26th Parliament · 2nd Session
The House met at 2.30 p.m.
The Acting Clerk - I desire to inform the House of the unavoidable absence of the Speaker on parliamentary business overseas. In accordance with standing order 14, the Chairman of Committees will take the chair as Acting Speaker.
Mr ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Lucock) thereupon took the chair, and read prayers.
Mr COPE presented a petition from certain electors in the State of New South Wales showing that in view of international practice and the approaching saturation of facilities of Kingsford-Smith Airport, the Commonwealth Government immediately give consideration to:
The petitioners pray that the House will direct the various departments of the Government to give effectto the prayers in this petition.
Petition received and read.
– Will the Prime Minister tell the House when he intends to confer with the State Premiers on the many urgent and important subjects affecting CommonwealthState relationships? Will the right honourable gentleman include in the agenda of such conference matters relating to bush fires, drought and floods and indicate the national Government’s role in dealing with these national disasters? Will immediate assistance be given to the States to deal with the continuing disastrous fires throughout the Commonwealth? Finally, will the right honourable gentleman say whether the Cornwealth Government’s role in promoting decentralisation of industry and population will be listed for consideration at any such conference?
– I understand that the State Premiers are having a meeting amongst themselves in Adelaide at some time in December. I am not in a position to tell the honourable member whether or when there will be a conference between the Australian Government and the Premiers. In relation to the other matters which he has raised I would point out that in regard to bush fires which have spread quite widely over New South Wales we have announced, 1 think publicly, and certainly to the Premier of New South Wales, that our original offer of $50,000, on a $1 for $1 basis, for the initial bush fire damage has been extended to meet any grant that the New South Wales Government made for the far more widely extended bush fires, again on a $1 for $1 basis. Of course, as the honourable member will know, in the case of earthquakes in Western Australia, we have also provided Commonwealth Government assistance in this field.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Health, concerns the great car rally that is now taking place from London to Sydney. I ask the Minister whether his Department has made adequate arrangements so that every safeguard can be taken against the importation of exotic diseases of all kinds, since the cars are travelling across countries which are rife with such diseases as foot and mouth disease.
– Yes, I can give the honourable member such an assurance. In September there was a conference between the Australian organisers of this rally and officers of my Department, and as a result all the drivers have been thoroughly briefed about Australia’s quarantine requirements; in particular, they are aware that their cars will have to be steam cleaned at Fremantle when they arrive in Australia by sea and before they continue on the Australian section of the rally. I understand that the organisers have taken this necessity into account in their planned programme for the rally.
– I direct a question to the Minister for National Development. In view of the fatal and disastrous bush fires on the north and south coasts of New South Wales in recent times and in other districts in past years when millions of dollars worth of property and timber have been lost, as well as numerous lives, what action has the Government taken to introduce aerial water bombing of bush fires - a method which has proved most effective in the United States of America and Canada in controlling bush fires? Does the Government propose acting on the interest displayed by the Premier of New South Wales regarding this important and serious problem?
– Some time ago three foresters were sent to North America to report on water bombing. They made a report to the Australian Forestry Council when it met, I think about 10 months ago. The Council considered this report, but at the time it did not feel that it was in a position to recommend the purchase of the only available water bomber - the CL215. It felt that the aircraft was very expensive and that it would not be able to cover anything like a reasonable area in Australia because, after all, bush fires in Australia spread over many thousands of miles. Nevertheless the Council felt that it should look closely at the use of a light aircraft, and in actual fact I believe that this week tests are being carried out by the Forestry and Timber Bureau in conjunction with the Victorian forestry authorities.
There is a considerable difference between the suppression of fires in the Northern Hemisphere, particularly in Canada and the United States of America where most fires occur in pine forests and spread very slowly, and in Australia where the problem is mainly concerned with fires in eucalypt forests which spread more quickly. It is felt that the use of water bombers would not be applicable here because a fire starts and spreads too quickly. Furthermore, there are no; in Australia large lakes such as there are in Canada where water could be picked up. Nevertheless, aircraft have been used in Australia. Helicopters have been used to get fire fighters quickly to a fire which has resulted from lightning. Also the Forestry and Timber Bureau has been using a system of controlled burning. Aircraft drop small incendiary bombs which light fires and as a result quite large areas are control burned. I understand that very much larger areas will be control burned so that less fuel will be available when fires break out in future. All these methods are being looked at very closely. A considerable number of difficulties have to be overcome, however, before we can implement them on a large scale.
– Can the Minister for Shipping and Transport say whether there is any truth in a report that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited a* Whyalla has been invited to tender for the construction of a vessel with a displacement in excess of 80,000 tons? Is he aware that the present facilities at Whyalla are inadequate for the company to consider such a contract without costly extensions? Will the Minister give favourable consideration to assisting with the provision of finance to help the company to effect such alterations to the slipway as would enable the company to compete for such contracts in the future?
– I know well that the honourable member for Grey is interested in any development of the ship building facilities at Whyalla. Of course, the trend to which he has now referred, whereby
Australian shipyards may develop a capacity to build ships larger than those presently in service, relates to the carriage of cargoes in vessels of a larger tonnage than previously, particularly in the bulk trades but also in general cargo trades, lt is as a result of this trend, and the economies that flow from the increased level of freight that can be carried in such vessels, that there has been a move to have an 86,000-ton vessel built in Australia. I understand that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company has expressed the hope that it will be able to provide a facility to enable this ship to be built in Australia. At the same time the company is concerned that the resultant costs should not be such that the level of freights that the ship owner ultimately will have to charge for the cargo carried is out of line because of the difference between the cost of building in Australia and that of building in any other country.
There has been no direct request from the BHP company to the Government for any financial assistance to extend or modify its yard. However, there have been discussions and I am hopeful that before long there will be a firm announcement and that the company will be able to provide the facility. If ship building is to develop in Australia it is essential that in the long term an Australian yard should have the capacity. There is no doubt that the trend in international shipping is to larger vessels. This is a trend which Australia would be foolish not to utilise to its advantage. We will not be able to do so if we do not have the capacity to build the ships here.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation a question. When I asked him a fortnight ago about the rezoning of the noise buffer around Tullamarine Airport he told me that Commonwealth and State officials would be meeting the following day and he would be receiving a deputation from the land developers the day after that. I ask him where the matter now stands. In answering my earlier question he was anxious to refute the criticism by the Public Works Committee of his Department’s lack of direction and co-ordination of the Tullamarine project and in particular the Committee’s comment that the runways will have been completed 2 years or more before the terminals. Since the Department gave evidence to the Committee 5i years ago that both the runways and the terminals would be completed at the same time in 1967 I also ask the Minister to say when the decision to complete the runways so long ahead of the terminals was changed.
– The decision regarding the completion of the runways was made quite some time ago. I have always understood that the runways would be completed some time before the terminal building and other facilities at the new Melbourne airport. I indicated quite clearly that there was a requirement for training purposes because Avalon was reaching saturation point. Indeed most of the commercial jet training is now carried out at Tullamarine. This operation commenced immediately the first runway was opened, and after the second runway was completed both runways were used for different types of training. The requirement is there, it is essential to have these runways in operation and it is quite some time ago that this position was known. Considerable changes have been made, as the Leader of the Opposition probably realises, in the works programme for Melbourne airport. When the Melbourne airport was first conceived and the plans were first approved, there was no thought of aircraft such as the Boeing 747 coming into operation. Such aircraft were not even designed at that time. So considerable changes have been made in the original plans since they were first drawn, to cater for new and different types of aircraft and to provide different facilities.
The problem of the zoning of the land adjacent to Tullamarine still exists, as I explained to the Leader of the Opposition in answer to his question last week and also in answer to another question J was asked in the House. 1 had some discussions with the developers. They have explained their position and we quite understand it. But, as I have pointed out to them, this matter is principally one that comes within the responsibility of the Victorian Government. The joint Commonwealth and State committee met as I stated on Wednesday of last week. It set up some terms of reference for further meetings and another meeting - the first business meeting - was to be held yesterday. I do not have the result of that meeting yet. However, I will get some information when the present series of meetings has finished and I will keep the Leader of the Opposition posted regarding them.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Trade and Industry. Has his attention been drawn to a report that the price of free market sugar has risen to £Sf.g26 10s a ton on the London market? Can he say whether this rise is due to the new International Sugar Agreement, in the negotiation of which he played a leading role at Geneva recently?
– I am aware of the article. My understanding is that the price is slightly higher than that mentioned in the article. Yesterday it was reported that sugar was selling at £Stg27 10s on the London market. This is the highest price for 3i years, except only for several days’ flutter in the market at the time the Suez Canal was first closed. The rise clearly reflects the expectation and belief of the sugar companies and countries that the agreement will operate as intended and that it will come into force as an agreement on 1st January next year. 1 think Australia, and particularly Queensland, have good grounds for feeling gratified about this.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral a question. Would he immediately bring to the notice of the Commissioner of Trade Practices and instigate an inquiry into the matter of whether the New South Wales breweries have entered into a cartel to limit the sale of bottled beer so that purchasers are compelled to buy cans at inflated prices, resulting in the public being fleeced while the breweries reap the harvest?
– If the honourable member would place before me any facts in his possession which would indicate that what he said is taking place, I will refer the matter to the Commissioner of Trade Practices.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Social Services. Bearing in mind the fact that the pension might be regarded as containing an accommodation component, would the Minister regard it as reasonable if organisations that have built homes under the Aged Persons Homes Act increased rents by an amount realistically assessed to be the accommodation component of any pension increase, so that they might meet rising costs of rates, taxes and repairs, and from the surplus, if any, provide further accommodation of the type most in demand whether it be flat, hostel or nursing? Does the Minister regard it as reasonable for the housing commissions to raise the rents of accommodation provided for the aged by amounts in excess of the accommodation component of the pension? In particular, does he regard it as reasonable that they should in some cases increase rents by amounts equal to the total pension increase?
– In answer to the second question, I point out that this Government has no direct control over what State governments do in this field, but I would regard it as unreasonable if there was any excessive increase in rents following the pension rise. The honourable member is quite correct in saying that the pension includes notionally a component for accommodation. Of course, when the pension is raised it is not unreasonable, provided that there is some corresponding increase in costs, for there to be also some increase in the amount charged for accommodation. But to go beyond the increase that corresponds to the amount of accommodation notionally included in the pension is, to my way of thinking at any rate, wrong although we have no control over this.
In regard to the first part of the honourable member’s question, I mention that again we have no control directly, nor would we seek to exercise control directly, over the homes built under the homes for the aged scheme. These institutions are one and all non-profit organisations. If they increase their charges - this is a matter between them and the people to whom they give accommodation - the revenues must be used solely for non-profit making purposes. To some extent they can be used for maintenance, whether it be by repair or other charges associated with the home. To some extent sometimes this money is used for giving increased services. In other cases, as the honourable member implied in his question, it is used for building further accommodation, and particularly for the building of nursing home accommodation, for the benefit of those people who occupy the homes. But I emphasise that these are nonprofit organisations. Any amounts they receive are used for the purposes of providing more accommodation for those whom the scheme is intended to serve. 1 say again that we have no direct control over these organisations. I would regard it as perhaps reasonable that there be some small rise in the rents they charge, but certainly unreasonable that there should be a rise going beyond the notional rental component of the pension increase.
– My question is directed to the Deputy Prime Minister. I refer the right honourable gentleman to repeated Press speculation in the past week about the Government’s entry into the shipping trade between Australia and Europe. I refer in particular to a report in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of 22nd November that the Government intended to operate at least one container vessel within the shipping conference, the initial investment being about $40m. I remind the right honourable gentleman that when I questioned him about Australian participation in such a shipping service he denied that there had been any negotiations by the Government. In view of the fact that the Parliament will rise this week, I ask whether the right honourable gentleman is prepared to clarify this important issue by stating the Government’s intentions about participation in an overseas shipping line.
– I have nothing at all that I can add on this subject. I am certainly not responsible for what a newspaper may speculate.
– I direct my question to the Prime Minister. Is he aware that the Pechiney company, of France, is considering building a SI 00m aluminium smelter at Gladstone, in Queensland? Is he aware of the statement made by the Queensland Minister for Industrial Development that there are nine other industries, including a nickel smelter, a caustic soda plant, a magnesium industry, an abrasives industry, a titanium dioxide plant, a titanium tetrachloride plant, a titanium metal plant, a phosphorus plant and an electric steel plant which could be established if cheap power were available in central Queensland? I ask whether the right honourable gentleman remembers making this statement:
If, for example, there is to be a requirement for cheap power to be provided somewhere in Queensland and it is known that if that cheap power is provided there will be twenty other industries established to use it, and a port will grow into a city as a result-
-Order! The question is far too long. I suggest that the honourable member put his question immediately.
– The Prime Minister’s statement concluded: but it would cost $200m, then there would be a requirement for an Australian Government to assist.
Is the Prime Minister in a position to make a statement, in view of those facts?
– I do know that the Government of Queensland is interested in exploring this field and is seeking to discover what industries would be prepared to establish themselves in central Queensland were it possible for a power plant to be established on the coal fields of central Queensland and to supply power at a low enough rate for those industries that were established to operate effectively and efficiently. I know that the Queensland Government has been conducting an examination of the position and I know that the Treasurer of Queensland has approached the Commonwealth Government on this matter to see where the Commonwealth Government stood. We have had preliminary investigations made by various departments and the matter is under consideration by the Treasurer and myself at this time; that is to say. the matter of an examination to discover the actual facts, what companies would be prepared to establish themselves and what might be the results of any assistance given. These, I believe, will be subjects initially for discussion between officials of the Commonwealth Treasury and probably of the Treasury of Queensland.
– I ask the
Minister for Shipping and Transport a question. I remind the honourable gentleman that soon the Commonwealth Railways will accept tenders for the construction of two sleeping cars and eight other cars for the new standard gauge railway. The South Australian Railways has submitted a tender, lt has an excellent workshop in which it performs very good work. Will the Minister give special consideration to the tender submitted by the South Australian Railways in order to assist South Australia to deal with the problem of unemployment which is so much worse in that Slate than elsewhere in Australia?
– I know that the present South Australian Government, due to a heritage from a former Labor government, has had some problems in restoring the work force of South Australia to a measure of full employment. However, I have every confidence that the present Administration will soon restore South Australia to a position fully competitive with every other State. The Commonwealth has permitted the South Australian Railways workshops, along with any other private or public body in Australia, to submit tenders for the construction of the carriages to which the honourable gentleman referred. The tender by the South Australian Railways will be considered with all others received. I have no doubt that the contract for the job will be let to the organisation which submits the most reasonable tender or which can perform the work to the greatest satisfaction of the Commonwealth Railways. The factors to which the honourable gentleman referred will also be taken into account.
– Will the Treasurer say whether President De Gaulle’s decision not to devalue the franc is likely to cause any reaction in Australia?
– It is not thought that the decision of the French Government not to devalue will have an immediate impact upon Australia. At the moment the real worry is the speculation surrounding the Deutsche mark and the franc and the consequent movement out of the franc into other currencies. This matter has to be carefully watched, but for the immediate future I do not think there will be an impact upon this country.
– 1 ask the Treasurer a question. Are all parents and citizens organisations associated with education in New South Wales requesting that the Commonwealth give New South Wales a more generous share of tax reimbursements because at present New South Wales receives from the Commonwealth less per capita than does any other State? Is the Government’s action contributing to the extensive shortages in the field of education in New South Wales despite the fact that New South Wales is at present allocating 40% of its budget to education? What is the Government’s intention regarding an increase in the tax resimbursement to New South Wales?
– As to the claim that New South Wales receives less per capita than any other State from financial assistance grants all I can say is that the honourable gentleman’s information is wrong.
– Now then.
– It happens to be wrong. As to the substance of the question, namely whether we should attempt a redistribution of the general revenue grants to the States, I remind the honourable gentleman that we are one country. The very purpose of the general revenue grants is to ensure that the States may make similar services available to all Australians no matter where they live, whether in Western Australia, Queensland or New South Wales. I believe this ideal is approved by the great majority of Australians. I think too that if the honourable gentleman had given the matter any great thought he would support that principle. In the last part of the question, the honourable gentleman asked whether there is at the moment any intention of reconsidering the general revenue formula grant to New South Wales. No, there is not. Next year we will be considering the formula grants. That will be the proper time to consider changes in the formula.
– Being very conscious of the detrimental effect on the primary producers of Australia of the decision by the United Kingdom to devalue sterling last year, I ask the Minister for Trade and Industry whether he will give this House an assurance, now that a decision has been made not to devalue the French franc but to accept alternatives that may eventually be equivalent to devaluation, that, in conjunction with his Cabinet colleagues, he will do all in his power to offset the effects this action could have on the primary producers of Australia, who contribute so much to our international balance of payments.
– The Government can be relied upon to watch closely any developments that there may be in the field of international finance and the extent to which they could affect Australian trade. France is a very important customer for Australian exports, taking about $90m worth in the last year for which figures are available. She buys mostly wool, sheepskins and lambskins from us. It is true that trade with France represents only 3% of our total export trade, but our exports of wool to France represent about 7% of our trade in that commodity. Historically, France has been the biggest market for Australian sheepskins and lambskins. Indeed, she takes about 60% of our total exports of these important items. The French Government has not yet announced any measures which would detrimentally affect Australian trade, particularly in the items I have mentioned. But we will watch the position carefully.
While I am on my feet I would like to mention a more happy and buoyant aspect of international finance. The reduction of import taxes in West Germany can be calculated to boost our exports. We have an important trade with that country in canned and dried fruits, and fresh apples and pears.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. I refer to the offer by Ansett Transport Industries Ltd to take over all the shares of MacRobertson Miller Airlines Ltd, in Western Australia. If the offer is accepted will the agreement between MacRobertson Miller Airlines and the Commonwealth be automatically terminated immediately the deal is completed? If so, will the way also be immediately open for Trans-Australia Airlines to apply for permission to operate a service on the Perth to Darwin run in competition with Ansett as it does on other interstate routes? Finally, if the agreement is to be terminated, will the Minister have any control over fares and freight charges on the routes concerned?
– I am aware that Ansett Transport Industries Ltd has made an offer to take over all the shares of MacRobertson Miller Airlines Ltd under some special arrangement. But at the present time I do not know how far negotiations have proceeded or even whether they will be successful. Beyond that the question is quite hypothetical. Under the present agreement with the Commonwealth, MMA will continue services in Western Australia until 1971 under a subsidy arrangement. The agreement will be subject to review in that year. Whether or not the agreement would continue in force if ATI took over MMA would depend upon the terms and conditions of the takeover. At this point, it would be pure speculation to say whether or not the agreement would continue. We would have to know more about the arrangements and conditions under which a take-over was achieved, if it is achieved. We expect to know more about that in the next few weeks. The services will be watched very closely by myself and officers of my Department if all the shares are taken over by Ansett Transport Industries Ltd.
In regard to fares and freights, there would be no change from the present position. It would be for the airlines concerned to work out what is an economic limit. Before any changes are introduced they must be submitted to me through my Department for approval. At the present time there is, by agreement, a limitation upon the time for which such decisions can be delayed. But as to whether there would be any change in the future is a matter for speculation. As I said, my Department will be watching the situation very closely because its interest is to ensure that the best possible services are provided in the west.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Social Services. I refer to the special problem that confronts pensioners who have been paying off their own homes for many years and in doing so have adopted a very laudable aim. Is there any way in which the burden of payments can be alleviated or in which offsetting assistance similar to that given to pensioners who pay rent can be made available to these people?
– I am afraid that I cannot add very much to what I have already told the honourable member privately on the occasions on which he has raised this important problem with me. 1 know of his interest in it. The matter which he has raised is one of policy and not of administration, and therefore one which cannot be dealt with at question time. 1 remind the honourable member that this Government and previous governments have already done something to assist people who are buying their own homes in that such homes are not included as property in the means test computation.
However, the problem is a real one. I cannot see the solution to it at present. The Government’s policy is to allocate its resources to those people who are most in need. Those people who are not paying rent, even though they may have outgoings such as rates and other charges, generally are not in as great need as are those who are paying rent. There are, of course, some exceptions, and there are cases which the honourable member himself has brought to my attention. I will endeavour to have further consideration given to this matter, but I can give no commitment at the present time.
(Mr Whitlam proceeding to address a question to the Attorney-General).
-Order! I rule the question out of order.
– I shall rephrase the question. I ask the Attorney-General whether he noticed in today’s newspapers a statement by the Institute of Patent Attorneys that it opposed the system of deferred examination. I ask him whether he received from the Institute on 18th September of this year a submission strongly urging that that system should not be adopted. If he noticed this statement today and if he received this submission from the Institute, will he correct any impression that the Institute supported the Bill which passed through this House a couple of weeks ago?
- Mr Acting Speaker, I would not wish to correct the impression that is suggested by the Leader of the Opposition. I was not conscious that I gave that impression. I did not canvass the attitude of the Institute of Patent Attorneys to the Bill before the House. Let me say this: 1 had received a document dated 18th September which put up further proposals and I had replied to that. In the course of this memorandum - that is what the document was - sent to me by the President of the Institute, the President stated that he had been concerned at reports and letters in the Press suggesting that the Institute was opposed to the whole of the Bill and would be glad if it were not passed. He took the opportunity to place on record that this was not so. lt is true that he did go on to make these alternative suggestions because the system of deferred examination has not been one that the Institute has ever been happy about. But I dealt with that in the ordinary course and I pointed out various matters which were of a technical nature. T thought that it disposed of the matter.
– When did the AttorneyGeneral reply to this memorandum from the Institute?
– I suggest that if the Leader of the Opposition wants any further detailed information he put his question on the notice paper.
– by leave - Mr Acting Speaker, I recently informed the Parliament that the Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen), during his visit overseas would be making inquiries in London concerning the possibilities of Australian participation in overseas shipping and the carriage of some Australian produce in Australian vessels. On his return, Mr McEwen reported to me the results of these investigations and conversations. The Government, after carrying the original investigations a stage further by sending Sir Alan Westerman and Sir John Williams to London, has now fully considered the results and implications of these discussions which have reached the stage where they are subject only to the elucidation of some further fine points. In the result, the Government has now decided, subject to the satisfactory conclusion of those final stages of negotiation, to enter overseas shipping by operating Australian crewed vessels in its own right in both the Australia-United KingdomContinent trade and the Australia-North America shipping trade.
In the Australia-United KingdomContinent trade the Government will operate a container vessel which is now under construction and in the North America trade it will operate a vessel which is partly a container vessel and partly a vehicle deck vessel. The plans of this ship have already been drawn and have been examined by, and have the approval of, Sir John Williams of the Australian National Line. The Australian National Line will manage both these ships operationally, thus bringing the experience and skills of the line into the operation. The method by which this will be done is as follows. An Australian company owned by the Australian Government will enter into a partnership with Associated Container Transportation Ltd, which is a consortium of British shipping lines within the framework of the established shipping conferences. The Australian Government will also acquire a share of the Australian line facilities owned by the consortium which are ancilliary to the operation of container services and will participate in their management. The Australian Government will charter one of the three modern container ships which this consortium now has under construction and will operate it for at least 5 years as one of the ships of the partnership, lt will also charter and operate for at least 5 years one of the vessels to be built for the Australia-North America trade.
The Government expects these vessels to obtain an adequate share of the total con ference cargo carried to and from Australia in each trade. The financial implications of these decisions will be released in more detail by the Minister for Trade and Industry but I can inform the House that the initial outlay is estimated to be between $6m and $7m with very little further significant outlay to come, if any, until there is a further outlay when the ship for the North America trade enters into the trade.
In respect of the Far East trade a decision has already been taken, as is known, for the Australian National Line to operate a vessel. These new decisions mean that Australia will now be operating a vessel not only in the Far East trade but also in the Australia-United Kingdom trade and the Australia-North America trade. We shall be inside all these conferences. We shall participate in the management, and the information so gained will be of great value to us and to Australia. Great changes are taking place in international shipping generally, and my Government feels that the time has come for Australia not only to enter the trade but also to gain a full understanding in the operation of these new developments in order to ensure that the national interests are best served in the changing times ahead. Further, the importance of overseas shipping to a great trading nation such as ours is to be measured not only in terms of profitability of operating a ship - though all the investigations suggest there will be this profitability - but it is measured also by the savings in foreign exchange, in terms of freight expenditure on imports and exports and measured in terms of the security and stability of shipping services necessary for our national welfare.
