26th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Navy. 1. ask: Is the accommodation for naval personnel at HMAS ‘Kuttabul’, Potts Point, Sydney, which was opened recently, entirely inadequate to meet demands? ls this due to a bad error by the naval authorities when making estimates for their requirements at this establishment? Are there any plans to overcome this deficiency? Is it true that the Department of the Navy intends to build barracks at Nelson Place, Williamstown, Victoria, adjacent to the naval dockyards there? If this is so, will the project at Williamstown be used to overcome the inadequacy at Potts Point?
– Mr Speaker, the barracks at HMAS ‘Kuttabul’ were erected to supply accommodation for some shore based Sydney personnel and for the crews of ships being refitted at Garden Island. The capacity of the barracks is sufficient for the normal usage at Garden Island, but during the refit period of HMAS ‘Melbourne’, which has a very large complement, some problems have arisen in this regard. I repeat that for the normal refit programme at Garden Island it is anticipated that the accommodation of HMAS Kuttabul’ will be sufficient.
When HMAS ‘Kuttabul’ was planned, allowance was made for the expansion of the barracks. Indeed, more messing accommodation was constructed then than the accommodation scale allowed for. There is room in the planning for the expansion of HMAS ‘Kuttabul’ if it is required. Regarding the honourable member’s question about Williamstown, crews of ships refitting at Williamstown are accommodated in accommodation ships. The accommodation has gradually fallen below standard and plans are in hand to construct accommodation adjacent to the Williamstown dockyard. There is no relationship between the planning for this accommodation and the position of HMAS ‘Kuttabul’.
– My question is addressed to the Attorney-General. I ask: Has the High Court of Australia considerably widened a House of Lords interpretation of necessary care in the giving of advice beyond professional persons to include all categories where the person giving advice stands in a privileged or advantageous position to another? Could this ruling throw the nation into uncertainty and jeopardise normal contacts? For example, could a swimmer caught in a rip while bathing between flags placed on a beach by a lifesaving club be entitled to damages in that he relied on the advice regarding safety of a recognised authority in the situation? Are we as members of Parliament culpable if we give a reference to a person indicating integrity or honesty, relying on relatively slight acquaintance, and that person subsequently proves dishonest? Or are stockbrokers responsible for losses by clients who take their advice? In short, can some careful delineation of this common law interpretation be given to the nation to prevent chaos?
– It has, of course, long been accepted that physical damage occasioned by the acts or omissions of a person where there is a breach of a duty to take care would lead to an action for damages. The latest decision by the High Court in the case of Evatt v. MLC Ltd, from what I have read of the reasons in newspaper reports - I should make it quite clear that I have not yet read the reasons for judgment of the Court - appears to extend the cause of action to utterances that occasion damage. An utterance, as I understand the decision, can lead to a cause of action only if the person making the utterance is in some special relationship to the person to whom he makes it, that is to say, if he is in a position of advantage and the person approaching him for advice relies on his superior knowledge and makes it clear to him that he is trusting him to give reliable advice.
The decision of the High Court, therefore, probably does not have as wide an application as some people may think it does, lt follows broadly the line that was taken in 1964 by the House of Lords in the case of Hedley and Byrne Ltd v. Heller and Partners. In respect of the specific cases that he raised the honourable member referred to the placing of flags. That is a physical act rather than an utterance and may be covered, in circumstances where there is real negligence, by the law as it existed before I his decision was given. As to the other matters he raised, I think it will be necessary for any person who is giving advice to be very careful to make it clear, if he does not want to be liable for damage, that he takes no responsibility whatever for the correctness of his advice and that the inquirer will act upon it at his own risk.
– Will the Prime Minister advise the Parliament whether he intends to make available Commonwealth transport, including Army trucks, for the transport of urgently needed fodder to the drought stricken areas of the south coast of New South Wales? As the livelihood of many farmers in this area is in jeopardy and as thousands of head of cattle are dying, when can we expect a decision?
– This question refers to a matter that has been raised in the Parliament before, and that is whether Army trucks can be provided to transport fodder from Nimmitabel to Bega. The House may remember that when it was raised before I said that we had received a suggestion from the Premier of New South Wales that this should be done and that we had replied asking what efforts the Premier of New South Wales and his Government had made to transport fodder by the normal methods of private transport. Subsequently we received a message from the Premier of New South Wales saying that he had arranged for local carriers to carry the fodder from Nimmitabel to Bega in the normal way. We have replied to his letter saying that this is good and that it may be wise, though this is a matter for his administration, to seek to make arrangements with national firms which could be ready to assist if the arrangements he has made so far prove to be insufficient.
– I address a question to the Minister for National Development relating to the recent expenditure by the Commonwealth Government of $3.7m to stop drainage from Barr Creek and Lake Hawthorn in Victoria from entering the main stream of the River Murray. Has the pumping of this effluent into evaporation pans commenced, as Press reports suggest it has, or has there been only spasmodic testing of the pumps? If the pumps are not working consistently, can the Minister say under what conditions these schemes will operate to stop thousands of tons of salt from entering the main stream of the River Murray to the disadvantage of towns downstream in South Australia?
– The work to which the honourable gentleman referred was completed, as a result of a Commonwealth grant under the national water resources development programme, round about the end of August or early in September lust - but the facilities have not been used to any large extent yet. Two projects are involved. The one at Lake Hawthorn will not commence pumping until such time as the lake is almost full and is about to overflow into the River Murray, so that maximum evaporation will take place in the lake and it will not be necessary to pump large quantities of this water to an evaporating basin inland. The other project, at Barr Creek, has been completed. I think it ran for about 1 6 days and pumped about 6,000 tons of salt into the evaporation basin at Lake Tutchewop, but because of the increased flow of water in the River Murray the salinity dropped to such a level that it was not necessary to continue pumping. However, I believe that as the level in the Murray is now dropping, these pumps will shortly start up again. It is intended only to operate both of them intermittently to bring the salinity down when necessary.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. The right honourable gentleman stated at the Australian-American Association luncheon on Friday last that America’s import restrictions were illogical, inexplicable and in the long run unacceptable to Australia. Nobody, least of all the Americans, is worried or concerned about such protests, as evidenced by their attitude to the annual protests of the Deputy Prime Minister regarding our balance of trade with the United States of America. I ask the honourable gentleman what action - not words - the Government intends to take to correct the imbalance in the trading accounts which has amounted to $2,679m in favour of the United States over the past 10 years. Is he prepared, in the interests of the Australian economy, to say to the United States: If you do not buy more from us we will buy less from you’?
– I think it would be wise if the honourable gentleman were to read the whole of the speech which I made at that luncheon, particularly that part which related to capital flow from the United States of America to Australia. So that he will be able to do this I shall send him a copy. Subsequent to reading it he might prefer to ask another question. This Government is constantly warning the American Administration that the trade gap between Australia and the United States continues to widen in order to deter it from taking further action. We continue to remind the United States that we are one of her great friends and that she owes it to us to give us a fair go in our trading relationships.
– 1 preface my question, which is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry, by saying that concern has been expressed that the first payment for the current wheat crop might be unduly delayed. Can the Minister state whether delay is likely? If so, what circumstances are causing the delay? Can the Minister give any information as to when the date of the first payment will be announced?
– When I announced on 4th November that the Government had decided to pay the first advance for the 1968-69 crop at the level of $1.10, which it has been paying for the last 1.1 years, 1 pointed out that the decision was made in anticipation of legislation being passed by both the Commonwealth and the State governments in relation to marketing and the stabilisation of the wheat industry. The Bill has already been passed by this House and is now before the Senate. Complementary legislation has been introduced into a number of State Parliaments. In some of them it has been passed. I have not yet been notified whether the Victorian Government will introduce the legislation, although I have read newspaper reports that the Victorian Farmers Union has agreed to support the legislation. Until the necessary legislation has been passed by State Parliaments I am not in a position to say when the first advance payment will be made but I hope that it will be possible to make it on the date on which it is normally made - 1st December.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service a question. I refer the honourable gentleman to regulation 37 of the National Service Regulations, which states that the Military Board shall make arrangements to ensure that national servicemen liable for non-combatant duties are employed only on those duties. What arrangements has the Military Board made under this regulation? Has it prescribed clearly the duties that may or may not be performed by non-combatants? What criteria has it used to distinguish between combatant and non-combatant duties?
– This is primarily a matter for the Minister for the Army. My understanding is that the Army has made a number of suitable arrangements. I will see what information 1 can obtain and together with any information that may be forthcoming from the Minister for the Army, will supply the honourable gentleman with what I hope will be a very satisfactory answer.
– 1 ask the Treasurer a question about drought relief for the south coast of New South Wales. Is it a fact that in the month prior to the Commonwealth’s cessation of full drought relief, $671,000 was allocated to co-operative dairy companies on the far south coast and more than $lm to the south coast generally? Are many of those dairy companies still holding unspent drought relief funds? Is it a fact that due to a bountiful season hay is lying all over New South Wales unable to be stored and waiting to be sold? Does the availability of fodder far exceed all legitimate needs? Has the Eden-Monaro branch of the Australian Labor Party promoted a committee which has intruded into a perfectly sound system and which, being inexperienced in finance, transport and the purchase of hay, has been unable to supply high quality fodder to the satisfaction of all farmers? Is it a fact that if Army trucks had been sent to cart hay to the south coast no hay would have been available at Nimmitabel last week for the trucks to carry? Did private contractors carry one load on Thursday and three on Friday last week? Did the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ send to investigate the position a Mr Joe Glascott who was not seen by the co-operatives but went only to the ALP Committee, which was seeking political advantage and some publicity?
– In the last few years the Commonwealth has made available to the States about $60m in drought relief finance. I see no reason to question the information given by the honourable member concerning the amounts made available to the cooperatives and by the New South Wales Government from finance provided by the Commonwealth. The statements that he makes in this House are usually accurate. As the New South Wales Premier stated yesterday the Commonwealth has agreed to share on a $1 for $1 basis expenditure incurred by New South Wales in providing drought relief for the Bega area. This should have been obvious from statements made by the Prime Minister. This covers both the dairy interests and other co-operatives and it applies also to other funds that might be available there. So the dairy farmers will be able to join in the assistance made available bv the State Government.
As to the third part of the honourable gentleman’s question, I cannot answer that accurately. I believe that most of New South Wales is having a very good season. Therefore, the probability is that hay should be able to be moved fairly quickly into the Bega Valley area. As to the fourth question asked by the honourable gentleman, I believe he would have seen the statement made by Mr Crawford, the Minister for Agriculture in New South Wales, who was highly critical of the Bega Valley Drought Relief Committee. I think everyone should realise that the Committee appears to have made a political gesture. I again have no reason for doubting that the statement made by the honourable member that this action was initiated by the Australian Labor Party in the electorate of Eden-Monaro is in fact accurate. I think his other statement is accurate, too. As to the last two questions asked by the honourable gentleman - I think there were two more questions - 1 do not know the facts. I was not aware that Mr Glascott had been sent down by the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ to the Bega Valley.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question concerning the request that the Premier of New South Wales made for Army vehicles to carry drought fodder from Nimmitabel to Bega. I draw the right honourable gentleman’s attention to a report in the latest issue of the Sydney ‘Sunday Telegraph’. It reads:
Prime Minister Gorton, in Sydney to open extensions to the North Bondi Surf Clubhouse, said the position seemed to require another ‘cry’ from Mr Askin.
Did the Prime Minister make any such statement? If so, what did he mean by the word ‘cry’?
– On the occasion of visiting Sydney to open the extension of the North Bondi Surf Clubhouse I had nothing whatever to say about the drought situation or Mr Askin. This is the first I have ever heard of the words quoted by the Leader of the Opposition. In relation to this matter it would be only right to point out that as long ago as 26th September, in a public statement in this House on behalf of the Government, I stated that we had informed the Premier of New South Wales - as we had done - that we were prepared to provide $1 for $1 for such relief measures as the Premier might see fit to undertake in the drought affected areas. Indeed, if I may quote, I said: . . I have therefore informed the Premier of New South Wales that the Commonwealth will be prepared to meet half the cost in this financial year of relief measures which his Government may find it necessary to continue in these areas . . .
The matter was therefore perfectly clear and perfectly well known as long ago as 26th September. The implementation of these relief actions is, of course, a matter for the State Government. It knew, and it knows now, that we are prepared to continue to meet half the cost. In relation to the suggestion that Army trucks be used to transport hay, I can only repeat once again that on inquiries being made of the Premier of New South Wales as to why Army trucks were required instead of normal private transport, for which the Commonwealth would have been prepared, as it said, to pay half the cost, the reply came back that arrangements for private transport had been concluded or were being concluded.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. In view of the financial hardship frequently suffered by some widows of Commonwealth superannuated employees upon the death of their husbands, will the Minister give consideration to introducing an amendment to the legislation similar to the recent compassionate amendment to the social services legislation which allows for a special intermediate payment to be made to the surviving pensioner?
– The normal practice is for moneys to be paid to the wife of a deceased Commonwealth superannuitant within a period of 2 weeks, or at the most 3 weeks, from the date of the lodging of the papers. We also have provision in the statute itself for payments to be made immediately, or as quickly as possible, if it is found that hardship is likely to occur. Arrangements can also be made for payments to be made to beneficiaries within the normal 2-weekly period. We have particular regard to the case of widows, and wherever practicable we make payments as soon as we can. If the honourable gentleman has a particular case in which he feels there has been an unnecessary loss of time or an unnecessary delay on the part of the authorities I should be glad if he could give me the details and I will have them investigated for him.
The only other comment 1 can make is that we are now introducing a new automatic carding system for the registration of claims. This will, I think, enable us, first of all, to go through the applications fairly quickly, and I hope to be able to reduce considerably the time from the lodgment of papers to the time payment is made.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question which is supplementary to the question asked by the honourable member for Watson. I refer to reports that the incoming Nixon administration will tighten import controls in an endeavour to improve the balance of payments situation of the United States of America. As Australia has had, for many years, a very unfavourable trade balance with America, will the Prime Minister take an early opportunity to confer personally with the new administration in order to ensure that Australia is given a better deal with respect to our exports? Finally, will he seek more concrete indications of the special relationship which Liberal-Country Party governments have so often claimed exists between our two countries?
– I am asked to comment - and I do not propose to do so - on what appear to be fairly speculative reports. I can say that the Government and administration in the United Slates of America have, over a period of time, been made fully aware by myself, the Treasurer and the Deputy Prime Minister of the views we hold on the necessity for this two-way trade.
– Has the Minister for Shipping and Transport yet seen the report of a very costly survey of Australian roads prepared by the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads and by the State governments? Has each State Minister responsible for road planning and construction a copy of the report of the survey, or will he receive one? Do the recommendations concur in principle with road construction already under way? Will the survey report be made public?
– No, 1 have not yet received a report from the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads on the survey being undertaken by the Bureau, in conjunction with the National Association of Australian State Road Authorities. However, I am advised that the Bureau is well advanced in the preparation of the report to the Government. When the report is received it, together with recommendations for appropriate action, will be examined in detail by the Commonwealth Government. Of course, the survey by the Bureau has been undertaken specifically for the information of the Commonwealth Government. The nature of the report and the nature of the decisions upon it are the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government. Any action taken with respect to the details of this report will be a matter of Government decision and consequently not one which I would care to debate at question time.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General. Has the Commonwealth Government any jurisdiction in respect of the assessment and rating formulas used by local government bodies in the various States? If not, in view of the widespread concern over heavy rate increases made by many local councils throughout Australia, is it the Government’s intention to seek the necessary power to intervene in this area?
– As 1 suspect the honourable member knows, the Commonwealth Government does not have power in this field of local government rates. The second question concerns a matter of policy. I do not think 1 should answer it at question time, although L suspect the honourable member knows the answer to that question too.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Immigration. Is he aware that in certain Australian provincial cities and in other decentralised places employment is available for skilled and other workers? Does he appreciate that the available positions could no doubt be filled by migrants but for the fact that suitable accommodation for them is not available? li has been said that full investigations have been made of housing available through State housing authorities, but that this avenue of investigation has been unsuccessful. Will the Minister confer with the appropriate Commonwealth Minister and, jointly with his colleague, investigate the practicability of the Commonwealth Government providing this housing accommodation, so that full advantage may be taken of the employment opportunities that exist and the aim of decentralisation of industry may be fostered?
– The Commonwealth provides accommodation of a transitory kind for migrants. This means not that the buildings themselves are temporary but that temporary accommodation only is provided for a person who comes to this country. Generally speaking, this temporary accommodation is provided in Commonwealth hostels. Recently the Government has adopted a policy of making flats available, and flats have been built in four States as an experiment. We want to see how successful this move is and what is needed for the flats to serve their purpose properly. A third method of trying to provide temporary accommodation has been to make subsidised accommodation available to people in country centres in which no Commonwealth hostel exists. This method seems to be working quite well, although [ am bound to say that it has not resulted in a great number of people going to country centres. The main reason for this is that before a person can be induced to go to a country centre there must be work available not merely for the breadwinner male in the family but also for his wife and children if they wish to work. The honourable member makes the point that there are job vacancies in country areas. I know that this is true, but there must also be job vacancies for the families of the male breadwinners. This is a matter that is being constantly studied.
The honourable member asked whether 1 would discuss this matter with the appropriate Commonwealth Minister. I think I should make this point very clear to the honourable member: We in the Department of Immigration are most anxious to have migrants go to decentralised parts of Australia, but they must make their own choice, and they will make their own choice on the basis of what, is available for them in those places. If we provide temporary accommodation there must come a time at which the temporary accommodation will cease to be available. Then there must be permanent accommodation, and the provision of permanent accommodation in the different areas, and the standards of such accommodation, are matters largely in the hands of the State governments. The Commonwealth’s function in relation to housing is rather different. I need not mention to the honourable member that the rate of housing construction is at present at a very high level. I would like to see it stay that way because we are to have very large numbers of immigrants coming to Australia, and immigrants need houses.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation a question. He will have noted that private developers are now going ahead with the sale of land in the immediate vicinity of Tullamarine airport. Whatever delays and failures there may have been in the past in consultations between the Commonwealth and Victoria about Tullamarine, as noted, for instance, by the Public Works Committee, I ask the Minister: What steps will now be taken to anticipate and avoid grounds of complaint about noise and interference by people living near Tullamarine, similar to the complaints the Minister constantly receives about Mascot airport and the Minister for Air receives about Williamtown airport, both of which have some sea approaches whereas the approaches at Tullamarine . are wholly by land?
– When the Commonwealth purchased land at Tullamarine for the development of a new airport for Melbourne it purchased sufficient to provide an internal buffer for all our requirements for the foreseeable future. In fact the land purchased - more than 5,000 acres - is the largest area at present available for any airport in Australia. At that time there was an understanding with the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works that the area adjacent to the boundaries, projected beyond the intended runway areas, would be zoned for rural purposes. It was so zoned- Subsequently one area adjacent to Sharp’s Road, on appeal to the Minister for Local Government in Victoria, was allowed for development for residential and other purposes. When this matter was drawn to my attention a short time after the appeal had been approved, it was referred to the Prime Minister who wrote to the Premier of Victoria. I understand that subsequently the initial purchasers, who intended to develop the area, sold it to another group of developers who are at present negotiating with the Government of Victoria.
A special committee, which will meet tomorrow for the first time, has been set up by the Commonwealth and the State to discuss the future reservation of areas adjacent to the Melbourne airport. In addition, my colleague the honourable member for Lalor has arranged for a deputation from the developers to meet me on Thursday to discuss certain aspects of this matter. So at the moment the situation is fluid. To my knowledge the developers have not yet indicated that they are proceeding with the sale of the small area of land concerned. I reiterate what I said in this House on a previous occasion - that we believe that this particular area should continue to be zoned for rural purposes. There has never been any misunderstanding whatever about the future development of this airport in respect of runways. The proposals for the development of additional parallel runways have always been incorporated in the plan and the diagrams of these were clearly set out and were understood, I am sure, by all parties concerned.
I should like to finish on this point: It has come to my notice that there has been some criticism of the development of runways well ahead of the establishment of the terminal facilities. This was deliberately planned because we required the use of the runways at Tullamarine for training purposes. Indeed, I had the opportunity of taking the first aircraft in when the runways were opened. Subsequently, we have used the runways continuously for commercial training purposes because the runways at Avalon have almost reached saturation point. The runways at Tullamarine were deliberately constructed ahead of the terminal buildings so that they could be used for training purposes.
– I would like to ask the Minister for Trade and Industry a question. Has he seen a recent report that the Australia to Europe shipping conference has announced that the national Yugoslav line has been admitted to the associate membership of that conference? In view of one of the statements attributed in this report to the chairman of the Australian Tonnage Committee in London that ‘The conference always accepts the principle of a national line carrying its own national cargo’, can the Minister advise whether there is now any likelihood of Polish and Russian carriers, which continue to use the port of Haiphong and which in the near future may be using Australian ports on their return journey to Polish and Russian ports, being admitted to the Australian-European shipping conference?
– 1 have not seen the reported statement, but the quote as recounted by the honourable member can be accepted as correct; the shipping line of a country where the cargo originates is regarded as basically entitled to have a conference association. As to what may or may not happen with Russian ships, I am clueless.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General. I ask: ls it correct that a cartel representing all Japanese ammonium chloride manufacturers has granted exclusive rights to the Australian distribution of ammonium chloride to Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Limited in consideration for that company ceasing to manufacture ammonium chloride in Newcastle? As Japan is the cheapest source of supply, does this arrangement amount to monopolising in terms of section 37 of the Restrictive Trade Practices Act? Will the Attorney-General refer this matter immediately to the Restrictive Practices Tribunal and ensure that other importers are able to obtain supplies of ammonium chloride for their traditional Australian customers?
– I am not aware as to the correctness or otherwise of the matters that the honourable member has stated. However, I will refer this matter to the Commissioner of Trade Practices who would be the one to inquire into it in the first instance.
– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. Has he seen an article in today’s ‘Australian’ newspaper headed ‘Signs of Weakness in the ABC? Can he say whether the inference is true that political1 pressures from ‘a Cabinet Minister, certain backbenchers and the DLP’ resulted in the termination of the contract with Bob Sanders, the freelance interviewer of the programme ‘People’?
– I have not seen the article referred to, but 1 have indeed seen several articles in the last week or so concerning the termination of the contract of Bob
Sanders with the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I am rather surprised to know that such articles are written, as they have been, when in fact this is a matter of normal conduct between employer and employee. Bob Sanders has been employed by the ABC under contract, as have many other people within the areas of television, radio and film production. Of course, on a contract basis it is more than probable that the payment for services is considerably higher than payment on the basis of permanent employment.
If at the end of a period the employer or the employee decides to indicate to the other that he does not wish to continue that type of employment, either of them is quite free to adopt that attitude. Because of questions that have been asked in the other place and which I have answered, 1 have taken the opportunity to discuss the matter with the Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. He assures me quite categorically that in fact there is no influence, political or otherwise, brought to bear by any person or any party in relation to the determination of the contract of Bob Sanders with the ABC. 1 regret very much that those who write in newspapers or those who send out messages over the other news media should take the opportunity to seek to create trouble and in fact to cause trouble by this type of article when they do not understand the facts of the particular situation.
– Has the Minister for Immigration received complaints from former French nationals, who have migrated to Australia and become naturalised Australians, of being constantly harrassed by French Government officials in Australia to get them to return to France to undergo military training under the threat of being classed as deserters or traitors to their former native land if they do not do so? If he has received such complaints, can something be done to terminate this state of affairs?
- Mr Speaker, to answer this question I must go back to a point beyond the question; that is to say, Australia, together with most of the Western countries, hopes to eliminate duality of citizenship. Some other countries adopt as their law the situation that when a person acquires the citizenship of another country he does not necessarily lose the citizenship of the country whose citizenship he held originally. The consequence then is that a person who becomes an Australian citizen by naturalisation will have to be careful to ascertain whether he is exclusively an Australian citizen or whether he has duality of citizenship so far as another country is concerned. It is important for him because if he has dual citizenship the principle of master citizenship applies. If he were in the other country he would be regarded as a citizen of that country and Australia would not be able to intervene on his behalf.
Other countries - and my recollection is that France is one of them - do not have duality of citizenship. Even though persons acquire another citizenship those countries regard them still as having to fulfil a military obligation. Italy is a country where this is found. Greece, on the other hand, is a country where duality of citizenship applies. The significance is that when a person is in the country that was originally his country of birth, he is subject, because of the principle of master citizenship, to the obligations imposed by that country. It is most important for people in this situation to know that they must be alert and aware of this possibility. Therefore when we give a naturalised citizen a passport we draw his attention to the difficulties of duality of citizenship involving perhaps a residual responsibility, such as military service, so that the person will be alerted to the position. For this reason I have received complaints from persons concerned, but really, as I have explained, there is not much that the Australian Government can do.
– In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1966, I present the report relating to the following proposed works:
Television Transmitting Station at Mount BellendenKer, Cairns, Queensland.
Ordered that the report be printed.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate:
Without requests -
Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1968-69.
Without amendment -
Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1968-69.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1968-69.
Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1968-69.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent a definite matter of public importance being submitted to the House and discussed at a later hour this day.
Bill presented - by leave - by MrBowen, and read a first time.
– I move:
Mr Speaker, the Bill before the House is an urgent measure. Since 1911, when the Commonwealth established a system of law for the Australian Capital Territory, successive governments of the Commonwealth have acted on the view that the Constitution and certain laws of New South Wales that were continued in force in the Territory provided authority for persons sentenced to imprisonment or otherwise lawfully detained in the Territory to be removed to New
South Wales and to be lawfully held in custody in that State. On Friday last the High Court of Australia, on an application by Noel Edward Taylor for a writ of habeas corpus, held, by a majority, that this was not the correct view of the position. The purpose of the present Bill is, in the light of the High Court’s decision, to set matters right both as to the procedures to be observed in the future and as to action taken in the past. The Bill has been prepared as a matter of urgency. The Government will keep it under review and propose any adjustments that experience may show to be required.
We have in the circumstances giving rise to the introduction of this Bill an example of the practical application of the rule of law. The rule of law means that all men are equal before the law. It means also that no-one, not even - or perhaps T should say least of all - the Executive is above the law. It involves the existence of an independent judiciary that will examine each case before it on its individual merits and will, if necessary, stand between the subject and the Crown. Mr Speaker, f had felt that I should make these observations before passing on to describe the Bill to the House because the rule of law, with all its privileges and its obligations, tends to be taken for granted and the important place that it has in our form of society is not perhaps always clearly understood or appreciated.
But this very rule of law requires that Parliament should now turn its attention to the position disclosed by the High Court’s decision. There are at present held in New South Wales prisons and other places of detention persons who, in accordance with the due processes of the law, have been tried, convicted and sentenced by the Courts of the Australian Capital Territory or who have been lawfully remanded to stand their trial. The offences in some instances are offences of a serious nature. The procedural steps employed for carrying out sentences have been found to have been defective. It is essential that legislative provision should be made, as a matter of urgency, to correct the position.
Clause 8 of the Bill is designed to provide authority for the future detention in New South Wales of Australian Capital Territory prisoners who were in custody in a prison of the State before the commencement of the Act. Sub-clause (I.) of clause 9 has the effect of ensuring that Australian Capital Territory prisoners who have undergone a period of imprisonment in the State before the commencement of the Act will not have to undergo that period of imprisonment a second time. If it were not for sub-clause (I.), the position, as a matter of strict law, might be that a prisoner would not be entitled to a credit for the period of imprisonment served in consequence of the use of procedures that have been held to be defective. This would be an intolerable position. Of course, no government would assert such a view, but from the prisoner’s viewpoint it is desirable to place the matter beyond doubt. This is the purpose of subclause (I.).
Sub-clause (2.) of clause 9 has the purpose of validating all past removals of Australian Capital Territory prisoners to New South Wales and their detention in prisons in that State. This sub-clause has the effect also of precluding the bringing of any action or proceeding in respect of such removal and detention. These are necessary and proper provisions. Noel Edward Taylor, at the date of his release on 8th November, had served a little more than 6 weeks of a 3 months term. With normal remissions he would have been entitled, subject to good behaviour, to be released on 25th November 1968. Today I have taken action to recommend to His Excellency the Governor-General that he remit the balance of the sentence.
