26th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Lucock) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Kangaroos Mr JARMAN presented a petition from certain residents of the Commonwealth showing that unless shooting is stopped, the red kangaroo, the world’s largest marsupial, will become as extinct as the dodo of Mauritius; that due to the vastness of the Australian countryside and lack of trained officers, the States of Australia have been unable to carry out legislation designed to protect the kangaroo within their areas; that Australia owes it to the world and to posterity to preserve this unique animal which has developed over the centuries in this country; and that kangaroo meat constitutes a threat to public health, due to the unhygienic conditions under which it is slaughtered and the contamination with salmonella.
The petitioners therefore pray that the House will ban the shooting of kangaroos for commercial purposes; ban the export of products made from kangaroos; and establish a Commonwealth Government body to co-ordinate, establish and administer laws concerning the protection and when necessary, destruction, of Australia’s native fauna by persons educated for that role, on a national basis.
Petition received and read.
Mr BENSON presented a petition from certain residents of Victoria showing that Australia’s largest marsupial, the kangaroo, is near extinction, because of the extensive shooting, for commercial purposes, throughout Australia; that laws in existence are inadequate, and that there are insufficient men to patrol the area.
The petitioners pray that the exporting of all kangaroo meat be banned throughout Australia; the shooting of all kangaroos be banned throughout Australia; and the Government establish a Commonwealth department to conserve wildlife on a national basis.
Mr LEE presented a petition from certain residents of the State of Victoria showing:
The petitioners pray that the Government ban the killing of kangaroos for commercial purposes and that a conference be called between all States for the purpose of setting up adequate laws and their enforcement to protect the kangaroo on a national basis.
Mr FOX presented a petition from certain residents of Victoria showing that Australia’s largest marsupial, the kangaroo, is near extinction, because of the extensive shooting, for commercial purposes, throughout the whole of Australia; that laws in existence are inadequate, and that there are insufficient men to patrol the area.
The petitioners pray that the exporting of all kangaroo meat be banned throughout Australia; the shooting of all kangaroos be banned throughout Australia; and the Government establish a Commonwealth department to conserve wild-life on a national basis.
– .1 ask the Minister for Health a question. Is he aware of the financial burden that is being imposed on people admitted to private hospitals not registered by the States? Does he know that many of the patients entering these hospitals are not aware that by so doing they deprive themselves of their entitlements from hospital benefit organisations? Will the Minister take action to compel doctors and unregistered hospitals to inform patients or their relatives fully of these circumstances before they are sent to these institutions? Will he also make the institutions responsible for supplying information about whether they are registered?
– I assume the honourable gentleman is referring to the approval status that is given under the National Health Act lo a hospital on the one hand or a nursing home on the other, under the arrangements whereby the benefit funds pay a fund benefit in respect of hospitalisation in an approved hospital but. generally speaking, not in respect of a patient in a nursing home. I want to make it clear that the Commonwealth pays a benefit to patients in both kinds of institution. In the case of approved hospitals, this is done through the funds, and in the case of nursing homes it is done by way of a direct benefit without the need for membership of an insurance fund. The latter benefit has been up to now $2 a day and in some cases in future will be $5 a day.
These arrangements have been given wide publicity in pamphlets issued by my Department. I imagine that all doctors would be aware of the situation and would explain it to their patients, lt is, of course, for the doctor to decide which type of institution provides the care appropriate to the needs of the patient. However, I will look into the possibility of suggesting to doctors that they inform their patients about the situation. I may say that every hospital and nursing home is required to display prominency on the premises its certificate of approval so that the patients can be aware of what the institution is.
I would also like to say that [ am very much aware that the title ‘hospital’’, which, in most States in many cases, is applied to approved nursing homes, confuses patients and can even cause hardship. I have raised this matter at the last three conferences of Health Ministers, as control over the title used is a Slate mailer. But to dale there has been no aci ion on the part of the States. However, officials Eire at present discussing the home cure programme and the provision of an adequate number of beds in nursing homes. The question of the un,forformity, of nomenclature of these institutions also is being discussed by the officials. I am hopeful of an outcome that will prevent people from being misled by the fact that an institution that is called a hospital is in fact a nursing home.
– I direct my question to the Minister for the Army. Has he seen reports that the British Labour Government has given experimental doses of the drug LSD to volunteer British soldiers to test whether this drug could be used by an enemy against the British Army to bring about temporary incapacity or loss of the will to fight? Has the matter been looked at by the Australian Army authorities? If not, can the results of the British Government’s experiments be obtained and made available to the Australian Army?
– I have seen Press reports that the British Army has carried out experiments on its troops with the drug LSD. But 1 can assure the honourable gentleman and the House that the Australian Army is certainly not involved in any activities of this type, nor is any involvement contemplated. The final aspect mentioned in the honourable gentleman’s question is really a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Defence. But my understanding is that the results of such overseas research are made available to the Government.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. I refer the right honourable gentleman to his statement lo the House yesterday on Australia’s entry into the overseas shipping trade. I ask: Was the advice of the Treasury sought before the agreement was negotiated? Will he table the major points of agreement reached and signed ai this stage involving either the Australian Government or any Commonwealth instrumentality? Will the right honourable gentleman give an assurance that before the Government commits itself to any final contractual terms it will submit these terms to the Parliament for examination? Will he also give an assurance that Australian ships will sail under the Australian flag and not under the British flag, as reported? Finally, will he do everything in his power to dispel fears that the Government has entered into another secret agreement along the lines of the agreement reached in regard to the purchase of Fill aircraft and the Esso-BHP oil agreement?
– The decision announced in this House yesterday in regard to shipping was a decision that Cabinet, of which the Treasurer is a member, unanimously agreed on. That should answer the first part of the question asked by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. Secondly, when agreement is finally reached on this matter I would not propose to present that agreement to Parliament. I would propose making a Government decision accepting or rejecting the final negotiations. The Government would stand or fall by that. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition also asked a question regarding flying the Australian flag on these vessels. I inform him that the ship that we charter will still be owned by Associated Container Transportation Ltd during the period of our charter and therefore will not be flying the Australian flag. But it will be crewed by Australians and operated by the Australian National Line.
– My question is directed to the Minister for External Affairs. I ask: Has the right honourable gentleman seen a report in today’s Press that a tentative proposal by Japan for the organisation of an international reconstruction agency with a budget of $180m for expenditure in North and South Vietnam after the termination of hostilities has received a cool response from Australia? Has any such scheme been proposed to the Australian Government? If it has, is there any ground for saying that our response has been as described in the Press report?
– I am not aware of any such approach being made to the Australian Government. I saw this report in one of our morning newspapers. So far as my knowledge carries me it has no substance. So far as the report suggests that there has been an approach to the Australian Government and that the response of the Australian Government has been a cool one, I am not aware of any such approach. The question of what will happen in Vietnam in the way of economic and social reconstruction after a cessation of hostilities is one that is deeply concerning the Australian Government; we will have a forthcoming and constructive approach to that subject.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Has the Minister received a petition signed by a majority of dried vine fruit growers requesting a poll of growers to decide whether a single statutory board should be set up to control packing, quality, marketing and finance? Did this petition point out that a statutory body should replace the many expensive bodies operating in the industry at the present time? Will the Minister arrange for such a poll? Will he seek the necessary co-operation of the States to operate a single statutory body?
– I asked that question a fortnight ago.
– The honourable member for Mallee interjects and says that be asked a similar question not so long ago. He is quite right. I answered almost an identical question by saying that I had received a petition from a section of the dried vine fruits industry requesting that a poll of growers be held to decide whether a statutory marketing authority should be established. To establish a statutory marketing authority we would need, first, the substantial support of the industry, and we would also need the agreement of all State governments. This matter of the establishment of a statutory marketing authority was discussed with the Australian Dried Fruits Association and by the Australian Primary Producers Union which was organising the group that wanted a statutory marketing authority. A conference was held between the two organisations. A full report was made of the discussions and that report was presented to the Australian Agricultural Council. The Ministers for Agriculture in the various States decided unanimously, after examining that report, that it was not the appropriate time to establish such a statutory authority.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Trade and Industry. I refer to Britain’s recent introduction of a number of economic measures aimed at dampening internal demand as well as dampening import demand for a wide range of products. Is the Minister yet in a position to give the House an assessment of the likely effect of these measures on Australia’s exports to Britain?
– Great Britain’s economic restrictions include increases in purchase tax and excise duties and curbs on bank lending. Imports of most manufactured and semi-manufactured goods will be subject to a prior deposit of 50% , which will be refundable after 180 days. The British Government expects the combined effects of these measures to result in a general weakening of demand. Foodstuffs and essentia] raw materials, which comprise the bulk of our exports to Britain, are not directly affected by these economic measures. However, the general dampening down of consumer spending could have an indirect effect on the level of exports of these commodities. It is not possible to -assess in value terms the likely total effect on Australia’s trade. However, some $28m worth of our total exports, which amount to S420m, will be subject to the 50% prior deposit scheme. These exports are mainly manufactured and semi-manufactured goods, and it is this group that will be most affected.
– ls the Attorney-General aware that the well known American play Viet Rock’ by Megan Terry has been performed in many countries of the world, including the United States, without any form of official interference? Can he explain the activities of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation in discouraging participation in the first Australian production of the play which, incidentally, takes no sides on the Vietnam question, scheduled for the Canberra Theatre next week? Can he give an assurance that no person taking an active part in the presentation of a play acceptable elsewhere in the world shall be victimised or in any way disadvantaged because of participation in the first Australian production?
– I am not aware of the suggested interference with this or indeed any other play. This is a matter that normally falls within the jurisdiction of the States. The honourable member has mentioned the forthcoming performance in the Australian Capital Territory. I was not aware of this coming performance and. certainly have no reason to believe that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation has been directly concerned with it. However, as the honourable member knows, it is not customary to discuss the activities of that organisation in this House.
– Is the Prime Minister in a position to say whether any finality has been reached in the negotiations that have been going on between the Governments of Western Australian and the Commonwealth concerning certain land at Point Peron?
– This question refers to an area of land at Point Peron which was made available by the Commonwealth Government to the Government of Western Australia for the purposes of recreation. Subsequently the Western Australian Government approached us and asked that the terms on which it received this land be varied so that part of it would be able to be used as a sewage farm for the development expected in the area and so that another part of it could be used as an access to docks and industrial facilities which it was planned to build along the shores of the bay. The Commonwealth Government has decided that those parts of the total area which the Western Australian Government has sought for these purposes will be so made available to the Western Australian Government.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral a question. 1 have been informed that Australian barristers in States other than New South Wales cannot be admitted “to practise in English courts unless they are “first admitted to practise in the State of New South Wales; that this position arises because of a decision made about 100 years ago, and that the only Australian barristers who are eligible to be admitted to the English Bar are those who belong to ‘our colony of New South Wales’. Will the Minister inquire whether this practice still obtains? If it does, will he tell the British law authorities that the Australian colonies federated more than 67 years ago and that it is time for them to get up to date and to agree to recognise all barristers of all States as being equally eligible to be admitted to practise in England if the British courts are satisfied that they comply with English requirements?
– It is probably unnecessary to remind the right honourable member that Victoria was once part of the colony of New South Wales. Indeed, the first two volumes of the New South Wales law reports cover Victorian cases. This question arises only if a barrister wishes to practise in the English courts. That is a fairly unlikely although not impossible contingency. It does not arise if a barrister wishes to appear before the Privy Council. Furthermore, it is my understanding that, the position is not as the right honourable member puts it. What has to be done is that the barrister has to become a member of one of the Inns of Court. I will make further inquiry into this matter but, as I say, it is not my understanding that any disability attaches to a barrister of Victoria or Queensland.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Has the Australian Wool Industry Conference on two recent occasions voted in favour of establishing a statutory authority for wool marketing and has it advised the Government to this effect? What is the reason for the Government’s not accepting this decision but indicating to the Conference that it will accept its advice if the advice is to establish a non-statutory body? In view of this breakdown of the whole purpose of the Conference, will the Minister put the subject to a ballot of wool-growers?