These decisions to charter and to operate Australian crewed ships inside these conferences are far reaching steps which we believe will bring great benefits to Australia as a nation. The consortium with which we propose to enter into partnership is in close co-operation with Overseas Containers Ltd, another powerful group of British shipping lines. That group has the use of a network of facilities in Britain and elsewhere and is in the course of itself establishing facilities in Australia. At present the members of the ACT consortium, with which we intend to enter into partnership, carry some 20% of the total Australian-British-Continental trade and 30% of the Australian trade with north America. I emphasise that it is not our intention to buy any equity shareholding in ACT or in any of the member lines which compose it. Instead we propose to charter and operate our own ship in each trade.
There are a few outstanding matters to be settled, as I said, in the final stages of negotiation, and these negotiations will be the responsibility of the Minister for Trade and Industry and the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair). When these negotiations are concluded I am confident that Australia will have taken a greatly advantageous step forward. We will be in the business of moving Australian goods in Australian ships. We will be in the field of shipping. We will be doing what a trading nation of our importance ought to be doing.
– by leave - The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) had a copy of his statement handed to me just as he commenced to deliver it; so I at least had the advantage of following what he had to say. It represents a very great advance for this country. It also represents much greater enlightenment on the part of the Government. For years the Australian Labor Party has been advocating that at least half of our imports be carried in Australian ships and the other half delivered by our suppliers, and that half of our exports be delivered in our ships and the other half be picked up by our customers. We have said on every occasion when there has been an amendment to the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission Act, and in every annual debate on the estimates for the Department of Shipping and Transport, that increasingly it was becoming not only appropriate but urgent that Australia, than which there are only twelve larger trading countries in the world, should at least have some overseas ships of its own - should build them, should man them and should operate them.
The Australian Coastal Shipping Commission has always, under its statute, had this power. It has always been enabled by the statute to carry passengers, goods and mail between a place in the Commonwealth and a place in another country. This means of trade has been open under the statute for years. It has been denied purely for ideological reasons, for the Government’s own purposes. My Party’s policy has always urged trade overseas as well as to the islands, trade between the States, and, if only we had the consent of the States, between ports in the several States as well. The Liberal Party’s policy has limited Australian shipping capacity to the coastal trade. I believe it is still so limited in its platform. This proposal represents an advance in that Party’s thinking. It is one, therefore, which we should applaud.
It is remarkable how coy the Government has been about enabling this matter to be debated. Only a fortnight ago it would have been debated on an amendment to the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission Act, but the Bill was hustled through without honourable members from either side in this place being given the opportunity to debate it. However, the question was raised some weeks ago. It had been under discussion by the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Shipping and Transport for well over a year. When more recently it was discussed in the full Cabinet it became the subject of speculation in the Press. Accordingly, my Deputy Leader (Mr Barnard), on 17th October last, asked the Prime Minister the following question: 1 ask the Prime Minister whether the Deputy Prime Minister has completed his talks in London on possible Australian participation in a British shipping line. If he has, can the right honourable gentleman inform the House of the results of the discussions?
The Prime Minister replied:
As I informed the House on some previous occasion, one of the activities in which the Deputy Prime Minister would be engaged would be to examine the question of the possible entry of Australia in some way in overseas shipping. Naturally the Deputy Leader of the Opposition must know that the results of such talks would be reported to Cabinet and that decisions made upon them would be matters of Government policy. Therefore, I think he clearly would not expect me to answer his question in the way it was put.
When the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen) returned from his overseas trip my Deputy asked him whether he could give the House any information on his talks in London on possible Australian participation in a British shipping line. The Deputy Prime Minister replied:
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has assumed what my talks were about. 1 am not in a position to make any statement to the House.
In fact the Deputy Leader was asking a question not on any assumption but on an assurance made only 3 weeks before by the Prime Minister himself. Surely this was a question of moment and could be asked only when the Deputy Prime Minister returned. I asked the Prime Minister whether he would arrange for a statement to be made to the House on this matter, which had been commented on and partially answered in the House, and to have that statement debated at the earliest possible moment. The Prime Minister answered:
I have nothing whatever to add to the admirable answer given by the Deputy Prime Minister to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
The Bill which was waiting and suitable to be debated was put through without debate. The negotiations which the Deputy Prime Minister went abroad to make were in fact never revealed, despite repeated questions on his return. Now the Prime Minister has made a statement to the House. It is altogether unlikely that it can be debated before the House rises this year. It might have been easier to debate it forthwith if the usual courtesy had been followed of the Prime Minister allowing me to see a copy of it earlier. It is in print, in large type. Then I could have given it to my colleague who specialises in these matters. But in fact this courtesy was not extended. We have learned on earlier occasions that if we move that a debate be adjourned on the motion to take note of a paper the matter never comes up again for debate. There are many matters on the Notice Paper that it is clear will not be debated before the House rises. I hope that the Prime Minister or one of his Ministers will move that the House take note of the paper, that we have the opportunity to move the adjournment of the debate and that the debate will be resumed before the House does rise.
I am reminded that the usual courtesy is for the daily programme listed on the blue sheet, which is circulated for the guidance of honourable members, to mention under the item ‘Ministerial Statements, by leave’ any statement that is in contemplation. Certainly this is so in respect of any statement that is made by the Prime Minister or the Deputy Prime Minister. I doubt whether honourable members can remember any previous occasion when the Prime Minister or the Deputy Prime Minister has made a ministerial statement and no inkling of it has been given on the blue sheet for the guidance of honourable members on both sides. However the statement has been made. It represents a very great advance in the Government’s thinking. It is entirely in accordance with the policy that my Party has urged in the Parliament and outside it for years.
It has been an absurd anomaly that Australia, one of the big trading countries of the world, had no ship regularly engaged in overseas trade, lt is true that occasionally Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd or the Australian National Line would send a ship with steel to China or with wheat to India. There has been no regular service to any existing market; there have been no pioneering services to new markets. The Australian Government for the last two decades has traded with its hands behind its back. We have passed up our opportunities. We can build any ship that is needed for us to engage in overseas trade to or from Australia. Only today the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) admitted in answer to one of his supporters that BHP had sought assistance to extend its shipyard so that it could build a ship of 86,000 tons, a matter that the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) and I have mentioned in this House ever since our recent visit to Whyalla. We are quite able to build in Australia any ship that is required for overseas trade.
I said that only twelve countries are larger traders than Australia. None of them would be a more varied trader than Australia. With the exception of Britain and Japan, all of them conduct some of their trade by land. Most of the trade of all the countries of Western Europe, Canada and the United States is by land. Australia’s trade, like Britain’s and Japan’s, must all be by sea. For all these years we have denied ourselves the opportunity to join in and check existing conference lines and to pioneer new lines. We have actually subsidised Burns Philp to run to New Guinea.
We have subsidised various foreign lines to trade with South America. At last we are doing it ourselves. At last we are catching up with little Israel, a country with one-fifth of our population, which has an overseas shipping line. At last we are catching up with Czechoslovakia and Switzerland, completely landlocked countries, which have overseas shipping lines. At last Australia, which is one of the biggest sea trading nations of the world, will operate ships, although on charter at this stage.
There are various aspects that the House should debate. Containerisation is no boon to Tasmania. All it means is that apples and pears must be trans-shipped at Sydney or Melbourne. There are many aspects that honourable members would like to debate. But since this opportunity to debate the matter this year was given to us so belatedly and discourteously I must content myself with the genera] statement that we note that Australians will at last be participating in overseas trade. We would be much happier if we could be sure that the Government was at last recognising that Australians can build, man and operate any of the ships which carry our overseas trade and was at last undertaking a plan to ensure that within a measurable time, 12 or 15 years, half of this trade will be carried in ships that are built, manned and operated by Australians.
Mr GORTON (Higgins- Prime Minister) - by leave - The sole matter on which I wish to make a statement at this stage is that part of the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) concerning questions that had been asked previously in the House and suggestions for debates when estimates were going through the House. I think the statement I made a few minutes ago made it quite clear that initially discussions were opened by the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) but that it was necessary subsequently to send Sir Alan Westerman and Sir John Williams to London to go further into aspects that were raised in these discussions. In fact Sir Alan Westerman and Sir John Williams to the best of my knowledge have not even yet returned to Australia. Clearly it would have been quite irresponsible and quite wrong to have entered into debates or sought to have answered questions on this matter when negotiations were in progress between officers of the Government and those with whom we intend to enter into partnership in the United Kingdom. Indeed this is the first opportunity that has been available to present to Parliament these policy decisions since the negotiations of Sir Alan Westerman and Sir John Williams have reached the stage that I have told the House they have reached.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Air Navigation (Charges) Bill 1968.
Loan (War Service Land Settlement) Bill 196S.
Phosphate Fertilisers Bounty Bill 1968.
Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 4) 1968.
Sales Tax Bills (Nos 1 to 9) 1968.
Wheat Industry Stabilisation Bill 1968.
Wheal Export Charge Bill 1968.
War Service Homes Bill 1968.
Motion (by Mr Swartz) - by leave - proposed:
That a select committee be appointed to inquire into and report upon:
– The Opposition supports the appointment of the committee which the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) has suggested. This is an amazingly prompt response to the hint which was made by the Public Works Committee in the report which was tabled only 3 weeks ago. The Minister has been very reluctant to acknowledge the validity of Public Works Committee reports. For instance, the Minister has been at pains to fob off and obscure the Committee’s report that there was a lack of direction and co-ordination in the whole of the planning for Tullamarine. I would remind him that Dr Bradfield, giving evidence to the Committee 5i years ago, said:
We anticipate that both phases, the runways and the terminals, will be completed at the same time in 1967.
The last report. the one that was tabled 3 weeks ago, points out this lack of planning and co-ordination.
– That is the wrong subject; it is coming in to-morrow.
– I hold in my hand the report which makes recommendations about noise. I was referring to the Minister’s dilatoriness and his reluctance - dilatoriness in correcting and reluctance in acknowledging bis Department’s faults. The Committee has made a report dated 5th November, which the Clerks assured me was tabled on 7th November, recommending noise abatement measures. The Committee’s recommendations appear in clauses 64 to 69 in this report.
It is quite plain that the Public Works Committee considered the whole question of noise abatement. It not only considered this problem at Tullamarine where, because the State Government has changed its attitude, there will be much more noise and interference for residents than was expected to be the case when the Commonwealth acquired the site; but it also considered the general noise which will, it now appears, be greater than was expected at the time of acquisition because of the testing of jet engines by the two domestic airlines whose headquarters will be at Tullamarine. The Minister is complying with commendable speed and good grace with the Public Works Committee’s recommendations of 5th November. I applaud what he has done and I support the appointment of the committee.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 6 November (vide page 2525), on motion by Mr Freeth:
That the Bill be now read a second time
– Is it the wish of the House to debate the subject matter of the two measures together as suggested by the Leader of the House? There being no objection, that course will be followed.
– These two measures deal with the grants that are recommended by the Commonwealth Grants Commission which was set up in 1933 in the terms of section 96 of the Constitution. I would like to read the section which is brief and relatively simple. It states:
During a period of 10 years after the establishment of the Commonwealth and thereafter until the Parliament otherwise provides, the Parliament may grant financial assistance to any State on such terms and conditions as the Parliament thinks fit.
It was in the terms of that section of the Constitution that the Commonwealth Grants Commission was established in 1933. I would like to quote the terms of the provision which enabled the Commonwealth Grants Commission to function. I quote from page 13 of the 1968 report of the Commission - the thirty-fifth report - tabled a few days ago in the House. The report says:
We, the Commissioners appointed in pursuance of section 3 of the Commonwealth Grants Commission Act 1933-1957, to inquire into and report upon -
applications made by any State to the Commonwealth for the grant by the Parliament of financial assistance in pursuance of section 96 of the Constitution;
any matters relating to grants of financial assistance made in pursuance of that section by the Parliament to any State which are referred to the Commission by the Governor-General; and
any matters relating to the mating of any grant of financial assistance by the Parliament to any State in pursuance of that section, which are referred to the Commission by the Governor-General (section 9), . . .
Since its inception the Commission has, in my view, done an admirable job. I think at one stage it had to deal with four claimant States- Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania.
– Not Queensland.
– I was not too sure on that point. 1 am grateful to the honourable member for his correction. At one stage, then, the Grants Commission had to deal with three States. They were South Australia,
Western Australia and Tasmania. Upon the passage of one of the Bill’s now before us there will be only one claimant State, Tasmania. This may point to the winding up of this very valuable mechanism of the Commonwealth Grants Commission, and I suggest that in view of the present rather delicate state of Commonwealth-State financial relationships it seems regrettable that machinery of this kind should be wound up. Perhaps there is a case for the retention of this kind of mechanism. I do not mean, however, that it should necessarily continue to operate as provided for in the existing statute. Perhaps the whole thing should be rethought. The way in which the Commission has worked is quite well set out at pages 47 and 48 of the Thirty-fifth Report of the Commission, at paragraphs 61 to 66. Paragraph 64 says:
During the initial period of its work the Commission considered compensation for disabilities arising from Federation as a possible basis upon which its recommendations should be made. It considered also the basis of financial need.
The Third Report, which was made in 1936, is generally regarded as the one which outlines in the greatest detail the concepts according to which the Commission had come to operate, and according to which, with subsequent modifications, it has acted since. Paragraph 64 continues:
In its Third Report (1936) the Commission finally rejected the principle of compensation for disabilities arising from Federation, and chose in place thereof the principle of financial need, which it expressed in the following terms:
Special grants are justified when a State through financial stress from any cause is unable efficiently to discharge its functions as a member of the Federation and should be determined by the amount of help found necessary to make it possible for that State by reasonable effort to function at a standard not appreciably below that of other States’.
It seems that broadly the Commission was suggesting that as Australians we ought to have a common standard of attainment in various fields - mainly social welfare, including items such as health, education and public transport. Of course the difficulties of achieving this in a federation are quite substantial.
Paragraph 136, at page 72 of the Commission’s Thirty-fifth Report, points out some of the difficulties that can arise when one takes into account the differences between one State and another. It lists these as factors that must be reckoned with, and it gives the first as the effect of greater overhead costs in a small State. If a small State is to establish, let us say, an education system or a health service, the cost per head of population at the same level of service is likely to be greater than the cost per head of population in a larger State. The second factor is the dispersion of the population served. This points to the difficulty of a State like Western Australia as against a State like Victoria or New South Wales.
The third factor is differences in levels of income. One of the difficulties in the Australian federation has been the preponderance of two States - New South Wales and Victoria. I think their combined population in still about two-thirds of the total population of Australia. They are the States with the highest level of industrial development and are in many respects the best endowed with usable natural resources, or at least they were while we were a primary producing country. This preponderance of two States leads to some disparities in living standards. Honourable members will find a table in the Grants Commission’s report - I cannot lay my hands on it at the moment - which shows that there is a difference of nearly 20% between the per capita living standard in the wealthiest State and that in what might be called the least wealthy. I do not want to use the word ‘poorest’, because I do not think any State is poor in the sense that some other parts of the world are poor. Nevertheless, there is a disparity, which, from memory, is of the order of 20%, between the per capita income in Victoria and New South Wales and that in Tasmania and Western Australia, A fourth factor referred to by the Commission is the effect of a colder climate, as in Tasmania. I have no doubt that in parts of Western Australia the effects of a hotter climate, also are relevant. The final factor listed is basic wage differences.
All this points to the difficulty of arriving at any kind of equitable or easy formula upon which a body such as the Commission can make its determinations. Nevertheless, taking all these difficulties into account I think the Grants Commission is in many respects to be congratulated upon the job that it has done over the years. This year it aims at distributing Si 6,81 0,000 to Tasmania and making a final adjustment payment of $582,000 to Western Australia. In addition, in each of the next 2 years Western Australia, instead of receiving assistance through the Grants Commission under section 96 of the Constitution, is to receive a separate allocation of, I think, about $15m.
The debate on these Bills affords an opportunity to honourable members to point out some of the difficulties that are evident in the federal system as it now operates. I invite honourable members to look at the useful Budget document entitled ‘Commonwealth payments to or for the States 1968- 69’. As appears in table 1, at page 10, these payments are divided into two categories - revenue and capital. Revenue payments are divided into what are called ‘General revenue grants’ and ‘Specific purpose revenue payments’. For 1968-69 the general revenue grants, including allocations under the reimbursed arrangements, are $1,02 1.9m. Specific purpose revenue payments amount to Si 16.6m, making total revenue allocations, as distinct from capital allocations, of about $l,138m, which are 6.4% greater than the allocations in the previous year. On the capital side, specific purpose payments amount to $340m. Separate capital allocations are made of $584m for works and $126m for housing. There is a further category of allocations for State authorities. Larger authorities are to receive $357m. At the time of publication of these figures the amount which smaller authorities are to receive had not been determined. They received S33.5m in the previous year.
The total amount allocated to the States by the Commonwealth is quite large. It is in the vicinity of $2,000m or 8% of the gross national product. Yet the States are not satisfied. I appreciate the difficulties that confront the States. There are difficulties in our federal structure. Sometimes we are inclined to compare one federal system with another without allowing for the very great differences between one federal system and another. No other federation has a preponderance of population in only two States as has Australia. About two of every three Australians live in New South Wales or
Victoria. You do not get that kind of situation in the United States. Over there they refer to the geographical centre of population, which moves progressively from east to west; from the New York side to the California side. This has been the pattern in recent years. There has been no such shift in the Australian situation since federation. In fact I suspect that the percentage of the total population which resides in New South Wales and Victoria is increasing rather than decreasing.
Another significant difference in Australia is the way in which the sources of revenue are divided as between the Commonwealth and the States. In any federal system it is inevitable that what is called financial power will gravitate to the centre. These days we have a different concept of taxation; we have a different concept of monetary and fiscal policy working together. You cannot divide the exercise of monetary policy between several levels of government. It is difficult also to have fiscal policy too much out of the control of the centre. Monetary and fiscal policy is fairly well riveted in the hands of the Commonwealth in the Australian system by reason of the uniform tax arrangements whereby about two-thirds of all taxes are collected by the Commonwealth. The collection of such things as sales tax and customs and excise duties, which in some federations is shared between the States and the centre, is constitutionally or legally in the hands of the Commonwealth in the case of Australia. This situation makes ii rather difficult for the Stales to raise revenue separately. If they want to raise separate revenue they must resort to indirect taxes - local rating in the case of local government authorities or. in the case of the States, taxes on gambling, social act iV lies or motor cars.
Honourable members will see listed in the reports of the Commonwealth Grants Commission the variety of taxes levied in Australia. The Stales levy taxes by way of motor vehicle registrations, drivers licences and surcharges on third party insurance. All States levy taxes on the users of motor vehicles. The States levy probate and succession duties, but these are perhaps not resorted to by the States as much as they could be. The States levy stamp duties of one kind or another, including duties on cheque transactions and legal transactions. The States levy land taxes, racing taxes. entertainment taxes and liquor taxes. In New South Wales revenue is raised from a tax on poker machines. The States obtain revenue from lotteries. They levy taxes on statutory corporations. These are examples of the devices to which the States must have recourse in order to collect taxes. An examination of the structure of Stale and local government will show that proportionately the States have increased taxation more than has the Commonwealth, lt is true that the amounts raised by the States do not compare with the amounts raised by the Commonwealth, but in the last 20 years the States have increased the proportion of their revenues raised by State taxes. So it cannot be said that the States have not made some effort.
The States say that they have the constitutional responsibility for carrying out certain activities but that their revenues are inadequate for these purposes. I am sometimes appalled in Victoria - I know Victoria best because I reside there - to find that a sum as small as $10,000 or §20,000 required for a local venture cannot be raised without imposing what is often an unfair lax on the locality concerned. Sometimes a State cannot proceed with a project because it does not have $lm required for the work. These days Sim cannot be considered a very great sum. It is a small proportion of our gross national product of about $25,000m. It is a small proportion even of the total revenues raised by governments in Australia, which amount to about S6.000m. Yet the States say that they cannot carry out certain projects because they do not have $!m or $2m. I do not think you ever get the same pinching at the Federal level. In some respects there is wasteful expenditure at the Federal level. Much more deserving projects at the State level are idle because the States do not have the necessary resources.
I think the real frustration and paralysis is at what we might call the level of capital expenditure. I refer to expenditure on the building of schools, hospitals, cultural facilities and the like. This sort of work cannot be done on a hand to mouth basis. Some forward planning is needed. In this House we talk about a 3-year defence plan. It is true that we do not have a 3-year defence plan at the moment. But I do not want to talk about that this afternoon. One can talk also about a 3-year, a 4-year or a 5-year plan for some economic project to be undertaken at the Commonwealth level, but it is not very easy to evolve such a plan at the State level. The annual meeting of the Loan Council has become a wrangle.
On other occasions the Australian Labor Party has suggested that the Council should apply some formula for planning so that priorities can be determined for a number of years ahead and the responsibility for public works progrmames can be shared by local authorities, State governments and the Commonwealth. That is not the case at the moment. At present the Commonwealth has the luxury of abundant revenues and can finance a certain part of its works programmes from revenue. On the other hand, the States do not have available surplus revenue. The level of public works programmes that the States can undertake depends on the amount they are able to obtain at the annual meeting of the Loan Council. It is politely suggested that this amount is determined by agreement between the States and the Commonwealth, but it is generally determined by the Commonwealth in the light of what it thinks is the overall monetary and tax situation for the year as a whole. Because of the rather halting machinery of the present financial arrangements between the Commonwealth and the States, it is not possible for the States to plan ahead for works in important fields such as education and health.
On another occasion I pointed out that 3 years ago the capital expenditure on education and hospitals was roughly the same as the capital expenditure on the Post Office and civil aviation. This financial year the projected capital expenditure on civil aviation and the Post Office is $100m greater than the capital expenditure on education and health. These figures seem to suggest that it is easier to build an airport at Tullamarine than it is to build a hospital in Melbourne, lt seems easier to equip a major telephone exchange than it does to build a high school. I leave it to the House to determine whether these priorities are rational.
Previously the Commonwealth Grants Commission had to adjudicate upon the inadequacy of financial provisions in three States, lt is now to deal with only one State - Tasmania. 1 hasten to add that that is a very important State. Tasmania suffers from a number of disabilities. I suppose in one way the worst disability is that the migration of young people from Tasmania is greater than the migration of young people from any other State. I am glad to know that it has now lessened somewhat. There is not the same opportunity for employment in Tasmania as on the mainland because of the lower level of industrial activity in that State. Consequently, the young people move to the mainland to obtain employment. I know that some come over to play, in what they regard as a more exalted atmosphere, Australian Rules football. Some of the best performers in the Mecca of that game, Melbourne, have come from the small State of Tasmania. 1 am sure that those imports have been welcomed by those clubs which have benefited from the services of Tasmanian players. However, that is only one of the side issues.
In paragraph 62 of this year’s report the Commonwealth Grants Commission has hinted that perhaps in the future it could perform some functions that it has not been asked to perform in the past. It suggested that a proper reading of ils statute shows that the Parliament intended that matters other than these already referred to it should be referred to it. Paragraph 62 reads: ft may bc noted that no ‘matters’ such a; :ira contemplated by section 9 (c)-
I read section 9 (c) al the beginning of this speech - have been referred to the Commission by tha Governor-General during the history of the Commission. On the other hand, applications are made from time to time by each of the States for the grant of financial assistance under section 96 of the Constitution and these are not always made the subject of inquiry :,nd report to the Governor-General by the Commission.
These are the following words of the Commission:
The view seems to have prevailed that Parliament did not intend that all applications of lim nature should be inquired into, and reported upon, by the Commission, but it is debatable whether this view is consistent with the expressed terms of the statute.
I suggest that is a matter worthy of contemptation. I have no doubt that flexible arrangements have to be made sometimes. For good economic reasons, the Commonwealth may need flexibility. There could be a drought in one State, a flood in another or a cataclysm like a cyclone in another
State. The Commonwealth should have the right tj, make a grant to a State for a specific purpose. Nevertheless, I agree with the Commission that it is debatable whether the present method of dealing with applications for grants of financial assistance is the most efficient way, particularly when the money made available is to be spent over a long term.
One of the unfortunate features about the working of our federation at the moment is that it tends in some respects not to be working as efficiently as it ought to be working. There are two reasons for the inefficiency. On the one hand, the Commonwealth can squander money; on the other hand the States perforce have to be parsimonious. Secondly, projects that have the highest social priority are not undertaken first. The test is not whether there is a physical need for a project but whether sufficient finance is available. The Commonwealth has a financial advantage all the time. For these reasons I suggest that we ought to look at the situation again. By reason of its financial dominance the Commonwealth in some circumstances can squander money. Certainly, no State would have been able to spend on any project what the Commonwealth will spend on the Fill aircraft. The estimated cost started off at $100m. It has finished up nearer $300m. If a State wanted to embark on a project of such magnitude it simply would not be able to, because it would not have the resources. The Commonwealth can squander money in fields like this.
