26th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Dr J. F. CAIRNS presented a petition from certain electors of the Commonwealth praying for a complete cessation of the bombing of North Vietnam and discussions amongst the parties to the conflict including the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam.
Petition received and read.
Similar petitions were presented by Mr Uren, Mr Bryant, Dr Everingham and Mr James.
Petitions severally received. - Aboriginal Ownership of Land
Mr BRYANT presented a petition from certain citizens of the Commonwealth praying that this House make provision for (I) the recognition of Aboriginal ownership of reserves and other lands at present owned and leased by the Commonwealth and (2) the development of mining, pastoral and other enterprises on all1 Aboriginal land to be subject to the consent of Aboriginal owners and such conditions as their own legal advisers may arrange.
Petition received and read.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. Can the right honourable gentleman say definitely whether he will table the contract and other documents relating to the purchase of the Fill aircraft?
– There are a great many documents involved that concern the purchase of the Fill aircraft. The AttorneyGeneral1 has examined the original documents which incorporate the arrangements made by the Australian Government for the purchase of the aircraft and subsequent variations in those arrangements. The Government is not prepared to table these documents, which incorporate details of the performance of the aircraft and other matters confidential to the two Governments concerned.
For example, 1 am told that incorporated in these documents is the contract made between the Government of the United States of America and the manufacturers of these aircraft. As to the rest of the documents in the files concerning this matter, the Attorney-General is continuing to make a close examination of them. A decision will be made when he has finished his examination and provided such matters as security or .confidential exchanges between the Governments are not involved, a report will be made to the House on those other documents.
Mir GORTON- I did see the article referred to by the honourable member. The answer to the first part of his question is no. Should anything be done along- these lines, it would be done by the Government after consideration of all aspects and subject, of course, to parliamentary approval or disapproval after that time. In relation to the second part of the question, the answer is yes. In fact, before the Minister for Trade and Industry left this country, and quite contrary to my recollection of what was stated in the article to which the honourable member referred, this matter was the subject of advice from the Department of Shipping and Transport and from the Australian National Line, and, of course, will continue to be so all the way through.
– My question is addressed to the Acting Minister for Labour and National Service. Has the attention of the Government been directed to the submissions of the employers in the present national wage case that work value considerations and economic considerations are not mutually exclusive? Will the Acting Minister ask the Minister for Labour and National Service, when he returns from overseas, to give attention to the now obvious and admitted need to examine the whole field of Commonwealth conciliation and arbitration machinery with the object of separating living standard hearings and judgments from margin entitlement hearings by legislating to provide the necessary division of powers within the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to enable it to deal with these two very important but completely different sections of the wage structure separately, as was the case prior to 1950?
– As soon as I can, I will inform the Minister for Labour and National Service of the question asked by the honourable gentleman. I will ask him to took into the problem. I am sure that he will give the honourable gentleman a reply by letter or even personally if he thinks it is desirable.
– I ask the Minister for Education and Science whether his attention has been drawn to certain public statements by people who apparently are in a position to be well informed about the shortage of skilled Australians in the mining industry, particularly geologists, geophysicists, mining engineers and metallurgists. Has he conferred with his colleague, the Minister for National Development, on this matter? Has he made inquiries? Are these statements true? If so, are any steps being contemplated to remedy this deficiency?
– My attention has been drawn to some statements concerning an alleged shortage of professional people in the mining industry. Only a short while ago a deputation from a section of the industry came to see me about this matter. Earlier questions had been asked about the shortage of geologists and, I think, geophysicists. The figures I have been given show that a larger number of trained people are coming through Australian universities at the present time. I have also been told that the mining industry not only wants people with a degree but also has a need for people with a wide experience in the field. Of course, this latter qualification comes a good deal more slowly. I suggested to the deputation from the industry that it might be profitable to have some discussion with the Chairman of the Australian Universities Commission, who is at the moment, as I said yesterday, in the midst of his triennial visit to all universities and all States so that he may have some understanding of the position as the industry sees it and have that in mind when he is looking at the various proposals of the universities for expansion of existing departments or for the establishment of new ones. There have been some discussions about these matters between the Universities Commission and the Department of National Development on a departmental basis. I have not had discussions with the Minister for National Development.
– Can the Minister for Defence give the House any details about reports of a further Fl 1 1 aircraft crash off the coast of the United States of America?
– The only information I have comes from a news flash that is about an hour old. The report was that a naval version of the aircraft, an F111B, had gone into the sea 30 miles off the Californian coast. I have no other information.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. I refer to the Minister’s statement, upon his return from the conference of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, that Australia would ‘spearhead’ investigations into the noise factor from aircraft operations. I ask him to explain to the House whether he was speaking only of supersonic operations or whether he is also concerned with the present noise nuisance at airports in built up areas which is causing so much distress to so many people.
– I am glad that the honourable member has raised this matter, because it is of great importance. At the opening plenary session of the ICAO conference, during a statement which I had to make officially, on behalf of Australia 1 proposed that the question of noise nuisance generally - apart from a paper which we have submitted in relation to noise of supersonic aircraft when they are introduced into operation - should be regarded on the same basis as that of safety, regularity and economy and should be treated accordingly. What I had in mind was that the question of noise should be examined on that basis by ICAO committees during this particular conference.
Australia proposed that a special annexe to the convention be adopted to cover this particular subject. This is quite a revolutionary proposal, and I hope it will gain the support of the more than 100 nations that are attending the conference at the present time. This has been done because we have an appreciation not only of the significance so far as Australia is concerned but also the significance, which is perhaps even more intense, for many other countries. I hope that our suggestion will gain full support. From conversations I had with members of a number of other delegations at the conference there is an indication of intense interest in the proposal which we have put forward. When the conference is over I will be able to make a further report to the House.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Immigration. By way of preface I point out that some time ago I wrote to the Minister asking for permission for a woman doctor to enter Australia. This person had graduated in America, had practised in that country and also in the Philippines and had worked for 2 years in a New Zealand hospital. The Minister’s reply to me stated that the reason why this person was not to be permitted to come to Australia was that she lacked the necessary qualifications. I now ask: In view of the fact that the New Zealand Government permits a doctor from the Philippines to work in its hospitals, why should the Australian Government refuse the same person the right to work in Australia on the grounds that she lacks the necessary qualifications? As there is an admitted shortage of doctors in Australia, and in view of New Zealand’s attitude on this question, will the Minister reconsider his decision on this matter?
– The question exposes a very real difficulty which exists in relation to the recognition of qualifications. I think I should make the commencing point of the answer to this question the fact that we have a policy which will admit to Australia for permanent residence people who possess skills which are of positive value to the Australian community. In order to assess this degree of skill we must be sure that a person’s skill is capable of being put to use in the manner for which the skill was gained. The fact is, if I remember this case specifically - and I think 1 do - that the particular lady involved was qualified to practise her profession in a number of countries, including New Zealand, but she was not qualified to practise her profession in Australia. The consequence of this would be that if she came here she would not be able to put to use the training which she had gained.
This was the case in which - again if I remember it correctly - I did, with some reluctance, what I was forced to do, which was to say that the lady was not qualified for Australian purposes. I am at present in the process of directing the attention of all State Immigration Ministers to the sort of problem which exists, and particularly to the situation in which qualifications of a medical practitioner are recognised in New Zealand but are not recognised here. When I receive a response from those Ministers I will let the honourable member know, although I must say that I think the response will take the form of the State Immigration Ministers bringing these difficulties to the attention of their colleagues, the State Health Ministers.
I would like to say to the honourable gentleman, and indeed to the House, that in the matter of the recognition of professional qualifications’ the Commonwealth has no power other than the power of persuasion and of advocacy.
– The Commonwealth has the power in all! Australian Territories.
– That is true. The important point is that we can advocate, we can ask, we can arrange conferences and so on, but ultimately the matter rests with a recognition authority which may be the State government or the professional body itself. I hope that before very long in all these professional fields we in Australia wilt do away with barriers to the recognition of qualifications equivalent to those possessed by our own practitioners, which barriers at present are depriving us of many available skills. This is not a matter of diminishing the standard but merely a matter of recognising equivalent qualifications. -
– I direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. Does he know of any action taken in recent times by the State governments to establish a uniform system for the grading of lamb killed for local consumption?
– This matter has come before the Australian Agricultural Council on a number of occasions. I am told that lamb for local consumption should be graded and inspected. Of course, this is a matter which comes within the jurisdiction of the State governments, and from what I have gathered they are reluctant to take any action in this direction mainly because of opposition from abattoir operators and retailers, and also because of a shortage of inspectors or graders in the responsible State departments. However, I appreciate the importance of the matter. I believe that part of the reason for the low price of lamb has been the variable quality that has come on to the market this year. There has been quite a lot of carry-over of old season’s hoggets. This has had a tendency to depress prices, and I think that if there were some inspection and grading standards these would tend to help the market.
– I ask the Minister for Defence a question which is supplementary to that asked by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. Can the Minister tell the House whether the navy version of the Fill aircraft which crashed off the Californian coast this morning contained the defective part or parts reported to him in the United States recently as having been discovered during a metal fatigue test? If he is unable to say whether this navy version of the aircraft contained the defective part or parts, will he make inquiries as to the cause of the crash, if the cause is discovered, and report the result of the inquiry to the elected parliamentary repre-. sentatives of the Australian people who are footing the bill for the Fill aircraft ordered by the Government more than 5 years ago?
– As I mentioned earlier, I have information of the loss of the aircraft but nothing further than that. Naturally we will be most interested to know the cause of the crash. If the cause is discovered T will have no objection to conveying the information to the House.
– Did the PostmasterGeneral see the television programme put on by the Australian Broadcasting Commission last night showing the proposed Federal seat of Prospect as a blue ribbon Labor seat with the Leader of the Opposition, hatless, speaking, and his son and three other Labor candidates for pre-selection, including one designated as left-winger, in a favourable light without any Democratic Labor Party, Country Party or Liberal Party candidates being present? In view of the ABC’s slight concern about its critics - now that it has come out as a Labor promoter - has the Government any concern about this government medium attempting to foster one Party? What is the difference between this and the Czechoslovakian Press guide line? Has the ABC made a decision as to whether the proposed seat will be a left wing or a right wing Labor seat - Yarra or Werriwa?
– Order! The honourable member for Macarthur will ask his question.
– How is the Labor Party able to prevail upon the personnel of ‘This Day Tonight’ to give them this valuable
– Mr Speaker, I rise to order.
– Order! The honourable member for Macarthur will resume his seat.
Mr JEFF BATE ….
– Order! The honourable member for Macarthur will resume his seat. I direct Hansard to delete any further reference to the question that was asked after I told the honourable member for Macarthur to resume his seat.
– My point of order is that the major and substantial part of the question relates to matter that is outside the jurisdiction of the Postmaster-General who ought not to be called upon to answer it.
– Order! There is no point of order. The Postmaster-General is continually answering questions about television programmes and the ABC. The honourable member for Macarthur may now ask the remaining part of his question.
– I apologise to you, Mr Speaker. I did* not hear you tell me to resume my seat.
– Order! The honourable member will now ask the remaining part of his question, but I warn him that it is far too long.
– How is the Labor Party able to prevail upon the personnel of This Day Tonight’ to give it this valuable one-sided publicity by prejudging the secret ballot as it did in Capricornia? Why is it tolerated by the top management of the ABC?
– I did not see the programme to which the honourable member refers. I am sure that he will appreciate, as I have indicated to most honourable members at some time or another, that I refer these criticisms or queries direct to the Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, ask him for a reply, and convey it to honourable members. Many members of this House have appeared on certain programmes of the ABC and of the commercial stations, and 1 think it has been the intention of most members to present their points of view at such appearances.
I am not always prepared to accept that the ABC is unbiased in its approach, or that some of the Commission’s officers are unbiased, but I do say that whilst today a programme may appear to be biased it is probable that next week there will be a programme which presents the opposite point of view. As has been pointed out to me by the ABC, it is not always appropriate for both points of view to be put on in a programme at the same time. When I have made inquiries, following the type of suggestion that is contained in the honourable member’s question, and a complete statement has been made to me by the ABC about the commentators who have appeared, it has been obvious that there has been a balance over a period of time. I am sure that many people see a programme and miss the subsequent programme. Therefore they have, if I may say so, an unreal view of what is contained in the presentation.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. Following his recently completed and heavily publicised tour, what are his proposals for correcting the alarmingly low percentage of Australian ownership in the various companies now exploiting northern Australia’s mineral riches in bauxite, iron ore, copper and coal? When and how does he intend to implement them?
– I think, to put the matter in perspective, that some facts might be adduced in reply to what the’ honourable member has asked. For example, amongst the places I visited in the north was Groote Eylandt, which is 100% Australian owned. There was also Mount Newman, one of the big iron ore prospects in Western Australia, which is 60% Australian owned. There were also the beginnings of Gove, which at this stage and at its beginning was 50% Australian owned, though there may be some alteration in that capital if things change differently. In the other areas visited there was a proportion of Australian capital, not as great as that, except for the Ord and the Emerald, where there is entirely
Australian capital providing water and irrigation for that development. So I think one might present these facts as a preliminary before answering a question which seemed to indicate that there was no Australian participation worth mentioning in these areas, because that suggestion was untrue.
As for the rest, it must be clear too that in other areas there is great Australian participation. For example, the Esso-BHP oil strikes are 50% Australian owned. It is clear too that from the Australians’ capacity to save, all the developments we wish to take place cannot take place as quickly as we want them to take place. Therefore, in other areas such as Hamersley, which is, if not entirely, very extensively overseas owned, we would wish those developments to grow with as great Australian participation as is possible, bearing in mind the great investments which Australia is now making in development.
– I ask the Treasurer whether the Government will give favourable consideration to an extension of the present income tax laws to make it possible for persons and businesses engaged in industry and commerce to claim as a deduction some amount for depreciation on their buildings and property.
– As the House will probably remember, some years ago the Hulme Committee reported on the problem of depreciation for commercial and industrial buildings. I think that report may be regarded as a text book for those who want to give further consideration to the problems of depreciation in Australian industry. After the report was submitted the Government considered the inclusion of commercial and industrial buildings in the amendment that was brought before the House but decided that the amount of money involved was too great and that other matters had priority over depreciation on buildings of this type. Within recent weeks I have had another look at the problem, and again what stopped the Government from taking action was the matter of priority and the amount of money involved. Nonetheless, at the request of the honourable gentleman 1 will have the matter reopened and if I feel1 that there is any prospect of action being taken I will be only too happy to let him know.
– I call the honourable member for Newcastle.
– Do you have my name on your list, Mr Speaker?
– The honourable member for Grayndler will be called in his turn.
– As most foreign governments are assisting their shipbuilding industry with long term loans and, in many instances, non-repayable grants, will the Minister for Shipping and Transport say why the Government has rejected the request of the Whyalla Shipbuilding and Engineering Works for an interest free loan with which to extend its shipbuilding berths so that ships of up to 150,000 dwt may be built and so that the company may build immediately a bulk ship of 80,000 dwt for use on the Australian coastal run?
– The Australian Government has been assisting the shipbuilding industry in Australia substantially for many years. This assistance has been provided through direct aid by way of bounty. At this stage it amounts to up to one-third of the cost of building ships in a number of recognised yards throughout Australia. It is true that at this stage of shipping development there is a requirement for additional capacity in a number of yards if those yards are to be able to tender for vessels of the size which it is expected may well come to service Australian ports in the future.
It is true that in the instance of the Whyalla Shipbuilding and Engineering Works that yard may well have a greater potential than other Australian yards to build vessels perhaps in excess of 100,000 dwt and to do so it will be necessary for that yard to extend its present facilities. At the same time, the present assistance available from the Government to the shipbuilding industry is shortly to be examined by the Tariff Board - as a result of reference from the Government. It will be necessary that this reference be sent to the Tariff Board before long. At that stage, the representations made by that company and the suggestion included in the question asked by the honourable member will be taken into account.
– Can the Minister for Shipping and Transport indicate the present position concerning the intended participation by Australian flag vessels in the AustraliaJapan trade?
- Mr Speaker, the Australian National Line together with the K Line is intending to participate in the rollon roll-off sector of the revised conference arrangement in the Japan-Australia AustraliaJapan trade. The Australian National Line has entered into a contract for the construction of its vessel and I understand that it is expected that its ship will be delivered on schedule.
The K Line vessel, I am told, is expected to be delivered some 8 weeks behind the delivery of the vessel for the Australian National Line. Al the same time, the Flinders Shipping Company, an Australian registered company of which the two shareholders are the H. C. Sleigh company and the Jardine Matheson company - the latter being a British owned company incorporated in Hong Kong - also are expected to tender shortly for a similar roll-on rolloff vessel which is to enter into a threeparty arrangement with the Australian National Line and the K Line in this sector of the roll-on roll-off trade between Japan and Australia.
In addition, I understand that there are to be five container vessels, three of which are to be operated by Japanese interests and two of which will be operated by cross traders. The ships, I am told, are also either under contract or a contract in respect of them is about to be entered into. So, the completion of them and their entry into the Australia-Japan trade can be expected on schedule some time through next year.
On 7th October, and between 7th October and 9th October, of this year, a conference is to be held in Hong Kong at which the present conference arrangements between Australia and Japan and Japan and Australia are to be reassessed. It is expected that the Australian National Line will participate fully in discussions during these meetings of the conference partners and that at that stage a reassessment of the shares of the conference in the revised system will be taken into account. It is expected that the revised pattern will be established firmly.
– I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport a question supplementary to that asked by the honourable member for Newcastle. The honourable gentleman will realise that it is 6 years this month since the Tariff Board was last asked to report on the shipbuilding industry and 4i years since its last report was presented to the Parliament. Previous references to the Board were made at much shorter interval - in March 1954, December 1957 and September 1962. Why has there been such an unprecedented delay in asking the Board to report on this industry, particularly at a time of increasing concern that Australia should carry half her imports and exports in Australian built, owned and manned ships and should carry her principal coastal cargo in oil products entirely in Australian built, owned and manned tankers?
– I would not agree that there has been an inordinate delay in reference to the Tariff Board.
– I said ‘unprecedented’.
– Perhaps ‘unprecedented’ then, but I suggest that one of the problems in achieving what is a very laudable objective - that Australia might carry in Australian flag vessels and Australian bottoms the cargo to which the Leader of the Opposition referred - is the very natural requirement that in order to operate in any enterprise it is necessary to contain costs Australia as a substantial trading nation and Australians as producers and consumers of goods are very naturally concerned at the freight rates that will be charged in respect of vessels operating either in the coastal service or the international service. For Australia to participate increasingly in either the coastal trades or the overseas trades, it is necessary that the freight rates should not be at such a level that the costs to the consumer or the prices paid to the producer are unnecessarily affected. These factors must be taken into account in endeavouring to achieve the objectives to which the honourable member has referred. At the same time it is hoped that in the future it may be increasingly more economic for Australian bottoms to participate in these trades and of course it is towards this objective that the Government is working.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise and in so doing refer to the Foco Club in Brisbane which is located at the Brisbane Trades Hall, a nerve centre of the Australian Labor Party in that Stale. I refer to the fact that the Foco Club is now a centre for the dispatch of drugs to young people and I ask the Minister whether the newly formed narcotics squad has any evidence to suggest that the pedlars plan in the near future to start dispensing narcotics as well as drugs.
– The honourable gentleman has the advantage of me. I have not heard of the Foco Club before nor have I heard of its location, which I now understand is in the Trades Hall in Brisbane, or that it is peddling drugs to young people. Customs officers, I understand, having been given information, have the right to enter premises and to check them. 1 will bring the question to the attention of the Minister for Customs and Excise and see that appropriate action is taken.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Has his attention been directed to the serious drop of at least 10% in the sales of butter on the Australian market during the last 6 or 7 weeks because of the intensive publicity campaign given to margarine? What plans has the Government for combating this either on its own initiative or through the Australian Agricultural Council?
– I am not aware of any drop during the past 10 weeks in the sales of butter. However, I will be very interested to get the latest figures; they will bring me up to dale on the situation. Commonwealth legislation does enable the dairy industry to levy itself to form a fund for the promotion of Australian dairy products. This is the way it matches or meets competition from other products. Any controls or limitations on the sales of margarine are completely within the jurisdiction of the State governments.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Interior. I draw the Minister’s attention to a recent announcement in the national Press that there is a $ 1,000m plan for Papua and New Guinea. 1 am aware that the Government is to increase its expenditure in the Northern Territory this year, but in view of the magnitude of this grand plan for Papua and New Guinea can the Minister state whether any such plan is envisaged for the Northern Territory?
– I must congratulate the honourable member for the Northern Territory on his continued enthusiasm for that part of Australia and say to him that not only J but also the Prime Minister and most honourable members on this side of the House share that enthusiasm. Having said this, I think the honourable member will realise that there is a difference between Papua and New Guinea and the Northern Territory. The Territory of Papua and New Guinea is heading for self determination. It has its own customs branch, tax laws, administration and legal system. My understanding is that the 5-year plan announced by the Minister for External Territories is designed to show the continued interest of Australia in attracting industry and labour to Papua and New Guinea.
So far as the Northern Territory is concerned, 1 think the record speaks for itself. The fact is that the Northern Territory is the fastest developing part of Australia, and I have no doubt that the honourable member for the Northern Territory has had some part in this. The city of Darwin was, in the last quarter, the fastest growing city in Australia. Not only does the Northern Territory have a very fast expanding mineral industry and a very fast developing agricultural and fishing industry, but everywhere one looks in that area leads one to the same conclusion, namely, that it is suffering not from decadence but from the problems of growth. I think the honourable member recognised in his question the fact that this Government understands the problem in the Northern Territory. It is true to say, I think, that in this Budget the funds committed for the Northern Territory are up 17% on those of last year. This demonstrates the recognition by this Government of the very important part that the Northern Territory plays in the Australian economy.
– My question to the Prime Minister is supplementary to that asked by the honourable member for Cunningham. Has the Government any policy aimed at protecting Australia’s natural resources from coming overwhelmingly under the control of foreign interests? If it has, what is that policy?
– I am glad of the opportunity to add a little to the answer I gave to the honourable member for Cunningham because in addressing the House before I did not mention, for example, Mount Isa - which was also visited during my tour - where there is practically a 50% Australian shareholding. It is nice to be able to bring these extra matters out. What the Government is doing, and what the Government desires to happen in the future, is to continue what has been enabled to happen in the past. That is to say the Government, as this Budget shows and as its approaches before have shown, is seeking to create a climate in this country for investment by Australian investors and others. It has succeeded in doing this, as the facts I have given to the House have shown. It is seeking not to lake so much from the private individual and the private sector for public sector expenditure that Australians are in some way inhibited from taking full advantage of the opportunites offered to them, which they have been taking advantage of and, for so Jong as this Government continues in office, they will be enabled to take advantage of.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) agreed to:
That leave of absence for 1 month be given to the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Bridges-Maxwell) on the ground of parliamentary business overseas.
Motion (by Mr Anthony) agreed to:
That leave of absence for 1 month be given to the honourable member for Indi (Mr Holten) on the ground of parliamentary business overseas.
Motion (by Mr Whitlam) agreed to:
That leave of absence for 1 month be given to the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard) on the ground of parliamentary business overseas and to the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti) on the ground of public business overseas.
– I move:
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until 3 p.m. on Tuesday next.
I apologise to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) for not having discussed this procedure with him. These arrangements were made by our officers. The reason for the motion is that a luncheon will be held next Tuesday for President Park of South Korea.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 1) 1968-69 In Committee
Consideration resumed from 11 September (vide page 951).
Proposed expenditure, $52,782,000.
– One of the first things I would like to refer to in dealing with the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation is the failure of the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) and the Government to make available the annual reports of the Department of Civil Aviation, Qantas Airways Ltd and Trans-Australia Airlines. I question immediately how one can effectively discuss the activities of the Department of Civil Aviation or matters affecting the portfolio of the Minister without the assistance of these annual reports. After all, the consideration of these estimates provides one of the very few opportunities during the year for honourable members to discuss important matters relating to civil aviation. I strongly condemn and censure the Minister for failing to ensure that these reports are made available to honourable members by the time the estimates for his Department are debated in Parliament. Honourable members have not had the advantage of studying the reports. The Minister should ensure that such reports are made available some weeks before the estimates for his Department are discussed. They should not be placed in our boxes only the day before as is usual. They should be made available some weeks before so that honourable members can have an opportunity to read them in detail and make any investigations which they feel inclined to make. Without these reports members are definitely at a disadvantage and the Minister has a very definite advantage over them in this place. So I ask that these reports be given to members well in advance of the debate on the estimates for the Department. Members have received reports from the Department of Housing and the Department of Health, and the estimates for these departments are not yet before the House. If other departments can make their reports available early, why cannot the Department of Civil Aviation do the same?
There are certain things I shall deal with without having the advantage of the report of the Department of Civil Aviation. One is the planning of airports throughout the Commonwealth. I would like to congratulate the Department on the work it has done at the Tullamarine Airport, which is to be the No. 1 airport for Melbourne. From what I have seen of Tullamarine, a very good job has been done in following what I suggest should be the procedure for laying out a major airport for one of the major cities of Australia. Excellent work has been carried out at Tullamarine. In my opinion, the approaches to the runways are first class. The Department can be proud of the whole layout of the airport. However, I do suggest that the Department should take steps immediately to ensure that residential development is not permitted in the flight approaches to this airport. When I inspected the airport, at Tullamarine with other members of the Parliamentary Labor Party Transport Committee it was brought to my attention that subdividers were already at work in the vicinity of the airport and that flight paths could come over the top of residential development. This is not good enough.
We should plan our airports so that they are available for flights 24 hours a day, particularly when we start off in virgin country as we did at Tullamarine. The airlines are desirous of carrying freight when they are not carrying passengers. With the introduction of the Boeing 747, the Lockheed L1011, the Douglas-McDonnell DC10 or the European air bus, large quantities of freight will be carried. The airlines want to use their planes during the day for the transport of passengers, but during the hours when people do not want to travel, from about late evening to early morning, the airlines should be permitted to use their aircraft for the carriage of freight between the capital cities. When we are talking about capital cities we have to remember that the airports we build today will have to serve cities that will have a population of about 5 million by the turn of the century. Planning authorities in New South Wales have said that Sydney will be a city of 5 million people by the turn of the century. I take it that Melbourne will have a similar population.
We should at this stage be planning the development of airports in cities to ensure that airline operations, particularly in the case of Tullamarine, are not hampered by residential development. It may be possible to locate residential development outside the flight approaches to these airports. There is no reason in the world why a Victorian planning authority should not be zoning such areas. After all, town planning authorities today have great powers to zone land for different uses. Engineers of the Department of Civil Aviation, in the light of their experience in this country and in the light of experience overseas, could advise the Minister on this matter. Only commercial or industrial development should be permitted in the flight approaches to Tullamarine.
I turn now to the Sydney airport. There has been quite a controversy as to the location of a second airport for Sydney. I am not happy with the decision of the Department of Civil Aviation to extend the north-south runway at Mascot out into Botany Bay. Already, considerable damage has been caused to the foreshores around Brighton-le-Sands as a result of the extention to the runway. The Minister for Works (Mr Kelly) in this House not so very long ago admitted that the erosion taking place to the foreshores of Brighton-le-Sands was the direct result of extending the northsouth runway as far as it has been extended into Botany Bay. What will happen if it is extended another 4,000 feet into Botany Bay? Will there be any of Brighton-le-Sands left at all?
Then there is the question of the flight approach to Sydney Airport. With the introduction of more modern aircraft, up to date we have no assurance that noise can be controlled. The Minister for Civil Aviation at a conference in Buenos Aires in the last week or so has gone through the motions of calling on the conference to take action to control noise from aircraft. But up to the present time such action has not been successful. I have spoken to a number of the largest aircraft manufacturers in the world and none of them has as yet solved the problem of noise from aircraft. So with the introduction of the air bus, irrespective of what make it may be, and with the introduction of the SST transport with its sonic boom, what will be the position of people who live in the flight path and approaches to the airport at Mascot.
I believe that the Department of Civil Aviation should be looking for an alternative site to the Mascot airport. Unfortunately, the department has selected the Towra Point site. I do not give a hang what the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Dobie) had to say, as reported in the ‘Daily Telegraph’ of 3rd September 1968, when he read a telegram from the Acting Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Scott) who said that Cabinet had not given any consideration to locating an alternative or new Sydney airport at Towra Point. I say without reservation that the Department of Civil Aviation has already asked the New South Wales State Planning Authority to reserve Towra Point as the site for the second Sydney airport. The other site that is being considered is in the vicinity of Richmond, where a Royal Australian Air Force base is located, but the location of the RAAF base is one of the reasons why an alternative Sydney airport has not been located in the Richmond area. I challenge the Minister - during the debate, rather than in his reply, so that honourable members will have an opportunity of discussing what he has to say - to stand up and make a statement denying that the Department of Civil Aviation has already decided that the Towra Point site is to be the location of the second or alternative airport for Sydney and also that the Department has already asked the New South Wales State Planning Authority to reserve this site for an airport. If the Minister denies what I say is true, will he table in this chamber all files relevant to the selection of an alternative airport for Sydney so that honourable members will have an opportunity to examine them? The statement in the Press which is attributed to the honourable member for Hughes may be true, that Cabinet has not yet considered or debated the question of whether Towra Point should be the alternative site for the Sydney airport. I am not questioning whether Cabinet has discussed it. I am saying that the New South Wales branch of the Department of Civil Aviation has already decided that Towra Point is the site for the alternative Sydney airport and that it is up to the New South Wales State Planning Authority to say yes or no to the proposal.
– What about Federal Cabinet? It has some say.
– Certainly it has, but I shall read what the Acting Minister for Civil Aviation is alleged to have said. The Press report states:
Senator Scott, in bis telegram, said: ‘Cabinet has never approved, nor has it ever considered, any specific proposal for the construction of an airport at Towra Point or the resumption of land for this purpose.’
Of course Cabinet has not given the matter any consideration, because the Department of Civil Aviation has had to submit its proposal to the State Planning Authority which has to say whether it considers the site to be suitable or unsuitable for an airport. I assume that after the State Planning Authority has made a decision Cabinet will be asked to approve of the reservation or the purchase of the land. You do not just reserve land and let it lie. You reserve land and then you go ahead and purchase it so that an airport can be constructed on it. I do not want the honourable member for Hughes to tell me what Cabinet policy is. He does not know any more than I do what it is. I want the Minister to state that the Department of Civil Aviation, which is the planning authority as far as he is concerned, has not selected Towra Point as the site for the next airport in Sydney. If he denies that what I have said is true, will he table in the Parliament all files relevant to this matter so that honourable members will have an opportunity to examine them and draw their own conclusions?
– Are you in favour of the Towra Point site?
– I am in favour of Sydney having an alternative airport. I believe that the present airport is not suitably located. It is for the Department of Civil Aviation to bring recommendations to this Parliament as to where the alternative airport should be located. I am completely opposed to major airports being located in areas adjacent to residential development. Major airports should and must be located in areas where it is possible to use the airports 24 hours a day.
– Answer the question.
– I am like the Minister. I answer questions as I think they should be answered. I will not answer yes or no to the question. Major airports should be located - and I make this point most emphatically - where they do not interfere with the comfort of residents who have established themselves in the areas concerned. If, as at Tullamarine, people buy properties which are situated in the flight paths or approaches to airports, that is their responsibility. But in the initial planning stages airports should be located in areas where the flight paths of aircraft do not interfere with the comfort of residents. Aircraft should be able to use airports 24 hours a day; in the daytime and at night for the transport of passengers and in the off peak periods for the transport of freight. Air transport will be an ever increasingly used method of transport of commodities.
In the few remaining minutes I would like to refer to what I consider to be the failure of the Department of Civil Aviation to report adequately on certain matters. I draw attention to the length of time which honourable members have to wait to get a reply from the Minister. On 25th June this year I wrote to the Minister for Civil Aviation asking him a number of questions concerning an air accident report on an aircraft which crashed at Daly Waters on 29th
December 1967. I received a reply on 10th September. Good heavens above, does it take that long for information on an important subject such as this to be supplied to honourable members? I refer to one aspect of the report, which states:
The pilot acted in the capacity of pilot in command of an aircraft engaged in charter operations while he was not the holder of a commercial pilot’s licence. The aircraft was used in charter operations without the authority of an appropriate charter licence.
In my opinion, the Department of Civil Aviation is not exercising adequate control over the movement of aircraft in this country. It is probably keeping the operations of the large airline companies under close observation, but it is not exercising sufficient control over the operations of charter aircraft and the people who fly them.
– I understand that we are debating the estimates of public expenditure in relation to the Department of Civil Aviation. I would not have thought that we were doing so, from the speech of the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones). But as he has made certain statements on certain aspects of Government policy, I shall refer briefly to four points before I move on to deal with the estimates. The question of planning around the Tullamarine airport is one on which I believe the Department of Civil Aviation can be completely exonerated. Certain aspects of the activities of State Government authorities have to be looked at when considering the planning around the Tullamarine airport. Nevertheless one must feel a certain amount of disappointment at the fact that, as is evident even before it is opened, such a fine facility as the Tullamarine Airport is to be beleaguered with this noise problem.
Then I come to the question of erosion around the foreshores of Botany Bay. In this respect the honourable gentleman comes to this House ignorant of the present situation. I commend to his attention the recent report of the Public Works Committee on the extension of the runway at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport into Botany Bay, which clearly sets out the technical work that has been done by the Department of Works in association with the Wallingford Hydraulics Laboratory. It is evident from this that the problem will be solved, and the Public Works Committee has accepted the statements made by the Department of Works.
As to Towra Point, the honourable member for Newcastle has taken up the same position as that taken by the other members of his Party, both in this Parliament and in the New South Wales Parliament. Briefly, what happened was that a Labor government in New South Wales proposed this kind of development on the southern shores of Botany Bay, and it consulted the Department of Civil Aviation with a view to developing a second airport in this area. The honourable member for Newcastle has deliberately declined to say whether he is in favour of the Towra Point development. He has adopted much the same position as the President of the Sutherland Shire Council, who 4 years ago supported the present Leader of the Opposition in New South Wales, Mr Hills, in saying that he believed this development would be a good thing for the Sutherland Shire, but who in recent times has expressed a view which is completely the reverse. The honourable member for Newcastle has not the political courage to state in this House where he stands on the question of Towra Point. I invite him to make such a statement and I believe the Parliament will give him an opportunity to do so if he wishes to avail himself of it.
As to the use of airports in capital cities for various purposes at certain periods of the day or night, again I invite him to make a straightforward statement as to where he stands. Let me say quite categorically that I am opposed to any lifting of the ban on aircraft between 1 1 p.m. and 6 a.m. Let the honourable member stand up and say whether he believes this ban should be lifted. I am sure that the people in and around the major capital cities will be interested to hear bis views on this question.
Now I come to the main subject for discussion in this debate - the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation. We have been told that these estimates amount to $52,782,000, but to put the matter in proper perspective I think it is necessary to inform the Committee that this amount is only about 50% of the total expenditure on civil aviation for this year. One has to add to this amount the estimated expenditure on capital works and services for the Department of Civil Aviation, which is shown in the Appropriation Bill (No. 2) as $7,900,000. Then there is also an amount of $27m to be spent by the Department of Works on behalf of the Department of Civil Aviation, under the capital works programme, and there are several miscellaneous items of expenditure by various departments on behalf of the Department of Works which add up to $1,262,000. There is also $1,835,300 to be spent on miscellaneous items by the Department of the Interior. Combining all these amounts we get a total of 590,779,300 to be spent by or on behalf of the Department of Civil Aviation in this financial year.
I must also tell the Committee that a further $llm will be required for civil aviation expenditure under Additional Estimates which are to come forward at a later stage. This will bring the total expenditure to $101,779,300. But I go one step further and direct the attention of the Committee to the fact that in last year’s appropriation for the Advance to the Treasurer there was an amount of $2,500,000 which was added to the expenditure on civil aviation for that year, and we cannot ignore the possibility that some such amount will appear again in the Advance to the Treasurer in this financial year. This will push the total a little further above the $100m mark. I contrast this amount with the sum of $52,782,000 which appears in the Appropriation Bill (No. 1).
Then I go to the other side of the ledger and have a look at the expected income from civil aviation for this year. Before proceeding with that exercise, however, I want to look at the figures showing total expenditure during the last few years to sm the growing importance of and emphasis on civil aviation, particularly in the capital works field. As I have said, the total figure for this year is $101,779,300. Last year the figure was $81,799,799, and in 1966-67, it was $74,030,410. The trend is obvious from these figures and it is difficult to envisage any easing off in the future in expenditure on civil aviation.
Now I come to the expected income from civil aviation for this year. The estimated amount is $18,554,000. Income last year was $14,244,000 and in 1966-67 it was $14,804,000. The figures show a significant increase from last year to this year. This year’s estimate is slightly more than 20% higher than last year’s income. It may well be asked why there was not a corresponding increase in 1967-68 over the previous year, but I remind honourable members of the strike by pilots of Qantas Airways Ltd in the latter part of 1966 which affected that airline’s accounts to such a degree that the Treasury received no dividend at all from its operations in that year. The previous dividend had been $2,655,000. Here we see the reason why income last year showed no increase over that for the previous year. Of the expected increase this year the Qantas dividend will account for $788,000. It can be seen that the industrial dispute in 1966 has cost us about $5m.
Now I return to the estimated income of $18,554,000 for this year. A new item that will contribute towards this total in this financial year is the passenger service charge. I believe this charge is long overdue in the civil aviation field. We know that there have been some legal problems associated with it, but it is my belief that this charge should have been imposed a long time ago. It is a logical method of providing some of the tremendous sums that are being and have been spent on civil aviation, particularly over the last 4 or 5 years. It is estimated that the passenger service charge will bring in $2.1m this financial year. 1 do not doubt the validity of this figure because I understand that the charge will not be applied until 1st January next. I have calculated that with an annual turnover of about 9 million passengers the charge will bring in about $5.1m in a full year, and that by the end of June 1970 we can look forward to revenue amounting to about $6m from this source.
While some people associated with the civil aviation industry may throw up their hands in consternation, I remind them that the Government has respect for their financial position. I ask them to consider what trie Government has provided in facilities in recent years. The Government’s policy has been designed to put the industry on a substantial footing, and the Government has achieved its objective. It is now time, these people having obtained a substantial economic benefit, for something to be returned to the public purse. It has been estimated that the Government has been subsidising each airline ticket to the extent of $10 to $12. Every time someone flies the Government has shelled out $10 to $12. This year an attempt will be made to reverse the situation somewhat. We can look forward to an estimated revenue of $25m by the end of June 1970. This is somewhere near what we ought to be getting from civil aviation. At the same time, in fairness to the general operators, we must not overlook that a considerable sum comes to the Treasury from other facets of civil aviation. For instance, in the year ended June 1967 aviation fuel tax brought in $8m; customs duty on aircraft and aircraft parts, $ 1.25m; customs duty collected on a variety of objects at airports, $10m; and sales tax at airports, $ 1.25m. In other words, a total of $20.5m was paid into the public purse.
I have dealt with only a few matters in discussing these estimates. There is still a big gap between expenditure on civil aviation and returns therefrom, but we are making moves to close that gap. I hope, at some later stage, to be able to dwell on other aspects of civil aviation policy. Despite a statement made in another place yesterday, the broad policies of the Government in the civil aviation field have been and still are so imaginative that Australia is in the first seven nations in the field of civil aviation. I submit that the Government’s policy should be endorsed.
-! am pleased to sec in the House the honourable member for Perth (Mr Chaney), because some of my comments will he of interest to him in his capacity as Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works. Perhaps when he speaks to these estimates he will be able to answer a question that has been puzzling me for some time, namely, how the Department of Civil Aviation determines priorities for construction works and other construction activities associated with civil aviation. Naturally, of course, my remarks are directed also to the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) . I know that political considerations enter largely into the fixing of developmental priorities in other fields. This often can be illustrated by government decisions on the eve of elections or as a result of some election reverses; but I am interested to know how the Department of Civil Aviation determines its priorities for the expenditure of funds.
Quite apart from politics, there seems to be a distinct policy for city airports and another policy for rural airports. Rural areas do have some claim for consideration, yet they are treated like very poor cousins. My particular concern is the Mackay Airport. I am sure that the Minister and the honourable member for Perth appreciate that Mackay is Australia’s fourth most important airport, in terms of traffic, outside the capital cities. Mackay is an extremely important area; it contributes much to the export income of Australia. In determining priorities one would think that export income would be one of the criteria taken into account. I do not argue about the development of large airports in capital cities but there should be some measure of comparison. The situation should be kept in perspective. Why should Perth have one of the most lavish and best airports in Australia while Mackay has buildings that have been condemned, not only by myself in this Parliament, but by local residents and overseas tourists who come to the area and who have to wait 3 to 4 hours, sometimes without even a cup of tea? At the Mackay Airport there is no provision for refreshments, and if a person wants to use the toilet at one airline’s office he must cross the road. If it is raining and he does not have an umbrella he suffers the consequences. At the airport there is only one obsolete public telephone. These conditions have been brought to the notice of the Minister and he has authorised temporary arrangements to improve the situation, but temporary arrangements are not good enough.