– It is true that two votes have been taken in the Australian Wool Industry Conference as to whether there should be a statutory or a non-statutory authority. The result of neither of these votes has been conveyed to me. The votes taken in the Conference were just to test the feeling in that body. No conclusion has yet been reached as to whether the Conference will recommend to the Government the establishment of a statutory or non-statutory authority, or what its recommendation will be. The Conference will be meeting this week and will be discussing whether a recommendation to form a non-statutory authority should be put to the Commonwealth Government. As far as I know the matter has not yet been finally resolved.
– The subject of my question may not be the responsibility of the Prime Minister’s Department but as the Prime Minister is interested in this matter he probably has some information on it to convey to the House. I ask the right honourable gentleman: What action is the Government taking to see that Australia’s requirements for locomotives are met by Australian manufacturers or government factories? ls it true that without calling for tenders, contracts for the supply of locomotives have been given to Japan?
– I have not the information to reply to the last part of the honourable member’s question at all. All 1 know of this matter is that there are a number of people in Canberra today who are disturbed at what they state to be the fact that there is a laying-off of labour in the rolling stock industry - not just the locomotive industry - as has been reported. I have no papers on this. No papers have been presented to any Minister as far as I know. No case has been provided but if a case were to be provided then it would be very carefully studied by the Government.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for National Development, relates to conditions attached by the Australian Government to licences for the export of wood chips. Will the honourable gentleman say whether foreign purchasers are required to make satisfactory arrangements at their own expense for replanting or otherwise rehabilitating areas which they have exploited? Will the honourable gentleman comment on the paucity of forests in Australia?
– The development of forests in a State is the constitutional responsibility of the State Minister concerned. The Commonwealth exercises an authority in respect of the export of wood chips. We have stated that this authority will be directed to seeing that fair and reasonable prices are obtained and that where it is feasible some future commitment for processing in this country is entered into. However, I am informed by my colleague in New South Wales that the permit which we have issued for the export of wood chips affects mainly State forest lands. The stumpage rale in this case is S2.25 a ton which will noi only pay for the timber used but will also provide finance to enable the forest services to regenerate the area after it has been cut over. Generally speaking there is in Australia a paucity of suitable forest products. At present we are importing more than S200m worth of forest products a year. The honourable gentleman will recall that last year the Parliament passed legislation to enable [he Commonwealth to make available to the States large long term loans so thai the Stales might increa.se plantings. lt is expected that plantings of softwoods win be more than doubled as a result of this legislation. We hope to be selfsufficient bv the turn of the century.
– Did the Prime Minister inform himself of the full production costs per barrel of Esso-BHP’s crude oil prior lo his recent pricing policy statement? Will he inform lbc House of any rea:on why this information on the exploitation of a national asset should nol be publicised? What advice on this matter was given by Dr Frankel, the Government’s chosen expert adviser? When will Dr Frankel’s general report on Australian crude oil be made available 10 the Parliament?
– The question of the estimated production cost per barrel of EssoBHP oil. that is lo say, of oil from the Buss Strait, has never been the subject of any disclosure by Esso-BHP. There have been inter-departmental reports, committee reports, which make estimates and put them forward only as rough estimates of what
I hey believe the cost of production per barrel may be. These, being rough estimates made by inter-departmental cornmittees. should not in my opinion bc published in case hey should be taken by somebody to be actual figures with some backing by the Government. What perhaps is interesting in the whole matter is this: What is being negotiated is a pricing policy for all Australian crude oil. that is. including crude oil from Moonie and from Barrow and from other fields which need a certain price in order to be able to continue in operation, which J believe all Australians would wish them to do. There has crept into this matter from the honourable member for Cunningham some suggestion that if there is a variation in the cost of production from various fields there ought to be a variation in the price at which it can be sold. In other words, that if anyone is lucky enough to strike a field, if somebody looking for oil in Australia today, for example, were to strike a good field, they ought not to receive the same price as somebody who strikes a field with a lower return. I can think of little which is more likely to deter the exploration for more oil in Australia and, indeed, little which is more likely to lead to a price fixing policy of the Labor Party.
– Following his visit this morning to the Brungle Aboriginal Reserve in my electorate, will the Minister for Social Services and Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal A/fairs agree that the provision of adequate housing for the Aboriginal people on that reserve is of the highest priority if they are lo proceed towards effective acceptance by and assimilation into the community? Has the Minister any suggestions about how the very difficult problem of providing adequate housing for our Aboriginal citizens, particularly in country areas, can be overcome?
– The honourable member will be aware that the problem of Aboriginal housing inside New South Wales is a matter for the State Government, which has of course received a subvention from the Commonwealth Government for thai very purpose. In company with the honourable member, I did this morning visit the Brungle Aboriginal Reserve, which is situated about 12 miles from Tumut. Over 100 Aboriginals are in residence there. About twenty-five of them are housed under reasonable conditions. The remainder arc housed under fairly shocking conditions, which I hope will be improved in the very near future.
Inquiries seem to show that most of the Aboriginals, though not all of them, would prefer to move into Tumut. As far as I can gather, about one-third of them would prefer to remain on the reserve at Brungle. Luckily, at the present moment there are approximately thirty vacant houses in Tumut which are in the possession of the New South Wales Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission. I understand that some of these houses are to be allocated to other government departments. But it may well be - this is a matter for the New South Wales authorities - that some of these houses will be made available for some of the Aboriginal families who might be moved into Tumut. I would not suggest that all of them should be moved immediately, because many of them do not want to move, and it would be better for others to have some further experience of living in reasonable housing on the reserve before they moved into Tumut. These houses are available, and it is up to the New South Wales Government to decide whether or not some of them should be used for this purpose.
I also find, on inquiry, that there are some transitional houses which are likely to become available on the completion of the large Blowering Dam which, as honourable members will know, is on the Tumut River immediately above Tumut. I understand that these houses would be suitable for moving on to the reserve at Brungle. At the present lime they are in the possession of private contractors, and I am told that some of them will be up for sale in the near future. So I would noi think that the problem is insoluble. As the honourable member knows, this question of Aboriginal housing is one of the main problems that has to be faced. In this case, apart from the vacant houses of which I have spoken, in Tumut there is a continuing housing shortage by reason of (he great developments which are occurring in the district round about. In spite of that. I feci that we can do something in the way I have suggested.
– I address a question to i he Treasurer, ls it a fact that the Commonwealth is paying half the cost of all drought relief measures, including the cost of transporting gift fodder, administered by Iiic Stale Government of New South Wales in my electorate of Eden-Monaro? ls it a fact that the only politically motivated actions in the drought situation in EdenMonaro have come from the President of the Australian Labor Party Council, and not from the Bega Valley Drought Relief Committee? ls it a fact that a political stunt, to make political capital out of the drought stricken farmers in Eden-Monaro was promoted by the ALP - to put five starving cows on the grass outside Parliament House - that it was rejected out of hand by a member of the Committee and that the cows did not arrive? ls it a fact that the Committee has found free agistment for thousands of cattle, received offers of more than 100,000 bales of free hay and bought quantities of hay on behalf of co-operatives? As the only actions with political motivation have come from the President of the ALP Council in Eden-Monaro. and not from the Committee, would it not be proper and responsible for the honourable member for Macarthur to make a complete withdrawal of his statements and allegations about political motivation in the Bega Valley Drought Relief Committee?
-Order! [ would remind the honourable member for Eden-Monaro that the Treasurer is not responsible in any way for the honourable member for Macarthur.
– I was asking his advice and opinion on the subject.
-The honourable member is not allowed to ask the opinion of a Minister at question time.
– On a point of order. Mr Acting Speaker, I would remind you that the Treasurer did in fact accept the accuracy of the allegation made by the honourable member for Macarthur.
– There is no substance in the point of order. I pointed out to the honourable member for EdenMonaro that he is not allowed to ask the opinion of a Minister at question time.
– I think that five points were raised in the honourable gentleman’s question. Might I say. first of all. as an introduction, that I believe both the honourable member for Eden-Monaro and the honourable member for Macarthur are doing their best to ensure that the farmers of the Bega Valley receive the best possible treatment that the Commonwealth and State Governments can give them? Turning to the five points raised by the honourable gentleman - if I can now remember them - the first one related to the assistance given by the Commonwealth Government. We have arranged with the New South Wales State Government to share, on a $1 for $1 basis, the expenditure that it might incur in assisting farmers throughout the whole of the south east coast of Australia. This, of course, applies to the Bega Valley as well as to the other parts of the south east coast.
As to the second and third points which I think I can take together, I am sure that there was political activity by the Australian Labor Party. I do not think that it was related exclusively to the President of the Bega Australian Labor Party Council. I have been informed that the former Deputy Premier of New South Wales, Mr Hills, participated. So, too, did a former President of the New South Wales Milk Board who was once the Federal President of the Australian Labor Party. Obviously, therefore, there was political motivation by the ALP and an attempt to pre-judge the issue at a time immediately before they thought an election was to be held.
As to that part of his question which related to the feeding of cows in front of Parliament House, we are capable of putting up with a great deal and I do not think it would have caused any of us a great deal of surprise if one morning we had walked out and seen the poor, unfortunate creatures being agisted there and savouring the pastures of Canberra. As to the last part of the question, which related to my colleague and friend from Macarthur, I repeat that I know of few people more interested in the welfare of the farmer and more capable of giving assistance to obtain drought relief than he is. If there is a difference of opinion between my colleague from Eden-Monaro and my colleague from Macarthur, I suggest that the proper way for them to resolve it is to have a discussion with the Bega Valley Drought Relief Committee to see whether they can come to a compromise so that the three of them can work in the interests of the farmers.
– I address a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. I refer to the Minister’s address in Sydney on 25th November in which he deprecated the twotier economic and organisational nature of the dairy industry and in which he said that milk zoning was an anachronism. Does the Minister suggest that one dairying authority or board in each State, amalgamating both whole milk and butterfat producing interests, would be part of the answer to the two-tier problem that he criticised?
– In the course of this speech, a copy of which I will send to the honourable member, I said that rigidly defined milk zones in which people expected to have exclusive rights io an exclusive market were an anachronism. I demonstrated this by reference to the technological advances that are being made with new products coming on the market, particularly long life mil’k. 1 pointed to the anomaly in Brisbane where a Queensland plant which established a long life milk setup using Queensland milk was unable to self that milk locally. Yet in Brisbane a person may buy, quite openly and freely, long life mil’k which has been produced in another State. lt is wrong for people to think that milk zoning will continue and that persons in such zones will have exclusive marketing rights. Technological processes will break down this situation and the sooner people in milk zones realise this, so that adjustments can be made which will have a lighter impact on the people involved, the better off will be all sections of the industry.
– I remind the Treasurer that it is now 12 months since sterling was devalued. The Treasurer has already indicated the extent of the compensation to be paid to Australian industries as a result of the Cabinet’s decision not to devalue the Australian doll’ar. Can the Treasurer now indicate to the House the extent of the benefits to the Australian public of the Cabinet’s decision at that time?