– What about the Sydney Opera House?
– The Opera House is perhaps an example of a project on which money has been squandered. But the cost of the Opera House is pygmy-like by comparison with the cost of the Fill. I do not suggest that inefficiency at any level is good. The honourable member may talk about the opera house; I want to criticise the Fill. At least we can see something for the money that has been expended on the Opera House. We cannot see anything yet for the amount being expended on the Fill. As I pointed out earlier, there should be forward planning on the part of the Commonwealth and States together. At present there is an annual wrangle around the Australian Loan Council table.
Another inefficiency is at the level of what is called local government. I am not a defender of the system of local government as it operates in my own Slate. I think it is an antiquated arrangement, and nowhere are the antiquities more creaking and more absurd than in the Melbourne City Council which operates under a statute passed in 1837 and where the franchise is undemocratic. Some people do not have a vote at all whilst a lot of people have three votes. I should think it would be very difficult to justify such a situation in this day and age. I for one would not want to give large sums of money in the form of grants to the Melbourne City Council as at present constituted. The same remark would apply to a large extent to all local governing bodies throughout Australia. 1 think there are too many such bodies. Often their existence is a matter of historical survival. There are shires with fewer than 2,000 people. They may be regarded as being democratic, but is that an efficient method of government? At the other extreme there are absurdly small areas with large numbers of people. Such areas could be amalgamated, at least for the sake of tidiness. Someone has to make a move in this direction and I believe that the lead should be given at a Commonwealth level. It is true that local governing bodies are sovereign within the limited field handed to them under statute by the State governments, so perhaps there should be a process of readjustment all round. I do not think that we can continue our present system of States grants. I hope that at an early date the Commonwealth will look very closely into the question of new mechanisms for allocating fairly the funds that are collected.
As I have already said on more than one occasion, I believe in the uniform taxation system. I think it is administratively simple and avoids a lot of the difficulties which used to occur when the various Slates levied income tax. Nevertheless there is a lot to be desired in relation to the reimbursement formula. The longer the Government ignores this sort of reality the more problems will accumulate and the less efficiently this federal system of ours will function. I am not one of those people who think that unification is just over the horizon. Whatever the constitution of one’s Party provides, we will have to live with the existing arrangement for perhaps a long time. If Government members claim to be federalists, then they will have to give the States and local governing authorities the economic resources that will enable them to be efficient.
We talk a great deal about the welfare state and so: but if we take out of the total funds available the two largest heads of Commonwealth expenditure, that is defence, which has to be centralised, and social service payments, which are direct cash payments to individuals as against the kind of welfare programmes that the States have to provide, there is not a great deal left. There is certainly nothing like the amount that is required for health, education, road making and public transport, which are mainly functions of the States but for which they have not got the available resources. Later this evening consideration will be given to whether a charge should be imposed on persons who purchase an air ticket.
– You would support that, would you?
– I am not indicating at this stage what I intend to do. I am merely suggesting that airways, because they happen to operate with Commonwealth assistance, are able to run at what in any sensible financial analysis would be called a loss. I think the loss is oi the order of $40m annually. The State railways cannot operate in that way. They may operate at a loss, but the loss has to be found from the general revenue of the States. The wide variety of opportunity that is available to the Commonwealth is thus contrasted with the position of the States. I do not think that anybody could regard it as being an equitable system. In essence, an air ticket is sold at an artificially low price as against a railway ticket which is sold at an economic price. This must induce people to travel by air who perhaps, more sensibly, ought to be travelling by railway. This leads to inefficiency as between one form of transport and another and it points up the inefficiences in the working of the federal system. I do not suggest that all those problems can be solved by any simple formula. We would be fooling ourselves if we were to believe that a complex situation had a simple, cut and dried answer. But an answer will not be obtained by ignoring the problem.
I submit that it is the ignoring of the problems, particularly by the only government which in the last analysis can do anything to relieve them, that is making the distortions in the workshops of our federal system even greater than they ought to be. I do not believe that in a country such as Australia, which boasts of its high standard of living, any student who has matriculated should be denied a university education because of a quota system. That is a great reflection on the workings of our federal system. It is a tragedy that at the beginning of a year a child who was born 5 or 6 years before cannot be admitted to a particular school. This is the situation we are faced with, and those are the untidy ends that we sometimes try to sweep under the carpet. We should not continue in that way any longer. It is a tragedy that anyone who wants a hospital bed should be denied one. But, that is the position in most States in Australia. One can point also to the inadequacy of the roads, the ancientness of some of our public transport facilities, and so on.
These problems will not be solved in a short space of time. However we ought at least to have a planned list of priorities. It is a tragedy that in Sydney and Melbourne one-third of the houses are without sewerage facilities. Such facilities were invented a couple hundred of years ago, yet these cities, which ought to be the most modern in the world, are without them. These deficiencies exist; anybody who denies their existence is certainly not examining the situation properly. To suggest that the main responsibility in this field is not the Commonwealth’s is to make a foolish analysis of the situation.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) quite rightly has paid his tribute to the Commonwealth Grants Commission. He has referred to the history of the establishment of the Commission and has linked that correctly with section 96 of the Constitution. He has attracted my attention - in fact, he virtually has expressed the same view with which I want to conclude my remarks - to the dcs- tiny of this Grants Commission with its long record of helpful service. I hope to return to this point because I too would ask: In what sensible way can this Commission and its staff be put to use in the interests of this complex question of Commonwealth-State relations? On 6th November of this year in the Western Australian Press, these two Bills, having been brought into this House, were referred to under the caption ‘State On Its Own - Officially’. The article drew the attention of readers of the newspaper to the fact that Western Australia, for so long a claimant State, was now cutting the tie in this connection and would finally be, as the heading indicated, on its own. It is in this context that I wish to make my observations, not in repetition of what the honourable member for Melbourne Ports has presented but, I trust, by raising one or two other interesting aspects.
In earlier years when the subject of this debate has been before the House, I have spoken on the States Grants (Special Assistance) Bill believing it to be my duty as a Western Australian to support my own State in its claim for assistance. We have two Bills before us at this time. We have a Bill known as the States Grants Bill 1968, which is necessary to implement expressly the agreed decisions of the Conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers. I wish to quote a little later some of the remarks that were made and some of the underlying reasons which were linked with the decisions taken at that conference. But this Bill implements the decision to give to Western Australia an adjustment to the formula payment or the payment for this year and the succeeding financial year whilst the States Grants (Special Assistance) Bill implements the recommendations of the Commonwealth Grants Commission.
The complexity of the system applied by the Grants Commission in respect of favourable and unfavourable adjustments, one has referred to. In the endeavour to absorb the principles of the report of the Grants Commission, one has become aware also of the ironing out of many anomalies between the States in respect of both the raising of revenue and the use of funds in the responsibilities of government. This has been the pattern of any speech that I have endeavoured to make on this subject in pre vious years. One has to study this sort of report, for the members of the secretariat of the Grants Commission are expert in the field. They have associated with the members of the Commission in seeking the evidence in the claimant States. They also have had to go to the other States to reconcile revenue raising and expenditure of funds. I want to develop the theme of the four-State standard which is inherent in the scheme that, for a number of years, has been applied.
We find this point of budget standard dealt with in Chapter III of the 35th report (1968) of the Commonwealth Grants Commission. I refer to paragraph 83 which appears at page 53. The positions of Western Australia and Tasmania are set out here, lt is stated in paragraph 84 of the report that the proposed four-State system is: . . based on a weighted average of the experience of the four non-claimant States, as from the year of review 1968-69.
In earlier years, it was not a four-State standard. In paragraph 83 of this report a clear indication appears of the opposition raised by the two claimant Stales, namely Tasmania and Western Australia, to this change to a four-State standard. Paragraph 83 states that the representatives of both claimant States: . . reiterated their Premiers’ view that to adopt a four-Stale standard would create major problems of government and administration for the claimant States. With regard to the method of averaging, Western Australia argued that if a four-State standard were adopted it should be based on a weighted average involving consideration of the differences in population between the States . . .
I underline this point because the State that I am proud to represent in this Federal Parliament is a State that, right through the years, has said: ‘Take note, if you will, of the problem that we have with a population still rising 900,000 only, and a population of that dimension placed in a State of so many hundreds of thousands of acres or square miles,’ an area that has been a legacy indeed when it comes to efficient application of government administration.
In paragraph 84, the Grants Commissioners make clear that, notwithstanding the protests to which I have referred and taking into account all that was discussed in the various sittings of the Commission, they came down with a decision that a fourState system it should be and that the weighted average and the experience of the four non-claimant States will be used during this financial year, 1968-69. It is an interesting question, to which I now draw attention, whether Western Australia having been given permission to withdraw, this four-State standard immediately becomes a five-State standard? If not, at what stage will this apply, for if it was sound that the four-State standard should be the basis as of now, surely the exclusion from claim of Western Australia wm need to bring that State’s experience and that State’s performance in revenue raising and also in the observance of its Budget into consideration. I would hope that the Treasurer Mr M’cMahon) before this debate concludes might guide us by his own comment on this point.
In the States Grants (Special Assistance) Bill, Western Australia, as the honourable member for Melbourne Ports mentioned, will receive only a completion grant of $582,000. This is due partly to that State’s withdrawal this very financial year as a claimant State. How is this completion grant built up? I find that it is constructed upon the State’s published deficit of a very small amount, $27,000, for the financial year 1966-67. But added to that published deficit there is a modification relating to road finance. The details of this are to be found on page 97 of the report. Paragraph 200 dealing with Western Australia indicates:
Since the 24th Report (1957), the Commission has excluded the impact of road finance (including recoveries of debt charges) from the budgets of both the standard States and Western Australia, because the expenditure on roads is financed in all States from the proceeds of motor taxation. .
But the paragraph goes on to indicate:
In 1966-67 the Western Australian budget received a contribution of £555,000 from road finance because debt charges were fully recouped and (commencing with the year 1966-67) one-half of the collections from motor drivers’ licences were paid to Consolidated Revenue Fund instead of being credited to road funds as had been the practice in the past.
Under this formula of modifying the public deficit, which the Commissioners wisely follow, Western Australia’s deficit in 1966-67 received the benefit of this modification of $555,000. So the addition of the public- deficit and this figure accounts for the final completion grant. This, to me, seems to be an allowance that it not only fair but quite proper.
One finds other interesting adjustments in the report of the Commissioners. Had this not been the completion year, or had certain rules not been laid down by the Commissioners, these other adjustments which are tabulated in the report would have brought to Western Australia a figure in excess of S2m. As taxation in Western Australia was above the standard, it brought a modification of $872,000. The State’s business undertakings for above standard charges or below standard costs resulted in an adjustment of $513,000. In the field of social services, which is another area in which the Grants Commission has tried to bring a sensible equality between the Stales, Western Australia, being below standard in its expenditure, was credited with $649,000. Notionally these adjustments would have lifted the completion grant to $2,463,000, but as there was a limitation in respect of the payment of completion grants in relation to the modified budget, the figure of $2,463,000 is not applicable. But I mention these matters to show how, in this rather involved adjustment procedure, Western Australia, on the evidence given to the Commissioners, was due for these substantial adjustments.
The States Grants Bill 1968, which is the other measure we are considering, provides that Western Australia will receive an increase of $ 15.5m in this financial year and in the following financial year. What was the claim made by the Premier of Western Australia, Mr Brand, at the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers held in Canberra on 27th and 28th June this year? It is interesting to note from the record of the conference what the Western Australian Premier said to the Premiers and other representatives who were sitting in conference with him. He said:
In Western Australia - now receive a special grant on the recommendation of the Grants Commission, and this year it is for $ 1 5.5m. We could not, of course, forgo this grant and we would have to receive this sum in some other way if we were to be in the position to refrain from applying for special grants in the future. The way this could be done would be io increase our share of the financial assistance gran! by $15. 5m, so arriving at a new base figure for calculation of the grant for 1968-69 and succeeding years. This was the arrangement that was made in 1959 when South Australia became nonclaimant, and it would be the logical course to pursue on this occasion. For our part we have to be as sure as we can be that we can manage our affairs on a financial assistance grant expanded by the present special grant and escalating in future years according to increases in population, average wages and betterment.
I underline the fact that he said, with confidence:
We believe we can, but there are risks involved and I would not like it thought that all would be plain sailing once we became a non-claimant State.
A little further on the Premier said:
It would of course, suit us much better and give us a greater degree of security if by chance even one year were included in the process of escalation. But if we put that argument aside and accept the proposition as you have put it, Mr Chairman-
He was addressing the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton)- the important thing - and it is a must so far as our acceptance of the proposition is concerned - is that we ensure that the present grant, including the special grant of $15.5m, becomes the base of consideration when we review the formula in 2 years time.
He again emphasised that this was part and parcel of his application, on behalf of Western Australia, to withdraw from the position of claimant State. Subsequently the Western Australian Premier shared his experience of the conference, and of the decisions which had been reached, with his own colleagues in the Western Australian Parliament. He pointed out that for 35 years the Commonwealth Grants Commission had played a significant part in the growth and development of Western Australia. He, in effect, expressed the appreciation of Western Australia to the Commonwealth as well as to the Commission and to the staff of the Commission. He said that the special grant for this period reflected the fact that Western Australia had a tower population and a lower taxable capacity than the wealthier States. He pointed out that the average incomes of Western Australians were lower than those of people in the more industrialised States. He said that mainly due to the paucity of the more highly paid occupations business turnovers were lower on average and, of course, in a State of the dimensions of Western Australia there were fewer large firms. He traced the influence of the assistance provided under the special grant in quite a number of areas of Government operation.
The Premier drew attention to the fact that the broad uniformity of social and economic standards throughout the whole of Australia was one of the great achievements of this special grants system. He expressed the view that Australians should be prepared to acknowledge the assistance given by our rank and file countrymen of all States, and he said he felt that the people of Western Australia should recognise what this had meant to Western Australia in particular. He also pointed out that as a result of this assistance we had been lifted to a point where now there was confidence that Western Australia and its Government could stand on its own; that finally its status of claimant State could be terminated. On behalf of Western Australia he has therefore indicated his agreement that the $15.5m annual grant for 2 years is acceptable on the understanding that when the formula is reviewed in 1971 this figure will be written into the normal formula; not that there would be at this stage an undertaking that normal escalation would apply, but that that figure would be recognised as an addition to the formula figure. It could become the subject of discussion at that point of time.
I forecast earlier in my speech that I would come back to the interesting point raised by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports. We have to recognise that now there is only one claimant State. One cannot help but wonder whether, in this situation, the Commonwealth Grants Commission can logically continue its operations in the interests of one State. As South Australia ceased to be a claimant State some years ago and as Western Australia is following suit, perhaps some new scheme will need to be formulated. Otherwise we will find - and I cannot avoid this assumption - that a five State standard will be applied to try to encourage a sensible control of revenue raising and expenditure in Tasmania. The question arises in our minds: What is to be the future of the Grants Commission? I agree with my friend the honourable member for Melbourne Ports who said that members of the Commission have built up a vast experience and can be classified as experts in their field. No-one would claim that they have all the answers to the complexities of Commonwealth and State financial arrangements which vex us today, but they do have a good working knowledge of the differences between the States’ operations. This experience should not be lost. If the Grants Commission is to go out of existence its members should be diverted to the task of preparing fundamental information to guide this Parliament as to the future form of Commonwealth and State financial relations.I would hope that the Commission’s expert staff will not be separated or go into extinction.
The whole of the formula of loan funds for the various States is linked with this legislation, so this gives one the opportunity of saying that when a State ceases to be a claimant State it does not mean that it loses its interest in the complex formula for participation in loan funds. I know that I can say with full authority that Western Australia will be battling for its share of loan funds in future years. Although Western Australia is a boom State it has already found that it desperately needs assistance under this head - loan funds, being not grant moneys and not moneys out of the Consolidated Revenue of the Commonwealth, but moneys for which it will be responsible and have to account for over a period of years. I put in an earnest plea for Western Australia. It can be complimented upon achieving the excellent position which has enabled it, through its Premier, confidently to say:’Release us from being a claimant State. Help us over these current 2 years. Be fair with us when the whole formula is reviewed in 1971 and we will confidently apply ourselves as a State to managing our own affairs.’ But at the same time it is saying: ‘Be generous to us in all our attempts to balance our Budget and to handle our affairs without embarrassment at future meetings of Premiers. Help us with our request for as good a proportion of the loan funds as may be warranted.’
I may not have the wish to speak again on a States Grants (Special Assistance) Bill. I should think that my parliamentary responsibility has been fulfilled in speaking for Western Australia on a number of occasions over thelast 13 years. It is with a great deal of pleasure that I refer to the accomplishment of the State from which I come and pay tribute to the effectiveness and fairness of the Grants Commission over the whole 35 years of its operations.
– I join with both the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) and the honourable member for Swan (Mr Cleaver) in expressing my own personal congratulations to the members of the Commonwealth Grants Commission for once again presenting to the Parliament a most comprehensive report on their activities over the past year. I have listened with a great deal of interest to the comments of both members who have preceded me in this debate, and it is largely because of what they have said that I want to add my comments at this stage. I refer particularly to what has been said about the future of the Grants Commission itself. This is an extremely important consideration, particularly as Tasmania is now the only claimant State. What has been said by both honourable members is relevant in this debate.I have always regarded a debate on this type of legislation as one that brings from members on both sides of the House constructive criticisms and constructive suggestions about what ought to be done by the Grants Commission.
This is in many ways an historic piece of legislation. It marks the achievement by Western Australia of a substantial degree of fiscal independence. It means that Tasmania is the only remaining claimant for special assistance from the Commonwealth, as determined by the Commonwealth Grants Commission. This breaks a pattern which has been established for more than 30 years. Initially this assistance was granted to what were termed the three marginal States - Western Australia, Tasmania and South Australia. As I said, Tasmania is now the only claimant State. Western Australia, under the terms of this legislation, will no longer be considered for a special grant by the Grants Commission. South Australia withdrew several years ago.
The form of assistance that was granted was evolved during the 1930s with the creation of the Grants Commission. The purpose was to put all States in a position of fiscal equity. This applied particularly to the States with smaller populations whose revenue from taxation was correspondingly lower. The system was designed also to provide in these disadvantaged States levels of public utilities and services comparable to those in the wealthier States. It produced a close relation between the Commonwealth, the Grants Commission and the State governments in allocation of resources to these States. It also produced a considerable degree of fiscal supervision of State expenditure and budgeting by the Commonwealth. This is revealed in the reports of the Commonwealth Grants Commission which have shown how Budget results of the mendicant States have been adjusted by the payment of grants.
Using the criteria that the performance of government functions in the claimant States should reach an acceptable level, and that the fiscal efforts of claimant governments should be acceptable, a close scrutiny was kept on public finance in these three States. This scrutiny undoubtedly contributed to the effectiveness of government in the claimant States. This represented a notable experiment in fiscal federalism - one which was in many ways an outstanding success and many years in advance of practice in other systems of federal government. Indeed, in many ways the peculiarly Australian structure of general revenue grants, special grants, specific purpose grants, the uniform taxation structure and the formation and operation of the Loan Council was revolutionary. Today, the United States of America is still struggling to achieve an equivalent balance of fiscal forces in a federal system, and to evolve a satisfactory system of revenue sharing.
The success of our system has been exemplified in the achievement of a status independent of the Grants Commission, firstly by South Australia and now by Western Australia. The question that now needs to be studied is whether the system of special grants is still relevant when only one claimant State remains. It could be asked whether the structure should be revised and an alternative system found for assisting Tasmania. In the 30 years of operation of the special assistance provisions, Tasmania has made notable progress, and full credit must be made for the special assistance contributions of the Commonwealth.
There has been a notable partnership between successive State and Federal governments in the effective employment of Commonwealth funds in transforming Tasmania from a predominantly rural and a comparatively poor State to the balanced and prosperous State of today. The growth of secondary industry has achieved an harmonious balance of city and rural interests and this has halted the drift to the mainland which was one of the grave social problems of early years. The honourable member for Melbourne Ports when speaking on the Bill referred to this problem that had afflicted Tasmania for many years. Many Tasmanians found it necessary to leave that State and seek employment in other States where better job opportunities existed. But largely as a result of the cooperation between the Commonwealth and the State and the assistance that the State has received by way of special grants the whole situation in Tasmania has changed. What I said only a few moments ago is completely relevant. Slightly less than three decades ago Tasmania was largely a rural State, but in the intervening period industries have developed in Tasmania and these have provided the kind of employment that is necessary not only in Tasmania but in every State if adequate employment is to be provided for its citizens. As a result of the very close investigation made by the Commonwealth Grants Commission over the years Tasmania has benefited by the assistance it has been given.
A strong tradition of federalism and regionalism persists in Tasmania and this gives it a striking sense of separate identity and the will to insist on its rights within the Federation. The substantial influence of the Federal Government on the financial management of the State has undoubtedly been effective. But, with industrial and economic growth in Tasmania, this may produce tension in the years ahead. It may be some years before Tasmania achieves the stage of economic growth at which it can assert the financial independence that South Australia and Western Australia have asserted in recent years. However, it does seem anomalous that the unwieldy structure of special grants should be retained only for Tasmania.
Perhaps a simpler form of assistance to Tasmania could be found to replace it. This is one reason why I believe the time is appropriate to look at the whole structure of Commonwealth and State relations at all levels in Australia. The present structure of Commonwealth and State relations is clearly far from the promised land. There has been a marked growth of tension between all levels of government in the past few years. This is a situation that should be approached with sympathy. It should certainly not be beyond the bounds of wisdom or statesmanship to devise an effective solution. By and large federalism has served us well. In particular the structure of determining fiscal relations between the levels of government has been decidedly in advance of comparable federations such as the United States and Canada. However, there are increasing signs of an unfortunate rigidity in this structure which could seriously endanger our whole federal structure.
In the years ahead the Federal Government will increasingly reap the benefits of economic growth by the generation of greater Federal revenues. At the same time, Slate and local government will face the burdens and the problems of meeting with less revenue an immensely expanded demand for services. This can only mean the withering of the federal system as it exists at the moment. The vitality of the federal system will increasingly be sucked away by the unrelenting pressure of State and local needs. As any change in the constitutional structure in Australia seems beyond credibility, the only solution is to restore and revitalise the health of the federal system.
It seems Australia is irrevocably committed to a federal system of government rather than a unitary system of government. Even if central government were possible it is difficult to conceive how central administration would be effected. The Federal Government cannot carry out important parts of its responsibilities at all without effective State and local administration. State and local government perform essential functions and attempt to satisfy the reasonable aspirations of Australians for improvement in the environments in which they live. This is why it is unfortunate that a malaise is becoming more and more apparent at local and State government levels. It is impossible to put a ‘made in Canberra’ label on all the products of a good life. State and local governments may often be humdrum and dull, but they are at the core of national life. To millions of Australians they spell the difference between a decent and a squalid environment. With responsibilities rapidly outstripping revenues, State and local government units are tending to be reduced to overburdened service stations.
I am sure that all honourable members appreciate the difficulties that local government authorities face today. One has only to look at the statistics to see at once that there has been a sharp reduction in the Commonwealth debts while at the same time the debts of the State and local governments have climbed rapidly. This is endangering the whole system of a federal partnership between the three levels of government in Australia. Certainly there can be no return of major taxing powers to the States. This is an historic argument that is no longer relevant. This matter was dealt with by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports and I am sure that no honourable member on this side of the House or on the Government side would suggest that there should be a return of taxing powers by the Commonwealth to the States. It is perfectly clear that because of the problems that have confronted the States in recent years, and particularly as a result of the demands that have been made by the two Liberal Premiers of Victoria and New South Wales for a greater share of the taxation revenue collected by the Commonwealth, there must be a more realistic approach to Commonwealth and State financial relations.
It is quite obvious that the Premiers of Victoria and New South Wales have been able to make out a case, and a very good case, to show that they are entitled to a greater share of the revenue that is being collected by the Commonwealth. Very few honourable members on the Government side have been willing to stand up and put this point of view in the Parliament. I merely make the point that until such time as the Government accepts its responsibilities, and recognises that there are problems at the State and local government levels, the kind of agitation that has emanated from the Premiers I have just mentioned will continue.