The Bill also deals with the future removal and detention of Australian Capital Territory prisoners. The High Court of Australia has not yet handed down the reasons for its decision in Taylor’s case and it would not be proper for me to comment upon what the Court’s reasons might be. However, there are grounds for thinking that the Removal of Prisoners (Territories) Act should be regarded as precluding any procedures being employed other than those set out in that Act. The Act, however, is not suited to the requirements of the Australian Capital Territory in two respects. In the first place, the Act applies only to persons against whom a sentence of imprisonment has been imposed. It does not apply to the removal of persons who have been committed for trial or who have been remanded in custody. Secondly, the procedures of the Act require that the concurrence of the Government of the State be obtained in each individual case. Accordingly this Bill makes special provision to meet the particular circumstances of the Australian Capital Territory. It deals not only with the removal and detention of prisoners who have been sentenced but also with the removal and detention of remand prisoners and of persons who have otherwise been lawfully committed into custody. Clause 4 of the Bill provides for terms of imprisonment to be served in the Territory or in the State and makes it clear that account shall be taken of periods served in the State. Clause 5 provides for removal of a prisoner to the State on the warrant of an ‘authorised person’. This expression, as defined in clause 3, means the Sheriff or Deputy Sheriff of the Territory, a magistrate, the Clerk or a Deputy Clerk of the Court of Petty Sessions or the Sheriff or like officer of a Federal court. A warrant may be issued, therefore, only by an appropriate court officer or magistrate.
In conclusion I wish to inform the House that I have under consideration the question whether a prison should be established in the Australian Capital Territory and what the nature of such a prison might be. There are some problems. It seems unlikely that there could ever be established in the Territory the kind of thorough-going prison system, including specialist institutions, that are provided for the much larger population and much larger area of a State. Probably, we shall always need to look to the neighbouring State of New South Wales to a fairly large extent. Nevertheless, Canberra has developed at a rapid rate over the past few years and there has been a corresponding increase in crime. There have been discussions between officers of my Department and New South Wales officers. In addition, a senior officer of my Department has recently, in association with other duties, inspected a number of institutions in the United Kingdom, western Europe and the United States. The whole matter is one for decision by the Government, but I thought that I should let honourable members know that it is receiving my attention. I commend the Bill to the House for its urgent consideration.
-Is it the wish of the House to proceed now with the debate on the second reading of the Bill?
– Yes. In this matter the Opposition, as I have stated, has been prepared to allow the measure to be dealt with as one of urgency in view of the dilemma in which the Government has been placed by the recent decision of the High Court of Australia in the case of one Taylor, until recently incarcerated in Goulburn penitentiary, New South Wales. Were it not for the serious nature of some of the offences for which imprisonment has been imposed the situation is one which could probably best be dealt with by someone like the late W. S. Gilbert. Be that as it may, let us get down to the serious realities of the results of the Government’s sloth and incompetence.
The measure is one to remove the Australian Capital Territory from the operation of the Removal of Prisoners (Territories) Act 1923-1967, except in respect of certain sections - section 7, section 8 (3.), section 8a and section 10a. As for the other Territories of Australia, the law in respect of the removal of prisoners or their treatment and incarceration will remain as before.
The Government has only itself to blame for the dilemma in which it has been placed. Some of its omissions would have been looked at askance in the case of a municipal or county council. Here we find a national government putting itself in the position of having to introduce, with red face and acute embarrassment, legislation of this nature. Yesterday the ‘Canberra Times’ carried the following report of this matter:
The spokesman for Mr Bowen said last night-
That is, on Sunday night - the Attorney-General’s Department ‘had known about the point before the (Taylor’s) case came up, and had been working on some sort of action before the judgment was given.’
This Government has a weakness for legal hybridism. This matter highlights the shortcomings of the legal code, both civil and criminal, operating in the Australian Capital Territory. In his introductory comment today the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) said:
The Bill before the House is an urgent measure. Since 1911, when the Commonwealth established a system of law for the Australian Capital Territory, successive governments of the Commonwealth have acted on the view -
The Government still has a 1911 mentality. Today we have operating within the Australian Capital Territory what is nothing more than a legal ragbag of sundry Acts and ordinances. After 57 years the Government has not yet evolved a general civil and criminal code. I understand that the Australian Law Council has for at least 3 years been looking into the matter of a criminal code - that is the term generally used by the Government - but to date we have yet to sec as a result of its lucubrations a criminal code for the Australian Capital Territory. Had there been a penitentiary established in the Australian Capital Territory, as there should have been, this situation would not have arisen. The hard fact is that the national government has been sponging on New South Wales.
– lt was a constitutional liability.
– Sponging is the word. An article in today’s ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ under the headline ‘State bears cost of ACT Convicts’ reads:
The Commonwealth did not pay NSW for holding in NSW prisons people sentenced in Canberra, the Minister of Justice, Mr J. C. Maddison, said yesterday.
There are about seventy prisoners from the Australian Capital Territory in NSW gaols. Hie average cost of keeping a prisoner is $1,300 a year.
So much for the generosity of this Government. I repeat that it is sponging on New South Wales. Apart from imposing on the generosity of New South Wales this Government has for years been wrongly sending men, whether to serve sentences or on remand because they had not yet come up for trial, to Goulburn penitentiary and thereby imposing very real hardships on them.
Anybody who has had any acquaintance with the preparation of a defence in a criminal case will know that a very real burden has been placed on defending counsel in having to travel 56 or 58 miles to interview their clients. I make no apologies for the nature of the offences for which men have been imprisoned. They have been rightly imprisoned and in due course will discharge their obligation to organised society, but the point remains that while the Attorney-General chooses to claim great merit from quoting the rule of law - laudable sentiments in themselves - he has been using it in this case to gloss over the Government’s embarrassment because, to put it in ordinary layman’s language, the High Court has told the Government literally to pull up its legal socks. Financial costs are at all times a deterrent to challenge in these matters. What assistance will be given to Taylor? He is entitled to it.
The hard reality is that this Government functions under a limited Constitution. Repeatedly the people of the various States have shown their distrust of granting additional powers to the Commonwealth. By its behaviour on this occasion - its dereliction - the Government has done nothing further to endear to the people of the various States the case for granting additional powers to the Commonwealth. Since 1911, by section 6 of the Seat of Government Acceptance Act 1909-1955, all powers in force in the Australian Capital Territory remain in force until other provision has been made. Anybody who takes the trouble to examine the laws that operate in the Australian Capital Territory, whether they are those inherited from New South Wales in an earlier dispensation and not amended or replaced, whether they are direct enactments or whether they are local ordinances, will discover quite a legal hotchpotch. Time and again through the years this Government has been under attack on this matter. Questions have been asked. Comment and criticism have been offered by the Opposition. This Government has yet to come forward with a decent legal code, which is long overdue.
One of the worst features of this case is, as the spokesman for the Attorney-General has said, that the Government knew about it and intended to do something. This is a matter that concerns people who are champions of civil rights. Any citizen of limited means who comes forward and challenges the validity of a law has to bear a substantial burden in costs. It has been a matter of notoriety that for many years governments, both Federal and State, have sat pat on legislation of doubtful validity, truculently saying: ‘If anyone chooses to challenge it, he does so at his financial peril’. Full costs could well be awarded to Taylor in this case. I do not condone his offence, but I congratulate him and those associated with him on taking the initiative and challenging the existing legislation. If anything is clear, it is clear in this case that the Act that is now being repealed pro tanto so far as the Australian Capital Territory is concerned, specifically relates only - I repeat ‘only’ - to prisoners who have been duly sentenced.
Mr Shiels of counsel submitted on Taylor’s behalf that if the Executive desired to remove a person from the Australian Capital Territory and restrain him in a State gaol, it was necessary to have an Administrator of the Territory. He stated that the Act required that the Administrator, after reaching a decision to remove a prisoner, should inform the GovernorGeneral, who then would make an order for removal, and either the GovernorGeneral or the Administrator would have to sign a removal warrant. Mr Shiels said further that the only documents issued by the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court authorising the police to remove Taylor from the Territory and place him in Goulburn Training Centre were a return of convictions document and a transmission warrant signed by the court sheriff.
It is typical of the arrogance of this Government that it acts in this fashion. It is time it mended its ways. It has been obdurate even on the question of the abolition of the death penalty, which has been raised here repeatedly over the years. There has not yet been a case in which sentence of death on a prisoner who has been convicted of murder in the Australian Capital Territory has not been commuted. But if there had been a case in which the execution was to be carried out in New South Wales, where governments of both political persuasions have said they are utterly against capital punishment, what would have been the position? lt is hard to understand the mentality of the National Capital1 Development Commission, which decided to get into the act, before the matter had even been considered by Parliament, by announcing that there was no provision for the construction of a penitentiary in the Australian Capital Territory. To save face, the Attorney-General, on behalf of the Government, said that the matter is under consideration. There is no reason, other than local prejudice, perhaps, why there should not be a penitentiary in the Territory. Would its existence pollute the air of this area? Is it too much for the people to stomach? It is time this Government stood on its own feet. It has money to spend in every other respect. Why should it not provide its own penitentiary and stop sponging on the State of New South Wales?
This legislation, as often happens with this Government’s measures, has been drawn up hastily and will have all the defects of hasty legislation. As the AttorneyGeneral has mentioned, the possible effects of this legislation will come under further consideration. We are not prepared to be over-critical at this stage because we know that something has to be done to validate the incarceration of men at present in the Goulburn penitentiary. By the same token, we know that the Government will have to make a very different approach to these matters in the future. We know that in certain cases men have been imprisoned and held in confinement quite wrongly. The Attorney-General1 has made great play of the fact that, as the law stands, if a man were arrested, technically he could again be forced, unless the law is changed, to serve a further term of imprisonment. If that were to happen, of course, it would be an outrage, and it is correct that the necessary provision should be made to avoid such an occurrence. This legislation speaks for the present and for the future. It seeks to validate for the first time the holding on remand in a prison outside the Australian Capital Territory of men charged in the Territory. This is unfair, as I have already stated, and it is utterly incorrect. It is contrary to every tradition of British justice that this should be so.
The Government has done its best, in the time available to it, to protect itself against people bringing actions for wrongful imprisonment and suits for damages. But 1 leave the Attorney-General with the cold consolation that future litigation may ensue in respect of the incarceration of offenders for offences created by Australian Capital Territory ordinances. I particularly stress this matter because, as the Minister stated in his second reading speech, the Removal of Prisoners (Territories) Act in its present form does not suit the requirements of the Australian Capital Territory. Now he seeks for the first time to send to Goulburn gaol persons on remand to appear before a court in the Territory. This is fundamentally wrong. Surely the next of kin who wish to visit prisoners during the limited times allowed should not have to face the burden of having to make a trip to Goulburn. This is typical of the hardheartedness of this Government.
There is not much that I want to add to the existing embarrassment of the Government in this matter. Despite any reply the Attorney-General may make, he well knows just how short the Government has been caught in this matter. He well knows that there is no alternative to the establishment of a penitentiary in the Australian Capital Territory. He well knows that the Government looks very foolish indeed on this occasion. In the interests of the administration of justice, the Opposition does not oppose the measure, but we wish to voice in no uncertain terms just what we think of the Government and its limitations.
– With extreme reluctance I agree, within the limits of whatever my rights of agreement or disagreement are in this place, to the passage of legislation of this sort. This measure is concerned with the rights of prisoners - the rights of individuals, lt may well perpetuate some injustices; it probably will not. It is an important measure as regards the rights and freedoms of individuals. It attempts to validate something that has been going on since 1911. This Bill has been introduced in an effort to correct errors. It has been presented in haste. What guarantee have we that further errors will not be perpetuated, or perpetrated, according to whichever word one chooses to use? I do not think the Parliament ought to agree to the hasty passage of legislation of this sort. Lt is interesting to note that the Government is able to produce this legislation with such speed. But we are not so fast when it comes to removing restrictions upon people’s freedoms or protecting their freedoms. So I raise my voice in this regard.
I remind honourable members that earlier this year legislation to amend the National Service Act was brought hurriedly into this place. Before very long there was public outcry about it. As a general principle I object to legislation of this sort being passed through the House in this way against the traditional practices that have been built up over hundreds of years to protect the right of free discussion. It would be idle to suggest that there are many honourable members in this chamber who really understand all the implications of the Bill, the references in the Bill itself and what the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) had to say about it. I hope that we on this side of the chamber will be very reluctant to agree to this procedure again being adopted with this kind of legislation.
I raise this matter on this occasion only because it deals with people’s rights, people’s freedoms, the power of imprisonment, the power of removal of prisoners from the Australian Capital Territory and the very important point that my colleague the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) raised regarding the question of remanding prisoners. My office is only a few hundred yards from Pentridge Goal. Almost every day I see instances of serious injustices being perpetrated upon innocent people by the use of the bail system and so on. The innocent people in these instances are the families of the prisoners rather than the prisoners themselves. While I am not anxious to see prisons established in the Australian Capital Territory, there must be some other way in which we can deal with most of these matters. I think that the House ought to turn a very watchful eye to any instance in which legislation which concerns people’s freedoms is rushed through this chamber.
– in reply - There were some matters raised by the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) to which I wish to reply. He suggested that the Government had put itself in a position in which it had to amend a law and that this was somehow the result of sloth and incompetence - that was his language - on the part of the Government. I think that the honourable member is a little unfair in his criticism, when he knows that this has been the position since 1911. Every Labor government and every Labor AttorneyGeneral has followed precisely the procedure which the Government has been following. I think it is well to remind the honourable member that at the time when the area that is now the Australian Capital Territory was taken over by the Commonwealth it was, of course, part of New South Wales. After it was taken over, under the provision to which he has referred certain laws of New South Wales, including the Prisons Act and the Crimes Act, were apapplied in the Territory. The view was taken that these laws gave authority for the removal of prisoners to, and detention of prisoners in, New South Wales. The present position is not something that arises out of any action on the part of the present Government. If it was to be righted, it should have been righted perhaps 50 years ago.
The honourable member for Cunningham also suggested that the Commonwealth is sponging on New South Wales. If that is so, it has been doing so since 1911. Every Labor government and every Labor Attorney-General has been involved in this matter. Every Labor government has sponged on New South Wales and is open to precisely the criticism which the honourable member for Cunningham now levels. In view of the facts, I think the criticism is a little unfair. The honourable member made no reference to the Constitution. 1 do not want to take up too much of the time of the House, but I shall read to honourable members section 120 of the Constitution, reminding them that this is part of the compact between the States and the Commonwealth. The section reads:
Every State shall make provision for the detention in its prisons of persons accused or convicted of offences against the laws of the Commonwealth, and for the punishment of persons convicted of such offences, and the Parliament of the Commonwealth may make laws to give effect to this provision.
I do not think it is right to express criticism in the terms which the honourable member for Cunningham has used.
Finally, he suggested we should pay Mr Taylor’s costs in his application to the High Court. I only want to say that Mr Taylor went to the High Court on legal aid provided by the Commonwealth Government.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– In view of the comments which were made earlier I should like the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) to explain the reference in yesterday’s ‘Canberra Times’ attributed to a spokesman for him to the effect that the Attorney-General’s Department ‘had known about the point before the case came up, and had been working on some sort of action before the judgment was given’. I ask this question because the Attorney-General has now put the view that the fault had existed since 1911. He gives the impression that the discovery comes as some surprise and that irrespective-
– I did not say that at all.
– Very welt, I misunderstood the honourable gentleman. He at least made the point that the fault in procedure had obtained ever since 1911 and that it was a fault which Ministers of my Party, as well as of his own Party and its precedessors, had all been condoned party. I therefore ask him when his Department came to know about this point and set to work to correct it.
– It is correct that the procedure which has been followed goes back to 1911. I think it would be also true to say that most Attorneys-General have been aware that one could argue one way or the other on this matter. I recall, in the Department, the matter being referred to Sir John Latham who decided that the practice should continue. I would think that other Attorneys-Genera! also over the years have been aware that there could be an argument advanced against the procedure. On the other hand, the view was not taken that the procedure was wrong. The view was taken that the Crimes Act and the Prisons Act of New South Wales applied to the Australian Capital Territory and that section 120 of the Constitution justified the procedure that was being followed. 1 am not clear whether the announcement made on Sunday night, to which reference has been made, was to the effect that we were aware that this case was coming on on Friday and that we were taking initiative action to prepare a Bill without waiting to see which way the court decided. We took this action in case the court decided that the procedure was incorrect. I have not the report in front of me, but it could be that the spokesman was referring to that fact.
In point of view of completeness of statement, 1 think I should say that for sonic time there have been negotiations between the Commonwealth Government and the New South Wales Government regarding the possibility of arranging for payment for what 1 might call Territory prisoners as distinct from prisoners who are gaoled because they have offended against a Commonwealth law that applies throughout the whole of Australia. In the course of these discussions some consideration has been given to the method of removal of prisoners to New South Wales prisons and their detention in those prisons. There again, this matter would have been under consideration. I think it is either one or other of those two matters that is probably referred to in the reported statement by a spokesman.
– I did expect that in his reply to me the Attorney-General would have given some clue to, or some glimmering of, the Government’s proposals in relation to codifying the laws of the Australian Capital Territory. As usual, the Minister’s main characteristic is his silence. We have repeatedly asked for information about this: we ask for it again. The Attorney-General made much play of the fact that a former Labor administration had accepted the present position. May 1 remind the honourable gentleman that until 1949 there were fewer than 20.000 people in the Territory.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury) - Order! I point out to the honourable member that at the Committee stage he should be dealing with the clauses of the Bill.
-The honourable member can ask the question afresh.
– Very well, I will ask the question afresh and let the Minister answer it. Will he differentiate between a small infant capital city of some 23,000 people in 1949 and a major capital city with a population at present of well over 100,000? Does be suggest that the circumstances of today are different from or the same as those of 1949? Does he not realise that the New South Wales Government was quite prepared in those earlier times to tolerate the situation in order to help, and to help very substantially? It would have been unfair and unreasonable in those days to put to the Commonwealth the proposition that it should establish its own penitentiary. Today there is a very different situation and the Commonwealth should face up to it.
-I think the time is long overdue for the Commonwealth to have a penitentiary of its own. As the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) has pointed out, the Commonwealth has a policy of capital punishment, and if the Government found itself in a position in which it had to implement this policy it would find that the only gallows it could use in New South Wales was at Long Bay gaol. If the government of the day in New South Wales was of a different political colour to the present Government of that State, the Commonwealth Government could well be refused permission to use that gallows. It would then suffer the humiliation of having to transfer the prisoner to Fannie Bay gaol in Darwin to be executed. Therefore I believe that the Commonwealth should build its own penitentiary in order to relieve itself of embarrassment in the future. It has certainly been considerably embarrassed in the matter that has given rise to this legislation. I believe the reason why the Government has so far taken no action to build its own penitentiary is that there exists in Canberra a certain snob class of people who find the idea of a penitentiary in the Australian Capital Territory repugnant. This is why the Commonwealth over the years has had to impose on the State of New South Wales.
I shall make one further point in conclusion. Most of the people who come into conflict with the law and have to suffer imprisonment are from the poorer sections of the community. The richer or privileged sections are generally able to–
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! I ask the honourable member to relate his remarks to the clauses of the Bill.
– My remarks have to deal with the statement by the Attorney-General about the Commonwealth’s intentions with regard to the building of a penitentiary. I was pointing out that the relatives of persons who are imprisoned have to go to Goulburn gaol to arrange bail if a prisoner has been unable to obtain bail at quarter sessions or police court proceedings. The distance involved has been referred to by other speakers. 1 think the honourable member for Cunningham said it was 58 miles. There should be no necessity for this. I believe that the thinking of the Minister should be implemented by the establishment of a penitentiary in the Australian Capital Territory as soon as possible so that the dignity of the Commonwealth Government may be maintained and so that it will not have to suffer further embarrassment.
– Firstly I concede that the position in the Australian Capital Territory has changed over the past quarter of a century from the point of view of population. Certainly the population has grown, and it has begun to grow very rapidly. This tends to accentuate the problem. It does not alter the essential principle involved or the character of the problem but it does accentuate it.
The honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) has pressed me to reply to his remarks on law reform. 1 will say that until now I have deliberately refrained from speaking of this matter because it appeared to me that it was not really relevant to the present Bill. There is a real degree of urgency in this measure as it affects prisoners al present held in gaol, as to whom I have had some word of pending legal proceedings, and 1 think it desirable that this Bill bc not held up by a discussion of law reform in the Territory. However, I can make a general reply in this form: Since 1st January 1967 there has in fact been more law reform in the Territory - and perhaps the honourable member would like to ask me for details - than there had been in the previous quarter of a century.
The only other thing 1 would say is this: The honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) has suggested that there should be a gaol in the Australian Capital Territory. I will bear in mind some of the reasons which he gave for this suggestion. As I indicated in my second reading speech, this matter is under consideration, and I will bear in mind particularly the matters relating to remand prisoners which the honourable member has submitted.
– There are just two matters mentioned by my colleagues, the honourable members for Cunningham (Mr
Connor) and Hunter (Mr James), that I wish to mention. My Party has no wish to delay these proceedings, and I hardly believe that the Attorney-General would imply that we did have any such wish. The fact is that we have very readily collaborated in having the Bill brought on in this place this afternoon. 1 can tell the honourable gentlemen - I guess he knows in any case - that as soon as the measure has passed through this place we shall collaborate with the Government in having it put through another place. But there are two important matters which are relevant to the general issue. It will not take long to put them by way of questions and it should not take long to answer those questions.
The first is the matter of law reform. The question of a criminal code for the Territories has been before the Government in the present Minister’s time and in his predecessor’s time, and perhaps back in Sir Garfield Barwick’s time. Certain it is that questions have been asked by me on this subject for well over 3 years, t have had a question on the notice paper for the Attorney-General since 28th August, asking what progress has been made since his last answer to me on 19th May last year with, among other things, a uniform criminal code for the Territories. 1 would have thought that honourable members might well press for information about progress on this matter, since it is through some deficiency in the matter that this Bill has had to be brought forward today with such speed.
The other matter concerns the erection of a penitentiary and the provision of associated rehabilitation procedures in the Australian Capital Territory. The AttorneyGeneral very curtly quotes section 120 of the Constitution as answering the proposition that there should be a gaol in the Territory. Section 120 precedes the Part of the Constitution under which territories are surrendered or accepted. There were no Territories for 10 years after the Constitution came into force. The honourable gentleman concedes that it is possible to contend that section 120 covers no more than convictions under Federal laws which apply to Australians wherever they live. A different situation may apply in relation to offences committed by Australians in the Territories and therefore under Federal laws in that more limited sense. Moreover he does concede that the population of the Australian Capital Territory and accordingly the number of convictions have multiplied exceedingly since the days when they were merely of marginal moment. I should imagine that the number of convictions under Federal laws in the Territory are now considerably greater than the number of significant convictions under Federal laws in the rest of Australia.
The honourable gentleman should be pressed for an answer which would dispose of any suggestion that the Commonwealth does not contemplate the erection of a penitentiary in the Territory. My colleague, the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor), quoted the National Capital Development Commission. One may discuss matters of Government policy when debating a Bill even though we may not do so by asking a question at question time. I press the question now so as to dispose of any suggestion that the Government is accepting the National Capital Development Commission’s apparent belief that there will not be - that because of Government policy there cannot be - any penitentiary in the Australian Capital Territory. New situations have arisen, as we have found in the law. New situations have arisen for social and demographic reasons. I submit that the Attorney-General would not be delaying the passage of this Bill if he were to answer two simple questions about, firstly, the general criminal code for the Territory - surely procedural matters will be included in that code - and, secondly, the provision of a penitentiary and associated rehabilitation facilities in this Territory.
– A prison would be a suitable symbol of the term of office of the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen). Some of his remarks and attitudes to dissenters and others have not been to his great credit. Perhaps he can answer a question for me. I refer to clause 10 of the Bill which states:
A warrant purporting to be a warrant under this Act and to be under the hand of an authorised person shall be received in evidence in any Federal or State court or court of a Territory without further proof, and is evidence of the facts stated in the warrant.
Like my two colleagues, 1 want to know what is the general principle. When does such a document have the force of law? I. know of a young man, a national serviceman, who was issued by post with a court document which exempted him from military service because of his conscientious beliefs. He was told later that it was issued in error. Did it have the force of law, or did it not? At what stage is a document issued under such Acts and in such circumstances a continuing document with the force of law as is implied in clause 10?
– 1 refer to clause 4, which states: (1.) Where, under a law as in force in the Territory, a person is to undergo imprisonment or other detention in custody, he is liable to undergo that imprisonment or other detention in the Territory, or, in accordance with this Act, in the State. lt is worth examining what laws are, in fact, in force. The criminal law of the Australian Capital Territory is largely that of the New South Wales Crimes Act of 1900 subject, of course, to amendments which have occurred. But in spirit, in letter and in principle it is the penal code of several generations ago. A period of 57 years has elapsed since the Australian Capital Territory was ceded to the Commonwealth Government but today we still have the legal concepts, the forms of punishment, the terms of punishment and the social stigma that were applied to criminals in those days perpetuated in the Australian Capital Territory. It is a disgraceful situation, and the remedying of it is equally as urgent as is the passage of this Bill. We want to hear what the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) has to say on it.
The criminal law should be updated. Penalties are imposed under the Crimes Act which would be laughed out of court in any enlightened democratic community. We are entitled to see that the citizens of the Australian Capital Territory have a modern, updated and reasonably lenient and conventional criminal code.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has put two questions to me. The first amplified a question which was put by the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) about law reform in the Australian Capital Territory, particularly, as the Leader of the Opposition put it, so far as it relates to a general criminal code. I will come to the general criminal code. Before I do so let me mention very briefly some of the reforms which have been made in the period since 1st January 1967, which I mentioned earlier. Apart from a temporary appointment, since 1959 there had been no resident judge in the Australian Capital Territory until one was appointed during the period from 1st January 1967. There had been no up to date jury ordinance. There is now a new, up to date jury ordinance which provides, among other things, for women to serve on juries in the Territory. There had been no ordinance governing the legal profession - no requirement to keep accounts of trust accounts, no requirement to have an audit, no disciplinary committee and no fidelity fund. There is now a printed draft ordinance which is at the stage of final discussion with the Law Society. There had been no proper system of legal aid in the Territory. A draft legal aid ordinance is now under discussion. It provides for a committee to administer a legal aid fund part of which will consist of contributions from people and part contributions from the Government. I have dealt purely with court structure and procedure. 1 come now to the substantive law. I do not want to be diverted too long on the subject of law reform when considering a Bill of the type now before us. On the property law side, might I say briefly that during the period from 1st January 1967 the Territory has received entirely new and up to date wills legislation, entirely new and up to date intestate estate distributions legislation and additions to the real property ordinance which provides for conversion of real property titles under the Torrens system. In addition, a unit title ordinance, which has proved very difficult to draft, has progressed almost to finality. If we get away from property - I have not covered the whole ground there - and come to torts, we find that there was no modern Lord Campbell’s Act in force which permitted people in the Territory to sue when the breadwinner had been killed. A modern ordinance to this effect has been introduced in the Territory during this period. It was not possible where a wife or a husband, both travelling in the same car, was killed in an accident to recover insurance, because there was no right as between spouses to sue. During the period since January 1967 an ordinance has been introduced to make that possible. A new maintenance ordinance has been introduced and new laws relating to marketable securities and the transfer of shares have been introduced.
But I do not want to sidetrack this debate by entering upon a rebuttal of criticism that law reform has not been undertaken in this Territory. I come now to the crimes ordinance. The preparation of a crimes ordinance has been undertaken by the Law Council of Australia. About 6 to 8 weeks ago, at the expense of the Commonwealth, committee members from all over Australia assembled in Canberra and they spent, one might say, a weekend here simply doing nothing but looking at a draft criminal code, which was intended to be towards finality. I might say that I came to Canberra for the occasion and worked in with this committee. This task is a very big one. We found that the ordinance needed was a little too modern. It had got away from Stephens principles. It was a very excellent draft but would have been somewhat difficult in its actual conduct before juries. So the members of the committee had to take back the draft and do further work on it. I understand that they were working on it even as late as last weekend in Brisbane. It is a difficult and very lengthy project. It is an enormously long ordinance. I would not expect to have the final draft from the committee before, I would think, March of next year. But this is the objective.