– It must be obvious that it is not practicable to quantify the actual benefit to the Australian community as a result of British devaluation. But I think no decision made by the Government has received wider public acclaim than this decision received at the time. As the months have passed it has become abundantly clear that the decision then taken by the Government was correct and was in the best interests of the Australian community and particularly of our foreign balances. I remind the honourable gentleman and the House that no country stands higher in world financial opinion than Australia does. The fact that there was a movement of $Al,100m worth of finance into this country shows the high regard in which our investment prospects are held in other parts of the world. In the second part of his question, it is implicit that the honourable gentleman was thinking of allowances made to industries because of demonstrable and unavoidable losses. Already one statement has been made to the House on this problem. I would not be a scrap surprised if my colleague, the Minister for Primary Industry, were shortly to make a second statement on it.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. I refer to the last annual report of the Public Service Board and particularly to the statistics on page 86 which reveal that the Public Service has 624 Second Division officers. As these officers, together with the twenty-seven First Division officers, provide the invaluable resources to the Administration for the successful implementation of the decisions of this Parliament, I ask; Are these Second Division officers sufficiently encouraged by specialised training opportunities not only at the Administration Staff College in Australia but also at overseas administration staff colleges, by courses overseas and through the agency of overseas investigations? Will the right honourable gentleman check these aspects of broadly based essential training?
– The question relates to Second Division officers of the Public Service who in fact are not directly under my control but are under the control of the Public Service Board, although the Board is under my administration. I am asked whether they are sufficiently encouraged by being given opportunities for administration training here and overseas. I suppose this must depend to some extent on one’s definition of the word ‘sufficiently’. However, if the honourable member wishes me to bring his question to the notice of the Chairman of the Public Service Board, I will be very glad to do so.
– by leave - Honourable members will be aware that statements relating to the Paris peace talks were issued in Saigon and in Washington this morning. I welcome, and I am sure the House will welcome, the fact that as a result of discussions between the United States of America and the Republic of Vietnam the way is now open for talks to proceed in Paris. As I informed the House on 5th November, Australia had already advised the South Vietnamese Government that we felt their interests would be best served by their representatives attending the talks in Paris. I am therefore doubly glad that, as the outcome of talks between the United States and the Government of the Republic of Vietnam, an understanding has been reached which clears the way for the Government of the Republic of Vietnam to take part in these talks. The Australian Government has always regarded it as essential that the position of the Republic of Vietnam should be safeguarded, both in the conduct of hostilities and in any moves to bring those hostilities to an end. For the information of honourable members, I lay on the table of the House copies of the statements that were issued in Saigon and in Washington this morning concerning this matter.
– by leave - The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) can be assured that honourable members on this side of the House welcome the United States Government’s announcement as wholeheartedly and unreservedly as they welcomed President Johnson’s announcement of 31st March and 31st October. The right honourable gentleman knows that we endorsed his advice to Saigon to attend the talks in Paris. Whatever formulas and designations are accepted by those who will attend the talks, the fact is that the talks will be attended by representatives of all the regimes and governments which control the combatants throughout Vietnam. Since there is a deadlock and stalemate between all the combatants, there is every reason for them to end the hostilities. The people of the world desire an armistice; the people of this region desire it; the people of this country desire it. The participants in the Paris talks should know that the Opposition in Australia’s national Parliament supports any moves to bring the hostilities to an end.
– by leave- On 12th May this year, following the adoption of revised international arrangements relating to gold, I announced certain changes in the procedure for sales of gold for industrial use in Australia. Brief!)’, gold for industrial use in Australia is now purchased from the Reserve Bank - and supplied to consumers at market prices - by the Gold Producers Association, membership of which is open to all Australian gold producers. Previously, gold was supplied to users by the Reserve Bank at a price based on the official price.
Until March 1968 the only sales of gold by the Gold Producers Association were on overseas markets in which premiums above the official price could be obtained. The relevant income tax exemption for companies owned by gold producers is currently expressed in terms of these export sales. Now that the Association is selling gold for industrial use within Australia, the Government has decided to extend the exemption, with effect from 18th March 1968, to cover profits derived from the local sales and dividends paid out of these profits. I should, perhaps, remind the House that other provisions of the income tax law exempt from tax income derived from the working of a mining property principally for gold and dividends paid out of that exempt income. The pay-roll tax export incentive provisions applying to gold producers have also been reviewed in the light of the new arrangements for the sale of gold for industrial use in Australia. As the law now stands, a producer’s total gold production plus any distribution received from producer-owned companies out of tax exempt profits earned from premium sales, is treated as export sales in calculating the producer’s entitlement to rebate of pay-roll tax. This is despite the fact that a proportion of production is sold for use within Australia.
The new arrangements for the Gold Producers Association to supply industrial users within Australia at market prices and the more than three-fold increase that has occurred since 1961 in sales of newly mined gold for local industrial use, make it no longer appropriate to continue to treat such sales as exports for the purposes of the rebate scheme. Accordingly they will not attract the rebate for 1968-69 and subsequent years. Gold exports and gold that is retained by the Reserve Bank will continue to be eligible for rebate purposes.
Sales for industrial use are made by the Gold Producers Association on behalf of its members as a whole. All newly mined gold is first sold by industrial producers to the Reserve Bank. At that point it is not possible to identify the gold that will be exported or the gold that will bc retained by the Reserve Bank. The new procedure for calculating the rebate of pay-roll tax in respect of increased export performance will therefore take the form of reducing each producer’s value of production, plus taxexempt dividends received from producerowned companies in a financial year, by the percentage of the total sales by such companies in the preceding year that were for industrial use in Australia. Corresponding adjustments will be made in the base period figures from which the increase in exports is calculated. Legislation to implement these decisions will be introduced as soon as practicable.
– by leave - Yesterday, when answering a question directed to me by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), I referred to a memorandum dated 1 8th September which had been addressed to me by the Institute of Patent Attorneys. In replying to the Leader of the Opposition I said: 1 dealt wilh that in the ordinary course and 1 pointed out various matters which were of a technical nature. I thought that it disposed of the matter.
The Leader of the Opposition then asked me when I had replied. Upon returning to my office I called for the papers to ascertain the date in order to supply it to the Leader of the Opposition. Although I was under the impression that 1 had replied by letter, 1 found that although a draft had been prepared and worked on by me. a reply had in fact not been sent. 1 have informed the Leader of the Opposition of this position. I advised him thai 1 would correct my answer today.
– by leave - I thank the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) for the statement he has just made, lt helps to correct the impression that 1 certainly formed al the time of his speech on 14th November last concluding the debate on the Patents Bill. Upon checking Hansard I find my impression confirmed at page 2894. My impression was that the deferred examination system provided for in the Bill - which was not opposed by the Australian Labor Part)- in this House - was not opposed by the Institute of Patent Attorneys. The point that it was opposed by the Institute of Patent Attorneys was made by the honourable member for Warringah (Mr St John) when the Bill was debated on the motion for the second reading in August, 12 weeks previously. The Attorney-General refuted the argument of the honourable member for Warringah by saying that the attitude of the Institute of Patent Attorneys had been expressed to the Patents Committee which the former Attorney-General appointed under the chairmanship of the present Attorney-General, before he became a member of this Parliament and was still at the Bar. Al that time the AttorneyGeneral certainly gave me the impression that the mailer was considered again by the Committee at the request of the former Attorney-General and was approved by it. The Attorney-General mentioned on two occasions that the President of the Institute was a member of that Committee of which he was the chairman.
In view of a Press statement made al the beginning of the week by the present President of the Institute of Patent Attorneys I thought 1 would ask the Attorney-General the question that [ asked him yesterday. 1 had learned from the Institute, and my colleagues in another place had learned from the Institute, that in fact the AttorneyGeneral had received a memorandum from the Institute on 18th September. That was the subject of my question yesterday. The Attorney-General said that he had received this memorandum and had replied to it.
In view of the new features emerging from the public statement at the beginning of the week and the memorandum of 18th September from the Institute I feel it appropriate for me to mention here what will emerge in another place shortly when the debate on the second reading of the Bill resumes there. My Party will seek to have this issue referred again to a similar committee appointed by the Attorney-General. I am certainly not prejudging the matter. I am certainly not inferring that the Institute of Patent Attorneys is correct in its views as expressed in the Press or in its memorandum. Nevertheless we feel that as the members of the Institute are persons expert in this field the same procedure should be followed as has been followed previously in all questions of industrial property law. Following an announcement in the Governor-General’s Speech opening the Parliament in 1954 committees have been appointed to look into such subjects as trade marks, copyright, patents. 1 think designs, and also bankruptcy. In every case the Government has sought the advice of a committee. The committee’s report has been published and the Parliament has had the advantage of it before debating the consequential bill. On this occasion I believe the report of the Patents Committee was not published. Honourable members in this case have not had the benefit of that report. Accordingly in another place we shall seek to have the matter referred again to a committee so that we may have the advantage of its views. I thank the Attorney-General for the statement which he has made.
Mr BOWEN (Parramatta- AttorneyGeneral) - by leave - Firstly. 1 should say that in my speech to which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) referred I was pointing out that the critical comments which the honourable member for Warringah (Mr St John) mentioned as coming from the Institute of Patent Attorneys related to different proposals. 1 was not at all convassing the current view of the Institute of Patent Attorneys at that stage. I was concerned to point out that the strictures that the Institute levelled at those proposals had been accepted by the Committee which was inquiring into them, and the proposals to which they had been directed were rejected. It was subsequently that the Committee, which did include, as J pointed out, the President of the Institute of Patent Attorneys and the President of the Australian Manufacturers, Patents, Industrial Designs, Copyrights and Trade Marks Association, a barrister from Victoria experienced in patents matters, the Commissioner of Patents and Mr Curtis, another officer of. the Attorney-General’s Department, considered the whole matter and put forward the proposals which form the basis of the Bill, with inbuilt safeguards designed to meet the difficulties which had properly been pointed out by the Institute. Since the Bill has been brought forward the Institute of Patent Attorneys has conferred with me and has made various submissions. Those made on 18th September were by no means the first. As far back as February 1968 the Institute wrote to me. I have not the letter in front of me as I was not anticipating a debate on this. However the Institute said in its letter of February 1968 that it accepted the examination-on-request system, as it called it, as being necessary. The representations that were made at that stage were directed rather to improving the system. Although, as I have said before, the Institute was never happy that there should be a necessity to establish such a system, it did at that stage accept it as being necessary. It is true that in September 1968 it made further alternative proposals, but it was at pains to point out to me that it was concerned at the reports and letters in the Press which suggested that it would be glad if the Bill did not pass. The Institute sought to place on record that this was not its view. I was therefore rather surprised yesterday to receive a telegram from the Institute saying that it was now opposed to the Bill being passed with its provision for the deferred examination system, or perhaps examination-on-request’ would be a more correct description, and also that it would release to the Press some further detailed reasons for its opposition. 1 can understand that the Opposition has further considered the position in the light of this and, indeed, I would place considerable weight on the views of this Institute. The Government has decided that it will not press on this session with the Bill which is now in another place, but will take under consideration again this whole question of the deferred examination system.
– by leave - I wish to make a statement concerning the formation of the Australian Fisheries Council. Honourable members will be aware that for a number of years State and Commonwealth Ministers responsible for fisheries have met from time to time to discuss common problems and other matters of mutual interest. The Government has recently accepted a recommendation from one of these meetings that, recognising the successful contribution to Commonwealth-State collaboration provided by the Australian Agricultural Council and in line with what has been done more recently to establish the Forestry Council, the Water Resources Council and the Minerals Council, an Australian Fisheries Council be established. All State governments have now endorsed the proposal, and the Council is now formally established.
The membership of the council will comprise the six State Ministers responsible for fisheries and the Commonwealth Ministers for Primary Industry, External Territories, Education and Science and Interior. The Chairman of the Council will be the Minister for Primary Industry. In reaching this decision the Government had regard to the present developments in the fishing industry and the need for a broad approach by Governments to the problem involved. Accordingly, the Council, which will be an advisory body, has been given broad terms of reference designed generally to promote the welfare of the Australian fishing industry.