Mackay, in terms of economic value, is important not only to Queensland but to the nation as a whole. It is one of the biggest tourist centres in Australia and has many international visitors. The airport demands and should have a higher priority for improvements. The airport pavement is receiving attention. I am pleased to note that the Government is doing something about this, because the airport will be able to take jet aircraft at some future time. International travellers are subjected to high pressure publicity and propaganda by our agents overseas, including the Australian Tourist Commission. They depart from overseas international airports of high standard. They travel on aircraft of high standard, such as those operated by Qantas,
Pan-American World Airways Inc. and the British Overseas Airways Corporation. They arrive in Australia at a terminal of high standard. Within Australia they travel in aircraft of high standard operated by TransAustralia Airlines and Ansett-ANA. Then they arrive at their ultimate destination - one of the world’s wonders, the Great Barrier Reef. Is it any wonder that upon arriving at the airport at Mackay they gain the impression that Australia is a hick place? From Mackay they may fly to the islands by Lindeman Aerial Services Pty Ltd, by charter aircraft or by aircraft owned by the island proprietors. They may have to wait several hours for the commuting service. Sometimes they are stranded at the Mackay airport. After the excellent treatment they have received between their departure from their homeland and their arrival at Mackay they must be shocked by the standards at Mackay.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works investigated facilities at Mackay. That is why I referred to the honourable member for Perth (Mr Chaney). He and the Committee of which he is Chairman must have some knowledge of relative priorities. Although the Committee’s terms of reference are individualistic in the sense that the Committee’s investigations are confined to a particular project, the Committee must see that some airports or public works are more important than others. The Committee must be aware of the necessity to lay down guidelines. I commend the Committee for going beyond its terms of reference in pointing to -.he shocking state of affairs that exists at the airport at Mackay. I am moved not so much by the interests of the city of Mackay as by the interests of an airport serving a large area and playing a magnificent part in the development of this nation.
– What did the Committee say?
– The Committee recommended that the Government should re-examine the timing of the terminal rebuilding programme at Mackay Airport with the idea of accelerating completion of the proposed long term improvements. In its report the Committee said:
We also noted the advice of the Department of Civil Aviation that there are plans for a new building area to be developed at Mackay Airport ‘perhaps in the early 1970s’.
The Committee made that comment after it had taken evidence and investigated the airport. It had the value of its experience in comparing Mackay Airport with other areas and it recommended that the Government should re-examine the timing of the terminal rebuilding programme at Mackay. In other words, the Committee was suggesting that the programme be advanced. It was obvious that every member of the Committee believed that some improvements in standard should be made to the buildings at this most important airport. The Committee in its report said:
Any responsible parliamentary committee of public works, as this Committee is, should be commended for drawing to the attention of the Parliament and the nation the state of affairs at Mackay Airport. I repeat that in its report the Committee said: … we feel that the Parliament should be aware of our views on this subject.
The Committee further reported:
I have said that this is a most important airport. With the exception of capital city airports it is the fourth busiest in Australia. After the Public Works Committee took evidence, examined photographs of the airport and investigated the matter thoroughly, it reached the conclusion, which I believe would be unanimous, that the rebuilding programme should be re-examined. I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation: What is the good of the Public Works Committee going to areas such as Mackay and making sensible constructive and considered suggestions, if its recommendations are to be completely ignored by the Government? In other words, I am attempting to ascertain how priorities are determined. The only argument which the Government can advance against the case which I have put forward and which the Committee put forward is that the money should be spent on more urgent priorities. It seems to me that here we get into the arena of politics. Priorities are determined, to a large degree, by the weight of politics. I do not suggest that the proposed airport at Toowoomba, for example, in the territory of the Minister, is not essential.
– That is a local ownership enterprise.
– Even so, the Department of Civil Aviation will have some responsibilities and will spend some government funds in the area. I do not suggest that the reported $10m airport at Oakey, built for defence reasons, is not necessary. All I say is that surely particular projects should be handled on a basis of priorities.
Let me go further. I will tell the Minister how to solve this problem. When the learned Public Works Committee went to Mackay it examined the justification for spending $1.25m on improvements to the airport and it reported that this sum should be spent. But when tenders were called and had been accepted we found that the Government had accepted a tender which was between $300,000 and $400,000 below the estimated cost. In other words, the Government saved money on this project. Why could that money not be sunk immediately into improving the Mackay airport terminal? The answer given to me is that the money has to be spent on more urgent priorities. It seems to mc that airports in country areas have a very low priority when you have regard to the lavish treatment meted out to many of the airports which are more important from the point of view of traffic but not necessarily more important to the development of the nation. Perspective should be maintained in this respect. I have in mind such airports as Tullamarine Airport and Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport.
– I am sure that the Public Works Committee appreciates the careful study given to its report by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson), because a lot of work goes into the Committee’s reports. As I have said before, if more honourable members showed similiar interest in the Committee’s reports its members might feel that their work was not always in vain. It is not for me to say how priorities should be decided. This is not a task given to the Committee. I will be just as interested as the honourable member for Dawson in the answer to this query, which must come from the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz). This is a matter in which all members of the Committee are interested. Obviously this is not a thing that I can comment on, but I do think that in this House nothing is paid more lip service than the subject of decentralisation, and not much else is done about it. The whole of the argument put forward by the honourable member for Dawson is based on the claim that we ought to devote more of our resources to development outside the metropolitan areas. So, this whole question of priorities concerning what has been done here and what has been done there is one in which we are greatly interested.
The honourable member for Dawson addressed a specific question to me as the member for Perth. He asked why Perth should have the type of airport and terminal facilities, that it has when Mackay, which is the fourth busiest airport outside the capital cities, should have the sort of conditions that it has. I think that the honourable member must realise that this matter should be considered in terms of aircraft movements. Let me quote some of the statistics that are available to me. Mackay Airport has some 8,796 domestic movements in a year whereas Perth Airport has 8,234 domestic movements and 1,838 international movements each year. But, like most of us, the honourable member for Dawson in looking at that comparison could make the figures show what he wanted them to show. I invite the honourable member to look a little further at the statistics on the passenger side. Perth has 293,838 domestic passsengers each year as well as 35,639 international passengers each year whereas Mackay has each year 74,854 passengers. Honourable members can see the sort of comparison that is obtained in terms of terminal usage.
I turn to a comparison in terms of freight. Perth Airport each year handles 6,888 tons of domestic freight and 575 tons of overseas freight, whereas the total freight movement at Mackay Airport is 917 tons per year. I am not saying that in making those comparisons I am not standing by the report made by the Public Works
Committee on the Mackay Airport. 1 still stand by that report. I am using these comparisons to show the difference between the international airport at Perth and the Mackay airport.
What I intended to speak about in this debate is probably related to what I have just been discussing. It is the same sort of argument that was used by the honourable member for Dawson except that it is in respect of my own State. On the first day of the present parliamentary session, I asked the Minister for Civil Aviation a question about the aerodrome at Port Hedland. I received a reply that some 550,000 was to be allocated for improvements to the tarmac area. The estimates that we are discussing now show a figure of $53,000. This amount will not overcome the difficulty, as I see it, at Port Hedland. Incidentally, this $53,000 is the only amount that I can find in the Civil Works Programme 1968-69 for that part of Western Australia. The expenditure for Western Australia by the Department of Civil Aviation is set out at page 19 of the Civil Works Programme document. Provision is made for works at Jandakot, at Perth and at Carnarvon, where $80,000 is provided for the ‘Erection of remote receiver station/powerhouse building’. Generally, there is not the work going on there that I would like to see towards the improvement of aerodrome and civil aviation facilities in the north west of Western Australia.
This area is becoming increasingly important, not only to the State itself but also to Australia with respect to its earning of export income. We have just had a visit by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) both of whom are loud in their praise of what has been undertaken there. But if one looks at the facilities that the Department of Civil Aviation provides there, one becomes extremely concerned that the people are subjected to the type of service that they have. The expenditure of $53,000 at Port Hedland is just to provide an area for light aircraft to the north west of the existing apron. This will mean that there will still be only one access way to the present tarmac area where ordinary passenger aeroplanes are placed. If any aeroplane is departing or arriving at the same time as another aeroplane is departing or arriving, a hold up takes place because no exit exists from the tarmac except through this one area. The improvement of this situation is an important requirement at Port Hedland because of the tremendous movement of aircraft that is taking place there. Something has to be done very quickly to provide a second access way.
If honourable members take a look at the intrastate services which are conducted in Western Australia by MacRobertson-Miller Airlines Ltd they will find that very, very heavy restrictions are placed on the operations of its aircraft. The most modern aircraft that the company has in its fleet is the F27. The situation arises where some aerodromes are limited to one movement per week of an F27 because of the damage that will occur to the strips if the number of movements is increased. Although I can see that there are some places in which one aircraft movement per week probably suffices for the amount of traffic available, this situation certainly does not apply in the major areas served by the F27. I refer for instance to a place like Albany which is a regional centre in the Great Southern area of Western Australia. Albany is allowed one F27 movement per week into its aerodrome. Esperance, which is a fast developing area, is allowed one F27 movement per week. Places like Shark Bay also are allowed one F27 movement only. Six F27 movements are allowed at Mount Tom Price. These are quite inadequate to supply the services that are necessary respecting passengers and freight at Mount Tom Price.
What happens when the limit is reached? When the company reaches the limit of its restricted operations with F27 aircraft, it has to substitute DC3s to fly people and goods into Mount Tom Price and other areas. I belive that in 1968, at this stage of our development, it is a pretty rough thing to expect somebody - whether he be an engineer or someone interested in investment in the area or the purchase of iron ore for Japan - who has flown either by DC8 jet or 707 jet into Sydney and across to Perth in a 727 aircraft to park himself in a DC3 to go 1,300 miles or so into the north of Western Australia. Roebourne is restricted to five aircraft movements per week. It is obvious that more aircraft movements into Mount Tom Price are needed just as more are needed into Marble Bar. Quoting from the figures supplied to me by the Department of Civil Aviation, I note that Marble Bar is restricted to one aircraft movement per week. Honourable members know the oil production that is taking place at Barrow Island at this time. Barrow Island - and what I am about to say applies to other places also - is allowed twelve aircraft movements per week but the right to travel will be withdrawn if stone damage becomes apparent. There are also limitations on the limitations. Some move has to be made pretty quickly to clear up the difficulties that are being experienced. 1 have mentioned before that everybody is looking forward to the day when we can get some regular sort of service between Perth and Darwin. 1 realise the difficulties that the company itself is up against. It is terribly simple for somebody to say - as has been mentioned by some people - that Trans-Australia Airlines could start a DC9 service from Perth to Darwin immediately. I believe that if this suggestion is looked into rather closely it is not as feasible as it seems at first. Even if the passenger traffic now available between Darwin and Perth were increased by 100%, no justification would exist for more than one flight per fortnight between those places. So honourable members can see that in terms of planning airline operations the provision of this service would be an almost impossible task.
The company concerned is trying to do some forward planning. 1 do not think that it is looking towards the DC9 aircraft. Its attention probably is focused on aircraft which have not yet been proved completely such as the F28 - the Fokker Fellowship - and the BAC1 11, 475 series, which has low pressure tyres and which can operate into and out of a number of airports where other high pressure tyred jets are not allowed to operate. A great need exists for the Department of Civil Aviation to plan for the future and for the introduction eventually of jet services up and down the coast of Western Australia. At the present time, the only airports usable by any jet flight - this is even almost moving into the realms of the latest series of Viscounts which have a fairly high tyre pressure - would be Learmonth or Meekatharra. Quite obviously there is no point in going to Meekatharra. It is an alternative aerodrome for overseas services coming to Perth and in this way it serves a useful purpose if Perth cannot be used because of fog or low cloud. But it is not a place where enough passengers could be picked up to justify a stop on a long flight between Perth and Darwin. The other aerodrome is Learmonth. The same arguments apply to it. It does not have the capacity to increase loadings on a long haul between Perth and Darwin.
There seems to me to be too much indecision in the Department of Civil Aviation, and through it in the Government, in formulating policies for upgrading airports and making existing airports capable of handling the types of aircraft that will want to use them. The Government has now agreed to the second stage of the development of the Ord scheme. This will mean a tremendous increase in air traffic into Kununurra. The State Government selected a site for the aerodrome, but the Department considers that it is completely unsuitable and it cannot foresee that aeroplanes at any stage will be able to use the Kununurra strip for night services. This is because the cost of lighting obstructions in the area that would have to be lit for night operations would be absolutely out of all proportion and just could not be entertained. There is a possibility, of course, that Wyndham could be made an allweather night and day airport, but this would require the expenditure of considerable funds.
So 1 come to my main concern. This part of Western Australia, which has been absolutely bursting with development over the past 4 or 5 years, has met every challenge to it except the challenge of providing facilities for civil aircraft. We are lagging badly in this field and we must have some overall plan for the development of airports. Companies should be able to operate their present fleets on a less restricted scale throughout the State and we must have forward planning to meet the situation that will arise with the introduction of pure jets of the new types that the manufacturers are now getting ready to test. In this way we will give the people the type of service that should be provided in that part of Australia.
I am conscious of the great problems that face civil aviation. I suppose that civil aviation is the spoilt child of the Australian transport system. No other transport system - railway, tramway or road - has had so much done for it by the Government as civil aviation has, but the problems keep arising. The introduction of a new type of aeroplane on an international line multiplies the problems almost overnight. We are caught in a rat race in international air transport. If one operator gets a bigger and better jet than we have, our company, to keep in the business, must acquire the same sort of equipment and this throws a greater strain on the Government through the Department of Civil Aviation than it does on the company purchasing the aeroplane. Conscious as 1 am of these difficulties, I still ask the Minister to give urgent consideration to some overall and immediate plan for the upgrading of many of the air strips in Western Australia. Mis Department should also undertake some forward planning in the realisation that a company or companies will introduce pure jet services on the west coast of Western Australia within the next few years.
– I appreciate the opportunity to participate in the debate on the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation. I thank the Minister for his courtesy in handling the few matters on which 1 have had to approach him. Since I have been a member of the Public Works Committee I have come to know those of his officers who have given evidence before the Committee. I appreciate their courtesy, their great knowledge and their dedication to their task of solving the problems of civil aviation. It may be true that the Department of Civil Aviation, like every other department and like individual members of the Parliament, will from time to time make mistakes, but on the whole the Department is doing a good job.
We on this side of the chamber respect the submissions made in the Parliament by the honourable member for Perth (Mr Chaney). In the speech he has just made he emphasised the urgent need to improve the airports in the north-west of Western Australia, particularly at Port Hedland. 1 agree that the air strip at Port Hedland requires modification. Referring to the north-west, the honourable member said that no other part of Australia is more important than this area is when it comes to earning export income. He could be right or he could be partly right. I want to try to rebut his remarks about the urgent need to improve the airfield at Port Hedland and other places and about no other part of Australia being as important as the north-west of Western Australia. We should all, as fairminded men, agree that there are degrees of importance and that there are priorities. I remind the honourable member for Perth that the greatest industrial city in Australia is Newcastle. I do not have the figures in my mind, but I would say that Newcastle is probably a bigger earner of export income on the goods it ships to other countries than is any other part of Australia. It sends wool, coal and steel to other countries. I think on this point my argument is stronger, more honest, more factual and more frank than is that of the honourable member for Perth. I do not say that he is a dishonest man, but I remind him that Newcastle is important.
– The honourable member went close to saying that I am dishonest.
– If my words conveyed the impression that I think the honourable member is dishonest, I withdraw them. Newcastle docs not have a commercial airport. The population of the district is 300,000. No member of the Parliament is more aware of the needs of this district than is the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz), who is now at the table. As my colleague the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) knows, the Minister has been to Newcastle and has met deputations of leading citizens and members of the Royal Australian Air Force at Williamtown He knows the problem and is aware of Newcastle’s urgent need for a civil airport in keeping with its status as a great industrial city.
No doubt the Minister, when replying, will refer to the difficulty of developing the Hexham site. 1 appreciate that development of this site is difficult, but I do not think it is impossible. Williamtown is Australia’s major fighter training base. Mirage aircraft are stationed there and Hexham is too close to the Williamtown base. This is the greatest obstacle to the development of the Hexham site, but there is an alternative and the Minister should be aware of it. There is an alternative site on the shores of beautiful Lake Macquarie, which is the greatest and prettiest lake in Australia. The Lake Macquarie Shire is developing at a faster rate than any other shire in Australia. This is shown by the number of applications for new homes. That is the appropriate measuring stick to use when we claim that one shire is developing more rapidly than another. The Aeropelican Aircharter Service airstrip at Lake Macquarie has been developed to a point, rather successfully, by private enterprise - by Mr Hilder, a man with a great deal of initiative. But he is not able to develop it to the extent required to meet the needs of a commercial airport serving Newcastle. The Lake Macquarie Shire Council is anxious to reach agreement with the private owner or owners - with Mr Hilder in particular - over the development of the Aeropelican airstrip. This strip is used at present by small aircraft and has an effective operating length of 2,500 feet. This strip could be extended into Swan Bay in Lake Macquarie at minimum cost because of the very shallow water in this part of the lake.
This proposal should be given the fullest attention, particularly in view of the disinclination of the Department of Civil Aviation to aid the development of the Hexham site. The Aeropelican airstrip would need to be extended 2,000 or 3,000 feet further into the Lake at Swan Bay where, as I said, the water is shallow. This could be done easily with the use of modern equipment and methods such as have been employed, and will continue to be employed, at Botany Bay where Mascot aerodrome is being extended in order to take jumbo jets in 18 months or 2 years time. Land for the Aeropelican strip could be reclaimed by dredging sand from the inner entrance to the lake to the beginning of the channel. It could be done with the use of automatic sand pumping dredges which do not have to be manned and can operate all night. I believe they can be operated with just one manned shift. Dredging of this area also would promote the growth of aquatic sports and boating, both sail and power, on Lake Macquarie. At present this part of the Lake is difficult to navigate because of the shallow water. This dredging would serve two purposes. The sand could be reclaimed from an area not far from the entrance to Lake Macquarie and could be used to extend the Aeropelican airstrip. If this airstrip were extended another 2,000 or 3,000 feet, according to the authorities it could be used by Fokker Friendship and Viscount aircraft. A Fokker Friendship and Viscount service to the Aeropelican strip would meet the needs of Newcastle and the surrounding area for a considerable number of years ahead.
The Lake Macquarie area is developing rapidly and this airstrip is fairly centrally located. It would serve Newcastle proper as well as Cardiff, Wallsend, Toronto. Swansea, Charlestown and Belmont, all of which are thickly populated areas, and the lakeside areas such as Morisset and Wyong. The people of these lakeside areas would not find it inconvenient to travel to the Aeropelican strip to join an aircraft which would take them interstate or to the international airport at Mascot or Tullamarine.
This is a very practical proposition. I would like to see the Department of Civil Aviation give a high priority to it because of the importance of Newcastle and its environs. The Lake Macquarie Shire Council has also made provision in its plans for another airstrip to be built only about half a mile from the Aeropelican airstrip. This proposed airstrip would run parallel with the coast in a north-south direction and would be built on sand dunes. We are told that sand dunes provide a very good foundation for an airstrip. There are no buildings in this area; this would obviate the necessity for resumption and the payment of compensation. It is contemplated that a highway will go through this area but if the airstrip were placed at the site advocated by the Lake Macquarie Shire Council, that is adjoining the present Aeropelican strip, it would not transgress the present highway plan.
I hope my submissions will be accepted, because I believe they are practical. This plan would cost less because hills would not have to be removed. It is virtually flat country. I believe that with help and enthusiasm from the Department of Civil Aviation the scheme mooted by many in the Newcastle region, particularly by the Lake Macquarie Shire Council, could become a practicality. It would be a step forward for this important city. The people who advocate this idea, as well as myself, believe that the Aeropelican airstrip could be fed with passengers from different parts of the Lake Macquarie area by a fast motor launch. A launch capable of doing 20 knots could land the passengers within close proximity to where they would board the aircraft.
I hope the Minister will give serious consideration to co-operating in every way with the development of the Aeropelican strip on the lines suggested and sought in particular by the Lake Macquarie Shire Council. The people of Newcastle and the surrounding region have been very tolerant in their claims for an airport for this important and modern city. I understand that Fokker Friendships can carry from 36 to 40 passengers and that a Viscount can carry 40 passengers. I believe that if this airstrip were developed it would meet the needs of the people there for many years. The cost would not be as great as that incurred by the Government in developing similar airports elsewhere. This development would result in the dredging of part of the channel and would permit the growth of aquatic sports on this beautiful lake. I believe there is an urgency to develop aquatic sports in Australia, because of the increasing loll of the road. More people are being discouraged from using the roads and are using the waterways for their leisure activities. This must help to reduce the toll of the road. There are three reasons, therefore, for developing the Aeropelican airstrip. Firstly, it would improve the entrance to Lake Macquarie; secondly, it would provide the people of Newcastle with a modern airport, which they so urgently need; and thirdly, it would assist in keeping down the toll of the road.
Sitting suspended from 12.39 to 2.15 p.m.
– First of all I would like to extend my congratulations to the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) in maintaining in Australia the best safety record for air travel in the world. I was very pleased recently, when watching a television programme on American air travel, to find that the experts in the United States of America said they used the Australian text book as their guide to safety in air travel. I thought this was a very fine compliment to Australia and inferentially it was a very fine compliment to the Minister and his Department.
One feature of civil aviation which does not earn congratulations from people in my electorate of Barton or, I believe, in the electorates of St George and Hughes, is the level of noise adjacent to Sydney (Kingsford.Smith) Airport. Great noise problems exist in these electorates. People who do not live near airports and are not subjected to the excessive screaming of jet planes landing and taking off perhaps do not realise the serious problem that this presents. Many of my electors are suffering from ill health, and in some instances businesses are suffering, because of this problem, the effects of which are made apparent in many ways. I congratulate the Minister on his assurance that the Department will co-operate in every way possible with overseas experts to try to alleviate the level of noise. As a member of the Government Members Civil Aviation Committee I was privileged to do some research into this subject. I say frankly that at the moment there is no solution to this problem. The only answer that can be given is that we should not build airports near dwellings or close to capital cities.
If honourable members stood in the middle of Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport at Mascot they would notice that the airport, which is approximately 7 miles in diameter, is built in the middle of a saucer shaped depression. Planes, of necessity, have to have a high rate of climb on takeoff and a fairly steep rate of descent when they come in. This has increased the noise to an almost intolerable extent. One other complaint made by my electors- -and I think this is a vt-ry common one near aerodromes - is that, shortly after a plane lands, when it uses reverse thrust to pull up quickly there is an even greater volume of noise though the screaming effect is not so great. I do not know whether there is any solution to this problem. However, I hope that it is being looked into. It is our hope, of course, that more planes will use the runway extending into Botany Bay when it is lengthened.
I have many Idlers on this subject from people in my electorate, particularly those who run hospitals. In my constituency there are the big St George Hospital and also many private hospitals. I do not think there is any need to emphasise the effect that noise from aircraft has on hospitals. This is a very real problem. Some research was carried out at schools in my area to find out the effects of noise. It was found that an average of half an hour a day was lost by each class because the teacher and the pupils had to stop their activities because of aircraft noise. Half an hour a day may not sound very much, but when this is divided up into periods of half a minute or a minute each, it can be seen that there is a very grave distraction to both pupils and teachers. 1 get many complaints about interruptions to the domestic life of people in my area. These complaints indicate that planes come very dose to the rooftops of residences when they take off or land. I received a letter from a lady who wrote that every time the television programme ‘Peyton Place’ was on, it was interrupted by aircraft passing overhead. This may not seem a great problem to people who are not ‘Peyton Place’ fans. But 1 can assure honourable members that many of my electors follow this programme and to them this is a very serious disturbance.
The only times when jet noise is welcomed in my area arc the occasions when it occurs during protest meetings. At such times it proves an effective demonstration. It is remarkable that whenever a meeting is held in my electorate to protest against aircraft noise, there seems to be more aircraft noise than at any other lime. In fact, the noise from aircraft interrupts speakers far more effectively than does the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Curtin), who is trying to interrupt me at the moment by interjecting. His efforts are without success though, for I cannot understand what he is saying. Very serious interruption to church services occurs. Services are held on several days each week, and I have had complaints from both worshippers and ministers about interruptions caused by planes. Therefore. I welcome the assurance that something will be done to try to alleviate this noise problem. 1 should mention also the complaints that have come from sporting clubs in my area. As I have told honourable members before, my electorate is in the middle of the great St George district, which is one of the great sporting areas in Australia. Many sporting activities are interrupted in this district by the noise of jets passing overhead.
– What about Australian rules football?
– The St George district is better known for rugby league football, but it has produced outstanding competitors in all the sports that Australians play. I have also received letters stating that walls of some homes in my electorate have developed cracks as a result of jet noise. Claims are made that glass is broken, babies are awakened and shift workers and those suffering from ill health cannot sleep during the day. These are serious complaints and I hope that some answer will be found. One solution put forward is the construction of a second airport for Sydney to take some of the aircraft that now go to Mascot. 1 feel there is a great necessity for a second airport to he built in Sydney. But I am quite adamant that this second airport should not be at Towra Point. In fact. 1 am certain that it will not be built there. As long as my colleagues, the honourable member for St George (Mr Bosman) and the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Dobie), and I are in this House, our constituents can be assured that we will fight to see that an airport is not built at Towra Point.
One of the byproducts of the extension of a runway into Botany Bay has been the subsequent erosion along the shores in the electorate of Barton. We know that the Commonwealth is not responsible for the erosion but we believe that the Commonwealth has exacerbated the position by building this extension into Botany Bay. The Commonwealth has also dredged a lot of sand out of the bay for use as filling on the extension. Honourable members probably know of the tragic accident last Saturday when a 10-year-old boy, Gregory Martin, was kilted by a sand fall-in. I am sure we all extend our sympathy to his family and loved ones. We all know that the Government is not to blame for this, but this is one of the things that can happen because of erosion. It is one of the reasons why I shall be very pleased when the damage done along the shoreline has been repaired. The runway extending into Botany Bay is to be lengthened and a huge hole is to be dug in the bed of the bay to provide more sand for filling. According to studies conducted at the Wallingford Hydraulics Laboratory, in England, this will not make the erosion any worse. In fact, they say this work will alter the wave pattern back to what it was before and will solve the erosion problem. I must say that the people of Barton are sceptical about the results of the report made by the Wallingford laboratory. 1 can understand this. But I am assured by the Department of Works that when the dredging is completed the wave pattern will be altered and the shoreline of Botany Bay will be restored as it was. We certainly hope that everything possible will be done to ensure that this will be so.
To sum up, 1 repeat my congratulations to the Minister for Civil Aviation and his Department on the magnificent safety record that civil aviation has in Australia. 1 affirm my hope that the correction of erosion will be speeded up. Once again, 1 affirm my intention at all times to oppose the building of a second airport at Towra Point and also my conviction that this site will not be chosen.
– I bet it will.
– Yes, but the honourable member has lost many bets. 1 hope that the new international and domestic terminals at Mascot will be completed in the near future. I hope that the noise problem will be solved so that in my electorate of Barton the ill in the hospitals, the children in schools, the worshippers in church and the ordinary people in their homes will be able to study, worship, work and sleep in peace.
– 1 agree with what appeared to be the sentiments expressed by the honourable member for Barton (Mr Arthur). The way in which we permit the commercial activities of airlines to transcend the rights of ordinary individuals ought to concern us greatly. There is no doubt that with large airports, very big aircraft and the noise they produce, and the potential threat of air crashes such as occur near airports overseas, it is time we decided that other principles besides the convenience of air travellers should apply. The safety of air travellers should be paramount, but I do not think air travel should interfere with the rights of people to live in their homes and to be able to sleep. My electorate is near the Essendon airport, as is the electorate of Maribyrnong. The people in Coburg and Essendon are continually beset with problems associated with the noise of aircraft. I have found it very difficult to get a satisfactory reply from the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) in regard to cases in which it has been proved almost beyond reasonable doubt that damage has been done to homes and so on. Interference with the rights of individuals by aircraft operations is a continuing thing. Somewhere along the line the air traveller will have to put up with some inconvenience in gaining access to airports so that citizens may live decent, ordered lives. I only hope that no damage is done to Botany Bay as the result of the development of the Mascot airport. By proceeding with such developments we interfere in large measure with the natural environment, producing results the end of which we cannot foresee.
Honourable members opposite have congratulated the Minister for Civil Aviation on the safety of air travel. I want to raise a question that was raised also by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones). Do the same stringent provisions that apply to commercial passenger aircraft operations apply to light aircraft operations? It seems to me that they do not. The stringent safety standards and departmental supervision that obviously apply to commercial passenger flights do not necessarily apply to lighter aircraft. The honourable member for Newcastle mentioned another matter which I think is very important. The areas around the flight paths at the new airport at Tullamarine, in Melbourne, should be kept free of domestic and industrial development so that it will not be necessary to take over people’s homes for the future development of the airport. This is a question of planning. It is an important matter. I do not see any evidence that the Department of Civil Aviation, under the Minister’s direction, is attending to it.
I want to bring before the Committee a question associated with the airfield known as Casey airfield at Berwick. I place this matter before the Committee because the citizens of Berwick feel they are not getting appropriate treatment from the Minister for Civil Aviation in response to their complaints. Those complaints demonstrate some of the problems that we face in the development of the air industry. To what extent do we intend to allow light aircraft or heavy aircraft to interfere with the rights of local citizens? Down at Berwick the Casey airfield, which was a private landing ground of a former member for La Trobe, is being developed as a commercial enterprise. It seems to me that the local government authority there is being presented with a fait accompli with the decision of the Department of Civil Aviation. The local citizens and the local government authority find it exceedingly difficult to get through departmental channels to have their rights considered by the Minister and others on a basis of equality with the aircraft operators. That is why I bring this matter before the Committee this afternoon.
I hope that the Minister will give the people at Berwick a little more consideration than he seems to be giving them now. As far as I can see, light aircraft will be able to operate in an area that is zoned as a residential area although there is not a great deal of residential development around the airfield at the moment. The local citizens are upset. I understand that the local council has not given approval yet for the development of the airfield as a commercial enterprise. It seems that the local government authority is being railroaded, to use a colloquialism, by departmental authority. I do not think we ought to tolerate this. A local government authority has to be accepted as having rights in this field. The actions of Commonwealth departments should not be able to transcend these rights. In some ways local government authorities ought to have paramount rights. In this particular instance the citizens of Berwick who live near the airfield, which is off the Princes Highway near the railway, are concerned that they have not had what they think is a fair hearing.
– Only a very small minority.
– I know that. Aircraft present a special case. The placing of airfields, whether they are for light aircraft or heavy aircraft, near residential areas causes a great deal of concern. It has to do with what you would call the rights of the ordinary residents rather than the rights of commerical aircraft operators. This is a special case. We ought not to allow aircraft operators to cause this kind of concern. It does not matter what kind of aircraft are used. They have to land at certain speeds and need all sorts of safety provisions. There is no guarantee that the rights of the ordinary citizen are being considered.
From the documents I have read it seems that the use of this airfield will be very close to the limits of safety. Approval has been granted for flight training, which means that a lot of people learning to fly aircraft will be operating over the area. In my view, anything of this sort ought to be carried out as far as possible from any residential area. Some of the areas around Melbourne have been residential areas for a long while. It is a matter of regret that we should allow this kind of intrusion into what one might call the reasonable privacy of residential areas. I think also of Tyabb on the Mornington Peninsula, where there is some concern about an airfield for light aircraft. Other questions have been brought before us as a result of this development. Are the supervisory functions of the Department in relation to light aircraft being carried out with the same skill and persistence as they are in the case of ordinary commercial operations? The people who have communicated with me are not satisfied that the Minister has applied himself fully to this matter. He has given the impression that he was prepared to reduce the margin of safety in this case. Is it true that flight training was carried out there on occasions before proper approval was given? Is the surface of the airstrip satisfactory? A Cessna aircraft was bogged on the airstrip a few months ago. What kind of surface does the runway have? Is it true, as I have been advised- I do not know whether it is true, because I have not been down there - that the Toad is in fact in such a position that it can interfere with the general level of flight?
– I am sure it is not.
– The honourable member for McMillan may answer on their behalf. I am putting this before the Committee because it is in line with what other members, particularly the honourable member for Newcastle, have said this afternoon.
– The honourable member for Newcastle never said a word about it.
– The honourable member for Newcastle talked about light aircraft and the supervision of light aircraft. With the growth of the light aircraft industry in this country, it is very important that light aircraft be supervised and controlled as completely and as adequately as large aircraft are. We have established a very fine safety record in the large aircraft field. Is it true that this supervisory function is not as effectively policed in regard to light aircraft? I want to know what kind of rights local authorities have. Has the local authority granted permission or given approval, inside its own planning rights, on this occasion? 1 understand that it is not. Are all the conditions relating to safety that the Department normally applies being applied in this instance? There is some evidence that they are not being applied absolutely. Are these safety provisions absolute or are they capable of qualification? What type of people are entitled to conduct flying training exercises? What kind of supervision is exercised over people who form companies to carry out this work? I understand that a couple of Army officers are involved in it. Are they within their rights, as Army officers, when they carry out this work?
Another matter which I raise is that I understand that the Army is having pilots trained privately. I hope this is not the case. Adequate facilities to train pilots are available within the Australian Services. I have no wish to prejudice anybody’s commerical operations, but I have a great desire to protect people’s rights. I believe that in the world at large, and particularly in the community of which we are a part, it is important that we should start to protect as absolutely as possible the private rights of citizens. One right is protection against noise produced by commercial and industrial activities and by traffic. Another right is that people should have a reasonable sense of security inside their residential areas. This ought to be one of the absolutes of society. I think we have given certain commercial activities eights which transcend those of ordinary mortals. I refer to industries producing smog in areas which I represent and also to the aircraft industry throughout the nation.
The light aircraft industry will increase. One only has to look at the increase in the number of aircraft on the airfield at Fairbairn in recent years to realise that there will be an increasing problem with light aircraft and that there will have to be very tight supervision of light aircraft. 1 believe that it ought to be part of the Department’s policy not to permit airfields to be established where they can cause upset to residents. 1 put this before honourable members not with any intent to do anybody any mischief but in the strong belief that there are large areas of governmental activity which do not have much care or concern for ordinary people’s rights. The way in which the aircraft industry has developed, the way in which airfields have developed and the way in which, for instance in Brunswick and Coburg. which I and the honourable member for Maribrynong (Mr Stokes) represent, we pull down houses and put in roads so that air passengers can travel a little faster into the city, are, ] believe, an indication of the adoption of a false set of values. Anybody who can reduce the level of noise from surface traffic or from aircraft will be doing society and civilisation a good turn. In these circumstances I think there is a case to be made for the citizens of these areas to have their rights considered before those of people who want to start some commercial flying enterprise.
– For once I find myself in total agreement with the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant). However, in debating the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation it is worth noting that with Appropriation Acts Nos (1) and (2) this year total estimated expenditure of this Department will rise to over S60m, an increase of $4.4m over the actual expenditure last year. Revenue, too, will increase by a similar amount, and it should total $ 18.5m. Most of this increase in revenue will come from air navigation and passenger changes, while it is hoped that Qantas Airways Ltd will provide some $800,000 in dividends for the Federal till. This increase in revenue will be absorbed by a greater wage bill and general administrative expenses, of which some $400,000 is an increase in travelling expenses. These travelling expenses total some $2.8m or 10% of the total wages bill of the Department.
This may not appear unduly high to some, but when one realises that a very large part of this amount is due to the central office of the Department of Civil Aviation remaining in Melbourne and when one realises further that the 44th report of the Public Service Board gives no indication when the 1,097 people attached to the central office will be moved from Melbourne, this is an item which we may expect to increase annually at a faster than necessary rate. The Public Service Board would be well occupied in determining what the annual cost of keeping so many people in Melbourne is to the Federal Government. There is no way of assessing to what extent separation of such a large and expensive department from fellow departments in Canberra and its Minister is robbing the Department of efficiency, but I fear it would be considerable. One can only wonder whether it is going to affect the capabilities of senior officers who are, presumably, required to travel frequently to Canberra.
I do not wish to go too far into this area of investigation, but in mentioning investigation I shall be interested to hear from the Minister why he expects that less money will be spent on aviation research this year yet more will be spent on publications.
– He knows all the answers.
– We hope so. I am concerned with the growing isolation of those who are responsible for the planning and development activities of the Department. No doubt there is some satisfaction to be taken from the recent announcements that Australia has been re-elected to the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organisation and some hope from the fact that Australia will spearhead a drive on aircraft noise. It was certainly reassuring to learn that the Minister now regards noise as a problem as important as safety, regularity of service and economic operation. I would sincerely hope that the Minister would not allow economic operation to be considered to be the dominant factor as against the social well being of large elements of the Australian population if that was endangered. The Minister is welcome to spearhead such a drive for remedial action throughout the world, but let us get our own house in order before we evangelise the gospel of quietude around the world - let us lay down much more stringent rules regarding our own aircraft flight paths and noise. There is little evidence in Sydney that flight paths are planned for the least noise effect on those living within 3 miles of Mascot, and from Press reports and comments from my Melbourne colleagues, particularly the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Mr Stokes), the position there is certainly no better.
We must be constantly alert to the danger that the experts and specialists in the Department of Civil Aviation might have been busy with their slide rules for too long while forgetting that what they are working at affects human beings - not merely statistics or economic convenience. It is worth pointing out at this stage, too, that in the past 7 years only one graduate in economics or commerce has been appointed to this Department - and this in a staff of over 7,000. It may well be that this explains some of the economic huggermugger that comes out of the Department. The decision that the Department has to make in all its planning is, which comes first - men or machines?
Desirable as a site may be for the technocrats and the experts, people and their natural human reactions can never be left out of account, and the experts must never forget these natural reactions, ft is too much to expect great numbers of people living in metropolitan areas to accept a grossly excessive noise level merely to facilitate air travel for others. The human factor is the basic factor, and if it means that we must settle for less than what the experts would regard as the optimum solution to an air transport problem, then the feelings of the people must prevail. The experts may regard people as being unreasonable for wanting peace and quiet, and they may regard the concern felt by parents, by pensioners and by the sick as being unreal, but ii is this which makes nonsense of those planners who would even think of inflicting noise and danger on large numbers of people by placing large airports within heavily populated residential areas. If the planners are not aware of these basic facts, then it is up to us as politicians to see that the will of the people shall prevail.
Lest there be any doubting, let me remind honourable members and the Minister that in answer to rumours about the possibility of a major airport being established at Towra Point a large protest meeting last week of some 1,000 constituents of mine left no doubt whatsoever as to their feelings about even the likelihood of such an intrusion into their lives. The obvious disadvantages were clearly stated and the attitude adopted was strongly and unanimously supported by all at that meeting. It should be mentioned now that 1 have at all times been implacably opposed to any such move, and it is worth mentioning, too, that all the branches of the Liberal Party in my electorate have long been aware of the dangers and have unswervingly expressed their opposition at all times. Accordingly, we were pleased to have the telegram from the Acting Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Scott) strongly repudiating the rumour that an airport was to be established at Towra Point. I quote his telegram of 2nd September 1968:
Cabinet has never approved nor has it ever considered any specific proposal for the construction of an airport at Towra Point or the resumption of land for this purpose. Indeed the last time it considered the matter it decided that the assumption could not be made thai such a resumption would take place. No future planning-
This should be noted - for these purposes could proceed without prior Cabinet approval.
Should the Minister ever receive advice from his departmental experts that an area such as Towra Point represents the only spot for future airport facilities, he should waste no time in sending them scurrying back to their drawing boards. It is preposterous to suggest that an airport of the future should or could be placed right in the middle of a residential area. To believe that plans of economic progress, of lime saving, or momentary convenience to travelling people, should ever be allowed to overwhelm the peace of mind or the normal pastimes of people in established dormitory suburbs would suggest an attitude that is so out of touch with reality that the very veracity of this Department would need to be carefully examined and scrutinised. It is inconceivable that such a suggestion could be made. If ever it is made to the Minister, he can have no alternative but to direct his experts - or should one say specialists - to rethink their planning within the normal and natural context of a living, breathing community of real people who will not tolerate such an intrusion.
In my own electorate the mere suggestion, the mere rumour, of an airport at Towra Point brought the people out in very large numbers to let the politicians and the planners see that they would not tolerate such a move. If the planners will not heed such protests, then, as I have said before, it must be up to politicians to see that planners cannot follow their own arrogance bereft of concern for the average man in the street. Let the Department of Civil Aviation be warned that it cannot assume such power or enjoy such remoteness when it is planning facilities for the good of people anywhere. Of course people will accept progress, but not such unnecessary interference as would have resulted had such a site as Towra Point been approved. Man is still more important than machines and we should see to it that the Department of Civil Aviation never forgets this. It is over to the Minister, and in the light of the views unanimously expressed on both sides of this House he can have no alternative in this matter.
– I am indeed finding myself in strange company this week. Last night I had occasion to come to the defence of a Country Party Minister after a bitter attack had been made on him by the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull). Today I find myself in agreement with the honourable members for Wills (Mr Bryant), St George (Mr Bosman), Barton (Mr Arthur) and Hughes (Mr Dobie) with regard to noise at airports. I was interested particularly in the last contribution to the debate, which was made by the honourable member for Hughes, who spoke of the rights of people in established residential areas and the infringements on their privacy and the change in their way of living that must follow when airports are established near those residential areas.