When I receive the draft in, say, March of next year, it will be necessary for the Department and myself again to do a great deal of work on it to bring it to finality and achieve consistency because the contributions to it have come from different State sub-committees. Final work will have to be done very carefully indeed to achieve consistency and uniform expression. I thought I would make those answers to the suggestions that law reform - including a code - has not been under very careful consideration by the Government. The Government has been making very substantial progress in these fields.
One other matter was raised by the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant). He was troubled about the fact that section 10 makes the warrant under the hand of an authorised person received in evidence. I would point out to the honourable member that this only makes it prima facie evidence; it is not conclusive and it protects the prison official acting on the authority on the face of the warrant, lt is very necessary. A similar provision appears in the Removal of Prisoners (Territories) Act; it is a common provision.
– I rise because the Attorney-General, in the course of the answer he gave to the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor), advised the Parliament that the Commonwealth had paid money for the legal fees for Mr Taylor. Many of us are aware that today legal fees in the community are exceedingly high and we probably feel that Mr Taylor would have had to pay out a substantial amount of money. I would like the Attorney-General to tell the Parliament the amount of money that was involved on this occasion because information I have received indicates that, the Commonwealth gave Mr Taylor the huge sum of $38 for his barrister and S30 for his solicitor and a meal and travelling allowance. I do not know whether this is the usual amount of money that is given by the Commonwealth Government to people who are pursuing their cases in the High Court, but I feel it is totally inadequate. I have been led to believe that the rest of the money involved was found by members of the legal profession. These people are probably aware that there was an injustice done to Mr Taylor. To see that justice did prevail they put their hands in their pockets and provided the extra amount of money that is involved on this occasion.
I think that what we have to be looking at is how many people in the community today may be in the same circumstances but may not be able to get the same amount of help and assistance from the legal profession. When the Attorney-General stands up in the Parliament and tells the people of the nation that the Commonwealth is carrying the financial burden, the figures that I have just read to the Parliament, I think, give a clear indication that he has been misleading the Australian public. I just raise this matter, Mr Deputy Chairman, to let you know that I feel that the Commonwealth, whilst it may cry that it has done a great job on this occasion, has done nothing. Tt is only because there are some people in the community who feel that justice should prevail that this case has been brought before the courts and, of course, that Mr Taylor has received the justice that is warranted.
– In answer to the honourable member for East Sydney (Mr Devine), I point out that I made reference to the payment of legal aid in reply to a question that was put to me. I did not offer this in the first instance but a question was asked and I gave a perfectly clear answer, lt is a travesty to describe my answer as misleading Parliament. I said that legal aid had in fact been granted and this is the literal and absolute truth in every way. This legal aid is, of course, granted on a scale that broadly may be regarded as fixed. It is a scale which has been discussed-
– What would be the normal cost for a case such as this?
-I do not know. But if the honourable members for East Sydney and Cunningham think that legal fees ought to be increased, I do not know that I would necessarily disagree with them.
– Would you pay the difference?
– If you are battling for an increase in legal fees-
– We are not battling for them. We are battling for justice - for those who have nothing.
– Honourable members on the other side of the House seem to think that legal fees should be greatly increased. The fact is that these fees have been discussed.
– We were talking about legal assistance.
– If the honourable member will just listen to me he will hear me say that legal fees have been discussed with the profession and by and large there is a scale where silk or junior counsel is engaged and whether or nol they travel to Sydney. As far as 1 am aware, the normal fees for counsel and solicitor as well as travelling expenses, were paid in this case.
The honourable member for East Sydney suggested that members of the legal profession had contributed to cover expenses in addition to those provided by the Commonwealth. I have no information at all that would support this. But if they did, I can only say that members of the legal profession, of course, are noted for their generosity.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr Bowen) - by leave - read a third time.
– I have received a letter from the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) proposing that a matter of definite public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:
The failure of the Government to establish coastguard bases and facilities in Northern Australia in order to police and enforce Australian laws on quarantine, immigration, fisheries and customs.
I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places. (More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places.)
- Mr Deputy Speaker, several times in this Parliament members of the Opposition and other honourable members have raised the question of the serious problem of the flagrant flouting of Australian laws by foreign ships and crews operating in the remote areas of the northern part of our continent. The matter has now reached more urgent proportions with the proof that foreign ships are anchoring adjacent to the Australian coast, islands and reefs in waters that are territorial waters inside the 3-mile limit and are operating within the 12-mile limit. To make it worse, proof now exists that foreign crews are landing without authority on Australian soil in these areas. In addition, evidence is mounting of the destructive actions by foreign fishermen in what may be termed plundering many of the seden tary fishing areas adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef and to the islands inside what is referred to normally as the outer reef. There is not the slightest doubt that many of these fishing fleets are operating within territorial waters. I do not think that anyone would deny the truth of that statement because of the large number of reports coming from the north of actual sightings of landings of foreign fishermen on Australian soil. They appear to be operating with absolute impunity.
Despite the fact that these blatent infringements of Australian laws are occurring openly, the Government to the present time appears to have been unsuccessful in apprehending any of the mother ships or, the catcher ships, or the crews from those ships who are landing on Australian territory. No prosecutions have been launched although the evidence of repeated sightings is real. What is the reason? It would seem that the organisation and the facilities being devoted to the policing and the enforcement of Australian laws are not effective to the degree that we would like to see. 1 regret to say that in many areas of the north the Royal Australian Navy is fast becoming a joke. Let me make it clear that 1 am not referring to the men in the Navy. The reason simply is that the facilities do not appear to be there. We had the absurd situation last week of foreign ships allegedly operating for 4 or 5 days in Australian territorial waters and our own naval gunboat taking several days before it could be in a position at least to apprehend those ships if it wished to do so.
With such a large area of coastline and considering some of the problems associated with the reefs, cays and bays there, I think that it is an impossible job for one or two relatively deep-draught gunboats to enforce Australian laws effectively. The use of Neptune aircraft to spot and shadow these foreign vessels is very costly and unnecessary. It is possible when we take into account the operational costs of these aircraft, the wages or salaries of their crews and other capital costs associated with the aircraft, that the cost of operating them rises to $400 per hour. The figure reported in the Press was between $200 and $300, exclusive of capital costs and wages. What is required are effective bases located strategically in these northern areas. There is little point in operating from Darwin if the main trouble spots are east of Cairns, east of Townsville or east of Mackay, on the outer reef or at the southern end of the Gulf of Carpentaria. The mother ships are well equipped with radar and have efficient radio. Their masters are fully aware, by means of monitoring, of what is happening on the high seas. I believe that the strategic location of those bases at Darwin, Cairns, Townsville and Thursday Island would go a long way towards providing a deterrent to these foreign interests who are breaking Australian laws deliberately.
It is clear that a major base could be established either at Darwin or at Townsville for the maintenance requirements of the patrol boats but it would seem that a patrol base facilities should be stationed at the top of the Cape York Peninsula to operate between New Guinea and the Peninsula and around the New Guinea coastline as well as in the Coral Sea area. To what degree the patrol boats being constructed at the present time are efficient, I do not know. There are reports that HMAS ‘Attack’ could not operate efficiently around the major reef areas, where these foreign fishing vessels are operating, because of its deep draught. According to the ‘Courier-Mail’, one of the main reasons why ‘Attack’ could not catch the boats for which it was looking was the shallower draughts of the Formosan boats compared with the deeper draught of the Royal Australian Navy vessel.
The Opposition believes that the intruders should be apprehended and that prosecutions, within the provisions of Australian law, should be launched. If necessary, the boats apprehended should be confiscated until the position is clarified. Laws may need to be amended to allow for heavy maximum fines which would be a deterrent to the foreign owners who are in control of these boats. Why is it necessary to do this? First of all, there are laws to be applied. There is a blatant violation of territorial laws concerning the 3-mile limit, and so far as fishing laws are concerned, up to the 12-mile limit. This is known. There is a blatant infringement of Australian laws relating to quarantine, to customs and to immigration through the illegal landing on the Australian coastline, the Australian islands or on the Australian reefs. Australian laws are being broken. What is the point of having laws if they cannot be policed, if they cannot be enforced and if lawbreakers can operate with absolute impunity, as is happening in these areas now? I ask the Government whether it would be so complacent if exactly the same situation were arising in the more populous areas or the southern areas of Australia? Surely the law is the same whether it operates in the south or in the north.
The problem in this matter that most of all concerns me and the Opposition is the quarantine aspect. Before an Australian can enter one of the countries which are sending out these ships he must comply with the rigorous health provisions of that country. Similarly, a person coming to Australia from one of those countries must comply with our health provisions. This is as it should be. The prime purpose of our quarantine law is to provide protection for the Australian population, our animals and our plants. But it appears to be a different law in the north. Here we have foreign ships anchoring adjacent to Australian soil with their crews apparently landing on Australian soil. What concerns me is the danger of disease, particularly exotic disease, affecting our animal industries. Already Queensland graziers have reported many instances in this respect. I can give but one example in the time available to me. Reports have come through of wild pigs actually rummaging in refuse dumped by foreign ships on Australian soil in the Gulf of Carpentaria. The United States research scientists have shown that the virus of foot and mouth disease is capable of remaining alive for up to 101/2 months. Experiments carried out in the United States of America have shown that the virus can be kept alive in the sea for many months when attached to a particular material.
In his second reading speech on a Bill that has not yet been debated, the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) said:
There are good reasons for having severe penalties for offences against quarantine legislation. Breaches of that legislation should be regarded as particularly serious in view of the possible outcome. There could be great suffering or loss of life from diseases such as smallpox, plague, yellow fever or cholera, whilst the introduction and spread of certain diseases affecting plants or animals could have disastrous economic consequences. To illustrate this last point, 1 need only refer to foot and mouth disease, which recently caused havoc and hardship in the English dairying industry.
He went on to say that an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Canada had cost that country more than SCan 1,000m.
We know what would happen if this disease were introduced into Australia, which has 14 million head of cattle and 180 million sheep. Countries such as America would place a total embargo on the export of Australian meats. We should not forget that the virus of foot and mouth disease is a filterable virus and is also transmissible on wool. If the disease were introduced into Australia the consequences to our wool industry would be serious also.
Rumours are also rife in the north of smuggling and of foreign crews coming ashore and consorting with the natives. Whether these rumours are true, I do not know, but the whole object of having an adequate patrol police force in the north is to prevent these activities. We should have an effective force in the north so that our laws can be enforced. Evidence is available of the poaching of fish, of the destruction of parts of the Great Barrier Reef and of the indiscriminate plundering, as I have called it, of sedentary fish. Last week the Queensland newspapers published many statements by responsible people in the area who said they had actually seen foreign crews landing at Portland Roads. Surely enough evidence is available for the Government to take more positive action.
I understand that legislation will be introduced shortly to tighten the laws relating to sedentary fisheries. However, I do not believe that the serious problem in the area is the poaching of swimming fish. This is bad enough, but the value of the swimming fish being taken is not the serious problem. The serious problem is the flagrant breach of Australian laws by other countries that are treating the defences of this country in the north as something of a joke. Surely the Government should adopt a more positive approach. The only solution is the introduction of a fully co-ordinated coastguard service using small aircraft, not the Neptune aircraft, in association with fast, shallow draft patrol boats. This service should be modelled on the system used in parts of the United States where similar problems are encountered. Such a service would be a deterrent to those countries that are flagrantly flouting Australian laws in this area. I admit that this is a difficult area to police and that this is a remote part of Australia. But Australian laws have been made and the Australian laws should be policed and enforced.
– This is the third occasion during this year on which a definite matter of public importance similar to the matter we are now discussing has been brought before the House. Indeed this is very similar to a matter that was brought before the Senate last week. Although the matter now raised places more emphasis on quarantine, it still rings with political implications and has overtones of political stunting. It tries to engender emotions in the public by making statements that are not quite true. Some of the statements of the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) were exaggerated. He referred to the wholesale operations of foreign fishermen in our northern waters and to the plundering of sedentary species. He said that only last week a vessel was reported within the 1 2-mile fishing zone and that the Government did not do anything about it. These accusations are very much exaggerated.
The vessed mentioned by the honourable member was sighted by an aircraft on 3rd November and again on 5th November in exactly the same place, lt was outside the 12-mile limit. It was more than 12 miles from the nearest permanent land mark, which was Raine Island. When the ‘Attack’ went to the area later in the week, the vessel was still in the same position outside the 12-mile limit. The statements made by the honourable member are wild, although I agree with him that we need to be constantly vigilant to prevent the introduction of any exotic diseases and that we want to do our utmost at all times to ensure that our quarantine regulations are enforced. The honourable member’s accusation that the Government has failed to enforce laws relating to quarantine, immigration, fisheries and customs cannot be supported.
Whenever reports have been made that foreign fishing vessels are operating in the nothern waters, we have acted immediately. In the last 12 months or so three such reports have been made. We have had evidence of foreign fishermen landing or fishing within the 12-mile limit. The first case related to Green Island, where apparently some Formosan fishermen landed. On another occasion it was reported that fishermen were fishing off Cairns. A Queensland fisheries officer and a Commonwealth police officer boarded the boat and asked the fishermen what they were doing. The fishermen replied that they did not know they were violating the law and they were allowed to go on that occasion. However, the incident was reported to the Chinese Embassy, as was the previous incident. In the last few months we have had another report of a landing at Portland Roads, which is about 200 miles north of Cairns. It is a deserted jetty. This incident also was reported to the Chinese Embassy in Canberra.
These are indications of the action taken by the Government. Another clear indication of the Government’s determination to police the activities of foreign vessels is given by the action taken recently when such activities were reported as taking place off the coast of north Queensland. When reports were received that a Chinese fishing boat was operating near Cape Grenville and that what appeared to be a second Chinese vessel had landed a number of crewmen at Portland Roads, which was the scene of earlier activities that were reported to the Chinese Embassy, arrangements were made for the Navy patrol boat ‘Attack’, which was on a routine patrol of the Gulf of Carpentaria, to proceed immediately into the area. By arrangements with the Queensland authorities, a fisheries officer, who was authorised to act under the Commonwealth Fisheries Act, was sent immediately from Cairns to join ‘Attack’ at Thursday Island. Attack’ proceeded immediately to the Cape Grenville area but failed to locate the Chinese vessels. On Sunday, 3rd November, and aircraft was sent up and it located a Chinese vessel. Because of bad weather, it was not possible for the patrol boat to proceed through the reef on Monday, 4th November, and Tuesday, 5th November. An aircraft of the Royal Australian Air Force searched the area again on Tuesday, 5th November, and sighted the Chinese vessel in the same position. The patrol vessel proceeded to the area on Wednesday, 6th November, and located the Chinese vessel, which was anchored outside the 12-mile exclusive fishing zone surrounding Raine Island. As no offence was being committed and this vessel was on the high seas no action was taken. Nevertheless, the presence of the aircraft on the two occasions, and the appearance of a patrol vessel, would be a clear indication to the Chinese that the Australian Government was maintaining watch over the activities of foreign vessels.
One may ask why so much interest has been created in these northern waters this year. Only this year have they really been before the attention of the Australian public, and this mainly because of the action taken by this Government to extend our authority to preserve our fishing rights. The action taken at the beginning of this year to extend our fishing rights to a 12-mile limit means that we have a bigger area to police, to authorise and to look after. This action was taken because of the activities of foreign fishermen in northern waters. We have to prevent these activities. The other reason was that this Government was and is concerned about the damage that is being done to the Great Barrier Reef, including the plundering of our clams. I have already notified the industry, and this House on an earlier occasion, that the Government intends to bring legislation before the Parliament during this session to ensure that we have control over the sedentary species, including clams, and the Reef. This will give us complete control over the whole of the Reef, even though it might be well outside the 12-mile exclusive fishing area.
It is because of the work which the Commonwealth and Queensland governments have undertaken in conducting marine surveys, in testing new fishing grounds and in developing a very prosperous prawn industry mainly in the Gulf of Carpentaria, that the attention of foreign fishermen has been directed to this area. This is why we are faced with the problem of ensuring that the area is properly policed. Negotiations have been conducted with the defence departments, principally the Department of the Navy and the Department of Air, to implement regular patrols, using naval vessels for patrolling certain waters and calling in the Air Force if necessary to check on any sightings. At the moment these regular patrols cover the Gulf of Carpentaria and the northern coast of the
Territory. These regular patrols cover an area of 2,000 miles or more. All naval and fishing vessels in the region, extending right round the Western Australian coast, have been asked to report sightings of foreign vessels which are violating Australian fishing laws. This patrolling is still in its infancy. It is being considered by an interdepartmental committee which has the responsibility of making recommendations to the Government on the most effective and appropriate form of patrol to be implemented.
The type of patrol that Australia may need in the future will depend entirely on the circumstances. It will depend on other commitments which the Navy and the Air Force have. To carry out this type of patrol it may be necessary to form a fisheries squadron attached to the Navy, similar to those which operate in New Zealand and the United Kingdom. At this early stage we must be very careful not to duplicate a service which could be carried out satisfactorily by our Navy in conjunction with the Air Force. A more satisfactory arrangement may be the chartering of private vessels and the use of private aircraft. This could prove satisfactory in the very remote areas that are further removed from normal naval or RAAF bases. It might be important also to strengthen and to expand the State fisheries patrols. But as I have already said, all these things have to be looked at in the light of existing circumstances.
The point that I want to stress to honourable members is that this problem has to be looked at also from the point of view of cost, lt is one thing to say that we have the necessary legislation, but it is another thing to know how far we can afford to go in enforcing it. This area involves thousands and thousands of miles, and if we were to give it absolute protection and control the cost of doing so would be far beyond the benefit that might be derived. We should ensure that our known resources of marine life are not being exploited by foreign fishermen, and if these fishermen do breach Australian fishing laws we should do our utmost to have them prosecuted. This matter must be handled with reason, lt is all very well to say that a boat was reported last week - outside the 12-mile limit - and that therefore we should immediately change our present patrol system. If it does become obvious that the present patrol system is not working satisfactorily, then certainly we will have to take other measures.
The maintenance of a quarantine reporting system in the remote northern areas is very important. The present system is working satisfactorily. A special reporting system operates around the northern Australian coastline to guard against the introduction of human, animal or plant diseases by persons such as castaways. All lighthouse keepers and officials at mission stations and settlements around the coastline report to the authorities by wireless immediately a castaway or vessel is found. The Department of Health then acts in conjunction with the appropriate State or Northern Territory authorities and with the defence Services to locale and place in isolation that castaway or vessel. Lighthouse keepers, who have been appointed quarantine officers, have power under the Quarantine Act to order into quarantine any such persons, animals, plants or goods which might be considered to be a quarantine risk. At the suggestion of the Animal Quarantine Branch of the Department of Health the Queensland Government appointed fifteen officials on various Torres Strait islands as inspectors under the stock Acts. For 24 hours a day these officials are in wireless contact with Thursday Island, where a veterinary officer has been stationed. Their duties are to report all stock movements and any illness in animals.
I think it is clear from what 1 have said that whenever there has been a report of a foreign vessel within the 12-mile limit the necessary action has been taken. Action will be taken immediately there is any plundering or damage to the Reef. The Government will take the. maximum steps on every occasion to see that any castaways or foreign vessels are inspected and placed in quarantine until the necessary regulations are complied with.
– I support the case ably presented by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson). 1 regret that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) should have implied that our raising of this matter was for political purposes - that the Opposition was guilty of political stunting. We accept the Minister’s assurance that the Government is at all times concerned with the danger of allowing into this country diseases that could be disastrous to all Australians. The Minister stated that this matter has received a great deal of attention only in the last 12 months. Probably two reasons exist for this situation. Firstly there has been increased activity in the area: More foreign ships are now operating in the area. Secondly this is a matter that has received a great deal of attention by the honourable member for Dawson. Until the honourable member pointed to the great dangers that existed very little was said on this subject in the Parliament.
The honourable member for Dawson has raised the matter on a number of occasions. In recent months the Opposition has repeatedly urged that attention be paid to the vulnerability of the Australian coastline, particularly the great fishing grounds of northern Australia. There has been no reduction of this urgency. Clear signs exist that the encroachment of foreign vessels into Australian waters is increasing. In the past 10 days there have been frequent reports that five fishing boats from Taiwan have been operating inside territorial waters of northern Queensland.
– The Minister has denied the presence of these vessels, but the fact remains that throughout this year there have been persistent reports of foreign boats operating in increasing numbers in Australian waters. These reports are symptomatic of mounting evidence that in the past year there have been unauthorised landings on Australian territory and illegal intrusion into Australian territorial waters and fishing grounds. In these vast unpatrolled waters there can be no accurate assessment of the frequency of illegal operations by foreign fishing boats. The latest reports follow a spate of reported sightings in Barrier Reef waters in July and August. Obviously exploitation of and intrusion into Australian waters must increase with the lure of the great fishing grounds. The plundering of the natural resources of northern Australian waters can also be expected to increase if foreign vessels find that they can enter these waters undetected and unsupervised. This has been the position in the last 12 months.
The Government has shown unwarranted timidity in its failure to appropriate the great fishing grounds of northern Australia and to patrol and police the Australian coastline. This is why the Opposition has moved for the establishment of proper coastguard services in Australia. The oceans off Australia can no longer be regarded as international backwaters. In the years ahead there will be increasing activity by scientific, naval and fishing interests in all waters surrounding Australia. This country is entering a great period of growth in marine activity with the most vulnerable and least patrolled coastline in the world.
I do not want to deal at great length with the controversy over fishing waters. This has been dealt with fully by the honourable member for Dawson. The Government has been extremely timorous in its approach to this matter. I see no reason why Australia should not pre-empt fishing waters outside territorial limits in the waters of northern Australia. There is ample precedent for such action, notably Russia’s assertion of fishing rights well beyond territorial limits in the Black Sea and off its Asian coast. Other countries, such as Chile and Argentina, have asserted rights to fishing grounds up to 200 miles off the coast. By adopting a negative and exceedingly cautious approach the Government has cleared the way for still further foreign exploitation of these fishing grounds.
One reason for the Government’s lack of positive action to assert these fishing rights has been its inability to patrol and police effectively the fishing grounds in northern waters. In these circumstances the Opposition urges the Government to establish an independent coastguard service. In the past there may have been some excuse for not developing coastguard facilities, but there can be none now. Quite clearly the Navy has not and will not have the resources to patrol and police the Australian coastline and Australian waters even with the patrol vessels which it is now acquiring. Admiral Crabb has estimated that the Navy will require an additional 30 patrol boats to give it any sort of effective capability to patrol and police these waters. There is no reason why an independent coastguard service should not be established under the overall control of the Department of Shipping and Transport. Such an independent service could be equipped with a fleet of 20 to 30 patrol boats of the same design as the Navy’s patrol boats. If this were done an independent coastguard service could operate in conjunction with the Navy. In times of emergency the coastguard service could be incorporated into the Navy and could act as a specialised unit of the Navy.
A coastguard service could perform effectively a host of functions now being performed inadequately or not at all. It could provide search and rescue services and maintain navigation and safety aids in Australian waters. It could supervise all marine commerce in territorial waters and could safeguard Australia’s interests on the high seas. Most importantly, it could enforce all applicable Australian laws on the Australian coastline and in adjacent waters. Such a service could be given authority to police all Australian laws, including customs, immigration, fisheries and health, as was outlined by the honourable member for Dawson. Coastguard patrol vessels could be equipped to carry out scientific studies of the ocean and the weather. Such activities would stimulate fishing in Australian waters because they would provide the scientific information on which commercial exploitation of fishing grounds is based. A coastguard service could establish ocean stations in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean on the lines of the stations conducted by the United States Coastguard in the Atlantic and the Pacific.
The introduction of an independent coastguard service would be a costly operation, as the Minister for Primary Industry pointed out. Nobody denies that fact. However, part of the cost would be covered by economies in other departments which now undertake functions which would be performed by a comprehensive coastguard service. In any cass the cost aspect will have to be faced if any degree of adequate security is to be assured for Australian territorial waters and fishing grounds and Australia’s coastline. In the past 2 years there has been a gradual groping towards a national fishing policy which would conserve and use the immense natural resources in our waters for the benefit of Australia. Such a policy is viable only if it is backed by a coastguard service capable of protecting and assisting the fishing industry. A coastguard service could perform many other functions.
As the honourable member for Dawson pointed out, the Government has a responsibility to do something about the increased activity of foreign fishing interests in our northern waters. Admiral Crabb, who is an expert in these matters, has said that if Australia is effectively to patrol the waters of the north it will need more than the number of patrol boats which the Government has on order. At least 20 of these craft-
– The Government will need twice as many.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I am surprised that the Opposition has introduced this urgency proposal at this time. The honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson), who introduced this proposal, is well aware of my concern regarding the matters he mentioned. He also knows that he and I are in complete agreement on some major issues affecting north Queensland. On one issue in particular we made a Statewide television appearance together, advocating that both State and Federal governments should implement a certain scheme. While I am in complete sympathy with the basic reason for his proposal and support that reason entirely, 1 cannot go along with the Opposition’s purpose in introducing it at this time.
Ever since I made my maiden speech in this House I have been advocating a control by patrol policy to protect our northern coastline and fishing industry from what I have termed indiscriminate plundering and illegal excursions by foreign fishing vessels. If the honourable member for Dawson had studied Queensland Press reports and the Hansard of this House, he would have noticed that I have constantly submitted to both State and Federal governments that there has never been a time more opportune than the present to initiate a control by patrol policy. He would also have noticed that ex-Senator Heatley and I were the ones who advocated a tough, ruthless policy to deal with these foreign fishing vessels that visit our coastline. Parts of our Great Barrier Reef would be destroyed because of the fishing methods employed. I have also stated publicly that 1 would not accept the assertion that our northern waters are too vast to control. 1 mention these facts to the honourable member for Dawson, and to other members of the Opposition who may be interested in this subject, to show that they are not the only ones concerned about it. If some planning had not been undertaken to deal with this situation, there would have been a loud growl from me before this.
If honourable members care to study Hansard, they will find that towards the end of May this year, in reply to a question asked by me, the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) informed the House that a survey of the problem had been made and would be continued. He expected that the remainder of the naval patrol vessels on order would be completed by the end of this year. If honourable members had been studying the Press reports they would have seen that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) is well aware of the situation. He stated this afternoon, as he has stated on more than one occasion, that a method of patrolling our fishing grounds would be implemented possibly by utilising the Air Force and the Navy. As he explained this afternoon, consideration of such a system is under way. Honourable members would also have noticed that in the last fortnight the delivery of naval patrol boats on order has been completed. As the Minister for Primary Industry has said, a great deaf of thought has been given to this matter.
I am impatient enough to demand some thought and action on it. But with all due respect to the implied concern of the Opposition in this matter, I can assure the House that no-one has kept a closer watch on the situation than I have. I can assure those honourable members who have expressed concern that this matter is certainly receiving attention. 1 do not pull any punches when I say that I, too, was concerned when I thought that action in this matter, which I regard as very serious, was being unduly delayed. After having all the implications explained to me, I realised that a plan could not be implemented within a fortnight. This matter has international implications, and any measures adopted are not meant to be operative for just one month or a year. No doubt they will become part of our permanent programme of protection. Such measures cannot be put into effect overnight. As I have stated, I am an impatient type; 1 want action. But I realise that action cannot be taken quickly. After considering the matter and listening to the Opposition and realising that it is urging the Government to take action immediately, I would say that if, by some freak of fate, the Australian Labor Party were to grace the government benches it would charge in with some action, as I gather from what has been said today, without giving proper and due attention to the necessary details. In that event, this country would be in a dreadful mess within a few months.