In accordance with established practice, a standing committee of the Council has been created. The Standing Committee on Fisheries will comprise the chief fisheries officers in each State, a representative from each of the Commonwealth Departments and Primary Industry, Interior, External Territories and Treasury and a representative of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. The functions of the Standing Committee will be to advise the Council on matters put before it.
It is intended that the Council shall meet at least annually, the venue rotating between the States and Territories. The first meeting of the Council will be held in Darwin about the middle of 1969.
– by leaveThe Opposition welcomes the establishment of the Australian Fisheries Council together with a standing committee to consist of the chief fisheries officers of the States and selected fisheries officers of the Commonwealth. I am not certain what the Minister meant when he said: a representative from each of the Commonwealth Departments and Primary Industry, Interior . . . 1 assume that the ‘Commonwealth Departments’ are those departments. In the main the Opposition welcomes this step. Such a body was needed. It will strengthen the structure and enthusiasm of several of the State fisheries divisions and will do much to further the development of fishing in Australia.
– by leave - Honourable members will be aware that the Government, when introducing the Fisheries Bill 1967, indicated that it would examine the position of nationals of other countries who have been fishing in what is now the 12-mile declared fishing zone and that it would consider whether, as a matter of international comity, a short phasing out period might be allowed in any appropriate case. On 18th September 1968 my colleague the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) informed the House that discussions had taken place between delegations of Australian and Japanese officials with a view to reaching agreement with respect to Japanese tuna long line fishing in waters of Australia and certain of the Territories including Papua and New Guinea. He undertook that the Government would give early consideration to the report of the delegations.
The Governments of both countries considered the draft agreement contained in the report of the delegations and agreed that it should be signed and submitted to the two Parliaments for ratification. Signature took place in Canberra at 10 o’clock today. The
Australian Government considers that the Agreement will be of benefit to Australia. It provides that at the end of the period specified in the Agreement, Japanese fishing operations in the declared fishing zone will cease for all time. In addition, the Agreement further contributes to the friendly relationship enjoyed by the two countries, which have come to the conference table and amicably settled their problems.
Turning to the Agreement itself, honourable members will doubtless be interested in a brief review of its provisions. All Japanese fishing apart from approved joint ventures with Australian partners and tuna long line fishing will cease in the declared fishing zone. Tuna long line fishing by Japanese vessels will be permitted to continue at present levels in the declared fishing zone for 7 years on the east coasts of Tasmania and the mainland as far north as Sydney, off Norfolk Island and Lord Howe Island, outside the Barrier Reef and off islands in the Coral Sea, off a small stretch of the north west coast and off Cocos (Keeling) Island and Christmas Island.
With regard to Papua and New Guinea, the phase out period has been limited to 3 years after the signing of the Agreement. During that period Japanese tuna long line vessels may engage in fishing within the 3 to 12-mile zone off the coast of Papua and New Guinea, with the exception that in the area off the south coast of Papua west of 145° east longitude there will be no Japanese fishing and in the area between 145° east longitude and 151° east longitude Japanese fishing will be allowed only up to 6 miles from the coastline. In order to protect traditional native fishing grounds tuna long line fishing will not take place on and around reefs in certain waters off the south coast of Papua. Japan will be responsible for ensuring that its fishermen observe the provisions of the Agreement but Australia has the right to inspect any Japanese fishing vessel within the declared fishing zone. Japanese boats will be licensed under the Fisheries Act. They will be permitted to enter Brisbane, Sydney, Hobart and Fremantle for supplies during the period of continued fishing operations and this concession will be re-examined before the end of that period.
The Government is pleased that a compromise has been reached with Japan on this matter, which is one on which Japan as the world’s most advanced fishing nation has strong views. The reaching of this compromise has avoided the possibility of adverse effects on the increasingly close relationships between the two countries. In addition, it is in accord with this Government’s policy of reserving the fishery resources of the declared fishing zone for the exclusive use of Australian fishermen, which will be achieved immediately in most areas and within 7 years in the areas I have already mentioned. The Agreement also brings Japanese operations voluntarily within the provisions of the Fisheries Act throughout the declared fishing zone.
In relation to the provisions of the Agreement in relation to Papua and New Guinea, the Government of Japan will make every effort to see that joint ventures are established in Papua and New Guinea. Such ventures should make a significant contribution to the development of a fishing industry in the Territory and thus to its overall economic development. Also they would provide substantial employment and technical training opportunities for Papuans and New Guineans.
There is one other matter connected with the Agreement which is the concern of this House. On the advice of the Executive Council, His Excellency the GovernorGeneral has made regulations under the Fisheries Act prescribing a rate of licence fee in respect of foreign tuna long line boats. These regulations, which will be gazetted tomorrow, will be tabled in both Houses immediately the Parliament re-assembles. The Government has had regard to all the pertinent factors when agreeing to submit these amending regulations for approval and is fully aware that the Japanese Government will be unable to ratify the Agreement if the regulation should be disallowed. The benefits for Australia of both countries ratifying the Agreement are considerable and the Government therefore commends the Agreement and the amending regulations to the House.
I present the following paper:
Agreement on Fisheries between Australia and Japan signed in Canberra on 27 November 1968.
– by leaveThe Opposition appreciates the fact that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) has made this statement for the Parliament to consider. There are some disturbing aspects about this Agreement. The first point which I wish to make is that the Agreement allows Japanese fishing vessels to operate within the 22-mile zone for what the Minister referred to as a short phasing out period. I am somewhat disturbed to think that the short phasing out period is to be 7 years. I admit that it is some time since I looked at the original statement relating to the 12-mile limit, but it is my understanding that there was no mention of 7 years on that occasion. Seven years does not appear to be a short period. In fact it is a very long period for this type of fishing.
The Minister said that the Government considers that the agreement will be of benefit to Australia. Nothing which the Minister said suggests to me that the agreement will be of benefit to Australia unless it is with respect to relations between Australia and Japan. If the Japanese are to be allowed to exploit our waters within the 12-mile limit - the catches must be very good - I assume that they will be allowed to operate within the territorial or 3-mile limit also. The agreement is fairly ambiguous because permission to fish within the 12-mile limit could be interpreted to mean permission to fish also within the 3-mile limit unless an area is defined as a declared fishing zone. Difficulties arise when you get to the outer reefs, because nobody is certain where the 3-mile limit or the 12-mile limit ends. If permission to fish is to be confined to outside territorial waters, this should have been made more clear because it would mean that the Japanese could not come within the territorial sea but could come within the extended areas over which Australia has control.
It is noted that Japan will be responsible for ensuring that its fishermen observe the provisions of the agreement. It is noted also that Australia has the right to inspect Japanese fishing vessels within the declared fishing zones stretching along the eastern coast of Australia outside the outer Barrier Reef and in other areas, such as in New Guinea. As has been stated many times in this House, if the Australian Government is to police these areas and to see that the Japanese observe the provisions of the agreement it will have to establish a more viable patrol boat service than is in operation today.
The Minister said that the Government is pleased that a compromise has been reached with Japan on this matter. 1 do not know what arguments were advanced in respect of this agreement. Perhaps the Government wanted a shorter period and the Japanese a longer period. The Minister said that the reaching of this compromise had avoided the possibility of adverse effects on the increasingly close relations between the two countries. All that one can deduce from that statement is that if the period had been shorter there would have been increasingly adverse relations between the two countries. I cannot see that Australia has gained anything from this agreement. All that the agreement does is to allow the Japanese to operate in Australian waters for the next 7 years. The only benefit to Australia is that we have not offended the Japanese Government.
– by leave - ] join with my colleague the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) in expressing my concern about the short phasing out period of 7 years. I would hate to go without food or drink for a short period of 7 years. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) did not give details of what transpired at the conference. He has given the Parliament a very meagre report. I am in close contact with fishermen on the cast coast of Australia, particularly around Newcastle and ports to the north, and I know that they are deeply concerned because Japanese fishing boats have been working the east coast for a long time, causing a great deal of trouble. Australian fishermen are particularly concerned because the Japanese use the long line method of fishing for tuna. I know that Australian fishermen will be anything but happy with a 7 years phasing out period. The Government should re-examine this matter.
It is accepted that a country has fishing rights extending to the 12-mile limit. No country infringes Japan’s territorial waters or her inland sea. I am sure the Russians would object to foreign vessels fishing off the coast of Russia within the 12-mile limit. We should be completely dissatisfied with the short phasing out period accepted by the Government. After 1 had raised this matter in a Grievance Day debate 2 or 3 months ago the Minister stated that the Government was quite happy with a short phasing out period. I think the fishing industry expected the short phasing out period to be a maximum of 2 years. I do not think the 7 years is a short phasing out period. The acceptance of this period by the Government amounts to capitulation. I am confident that at the expiration of the 7 years pressure will be applied to the government of the day to grant an extension of the phasing out period. This has been our experience of such things over the years. This agreement appears to be designed to placate the fishing industry. The Government says, in effect: ‘Boys, everything will bc OK in 7 years time. You will then have the coast to yourselves.” In the meantime a lot of damage will be done to our fishing resources. There will be a lot of trouble between foreign fishermen and Australian coastal fishermen.
The Minister knows that the Australian fishing industry is developing. He knows that it is adopting new techniques. As a result of this agreement the coastal fishing industry will be overloaded with foreign and local fishermen. We know that the United States was forced to accept a compromise similar to the one which the Australian Government has accepted when America found that the Russian fishing fleet was operating close to the American coast. Research carried out by the American fisheries department, through the coastguard service, showed that fish numbers were declining. The Russians were catching fish in exceptionally large quantities. I forecast that the Japanese will do the same thing here. If the Japanese agree to vacate the coast at the end of 7 years we will find that our stocks of fish have been depleted alarmingly. It will take years for the industry to recover. The Government should review its decision with respect to a 7 years phasing out period. I think 2 years would be a reasonable period. I urge the Government not to proceed with the agreement but to prescribe a maximum phasing out period of 2 years.
Mr ANTHONY (Richmond- Minister for Primary Industry) - by leave - I would like to reply to some of the matters raised by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) and the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones). I do this now because we do not have time to debate the matter fully. However, there will be other opportunities. This matter would not have arisen if the Government had not had the initiative to extend our exclusive fishing zone from our traditional territorial limit of 3 miles to 12 miles. Foreign fishermen have never been allowed to fish within our 3-mile territorial limit and under this agreement they still will not be allowed to fish within the 3-mile limit. The Commonwealth had to consider whether it should be defiant and resist the Japanese completely, thereby running the risk that the Japanese authorities would have the matter resolved before the International Court of Justice. The international law regarding the 12-mile exclusive fishing zone has not been resolved where countries have traditionally for a good number of years been fishing within the 12 to 3-mile fishing area. I suppose we could take the risk of asking a country lo challenge us in the International Court of Justice. If the International Court made a decision adverse to Australia it would mean that foreign fishermen could come into Australian waters for a period of time much longer than the 7 years and engage in any form of fishing. The agreement we have reached will allow Japanese fishermen for a limited period of 7 years to fish in certain waters where their activities will not conflict to any great degree with those of Australian fishermen. The agreement will apply to only long line tuna vessels. Long line tuna fishing will be the only form of fishing the Japanese will be able to undertake in Australian waters. We will be able to inspect their vessels, and the obligation will be on the Japanese to see that their fishermen abide by the agreement.
– It is the long line tuna fishing that causes so much of the trouble, as the Minister knows.
– The honourable member for Newcastle has mentioned that the agreement will be of concern to the fishermen in his electorate. I would like to inform him that Japanese long line tuna fishermen will not be allowed in the area between Sydney and Brisbane; they will be excluded from this area. They will be allowed to fish only south of Sydney to the east coast of Tasmania. This is a suitable agreement. It is a compromise agreement on the part of both Governments and maintains the goodwill of the two Governments.