We remember only too well the suggestion made by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) only two years ago that the States should try to raise more taxes themselves. I think on that occasion he suggested a receipts tax. Since then, alt the States have taken the Treasurer at his word. But it is equally certain that the States cannot go it alone fiscally; there must be some sort of creative and effective solution. Government in Australia will not be advanced if individual components are weakened or allowed to become inefficient. The sum total of governments is the sum total of powers in Australia ami maximum efficiency must be insisted upon at all levels. Solutions to these problems cannot be imposed; they can only be resolved by co-operation. Intensification of existing pressures on State and local governments can only lead to default and dependence which are ultimately destructive of a Federal system. Now is the time to closely scrutinise and re-think Commonwealth/State relations so creative and cooperative Federalism can be revived as a means of discharging national obligations through traditional institutions of government at all levels - Commonwealth, State and local. The present tensions are distorting and endangering the Federal partnership. I believe it is the duty of the Commonwealth and this Government to take the lead in tempering the wind to the lamb it has shorn. I believe that these are matters to which the Commonwealth must give special consideration.
I would like to close on the point which I made earlier, and which was dealt with by both the honourable member for Melbourne Ports and the honourable member for Swan, that the future of the Commonwealth Grants Commission will have to be very carefully considered. I believe there is some justification for the criticism that has been made by the Premier of Tasmania that the term ‘mendicant’ should not be applicable to Tasmania. It is true that this is the only State that in future will come within the province of the Commonwealth Grants Commission. But surely it ought to be possible to find some other term that could be applied to Tasmania than the one of ‘mendicant’. This is not only a criticism that was made by the Premier of Tasmania; it is a view that was shared by the Chairman of the Commonwealth Grants Commission. I refer to an article which appeared in today’s publication of the Hobart ‘Mercury’. The article concerns a reply by the Chairman of the Commission to a statement made by the Premier of
Tasmania about the application of the term now to the State of Tasmania. The article states:
The Chairman said he strongly shared the objection the Premier had voiced.
It is a matter that might also be considered by the Federal Treasurer (Mr McMahon). This is not a criticism of the Commission itself. The Chairman has stated most emphatically that he agrees with the view put forward by the Premier of Tasmania in this respect.
While Tasmania may in the future have to continue to depend upon grants recommended by the Commonwealth Grants Commission, the fact remains that other States receive grants in other ways. No State is treated differently as far as the Commonwealth is concerned. Tasmania receives its grants following recommendations which are made after very thorough investigations by the Commission into the fiscal affairs of Tasmania. All Tasmanian departments are subject to investigation and as a result of the Commission’s determination a grant is finally made by the Commonwealth. I am sure that it will be appreciated by all honourable members that while a special grant is made to Tasmania as a result of the recommendations of the Commission, grants are also made in other ways to other States.
I conclude with two propositions. Firstly, the Government should consider the future of the Commonwealth Grants Commission and whether this body should continue to function in the way that it has in the past but in relation to the State of Tasmania only. Secondly, the Government should give immediate consideration to the suggestion that the term ‘mendicant’ might properly be dropped. I believe that some other term should be used to describe what is now the only claimant State under the terms of the Bill.
– The honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) has mentioned the difficulties that the Federal system has at present and the difficulties the system faces in dealing with the problems of the moment. He mentioned expenditure on airports and post offices compared with expenditure on schools and hospitals. I think that there is a good deal in what he said. The honourable member, and other honourable members, spoke of Commonwealth affluence on the one hand and State parsimony on the other. But the States are not altogether clear of criticism. For instance, we hear of grants for such matters as bowling greens. I agree that grants should be given to young people’s organisations, but I doubt very much whether States should give money for purposes in the bowling green category for the enjoyment of people who probably are well able to provide for themselves. I believe there are many other spheres of activity in respect of which the States could give a lead.
At this point in time we have reached some problems in the Federal system between the State Premiers and the Commonwealth Government. Of course, even the framers of the Constitution had some difficullty in deciding how to apportion revenue between the States and the Commonwealth. They had to find a balance between revenue produced on the one hand and commitments on the other. This was between not only the Commonwealth and the States but also State and State. Even in those days of long ago the States had special problems. Some States, particularly in the early days, were isolated and parched. Others were more closely settled and fertile. Over the last 60 or 70 years there have been fluctuations in financial needs as the States individually faced great problems and crises. During World War I there were very pressing financial problems, particularly so far as the Commonwealth was concerned. At the end of the war the Australian Government had incurred huge debts, both within the country and outside it. Consequently the Commonwealth came more strongly into the field of income tax.
Over the years, the States also have had their problems. For example, they have experienced the problems of drought, ft is only in recent years that the Commonwealth has become involved in drought relief. In earlier years when I was younger the days seemed to be hotter. Some of the people who wrote poetry and prose in earlier times referred to Australia as a sunburnt country. The summers seemed to be longer and there was little done to conserve water. The problems of Australia were very great in the days before the motor car because transport was most difficult. Today I pay a tribute to those people who in the early days went into the outback of Australia and played their part in developing this country. Even in those early days there were serious problems with regard to Commonwealth and State financial relationships. Many of us remember when our parents had to fill in both Commonwealth and State income tax returns. In 1941-42 a married man with one child who lived in Victoria and who earned $2,000 per annum paid $418.20 in income tax. This was the total of Commonwealth and State income taxes. If that man had lived in Queensland in that year he would have paid $496.20. There were substantial differences between the amounts of tax paid by men receiving the same incomes, simply by reason of their living in different States, and despite the fact that they received very much the same services.
This, of course, was not such a serious problem when taxes were light and the average man kept most of his pay. But in these days when so much of every person’s pay goes in income tax the dual tax system would raise very real problems. There is no doubt that this is one of the reasons why the States are most hesitant to re-enter the income tax field, and I am very glad to see that the Commonwealth is giving them no encouragement to do so. During World War II the Commonwealth, after some disagreement with certain States, look the initiative, under the power that was then available to it, and decided to impose and collect a single income tax. This has been the practice ever since, and there has been a great deal of argument between the States and the Commonwealth about the amount of the total tax that the Stales should receive.
Today we are dealing with two Bills concerning special grants to Western Australia and Tasmania. The financial problems of Australia go far beyond the splitting up of income tax revenue between the Commonwealth and the States, with the shares of certain States being increased by additional payments recommended by the Commonwealth Grants Commission. I am most conscious of the problems of State Premiers. They must try to carry out urgent projects with limited funds. They face heavy interest commitments on loan moneys that have been used for capital works. I believe there is a good deal of truth in the old saying that all power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Despite this philosophy I believe that Commonwealth financial control is essential for the control of our economy. I would not like to see us return to the old days of the great depression. I can well remember my mother giving billies of tea to the swagmen who travelled through the country town in which we lived. They were very colourful people but I do not think any of us would like to see a return of conditions in which men had to leave their families in the big cities and tramp around the country with their swags on their backs. But I am sure that if we allow several authorities to control the public purse we will have serious economic fluctuations.
I am very pleased to hear that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) has decided to face up to this problem next year. I would like to see these difficulties ironed out. I would like to see more decentralisation of activity, with more being done by the States and local government. 1 am concerned at the intrusion of the Commonwealth into traditional State activities such as education. In its endeavour to ensure that young people get equal educational opportunities - and I agree with that philosophy - the Commonwealth has been forced to adopt a piecemeal approach to education. I believe the leaders of the States and the Commonwealth must come together, not as proponents of a Commonwealth attitude on the one hand and a State attitude on the other, but as people interested in the welfare of the Austraiian people as a whole, vitally concerned with the efficient functioning of government and anxious to ensure that the sacrifices of the man in the street struggling to provide for his family are not rendered in vain by government wastefulness or ineptitude. I am very glad that the Prime Minister and others are thinking in these terms. No doubt there will be some difficulties in working out the rights of the States and of the Commonwealth but I feel quite confident that with Liberal governments in power in most States and also in the Commonwealth we will eventually work out a happy solution for the people of Australia.
I offer my congratulations to Western Australia on the progress that it has made, both financially and developmental^, so that it need no longer remain a claimant
State. Now I come to the future of the Commonwealth Grants Commission. This body has done very fine work over a period of some 30 years. We have been asked whether the system of special grants is still relevant. 1 am one who has been wondering in what direction the future activities of the Grants Commission lie. Now that only one claimant State is left, perhaps it is time to examine the position. I doubt that the Grants Commission should be retained on its present basis, but I hope that the services of its expert officers will not be lost to the Australian people. I hope that even if it is necessary to disband the Commission its officers will be used in some other sphere. Perhaps in the future some of these officers will find their way into the Department of the Treasury. I would be very sorry to see their valuable services lost to the Commonwealth. I hope that if it is decided that the Grants Commission should be disbanded it will be possible to absorb these people in the Treasury or some other Government department where adequate use may be made of their services.
– The honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) and other speakers have asked about the future of the Commonwealth Grants Commission. I would also like to pose a similar question. This Commission has been in existence for very many years and has assembled a large body of expert knowledge and has established valuable lines of communication from its members to the various Commonwealth and State instrumentalities, notably the Treasuries. It would be close to a tragedy for Australia, I think, if this body were wound up. Having in mind the problems facing Australia in the future, particularly those of development in the various States, I believe that there is a strong case for the retention of a financial authority moulded around the Grants Commission and following the broad principles of Commonwealth and State financial relationships which it has adopted. One of the main jobs of the Commission has been to analyse and evaluate the claims of the claimant States on the basis of standards existing in New South Wales and Victoria while keeping a close watch on the economic and financial positions of the other States. I should think that if the Commission is retained, a strong case exists for a re-examination of the principles governing Commonwealth-State financial relations and the disbursement of Commonwealth funds to the States, along the lines outlined by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports. I would think also that some regard should be given to the claims of those States which in future will be, as they are already, the major export income earning States. 1 refer in particular to Western Australia and Queensland. If one uses the criterion of potential export income it could be argued, as it has been argued in many quarters, particularly by the Premiers of Western Australia and Queensland, that the Commonwealth discriminates more against those two States than against any other State. This is why the Premiers of Western Australia and Queensland frequently get somewhat excited when their claims for Federal funds for development projects are not treated as seriously as they had hoped. They are continually pointing to the contribution which Western Australia and Queensland make to the national economy.
Although the formula roughly followed by the Commonwealth pays regard to section 96 of the Constitution, which deals with special grants to the States, and is probably reasonably fair, based on a social and welfare criterion, it gives no effective weight to those States which are making the greatest contribution to the export earning capacity of the nation. In the case of my State - Queensland - the argument is extremely strong because the official statistics show that in the last 10 years Queensland has had very large exportable surpluses. Compared with other States, whether on a per capita basis or an absolute basis, those surpluses are quite remarkable. Official statistics show that in the last 10 years Queensland has accumulated overseas trading surpluses of about $3,000m. In the same period Western Australia has accumulated overseas trading surpluses of about $ 1,800m. The present rate of increase in the case of Western Australia is extremely high. It has been estimated that within the next 7 or 8 years Western Australia’s export income from minerals from the Pilbara region alone will increase by about $l,800m.
What is done with these surpluses earned by Western Australia and Queensland, principally from primary production in the past and now from minerals? The surpluses are used to balance the deficit on current account incurred principally by the major States of New South Wales and Victoria. Looking at the overall picture one sees that in the last 10 years the overseas trading deficits incurred by New South Wales and Victoria have amounted to about S5,000m. So it is easy to see that the surpluses of Western Australia and Queensland have been used to offset the trading deficits on current account incurred by Victoria and New South Wales; they have been used to balance the books. It follows that if the large surpluses from Western Australia and Queensland had not been available New South Wales and Victoria would not have been able to maintain their high rate of import of capital goods. The surplus foreign exchange earned by Queensland and Western Australia has enabled New South Wales and Victoria to forge ahead, particularly in the densely populated areas, by importing capital goods, which are self generating in terms of employment, demand and supply. This situation, coupled with the trend towards automation in rural pursuits, has led to a drift in population from rural areas to metropolitan areas. In the slack or off season there has been a drift from the rural State of Queensland to New South Wales and Victoria. Often the people who make this move obtain permanent jobs in New South Wales and Victoria and do not return to Queensland. The overall effect of the surplus earned by Queensland and Western Australia has been to generate benefits for Victoria and New South Wales.
I think much more emphasis should be placed on the contribution which the export income earning States of Western Australia and Queensland make to the national economy. Bearing this in mind there is a good case for a greater weighting of special grants for those States under section 96 of the Constitution. The need to generate factory employment or secondary industry in Queensland and Western Australia is amply dealt with in the annual report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission. The report shows that the concentration of nearly two-thirds of Australia’s population in New South Wales and Victoria has meant a greater development of secondary industry in those two States than anywhere else in the Commonwealth. The report shows that the value of factory production in New South Wales and Victoria is almost twice as high as in the case of Queensland.
It shows also that the proportion of the population employed in factories is twice as high in New South Wales and Victoria as it is in Queensland. In Queensland in 1965-66 the net per capita value of factory production was $326. In 1966-67 this figure had increased to $351, but this is only 50% of the figure for New South Wales and Victoria.
Translated into more practical terms the statistics show that although Queensland and Western Australia are major surplus producing States on international current account they are major deficit States in terms of interstate trade. If one looks at the figures for the last 10 years one finds that Queensland has imported from New South Wales and Victoria capital goods from all sources worth about $5,000m more than its exports to those States. The report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission emphasises that if Queensland wishes its population to increase at the rate at which the populations of the other States are increasing it will have to enter more and more into secondary industry. If it is to do this it is of paramount importance for Queensland to have a major power house. For central Queensland the key to development and permanent population is a combination of water and power. Given water and power there is no reason why major secondary industries, particularly industries processing raw minerals, should not be concentrated in central Queensland. We saw the problems that arose several years ago when Queensland was not able to advance a sufficiently solid case for the establishment in that State of a smelter for the production of aluminium. Although the alumina processing works at Gladstone has made a tremendous contribution to the growth of Central Queensland, it is nothing like the contribution which would have been made if a processing works had been established in the same area for a smelter. Here again, the principal reason why it could not be established is that central Queensland cannot compete with Newcastle or other areas in terms of power. There is no reason why central Queensland, if it had cheaper power, could not compete with the other States, particularly in the processing field. That is the main point 1 wish to make on the paragraph in the report of the Commonwealth
Grants Commission which deals with the position of secondary industry in Queensland.
On all the statistics one looks at it is fairly clear that if this State wishes to grow in terms of population and to keep growing at the same rate as other States, particularly Western Australia, which has a problem similar to that of Queensland, a greater number of processing and secondary industries will have to be established. Under the present circumstances it is very difficult to get new industries started in Queensland, because of the restrictive trade practices of the major companies. The manufacture of sporting goods is an example. There is no reason why some sporting goods cannot be manufactured in Queensland, and they can be manufactured there now under private licence. However, the major companies work in together and sell their sporting goods at a uniform price, and it is very difficult for any local company to break into the manufacture when the existing manufacturers in other States have the retail and wholesale outlets tied to them. In other words, the manufacturers say to the retailers and wholesalers: ‘You must stock all our products only or you will not get any of them’. That is what it boils down to. This is something which the Commissioner of Trade Practices is interested in. One of the reasons why it is difficult to establish secondary industries in Queensland is that only restricted opportunities are available to promoters of secondary industry in that State.
– The honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) proposed a couple of contradictions which it may be valuable to examine, both to assess their import and to reveal the errors they illustrate. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, who was supported very strongly by the honourable member for Dawson, was concerned with the processes of fiscal equalisation as demonstrated by the Commonwealth Grants Commission’s report. He paid deference to this phrase on a number of occasions and proceeded to define it out of existence, especially to the disadvantage of his own State. I hope to illustrate the point clearly. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition referred to the level of Commonwealth grants to New South Wales and Victoria as being too low. To quote his words, he said: They should get a greater share of the revenue’. We know from simple arithmetic that, if one State is to obtain a greater share of revenue, some other State will obtain a smaller share of the revenue. I would simply point out to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the honourable member for Dawson, who supported his Deputy Leader’s arguments, that both these propositions mean that States other than New South Wales and Victoria have to be content with a smaller share of the revenue.
– I did not say that at all. I said that Queensland should get more.
– I put it to the honourable member for Dawson: Did he or did he not support the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in this debate? The honourable member for Dawson made another couple of errors, lt seems that he does not understand the statistics with which he dealt. He referred to the balance of interstate trade and said that trade between one State and the others was often to the detriment of that State. He referred to Queensland and said that for over 10 years there was an imbalance of exports to New South Wales and Victoria compared with the imports from New South Wales and Victoria of $5,000m. This is an incredible error, which the Deputy Commonwealth Statistician in Queensland inquired into and corrected in 1953. In fact, he has been correcting it ever since. If the honourable member for Dawson looks at the figures for the external trade of the State, he will realise that many of the imports that come into a State such as Queensland from States such as Victoria and New South Wales are indirect imports from overseas. So the Deputy Commonwealth Statistician in Queensland, every year for many years, has composed a table in which he makes an appropriate correction. I refer the honourable member for Dawson to the table showing the external trade of Queensland for the 12 months ended June 1967 or, for that matter, any other year. A special amount is written into the imports of Queensland for what are described as overseas imports via other States. If the honourable member made a correction allowing this amount, he could write his figure down by 90%. If he divided his figure by ten he would be close to the mark.
– Why does the honourable member not read what the Treasurer of Queensland said? I suppose he is wrong, too.
– This must be the first time that the honourable member for Dawson has relied upon someone else to supply and interpret his errors. He made another couple of points that are worth while examining. He referred to the financial assistance grants formula. He has not spoken on this before and it would seem that he does not quite comprehend its significance. He wants written into that formula a special weighting for exports. As we know, at present in the formula there are weightings for the population increase in a State and for the rises in average wages in a State over the years concerned. I suggest that if he is to make a case for a special weighting for exports, he will have immense problems in correlating such a suggestion with the current tariff policy of the Australian Labor Party as interpreted by the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns). The honourable member for Yarra proposed a tariff policy which will greatly increase tariffs and which, therefore, would inhibit exports, for tariff protected industries are known to be industries which do not assist exports. So the gravamen of the honourable member for Dawson’s criticism of the grants formula is that he would disadvantage his own State again, even if he would do it rather unwittingly. To say that is to accord him the greatest amount of goodwill possible.
The two Bills before the House have to do with the Commonwealth Grants Commission and with the special assistance that is to be given to Western Australia to compensate for her decision to opt out of the Grants Commission arrangements. The purpose of the States Grants (Special Assistance) Bill is summarised in the first sentence of the second reading speech of the Minister assisting the Treasurer (Mr Freeth). He said:
The main purpose of this Bill is to authorise the payment in 1967-68 of a special grant of $16,810,000 to Tasmania and of a final adjusting payment of $582,000 to Western Australia in respect of its special grant for 1966-67.
The purpose of the States Grants Bill is to amend the States Grants Act and to authorise the payment of $15m to Western
Australia in the two subsequent years. This is to be compensation for her decision not to appeal to the Commonwealth Grants Commission for special assistance. We arc then faced with the problem that in 1970 the financial assistance formula, which is the principal means of disbursing grants to the States, is to be amended.
The financial assistance grants formula, as 1 indicated a moment ago, has two characteristics. The amount of a grant to a State is affected by the average wages and the average increase in population in that State. It would seem that one of these characteristics ought to be altered a little. To illustrate the case 1 would refer to the present formula. When we look at the nature of a State’s increase in population, we see that it is composed of two elements. It is composed of an element of natural increase and an element of increase due to migration.
If one looks at Western Australia, one can see the errors into which one can fall by continuing to ignore the difference between the elements of a State’s increase in population. At page 23 of the Commonwealth Grants Commission report for this year reference is made to the increase of population in the States. We find an interesting characteristic in relation to Western Australia where the rate of increase over the year was 3.37%. That was a very significant increase. Of that percentage the natural increase was 1.32% and net migration accounted for more than 2%. In other words, 65% of the increase in this State’s population was the result of migration. Other States, such as Tasmania, have a net migration out of those States and other States have an increase in population due to migration of 10%, 20%, 30% or whatever it may be. As the burdens upon a State vary considerably according to whether a State has its population increased due to natural factors or migration factors, an appropriate adjustment ought to be made in the population multiplier. I suggest that the Treasury should look at the comparative burdens cast upon a State’s expenses by the two types of population increase.
I refer to a report made in 1954 on whether migration was to be a disproportionately large burden upon a State’s increase in population. That report found that migration placed less burden upon a State than the other factors of increase. I suggest that this matter be looked at, that appropriate adjustments be made in the formula, and that the multiplier be changed accordingly.
The Commonwealth Grants Commission is a unique institution which is not reflected anywhere else in the world. It seems that no other federal authority in the world has proposed a body similar to the Commonwealth Grants Commission, and no other country has successfully imitated its functions and procedures. Over the years it has broadly used three methods of judgment as to the grants which it would recommend for the various claimant States. I refrain from using the term ‘mendicant States’. The three principles of judgment used have been as follows: First, what disadvantage has a State suffered by being part of a federation? Compensation was made for this factor, and a calculation made as to the financial need of a State. For many years this was the principle of judgment which the Commission used. In recent years it has used the principle of fiscal equalisation. That principle states that the level services that can be offered by a State ought to be roughly equal to those offered by another State when a similar burden is placed upon the people of each State in maintaining those levels of services. In other words, one State is not to be able to offer a significantly higher standard of education than another when it places a smaller burden on its people to maintain those standards. The same applies with respect to health.
Having regard to the egalitarian principle of Australian federalism this is an appropriate measure, and one ought to bc proud of the way in which it has been developed over the years. There have been a number of studies which indicate that Australia has less inequality between the various parts of the federation than any other federation in the world or any other country in the world which has distinct economic regions. I refer to a study of some significance on economic development and cultural changes made by one Williams and published in Chicago in 1965. Williams developed a divergence index which measured the inequalities betweenStates and federations of the world, or between regions of countries. It was found that in Australia there was less divergence between people in the north and south and between people in the east and west than in any other country. According to his study Australia was more equal than any other country, including New Zealand, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Canada, the United States of America and Sweden, in that order. At the bottom of the list was, among others, Brazil where disparities of wealth between one region and another are well known and arc much to be deprecated.
The Commission over the years has fulfilled a very worthy purpose. It has fulfilled its obligations in a uniquely successful manner. We have to ask ourselves this question: Is this body, which is no longer considering grants to be paid to three States - not even two States now that Western Australia is out - appropriate for considering grants to only one State? I am not attempting to put Tasmania aside. Rather I am suggesting that the purposes and the functions of the Commission ought to be expanded and that they ought to be expanded to the totality of the Commonwealth. I suggest for a number of reasons that the Commission’s activities should be widened, that it should be known as the States Fiscal Equalisation Commission, that it should be given the duty of measuring standards as between all States of the Commonwealth, including the Australian Capital Territory, and that it should make grants appropriate to the various parts of the federation so as to equalise the standards in terms of the principles of fiscal equalisation. This would be an appropriate time for the Commission’s activities to be widened, especially as we now have on the Commission probably as talented a group of men as there has ever been.
The present Commissioners are Sir Leslie Melville, Mr Goodes and Mr Lane from the University of Queensland. The purpose of the Commission is to impose upon the people of the States a burden appropriate to their capacity. If it is suggested that this would unnecessarily widen the activities of the Commission, then reference should be made to the original debate when the Commission was instituted. I refer to Hansard of May. 1933, in which the then Prime Minister, a Tasmanian, Mr Lyons, had this to say:
Applications received from Stales will automatically be submitted to the commission for investigation. The commission will also be required to investigate any matters referred to it by the Governor-General in relation to existing grants.
This theme would seem to support the present claim of the Commission that its activities ought to be widened and that it ought to be given a series of tasks greater than those which have been submitted to it up to the present time.
Motion (by Mr Erwin) agreed to:
That the question be now put.
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 Fairbairn) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 6 November (vide page 2526), on motion by Mr Freeth:
That the Bill be now read a secondtime.
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 Fairbairn) read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 6.2 to 8 p.m.
– I have received a message from the Senate acquainting the House of Representatives that Senator Prowse has been discharged from attendance as a member of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Committee. I have also received advice from the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson) that he has appointed Senator Maunsell to be a member of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory to fill the vacancy caused by the discharge of Senator Prowse.