The honourable member specifically mentioned a proposal to construct an airport at Towra Point. The fact that about 1,000 people turned up to protest shows the great interest in this matter in that district. The honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) made a statement that the Department of Civil Aviation had requested the State Planning Authority to make available and reserve land in the Towra Point area for an airport. Although the honourable member for Hughes read a telegram to the effect that this was not the case, an assurance must undoubtedly be given by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) that the Towra Point land is not to be used for an airport. We have found frequently over many years that plans that are rumoured become completed projects within a short space of time. While there is no specific denial that the State Planning Authority has been asked by the Department of Civil Aviation to reserve this land the people in and around the area must view with grave concern the future of that part of Sydney. Therefore I suggest the Minister has an obligation to all concerned to tell the people once and for all that there will not be an airport established in the area.
People are not allowed to establish factories at will in any part of Sydney. Councils must approve the establishment of factories, and they may prohibit such establishments if they think it is necessary. Some similar provision should apply in the case of the establishment of airports. People who live near an airport should be entitled to the same privacy and the same living conditions as other people. Councils act to protect people against inconvenience caused by the establishment of factories. Many huge factories in my own district have been made to respect the rights of individuals living in that district by installing silencing mechanisms, sometimes at great cost, on machinery that they operate at various hours of the day and night. As other honourable members have said, the predominant consideration must be the rights of the people.
As to inconvenience caused by aircraft, I am probably worse off than most people because my home is right under the line of approach and take off that will be used by the jumbo jets. It is bad enough at the present time trying to listen to some of the drivel that comes from the television stations while being constantly interrupted by aeroplanes, but the noise from the jet planes of the future will be tremendous compared with the noise that we hear from the aeroplanes now in operation. It will be impossible for people to sleep or to participate in their religious services. As the honourable member for Barton has said, it will be impossible for students to concentrate. It will be impossible for workers to get their rest if they live anywhere near an airport and no effort is made to curtail the noise. From my home in Marrickville I can quite clearly hear the big planes tuning up at Mascot, and if I experience inconvenience at a distance of 6 or 7 miles I hate to think what it must be like for those living in close proximity to the airport. I understand (hat if one happens to live near water the position is much worse because the sound travels faster and is much louder.
I am told that the Minister and the Department of Civil Aviation have a great record in the field of safety, but having seen them trying to make the Canberra Airport into something respectable over a period of almost a generation I am not hopeful of any stimulating or exciting programme for the provision of an airport outside Sydney in the immediate future. I see no reason why airports serving big cities like Sydney and Melbourne should not be established well away from residential areas. They should be placed in open country, with expressways to the heart of the city to provide speedy services for travellers. This is done in some other parts of the world. I think the London airport is about 45 miles from the centre of London, and it does not take much more than 40 minutes to go the full distance on the expressway. With due respect to the Mother Country I never thought she would show us the way in highways, but undoubtedly she has, particularly in those highways associated with airports.
I join with the Marrickville Municipal Council, various other municipal authorities and the many citizens who have protested about noise emanating from airports such as the one at Mascot and who have called on this Government to see that effective action is taken to reduce noise to the very minimum and that in planning for existing and future airports the rights of people in residential areas are protected.
– Where does the honourable member stand on the Towra Point question?
– I just mentioned Towra Point.
– Is the honourable member in favour of the proposal?
– I have already said that the Minister must give an assurance that no airport will be established there, as it is in a residential area. As the honourable member for Hughes has said, the people in the area have made it quite clear that they do not want an airport in that district.
– Is the honourable member against Towra Point?
– Certainly. I made my position clear. 1 specifically said that the Minister should give an assurance that land has not been reserved for an airport in that district. I think that is clear enough. I know 1 am talking to a member whose mind is hard to penetrate, but I hope that statement has got through to him. I know that the honourable member for Hughes, who is one of the bright types, and the honourable member for Barton realised immediately the point J was making. I am sorry that I was a little too complimentary with regard to the intelligence of the honourable member for St George.
I have joined in this debate on behalf of those people in my district and surrounding districts who are inconvenienced by noise from airports. I join in the criticism that has been levelled at those who seek to continue constructing airports in residential areas. There should be an enlightened programme of planning for the future in order to eliminate completely these inconveniences. In these days when a government can spend $10m-odd on an Fill aircraft, with all its faults, there should be some way whereby research could reduce or eliminate noise from aircraft. There are other factors besides noise. What about the fumes that are emitted from the Boeing 707 and the Boeing 727 aircraft on takeoff? What about the pollution of the air? One must wonder what effect air pollution has on the health of people. Planning should be designed to remove airports from residential areas to locations where the health and living standards of people will not be affected. As the honourable member for Wills said, aircraft operators and air passengers should not be placed in a special category. 1 see no reason why those who travel by air - I travel a lot by air myself - should not put up with some inconvenience in order to eliminate the matters about which people complain.
I join with those honourable members who urge the Minister to give an assurance in respect of Towra Point and the elimination of noise and to heed the protests made in this Parliament by honourable members on behalf of constituents everywhere. There is no more exciting experience than to witness a planner in action with somebody else’s money and with ideas of his own. The honourable member for Hughes said that planners have a way of doing things that no-one else would think of, but the human aspect must be considered above all else. If members do not heed the human side they should heed the political side; if they do not do so, they will not get the political results they desire. I hope that the Minister heeds what has been said in the Parliament on behalf of the Municipality of Marrickville, which is in my district, and of Mascot, which will shortly come within it, and of countless thousands of people who are inconvenienced by noise, fumes and air pollution. I hope he will give an appropriate assurance to the Parliament that he will meet the wishes of the people and of honourable members.
– I have been most impressed by the vehemence, sincerity and obvious dedication of various members in the metropolitan area who have spoken of the need to eliminate the devastating noise of aircraft. I can assure them that they have the full co-operation of people in rural areas who would gladly accept in those areas any airport of international or metropolitan standard. Some of my remarks will be of quite critical importance, not only to the people in the remote areas of my electorate who depend on air travel not as a luxury but as a necessity, but also to many thousands of people throughout Australia. I preface those remarks by saying that I deplore recent comments from one or two honourable members from both sides of the chamber who clearly have exhibited a hostile resentment to almost any form of financial contribution to the development of rural areas. The honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) frequently refers to our areas as being for goats and spinifex. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) made it quite clear in his Budget address that he had regard only for what he claims is the neglect of urban areas. We bleed for them. The honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner), my motor cycling friend, seems to suffer from an, ague when something is mentioned about the building of dams and the development of rural areas.
Let me make my attitude quite clear. In doing so I think 1 reflect the opinion and general attitudes of most reasonable people in rural areas. We are proud of our cities and of our provincial areas, and we delight in their development and the economic vitality that exists in them. But why do we delight in this? Do wc particularly love our city cousins? I suppose we do, but we have a far more selfish motive in that the growth of population in those areas is of not inconsequential significance but is of vital concern to our rural areas. As an example I refer to beef production. It is interesting to note that every 1 million increase in population demands the consumption of 86 million lb of beef. This is obviously of tremendous significance to our primary industries.
Having said all this, and having regard to the increasing tendency by certain people to knock rural areas, 1 want to submit the strongest possible protest about conditions of air travel in my electorate. Before doing so, however, with complete sincerity I want to pay a tribute to the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz). I have had cause to bring before him matters of some consequence, such as the need for a new airport at Mount Isa. Now at Mount Isa we have, on a per head of population basis, probably the finest air terminal in Australia. I have been to the Minister with minor matters involving air services to small communities. I mention one community which is probably unknown to most honourable members - Alpha in central Queensland. Not only has the Minister attended to the restoration of a service to Alpha, but he has done it with great expedition. This is appreciated. I will be more appreciative if he will act decisively in providing tourist class fares to intermediate ports in inland Queensland.
Unfortunately I have to speak on this subject on a far too parochial basis, but what applies to the outlying areas of my
State no doubt applies to all remote areas of Australia. At present we are experiencing a frightening loss of morale in inland areas. People seem to have lost confidence. I think it is only a temporary condition, but it is frightening and is a condition that could react rather seriously on what has always been the ever-increasing desire of people to drift from rural areas to the more attractive provincial and metropolitan areas. It does not help one bit when a person living in Cloncurry, Julia Creek or Richmond - which are small towns near Mount Isa - knows that a resident of Mount Isa can enjoy tourist class fares whereas those living in intermediate ports do not enjoy this privilege. I can see no justification for the present situation other than that the return of dollars and cents to the companies is involved. Air routes were established to open up the country but the accent now is not so much on development as on profits. 1 think the trend is disastrous and is having an effect on an already depressing situation in inland areas.
Persons who live in remote areas are penalised also in respect of coach travel. A rather extraordinary thing happened recently. This does not affect the Federal Government so much, although I think it will have to buy into it. I have already approached the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) on this matter. I am referring to coach lines like Pioneer Tourist Coaches Pty Ltd. They have been granted three licences, 1 believe, which enable persons travelling from Cairns and intermediate ports along the coast of Queensland to travel intrastate. Once more, however, we. the donkeys and galahs in the inland areas have been completely disregarded. People in those areas are told that they must travel interstate to be permitted to travel on these coaches. The extraordinary thing is that along the coastal route all sorts of modes of travel are available, but if you want to travel from Mount Isa to Winton and Longreach you cannot, on most occasions, do so except by bus. Yet the licence is granted for the coastal route. Let me give a case in point. This story concerns a football team which travelled from Cairns to Mt Isa. These people travelled 700 miles to play a game of football. This will surprise people who come from places like the St George area of New South Wales. What happened when the footballers got to Mt Isa? Let me read an extract from the Brisbane ‘Truth’ of 8th September last. It reads:
The Burdekin Rugby League team set out last weekend from Ayr to meet Mt Isa in the Foley Shield Competition and ended up in a ton of trouble.
When the team arrived in Mt Isa by bus they were told it would cost them S260 in cash for road tax.
Charter of the bus had already cost their supporters $775. so they decided to drive on into the Northern Territory an;l back (250 miles) which made it an interstate hire.
What a stupid, absolutely ridiculous and illogical penalty to inflict on people living in the inland.
I come back to the matter of tourist class fares. In addition to not providing tourist class fares for people travelling to or from intermediate ports in the remote rural areas of Australia, the airline operators now have another little trick. Remember when the airlines stopped issuing newspapers free lo travellers? Remember when they began to charge for the bus trip to and from the airport? At one time airline passengers used to be served sandwiches and biscuits when in flight. I know that travellers between capital cities still get savouries and bread buns: people travelling from the intermediate ports never get them, nor did we expect them. But at one time we used to get sandwiches and biscuits. This was reduced to a biscuit, then to half a wafer biscuit. [ remember that some 3 years ago when I was using the airlines I pinched a lot of them because I was trying to win a plebiscite. It was later restored to full biscuits, but the provision of free newspapers was never restored. 1 thought that these actions on the part of the airlines were a most abominable display of public relations. Do not get me wrong. Our air services are very adequate and they are improving all the time. But the situation is something like a man having $5 each way. We get better services but smaller aircraft. We do not know whether to put up with the small aircraft for the sake of increased services or to seek jets and put up with fewer services.
The cost of air travel is something which affects the average family man. Air travel in the outback is not a luxury; it is a necessity. If a man proceeding on 3 weeks vacation were to travel other than by aircraft from some of our remote areas, at least 6 days of his vacation would be taken up in travelling. I understand also that parents with children attending universities or technical colleges are able to obtain only a 25% reduction on fares when the children fly home on holidays from their schooling. The concession was 50% till some weeks ago. Goodness knows, fares are high enough now. It costs about $60 to fly from Mount Isa or Cloncurry to Brisbane. I have not been able to confirm the statement about the fares for children attending universities and technical colleges, but I believe it to be accurate - I am not in the habit of stating inaccuracies, at least not intentionally. Is the intention of airline operators to drive people out of the inland? It is my firm conviction that we need a minister for decentralisation. The Minister for National Development is appreciated by members on both sides of the House-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury) - I suggest that the honourable member confine his remarks to the Department of Civil Aviation.
– 1 will. To assist the Department of Civil Aviation to arrive at decisions which will be of assistance to people living in the inland we require a ministry of decentralisation, which could make a realistic estimate of the requirements of rural areas.
– I am shocked that the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter) should describe the good people of outback Queensland as donkeys and galahs. I do not know whether he meant his remarks to be taken literally; if not, it was a poor figure of speech to use. It may be his practice to judge other people by his own standards, but he has no right to treat everybody in this way. I will not deal with the honourable member any more, as there are more important things to touch upon.
What I am about to say amounts to pretty serious charges and carries pretty serious undertones of suspected corruption. Firstly, I stress that I eliminate completely from my mind any suggestion that the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) is involved in the practices to which I will refer. I am certain that he is not involved, but I am equally certain that something crook and shady is going on in the Department in connection with leases granted to people to operate liquour bars, the Avis car rental concessions and the facilities provided under the Airports (Business Concessions) Act. I would like the Minister to make a deep and penetrating examination of the activities of those officers of his Department directly concerned with the granting of these leases. I do not propose that the examination be made by officers of his Department but that it be made by officers of the Commonwealth Investigation Branch. If need be the matter might become the subject of a royal commission. I repeat that there is something very shady going on not only in the Department of Civil Aviation but also in other departments, but as we are dealing at this stage with the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation I may refer only to that Department. I will say something about other departments when I get the opportunity.
Let me draw attention to some rather odd things. I find that the lease of the liquor bar at the Trans Australia Airlines terminal at Sydney Airport has been granted to W. H. Bondy and Co. The right to operate the liquor bar at the Ansett-ANA terminal at Sydney airport has been granted to Richards Restaurant Pty Ltd. I understand that at one stage - this may not be the case now - Federal Hotels Ltd had some rights in connection with the operation of a liquor bar and, if I am correctly informed, a restaurant at Melbourne airport. 1 am concerned about these matters for two reasons. Firstly, the service is too costly. Liquor and food at airports is far too expensive. The quality is not in keeping with the cost. The standard of service is not in keeping with the standard we should expect at an airport. Let me recount to honourable members my experience. Sometimes I travel from Adelaide to Canberra on an aircraft that touches down at Melbourne, giving me not very much time before I continue my journey to Canberra. If I receive proper service I have time to go to the upstairs restaurant and have a meal, because no meal is available between Adelaide and Melbourne or between Melbourne and Canberra. If I am to have lunch at all I must have it at Melbourne Airport. Time and time again I have been forced to sit in the restaurant waiting to be served, despite the fact that I have warned the person in charge that I had to catch an aircraft leaving at a certain time. After my order is taken I have to wait a long time for the first course to be served and still longer before other courses were served. On one occasion I had to leave my meal unfinished as the alternative to missing my aircraft. Such service is not good enough. It indicates not only that concessions are handed out without due consideration to proper business standards but also that having issued a licence to operate a concession the Department does not properly police the licence to see that the quality of food offered, the price charged and the standard of service rendered are what people expect these days. The people who usually use air travel are, in the main, the sort who are accustomed to having good quality food. They are used to having good service. When they do not get either of these things, they object to paying high prices.
How were the leases first obtained? By tender, I will be told no doubt. I think that these things must be tendered for in certain circumstances. It is possible also to issue a lease or a licence through the Minister without calling tenders. But, generally tenders are called. I want to know more about the way in which tenders are called. In order to illustrate my point, I move at once to the question of the calling of tenders for hire car services at our airports, as this involves Avis Rent-A-Car System Pty Ltd. We all know that recently the Minister for Civil Aviation announced that the Avis organisation had been given a 10-year sole right to operate in the whole of th2 53 airports involved in this service in Australia. What I want to know is: Why was it that Avis was allowed to become the only tenderer - just think of this, the only tenderer-
– Because it offered the best service.
– No, it did not. It was not chosen because it offered the best service. Why was it that Avis was allowed to become the only tenderer when at least two other companies - Kays RentACar System and Hertz of Australia Pty Ltd - as well as other smaller companies had tendered? Why was Avis given this tender? It was because Avis said that it could service the whole of the 53 airports. Why was Avis given the right to cater solely for these 53 airports? Why did no; the Department of Civil Aviation give two companies the right to tender for a lease to operate at the more important airports?
This is a Government that has a lot to say about private enterprise. It says that healthy competition is the spice of life. We need competition, the Government says. This was an opportunity for the Government to introduce healthy competition into the ranks of those people who operate dr.’veyourself cars at airports. Kays RentACar System, the Avis organisation, Hertz of Australia and other private companies in the drive-yourself cars field could have been given opportunities to provide a number of these services in competition rather than just granting the lease to one firm only. While I am speaking on this subject J wish to make a passing reference - I can make a passing reference only - to the suspicion I have about the tendering system. The Postmaster-General during a speech that I made the other day by way of interjection said: ‘But you do not know what are the conditions’. Well, this seemed to me to be rather odd because 1 was always under the impression that when the Government invited tenders it laid down in the Commonwealth ‘Gazette’ or in the advertisements the full particulars which were involved in the tenders that it was seeking.
But I thought that the Postmaster-General must have been right or he would not have made that kind of interjection. So, 1 took the opportunity to make some inquiries of my own. To my absolute astonishment and amazement, I discovered from the inquiries that I made that tenderers can introduce new conditions. This is a question thai was asked in this respect:
Can a tenderer make changes in basic requirements expressed in the tender document’s, that is, tender for a better service than that specifically required in the documents or tender, say, for an item of slightly different or lower specification than that specifically described? Inherent in such changes there would, of course, be a price change.
The answer was:
Yes. Any departure from the specification explained by a tenderer would receive consideration, and if it were to be an advantage it would be accepted.
This is a pretty serious thing. I am fully aware of the import of what 1 am saying. More countries in the world are dragged down by corruption at government level than for any other reason. The reason that South Vietnam is falling, according to no less an authority than the Prime Minister of South Vietnam, is corruption. This democracy will collapse if the sort of corruption that characterises the governments of some Asian countries and some European countries is allowed to percolate through to governmental administration in this country.
I am not satisfied - and no-one so far has said anything that can satisfy me - that the letting of the contract to Avis is above board. Somebody has done something that is no! above board. When the Avis organisation said that it was prepared to service the whole of the 53 airports concerned, the Government should have said at once: “This is not a compulsory requirement of the tender. You do not have to do it’. Tenders for the large individual airports should have been called separately and, if need be, the Government should have given the right to operate rent-a-car services at those airports to more than one company. This business of giving an absolute monopoly to Avis is something that in my opinion stinks to high heaven.
I want to know whether the Minister for Civil Aviation decided to call fresh tenders when it was decided that the offer by the Avis organisation to tender to look after the services at all airports became the deciding factor in the tender. Did the Government then call fresh tenders stipulating that the successful tenderer would be required to tender for the whole of the 53 airports? If it did not, it erred and neglected its duty. If it did, it also acted wrongly because it was telling the small people that they need not apply because whoever applied needed to have enough cars to be able to service the whole of the 53 airports concerned in Australia. No matter how one looks at this matter - no matter how we look at it - it calls for a very searching inquiry.
– That is how Kays RentACar System was stopped from getting it.
– I thank the honourable gentleman for his interjection because, if this is so, it verifies what I have been saying and verifies also the suspicion that I hold. 1 would like to know more about the motel licences and how they were advertised. What were the secret negotiations, if any? Negotiations do occur. 1 have discovered now that in answer to a question on notice it was stated that it is the practice of this Government for certain negotiations and conversations to occur between a department and tenderers before tenders close. 1 want to know why this Government cannot do what some other governments do and what some private organisations do when they call public tenders. Why cannot the tenders be called publicly and opened on the given date in the presence of all tenderers? Why should we have this holeinthecorner method of tendering for property that belongs to the Australian people? It is absolutely wrong. It is disgusting. Something ought to be done about it.
I have said something about the motel leases. Let me turn quickly to something else. Shortly a new annex building is to be erected at the Adelaide Airport - it is long overdue - in which there will be liquor bar facilities and restaurant facilities. When this annex is completed, I hope that the Government will not do what it has done in the past - hand this lucrative business over to organisations like Federal Hotels Ltd or to the people who now exercise this right at Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport and other airports. I hope that the Government will make a departure from its past practice.
I have already spoken to the Minister for Civil Aviation about this subject. I am pleased to say that he has not turned a deaf ear to it. But I repeat it in public. I believe that the Government ought to give a right to a consortium of charitable organisations to operate these facilities. In South Australia we have organisations dealing with mentally retarded children, spastic children, the House for Incurables, and the Minda Home Incorporated. Collectors stand in our streets on Fridays all day long trying to get money from the publ’ic by selling badges and buttons. While they are getting money the hard way for these deserving causes, Federal Hotels Ltd is getting from Government property a fortune the easy way. Charitable organisations want to operate these leases. They want to have the opportunity of raising money for these deserving causes that they represent.
– You are spoiling it.
– Yes, you are spoiling it.
– No, I am not spoiling it. The Government is the custodian of the property of the people and as such it ought to think of the less fortunate sections of the community which deserve some assistance. I am one person who will not be satisfied with the Minister if there is any fobbing off of this question of tendering and of the ramifications and machinations that appear to have gone on between the Government department concerned - the Department of Civil Aviation - and Avis Rent-A-Car System as well as with the motels and the people who hold the liquor bar licences. Nothing short of a searching, thorough investigation by the Commonwealth investigation branch or an independent judicial inquiry will1 satisfy me that something very phoney is not going on in the Department of Civil Aviation. I hope the Minister will not attempt to push this aside as a political stunt.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Does the honourable member claim that he has been misrepresented?
– Yes. I am quite confident that all honourable members with the exception of the honourable member for Hindmarsh, who no doubt has never ventured beyond the wilds of King William Street in Adelaide, understood that my reference to the donkeys and galahs of the inl’and meant that we were a little tired of being treated as donkeys and galahs.
Mr STOKES (Maribyrnong) r3.26] - Naturally I come down very strongly on the side of those who have spoken in this debate against the intrusion of the side effects of commercial aviation into the civil liberties and privacy of people who live in well established residential areas. However, my chief reason for entering this debate is to put the record straight on some of the accusations made earlier in the debate by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones). He accused the Department of Civil Aviation, and therefore this Government, of negligence in respect of Tullamarine Airport. He said that residential development in the area was within 2,000 feet of the end of a runway. If we look back to the acquisition of the land at Tullamarine for airport purposes, we see that an area of 5,300 acres was acquired at a cost of $4. 7m. This was quite an area of land - far more than was necessary for the development of the airport itself. But the extra land was purchased so that we would have buffer zones around the airport to protect the people from noise and to provide for safety factors.
When the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works was examining witnesses on this subject in 1963. Dr K. N. E. Bradfield, who is the Assistant Director-General of the Department of Civil Aviation, said in his evidence:
Sufficient land has been acquired to provide buffer areas between the high noise areas of the airport and the general community. In this regard we have worked with and received the full cooperation of the State town planning authorities and the combination of buffer areas within the airport boundaries and land zoning outside the boundaries will ensure that the airport is u good neighbour to the community. To the north and west, aircraft using the airport will operate over areas zoned as rural. To the south, the boundary of the airport is 20,000 feet from the point of take-off roll of the aircraft, and south of this the area is zoned largely as rural and industrial for the next 2 miles. The nearest existing residential area to the main runway in this southerly direction is almost S miles from the point of take-off roll and also considerably lower than the airport itself. Aircraft taking off to the south should normally be about 2,000 feet above this residential development.
Later, in making its report to the Parliament, the Public Works Committee referred to the question of zoning and residential development in the environs of the airport. Tn its report which was tabled in August 1963, it stated:
That was the position at the time of acquisition and that was the position a good few years later. The area south of Sharp’s Road, which is the dividing line between the southern boundary of the airport complex and the land referred to by the honourable member for Newcastle, was zoned by the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works, which in Victoria is the town planning authority for Melbourne, as a green belt area and sub-divisions were restricted to a minimum of 5-acre lots. I understand that this property was later acquired by a new owner, who made application to have the area rezoned for residential purposes. Let us look at the modus operandi in Victoria for rezoning land. The first step is to apply to the local government authority and then to the town planning authority. If the town planning authority refuses the application, there is a right of appeal to the Minister of Local Government and his decision is final. There is no further appeal from his decision.
As I have said, at the time of acquisition the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of works, which is the town planning authority, assured the Department of Civil Aviation that it would maintain the restriction on the area to which we are now referring. When the application was made by this developer, the Board of Works refused the application and stood by what it had said to the Department of Civil Aviation. The developer appealed to the Minister for Local Government and it was a Minister in the Victorian Government who upheld this appeal. Thus we find areas south of Sharp’s Road that have been subdivided. One area of 400 acres, called Keilor Park, has been subdivided into 1,600 blocks or thereabouts. Another area of some 180 acres has been subdivided into 800 blocks. These areas, of course, are within 2 miles of the end of the existing east-west runway and not 2,000 feet as the honourable member for Newcastle said. But they will be within 2,000 feet of the alternative east-west runway when it is built in 10 to 12 years time.
I agree that, although this 2,000 feet may be sufficient for safety factors, people in the area will suffer a great deal of nuisance from noise. The members of the Commonwealth Parliament will have problems; the area that is referred to will come within the new electorate of Maribyrnong. I can see in the future representations coming from irate people who have built there because the Victorian Government reversed the zoning of that land by the town planning authority against its wishes and despite the assurance of the town planning authority to the Department that the zoning would not be changed. This is the point on which I join issue with the honourable member for Newcastle. The Department of Civil Aviation and this Government cannot be blamed for what has occurred as a result of the action taken by a Minister of the Victorian Government.
The Department of Civil Aviation went even further. On the fence at Sharp’s Road near this area it put up a huge sign about 10 feet by 20 feet warning prospective purchasers who came there that a new runway would be built and that the end of it would be within 2,000 feet of the fence. The Department cannot be blamed. It has done all it could and I think it would be very wrong to allow what the honourable member has said through misconception to go unchallenged. I do not think he will take me to task for putting the record straight. The blame cannot be placed on this Government or on the Department of Civil Aviation. The action was taken by the Minister for Local Government in Victoria when an appeal was made to him. He is to blame for the fact that residential development will occur within 2,000 feet of a runway which will be built in 10 or 12 years time and which will cause an intrusion into the liberties and privacy of people who build their homes there, if they are not forewarned. As I said before, an appeal to th; Minister is the last recourse and there is nothing else that this Government or the Department of Civil Aviation can do in the matter, I am sure, apart from speaking out against a continuation of this particular development. I hope I have put the record straight; this was the main purpose of my speech, so 1 do not intend to take up any more of the Committee’s time.
– I am afraid that the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Mr Stokes) misquoted me. 1 mentioned to the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) that I would like to congratulate the Department of Civil Aviation on the excellent work it had done at Tullamarine. What I said about the matter referred to by the honourable member for Maribyrnong was that the Department of Civil Aviation should take whatever action is necessary to ensure that land developers do not develop land beneath the flight path of approaching aircraft so that we will not have in future years the same problems that now exist at Essendon in Melbourne, at Mascot in Sydney and at other airports through Australia. I agree with the honourable member for Maribymong. I did not have time to go into all the details as he did. However, I did visit the area recently in company with the Regional Director of Civil Aviation in Victoria and he pointed out all these things. I saw the sign at the end of the runway, to which the honourable member referred. I hope that the Department of Civil Aviation will have bigger signs erected.
– That will not stop these people.
– No, but at least people who go to the area will receive some advance warning that they will be subject to noise greater than that which affects people living today in the vicinity of Essendon and Mascot airports. I agree with the honourable member. He could not correct me, because I agree with him.
There is another matter I would like to mention once again and that is the proposed site for an aerodrome at Towra Point. I have raised this matter previously. I said on that occasion that the Department of Civil Aviation had already approached the State Planning Authority of New South Wales in order to reserve the Towra Point site as a future airport for Sydney. I note that my colleague the honourable member for Shortland (Mr Griffiths) is present in the chamber. He may remember that a couple of years ago one of the leading officers of the Department - at the Federal level, not the State level - made a statement to the honourable member and myself, when we met in the passageway just outside this chamber, to the effect that when Mascot reached saturation point the Department had in mind a second airport to be built at Towra Point.
– That is right.
– The honourable member agrees with me by way of interjection, and says that what I said is true. There is no question at all, Mr Deputy Chairman, that the Department of Civil
Aviation has Towra Point in mind as an alternative site. The honourable member for St George (Mr Bosman) questioned me earlier about this. I agree that the Towra Point site is totally unsuitable because of the residential development that has taken place in and around the area. I told him that J thought international airports should be located away from areas of residential development so that aircraft may use them 24 hours a day.
The next matter I would like to deal with is the failure of the Department and TransAustralia Airlines to provide an adequate air service for the city of Newcastle. Newcastle and the nearby area has a population of 330,000 people. It is the sixth largest city in Australia. It is located in the Hunter Valley. Within a 25-mile radius of the city there is a population greater than the population of Tasmania. Yet this area, containing the sixth largest city in Australia, is without the services of a full time civil airport. The provision of an airport is not the responsibility of the local government authorities of Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Port Stephens, Maitland and Cessnock. It is the responsibility of the Department of Civil Aviation, which has provided, free of cost, a civil airport for every capital city in Australia and for centres such as Launceston, Coolangatta, Mackay, Townsville and Rockhampton.
I am not critical for one second of the Department’s policy in providing these airports free of cost to the local authorities. I am not critical of its policy as a whole. But I believe that it should accept the responsibility of providing airports free of charge in all cities and districts where a civil airport is necessary. The onus should not be thrown onto local government authorities. Today our local government authorities have sufficient responsibility cast upon them to provide all the things that are required in our communities. State governments are shoving additional responsibility onto local government authorities. The Commonwealth, in turn, is shoving additional responsibility onto local government authorities in certain areas by asking them to provide their own civil airports.
I call on the Minister to take action to provide, free of expense to the local government authorities in the area, a civil airport for the Newcastle district instead of saying that it is their responsibility. The Department docs not impose the same conditions on other cities. It provided the airport at Sydney and is now spending millions of dollars to extend it. I agree that those extensions are necessary. AH I ask is that a few million dollars be spent in the Newcastle district to provide the people there with an airport so that they may use the form of transport that is so popular today.
At the present time TAA has access to the Royal Australian Air Force base at Williamtown but it has not accepted the opportunity to provide additional flights. At Newcastle there is a flight out at 7.40 a.m. and a flight back from Sydney at 8.10 p.m. These are the only flights provided for air travellers to and from Newcastle each day. They are totally inadequate to meet the requirements of the people, and it is time that TAA extended its activities. I have asked for this on numerous occasions. So have my colleagues, the honourable member for Shortland and the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James). They have joined with me in sending correspondence and in making representations personally to the Minister and to the Chairman of the Australian National Airlines Commission asking for additional services to Newcastle, up the north coast and through to the north west of New South Wales, so that people will not have to travel to Sydney first and then back.
I have discussed this matter with the honourable member for Swan (Mr Cleaver). It seems ludicrous that the honourable member can fly to Perth and arrive in his office before I can travel from here to my office in Newcastle. It is a stupid and ridiculous state of affairs but this is the reality of the situation. The honourable member, by nodding his head, is acknowledging that what I have said is true. This same state of affairs applies in numerous other cases. I would say that there is hardly a member in this chamber, apart from exceptions such as the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard), who cannot arrive at his office earlier than the honourable members for Hunter, Shortland and myself. The same thing can be said for the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall), who also lives in Newcastle. We think it is time that TAA provided a more adequate service to meet the requirements of the people.
I think everyone in Newcastle would agree that Hexham is the most desirable site for an airport at Newcastle. The Pelican site could be used as a civil airport, but special factors have to be taken into consideration. It is en the perimeter of the main population area of Newcastle. Selection of that site would mean the creation of an airport in an area now partially developed residentially. This is the same problem that the honourable members for St George, Barton (Mr Arthur) and Hughes (Mr Dobie) face in Sydney, with the possibility that Towra Point might become the site of an airport. The Pelican site presents a somewhat similar difficulty as far as the noise factor for people living near the airport is concerned. I do not know whether the Department of Civil Aviation is prepared to resume properties so that people can live somewhere else. This is something that only the Department can decide. It is one of the disadvantages of the Pelican site.
The Hexham site is at present isolated and undeveloped, and would permit the development of an airport without causing inconvenience to local residents as in the case of the Pelican site, where people are already established. Hexham could be compared to Tullamarine. It is completely isolated from existing development. There is one thing only holding up the decision to build an airport at the site. 1 am not in disagreement with the commanding officer of the Williamtown air base. During my visit overseas last year, I checked with aviation authorities in the United States of America. On the information they have given me, it is obvious that while Williamtown is used as a fighter training base, we will not be able to establish an airport at Hexham.
I have said for many years that the Williamtown air base is too close to the city of Newcastle. We have had two bad crashes of Sabre jet aircraft close to the city which have almost caused major tragedy. About 5 years ago, a Sabre jet crashed in the backyard of a home owned by an old lady. This is not merely a figure of speech; the machine actually fell in the backyard. She had only just returned home. For some reason which she cannot explain, she is still almost a nervous wreck. About 2 years ago, another Sabre jet blew up at about 6 o’clock at night over Newcastle.
The major part of the machine fell on a car in the garage of a friend of mine who is a member of the Electorate Council of the Australian Labor Party in Newcastle. My friend had just walked from his garage to his bathroom nearby to wash his hands prior to going to dinner. This is how close he was to being buried with his car beneath the wrecked plane. These are just two examples of aircraft crashes in or near the city of Newcastle. These machines were flown by trainee pilots. We have had numerous crashes of Mirage jet fighters in the Newcastle area. Fortunately for the people of Newcastle, and unfortunately for the pilots concerned, these aircraft crashed either into the sea or in isolated parts of the country where no injury or damage was done except to the pilots themselves and the machines.
I believe that the Government should take action to transfer the fighter training base from Williamtown. If this action were taken, Newcastle would not be subject to the possibility of further aircraft accidents, and the inconvenience that is caused to people by the sonic booms that we are subjected to by aircraft from the Williamtown air base would be eliminated. 1 have complained about this on many occasions, and not so very long ago the electorate of the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Bridges- Maxwell) suffered similar inconvenience and his constituents expressed concern at the sonic booms which are caused by aircraft from Williamtown. If these aircraft were transferred away from the densely populated and highly built up residential areas, Newcastle could have its civil airport at Hexham.
As I said earlier, I accept the statement made by the commanding officer at Williamtown; the Hexham site is on the flight path of aircraft using that base. I travel in and out of Newcastle by aircraft and, like so many other people, I do not want to have a dead heat with a Mirage. The Mirage would not be just an illusion; it would be real. 1 believe that Newcastle is entitled to a proper civil airport. To make this possible the R.A.A.F. training base at Williamtown will have to be moved. From the information I received overseas when I spoke to the controller of one of the largest air districts in the United States, the establishment of an airport at Hexham would be practicable if the fighter training base were removed.
It is up to the Government, the Minister for Civil Aviation, the Minister for Defence and the Minister for Air (Mr Freeth) to find a more suitable site for a base for training R.A.A.F. fighter pilots in Mirage and other aircraft that the Air Force may have from time to time. If the base were moved to another site, the people of Newcastle would be saved the worry and concern of aircraft crashes and the inconvenience of sonic booms. At the same time we could have an airport which would be central and, at this stage, would not cause the inconvenience that is experienced adjacent to airports such as Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport and Melbourne Airport, at Essendon, where aircraft approach and take off over densely populated residential areas. If a site is reserved and developed in a place without residences, people who move into the area will know, before they build, that they could be inconvenienced by the noise of aircraft taking off and landing. I leave this matter to the Government. I hope it will see its way clear to carry out the proposals that T have put forward, together with the other suggestions that have been made by the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) and the honourable member for Shortland.
– I shall deal first with the matter to which the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) has just referred. 1 think he is aware that 1 have been to the Newcastle district and have inspected all the areas where there are possibilities for the provision of airport facilities as alternatives to Williamtown. I am fully aware of the problem and the difficulty of solving it. It is really a question of air space as far as Hexham is concerned. We have looked very closely at the site at Pelican. As the honourable member said, there are a number of problems associated with this site. Since I visited Newcastle, we have issued licences for a new form of service. In addition to the services provided by Trans-Australia Airlines, there are now fifteen services a week - five return flights to three centres - operated by the commuter operator, Masling Aviation. We are watching the situation closely to see how the traffic develops.
– Are those services Monday to Friday only?
– Yes. This gives the pattern for possible traffic development in the future. However, the points that have been mentioned are important and we will certainly be examining the situation again.
I noted the honourable member’s comments at the outset about my inability to table annual reports before the estimates for the Department are considered. I must apologise to honourable members for this. In fact, I think we had our material prepared before any other department. This material was put into the hands of the Government Printer but because of some delay it had to be taken off the machines. When the run commenced again, several other departments had got in ahead of us and, as a result, two or three other departments have already had their reports printed. Our report is in the process of being printed now. I might add that there was extreme difficulty in obtaining all the final figures. These figures were received about a week before I went overseas. We< had the final material at that time and I can assure honourable members that everything was done to make the annual report available to them prior to this debate. However, it was not possible this year to do so. Next year we will aim at making the report available before the Estimates are debated.
I also appreciated the honourable member’s comments in relation to the development at Tullamarine and certainly accept his congratulations on behalf of the Department for the work that is being done there. J know that he has inspected the work with other members of the Opposition, as have Government supporters. Arrangements have been made by my Department for these inspections to take place. It is interesting to know that the development is progressing as well and as quickly as it is, because it is of vital importance to the future of aviation services in Australia.
The honourable member for Newcastle also made a point about a letter I wrote to him regarding the unfortunate accident in the Northern Territory. He complained about some delay. I acknowledged the letter when it was received, but some months elapsed before the final details were available. I can assure htm that there was no delay in getting the material. This took some considerable time. Not only did we have to go into matters related to the report which we had prepared on the accident, but we had to get legal opinions from other departments on quite a number of technicalities associated with the questions asked. I can assure the honourable member that that reply, although it took some time, was given as quickly as possible.
The honourable member for Hughes, the honourable member for Barton and other honourable members have referred to a matter that has attracted quite a considerable amount of attention lately - the development of further airport facilities to service Sydney and district in the future. I have stated in this House time and time again that we expect that the site at Mascot will reach saturation point at some time - we cannot estimate it accurately - within the next 20 years. Therefore, we must have some other site in mind now or within a year or so. That site must be suitable for development as an alternative or as an adjunct to the present airport complex. I have said in this House, and it has been stated publicly, that we have looked at a number of sites.
The Towra Point site has been looked at carefully. It has been examined over a number of years. There has been some misunderstanding about the Towra Point site because an impression has been created, whether deliberately or otherwise, that the site has been selected. No site has been selected. My Department has for some years been in the process of examining a variety of alternative sites, and it is still conducting that examination. All I can do in relation to the site at Towra Point is to repeat a telegram that was sent by the Acting Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Scott) when I was overseas during the week before last. This has been mentioned by the honourable member for Hughes already, but I think it bears repetition in order to set out clearly the Government’s point of view. The telegram, with which I completely concur, reads:
Cabinet has never approved, nor has it ever considered, any specific proposal for the construction of an airport at Towra Point or the resumption of land for this purpose. Indeed, the last time Cabinet considered the matter it decided that the assumption could not be made that such a resumption would take place and that no future planning for these purposes could proceed without prior Cabinet approval.
That merely sets on record the exact situation. The situation is no different from what it was some months ago. At present the Department of Civil Aviation is in the process of considering where an alternative site can be secured. We must be prepared to secure an alternative site within the next few years. 1 can give a complete assurance that in the selection of any site for long term development full consideration is given to community matters such as those which have been raised during this debate.
It is very interesting to look back at the origin of the site at Towra Point. It was submitted for consideration as far back as 1954. It was first of all proposed as a possibility for development as an airport by the Maritime Services Board of New South Wales in conjunction with its port development. The Maritime Services Board was considering the development of a deep water port at the southern end of Botany Bay and later at the northern end of Botany Bay. As 1 said, the proposal on the Towra Point site originated from the Maritime Services Board in New South Wales at that time. It was quite a legitimate proposal to put forward for consideration then. In 1964 the proposal was definitely raised by the Minister for Local Government in the State Labor Government of New South Wales.
– What was his name?
– I believe his name was Hills. It was submitted to the Federal Government for consideration. The proposal originated in the ranks of the Labor Government of New South Wales, and it has subsequently been considered by the Commonwealth Department of Civil Aviation. I am not saying this in a critical sense, although it has developed into a political matter to some extent, but merely to indicate quite clearly the origin of the thinking in relation to this site. I conclude my remarks about Towra Point by saying quite definitely that no land has been reserved. As far as the State is concerned, the matter is one of port development. The proposals which were submitted by the Labor Government in the past have been considered. The position is clearly set out in the telegram that was sent by the Acting
Minister for Civil Aviation during my absence. I merely reiterate that that is the policy of the Government and reaffirm that when a site is selected as an alternative to the present Sydney airport or as part of the development or expansion of that airport, full consideration will be given to matters of community interest.
The honourable member for St George referred in a very constructive way to a summary of expenditure by my Department set out in the Estimates. It is rather interesting to find someone actually referring to the Estimates, for this is supposed to be an Estimates debate. He said that comparing the increases that have taken place year by year one could not envisage any way of easing the increase in expenditure. 1 confirm that statement because the aviation industry in Australia, as in other countries, has a tremendous growth rate in both the international and the domestic field. We can expect that there will be a continuing and expanding requirement for aviation facilities in Australia in the future. Reference was made to the passenger service charge. I will not deal with this matter at this point of time because legislation will be introduced later in the session to implement (he proposals that are in the Budget.