I cannot see it doing any harm whatsoever to the existing fishing industry where long line tuna fishing operations are not carried out at all. The agreement is a fair compromise and should be supported by the House.
Report of Public Accounts Committee Mr CLEAVER (Swan)- As Chairman, I present the One Hundred and Third Report of the Public Accounts Committee and seek leave to make a short statement.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– In 1960 your Committee examined the causes of delays that had arisen in the processing of financial regulations. Arising from that inquiry, your Committee recommended in its Fiftieth Report that early action should be taken to ensure that departments ceased making payments prior to the necessary amendment of enabling regulations, observed legislative requirements promptly and kept their Minister fully informed in regard to those matters. Your Committee also recommended that the Public Service Board and other authorities involved should ensure that adequate administrative machinery is available to permit the expeditious drafting of regulations and that immediate attention should be given to the staffing problems in the drafting division of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department. As a period of some 7 years had elapsed since that inquiry, your Committee felt that it should examine again the position in relation to the Defence Department’s financial regulations.
Our inquiry revealed that as at 18th March last there were 69 proposed amendments to the regulations concerned, of which 28 had been outstanding for 2 years or longer and a further 19 had been outstanding for more than 1 year. Inquiries made during the last few days, however, indicated that no less than 45 of these proposed amendments have been tabled in the Parliament subsequent to our inquiry while a further 8 have been withdrawn or are under consideration for withdrawal. The evidence showed that a wide range of factors has impeded the processing of regulations. To overcome these impediments your Committee considers that departments should ensure that amendments that they propose to make to regulations are consistent with existing statutes and in accordance with Government policy. The Committee also believes that they should make strenuous efforts to improve the quality of the instructions put forward for drafting and that they should ensure that they have obtained appropriate ministerial approval before issuing drafting instructions to the Parliamentary Draftsman. Your Committee believes that these objectives would be promoted if departments were to consult with the Parliamentary Draftsman at the earliest opportunity in the development of proposed amendments to regulations. Your Committee also considers that departments should keep proposed changes to regulations under close and efficient surveillance.
The evidence also showed that the Attorney-General’s Department has continued to experience problems in relation to the staffing of its drafting division notwithstanding reorganisations and salary reclassifications that have occurred in recent years. On the basis of both the public and confidential evidence that was tendered, we consider that the Department should present to undergraduates in the universities an indication of the opportunities available to them in legal drafting, with a clear appreciation of the challenging and imaginative nature of the work involved. We also consider that a more formalised method of training for parliamentary draftsmen subsequent to their recruitment should be explored and that the Department should persist with experiments that it has conducted recently of transferring officers to the drafting division from other divisions. Further, your Committee believes that until such time as the staffing problems within the drafting division have been resolved, the placing of selected drafting work with well qualified and carefully chosen counsel should be continued. Finally, we consider that the principle inherent in the use of financial regulations should be preserved. I commend the report to honourable members.
Ordered that the report be printed.
-I have received a letter from the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) proposing that a matter of definite public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:
The establishment of a standing CommonwealthStale organisation to cope with natural disasters. 1 call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places. (More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places)
– The matter of public importance relates to the establishment of a standing Commonwealth-State organisation to cope with natural disasters. We of the Opposition are of the opinion that for too long State governments and local government bodies have been left to cope with the consequences of natural disasters which occur with monotonous regularity. We always cleanse our soul by making various Press statements after a disaster has occurred. I have in my hand at the moment a statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) in Canberra on 26th November 1968 in which he said, amongst other things, that the Federal Government would make a contribution of $50,000 on a $1 for $1 basis to assist the victims of a natural disaster. That is not good enough. A national organisation should administer this relief. Because of the limitations of the Constitution we realise that such an organisation would have to be established on a State and Commonwealth basis. Therefore, we believe that the Commonwealth Government should initiate a move to establish a Commonwealth and State organisation to cope with natural disasters such as fires, floods, droughts and even earthquakes. Recently we heard about the consequences of an earthquake and earlier this week we heard of the damage that was caused by a cyclone at the small town of Killarney in Queensland.
Such disasters should be dealt with on a national basis. We have in mind a centrally controlled organisation. We do not suggest for one second that it should be located in one of the capital cities or in the Australian Capital Territory. The organisation, when it is set up, should decide the best and most central location for an organisation of this type. Any amount of evidence can be brought forward to justify the establishment of an organisation to cope with natural disasters. 1 have in mind that such an organisation would be capable of handling the major natural disasters to which this country is subjected, namely, fire, flood and drought. 1 believe that there should be an organisation which could co-ordinate the activities of the three Services - the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. Various units of the Services could be available on demand and there could be a person in command of the natural disasters organisation who had immediate access to the chiefs of staff of the various branches of our Services. So at a moment’s notice, for example, a Hercules aircraft could be made available to transport heavy equipment from one area in the Commonwealth to another. Helicopters which are operated by the three branches of the Services could also be used in such an operation. These aircraft could be constantly and readily available. Such a scheme could be treated as part of the training ofthe officers in the three branches of the Services.
Any amount of evidence can be produced as to the need for the establishment of a natural disasters organisation. 1 shall very quickly refer to some of the major fire disasters which have occurred in Australia in the last 20 to 30 years. I refresh honourable members’ minds by referring to the fire which occurred in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia in 1939, in which hundreds of square miles of land were devastated and in which seventy-one lives were lost. The estimated cost of that fire was$200m. A fire in New South Wales in 1952 again resulted in the loss of millions of dollars. A lire in the Blue Mountains in 1957 resulted in the loss of life and property.In January1 965 nine people lost their lives in a fire at Longwood in Victoria. In March 1965 a man lost his life, 200 homes were destroyed and thousands of head of stock were lost in a fire in southern New South Wales. At the same time in Victoria troops had to be called out to fight a fire with a 90-mile front, and a state of emergency was declared in Gippsland.
One will never forget the disaster which occurred in Tasmania in November 1966 when fifty-two people lost their lives and damage was estimated at some $30m. At the present time fires are occurring in New South Wales and also in Queensland. During the months of October and November this year fire resulted in loss and damage on the south coast of New South Wales, in the Blue Mountains, on the central coast of New South Wales and now on the north coast of New South Wales. All told, in these fires, six people have lost their lives and people have been injured.
I want to quote very briefly from some Press reports. In today’s ‘Daily Telegraph’ the Chief Secretary for New South Wales, Mr Willis, stated that recent bush fires had cost the State more than $l2m. Today’s Sydney Morning Herald’ published the following report.
At least 125,000 acres in thirty State forests of the Casino forestry district have been severely damaged by lire in the past fortnight, officials of the Forestry Commission estimate. . . .
These fires, which have wreaked the worst damage to Stale forests on the North coast in living memory, will be a substantial economic loss to the commission, to sawmillers and the business community in general,’ the spokesman said.
There is any amount of evidence of the damage which has been caused by fire.
Now I turn to floods. 1 think of the position of people who live in the Hunter Valley and on the areas adjacent to the coastal rivers in New South Wales and in Queensland. We all know the great loss which the community as a whole can sustain as a result of flooding of these coastal river plains, where the rivers rise very rapidly and cause a great amount of damage. There is the damage which is caused by flood and the damage and loss to the community which is caused by drought. The Bega Valley is being subjected to drought at the present lime. Only today at question time questions were asked concerning the drought in the Bega Valley. Numerous controversies have arisen concerning the drought on the south coast of New South Wales.
Would it not have been much nicer and much easier if there had been a natural disasters organisation to deal with this matter, instead of a dispute arising between the Premier of New South Wales and the
Prime Minister of Australia (Mr Gorton) as to whether Army trucks could be made available to transport fodder? Would it not have been much easier if there had been a natural disasters organisation which could have said: ‘We have access to ten or twenty trucks. We are prepared to make them available urgently to carry this fodder.’? Our friends from the Australian Country Party and their supporters would know, possibly better than anyone else, the financial losses that are sustained as a result of drought, fire, and flood. These people know what should be done in this situation. We hope that we can stir the Government into doing something about it.
So far as fire is concerned, one of the things which disappointed and completely surprised me occurred when I recently learned that the civil defence organisation had been specifically directed that it shall not take part in fire fighting. To me, this organisation had some semblance of being a body which would be able to handle natural disasters. There is probably no disaster worse than fire. We know that flood is bad and that drought is bad, but fire happens quickly and devastation is complete. But the civil defence organisation has been specifically directed that it shall not take part in fire fighting. We hope that an organisation similar to the one we have suggested will be established and that it will contain members from the three branches of the Services.
The Government has been asked to purchase a specially designed aircraft to deal with forest fires. The aircraft is the Canadair CL215. Representatives of the company which builds this aircraft have visited Australia. The attention of the Department of National Development and of the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) has been drawn to the fact that three of these aircraft, including spares, could be purchased for slightly less than $3m. The aircraft can scoop 12,000 gallons of water from a river, lake or sea without landing and the water can be released in seconds. The Quebec Provincial Government has purchased twenty of these aircraft, the French Government has purchased ten of them and the United States Government has purchased a number of them in order to handle forest fires. Yesterday I asked the Minister for National Development a ques tion concerning this aircraft. He said that a report concerning it had been made to the Australian Forestry Council:
Only last Thursday the Premier of New South Wales asked the Government to do something about providing an aircraft for water bombing purposes. I shall refer to an article in the ‘Canberra Times’ of 19th March 1965. It related to the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon) who is now Minister for the Interior, and it stated: lt was proposed by Mr Nixon (CP Victoria), in letters to the Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, the Minister for Defence, Senator Paltridge, and the Minister for National Development. Mr Fairbairn.
Mr Fairbairn has already replied to Mr Nixon’s letter giving an assurance it would receive his earnest attention.
This report was dealing with representations by the honourable member for Gippsland that the Federal Government consider the purchase of planes for bombing fires with water in areas, such as those in his own electorate, which were ravaged by fires.
These are the points that we bring to the Government’s attention. We hope that it will be prepared to look at the facilities that are available in other countries. Yesterday, in reply to a question I asked, the Minister for National Development said that 10 months ago the Government looked at the question. It has noi made up its mind yet. About 3i years ago the Government told the honourable member for Gippsland that it would look at the question of purchasing planes for water bombing fires. When will the Government make a decision? Other countries have made a decision. Canada has made a decision. The Minister said that if the Government purchased aircraft for fire fighting purposes Australia did not have sufficient lakes or rivers from which the planes could get water. 1 do not know how many more lakes or rivers the Minister would want on our east coast. If we proceed up the coast northwards from Bateman’s Bay we find that water is available at Bateman’s Bay, Jervis Bay, Lake Illawarra, Botany Bay, Sydney Harbour, the Hawkesbury River, Tuggerah Lake, Lake Macquarie, the port of Newcastle, the Hunter River, Port Stephens, Myall Lakes, Wallis Lake and so on. How much more water does the Minister want? These rivers and lakes are all located in areas that have been severely ravaged by fires over the years. Some of them at present are being ravaged.
The Chief Secretary of New South Wales claims that losses from fires cost $12m annually. The cost of three of these planes would be about $3m. The cost of maintaining a unit of these planes would be no more than $400,000 to $500,000 a year. How much is a life worth? How do we measure the cost of the lives of the six men who died recently fighting fires? What are their lives worth? Are they worth $ 1 m each to their loved ones? They certainly are worth far more than that.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I have listened with great interest to what has been said by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones), who has led this debate on behalf of the Opposition, lt is obvious that he does not know the history of Commonwealth aid to the States to help them overcome the problems of national disasters whenever and wherever they have occurred. He has completely ignored, too, this simple question that is implicit in the proposal that is now before the House: Do we need a supplementary organisation to do the job that is so effectively carried out by Joint CommonwealthState co-operation? May I take the House back a little over the history of this matter and indicate the revolution in opinion within the Commonwealth over recent years? I localise my argument to the last 3 years because I know this period extremely well; it is the period in which I have been the Treasurer.