I mentioned that I was surprised by the Opposition’s move. I am amazed that it should present this proposal at a time when the Ministers concerned have made known to the public, through the Press and the Parliament, that they are aware of the circumstances and are doing something about the matter. If the honourable member for Dawson, who introduced this proposal this afternoon, had made even one telephone call to the Ministers concerned or their departments, his concern would have been eased if he had been so worried. I am disappointed at the Opposition’s attempt on this occasion to gain political mileage out of a matter that is being considered by the Government at this moment and in respect of which proposals will be implemented after all the factors have been carefully considered, as the Opposition was told again today by the Minister for Primary Industry. Honourable members opposite know that this is happening and that all matters have to be considered to obtain the maximum control by patrol. After listening to Opposition speakers in this debate on a matter which has been brought up in this House before, and after studying Press reports and information I have obtained from the departments concerned, T can only conclude that the Opposition has wasted the time of the House today for political expediency.
Opposition members - No.
– As I said previously, I entirely support the basic reasons for the Opposition’s urgency proposal. I have nothing against these basic reasons at all, but I cannot go along with the Opposition’s purpose in introducing this proposal for discussion today.
– I welcome the discussion on this matter. 1 believe it is an important subject. The honourable member for Herbert (Mr Bonnett), however, does not think it is important enough to be discussed. I feel that we have to bring it up more often because not enough attention is being given to it. I do not like a policy of wait and see. This appears to be the Government’s policy at the present time. It waits until something happens before doing anything. It is a long time since I first spoke in this House about poaching on our mainland. Never mind our islands’, foreigners are coming ashore on the mainland. It is most important from a health point of view that we do something to stop them. I do not know whether kangaroos are subject to foot and mouth disease. But if they are - and I suppose all animals are - it is a grave responsibility for any government to leave the way open to the entry of this disease in the way the north of Australia has been left open.
The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) said the coastline is too huge to patrol. There is no need to patrol the whole of the coastline at all. Nothing will come up from the south to attack us or to poach in our waters or on our land; but there is great danger in the north. Foreigners are coming ashore in the north, and it is no good closing our eyes to the fact. But it is too late to do anything about it once any disease has been brought into the country. Smuggling is going on in north Queensland. Crocodile skins are being taken from north Queensland on these foreign ships that come to the mainland to refuel. Above all, as the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) pointed out, foreign seamen mingle with the people living along the coastline - Aboriginals, miners and Torres Strait islanders alike. I have evidence which indicates that exchanges of goods is taking place between foreign ships and our own fishermen. This is a very dangerous practice. I think it should be brought to the notice of our own fishermen that it could be very dangerous to the whole of Australia. Unless this area is patrolled properly it is not worth patrolling at all. Recently it was announced that the twentieth naval patrol vessel was to be launched on 7th November. The Minister for the Navy (Mr Kelly), in answer to a question, said that he thought that twenty was a sufficient number of patrol vessels. But he was contradicted by the Flag Officer Commanding the Australian Fleet, who said that double that number of patrol boats was required. Whether or not this is true, I believe that the twenty boats which we have could be used to advantage in the northern waters of Australia at the present time.
There is no need to establish a naval base in the north for the purposes of which I am speaking. The maintenance escort vessel HMAS ‘Stalwart’ could go to the area and the twenty patrol vessels could be used not only to patrol the waters but also to learn something of the area. I believe that foreign fishermen have a greater knowledge of the channels in the Great Barrier Reef than we have. They know where to go. They know whether the channels in the Reef are deep enough to take their vessels. They could lose our vessels completely, lt is not worth while broadcasting over the radio, for instance from Townsville, that a ship has been sighted off Portland Roads. It could be in and out of the Reef on 3 or 4 occasions before a naval patrol boat could reach the place where it was seen. The nearest patrol boat would be the one based in New Guinea or the one based in Darwin. There is no reason in the world that a foreign vessel could not get through the Reef on 3 or 4 occasions and foreign fishermen land on any part of the coast between Cairns and Cape York Peninsula before a naval patrol boat could reach the area. This is not a wild statement. This has been happening. The only instance of which the Government is aware are those that are reported to it. The number of occasions on which this is happening is increasing every year.
The Minister for Primary Industry said that he was concerned about the Great Barrier Reef. These foreign fishermen are doing more damage to the Reef than anybody else. It is only by constant patrol of the Reef that we can prevent this happening. When I say ‘constant patrol’ I mean that patrol boats should be stationed in the vicinity of Cairns, Cooktown, Thursday Island or the Gulf of Carpentaria. It is foolish to say that patrol boats stationed in Darwin or in New Guinea are capable of preventing encroachment of foreign fishermen on to our mainland. These men go ashore and light fires. They feed themselves.
They wander around the scrub and they leave lots of food scraps around which attract wallabies, kangaroos and wild pigs. Disease could be spread easily and quickly by horses or by pigs in particular. There arc many wild pigs in the area. This is the sort of animal which could carry the diseases which we are so careful not to allow into the country. Honourable members saw what happened in England. We have heard of other cases. We do not want it to happen in Australia.
The reason why we have again raised this question is to draw the Government’s attention to the fact that it is too late to act after something has happened. Now is the time to take action. We have patrol boats. We have a maintenance vessel for those patrol boats, lt would be a good exercise for the Navy to allow these patrol boats to patrol out northern waters. It would give the Navy a chance to operate around the coast and to learn more about the Great Barrier Reef than it knows at the present time. Perhaps it would learn a little about the channels in the Reef, by chasing some of these foreign ships along the coast. As the honourable member for Dawson pointed out, these foreign fishermen have strong radios and they are able to listen to every movement that is going on. I believe that the time for action is now and that the Government should be taking steps to station some of these patrol vessels in the north instead of stationing them in the southern capitals to show them off. Their job is to protect Australia. It would be a good exercise for the Navy to have these patrol vessels stationed in the north. The maintenance ship would be able to take part in the exercise as well. The Navy generally would obtain greater information about our northern waters than it has at the present time. 1 do not want to make a political issue out of this question, but I point out that an editorial in the Brisbane ‘Sunday Mail’ recently stated:
Governmental dithering about securing our coastal waters against intrusion can be tolerated no longer. Not only must there be a firm policy, but it must be enforced rigorously.
I will not go on because honourable members probably will have read it themselves. If they have not, they should do so. Honourable members opposite cannot say that these editors are political or that they are favouring our side of politics. They realise the dangerous situation that could arise in the north. 1 believe that there is a smuggler’s line in Queensland and that smuggling is going on. It happened in the early days when gold was discovered. Many hundreds of pounds of gold were smuggled out of the north, and the same thing can happen with other goods. Indian hemp, from which marihuana is made, is grown in Cape York Peninsula. Where did it come from in the first place? It was planted there many years ago and it is being grown again. Most of it is not being sent to the capital cities of Australia. 1 believe it is going overseas, for other people to exploit it. However, if 1 am wrong in that, that does not make any difference to the question we are discussing. It is the Government’s duty to protect Australia - particularly our dairy industry and animal industry, including cattle, pigs and so forth - from any chance of the outbreak of some disease which could destroy a lot of our export products, lt is really beyond the limit to say that two patrol boats - one station in New Guinea and one in Darwin - are effective in patrolling our northern waters.
– I rise with a good deal of feeling about this matter, for two reasons. The first is that it is obvious that the patrolling of our northern waters presents a tremendous problem, lt is also obvious that without coldly examining the facts we cannot claim that the Government should be doing something far more urgently than it is. First, let us examine the area concerned. The first point that strikes us is the complete isolation not only of the shoreline itself, but also of huge tracts of country - the foreshores. The northern part of Australia does not offer any great incentive to anyone to come ashore and plunder the land. But people are plundering our shorelines, so far as our fisheries are concerned. This is the problem.
We people who know the area and who have spent our lives in areas adjacent to it realise that there are difficulties associated with any sort of communications, let alone communications of a type which report the arrival of ships or persons or things on the shoreline or in adjacent waters. I suppose that for the patrolling of our northern waters to be effective there would have to be a shore based patrol about every 100 or 200 miles along the coast. Is anyone going to suggest that this would be practicable at the present time? I believe that there is a solution, or a partial solution, to the problem, and it is based on the attitude of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony). We could give priority and encouragement to the establishment of shore based treatment plants. The Minister has made his attitude quite clear. He will give priority to those who are prepared to establish bases on shore, rather than those who intend to use factory ships which can be here today and gone tomorrow. As these shore based facilities are established, many of our Aboriginal people can be absorbed into the industry. They would constitute a force of vigilantes, if I may use that term, and would help tremendously with the problem of crews of foreign vessels encroaching on our shores.
I think it is acknowledged that there is at least a partial resentment on the part of Aboriginals at interference with areas traditionally important to them by industries which have been established in the northern parts of the continent. This is realised by people who understand these matters. I am not referring to Martin Place experts; 1 am not referring to the Johnny-come-latelies or to those who zoom through the north and then set themselves up as experts on it. I am not referring to the theorists: I am referring to those who have lived among the Aboriginal people and acquired an intimate knowledge of their particular characteristics - and may 1 humbly say that I am one of those. I believe that if they were absorbed, at least partially, into the industries which have been established in their areas they would feel that they belong.
This is particularly true of the industry that has started almost a gold rush in the northern part of Australia - the prawning and fishing industry. I think one can say with complete accuracy that before the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation carried out its surveys and discovered the abundant prawning grounds in the Gulf of Carpentaria, many of the Aboriginals at Mornington Island, Doomadgee Mission and other places in Queensland and the Northern Territory knew of the existence of these tremendously rich fishing grounds. I can tell the House that the Queensland Government, which is concerned with many missions that operate in the northern part of the State, has clearly indicated that Aboriginals must participate in the industry. That Government has set out clear guide lines for anyone who wants to enter the industry. 1 have actually seen a form of agreement submitted to a company which wishes to participate in this great gold rush of fishing in the north and to operate near one of the missions. The conditions are very stringent indeed. They include a demand that Aboriginals participate under industrial conditions similar to those applicable to all other people in this country - and that is as it should be. There is a condition that the forests be left, after the company departs, as they were when it commenced operations. There are similar conditions relating to other matters.
If the Aboriginal people were brought into the industry three things would be achieved. Firstly, the knowledge possessed by the Aboriginals would become available to the industry. I can tell the House that if the Aboriginal participates in something in which he is interested and of which he has a knowledge, he is a very good and reliable worker. Perhaps if he is asked to work at something with which he has not been associated he may find it strange and may be found wanting - but not necessarily so. So I say that the first thing that would be available is the knowledge of the Aboriginal, gained probably from centuries of participation in fishing in these areas by him and his forebears. The second thing achieved would be contentment amongst the Aboriginals. They would not harbour resentment against people coming into their areas and - from their point of view - plundering their fishing grounds. Instead they would find themselves part of the operation and their conditions would improve along with their material gain. That would be the second gain. From the point of view of the matter that has been brought forward for discussion this afternoon, we would have a force of vigilantes who had been trained to observe, who were born trackers, who had eyesight second to none. They would become extremely valuable in spotting unauthorised people fishing in our waters and coming ashore.
While I am on the subject of coming ashore let me say that I heartily agree that a great threat exists to the whole of our rural national economy from the possibility of the introduction of foot and mouth disease and other exotic diseases by unauthorised persons landing on our shores. I think it was 6 years ago that I and the present Chairman of the Townsville Harbour Board exposed the fact that incinerators were not provided at the various ports of Australia. I very much regret to say that the port of Townsville still has no incinerator. The quicker one is installed the better for the security of all our rural industries. However, I believe that no previous government ever even contemplated doing what this Government has done to protect our rural industries from exotic diseases. It is very easy to turn a blind eye to the activities of the Government and ignore the value of what it is doing. But it might be interesting to honourable members to know that during the last few months there have been operations carried out in the Northern Territory to devise means of coping with a possible infestation of foot and mouth disease. These operations have been based on the assumption that the disease has actually broken out. They have been like a wartime manoeuvre. This is not an urban government. I do not think I can stress this point strongly enough. We who stand foursquare against the principle of one vote one value believe that the crux of this whole question is that if we are concerned with our rural industries, if we are really concerned for the isolated parts of this country and for their security, we must abandon the old idea of one vote one value.
I say in conclusion that the Government is doing a magnificent job in coping with a tremendous problem. I would not for one moment attempt to minimise the dangers that would arise from the possible plundering of our fishing grounds. But let us be fair and acknowledge that all that can possibly be done at this stage is being done. I would like to have said something about the Great Barrier Reef. I would like to have spoken about the plundering of clams and other marine life by tourists and of the way in which this allows the starfish to multiply and destroy the coral. But we know that something is being done about this; so why talk about it? I would say in conclusion that this Opposition, like all oppositions, is attempting to make political capital by deploring the failure to do something that is really being done. I can tell the House that the Government and particularly the Minister for Primary Industry are making an all-out and genuine attempt to deal with this problem.
– Far from having indulged in a political manoeuvre, as the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) and several other members on the Government side have suggested, the Opposition has been disturbed at having found it necessary to propose this matter for discussion as one of urgent public importance. We have done so only because it is obvious that the Government either is not conscious of, or is not properly concerned about, what can flow from continued neglect of this problem and what the eventual cost will be to Australia if the Government does not take action to establish an effective coastguard force in northern Australia for the purpose of policing and enforcing our laws concerning health, immigration, fisheries and customs, and also to protect our valuable national resources.
The honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter) has suggested that we can use the Aboriginal people in industries established in the northern areas. Unlike the honourable member, I cannot claim to have had any intimate associations with the Aboriginal people, although I do know them, but I point out that this Government is one of the main offenders in the matter of the employment of Aboriginals. There are many fields in which Aboriginals could have been employed by this Government, but it has failed to take advantage of its opportunities to provide employment for them, lt is clear from the way in which we have proposed this matter for discussion that we recognise that laws exist with regard to some of the subjects about which we are speaking. I do not intend at this stage to argue whether those laws are good or bad, but no matter how good they may be or may appear to be on paper, they are of very little value if they are not policed. It would be idle, for instance, to have traffic laws if those laws were not policed to ensure that people observed them and that breaches were kept to a minimum.
Laws such as we are concerned with in this debate were introduced for the purpose of protecting the Australian people, Australian industries and Australia’s national resources against depredation or disease emanating from overseas sources. Whilst reasonable precautions appear to be taken in capital cities and other main points of disembarkation from places overseas, from either ships or aircraft, the situation at many other possible landing points is far from satisfactory. In fact in some parts of Australia, particularly of our northern coast, it is practically non-existent. At our major and most of our minor wharves as well as at our airports where passengers and cargoes, including animals, are disembarked we have customs officers and animal quarantine officers who are watching closely for any possible means whereby disease may be brought into Australia. But, of course, as everyone knows, people are conscious of what is happening in those places and it most unlikely that anyone would endeavour deliberately to bring goods into the country and disembark them at airports or wharves. For instance, migrants bring in meats and other goods. The quarantine officers detect them at the ports of disembarkation. In most instances the migrants would not be aware that they were committing an offence. If they were aware of it they would not be aware of the seriousness of their crime.
However, there is the other situation to be considered. This is where the main danger lies, as 1 see it, and why we saythat the Government is failing to provide sufficient protection. I refer to the long coastline of Australia, particularly that part in the north of Australia where diseases could be imported quite innocently and easily. There are places all along our coast where small ships can be anchored offshore and boats can be used to get people ashore. Those coming ashore would not be doing so necessarily for unlawful or nefarious purposes; they could be coming ashore for any purpose at all. Any of these people could be carriers of some disease foreign to Australia and which could have a disastrous effect upon the human population. They could leave articles of food, such as meat or vegetables, lying around and these could be a possible means of spreading disease, such as foot and mouth disease, among animals.
The most likely people to call at our shores at places other than normal ports would be fishermen from other parts of the world. We know that these people are operating in our northern waters. We know that the Japanese and others are fishing very close to our coast. We know also that there is a limit to how close they can come in. We know that there are laws prohibiting them from landing, but there is no purpose at all in having these laws, prohibitions or limits if something is not done to ensure that they are enforced. The only way to enforce them would be by having adequate sea craft control with, no doubt, some spotter observation from the air. This sort of thing, if it is presently carried out, seems to be done in a very small way. lt is certainly not sufficient to prevent offences from being committed. We believe that to do this properly we require coastguard bases in the north. This is what we are pressing for at the moment.
Cost can be no argument in this matter, because loo much is at stake. Just imagine what would result from an outbreak of foot and mouth disease, or a serious cattle disease such as rabies. Imagine what the cost would be before these diseases could be eradicated. Surely the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Britain has been a lesson to us. Yet the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) said, in this debate, that we could go beyond the cost-benefit if we are not very careful. Australia has about 170 million sheep and between 19 million and 20 million cattle, as well as a considerable number of horses, pigs and poultry. Australia has large areas of orchards, too. Any one of these industries could be wiped out if a serious disease of a certain nature should gain a hold in Australia. Surely this possibility calls for the expenditure of sufficient money to ensure protection.
A large number of our sheep and cattle run on stations and properties which are situated along our coastline. In the north, because of the size of the properties and the distances to be travelled, an animal could be suffering from a disease for some time before it was detected. Consequently it would take much longer to clean up the disease and it could result in all the beasts within hundreds of miles of that particular point having to be destroyed. Yet the Minister this afternoon criticised the Opposition because it was putting forward a proposal that might cost a few dollars. According to the Department of Health Australia, because of its wide variety of climatic conditions, is capable of supporting practically the whole range of insects that transmit disease. The Department says that Australia must be doubly careful to see that insects are not accidentally imported as they could be carriers of some exotic disease from which Australia is presently free. The Department has issued a pamphlet on this subject setting out possible ways in which a disease could be imported. They include souvenirs from other countries, animals and soiled clothing. The Department has referred particularly to people who, while overseas or before coming to this country, have visited farms, abattoirs or meat packing establishments, or have been in a country affected by foot and mouth disease. Such people are obliged, upon arrival at an airport or wharf, to go through a certain procedure before they are allowed to disembark. Certain disinfective procedures have to be carried out. It is good that these precautions are carried out. They should be carried out, but it seems to be a rather idle exercise if no action is taken to ensure that people and their clothing or goods are prohibited from reaching shore where there are no means of checking or impounding. At the moment people or goods could be landed at numerous places on the north coast of Australia without anyone in authority being any the wiser.
Without going into detail - I do not think it is necessary for me to do so - we know that crews from fishing ships can be encouraged to come ashore for a number of reasons and to mix with certain classes of people for certain purposes. This action could result in the carriage of disease. Of course, it is not necessary for these people to come ashore for disease to enter Australia. Refuse from ships anchored a few miles off shore can be washed in and secreted in crevices or elsewhere. As the honourable member for Dawson said when he was speaking, foot and mouth disease can exist for 10i months in such circumstances.
Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The House has listened from time to time to the Opposition speak of the north of Australia and today it has used much the same arguments as it has used before, with minor variations, about the need for more to be done in the north. I should like to say that more is being done in the north. In May the Opposition demanded that certain waters be closed. I was sorry to hear that demand repeated this afternoon by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard), despite the very sound reasons advanced by my colleague, the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen), some little time ago in which he pointed out that if we were to make claims of this kind then clearly we would be giving tremendous support to similar counter-claims by other nations and that this would result in the most extraordinary difficulties and embarrassment for Australia. If we were to make claims of this kind, clearly they would wind up before the International Court of Justice and Australia would find itself tremendously embarrassed. However, this is not the gravaman of this afternoon’s debate.
The honourable gentleman pointed out that this is not a political occasion and that we are really dealing with a matter of the greatest importance. I agr.ee with the latter comment. It certainly, is not a political occasion, but honourable gentlemen opposite are not past exploiting a quite right and reasonable interest and concern in Queensland. I. admit that we are confronted with a problem. The Australian Labor Party has not really invented anything. Not only has there been a demand for a long time in this country that we should move towards the establishment of a fully fledged surveillance service for Australia, but during my own contributions to debates in the last few months I have foreshadowed that the problem that we have today, and to which the Navy and Air Force are making great contributions, is not really a defence problem and that no doubt in due course the kind of coastguard service which the United States of America has been obliged to establish we may well be obliged to establish.
The Government is giving great consideration to this. There is a growing need for such a service, because in recent years a problem has developed as a result of the need, and perhaps the desire, of overseas nations to exploit fishing resources in the vicinity of Australia. Inevitably this has led to the introduction of new legislation to protect Australia’s interests. Because it is new legislation I believe there is an occasion and a need for us to be patient in the application and the policing of that law. It is quite true that in recent times we have brought to the attention of other governments the laws recently put on the statute book in Australia. We have from time lo time invited their concurrence in those laws and their respect for them. I do not know how much control the Government of Formosa, for instance, has over the individual fishing ships which come from that country. It may well be that the news has not percolated down the line and that in fact some of these ships that have been intruding into Australian territorial and fishing zone waters are in fact breaking the law. Also, it may well be that the fishermen of other countries are not aware of the law. There conies a time, simply because the nations from which these ships come have friendly relations with Australia, when we have to be patient and let them know slOwlY that these laws are in operation.
On several occasions when Chinese national ships have been found in Australian waters, not only have the ships been warned, but the fact that they have broken Australian law has been brought to the attention of the Chinese consular and diplomatic people in Canberra. One would hope that through this action our attitude would get back to the Chinese Government in Taiwan. I do not doubt in due course that there will be respect for these laws. But there does come a time when certainly we shall have to move to enforce somewhat more stringently those laws. If that should be necessary the Government will not be found reluctant to do so.
We do not have a coastguard service. The Opposition has talked about policing the north of Australia. If we are to take the responsibility for the northern part of Australia over which the fishing industry is good and add to this the responsibility that Australia has in Papua and New Guinea, we are being asked to take on a responsibility for the patrolling of over 10.000 miles of coastline which is a very considerable area indeed. lt is one thing to argue what kind of service we will need as well as the kind of ships, stations, aircraft and bases to do a thorough going job. But do we put in a sledge hammer to crack a nut? I am well aware of the importance of watching the matters to which the Opposition has drawn attention. But in recent months there have been only a handful of reliably reported intrusions into Australian fishing grounds. On recent occasions we had, I think, ten reports of intrusions. On eight of these occasions additional service was brought into operation - Navy and Air - and those matters were attended to.
It may well be that a thorough going coastguard service of the kind that it is easy to demand would cost S70m or $80m in terms of capital. Where do the resources come from to do this sort of job which is so patently so far ahead of the demands? The fact is that the Government will make a measured response to the kind of intrusions into our waters. But no government has done more than this Government to claim and protect Australia’s fishing interests. We claimed a 3-mile territorial sea. We have recently claimed the 12-mile exclusive fishing zone in which we exercise the right to exclude foreign nationals. We also have laid claim to a large continental shelf over which we want to exert sovereign and exclusive rights for the purpose of exploring and exploiting its natural resources. Shortly the House will be asked to empower the Government to bring in a new law regarding the protection of sedentary fishing. At the same time we have vastly upgraded the patrol service, both Navy and Air, to provide for the need which is clearly there.
The honourable gentleman talks about north Australia. We add Papua and New Guinea to this. One speaker from the Opposition pointed out that if we had bases dotted here and there in three places we would have sufficient surveillance. If there can be intrusions into Australia fishing areas in the north east areas of Australia, there can equally be interference with our fishing rights on the north west coast. What we are doing really is spreading the patrol as well as we may over the entire area for which we are responsible. I note that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition suggests that the patrol service ought to be under the control of the Department of Shipping and Transport. J do not know whether he has in mind that the service ought to be manned by members of the seamen’s union. This is not their function. Plainly, he has not thought the matter through. To that extent this subject becomes a convenient stalking horse for some publicity for his Party, particularly in Queensland.
Tt is one thing to say what this service ought to do. The real fact is that this is not a defence responsibility primarily. Just as we are obliged to use our airports for both civilian and military purposes, because we do not have the resources to duplicate them, this is the case also in this field. Tn the early stages, where we do need a growing service of this kind, facilities of the Air Force and the Navy must be pressed into service. But I hope it will not be thought that this will remain a naval responsibility. The fact is that ships built for naval use are certainly not the equivalent of those built for this kind of coastguard service. Ships assigned to the Navy have their patrol responsibilities and their training responsibilities. They will be doing certain hydrological work. But the kind of investigation into fisheries to which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has referred is no function for the Navy.
In the closing minutes of this short statement, let me please put this . matter in focus. I admit we have a problem - everyone knows of it. The Government is moving adequately to meet that problem within the resources available to it and within the need for surveillance. I have not the slightest doubt that when these laws have been in operation a little longer, when through diplomatic and other channels other nations come to know that they are intruding,, we will not further have this problem with us.
-The Minister’s time has expired. The discussion is concluded.
Sifting suspended from 5.57 to 8 p.m.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate:
Without requests -
Customs Tariff Bill (No. 2) J 968.
Without amendment -
Removal of Prisoners (Australian Capital Territory) Bill 1968.
Debate resumed from 10 October (vide page 1861), on motion by Mr Sinclair:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– Mr Speaker, the business before the House at the moment is a Bill to ratify an agreement between the Commonwealth and the States of New South Wales and South Australia in respect of the’ construction of a new standard gauge railway. The Opposition supports the Bill which seeks to ratify this agreement for the construction of a new standard gauge railway line between Cockburn, which is on the New South Wales-South Australian border, and Broken Hill. This section is the final link in the Trans-continental Railway between Perth and Sydney and will give an uninterrupted standard gauge line of 2,442 miles, stretching from the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean. This section of 30 miles is the last link to be completed and in fact could delay the completion of the whole line. I believe that this section of the line is the first section that should have been negotiated and settled, instead of being the last section. The shortest link of all could be the weakest one in the completion of this important line between the east coast and the west coast.
The Perth-Kalgoorlie section has been joined and freight operations commenced on 4th November. Passenger traffic is expected to commence during May 1969. The Port Pirie-Cockburn section will be ready during the second half of 1969. The upgrading of the Parkes-Broken Hill line will be completed in the second half of 1969 also. The sum total of this work will be to reduce the travelling distance by rail between Perth and Sydney, via Melbourne and Adelaide, from 2,694 miles to 2,442 miles. The travelling time will be reduced by about 24 hours. For. example, a passenger train leaving Sydney at 8 p.m. on Wednesday now arrives in Perth on Sunday morning at 3 minutes past 11. That is a journey of 87 hours. The present provisional timetable for this journey when the new line comes into operation is for a total of 63 hours for the trip.
It is interesting to read from a railway timetable the number of breaks in travelling on the old line via Melbourne. The train first travels from Sydney to Melbourne. The poor old passenger changes trains there and gets into another train to travel from Melbourne to Adelaide. There he changes again and travels to Port Pirie. He changes trains there and travels on to Kalgoorlie where he changes again before completing his journey to Perth. The result of this new line coming into operation will be that all of these changes will no longer be required and the passenger will complete the journey on the one train. Whereas the journey now takes 87 hours, the time for the trip will be cut to 63 hours when passenger travel commences some time in 1969. Furthermore, the saving in the time taken by freight trains to cover this journey probably will be greater having in mind the elimination of bogey changing and possible delays of 24 hours in Melbourne and other centres. I know that honourable members on the Government side and government departments will challenge this statement. If honourable members check they will find that what I have said is true. There is a hold-up of 24 hours in Melbourne and at other stations on the present line.
An interesting feature of this scheme is the fact that the Commonwealth Government is charged with the responsibility of finding all the money required for it. The Government of South Australia will have to repay 30% of the total cost, with interest, over a period of 50 years. The standardisation of rail gauges has been the dream of railway men over the past 50 years. If we have a brief look through the record in this respect we find that a royal commission in 1921 recommended plans for the standardisation of rail gauges which, at that time, was estimated to cost £57,200,000. The recommendations were not adopted. In 1924, the Commonwealth Government and the Governments of New South Wales and Queensland agreed to the construction of a standard gauge line linking Sydney and Brisbane. This short link was completed in 1930.
During the Second World War we saw the chaos that was created internally when the Government tried to move troops around our coast. We know of the number of Australian ships that were lost on the east coast and the south coast of Australia as a result of limited enemy action. If that action had been intensified, I think we all can realise the chaos that would have resulted in Australia first of all in the transportation of the necessities for maintaining our war effort by way of iron ore, the basic commodity of steel, from South Australia to the east coast towns of Port Kembla and Newcastle. Honourable members can appreciate what would have happened with the chaotic rail system that Australia had at that time had enemy action against our shipping been intensified.