The honourable member for St George also referred to revenue returns. I would like to state again clearly that it is the policy of the Government to close the gap between expenditure and revenue as much as possible. In fact, the policy is to try to cover expenditure completely by returns. So far, of course, that has not been possible. But every effort is being made in that direction. The last point that was raised by the honourable member for St George related to $11m thar has been approved for the provision of maintenance buildings at Tullamarine. This matter is at present before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works. He suggested that this amount would come up later in this financial year. In fact, the $1 lm will be spread over a number of years. Whether or not anything is included in this financial year I cannot say just now. But certainly the sum of $llm will not be allocated in any one year but will be spread over a number of years.
The honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) referred to the determination of priorities for works programmes and asked for some explanation of how these priorities are determined. This is very difficult, because it applies to every State and to every district. We normally have 5-year programmes and we try to assess the requirements of all States and districts over that period. We incorporate each year, in our two programmes, works such as navigational aids and other facilities, airport buildings, runways and so on. But I think we should remember that in Australia we have approximately 670 licensed aerodromes and approximately 7,000 authorised landing grounds. For a country of this size, with the population we have, this is indeed a tremendous achievement. I think it is one of which we all should feel very proud. I merely say that, to illustrate the difficulty in maintaining services on this basis, with the volume of facilities that are required. But in addition to the airport facilities, runways and things of that nature, at the present time we have a chain of navigational aids which are now provided down the whole of the east coast of Australia and along part of the west coast and in other parts of Australia. I think that these navigational aids are up to a standard which could be compared favourably with that in any other country, including the United States of America.
The honourable member for Dawson queried one or two matters in relation to expenditure at Mackay, and he also referred to country airports in Queensland. It is interesting to note that we are in the process of making a very substantial increase in expenditure in Queensland. Expenditure for last year was $1,650,000 compared with $360,000 in the previous year. The work covered by this expenditure included major works at Cairns. Mount Isa, Townsville, Coolangatta and Mackay. Works at Rockhampton and Townsville which are already approved, will be included in the programme for the current financial year and will amount to $1,217,000. An amount of $870,000 was spent at Mackay for runway and taxiway development, which is pretty substantial development, and an amount of $32,000 was spent on improvements to the operations and terminal buildings. This is being done to improve facilities at that airport until such time as we can include a new terminal building in the programme. I am afraid that at the moment I cannot give an indication when the provision of a new terminal building will be included in the programme, but I can assure the Committee that we are fully aware of the need for improved facilities at Mackay, and as soon as possible a new building will be provided.
The honourable member for Perth (Mr Chaney) made a very constructive assessment of the situation in Western Australia. He referred to the development of the Port Hedland Airport and to the pavement improvement that is required there. The expenditure I gave recently for that airport during this year is designed to bring the space on the pavement up to the required level to handle all the regular public transport and general aviation activities during the next few years. I have been assured that the space which will be provided will be adequate for that purpose. At the present lime we are also looking to see whether during this year we can fit in some work on the terminal building at Port Hedland which requires some improvement. But as regards the development of airports generally in Western Australia as the honourable member for Perth knows I was in Western Australia last year to inspect all these areas. Some upgrading has taken place and some is being done under our general works programme at the present time. I also mention in relation to Western Australia that the general regular public transport services are heavily subsidised. So we are playing quite a substantial part in the development of aviation facilities in Western Australia. The question of airport development in Western Australia for future medium-type jet aircraft is receiving consideration at the moment, but as yet we have not received any definite proposal from the operator in that State. When the operator makes a definite submission as to what the company requires in the future, consideration will be given to it.
A number of honourable members, including the honourable member for Barton (Mr Arthur), the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Dobie), the honourable member for St George (Mr Bosnian) and the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) referred to the problem of noise. Of course, this is a very important matter which is engaging the Government’s attention at the present time. Within my own Department this work is catered for mainly in the Operations Division. But some time ago I decided that we should have some specialist full time staff to do this particular work. At present we are endeavouring to recruit some specialist full time staff to set up a separate organisation within the Department solely to deal with this important matter. When we are able to secure this staff we will make a submission to the Public Service Board for approval and I hope that it will not be too long before we are able to proceed along these lines.
Of course, flight patterns have a lot to do with the control of noise. Flight patterns are based on safety as well as on noise, and they are adjusted from time to time. But it is interesting to note that in relation to night operations, which involve noise, Australia is well ahead of most countries because of our restriction on jet operation from some of our major airports between 1 1 p.m. and 6 a.m. No other country imposes this type of restriction in this way. We think it important enough to maintain it, and under existing circumstances we will do so until such time as some other solution to the problem can be found. We also will be undertaking a study of the air traffic pattern in Sydney, and coupled with this will be a complete study of the new runway traffic pattern over Botany Bay. In addition there will be a study of the requirements for a parallel runway in the north-south direction, that is, going out into Botany Bay, because this is one of the best means of solving the noise problem at this airport. I have authorised this work to be done and it will be commenced in the near future.
At the same time we are also checking on ground running noise levels. This is another quite important matter. It may be that we will have to go into the question of requiring airlines to fit some type of suppressors, if it is found on proper assessment and study of the situation that these are required. Very extensive work on the suppression of noise is being done in the international field. The main conference in relation to this matter was the London conference in November 1966. Also, the International Organisation for Standardisation deals with the question of noise. At the current conference of the International Civil Aviation Organisation there is the listing of a paper which we submitted principally, at the outset, in relation to noise of supersonic, aircraft but, as I will mention in a moment, we have asked for the submission to be expanded to cover the question of noise generally.
Also, tripartite negotiations are taking place among the United States, the United Kingdom and France to try to develop some standards for the measurement of noise and for the control of noise. Some basic legislation has been prepared in the United States, but as yet it has not been implemented and cannot be implemented until the result of these tripartite negotiations are known and the recommendations are received. 1 believe that the United Kingdom also has the basis for some form of legislation but is awaiting the results of the present negotiations. No doubt when the recommendations resulting from these negotiations are known we ourselves will be able to take some action in this field. I can assure honourable members that almost daily we are receiving from the three countries concerned information relating to noise. This information is coming out from these negotiations.
There is another field which is vitally important to the question of noise. Consideration is being given by aircraft manufacturers to the question of noise. The week before last I had the opportunity of having discussions with the Boeing. Lockheed and McDonnell-Douglas corporatons. We discussed at great length their programmes in relation to noise suppression. It is interesting to note that engine manufacturers in conjunction with aircraft manufacturers are now in the process of reaching a breakthrough in the matter of noise, so far as new types of aircraft are concerned. This applies, particularly in the first instance, to aircraft such as the Boeing 747 which, it is stated very definitely, and proved so far on paper - and I do not doubt that it will be projected into practical tests very shortly - will be far quieter than Boeing 707 aircraft. The new type of engine design has been able to achieve this. The Lockheed LI Oil has a Rolls-Royce engine. I have before me one of the Lockheed documents which says in relation to propulsion:
The basic propulsion system includes three Rolls-Royce RB211 advanced turbofan engines that offer substantial improvements in specific fuel consumption, noise and smoke reduction and maintainability and reliability.
That is just one reference: there is quite a lot of other material in relation to it. I am merely pointing out that the manufacturers are fully aware of the problem and are dealing specifically with it. I have another document here from the Lockheed organisation giving a lot of technical information about what is happening in relation to the engines for this type of aircraft and other types. At the moment I have not the full documentation, although the three manufacturers have agreed to send all their papers to me. I should have them within the next few weeks. We will then be able to study them very carefully and I should be able to make some comments to the Parliament later on developments in this field.
To conclude my remarks on this aspect of noise, 1 would like to refer again, as I did this morning at question time, to the fact that at the opening plenary session of the conference at Buenos Aires of the International Civil Aviation Organisation we said that Australia considered the noise problem was so serious that we thought a special annex to the convention should be proposed. In my speech at the time I said:
We put it to the assembly that there appears to be ample justification tor the establishment of a separate annex to deal with the question of noise, and we believe such an annex could properly be developed under Article 37 of the Convention. This would have the effect of giving this very serious problem the prominence it deserves, thereby creating a better understanding of it, and ensuring uniformity in the application of remedial measures throughout the aviation world.
That, of course, is only an extract from a fairly long speech that I made.
The honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) referred to some problems concerning the aerodrome at Berwick in Victoria. There has been a very large volume of correspondence on this matter and 1 do not think it can be claimed that it has not been given full consideration. A variety of people in the district have written to me and my Department about the matter. My only comment is that the aerodrome there must conform, as must all other aerodromes in Australia, to our operational standards, and 1 can give a definite assurance that those standards will be rigidly adhered to. Ownership or acquisition of land and development of the aerodrome are not matters that come within our operational competency.
Our purpose is to licence the aerodrome if it is up to a certain standard, and we will ensure that this standard is maintained on the site at Berwick just as we do in other parts of Australia.
The honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) referred to the granting of concessions. There is a standard procedure for this throughout all Commonwealth departments. It is laid down in legislation and rigidly adhered to by my Department. There is a contracts board within the Department to which matters of business concessions are referred. They are always advertised for public tender and when tenders are received they are considered by a number of senior officers of the Department and then submitted to the board for consideration. The board makes its recommendation in the usual way. The tenders then have to go through the process of being considered by the Director-General. Finally, after they have been cleared by the Department, they go on for formal approval by the Minister. .1 can say quite conclusively that I have complete faith in the integrity of the senior officers of my Department. Furthermore not just one officer is concerned in this matter. There is a board of competent people who are adept at handling such matters. There are other senior officers who are senior public servants and in whom I am sure we should all have complete faith because they have been giving dedicated service in the Department for many years.
The honourable member for Hindmarsh made. J am afraid, rather vague and general charges against these officers, and I refute those charges because I know the officers concerned. I know they are dedicated to their work. They have no way of personally answering charges made in this place, and I answer on th.e, r behalf by completely refuting the charges.
As for policing the standards of service which are provided, we do this from time to time. If questions as to standards of service are raised in this chamber or anywhere else such matters are investigated. Obviously from time to time minor matters could arise which might give cause for complaint. People have written to me on occasions complaining about certain minor matters, investigations have been made and the concessionaires have taken rectifying action. But these are the kinds of minor matters which arise in the course of any normal business in which staff are employed and a standard of service to the public has to be maintained. I can assure the honourable member for Hindmarsh that if he has any particular complaint, or if any problems of this nature arise, he can refer the matters to mo and I will see that they are investigated and corrective action taken. When these concessions are let we want to provide the best possible standard of service that we can.
The honourable member also raised the question of the contract let recently to Avis Rent-A-Car System Pty Ltd for sole rights at S3 airports in Australia for car renting business. Public tenders were invited on either a single or a multiple basis. They were considered in the usual way. The recommendations were made. The tender price was quoted in the Senate the other day. It was by far the highest. It was also one under which a service could be provided at all the airports concerned, not only the larger ones such as at Sydney and Melbourne at which good returns may be obtained, but also the far flung centres such as those which the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter) was speaking of, and where it is hard to make a profit. The tenders were called on the basis I have mentioned. They were treated in the usual way and the recommendations were made in the usual way.
I may say that in these matters the Department tries to obtain some return for all the expenditure by the Department and the Government in the field of aviation. This is one way in which we can get some money back. We have a responsibility to see that we get the most back for the contracts which are let. In this case the contract was let to the successful tenderer because its tender was by far the highest, and also because a good service could be provided.
There is another point in connection with this matter that I should bring out. Other rent-a-car operators may pick up business at the airports. The sole right which has been given under the contract is. merely to write up business. For the sake of space and other considerations it is far better to provide only one facility, and in the case of this contract the right which is conferred is that to write up business at the airport. If other business is written up outside the airport or overseas, the other operators can pick up in the normal way, and we have made this quite clear in the contract. Honourable members may go to any of the major airports and see operators other than Avis doing business.
The final matter was that raised by the honourable member for Kennedy about tourist fares in Queensland. I know that he has taken a continuing interest in this since he took over his electorate. This is a matter for consideration by the airlines, and we have submitted it to them. They will no doubt look at it from the point of view of volume of traffic and other considerations. As the honourable member has raised the matter, I will see that it is again referred to the airlines. I conclude by thanking honourable members for what has been a most constructive debate on the departmental estimates.
– I do not want to detain the Committee but I want to repeat comments that I have made about the need of the City of Greater Wollongong for an adequate airport with proper facilities within its boundaries. It is an entirely anomalous position to find a city with 1.70,000 people within its boundaries and another 120,000 in the adjoining areas of Shellharbour, Shoalhaven and Berrima, deprived of a routine, modern amenity. It is a situation that is bitterly resented within my constituency. At present all that we possess is an air strip at Albion Park, about 14 miles from the heart of Wollongong proper. There are no facilities at Albion Park. It is an unattended strip. It is capable of development. There are, nevertheless, serious limitations to it. I understand that the experts consider that the biggest craft that could be operated from it would be Fokker Friendships. However, I suggest to the Minister that the needs of the seventh city of Australia cannot and should not be ignored.
Whenever I have occasion to drive to Mascot aerodrome from Wollongong the thought occurs to me that perhaps a serious mistake has been made in continuing to develop Mascot. If the experiences of other major capital cities in the world are examined it will be found that in all cases there is acute congestion at any airport which is within 5 to 10 miles of the centre of the metropolis. That situation is being reached within the city of Sydney. The Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) has laid great stress on the fact that during certain hours at night there are restrictions on landings at and departures from Mascot. The Government could not do otherwise, because the alternative literally would be purgatory by day and night for the people within that area.
It has amazed me that consideration has not been given - if this Government were capable of taking a long term view - to the development of an entirely new area for a major aerodrome for Sydney. Such an airport could be established on land which is already in the possession of the Commonwealth Government. I refer to the very substantial, in fact the vast, military reserve known as Holsworthy in the Liverpool’ district. The area could be served directly by an electric train service that goes to Georges River, which one could say is the northern boundary of the Holsworthy military reserve. There would be a fast and direct train service to the heart of Sydney. It is a known fact that in places like New York, London, Philadelphia, San Francisco and other major cities the time taken in travelling between the heart of the city to and from the airport is equal to, and in many cases exceeds, the duration of the air journey.
It is time that the Government took a long term view. It is time it had a look at the land that is available. There is adequate land at Holsworthy and the Government could establish a vast and fantastic airport in that area if it chose to develop it. The area is within 30 miles of the heart of Wollongong: it could reasonably be expected to serve the City of Greater Wollongong. I seriously suggest to the Minister that this proposal should be examined, because people within the electorates of Barton, St George and Hughes have every reason to be dissatisfied with the continued development and intensification of the nuisances that will be created at Mascot.
– First, I congratulate the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swart/.) on the progress that has been made generally in the field of civil aviation in Australia. Another matter which is cause for great satisfaction and for commendation of those responsible is the extremely good safety record of Australian airlines. It certainly enhances Australia’s reputation for efficiency generally and in this particular field especially. I commend the Minister on his willingness to make himself available to me, to my constitutents, and I have no doubt, to all honourable members when an approach is made to him. Recently I had occasion to invite him to my area. Unfortunately the people were not able to meet him on that day but he arranged an alternative time. He has been most co-operative.
During this debate I made notes of the comments of some honourable members, including one comment by the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) who talked of the rights of ordinary people. I go along with him on this, but from a somewhat different angle. I should like to talk about the rights of the ordinary people who live in the more sparsely settled areas that are not as well served by air services as they could be and deserve to be. The honourable member for Hughes (Mr Dobie) talked of peace of mind for the people in his area. He was referring to noise. 1 should like the people in my electorate to have peace of mind knowing that they will be provided with reasonable airline facilities, especially in areas where services have been reduced. 1 am conscious of the need for the economic operation of most Government activities, but there is a time when the need to serve the people should lake precedence over pure economics. Only too often in matters affecting people living away from the metropolitan or closely settled areas economics gain too high a rating. As the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter) said, air services to remote areas are not a luxury but a necessity, and they are very costly loo. However, if the service is not of reasonable frequency the time spent on business trips to the metropolitan area is greatly extended, and this adds considerably to the already heavy cost involved in travelling to the capita] cities.
An honourable member has interjected and asked the honourable member for Kennedy why he did not live in the city.
The drift of population to the cities is causing great concern. Far too many people realise that if they want to enjoy amenities they must live in the cities. It is time we adjusted the disparity between the advantages of living in the city and the advantages of living in some of the outlying areas of Australia. The disparity should be kept within reasonable limits. I am not suggesting that work being done in the metropolitan area should not be done. The expansion and development of the Sydney and Melbourne airports has reflected the growth of civil aviation. It is necessary that our major airports be developed to cope with the increasing traffic at those terminals. I believe that the Brisbane airport should be brought up to the standard of the other major aerodromes not only because is it desirable in its own right but because of the value that would accrue in having Brisbane as an alternative site for international flights that may have to be diverted from Sydney.
Whilst it is true that generally speaking progress is being made in air services, it is unfortunately true also that some areas have had the frequency of their air services reduced. Let me cite as an example the Brisbane to Cunnamulla service conducted by Ansett-A.N.A. This service was previously provided at a frequency of three times a week. There is no doubt that to reduce the number of flights to fewer than three a week in an area where it is possible to travel by car will mean that fewer people will use aircraft, and so the frequency of service will be still further reduced. This is a matter that must receive very serious consideration.
– That is private enterprise.
– Not necessarily. TransAustralia Airlines has reduced its services, and is that a private enterprise operation? The Opposition blames private enterprise for everything. 1. will say that in an endeavour to tackle the problem, TAA recognised the advisability of using smaller aircraft. I do not suggest that we want smaller aircraft if we can have larger aircraft. We all would prefer larger aircraft, but, recognising the difficulty that existed, TAA has introduced the Twin Otter so as to reduce the cost of services and to enable it more economically to provide the frequency of service so necessary and desirable. The use of these smaller aircraft is meeting with some success, so much so that on Monday last I was able to book a seat from Dalby to Brisbane on the Twin Otter or whatever aircraft was used. Apparently there was no great loss of passenger seat occupancy on that aircraft. I would like my success in being able to obtain a seat on the aircraft to be repeated, but I would not like the service to be so successful that people cannot obtain seats on the aircraft. However, I am pleased that the service is being as fully utilised as it was on the occasion to which I have referred.
In the course of this debate a good deal has been said about the problem of noise in the vicinity of airports. Obviously this is a matter of considerable concern to honourable members who represent areas in close proximity to busy airports served by jet aircraft. I realise that this is a matter that must be discussed and overcome but I point out that its solution involves a problem in economics, to which I have already referred. The Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) has pointed out that flights are not permitted at certain airports between the hours of I I p.m. and 6 a.m., but this reduction in facilities means an economic loss to the community as a whole. The entire community bears the cost of providing this benefit for people living in proximity to airports. But when it is a matter of the rest of the community sharing some of the costs incurred for the benefit of inland residents, some honourable members object on the grounds that such action is not economic and therefore should not be carried out. They say that the community at large should not share our costs but it is all right with them for the rest of the community to bear the cost of restricting flights at capital city airports because of the noise problem. 1 do not object to the community bearing this cost but 1 point to the different attitude adopted by certain people when the boot is on the other foot.
I believe that in future planning consideration should be given to establishing airports which aircraft may use for 24 hours a day if necessary. As the Minister pointed out. we are approaching saturation point at airports and so consideration should be given to establishing airports in such a location as to overcome the present difficulties experienced in travelling between the airport and the city, although I believe that too much attention is paid to trying to get into the city in the shortest possible time. It is true, as the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) pointed out, that the time taken in getting from the airport to the city is very great, but at some of the larger international airports the time taken in bringing the plane in to land is greater that the flight time. Circling an airport awaiting clearance to land occupies as much time as the flight itself in some cases. Consideration should be given to establishing airports at sites well removed from the city so that aircraft may operate continuously. We must also bear in mind the time lost in getting from the airport to the city. 1 appeal to the Minister and to all honourable members to consider the well worn topic of decentralisation. I say in all sincerity that the value of air services to the inland is so high that it is almost impossible for inland dwellers to manage without air services. It is not reasonable to expect people to live in remote areas if they are not provided with air services. The Government has a responsibility to see, as far as it is within its power, that we utilise as much as possible of this great country. It is all very well for a country small in area to concentrate on industrial development. I do not suggest that we do not want industrial development in Australia - the Country Party has always promoted industrial development - but we must also promote balanced development of Australia by providing as much assistance as we can to people in outlying areas and in this way persuade them to stay in those areas. Already enough of them are leaving the country areas and coming to the cities. Let us give them some reasonable consideration. Let us show them that we want them to stay in the country areas.
In my opinion a greater burden than is necessary is being placed on local authorities by requiring them to participate in the local ownership plan. It has already been said that Sydney gets its airport free. Why not free airports for country areas? The provision of airports in county areas is a cost that should be borne by the community. If it is good enough for one section of the community to have a free airport it is good enough for the rest of the community. 1 concede that the Government has contributed a great deal towards the improvement of airstrips in country areas, but I point out that only recently 1 had an appeal from a shire council which felt that it was impossible for it to contribute its share of the cost of airport .improvements. The Council has suffered from the recent drought and is having the utmost difficulty in providing its share of the cost of keeping the local airport in a fit condition for operations. I urge that the responsibility of local authorities to contribute towards airport maintenance be reduced until such time as the Government may see fit to dispense completely with this system.
– This is not the first time that I have congratulated the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) for his dedication to duty. When he was Minister for Health he always listened to the debates on the estimates of his Department. I give him credit for doing that. He has always treated seriously each matter that has been raised and has done everything that a Minister should do to answer any queries. He has done so again today, but not to my full satisfaction.
The Minister has told us that public tenders were called for the franchise to operate the car park and car rental services at airports. Public tenders were called for all or alternatively some of the airports. Well, that is probably a fair enough thing to do except that calling tenders for all airports - this is where I quarrel with the policy - does limit the number of people who can tender to possibly two or three at the most of the companies engaged in car hiring.
I do not think that the Government needs to do that. I think that it is bad policy to say: ‘You will have the lot or none. Unless you can service the whole fifty-three airports, do not bother to tender.’ That was wrong. The Minister then says that the Avis organisation was the one that offered the highest tender. In the public statement that he issued, if the Press has given a correct version of what he said, the Minister is reported as saying that the Avis Rent-a-Car System was the only one to tender. So, obviously if that is true, Avis was the highest tenderer.
– What is that?
– It is a Press report.
– It is not true.
– The Minister says that it is not true. Was there more than one?
– There was more than one. There were the Hertz group and Kays RentACar.
– For the whole fifty-three airports?
– No. They submitted tenders.
– For the whole of the fifty-three?
– I cannot tell the honourable member that.
– When the Minister’s memory was better - at the time when he made this statement to the Press - he did say that the only tender received for the whole of the fifty-three airports was from Avis. So, obviously, whatever Avis tendered would have to be the highest, since there were no other tenderers.
The other thing that I wish to ask is this: Once it was decided that the Government as a matter of policy - bad policy, I submit - was going to accept the tender from a company that could service the whole of the fifty-three airports, did the Government then decide to request the other two tenderers also to submit tenders for the whole of the fifty-three airports, or did the Government take the attitude: ‘Well, Avis is the only one that has tendered for the whole lot so, therefore, we will give it to Avis”* Did the Government do this using as it* excuse, if you like, or its pretext or, to be more charitable, its reason that Avis was the only company that tendered for the lot? Was it absolutely necessary that whoever got the tender had to tender for the whole lot? Indeed, was it necessary to say that only one company would be given the right or the franchise to operate in a particular airport? Surely, there ought to be scope for more than one company in airports such as those to be found at Adelaide. Melbourne, Brisbane and. possibly, Perth? Is it not in line with the two airline policy of the Government in any event to sponsor, to support and to encourage a two hire car system? If one can accept the logic of the argument by the Government in favour of its two airline policy, why does the Government so carefully avoid a two hire car policy making available hire cars to people when they arrive at airports?
I do not expect the Minister to answer my questions now because in all probability he does not carry these things in his head, but I would like to know from the Minister what discussions led to the decision to reject those tenderers who tendered for fewer than the fifty-three airports? What minutes are there? What discussions led to this decision? Who made the decision? Was the decision put up to the Minister by the Director-General of Civil Aviation? Was it put up to the Director-General by the board, or was it a decision taken by Cabinet? I want to know also whether any negotiations took place between any of the tenderers before or after tenders closed? If there were discussions, what was the nature of the discussions? Why was it necessary to have discussions before tenders closed? It would not be the first time that negotiations have occurred before the closing of tenders between the tenderers and a Government department because a Minister in answer to a question on notice has admitted that this has occurred. One is entitled to assume that it could occur again.
Also, I want to know this: Did the chairman of the board of directors of the Avis organisation discuss the matter with the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), or with any other Minister or with any officer of the Department before or after the close and/ or the acceptance of tenders? The mere fact that the chairman of directors of Avis is a personal friend of the Prime Minister is no reason to suspect that either he or the Prime Minister would do anything wrong. But it is possible that while they were at Dunk Island, or wherever they had their holiday together, he may have just let slip out something about the tender and something about the fact that his organisation was interested. I would like to know whether this little matter did slip out in conversation at any stage. I would like to know also whether Sir Arthur Rylah, the Deputy Premier of Victoria who, I am informed and I verily believe, is a director of Avis
Rent-a-Car Systems, had any discussions with any Commonwealth Minister or any officer of the Department relative to the application of his company for the tender.
The only other thing that I have to say is this: The Minister sought - perhaps I should not use the word cleverly; I think he was honest enough about it - to slur over the advantage that Avis has as a result of being granted the sole right to operate this service for 10 years by saying that any other hire car company can pick up passengers. But he omitted one small matter. This is that it is not possible to do so unless the passenger makes prior booking with that particular hire company.
– That is what I said.
– I beg the Minister’s pardon. I am sorry. I withdraw the inference behind it. If the Minister said it, I did not catch it. Those are all the questions that 1 wish to ask. 1 do not expect the Minister to be able to answer all those questions now. If he cannot, T wonder whether he would be so kind as to have answers secured for me and let me have cither a letter or make a statement to the House concerning the matter. I do not care which he does, as long as I eventually find out all the answers to the questions that I have raised. That is all I care about.
– I was very glad to hear the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) state that he was appointing officers to his Department to study the handling of the noise problems ,at airports. This is a very great step forward. I think that the government members civil aviation committee has something to be proud of in the negotiations which it conducted with the Minister concerning this matter because members, particularly members who represent areas near the large airports of Australia, have grave problems in this respect in their electorates. 1 was interested also to hear the Minister say that the restrictions on night operations of jet aircraft would be continued. But I do not think that restrictions are the complete answer. If we are to have restrictions continually, we will have higher fares and dearer freight charges. We need to look further ahead. We need to try to see whether we can come up with some solution which will get us away from restrictions so that aircraft will be able to operate night and day.
A number of problems concerning airport noise have been directed to me. I have here some letters from my constituents about this matter. I will read to the Committee some extracts from the letters that 1 have received. One letter states:
It is frightening at times and the damage to my home is most disheartening. 1 am sick and tired of replastering.
Here is another: 1 would like to add my protest along with the other noise sufferers in my area, particularly the running and testing of 707 jets from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. on Sunday morning.
I think that the officers of the Department of Civil Aviation should be aware of these matters. Probably they live a good distance from our major airports. But these are very real problems to the people living in areas close to airports. Someone may say that people should not have built there in the first place. But if governments and local governing authorities permit mem to build there politicians will get a number of complaints.
Here is another complaint. It reads:
This noise is getting our family down and we do not want the ban lifted to create a greater din during the night.
Yet another letter reads:
No reasonable resident would object to normal daytime operations but would regard this as the necessary noise of industry, as with a factory. The odd nighttime freighter too can be tolerated provided the operator does not excessively run-up engines in the open. It is the nighttime and early morning engine running which offends. . . .
Another complaint comes from North Essendon, the area represented by the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Mr Stokes). It states: . My life has been made a misery without sleep from the noise of aircraft warming up their engines, so close to my home especially early in the morning.
I have watched a window crack from top to bottom over a whole day, as one after the other ‘planes have taken off.
Another comes from Oak Park and states:
I was awakened this morning before 6 o’clock by the engines of a jet plane being tested at the airport.
There is a valley between the airport and Oak Park and on a clear night the noise is most intense. The complaint continues:
I was uncertain as to whether I should ring the airport manager, air traffic control or the police. I wonder what rights we have in this matter. Surely if a group of people in Hawthorn were able to restrain a church from playing its fairly innocuous chimes we should be able to restrain any airline from its nerve-wracking attacks on local residents.
And so it goes on. 1 am one of the members of the Parliament placed in the invidious position of having to face these problems. 1 realise the great difficulties of my colleagues, the honourable members for St George (Mr Bosman) and Barton (Mr Arthur). I feel that one of my tasks is to ensure that these problems do not arise around the new Tullamarine Airport. I want to see that the community is protected from them and the best way to protect the community is not to permit people to build near the airport. Consequently, T have noted with dismay, and have made representations concerning, the development that has been taking place south of Sharp’s Road. I think the work has ceased for the time being.
I would like to tell the Committee a little about this development. It has been advertised as costing $30m. At present this is a rural area and only streets have been provided. It has been advertised as a complete community development of 2,100 building allotments, plus shops, schools and parklands. Notices have been put up along the south side of Sharp’s Road and they proclaim:
Made roads and footpaths.
Sewerage to every lot at the vendor’s expense. Water, gas and light.
Electricity to every lot at vendor’s expense.
These are great attractions to the Sunday afternoon motorist as he passes by in this delightful rural area. But he does not know what is to come. Fortunately, or unfortunately for the developing company, a large notice has appeared across the road from this area and it has taken a good deal of the gloss off the prospects of would be purchasers. I have no doubt that this notice is one of the reasons why the development has come to a halt. It shows the proposed flight paths from the airport and it shows that the new development will be in the flight paths of aircraft using the north-south runway at Tullamarine. What a tragedy it will be if this development takes place. The area will also be subject to some disturbance from aircraft using the east-west runway at Essendon.
My colleague from Maribyrnong has mentioned that the land was re-zoned to enable urban development to take place. I do not blame the Department of Civil Aviation for allowing the early phases of the development at Tullamarine, but I am quite critical of what has occurred since. 1 understand that the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works zoned the area as rural and whether the Victorian Minister who decided to reverse this decision was wrongly advised f do not know. I do not know whether the Department of Civil Aviation was aware of what was happening. However, had I been living in the area, or conducting a business there, I think I would have known what my neighbours were doing.
Obviously a great mistake has been made. I believe that the developing company was within its rights in proceeding with the development. After all, the area was zoned for housing development. Why should it not go ahead and prepare the area for housing when it. had been zoned for this purpose? 1 ask: Do we want the situation that has developed at Kings ford-Smith Airport to develop also at Tullamarine? Jet aircraft from Perth often have to cruise around Sydney and out to sea waiting for the 6 a.m. curfew to be lifted. Do we want to force the airlines to operate at such high costs that their freights and fares will increase? If we want the new Melbourne airport to be used to capacity by the airlines, and I am quite sure that we do, this housing development must not be allowed to proceed. Let factories go into the area or let it remain as land used for rural purposes or for parklands. We badly need parklands in the western and northern suburbs. But this area must not be used tor housing, schools or hospitals.
I say to the Victorian Government and to the Commonwealth Government that such development must not be allowed. Whatever happens, the residential development must not proceed. It . may be that we will have to pay compensation to the developer. The Commonwealth or the State
Government may have to buy the land. But homes, schools and hospitals must never be built so close to the airport.
– I want to mention just one point. The honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) asked a number of questions relating to the airport contract for Avis Rent-a-Car System Pty Ltd. The tenor of his questions suggested that he was not aware of the background of the contract and he did not have the full information relating to it. I think it would be best if I let him have a copy of the schedule. He also raised other matters. 1 will provide the necessary information in a letter to him.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Proposed expenditure, $21,883,000.
Proposed expenditure, $73,230,000.
Proposed expenditure, $23,876,000.
– After listending to the debate on the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation, I fear that, if I were to deal in as much detail with the subject that affects my electorate and many other parts of Australia, 1 would have to travel at the speed of a Boeing 727. However, I will try, within the time at my disposal, to cover the subject as best I can. Probably no matter is causing more concern to Australian secondary industries than the suggestions contained in the annual report of the Tariff Board for 1966-67. In Chapter 61 at page 8, the Board states:
From its study of the structure and levels of protection the Board proposes to establish an initial classification of industries into those which have:
a high level of protection,
a medium level of protection, and
a low level of protection. in relation to the overall structure of assistance under which Australian import competing industries operate.
In Chapter 63 it states:
The basic reason for the changes now being suggested by the Board is to relate the operation of the Tariff more fully and consistently to the Government’s national economic objectives. The main means of doing this would be by encouraging the development of, and the flow of new investment into, the more - rather than the less - economic activities within the protected sector.
In urging these suggestions I tend to think that the Tariff Board was inclined to assess the protection that an Australian industry should receive by its ability to compete with the much lower priced goods coming into Australia in ever increasing quantities from the extremely low wage countries. If an industry is unable to meet this competition, the Board will declare it inefficient and uneconomic and therefore not entitled to tariff protection.
I want to register my protest, as well as the protest of all manufacturing interests in my electorate, and throughout Australia for that matter, who will be affected by these proposals. I want to register a protest on behalf of the people who have already lost their employment due to competition in their industries from the low wage countries. I speak also on behalf of those people who, although still in employment, look with anxiety at the future because of the proposal of the Tariff Board. If any honourable member thinks that I am exaggerating the situation, I ask them to bear with me while I quote facts contained in some of the letters sent to me by manufacturing interests in my electorate.
Let me read some figures sent to me over the signature of Mr Denis Kelly, managing director of the Cosmos Knitting Mills Pty Ltd. This factory is in Footscray. The letter was also written on behalf of Mr Parry, the managing director of Davies Coop and Co. Ltd. The figures given relate to imports of knitted coats, jumpers, cardigans, sweaters and the like. They are for the period from 1963-64 to 31st March 1968. In 1963-64, 93,018 articles of children’s size and 411,029 articles of adult size were imported, making a total that year of 504,047. Tn 1965-65, 146.532 items of children’s size and 638,907 of adult size were imported - a total of 785,439. I must read these figures, Mr Deputy Chairman, to emphasise the significance of these imports on this industry. In 1965-66, 297,868 items of children’s size and 1,023,818 items of adult size were imported, a total of 1,321,686. In 1966-67 the total imports again increased. Altogether 774,939 items of children’s size and 1,919.059 items of adult size were imported, a total of 2,693,998. For the first nine months of 1967-68. 1,062,904 children’s items and 2,046,297 adult sized items were imported, a total of 3,109,201.
Because of the influx of these imported goods a number of people lost their employment. In 1963-64, 215 people lost their jobs. In 1964-65 the figure was 336; in 1965-66 it was 565; in 1966-67 it was 1,152; and for the first nine months of 1967-68 the figure was 1,773. If we total these figures we find that a substantial number of employees lost their jobs. Until 1963-64 imports of this kind averaged from 2% to 3% of the Australian market. By 1966-67 they had grown to an average of 15%. Had quantitative restrictions not been applied in December 1967 to limit imports to 15% pending a full scale review by the Tariff Board, it is estimated that in 1967-68 imports would have reached 45% of the Australian market. The figures I have given indicate that this is so.
I shall now refer to the origin of these imports. In 1963-64 two-thirds of all imports came from the United Kingdom and Europe. The balance came mainly from Hong Kong and Japan. In 1966-67 over 80% of all imports originated from low cost Asian sources. This indicates that protective duties have been effective in respect of traditional European sources of supply, for which they were designed, but completely ineffective against low cost Asian competition. I now want to refer to the wages paid in some of the low cost Asian countries and to compare them with the wages paid in Australia. They are as follows:
Formosa - 11c per hour (male and female average)
Hong Kong - 22c per hour (male and female average)
South Korea - 9c per hour (male and female average)
Australia - 1 10c per hour (male); 78c per hour (female).
These figures give a pretty reliable indication of the competition that the Australian textile industry is facing from the low cost Asian countries and the effect that it has and will have unless the Tariff Board gives this industry the protection it deserves. The Tariff Board gives other industries the protection they deserve.
I do not intend to give figures only for the textile industry; I will also provide figures relating to Australia’s heavy industry.
I received a letter from the chairman of directors of Industrial Engineering Limited in which he said:
On behalf of my company, I wish to lodge a strong protest at this attempt by the Tariff Board to classify industry, and would appreciate you expressing our viewpoint at any pertinent opportunity. Our industry has been encouraged to develop by the establishment of tariffs, and can only successfully function in competition with capital intensive opposition companies overseas if tariff levels are maintained.
Anything as arbitrary as this can only lead to many incorrect condemnations with irreparable to the Australian economy as a whole.
I have other letters, too. I could go on ad lib to quote a number of big heavy industrial establishments in my electorate who are complaining and are worrying about what the Tariff Board has said about classifying industries into high, medium and low protection areas. However, I have not sufficient time to go fully into them and will have to content myself with saying as much as I can in the fifteen minutes available to me. I hope that some honourable member will afford me additional time in which to develop my case.
I have letter from a representative of another heavy industry, which is unique in Australia. Because of Japanese competition the directors of this firm are considering giving up manufacturing the type of product concerned. The firm is McKenzie and Holland (Aust.) Pty Ltd, which is at Spotswood in my electorate. The general manager of the firm said in his letter:
The problem of competition from overseas sources, and particularly from Japan, is neither new nor confined to the two examples which we quote. Tt has in fact existed for over 10 years but latterly intensification has been of such magnitude as to force us to seek assistance designed to combat it and so preserve what we believe to be an industry vital to Australia’s rail transportation systems.
In that letter the general manager sent information about the prices that his firm had submitted. That information is staggering. One could almost believe that the Japanese interests had been shown its quotes, judging by the small amount by which they had been able fo undercut this company. Unfortunately the company had to cheapen its product in order to compete with the Japanese interests. The general manager went on to say:
In the event of a national emergency we would become a vital industry because, we repeat, we are the only company in Australia with the tooling, special purpose facilities and the technical knowhow necessary to supply this material so essential to maintain our railways in a safe working condition.
He went on to list the prices his company had quoted. He mentioned the price quoted to the Western Australian State Tender Board. His firm’s price was $1,189 and the price of the successful Japanese ‘tenderer was $624 in Japan or $1,020 landed in Australia. Another example was a tender of $589 for a Japanese article which, landed in Australia, cost $965. The tender submitted by McKenzie and Holland was $1,189. Other examples are given of this situation. This is typical of the situation set out in letters 1 have before me. In this letter, the managing director of McKenzie and Holland stated:
Notwithstanding this price reduction-
He was referring to the way his firm had to reduce its prices- you will note that our offer for the supply of 86 mechanisms to the Western Australian State Tender Board was lost to our Japanese competitors for a price difference which must be only in the vicinity of $5 to $10.
He referred to tariff item No. 85.16.100, under which these commodities were brought in. Under this item the rate was reduced on 1st January .1968 from 55% to 53%. Had this reduction not taken place the tender by McKenzie and Holland to the Western Australian State Tender Board would have been successful. The firm visualised further reductions in the tariff rate by about 2% a year in the next 4 years and the Managing Director stated that this would finally result in a most favoured nation rate of 45% in 1972. The firm has not a hope in the world of meeting this sort of competition. But here is an industry that is vital for defence. Despite the fact that the Tariff Board says that it cannot consider anything of a defence nature, the very fact remains that if anything went wrong with the supply of this sort of material by Japan to Australia, and this company went out of production of this highly sophisticated type of material that it is producing for the Australian railways, the Australian railways would be in a very sorry plight indeed.
I do not want to go much further because my time is running out. But if these illustrations are consistent with the Government’s national economic objectives, I would say that every person in this country who desires and believes in full employment should be concerned. As a matter of fact, we have nothing like full employment, as much as honourable members on the other side of the House like to claim. If honourable members say that we have full employment, how can they support Tariff Board recommendations of this nature. Take the married women who have been put out of employment in the textile industry. They are not recorded by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics in the unemployment statistics. Thousands of married women in this country would be only too happy to take the opportunity to gain employment in the textile industry if they could.
In the 15 minutes available to me 1 have tried to cover a lot of ground. I have tried to illustrate briefly the impact of the suggestions emanating from the Tariff Board on industry in my own electorate and in other electorates throughout Australia. There is a lot more I could say about this matter, but time does not permit me to say it. I hope to say more at some other time.
– I should like to move. ‘That the honourable member for Gellibrand be granted an extension of time’. Would that be in order, Mr Deputy Chairman?
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Failes) - Standing Orders permit the honourable member another opportunity to speak.