About 4 years ago - certainly no more the Commonwealth gave help to the States on the basis of relief of personal hardship and distress, and for reconstruction of government property, which was damaged. Assistance was given to the States to permit those assets to be reconstructed and to be put into active use as quickly as possible. About 31 to 4 years ago the Government’s philosophy changed. In looking at the great national disasters and acts of God we looked, first, at the question of personal hardship and distress in as civilised a way as we could In other words, we decided that we wanted to minimise the damage to the individual, to his mind and to his physical possessions. We wanted to minimise the problems that his family might face unless we got them back into work quickly and helped them to overcome those problems.
We had two ways in which we thought the problem should be looked at. As I said a moment ago, first we wanted the individual himself to get back into production as soon as possible. We did not want him to be relying on unemployment benefit. We did not want him to be waiting until his business was reconstructed by his own effort. We had another great objective, too. We came to the conclusion that as a matter of policy the sooner we got people back into production the better it would be for the nation, because the greater would be our overall production and the increase in our exports. I can illustrate the problem in this way. As a result of droughts that occurred in Australia last year our national income fell by i% below what it would have been. We hope that with drought substantially relieved in Australia this year, instead of getting a rate of growth in our national product of 4% or 4£% it will be a minimum of 6% and probably as high as 6±% to 7%.
So we have these triple objectives and triple purposes. Critical, of course, are the happiness of the individual and his standards of life, and the happiness of his family and its standard of life as well. What have we done in fact? From a minimum amount the Government has now provided substantial sums in order to permit the States to get on with the job of combating national disasters. In the last 3 years we have supplied about $70m to the States to permit them to carry out the tasks I have just mentioned. Let me relate some of the changes we have made; this is by no means a comprehensive list. First we decided to provide, in the case of the individual, an amount of about $6,000 to permit him to carry on his farm. We went a stage further and provided up to $10,000 or $12,000 - and in some cases substantially more - to permit reconstruction activities to commence immediately the effects of the drought were over. We did not want to administer these schemes because we felt that the Slates had the mechanism and the ability to do it better than we could do it. So we paid these moneys to the States to enable them to make the arrangements with the individuals through their banks. We provided funds free of interest to the States and let them charge the minimum interest that was necessary in administering the scheme.
Later - 1 well remember this; it was during the time that I have had the good fortune to be the Treasurer - we decided that we would permit subsidies on the movement of fodder and stock. We provided access to the Australian Wheat Board so that wheat could be obtained on concessional terms. We provided Victoria with $lm specifically because in the western areas of Victoria there was a problem of high stocking rates and usually of good grasses. We did not think that the problem there could be handled by conventional means.
I turn now to one other tremendous problem that has interested us. Previously we did not give any help where a drought, flood, fire or earthquake might have caused unemployment. We now make payments in these cases to the States to reduce the incidence of unemployment. I think we have been remarkably successful as the figures for registrants show. We have provided the great bulk of the moneys for this purpose not as repayable grants but freely and as absolute grants. Only a part of Commonwealth assistance must be repaid by the Stales and then, as I have said, these repayable loans are provided free of interest by the Commonwealth Government. I regret that too many of the States do not give the Commonwealth Government credit for what it is doing. I say ‘too many’ because some States do act with a feeling of conscience and responsibility. However, some States, particularly Victoria and its Minister for Lands, criticise the Commonwealth for not having done enough, although they themselves do very little. I will obtain for the information of the House figures showing the amount that the Commonwealth and the States have made available when this assistance has been given to those in distress. This year alone we are providing about S20m to enable the States to carry out the tasks 1 have mentioned.
We have no fixed rules to determine the way in which we will give assistance. If the drought or the fire is on a major scale, we provide the bulk of the finance. If it is on a smaller scale, but nonetheless important, as the drought in the Eden-Monaro electorate is, we tailor our activities to meet the needs of the people affected. In the latter case we are providing assistance to the State on a $1 for $1 basis to help the people in the drought stricken areas of Eden-Monaro to overcome their adversity as quickly as possible. The assistance in this instance is on a $1 for $1 basis and, with the help of my colleague, the honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Munro), I believe the Commonwealth is providing responsible assistance of the right kind to help the people in this district to meet the severe effects of the current drought there.
We go further than this. I will illustrate what we are willing to do by going back to the savage and severe fires in Tasmania. I well remember that the Press contacted me on the evening the first fire started. The then Prime Minister happened to be in New Zealand. A representative of the Melbourne
Sun’ saw me and within minutes I had given instructions that Army, Navy and Air Force personnel were to be made available so that maximum assistance could be given to combat the effects of the fires. When it came to the question of the financial assistance that was to be given, we sent the Minister who was then assisting me to Tasmania to assess the situation. The bulk of the finance for the work that was done was provided by the Commonwealth Government. The State entered wholeheartedly and well into the job that had to be done. The Commonwealth took the major financial responsibility and a very small sum was provided by the Stale.
What docs all this mean? Obviously the Opposition has been left behind by the passage of events. The Commonwealth Government has recognised the need for more and more to be done. It has recognised that we are now adopting a different approach to the problem. In the past the individual has been left to fend for himself following disasters. But the difficulties were too great for the individual. A new approach permeates the thinking of the Commonwealth today, lt must be obvious to the House that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) has taken a personal interest in fire relief in New South Wales. He has, by the answers he has given to questions on drought relief, shown his own compassionate interest and his willingness to play a personal part in ensuring that as quickly as possible and to the extent that we think is reasonable we will give the assistance that will permit the States to do the job that is necessary.
The question, therefore, is whether the existing organisational arrangements arc effective. I have not received any complaint during the course of the last year or more about the method of organisation. I have had requests to hurry decisions. This is understandable because those who are affected want assistance as quickly as we can give it to them. But what would happen if we put another cog in the machine? Why institutionalise the assistance we give? Why get someone else to do the job that the States can do effectively? The States have their own personnel and their own organisations. When the need arises, the local governing authorities contact the State authorities, the Premier contacts the Prime Minister and we get the mechanism working in a matter of moments. A classic example of the way in which it works relates to the situation in New South Wales. Mr Crawford, the Minister for Agriculture in that Slate, went to Bega, had a look at the problems there and then asked us for additional assistance. We were only too happy to be able to provide it.
– This is a decentralised operation.
– Yes, it must be. If we had an organisation at, say, Alice Springs that had to give help to Bega or to some place in the south of Tasmania what would the central organisation do? lt would have lo send its people to the area, try to get the information it needed, ask the Stales to provide the assistance that only the Stales can give, study the information and present it to the State or Commonwealth Government. This would not only clutter up the job but would ensure that there would be more delay and confusion. I am sure that this process would weaken the organisation that now exists for giving help as quickly and as reasonably as we possibly can.
There are other aspects, too. I stress that fundamentally this is a matter of relieving the hardship and anguish that exist in the hearts and minds of individuals. We must also consider such other factors as Commonwealth and Slate financial relationships and the necessity for us as a government lo be certain that when money is spent it is reasonably and responsibly spent. The philosophy we adopt in these instances is that the benefit of the doubt must be given to the individuals and to the Stales. Evolution progresses steadily. I can assure honourable members that I have had no greater pride as Treasurer than I have had in the assistance that has been given first by the Holt Government and now by the Gorton Government to those sections of the community that are affected by acts of God and cannot handle the situation themselves. By a combined Commonwealth and State operation we are able to get together and assist them. This is good. But if we introduce another piece of mechanism into the machine, I am sure efficiency will be lost and very quickly we will lose that attitude of compassion that is so desperately essential.
-Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
– The Treasurer (Mr McMahon) has refused to acknowledge the terms in which the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) has raised this matter of public importance. Instead of debating the issue raised in such a timely and effective way by the honourable member, the Treasurer has spoken of aid given by the Commonwealth to the various States. At the same lime he has attacked the States for their failure to work with the Commonwealth. He has said that too many of the States give the Commonwealth little credit. Yet at the same time he says that the Commonwealth will leave the job to the separate States, in which he declares he has no confidence and which he declares refuse to give due credit to the Commonwealth, lt is true that the States- have little respect for the contribution made by the Commonwealth. In the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of 20th November - this month - the Premier of New South Wales, Mr Askin, is reported to have said that he agreed to have his Government reconsider using specially adapted planes to water bomb bush fire outbreaks. He made that statement in reply to the Leader of the Opposition in the New South Wales Parliament.
We have raised this matter in an effort to meet the recurring tragedies of bush fires and other disasters that cause devastation and loss of life. The Opposition believes that we should co-ordinate our services and produce a uniform system throughout Australia that would act immediately on each recurring disaster. In addition we should seek the means to overcome the causes of these disasters. We believe that such a system should deal effectively with the problems facing not only one State but all the States of the Commonwealth. The Opposition acknowledges the Commonwealth aid that is given to the States. The Treasurer has dealt with this aid in some detail. But he has not said anything about effectively dealing with the problem. The Opposition wants an organisation that will deal with the prevention of fires and floods and will help to minimise the effects of other forms of disaster frequently visited upon the people of Australia. We would like to see established a national organisation combining the best and most effective means of fighting fires, controlling floods and providing other services for combating disasters throughout Australia.
We do not want the sort of confusion, debate, argument and unseemly wrangling that occurred between the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and the Premier of New South Wales in respect of the drought conditions on the South Coast of New South Wales, and in the Bega Valley in particular. Instead, we should have an organisation that would deal effectively and immediately with these problems. If such an organisation were set up there would not be disputation, debate and argument between those responsible as to who should be. dealing with the problem. What we want is a skilled work force - a skilled organisation with effective machinery and the most modern equipment, including planes such as those referred to so effectively by my colleague, the honourable member for Newcastle, who pointed out what could be done by adopting practices that are in vogue overseas. Planes used in a water bombing role could be used to deal with bush fires in their early stages. This would make it possible for land forces to fight fires more effectively. What the honourable member for Newcastle had to say about this matter is confirmed by what has taken place in other countries.
In reply to a question asked by the honourable member for Newcastle yesterday about the use of planes for the water bombing of bush fires from the air, the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) said:
Furthermore, there are not in Australia large lakes such as there are in Canada where water could bc picked up.
This, of course, is not in accordance with the facts. There are lakes on the coastline of New South Wales, and in Victoria, Queensland and elsewhere where water could be picked up from the air. Any effective measures that can be adopted should be taken. I believe that water bombing should be considered. A co-ordinated national body could use this method of dealing with fire outbreaks throughout Australia. Another worthwhile proposition would be the seeding of clouds. The honourable member for Robertson (Mr BridgesMaxwell) is attempting to interject, but I am unaware of the meaning of his remarks. He would know that in his electorate there is available water that could be used for fighting fires. The region that the honourable member represents has been ravaged by fires in recent months.
At this stage I feel that I should pay a tribute to those who have been engaged in fighting bush fires. The fire fighters deserve the highest praise and commendation of members of this House. The Opposition has not submitted this urgency proposal as a criticism of the human effort involved in fighting the fires. We acknowledge the outstanding service that has been given. I appreciate the comments made by Inspector Hodder, who is reported in this morning’s Sydney Morning Herald’ as having described the fire fighters in the Springwood area as magnificent. J re-echo those sentiments. I would also like to take this opportunity of expressing my deepest sympathy to the families of those who have lost their lives in the recent outbreaks. No-one could do less than pay a tribute to the heroism of those who died, and express deep sympathy for the wives and dependants of those who died.