The Labor Government of the 1945 era called on its Director-General of Land Transport, Sir Harold Clapp, to prepare a report on the standardisation of rail gauges. This report was presented to Parliament in 1945. Unfortunately, at that stage, the Governments of Queensland and Western Australia were not prepared to co-operate and to accept the plans put forward. However, the then Commonwealth Minister for Transport, the late Hon. E. J. Ward, was able to get the Governments of South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales to agree to the report. On 2nd August 1946, Mr Ward introduced into this Parliament the Rail Standardisation Bill 1946 which was agreed to subsequently by the Parliament.
It is interesting to note that the estimated cost of that completed plan for the three States was only £50,870,000. We can compare that figure with the cost of carrying out the improvements to this line and the whole scheme of linking Sydney and Perth. We find that the Perth-Kalgoorlie section cost $130m. The upgrading of the line between Port Augusta and Kalgoorlie cost $l4m. The Broken Hill-Port Pirie section is estimated to cost approximately $50m. The upgrading of the 422 miles of line between Parkes and Broken Hill will cost $l5m. This is a total, according to my figures, of S209m. It is near enough to $210. Yet, if we go back to 1946 when the scheme proposed was greater than that since attempted and put into operation, the cost of the whole project was £50,870,000, or $101,740,000. If the work had been undertaken at that stage I think it would have resulted in a considerable saving, first of all in the construction costs of the scheme. Most important of all, there would have been a saving in time, and there would have been an improvement in the transport of freight and in everything that goes with it. There will be an improved and more efficient railway system when this whole scheme is completed.
Unfortunately, the 1946 agreement was ratified by the Governments of South Australia and Victoria only. The Government of New South Wales at that time did not give a decision. Finally, the Federal Government had to intimate to the New South Wales Government that if it did not ratify the 1946 agreement by 30th September 1949 it would accept this as an indication that the New South Wales Government did not propose to ratify the agreement and the Federal Government would then have to act. The Federal Government then negotiated a separate agreement with the Government of South Australia which became known as the Rail Standardisation (South Australia) Agreement of 1949. On 21st October, the then Minister for Transport, Mr Ward, introduced into this Parliament the Railway Standardisation (South Australia) Agreement Bill ratifying the agreement which was passed and given assent on 28th October J 949.
It is interesting to refer to some of the principal objectives of the Act. With the concurrence of honourable members, I incorporate in Hansard the following provisions of the Rail Standardisation (South Australia) Agreement of 1949.
Part II. - Works for the Standardisation of Railway Gauges
The State shall carry out or execute, in accordance with the terms and conditions of this Agreement, the following works and undertakings, namely: -
Part IV. - Supplementary Provisions
The Commonwealth shall undertake -
The Commonwealth- shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that the Silverton. Tramway and the locomotives and rolling stock .thereon shall be acquired and vested in The. South .Australian Railways Commissioner.
It is interesting lo note the works to which the agreement refers. I will not give them in detail, but 1 should like to refer to them briefly. .Part If provides- for the conversion to standard gauge of the entire South Australian 5 feet 3 inches gauge system and the 3 feet 6 inches gauge lines of the South Eastern Division. It also provides for the conversion to standard gauge of the 3-feet 6-inch gauge line of the Peterborough Division of the South Australian Railways. Part IV provides for the conversion to standard gauge of the 3 feet 6 inches; gauge line of the Commonwealth Railways from Port Augusta lo Alice Springs and for the construction of a new standard gauge railway from Alice Springs to Birdum in the Northern Territory. It also provides for the standardisation of the 3 feet 6 inches gauge of the Commonwealth Railways from Birdum to Darwin.
Whilst the Opposition supports the Bill, it is critical of the Government for its failure to implement the provisions of the Agreement. I do not hold the Minister for
Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) responsible. He is only a new Minister in this portfolio. But I do blame the Government. It proudly boasts that it has been in office for the past 19 years, yet it still has not completed the work that I have just mentioned. It is most important to South Australia that these works be carried out. As I said earlier, the reconstruction of the railway line from Sydney to Perth through Melbourne represents a reduction from 2,694 miles to 2,442 miles and a saving in all of 24 hours for passenger trains. The saving for freight trains would be even larger. The Government’s failure to complete the work has meant a loss of efficiency and an impediment to the smooth working of the railway system.
When the Minister replies, I would like him to give some indication of the Government’s attitude to the standardisation of the railway line at least from Adelaide to Port Pirie in South Australia. Although I would like to see the standardisation of the 5 feet 3 inches line from Melbourne to Adelaide and then to Port Pirie, the fact is that the Victorian Government is not prepared to join in the scheme and reach agreement with the Commonwealth Government. Ultimately it will be forced to do so. I do not mean it will be forced in the sense of somebody standing over it, but it will be forced in the sense that it will find itself at the dead end of rail operation because all of the New South Wales traffic will go through Broken Hill to Port Pirie and then westward. The Victorian Government will sooner or later be forced into making a decision to join the standardisation scheme.
The people in South Australia have always been led to believe that the line from Adelaide to Port Pirie would be standardised. In fact the 1949 Agreement gave an assurance that this work would be completed. Industries have been established in and around Adelaide in the belief that they would have a direct connection with the trans-continental railway system. These industries believed that they could feed their products into New South Wales through Broken Hill, into Western Australia through Port Augusta and into Queensland through the New South Wales system. This belief has been held for a considerable time and one has only to read the various annual reports of the Commonwealth Railways to see that this is so. I do not want to go through them all, but I point out that the 1966-67 report contained this statement:
A detailed examination of proposals for standardisation of the railway between Port Pirie and Adelaide has shown that a much broader scheme than originally envisaged will be required to minimise the operational problems involved in the introduction of a standard gauge line into the broad gauge system. A report is now being prepared in respect of this matter.
I do not know what the 1967-68 report will have to say because we have not yet been blessed with a copy of it.
How much longer do the Commonwealth Department of Shipping and Transport, the Commonwealth Railways and the Commonwealth Government want before they make up their minds on the best way to standardise the line from Adelaide to Port Pirie? An agreement was signed in 1949. It is now almost 1969. But still no indication is given to the people of South Australia as to how much longer they must wait before the line is standardised and they are connected to the major section of the Australian railway system. The people of Port Augusta and Whyalla also do not know when they will be joined to the standard gauge system. I will admit that Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd may have had something to do with the delay in standardising the line to Whyalla by not giving a clear undertaking that all its products would be sent by rail.
Whyalla has developed rapidly and will continue to develop. It is today the largest shipbuilding centre in Australia and it could develop as one of our major steel producing centres. It may have been thought that Whyalla’s major means of transport to Australian markets would be shipping. But it is now obvious that the major means of transport will be the railway system. The steel works at Newcastle and Port Kembla in New South Wales have been sending most of their products to the Australian markets by rail. It must have been obvious to the Commonwealth Railways, the Minister for Shipping and Transport, the South Australian Government and the Commonwealth Government that Whyalla should be given direct access to the Australian markets by rail. The transport of goods from Whyalla is at present done mainly by road, but honourable members know full well the differences in the cost of transporting goods by rail, by sea and by road. I will use the answer given by the Minister to a question asked by my colleague, the honourable member for Stirling (Mr Webb), about the respective costs, lt is obvious that rail transport is dearer than sea transport, but rail transport is much cheaper than road transport. So the company at Whyalla will be loaded with the additional cost of using road transport for the carriage of its steel. The cost of road transport from Sydney to Adelaide is given as 3.03c per ton mile, the cost of rail transport is given as 2.76c per ton mile and the cost of sea transport is given as 1.91c per ton mile.
Obviously it would be better for the company to have access to the Australian markets over the railway system than by sea, and it has decided to change from sea transport to rail transport. By using the railway system, the company will have almost overnight access to some Australian markets. Steel shipped from Newcastle and Port Kembla by rail is in Melbourne the next day. lt leaves the New South Wales works in the afternoon and it is in Melbourne the next morning. Although steel1 could not be transported from Whyalla to the markets on the eastern seaboard as quickly as steel can be sent from the works in New South Wales to Melbourne, it will be transported much more quickly than it could be by using sea transport. The handling of the steel’ itself can be done much more quickly and much more cheaply by putting it straight on a standard gauge rail truck and taking it direct to wherever it has to be taken. This effects a considerable saving. The steel industry has been able to reduce stevedoring costs to such an extent that those costs are equal to the cheapest anywhere in the world. Notwithstanding that, it is much cheaper to handle the commodity once by putting it on a truck and taking it into the consumer’s stock yeard. This is what the company is setting out to do.
What concerns me is the failure of this Government to make up its mind what to do. I refer once again to the Commonwealth Railways annual report for 1966-67 which states:
A report has also been submitted lo the Commonwealth Government in connection wilh a proposal that the Commonwealth should build and operate a new standard gauge railway between Port Augusta and Whyalla. In addition, early action is being taken to conduct a survey of the route of the proposed railway, including the bridge over Spencer Gulf.
I know that the Commonwealth is aware of the need for this rail system but it is up to some body to make up its mind. That body is the Government. It is the Government’s responsibility, through its Minister for Shipping and Transport, to make a decision on this matter, lt is high time that a decision was made and that the people of South Australia, in particular those who live in Whyalla and Port Augusta, were advised that a line between those two cities will be constructed.
The Government has the men with the know-how to do this type of work, lt has had men working for some years now on the Port Augusta-Kalgoorlie section and the Kalgoorlie-Koolyanobbing project, and it has another expert gang working on the Port Pirie-Cockburn section and the small1 section of 30 miles which this Bill is designed to complete. The Government should have made up its mind as to what it will do with these men when these jobs peter out. We do not want to see a repetition of what happened with the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. As that scheme comes to a conclusion all the expert know-how that has been built up over the years is going out of existence. Some other country will obtain the skills which are being lost to this country.
The men employed on the rail gauge standardisation projects should know where their next job will be. They should know that their next job will be on the standardisation of the Adelaide-Port Augusta section, or the construction of a completely new line from Whyalla to Port Augusta. The Government should be making its decision now and should not extend it over a period of years as it has done with the Silverton Tramway Company.
The Minister indicated in his second reading speech that he would not comment to any degree on the Government’s offer of $1¼m to this company, and I do not propose to comment on its merits. However, I draw the attention of honourable members to the fact that this company has attempted over a period of years to get this Government to make a decision. Even though the company wrote letters and made deputations to the Minister from time to time, it could not get any decision from the Government until finally at 4 o’clock one day, like a bolt out of the blue, a telephone message came through from Western Australia to the company informing it that it would be advised officially that the Government had decided to put through a connecting line from Broken Hill to Cockburn. The advice was that the line would not be built over the existing route and that further details would be provided. The shortest section in this overall line of 2,442 miles will be the last to be completed. The section between Port Pirie and Cockburn is another short section, and it is one of the last to be completed. This shows a lack of planning of the whole scheme by the Government. The whole scheme should have been put into operation at the one time instead of the work being carried out in bits and pieces.
On Monday, 4th November, the Port Augusta-Perth section was completed and ready for freight trains. I realise that a line has to be broken in before a passenger service can be commenced, but 1 think that the whole system should have been operating today just as the Port Augusta-Perth section is operating without any break at Kalgoorlie. I am most critical of the Government’s failure to do something about completing the scheme as a whole. This is why I want the Government to make a clear statement at this early stage, firstly, as to whether it will undertake immediately the standardisation of the Adelaide-Port Pirie line, and secondly, as to whether Whyalla and Port Augusta will be connected immediately by rail. A large city such as Whyalla, which will continue to grow, must be given access to the Australian railway system; it should not be isolated and have to rely on road transport - the most costly form of transport - and sea transport, which is the slowest form of transport. 1 refer now to the failure of the Government to complete the standardisation of the Port Augusta to Darwin line. We hear the Government continually talking about what it is doing for our defence.
-Order! I do not want to interrupt the honourable member but I remind him that this Bill deals with a railway agreement between New South Wales and South Australia. It does not open up for debate the whole subject of rail gauge standardisation.
– I accept your interpretation of the purpose of the Bill, Mr Speaker. The measure is concerned with the repeal of one section of the 1949 agreement.
-I do not wish to restrict the honourable member at this stage; I am simply reminding him of the scope of the Bill.
– I will confine my remarks to the scope of the Bill, Mr Speaker. I hope that the Government will, in the very near future, be able to do those things to which I just referred. I further hope that the Minister will be able to indicate very clearly what the Government has in mind . for the Port Augusta to Alice Springs railway, on which in the past 5 years there have been some twenty separate derailments involving holdups extending over 114 days in all. This is quite serious. Admittedly the amount of traffic over this section of line is not as great as on other lines, but nevertheless it is a most important route. It is important from the point of view of defence to have a first class north-south railway line. I hope that in the not too distant future the Minister will introduce a Bill to seek ratification of an agreement between South Australia and the Commonwealth to complete that line. Just as the Opposition is supporting this Bill to ratify an agreement between the Commonwealth and New South Wales and South Australia to complete the standardisation of the eastwest line, so it will support the complete standardisation of the north-south railway.
– The Bill now before the House is a very short one. It has attached to it as a large schedule an agreement which will come into effect when the several Parliaments have passed the necessary legislation. Although it is a short Bill it is a very important one because, as the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) pointed out, it is designed to complete the last link of a standard gauge railway across Australia. However, there are aspects of it which I personally find to be somewhat disappointing and about which I would like to have had a good deal more information. There are two main headings under which 1 wish to make a few remarks. The first relates to the
Schedule itself, and the second to the position of the Silverton Tramway Co. The Bill provides for a reasonably simple arrangement. It is one whereby the Commonwealth is to foot the bill. This will be done when New South Wales and South Australia have carried out the work. When the expenditure has been vindicated the Commonwealth will recompense the States concerned. South Australia, which will eventually own and operate the line - profitably we trust - is under an obligation to pay back 30% over 50 years at an agreed rate of interest. All of this is understandable and very good. What disappoints me is that a great deal of the information which should be provided to the Parliament in the Schedule to the Bill will not be provided until a later date. I think that the amount of money involved in the project could have been stated more nicely for us. lt is not a new experience for the Commonwealth or the States to be involved in the reconstruction of railway lines. A tremendous amount of experience in modern methods of railway construction is available. I think we could have been given an approximate idea of the cost of the construction of the track and the provision of immediate facilities in Broken Hill. Although upper limits are set in determining the contingent liability of the Commonwealth with regard to most of the things that are additions to the 1949 concept, no indication is given to the Commonwealth of the amount of money expected to be spent in constructing a railway in accordance with the specifications and standards laid down in the final part of the Schedule. We have people in the Commonwealth and the States who could have given us an estimate of cost to within $10,000 a mile and so indicate to the Commonwealth its total indebtedness or contingent liability.
Clause 8 of the Schedule reads:
Except where it is established to the satisfaction of the Minister that it is undesirable to do so, the States shall invite public tenders and let contracts for the carrying out of work-
There is too much hedging here. There are too many escape clauses. In his second reading speech the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) said:
Most of the work will be carried out under the control of the South Australian Railways Commissioner.
There is so much hedging with so many possibilities that it could be that the Governments themselves will construct the line. Having regard to the number of private companies as well as government instrumentalities that are expert in the construction of railways, I would like the Minister to be sure that the most competitive tenders are received for earth works, supply of ballast and rails, laying of rails and construction of the line.
I feel that the Schedule could have contained a great deal more definition. For example, clause 10 of the Schedule reads:
The States or either of them may, at their own expense, carry out in conjunction with the work such other works, or provide such capacity or equipment in excess of the appropriate standards established under this agreement, as they consider necessary or desirable.
If this were a private agreement between companies I would expect a great deal more to have been said about extra costs or delays in carrying out the contracts. Certainly I feel that a most optimistic time has been set for completion of the work - 1st October 1969. This is less than 1 year away. I hope that this target will stretch the capacity of the various government departments to the limit in their effort to meet it. But while it is possible to meet the target date, I still think it is an optimistic one.
I wish now to say a few words about compensation to be paid to the Silverton Tramway Company or Silverton Transport and General Industries Ltd, as it is now known. For many years the company has carried ore over this relatively short distance, operating as a private enterprise organisation. The company has operated under the legislation of two different parliaments. The original franchise wa3 granted to the company under New South Wales legislation of 1886. Although the legislation does not indicate that this was an exclusive franchise it would appear from the behaviour both of governments and of industries that have used the services of the company that the franchise was regarded as exclusive. In other words, if from time to time there have been complaints about the company’s charges, such as customers are wont to make, there has been no suggestion of setting up another private company in opposition. So when we consider the matter of compensation we must remember that this has been a pioneering venture. I do not deny that it has been a profitable one. It has been profitable, and this is a factor which we must heed when considering compensation.
As I understand the position, under the New South Wales legislation no provision is made for compensation to be paid in the event of a takeover of the company or a by-passing of its activities, as is now envisaged. It would be with small regard for ordinary justice if governments of Australia were simply to disregard the activities of the company and say that it may keep its assets and conduct its business as it sees fit while governments, at public expense, do something that is more modern and in so doing put the company out of business. So an ex gratia payment of $1.25m is to be made for taking over the company’s activities.
The passing of this Bill will rescind clause 23 of the 1949 agreement between the Commonwealth and South Australia, which was authorised by the Railway Standardisation (South Australia) Agreement Act. Clause 23 of the 1949 agreement reads:
The Commonwealth shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that the Silverton Tramway and the locomotives and rolling stock thereon shall be acquired unci vested in The South Australian Railways Commissioner.
This company has never been under any illusion as to its eventual fate, if that is the right word to use. It has provided a temporary means of transportation. As the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) pointed out, it has always been a vision of this nation that there should be a trans-Australia single gauge railway line. It would have become obvious early in the piece that the operations of this company would cease in the course of time. So the company has through the years directed its attention to the day when it would be supplanted. Prior to the adoption of the Railways Standardisation (South Australia) Agreement in 1949 the company had set aside moneys to offset any loss that might be occasioned by the implementation of standardisation. In 1929, the company created a special reserve fund and, in the first instance, $25,000 was set aside as a provision against this contingency.
When the Agreement containing the clause that we are now being asked to rescind was entered into, the company decided to ensure its security. I believe it had good reason at that time to say that there was no need to continue with its contingency fund, on the ground that the Commonwealth would take all reasonable steps to ensure that the Silverton tramway would be acquired and vested in the South Australian Railways Commissioner, with a reasonable recompense to the company. The company made a reasonable business interpretation and has acted on it since. From 1949 onwards we have seen procrastination over standardisation. The company has sought time and again to obtain from the relevant Commonwealth Minister information as to the date on which it could : expect to have its operations terminated, so it could set out the story for its shareholders and the interested public to read. We know, and we have just heard again tonight, the way in which eventually, after many years and after the company’s despairing of the construction of the standard gauge line in time to enable it to avoid having to modernise its equipment and to change from steam to diesel locomotives, for instance, a decision was made precipitately and the company was told that it was to be put into effect.
The Silverton. Tramway Co. has a very small business compared with the great venture in which we are involved, but it is a highly profitable little company. It has made regular profits from tramway operations. For the benefit of those who are listening, let me point but in this case the expression ‘tramway’ ‘ refers to a privately owned railway line. The annual profits from the operations of this transportation system over the last 3 years have been, in round figures, $528,000, $616,000 and $558,000 respectively. So it has been making an average annual profit of between $550,000 and $600,000. It is agreed that the company has charged a reasonably high rate per ton mile for its main fine haulage. For general freight it has charged a rate somewhat similar to that charged by the South Australian Railways, but the rate for the carrying of ore and metals has been a good deal higher than that charged by other railways, including the South Australian Railways. Nevertheless it was a business venture and apparently its clients were prepared to pay these rates, even if they did protest at times. The company certainly did make good profits. I feel that it is completely specious to argue that because it has made these good profits it should receive less compensation. To me this approach does not savour of a government that encourages private enterprise.
I do not want to move any kind of amendment to this Bill, nor do I wish to delay the House any further. I simply make these comments for the information of the Minister, to stale what I, and several others, I know, feel about this business: We trust that, when the times comes to reach a final agreement on the amount of compensation that the company will receive, the Government will act in a way that will permit the States and the Commonwealth to agree on a figure that will be commensurate with the kind of capital investment that could be expected to provide the sort of profit figures that I have mentioned. I suggest that such a figure would be more than the $1.25m that has been mentioned. I conclude by congratulating the Government on taking this forward step, on being prepared to supply large sums of money and to make what I believe are generous contributions to the States involved, and on providing South Australia with this rail link in a way that will enable it to repay to the Commonwealth painlessly over 50 years the cost of what should be a profitable operation for the State.
Debate (on motion by Mr Birrell) adjourned.
– by leave - It is 20 years since the Nationality and Citizenship Act was passed. There have been eight amending Acts since then. These were concerned with specific matters requiring attention and none represented a comprehensive revision. A general review has now been undertaken and approved by the Government. A Bill to amend the Act is in the course of preparation and 1 expect it will be introduced next year. In the meantime the Parliament will wish to be aware of the policy decisions reached.
Giving Primacy to the Status of Australian Citizen
The Nationality and Citizenship Act was passed by the Parliament in 1948 to give effect to the decisions of a conference in London in 1947 initiated by the British Government to consider the national status of the citizens of the different countries of the Commonwealth. Prior to the introduction of ‘citizenship’ legislation in Commonwealth countries following that conference, the only national status possessed by the peoples of those countries was that of British subject’. The scheme of citizenship legislation drawn up in 1947 at London contemplated that each Commonwealth country would (a) define its own citizens; and (b) declare them, and the citizens of other Commonwealth countries, to have an additional common status. Our Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948 describes the common status of the citizens of Commonwealth countries as ‘British subject’. The legislation of the other ‘old’ Commonwealth countries provides for the use of either this term, or ‘Commonwealth citizen’, to describe the common status. The ‘newer’ countries have used the term ‘Commonwealth citizen’ exclusively. We could not use the term ‘Commonwealth citizen’ without confusion, Australia being itself a Commonwealth.
The status of a person born in Australia is that of a British subject and Australian citizen. A person born in England, however, is a British subject and a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies. When a person with this status comes to Australia he does not acquire Australian citizenship unless he applies for it. An alien migrant (that is, a person not already a British subject) upon naturalisation becomes both a British subject and an Australian citizen.
During the period since 1948 there has been considerable change in the general usage and understanding of the term British’. This is now used by the United Kingdom authorities, as well as other countries and people in general, to signify matters pertaining to the United Kingdom only; for example, ‘British High Commission’, ‘British passport’, ‘British migrant’. Many migrants from non-British countries, of whom 570.000 have been naturalised since 1945, find difficulty with the fact that naturalisation in Australia results in their becoming not only Australian citizens, as they wish to do, but ‘British subjects’. They associate the term ‘British subject’ with citizenship of Britain rather than with the common status.
The status of ‘British subject’ is very important to the great majority of the Australian public who would wish that status to be retained. Quite apart from historical and sentimental associations, the laws of the Commonwealth and States (for example, electoral laws) still use the term ‘British subject’ in prescribing status as a qualification for various rights and duties.
The Government considers it to be desirable progressively and by whatever means is reasonably possible to give primacy to the status of Australian citizen. It has decided that the title of the Act should be changed to ‘Australian Citizenship Act’. In that Act there should be inserted a section to the effect that, whenever Australians are required to state their national status, it will be sufficient to state ‘Australian citizen” rather than ‘British subject’. Most Australians have to complete forms of various kinds which call for a statement of nationality - for example, the census form, or the passenger card completed when leaving and returning to Australia, or the form of enrolment as an elector. The question whether it is a correct and sufficient answer to state ‘Australian citizen’ will be settled by the legislative provision I have just described. To complement this, it will be necessary to provide also that a reference to ‘British subject’ in any other federal legislation shall be deemed to be a reference to ‘Australian citizen and British subject’.
I expect that the State governments, which have been informed of the proposals, will give consideration to making similar provision in State legislation referring to British subjects’. I emphasise that our legislation will be so drawn that a person will not be in any way disadvantaged under either Commonwealth or State law.
For example, a person whose status is now that of a British subject and United Kingdom citizen will continue to have just the same rights and duties as at present, whether as to voting, or entry to the public services, or otherwise. He will not of course be able to describe himself as an Australian citizen if he has not acquired Australian citizenship. I shall deal shortly with the manner by which he may become an Australian citizen.
The Status in Australian Law of the Citizens of Commonwealth Countries Generally
At present, section 7 of the Act provides that a person who is a citizen of a Commonwealth country ‘shall by virtue of that citizenship . . . be a British subject’.
I have made reference to the misunderstandings arising from Australian citizens being British subjects. It is even less appropriate that citizens of the newer Commonwealth countries - some of them Republics - should be declared to .’be’ British subjects, when by the law of these countries there is not a comparable provision in relation to Australian citizens.
The Government has decided that it will fit the facts better, and accord with the laws of other Commonwealth countries, if the Act is amended to provide that a citizen of a Commonwealth country (including an Australian citizen) ‘shall have the status of a British subject.
Again, it will be necessary at the drafting stage to take account of the provisions of other laws which refer to persons who are British subjects so as to avoid loss of rights and duties by individuals (especially British migrants) through this amendment.
Means by which Citizens of other Commonwealth Countries may become Australian Citizens
People from other Commonwealth countries who have settled in Australia since 1944 do not become Australian citizens unless they apply for a ‘Certificate of Registration as an Australian Citizen’. This may be granted if the applicant has lived here for a year or more, is of good character and meets other requirements. The processing of applications usually takes a few weeks.
As our laws stand at present, British migrants have nothing material to gain from becoming Australian citizens, as they already have the right to vote, to be appointed or elected to public office, to practise in all the professions, etc.; and of course after living here for 5 years without committing serious offences they pass beyond the deportation provisions of the Migration Act. As a result only some 40.000 British people have become Australian citizens by registration since 1949, while some 800,000 have not applied.
People from the United Kingdom who come to settle in Australia have a close historical and sentimental identity with us. It is natural that after living in Australia for long periods they think of themselves as Australian citizens; and when they wish to travel abroad, they are very surprised and hurt to find they cannot obtain Australian passports. It is a very common occurrence that they do not have time, before travelling, to obtain certificates of registration and are obliged to obtain British passports from the British High Commissioner. The Government has decided that they should have an extremely simple and quick way of becoming Australian citizens.
The amending Bill will propose that settlers admitted for permanent residence from other Commonwealth countries who have lived in Australia for 5 years (without having committed any crime for which they could be deported) should be able to become Australian citizens as of right, by a simple notification to the Department of their wish to become citizens - this to become effective from the date of the notification, which would be duly recorded, lt would be a provision that this simple method of notification shall be ineffective if the person concerned has been convicted of a crime committed within 5 years after entry to Australia which would have rendered him liable to deportation. In such cases the person would have to make application for citizenship by registration in the method now provided.
Quite frequently cases arise where the existing provisions of the Act prevent the grant of citizenship in cases where its withholding is a matter of great emotional distress for the relatives of the person concerned.
The Government has decided that sections 12 and 15 of the Act should be amended so as to enable the Minister to exempt, from the need to demonstrate an adequate knowledge of English and of the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship, persons over 60 years of age, and persons suffering from severe disability in hearing, speech or sight. At present a person of unsound mind who is under 16 years of age can become an Australian citizen by inclusion on the parent’s certificate, which is the usual practice. However, if he is over 16 years of age he can never become, as the law now stands, an Australian citizen, because he can then only apply for citizenship separately in his own right and this cannot be granted because he cannot comprehend the nature of the oath required to be made. This has created some quite severe emotional hardship. The Government has decided lo exempt from the need to be of sound mind any person (of whatever age) whose father or mother is (or was at the time of death) an Australian citizen.
Question of Reduction of the Residence Requirement for Naturalisation
The normal period of residence required prior to the naturalisation is 5 years. Careful thought has been given to differing views which have been expressed, for or against reduction of this period.
The Act at present empowers the Minister to waive or reduce considerably the residence requirements for minors, the spouses of Australian citizens, members of the Forces, former Australians, and persons who have lived in other Commonwealth countries or served in their Forces.