Debate resumed from 14 November (vide page 2873), on motion by Mr McMahon:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
- Mr Acting Speaker, the Opposition supports this Bill which makes a number of useful amendments to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act. I believe that some of the amendments are long overdue. During his second reading speech the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) referred to the work that had been undertaken and the recommendations that had been made by the Government Members Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Committee which has considered the position of those persons who are contributing under the defence forces retirement benefits; scheme. The Treasurer suggested that the Committee had recommended a number of changes in the Act and that it was responsible for a number of worthwhile amendments that had been included in the Bill. If the Committee is entitled to some credit for the work that it has done in this respect - and I believe that it is - the Opposition joins with the Treasurer in paying a tribute to the Committee. Of course, this confirms what has been said by the Opposition on a number of occasions - that committees can perform very valuable work in this Parliament. From what the Treasurer has stated on this occasion one would assume that the present case is an example of what oan be done in this respect. The Opposition wants to be perfectly fair in its approach to this measure. If some credit is due to the Committee, of which the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Mr Stokes) is Chairman, the Opposition joins with the Treasurer in extending congratulations to it.
I, in common with other members of the Opposition, have had an opportunity to consider carefully the amendments proposed in the Bill, and as I indicated when I commenced my speech, although the amendments are commendable some of them could have been introduced earlier by the Government. Therefore the Opposition does not oppose the Bill; indeed it takes the opportunity to indicate to the Government that it supports the changes that are now proposed.
I should refer to one or two of the amendments contained in the legislation now before us. As the Treasurer indicated, provision is being made in the Act which will enable members of the forces who are under 1 8 years of age to contribute to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund. I am sure that no member of this Parliament would disagree with this kind of provision. Indeed, we have taken the opportunity on other occasions to point out that if a young man joins the forces under the age of 18 years he should not be penalised as against those members who join the forces at an older age. The Government is moving to correct this anomaly, and in future young men who join the permanent forces under the age of 18 years will be eligible to contribute to the DFRB Fund.
The Bill takes the opportunity to increase the rate of some invalidity pensions. I do not want to deal at any great length with this matter tonight, but 1 am sure that all honourable members would agree than an anomaly would exist in the Act if the Government did not move to amend it in the way proposed in this Bill. When this legislation has been passed through the Parliament there will be an increase in the rate of invalidity pensions paid to certain exmembers of the forces. The Bill also provides for a surplus of $4.4m in respect of pre- 1959 entrants to be distributed amongst eligible contributors and pensioners. After one carefully examines the legislation I think it can be said at once that this amendment which has been proposed by the Committee which has the responsibility to make such recommendations to the Government, will be acceptable to all honourable members. Quite naturally, the legislation provides for an increased rate of contribution by the various age groups in the forces. For those post- 1959 entrants who entered the Fund at age 20 years and over the rate will be increased by ±% to 5i%; for those who entered the Fund at age 18 years, the rate will be increased from 5% to 5.2%; and for those who entered the Fund at age 19 years, the rate will be increased from 5% to 5.35%. At the same time the Commonwealth will increase its contribution from 77i% to 80%. So while there will be some increases in the rates of contribution by members of the forces the Government has accepted some responsibility in this respect and is to increase its rate of contribution.
Generally, I believe that the proposals in the Bill will have the approval of all serving members of the forces. However, some anomalies will remain in the Act. I think this has been acknowledged by the Treasurer, because during the course of his second reading speech he indicated that further investigation will be made into these matters, lt is hoped that the anomalies to which the Treasurer referred during his second reading speech will be removed as soon as possible. 1 believe that all honourable members would agree that if we are to attract men into the three arms of the Services, under our voluntary scheme, the provisions governing the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund should be explicit, fair and equitable. 1 think it is fair to say that in recent years, as a result of the amendments that have been made to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act. some improvement has been effected in this way. 1 have had the opportunity to look at the questions that were dealt with in the Treasurer’s second reading speech and to note some of the anomalies that arc now being removed. It was quite clear that a great deal of dissatisfaction existed amongst serving members of the forces. Therefore, 1, together with the other members of the Opposition, believe that if we are to attract men into the forces in the numbers which we believe are necessary, and which obviously the Government believes are necessary, there must be no doubt about the provisions of the Defence Forces Retirements Benefit Act. Grave dissatisfaction has been expressed on other occasions but the Bill does propose a number of very useful amendments and because it is an improvement, overdue as it may be, on the existing legislation the Opposition supports it.
– May 1, on behalf of the Government Members Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Committee, say to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) and his Party: Thank you for your kind and generous references, it is indeed pleasing and encouraging that the Bill has the unstinted support of Her Majesty’s Opposition.’ The Bill consists of a preliminary part and three main parts. Part IV deals with a number of miscellaneous matters and 1 will not cover that particular part. Part II deals with the extension of full benefit to members of the forces under 20 years of age and prescribes rates of contribution both in their particular category as well as in other general categories. As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said, these reflect the increase of i% in the rate of contribution which was assessed after the Commonwealth Actuary’s quinquennial report had disclosed, as at 30th June 1964, an actuarial deficiency of $3,260,000 in the pre-1959 part of” the scheme. This action to increase the rate by i% was mentioned by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) when he tabled the quinquennial report last May.
Part II of the Bill covers also an increase in the Commonwealth’s contribution from 771% to 80%. So there are two actions - the i% increase in the contribution and the 2i% increase in the Commonwealth contribution. These have been adjudged sufficient to bring the post-1959 scheme into actuarial solvency. In other words, without the additional Government support the members’ contributions would have needed to be increased to a much more substantial degree than the 1% which is now provided, lt is therefore just that this legislation also provides that, should future quinquennial investigations disclose a surplus in the fund, the extent to which such surplus has been occasioned by this additional Commonwealth subvention shall be assessed by the Actuary and set 0 IT before he arrives at a figure which arises from the other sources of fund income such as contributions and interest on investments.
I am pleased also that the Government has agreed to cover members of the forces from the time of their joining. This is consistent wilh the practice which operates under (he Commonwealth Superannuation
Act where those who are accepted for permanent service become contributors either to the Superannuation Fund or the Provident Account without the embargo of a 20-year minimum age of entry. At present in the defence forces retirement benefits scheme those under 18 years of age are covered only for a small invalidity pension on a non-contributory basis. Members who are aged 18 and 19 years are covered for death and invalidity benefits only although they have been contributing at the same rate as the 20-year-olds who also obtain superannuation benefits. It was this anomalous situation which has led to the present corrective legislation. The acceptance of the younger members into the scheme has required the introduction of a new actuarial factor. Whereas the present scheme is actuarially based on entry at age 20 for a period of 20 years to the retirement age, the admission of these younger members extends the period over a varying term depending upon the age at entry.
Part 1 of the Schedule to the Bill sets out the percentage of salary required as a contribution, commencing at age 16 or under in annual increases to age 20 on their birthday next following acceptance as a contributor. The percentage at the lower age is set at 4.75 and it rises at the rate of .15% each year to 5.35% at age 20 next birthday. Those who have turned 20 or more will contribute in the future at the new rate of 5i% of salary. The main point I wish to stress is that the younger entrants will continue paying at the same initial rate throughout their entire period of service. If they start at 16 years or under they will pay the 4.75% right through the period of their service up to the time of their retirement.
The new rates of officers’ contributions are set out in Part II of the Schedule. These commence at the entry age of 24 years or less at the rate of 51%. increasing annually at the rate of .5% until age 30 at entry to a maximum of 8.5%. A further amendment provides in the cases of discharge on class C disability, where only a gratuity is paid as against class A and class B which are pensionable, that members under 18 years of age so discharged will also receive a gratuity at the higher invalidity rate. The Bill provides also for the introduction of the basic rate of in validity pension which, is equated to that payable to an adult private, group i. This will additionally benefit the younger members who otherwise in this event would be entitled only to a lesser pension based on their lower rate of pay and their lower level of contributions.
The Government is also to be commended for not overlooking the ten younger members who had been discharged on the previously low rates presently appertaining. Two were discharged on class- A pensions of $546 per annum and eight on class B pensions of $273 per annum. The increase of their pensions by five-sevenths of the difference between their present pensions and the basic pension now proposed will increase the class A pension from $546 per annum to $1,105 and the class B pension from $273 per annum to $552.50. This is roughly a 100% increase in each case.
There is no doubt in my mind that all these extensions of benefit to those members under 20 years of age will greatly enhance the present generous scheme and should provide a substantial incentive to recruitment in the Services.
Part III of the Bill deals with the distribution of the surplus in the fund in respect of pre-1959 contributors. As 1 have explained, there are two sections - the pre- 1959 contributors on one basis and the post- 1 959 contributors on another basis. This surplus was valued by the Commonwealth Actuary in submitting the quinquennial report as at 30th June 1964 at $4,465,770. Of this sum, $3,689,770 was apportioned as refundable to existing contributors and $776,000 to pensioners.
Clause 1.7 of the Bill sets out the conditions and the method of payment of the refunds. Inter alia it provides for the Board to determine to whom payment will be made in the event of death of either the contributor or the pensioner. It also provides for the payment of compound interest on the amount being refunded commencing from 1st July 1964. This will be at a specified rate of interest which will be determined by the Treasurer on an annual assessment, having regard to the average rate of interest earned by the funds in each of the relevant years and to such other considerations as he deems relevant. It is of some value to note that the average interest rates earned by the Fund in the 4 years concerned are as follows:
In these calculations, periods that are beyond the end of a fiscal year will be based on the average rate for the previous year.
In his second reading speech, the Treasurer said:
It will be some time before payments can be made; there arc many thousands of contributors’ records to be consulted and many thousands of calculations to bc made.
I am informed that approximately 22,000 contributors and 4,500 pensioners are concerned. Of course, some people who were contributors at 30th June 1964 have since become pensioners and will participate as both contributors and pensioners for the periods in which they were in either of those categories. However, I earnestly suggest to the Treasurer that those who are wholly entitled as pensioners be afforded some priority in distribution. Normally people in this category are in more reduced circumstances than are those who are presently serving contributors. Such priority was, if my memory serves me correctly, granted to pensioners when the surplus in the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund was distributed some little time ago.
Of course, the calculations for pensioners will be simpler than those for contributors, in relation to whom many factors must be taken into account. Factors such as commutation, the forgoing of full unit entitlements and variations in rates of contribution add to the complexity of assessing the degree of eligibility to refund of each individual contributor. I trust that the Treasurer will heed what I consider is a reasonable request and afford priority of payment to the pensioners. I hope that an effort will be made to get cheques out to them before Christmas, if that is possible. If that is not possible, I hope they will be sent early in the new year.
At the same time I wish to express some concern at the indication of delay in the overall plan of refunding the surplus. The
Commonwealth Actuary disclosed the surplus assets in advice to the Treasurer on 16th May 1967, when he submitted the quinquennial report. He said:
The application of the surplus to each entitled member in an equitable manner requires the resolution of the technical problems of the application and the preparation of the actuarial methods, the collection of accurate and detailed data followed by a series of computer operations. These procedures and the shortage of experienced staff mean that the application of the surplus will take some considerable time.
Yet in the annual report of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Board for the year ended 30th June 1968, which was tabled in the House last Wednesday, reference is still made to staff shortages and the difficulty of obtaining complete data for programming the computer system. The Chairman in his introductory remarks said:
The recent growth and enlargement of this Scheme is placing severe strains on the Board’s administrative arrangements and has added urgency to the need to press forward with tha development of computer systems, which are expected to provide increased flexibility and capacity to absorb significant changes in work loads. Apart from transitional stall required to support the conversion to computer systems there is a continuing need for changes in organisation structure and increases in Staff members. These are inevitable in a Scheme whose contributors have increased from 44,300 at 30th June 1964 to some 36,000 at 30th June 1968 and are expected to pass 84,000 within the next 12 months.
Over the same period, the growth in our financial transactions has been considerable, as indicated by the increase in the balance of the Fund from $54m at 30th June 1964 to $94,820,000 at 30th June 1968; the balance will exceed $100m during the next financial year. The Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund is rapidly taking a place among the large superannuation and investment institutions in Australia.
I understand also that the Treasury staff dealing with this Fund has been restricted to seven for some years and that this staff also looks after the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund and the Parliamentary Retirement Fund. There is no doubt that this staff should be substantially increased. It is difficult for me to comprehend why the Public Service Board has been so reluctant in the face of these requests to afford relief. Requests for additional staff have, I believe, been on the plate of the Public Service Board for some considerable time. However, I hope that at least the last 6 months of the 18 months since the report was first sent to the Treasurer have not been wasted and that a certain amount of preliminary work has been done on the calculations.
On a happier note, 1 wish to express appreciation to the Treasurer and to the Board for their willingness and co-operation in considering the various submissions from the Government Members Committee and the introduction of consequential amendments to the legislation. As a matter of record I point out that in June 1964 the Committee submitted requests covering 25 sections of the Acts. Amendments since that date, including those in the Bill, have covered 12 of the suggestions, 4 have been approved and await legislation, 7 are under consideration and only 2 have been rejected. lt was hoped that those awaiting legislation would have been dealt with in a Bill by this time, but again the pressures on the staff and the shortage of staff have caused them to be held over until the autumn session of next year.
One of the suggested amendments is of critical importance to those affected, it relates to section 53a (1.) of the principal Act which entitles the Board to suspend an invalidity pension where the pensioner engages in civilian employment at a salary in excess of two-thirds of the Service pay for his equivalent rank at the time of his discharge. This is considered to be a very harsh condition, destroying the incentive for promotion and dissipating general wage increases. For example, two-thirds of former service pay plus a pension could equal, say, $50 per week. If he receives a $2 increase in civilian pay, it could void his pension of, say, $15 a week, which would reduce his total income from $50 a week to $37 a week. It is only fair to say that a graduated phasing down rather than a complete cut off of pension in these circumstances is the only way to remove this anomaly. However, there is one bright spot in this and that is the suspension does not affect widows and childrens benefits.
Everyone, I think, would agree with the Treasurer when he said 1968 has indeed seen great progress in the DFRB scheme. In addition to the 24,000 service men and women who gained access to fund membership through earlier legislation this year, another 3,000 will come in under this Bill together with an undisclosed number of those aged between 18 and 20 who will receive increased benefits under this legislation. In mentioning the continuing appraisal of this scheme, the Treasurer, in his second reading speech said:
As I informed the House last May the Government has put in hand a general review of the contribution basis of pre-1959 entrants with a view particularly to ascertaining whether it would be practicable to convert the basis to a percentage of salary as in the case of post-1959 contributors.
There is no doubt that the marriage of these two types of contributors will overcome the major hurdle which is the bar to the effective operation of this scheme.
The Chairman of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Board in the recent annual report said:
One aspect of longer term significance is the Government’s decision to review the bases of contributions by pre-1959 entrants, with a view to rationalising complexities of the present arrangements; this is designed to achieve a simplification of the scheme and should also lead to some economies of administration.
Indeed, in my opinion, the actuarial valuation of the two different sections of the scheme and the disbursement of the surplus to the pre-1959 entrants will in itself bring such a rapprochement much nearer. After this happy state has been reached and the other outstanding matters have been attended to. I would very strongly urge the Government to effect a consolidation of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Acts so that this legislation, having been simplified, will then be much easier to comprehend.
I am sure that all honourable members will agree and join with me in thanking the Treasurer and his very hard worked staff together with the Board for their endeavours to improve the conditions of those men and women in the military forces who are doing such a grand job for this country and ils people. It is pleasing to know that this Bill has the complete support of the Opposition. 1 trust that it will have a very quick passage through this House and the other place and that payments to the contributors will not be held . up overly long. I hope that they will get some financial advantage without having to wait for 18 months or more. I commend the Bill to the House.
– I rise to congratulate in the first instance the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) on the great amount of time that he has put into the rectification of many disabilities that occurred as a result of the original Act. Over and above that, I desire on behalf of the Government members defence forces retirement benefits committee to express to the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Mr Stokes) our appreciation of his untiring services in regard to this very complex problem. For the past 5 years he has assiduously carried out his duties. He has a complete understanding of the difficulties that servicemen are enduring. But for his assistance - and I say this in respect of all members of the DFRB committee - we would not have been able to gain such an understanding of the difficulties and the anomalies that occur. I thank the honourable member for Maribyrnong for his untiring intelligent and unselfish dedication in endeavouring to do such a good job for the men who are doing such a wonderful job for Australia whether they may be on active service or serving their country well in Australia.
The year 1968 has seen great progress in the DFRB scheme. Through this Bill it has been possible to include in the Fund younger members of the forces who are serving. I am pleased to state that the scheme gives a much greater benefit to the men on active service than a scheme of insurance that 1 propounded and recommended to the Government through this committee. It is a very wonderful scheme and I am sure that the members of the forces will be pleased with the amendments now to be made. But there is still much to be done; there are still many anomalies to be ironed out. One anomaly concerns men who are within 12 months or 2 years of the end of their service. On one occasion - I think the honourable member for Maribyrnong will remember this - a servicemen was boarded out after he had served for over 19 years. This man did not attract a pension. I think this is wrong. In this case the serviceman’s medical condition may not have been brought about by his service. But I think that if we are to have a superannuation or a retirement benefits fund, such a fund will fail in its duty to the men who are serving unless it covers these cases. I again congratulate the Treasurer and his staff. They have given us many hours of their time. Also, I again thank the honourable member for Maribyrnong.
– I would like to say that the Australian Country Party is very pleased with the amendments and with this Bill generally. But my chief object in getting up is to congratulate, as did the last speaker, the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Mr Stokes). On many occasions I have listened to him in this House and his advocacy of an improvement in the benefits, which this Bill gives, has been most telling. He has been persistent in this advocacy. I see that the honourable member is smiling now and pleased that this has come about. I feel that when an honourable member is so persistent and successful in his advocacy of something that will give a benefit to certain people in the community, honourable members of this Parliament should say so. I say that with every good will and I wish the honourable member success in his future advocacy of measures that will be a help to us all.
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 Freeth) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 21 November (vide page 3147), on motion by Mr Bowen:
That the Bill bc now read a second time.
– This Bill makes two provisions. Firstly, it makes provision for matters concerning the admission and conduct of legal practitioners in the Territory which would come before a court to be determined by a full court, as they are in the case of the supreme courts in all the
States. Secondly, it makes provision for proceedings concerning companies which are in voluntary liquidation to be determined under the supervision of the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court. Previously it was only in cases in which the winding up was the result of a court order that such proceedings could come within the supervision of the Court.
The measure is aptly described as a machinery one. It fits in with the general rationalisation of the Federal judicial power which is the object also of the Commonwealth Superior Court Bill and the Judiciary Act committee. One would hope that, flowing from these various pieces of legislation, there will be set by the Commonwealth a modern standard in practice, procedure, pleading and evidence in all the courts which the Commonwealth establishes and all the State courts which it invests with Federal jurisdiction.
This Bill is a quite minor, noncontroversial one and the Opposition does not oppose it. There is only one matter which f would mention. It would appear that the rules of court which the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court can make may be disallowed only by notification by the Attorney-General in the Commonwealth Gazette’. My Party has not had the opportunity to consider this Bill. The section which deals with rules of court and their disallowance was inserted in the original legislation in 1933. In the intervening years members of Parliament have come to scrutinise more carefully the delegation of such powers. It may well be that my Party will take the attitude that delegated legislation made by judges should be susceptible to disallowance by the Parliament in the same way as delegated legislation made by the Government. We have become aware of the perils of issuing territory ordinances, gazette notices and ministerial directions which cannot be reviewed by the Parliament. We are loath to see any further matters of delegated legislation passing beyond the control or supervision of the Parliament. This is a case in which they are not passing beyond the supervision of the Parliament but are remaining beyond it. My Party may decide to act in this matter when the Bill reaches another place.
I point out that because the Bill was introduced last Thursday my Party has not had an opportunity to debate it. The arrangement which the Government and the Opposition make is that the debate on a Bill will not be resumed unless there has been an intervening Wednesday morning, when the Parties have their meetings. There has been no intervening Wednesday morning in this case and my Party has not been able to hold a meeting at which the Bill could be considered. However, since there is very little legislation on the notice paper, and much that is on it came in only last Thursday I have agreed to take this Bill now. I am assuming that there will be no substantial opposition to it. I must say, however, that I think my Party would want to scrutinise the fact that only the AttorneyGeneral can disallow a rule of court. My general impression is that it would be more wholesome if the Parliament itself were to have the same power to disallow delegated legislation, even if it were made by the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court, which it has in most other cases of delegated legislation, and which in most cases, 1 am certain, the Parliament these days would insist upon. With that qualification I say that the Opposition docs not oppose the Bill in this place.
18.47] - 1 have taken note of the points raised by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) in regard to the power of the Attorney-General to disallow rules of court. 1 am sure that the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen), if he were here at the moment, would wish to say a few words about this. I will ask him to have a careful look at it. 1 regret that he cannot be here, for reasons which are known to the Leader of the Opposition.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Freeth) read a third time.
– I move:
– I move:
On 26th September 1968 the House of Representatives passed a resolution approving the proposed distribution of the State of Queensland into electoral divisions. The House will recall that on that occasion the Opposition moved an amendment similar to the one I have moved tonight. On 10th October 1968 the Senate passed a resolution disapproving the proposed distribution of the State of Queensland into the eighteen electoral divisions proposed by the Commissioners. At the direction of the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) the three Commissioners met again to consider the matter and to submit a fresh redistribution. That redistribution is the one now before the Parliament.
The Opposition opposes the fresh redistribution on the same grounds as it opposed the last majority decision of the Commissioners. Apparently the Commissioners have completely ignored the principal arguments advanced not only by the Opposition but by other honourable members, including the honourable member for Bowman (Dr Gibbs), who made constructive criticisms of the last majority report. The only significant change which the Commissioners have made to boundaries in the fresh redistribution are with respect to the subdivision of Livingstone, which is an area close to Rockhampton. The subdivision has been split, resulting in a relatively large number of electors being taken from the electorate of Dawson and placed in the electorate of Capricornia. The Opposition has no objection to that, lt is in fact a constructive and sound approach. It is only a minor change.
The next change that has been made is with respect to the subdivision of Kilkivan. Here a small number of electors has been taken out of the electorate of Fisher and placed in the electorate of Wide Bay. These changes are minor in degree. It is clear that Commissioners Lane and Smith did not think that it was necessary to make any significant changes to the majority report which they had submitted to the Parliament earlier, lt is clear also that Mr Weise, who earlier submitted a minority report, also has not been prepared to budge in this fresh redistribution. He has maintained that there should be two major changes in the electorates of Kennedy and Maranoa so that the coastal electorates stretching from Fisher to Herbert would be balanced. Mr Weise maintains that there is a serious imbalance and he uses strong language in his dissenting report. Referring to Mr Weise, the report of the Commissioners reads:
He contends that it is completely wrong to increase the number of electors in the proposed Division of Kennedy to above the permissible minimum by the transfer of Eidsvold and Gayndah Subdivisions.
The Opposition agrees with Mr Weise regarding the transfer of Eidsvold and Gayndah subdivisions. We cannot accept the majority report that Eidsvold, Gayndah and Monto have a community of interest with the rest of Kennedy, particularly the areas around Mount lsa, which is the main centre of population and the administrative seat of the electorate. The honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter) is well aware that it is not only the Labor Party that has protested about this redistribution. People not committed in politics and the Country Party have protested about the inclusion of Monto in Kennedy. After all, Monto is fewer than 100 miles as the crow flies from Bundaberg. It is an area that has been closely associated with Bundaberg and Wide Bay or Capricornia ever since it was settled. The Monto, Eidsvold and
Gayndah areas comprise small farming, dairying and beef cattle properties quite distinct from the beef cattle or sheep properties in the majority of Kennedy. It is stretching the imagination to say that Monto, Eidsvold and Gayndah have a community of interest with Kennedy simply because beef cattle are run in all areas. You cannot say that the Kimberleys has a community of interest with Bairnsdale, in the Minister’s electorate, simply because both areas run cattle. But this is what the Commissioners have said. What is proposed in their report is not what the people of the area want. I have not heard anybody in Eidsvold, Monto or Gayndah suggest that the areas should be included in the vast electorate of Kennedy.
It is of no use the Commissioners saying that they cannot put forward an alternative proposal. Under the fresh redistribution Kennedy will have 41,609 electors, Dawson 47,021 and Maranoa 44,788. It is difficult to understand why Dawson could not have been decreased by extending it west to include Clermont, allowing Kennedy to be increased by taking part of the northern end of Dawson. On the other hand, Commissioners Lane and Smith could have adopted the proposals put forward by Mr Weise. This would have made Kennedy much bigger than it was before. It would have given it an area of something like 357,000 square miles - a significant increase.