What do we spend on fighting bush fires? Considering v/hat the Treasurer had to say, one would feel that Australia is doing all that can be done. According to the Sydney Telegraph’ of 14th March this year. New South Wales has spent $6m in 10 years on fire fighting. The community of Los Angeles spent S30m in 1 year. This information is provided by Mr E. D. Gill, who is Chief Divisional Forestry Protection Officer in Victoria. Mr A. G. McArthur said that in 1967 Australia spent $150,000 on research in this field while the United States of America spent $3,200,000. Are we doing enough? It will be agreed that we are not doing enough. I believe that we should be doing more. When we look at the stark figures of the toll of fires, we realise this. On Black Friday, 13th January 1939, 71 people lost their lives and 1,300 houses were destroyed. The fires caused S20m in damage. This is an example of what can occur and is occurring. Tn November 1944 and November and December 1957 there were disastrous fires and considerable loss of life on the Blue Mountains. Hundreds of houses were destroyed. In January 1962, 9 people were killed in fires around Melbourne. In 1965. 14 people died in Victorian fires and 2 people were killed in southern New South Wales. In the more recent Hobart tragedy, 52 lives were lost and 1,200 homes were destroyed. The immediate loss of houses totalled §3,100,000 in value and the entire damages amounted to more than $30m. These figures indicate, if proof is needed - and I fee! sure it is not needed - that we should be doing more at present to deal effectively with the problems of the disasters that constantly plague this great nation of ours.
I can only hope that this proposal, which has been submitted in a reasonable way with as few words as possible, will be accepted by the Government as an indication of the thoughts of the Opposition.
Mr STREET (Corangamite) 4.48]- 1 would like lo join with the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti) in offering my sympathy to the sufferers of the recent very serious fires. I have been through something like those fires myself and I can well understand the position that the people concerned find themselves in today. But having said that I find myself unable to agree with much of what the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) and the honourable member for Macquarie have put forward. In submitting this urgency proposal, the honourable member for Newcastle gave a great list of damages, both financial and material, due to drought, fire and flood. Certainly, the disasters have been extremely serious. But the mete existence of a joint Commonwealth-States organisation would not stop these disasters or have much effect on them. I will come back to this in a moment. The honourable member for Newcastle also mentioned the fact that the civil defence organisation was not called in to help fight the fires. It is all very well if members of the civil defence organisation are (rained in fire fighting, but I can assure (he honourable member that untrained people are not only a danger to themselves but also to others who are trying to fight fires. I cannot help wondering how much personal experience a person who makes such a suggestion has had.
Reference was also made to the use of aircraft to fight fires. In Canada, and in the United States to a degree, success has been achieved by using the water bombing technique, particularly for remote, hardtogetat forest fires. But when it comes to using aircraft to fight fires in more open grass
Country, where I understand they will also have to be used if their purchase is to be justified, it is a different story altogether. I wonder whether any honourable members would care to be under 1.200 gallons of water when it is hitting the ground at 100 miles an hour. Most of the fires are Occurring in areas that are not inaccessible. Fire fighting units and men are usually in close proximity to the fire, visibility is not good and usually a confused state is prevailing. Because of the noise of the fire and of the fire fighting units it is not possible to hear an aeroplane flying above. J believe that anyone who found himself under 1,200 gallons of water that is travelling at 100 miles an hour would noi be so much in favour of water bombing techniques in open country.
The honourable member did not seem to realise that light crop-spraying aircraft have been used with very great success in the more remote areas of Gippsland in Victoria with an additive called phoschek, which inhibits the spread of fire. I would have expected the Opposition to make some constructive suggestion, such as that the local authorities - for instance, the Country Fire Authority in Victoria or its equivalent in the various Stales - be encouraged to co-operate with the local aerial agriculture operators who have aircraft stationed all over the place, with a view to co-ordinating and getting those aircraft into use when the occasion arises. These aircraft do not carry 1.200 gallons of water and so do not pose the same danger to the fire fighters as do aircraft which carry large quantities of water, but I believe that they can play a very important part in the fighting of fires.
I am glad that the Commonwealth Government is contributing funds for further experiments in this field. Here is a situation where we have the capital equipment; all we need is some co-ordination to examine the effective use of the equipment. I think a constructive suggestion like this one is pertinent to the debate. But the real essence of the debate is: What could the organisation that the Opposition has advocated do that cannot be clone by the State authorities? If it could not do any more than is already being done there is no use for it. I have explained that it would not be effective for fire fighting. What could it do in circumstances of drought? I think it was the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr
Luchetti) who said that a uniform system should be operative throughout Australia. I cannot think of anything more disastrous. With the recent drought we experienced in Victoria we found that circumstances varied considerably in different parts of the State. The Victorian Department of Agriculture very soon got busy and distributed two excellent booklets on feeding cattle and sheep. It held seminars all over the State to packed halls explaining how to get the maximum benefit from different types of feeding and so on. The Department knows the conditions prevailing. If the suggested Commonwealth-State organisation were established it would only have to do the same thing through the State Departments of Agriculture as was done in Victoria on this occasion. 1 cannot see how t his will add anything to the machinery we have already. lt is also suggested that such an organisation could be used for co-ordination purposes in the unlikely event of a major disaster affecting more than one State at once. 1 remind the Opposition that there is a Commonwealth-State consultative committee on civil defence which the Commonwealth Director can call together at any time if necessary. If the object of the suggested joint organisation is to provide finance, how can it provide more finance than (he perfectly adequate finance which was provided during the last bush fire in Tasmania and the major droughts that have occurred in various parts of Australia since 1965?
– Finance was virtually unlimited. How could the suggested joint organisation do more than that? If the idea is to establish a fund, I can see it as a double edged sword. What would happen if the fund was exhausted? There would certainly be huge demands made on it. The fact that the fund was exhausted could be used as an excuse by an unsympathetic Commonwealth Government to refuse to accept any further responsibility. It could say: ‘That is the end of the fund. We have discharged our responsibility.’ Under the present flexible arrangement the Treasury can and does provide finance in direct relationship to the needs of the situation. This arrangement covers situations that are likely to arise far better than would such a fund. I do not know whether that is the object of the Opposition as it was not specifically mentioned.
The most important point of all is the psychological effect that such a central authority would have on those most affected by flood, fire or drought. In most cases they are primary producers. I believe that there is nothing more distrusted than central authority. If those affected knew that any disbursement of funds had to go through a central authority their first reaction would be one of distrust. Aid must go through the State Government. I believe it is preferable that it go one stage further and go to the local authorities. They are the ones who are dealing wilh local problems. They are composed of people who really know the conditions affecting their immediate area. A system that was uniformly operative throughout Australia just would not work under present conditions.
In conclusion, I would like to give two concrete examples of the reaction in Victoria to drought relief. These arose on two separate and quite unconnected occasions during the last fortnight. One was in the form of a letter from a local council and the other was a chap getting up quite unprepared and unrehearsed at a local Returned Services League smoke night and making a speech. Strangely enough the tenor of the remarks was identical. Both asked me to pass on to the Commonwealth Government their appreciation of the funds which have been made available. But the point they both made was that they most appreciated the fact that the Commonwealth Government had enough confidence in the local authorities to make them responsible for dealing with disaster conditions in their own areas. The proposed organisation suggested by the Opposition in its motion would destroy this confidence.
– The Treasurer (Mr McMahon) and other honourable members have indicated that there is no need for a central organisation or for an organisation which would fully co-ordinate the Commonwealth, State and local authorities to fight and to minimise the effects of natural disasters in Australia. In fact, the Treasurer said that the job is being carried on effectively at the moment by State organisations. This may be so in some States or in some areas, but I am unaware of it. I have not had much experience of efficient State or local authorities operating in Australia under emergency conditions. Natural disasters, such as fires, floods and cyclones, cause instant chaos and when they occur one sees a shambles of organisation. In fact, there is no organisation in many areas. 1 speak from some knowledge of the flood, fires and cyclones that have occurred in the northern part of Australia in recent years.
Mention has been made in the debate this afternoon of the civil defence organisation. lt is my understanding that this organisation has been specifically instructed not to participate or interfere in the fighting of fires. In fact when one asks members of the civil defence organisation what its charter is they cannot give an answer. J have had that experience in my own electorate in recent months. I have asked men connected with the civil defence organisation what the charter of the organisation is and they have not been able to tell me. In Bundaberg, in the electorate of the honourable member for Wide Bay (Mr Hansen), there was recently a major upheaval because it was stated that the civil defence organisation could not assist in time of flood. The present position is chaotic and all that the Opposition is putting to the Government is that there is a need for a better organisation under the direct control of the Commonwealth and State Governments to coordinate the efforts of the Vocal authorities and other organisations that are equipped to deal with natural disasters.
The Treasurer made great play on what the Government has done with respect to concessions on rail freights for the transportation of starving livestock and fodder and also grants to relieve unemployment. Nobody would deny that all the measures that have been taken along those lines are of importance, but what the Opposition is asking, when it proposes this matter for discussion, is: Why wait until disasters occur before taking action? Why follow this ad hoc policy? Why wait until a drought reaches its highest intensity before acting to provide relief? We should be making studies of the causes of natural disasters in order to minimise the ravages of droughts, fires, floods and cyclones from which we periodically suffer. We shall never defeat floods and droughts completely. We know this. But there is no need to continue to adopt a negative attitude towards floods and droughts and fires.
Suggestions have been made from time immemorial as to how we may defeat droughts. Many of them must of necessity be uneconomic. The costs involved in trying to move stock to agistment, or providing national fodder reserves, or carrying out specific irrigation projects, in many cases would not stand up to even the most liberal of economic tests. But this does not mean that we should be complacent. There are many parts of Australia, particularly the higher rainfall areas, where more positive action could be taken, especially towards minimising the effects of drought.
In recent years a major investigation of drought losses has been carried out by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Stock. A suggestion has been made many times by technical officers, by scientists and by practical graziers, that there should bc located in areas of Australia which are highly susceptible to drought what might be called ‘fodder banks’. There are many areas of Australia admirably suited to the growing of summer grains, particularly sorghums and other crops which would make excellent silage. There are many areas of Aus tralia in which there is in the off season unused capacity in the railways and in workers. With a fully co-ordinated effort by the railways to move reserves of fodder into strategic areas of Australia I am certain we could, in some areas at least, minimise the tragic effects of drought, particularly on young stock and breeding stock.
The Treasurer tells us that when a disaster such as a drought strikes, the Government provides unemployment benefits or makes special grants to the State Governments for distribution to local authorities. But there still remains, as all honourable members know, a great deal that could be done if we adopted a more positive approach to this problem. I happened to be reading in the Library today and I was attracted to a report of a statement by the honourable member for Hume (Mr Pettitt), with which I think most honourable members would agree. He said: 1 believe it is essential that we should set up a
Commonwealth drought authority to take charge whenever and wherever a severe drought strikes.
Tn essence that is exactly what the Opposition suggests in proposing this matter for discussion, although, of course, our suggestion is much broader. It is designed to take into account all natural disasters. Some natural disasters strike overnight. A fire can spring up with very little warning, and with a sudden change of wind it can be rendered either harmless or disastrous. A flood can develop within a matter of hours, but are there effective flood warning devices in many of the areas worst affected by floods? The answer is no. We have an increasingly efficient cyclone warning system but, as those members who live in the northern parts of Australia know, when a cyclone comes we are never certain whether we will weather it or not. Cyclones strike infrequently, but when they do they leave a trail of devastation and misery. We must do our best to avoid what has happened in the past. A cyclone or a flood comes and then the local mayor or chairman of the shire council considers he is in control, or the medical superintendent thinks he is in control. Then they call for volunteers over the radio. But if it were not for the Salvation Army and the Red Cross and the Country Womens’ Association and similar organisations the position would be tragic for many people.