Mr ANDREW JONES (Adelaide) 5.19] - I wish to speak about the Tariff Board in a different context. 1 refer to a different subject and topic, but nevertheless one that is pretty important and concerns the Government. My comments concern the Government’s introduction of the small volume, or SV, plan in the motor vehicle industry. I want to talk about the subsequent breakdown of this plan and the ruinous situation which the Australian manufacturers in the motor vehicle section of the economy are in today. They are under pressure from steadily mounting Japanese competition. I believe that the motor car industry, which after all is the second biggest employer of labour and one of the top three industries in the country, is vital to the economy not only of the country as a whole but also of South Australia because the State I represent has three major operators which, should be protected to the extent that they have been by the Tariff Board. But the controversial small volume plan, which was brought into operation in July 1966, has not worked. It has not lived up to what it was intended to do. What is more, the Tariff Board, the Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry and the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) know this. The purpose of my speaking this afternoon is to draw the Government’s attention and the attention of those honourable members present in the chamber to this very important problem with which we are faced today. If it is not cleared up in the very near future unemployment will result not only in South Australia but right throughout the economy. f think that to preface the main point I want to make, it would be a good idea if I traced the history of the automobile industry in Australia and ran through a few important points so that those honourable members who are not in the chamber can read the facts in Hansard. T shall give a brief history of the Government’s policy, showing when it was successful and when it failed. Until 1923, local production of vehicle bodies was encouraged by tariff protection and emergency wartime regulations restricting the importation of bodies. In 1920 a differential tariff encouraged chassis assembly in Australia, and tariff duties were imposed on a wide variety of body chassis and engine parts. In October 1944. the Comptroller-General of Customs invited vehicle builders to submit plans for the manufacture of complete vehicles in Australia. The United States based General Motors. Ford. Chrysler and International Harvester companies undertook the manufacture of vehicles here and were followed subsequently by British and European companies.
I turn now to the period from 1957 to 1963. Following a Tariff Board report on 13th June 1957, the Government imposed duties of 25% preferential and 35% general on passenger carrying vehicles and commercial vehicles of less than 10 tons gross vehicle weight. It also imposed duties on all components for vehicles, but established a standing by-law for those components which were not then available in sufficient variety or volume to justify protection. This is where the whole case starts. In May 1964 the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) and the then Minister for Customs and Excise announced plans for systematised by-law concessions on dutiable components pending the receipt of the Tariff Board’s report on the continuation of the standing by-law. These arrangements covered plan A, which required a manufacturer to achieve 95% Australian content in three stages over a 5-year period. Dutiable components imported during the life of the programme could be admitted under by-law and the residual 5% would be eligible for by-law admission until 31st December 1974, the date then fixed.
Plan B1 and plan B2 were also announced in May 1964, but were abandoned in February 1966, which was the year when the controversial SV plan, which was to prove a failure, came into operation. In February 1966, the SV plan replaced plans B1 and B2. Basically, this plan provided that vehicle assemblers would have continued access to the previous standing by-law on the following basis: Firstly, for vehicles produced in volumes of 2,500 per annum or less, on the achievement of 45% local content; secondly for vehicles produced in volumes between 2,501 and 5,000 per annum, on the achievement of 50% local content, and thirdly, for vehicles produced in volumes between 5,001 and 7.500 per annum, on the achievement of 60% local content.
In July 1966, in its report on motor vehicles, the Tariff Board recommended that duties on passenger carrying vehicles covered by the ministerial plans be increased to 35% preferential and 45% general if imports exceeded 7±% of total registrations calculated on a 24-month moving average. The Board considered that imports above this level would jeopardise the ministerial plans and when the limit was exceeded in July 1966, the higher duties were imposed. In October of 1966 makers of vehicles produced under plan A in volumes of less than 25,000 vehicle units per annum were given an additional 2 years to reach 95% local content. In May 1968, investigations by the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott) established that
Japanese vehicles were being imported into Australia in contravention of anti-dumping legislation and corrective action was instituted by the Government. This was only a temporary measure, I can assure honourable members, and the industry will be happy to bear me out on this point.
The foregoing brief review of: the Government’s policy illustrates the determination of the Commonwealth Government to establish an automotive manufacturing industry in Australia. The Government is to be congratulated generally on its determination. The present arrangements are no more than a gradual cancellation, over a 10-year period from 1st January 1965 through 1974, of the standing by-law on components established by the Tariff Board in 1957. The industry has now become the most important secondary industry in Australia; its importance to the economy as a whole is not seriously questioned by responsible people. I hope the Department of Trade and Industry takes notice. Quite serious trends are developing which will inhibit the growth of the industry and these trends are now causing much concern to companies which are committed under the A plan established in 1964.
I now want to deal with plan A. The important and highly laudable objectives of the Commonwealth Government’s plan A may be summarised as follows: Firstly, to create a strong, self sufficient and efficient Australian automotive industry and, at the same time, to improve Australia’s technical and industrial skills - that is great; secondly, to afford work opportunities in secondary industry for Australians and for migrant labour - that is great too; thirdly, to conserve overseas funds - that is very good; fourthly, to assist the growth of related industries such as steel, rubber and glass and the manufacture of automotive components both for standard equipment and replacement parts - again very good; fifthly, to strengthen Australia’s defence potential by promoting a well equipped, efficient heavy manufacturing industry - that is fine; sixthly, to further Australia’s export income by reason of increased domestic volume. All these things are very good. They all mean a great deal. In fact, it could not be doubted that the motor vehicle industry is one of the most efficient industries overall in Australia.
Now we get down to the controversial small volume or SV plan which I said, when I started to speak, is not working, has not worked and is not likely to work for the simple reason that when it first came into operation on 1st July 1966 no one - I give the Government credit for this - could really anticipate what would happen. I hope to explain the reasons why the SV plan is not working when 1 get my second chop at this piece of cake. As a result of the A plan the import of completely built up units, or CBUs, during the period from January to April 1968 reached an annual rate in excess of 50,000 vehicles. It is still too soon to measure the effect on imports of complete vehicles of the Commonwealth Government inspired increase in the retail selling price of vehicles shipped from Japan a”, from 10th May 1968. As a basis of comparison of the level of imports of complete vehicles, it is pointed out that the average per annum for the 3 years prior to the announcement of the ministerial plan A, that is for the years 1961-62, 1962-63 and 1963-64, approximated only 10,000 units. The proliferation of the small volume programme has resulted in a fragmentation of the industry - ‘there is no doubt about this whatsoever - and a further substantial eroding of the Australian automotive market all around the country, particularly in the light car segment. It is emphasised that these small volume programmes do very little, if anything, for Australia’s economy and industrial strength. In addition, they represent a constant drain upon Australia’s overseas funds.
– Who wrote that?
– I did. I learned to write at school. It could be of some interest to look at the total Australian market. Although 1967 was a record year for motor vehicle registrations in Australia, eliminating registrations of Japanese built-up and locally assembled vehicles - we have the ludicrous situation of a German company making Japanese cars in this country - Australian manufacturers competed in a smaller passenger car and station wagon market than in 1964, when commitments under plan A were made. Since 1964, Australian vehicle and parts manufacturers have invested some $517m in facilities, equipment and tooling. No relative investment in Australia has been made by Japanese manufacturers at all.
I want to deal next with the light, 4- cylinder, car market segment. This market takes approximately 110,000 units per annum, of which half are completely built up imports and vehicles assembled under the SV plan. So we are talking about big business and big money. The remainder of the market, say 55,000 units, is left to five plan A vehicles now under programmes to achieve 95% Australian content. I will give the honourable members an idea of how the imports of assembled new passenger motor cars and station wagons have increased. In 1962-63, 3,596 were imported from Japan. In 1967-68 imports totalled 35,615. We do not doubt that the Japanese have the right to trade with Australia. All that industry wants and all’ that I want is for the Government to change the SV plan to give Australian manufacturers an opportunity to compete on the same basis. The Japanese should be made to toe the line in this direction. The relative figures for the 6 months from January through June 1968 show that 20,902 vehicles were imported from Japan. Since 1962-63 imports of built-up units have almost quadrupled and have apparently been unaffected by increased tariffs. They bounce under a 45% tariff and still knock spots off the Australian market. Members of the industry have assumed that the Tariff Board’s recommendations were intended to prevent imports rising above the levels ruling at the time of its inquiries in 1964. This has not happened. In any event, the industry’s support of the ministerial plans was based on the understanding that it would not be denied access to the Australian market for vehicles by a level of imports considerably greater than that ruling at the time the ministerial plans were formulated.
Let us look at the small volume programmes. Another point of concern to the industry is the market fragmentation that has been encouraged by the SV plan. When we start to look at the actual fragmentation of the market the figures I shall quote may be of interest. Currently 17 makes of vehicle are entered by the SV plan as against 9 entered under plan A. Of the 17 makes, 8 are directly competitive with plan A vehicles. If each of these 8 models achieves the maximum assembly rale of 7,500 allowed by the SV plan, their market potential could be 60,000 units per annum.
Although the ratio of imports of built-up units to SV assembled units may decrease, the total number of vehicles from these two sources represents between 50% and 70% of the total light car market, as roughly 90% of the total built-up units and SV assembled units are marketed in the light car segment. For these reasons the industry is convinced that the manufacture of light cars in Australia under present circumstances is not economically possible.
What can we do about it? Two or three courses are open to the Government. The Government could, if necessary, impose quantitative restrictions on the importation of CBU units to Australia. That would be stupid, because we do not have the right to do it, although Japan does claim the supreme right when she deals with Australia under the terms of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. Secondly, we could insist that Japanese manufacturers come into the Australian sphere and establish local manufacturing plants in this country and invest in Australia, or we could go to the Tariff Board and give it an opportunity to go ahead and make up its mind free from political control once and for all. If this is not done, the Chrysler organisation will have to start laying off men just after Christmas, I should think. The British Motor Corporation has lost 4.2% of the Australian market in the last 12 months. The Volkswagen company has been wiped out of the business. General Motors-Holden Pty Ltd has experienced a decrease in its share of the market, and the Ford company is seriously considering whether the continuation of the production of the Cortina is now worth while. The only people gaining out of this are the Japanese. Surely something is wrong. If we start to talk about the 150,000 persons employed in this industry and satellite industries, we are talking about big business and big money. This country cannot afford to lose people from an industry that is so important to the economy. Something has to be done.
Mr HANSEN (Wide Bay) [5.33)- I wish to speak to the estimates for the Department of Primary Industry. I wish particularly to refer to a section of primary industry which I feel has been neglected for many years - that is, fisheries. I welcome, with other members, the proposal for the creation of a joint Commonwealth fisheries fund for research, education, expansion and development that was announced in Canberra on 6th September by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) following talks between Federal and State Ministers. 1 hope that the fund set up will be on the lines of those already operating for a number of primary industries, that is, on a dollar for dollar basis. I think that this is very necessary, and I. hope that a decision to continue this research is made very quickly. As a result of the sale of whaling interests on the Western Australian coast, some money was made available for fisheries research, but I think that most, honourable members would agree with me that very little research was carried out. We have only scratched the surface. A vessel was chart.tered and used for a period in the Great Australian Bight. Some discoveries of prawning grounds were made along the Queensland coast, but most of the grounds have been seriously depleted; so much so that they are giving a living to about onetenth of the number of fishermen who made a good living from them when they were first discovered.
I believe that unless some restrictions are placed on the taking of prawns in the Gulf of Carpentaria - and there are difficulties in this matter if we want to impose restrictions outside the 12 mile limit - we will find that everyone is getting in on the band wagon. In a few years there will be no prawns in that area because smaller and smaller prawns are being taken and they are not growing or being replaced. Even the small amount of research that has been undertaken has shown that fish are available. The taking of prawns has certainly meant that our exports of fish and similar commodities have been lifted over the years, but if we exclude crayfish, prawns and shrimps, we find that Australia is very much dependent upon imports for fish that is consumed in Australia. Honourable members may wonder why this is. Why are we, an island continent which is completely surrounded by water, unable to provide our own fish and why we have to import such large quantities of fish for Australian consumers? 1 believe that there are problems in the marketing and presentation of locally caught fish on the refrigerated shelves not only in the supermarkets and chain stores but also in the corner stores. The fish is not presented attractively so that it can compete with imported fish which is packaged in small quantities which suit a housewife. A housewife who wants to cook a meal of fish does not want to buy a 361b pack of fish which she will have to hack up with an axe and have to put what is left back in the deep freezer. It might be economical for hotels, restaurants and the like to buy fish in large quantities, but it is not economical for the housewife. Our own product is not being presented in packs which suit the housewife. I believe that this is acting against us.
I am prompted to raise this matter today because of the approaches that have been made to me by local fishermen. The seat of Wide Bay takes in Fraser or Great Sandy Island, which is the largest island on the Australian coastline. In between that island and the coast is Sandy Strait. Almost one-half of the fish marketed in Queensland is taken from this area. 1 have seen returns from a number of fishermen who operate within the Sandy Strait area. They are professional fishermen and have been fishermen all their working lives. It may be said that they could learn something, that they may be able to be taught better methods of catching fish - I do not know - but I know that their incomes leave a lot to be desired.
One fisherman, who has two other fishermen working with him and who spent 2,600 hours fishing and 520 hours in repairing his boat and gear, received a gross income of $9,707.28, which was shared by himself and his two partners. The expenses, which he shared proportionately between himself and his partners, amounted to $8,355.58. He was left with a taxable income of $1,381. That man would have a boat, gear and a truck which would be valued at at least $15,000. This is his return on that investment. It is a wonder that such people stay in the industry. It is not that they cannot catch fish; they can catch fish. There are seasons when mullet run between the Clarence River and an area a little north of Fraser Island, when the fishermen catch mullet in great quantities. There are also great quantities of tailer
The fish caught in that area have to be sent from Maryborough to Brisbane, a distance of 180 miles. Many times, th: markets in Brisbane are overloaded; they cannot take any more fish. On some occasions the fishermen have received a return of 3§c per lb for the fish that have been sent to the markets and have been held there for processing. Then they are told not to send any more fish to the markets. On some occasions the fish have gone bad - they have been kerosene tainted, although luckily in these waters the problem of fish taking kerosene is not very great - and the fishermen have received a bill for ice and for handling charges which is more than they have received for the fish. They receive nothing but a bill for a week’s work.
To show thai the ease to which I have referred is not an isolated one, I have a table which shows the position of seven fishermen. One fisherman received a gross income of $7,715.45. After deducting his expenses he finished up with a taxable income of $766.08. for 2,600 hours fishing and for 624 hours spent on repairing his boat and gear. Fisherman No. 6 in the table is a part-time fisherman. Each year he works for 5 months in a sugar mill. He earns more in the 5 months at the sugar mill than he does when he is operating as a fisherman. From his fishing operations he received a gross income of $1,781 and a net income of $525. He spent 1.408 hours fishing and 536 hours on repairing his boat and gear. With the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate this table in Hansard so that they can appreciate the problems confronting these men.
These returns have been provided by Taxation Agents who are accountants and accredited by the Department of Taxation.
Value of boats, gear (including truck), around $15,000.
I think the table shows that the industry is certainly confronted with problems. I am not certain at this stage whether the industry is able to make a contribution itself, but 1 know that it needs assistance. 1 shall refer to the assistance which is given by some of the countries from which Australia is importing fish. In the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany and Canada fisheries development banks are set up which lend, at a reasonable rate of interest, up to 85% of the value of the boat. At the present time Australian fishermen cannot get loans from banking institutions to purchase boats, unless they have guarantors, and they cannot obtain a loan of anything near 85% of the value of the boat.
In addition, the fishermen want a cheaper form of insurance. Fishing is a risky business. I am told that on the northern coast of New South Wales 15% of fishermen’s expenses are related to lost traps. The fishermen up there use traps. The fishermen to whom I referred previously use nets. They have told me that their expenses would be much higher if they were using the old cotton nets which they used some years ago. It is only the fact that they are using nylon nets which enables them to reduce their expenses. Also, they do not need such a high replacement of gear. In Canada special insurance is available to fishermen both for their boats and for the replacement of gear. I am told that when Queensland fishermen made inquiries at the various insurance companies they found that the cost of insurance is prohibitive, not only from the point of view of fire but also from the point of view of losses by misfortune at sea.
The position is - and I believe it can be remedied - that these fishermen in normal times receive about 10c per lb for mullet gutted and with gills removed. When there is a surplus and the fish is required only for processing the fishermen receive 33 c per lb. Then they are told at various times to ease up because the fish cannot he used. I believe the solution to the problem is to provide a bounty on the fish caught in the periods of surplus when the price is low, or in the periods when the fishermen find it difficult to sell their catch. Under such a system the men would at least get a living, and the surplus fish taken could be handled by extending our cold stores. This could easily be done if money were made available. I believe also that much more could be done in the way of stocking with fish our inland rivers and fresh water dams on properties. I notice that this has been suggested by Mr Midgley, a Churchill Fellow from Queensland, who recently visited Uganda and who has now suggested that Nile perch should be introduced into the streams in the northern part of our continent.
As 1 said before, other countries are providing subsidies. I have some figures showing subsidy payments made in the United Kingdom, but unfortunately they are only for the years up to 1960-61. In that year the United Kingdom Government paid a subsidy on white fish amounting to £2,100,000. The subsidy on herrings amounted to £363,000. The white fish subsidy was paid at the rate of Is 2d for 14 lb of fish or Is for wet fish ungilled and ungutted. It was paid in respect of inshore vessels of up to 70 feet, but seiners making voyages of 8 days or more were excluded. There were various payments made in respect of different types of vessels. For vessels fishing mainly off the Faeroe Islands the payment was £13 a day while at sea for motor vessels of between 100 and 140 feet. For oil fired steamers built before 1st August 1952 a payment of £21 a day was made in respect of vessels of between 120 and 130 feet, and £23 a day for vessels between 130 and 140 feet. For seiners making voyages of 8 days or more, £8 a day was paid in respect of vessels up to 70 feet and £10 10s a day for vessels over 70 feet. A payment of £10 a day was made for coal fired steam vessels between 70 feet and 140 feet, while £15 a day was paid for oil fired steam vessels between 70 feet and 140 feet built before 1st August 1952.
For motor vessels other than oil fired vessels, built after 31st July 1952, the payment was £6 10s a day for vessels between 70 and 90 feet, £9 10s a day for those between 90 and 120 feet, £7 a day for vessels between 120 and 130 feet and £5 a day for vessels between 130 and 140 feet. The herring subsidy was 3 id for every 14 lb of fish taken by vessels under 40 feet. For vessels over 40 feet fishing for herring the payments varied. Steam vessels received £14 a day. Motor vessels received £6 10s a day if between 40 and 60 feet, £8 10s a day between 60 and 80 feet and £14 a day between 80 and 140 feet
This is the kind of assistance that is being granted in other countries which are exporting fish to Australia. I believe that we in this country can do much more to put this industry on a payable basis and encourage people to remain in it. Many of them have given their lives to it, but if they are to be rewarded with incomes of only SI, 000 a year or less, they are wasting their time, and they obviously could receive much better rewards in some other industry. I believe that Australia, as an island continent importing 80% of its requirements of fish, cannot allow these conditions to continue.
– I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiments expressed by the honourable member for Wide Bay (Mr Hansen). As the fishing industry comes within the jurisdiction of the Department of Primary Industry I shall take this opportunity to speak about it, and I hope to pursue the subject a little further than did the honourable member. During the last 5 years I have at every opportunity stressed the growing importance of this industry, especially in north Queensland. It is most refreshing to see that at long last both State and Federal Governments are realising the tremendous importance of the fishing industry to the nation’s economy. I realise that we have quite a lot to learn about methods of catching, processing and handling and marketing our sea foods if we are to compete satisfactorily in the world’s markets, but I am quite confident, after talking to many interested people over this period, that we can learn these methods and we can learn them quickly if both State and Federal Governments show enthusiasm and a desire to assist the industry.
A study of the waters around our coastline shows theat they are quite capable of yielding an abundant supply of the kinds of sea foods that are commonly consumed, but I point out that this supply must be carefully husbanded and safeguarded, because I visualise in the very near future intensive fishing by highly efficient and mobile vessels. Stocks of fish must be controlled and managed properly for the common benefit of all who will be employed in the industry and for a continuity of supply to the world’s markets. We must gain in the shortest possible time all the knowledge we can get about our sea food resources.
The Commonwealth and Queensland Governments jointly financed a survey of northern waters in the period between 1963 and 1965. Although this survey led to the start of the prawn fishing industry in the Gulf of Carpentaria, 1 believe it was not comprehensive enough. Much more exploratory and research work will have to be undertaken before the industry is firmly and successfully established. 1 believe also that there is an urgent need for technological research in both design, construction and operation, and also for research into equipment to be used to ‘introduce new methods and techniques. I would stress that boat and equipment research should be closely co-ordinated, because the efficiency of the boat and its equipment determines the efficiency of the fishing unit.
I consider also that now that the Government has decided to develop the fishing industry, standards of quality of sea foods, both for home consumption and for export, should be established as soon as possible. We think that these standards are desirable in other branches of primary industry, and 1 believe they are just as important in the fishing industry.
I mentioned earlier that I visualised intensive fishing by highly mobile and efficient units. In this connection I also visualise the necessity for special vocational training and technical education as new equipment and electronic systems are introduced into the industry, especially for the young person who wishes to make a career in the fishing industry. There is another aspect of this matter that must be considered. Any attempt to develop a fishing ground in a remote area must create specific problems. There is, first, the unproductive time spend by a unit in travelling from its home port to the fishing ground and returning. This might take some weeks. Storage plants must be established as close as possible to the fishing ground. Processing plants must be provided close to the storage facilities. Homes and the amenities that go with them, such as electricity, water, domestic services and postal and telephonic facilities must be provided for the people employed at the processing plants. High operating and living costs would be inevitable in such areas, and consideration must be given to easing the burdens imposed by these costs and also the costs of obtaining essential stores and equipment. The means of transporting the processed product to chosen centres for domestic distribution or export must be efficient and certain. Navigational aids must be provided to assist in the fishing operations. All these problems and more will have to be solved to establish this industry successfully in a big way. To help solve them some consideration will have to be given to freight concessions, subsidies and tax concessions. As in other aspects of primary industry, there is a definite requirement for research and information.
In the past the fishing industry, as we have known it, has been allowed to drift along haphazardly without any determined effort to co-ordinate its activities, except perhaps in Western Australia. In my opinion the blame for this must rest equally on the Commonwealth and State governments. Until last year our imports of seafood products exceeded our exports by a significant margin. Considering the resources available to us close to our own shores this has been a shocking state of affairs. Now we have the opportunity to rectify this sensibly and satisfactorily, and it must be done with a minimum waste of time. Our research authorities must be organised to proceed on a well planned system of research and allowed to work with a minimum of interference. In fact any channels from which knowledge of our seafood resources can be gained must be exploited. Speaking of this, 1 am completely at a loss to understand why our research authorities have never bothered to consult the professional fisherman who is on the water most of the time and who has a wealth of knowledge on this subject gained through the practical experience of trial and error. Two such people who come readily to my mind when I think of the situation are Mr lack Stevenson and Mr Keith Bryson of northern Queensland. These men are constantly working, and have been working for years, to improve the fishing industry. They possess a knowledge of tides, currents, habits of fish and fishing generally that would be invaluable to the research authorities.
– Would they be prepared to inform the Department?
– They most certainly would be prepared to do so. In fact, they have dossiers prepared that would be available immediately.
Sitting suspended from 5.57 to 8 p.m.
– To maintain constant improvement in the industry information that has been collated by the research people should be passed on immediately to allow for flexibility of operations which would provide a constant yield. One big lesson that we must learn to live with is that fishing in international waters in competition with other countries which are well organised physically and commercially is a ruthless business. The race is to the swift and the better organised unit. In this respect sound information, quickly acted upon, would help our people considerably. The regular meetings of the Australian Fisheries Development Conference, recently commenced, should go a long way towards assisting with the problems of collating and promulgating this very necessary information.
Quite recently, during a discussion about the fishing industry, a query was raised regarding protection that would be available in the future to our fishermen.. This is rather an interesting query when one tries to define the type of protection required. I would hope that the Government would supply physical protection within the new 12-mile limit recently imposed around our coastline. This could be done by combined Royal Australian Air Force and naval patrol, as the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) assured me would be provided when I raised the matter with him on 20th May last. Properly conducted, this would ensure that no foreign fishing vessels operated within the 12-mile limit without licence to do so. Protection could be afforded also by the Government’s restricting the number of licences issued to foreign fishing vessels. In this respect I am pleased to see that the Government has issued these licences subject to a phasing out of operations of foreign vessels over a 5- year period. But the protection that the Government could offer the industry as a whole, including those units operating outside the 12-mile limit, is the guarantee that the marketing of its seafood products, both for the domestic market and the overseas market, would be safeguarded in exactly the same way as the Government affords protection to all other primary industries.
Although I feel that it is the responsibility of the Commonwealth to initiate the early development projects and to establish the foundation for this new era in the fishing industry, the State governments must eventually assume a greater responsibility for the maintenance and improvement of the industry. I also feel that if a common policy were introduced in the States - this could be decided upon by the Australian Fisheries Development Conference - control of the industry would be a lot easier. It is high time all sections of the fishing industry operated under a common policy instead of the haphazard manner in which the industry has been operating. Full recognition as a primary industry must be granted, for it is only by receiving this that the fishing industry can obtain the benefits and the protection afforded other primary producers. Everyone agrees that something must be done to develop our seafood resources. Although the Government has already initiated this development, we must take quicker action lest we lose the initiative, thereby allowing other countries to move in and to reap the benefit. I also think that it would be a worthwhile exercise to consider granting organisations within the industry access to development loans for the purpose of improving their plants and units. It has been stated by responsible Ministers that it is the intention of the Government to foster planned but rapid development. I go all the way with that idea, but I think that we must take the lead in establishing what I call the new era of the fishing industry. We must insist on and promote orderly planned development, giving the utmost consideration to the all-Australian companies which wish to become part of the industry. There is no doubt - I believe that this was agreed to at the Australian Fisheries Development Conference - that a national fisheries policy should be implemented without delay. There is also a need - probably this should be the first move made - to review completely the Commonwealth fisheries organisation and to reorganise it to meet coming expansion. We should co-ordinate a programme for the development of our fisheries.
Perhaps I have made so many suggestions tonight that it may be thought wellnigh impossible to comply with all of them, but we have the opportunity to build the fishing industry into a mighty income earner. We have the opportunity also to pioneer a completely new industry for Australia. Certainly it will take a lot of finance to do these things, as well as a lot of systematic planning and hard work, but since we have had the guts to grasp the nettle, 1 hope that we also have the guts to squeeze it.
– I congratulate the honourable member for Herbert (Mr Bonnett) on an excellent speech devoted entirely to the regeneration of the Australian fishing industry. 1 heartily endorse the 90% of his speech which I heard and I hope that the Government will look at it sentence by sentence, because it was full of excellent ideas. It was a constructive contribution towards solving the problems of this haphazard Australian industry. 1 will mention some angles of this industry a little later tonight.
I am sorry to say that the honeymoon for our primary producers is over. The post-war boom years have ended. We have entered a period of hard slogging. There must be changes in marketing and changes in attitudes towards primary production. It is no longer easy for a primary producer to earn a dollar. Markets are not readily available. Prices overseas are not particularly buoyant or even economic. We must adopt new attitudes towards primary production. In this regard the Government has the reins of control throughout the Commonwealth and must make the necessary adjustments.
When one looks at individual sections of primary industry one feels very sad to see the difficulties that are piling up. 1 hope that the people of the cities of this country will have some sympathy for the primary producers in the difficulties that they face. The storm clouds are definitely gathering over the heads of Australia’s primary producers. At a time when millions of people throughout the world are starving to death daily it is crazy to say that the problem is one of over-production. The problem is rather one of underconsumption. There is insufficient buying power in the hands of consumers, especially in Asian countries, to enable them to purchase the foodstuffs now piling up in Australia and other primary producing nations. Governments and we as a people fail when we cannot solve the problem of getting the food produced on our farms to the people who need it to keep body and soul together. We can do a lot of other things today. We can send satellites around the earth. We can perform miracles of technology and science. We are very adept in the use of computers. But we cannot yet solve the problem of getting food to the people who need it most. Australia is essentially a food-producing nation. With our wheat, dairy products, fruit, meat, sugar, oats, barley, vegetables and fish we feed the people of many countries.
Rural industry in Australia will remain primary - in first place - for decades to come even in volume of exports and in overseas earnings in spite of the breathtaking mineral, oil and gas discoveries now being made. I stress this. Rural industry will remain primary for decades to come in spite of these fabulous discoveries and this new earning capacity that has been thrust upon this nation in the great explosion over the last few years. Primary industry is responsible still for earning 70% of our export income. Today, 995,000 people are living on rural holdings and are dependent on them. Hundreds of towns in this country would die if primary production died around them. Vast sections of secondary industry depend for their very existence on rural development and rural activities. Last year, over 1,100,000 units of equipment and machinery were built by Australian secondary industries for our Australian farmers.
The rural industries therefore must be protected. They must be subsidised. They must be stabilised. They must be financed. They cannot be allowed to decline or the nation will suffer disastrously with the Australian economy going into a severe tailspin if not suffering an economic Dunkirk. So, it is up to governments, State and Federal, to make sure that they do everything in planning arrangements, in finance assistance, stabilisation schemes and the like to keep our primary producers solvent. It is our very life blood that we are dealing with when we are dealing with primary production.
Let me refer to some of the problem industries. I refer in particular to the dairy industry. The Government intends to bring down a plan to try to force out - well, voluntarily - the little man who is on an uneconomic holding and to sell his land to neighbours and the like. A number of difficulties arise in relation to this proposal. There are a lot of dangers in it. We on this side of the House have not yet formulated our attitude in its entirety to the scheme. But I would like to say two things about it. The large subsidy of $27m that we are paying each year to the dairy industry must remain. But I believe that we have reached the stage where we will have to put a limit of 12,000 lb on the amount of butterfat that will attract the subsidy. Every lib of butterfat produced over that figure will have to take the risk of market prices.
The second suggestion that I want to make is this: We need to reduce the price of butter if we are to save butter in this fight against margarine. There are two practical suggestions. I am quite sure that we can beat margarine in every way if the price of butter is lowered a little. The Government has to adjust the price of butter so that the dairy farmer does not suffer because of that reduction. If the price of butter is lowered, a lot more butter will be sold. This is one important way to solve this overproduction and other problems facing butter today as far as our home market is concerned.
The woo] industry is in trouble and is seeking a statutory authority. We on this side of the House are completely in favour of such an authority. We will introduce such an authority when we become the government in Canberra. The sugar industry is in trouble. The peas and beans industries in my State are facing trouble now and will face further trouble in the next 12 months because of competition from New Zealand. The fruit industry is in difficulties. A stabilisation plan is being prepared by our party to try to help to stabilise the fruit industry.
Finally, in this section of my speech, I wish to refer to cheese. The price of cheese has suddenly taken a tailspin in England from 265s sterling to 225s sterling per cwt. England will announce shortly stringent import quotas on cheese similar to those already in existence for butter. A quota of 8,000 tons has been suggested for Australia in secret negotiations. Australia exports approximately 17,981 tons of cheese to England. This export will be reduced to 8,000 tons* by the proposed quota system.
– How secret were these negotiations?
Mr DUTHIE All the details are not available but we know that the negotiations are going on. We will not be surprised if an announcement is made shortly in this respect. The present critical situation in Britain - a situation which has forced a drop in cheese prices - is the result of a swing to cheese in many major dairying countries over the last 5 years. Britain, France, the Netherlands and the United States of America, as well as Australia, have greatly boosted their cheese output in the face of narrowing butter markets. In fact, twothirds of Britain’s cheese imports are currently of cheddar, the variety exported by Australia. In the past, Australia has been the third largest supplier of cheese to Britain. But because our share of total imports is Jess than 10%, we do not carry as much weight in the cheese arena as we do regarding butter. Britain is by far Australia’s largest export cheese market. In 1967-68, Britain took 17,981 tons out of exports totalling 32,895 tons or 53% of our cheese exports. If this quota system is introduced and if there is a big reduction in Britain’s imports of Australian cheese, another trouble will be added to the already overburdened and problem-hounded dairy industry.
I wish to deal with the fishing industry. This industry has had a very chequered history in Australia. We now see in the north the scramble to get rich quick from prawn fishing. 1 wish to quote to the Committee a few facts to show the magnitude of this industry. I am sure these remarks will not be out of place. In the Hobart ‘Mercury’ of 6th September it was reported that what is purported to be one of the world’s largest prawning grounds is threatened by overseas prawners. In the Darwin area, seven companies with dozens of ships and hundreds of employees and with factories on shore are trying to exploit the richest prawning grounds in the world. Of these companies, four are Australian-owned, while three of them are jointly owned with Japan. One of these companies is spending millions of dollars on building a factory in Darwin. In fact, four 100-ton ships and three other ships are being converted for this work. We are using Japanese crews and ships ‘but under an agreement with the Commonwealth Government these would be phased out for Australian ships and crews within 5 years’. By that time there may not be any prawns left. That is an outline of the development that is taking place up there.
Mr G. N. Blundell, a Taroona boatowner will be the first of several Tasmanian fishermen expected to try the high paying prawn industry in the Gulf of Carpentaria. I quote this fact from the Hobart ‘Mercury’ of 3rd September. The report goes on to state that Mr Blundell had said on 2nd September that he planned to rig out his boat ‘Melport’ to try prawn fishing which had yielded catches worth up to $50,000 for 5 months work. So, the Committee can see that this is a new giant as far as big fisherman are concerned. Mr Blundell said that an American double-rigged steel trawler had come 10,000 miles from the Gulf of Mexico to enter the prawn fishing industry in the Gulf of Carpentaria. These facts demonstrate the magnitude of the industry up there and the need for Commonwealth control over such ‘invasion forces’. 1 agree with the honourable members who have suggested that we should have an Australian fisheries council or an Australian fisheries commission. In Canberra last week a meeting was held of Commonwealth and State Ministers interested in the fishing industry. 1 understand that the establishment of an Australian fisheries council is being investigated by the Government. Such a council might operate in the way in which the Australian Agricultural Council does. The establishment of such a council would be an excellent improvement in this scattered, haphazard industry. Its purpose would be to co-ordinate fishing enterprises around Australia and, further, it would authorise the Commonwealth to subsidise the processing of fish, to assist in the marketing of it and to subsidise the construction of boats up to 100 tons.
There are three matters concerning the States in addition to the overall coordination programme that I wish to mention briefly. The first is the need for regular patrolling of the new and expanded Commonwealth fishing zone. This extends out to the 12-mile limit now. At present such patrolling is carried out haphazardly. This is exercised on a trial basis by the Navy, which is not interested in it anyway. The Navy deals mainly with the intrusion of foreign vessels. Tasmania is seeking adequate patrolling ships in the south of the island where the Japanese are operating at present. I suggest that a Commonwealth patrol division should be established and built up into a strong patrolling force for the whole of the Australian coastline. This force would be independent of the Navy and would relieve the Navy of the very obnoxious job that it is doing at present.
Secondly, the enforcement of Commonwealth fishing regulations in respect of Australian nationals within the 12 miles limit is also important. At present the Commonwealth uses State ships and reimburses the States for the use of these ships at the rate of $4 for each licence issued to a fisherman and $4 for a boat. This has been unchanged since 1958 and the States want the reimbursement increased because costs have risen in the years since it was first granted. The States also want the Commonwealth to provide new vessels of 50 feet to 60 feet for this work. This would give a boost to the ship building industry in Australia. They also want permission to charter aircraft when necessary.
Thirdly, the States are pleased that the Commonwealth is considering matching the expenditure of the States on fisheries research. The States raise money from the fishing industry for research and the Commonwealth is considering matching this expenditure. Tasmania spends $45,000 a year on fisheries research. The industry would be given a big boost if the Commonwealth provided a similar amount, but the States do not want such matching grants to be taken off the amounts that are at present granted to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation for intensive fishing research.
– 1 support the appropriation of $73m for the Department of Primary Industry. This amount is little enough for a department that has such a tremendous influence on our great primary industries. I stress again, as I have before, the importance of our primary industries and the significance of the export income they earn. Our standard of living depends upon the export earnings of the primary industries, and this also enables us to buy equipment, machinery and raw materials to keep many thousands of our Australians in work. Again, as the circle goes around, the salary and wage earners in this country are the best customers of our primary producers and help to keep our primary industries solvent. When we slop to think, we must admit that the rural industries are Australia’s greatest asset. When the ballyhoo and the noise about the great mineral developments subside - 1 do not deprecate these discoveries - and when the great inflow of capital tapers off as it must, the Treasurer, the Government and the people will again cry out to our primary industries to increase their production. The cry will be for the farmers to grow more wheat, for the primary industries to become more efficient and for them to earn more income on foreign markets. After all, our primary industries provide our basic economic strength and always have done. Those who live in the cities depend on them for their jobs, for their economic prosperity and for their livelihood.
In the land we have an asset unequalled anywhere in the world; but we must do a great deal yet to develop its full potential. We have vast areas of fertile land that we have not yet been able to develop because of a lack of transport, water and communications. It is essential that our primary industries be supported to the full extent that is necessary, not only to enable them to continue to produce and to maintain their production but also to enable them to expand. Unless we expand our export income we cannot maintain our standard of living and we cannot develop this nation. The prosperity of our country towns, of course, depends upon our primary industries. But the prosperity of our great cities and of the whole nation depends on the ability of our primary industries to survive, to develop and to increase their production.
The Department of Primary Industry has a tremendous influence on the ability of our primary industries to develop and to market their products. The Department has a multitude of boards, research committees and organisations, associated with it. Anybody who knows anything about rural industries will admit that the successful management of a rural industry or business has become a very complex matter. Today we must diversify. That has been proven over and over again. But diversification of our rural industries and the management of rural properties require a great deal more ability and imagination than is used in many city businesses. The man engaged in rural industry must be an expert in many activities. He must be something of an agronomist and a veterinary officer or he must at least have a good knowledge of stock diseases and stock management. He must be a competent mechanic or his plant will not continue to function. He must have a fair knowledge of engineering, because frequently if he waits for the engineer to do a job he will lose his harvest. He must make repairs on the spot. He does all this pretty efficiently. He must be able to plan and to cost. If he cannot do this he will not, with all his knowledge and skill, be a successful farmer. In this modern day, with the tremendous development of agriculture and the application of scientific knowledge, we are facing something in the nature of a revolution on our farms. The management of a property today is a highly skilled operation. It would be far beyond the ability of many professional men and many so-called successful city businessmen.
The Bureau of Agricultural Economics is administered by the Department of Primary Industry. I do not need to stress the value of the Bureau. For many years it has compiled surveys on the property in which I am interested. It has done surveys on many properties in the district and has been able to give considerable help to the keen, progressive man. It has been able to make a comparison of his returns, his carrying capacity per acre, his return per acre and his return on capital and in this way has be;n able to give him an idea of where he is going. The Bureau has been able to help the keen man to fill in the gaps that he may not have been able to fill in himself.
Then we have the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony), who is Chairman of the Australian Agricultural Council. The Council consists of the Ministers for Agriculture of the various States. I do not suppose there is any more important body in this nation than the Australian Agricultural
Council, because our whole economy is tied up with the ability of our primary industries to earn our export income.
As I said, a multitude of boards comes under the Department of Primary Industry. Sometimes I wonder whether we are not being a little miserable with our money when we see the importance of the work of these boards and the variety of them. We have a dried fruits board and a canned fruits board, a dairy produce board, research boards, a honey board, a potato board, a tobacco board and a wine board, which also is earning tremendous dividends for us today. But then we have even more important boards and they are the ones that really help to bring in our export income. I mention first the Australian Meat Board. It may not be first in importance but perhaps it is first in potential. We already have markets for meat and we have potential markets. Our markets for meat must grow. At the moment we have a problem with over production and this has arisen from the drought. However, there is a tremendous potential for meat. For instance, a few years ago the Japanese would not eat meat. We were told they did not like the smell of mutton. But today Japan has become our best customer for mutton. This shows the potential. Mutton, of course, is our greatest meat product, but beef, too, is almost as important and a good deal easier to sell. Beef is becoming even more important to us.
But we must go out looking for more markets. We must look for markets in Asia and in South East Asia. The people in these areas, like the Japanese, will eat meat when they can afford to buy it. Individually they may not have much money, but there are millions of them. I once told the Crookwell potato growers that if they could sell every Chinaman one potato a month they would not be able to grow enough potatoes to supply the market. There is a growing potential in Asia and South East Asia for our produce. While the standard of living there is rising slowly, it is rising, and we have here a tremendous opportunity to develop a market for all of our products. People must eat, and the great need of the world is protein. I believe there is tremendous poten tial for the exploration and development of new markets. The American market has grown immensely in the last few years. However, we have problems in that regard and, there again, the Department of Primary Industry has come to the fore. Honourable members who read the newspapers will have noted that the Department sent a veterinary officer to America to overcome the difficulties being experienced in that country. The Americans by one means or another, are trying to stop us sending our meat to that market.
The Australian Wheat Board has done a tremendous job. Honourable members should not forget that the consumers in Australia are still in debt to the wheat growers. Figures have proved this conclusively. 1 pay a tribute to the Minister for Primary Industry, who has done a tremendous job for the wheat growers. When the wheat growers realise what the Minister has done they will go down on their knees and thank him for it. There is a difficult and dangerous time ahead because of overproduction and the world grains agreement might easily break down. I say again that the Minister has done a tremendous job for the wheat growers and they are gradually beginning to realise it. The Australian Wheatgrowers Federation is coming out more strongly on the side of the Minister.
The Australian Wool Board also comes within the responsibility of the Minister. No primary industry has greater problems to overcome at the moment than has the wool industry. This applies particularly to wool growers in the western areas. They have great difficulty in lifting their production. It has been a lot easier for us in the inside areas. I know that there is a tremendous variation in the returns on wool. I have seen reports on this by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, and I have seen the variations. In my own district I have seen returns of from 15% to. 18% on capital on some of the best farms and returns of 2% on some of the less efficient properties. Greater attention will have to be paid to efficiency, we will have to use all the latest methods.
– Hear, hear!