Cases are continually arising where nonBritish migrants are suffering disadvantage in their employment through not being naturalised. For example, a good many people working in the Commonwealth and State Public Services and local government service cannot be given permanent appointments. In consequence they miss opportunities of advancement. These are usually people who have an excellent command of English, written as well as spoken, and who exhibit all the other indications of having become integrated into the community.
The Government sees good reason not to delay the grant of citizenship to such persons provided they have the qualities of which I have spoken as well as the other usual character requirements. However, the Government does not feel there is sufficient grounds for a general reduction of the qualifying period of 5 years, which does not impose hardship as a general rule (indeed the majority of aliens do not apply for citizenship until they have been here for 8 years or more). The period is generally in line with the laws of other countries. Also it is consonant with provisions of the Migration Act relating to deportation (for crimes committed within 5 years after entry). Once a person is naturalised he will be immune from deportation even if, under this provision, his residence is for a period less than 5 years. An Australian citizen, of course, cannot be deported.
The Government has accordingly decided that the Act should be amended to permit the grant of citizenship after 3 years residence to persons who satisfy the Minister that they:
Children born in wedlock outside Australia may become Australian citizens by birth, through registration of the births at Australian consulates, only if their fathers are Australian citizens. There have been cases where Australian women living abroad and married to men of other nationalities have wished to have their children become Australians by birth. The Government has decided that it should be possible for a child ro become an Australian citizen at birth, through registration of the birth at an Australian consulate upon the application of either parent, if that parent is an Australian citizen and if no court order exists giving custody to the other parent.
I present the following paper:
Nationality and Citizenship Act - Revision - Ministerial Statement, 12 November 1968 - and move:
That the House take note of the paper.
– The Opposition, generally speaking, and subject to a further examination of this proposal - we will not have an opportunity to examine it further until the Bill is introduced next year - is generally in accord with what is now proposed. However, I raise at once some doubt as to the advisability of giving to any person, no matter what the circumstances that may exist, the right to be naturalised after only 3 years in this country. This is not to say that 1 do not agree that in certain circumstances all the benefits of naturalisation should go to a person after 3 years residence. I hope, however, that the Government will find some way, in cases in which it might be thought desirable to give citizenship after 3 years, of granting some kind of provisional citizenship and of ensuring that the persons concerned will get all the benefits of citizenship thereafter and that the Government will still have the right to deport such persons if, before the expiration of 5 years, they commit crimes which, but for the earlier grant of citizenship, would have rendered them liable to deportation.
I would like the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) to look at certain cases that can crop up. 1 know of a case in which a young man who had never been convicted of a crime rendering him liable to imprisonment for 12 months or more had in fact been conducting a mode of life which resulted in his being deemed guilty of an offence to the satisfaction of an ex-judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court. This was Sir Edward Morgan who, after a trial or inquiry in camera - call it what you like, but it was a thorough inquiry - brought down a finding that the person concerned was not a fit and proper person to remain in Australia and that he ought to be deported.
– What was the offence?
– The offence was procuring, and living on the unlawful earnings of prostitution. This person had a bad record in private life but the police were never able to pin anything on him. However, Sir Edward Morgan was satisfied, after a lengthy inquiry at which this person was represented by the leading Queen’s Counsel appearing in the criminal jurisdiction in South Australia, that he was a most undesirable person and should be deported - and he was in fact deported. I simply put it to the Minister that we must be very careful in carrying into effect our desire - a desire with which the Opposition is in full accord - to assist people who come to this country to gain citizenship as quickly as possible, that we retain protection for the people who are already here. For this reason I ask the Minister to think seriously about whether it might be possible to grant provisional citizenship in order to cover the few cases that might arise of a kind similar to that which I have just described. The person I have referred to was the very kind of. person who could do all the things which would, under this proposal, entitle him to citizenship before 5 years. He was well educated and could read and write English proficiently. He could speak it and understand it exceptionally well - too well, perhaps, for those who came in contact with him. This is the sort of man who could possibly have got through the net.
– He knew a lot of tricks, too.
– Yes, he knew a lot of tricks. For a good part of his time in Australia he lived in the honourable member’s city at King’s Cross, and I think he learned most of his tricks there.
– No, in Adelaide.
– He did not learn them in Adelaide because, as the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Andrew jones) will tell the honourable member, we do not even go to nightclubs in Adelaide. At least he says he does not go to nightclubs, although I saw him at one myself on one occasion - which proves that we both go to them.
I am pleased indeed that the Government proposes to drop this old Union Jack idea of calling ourselves British subjects. I do not like the word ‘subject’. 1 said this once at a naturalisation ceremony and a gentleman of the cloth representing the Good Neighbour Council rose in righteous indignation, made a few remarks about the sort of love that these gentlemen preach and had a word or two to say to the effect that I was not fit even to be in the room, much less in the Parliament. This was simply because I suggested that we should want to be called Australian citizens. I do not think very many Australian people would agree with the reverend gentleman on this point. I think most Australians are pretty proud to be Australians and they like to think of themselves as Australian citizens. Nothing used to nauseate me more when I was overseas than having to call myself a British subject. How I would have liked to be able to declare myself an Australian when people were calling me a Pommy and sometimes even an American. I would have loved the opportunity of saying: ‘I am netither a Pommy nor an American; I am an Australian’. But I could not because I carried a British passport. This is stupid. It will be a very proud day for every redblooded Australian when the legislation is brought down, so that an Australian can call himself an Australian. This will be a good thing.
I agree without any qualification with what the Minister says about giving to handicapped and elderly citizens over 60 years of age the right to be naturalised without having to speak the language perfectly and without having to go through a long rigmarole about the position of the Queen or the King in our scheme of things, and without having to answer a lot of questions which, I believe, many people born in Australia would not fully understand. It is good to know that the Government has decided to abandon the old practice - a practice for which this Government is not solely responsible, because its predecessors also were partly responsible for it.
The provisions for persons of unsound mind indicate an understanding of the difficulties of human beings. It is this kind of human understanding of other people’s problems that has earned the great respect in which the Department of Immigration is now held. This is another example of the way in which the Department tries to eliminate unnecessary difficulties for the poor, unfortunate people who are afflicted.
Mr Gilts ; And the Minister.
– Yes, he is the main one responsible for this. The Minister is very good indeed. I hope that he will look very carefully at this idea of giving citizenship to people in less than 3 years especially, as he so forcefully points out, in view of the fact that once Australian citizenship is granted no matter what is discovered after 3 years and before 5 years, which normally would be the period, have expired, a person is with us for keeps and cannot be put out. I do not like this at all. We might even get some Rhodesians here who would misbehave themselves; I do not think we would like that. Subject to the few queries I have raised and the doubts that I have expressed, the Opposition favours the proposal. We strongly support
Australian citizenship and we hope that this will be brought about early next year so that all Australians may have the benefit of it.
– I endorse most of the remarks of my colleague, the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron). I am greatly disturbed at the matter he raised. The Government might consider incorporating in the Bill a temporary naturalisation for the reasons mentioned by the honourable member. Recently the Australian Press was full of reports about the fact that Joe Borg, now deceased, who was blown to pieces by a time bomb put under his car at Bondi had amassed a fortune of some $205,000.
– How did he get that?
– He was running houses of ill fame. He was what is commonly referred to by the average Australian as an out and out bludger. This word appears in books on the Australian vernacular.
– Was he naturalised?
– I do not know whether he was naturalised or not, but had he been naturalised the Minister for Immigration would not have had power to deport him.
– Did he pay tax?
– He would have paid some tax, but the taxation people concentrate on bottle-ohs in the Hunter electorate and would not have time to concentrate on people like him. The Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) would know, in the important position he holds, that in New South Wales in the last 18 months four or five drug addicts who had come to Australia from the United States of America or Great Britain - drug addicts have to be registered as such in Great Britain - were picked up by the Sydney drug squad, were recommended for deportation and were sent back. If these people had been naturalised in Australia the Minister would have had no power to send them back. We do not want to be buying crocks and dead beats from other countries; we have enough of our own. I should like the Minister to do something about providing safeguards for the Australian citizen by blocking drug addicts, the like of Joe Borg and the like of the Hungarian, Bradley, who kidnapped Graham
Thorne and later hanged himself in gaol, from entering Australia. I want to make it clear that the majority of the hundreds of thousands of migrants who come here are worthy persons and we are glad to have them; but as the honourable member for Hindmarsh said, there are a lot of scum who creep in under the net. There must be greater checks by . the Department of Immigration for the reasons I have stated. We have enough of our own without having scum from other countries.
– I merely want to say something that I think ought to be said. This is the first time in the history of the House since I came here that I can recall a Minister making a statement about a Bill that he proposed to introduce later. It is normal for a Bill to be introduced and for the House to have no choice about what is in it. The Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) has made a statement telling us what he intends to do. He is giving the House an opportunity to make constructive suggestions. Some have been made by the honourable members for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) and Hunter (Mr James) in a .style of their own. Their suggestions will not lose any effect because of that. But the Minister deserves congratulations for having adopted this course, lt should be done more often. More measures of this kind, particularly amendments to existing Acts pf Parliament, could well be treated by the Government in this way. It gives the House an opportunity to consider what is coming and to make its own suggestions. The House would work much better if this were done more frequently. The Minister for Immigration deserves our appreciation for the action that he has taken.
– I simply take the opportunity briefly to support the honourable member for Yarra (Dr Cairns). This is the first time I have felt like supporting him and I doubt whether many such opportunities will present themselves in the future. The Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) has been very considerate of the House in foreshadowing a Bill and in presenting us with enough detail of his own thoughts concerning the proposals that will appear in the Bill for all honourable members to think about and ito enable them to do some homework before the Bill comes before the House. I hope this will create a precedent for other Ministers to follow.
– I join with my colleagues in congratulating the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden). I am always a little wary when the Minister makes a statement on immigration, but once again I am glad to announce that I am in complete accord with what he has said. I support the maintenance of the Australian immigration policy. However, I should like to make one suggestion because the Minister obviously is asking for suggestions for his proposed Bill, i suggest that people should not be refused naturalisation on political grounds. If they are security risks there is only one place for them - out of Australia. They should be deported. But if a person is in a position to contribute something to the country and is not a security risk, then I am firmly of the opinion that he should not be refused naturalisation on political grounds. A week ago a man rang me and asked whether he could talk to me. He had made three applications for naturalisation and they all had been rejected. 1 asked him whether he belonged to a political party and when be said he did I told him that he would be only wasting his time and mine by coming to see me. If that man is a security risk, the Minister should hand him a deportation notice and put him out of the country.
– Did he belong (o the Democratic Labor Party?
– I do not know to what political party he belongs or whether he is a Fascist; if he is a security risk, out he should go. The Minister should give some consideration to this aspect when he is drafting his Bill and is including provisions to reduce the term before which a person may apply for naturalisation. If criminals and crooks are not Australian citizens and therefore are not our responsibility, we should, as the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) has pointed out, put them out of Australia. If a man or a woman is not a security risk, then he should be naturalised. I repeat that if a person is a security risk he should be put out.
– I did not hear all the debate to date. However, I would like to suggest to the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) that 1 hope that the Department of Immigration does not ask for perfection when selecting immigrants. I hope, too, that we will not bring to this country only the people who we think will be perfect citizens. I hope that we shall allow to come into this country persons who are sometimes not in perfect health and that we shall in fact recognise the human factor. In addition I hope we will admit migrants who cannot meet the full medical requirements under the Immigration Act. I know that from time to time the Minister has been lenient, but I hope that we do not reject a person because he or she is suffering from some physical complaint or medical complaint and as a result cannot meet the prescribed standard.
I hope that among our migrants there will be, if possible, a few drug addicts. We should not shun those people who, because of a weakness or through illness, have become addicted to drugs. We should be able to regard them as forming part of the environment of the world. I believe that our immigration laws should not be so narrow as to lay down the rule that people addicted to drugs are untouchables, and we do not want to have them. 1 have no doubt that from time to time among our immigrants we have had criminals. After all, among our own people we also have criminals. I hope, for instance, that we can be a little human and a little flexible in regard to the administration of our immigration laws. As far as I am concerned there has been too much interference regarding immigrants. I have in mind the screening of prospective migrants and naturalisations. I hope that a person’ will not be rejected because he is either a Communist or a suspected Communist. 1 think that any person who comes to this country and who in a period of 5 years has been a good citizen and has no criminal record should be allowed to become an Australian citizen.
I would like the Minister and the Government to show some latitude in this regard. I hope that they will allow the human element to prevail and do not look for perfection. In my view we have a responsibility to take some of the sick and the old from other parts of the world.
We should try to do something about this situation because we have in this country so much that other countries cannot offer. 1 hope that at all times the immigration policy of Australia will be based on humanity and understanding not only with respect to those that are healthy and strong and are skilled technicians but also with respect to those who sometimes are not so skilled and nol so fortunate.
– in reply - Some suggestions have been made and I have taken note of all of them. There are two things only to which I will reply at this stage. There will be an opportunity later for this mutter to be debated. Firstly, I would like to deal with the question of some form of provisional citizenship. I am bound to say that 1 do not believe provisional citizenship can. under any circumstances, be adopted. 1 believe there can only be one single test - is a person a citizen of this country? If the person is a citizen of this country he has equal rights to all other citizens of this country. There can be no second rate citizens, second class citizens, provisional citizens or any other kind of citizens. I make that point: loudly and clearly, although 1 understand the point that the honourable gentleman opposite has made, and I understand why he has made it. But I think we must not ever let it be thought by so many people who have come here to make this country their home that there could ever be a suggestion that there could be second class or provisional citizenship.
The other point J make relates to the speech made by the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) in which he said, among other things, that we ought to take the sick and the old. I assure the honourable member that there is no country in the world that has a greater reputation for taking the sick and the aged on compassionate and humanitarian grounds. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has on a number of occasions asserted the pre-eminence of Australia in this field. I hope that it is a pre-eminence that we will maintain into the future.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed (vide page 2726).
– I desire to make a few brief comments on the measure before the House which seeks the approval of the Parliament to an agreement between the Commonwealth and the States of New South Wales and South Australia. The agreement embodies arrangements for construction of a new standard gauge railway between Cockburn and Broken Hill. The Bill also seeks the authorisation required for expenditure for the purposes of the agreement. I support the Bill, which I feel sure will meet with the approval of all honourable members from both sides of the House because at long last we are assured of having in the near future a through standard gauge railway link to the east and west coasts of Australia.
The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair), in his second reading speech, appeared hopeful that the long hold-up of this important section of the line, caused in part by the inability to finalise negotiations on compensation between the governments involved and the Silverton Tramway Co., has now been overcome by the offer of an ex gratia payment of $1.25m. Whilst I am not in a position to assess what compensation, if any, is reasonable, I certainly hope that the offer is a just one and as such will be acceptable to the company, thus avoiding any costly or protracted legal proceedings. As an Australian I naturally approve of this measure which will link the capital cities of the eastern States with Perth in Western Australia with a standard gauge railway which, when completed, will give widespread benefits to many industries and individuals. It will also prove to be of great importance in future defence planning. However, being a South Australian, I am concerned and in fact disgusted that once again a Liberal Federal Government has given metropolitan Adelaide the cold shoulder and apparently has ignored or forgotten the great South Australian industrial centre of Whyalla. This is apparent from the Minister’s remarks that the new line covered by the Bill will be the final link in the standardisation project.
I believe it is fair comment to say that South Australia depends more than any other State on Commonwealth initiatives in railway construction and standardisation. Adelaide’s automobile and appliance industries increasingly require unbroken rail access to her eastern and western markets. Yet, the Liberal Federal Government still hesitates to carry out the Labor Federal Government’s agreement of 1949 to build a standard gauge railway from Adelaide to Port Pirie. The building of a standard gauge link between Whyalla and Port Augusta was recommended by the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner in June 1966 and the survey of the route has been completed, yet the Government still hesitates to undertake the construction. I can see no reason why work connecting Adelaide with Port Pirie could not be carried out concurrently with the construction of the line which is covered by this agreement. However, if this is not possible due to lack of manpower, plant or equipment or for any other valid reason, I can only hope that this most important work so far as South Australia is concerned will be commenced before the current project is completed.
When the work as set out in the Bill is completed and a fast, modern container system of rail transportation is implemented, South Australian industries will be placed in an intolerable position so far as transport costs and time are involved when compared with their counterparts in the other mainland States. The same situation will apply to South Australian importers who import goods either from within Australia or from overseas. Such a situation must increase the destination costs of South Australian manufactured goods and do likewise to goods imported into South Australia. In short, until the Government complies with the terms of the 1949 agreement and links Adelaide with the other capital cities, this will react unfairly and harshly against all sections of the people of South Australia and the State as a whole.
I feel sure that all honourable members will agree that the two greatest needs of South Australia, which are vital to maintain the very existence of this State and both of which cannot be achieved without generous Commonwealth assistance, are a modern rail transport system of similar gauge to the Commonwealth project linking Adelaide with the other mainland capitals and an adequate water supply for normal, rural and industrial use. On both of these vitally important issues, although agreements have been made with the Commonwealth Government and. other State governments involved, the prospects of South Australia obtaining either does not appear hopeful while the present Federal Government stays in office. I support, the Bill and I trust that my remarks regarding the serious problems facing South Australia will not be ignored because, as I mentioned previously, they are urgent necessities and are a must to ensure the continuance, in fact the very existence, of the State as we now know it.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, in considering this Railway Agreement (New South Wales and South Australia) Bill now before the House, it is disappointing to note recent criticisms that have been levelled at the Federal Government by shareholders of Silverton Transport and General Industries regarding the exgratia payment of $Hm. The likelihood of the company taking a compensation claim to the High Court is thought to be capable of delaying completion of this vital link of the transcontinental rail system and, if true, is cause for concern. Despite mention in the second reading speech delivered by the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) that it would be inappropriate to comment on this matter at this stage, I would hope that he is in a position to say whether his most recent contacts with the Silverton Tramway Co. Ltd confirm or deny the possibility of any suggested legal action against the Commonwealth delaying in any way the completion of this final link in the standard gauge system.
From various reports it appears that the section between Parkes and Broken Hill in New South Wales is being strengthened and re-laid with all speed and we have been assured by the Minister that work in South Australia is well advanced. It is imperative that no delays arise now. The line must be operating by 1970 for, as the Minister has said, ‘the link’ - covered by this Bill - ‘will enable revolutionary changes in the transport of passengers and freight between east and west’. In a week when the first through freight train has travelled from Port Pirie to Perth, we cannot have completion of the eastern section threatened by complications arising from an already protracted financial agreement. Important as the matter of compensation or ex-gratia payment is to the shareholders of the Silverton Tramway Company, it is of far greater significance and importance to the whole transport system in Australia that this matter of finance must not become the subject of a series of long, complicated, expensive and delaying court cases. This is particularly important since containerised shipping should be well in operation in Australian ports by 1970 and since the efficient development of containerisation is dependent upon a fully operational standard gauge transcontinental railway system.
Press speculation has suggested that the Government is being held to ransom by a company with no legal right to compensation. I believe that the Minister must reassure the House that we are not being held to ransom and that financial arrangements have proceeded towards finality since the debate of this Bill was unexpectedly postponed 2 weeks ago or that, acting on good legal advice, he can go ahead with the Agreement irrespective of any agreement with the company. The reasons for the company’s refusal of the offer should also be stated in the House so that such reasons may be either understood or disputed. However, the presentation of this Bill before the House brings up the wider problem of Commonwealth support for railway programmes being undertaken by the States.
The Minister in his second reading speech went on to talk about the financial terms which - are those generally adopted for rail standardisation projects. The Commonwealth provides the whole of the finance required for the work, and the beneficiary State - in this case South Australia - is to repay 30% of the total cost, with interest, over 50 years.
The necessary provisions for co-ordination and co-operation are also mentioned and history has shown that these have been very successfully achieved so far. Schedules and expenditures have been on target. But as I mentioned during the debate on the Railway Agreement (New South Wales) Bill on 6th June of this year, the problem of establishing priorities in the railway works programmes of the various State governments is highlighted when the standardisation programme is considered. As mentioned then, the Commonwealth has been generous in contributing to the whole standardisation scheme but this, in turn, has meant the reallocation of resources by the State departments involved; resources which cannot then be used for other railway undertakings which may have a far greater benefit to that particular State but which may not have an obvious or immediate national or interstate advantage. With the shortage of funds which can be allocated by State governments to railway jobs, we may well see the State railway systems being improved only when the Commonwealth Government sees its way to joint financial responsibility in a specific scheme. If this comes to pass, it may well be that the philosophy, or is it policy, behind the legislation before the House will have to be reconsidered and extended. The efficient transportation of cargoes and passengers by rail is an economic necessity, whether it is to Mount Isa, to Alice Springs or to suburban Sydney.
With a vast fixed capital investment in the railway systems of Australia, we cannot afford to let them be idle. A co-ordinated scheme that will encourage the States to undertake the necessary modernisation of equipment must be undertaken and it is difficult to see this being achieved without federal financial arrangements of the type mentioned in the Bill before the House. I would remind honourable members again that the Commonwealth provides the whole of the finance with 30% to be repaid with interest over 50 years for the rail gauge standardisation programme. There would seem little purpose in financing and encouraging a standardised rail system between States if the State systems become as I have said on an earlier occasion ‘a confused crush of out-dated, out-moded, and largely unused collection of tired rolling stock and inefficient railway lines’. This is already evident in some of the suburban railway systems and with the inexorable trend towards urbanisation in Australian economic and social development the Federal Government should grasp the importance of assuming the leadership in the pursuit of an efficient transport system throughout the country. Important though it is to have good railway lines in the remote areas of the north, the west and the centre of the continent, and essential though the interstate standard gauge line is to general economic development, we cannot have the major metropolitan areas being denied a progressive development of their transport networks through lack of funds and yet still hope to have the type of development which every Australian, whether he comes from the country or the cities, has grown to expect.
In the Bill now before the House, we have accepted the principle that the Federal Government should assist in transport development when such development is a direct part of the national progress and I wholeheartedly agree with this principle. We can no longer restrict our concern for efficient transport to rural or mining areas, important though these unquestionably are. We must see the need for accepting certain proposals which relate to metropolitan areas not as a backdoor method of supplying additional funds to the States but rather as a recognition that it is important for national development to have a modern, efficient, suburban rail system in each of the metropolitan areas, particularly in Melbourne and Sydney. How will containerisation and the standard gauge system operate if there is good old fashioned confusion around Port Melbourne or the industrial areas of that City or around Pyrmont, and the industrial areas of Sydney?
It is patently obvious that any call for Federal assistance for plans to develop these railways must be considered under the same principles as have been accepted in the legislation now being debated. Of course, it is not for the Federal Government to assume sovereignty over the suburban railway systems of the country. But neither can the Government deny appeals for special assistance in developing suburban railways and overcoming the pressing urban transport problems into which we are now moving. A former Prime Minister denied assistance in this field because ‘urban transport has been an area of responsibility of the States in which the Commonwealth has traditionally not participated.’ How can we continue to follow this principle when today we are debating legislation which only a handful of years ago also lay beyond the area of traditional! Commonwealth participation?
The point to be taken is that it is not revolutionary to assume that the State governments may submit that the greater efficiency of lines other than that between Parkes and Broken Hill will contribute to the national efficiency and the national good. In point of fact, the whole railway system must be worked to its most efficient standards. I do not wish to take issue as to the feasibility of the Eastern Suburbs railway in Sydney or the underground railway in Melbourne. I want to establish the fact that these proposals or any other submission from the States that relate to solving urban transport problems shall not be dismissed because they are not a traditional area of responsibility of this Federal Government. Nor should they be dismissed because they do not relate to newly developing areas beyond the cities. They must be considered and compared on the basis that such undertakings are vital to Australian economic progress and that the major industrial and commerical centres of Australia cannot be allowed to .Cs-.’g/e themselves into economic suicide through urban transport problems which are. reaching crisis proportions in some of our cities. Urban Australia cannot afford to be overlooked.
If the Federal Government is to continue its present established policy of heavily subsidising rail lines connected with development projects, then we shall have to be prepared to assist the Eastern Suburbs and Melbourne underground rail lines provided - this is important - that these schemes can pass an objective analysis as to their net social and economic return as compared to other competing plans for urban development. Should such ah analysis reveal a greater need for some other form of urban transport, then we must frankly admit to such a conclusion and advise the New South Wales and Victorian Governments accordingly. But we must also clarify the present situation and let the States know that Federal support for urban schemes will be adjudicated on a benefit-cost basis and such claims will not be disqualified because the Commonwealth has previously not participated in this area of responsibility or because the national good has not been involved because it relates to an urban problem. So, I refer back to the philosophy that underlies the present agreement. Vast economic problems of Australian development do call for new actions in the future and rail transport is not the least of these. Philosophically, this legislation sets the pattern to be followed and, if it is not, then
I believe we shall continue to have a distortion in the allocation of Australian public moneys which could eventually strangle our cities.
Philosophies aside, however, the Eastern Suburbs and Melbourne underground railways must measure up to economic criteria, an examination of which lies beyond the ambit of this Bill. However, with careful programming and a spread of annual financial commitments, 1 believe it should be possible to institute an urban transport scheme involving Commonwealth financial assistance which would not result in a demand inflationary spiral, which would not deny the principles underlying the present Bill and which would go a long way to achieving a balanced yet still exciting economic development for our country.
I would again commend the Government for its continuing success with the standardisation programme though 1 would again appeal for some assurance that the line between Cockburn - pronounced Co-burn, not Cockburn, as Opposition members will have it - and Broken Hill will not be delayed through further financial negotiation and that there is good legal advice to say we can go ahead with the railway agreement to permit conclusion of the direct and uninterrupted line between Sydney and Perth by the scheduled completion date of 1970.
In view of the long talk by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) on the history of the standardisation of Australian railways generally, it is disappointing to note that he made no mention of the vital part played by the present Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) in shepherding through the House the original legislation upon which the present Bill is based. Although it may be open for some adverse comment, I suggest to the Minister that he may consider calling the train which will inaugurate the passenger service in 1970 the ‘Flying Wentworth’ or the ‘Wentworth Flier’. At any rate, some serious and permanent recognition should be made of the great personal part played by the honourable member for Mackellar in establishing the standardised system across Australia.
– The honourable member for Hughes (Mr Dobie) referred to suburban railway services.
Perhaps I should remind the House that the Bill relates to an agreement between the Commonwealth and the States of New South Wales and South Australia with respect to the construction of a standardgauge railway from Broken Hill to Cockburn. The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair), in his second reading speech, said that the three governments are determined to work for the earliest possible completion of the project. The Government seems to realise at this stage that it is important to complete the work, and I am very sorry that it has taken so many years for it to reach this conclusion. The Government has been in office for 19 years, but during that time has taken no action to bring the project to finality. I congratulate the Minister for trying to achieve this objective.
The work which is the subject of the Bill will bring about a vast improvement in Australia’s railway services. It is the final link between Perth and Sydney and Brisbane and it has been unduly delayed. The line between Kalgoorlie and Perth has been completed and the line between Port Augusta and Cockburn is well under way. It will be completed at an early date. It is expected that the work mentioned in the Bill will be completed within 12 months, if there is no undue delay, and I hope that the Minister will not permit any undue delay to occur. The line between Broken Hill and Cockburn will take a new and more direct route. It will be about 5i miles shorter and will be cheaper to construct and to operate because of the shorter distance. 1 hope that the important factors that concern Broken Hill will not be overlooked by the Minister.
The Agreement provides, amongst other things, that funds will be provided for such other work as the Minister approves as being necessary to provide for the more efficient operation of the standard gauge railway between Port Pirie and Broken Hill. It also makes provision for funds to be provided for any other work relating to a public road made necessary by the carrying out of the work. I understand that about twentyone level crossings in Broken Hill will be eliminated and the people in the town will be very grateful to know this. However, the city council in Broken Hill wants the line to be constructed in such a way as to eliminate all level crossings in the city. The line will go through an area which would enable all level crossings to be eliminated by the construction of one or two overpasses for either the railway or the road, and the council is anxious to have this work carried out by the railway constructing authority. One overpass on the southern side of Broken Hill would probably overcome all the difficulties and Broken Hill would then not have any level crossings at all.