I have maintained in this House before that if members representing remote electorates such as Kennedy, Leichhardt, Dawson, the Northern Territory and Kalgoorlie were given better travelling facilities and allowed to use charter aircraft instead of having to rely on motor cars or very infrequent air services, the disability of having to cover large areas would be significantly reduced. I can see no reason why members, particularly those representing the electorates of Maranoa and Kennedy, in western Queensland, and the electorate of Leichhardt, in north Queensland, cannot be allowed by this Government to use charter aircraft if they want to. Nobody wants to use such aircraft just for the fun of it. If members were allowed to make use of such a facility they would be able to service their electorates more efficiently. There is a strong case for the use of charter aircraft. As the Minister knows, in many cases the taxpayers’ money would be saved. We do not accept the proposition that because an electorate is increased in size it will therefore become unmanageable.
The other point is that when the redistribution for Queensland was being considered in the first place the two distribution commissioners who produced the original majority report worked on the assumption that as the total number of electorates would remain unaltered, it would follow that a major operation was not called for and that it should be possible, without drastic changes, to meet all legal requirements under the provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral Act. In other words, because there was to be no change in the number of electorates, the majority of the commissioners were of the opinion that there was no need for any drastic changes. This was not written into any of the instructions given to the commissioners by the Minister. The instructions were for a redistribution.
– I asked for a fresh redistribution.
– I am referring to both the first redistribution and the second redistribution. The commissioners were told to divide the State of Queensland into the best possible sub-divisions, making eighteen electorates containing numbers between specified maximum and minimum limits. But they worked on the assumption that they did not have to make any major changes. This approach is very questionable, as the dissentient commissioner, Mr Weise, pointed out. He maintained that there should be major changes in the electorates of Kennedy and Maranoa so that all the coastal electorates would have balance. In other words, he did not agree that there should be a wide difference, for example, between the number of electors in Dawson, with 47,000 voters, and Kennedy, with 41,000. Neither does the Opposition agree, particularly as constructive alternatives can be put forward. They all hinge on these electorates of Kennedy, Maranoa. Dawson and Wide Bay. The two commissioners who produced the majority report argued that they were not prepared to extend the electorate of Dawson further west because they wanted Dawson to be the major sugar producing electorate. There is nothing wrong with this. On the other hand, they were not very consistent, because their proposed boundaries also incorporate in the electorate the very large ditrict of Nebo, which is almost exclusively a beef cattle area.
– Beef cattle do not vote.
– The honourable member should tell his Australian Country Party friends that. There is no logical reason why the electorate of Dawson could not be extended further west from Clermont. Either the northern portion of the electorate of Dawson, which would be north of the Burdekin River, or a greater slice of the area near the junction of the electorates of Capricornia and Dawson could then be included in the electorate of Kennedy. There would be no need to extend the electorate of Dawson further south down into the south eastern corner of Queensland. After all a town as far south as Gayndah is not very far from Brisbane. What community of interest is there between that area and the electorate of Dawson? The right honourable member for Fisher (Mr Adermann) knows full well that to argue that there is a community of interest between Gayndah and Mount lsa. or Cloncurry and Windorah, or Boulia and the Channel Country is absurd. That is the crux of the whole problem. Mr Weise said that there was no need to extend the electorate of Dawson further south. He said that a substantial alteration to the electorates of Maranoa and Kennedy, although it might make the electorate of Kennedy larger, would achieve a better balance between all the electorates on the coast and satisfy the minimum quota for the electorates of Maranoa and Kennedy.
The Opposition opposes the fresh redistribution as proposed. The commissioners have made a constructive alteration in the sub-division of Livingstone. There was no justification for having that part of Livingstone that is only 3 or 4 miles from the Rockhampton General Post Office in the electorate of Dawson. Although the inclusion of this area in the electorate of Capricornia will not benefit the honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham), I am sure that he will agree that it is a constructive alteration. The fresh redistribution proposals strengthen the position of the Labor Party in my own electorate of Dawson. But this fact is not related to the principle involved in our opposition to the proposals. The majority commissioners have not put up any arguments that would cause us to alter our previous decision. Our objections are exactly the same as they were before. If we are to be consistent, we have no alternative but to oppose the fresh redistribution proposals and to ask that the Government send them back to the commissioners for reconsideration and submission of a redistribution that ensures a better community of interest, particularly between the areas of Gayndah, Monto and Eidsvold and the rest of the electorate to which they belong. These areas have a community of interest with Bundaberg and Maryborough, which are, the major centres by which they are most influenced, and they should be given a better deal than the proposed redistribution will give them. Alternatives which could readily be adopted would be better for the people in these areas.
– Older! The honourable member’s time has expired. Is the amendment seconded?
– 1 second the amendment and reserve my right to speak.
– I wish to support the amendment . moved by the Opposition. I agree with it, but to only a limited degree. I believe that the distribution commissioners have shown such a lack of competence in preparing the two majority reports and the two dissenting- reports that one could have no confidence in the outcome of referring the matter back to them. As I understand the Act no new commissioners can be asked to consider this matter. In view of the fact that the seats in Queensland have not become as disproportionate as have seats in other States, I take it that should the amendment be carried the matter will be left until a future occasion when more competent commissioners can be found.
The Act lays down criteria for a redistribution. The most important criterion in the Act is population, which is considered as manifested by voting strengths. Queensland had eighteen seats at the beginning of the year, and by dividing the total number of voters by eighteen an average of less than 51,000 voters was obtained for that
State. The Act allows a tolerance of about 20% above or below this figure. As I understand it, this tolerance has been invoked to take account of the difficulties experienced by members of Parliament in carrying out their duties in the large and sparsely populated country areas in contrast to the relatively greater ease of looking after a small, compact electorate of a few square miles. This provision may also be used to provide a limited tolerance where the number of voters within an electorate is increasing or decreasing more rapidly than the State average.
Other important considerations laid down in the Act are population trends, the significance of which is obvious from what I have just said; community of interest, natural boundaries and ease of communication within an electorate. Community of interest implies that people with similar interests will want to group with their fellows so that their expression of political opinion at election time is stronger, thus enhancing the likelihood of obtaining parliamentary representation of the group’s choice. Community of interest is concerned not only with economic levels though this is important, but also with occupation which is very important. We have heard something about this from the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson). For instance, in the capital city of Canberra employment in the Public Service is a very important community of interest. In other electorates wheat growing or employment at a meatworks is an important community of interest which is to be respected under the terms of the Act.
The natural boundaries consideration implies that where rivers or mountain ranges or other physical features interfere with physical communication between two areas the actual barrier to communication shall be taken into consideration for use as an electoral boundary. It must not be forgotten that in a city a very congested street can act as a barrier to communication and also can divide areas of community of interest. The Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) is laughing. He does not know much about the city areas.
– Traffic lights, a pedestrian crossing or something like that? There might not be a bridge for 100 miles.
– This argument is not vital to the point I am making. I am taking an academic view of this and am trying to establish the meaning of the Act. A very heavily congested street does act as a natural boundary to community of interest, and if the Minister will take the trouble to go into a busy city some time he will observe that this is the position.
It is clear that the intention of the Act is, firstly, to have electoral divisions which contain a given voting population. These divisions are to be as homogeneous as possible. Moreover, because of the population trend requirements of the Act a bounary is to be so drawn that the population shall alter pari passu with the population of the State as a whole. The provision is there to prevent electorates from achieving that wide disparity of voting strength which appeared under the old redistribution where electorates of 30,000 voters rubbed noses with those of 100,000 voters. I am quite certain that this is the intention of the Act. I am equally certain that this crucial alteration of the Act has been completely ignored or, shall we say, has been misunderstood or not comprehended. I believe that it has not been comprehended by these redistribution commissioners. Indeed, it is my opinion that none of the requirements of the Act has been properly fulfilled under this redistribution.
I could cite many instances where community of interest has been breached and certainly where ease of communication has been ignored. A clear example of this is in the dissenting report presented by the Commonwealth Electoral Officer, Mr Weise. It demonstrates, particularly in relation to the present seats of Kennedy and Maranoa, that he has no knowledge of the duties of a member of Parliament, and that his views on redistribution are completely divorced from reality. He suggested bringing into being an electorate three times the size of the British Isles which would extend lengthwise from Queensland’s southern boundary, up around Poeppel Corner and almost to the Gulf of Carpentaria. But in all instances communication begins out of the electorate and extends transversely. There is a tremendous diversity of interests in this area. A member of Parliament who endeavoured to look after such a seat would be so hard put that he would not be able to do it effectively.
I was quite stunned to learn that a person who has been a chief electoral officer for all these years could bring into being such a fantasy - something which is completely divorced from reality. I was absolutely shocked when I saw his report; 1 could hardly believe my eyes. I believe he has ignored the other provisions of the Act.
The honourable member for Dawson dealt with other aspects of the Act. I shall devote more attention to the population of electorates and population trends, because they are more easily demonstrated. The other aspects are more qualitative. Something which is quantitative can be more clearly demonstrated. It can be clearly shown that the Act has been ignored. I shall concentrate more on the area surrounding my own electorate. I have had an opportunity of studying this area very closely; I know it very well indeed. I was a member of a committee charged with the task of considering these problems; so 1 am fairly familiar with the State as a whole. But, as I have a very close knowledge of the areas surrounding my own electorate, I shall concentrate on them. 1 have a graph which I have prepared and which shows the population trends of the State of Queensland and of two adjoining seats, the seat of Griffith and my own seat of Bowman. When the boundaries were delineated the numbers in both seats were within the required tolerance. But I have already demonstrated that this is not enough. The population trends must be pari passu with those of the State. If the State’s population is increasing and if the provisions of the Act are taken into consideration, the voting population of the electoral division should rise where practicable. In some cities in the far west this is not always possible, but where it is possible it should be followed. It is possible in the case I am quoting but it has not been followed.
– ls the honourable member taking the pill into consideration?
– I could talk about that. That is another consideration. But it may interest the honourable member for Mitchell to know that the Australian birth rate is increasing and not decreasing.
Mr Deputy Speaker, population trends must be taken into account so that those numbers in the various electorates should remain in proportion to one another and to the population of the State as well. The last redistribution took place 13 years ago. It certainly will be some time before the next redistribution, following .the redistribution now under discussion, takes place. I was shocked, when this matter was before the House earlier this session, that I was unable to incorporate in Hansard the graph that I produced then and which I produce now. The plain fact is that this Parliament has not. the facilities to reproduce graphs and photographs. I was utterly amazed at this fact. This deficiency must affect adversely the standard of Hansard. It is obvious that; if studies on some subjects are to be made in depth, graphs and other forms of illustration must be required. I deplore such a deficiency because it must affect adversely not only the standard of- Hansard but also the standard of debate in this House. However, 1 shall endeavour to- describe this graph.
I have taken the sub-divisions which make up the electorates of Griffith and Bowman. These- are adjoining electoral divisions. I have put them together in the same way as have the distribution commissioners. Then I have considered the average voting population for the State. I have taken the years 1958 to 1968. i have . projected, in an extremely conservative- fashion, into the future up until a little after 1975 - because that was as far as my graph paper went. In this graph we see that in 1958 the seat of Griffith had a voting population of approximately 60,300. By 1968, this voting population had fallen to 58,600.
There is another factor that I must mention here. This is that a plan for re-routing traffic in Brisbane, known . as the Wilbur Smith Plan, has been developed. This plan is being implemented at present, My estimate is that when it is implemented fully more than 1,200 voters will be removed from the electorate of Griffith. Some have gone already. When I checked up on the figures a couple of months ago I found that about 300 or more voters had gone already. I estimate, taking a conservative figure, that within a very short space of time - a year or so - 1,000 voters will have gone from this electorate. Again, this fact has been ignored by the Commissioners. So, from all practical points of view, from 1958 to 1968 the number of electors in Griffith instead of going down by 1,700 only, as it is expected now, in the very near future will have gone down more than another 1,000. This means that, conservatively, the number of voters in the electorate of Griffith will have decreased by 2.700.
But in this time between 1958 and 1968 the presently suggested scat of Bowman has increased its numbers from 36.800 to 54.100. This is fact. This means that in the decade in which the electorate of Griffith has lost 1.700 voters - soon to be 2,700 voters - the electorate of Bowman has increased bv 17,300 electors. 1 turn now to the State average. In 1958 the State average was approximately 43,500. In the succeeding 10 years, it has risen to 50,600, an increase of 7,100. I will summarise my conclusions from the graph. What I have just quoted means that in 10 years the number of electors in the electorate of Griffith has dropped by 1,700 and will drop by a further 1,000 shortly. The number of voters in the electorate of Bowman has increased by 17,300. The State average has risen by 7.100. This means that if we take the number o! electors in the electorate of Bowman a; a much lower figure - it began at less than 37,000, whereas the State average began at 43.500 - we find that the rate of grow th of the electorate of Bowman is more than three times the rate of growth for the State of Queensland as a whole. My arithmetic will not cope with these figures on the spur of the moment but the figures show that the rate of growth in Bowman is infinitely out of proportion with the growth rates in other electorates. The electorate of Griffith in fact is falling in numbers.
If I had been able to incorporate my graph in Hansard, you would have seen, Mr Deputy Speaker, that my extrapolations are conservative. Where a rise is taking place in Bowman, I have made it taper off so that it rises less than the average. Where a fall is occurring, I have made the figures fall less rapidly than normal. In the case of the State of Queensland, I have tried to project the numbers with as much normality as I can. We find that, on my estimation, if Bowman begins with a little over 54.000 electors at the moment, by 1969 - that is next year - I shall have more voters within my electorate, the area of which is nearly 350 square m lIes, than are in the electorate of Griffith, which is the adjoining electorate the area of which is a very few square miles. Moreover, my seat already has attained more than the State average of voters. X will be completely out to infinity with reference to the State average very soon. My graph goes up to 61,000. The average of 61,000 in my graph paper occurs in 1971. By the same token, the number of voters in Griffith will fall below the Stale average in 1974. These figures show that in fact the distribution commissioners have not taken into consideration these factors which are most important and most crucial to this matter.
I see that 1 have only a couple of minutes more. 1 am unable to develop this or other themes any more fully. But I would like to say that I believe that the commissioners have neglected their duties in other aspects. The honourable member for Dawson has mentioned that the commissioners without any justification assume that there will not be any great changes made within the framework of the State. Well, they are completely wrong here. 1 believe that they have neglected their duty within the electorate of Bowman. Again I refer to this electoral division because 1 am acquainted intimately with this seat and the projected new seat. There is a subdivision on the very edge of Brisbane known as Mount Gravatt. I shall be very happy to represent this area. I know something of it already. I feel that 1 will have some affinity with the people in this area. But this area is one subdivision on the edge of a big seat. Its area is between 35 square miles and 40 square miles. It contains over 19,000 vo’.crs. This figure will soon be 20.000 voters.
This area is made up of a number of different centres which are completely disparate areas. In one section there is the working class suburb of Carina. Beyond Carina is an area of forests, reserves and parks. Then there is the urban area of Mount Gravatt itself. On the edge of this area, which is an average area, there are peripheral urban areas and development of fairly expensive nature. Then again, there is a vast tract of forest and somewhere on the periphery, without any relationship to the rest of the subdivision whatever, is the area called Capalaba. So, there we have at least five separate entities in one subdivision. We have a working class area which is an average area. We have a rural area, a forest area and a high standard peripheral urban development. This proposal is an absurdity. It will not stand up. I see that my time has expired.I cannot develop my argument. ButI certainly will support the amendment.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Once again we are discussing the proposed redistribution proposals for the State of Queensland. This arises from the rejection by the other place of the previous report by the distribution commissioners. The commissioners have furnished a fresh report, whose recommendations are almost identical with those contained in the previous report, with two slight alterations. The commissioners recommend increasing the number of electors in the electorate of Capricornia by 1,185 and in the electorate of Wide Bay by 873. The additional electors in Wide Bay are to be taken from the subdivision of Kilkivan which is now in Fisher. As the honourable member for Bowman (Dr Gibbs) pointed out, the Commissioners took a lot on themselves when they said, as regards the number of electoral divisions in Queensland:
The total remains at eighteen. Consequently it seemed to the majority of your Commissioners that a major operation was not indicated and furthermore, that it should be possible to meet all legal requirements under the provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918-1966 without substantially changing the existing arrangement of Divisions.
One of the reasons, I believe, why the Commissioners adopted such an attitude was that they knew that electoral boundaries not only for Queensland but also for the rest of Australia were to be prepared. I do not think that the honourable member for Bowman will disagree with me when I say that a redistribution was necessary in Queensland, but why was it decided that it was not necessary to look at all the electoral divisions throughout the State? The Commissioners were required to bring down their report as soon as possible after the August sessional period of Parliament.
When they were asked to make their report they were besieged by rumours that a Federal election would be held towards the end of this year. When they made changes in the electoral divisions they did so in the simplest way so that the rolls would remain intact. Where possible, alterations were made by shifting existing subdivisions so that the rolls remained intact. In very few instances did the Commissioners alter subdivisions or divide subdivisions. I think that the main reason they did this was that they always had in the back of their minds the possibility of an early election and the necessity to have the rolls prepared quickly. For this reason the Commissioners did not make any increase in the number of electorates in Queensland. They used the same number of electoral divisions when arranging electoral boundaries.
I am pleased to second the amendment moved by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson), which reads:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: the House disapproves of the fresh redistribution of the State of Queensland into Electoral Divisions as proposed by the Distribution Commissioners for the reasons stated in the dissent expressed by the Chairman of the Commissioners, Mr I. F. Weise, Commonwealth Electoral Officer for Queensland, and requests the Minister to refer back to the Commissioners the redistribution of the State of Queensland into Electoral Divisions for a further distribution’.
It is quite apparent to me, and I think also to the honourable member for Bowman, that the Commissioners took very little notice of the opinions expressed not only by members of the Opposition but also by Government supporters when this matter was debated previously. They also took very little notice of the original objections to the proposals. The democratic way in which the redistribution was supposed to be carried out was that submissions were first received by the Commissioners and then objections were received within 30 days after the maps of the proposed redistribution were displayed. The Commissioners took no more notice of the objections which were made by the people than they took of the objections which were made by members of this House and of the Senate which carried, by a majority, the following amendment:
Leave out all words after ‘Distribution Commissioners’, insert ‘for the following reasons:
a major dissent was presented by the Chairman of the Commissioners Mr I. F. Weise, Commonwealth Electoral Officer for Queensland
the rejection of the proposed redistribution by the Senate empowers the Minister to refer the proposal back to the Commissioners for reconsideration
the Senate is of the opinion that the proposal should bc reconsidered by the Commissioners, with a view if possible to arrival al a unanimous decision
the Senate is of the opinion that the Minister should when empowered by the decision of the Senate so refer the proposal back to the commissioners and so requests him.’
I repeat, it is apparent that the commissioners took no more notice of the objections which were received from the people than it look of the attitude expressed by this Parliament. Subsequently the possibility of an early Federal election passed and the commissioners moved to have a second look at the redistribution proposals for Queensland. It has been suggested that the commissioners have adopted the attitude that if they did not make major changes in the fresh redistribution they would justify their previous stand. I do not agree with that view. The commissioners are qualified men. 1 believe that the Chairman, Mr Weise, is one of the most highly qualified men on electoral matters. He is also Commonwealth Electoral Officer for Queensland.
I find myself in agreement with the proposal made by Mr Weise. The honourable member for Bowman said that his electorate covers a large area of the State. I cover a large area. Last weekend I travelled 260 miles between 10 a.m. on Saturday and 1.30 on Sunday morning. I had to stop at a few major centres along the way. The honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter) is trying to interject. When he goes through cattle stations he has to open a gate or he has to travel over a grid. He could travel for miles and for hours in his electorate and he would not see a single person. Area does not mean a thing. The majority of the commissioners acknowledged that the inclusion of the subdivisions of Gayndah and Eidsvold in the division of Kennedy did not mean that the subdivisions did not have a community of interest with Wide Bay. They agreed that these areas have a community of interest with Wide Bay. They also agreed that the subdivision of Eidsvold, in the northern part anyhow, had some affinity with Capricornia. Nevertheless, the two subdivisions of Eidsvold and Gayndah have been placed in the division of Kennedy.
The Chairman of the commissioners, Mr Weise, contends that it is completely wrong to increase the number of electors in Kennedy above the permissible minimum by the transfer of Eidsvold and Gayndah subdivisions. There is reason why these two subdivisions should be included in the electorate of Kennedy. The people in these areas, irrespective of their political affiliations, agree that they have an affinity with Wide Bay and with the cities of Bundaberg and Maryborough, the main places in the electorate of Wide Bay. The boundary of Kennedy will extend to a point across the mountain range, some 8.0 miles from Maryborough. As the honourable member for Dawson pointed out, Kennedy will be closer to. Brisbane than it. is to Mount Isa or Cloncurry. I have promised the Government Whip that 1 will not take a lot of time, to deal with this matter, and because an honourable member opposite wishes to support me in .what I have said 1 will gladly make way for him. I support the amendment for the reasons that were given previously in this chamber and in the Senate when it referred this matter back to the distribution commissioners. I will be interested lo note whether members of another place who raised objections previously and who voted to refer this matter back to the distribution commissioners will stand by their convictions and again reject the commissioners’ proposals.
I can see no reason why the matter should not be referred back to the commissioners, ft has been said that they have had two goes at it, that this is their final decision and that if it is rejected a redistribution will have to wait until some future date. 1 do not know whether that is so. I shall be pleased if the Minister can indicate whether this is true and whether the commissioners cannot have the matter referred back to them again. Are they to be denied another look at this redistribution? On behalf of those people living in the subdivisions of Gayndah and Eidsvold who object to being included in the electorate of Kennedy, because they have been so well represented in the past, and for the reasons I have outlined I support the amendment.
– It is perfectly true that nothing finds the nerves of a politician so sensitive as a prospective election or redistribution of electorates, and certainly the second aspect has played a part in tonight’s debate. It. is my intention to speak for only one or two moments on this matter. In the first place one has to look at the amendment which has been proposed by the Opposition. Rather unkindly, one must suggest that it is as fatuous as the amendment which the Opposition proposed to a similar matter a couple of months ago. The honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson), who led for the Opposition, based the amendment on the fact that many areas of communication which were decided upon by the commissioners did not fit his own proposals. Areas of communication are so delicate to judge and so infinitely difficult to decide that to say, when there are 200 or 300 changes in a State: ‘Look, 1 disagree with three or four of these, therefore I will throw the whole redistribution out’ is a very invalid type of argument which displays a complete lack of logic.
The second reason why the amendment is improper and rather fatuous is that a redistribution has to be thrown back or thrown out because of the overall pattern which it reflects with respect to a State. To say that we reject a redistribution because a number of electorates do not fit our pattern does nol accord with the principle that a State ought to be considered in the totality of all the electorates within it and not with respect to a few. Those few are those that have been criticised merely because areas of communication do not fit in with prior judgments and judgments that happen to suit or to fit ends which may or may not be political. I leave this aspect there.
On the last occasion when this matter was discussed 1 had some quite vigorous disagreements with the commissioners. I still have some vigorous disagreements with them, but we are left with the situation that if this proposal is rejected we are thrown back to the present situation which is infinitely worse than that which is proposed. I sympathise with the honourable member for Bowman (Dr Gibbs), but I. repeat that we would be thrown back into a situation which does not compare with the one that is proposed by this redistribution. So it is my intention to support the redistribution but at the same time to express one or two grave doubts. The doubts that I have concern two factors. They concern the way in which the commissioners have judged the principle of trends in population. Never before in Australia’s electoral’ history have population trends been so important. There is a higher rate of increase in population than before, with greater differentials in the rates of increase in population than ever before. They are not to be ignored. For that reason provision for them was incorporated in the 1965 Act. But the commissioners have applied the principle very differently in the case of non-rural electorates to the way iti which they have applied it with respect to certain rural electorates. For that reason I express grave doubts about the redistribution. 1 might illustrate this doubt by reference to one example. I refer, to a seat which has been mentioned - the electorate of Kennedy. Because it is the largest seat Kennedy becomes an example par- excellence; nevertheless it has to be used. At present Kennedy is about 18% below the quota. Within a year or 18 months it will1 be more than 20% below the quota. But the Act makes it perfectly clear that the limit is to be 20% above or below the quota and any redistribution which would allow- a seat to go beyond the limits within a year after the redistribution does not reflect the trends of population uniformly. There are other seats in which this applies to a lesser degree. These are matters of detail. They apply to some seats. But, of course, I come back to the original argument which is that the current proposal is certainly better than the present situation. For the reasons I have stated, and as a matter of choosing not the best but certainly something which is not as bad as that which exists now, I intend to support the redistribution.