Mr PETTITT I do not think the honourable member would know much about this. We have to use modern methods wherever possible. I believe there are now greater opportunities for primary producers to use contract teams. This practice is being adopted in many districts today. Skilled teams of men do the shearing, the crutching, the mulesing, the lamb marking and the drenching, and they can do it much more efficiently than the station hands. Good teams of men can be built up. I know from experience that this can cut costs. These are the sorts of things we should develop. I believe that wool has a future. Fine wool in particular, and the better wools, already are taking their place as prestige materials. Standards of living throughout the world have risen and are rising. This will also raise the demand for a prestige material like wool. We must remember that wool growing is still our greatest industry and that 95% of our production is exported. We must develop and look after our overseas markets.
Another problem to be faced is the training of our shearers. I have been promoting this idea for many years now. Shearing schools should be set up throughout the country. Woo! is Australia’s greatest export earning industry, yet we have never thought it important enough to train our shearers and to give them a diploma or some other qualification. This is a highly skilled occupation. At the moment the Federal Government is holding out against this idea. The State governments, the Departments of Technical Education and everybody else are on side to start a shearing school at Cootamundra to demonstrate what can be done. We are waiting for the Commonwealth Government to include this project in the technical training scheme. 1 believe, however, that this plan is very close to fruition.
We must develop wool marketing plans. We must improve our product. In this regard I pay a tribute to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation for the work it has done. It has increased the standard of our wool, meat and other primary products. It has done a tremendous job. I pay tribute also to the Department of Primary Industry and the Minister. I particularly pay a tribute to the senior officers of the Department and to the Secretary of the Department, Mr Maiden. These men are dedicated. They have a thorough knowledge and a thorough grip on the problems. As one makes more and more contact with the officers of the Department one learns to respect them even more. I have very much pleasure in supporting the appropriation for the Department of Primary Industry. I think it could well have been much more substantial than it is.
– In my remarks on the estimates for the Department of Primary Industry I want to refer particularly to the fisheries in our northern tropical waters. Recently a great deal of emotion has been stimulated or simulated about the ‘Van Gogh’ episode. The simple fact - and it is a disgraceful fact - is that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Japan have spent more in discovering and developing Australia’s marine resources than Australian governments themselves have spent. Despite the fact that we have the longest navigable coastline in the world and some of the richest fishery and prawning resources in the world, we import well over half the fish which we consume. The ‘Van Gogh’ episode was a dramatic exploitation for everybody to see but the same exploitation has gone on unheeded and unhindered for years throughout the northern part of our continent in respect of our mineral and cattle lands.
What has been the reaction of the Government to these episodes in our northern waters? On 18th July the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) warned Australian fishermen in the Gulf of Carpentaria to behave themselves. Furthermore, he said this: . . . it would be irresponsible and foolish of us to try to close off the Gulf of Carpentaria, which is 320 miles across.
Such an act would certainly invite challenges from other nations, and we could not withstand these challenges in the International Court of Justice.
Whatever we in Australia may think of hint, there can be no doubt that every country which would be disposed to withstand any assertion of Australian rights would have noted what the responsible Minister said. Professor Tarlo, Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Queensland, when commenting on this statement said:
With Government Ministers making public statements of this nature, Australia does not need enemies.
Five days later the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) announced two decisions. He said:
Recently extra patrol boats have become available to the RAN and these will allow the coverage and frequency of sea patrols to be considerably increased within Australia’s 12-mile exclusive fishing zone … It is anticipated that amendments to Commonwealth legislation will shortly be proposed in order to give the necessary legal powers to control the taking of all sedentary species, including clams, from the continental shelf, including the Reef.
First, 1 shall deal with the patrol boats. On 29th May the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) had given this answer to a question on this subject:
The Navy has taken delivery of six new patrol boats and another eleven will be available before the end of the year. This means that some equipment is available to the Navy to carry out this type of service.
Arrangements are now being made between the Department of Defence and the Department of Primary Industry which will enable the Navy and the Air Force to increase considerably both the range and frequency of their surveillance missions. As time goes on there will be close consultation between the Department of Defence and other interested departments to see what progress is made.
On 9th August, however, Rear-Admiral Crabb revealed that we would need twenty patrol boats in addition to those twenty already planned to mount a permanent patrol over our fishing zone.
I shall now deal with the Prime Minister’s other announcement about pending legislation to safeguard sedentary fisheries. On 26th March the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) had this to say in reply to a question asked by my colleague the honourable member for Leichhardt (Mr Fulton):
We would have power to pass an Act to control fishing for clams and other sedentary fish on the Reef … As far as legislation is concerned, we have power to go further than we have, but whether we would be able to police such legislation is a matter that would not fall within my Department.
Accordingly, I believe it is reasonable to ask: When will the Government act to carry out the Prime Minister’s announcement about naval surveillance over our fishing zones. Our patrol boats on order will perform only half the task according to the Flag Officer commanding the Australian Fleet. When will the Government bring in legislation to protect sedentary fisheries which the Prime Minister promised? The Attorney-General (Mr
Bowen) said 6 months ago that such legislation was within the power of the Commonwealth to enact.
A week ago the Minister for Primary Industry announced that foreign based fishing vessels would not be allowed to enter Australian ports, except in special circumstances. What will this do to deter overseas depredations or ensure Australian development? The ‘Van Gogh’ did not put into any Australian port except to land some stranded Australian seamen. The Japanese fishing fleet rarely puts into Australian tropical ports. The fact is that we have to do something positive, not something negative, to safeguard our resources.
– They were putting into Darwin, actually.
– I intend to say something about the Northern Territory in a moment. It falls within the province of the Minister for the Interior, who interjects. My colleagues and J, particularly the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) and the honourable member for Leichhardt, have been raising the subject of the Reef and the Gulf for some months past by way of amendments to Acts, urgency proposals and a notice of motion which was preliminarily debated on 30th May last and which the Government will not allow to come up for further debate or vote. Fisheries is a developing field of the law. 1 would hazard the opinion that just as dominion over new tracts of land was only conceded to a country if it discovered or settled the land, so dominion over new tracts or uses of the sea will only come to be conceded to a country if it carries out research or development in respect of the sea or its resources.
My colleagues have been raising this matter for years. Six years ago, the former and next member for Herbert, Mr Ernie Harding, in a question upon notice, asked:
Do latest maps published by Japan show the entire Coral Sea and the area down the coast of the Barrier Reef as areas of exploitation to which international law, after proved research and capital outlay, gives rights7 Would it be possible for foreign interests to include the waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria in future maps of this type?
The former Minister for Primary Industry replied in effect that we could control only the area of sea within 3 miles of our coast.
But nothing was done until this year when, quite belatedly, Australia extended the fishing zone to 12 milts from the shore.
Again, in May 1965, my colleague Senator Murphy asked the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), who was then Minister-in-Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research: . . . whether he is aware that scientists from the Soviet Union have been carrying out a survey of biological resources in Australian coastal waters and have recently published some of the results obtained. Those results are now available in Australia. Does the Minister agree that Australia should conduct its own marine biological resources survey? Win the Government consider including for this purpose in the next Budget a great increase in the estimates of the Division of Fisheries and Oceanography of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation? Alternatively would it consider the establishment of an institute of oceanography? Otherwise are we not going to be in the position where we shall have to ask Moscow what our resources are?
Senator Gorton, as he then was, gave exactly the sort of reply to which we have now become accustomed in this place. He said:
The honourable senator has been a member of this Senate long enough to know that matters of policy are not a proper subject for question time, and that applies even more to questions on what the next Budget is likely to contain.
This was sufficient for the Budget of 3 years ago. Nothing has been done since. The Prime Minister, the Minister for Defence and the Minister for Primary Industry have done nothing on the Soviet and Japanese actions which have come to such public attention over the last 3 months, but which my colleagues have been urging on the attention of the Government, the Parliament and the people for years past.
The general principle to be observed, I believe, was well put in July last year by President Johnson at the commissioning of the research ship ‘Oceanographer’. He said:
Under no circumstances, we believe, must we ever allow the prospects of rich harvest and mineral wealth to create a new form of colonial competition among the maritime nations. We must ensure that the deep seas and the ocean bottoms are, and remain, the legacy of all human beings.
In the debate on the Estimates 7 years ago I urged that there should be renewed efforts at the international level to regulate fisheries resources. In fact, at the last meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations, two committees were set up. One was to look into the reservation exclusively for peaceful purposes of the sea bed and the ocean floor, and the sub-soil thereof, underlying the high seas beyond the limits of present national jurisdiction and the use of their resources in the interests of mankind. The other committee was set up to study the technical, economic, legal and other questions which will call for examination before the United Nations establishes a committee on the oceans. These are initiatives which the Australian Government more than nearly any other government has the duty and opportunity to pursue and extend.
Australia is right next to the Indonesian, the Philippine and the Melanesian archipelagoes^ - the largest in the world. All Australia’s trade must go through these archipelagoes. Australia’s fisheries resources are contiguous to theirs. In the Pacific, Japan and the Soviet Union, which are the most enterprising and aggressive fishing nations in the world, are finding new fisheries and exploiting them - not least in our waters. The Minister for Primary Industry has been told what to do. The proceedings of the Australian Fisheries Development Conference which was held in Canberra in February of last year have been published by his Department. The recommendations for northern fisheries included, first, the suggestion that full use should be made of facilities at local ports, especially those established to facilitate the exploitation of mineral resources. The Commonwealth has lent S3. 25m for the development of Weipa. No fishing company can develop fishery installations at Weipa.
Secondly, the recommendations suggested that the results of such research should be published as speedily as possible. The Minister for the Interior told me only 3 months ago that the report on tropical waters around the Northern Territory which had been sought 6 years ago was confidential. The previous Minister for Territories did in fact in 1956 publish a report by Mr Frank Wise on the agricultural, pastoral, water and mining resources of the Territory and in 1960 a report by Professor Forster, the present Minister for the Navy (Mr Kelly) and Dr Williams on the prospects of agriculture in the Northern Territory. Why is it that the Minister for the Interior will not publish a report on the fisheries resources of the Territory which is 6 years old?
Thirdly, the Fisheries Development conference recommended that we should pay subsidy on the construction of suitable vessels. Fishing vessels are often less than 200 tons, and therefore do not qualify for the Australian shipbuilding subsidy.
Lastly, the Conference recommended government development finance and government consortia. Despite this, expenditure from the Fisheries Development Trust Account was last year reduced from $67,000 to 87,800 by a government which sold the Whaling Commission.
In conclusion, I point out that in May 1964 my colleague, Senator Murphy, directed the attention of Senator Gorton, as he then was, to a proposal for a tropical marine biological research station suggested by Senator Dittmer 5 years ago. Senator Gorton told him that the Government had felt that expenditure on such a station was not warranted in view of the need to spend money on research into industrial and agricultural resources. He continued:
Neither could the proposal be given high priority in relation to other studies of Australia’s flora and fauna. There are no changed circumstances to warrant a review of this decision at the present time.
The Australian Universities Commission is still considering a grant for a tropical marine research and training centre under the leadership of a world authority, Professor Cyril Burdon-Jones, at the University College of Townsville. There should be no equivocation about providing such facilities to examine and develop the unexcelled resources of our northern waters.
– We have just heard the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) urge the Federal Government to do something positive to safeguard our fishery resources. I am quite sure that every member of this place and every Australian would want our resources to be safeguarded. But are they in fact ours? The Leader of the Opposition seemed to be begging the question, because this is precisely the point that is in doubt. It was not clear to me whether he was advocating something that could not be sustained in international law. I also propose to speak to the estimates for the Department of Primary Industry, because primary industry today is facing a very real crisis. This crisis has been brought about by two factors - firstly, the cost-price squeeze in Australia and, secondly, the generally depressed commodity prices on world markets. We have constantly been told that the way to beat the cost-price squeeze is to increase both efficiency and production. No doubt that is true, but the primary producer requires more than exhortations to increase production. He requires a solid evidence that the Government realises the importance of primary industry to the Australian economy and realises the difficulties under which it is now operating.
The most welcome evidence of the Government’s recognition is the increased expansion of extension services during the last few years. These services now cost about S3. 5m per annum. I have always maintained that this is by far the most profitable form of government assistance to primary industry, because there is a lamentable lag between the publication of scientific advances and their widespread adoption in the field. For this reason I trust that a substantial proportion of Government aid for extension services will be made available for applied regional research into the most practical and economic methods of introducing new techniques and knowledge. By its very substantial contribution towards wool research and promotion the Government has greatly assisted the wool industry at a time when assistance has never been more needed.
The outstanding achievement of recent years has been the gaining of world-wide recognition for the Woolmark as a symbol of quality and guaranteed performance. There is strong evidence to show now that wool no longer has its price determined solely by the price of synthetic fibres used for comparable purposes. Until very recently each successive fall in the price of synthetic fibres had been followed by a corresponding drop in wool prices. However, wool now commands a premium price above that of synthetics for the first time, and there is no doubt that the International Wool Secretariat’s Woolmark campaign has been responsible. Expert opinion, both here and in the main consumer countries, agrees that there will be a continuing demand for high quality wool for as far ahead as anyone can see. The main worry is to obtain a payable price because, although the close link between the price of wool and that of synthetics has been broken, it cannot be denied that the availability of alternative fibres has made it extremely unlikely that there will be any dramatic increase in wool prices. Therefore, any action to reduce the cost of production is very important indeed. I was particularly pleased with the raising of the superphosphate bounty from $6 to $8 per ton and the inclusion of trace elements in the scheme. This is a direct aid to reducing the cost of production and, in addition, is an encouragement to increase production. It also follows the sound economic principle of subsidising inputs rather than outputs.
In my speech on the Budget I spoke about the effects of tariff protection on the Australian economy and the very considerable influence tariffs have in raising internal costs. I should now like to examine in more detail the effects of tariff protection on the costs of primary industry. There are many factors which finally determine the cost of production of any commodity, but my object will be to show that the effect of tariffs is a very significant factor. I would like to refer to an excellent report brought out by the Australian Wheatgrowers’ Federation on the Australian chemical tariff. I commend this report to any one who is interested in the subject. In my view, the case for the primary producer has never been better put. Amongst other things, it clearly makes the point that the effect of the tariff on primary producers goes far beyond the immediate direct costs involved. For instance, it points out that according to the Bureau of Agricultural Economics the cost structure of the Australian farmer consists of twenty-one main items. Of these, fertilisers and chemicals account for only 2.72% of his total costs. However, a vital fact is that the price of chemicals entered into every single one of the twenty-one items which made up the farmer’s cost structure. The most revealing, and the one with the main impact, was living expenses. I remind honourable members that living expenses are not restricted to primary producers. It is this hidden, pervasive effect of the tariff which must be considered when we are debating this question - not merely the direct costs involved.
For instance, the Vernon Committee considered that the direct cost of tariffs to the wool growing industry would be 8% of its total cost of production. Calculations based on the Brigden report, but with up to date data, give a figure of 10%, and other competent economists put the figure considerably higher than that. In any case, it is clearly established that industries protected by tariff form a sufficiently high proportion of Australian industry to have significantly affected the exchange rate, the level of money wages and, therefore, the cost of production. I know only too well that it is possible to argue endlessly about the cost of production of wool. However, in 1963-64 the Bureau of Agricultural Economics calculated the cost of production in the pastoral zone - the lowest cost of production area - to be 38.7c per lb. Unfortunately, more recent figures than this are not yet available. But since then the index of prices paid by the farmer has increased by approximately 15%, which would make the current cost 44c per lb. Therefore, the effect of tariff on the cost of production of wool, according to the Vernon Committee, would be 3.7c per lb; on the Brigden Committee formula, 4.4c per lb; and according to other economists about 6c per lb. These figures, I remind the Committee, are from the area with the lowest cost of production.
Although it is possible to argue about the exact extent of the influence of tariffs on the primary producer’s costs, it is certain that they reduce his net returns. In country areas not only the primary producers are affected; the prosperity and economic well being of the hundreds of thousands of businessmen and employees in country towns who provide the goods and services required by the primary producer are affected. Anything which reduces the spending power of the primary producer must adversely affect the country towns of Australia. The truth of this statement was dramatically demonstrated during the recent disastrous drought in south-eastern Australia, and I am afraid that the effects will be felt, particularly in the smaller towns, for a long time yet.
I agree that there is not much the Government can do by way of policy about the price of our products on world markets, apart from arguing our case with strength and skill at international conferences, such as the meetings of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the recent sugar agreement meetings in Geneva. I believe that this has been done. But it should be possible to do something about the cost, structure in this country so that encouragement and incentive can be given to the industries which currently provide 68% of our export earnings. We are told that primary industry will continue to have to produce the major portion of our export income in the foreseeable future. I submit, therefore, that there is a clear need for Government recognition that, as a result of deliberate Government policies, these industries are now operating under disabilities which are not suffered by other sections of the community. I sincerely hope that, as in the past, recognition of these problems and action to overcome them will be forthcoming from this Government.
– The discussion before the Committee tonight concerns the estimates for the Department of Customs and Excise, the Department of Primary Industry and the Department of Trade and Industry. Of course, in IS minutes it is virtually impossible to do justice to even one particular facet of any of the major functions of those Departments. For example, I would like to speak on the subject of wheat and the inefficiencies of the cost of production formula which is causing so much of a problem today in the negotiations for a new wheat stabilisation fund. I would also like to speak on such matters as the reluctance or refusal of the Government to increase the bounty on nitrogen while, at the same time, it has given a substantial increase in the subsidy on superphosphate. The main user of nitrogen is the sugar industry, which is in very serious trouble today and which, I thought, might have received more favourable consideration from the Government, particularly with respect to the nitrogen subsidy.
I wish to deal specifically tonight with the sugar industry because I think it is fair to say that the present crisis in the sugar industry is the worst that has been experienced for many a year. The problems associated with the industry and the problems facing the industry are very real. We are entering into a phase now of conducting new negotiations for an international sugar agreement. I hope that nothing I say in this chamber tonight and nothing I say in the immediate future will prejudice in any way the successful negotiation of an international sugar agreement, because I believe that if the negotiations fail the sugar industry will be in a very serious state. The sugar industry has expanded to a degree where this year it will produce in excess of 2.5 million tons of sugar - a quantity which, in itself, is becoming very difficult to sell. When we look at the composition of the markets we realise the precarious position of the sugar industry. There is only one safe market in any true sense of the term, and that is the domestic market. The Australian domestic market now takes only 25% of total production.
Honourable members may ask: What about the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement? Australia is in a precarious position as regards the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement. In recent months in particular, international newspapers have been full of reports about the great wealth of Australia and what a fabulously rich and booming country Australia is. These newspapers are read avidly in ailing and struggling countries, such as the United Kingdom. Can anyone blame observers in the United Kingdom for asking: Why should the British Government continue to pay to Australia, which is a booming country, relatively high sugar prices? We know that this is false. We know it is quite wrong to say that Australia has such a high degree of development and is such a booming country that we no longer have to rely on the United Kingdom for a successful Commonwealth Sugar Agreement.
For many years the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement has been the fundamental backbone of international agreements on sugar so far as Australia is concerned. We must do everything possible to stop these false impressions being created overseas that we in Australia can do without the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement. Similarly, it is extremely important that an international sugar agreement should be successfully negotiated. As I have said, the present negotiations on sugar are the most important negotiations in which this country has been engaged. Today the world price for sugar is down to Stg16 10s per ton.
In real terms of what we can buy in goods and services, this is the lowest price for sugar in any period in our history since sugar has been grown in a major way. Today we are forced to sell sugar on this notoriously unstable market at Stgl6 10s per ton. We have to sell at this price 70% of our total exports, or in excess of 50% of our total production, of sugar. This is the position in which the sugar industry finds itself.
It is easy for me, in this Parliament, to put the blame on the Federal Government or on the Queensland Government or on the Gibbs report. We can look at this matter in this way, but there is no point in doing so. Whether the sugar industry should have expanded or not is a different question. I have always said that in my opinion expansion in the sugar industry should not have proceeded as quickly as it did, but the expansion will prove to be one of the most important steps ever taken with respect to the development of Queensland and the development of the sugar industry. I am certainly arguing against myself at the present time, when we see the position in which the sugar industry finds itself. If an international sugar agreement is negotiated we will have to accept lower quotas. We may have to accept a bedrock quota, for example, of 990,000 tons of sugar. But even if we accept this quota it will still be a very large increase on the quota which was negotiated under the last international sugar agreement, and I think we can be very thankful for that. But we still have to negotiate an agreement.
In this Parliament I have always been somewhat optimistic on certain questions, particularly those relating to development, but I have the gravest misgivings about the way in which things are shaping in the negotiations for a new international sugar agreement. Technically I think we have every chance to get a successful agreement. Technically I can see no serious reason why “we might not succeed in doing so. But politically there are very real problems. The Government has pinned all its hopes on the forthcoming talks on the international sugar agreement. But because of serious political jealousies and the wide difference in ideology between the two major world powers - the United States of America and Russia - tied up with Cuba, which is the world’s greatest exporter of sugar, the chances of a successful conclusion to the present negotiations are very doubtful. Whether we like it or not, sugar is politics, and politics at the highest level in international circles. To solve the world problem of sugar is virtually to solve the political problems of the world and to solve the problems of the different ideologies in the United States, in Russia, in Cuba and in Russian satellite countries, as well as to solve, of course, the economic and political problems of the European Economic Community. These are the kinds of problems we must try to solve if we are to negotiate a successful International Sugar Agreement
Every person in this Parliament who knows anything about sugar and the value of the sugar industry to Australia must wish the Australian delegation the best of luck, because if it fails the sugar industry is in for a very difficult time. Just as Russia and Cuba have played politics for years with sugar, we now see the United States also indulging in sugar politics. These tactics have intensified since the Czechoslovakian incident. The hard line now being adopted by .the United States of America and also some of the Latin American countries is that the United States will do very little to facilitate improved economic conditions in Cuba or in the Communist countries that may be engaged in the re-exporting of sugar. In my opinion there is a strong possibility that the Americans will try to make sure that the sugar negotiations are strung out until after the presidential elections, when their policy may be a little clearer. Let us not be too concerned with that. The important objective is for the negotiators to come away from the table with a new International Sugar Agreement.
While the present skulduggery continues, with Russia and Cuba, and now the United States, playing politics, Australia, the second biggest exporter of free market sugar in the world, suffers. As I said before, world prices, in real terms, have never been lower. I have mentioned the problems associated with the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement. These, of course, are delicate ones and must be handled with finesse. They are concerned principally with Britain’s application for entry into the European Common Market. They are concerned also with our ability to prove to Britain that we still need her as a major market for our sugar and that Britain needs us as a major market for her goods.
But if the negotiations for an International Sugar Agreement fail, what then? This is a problem that must be faced, but few people are game to talk very much about it. Our production is going up all the time. We cannot cut back too much on production because that would be one of the worst steps we could take, not only economically but also politically as regards the stability of the coastal areas of Queensland. Sugar, unlike wool, wheat and most of the other grains, is a monoculture. There is no substitute for it; you produce sugar or you do not produce it. There is no system of rotation such as applies to wheat and other grains or with wool. The sugar mills are geared to a certain capacity and those mills today are operating efficiently. The farms also are operating efficiently in terms of the use of resources. If we significantly reduce production, including peaks, we may reduce the efficiency of our sugar mills and of our bulk handling facilities. All these involve heavy outlays of capital and any reduction in production could make them inefficient in terms of the present high standards.
The time has already arrived for the Federal Government to constructively intervene in the sugar industry. The welfare of too many people is at stake. The industry provides the economic lifeblood of something like 400,000 or 500,000 people. The State has shown that it is incapable of handling the immense problem involved, with 70% of total exports having to be sold on the world free market. The State has not sufficient resources even to appear to deal with the problem. Only the Federal Government can do it, and that Government may have to do it very quickly. It may have to implement a fundamental stabilisation scheme which would give the cane grower and the miller price stability and, assuming normal seasons, income stability. The industry cannot go on much longer with the present uncertain ad hoc approach, by granting interest bearing loans and leaving cane growers uncertain as to how much cane they will be able to plant and harvest, not knowing what their individual peaks will be in the future, whether they will be cut back tomorrow or later or whether they will be reviewed in a few weeks time, as they are being reviewed now. We must do our best to eliminate all these uncertainties. If the negotiations for a new International Sugar Agreement fail, this Government will have to accept its responsibilities in this field.
(9.17]- The amount appropriated under the heading ‘Administrative’ may not be the heaviest item of expenditure in the estimates for the Department of Primary Industry, but it certainly covers quite a lot of the work which the Department does and which does not appear specifically listed in the expenditure of the Department. I refer to consultative work by the Department with State Ministers responsible for primary industry and agriculture on essential matters such as drought assistance and Commonwealth aid for the relief of drought and other natural disasters. I refer particularly to drought, because the south east corner of New South Wales, with which I am particularly concerned, is almost the only remaining drought area in the State.
An agreement was made between the Commonwealth and New South Wales for certain forms of Commonwealth drought aid which are to cut out on 30th September while other forms continue to 31st December 1968 or 30th June 1969. I understood that the New South Wales Premier had requested the Commonwealth Government to extend these forms of aid beyond 30th September and, if necessary, up to the end of the calendar year, and that this proposal had been rejected on the basis that such aid was no longer necessary for New South Wales. However, in reply to a question of mine on Tuesday of this week the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) made it quite clear that he had received no request from the Premier of New South Wales for the continuation of these forms of drought assistance in specific areas beyond 30th September. The areas I refer to are seven pastures protection districts, five being in the electorate of Eden-Monaro and in fact comprising almost the whole of Eden-Monaro. These are the districts of Eden, Braidwood, Bombala, Cooma and Goulburn. The only other two pastures protection districts in New South Wales which are still declared drought areas are Moss Vale and Cobar.
The seven districts combined - admittedly Cobar makes up a big proportion of the total - have an area equal to roughly half of Victoria.
Since the situation was clarified on Tuesday I asked the State members lor South Coast, Monaro and Goulburn to seek from the Premier a request to the Prime Minister for Commonwealth drought aid for .these specific areas. Officers of the New South Wales Treasury and of the State Departments of Agriculture and Local Government have been in close consultation with the officers of the Commonwealth Treasury and have now, as I understand it, prepared the basis for a request by the Premier. I have also had consultations with the Prime Minister and the Treasurer. The request will be for an extension of Commonwealth drought aid for local government employment, for road transport rebates in respect of stock and fodder, for rail freight rebates in respect of stock, fodder and water, and for advances through the Rural Bank for carry on finance for restocking and for the purchase of fodder through dairy companies in the drought declared areas of Monaro and the South Coast, and also, of course, in the districts of Moss Vale and Cobar, where applicable. As I understand the position from my State colleagues in Eden-Monaro the letter containing the request would have been on the Premier’s desk this afternoon to be signed by him, and I hope that it is now in the mail on the way to Canberra. If we had had rain early in September we could have survived beyond 30th September and we could have looked to a drought breaking spring. I have gone into this subject in some detail to indicate how departments can act, particularly against a background of some recent disagreement between the State and the Commonwealth. It illustrates how quickly the State and the Commonwealth can cooperate when the occasion demands it. I strongly urge the Government and the Minister for Primary Industry to give favourable consideration to the proposition that is coming from the Premier to the Prime Minister. All the reasons that previously made it necessary to provide drought aid in New South Wales apply now with even greater force in the areas I have mentioned.
Another matter that this Department has been actively concerned about, and which has been of considerable controversial interest, is the importation of fat lamb from New Zealand. 1 do not want to relate the whole story but I want to indicate briefly that the tendency is for a considerable decline in these imports, as was predicted by the Department, and not an increase as was predicted by certain people with different political views. Imports for the first 5 months of 1968 stand at about 371 tons. The official figure for New Zealand lamb imports for June was 278 tons. The preliminary figure for July was 117 tons. It is interesting to note that this was a preliminary figure and estimate only. It now appears that the actual! tonnage imported in July was 153 tons. This is still a substantial downward curve from June and, of course, it reflects forward orders. The preliminary estimate for August is 91 tons. Even if this figure varies by a similar percentage from the official figure which will be available later as did the July figures it should still indicate a further downward turn. It would seem that the importers of New Zealand lamb are not doing particularly well and the imports are decreasing.
The fishing industry has occupied the attention of many speakers tonight. The honourable members for Wide Bay (Mr Hansen), Herbert (Mr Bonnett) and Wilmot (Mr Duthie) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) spent considerable time discussing this industry. Earlier this year the honourable member for Perth (Mr Chaney) drew particular attention to the fishing industry and described it as our only indigenous industry and as one deservingof a great deal1 more Commonwealth attention. I take this opportunity to draw attention to some overall aspects of the political and financial organisation of the industry throughout Australia and some particular aspects of the industry on the far south coast of New South Wales, in my electorate of Eden-Monaro. The honourable member for Perth indicated that approximately .9% of the total Australian work force, or about 1.3% of the primary industry work force, is engaged in the fishing industry. These sound like small figures, but I understand that there are 10,000 to 11,000 fishermen. If we add to this number their wives and. dependants it is not an insignificant total.
Incidentally, it is difficult to arrive at the exact number of fishermen because of the number of amateur fishermen who take up professional licences. In addition we have to consider those engaged in the manufacturing, transport and marketing sides of the industry.
Another factor that makes this industry worthy of consideration by the Commonwealth Government - this was emphasised by the Leader of the Opposition - is that we are still! very much a net importer of fish. Our import situation has fluctuated over the years but the tendency has been towards closing the gap between imports and exports and there is good reason to hope that this year we might see that gap finally closed. However, this is nowhere near our target, as we have the potential to become a major exporter of fish and fish products. We have a vast natural resource which we cannot afford to neglect. Our potential exports could be of the value of $10Om per annum. They could be even higher. In the past other countries have harvested more of our fish than we have. The picture is changing and it must be very different in the future. We must help to make it so.
The industry itself is well aware of the problems and of the necessity for organisation on an Australia-wide basis. Earlier this year the Australian Fishing Industry Council was formed. For some years now there has been increasingly closer cooperation between the State Ministers responsible for fisheries and the Commonwealth Government, principally through the Minister for Primary Industry. I believe that the time has come now for an increased formalisation of this co-operation between the Commonwealth and State governments in order to increase its effectiveness. Something along these lines was advocated by the honourable member for Fisher (Mr Adermann) in 1962 when he was Minister for Primary Industry. I do not know all the details but I suspect that there might have been some reluctance on the part of the State governments to become involved too closely with the Commonwealth on this matter. However, I believe that the success of combined talks over the intervening years has now led to a position where the State governments would be much happier to accept, or would even welcome, a greater formalisation of these meetings. We have seen how successful such councils can be in other fields. Councils for many other primary products are listed in the Commonwealth Directory, but for lack of time I will not list them now.
Although we have an effective Fisheries Branch within the Department of Primary Industry although the Department’s administration of Commonwealth policy and control of fishing in extra-territorial waters and its administration of the Fisheries Development Trust Account have been useful, and although there is an increasingly close liaison between the Department and the appropriate State Ministers, there is still as yet no formal machinery. Consequently I would propose the formation of an Australian fisheries council to be chaired by the Minister for Primary Industry and having on it the Minister for External Territories, the Minister for the Interior, the Minister for National Development and the Minister responsible for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, together with the State Ministers responsible for fisheries and a secretary from the Department, of Primary Industry. For the effective working of an Australian fisheries council it would be necessary to establish a standing committee, as has been done in similar councils for other industries. Consequently I would propose the formation of a standing committee on fisheries with representation from each of the State departments responsible for fisheries, the Department of External Territories, the Department of the Interior, the Department of National Development, the Department of the Treasury and the CSIRO, again with a secretary provided from the Department of Primary Industry. In addition, I suggest that the operations of the standing committee would be much more effective if there were representation on that committee from the Australian Fishing Industry Council.
Commonwealth funds to stimulate development of the fishing industry have come from the Fisheries Development Trust Account, established by the Government in 1956 with proceeds from the sale of the Australian Whaling Commission’s station at Carnarvon in Western Australia. Some recent work has been done with funds from the Trust Account in financing a series of lights for the south coast of New South
Wales from Jervis Bay to Eden, using a radiation thermometer to detect sudden drops in the ocean surface temperature. These observations of surface temperature help to establish the presence of temperature barriers in the water, and as honourable members will know, tuna will stop at a barrier of 60 degrees Fahrenheit. This has proved to be effective, and obviously the Commonwealth could use not only this money but other funds in equally effective ways, one of which could be to finance for about $100,000 a purse seine net either for the New South Wales Government, which is building a boat to be launched, I think, in October, complete with a laboratory and the ability to do fishing research, or for one of the fishers at Eden. Councillor Frank Clare of Eden, Manager of the Kraft factory there, assures me that this equipment could be fully utilised to explore the use of purse seining for tuna.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Fox) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I do not know of any time when our primary industries have been in such a sorry plight as they are today. On Tuesday night last week I was invited to attend a meeting of farmers at Edith Creek in the far north western corner of Tasmania, accompanied by Mr G. A. Wilson, Manager of the Duck River butter factory. The meeting was convened by Mr Porteus, President of the Edith Creek branch of the Tasmanian Farmers Federation. The Federation is affiliated on a national scale with the Australian Primary Producers Union. Mr Wilson and I expected 10 or 12 farmers to attend the meeting, but 95 packed into the hall. The number of people who travelled from Detention, along the eastern part of the area from Marrawah, Redpa and the very rich dairying districts of Circular Head to come to Edith Creek last Tuesday night emphasised that these people are very concerned about the plight of the industry. They have been advised that the initial payment this year for butterfat will be 39c per lb compared with 41c paid last year. This year’s payment will be the lowest they have received for their product since 1951. It is all very well for the
Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) to say, as he is reported to have said at a meeting of dairy farmers in Victoria, that over the years manufacturers in Tasmania and Victoria have set a too high initial payment and that this has led to the trouble now facing the industry. I do not think that statement is quite fair. The people who set the price to the farmers take everything into consideration. The manufacturers could not take a gamble this year, expecting an increase during the season because of equalisation. Many men in Tasmania, Victoria and elsewhere feel that the underwritten guarantee given by the Commonwealth of 34c per lb for commercial butter will have to be met by the Government because of the difficulty experienced in disposing of our products on overseas markets.
I do not want to traverse this subject too thoroughly at this stage because in the debate on the Budget I referred to the difficulties confronting the dairy farmer, but I would like to refer briefly to some of the problems confronting the industry. Since 1961 price support programmes in countries of the European Common Market amounting to the equivalent of $700m have increased milk production tremendously. Whereas some 5 years ago these countries held in cold storage about 100,000 tons of butter annually, towards the close of last season they held 160,000 tons and this year they will hold 260,000 tons. Statisticians tell us that by 1972 about 750,000 tons of butter will be held in cold storage by Common Market countries. We know that the Danes are dumping butter anywhere in the world at 22c per lb. In France last week butter was selling for about 75c per lb, and the French are offering it anywhere in the world at 26c per lb. Whereas Australia with its $27m subsidy scheme subsidises butter to the extent of about 6c per lb, other countries are prepared to subsidise it by up to 40c per lb in order to sell it wherever they can. So we face a big problem but it will become even bigger if and when England goes into the Common Market, because we will then have to find an alternative outlet for about 70,000 tons of our butter.
Today I asked the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) what plans the Government had to offset the decline in butter sales in this country of 10% in the last 6 or 7 weeks, due to the heavy impact caused by Stork margarine. I point out that on the home market, which is our best market, we get the highest price for butter - about 50c per lb compared with 25c per lb on the British market. All that the Minister could say was that butter producers are getting ic per lb for promotion purposes at the point of sale. He said that the Government would do something about this. This is not good enough.
When England was thinking of entering the Common Market there was a proposal to diversify milk products so that we did not have all of our eggs in the one basket - the butter basket. But the price of milk powder has dropped from $270 a ton last year to $170 a ton in April this year and now it is even below that figure. 1 understand that Argentina, which has suffered a drought, has tendered around the world for 4,000 tons of milk powder. This has been supplied by the United States at $60 a ton. How can we continue in this industry when in Victoria alone 26,000 tons of milk powder are in store and it is being peddled all over Australia at $10 below the price that any other State can offer? How can we continue in the face of cut-throat competition from other States? In addition we are meeting fierce competition from overseas, as witness the ridiculously low tender price of $60 a ton which Argentina took up. It is obvious that production of milk powder must be brought quickly within the equalisation scheme. When milk powder was being used in South East Asia in combination with butter oil and sugar and was bringing big prices, manufacturers were interested in its production. They were getting more then than they could get under the equalisation scheme. But something has to be done now because people who are manufacturing milk powder are likely to switch this season to casein. If this happens the overseas markets will be wrecked because casein has dropped from $520 a ton to §400 a ton and will drop still further if people who up to the present have been using milk products for the manufacture of milk powder suddenly want to get into the casein market. As the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie) has said, cheese is in a similar plight. I understand that the quota for the United Kingdom is fixed not at 9,000 tons but at
8,000 tons. If I am wrong I would like to be corrected. This quota is based in the United Kingdom, I understand, on our exports over the last 3 years. Where we fell down is that in one of these years some of our cheese was transhipped to Japan and a lot of it was diverted into the Japanese market. The authorities in the United Kingdom averaged these imports over a 3-year period. We missed out because of our performance in 1 year. So, our exports of cheese to Great Britain are down to about 8,000 tons this year.
It is estimated that Australia will produce this year some 72,000 tons of cheese. Sales within Australia will account for 36,000 tons. The United Kingdom market will take 8,000 tons. Other markets, including Japan, will receive about 15,000 tons. This will leave a surplus of between 13,000 and 15.000 tons. 1 want to know from the Government what provision it has made for cold stores to hold this surplus. I understand that the next ship to call in my electorate for these products will not arrive until Christmas. I do not believe that enough cold stores are to be found in this country to hold the surplus production this year. I ask the Government: What provision has been made to meet this situation? Our imports rise by 10% every year. This is something that the Government must consider.
Let me refer now to cheese imports and the duties on them. Australia imported about 4,300 tons of cheese last year. The duty payable on imports of cheese needs reviewing. When the duty was set in 1929, it was fixed at half the cost of the product. Although the cost and the value of the product have gone up tremendously in the years since 1929, the duty still stands at that figure, which is ridiculously low. Today it is about 5c per lb. If the position concerning cheese is to be corrected, those two matters should be looked at. The first is the duty on cheese imports. The second is the query that I have raised as to what the Government intends to do about the vast surplus of cheese that we will have in Australia towards the end of this season.
I have referred to certain pressures that are affecting our primary industries. I have indicated, for instance, the price support programme in the European Common
Market and the common milk price that was set in that area of the world. I have referred to the vast world surplus in certain products and to the intolerable and chaotic market conditions in the dairy industry where producers are competing at cut throat prices. This state of affairs occurs not only in Australia. Our own people even are going overseas to compete against themselves. All those factors have forced manufacturers to set a price of 39c per lb for butter in Tasmania and I believe that the price is similar in Victoria. Manufacturers felt that they just could not take the gamble and expect any step-ups during the year. It is for this reason that experts in the industry believe that for the first time the Government will be called upon to underwrite the price of 34c per lb commercial butter.
Another matter about which I wish to protest, and protest very strongly tonight, is the decision of the Commonwealth Government to allow 1,500 tons of potatoes to be imported from New Zealand for the potato crisps processing industries. This is entirely wrong. This was against the decision which, 1 understand, was made in July by the Australian Agricultural Council. A decision was taken at that meeting not to allow into Australia any potatoes from New Zealand. These imports are detrimental to the interests of potato growers in Tasmania as well as to the Australian potato industry generally. Although the Tasmanian Government on 5th August of this year protested to the Commonwealth Government about this matter, nothing has been done about it. Only early this week, the first shipment of these potatoes came through the port of Devonport. They were inspected there on their way to Melbourne to test out the Australian market. I understand that the potatoes were inspected by a man who has had a lifetime interest in the potato industry. The inspection showed that they may not be suitable for processing because of deep set eyes and certain other defects in them. But these potatoes will be pushed out on to our local markets. This is something that will affect the growers in my area.
We have been sold down the drain - I say it again and again and again - by this Government and by the Country Party through the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) as a result of the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement. We have been sacrificed. Growers of peas and beans in my electorate are in a worse position now than ever before despite the pleas of the industry to the Government to defer just for 2 years, this drop of 20% as from 1st January 1969 because we are already going to meet with a 20% drop as a result of the effects of devaluation in New Zealand. In fact, our people will be at a 40% disadvantage.
In the month of May this year, 1 million lb weight of peas came into this country. This is four times the amount that came in during the whole of 1966-67. We fear that the next year will be the year when we will see a huge inflow of peas. I am very reliably informed that one of our processors is already thinking of taking the plant out of his factory, going to New Zealand, setting it. up there, leaving behind only the shell for us to look at. This is a very important cash crop for the people in northern Tasmania. If the dairy industry is in trouble - and it is - and if we face problems because of the New ZealandAustralia Free Trade Agreement, why is the Government allowing these potatoes to come in and so put us in a worse position? It costs my people $22 per ton to get their potatoes to Sydney. But potatoes can be brought from New Zealand for $20 per ton. The New Zealand producers are happy to make $40 per ton on their potatoes and will1 sell them at $60 per ton. This is nowhere near a satisfactory price for my people. We are in trouble. It is reliably expected in my State that many of those marginal farmers who rely on the potato industry and potato growing as a cash crop will be in serious difficulties this year.