The rail service using this line will be very fast and the line will probably carry a large number of trains. Certainly in the future many trains will pass through the area. It is most undesirable that a city such as Broken Hill should have any level crossings. As I have said, the council has been trying to get information from the Commonwealth Government through me and from the South Australian Government about overpasses or underpasses for roads on the southern side of Broken Hill. The Council has not been able to get sufficient information on this matter. 1 ask the Minister: ‘Will due consideration be given to the elimination of level crossings in the Broken Hill area?’
The Agreement covers a wide range. It omits any reference to the way in which employees of the Silverton Tramway Company in Broken Hill will be looked after. I understand that in addition to making substantial profits the Silverton Tramway Company has been cornering a fund, in which it now has about $500,000, to pay a severance allowance to any person who might lose employment with the railways. I hope that the union will see that the whole of this amount is made available to the employees concerned. The welfare of persons employed with the Company at the present time should be looked after. Any person who loses employment should be adequately compensated.
One of the problems facing the Company is that of shunting on the mines. I understand that this is likely to be done by the Silverton Tramway Company if it can be done at a price satisfactory to the mines, or by the mining companies themselves. I hope that agreement on this point will not hold up the service, that an early agreement will be made as to the way in which shunting will be carried out, and that the service will be very satisfactory for the mining people and in particular for Broken Hill itself. I mentioned earlier the proposed route for the Broken Hill-Cockburn section. The railway will commence at the south western boundary of the Crystal Street yards in Broken Hill and will proceed generally south of the Barrier Highway to the border of New South Wales and South Australia near Cockburn, a distance of approximately 30 miles. I hope that the work will proceed immediately to the satisfaction of all concerned, particularly the workmen who will cease to be employed by the Silverton Tramway Company, and to the city of Broken Hill where level crossings will be eliminated.
The honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) made a very extensive speech. He went into the history of the Commonwealth Railways and dealt with railways generally. I do not wish to cover any of those points, as I know that it is the desire of the Government to get this Bill through the House speedily.
– This Bill is fairly dear to my heart, because it is due to the slow movement of the Agreement in question that the whole standardisation programme in South Australia has been retarded. I noticed that the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) departed from the Bill and during his speech ranged over the area from Broken Hill to Darwin. He also referred to certain areas that concern me rather vitally. The section of the standardisation programme we are considering has suffered a setback, particularly at the hands of the last Labor Government in South Australia. I am glad to see that the present South Australian Government has realised the importance of this line, that at last the green light has been given for the work to proceed, and that this particular link will be completed, I hope, by the end of next year.
I noted also that the honourable member for Newcastle mentioned the Adelaide-Port Pirie link. This has concerned me for quite a long time. Last year I took the Dunstan Government to task in relation to the usage of $30,000 that had been set aside by the Commonwealth for preliminary survey work on that particular link. This work was not done. I again referred to it only recently when a question was asked in the South Australian Parliament about the priority of the Port Pirie-Adelaide link. I made the comment, which was graced in the Press, that still no claim had been made on the Commonwealth for this $30,000. I hope that this particular part of the standardisation programme in South Australia will be given added impetus and that the $30,000 will at least be used to commence the work on that particular line. lt should be made clear that this railway standardisation programme is a partnership between various governments and that all those governments must play a part in the implementation of the overall plan. After all, this project is above State interests and it should be looked at in a national way. I suspect that the Commonwealth has had many frustrations in this respect and that probably they will continue; but I do suggest that everybody interested in the overall standardisation programme should realise that it is in the interest not only of the States but also of national development that this programme should be accelerated. The honourable member for Newcastle also mentioned the construction of a line between Whyalla and Port Augusta. I agree with what he said about this.
– Did you agree with me on the standardisation of the AdelaidePort Pirie section?
– The honourable member has a point here. Probably he has taken it from the many references I have made to it over the last three or four weeks. I appreciate his reference to the line from Port Augusta to Alice Springs and the frequent occasions on which it has been washed out. The honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) and 1 have constantly badgered the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) about this very matter, and I believe that our representations will not go unheeded indefinitely. In fact 1 hope that before very long we will be favoured with some report on that. The Government must be commended for the eventual signing of this Agreement. I realise that complexities arose with the Silverton Tramway Company but I know that they have been resolved and that all parties should be happy with the result. I congratulate the Minister for Shipping and Transport on his work. I exhort the Stale governments to co-operate with the Commonwealth so that the programme of rail standardisation will be accelerated in the future.
– in reply - Most honourable members who have spoken tonight have expressed concern at any delay that might flow from the conclusion of negotiations either with the Silverton Tramway Company or with any other party, resulting in the opening of the standard gauge line between Perth and the east coast of Australia being delayed beyond the end of 1970, as is now anticipated. This is a concern shared by honourable members on both sides of the House. It is a concern shared with the Commonwealth Government and with the governments of New South Wales and South Australia. Each of us recognises that any delay in completing the small sector of the line the subject of this Bill will delay also the realisation of the economies which will flow from the already tremendous capital investment in the overall project.
There are problems in engineering associated with the building of this particular sector. The honourable member for Darling (Mr Clark) has mentioned some of them. I know that the Broken Hill City Council has expressed concern at the number of railway crossings which may be included in any route through Broken Hill. The Council has a very real interest in this matter. I am confident that discussions between the constructing authority - the South Australian Government - and the New South Wales Government, which has a particular interest in the principal railway station and the proposed sidings, will lead to a satisfactory solution. I appreciate the concern of the honourable member for Darling and of the Broken Hill City Council.
There has been an expression of opinion tonight on a number of other aspects of railway operation which perhaps I should refer to briefly. The honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay) said that some estimate of cost should have been included in the Bill. Clause 8 of the agreement provides for the calling of public tenders. If an estimate of cost were to be included if would be an upper limit. This would give Parliament an opportunity to decide whether the upper limit was too high or whether the cost of the construction was too high. The Commonwealth decided that as public tenders were to be called there were advantages in not including a particular figure. However, the necessary expenditure will ultimately come before the House by way of the financial statements that are presented each year by the Treasurer. At that stage it will be possible for honourable members to comment on expenditure and the financial provisions for the line. The honourable member for Evans urged that public tenders be called for the major part of the construction. To expedite construction and to minimise costs the honourable member urged that the maximum use be made of the substantial skills and the number of private contractors available for railway construction. This concern of his I share. 1 trust that as far as possible the calling of public tenders and the use of private contractors will enable costs to be contained and construction to be expedited.
The honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) was particularly concerned that standardisation should not be concluded when this particular line is completed. He referred to a number of projects, as did other honourable members, including the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Dobie). I know that all honourable members share the belief that into the future Australia’s transport facilities should operate not because they have developed in one particular gauge or pattern but rather to provide the maximum efficiency of through transportation of cargoes. With the introduction of modern means of cargo handling and easy cargo exchange from one means of transport to another, increasingly into the future opportunities must be presented for rationalisation and co-ordination of means of transport. One would hope that this will include not just the adaptation of one or another form of transport but each of the available forms of domestic transport in Australia to ensure that maximum efficiency is achieved. To this end further standardisation projects, both within South Australia and outside South Australia, must be considered. All of the Pines referred to tonight bear consideration.
I was pleased however to hear the honourable member for Hughes suggest that in any assessment of future projects their financial viability must be taken into account. This is particularly so in the case of some suburban services to which he referred. Where a major social problem exists it is of general concern but it is necessary to ensure that if there is to be substantial investment in any area there must be an economic return on the investment. One wonders sometimes, in view of the substantial! burden on available carriages in coping with peak hour traffic, whether the same economic factors operate as operate on the through routes with which the standardisation project in this instance is concerned.
The other aspect mentioned tonight concerns the Silverton Tramway Co. Since this Bill was introduced into the House discussions have been held with the company. Unfortunately they have not as yet reached a conclusion. A further submission has been made on behalf of the company suggesting a new basis on which an ex gratia payment might be made to it. I assure honourable members that the Commonwealth is concerned to ensure that the ex gratia payment should recognise the actual case of the company and that there should be adequate payment for the needs of the company relative to the effect that this construction will have on its operations. At the same time it is necessary to ensure that any ex gratia payment should not be made only on the basis of a freight rate which would seem to have been determined by factors which ignored the opportunity for competition which, from an interpretation of the 1886 agreement, might well have been possible. It would seem that this early New South Wales agreement did not give to that company an exclusive franchise. To the extent that other obligations were placed on the company, any payment made today must take into account the fact that if there has been a level of profit based on freight rates which are not in line with those charged for similar commodities in other areas of Australia or in other parts of the world, the ex gratia payment must necessarily be reduced to that extent.
The honourable member for Darling not only said that shareholders of the Silverton Tramway Co. should receive adequate consideration from the Government but also that employees of the company should, in their way, be compensated for the loss of employment opportunities. Over the years quite a considerable provision has been made for these people in various ways. The Broken Hill mining companies have provided $400,000 in a special trust fund. I am told that the Silverton Tramway Co. has made a special standard gauge provision of $200,000. When one takes into account this sum of $600,000 and remembers that fifty employees are involved one will recognise that adequate provision has been made for any employees who may be redundant as a result of the construction of the standard gauge line. At the same time, as the honourable member for Darling mentioned, employment opportunities could well be provided if shunting operations are to be undertaken by the Silverton Tramway Co. If the employees cannot be placed with that company in shunting operations, perhaps employment opportunities could be provided by the Broken Hill mining companies or other companies in the Broken Hill area. I can assure the honourable member that the employees of the Silverton Tramway Co. have not been forgotten.
This Bill represents another step forward in the linking of the major centres of Australia by a standard gauge railway line. The philosophic aspects of this project have been dealt with fairly exhaustively in the debate tonight. If as a result of the completion of this line we can achieve greater economies in freight handling, it will become so much easier to extend into other areas, such as those mentioned by the honourable member for Grey (Mr Jessop) and other honourable members, by means of a project which, because of its economic viability, can justify the expenditure of the tremendous sums of capital that are necessarily involved. The Commonwealth recognises the difficulties that are encountered by transporters of goods in through operations under the existing system. For this reason it intends to pursue with the various States discussions about projects to assist both the speeding up of freight handling and the reduction of the freight burden. Both these are objectives which, I think, all members of this House share. To the extent which this Bill takes the project a little bit further towards the objective, I am glad to hear that it has the support of honourable members.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Sinclair) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 10th September (vide page 818), on motion by Mr Malcolm Fraser:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– It will take only a few seconds to deal with the official view of the Opposition on this Bill, which provides for some changes in the way the Australian Universities Commission will be run. So far it has had a staff of its own and has been a body separate from the Public Service. The Chairman and the staff of the Commission have in no way been involved as part of the Public Service. This Bill provides for the necessary staff for the Commission to he employed under the Public Service Act and for the Chairman to be given powers under that Act in relation to staff similar to those exercised by the permanent head of a department. This has been the pattern of development adopted by the Government for quite some time. There can be some criticisms of this Bill. It may well.be that some organisations such as the Universities Commission work better if separated from the Public Service altogether. Centralisation and uniformity are not necessarily good or desirable. On the other hand, the Bill will undoubtedly give to members of the staff a greater opportunity to move from one kind of work to another of which they are capable. It will probably ‘ provide better opportunities for promotion. On the whole, the attitude of staff members in such organisations seems to be that they prefer this kind of change. The Opposition supports the Bill. There is nothing more with which I need detain the House at this stage.
– I wish to speak briefly on a few points relating to the Bill without formally opposing it. As the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) said in his second reading speech, the Bill provides for the Chairman of the Australian Universities Commission to be given the powers of a permanent head in relation to staff employed by the Commission. I do not doubt that, as the Minister said, this follows well established precedents. I do not doubt that the Minister and his advisers are motivated by concern to establish efficient and well tried procedures for staffing. However, the appeal to established precedent is increasingly dangerous in this age of student power, black power and the decay of general consent to established standards. People are rightly questioning the origins of authority. Even school children are framing their ethical and moral principles according to why a thing is right, not according to who says it is right.
Let us look at the powers proposed to be given to the Chairman of the Commission under the Public Service Act 1922-1967. Clearly, the. Minister has not seen the need to look at this, because he has been content to follow a precedent, unaware that precedents in time may produce paralysis or explosions. Section 31 (4.) of the Public Service Act allows the permanent head to withhold salary increments. Section 38 (3.) provides for him to report as to the availability of a capable officer to fill a vacancy. I may have overlooked more significant powers, but these will suffice to illustrate my point. I turn now to the Australian Universities Commission Act 1959-1967, which describes how the proposed permanent head is to be appointed. Sub-sections (2.) and (3.) of section 5 make it apparent that the GovernorGeneral - that is, in effect, the Cabinet - appoints him for a term of 7 years or less, and sub-sections (2.) and (3.) of section 6 show that his deputy is appointed and removed by the Minister.
It is true that the Cabinet and the Minister are elected under a species of democratic process of great antiquity and venerable standing. But it is true, also, that the office of Chairman is a hierarchical appointment, vastly less representative of academics and universities than, for example, some university senates. The position is, to put it bluntly, a political appointment. We have seen enough dissension in the recent cases of the dismissal of Professor Orr of Tasmania and the rejection of Dr Knopfelmacher to show how unrepresentative university senates can be. Political hierarchical appointments have been long accepted with little protest in centralised bureaucracies, whether of Communist, Fascist or other traditions, but they ought to be critically examined in anycountry which prides itself on pioneering new dimensions of democracy. In this ultimate receptacle of power in this Parliament, we ought to examine our traditions in the searing light of where those traditions will direct this power. We should consider where our decisions will direct this responsibility.
The Minister should undertake a searching revision of the Act to provide that future appointments to the Commission shall be made by a vote of the governing bodies of tertiary education, including a reasonable representation of their graduate and undergraduate ruling bodies. Then and then only could the amendment now before the House be considered a democratic measure. I stress the representation of undergraduates because several university authorities are, to a degree, anti-undergraduate. They divert funds to their respective departments, usually in the powerful professional faculties, for glamour projects which often promote their own academic prestige or public image rather than the urgent needs of our most valuable national resource - the brains with the biggest potential for our nation’s future.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Barnes) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 1 1 September (vide page 893), on motion by Mr Freeth:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– There being no objection, that course will be followed.
– The Opposition has considered this Bill. We approve of it. We are disappointed that the Government has not yet been able to complete the legislation which has been promised for so long. At the same time we express our disappointment that the Government has not seen fit to provide for compensation at the full rate of earnings rather than at the lesser rate which is now proposed. My friend the honourable member for West Sydney (Mr Minogue) will take up the main burden of debate now, because he has a particular case in respect of which he has been crusading for a long time. It relates to a person who lost his testicles - I think that is the term used by the honourable member. The Minister has promised to give attention to this matter.
The honourable member for West Sydney has carried out almost a one man crusade on behalf of unfortunate victims of accidents who have lost their genitals - perhaps I will put it that way so that it covers both sexes. Up to date he has obtained some satisfaction. He is the first man in Australia - perhaps the first man in the world - who can claim whatever fame is attached to being one who has pressed a government to recognise the tremendous loss which a person suffers when he either has his genitals injured irremediably or loses them altogether. The honourable member for West Sydney would like to fire another salvo into the Government for its delaying on this question. At the same time he will no doubt once again express his pleasure that the Government has reached the point at which it is thinking about the question.
– I am very disappointed that after 3 or 4 years this Government has not seen fit at least to examine the particular case which I have raised. When I raised it in this House on a previous occasion the then Minister for Social Services, Mr Roberton, told me in no uncertain terms that the gentleman to whom I referred was not entitled to compensation. Nothing happened and my good friend the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) brought the matter before the House again. The then Prime Minister, the late Mr Harold Holt, promised to introduce legislation to cover the matter. We hoped from then on that his successor would honour bis promise or at least give consideration to this case. When I look at the Third Schedule to the Seamen’s Compensation Act 1 find that approximately fifty injuries are covered but that there is no sign of the one which I have raised in this House. When 1 raise this matter with learned gentlemen on both sides of the House - and we have barristers and solicitors laid on - all they do is to laugh at it, make fun of it. There are also doctors on both sides of the House. Why do they not do something about it?
I have stated before, and I’ will repeat, that the Governor-General in opening this session of Parliament, said that it was the Government’s intention to introduce legislation to improve the scheme of compensation. Following on that announcement I naturally thought there would be some action on the case that I had raised. Every honourable member knows about the case, and I will repeat it because Iwill not be here very much longer to raise it. There is no credit due to this Government for its handling of this matter. It is the case of a man who lost his testicles while he was earning his living. The question of what value should be placed on them has been ignored ever since. The case was taken before Judge Rainbow who decided that this man had not been earning his living by the testicles that he lost. His wife has seen a solicitor and a barrister. They have advised her that there should be compensation for loss of conjugal rights.
– How old is he?
– I do not know. I will not go into that, because I am a bit old myself. The Treasurer (Mr McMahon) in a statement on the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act stated:
The schedule of specified injuries (at present the third schedule) will be modified to eliminate the existing distinction that is maintained between left and right upper limbs, that is, the amount now payable for the loss of a right arm, hand, etc., will also be paid if an employee suffers the loss of his left arm, hand, etc. Provision will be made for lump sum compensation for the loss of the power of speech, for facial disfigurement and for the loss of genital organs or complete and permanent loss of sexual function.
I have referred to what the Treasurer and the Governor-General have said. Everybody has had a go at this, but that is as far as it has got, much to the disgrace of this Government. I am asking the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes), who is now at the table, to use his influence with the Government to have it make provision for proper compensation for persons injured in this way. I am not pleading solely on behalf of this one man who has been ruptured;I am pleading also for all those who may be similarly injured in the future. There are many men working on rigging and scaffolding, even jockeys riding in races, who could suffer similar injuries. It is all very fine for people to laugh and grin at this kind of misfortune, but those who suffer it do not laugh or grin. I hope the Minister at the table is big enough to do what he can to have the Government insert adequate provisions in the legislation; otherwise the present situation will continue and persons who suffer similar injuries in the future will not be properly compensated.
Why does the Government not provide adequate compensation? I appeal again to the Minister. I do not want to be making a speech on the matter, but if the ‘New YorkTimes’ and other newspapers see fit to print the story of this man’s misfortune, particulars of the loss and disfigurement that he suffered, and also an account of the disgrace that the Government has brought upon itself in not honouring its obligations, it is time for the Government to do something about it. After all, it is a clear cut case. There is no doubt about that. If the Government can spend £90,000 in replacing 600 tons of stones in the
Martin Place clock tower, surely it should be able to spend a few dollars to compensate this man for his loss.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Barnes) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 19 September (vide page 1256), on motion by Mr Sinclair:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Barnes) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 9 October (vide page 1760), on motion by Mr Freeth:
Thatthe Bill be now read a second time.
– The measure now before the House proposes to amend the Gold-Mining Industry Assistance Act, which came into force towards the latter part of 1954. According to the Prime Minister of the day, the object of the Bill, which he introduced, was to prevent any further decline in the gold mining industry. He pointed to a number of reasons which he considered made the industry very important in the national interest, and he was quite definite that it should not be allowed to decline below the level it had reached at that time. Western Australia was then - and is to an even greater extent today - the State most concerned with the gold mining industry. Many people in that State live on the gold fields and depend on the industry for their living, and they were greatly encouraged by what the Prime Minister said in 1954. Unfortunately the legislation has not achieved the purpose which the Prime Minister then said was so important. In fact it has never looked like doing so. One reason is that the Government has failed to act quickly enough to cope with changing circumstances. It is quite certain that the Bill now before us likewise will do very little to achieve the aims set out by the Prime Minister in 1954. On 4th November of that year he said:
The importance, of the gold mining industry to Australia needs little emphasis. The annual value of gold output is in the region of £17m. Not only does the industry make a significant contribution to the national income, but it produces a commodity which has a direct effect on the balance of payments. Except for a minor quantity of gold which is used for industrial purposes, all the gold produced in Australia and the Territories represents an addition, in one form or another, to our international reserves. Moreover, there are large areas in Australia, particularly in Western Australia, which are almost entirely dependent on gold-mining. Any significant decline in gold-mining activity could lead to the depopulation of these areas and a widespread loss of housing and other utilities which have been developed over the years in the areas concerned. The Government believes that for a number of reasons it would not be in the national interest for these areas to languish.
I suggest that after listening to the Prime Minister at that time the people had every reason to accept his statement, as an assurance that the Government intended to do everything possible to preserve the industry at least at its 1954 level. The fact is, however, that the Government has not done so. It has not done what, in effect, it promised to do. As everyone knows there has been and continues to be a decline - and a very serious decline - in the gold mining industry, and this Government has done very little to prevent it. Since 1954 several mines have been forced to close down. Large numbers of men have lost their jobs and homes. Many business people have had no option but to close down their businesses, lose their homes and leave the district. The situation has been aggravated because no new mines have been opened up to take the place of those that have been closed. So we find that what the Prime Minister, in 1954, said must not be allowed to happen has happened, and with very little resistance from this Government.
I would like to think that the Government’s failure properly to assist the industry is due to a lack of knowledge of what has been happening and what is required to stop the decline. But this is not the case. Even if the appropriate departments have not been watching and reporting on the position as they should have done, I know full well that the Chamber of Mines of Western Australia has submitted a considerable amount of material in making appeals for assistance. So one is bound to wonder whether the views expressed by the leaders of the Government in 1954 were views genuinely held, and, if they were, whether this Government has since cast those views aside.
If honourable members care to peruse the annual statements prepared in accordance with section 32 of the Act they will quickly realise the extent of the decline in the industry since 1954. In the year ended June 1956 - the first full year in which the assistance scheme operated - nineteen large producers received subsidies of varying amounts. Turning to the statement for the year ended 30th June last, we find that only ten large producers were on the subsidy list. On the surface, this change in the picture may appear refreshing. One may conclude that an improvement has taken place and that some of those on the list in 1956 have strengthened their position and are no longer eligible for assistance, lt may be thought that the 10 on the list now were amongst the 19 who were on the list in 1956 and that the other 9 have, as a result of the subsidy, been able to continue production and reach a stage at- which they no longer require assistance. Unfortunately both assumptions are wrong. The fact is that of the 19 who appeared on the subsidy list in 1956 only 2 remain. The others, or those in Western Australia anyway, have either closed down or have been merged with other companies in an attempt to try to cut down their costs, but 11. of the 13 on the list in Western Australia have ceased operations altogether. By the same token, with the exception of 2, ail of those which appear on the subsidy list this year did not appear until very recently. For instance. North Kalgurli (1912) Ltd and Great Boulder Gold Mines Ltd did not come in until 1965, and Lake View and Star Ltd did not appear for the first time until this year.
In 1956 there were at least twenty-seven large producers operating in Australia and its Territories. Today the figure is about eleven. In 1956 in Western Australia we had substantial mines with substantial numbers of employees operating in about a dozen districts. Today we have them in only three. Those mines which .closed down did not do so because the ore bodies were exhausted but because assistance against increasing costs was not sufficient. Those more recently on subsidy have been forced into that position by the rising costs and the fixed price of gold. Its failure to provide some positive and worthwhile assistance on this occasion proves that the Government is not properly concerned wilh the problems or plight of the industry.
An Act has been brought before the Parliament for amendment. Here is an opportunity for the Government, if it so desires, to overhaul and amend those sections which have to be amended if there is any intention to assist the industry in a positive manner. But what has the Government done? It has simply submitted a proposal to amend a section which has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on either the rate of subsidy or the formula by which the subsidy is determined. Section 9 of the Act, sets out the rate of subsidy for both large and small producers and also the cost of production above which subsidy may be paid. Section 10 provides the formula for the ascertainment of the cost of production referred to in section 9. This Bill does not seek to amend either of those two sections both of which, particularly section 9, require amending if there is to be a genuine attempt to halt the decline in the industry. Either the subsidy must be increased or the cost of production figure reduced, or preferably both. The Government’s failure to do either of these things in this Bill means that the existing provisions of the Act in that regard, which have not halted or even proved to be an effective break upon the decline, are to remain as they are and the industry is to be allowed to decline still further.
All that the Bill proposes to do is to amend section 11, which relates to the situation where a producer happens to be fortunate enough to obtain for some part of the gold or bullion that he sells some amount above the official price. As the section now stands, a producer in receipt of a subsidy will have the total subsidy he would have received reduced by the full amount he receives from premium sales. For instance, if he sells 5,000 oz and is entitled to be paid a subsidy at the rate of $4 per oz or a total of $20,000, that total amount would be reduced by $5,000 if. he sold 5,000 oz on the premium market at a price of $1 per oz in excess of the official price. The Bill proposes to amend the section so as to provide that 25% of the excess amount will be disregarded; 75% will be deducted, 25% will not be. So the producer I have just referred to would have his total subsidy entitlement reduced by $3,750 instead of by $5,000 unless, of course, the official price for gold should rise by lc or more. If that happened he would be back where he is today and the whole $5,000 would be taken from him.
That is how I interpret the amendment. If I am correct - and I am pretty certain that I am - it would seem to be a peculiar method of assistance. If a producer receives $1 in excess of the official price he could lose $3,750, but if he receives only 99c in excess he would lose $5,000. It may be claimed that we should not be concerned about that particular aspect on the grounds that as the gold price has not risen for 20 years it is unlikely to do so in the near future, but I do not subscribe to that line of thought. J believe there is a very strong possibility of a price rise within the next couple of years, and if I am right that is all the more reason why the industry should not be allowed to go back any further. I shall speak more to this point later.
The Minister for Air (Mr Freeth), who assists the Treasurer, told us that the amendment is expected to mean a further $300,000 to the industry; but he did not go on to tell us that it would not come from the Treasury. He did not explain to us that had the free market failed to develop and that had the price on the free market remained as it was a couple of years ago, the Treasury would have been obliged to pay to the gold mining industry under the terms of the Act about $lm more than it will now pay as a result of the development of the free market. While the industry may receive an additional $300,000, the Treasury has made a saving of about Sim; so it is not very difficult to work out who is the real winner. Considering the circumstances of the industry and doubt about the free market holding for very long, the Government, in my opinion, should have agreed to the request of the industry to disregard the entire amount received from the premium rate or, at the very least, it could have looked at it on a 50-50 basis and decided that it would disregard 50%.
The amendment in this Bill is not worth a bumper. It is not worth a cent to the industry if the free market price collapses and if it again becomes well nigh impossible to sell some gold at premium rates. If the premium rate again becomes negligible, as it well can, the assistance will be almost the same as it is now before the amendment takes effect. So this amendment cannot be looked at as being of any real assistance to the industry. Even while the producers may gain some assistance from the effects of the free market they will not be permitted to overcome the obstacles in planning future mining procedure. An industry such as the gold mining industry cannot plan just a few days ahead, or even a few weeks or months ahead; it must be able to see several years ahead. This is necessary because there is so much to be done before the gold bearing ore can be brought to the surface and the gold extracted. There is so much dead work - preparatory work - before even one ounce of gold can be obtained.
Money from the sale of gold at premium rates cannot be taken as money that continues to he available over any definite or given period of time. The free market may bc OK for several months ahead or for only a few weeks or days. There can be no certainty that the industry will continue to receive a price in excess of the official price and. therefore, plans cannot be made to work the mine on any basis other than the official price plus actual subsidy where costs of production are such as to permit a subsidy being paid. Even in relation to this the mines cannot very well work on this basis unless the Government is prepared to give them a clear intention of where they stand in relation to the subsidy.
If the official price on existing costs of production is sufficient to permit only the mining of ore bodies with an average grade of 4 dwts it could be fatal - I think it would be fatal - to decide to develop an ore body wilh an average grade of only 3+ dwts on the basis of receiving a few extra dollars an ounce on the free market, because by the time the mine got halfway through the
2471 1/68- R-A9S)
work required to open up that ore body the free market price may have disappeared. In 1954 the then Prime Minister, when he introduced the Gold-mining Industry Assistance Bill, referred to this situation in relation to premium markets and said:
In 1952 and 1953, the gold mining industry obtained relief from the pressure of increased costs by being able to make sales on oversea* premium markets at prices in excess of the official price. The additional return to the industry from premium sales in those years amounted to approximately £1,800,000. The price of gold on overseas premium markets slumped sharply in the latter part of 1953, and it has since been possible for the industry to make only odd sales at prices very little above the official price. The virtual disappearance of premium prices on oversea* markets has had, therefore, an adverse effect on the financial position of the industry.
