugs and medicines required for the purpose of medical treatment. The contraceptive pill, as such, does not come within this category.

No preparation may be made available as a pharmaceutical benefit without a prior recommendation to that effect by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee.

The question of removing sales tax from the contraceptive pill is a matter for consideration by my colleague, the Treasurer.

Hospital Charges (Question No. 31)

  1. What is the average rate per day charged by hospitals in each of the States for (a) public, (b) intermediate and (c) private wards?
  2. What is the average return to patients in each of the States of (a) fund benefit and (b) Commonwealth benefit in respect of each of these average charges?
  1. Details are available only of the general scale of fees charged by public hospitals in each State for the various classes of ward accommodation provided. The daily rates are as follows:

Note: (a) In practice, small variations occur in individual hospitals, (b) The charges in South Australia and the Northen Territory came into effect on 1 April 1967.

  1. Information is not available in the form sought by the honourable member. However, the average fund benefit per day paid by registered organisations to insured patients for the 1965-66 financial year was:

Commonwealth benefit is $2.00 per day for insured patients in all States. For uninsured patients, Commonwealth benefit is 80c per day. This amount is deducted from the patient’s hospital account and is later paid to the hospital by the Commonwealth.

Hospital and Medical Benefit Organisation (Question No. 52) Mr Collard asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:

  1. What were the total (a) contributions, (b) fund benefits, (c) operating costs and (d) reserves of the hospital and medical benefit organisations registered under the National Health Act during the year 1965-66?
  2. What were the total reserves for the year 1964-65?

These are preliminary figures and are subject to adjustment.

  1. The total reserves, including provisions for outstanding claims, of the medical and hospital funds as at 30th June 1965 were as follows:

In September 1966, in answer to questions, I informed honourable members that medical fund reserves as at 30th June (965 were $24,110,576. This estimate was based, in some instances, on provisional returns from registered medical benefits organisations and was the latest information available at that time. Finalised returns from all organisations have now been received, and the verified figure is $20,002,206.

Tuberculosis Allowances (Question No. 232)

  1. What tuberculosis allowances were paid to Aboriginals in each State and Territory in each of the last five years?
  2. What was the rate of allowance in each year?
  1. These details are not available, as no distinction is made between Aboriginals and other persons in departmental records relating to applicants for or recipients of tuberculosis allowances.
  2. These are shown in the following table:

Radio Frequencies (Question No. 46)

  1. Is it a fact that all high frequency channels allocated to Australia under International Radio Regulations are currently being used by National Broadcasting Stations and by Radio Australia?
  2. If so, does this prevent a short wave commercial radio service being made available to people in the north and north-west of Western Australia?
  3. Who is responsible for determining the number of high frequency allocations to Australia, and do they result from applications by Australia?
  4. Could an application for additional channels have any possibility of success? If so, is there any intention of making any such application?
  5. If there is no such intention, why not?
  1. The availability of frequencies in the high frequency bands is strictly limited and due to greatly increased use of such frequencies by various countries since the last war there is serious overcrowding of services in these bands. In view of the shortage of frequencies, the assignment of high frequency channels in Australia to private organisations could only be made to the detriment of the national services and Radio Australia. Because of the difficult frequency position there is no prospect of the establishment of commercial high frequency stations in Australia. 4 and 5. An application for additional channels would be considered by the International Frequency Registration Board in its scrutiny of the seasonal channels submitted to it by all administrations. However, where the schedules contain applications for more than one frequency to serve a selected target area, there would be very little prospect of a favourable decision, as the very limited number of channels must be strictly conserved; no action is therefore being taken to apply for further high frequency channel assignments.

Television (Question No. 89)

  1. If it is found that television can be made available to Kalgoorlie by way of the proposed microwave link between Perth and South Australia, will it be necessary, before transmission, for the whole link to be completed or will the completion of the section between Perth and a point near Kalgoorlie be sufficient?
  2. If the Perth-Kalgoorlie link will be sufficient, will he arrange for this part to be completed and put into operation well before 1969-70? If not, why not?
  1. If it is decided to establish a television service at Kalgoorlie it will be possible to provide a television link between Perth and Kalgoorlie as part of the first stage of establishing the East-West microwave link.
  2. It is not practicable to complete the PerthKalgoorlie section of the microwave link until 1969-70 because the contractor is unable to design, manufacture and install the necessary relay stations within a shorter period.

Coaxial Cable (Question No. 160)

  1. What was the cost of providing the coaxial cable between Canberra and Sydney and Canberra and Melbourne?
  2. What is the rental paid by General Television Corporation Ltd, Melbourne, for the lease of the cable?
  1. Nearly $14,000,000.
  2. The annual rental received by the Post Office from General Television Corporation Limited, Melbourne, is the subject of a written agreement between the two parties and it would not be proper for me to release publicly in the House the information sought by the honourable member.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 3 May 1967, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.