As I said when I commenced my speech, the primary industries of Australia are in a very, very serious condition. I have been connected with primary industries in Tasmania for some time. 1 say that this is the worst experience that primary producers have had. I have never seen farmers so dejected. This applies particularly to the young chaps who have come into the industry and who are committed .to buying plant and equipment. These young men have been expanding and have had to go to the Commonwealth Development Bank, with interest rates of 6%, or into the various insurance companies for extra money. I have never seen them so dejected and so worried about the future as they are at the present time. This Government must do something about these problems fairly soon in order to inject some confidence back into this very important industry.
– When 1 spoke during the debate on the Appropriation Bill, I dealt with the future of primary industries. As we honoured an agreement made with the Whips and the Leader of the House (Mr Snedden) to cut down the amount of time spent in delivering those speeches, 1 wish to continue my remarks on those matters now. When only IS minutes are available to discuss the estimates of the Department of Customs and Excise, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Primary Industry, it is hard to know just what to deal with. It is hard to know what to go on to, whether to reply to what the previous speaker had to say or to add to some of the sentiments that he has expressed. I shall leave the latter to the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon), who is at the table.
I wish to continue to speak on the question of one of our major primary industries. This is the wheat industry. Surely, outside the question of Australian defence we must rate the wheat industry or our major primary industries as being matters well worth discussion by this Committee. 1 wish to refer particularly to the reference in the Estimates to the appropriation for wheat research. Expenditure in this respect last financial year was $633,065. This year the amount to be paid into the relevant trust account has risen to $lm. A quick mental arithmetic calculation reveals that this represents an increase of about 50% in the amount of Commonwealth funds provided for wheat research.
Already in this phase of research, tremendous strides have been made. I can refer quickly to such things as disease resistance in respect of which great advances have been made. The height and strength of straw do not mean much to a number of people but it means a lot in regard to the quantity that goes into the holds of ships and to the quality of the product - that is, wheat - when it gets to its destination. A great amount of work has been done regarding the yield of wheat varieties. Research also has concentrated on freedom from shedding and milling quality with particular emphasis on protein and gluten content. This is the type of work being carried out.
Tremendous work has been done on the development of early maturing wheats. This development in wheats has led to later sowings and shorter growing periods. Many good points result from this research which is of assistance to our national income.
On the subject of breeding, it is a fact that we have been looking for better wheats, particularly better dry area wheats. There has been a great concentration of work on this matter. Anybody who has taken an interest in wheat will pay a compliment to Dr Pugsley for all the work that he has done on this branch of the subject. But now there is a change in emphasis when we talk of wheat breeding. We see more emphasis, and there needs to be more still, on experimentation with irrigation wheats. This is the result of advances made in water conservation. Some of us believe that these advances have not gone far enough, but at least there has been some development. Further efforts will go into the development of better types of irrigation wheats.
A revolution has taken place in this country in the fertilising of the ground. This has happened in the past 20 years, in the post war years. The Government realised the importance of fertilisers many years ago and introduced one of the best business arrangements that has ever been adopted. I spoke about this matter during the debate on the Budget. I refer to the superphosphate bounty. The return from this bounty will be far more than was ever spent on it. The Government has shown its awareness of the need to encourage the use of fertilisers by introducing the bounty for nitrogenous fertilisers. It has also paid a bounty on sulphuric acid for many years. Every man who is in primary production knows that the soil must be fed. Here we see a difference between the man who is making his living from primary production in the true sense - that is, producing something from the ground - and the quarry man or miner. The primary producer knows that he cannot always take the nutrient value from the soil. I cannot place sufficient emphasis on this point. We seem to be very much attached to the future of mining and minerals. We really welcome all the mineral discoveries, but let us realise that when we develop our mineral resources we cannot put back into the ground what we take out of it. Once we quarry iron ore or bauxite or extract a barrel of oil, it is gone and cannot be replaced. The man on the land knows that if he goes on taking the strength out of the soil he will pay in the end. The old, conventional farmer - he does not need to be very old; he goes back only to the war years - would be truly staggered to see the yields we get from the land nowadays through the developments that have taken place. There are many reasons for the increased yields. I have just been speaking about plant breeding and research. There is also the use of pasture improvement on a big scale, the introduction of legumes and the building up of the nitrogen level in the soil.
I mention these developments because they lead me to the very vexed question of the control of wheat production. Already people are talking about controlling or restricting the production of wheat. They are talking about it in Government circles and amongst the growers and producers. Of course, many economists are giving us the benefit of their wisdom, or their lack of wisdom. However, I would like to put before the Committee the thought that we live in a hungry world. We are constantly being reminded of this fact by the Food and Agriculture Organisation and it seems trite to keep harping on it. But the point is that any decision to restrict the production of wheat or any foodstuff must be justified in the eyes of the hungry people throughout the world. Those who speak in terms of the restricted production of wheat mainly speak from fright. They should speak rather in terms of a balance between production on the one hand and world needs on the other hand. It is not many years since people, when speaking about wheat and rice, said that wheat could not be sent to Asia. When asked why, they said that anyone in an Asian nation needed only a handful of rice and a little salt, that if we gave him wheat we would have to teach him how to use it. how to grind it into flour, and we would have to give him a stove. How wrong they were. Just look at the quantities of wheat going into Asia now and the quantities that will continue to go there.
We have seen the same sort of development in the sale of beef. The honourable member for Hume (Mr Pettitt) spoke about the sale of mutton to Japan. There was a time when beef was seen in Japan only in the exclusive restaurants. Then it became available right throughout food distribution centres and is gradually getting into the homes. This type of development has occurred and there is room for expansion in the future. It may not be dramatic but it is there.
People who speak about the difficulties of selling primary produce to Asia overlook the improving standard of living that is occurring in other countries just as it is occurring here. Before anyone talks in terms of control, he should make a very careful assessment of the position not only in Australia but in the world as a whole, in making such an assessment, several laws must be kept in mind. The first one, and a very good one that will not be overlooked by those who live with it, is the law of nature itself. Nature cannot be controlled by man. Old man drought has shown this. It is not many years since wheat was imported into New South Wales from another State because it did not have enough wheat to meet its requirements. This could happen again at almost any time. The second law is the law of good management and the place of cereals in the normal rotation of crops. Some people think that the farmer grows crop after crop of wheat because there is something in it. But <t is all part of a rotation that has been demonstrated to us by the experts who study the effect of such methods. Crop rotation is part of the process of pasture improvement and is one point that must be considered. The third law, and a very important one, is the economic law of supply and demand and the law that deals with the ability of other people to pay. The question of aid from wealthy countries to those in need also arises. In all our calculations we must consider the International Grains Agreement, which came into being on 1st July. I mention two points here. They should be kept constantly in mind. The first point is that the Agreement lasts for 3 years and no more. After 3 years we must go through the big process of negotiation again. The second point is that any agreement of this type is only as good as the signatories will allow it to be. We should keep in mind what happened to sugar.
How do we regulate all these things? We should realise that there are bound to be violent fluctuations in wheat whatever we do. This is brought about by our inability to assess yields. Acreage can be controlled but it is not possible to assess yields or overseas demand. As a representative of an area where wheat growing is concentrated, let me tell the Committee how I think advances could be made. We must face this problem before very long. The Commonwealth Government, through the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Primary Industry, in liaison with the Australian Wheat Board and through the State Ministers for Agriculture who meet in the Australian Agricultural Council, should ensure that it keeps the whole industry advised of <he world position of wheat and of world forecasts. I lift this responsibility above the level of the Australian Wheat Board, which does a magnificent job. Governments know more than the Board does. They should know what plans they have to give aid to other countries. They should know a little more than the Board does about financial trends and pressures and the part that wheat is intended to play in the overall national economy.
The Government makes a pretty strong point at times of calling on industry to document its case. We have seen this in respect of imports of New Zealand lamb, in respect of submissions to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, and in the case of submissions to the Tariff Board. But with respect to the wheat industry the responsibility should be reversed. I think that the Commonwealth should promptly document its submission to the wheat industry, setting out the basis of its fears about over-production or underproduction. It would then be for the wheat industry, through its organisations - I would prefer to use the singular - to work out its plans. 1 look to the time when the wheat industry will be able to speak with one voice. The Government should be able to present a case to the industry, to warn it, and then leave it to work out what steps it thinks are necessary - for example, control over the areas planted. In short, the Government should warn, the industry should consider, and then the two should confer and arrive at a corrective plan. In this way control over production would remain with the individual member of the industry, where it always should be, and there would be no arbitrary or unilateral action by government in either the Commonwealth or the State sphere.
– I would like to congratulate the honourable member for Calare (Mr England) upon a very temperate and reasonable presentation of the case for rural industry. In this respect he differs from some of his colleagues who have no good word for any industry or any section of Australia other than that in which they are interested.
I want to direct my remarks now to the Department of Trade and Industry. This morning I. addressed to the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) a question about the results of his northern tour, his observations on the ownership of Australia’s mineral resources, and his proposals to correct an alarming situation. He knew the question would come and he had a reply ready. It was a lame and limping one - a most unsatisfactory one. The honourable gentleman went on an election tour. It was to be a Gorton saga. It was to be a triumphal tour. Instead, it became a trail of shame. No national leader has ever seen so much of his country lost without a shot being fired as did the Prime Minister on his inspection of Australia’s mineral deposits. Instead of being a national leader he became a national loss assessor.
Ever since this Government came to office it has made its political stock in trade the panicking of the Australian electorate by an exaggerated presentation of the possibilities of physical aggression while it has completely ignored our defences against economic aggression. The Government has chosen to ignore the fact that, since the end of World War II and the end of the old form of colonialism, you can have economic aggression and exploitation without entering into physical occupation of a country, without sending viceroys, armies of occupation and the like. Today we are in the period of the international corporation. We are in an age of technology. We are in an age when the international corporation can hurdle the ordinary boundaries, the ordinary barriers that are set up in the form of tariff walls, financial restrictions and so forth. 1 have gone deeply into the question of Australian ownership in the projects that are being undertaken at the different points visited by the Prime Minister. In recent years no publicity has been given to the bald facts, to the percentages of the real ownership of the natural mineral and other wealth in northern Australia. The Prime Minister made great play of the fact that at Groote Eylandt the manganese deposits were being operated by an exclusively Australian owned company - Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. As a matter of fact, 85%of that company is Australian owned and the remaining 15% is owned by overseas interests.
The Prime Minister’s first port of call was at Gladstone, in Queensland. He called there to see the alumina refinery and the coal desposits. There we have a magnificent scene. Only 1% of the alumina refinery is owned by Australian shareholders. The major developer of the Moura black coal field - Thiess, Peabody, Mitsui Coal Co. Ltd - is owned 53% by the Kennecott Corporation of the United States, 20% by Mitsui, the great Japanese Company, and only 22% by the Thiess organisation, which is the Australian interest. From Gladstone the Prime Minister went to Weipa. This morning he did not make the slightest reference to the position there. At Weipa, Australia has one-third of the world’s deposits of bauxite, the ore of aluminium. Two thousand million tons of it are being exploited there by Comalco Industries Pty Ltd. This organisation happens to be 921% overseas owned.
Mount Isa had the distinction of receiving a visit from this gentleman. The huge, fantastically wealthy copper deposits there are being exploited by ASARCO. the American Smelting and Refining Company. I contradict the figures given by the Prime Minister this morning in relation to this undertaking. It is owned 54% by overseas interests. The Prime Minister made great play of the position of the Gove Peninsula and the alumina deposits - some 200 million tons - there as contrasted with those that he ignored at Weipa. There is ten times the quantity at Gove. He was pleased to state that the Australian shareholding there was 50%. The operations are being carried out in partnership with Alusuisse the Swiss aluminium company. The right honourable gentleman either did not know or he ignored the fact that the Australian shareholding there is likely to be reduced to 40% in the very near future because the consortium which is in equal partnership at the present time with the Swiss interests does not want to participate fully in the future development.
Undoubtedly after publicity calls at Darwin and Melville Island the Prime Minister, when he got to Dampier, was pleased to see the development there, because it is the outlet port for Mount Tom Price, the daddy of them all and the major producer of iron ore. It certainly must have warmed his heart at that point to know that fully 18% of the shares in Hamersley Iron Pty Ltd were held by Australian owners and that a mere 82% were owned by the Kaiser Steel Corporation of the United States of America and Rio-Tinto Zinc Corporation of the United Kingdom.
During his flight he would have passed over Mount Goldsworthy - which, again, was ignored this morning in his answer to my question - where a full 7%, mark you, of the iron ore deposits are in Australian hands. A mere 66% is owned by the Cyprus Mines Corporation and Utah Construction and Mining Co. of the United States, and the remaining 27% is held by Consolidated Goldfields Ltd of the United Kingdom. To show that Australians still have a little stake in their own country, the Prime Minister also referred to Mount Newman where the extent of Australian ownership is 60%. That is a notable exception which stands out like a beacon in the trail of tragedy of foreign ownership of Australia’s natural mineral wealth. As he swept around Australia his accompanying experts should have told him that of the total of 2,300,000 square miles of the Australian mainland and the continental shelf held under oil and natural gas leases and exploration permits, Australian companies hold exclusively only 14%. At Dampier and Port Hedland he would have learned of the possible use of Barrow Island natural gas in the treatment of iron ore. Of course. Barrow Island is 86% owned by overseas interests. The Australian owned share held by Ampol is limited to 14%. Barrow Island, of course, is the second largest producer of crude oil in Australia.
The Prime Minister made great play, at the conclusion of his answer, with the assertion that in the case of Bass Strait there was actually a 50% Australian ownership. Yes, there is at the moment. But the profits from the refining and retailing of these resources will almost exclusively go to the major overseas oil companies which literally have a stranglehold, with one or two small exceptions, on the Australian refining and retailing of crude oil. Much play has been made in recent years of the alleged income from mineral exports. Contracts worth a total of $3,000m are said to have been signed for the supply of oil and mineral ores in the next 10 years. This is a very notable figure. But by the time the accountants of overseas companies have taken their bite out of it - and they know how to fiddle, if I may use what is possibly a good Australian word to use - it will be interesting to see just how much really remains in Australia, and how much the Government of this country will receive in the form of income tax.
Sir James Vernon was recently reported by the London ‘Times’ as having warned British and Australian investors that they would be naive to assume that income from the sale of Australian mineral resources would be sufficient to tide Australia over a very rough spot in the 1970s. Even the Treasurer (Mt McMahon) has referred to the tantalising years which are ahead before the full impact of income from the sale of these mineral exports is available. It was very interesting to see the comments of Sir Samuel Jones in the ‘Australian Financial Review’ of 16th August 1968. His views were reported in these terms:
If Australians were not careful about their own affairs, Japan could achieve economically what she failed to do militarily 25 years ago.
Further on, Sir Samuel said: . . . that Japan was developing her industries and her economy at a frightening rate.
The article continued:
He said Australians had to secure their future in the Western Pacific, where he thought a pattern of trade would develop around a Japan-Australia axis, with New Zealand coming closer to us both economically and politically.
At the southern end of this axis, we must keep our end up and not allow ourselves to be dominated by the northern end of it to the extent that it makes decisions for us.
I would suggest that, in the words of the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen), we are already a mineral quarry and a farm. Leading Japanese industrialists who have come here in recent years and months, have been outspoken enough to assign that role to us. This Government has no answer to the situation.
I take the comments of an eminent professor of Mining and Metallurgical Engineering at the University of Queensland, Professor Whitmore. He was reported in the ‘Australian Financial Review’ of 19th August as having expressed these views: . . . association with foreign mining companies did not ensure that we would have access to modern technology.
It is in Australia’s interests not to live on overseas technology, but to develop her own, based on the special characteristics of her raw materials.
She must aim to be in a position like Sweden which exports ore, technique and sophisticated mining equipment.
In no area is this more important than in the processing and extraction of the types of ores and metals which are mined in Australia.
It is in these operations that Australia particularly needs to strengthen its teaching and deepen its research services.
The subjection of Australia to branch office technology must be avoided . . .
We must always know more about the properties, handling and treatment of our ores than anyone from overseas.
This would require a rethinking of the role the Government should play in teaching and research and some direction on how the limited scientific resources could best be deployed for the common good.
Australia is a babe in the woods in terms of technology and our expenditure on research and development. This is confirmed by a report which was presented yesterday. Per capita we spend one-tenth of the sum spent in the United Kingdom; one-fifteenth of that spent in the United States of America; and one-third of that spent in Canada. The only countries whose expenditure on technological research we exceed are nations such as Greece and Spain.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I rise this evening to say a few words mainly about the estimates for the Department of
Trade and Industry. My colleague, the honourable member for Calare (Mr England), gave very sound advice this evening when he referred to the importance of Australia’s soils and agriculture. He pointed out how important it was to maintain the soils and to look after and feed them. It is easy, in Australia where we have so much land and food, to occasionally not appreciate the importance of these things. In some parts of the world millions of people never know what it is to be well fed. Boys and girls are lucky to reach 2 or 3 years of age and they never see a decent meal. In the light of this, we can appreciate a little better what the products of Australia’s soil mean to ourselves and to the people of other countries.
I have been disturbed in recent times by writers and speakers in various fields who have asserted that the Australian economy is no longer dependent on our primary industries and that we have moved into a state of reliance on secondary industries. I do not know how some of these economists, as they describe themselves, can write and say the things that they do write and say. I consider that they completely mislead the Australian people. Their comments are reported in the major public journals and are read by many people, into whose minds they put false thoughts and ideas. This happens frequently. Mr E. J. Donath, a lecturer in economic geography at the University of Melbourne, in an article published in the Melbourne ‘Herald’ on 30th July 1968 under the headline ‘We are off the sheep’s back now’, stated:
Because of the wide publicity the recent drought received, some people might be misled to believe that Australia’s economy is still dependent on the good fortunes of its rural industries.
Nothing is further from the hard facts of our national economy than the old saying that ‘Australia’s prosperity lies on the sheep’s back’.
Mr Donath stated also:
It is only common sense to realise that the smiles or frowns of fortune of our rural industries affect very little the income of the average Australian; litis country has become highly industrialised and only about 15’* of our population live in rural area:,.
He further states in this article:
In 19.13, one in every four men worked on the land. In 1966. only one in len - this is an actual decline in the male rural work force from 531.000 to 359.000.
It is often not fully realised that the rural industries hardly offer any employment opportunities for our fast growing population.
Even as a provider of foreign exchange the rural industries are declining in importance.
This sort of writing is not unique to this gentleman, but it is going on all over Australia. I am beginning to think that the only reliable economist in Australia is the housewife. We know that the number of people employed directly on the farms has declined and that a small band of men is doing a tremendous job. What has happened? Over the years the farming industries have become almost completely mechanised. Men are no longer employed in the paddock and on the farms; they are employed in the factories making the machines. What keeps the economy rolling? It is the money rolling off the farms. This is the only real money in this country. What other money is there? Where can you get it if you do not get it from the soil1? You cannot get it out of Collins Street or Bourke Street. You cannot get it out of Martin Place or St George’s Terrace. It comes out of the soil. The only real money in Australia comes from mining or primary industry, whether it is wheat, timber or wool.
– Or fish.
– Fish come out of the sea. 1 am talking about the soil. That is where the real wealth of this country comes from. God help us when we have Australian magazines and papers misleading people into believing that primary industries are no longer important in this country. We appreciate the importance of the factories and the men who are employed in them. Every factory worker eats about 85 lb of beef a year. This is good for both primary and secondary industries - indeed, for the whole of Australia. This is how we employ people. If the primary industries are neglected, obviously the factories suffer. I will quote some figures in a minute to support this statement. As I said, the only reliable economist in this country is the Australian housewife; she knows where she is going and what she is doing.
I will quote .some of the latest figures that I got from our very reliable Library research service. The total value of primary produce, unprocessed and processed in 1967-68 was §2,316,545,000. This is about 79.3% of the total value of exports of Australian produce. This is the money that not only keeps our factories going directly but which indirectly makes foreign exchange available. Previous speakers have mentioned mines. The production of mines and quarries - other than gold - accounts for 15.6% of Australia’s exports. It is interesting to note how this proportion is moving. In 1962-63 mines and quarries produced 7% of Australia’s exports; so it more than doubled in that period of 6 years. There has not been a great difference so far, but there will be a difference in time. We know this because of the deposits of ore and the mines that are being operated in my State and in other parts of Australia. We hope that exports of minerals will assist our economy.
If they do not, will secondary industries assist to any great extent? What has been happening to them in recent times? In my book they have been selling most of their machinery and whatever they have been manufacturing back to the farmers. For instance, in Western Australia the adverse balance of trade with other States - I have not the exact figure - is well over S30()m a year. Machinery is manufactured in the eastern States and sent to Western Australia for the great farming industries of that Slate.
Manufacturing industries are responsible for 16.8% of our exports. They have not moved very rapidly. As I have said, most of the sales of factories in Australia are being made in Australia. In 1962-63 manufacturing industries accounted for 9.8% of our exports: this proportion has moved up by I % or 2% each year in the 6 years from 1962-63 to 1967-68. It is quite obvious that we could not balance our books in Australia if we did not look after our primary industries. 1 am suggesting we should look after our primary industries because at this point of our development they are in 1 rouble. It is obvious from the document from which I have been quoting that Australian primary industries are still very important. Wad it not been for the rapid capital inflow of $1,1 59m in the last financial year we could not have balanced our books. If this money had not been available we would have had a big deficit in Australia. One of the reasons for this in flow was the drought we had in Australia and the smaller quantity of primary products that was available for export. In other words, secondary industries did not make up the difference.
Our factories will increase production over the years. At least I certainly hope they will, but they will not solve the balance of payments problems in the future. That will rest with the primary industries. I had a rather interesting experience recently which illustrates the high costs of primary industry. 1 was given - not that I need to be given it, because I am a primary industry man myself - a small cog weighing a pound or two and which had been made of some doubtful sort of metal. It had been part of a machine manufactured in this country. This cog had been replaced. It was made of what we term mongrel metal. The bill for the new one was $44.89. That is equal to the price of over 100 lb of wool. This is where the imbalance is. Obviously the farmer who gave it to me suggested that the price was a bit high. I did not suggest it was a bit high; I knew it was a bit high, ft was outrageous. I will probably have something more to say about it at a later date. One small cog of very mediocre design and very mediocre manufacture costs $44.89. This is the sort of thing that industry has to look at if primary industry is to survive and we are to develop this country.
In the couple of minutes remaining to me may I mention other important aspects of this whole situation. The Minister for Trade (Mr McEwen) is overseas trying to do something about sugar. But I believe, quite firmly, it is fair that the countries which require the raw material - the food and fibre - should be prepared to pay the producer a reasonable price for it. If you put it in reverse, Great Britain, the European Economic Community countries, Japan and the United States of America expect Australian people to pay them the full price for their exports to this country. We expect good quality goods and they expect us to pay the full price for them. It is only reasonable to expect that when we produce and export quality articles to other countries we should get a reasonable price for them. I certainly wish the Minister for Trade and Industry every success in his present mission to endeavour to improve the position of the sugar industry.
– There are hundreds of important matters about which we ought to speak when dealing with the estimates for the Department of Trade and Industry and the other two departments with which we are dealing, but only a few can be selected in the time we have available. From my point of view, trade is the most important subject covered by this group of estimates, and there are a number of aspects of trade that I want to raise before the Committee. But before doing so I must say that one wonders whether what is said in any of these debates has any effect at all, or certainly any short term effect. Perhaps what is said in this Parliament over the- years can create an atmosphere which could have an effect, but you are left with the feeling that nothing that is said during the Estimates debate, or for that matter during any other debate, has any immediate effect.
I think that one of. the most important aspects of trade is the obvious one; that in the last 40 years or so there has been a significant, revolutionary change in the direction of Australian trade. In 1938-39, approximately 50% of Australian trade was with the United Kingdom. Today the proportion is about 14%. In 1938-39, 3i% of Australian trade was with Japan. Today that proportion is 21%. In 1938-39, about 11% of Australian trade was with the rest of Asia. Today that is 39%. In 1938-39, Australian trade with Japan and the rest of Asia represented 15%. Today it is 60%. Whilst Australia is not an Asian country, it is near enough to being in Asia to be involved in Asia. It is obvious that we have to start thinking Asian and speaking Asian much more than we are doing. It is obvious that the Department of Trade and Industry has to increase its attention to Asia.
One only has to look at the balance of payments problem, as the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) will shortly do more thoroughly, to see how significant is that part of the balance of trade which involves our payments for services. In the current year over $800m is being paid out for shipping services, for banking services and for insurance services. The first and prime responsibility of the Department of Trade and Industry ought to be to see to the development of Australian services in shipping, banking and insurance. It is useless to talk about Australian ships being uneconomic. All ships are uneconomic. There is hardly a ship in the world that is not subsidised by somebody. The development of an Australian industry, as a services factor, to try to cut down the invisibles component of about 5843m in our trading deficit has to be geared to Asia, because our old services structure is essentially British.
I remind the Committee that the British ships that ply to Australia, and the British banks and insurance companies with subsidiaries in Australia are the ones that do our business. They do not do business with Asia; they do business with Europe. We are not geared for the Asian trade. We are not geared for our place in the world. It is as though we did not realise the revolution that is taking place. Britain’s joining the European Economic Community would not make any appreciable difference to the trend of Australian trade. Since 1938, when half the volume of our trade was done with Britain, our trade with that country has fallen to about 14% of our total trade. If Britain enters the Common Market, the effect on her trade relationship with Australia will be a reduction of only 1% to 2% in a year, which will not make any appreciable difference to the position as a whole. That is what the present Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) was sacked from the Ministry for saying some years ago. Certain small sectors of Australian industry such as the fruit growing industry would be affected, but not our overall trade.
– And the sugar industry.
– And the sugar industry. This problem of shipping ought to be one of our first priorities. Our efforts have to be stepped up. We are not treating the matter seriously. The problem of developing Australian shipping is handled by the Department of Immigration and the Department of Shipping and Transport. I have never dealt with the Department of Trade and Industry when making representations for somebody about an Australian ship. I have always had to deal with another department. This Government has an outmoded way of tackling the problem and it will have to change its approach before very long. But why not get in ahead of the necessity? This Government does things only when it has to do them. It will not reasonably anticipate what it might have to do. In other words, it reflects private business attitudes.
I want now to discuss the way the SV or small vehicle, plan for motor cars is wrecking the production of small cars in Australia. The truth of the matter is that only a few models of cars under plan A or the SV plan can be made profitably in Australia; the market is not big enough. Perhaps plan A is working satisfactorily. Perhaps a few models of cars can be protected under this plan and perhaps there are few enough of them to make it economic. But the SV plan allows many models to come into Australia because it allows small numbers of cars to come into Australia. But when all the small numbers are added up, the total is a large number of small cars. That total represents a significant factor in destroying the Australian production of small cars. Volkswagen Australiasia Ltd has seen between S40m and $50m worth of its capital go down the drain without anybody in authority in government circles being greatly worried.
– Foreign investment.
– Presumably the Postmaster-General thinks it is all right for that to happen when foreign investment is involved. Irrespective of whether it was foreign or local investment, there was still a waste of about $50m worth of capital. The other day the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) seemed to be satisfied that he had solved the problem by dealing with what he termed Japanese dumping. The Committee will remember that he entered the chamber spitting fire and fume about Japanese dumping. He gave the impression that once the wicked Japanese manufacturers of motor vehicles had been dealt with there would be no further problems. The immediate reaction of the gentlemanly and thoroughly honourable Australian producers of motor cars, after the wicked Japanese manufacturers had been dealt with, was to increase the prices of their motor cars by the amount of the increase in the prices of Japanese cars. Further, there was no effect on the operation of the SV plan, which is designed to protect the production of small cars in Aus tralia but is destroying that production. I predict that, unless a change is made, the production of small cars in Australia will be destroyed.
In the time remaining to me I want lo refer to a much more vital question - that of tariff policy in Australia. In paragraphs 61 to about 64 of its annual report for 1966-67 the Tariff Board stated that it was going to make great decisions about Australian industry, that it was going to classify all Australian industry into three levels of protection - high level, medium level and low level. The Board said in paragraph 62. that it would publish this great statement in its next report, and that investment in Australia would begin to flow away from the high protection level down towards the medium and low protection levels. The Board said:
The basic reason for the changes now being suggested by the Board is to relate the operation of the Tariff more fully and consistently to the Government’s national economic objectives.
Save us from having the tariff system related to the Government’s national economic objectives. Whatever else we do, let us not do that. The whole question that is involved here is: What is economic and efficient? The definition I give on behalf of the Opposition is that an industry is economic and efficient if it has the most modern equipment and it has skilled labour. The truth of the matter is that there are Australian industries that will pass this test - that have modern equipment and ski lied labour - but which still require high tariff protection. If the Tariff Board is allowed to run wild through Australian industry, classifying as inefficient industries that have modern equipment and skilled labour but which still require a high tariff, it will do irreparable damage to the Australian economy. 1 warn the Government. I warn the Tariff Board, before it proceeds too far with this, that it will do great damage to the Australian economy. The Government and the Tariff Board will have to accept the responsibility. The members of the Tariff Board cannot lose their jobs at the next election - they are pretty safe - ‘but the Government can lose the election.
The Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) seeks to make some disparaging remark. Of course he thinks he can get away with anything, and he has just about got away with everything. This gentleman in charge o! stamps and telephones is so confident of his great appeal to the Australian electorate that he thinks he can get away with a scheme like this. All 1 say to him is: Try it and see whether you can get away with it. I say the same to the Minister’s followers who seem to be influenced only by votes and money. When we are talking about what is economic and efficient in this country, our primary and secondary industries have a satisfactory record in productivity. Productivity has fallen significant]) in our primary and secondary industries but one reason why we have higher prices in Australia is that we have had a rapidly developing tertiary section. We have social services. We have expenditure on war and defence. We have a very intricate government structure. All this has to be paid for and all this finds it way eventually into the cost of goods.
Industrial productivity has been satisfactory. We have a complex society, a society of the twentieth century. These things must be taken into account when we are trying to work out what is economic and efficient. But the only factor that the Tariff Board and the Government propose to take into account is overseas competition. They ask: For how much can the same goods be brought to Australia? This should not be the only test. This test is simply a money test, and a person has to be very narrow in his concepts if he makes only a money test. There has to be a social test, a test involving the structure of life. Many of these industries in Australia that have modern equipment and skilled labour and still have high protection represent the structure of life of many people.
It is all very well for a laissez faire person, a nineteenth century minded person, to make a money test and to say: Mf this industry cannot pass the money test it has to go to the wall’. That is not the way the Opposition looks at it. We take a social view of this matter. We regard the structure of life of people as important and we will not see the structure of life of Australian people broken down because of this narrow, nineteenth century, laissez faire money test of international competition. Why not otherwise? It is because this international factor, this factor of cost of products at the ports, is based on considerations affecting some other countries that are in a very different historical period from Australia.
One of the characteristic features of this decade is that capital has come from Europe and the United States into low wage countries like Taiwan and Korea. The characteristic feature in Communist countries is that modern industry has grown and, in each case, with low wages. Labour is being exploited. In some of these countries there is no social structure. There is not the intricate sales effort and advertising expenditure that has risen far too high in Australia. There is not the social welfare structure. There is not in some of them the interest in war and defence. There is not the intricate system of government. We will not accept these standards that derive from a different historical age as the standards to determine in Australia what is economic and efficient.
– In other words, the honourable member is beginning to accept the Government’s philosophy.
– I have been here for 13 years and I have not heard a word of the Government’s philosophy in all that time. What we say is that if Australian industry is economic and efficient, if it has modern equipment and skilled labour, we will protect it, but we will adjust the tax system so as to induce greater efficiency. We will increase expenditure on education so that we can induce greater skill. We will need a pricing policy through the operation of the Tariff Board and Australian industries that are protected will be expected to co-operate and keep their prices under control, with the influence of the Tariff Board being developed in this way, as has already been done on two or three occasions.
– I intend to concentrate my remarks on the Department of Trade and Industry which I believe is one of the most important of our departments. I believe that the policies of the Department of Trade and Industry have a great bearing on our relations with our neighbours to the near north. I shall try to discuss later how I believe the changing trend of trade is moving us away from the old traditional trading areas of the United Kingdom and the United States of America and moving us more towards our Asian neighbours to the near north, and in particular to China and Japan. But first I want to deal with the balance of payments on the current account, if one examines the record of this Government from 1st July 1950 to 30th June 1968 one will see that our deficit from trade plus the cost of invisibles exceeded $7,000m in that time. The trade deficit for the last financial year was $222.9m. But one must take into consideration also Australia’s need to meet the cost of invisibles which exceed $800m in a year. To be exact, the invisibles in the last financial year amounted to S843m.
The item “invisibles’ includes our transport costs, the insurance on overseas goods, the cost of servicing Government loans, the outflow of dividends on foreign investment and also the cost of increased travel oversetts by our citizens. The effect of this item is such that if our exports and imports balance, we still have to meet a deficit of about $850m. That money has to be found somewhere. Of course we know that it is easy, to use the words of the Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen), to sell a little bit of the farm every year. Honourable members will be aware that in the last financial year we had the biggest deficit ever in the history of this Administration. It was more than $ 1,000m. The foreign capital inflow will cover the deficit, but the big question is whether capital will continue to flow in at the same rate. Australia is an El Dorado and high prices are applying on the share markets but some overseas financial and economic advisers question whether Australian mineral shares are not oyer priced.
If capital does not continue to flow into Australia the Government will have lo take some economic remedy lo protect our overseas balances. Honourable members can well recall the economic measures that were taken in November I960 by this Government. The Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) interjected when the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) was speaking but the Postmaster-General will remember clearly his 2-year absence from the Parliament as a result of the economic policy that the Government followed in I960. It is possible that an election will be held this year because the Government fears that some economic action may have to be taken next year to meet its difficulties. Last financial year we had a trade deficit of S222m in our balance of payments. For the first 2 months of last financial year we had a deficit of $55m and the deficit for the first 2 months of this financial year was S60m, so we are already $5m down on last year. Of course, the position is worse if we have regard to the invisibles which increased from S257m in 1950-51 to S742m in 1966-67 and to $843m last financial year. Can we take it that the invisibles will increase by a further $100m this year? If they do then the invisibles will be about $950m this financial year. This is possibly why the present administration wants an early election. Wheat is not selling as well as it should be on the international market, which is a buyer’s market: and wool is not fetching the price that the Government hoped it would fetch. Can sufficient minerals be dug out of the ground to cover our trade deficit?
I think a question mark needs to be placed against the Government’s haste to bring forward a general election. If there is an election this financial year it will be because the Government believes that it will have to apply economic measures next year. If capital does not flow in at the same rate as it did last year there will be problems with our balance of payments and our overseas reserves. Economic remedies will be required internally and these will affect the hip pocket nerve of the community. The Government would not want to take action in 1969 when an election is due so it wants to bring forward the election to 30th November 1968 and apply the economic remedies the following year. The Postmaster-General can remember the economic remedies that the Government applied on 15th November I960, as a result of which he had to go out to pasture for 2 years. From 1950 to 1967 we had a trading deficit of some $2,500m with the United Kingdom, a traditional trading partner, while the deficit on invisibles exceeded S2,400m. The deficit on the balance of current account with the United Kingdom during that period, on trade and invisibles, was $4,900m. During those 17 years we ran up a trading deficit o* $2,400m with another traditional trading partner, the United States of America, and a deficit of S2,250m on invisibles. That means that we had an overall deficit on current account with the United States of America of $4,650m.
The combined deficit on balance of current account with the United Kingdom and the United States, exclusive of the last financial year, was nearly $10,000m during that period. The overall deficit from 19S0 to 1967 was some $6,200m, which meant we had a credit with Japan, China and East European countries, of some $3,800m. We have fared poorly in our dealings with our traditional partners, the United States and the United Kingdom. Figures for individual countries for 1967-68 are not available but for the previous 5 years we had a deficit of approximately $2,500m with the United States.
– So what?
– Let me remind the honourable member that there are two ways of losing our heritage. We can be conquered by invading armies or, as John Foster Dulles said in the early 1950s, we can be invaded by economic means, and this is how we are losing our heritage. As the Deputy Prime Minister said to a Country Party conference in 1963, we are losing a little of our heritage every year, and we are losing it to foreign investors, particularly United States of America and United Kingdom investors.
In the remaining few minutes I want to deal with the changing trend of trade. This does not apply only to trade with our traditional partners. In trade we are moving more towards Asia. In 1938-39 the United Kingdom received 48.9% of our exports. By 1967-68 the percentage had dropped to 13.8. In 1938-39 Europe received 15.5% of our exports. This was maintained at nearly the same level - 14.6% - in 1967-68. In 1938-39 Japan received 3.5% of our exports. The percentage rose in 1965-66 to 17.3, in 1966-67 to 19.4 and in 1967-68 to 21.1. One can see how the relationship that our trade with Japan has to our overall trade is changing. In 1938-39 our trade with countries of South East Asia amounted to 11.2% of our total trade. By 1967-68 this figure had risen to 38.7%. I am referring to trade with the countries of most of South East Asia, from India across to Japan and down to Australia and including such countries as India, Burma, Japan and China. We must have a positive trading policy if our future is to be secure. We need more trade commissioners in Asia and in eastern Europe. When I was in Czechoslovakia recently I discovered that Australia did not have any trade representatives in that country, notwithstanding that we have a traditional trade with Czechoslovakia. We should have trade commissioners in Latin America and Africa. We should have an Australian-owned overseas shipping line. We should extend the activities of the Export Payments Insurance Corporation. We should provide better finance through banking institutions for exporters. We must expand our trade with Asia. Trade and goodwill are our front line of defence. We will be better off trading with Asia than interfering by military means in the internal affairs of Asia. Our future lies in Asia. By trading with Asia we will do much to increase our goodwill in the area. If we trade on an equal basis with Asia we will make the area a better place to live in and we will not fear the countries of Asia. It is better to trade with a peaceful Japan than to be forced to deal with a warlike Japan. But we must trade on an equal footing. We do not want to be subservient to anybody and we do not want anybody to be subservient to us.
– One of the surprises of life has been to hear the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) advocate that we should trade with Red China. That claim really rocked me. 1 think I understood the honourable member correctly.
I would like to intrude into the debate with a few thoughts on the matter of subsidies provided to some of our primary industries. Criticism has been levelled at the wheat industry and the dairying industry because they receive support from the Commonwealth. Some of my friends from metropolitan areas are inclined to look upon subsidies as handouts. I would ask the Committee tonight: What is the difference between the imposition of a duty of 45% in order to protect the motor industry and assure it that it will be able to operate and that the workers in the industry will get a fair return for the work they do, and the provision of a subsidy to the dairying industry - I do not accept that it is a handout? The duty of 45% is paid by people who buy motor cars whereas the entire community pays the subsidy of S27m a year which the dairying industry receives to ensure that people in the industry enjoy the same living standards as are demanded by people in the motor industry. Every worker in Australia, be he in primary industry or secondary industry, is entitled to enjoy the standard of living which we think the country can support.
When mention is made of the various forms of assistance given to industries one fundamental factor which operates against rural industries must be kept in mind. The wages of employees in manufacturing industries are adjusted from time to time. They go up at the whim of some arbitration tribunal, depending on the liver of the gentleman in charge of the court in which the hearing takes place, without any consideration of the effect on the whole Australian economy of the decision to increase wages. Consequently the prices of goods and services which we all enjoy continue to rise much faster than the wage index would lead us to believe. On the other hand, the subsidy paid to rural industries remains static. 1 take strong exception to the fact that the assistance given to the dairy industry - $27m a year - has remained static for the past 13 years. Surely if we considered this matter with the object of being fair to the people in the industry, the people who are providing the basis for the existence of many communities all over Australia - I am referring now not only to my own little area in the Division of McMillan where there is a whole community of people dependent on what the dairy industry receives, but also to many other districts in Australia - we would adjust the assistance received by our rural industries according to today’s monetary values. The difference between wages and the cost of living would give some guide to what adjustment should be made. The dairy industry, if it had been given some parity in protection - I hope to come to this later if there is sufficient time in the discussion of this section of the Estimates - would have received a very large increase in subsidy amounting, at today’s monetary values, to $36m or $37m.
Do not forget that it is not only the people who milk the cows and live on the farms who are concerned. There are also the people in the factories and those who distribute our dairy products all over Australia. However, people working in factories and converting our primary products into marketable commodities receive the benefits that flow to secondary industries, while people on the farms have to rely on a static subsidy to bring their standard of living somewhere near the level of that enjoyed by the rest of the community. As I have said, the subsidy has remained unchanged for some 13 years.
While discussing the subsidy paid to the dairy industry, we must keep the wheat industry very much in our thoughts, as it has been recently. A wheat agreement is being negotiated. I should like honourable members to take note of the word ‘negotiated’. The Government has made an offer which it says is its last offer. This is designed deliberately to reduce the protection that is given to this industry and it ignores the vital effects of the increasing costs that are applied to the industry. It is only by receiving some return for the increased costs that it has inflicted on it that secondary industry gets its increased returns. If it is a good thing for secondary industry to obtain increased returns, surely it is a good thing for primary industry to get increased returns.
In the case of wheat, the Treasury has set a limit of $68m - why it should be able to set a figure like this I do not understand - for wheat industry stabilisation for the next 5 years. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) is forced, by this circumstance, to juggle his figures to produce a cost of production that comes within that limit. To arrive at something which can be put forward as a viable project, the Minister for Primary Industry has been forced to settle on a figure of $1.70 per bushel for wheat. This will mean a rise of 6c per bushel in the price of wheat as compared with what it was last year. This rise of 6c per bushel in the price of wheat will mean that the price of a 2 lb loaf of bread will increase by lc. But this increase will mean not only a rise in the price of bread. Every user of stock feed, whether it is for cows, poultry, pigs or anything else, will have to pay an increased price in the next 12 months for his basic feeds.