And so there we had a situation where over a 2-year period - 1952 and 1953 - the industry, by way of premium sales, was able to recover approximately $3. 6m more than it could have done by way of the official price, and yet one year later, in 1954, it was found necessary to bring down the Gold-mining Industry Assistance Bill. The situation today in relation to premium markets is not new. The industry ha< experienced this sort of thing before, lt has also experienced an almost complete collapse of that market in a short period of time. This could just as easily happen again in a short time - next week or shortly afterwards. Yet, today, with the industry in a much worse position than it was in 1952-53, we find this Government denying it the full benefit of what it may obtain by way of premium sales. To make matters worse it is using those sales to relieve the Treasury of subsidy payments that it would otherwise have to make.
I said earlier that the Minister assisting the Treasurer, in his second reading speech, said that the Bill now before us would mean an increase of payments to producers of approximately $300,000 if they averaged $3 an ounce over the official price on gold they could sell on the free market. The Minister seemed to think that this was a rather generous situation. I suggest to him that it is a pretty miserable one when measured against the $3,600,000 which was recovered in 1952-53 and also measured against the amount which the Treasury will save as a result of the producers themselves taking advantage of what is available on the free market. In 1954, as 1 said earlier and as 1 quoted from Hansard, the Prime Minister of the day, Mr Menzies said:
Let us then examine the points he made to substantiate that conclusion. He said:
The importance of the gold mining industry needs little emphasis.
He said that there are large areas of Australia which are almost entirely dependent on gold mining. He went on to say:
Not only docs the industry make a significant contribution to the national income, but it produces a commodity which has a direct affect on the balance of payments.
Finally, he said:
Any significant decline in gold mining activity could lead to the de-population of those areas and a widespread loss of housing and other utilities.
Those are the main points he made and I now ask honourable members on the Government side: Do they now repudiate what their Prime Minister said in 1954? Do they claim the situation has changed? Do they say the gold mining industry is no longer important, or do they still stand by what was said? Do they still support the views expressed, I presume on their behalf, by the Prime Minister in 1954? If they do still stand by the statement let me make it clear that they are doing very, very little to ensure the survival of the industry. If they do not now believe to be true what was said in 1954, let them be courageous enough to stand in their places and tell the world why, in their opinion, or in the Government’s opinion, the industry has ceased to be of any importance. Surely those people who were so encouraged by the remarks of the Prime Minister in 1954 are entitled to know why the Government and Government supporters now have changed their ideas. Surely what the Prime Minister was trying to convey in 1954 was that the population in the gold mining areas should not be allowed to decline, that it should at least be kept at the same level and that in fact in the national interest every effort should be made to increase both the population and the output.
If the Government still supports that idea but continues to do nothing towards further positive assistance for the gold mining industry, we can only reach one conclusion and that is that the members of the Government and more particularly the members of the Cabinet like many other people having little, if any, knowledge of the mining industry in general have jumped, without making a proper examination, to a conclusion which of course is completely wrong. The conclusion is that because there is some activity in mining outside gold the problem of population and retention of housing and business etc., has been solved and that therefore the retention of the gold mining industry at the 1954 level or better no longer requires consideration. Those people, through their lack of knowledge and their indifference to the problems facing people in the gold mining areas, apparently see the nickel and the iron ore mining projects as areas that will absorb the workers of the gold mining industry. They believe that those projects will provide avenues by which businesses can be retained and will preserve the mining towns and the houses in a like manner to thriving gold mining activities. Of course nothing could be further from the truth.
The fact of the matter is that the gold mining areas are from 1,000 to 1,500 miles distant from the iron ore projects. So it is quite obvious that people and towns dependent upon the gold mining industry will not be saved simply because of activities in the field of iron ore. What about nickel? The situation is that at present in Western Australia there is one nickel mine in production employing no more and providing housing for no more than the same number who were employed in one of the dozen gold mines that have closed down since 1954. There is one other nickel prospect in the stage of development which looks very healthy and it appears to be almost certain to become an employer of labour equal to one of the mines that have closed. Neither of those mines is in the actual district in which the present gold mining towns are situated. Both of those nickel areas will almost certainly establish their own township and their own services. So we come back to the point made in 1954 - the need to retain the gold mining industry for the retention of housing and population.
Even when the two nickel mines to which I have referred become properly established and fully productive, they still will not employ even one-third of the men presently required in the gold mining industry and certainly outside their own established townships they will not support one-third of the business premises of Kalgoorlie and Boulder and will give no support at all to people in places such as Norseman and Mount Magnet.
The next point 1 come to concerns the commodity that the industry produces. 1 wish to say something about the importance and value of gold itself. If we are satisfied that it is important and that it is valuable particularly with regard to our international reserves, or even if we are not certain in that respect, until we are certain one way or the other we must ensure that the industry is protected. In this respect also we must consider the possibility of an increase in the official price of gold because a substantial increase would mean an explosive expansion of the industry. On this point it must be remembered that once a mine is allowed to close it becomes very difficult both physically and financially - but more particularly physically - to bring it back into production for the simple reason that after work has ceased even for a short space of lime it would be a very dangerous operation to try to go back into the old workings.
So if there is a good chance - and I certainly think there is - that the official price will increase within 2 or 3 years, that is another very good reason why we should ensure that, mines now in operation continue to operate in such a manner that when the price rise does come about the industry can, and of course will, immediately expand its operations, increase production, mine much lower grade ore and as a result not only extend the life of the mine but also increase the labour force and bring about a general expansion in towns and industry alike.
While I have my own ideas why the price of gold must increase in the not too distant future, there are, of course, plenty of people more competent than I to whom we can turn for opinions. I would like to refer to some of them now. I have a copy of the ‘Kalgoorlie Miner’ dated Saturday, 5 th October 1968. An article in this newspaper carries the heading ‘Bankers Forecast Price Rise for Gold in 1970s’. The article stated, in part:
A leading Swiss banker forecast in Kalgoorlie Yesterday thai the world price of gold would probably rise by 1972.
Another banker from England said he would not be surprised if the present gold price of $US35 was doubled by the early 1970’s.
Al. Pierre Chamorel, a partner in the Geneva banking concern, Lombard Odier and Cl£, said that on reliable authority from South Africa, the world’s leading gold producers and London, industrial demand for gold would be 60,000,000 ounces by 1972. The present world supply including the Russian, was 48,000,000 ounces. This will fall to 39,000,000 by 1972.
Chamorel said ‘Regardless of the monetary reasons, the world price of gold must go up with no need to devalue the dollar, which is a strong currency’.
The article continues:
Mr M. M. Brooke, merchant banker of Guinness, Mahon and Co. Ltd, a London banking house, said that in his opinion South African gold production would begin to decline in the early 1970’s.
This will force the price of gold up’. He said he would not be surprised if the price doubled to SUS70.
I support the view that gold production in Africa will begin to decline in the very near future and I think it will be a very rapid decline once it starts. This in turn, 1 consider, will mean an increase in the official price of gold.
It seems highly unlikely that South Africa will locate any more large scale mines. Mines must be of large scale to be of much use to the industry. South Africa has these kinds of mines. No new major gold fields have been located in South Africa during the past 20 years. Geologists freely admit that it is most unlikely that since that time they have missed out on any worthwhile deposits despite a very extensive and intensive search and survey over hundreds of square miles. Indeed, South Africa was reported early last year to be planning on a gigantic scale towards the time when it could do without gold at all. It may well be that it is with that end in view at a much nearer date than previously expected that the industry has speeded up extraction and concentrated on higher than usual grades of ore bodies. The effect of this must greatly shorten the life of the mines.
South African mines more than doubled their production between 1952 and 1962. Production reached a peak of 25.5 million ounces. At that rate of increase it is quite evident that no consideration is being given to extending the life span of the mines.
Not only is this happening but also the mines have ceased using permanent support measures in stopes and have taken to hydraulic props which are moved as required. Workings behind are being allowed to collapse. All this points to a much earlier close down of the mines than may have been expected previously. It was estimated a few years ago that some 20 of the 55 mines then operating in South Africa would have ceased operations by 1970. In fact, four of them had closed by 1962 while at that time all that kept many of the others going was the hope of an increase in the price of gold. But, even so, it was not possible for them to continue for any length of time due to the small margin of profit that was being obtained. It is reported that, in 1961, nineteen of the older mines produced gold to the value of $95. 8m. But the cost of production was S94.5m. As costs have risen very considerably since then, with no change in the price of gold it is obvious that none of them can last much longer.
It may be claimed that unless South Africa can find in huge quantities some other forms of mineral deposits of economic value it cannot afford to allow its gold mining activities to cease. But 1 suggest that, unless there is an increase in the price of gold or substantial assistance is given in the way of subsidy or relief from taxation, the South African industry, like the Australian gold industry, will have no option but to close its mines. But even though South Africa may be able to keep a number of mines in production, its total return in ounces of gold will be substantially lower in a very short time than it was a few years back or from what it is at the present moment. The world’s demand for gold will be such as to bring about an increase in price unless - and this appears to be the only alternative - there is a demonetisation of gold. This to my mind is unlikely for a long time to come anyway. Even Lord Keynes in referring to gold as a ‘barbaric relic’ did not envisage its demonetisation in early years and went on to say:
Now I want to refer to another article on this subject of demonetisation. I have here a document from the ‘Far Eastern
Economic Review’ of 10th October 1968. the middle of last month. The document reads:
Gold and the World Economy: The annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund last week drew attention once again to the continuing struggle to stabilise the world’s financial system. Recently, Dr F. Aschinger, Economic Adviser to the Swiss Bank Corporation and former Financial Editor of the Neue Zuriche Zeitung, gave an address in Hong Kong which analysed the role which gold continues to play in the international economy. He warned that the debate over gold was far from finished.
Now, I want to read some portions of the address given by Dr Aschinger. He said:
The gold rush of last winter, which decimated monetary reserves and forced the central banks of the Gold Pool to withdraw from the private market, has called in question the whole future of gold in the monetary system. The co-existence of two gold prices as a result of the splitting of the gold market, one of them officially fixed at SUS35 per ounce and the other fluctuating freely, has added an element of instability to our international monetary system.
Many people will ask whether such a situation is conceivable on a permanent basis. What are the alternatives? Should gold be scrapped altogether as a monetary standard or should its monetary role rather be strengthened by an increase in the official price?
He went on:
I cannot agree that the demonetisation of gold is the right answer or that the monetary role of gold will soon be ended.
Even if comparatively little significance is attached by the Americans to their balance of payments deficits of several thousand million dollars in relation to their vast gross national product, they have finally realised that the holding of a certain reserve in gold is of vital importance and have drawn the necessary economic conclusions. If the remaining monetary functions of gold were to be eliminated, the present-day monetary system would be fundamentally changed and we would have to accept either a dollar standard or fluctuating exchange rates.
Although gold is non-interest bearing and has many drawbacks as a monetary element, the fact that it still lays claim to an important role is not simply due to the myth surrounding it but is based on some very real considerations. Whereas currency reserves contain exchange rates and convertibility risks, gold, at least so long as it preserves its monetary character and fixed price, has a greater stability in value. It is also more fungible in its nature. Gold is the only monetary reserve which possesses a material value and is not solely based upon a debtor-creditor relationship, lt is accepted anywhere and at any time without restriction, and it is more practicable in times of emergency and war than other forms of reserve. Switzerland has found this out on a number of occasions. Many countries therefore regard gold as their ‘last ditch’ reserve. Its attraction as a monetary stock has increased more than ever in recent times.
Then he made reference to what Lord Keynes had to say on the subject. He continued:
When Lord Keynes described monetary gold as a ‘relic of a barbarous age’ he overlooked one important point - we still appear to be living in a barbarous age. In a world such as ours, full of tensions and threats of war, gold, as a reserve in times of need, even if it appears to be a somewhat primitive payment and reserve instrument compared with fiduciary currency, is sought not only by private people but by monetary authorities as well.
Later he stated - and I think that this is a very important paragraph.
A universal de-monetisation of gold would mean that instead of the former gold and gold exchange standard a pure dollar standard would come into being which would make countries outside the US more dependent than ever on American economic policy. In order to avoid such a situation, those countries which felt themselves to be strong enough would presumably try to go their own way and keep to gold. If the US imposed a gold embargo, it could be expected that two currency blocs would emerge, namely the dollar and its satellites on the one hand and a European gold bloc on the other, with fluctuating exchange rates between the two. Commerce and finance would thus bc seriously obstructed and a competitive race with trading and payment restrictions might set in. Such a development would also deal a severe blow to central bank co-operation. In a recent address delivered in Basle, Alfred Hayes, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, rightly gave warning of these fatal consequences of a de-monetisation of gold. Although it is well known that America’s attitude to an increase in the price of gold is negative. Hayes considers that de-monetisation would be a still worse solution. He also gave the American supporters of de-monetisation food for thought by pointing out that under certain circumstances the very opposite to what they wanted to achieve might happen, inasmuch as de-monetisation would prejudice the other forms of payment and reserves, making the attraction of monetary gold even stronger.
There is a lot more of this statement which I commend to honourable members for reading. 1 wish to quote the concluding remarks of Dr Aschinger. He stated:
The question of whether gold can keep its character as a monetary element is not one that can be settled by pure intellectual reasoning. As long as the world is politically divided into opposing camps and the international situation remains precarious, and as long as gold as a monetary metal continues to represent for many countries the embodiment of solidity and national sovereignty, the international monetary structure would be gravely weakened if monetary gold disappeared from the scene. Thus the question must also be looked at through political eyes. From this point of view it will be a good thing if gold is retained, at least for some time, along with other kinds of reserve as an element of importance in the international monetary system.
I have here another document that supports the views I have been putting. It is called ‘Gold and World Trade’. It contains an article written by R. F. Harrod, F.B.A., who is one of Britain’s leading economists. He was Nuffield Reader in International Economics, a member of the Council of the Royal Economic Society, Joint Editor of the ‘Economic Journal’ and is a well known author of books on economics. He was also economic adviser to the International Monetary Fund in 1952-53. I do not have time to read all that he said, so 1 will read his conclusion. He stated:
I am accordingly convinced that the most important thing that can be done to secure a continued steady expansion of world trade and production is an increase in the availability of liquid reserves. It is desirable to expand gold production to the utmost, but this alone could not suffice. What is required to give an adequate cushion of liquidity is a substantial rise in the dollar price of gold.
I have quoted at least five leading men in the field of finance - bankers, economic advisers, financial editors and advisers to the International Monetary Fund. All give good reasons for expecting a fairly substantial increase in the price of gold in the not too distant future. It may well be that we could just as easily find 4 or 5 other experts with opposing views. But even if we could, as I said earlier, if there is any uncertainty as to whether there will or will not be an increase in the price of gold on the market we should in the national interest come down on the side of an increase and do all we can to protect the industry that will provide us with the gold. It will be a real tragedy if for the sake of a few million dollars spread over some years we allow the situation to arise in which we desperately need gold but find our main source of supply closed to us.
We must remember also that the decline in the gold mining industry is not due to the exhaustion of sufficient bodies of gold bearing material. The decline is due purely and simply to the increases in the costs of production that have occurred through no fault of the industry while the official price of gold has remained constant. Plenty of gold is still available but at a greater depth underground than was the case a few years ago. Because of rising costs it is just not possible nowadays to mine the low grade ore bodies. If costs were the same today as they were 20 years ago the industry would still be thriving and could stand some increase above the costs of 1954, because advances that have been made in mining techniques have reduced mining costs.
In the views of the bankers that I quoted earlier, mention was made of the International Monetary Fund. I have here an article from ‘The Economist’ of 30th September 1967, which makes me wonder what attitude the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) adopted at the meeting of the Fund on that occasion with regard to the retention of a healthy gold mining industry. One paragraph of the article states:
Sonic of the old hardy annual kites were flown. Mr Fowler-
He will not be Treasurer of the United States for much longer, and that may be good for us- got in his bil about the American commitment to today’s price, of gold while the Australian Treasurer, Mr McMahon. in order to be able to face the gold producers when he gol home, pronounced on the depressing effect of the fixed price on gold production.
That article would suggest, rightly or wrongly, that the Treasurer was not so much interested or concerned about obtaining an increase in the price of gold as he was about the possible reaction in certain areas and among certain industries and people at home if he failed to make some demands, or at least appeared to make some demands or representations, in their interests and on their behalf. It would be interesting to know just how strong or weak his arguments were and whether he considered the subject should be pursued. Certainly the Bill we are discussing at the moment, which after all is his responsibility, does not indicate any great concern for the industry or the people either directly or indirectly involved.
We support the Bill because it means something for the industry - certainly not much, but better than nothing. Much more is required if we are to prevent any further decline and 1 think it is time that the Treasurer or some other Minister told us what the Government’s real intentions are in relation to gold. The Act was last amended in 1965 and does not expire until June 1970. Surely it is not intended to let it run its full course before it is looked at again. Surely in all fairness to everyone concerned the Government should tefl us exactly where it stands. Does it intend to concern itself with the preservation of the industry or has the industry lost its importance to the Government? Do the points made in 1954 no longer matter? Certainly the actions of the Government in some respects suggest that this is so. For instance, a couple of years ago, despite an assurance to the contrary given by a Minister who is no longer with us, the Western Australian Chamber of Mines was advised that in the view of the Commonwealth Government a standard gauge line between Kalgoorlie and Fimiston-Boulder was not warranted and that finance for the line would not be approved. That line covered a distance of only 5 or 6 miles and all that was required was a third rail in the existing line.
The Government’s refusal is estimated by the Chamber of Mines to mean an additional cost for transport and the transfer of pyrites and mining goods and equipment of about $30,000 a year for each mining company. Does the Government’s refusal mean that it can see no long life ahead of the big mines at Fimiston, which are presently supporting practically the whole of the population of Kalgoorlie and Boulder? This is the question that was being asked at that time and this is one of the questions that the Government could adequately answer by bringing down legislation to improve section 9 of the Act by increasing the assistance now provided. The gold mining industry supports, both directly and indirectly, a large number of people on the gold fields and elsewhere. As the Prime Minister said in 1954, we cannot allow the industry to languish, and it is up to the Government to give us some positive proof of its support for the industry today.
In concluding, I refer to George Bernard Shaw’s quoted advice on gold. It was unequivocal. In his book ‘The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism’ he wrote:
You have to choose, as a voter, between trusting to the natural stability of gold and the honesty and intelligence of members of the Government. And with due respect to those gentlemen, I advise you, as long as the capitalist system lasts, to vote for gold.
– I will delay the House for only a minute. It is quite wrong for the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard) to say that the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) or his predecessor had not pressed the case for an increase in the price of gold very strongly when they attended international conferences. Obviously any Australian Treasurer would be far more concerned, in considering the future of an industry and the effect it would have on a country’s economy, to get America, in the main, to agree to an increase of the price. If the honourable member had taken the trouble to quote from speeches made by the Treasurer at meetings of the International Monetary Fund when this matter was discussed, instead of quoting other people and from other volumes, he would not have made the comment he did. I rise merely to put on record that both the late Harold Holt when he was Treasurer and the present Treasurer have on all occasions at international conferences very strongly pressed the case for an increase in the price of gold.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Bury) read a third time.
House adjourned at 11.20 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
er asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Mr S. W. Caffin ; Commonwealth Actuary;
Mr S. G. East ; Secretary, Canberra Chamber of Commerce ; representing commercial vehicle owners;
Mr R. J. Lamble ; General Manager, N.R.M.A. Insurance Ltd ; representing the non-tariff group of insurers;
Mr J. H. Pead; Chairman, Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council - representing private motorists;
Mr D. M. Purnell ; Australian Capital Territory Manager, Royal Insurance Co. Ltd ; representing the tariff group of insurers.
The procedure adopted by the Third Party Insurance Advisory Committee in calculating the premium introduced in 1964 was as follows:
In considering the premium which should apply for the next 2 or 3 years from 1968, the Committee considered the increasing trend in the claim rate so that an appropriate allowance could be made for the probable number of claims likely to occur.
Studies were also made of extensive tabulations showing the amounts of actual and estimated liability arising from claims which occurred in successive years from 1958 onwards, and the run-off of those claims. These studies enable the Committee to examine the accuracy of post estimates of liability and to determine the average cost of a claim, for claims arising in successive accident years.
The Committee decided that it was more likely to be able to recommend premiums which would be adequate to cover insurance experience in future years if, instead of using the formula which was used in the past, it adopted a method utilising trends in the claim rate and the average cost of a claim. New premiums have been calculated on this basis, wilh a profit margin, a margin for contingencies and a loading for expenses added. A loading to cover the anticipated cost of claims resulting From actions between spouses has also been added.
If is proposed that in the future, the ability of the trend approach lo insurance to provide realistic premiums will be tested annually by review of actual insurance experience.
Studies have also been made of extensive tabulations showing the amounts of actual and estimated liability arising from claims arising from accidents which occurred in successive years from 1958 onwards and the run-off of those claims. Those studies have enabled the examination of the accuracy of past estimates of liability and the determination of the average cost of a claim, for claims arising in successive accident years.
Tabulations demonstrate that the average cost of a claim is increasing and provide a means of estimating the average cost likely to be applicable in respect of claims occurring in the next 2 or 3 years.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions have been supplied to him. A copy of the answers, which include voluminous tables, is available to honourable members in the Library.
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s question? are as follows:
So far as electricity generation is concerned, supplies of steaming coal are adequate for the foreseeable future.
Exports of black coal consist almost entirely of coking coal. Although these exports have increased considerably over recent years, present commitments in relation to reserves do nol present an adequate reason for restricting exports. In fact the opportunity to export this coal has given an impetus to exploration and has resulted in the proving of additional reserves.
For the year 1967-68 Australian exports of black coal earned $87 million in foreign exchange. Some idea of the relative importance of the export trade can be gained from the fact that for New South Wales it provides employment for about 4,000 mineworkers out of a total labour force of approximately 13,000 and for Queensland approximately 700 of a labour force of 2,200. As there arc no alternative markets, reduction in these exports would lead to a displacement of labour, not only in the mining industry, but in many support industries. The financial consequences for those producers engaged in the export trade would be severe.
The local steel industry will be unable for many years to approach complete absorption of the tonnage of coal currently exported from Australia.
In fact, a large proportion of the coal exported is of types not currently used by the local steel industry.
Australia’s reserves of black coal on a per capita basis are not high.
While the Government sees no need for action at present, it is keeping the position continually under review in the light of advice received both through the Joint Coal Board and the Bureau of Mineral Resources.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
At the Repatriation General Hospital, Hobart, and at Birralee. South Australia there are not separate psychiatric wards,, but beds are available in general wards. In addition to the accommodation at the hospitals mentioned, Repatriation psychiatric patients are also treated in mental hospitals maintained by the respective State government?. At 30th June 1968, the numbers of patients in these hospitals were:
In Victoria, patients are also treated at Rockingham Rehabilitation Centre, which is owned by the Red Cross. The average number of in-patients at this Centre for 1967-68 was 43.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
As at 28th August 1968, the position was as follows:
In addition lo the above, there were 10 psychiatric patients at Edward Millen Hospital. Perth, and 4 psychiatric patients at Birralee Hospital, South Australia, but as the medical and nursing sta if are provided for this hospital as a whole, no particular staff ratio can he allocated. Rockingham is not a direct departmental hospital; it is managed and staffed by the Red Cross, excepting for the departmental medical staff. The figure* are as follows: 30 patients, 1.5 doctors, 1:20 ratio; 6 nurses, 1:5.0 ratio.
Repatriation patients are also in-patients of Suite psychiatric hospitals. The stalling of these hospitals is the direct concern of the various State authorities.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the honour able member’s question is as follows:
On 27lh November 1967, the late Prime Minister, Mr Holt, received a photocopy of pages xlvi-xlvii of the Australian Journal of Science, Vol. 30, No. 5, which pages contain an advertisement headed ‘Statement on the War in Vietnam by Australian Scientists’. The photocopy reached the late Prime Minister under cover of a letter which was not signed and did not bear i lie name or address of the sender. At the time of publication of the statement I commented on it as Minister for Education and Science.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Various forms of assistance with the development and promotion of inventions are also available to the individual inventor from organisations such as Unisearch Ltd, a research subsidiary of the University of New South Wales. 1 am advised that Unisearch Ltd carries out technical evaluation of inventions and that, if the invention appears to warrant commercial development, appropriate steps are taken and an agreement may be entered into with the inventor.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Has he received from the Premier of New South Wales a request to discuss or re-negotiate the terms and conditions on which holders of New South Wales teacher training scholarships may attend the Australian National University?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
What is the average cost to his Department of installing a telephone in the capital city of each State and Territory?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Information provided to the honourable member on 13th August 1968, in reply to his Question No. 387 gave the number of telephone service connections involving new lines of equipment in the metropolitan areas of each State, during 1967-68, together with costs of providing such services. Based on these figures, the average costs of each such connection were:
The cost figures quoted refer to expenditure involved in providing local cabling (including junctions), exchange equipment, private switchboards and subscribers’ instruments.
It will be appreciated that the average cost of providing a telephone service can vary from lime to time and from area to area, depending on the capacity of existing exchange and external plant at particular locations to meet current demand. Basic plant and equipment have to be provided in as economic a manner as possible, having regard to longer term as well as short term aspects; the achievement of this often involves considerable expenditure in an area at a particular point of time.
The above information is not recorded separately for the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory.
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
The field of desalination is one in which 1 retain a considerable interest and any further information on this equipment from Japan would be most welcome. However, to the best of my knowledge, desalination technology has nol yet reached the stage where competition wilh conventional supplies in most circumstances is realistic, lt is significant that a desalination plant recently installed in Western Australia by the Hamersley Iron Coy, was manufactured in the United Kingdom and uses a well established distillation process to convert seawater to fresh water for industrial and domestic use. The costs of conversion are expected to be higher than normal costs of conventional supplies, but were justified by the particular circumstances. The company involved in this purchase must be presumed to have investigated the market carefully before committing the considerable amount of capital necessary lo purchase and install the facility.
Information on the latest plant installed in the United States indicates a unit cost of about 85 U.S. cents per 1,000 gallons (U.S.) of water, and this is still weft in excess of conventional water supply costs.
The Japanese claims referred to will, however, be followed up.
er asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply, upon notice:
– The Minister for Supplyhas provided the following information:
The terms of reference under which the stations are operated are summarised below:
The following firms are operating the stations:
SpaceTrack Pty Ltd- Tidbinbilla and Island Lagoon.
Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Ltd - Cooby Creek and Carnarvon.
E.M.I. Electronics (Australia) Pty Ltd - Orroral Valley.
Standard Telephones and Cables Pty Ltd - Honeysuckle Creek.
Royal Australian Navy
– On 16th October 1968, the honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Birrell) asked the following question without notice:
Will he have compared the conditions relating to off-ship accommodation, at other than their home ports, of Royal Australian Navy submarine crews, with existing conditions enjoyed by both British and American naval submarine personnel? If the comparison shows that the Australian conditions do not match those enjoyed by their British and American counterparts, will the Minister take appropriate action to adjust the position?
I said I. would give a considered answer after J had looked at the question. 1 now provide the following answer:
In framing the policy for conditions relating to off-ship accommodation of RAN submarine crews, an examination has been made of conditions used by the Royal Navy and the United States Navy. The conditions approved for the Royal Australian Navy do not place Australian submariners at a disadvantage with their RN and USN counterparts.
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
Pastoral Lease No. 514 - Walhallow and part of Pastoral Lease No. 587 - Creswell Downs?
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Improvement conditions imposed at the time of conversion of leases under Sections 4Sa/’48d of Crown Lands Ordinance 1931-1953 were:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Housing, upon notice:
– The Minister for Housing has provided the following answers to the honourable member’s questions:
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The answers lo the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Housing, upon notice:
– The Minister for Housing has provided the following answer to the honourable members questions:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 12 November 1968, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1968/19681112_reps_26_hor61/>.