– The commissioners in conscience could not justify the former boundaries of the Federal division of Dawson which completely surrounded the electorate of Capricornia in what has been called the Dawson Doughnut’ - deliberately designed to keep it safe for the former Country Party occupant of the seat. It was accepted as being a blue ribbon Country Party seat until the present holder of the seat won it at a recent by-election. The reason for this tantalising, tortuous, torula shape has thus evaporated. The Country Party reacted violently to this stinging defeat when the new boundaries were under consideration. It decided to push the coastal electorates into new patterns. It proposed to the commissioners that Rockhampton should be split into two parts, giving the northern part to Dawson, and it forced another unnatural division in the Bundaberg district so that Capricornia fell, as it were, between the two stools of Rockhampton and Bundaberg.
The majority of the commissioners have agreed to this impractical proposal, which means that much of the Rockhampton district is in Dawson and much of the Bundaberg district is in Capricornia or Kennedy. The senior commissioner, Mr Weise, rightly dissented from this division, which is contrary to the terms of reference. It ignores community of interest in that Mackay, Rockhampton and Wide Bay districts are three natural subdivisions with their separate television, radio, newspapers, base hospitals, industries and ports. When the Parliament referred the matter back to the commissioners they made a trivial adjustment to restore a better balance of numbers in the electorates. But still they have left unaltered the absurd situation that the member for Dawson is to be expected to administer the seaside resort of Rockhampton, which he has to reach by travelling through the main administrative municipality of the Capricornia division, while the Capricornia representative is bound to a northern segment of the Bundaberg sugar growing area, which is quite foreign to the rest of his electorate.
I have received and passed on to the commissioners strong objections from shire councillors and others to this needless, unjust and quite unarguable interference with the terms of the commission. All credit is due to Mr Weise for his reasoned and consistent stand, which has been ignored, unanswered and overridden by the pure weight of numbers, with a benighted, obstinate, insensitive and, in my view, confused couple of men who should never again be burdened with this task forming a majority of one. They so completely lacked a practical approach or they were in so great a hurry as a result of rumours of an election that the result is worthy of some of the bureaucrats portrayed in ‘Alice in Wonderland’. I commend the general improvement in the electorate of Dawson, but I oppose the mutilation inflicted on Capricornia and Wide Bay in consequence. The minimal improvement in the second attempt of the Commissioners is welcomed, as far as it goes, in the Rockhampton district
I briefly refer to the points raised by the honourable member for Bowman, who said in effect that he was flabbergasted at the huge area of Kennedy. I point out to him that there are still other electorates in Australia that are larger but where the community of interest is the overriding consideration. The honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns) alleged that in throwing out the proposals as a whole we were being unrealistic, that we were, as it were, throwing out the baby with the bath water. I submit to him that there is no other way of drawing attention to the proposals of Mr Weise who, after all, has dissented only in regard to a small group of electorates which we on this side of the House have particularly mentioned. 1 support the amendment.
Mr KATTER (Kennedy) [9.521-1 do not propose to deal with the academic aspects of the redistribution. I propose to look at the more fundamental elements. At least one fundamental aspect is this: Do we intend to take the strict, undiluted, quintessence of community of interest as against the much more basic principle of effective representation of rural areas? The die is cast and the choice is perfectly clear. I have heard honourable members here tonight state their attitude in no uncertain manner. They have accepted the academic approach of community of interest, with which I will deal in a moment, as against the effective representation of people who are scattered over vast areas. Someone said that area does not mean anything. This is one of the comments we have heard. Someone else said that Gayndah is not far from Brisbane. I say that the southern boundary of the proposed Weise redistribution is not very far from Sydney.
Community of interest is a shallow, unconvincing argument. No-one can convince me that in an area such as Kennedy there could be a strict community of interest. That is hypocrisy and an abandonment of the principles of decentralisation and the interests of the people in the area. We would be very hard pressed to find community of interest among the varying parts of the existing electorate of Kennedy. No representative of an area such as Kennedy or Kalgoorlie could find community of interest there. An honourable member said a few minutes ago that there is complete community of interest in Kalgoorlie. What utter rot.
– The people are all interested in me.
– Yes, no doubt. Let us get down to community of interest. What do we have in the Monto-Gayndah area? lt is an agricultural area, a farming area, and precisely the same area emerges in the central highlands, even though the orange trees may be a little different from the cotton crops. There we have an agricultural community of interest. But would anyone suggest that the community of interest in the central highlands is the same as the community of interest in the north-west of Queensland? It would be the height of hypocrisy to do so. I am sure that the people who voiced these arguments tonight do not believe them for one moment. I was distressed tonight to hear the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson), the alleged voice of the north and the champion of northern development, abandon his principles. He was more concerned with paying lip service to community of interest than wilh the effective, intense representation of the people in these far flung areas.
It was said tonight that a great voice of protest came from places such as Gayndah and from supporters of the Australian Country Party. The voice of protest came from all over Queensland. The voice of protest came from Burketown. The people there did nol want to leave Kennedy. Bowen was highly organised to remain in Kennedy. Biloela wanted to come into Kennedy and out of Capricornia. What is the use of talking about the voice of protest? In my opinion this redistribution was a monstrous insult and a complete abrogation of the rights of the people in my electorate and in the electorate of Maranoa. If honourable members want to know about protests, the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett) will be able to speak about the protests that came as one combined voice from the people in the western part of Maranoa. Many supporters of the Australian Country Party protested most vehemently about coming into the electorate of Kennedy. This is a monstrous insult, and in saying that 1 do not care about Mr Weise’s standing in the community. It is a monstrous insult to those who are trying to give effective representation to the people in the great electorate of Kennedy and in the western parts of the electorate of Maranoa.
If we have any common sense and any genuine feeling for the nation, we will not accept this insult. What is the nation? The nation consists of the people who live in it. No-one will ever convince me that any one human being can represent an area of 375,000 square miles without diluting that representation to the point at which it becomes completely ineffective. For a moment I will deal with the importance of close representation of people in the far flung areas of Australia. It is much more important to keep close to these people and to be with them as much as possible than it is to be near the people in urban areas.
– Why are you in Brisbane?
– That is a monstrous lie. Opposition members are preparing their campaign for the man who is coming from Sydney to try to convince the people in my electorate that Labor is interested in that area. In large electorates such as Kennedy it is most important for the representative to travel. In my first year as the member for Kennedy I covered 250.000 miles and I will have travelled perhaps more than that distance during this year. I have remained in my electorate all of the time and I have remained as close to my people as possible. Residents in these large electorates do not have the opportunities that people in urban areas have to go to Government departments when they need information. They do not have the advantages that people in closely settled areas have. They bring their problems to their member, whether he is a State or Federal member, and they are not always the problems that are normally dealt with by a member of the Parliament. Hence it is terribly important for a member in any rural area to keep close to his people.
In an electorate with an area of 375,000 square miles how can the member effectively represent the people? Again I say that this redistribution is a monstrous insult flung at the people. If honourable members want to hear protests, they should travel through these areas. They will learn that the people residing there were appalled at the redistribution. They felt that if it were put into effect they would be thrown to the wolves. It seemed to them that there would be a long line of densely populated electorates along the coast and they would be left in a deserted part of the nation where they would be forgotten. Those are the feelings of the people in this area. Opposition members would be surprised if they were to move through those areas and hear the views that the people there have about them and the principles for which they stand. What a far cry it is now from the days of George Devries, Andrew Fisher and the genuine Labor men who were concerned with the underprivileged and not with the privileged who live in the urban areas. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) now talks about sewerage in urban areas. He devoted 90% of an important speech to these urban subjects. The people in the outback areas will take an awful lot of convincing that this is the most important subject to discuss. I feel sorry for the honourable members for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard) and Leichhardt (Mr Fulton), who are doing a pretty good job. I do not know how they will explain this new attitude of the Australian Labor Party. These people in the outback areas have been thrown to the wolves. My remarks have been directed to the principles involved in this issue. I would say that no member of Parliament-
– One vote one value.
– That is Labor’s cry and that will cause Labor’s downfall in areas such as Kennedy. At any rate, as I say, no decent self respecting parliament on earth could even give the slightest consideration, if it is genuine, to such a monstrosity of an electorate as the new electorate of Kennedy suggested in the minority report.
– It is a long time since this Parliament has heard more humbug. Honourable members can shout as long as they like but 1 will shout them down. The honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter) said that he travels 350,000 miles a year, which is nearly 1,000 miles a day. What utter rubbish. How can he possibly travel so far in the time? How many miles is he going to do tomorrow and the day after? Did anyone ever hear such cant and rubbish? The facts are, of course, that you are gerrymandering the electorates and rigging the ballots so. that you can keep your seat in this place. By- any standard of representation the honourable member is only two-thirds of a member. He represents 40,000 people; I represent some 58,000 people and every one of those people is more important than the hundreds of thousands of square miles of open space that the honourable member represents. He goes against every principle that democratic parliamentary representation stands for. That is why 1 stand up here tonight and speak in this way.
The simple facts are these: If the nine largest electorates in Queensland all vote one way they need about 80,000 more votes than the nine smaller electorates to win. The honourable members calls that democracy. In every other system it is called ballot-rigging. Here it has’ been sanctified by an Act of Parliament passed at the behest of members of the Country Party. They changed the principles upon which this Parliament has been operating since 1900. It is a dark and deep disgrace. I am not surprised that the honourable member for Kennedy brings me a glass of water. He is the complete parliamentary washout.
-Order! The House will come to order. The honourable member for Wills will address the Chair.
– The honourable member ought to know all about politics - he was in every political party until he found one where he could find his spiritual home and that was in the party of ballot rigging, gerrymander, flogging, hanging and plural voting which is a disgrace to Australian parliamentary democracy.
– I rise to support the motion proposed by the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) and to oppose the amendment moved by the honourable member -for Dawson (Dr Patterson). I do not intend to cover all the areas in Queensland. I will confine my remarks largely to those areas that were most seriously affected by the minority report which has been brought back to this Parliament again. Any division should be based on community of interest. With regard to those divisions that are in the inland areas of Queensland, a community of interest is based on communication and marketing opportunities. Those factors play a very large part in community of interests. But the proposal that is supported by the Australian Labor Party on this occasion completely ignores the fact that those factors are vital parts in community of interest.
In regard to inland divisions, I believe that the ideal distribution would be for a division to be confined to each of the areas served by the southern, central and northern railway systems, but because of lack of population it is just not possible to have that. So the next best thing is what the distribution commissioners have done. They have based one electorate - Maranoa - which it is my privilege to serve, on the inland areas served by the southern railway system. Also they have based another electorate - the division of Kennedy - represented by my colleague who has spoken in this debate on an area which is served by the central and northern railway systems.
One point that amazes me in regard to the support given by the Labor Party to this minority submission is that the Labor Party has continually claimed that each electorate should have an equal number of voters. Yet members of the Labor Party support a proposal which has a greater disparity of voters than the report of the distribution commissioners. So, as was said by way of interjection just now, members of the Labor Party support the principle of one vote one value. Yet, when it happens to suit their purpose for any particular reason they are quite ready to depart from this principle without any consideration at all. So there is nothing consistent about the Labor Party except its inconsistency.
The support of the amendment by the Labor Party is in line with the recognised lack of interest that it has always shown in the welfare of rural areas and its preoccupation with trying to reduce the voices in this Parliament of those of us who are vitally concerned with the welfare of those areas. We can see the evidence of this preoccupation pretty well in this debate - it is very clear. The Labor Party completely ignores the right of electors to be able to discuss their problems with their elected representatives.
The honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) said that area does not matter. The honourable member for Wide Bay (Mr Hansen) also said this. The fact is that a member who represents a large area has greater difficulty in getting to the people enrolled in that electorate. This is well recognised in areas where the population density is much greater than it is in Australia. Yet we hear this contant cry of ona vote one value. Despite this, members of the Labor Party drop that principle or theory immediately they can see some reasonable benefit by changing it.
I would like to mention the disparity between the largest proposed division and the smallest proposed division under Mr Weise’s proposal. I say that Mr Weise was entitled to present his view if this is what he felt. Indeed, if this is what he felt, he had a duty to do so. But the Labor Party has no right whatever to support the proposal put forward by Mr Weise after all it has had to say about the principle of one vote one value. The proposal not only brings an area of 350,000 square miles into one electorate but also creates a greater disparity of voters than the proposal presented to this Parliament by the distribution commissioners. I say that it does the Labor Party no credit to take this line of action.
Another fact that I believe is worth noting is that the Labor Party in order to defeat this proposal used the Senate. Although the Labor Party has said that the Senate should be abolished, it used the Senate to defeat this proposal which had been passed by a very substantial vote in this House. Once again the Opposition is not consistent. But I need not give any more examples. It was only on the decision of the Minister of the Interior that Queensland has not been left with the existing electorates which have a tremendous disparity of voters at present. The Labor Party did not know that the Minister would send the proposals back to the distribution commissioners. It is prepared to let Queensland be the one State in the Commonwealth that will have no redistribution at all, because it does not know whether he is willing to send them back again. The Labor Party apparently is satisfied-
– No, you misrepresent it.
– The honourable member has had his say. The Labor Party does not know whether the proposals will be sent back to the commissioners or not. This is in the hands of the Minister if they happen to be defeated. The Minister concerned is a very good Minister. The fact that he is a Country Party Minister makes him much better than he otherwise might have been. The fact is that this matter is still in his hands. But the Labor Party is prepared to take the risk that Queensland will get no redistribution at all. This matter taas been back to the commissioners once. What is the sense of sending it back to them again? It has been returned to this House with very slight alterations. The Minister would be quite justified in not sending the redistribution proposals back to the commissioners if it so happened that the Parliament did not accept the alterations.
I would just like to make some comments on the subject of community of interest, which has been hammered pretty well in the course of this debate. I am very proud of the interest that has been shown by the members of local authorities in my division of Maranoa. They took a very keen interest in the redistribution. About 75% of all the local authorities in the area that expressed an opinion, to the best of my knowledge - and I would say that this is pretty accurate - agreed that they did not want the boundaries of the Maranoa division altered any more than was necessary to produce the numbers of electors required by law. There was complete agreement on this amongst 75% of those who expressed an opinion, and the opinion itself was pretty widely expressed by the local authorities.
Let me remind the Labor Party that it is in the local authorities that we do find the principle of one vote one value followed. The people in local authorities are the representatives of those who live in the area. They have expressed their opinion in a very democratic way. Yet the Chairman of the distribution commissioners ignored this completely and ignored the importance of lines of communications which are vital to the development and progress of these areas. The people in the southern part of Queensland rely for their lines of communication on the western railway and the east-west roads that run through the area. It is interesting that the existing boundary between Maranoa and Kennedy, which has been accepted by the other two commissioners and rejected by Mr Weise, whose proposal is supported by the Labor Party, follows very closely the lines of shire boundaries. Many of these shire boundaries cut across the railway line running from Brisbane to Charleville, and then south to Cunnamulla and west to Quilpie. This indicates pretty clearly where the community of interest lies. I do not think this timehonoured line of demarcation has been questioned previously. There has been no change in the set-up of these electorates which would justify the Labor Party’s proposal.
As the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter) has said, to service an electorate of the size proposed by the Labor Party would be impossible. Yet the Labor Party is prepared to sacrifice the people of western Queensland and deny them effective representation simply to achieve some kind of uniformity with other electorates. Do Opposition members not think the west of Queensland is worthy of any consideration at all? It is easy for the honourable member for Wills, who represents one of the smallest electorates in Victoria, to talk about this subject. He would not know anything about it at all.
– The smallest electorate in Victoria.
– Well, the smallest. That makes it even worse. There is no community of interest, as the right honourable member for Fisher (Mr Adermann) has said, between the Darling Downs and the Burnett area, where Mr Weise produced his second brain child for the electorate of Moonie. I have just one or two comments on what the distribution commissioners have said in that regard. On page 3 of the report by the commissioners we find these comments:
The majority of your. Distribution Commissioners do not favour this second alternative for the following reasons:
The Division of Maranoa has existed for many years and is centred around Roma and the surrounding south-western areas where it has enjoyed a common community of interest and lines of communication. The alternative mentioned would destroy the Maranoa concept and the heart of what is now Maranoa would be transferred to the proposed Division of Kennedy.
This would make it an impossible electorate to handle. There is no excuse and no reason for this proposal1. The report goes on:
This, I may say, incidentally, was the Labor Party’s proposal - thus providing for a western Queensland Division, with a community of western interests. On the other hand another comment submitted was that these same Subdivisions should be permitted to remain in the Division of Maranoa. At the present stage of Queensland development the majority of your Commissioners can see no justification for such fundamental changes to the proposed Divisions of Kennedy and Maranoa.
This is the basis of our disagreement with the Labor Party. It claims that there is a reason, but it has not advanced any reason for these fundamental changes. I have very much pleasure, therefore, ‘ in supporting the motion and opposing the amendment.
– Most of the arguments advanced tonight were advanced in the earlier debate on the proposed redistribution for Queensland. I confess that while listening to the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) I had before me a copy of Hansard containing the report of his speech on that earlier occasion, and I must say that he went right through that speech again. I could quote many paragraphs which were identical with what he said in his earlier speech. When he gets a copy of Hansard tomorrow he can compare the two reports. I can assure him that he will find an amazing similarity. Other Opposition speakers, notably the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant), to whom I will return in a moment, advanced arguments similar to those which they put forward on the last occasion.
I intend also to say something similar to what I said before. It is a philosophical question whether one believes in having one big electorate in Queensland, containing two-thirds or more of the whole area of the State, or in dividing that great area roughly into three. If I were to be a member of Parliament representing that part of Australia I personally would prefer to have the area divided into three. Honourable members can argue about community of interest, as they all have done, but I suggest that there is as little community of interest between a cattle property down on the New South Wales border and one within a day’s ride of the Gulf of Carpentaria as there is between a property at Gayndah and one at Longreach or Cloncurry. People might argue this question for ever and never get a conclusive answer.
Now I want to refer to the speech made in the earlier debate by the honourable member for Wide Bay (Mr Hansen). I meant on that occasion to point out an incorrect statement that he made, but having failed to do so then, I shall do so now. Speaking of the qualifications of commissioners, he said:
The same Mr Smith happened to be in charge of the State redistribution of electorates in Queensland. 1 do not know whether, in the eyes of certain sections of the political community, this qualifies him to be a commissioner for a federal redistribution.
The fact is that Mr Smith has never been a commissioner in a State redistribution. I should have pointed that out previously to the honourable member. Mr Smith was Valuer-General for Queensland for 10 years and in that time travelled extensively throughout the State. The honourable members for Kennedy (Mr Katter) and Maranoa (Mr Corbett) very effectively answered the arguments put forward by the Opposition. The honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns) also contributed something, as did the honourable member for Bowman (Dr Gibbs) whom I will mention separately in a moment. The honourable member for Wills, in his usual paranoiac fashion, shot from the hip, firing a blast at just about everybody. He spoke about my friend from
Kennedy talking humbug. I remember an occasion a couple of years ago when the honourable member for Wills was very aptly named ‘the windbag from Wills’, and 1 think his speech tonight demonstrated that this nickname fits him absolutely perfectly. Here he is. representing an area between the Sarah Sands Hotel and the Pentridge Gaol–
– No, the Fawkner cemetery.
– Well, I say it is the Pentridge Gaol. When he was making his speech about community of interest I wanted to ask him with which part of his electorate he has the greater community of interest - the Sarah Sands Hotel or the Pentridge Gaol. We can all make our guesses about that. The honourable member for Wills accused the honourable member for Kennedy of being interested in a gerrymander. The honourable member for Wills must admit that he is very badly informed. He has not bothered to study the figures in the proposals of either Mr Weise who submitted the minority report, or the other two commissioners, who presented the majority report. If he bothers to do so he will change his mind when he finds that the difference between the two proposals represents only about 100 votes. There is no political safeguard for the honourable member for Kennedy in either proposal.
We have been over all these arguments before.I think the nub of the matter is contained in the remark tonight of the honourable member for Dawson who, in putting the Labor Party’s point of view, said: ‘If we are to be consistent we must oppose this proposal tonight’. That is the crux of the matter: The Labor Party wishes merely to be consistent. The umpires have made their decision. The majority report is accepted by the Government and the amendment proposed by the Labor Party will be opposed. Precedent exists for again referring this matter to the commissioners, but there is no chance of this happening because the Government accepts the majority report.
That the words proposed to be omitted (Dr Patterson’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker- Hon. W. C. Haworth)
Majority . . . . 32
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the motion (Mr Nixon’s) be agreed to.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker - Hon. W. C. Haworth)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 20 November (vide page 3057), on motion by Mr Swartz:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– Does the Leader of the House (Mr Snedden) propose to move the motion for the adjournment of the House or does the Government propose to proceed with legislation by exhaustion? Does the Leader of the House propose not to answer the question?
– There is a question before the Chair.
– I want to be quite clear whether the House is to race through its business today and tomorrow and adjourn tomorrow night.
– Stop grizzling and grandstanding.
– This House should adjourn at a respectable time each day so that honourable members can deal with the business in a sensible and reasonable atmosphere. We on this side of the House are prepared to sit on Thursday. Apparently the Government wants to close the Parliament down. The Bill before the House at the moment provides for the payment by air passengers of a charge for the use and enjoyment of facilities provided by the Commonwealth at Commonwealth aerodromes. On behalf of the Opposition 1 move the following amendment:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted wilh a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: the House disapproves of the inequitable and disproportionate charges imposed by the Bill on domestic passengers and is of opinion that the Bill should be withdrawn and redrafted to raise an equivalent amount of revenue by fairer and simpler methods’.
The Opposition considers that this legislation will introduce a most unfair and most unreasonable means of raising revenue, one which will be unwieldy, untidy and cumbersome. No regard has been given to the distance passengers are to travel. No regard has been given to the unreasonable increases in some fares for some passengers and the infinitesimal effect on other fares for other passengers. For this reason we believe that the Government should withdraw the Bill and introduce some more equitable means of raising revenue. We know that the Department of Civil Aviation is operating aerodromes at a considerable loss. For example, in 1967-68 the cost of providing air navigation facilities was $59,716,000 and only $9,859,553 was raised by way of air navigation charges. Tax on aviation fuel returned the Government $1 1,1 88,795. The Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz), in his second reading speech, made a statement to the effect that the tax paid by the domestic consumers of aviation fuel was only $8£m. Even when we take this fuel into consideration it is easily understood that the Department of Civil Aviation provides facilities for the operation of airlines at a considerable loss.
In reality the subsidy paid to airline operators is quite a substantial one. Those figures have been quoted by honourable members in this House on numerous occasions. Every air passenger receives a subsidy of $8.70. If the revenue derived from tax on fuel is taken into consideration, the subsidy is reduced to $6.60. The Opposition has complained bitterly on numerous occasions about the Government subsidising this form of transport. Aviation has received substantial assistance from the Government over the years. The Opposition believes that there are other forms of transport which are entitled to some form of subsidy - for example, rail transport which is used by people on lower incomes. Those persons who have expense accounts, travelling warrants and so forth use air transport, but the people who are least able to afford the cost of air transport receive no assistance. Those people who have expense accounts have received substantial subsidies from the Government in the past.
The Minister has introduced a Bill to raise a paltry sum of $4,500,000 by a cumbersome and useless method. This means that every air passenger who travels through an airport that has a turnover in excess of 35,000 passengers annually will have to pay 50c on take-off and 50c on landing.
– That applies only to Commonwealth owned airports.
– I realise that, but how many privately owned airports or local government owned airports have in excess of 35,000 passengers? In Australia, excluding the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, there are 110 government owned airports. Only 22 of these airports are affected by this form of taxation. That means that 88 airports are excluded from the tax to be paid under this Bill. The Opposition considers that this is a most unfair method of taxation. Why should 22 airports be taxed and 88 airports exempted? I would like the Minister to give some information on this when he replies, as he invariably does. The Opposition wants some very clear indication as to why these airports were exempted. Why was the legislation introduced at this late stage of the session? Was it because certain political parties objected to it? Was it because agreement could not be reached with the airline operators? Is it a fact that Ansett Transport Industries Ltd was pressing the Government for a commission of 15% to collect the tax?