– What about pigeon feed?
– Those using pigeon feed almost certainly will have to pay more to feed their pigeons. Every person who is concerned with feeding stock will have to pay more. These increases will apply not only to pensioners but also to those other people who have to rely on bread as their main source of sustenance.
To balance this effect - he cannot put $1.70 per bushel on that guaranteed price for wheat - the Minister tor Primary Industry has introduced an entirely new factor which is completely against the whole history of the industry in the last 20 years. The industry has been dependent on one figure for wheat for local consumption and for a guaranteed price for its export surplus. Instead of: that, the Minister now proposes that we shall have a two-price arrangement which will mean $1.70 per bushel for wheat for local consumption and $1.45 per bushel for export wheat. This will give the wheat producers a return of $1.36 for each bushel of wheat produced in Australia. By doing the arithmetic in another way, by using a different set of adjustments, by doing the juggling that I mentioned earlier so as to be more consistent with the pattern that has been followed over the last 5 years, or by taking 60% of the productive value of the land as its fair value, a figure of $1.50 a bushel for local consumption could have been arrived at instead of $1.70. What would have been the situation then? Instead of the cost of a 2 lb loaf of bread increasing by 1c with the corresponding increases in stock feed prices there would have been a reduction of tc in the price of a 2 lb loaf of bread and a reduction in the price of stock feed, which would have been of tremendous help so all those who are feeding animals.
Under the proposal of the Minister for Primary Industry the Treasury is to contribute S68m to the industry over the next 5 years compared with its contribution of S95m over the previous 5 years. If this contribution was made on the basis of giving the greatest financial help that the Government can give to the community instead of limiting it the cost to the Treasury might be $H0m but it would be an extremely good investment by the Government.
Mr DALY (Grayndler) [11.1 71 - My remarks in regard to the estimates for the Department of Primary Industry concern the wheat industry. 1 suppose nothing is more important to a primary producer at this time than the marketing of his wheat. Therefore, it is very disturbing to me and my colleagues on this side of the chamber to see the disunity that exists in the Government ranks on this subject. I am not concerned about the Liberal Party of Australia because it is comprised essentially of very wealthy, influential, city dwellers and its interests do not extend beyond the boundaries of the cities. But 1 am concerned because of certain aspects of the Country Party’s approach lo the problem and the fact that people in the wheat industry have been forced to register their protests at numerous rallies throughout the various wheat growing areas in an endeavour to achieve a scheme (hat will give them the benefits to which they are entitled. Last night I found cause to rise in this chamber and defend a Country Party Minister against a bitter attack by one of his colleagues who had called him a messenger boy between the Cabinet and the Country Party on this all-important subject of wheat.
– Who was that?
– He was referring to the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony), who happens to occupy the important position of Deputy Leader of the Country Parly. I understand that ultimately he will take over the mantle of that illustrious man who leads the Country Party today and who is, as everybody in this chamber knows, a great friend of the Treasurer (Mr MoMahon). I am also concerned with the disunity that exists on the other side of the chamber - 1 do not refer exclusively to the Country Party in this respect - regarding the best way to market wheat. The marketing of wheat did not get anywhere until the Australian Labor Party introduced a wheat stabilisation scheme in this Parliament many years ago. Everybody knows that the only political party in this country that has ever provided stabilisation for the wheat industry is the
A.L.P. It was not until Labor came to office in 1943 that there was any stability in the industry. Labor introduced a scheme that brought prosperity to the industry, brought the farmers out of debt to the banks and ultimately enabled them to be in credit to those institutions. This scheme established the wheat industry in this country. Therefore, from this side of the Parliament today I take more than a passing interest in the wheat industry.
Having said so much, should we not view with concern the prospect of the sale of this great product to that country which is so discredited in the eyes of the Government Parties and others when dealing with international affairs - I refer to mainland China - but which is such a respected associate of the Government when it comes to a matter of trade? I will read an answer to a question asked in the Parliament not very long ago, on 7th September 1967, about trade with China. The honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) asked:
Listen to the answer. When the Government is trading with this country, it is called ‘mainland China’, but when the Government is fighting with it, it is called ‘Red China’. It is one of those distinctions without a difference. Tonight 1 use the respectable name of mainland China so as not to affect in any way the good feeling and the good will that is to be desired when Communist gold is flowing into the coffers of those who put this Government into office. The question was answered by the honourable member for Fawkner (Mr Howson) who was then the Minister for Air but is unfortunately no longer in the Ministry. He said:
In the years 1963-64, 1964-65, 1965-66 and 1966-67 mainland China ranked fourth, fifth, seventh and fifth respectively in importance in relation to all countries as a buyer of Australian goods. In tho>* years mainland China ranked higher than any South East Asian country.
Every honourable member knows that mainland China was in that favoured category because of the sale of wheat to it.
As I say, far be it from me to say ‘Red China’ when the Government is selling goods to that country. That would not be the thing to do.
In view of the need to sell wheat to mainland China, it is interesting to note that recently a delegation from the Australian Wheat Board, led by the Chairman, Dr Callaghan, visited that country. I understand that Mr Shanahan was also a member of the delegation. Though of Irish extraction myself, I do not know how Callaghan and Shanahan thought they would get on with the Chinese. They may have done better in Dublin. But the fact is that Callaghan and Shanahan went to Red China to sell wheat on behalf of the Government. I understand they have returned empty handed in this period of great crisis in the wheat industry. The mission has been a failure.
Would honourable members like to know why it has been a failure? I will tell them why. The names of the gentlemen had nothing much to do with it, although I think they were not exactly names that the Chinese would have welcomed. I understand that the price of the wheat was acceptable to the Chinese. 1 understand the terms were extremely liberal - much better than those given to other countries. 1 understand the credit was good. But Red China refused to do business because of this Government’s involvement militarily in Vietnam at this very time, is that not an amazing situation? Where do honourable members stand? This is an instance where their ethics are getting all mixed up. The Red Chinese or mainland Chinese, like everyone else, cannot understand why the Government calls them enemies on the one hand and at the same time wants to sell them the sinews of war. The fact is that the Australian wheat growers are losing a huge market, evidently because at this stage the Chinese refuse to be associated with a Government that calls them enemies on the one hand and on the other hand is willing to accept Communist gold. The Government cannot split its ethics in that way. I should like the Chairman of the Australian Wheat Board, through the Minister, this message boy about whom we have heard so much-
– The courier.
– The courier, to give him a more respectable title. I should like him to tell this Parliament why this mission has failed and why the wheat growers are now expected to suffer not only because of disunity over the plan that is supposed to give them a return for their product but also because of our military involvement in Vietnam. Of course, Mainland China knows that we should not be in Vietnam. The greater part of the world knows it. Vast numbers of Americans know that their forces should not be in Vietnam. When we are consistently blaming the Red Chinese for being there and accusing them of atrocities in this great war, we cannot expect them to buy our wheat. Government members call them friends when they are buying things and enemies when they are in another place fighting the people of this country. 1 repeat that 1 would like this Government to tell us why Dr Callaghan and others came back empty handed.
The members of the Country Party might well look solemn. Actually, the people who send them to this Parliament are a strange lot. They expect their representatives to conscript young men to fight in Vietnam and at the same time they expect them to sell our wheat and wool to the people whom these young men are fighting.
My information is that this mission has failed completely, not because of the terms or the price but because of our military involvement in Vietnam. This, of course, adds fuel to the fire when the Government is endeavouring to force down the necks of the wheat growers a scheme which is receiving only half hearted support within the ranks of the Government parties. We all know now how the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull), that old lion of days gone by, dashed off to Bendigo and roared again as he did in days gone by. His rage was intense as he thought of how the wheat growers were being sold out by the Minister for Primary Industry to whom he referred as a messenger boy. When a worn out old lion like him can be roused, the proposed scheme is evidently a dreadful one.
I think the honourable member knew why the Red Chinese had refused to buy the wheat produced by his electorate. He knew full well that the reasons offered for the failure of the mission were weak. That is why this old lion roared again, in a way. I was not sorry to hear him roar. When he was in Opposition, he was a roaring lion. In government, however, he is like a worn out old tomcat. Let us be honest about it. I take my hat off to him. He roared again at Bendigo. He is on the jungle trail again because his wheat grower electors are affected. I should like to hear him roar his reply some rime.
The sale of our wheat is a vital matter. People’s future depends on it. There are millions of dollars invested in the industry. It is dreadful to think that the electors of the honourable member for Mallee must suffer because his Government is sending men to Vietnam to fight the very people whose Communist gold it is seeking through the sale of wheat. The Red Chinese refuse to deal with this Government because it has insulted them. No wonder the honourable member for Mallee was roused in Bendigo. I would have loved to be there as he orated to the great crowd. I would have loved to hear him thunder forth that messenger boy story. 1 would have loved to watch him as he spoke while thinking so fearfully of all the Communist gold that could have been going into the coffers of the people who sent him to Parliament. The position is being aggravated by the introduction by the Minister of a scheme which evidently is not acceptable to the growers themselves.
– I did.
– I listened to the honourable member for McMillan tonight, but any wheatgrower who can understand him is brighter than I am. No-one in this Parliament can understand him. The fact is that this matter is so vital that I rose in my place tonight to clear it up. I would like to know why an announcement has not been made to this Parliament. I would like to know why the people who went to Red China and begged for a wheat deal did not get one on this occasion. Why did Callaghan and Shanahan fail to deliver the goods? Was it because of our involvement in Vietnam? It is vital that we know the reason. Let us hope - and I say this in all sincerity and with a desire to get stable government - that Government supporters can resolve their differences over wheat stabilisation, because countless thousands of people depend on prosperity in that industry for their own personal welfare, and so does the prosperity of Australia.
– 1 came into this Parliament in 1962 and, if I recall correctly, the first speech I heard from the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly), was the speech he made tonight - almost word for word. Tonight there were one or two remarks about my colleague the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull), but otherwise it was the same speech. At that time the honourable member for Grayndler was sitting up in the area where the honour able member for Braddon (Mr Davies) now sits. He still has that same quaint Irish humour and it has brought some light relief to what has been a very good and fairly serious debate tonight.
I think the main trouble with the Opposition is that when Mr Pollard lost the seat of Lalor to the present honourable member for Lalor (Mr Lee), who sits in the back benches of the Liberal Party, it lost its only member with any real understanding of the problems of the rural industries. I understand that the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Beaton) claims to be the shadow minister for primary industry. Yet in Victoria one night recently I read, or heard, that Mr Pollard had been invited by the Labor Party to express some views to the wheat growers because nobody in the Labor Party understood the wheat industry or the wheat stabilisation plan. The Labor Party had to drag Mr Pollard from his chambers, where he was comfortably ensconced with a book and a glass of warm milk to help send him off to sleep, to explain Labor’s policy to the wheat growers. Not one wheat-grower in Australia would recognise the wheat plan that has been in operation under this Government for a period of years as that originally brought down by Mr Pollard. It is sheer hypocritical nonsense for the honourable member for Grayndler to claim that Mr Pollard was the architect of the wheat stabilisation plan as we have known it for about 20 years.
Many matters were raised by honourable members in this debate tonight and f want to touch on one or two of them. Perhaps the most unusual thing in the debate was the performance of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). It was almost as interesting as that of the honourable member for Grayndler. It was a rare occasion to hear the Leader of the Opposition speaking on a matter relating to primary industry. He is so scared about the lack of knowledge and interest of the honourable members who sit behind him that he has to try to rescue the situation and to show the Australian people that somebody in the Labor Party understands rural industries. He failed dismally at even that. He tackled the subject of the fishing industry. By innuendo he claimed that by asking a couple of questions over a period of 5 or 6 years he had successfully fathered the great prawning industry in northern Australia. Also by innuendo he claimed that he was the onlyone who had any conscience about the life of the continental shelf and the Great Barrier Reef. He is a very skilful user of words, but let us look at the facts in regard to his speech. The first simple error of fact that he made was that he said that the Australian Government had invested something like S3. 25m in Weipa and there were no facilities for prawning vessels there. My colleague, the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn). was sitting behind me when the Leader of the Opposition said that. He told me that, as everyone knows, he was at Weipa last week with the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), and forty-five prawning vessels were there at that time. That sort of misstatement is typical of the Leader of the Opposition, who does not know the facts and does not bother to try to ascertain them.
He also said that all that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) could do at the time of the ‘Van Gogh’ incident was to tell the Australian fishermen to behave themselves. That is fairly loose language. Let us look at the situation as it really was. The situation was that the ‘Van Gogh’ came into the Gulf of Carpentaria and was obeying international law. The Australian fishermen, probably because of their lack of knowledge, were not displaying the proper signals and were not obeying international law. So the Minister for Primary Industry took the proper course, and the only course that he could take at that time. He explained to the fishermen the need to obey international law. That is what the Leader of the Opposition blithely describes as ‘telling the fishermen to behave them elves’. The Minister for Primary Industry, who unfortunately is absent tonight and who would regret missing this opportunity to explain these matters, displayed a very responsible attitude towards the Australian fishermen on that occasion.
The Leader of the Opposition also talked about what he considered was the Government’s failure to take action to protect the fishing industry- Let us have a look at that matter. The Government has not failed to lake action to protect the Australian fishing industry and its resources. Action has been taken up lo this time to the extent possible having regard to international law and to Australia’s reputation as a responsible nation. In fact, the action taken by the Government in some respects has antici pated developments in international law. In 1953 the Government took action to claim sovereign rights over the pearl shell, trochus. beche de mer and green snail resources on the continental shelf. It was not until 1958 that this right became firmly established in international law with the adoption of the International Convention on the Continental Shelf. The action taken by the Government last year - it was the Government that took this action, not the Leader of the Opposition - in extending sovereign rights from 3 miles to 1.2 miles off the coast of Australia, also was ahead of established international law, although about forty countries had claimed exclusive fishing rights in the 12-mile zone. There is no international convention covering a 12-mile fishing zone even yet.
The Prime Minister has requested an urgent and comprehensive investigation of existing international law, and trends now developing in international law, in order to determine whether there is any way by which Australia can exercise further control over the fisheries resources off its coast. This investigation will be carried out not only by government officers but also by a number of prominent international lawyers from outside the departments. As the Prime Minister has indicated, legislation covering the sedentary marine resources of the continental shelf will be introduced during the present session of the Parliament. That demons. rates that the Government is doing everything it possibly can, not only to encourage the fishing industry but also to protect the fishing industry, the continental shelf, the Great Barrier Reef and the Gulf of Carpentaria.
– What about the S20m obtained from the sale of the Nor’ West Whaling Company? Is not that being used for fisheries development?
– It is being used in certain ways. The Leader of the Opposition also made his usual careless statements about patrolling. This matter has been explained to him over and over again, but he stands up and. merely to play party politics, tries to make some cheap political capital out of it. As the appropriate answers have been given to him before, I do not intend to spend any time on the matter tonight. I ask him to look in Hansard and to refer to answers that have been given to him before.
Several other honourable members spoke about fisheries. I would like to congratulate the honourable member for Herbert (Mr Bonnett) upon a very well thought out and constructive speech. The honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Munro) also has been a very keen advocate over the last 12 or IS months for the establishment of an Australian fisheries council. I hope that the honourable member will be around a bit longer to see the results of his representations and those of other interested honourable members.
I ought to mention ray friend the Opposition Whip. For a gloomy day the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie) made the clouds over the field of primary industry look even darker. 1 just wonder what is going on in the electorate of Wilmot when he can make such a gloomy speech in the Parliament. He must be really telling his electors what a poor future they have. But this Government has a very sensible approach to primary industries and has brought them a long way over a period of years. The honourable member for Wilmot may rest assured that they will not be neglected by this Government or by the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen), who is endeavouring to find markets for our primary products and solutions for the problems of these industries.
The honourable member for Braddon (Mr Davies) mentioned the importation of potatoes, particularly from New Zealand. I should mention that it was only after there was a shortage of crisping potatoes for processing that an importer was given the right to bring potatoes from New Zealand. Only 250 tons were and my understanding is (hat no more potatoes will be imported at this stage. The honourable member also wanted an assurance that the Government would do something about imports of cheese. These imports amount to nearly 4,000 tons per year and comprise largely, as the honourable member probably knows, fancy or continental varieties that sell at prices much higher than those of Australian cheeses. Australian producers of fancy cheeses submitted a case to the Tariff Board for further protection but the Board refused to recommend additional protection. There is an import duty of 5c per lb and of course a further protection in relation to freight from Europe to Australia. Imports of cheese from New Zealand under the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement are restricted to 800 tons per year for this year. Next year and in other years imports will be restricted to 1.000 tons. As the honourable member probably knows, 1,000 tons does not add up to a lot when one considers that the annual Australian consumption exceeds 40,000 tons.
– What about fat lambs?
– My understanding is that this matter was explained by someone else tonight. The honourable member for EdenMonaro mentioned this very point. I believe that the importation of New Zealand lamb has declined considerably and very quickly and that the forward orders are even less still. I do not have the relevant figures.
– What is the cheese quota for the United Kingdom?
– That figure is not yet available publicly. If the honourable member is patient he will learn what the figure is. All 1 want to do on behalf of the Minister for Primary Industry is to thank honourable members who have taken an interested part in the debate.
Motion (by Mr Erwin) put:
Thai the question he now put. The Committee divided. (The Deputy Chairman - Mr L. J. Failes)
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Proposed expenditures agreed to. Progress reported. i ADJOURNMENT
Human Rights- Foco Club, Brisbane Motion (by Mr Nixon) proposed: That the House do now adjourn.
– I rise to speak on the subject of Human Rights Year. The unanimous decision of the General Assembly of the United Nations to mark its 20th anniversary by declaring an International Year for Human Rights has been neglected in Australia. I wish to quote from an article by Sean MacBride, who is Chairman of the International Committee of Non-Governmental Organisations for Human Rights Year and the Secretary-General of the International Commission of Jurists. He points out that, at the national level, first priority must be given to the political protection of all rights enunciated in the Universal Declaration. In this the Australian Government continually defaults in spite of several questions that have been put to it on this subject. He says that in time of political turmoil, governments and even judges readily impose their views without regard to the rights of the individual or of minorities, and that with the continued advance of technocracy bureaucrats also tend to ride roughshod over the rights of those they dominate. This also has been been seen under Australian jurisdiction. We remember the incident of Simon Townsend. We remember the incident of water torture in Vietnam. The article continues:
For these reasons, it has been found that international supervision … of the protection of human rights is essential … At the international . . . level, the only . . . system … so far … is the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The adoption of analogous conventions in other regions . . . has repeatedly been urged . . . and . . . drafts exist . . . one of the 1968 targets should be . . . adoption of such regional systems …. . . . The International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the International Convenants on Human Rights . . . are still awaiting ratification by a sufficient number of states to enable them to come into operation.
Do we not care? Are honourable members opposite who are making such a joke of this subject not impressed by the fact that the Secretary-General of the International Commission of Jurists is asking them to do something for human rights which in recent times have increasingly been trampled into the dust? Further on the article asks whether the time has not come to envisage the establishment of - . . . a Universal Court of Human Rights analogous to the European Court of Human Rights with jurisdiction to pronounce on violations of human rights? Even if initially its judgments were . . . only declaratory, they would be of considerable moral value . . .
I support this by quoting what the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) said yesterday, as reported at page 909 of Hansard:
We must recognise that Gowon has been sensitive to moral condemnation . . . When the skinning alive with broken bottles episode became international currency Gowon was forced to say something. . . . The Nigerians have gone to great pains to show on television disciplinary action being taken in the execution of an officer who carried out some atrocities in the area.
Further on the article by Sean MacBride states: . . . governments which have supported, and even signed, international conventions have failed to ratify them . . . Some of these have been under discussion for close on twenty years; some of them have been adopted unanimously by the General Assembly.
But they are still not ratified. Further on the article continues:
Cruelty is a contagious disease . which has . . . implications that require the urgent attention of Church leaders, statesmen-
And 1 wonder whether we have any - sociologists, philosophers and lawyers alike. Would not the International Year for Human Rights be a suitable occasion to launch a campaign to arouse world opinion against brutality? . . . Should not such acts also be made offences under international law? After all, international law docs operate successfully in such relatively less important fields as extradition, communications, crime detection, commerce, shipping and consular relations . . . . . . violations of the United Nations and the Red Cross Conventions could be made indictable offences before an International Tribunal to punish crimes against humanity. Such a Tribunal could, in addition, be given general power to pass judgment on crimes that violate ‘ … the law of nations, the laws of humanity and the dictates of the public conscience’.-
That is quoting from the Hague Convention of 1907-
Gradually, later, a code of Crimes against Humanity could be evolved and embodied in an international convention, but the Tribunal with the jurisdiction indicated could be set up now.
They have one in Europe, so 1 ask the honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Irwin) not to laugh. Further on the article continues:
At the end of World War 1.1 a bold new concept of international jurisdiction was adopted under the Charter of the International Military Tribunal that dealt with crimes against humanity. . . . Sir Hersch Lauterpacht (in the 7th edition of Oppenheim) rightly says that: ‘ … it affirmed the existence of fundamental Human Rights superior to the law of the State and protected by international criminal sanctions, even if violated in pursuance of the law of the State.’
The decisions of such a tribunal might remain temporarily unenforceable in some regions. But behind every act of cruelty there is an individual who perpetrates or inspires the act of cruelty. That individual could at least be identified and branded as an international outlaw. Such a sanction would have a restraining influence and would reduce the trend towards the brutalisation of mankind.
I again refer honourable members to the statement of the honourable member for Fremantle which gives a concrete example. Further on the article states: . . . the old outworn concepts of ‘absolute leave and licence’ to rulers to act as they wish . . . cannot subsist. This concept … is in fact what governments glibly encompass when they euphemistically refer to ‘infringements of national sovereignty’. Every convention, treaty is a limitation on absolute national sovereignty. . . . . . . some of the very sovereignty-conscious states of Europe have agreed to limit their absolute sovereignty in the domain of human rights by adhering to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
The article goes on to say than an even greater limitation has been accepted by the states that composed the European Economic Community, which other European states are seeking to join. It is essential that the individual should have the direct right of petition or complaint to ensure that a complaint will not be stifled by a government or political alignments. The individual can have rights under international law. After World War I the Upper Silesian Treaties specifically gave individuals the right of petition. The European Convention as well as the international Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and two international covenants on human rights all recognise the right of individual petition. Any international court must be above suspicion of bias. Its members should be jurists of high standing who would command respect. A proposal for the establishment of a United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights with a status in some ways analogous to that of the High Commissioner for Refugees has been under active consideration for three years.
The article states that non-governmental organisations are increasingly incapable of giving the help and advice that newly independent nations are seeking. That is why the author argues for the speedy adoption of the proposal for a High Commissioner for Human Rights. World public opinion is ahead of governments in its desire to minimise brutality and to ensure the protection of human rights. Mass media have given a new dimension to world public opinion. A shift is taking place in the centre of power that makes governments more subject to world public opinion than ever before. This new factor is not yet fully appreciated, even by governments. At the educational and cultural levels, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation emphasies the rights inherent to human dignity. If today there is a better appreciation of the importance of human rights it is in no small measure due to the foresight and work of UNESCO.
Mr DONALD CAMERON (Griffith) 112.2 a.m.]- Mr Speaker, I am fully aware of my responsibilities as a member of this Parliament and the privileges bestowed upon me, which I endeavour at all times to treat with respect. I am also aware of my responsibilities to every man, woman and child living within this Commonwealth as I believe should be every member of this Parliament no matter to which political philosophy he owes allegiance. It is with this in mind that 1 address the House on the matter of the Foco Club situated on the third floor of the Trades Hall, Brisbane, the nerve centre of the Australian Labor Party in Queensland. It was formed on the 3rd March .1968 and initally met each Sunday night. In recent times its popularity has grown to the extent that it is now open on Saturday nights as well.
The word ‘foco’ is Spanish for guerilla camp, and to quote the ‘Tribune’ edition of 21st August: ‘Hundreds of Brisbane youngsters are finding in it their first real taste of radical Socialist thought’. It is also stated in that edition that the club was conceived by radical students, particularly Brian Laver, a leader of the Society for Democratic Action, accommodated and encouraged by leaders of the Trades and Labour Council, built and conducted with the help of young workers, particularly those in the Young Socialists League, and so on.
To put it in blunt terms the club is basically an entertainment centre where one can either dance to the beat of a group called ‘The Coloured Balls’ or watch films which have included ‘Children of Hiroshima’ and, I believe, last Sunday night ‘Inside North Vietnam’. There is another section which at 10 p.m. dissolves into a political discussion led by a guest speaker. Tt all sounds very interesting, but to quote the ‘Tribune’ again: ‘On the surface, that’s a description of Foco . . . but there’s a lot more to it’. That, Mr Speaker, is the understatement of the year.
Speakers have included Mr Alec Robertson, the Editor of the ‘Tribune’, Mr David Nadel, the First Secretary of the Soviet Embassy, the past-president of M on ash University Labour Club and now editor of the weekly newspaper ‘Brisbane Line’, and Mr Malcolm Salmon, a journalist for ‘Tribune’. If that sounds proCommunist to honourable members, they are interpreting correctly.
These speakers are pumping a line to capacity audiences which to many rational observers could only be described as treason. To top it off they also sell quite freely badges depicting the head of Mao Tse-tung and allegedly a symbol of North Vietnam.
– Pass it around. The young people are told to wear these on the inside of their coats and not to display them. To me this is treachery. Many parents of means and position would be staggered and shocked to think that their offspring would be involved in this but f venture to say that if they initiated inquiries at home they would find my allegations to be absolutely correct.
I mentioned earlier the Young Socialists League. This is the new national organisation which was once called the Eureka Youth League, the Communist youth organisation. It is presently run in Brisbane by Victor Slater, who was the Communist candidate for Griffith in 1966 and who possibly will stand for a State seat next year. I would say that he was ‘all the way’ with the earlier mentioned indoctrination courses.
Mr Brian Laver is now overseas, but the part of the Students for Democratic Action is now being filled by a Mr Milch Thompson, the Brisbane based private secretary to a member of the Senate. I notice that Mr Thompson is here in the chamber tonight. Bearing in mind the question I asked this morning, one cannot help but notice the political overtones of this subject, no matter how distasteful they may appear. But the senator marched in the civil liberties march in Brisbane on American Independence Day and later addressed a gathering at Foco headquarters - that is, at the Trades Hall.
Then there is a Mr Alan Anderson, the Trade Union Youth Week organiser who looks after the interests of the Trades Hall. This gentleman was depicted as a sweet young thing in an article in the Brisbane ‘Courier-Mail’ earlier this week when he was interviewed as an organiser of Union Youth Week which commences next week. Foco Club is undoubtedly popular, with between 400 and 600 people attending each Sunday evening. There is a 30c joining fee plus a 70c attendance charge. One would expect that an enterprise of this size would be reaping huge financial profits. We turn to the Australian Labor Party for assistance to establish what is being done with the money. 1 refer specifically to the ALP’s Brisbane produced magazine ‘Trend’ and to page 11 of the issue for December 1967.
– I raise a point of order. Mr Speaker. The Standing Orders used to stipulate that a member should not read his speech. Do they still say this?
– The point of order has no foundation.
– 1 was about to quote from the magazine ‘Trend’, which said:
Mick O’Neill and Mitch Thompson report that the printing press which has churned out free literature for students over the past few months is now “broke’. In fact not only ‘broke’ but in debt for $600. They are calling for donations to meet the present debts and to allow the distribution of literature to continue.
At Foco. Mr Vic Slater and others collect funds at the door. With 900 attending the opening .session in March, and approximately 450 attending each Sunday night, about $10,000 has been raised so far. This facilitates the employment of six people by an organisation called the Brisbane Underground Machine, which is known as BUM. Brisbane Underground Machine is the loose name for all groups associated with printing activities. ‘Student Guerrilla’ is authorised by BUM - postal address, P.O. Box 90, Brisbane University.
– Again I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Is it permissible for a member of the Parliament to use obscene language in this chamber? The word ‘bum’ has now been used twice.
– The honourable member is out of order; he is using the term himself.
– SD A, at one stage, also had the above address. Foco also has this address. ‘How Not to Join the Army’ was reprinted in Queensland by SDA. The Civil Liberties Co-ordinating Committee also has this address on its pamphlets. The revered poster ‘Jesus Christ Wanted for Sedition Etc’ was printed by this crowd. We get other leads from the Tribune’ and its article of 21st August, which states:
Foco is not standing still. Some of its income has been sunk into the ‘Brisbane Underground’ - a great cellarlike area under an old building near the old markets area. Three young technicians have fitted up an area for the Foco workshop groups, starling with drama, dance and film making to operate during week nights: And there are offices for the SDA and YSL. and a printing room equipped with small, simple presses, from which are coming leaflets, posters, and no» a radical ‘Underground’ weekly paper, the ‘Brisbane Line’.
Many honourable members opposite have seen it. Time restricts me from spending any more time on the political goings on at Foco and I now intend to speak on other aspects. At the outset I state my belief that there would be a tremendous degree of ignorance on the part of most Australian Labor Party and Trades Hall officials as to what is going on, even though I ana aware that this business has been previously drawn to the attention of certain top ranking officials. 1 am aware also that a candidate for the Australian Labor Party at the next State election is also au fait with the situation and has been actively working in an attempt to save young people from being exposed to this activity. Drugs are being peddled at the Foco Club. I am not prepared to divulge my sources of information here but will gladly do so to the appropriate authorities if requested. The illegal and prohibited drugs marihuana and methedrine are procurable for the asking. I do not know whether things have gone past this stage but T do know that dozens of Brisbane’s young people have been hooked by this den of iniquity. If it is allowed to continue the number will grow to hundreds and possibly thousands. It is also a pick-up centre for prostitution, Mr Speaker, and individuals working there will arrange for a young woman to accompany one for a whole night in a matter of seconds. The standard price seems to be about $10. This I also can prove to the appropriate authorities. The approach to many apparently interested young ladies is: ‘Would you like to make some easy money?’ In a nutshell, this whole matter has the odour of a decadent society. It has grown into Australia’s most evil and repugnant night spot. I. truly believe that a tremendous number of people are associated with Foco who just do not realise what is going on. My advice to them is to get out before it is too late.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I reiterate
– Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.
– The honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron) began by telling people that he was aware of his responsibility to the Parliament and to the people of Australia. I put it to him that his speech tonight and his question in the Parliament this morning do not substantiate the rather pious statement with which he opened his remarks. He has used his attack on this organisation as a vehicle for attacking the Trades and Labour Council, the trade union movement in Queensland, and the Australian Labor Party. In his question this morning and in his speech tonight he referred to the Trades Hall as the nerve centre of the Labor Party in Queensland.
No Labor man would deny that the trade union movement is a very important section of the Australian Labor Party. Indeed, we all recognise that the Labor Party is composed of many groups in the Australian community. I think we all would agree that within the trade union movement are people who support parries of other political persuasions. One would, without any trouble at all, be able to name people in the trade union movement in Queensland - I agree that the number is small - who support the Liberal Party, people who support the Democratic Labor Party, people who support the Communist Party and some people who support no political party but who are associated with the trade union movement. The nerve centre of the Australian Labor Party in Queensland is Labor House on the corner of Edward and Elizabeth Streets in Brisbane, and there are trade unions in many other places in Brisbane that are not connected with the Trades Hall or affiliated with the Australian Labor Party. So the fact that this organisation operates at the Trades Hall is no reason for the honourable member for Griffith to try to make very poor political capital from the suggestion that these alleged activities are carried out at the nerve centre of the Labor Party in Queensland.
I do not propose to traverse the entire course of the matters raised by the honourable member for Griffith. He mentioned, quite correctly, that Foco began on 3rd March 1968. It was organised by young radicals and young people associated with student organisations. He stated, quite correctly, that this organisation now has 3,000 members. I draw to his attention the fact that included in the people who attend Foco - and 1 do not think he would deny this, because I heard him say specifically that a lot of decent young people attend this organisation - are members of the Young Liberals, members of the Young Labor Association, members of other youth groups and the sons and daughters of federal parliamentarians. I do not propose to name these people, because I think it is their right to attend any political organisation or any youth organisation of their own choice without being named and without, if I may say so, being smeared in this Parliament.
I put it to the House that the reason that the honourable member for Griffith is concerned about this organisation is that it has 3,000 members and an attendance of S00 to 600 on Sunday nights at 7 o’clock at a time when other political youth organisations, particularly the Young Liberals organisation might be languishing for want of members. Let us look at some aspects of the charges that have been made. I make the point that I have never attacked the Young Liberals, the Young Democrats or any other political youth organisation. I believe that young people have the right in this society, the freedom of which we are all proud to support, to associate themselves with any political organisation of their choice, even though 1 may not agree - and in point of fact do not agree - with political youth organisations that are opposed to the Australian Labor Party. But some charges have been made and I think that they ought to be sustained. I shall now deal with these charges. 1 am particularly concerned with the question of drug peddling. This is an organisation which has an attendance of over 500 people on Sunday nights. I put it to the honourable member for Griffith and to the House thai the officers of this organisation would do everything they could to oppose any drug peddling or any undesirable activities of that kind. If he has any suggestion that the organisers of this organisation have encouraged anything of this kind let him state it quite clearly. 1 am not without some experience in political youth organisations, and the honourable member for Griffith is not without some experience either. We all recognise that when a large number of young people get together, particularly in instances when the attendance of young people from the general public is invited, it is not always possible to control all of their activities. But this should not be reason to smear the organisation as a whole and to use that as a charge against the organisation, the leadership of which .1 have no doubt in terms of this moral question is quite blameless. It is no reason, for narrow political considerations, to smear the Trades and Labour Council and the Australian Labor Party.
I have discussed this matter with the President of the Queensland Trades and Labour Council, Mr Jack Egerton, and he has authorised me to say on his behalf that if the honourable member for Griffith has any charges to make about this organisation, or any evidence to present, he will be happy to accompany the honourable member for Griffith to the Police Commissioner in Queensland tomorrow to present this evidence.
– The police have the information already.
-Order! The honourable member for Griffith has made his speech.
– The Trades and Labour Council would not condone any activities of this kind. It is not to be believed that the organisers of Foco would be responsible for such activities. They would be anxious to expose any activities that were being carried on by people who attend other activities of Foco. Let the honourable member for Griffith come forward and present the evidence that he has to the Police Department in the appropriate way.
The honourable member has never attended this organisation. I must confess that I have been invited but have never gone along, because Sunday nights are occasions when more often than not I am tied up with activities of some other kind. However. I do intend, now that this matter has been raised, to attend Foco for the first time next Sunday night. I should like the honourable member for Griffith to accompany me there to see for himself these young people and to address them. The organisers of Foco make their facilities available to people of many political parties, not only the political party to which the honourable member has referred and I invite him to come along and see the situation for himself and to judge whether the charges he has made tonight in this Parliament against people he does not know personally are fair.
Let us look at the situation. It is a grave responsibility on any member of this Parliament that he may get up under the protection of parliamentary privilege and name people and make charges against people without their being able to take any legal action. I have put the position to the honourable member for Griffith, and I put it again. The President of the Trades and Labour Council in Brisbane invites the honourable member for Griffith to accompany him ro the Police Commissioner tomorrow or early next week and present any evidence that he may have in order that these charges may be properly tested. I took the liberty of contacting the Queensland Police Force today. It was indicated to me that while it is true that a couple of young people who attended Foco have been charged with being in possession of drugs, the Police Department makes no suggestion that they obtained these drugs at Foco or that the officers of Foco had anything to do with the peddling of drugs. T put it to honourable members that any organisation which has 3,000 young people as members, which can get 500 or more young people to attend meetings at weekends and which invites the general public cannot control absolutely the behaviour of every individual. I again extend to the honourable member for Griffith the invitation which has been extended to me and which I have not yet taken up. I invite him to accompany me on Sunday evening next to Foco at the Trades Hall, Brisbane, in order to see for himself whether his charges are well founded.
Motion (by Mr Hasluck) agreed to: That the question be now put. Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 12.22 a.m. (Friday).
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
er asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice: 1. (a) How many leases granted under the City Area Leases Ordinance or the Leases Ordinance have been determined or surrendered in each year since 1950? (b) For what reasons were they determined?
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Annual land rent figures for leases under the City Area Leases Ordinance, the Leases (Special Purposes) Ordinance, and the Leases Ordinance have not been recorded separately.
Arrears at 31st May 1968 were:
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable members questions are as follows:
The above amounts represent the excess over normal costs in Australia for the three Services.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
What progress has been made in implementing and introducing Slate and Territorial poisons legislation since his predecessor’s answer to me on 5th October 1967 (Hansard, page 1841)?
– The Minister for Health has provided the following information:
Since 5th October 1967 the New South Wales Poisons Act 1966 has been brought into effect by a Proclamation appearing in the New South Wales Government Gazette of 6th October 1967. The date fixed for the commencement of the major part of the Act was 1st November 1967.
Legislation to implement the National Health and Medical Research Council’s recommendations in Tasmania has not been passed. It is understood, however, that the Bill will be before the Stale Parliament during its next session.
The drafting of the Poisons and Narcotic Drugs Ordinance for the Australian Capital Territory has reached a relatively advanced stage, despite the technical complexities involved, and the legislation will be finalised as soon as possible. In the meantime, as was pointed out when this question was last dealt with in October 1967. Ministerial notices issued under the present Poisons and Dangerous Drugs Ordinance give substantial effect to the Council’s recommendations.
The introduction of corresponding legislation in the Northern Territory is dependent upon the settlement of the Australian Capital Territory Ordinance.
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
What has the Commonwealth Government spent on civil defence in each of the years 1963-64, 1964-65, 1965-66, 1966-67 and 1967-68?
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows: 4. (a) The Commonwealth has provided training equipment for the Slates to equip volunteer civil defence forces. The cost of the equipment provided is:
Commonwealth for the State Civil Defence organisations. 5 and 6.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has furnished the following answers to the honourable member’s questions:
Urea containing more than 45 per cent by weight of nitrogen. (Statistics for imports of urea containing 45 per cent or less by weight of nitrogen are not separately recorded)
1965-6-38,470 tons .16 cwt 1966- 7-68,443 tons 12 cwt 1967- 8-119,526 tons 3 cwt.
Belgium-Luxembourg Federal Republic of Germany Italy
Poland. 3 and 4. There are no restrictions or prohibitions on the importation of urea into Australia.
Vietnam : American Casualties (Question No. 517)
asked the Minister for Defence:
How many United States servicemen have been:
What has been the number in each category during this year?
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Wounded or injured in action- 168,152. Killed in action or died of wounds - 25,006 (in addition 1777 died whilst missing and 10 died whilst captured).
The U.S. does not maintain separate records of those accidentally wounded in Vietnam. Killed accidentally- 4,355.
Wounded or injured in action - 68,410. Killed in action or died of wounds - 10,457 (in addition 338 died whilst missing and 1 died whilst captured). Killed accidentally- 1,170.
Australian Military Forces in Vietnam (Question No. 519)
asked the Minister for Defence:
What has been the:
cost in each year to date; and
total cost of maintaining Australian Military Forces in Vietnam?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The above costs represent the excess over normal costs in Australia of the Australian Military Forces.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
The allowance is available to persons who are residents of Australia and who have attained, if men, the age of 65 years or, if women, the age of 60 years. It exempts from tax aged persons whose taxable income does not exceed the sum of the full age pension and the maximum amount of other permissible income for age pension purposes.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
What requests or suggestions were made al the Health Ministers’ conference in Darwin in June for legislative or administrative action by (a) the Commonwealth, (b) the Territories and (c) the States?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Ministers who attended this conference agreed that public statements on discussions at the conference should be limited to the following matters:
Environmental pollution arising from -
the use of ‘hard’ detergents;
motor vehicle exhaust gases; and
the use of pesticides.
Smoking and health.
Care of the mentally ill.
Care of the aged.
Prescribing in the metric system.
General Medical Council.
Organ and tissue removal and transplantation.
Teaching of first aid.
I will forward the honourable member copies of the statements issued on these matters.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
What was the nett intake of personnel into each of the Armed Services during (a) each of the past 5 years and (b) each month of each of the past 3 years?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The nett intake of personnel into each of the Armed Services (excluding Pacific Islanders) was:
During each of the past 5 years -
During each month of each of the past 3 years -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows: 1, Australia provided $25,000 towards the operation of the Joint Tropical Research Unit at Innisfail in the financial year 1967-68. Prior to that year Australia provided $20,000 per annum towards the operation of the Unit.
The work will involve exposure at suitable tropical sites of materials and selected military stores with the objects of studying the degradation that takes place, elucidating the causes and devising counter measures.
In addition to prescribing a framework for the management and control of the Unit the Memorandum defines the respective administrative and financial responsibilities of the two parties. The operational direction of the Unit is the responsibility of the Chief Superintendent of the Defence Standards Laboratories whilst management of the Unit is under the direction of a Principal Scientific Officer provided by the United Kingdom. Australia has been responsible for providing and fencing the site and the United Kingdom has met the cost of buildings and equipment. Provision was made for the United Kingdom to establish a nucleus of scientific staff and for Australia to supply the additional staff required.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 12 September 1968, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1968/19680912_reps_26_hor60/>.