The Opposition is very dissatisfied with the hurried manner in which this legislation has been introduced. Notwithstanding that on 13th August the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) announced in his Budget speech that this form of taxation was to be introduced, the Government has waited until this late stage to introduce it and is pushing it through the House at this time of the night without the Opposition having an opportunity to present it to a Party meeting which is the usual custom. It is obvious that the Government is in all sorts of trouble with this Bill. To illustrate some unfair increases which this Bill will apply one only has to look at the increased fare for travelling between Sydney and Perth. The present fare is $133.50. The increase will make it $134.50, which is an increase of 75 of 1%. The increase in fare between Melbourne and Perth represents 1.93 of 1%. For the Devonport to Wynyard trip, a distance of about 30 miles, the increase is 24.39%. From Launceston to Wynyard the increase is 13.51%; from Launceston to Devonport it is 13.33%: and from Brisbane to Coolangatta the increase is 19.61%.
I draw the attention of the Minister and honourable members to the inequities in this form of taxation when no regard is had to the distance people have to travel. To suggest that they all use the same facilities is wrong. I question whether these people do use the same facilities. Have these airports the same type of facilities as the capital city airports? I question this very strongly. Honourable members know as well as I do that the facilities that are provided in these places do not compare with the facilities at the capital city airports. There should be a more reasonable and practical approach to this matter. There are many anomalies in this Bill. A traveller from Canberra to Sydney and return will have to pay an additional $2 - that is, $1 each way. Yet a person who travels from Geraldton on the west coast of Australia to Bundaberg on the Queensland coast, passing through Perth, Adelaide, Sydney or Melbourne as the case may be - invariably through Sydney - to Brisbane and Bundaberg would not pay anything even though he used the capital city facilities. It is time that the Government had a further look at this new head tax. It should devise a more equitable form of taxation for raising revenue.
The amount that will be raised under this legislation will be$4m, compared with a total sum of about $40m which the Government pays to the aviation industry annually by way of subsidy. The Opposition draws the Government’s attention to the unfairness of these obvious anomalies. I repeat that the increase in the fare between Devonport and Wynyard will be 24.39% and between Brisbane and Coolangatta it will be 19.61%. Does the Government consider this to be fair and reasonable and equitable? If the Government does, then the Opposition does not agree with it. While the Opposition agrees that additional revenue has to be raised so that the substantial subsidy which has been paid to air travellers over the years can be discontinued, it disagrees with a piffling increase such as this. The return from domestic consumers will be $3,800,000. International consumers will contribute $654,000, according to the 1967 figures. We think that the Government should look at a more equitable form of. raising revenue to replace this subsidy.
– Can you suggest something?
– The Opposition believes that there are several ways to do this. The Government could have a look at the figures which I am about to mention. The table I have in my hand discloses that on 15th October 1959 there was an increase of 31/2%; in 1960 the increase was 71/2%; again in 1960 the increase was 31/2%; in 1961 there was in increase of tourist traffic air fares; in 1964 the increase was 6%; in October 1965 the increase was 6%; in September 1966 the increase was 3%; and in August 1967 the increase was 5%. In all, in the period from January 1959 to September 1968 there was an increase of 39.94% in air fares. I am of opinion that the Government should have a look at some practical approach to this matter on the basis of an overall levy of, say, 21/2%. The total revenue of Ansett Transport Industries in the last financial year was $87m. The total revenue for the last financial year of Trans-Australia Airlines was $71m. A 21/2% levy on those total revenues would return $4m. If this form of levy were introduced, it would mean that everyone would be making a contribution towards the costs of airports and the use of airport runways. It would mean also–
– A suggestion for an increase in fares?
– Is this not an increase in fares? I am suggesting a maximum levy of 21/2%. A person travelling between Devonport and Wynyard will be required to meet an increase of 24.39%. A traveller from Brisbane to Coolangatta will have to meet an increase of 19.61%. I think that an overall increase of 21/2% would be a much more equitable form of raising this revenue than the imposition of these unreasonable charges on a certain section of passengers. The fact is that no increase has been levied in respect of 88 Commonwealth owned airports. The situation is this: There is a reasonable way of imposing an increase on everyone who uses these better facilities rather than by just imposing a levy on 22 airports throughout the Commonwealth.
– But it would be unconstitutional.
– I think that this would be a much fairer and more reasonable approach. At the present time, the cost of the carriage of goods will not be increased. Why should the passenger be the only one to pay for the increased costs and charges that are being imposed on the use of airports? We feel that the people who will have their goods carried for them by air from one centre to another centre should be required to pay part of this charge instead of limiting the obligation to do so to the passengers who use the aircraft.
– It is unconstitutional.
– We know that facilities are being provided today to enable freight to take up half the area of an aircraft. Particularly with the new, large aircraft that are being introduced, greater concentration occurs on the amount of freight. Aircraft will be carrying, in terms of weight, almost twice as much freight as passengers. Why should it be the passenger who is required to meet this cost? Why should not the whole cargo - if we call human beings cargo for this purpose - on the aircraft be making a contribution towards the cost of runways, etc.? The Minister for Civil Aviation has interjected that the charges that 1 have suggested would be unconstitutional. Well, why cannot the Government find a way of getting around the problem? After all, the State governments were able to get around a difficult situation and were able to levy a tax on road users so that they paid part of the cost of and contributed towards the cost of the maintenance of roads.
Another way by which the Government could get around the problem is by increasing the fuel tax or the excise and customs duties on aviation fuel. No reason exists why these charges could not be increased. The Minister in his second reading speech said that the total revenue received from domestic users of this fuel - this is airline users, I take it - was $8.5m. A 50% increase in these charges would return $4.25m. But I keep in mind still the $654,000 which will be derived from international users of aircraft. These are some of the ways that additional revenue could be earned or derived to compensate for the cost of operating airports today.
Members of the Opposition realise that there is a substantial deficit in the operation of airports. However, from our point of view the $4.5m to be raised by this head tax is only a piffling amount when we consider the total deficit of $40m associated with airport operations. The Government proposes to put people to all the trouble and inconvenience of having to buy their tickets and then to fork out another 50c or $1 as the case may be. Consider all the inequities involved. People can travel from one side of the country to another, a distance of 4,000 miles, and not pay lc; yet people travelling from Canberra to Sydney, about 120 air miles, are required to pay $1, or $2 for the return journey. This is one of the many anomalies in this legislation.
This is a most unpopular form of raising revenue. 1 want to refer in passing to a bulletin circulated recently by the Australian National Travel Association. This is not an organisation made up of people of no consequence. On the board of the Assocition we find Mr McCusker, Commissioner for Railways in New South Wales, who is Chairman, and Mr A. N. Kemsley, of the Associated Chambers of Commerce, who is Deputy Chairman. There are other board members such as Captain R. J. Ritchie, of Qantas Airways Limited; Mr A. F. Foster, Director of Commercial Services, Qantas Airways Ltd; Mr R. S. Clark, Director for Australia, Pan-American World Airways; Mr C. MacDonald, Executive Director, Ansett Transport Industries Ltd; Air ChiefMarshall Sir Frederick Scherger of the Australian National Airlines Commission; Sir John Williams, Chairman of the Australian National Line; Mr W. F. Franklin, General Manager, Ansett-Pioneer. Every State tourist bureau or similar organisation is represented. Business generally is represented by such people as Sir Theo Kelly and Mr C. Lloyd Jones. The Right Honourable Sir Garfield Barwick is also a member of the board. I have mentioned just some of the people who are members. This bulletin is dated Sunday, 24th November and stated:
The Executive Director, Mr G. W. L. Tucker, said the tax would discriminate against country air travellers; jeopardise the operations of soma intrastate and newly introduced commuter air services; cause passenger delays at airports; and increase costs to the airline industry, already recognised as being among the most heavily taxed in the world.
I think honourable members will agree that this legislation will introduce an unfair and inequitable form of taxation whereby people travelling short distances will be taxed out of the opportunity to travel by air. I refer in particular to the position in Tasmania, to travel between Brisbane and Coolangatta, and to the situation at a number of other places. The increase in the fare from Adelaide to Perth will be 1.22%. The increase in the fare from Hobart to Wynyard represents 6.33%; from Sydney to Dubbo, 7.3%; and from Sydney to Canberra, 9.17%. People from country centres travelling reasonably long distances to capital cities will be most imposed upon. The Opposition opposes this measure for the reasons I have already outlined.
The Opposition does not oppose the introduction of the $2 tax on international travellers. I have here a list of airport charges, expressed in United States dollars, imposed by various countries. The charges range from 70c in Czechoslovakia to $5 in France. In Finland the charge is $2.38. in Belgium it is $2 and, as I said, in France it is $5. We on this side of the chamber are of the opinion that we must cater for the large types of aircraft in which international passengers travel. Even at the present time the runway at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport is being extended to 13,000 feet in order to cater for the Boeing 747 aircraft and the Concorde aircraft when it comes onto the Australian run. It is costing a great deal of money to extend this runway. We accept the fact that large aircraft will impose an additional financial burden upon the Department of Civil Aviation. Therefore the people who travel in these aircraft should be required to make a contribution towards this additional cost.
As I said previously many countries impose various forms of airport taxes. All I hope is that the traveller to Australia will know clearly and positively what he is required to pay. As honourable members are aware from their own experiences, people arrange their finances so that when they leave a country they have spent all their money. But when they arrive at the airport they suddenly find that they are required to pay an airport tax of $1 or $1.50 or $2. I hope that the Government will make the position clear to international travellers to Australia. I hope that travellers will be advised in advance how much the airport tax is, so that they will not be left in the lurch at the last moment having to look around to get some money with which to pay the tax. We on this side of the chamber consider that the legislation is most unsatisfactory. It should be redrafted so that the tax will be levied more equitably over a much wider field instead of it being imposed, as proposed at the present time, on a considerable number of people who, in the main, will travel very short distances.
– I rise to speak on this Bill realising ;that it is an implementation of a provision announced in the Budget speech in which the’ Treasurer (Mr McMahon) mentioned that in his Budget speech a year ago he had announced the Government’s intention to introduce a passenger service charge to be payable by users of both domestic and international air services to help progressively towards reducing the gap between the annual cost of maintaining and the annual revenue derived from the use of aviation facilities. The basic charge is to be 50c for embarkation and 50c for disembarkation at Commonwealth airports - a total of $1 between two Commonwealth airports. There is also proposed a charge of $2 for embarkation by departing international travellers. It was difficult at the time of the presentation of the Budget to realise fully the implications of these proposals on one’s own constituents. Now that the specific details of the Aerodromes (Passenger Charges) Bill is before the House I feel impelled in all conscience, in duty to my electorate, to raise a voice of dissent about certain aspects of it. T am highly critical of certain features of the Bill.
I agree that the Government has to do something to offset the mounting costs of maintaining Commonwealth airports and the colossal expense of providing additional facilities for passengers at the larger air terminals. This measure is not an unusual one to adopt as I believe that no less than sixty other countries already impose such a charge, and in many instances it is much higher than the charges proposed in this Bill. In fact, air fares in Australia are, if not the lowest, amongst the lowest in the world. However, I must point out to the
House that the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) in his second reading speech stated:
The Bill imposes charges on certain air passengers who use or enjoy the benefit of facilities provided by the Commonwealth at a number of Commonwealth aerodromes, such as runways and taxiways used by the aircraft which carry the passengers, and the terminal buildings, roadways and other improvements established to enable them to embark on and disembark from these aircraft.
I appreciate that a considerable amount of money is spent on runways and taxiways at airports, but I find it difficult to agree that the expense incurred in providing such facilities at small country airports can fairly be compared with the costs incurred at larger city air terminals. Facilities cover a wide area. When I alight at an airport I expect provision to be made for a light meal to be enjoyed, or perhaps a cup of coffee or a drink from a bar. Adequate space should bc provided together with comfortable chairs in which to wait for a connecting aircraft. I expect to find shops at which to purchase some of the necessities of life, and adequate toilet facilities and so on. These are provided in all airports in capital cities. Why are they not provided at all other airports specified in the Bill?
I believe that people should be prepared to pay for these facilities and I feel that they are prepared to foot the bill at airports where they are provided. However, T find it very difficult to reconcile myself to the charge being made at airports such as Port Lincoln and Kingscote on Kangaroo Island, as well as many other smaller country aerodromes throughout Australia. I made representations to the Minister when the Bill was mooted, as he will recall, concerning all Commonwealth airports in my electorate. I am glad to say that as a result of my approaches the Minister has modified his altitude and has excluded all airports where passenger movements are less than 35,000 annually. Unfortunately. Kingscote and Port Lincoln airports do not come into that category and passengers using those airports will be obliged to pay the levy. The reason why that number of movements is exceeded annually is because of the large numbers of visiting tourists. I have received many objections from local government bodies as well as from individual constituents objecting to what they consider to be an imposition upon the local residents. I have sympathy with their objections.
Let us study the facilities provided in these places. Certainly at Port Lincoln there is a bitumenised runway, but what sort of waiting room is available for patrons? An area of 1,165 square feet is provided, with some tubular steel type chairs for the comfort of travellers. A refrigerated drinking fountain is available, together with the luxury of a toilet and washroom under the same roof. But that is all. There are no facilities for a light meal or a cup of coffee while one waits. There is no shop available at which to purchase sweets, newspapers, books and so on.
Kingscote airport has a waiting room of only 1,148 square feet. There is no provision for running water, and toilets are under another roof. The airline operator has provided a ‘Coca Cola’ dispenser for the convenience of passengers. Such conditions apply in many other airports throughout the country. Passengers from Port Lincoln pay a fare of $11.60 to Adelaide. A charge of $1 is to be added, or an increase of 8.6%. The increase in the fare to Kingscote will be about 10%. I know that the honourable member for Barker (Dr Forbes) would agree with me if he were still on the back bench. I feel it is a bit solid to charge passengers to Kingscote an extra $1, in view of the fact that the same charge is to be added to the fare from Adelaide to Sydney. The increase in some cases is as high as 20%. If we are to make such a charge at airports like Port Lincoln and Kingscote, to justify it the facilities must be brought more into line with the larger terminals. I remind honourable members that the Government is to receive from this source at least S 17,500 a year.
– Which electorate do you represent?
– The electorate of Grey. Local residents at Port Lincoln are faced with two alternative means of transport - a 450 mile journey by road or an overnight journey by sea. Kingscote residents have only one alternative, and that is a fairly long, rough sea passage. This charge could jeopardise the air services to these places and so cause further inconvenience to country people. I support the principle of the Bill as it applies to large airports where all facilities are provided and as it applies 10 international travellers, but I object to comparable charges being made at airports where few or no facilities are provided. 1 ask the Minister to have another look at this in a sympathetic light with the object of reviewing such discriminatory charges to these smaller airports.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate without amendment:
Gold-Mining Industry Assistance Bill 1968.
Commonwealth Banks Bill 1968.
International Monetary Agreements Bill 1968.
Raw Cotton Bounty Bill 1968.
Loan (Housing) Bill (No. 2) 1968.
Bankruptcy Bill 1968.
Loans (Australian National Airlines Commission) Bill 1968.
– I have received from the Senate a message intimating that the Senate, having considered message No. 78 of the House of Representatives, without prejudice to its resolution of 22nd August 1968 that the Senate is of the opinion that the new and permanent parliament house should be situated on Capital Hill, concurs in the proposal by the House that the matter of alternative sites for the new and permanent parliament house on Capital Hill or the Camp Hill area be referred to the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House for report and that the Committee be requested to submit its report within 3 months.
House adjourned at 11.13 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
, asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Extension of the Harefield crossing loop to 3,000 feet is in progress and should be completed within 6 weeks.
Preliminary plans are under consideration to build crossing loops of approximately 3,000 feet in length at The Rock and Culcairn.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
What are the details of any unacquitted war debts arising from (a) World War I, (b) World War II and (c) any other war in which Australia has been involved, showing details of outstanding amounts of (i) capita] and (ii) interest?
– The answer to the honourable member’s questions is as follows:
Securities on issue which represented war debt of the Commonwealth at 30th June 1968, and the annual interest liability thereon, were as follows:
Note: Details shown in the tables include securities issued to convert maturing securities which were originally issued for war purposes.
No securities have been issued specifically to finance expenditure in any other war in which Australia has been involved. However, securities have been issued since World War II to finance expenditure on Defence Services. The amounts outstanding, and the annual interest liability, at 30lh June 1968, were as follows:
Debt represented by securities’ on issue in London and the United States,- and the annual interest liability thereon, have been converted to Australian dollars at the par rate existing on 30th June 1968, published by the International Monetary Fund.
Vietnam (Question No. 965)
asked the Minister for
External Affairs, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
The Prime Minister expressed support for the United States’ position of seeking a just and equitable settlement and re-affirmed Japan’s determination to do all it can in the search for peace. He also expressed the view that reciprocal action should be expected of Hanoi for a cessation of the bombing of North Vietnam. ThePrime Minister noted that he had found widespread support during his South East Asian trips for free world efforts to cope with Communist intervention and infiltration. The President and the Prime Minister agreed that it is important that the new Government in South Vietnam continue its progress toward stable democratic institutions and the social and economic betterment of its people.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
Under the present arrangements by which the Commonwealth pays half the cost of any drought relief measures undertaken by the Stale Government in Eden-Monaro, would a decision by the State Government to apply a subsidy of 40 cents per bushel on feed wheat for the drought stricken areas attract a Commonwealth dollar for each State dollar spent in this way and so. in effect, provide a Commonwealth subsidy of 20 cents per bushel contingent on the provision of a similar Slate subsidy?
– The answer tothe honourable member’s question is as follows:
Under present arrangements, such a Commonwealth subsidy would not be payable.
United States Investment in Australia (Question No. 1008)
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
Does his Department intend to take actions designed to (a) maintain or increase private investment from the United States of America in Australia and (b) reduce the Australian adverse trading balance with that country? If so, what are those actions?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
More recent predictions of government primary school enrolments provide estimates which are much lower than those upon which the Martin Report teacher requirement was based.
With respect to estimates for secondary teachers, more recent predictions of enrolments in government secondary schools have shown that the numbers of secondary teachers required to 1975 are in excess of those contained in the Martin Report.
As I have indicated above, this is due to the increasing proportion of students who are staying at school past the minimum leaving age.
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
Who are ‘eligible Territory residents’ referred to in his answer to question No. 849?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Eligible Territory residents are defined in the Mining (Bougainville Copper Agreement) Ordinance 1967 as follows:
Eligible Territory residents means persons (being Territory residents who are individuals or co-operative companies or native bodies all of the members of which are Territory residents who are individuals) declared from time to time to be such by laws.’
The principle is that portion of the investment should be reserved for the local people, i.e., primarily for Papuans and NewGuineans.
The eventual definition of ‘eligible Territory residents’ will depend upon circumstances at the time at which shares are offered for sale and the views at that time of the Administrator’s Executive Council and the Territory House of Assembly.
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Australian Antarctic Expeditions -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply, upon notice:
– The Minister for Supply has provided the following information:
The information sought is included in the reply given by the Minister for Civil Aviation to Question No. 596 (refer page 2936 of Hansard dated 14th November 1968). 3. (a) Three other companies have sought the contract but it is not the practice to reveal details of unsuccessful tenders.
asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Returned Services League PensionPlan (Question No. 907)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice:
– The Minister for Repatriation has supplied the following information:
asked the Minister representing the .Minister for Repatriation, upon notice:
– The Minister for Repatriation has supplied (he following information:
asked the Treasurer, upon notice: 1, Is it a fact that there are proposals at present being considered by the Commonwealth Superannuation Board for changes in the method of calculating pensions, in particular, those calculations affecting officers of the Commonwealth services who were unable for financial reasons to lake up their full entitlements of superannuation units?
– The answer to the honourable member’s questions is as follows:
As 1 informed the House in a statement on 21st November 1968, the Government has considered the position of members of the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund who, at later stages of their Public Service careers, become entitled to take up additional units- of superannuation pension but, because the fortnightly contributions are then so high, find it difficult or impossible to do so. Details of the Government’s decisions are given in that statement.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s questions is as follows:
I and 2. The Commonwealth Statistician has advised that the following information is available on direct Australian private oversea investment in certain of the less developed countries. Owing to confidentiality provisions of the Census and Statistics Act separate statistics on Australian investment in a number of the countries included in the following table are not available.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Housing, upon notice:
– The Minister for Housing has supplied the following answers to the honourable member’s questions:
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
What progress has he made with his investigations into a national disaster fund since his answer to me on 4th October 1967 (Hansard, page 1737)?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
A good deal of information has been collected on natural disaster relief measures taken in the United States, Canada and New Zealand. Analysis of this information has indicated that there are aspects of overseas arrangements on which more information is required. This information is being sought.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The information requested is being sought and will be forwarded to the honourable member as soon as it is available.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
Can he give figures of the net transfer of (a) non-official external economic aid and (h) all aid as a percentage of national income corresponding to the figures of the net transfer of official aid at the end of statement No. 8 appended to his Budget Speech?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
As indicated in that Statement, the international aid comparisons shown in Statement No. 8 attached to the Budget Speech for 1968-69 are derived from data published by the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Unfortunately, the DAC docs not publish sufficient data on return flows of profit, interest and dividends from developing countries to enable calculations to be made showing private capital flows on a ‘Net Transfer’ basis. Figures are, however, available for both private and official flows of financial assistance to developing countries on a Net’ basis, under which repayments of principal but not interest, etc., are offset, and these are reproduced in the table below for the information of the honourable member. Tt should be noted that certain reservations attach to use of the ‘Net’ basis for international aid comparisons since it does not take any account of the divergent terms on which donor countries provide aid at the present time and the results therefore do not accurately reflect the relative burdens borne by donors which provide most, if not all, of their official aid to developing countries on a grant basis. Australia provides all of its official aid on this basis. Apart from that, another important reservation attaches to the data shown in the following table in that it is open to question whether one can meaningfully add together official aid provided on a grant basis and private capital flows, which are usually motivated by considerations of commercial profit, and assume that the resulting totals constitute a fair basis for comparing the ‘aid’ efforts by individual donor countries.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
Has the Statistician pursued his investigations far enough to enable him to give fuller and later information than in his answers to me about roads expenditure on 2nd November 1967 (Hansard, pages 2758 and 2759)?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Commonwealth Statistician advises that general pressure of work and the limitations of resources in the Bureau as a whole have prevented any significant progress in this area and no early change in this situation is in prospect.
He has, however, provided, on the same basis as the information previously supplied, the latest information available on expenditure on roads in each State and Commonwealth payments to each State for roads. These figures are as follows:
As regards the amount and percentage of expenditure financed by the Commonwealth, it is not possible to say when all of the assistance paid to the States by the Commonwealth for expenditure on roads is finally expended on roads; once paid, this assistance does not necessarily retain a separate identity in State accounts. It is not possible, therefore, to show more than the amount of Commonwealth roads assistance paid to the States each year and the ratio of such payments to actual expenditure on roads in the same year. This is done in the following table:
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
When and by whom will the names and maps of the subdivisions in the new electoral divisions be published?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
By proclamation published in the Commonwealth Gazette dated 25th November 1968, the Governor-General has, in respect of the Stales of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia. Western Australia and Tasmania, declared the names and boundaries of the new Electoral
Divisions and Subdivisions and has specified the Subdivisions into which each Electoral Division shall be divided. Maps showing the boundaries of the new Electoral Divisions and Subdivisions are being prepared.
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
The General Assembly,
Having considered the question of the representation of China,
Believing that a solution of the question of Chinese representation, which accords with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and the aim of universality, would further the purposes of the United Nations and strengthen its ability to maintain international peace and security,
Believing that the complexities of this question require the most searching consideration in order to pave the way to an appropriate solution, taking into account the existing situation and the political realities of the area,
Details are as follows:
For - Barbados, Belgium. Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cyprus, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan. Laos, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Maldive Islands, Mauritius, Mexico. Netherlands, New Zealand, Sierra Leone, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela.
Against - Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Australia, Botswana, Bulgaria, Burma, Burundi, Byelorussia, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic. Ceylon, Chad, China, Congo (Brazzaville), Congo (Democratic Republic), Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Dahomey, Denmark, Dominica, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Honduras, Hungary, India, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali. Mauritania, Mongolia. Nepal, Niger. Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Rwanda, Singapore. South Africa, Southern Yemen, Sudan. Sweden, Syria, Thailand, Uganda, Ukraine, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, United Arab Republic, Tanzania, Upper Volta, Yemen, Yugoslavia, Zambia.
Abstain - Argentina, Austria, Bolivia, Canada. Costa Rica, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Greece, Guyana, Iran, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Malta, Morocco. Nicaragua, Norway. Panama, Peru, Portugal. Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Swaziland. Togo. Trinidad and Tobago. United Kingdom.
Absent - Indonesia, Somalia.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 November 1968, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1968/19681126_reps_26_hor61/>.