There is no reason why these natural disasters cannot be belter dealt with. The Treasurer says that there are areas of Australia in which organisations well equipped by the States themselves can swing into action to handle natural disasters. I do not know where these organisations are. They have certainly not been evident lately in the southern parts of New South Wales and they have not been evident in parts of Queensland which are now being ravaged by major bushfires like the one which was blazing last weekend on a 300 mile front between Collinsville and Clermont. These are the kinds of tragedies that are occurring but unfortunately there is a great deal of complacency in the country, particularly in grazing areas. When grazing country is set alight few people worry except the graziers and others who have to bear the brunt. If more people saw the burning sheep, burning calves and burning breeding stock I am sure they would appreciate more the ravages of bushfires and grass fires.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The Opposition calls for a Commonwealth-Stale organisation to cope with natural disasters. The honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) dealt mainly with the fires that have occurred over many years. I believe that when fires and other disasters occur it is local knowledge that is most important in dealing with the situation. In a vast country such as Australia a central organisation like the one suggested by the Opposition would be quite useless to deal with many of the situations that occur. What are important are the local authorities with their local knowledge and the local fire fighting bodies which are well equipped to deal with fires and maintain their communications. They have adequate fire fighting equipment - certainly they have in my State - to deal effectively with the situation in their particular local areas. Local knowledge is of the utmost importance. However, I believe that on the Australian scene generally there is room, as we have learned in my State from bitter experience, for more preventive measures. This can be done from time to time only by the local authorities themselves. The local people who understand their own districts are best able to work out these problems.
The honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) spoke of the need for special measures in a disaster area. Let me refer to two incidents of which 1 have direct knowledge. The first is the recent earthquake in Western Australia. Earthquakes are virtually unknown in Australia, and we have little or no experience with the problems arising from such disasters. In both of these instances the local authorities and the local people, together with State departments, immediately came to the rescue. These people did something immediately because they were on the spot. These disasters occurred about 2,000 miles from here. The people on the spot dealt with the situation as best they could. Their proposals were submitted to the State departments and through them to the Commonwealth. This machinery is working at this moment.
Some years ago in the town of Harvey in Western Australia a certain situation arose. Following heavy falls of rain it became obvious that certain pressures were placed upon the Harvey dam, and these caused concern to the authorities and residents of the district. The town had to be evacuated within hours, and this was done by the local civil defence authorities. This is another example of how people on the spot can deal with an emergency. After taking the initial step the local people can move through constitutional channels from the State departments to the Commonwealth for assistance if necessary. This machinery is already in existence. The constitutional responsibilities of the State departments and local authorities are most important, because the authorities here in Canberra, being remote from the actual areas involved, cannot do the things that are required immediately.
I have asked myself what advantage there is in setting up another organisation over and above, or even working with, those which we have at the moment. 1 cannot see any advantage in this at all. The establishment of such an organisation would cause confusion. We have members of this Parliament in every corner of the country, and we have local authorities and various State departments who can. request the Commonwealth to assist in times of disaster. The local civil defence organisation, as happened at Harvey, can act immediately because it understands the various tasks that have to be undertaken. It does not matter if the disaster is a fire or an earthquake, the machinery is available and can be put into motion immediately. 1 have no doubt that the Commonwealth will come to the aid of these people in any future disasters.
The Commonwealth, working with the local authorities and State departments provides finance to assist in overcoming the effects of drought, fire and floods. Over the years the Commonwealth has done its share in this respect; it has helped in a practical way. The Commonwealth, having obtained all the information necessary from the State departments, local authorities and members of this Parliament, is able to ascertain what assistance is necessary and is then able to make financial assistance available to the various bodies. It is interesting to note the amount of finance that the Commonwealth has made available to the States to offset damage in disaster areas. The total of such Commonwealth payments from 1949 to 1968 is about $79m. Of this total New South Wales has received about $38.2m; Victoria $8.8m; Queensland $17.5m; South Australia $3.1m; Western Australia $472,000 - there were not many disasters in that State - and Tasmania $10.7m. As I see it, the present system is flexible. If it were not flexible it would become completely jammed up overnight. While it remains m its present form it can operate at a minute’s notice.
If a rigid organisation were to be set up by the Commonwealth - in co-operation with the States - and it was allocated a sum of money annually to deal with particular disasters, a situation similar to that which has occurred in other parts of the world could arise. Only recently an amount of $50,000 was made available to the Western Australian Government in respect of the earthquake disaster which occurred in that State. This money was made available immediately under the present flexible organisation. This flexibility is most important. It means that right down the line operations can commence immediately - from the people concerned, to the State departments, and then to the Commonwealth. Then the Commonwealth can immediately assist those in need.
– Order I The time allotted under the Standing Orders for this debate has expired.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr Gorton, and read a first rime.
[5.19.1- I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill arises from the Government’s decision to increase the salaries of $15,000 and $17,500 for Permanent Heads of Departments of State and certain statutory offices and to provide for the payment of annual allowances additional to these salaries. The new salaries will be $19,500 and $22,750 and the annual allowances will bc $1,000 and $1,500 respectively, with effect from 1st December 1968. The Bill provides the new salaries and allowances for the holders of the statutory offices included in the First Schedule to the Bill and, by an amendment to section 30 (1) of the Public Service Act 1922-1967, for the payment of allowances to Permanent Heads.
The existing salaries of these senior officers date from 1st November 1964. During this period there have been many changes in other salaries in the Commonwealth Public Service, including the substantial increase of December 1966 in the Second Division. The margin between the Permanent Head’s salary of $15,000 and the highest Second Division salary has been reduced to only $272. There have also been substantial increases in other comparable salaries. The annual allowances are for the expenses of office in which these senior officials are necessarily involved but which, by their nature, cannot be met by direct reimbursement. Similar allowances are paid to senior officers in the New South Wales Public Service and in related government employment and, of course, in many positions in private enterprise.
In reaching its decision, the Government has taken account of the constantly increasing demands placed upon the Permanent Heads of the Departments of State and statutory office holders and their very heavy responsibilities in the affairs of our country. I commend the Bill to the House.
Leave granted for debate to continue.
– The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) last night gave me the contents of this Bill and I was able to discuss it with my executive and at my Party meeting this morning. Competition from private enterprise and relativity with the Second Division are persuasive arguments. We do not oppose the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Gorton) read a third time.
Motion (by Mr Nixon) - by leave - agreed to:
That the following Tariff Proposals, being pari of Order of the Day No. 27, Government Business, be discharged: Customs Tariff Proposals Nos 10 to 16 and Excise Tariff Proposals Nos 1 to 3.
– I move:
The Customs Tariff Proposals which I have just tabled relate to proposed amendments of the Customs Tariff 1966-1968 and operate from tomorrow morning. The principal tariff alteration in these Proposals is consequent upon the adoption by the Government of the Tariff Board’s recommendations in its recent report on rubberised textile fabrics. The Board has recommended rates of 55% ad valorem (general) and 45% ad valorem (preferential) on all the rubberised fabrics under reference. The Board also made a number of suggestions regarding by-law admission of certain fabrics which are presently under consideration by the administering department. The balance of the amendments in the Proposals are of departmental origin only. A summary of all the changes is being circulated to honourable members. I commend the Proposals.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Reports on Items
– 1 present the report of the Tariff Board on the following subject:
Rubberised textile fabrics.
I also present the following report by the Tariff Board which does not call for any legislative action:
Ethyl acetate (Dumping and Subsidies Act).
Ordered that the reports be printed.
Bill presented by Mr Nixon, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill bc now read a second time.
This Bill provides for the validation until 30th June 1969 of customs duties collected in pursuance of Customs Tariff Proposals moved in this House since 10th September last. Honourable members will appreciate that legislation to enact these changes could not be properly debated before the House goes into recess. I expect that a Bill to enact the tariff changes will be introduced into the House during the autumn session next year. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Leave granted for debate to continue.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Nixon) read a third time.
Motion (by Mr Nixon) - by leave - agreed to:
That the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory or any sub-committee thereof, when considering whether a breathaliser should be introduced into the Australian Capital Territory as an instrument to assistthe Australian Capital Territory Police in the detection and prevention of the offence of driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor, which was referred to the Committee on 26th November 1968. have power to move from place to place and that a message be sent to the Senate requesting ils concurrence.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr Kelly, and read a first time.
Mr KELLY (Wakefield- Minister for the
That the Bill be now read a second lime.
This Bill is concerned with the establishment, powers and functions of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works. In 1966, the then Chairman, on behalf of the Public Works Committee, submitted to the Government a substantial list of proposed amendments to the Public Works Committee Act. The Committee sought to have the Public Works Committee Act redrafted to incorporate these suggestions so that in the words of the Chairman the Committee could operate under legislation which fully recognises modern conditions and procedures’. A full review of the provisions of the Act was made. The current Bill emerges from that consideration and its purpose is one of general consolidation and amendment.
Most of the new provisions are machinery items aimed at streamlining the provisions relating to such matters as quorums, voting and taking of evidence. Tt ‘ee new procedures are of particular significance. In the first instance, there has been widening of the provisions made for the appointment of temporary chairmen. Now, the powers of a temporary chairman are not limited to a particular meeting but last for the term of his appointment and the Committee may appoint an ad hoc chairman for a particular meeting. The second point relates to the powers of the House of Representatives to call for a further report by the Committee on a public work. Previously, on the receipt from the Committee of a review report, the House could only decide that it was either expedient or inexpedient to carry out the proposed work. Provision is now made whereby the House may resolve not only in terms of expediency but also, as an alternative, that the work again be referred to the Committee for consideration and report. In the third place, the Act provided that where the House had resolved that it was not expedient to carry out a work no proposal for an identical public work could be resubmitted to the House within 1 year, subject to certain exceptions. There seems no reason why the House should not be able to think again on a particular project and this provision has been removed.
There are four matters of some substance to which I would also draw the attention of honourable members. First, having in mind current construction and works values, the Government has decided that the cost limit below which Commonwealth public works need not be referred to the Committee should be raised from $500,000 to $750,000. All Commonwealth public works estimated to cost beyond that limit must be referred to the Committee. The two previous exceptions remain; namely, where the House resolves that because of the urgent nature of the work it is not expedient to refer it to the Committee, or where the Governor-General declares that the work is for defence purposes and that reference to the Committee would be contrary to the public interest. The second matter of substance relates to the examination by the Committee of public works outside Australia. The Bill makes it clear that the Committee may examine only those public works which are carried out by, or for, the Commonwealth, within the Commonwealth or within a Territory of the Commonwealth.
In relation to the powers of the Committee to examine the works of statutory authorities, the Government’s view is that it should preserve the principle that statutory authorities are established with the express purpose of preserving an autonomy of operation and a degree of independence from the legislature and the executive. Accordingly, it has been made clear that where a work of a statutory authority is carried out by the Commonwealth or its agent - and this can be taken generally to mean the Commonwealth Department of Works - and also where the money to pay for that work is appropriated by the Parliament and placed under the control of the Department of Works, then that project is subject to examination by the Public Works Committee. On the other hand, where the money to pay for a work carried out for a statutory authority is drawn from funds vested in the authority itself and not under the control1 of the Department of Works, that work is not subject to the scrutiny of the Public Works Committee.
The final point of substance is that the Bill before us points out with greater clarity and in greater detail the functions of the Committee, particularly in relation to those matters which are the criteria of the Committee’s consideration. Section 1 7 of the Bill states that in considering and reporting on a public work the Committee shall have regard to:
The stated purpose of the work and its suitability for that purpose;
The necessity for, or the advisability of, carrying out the work;
The most effective use that can be made, in the carrying out of the work, of the moneys to be expended on the work;
Where the work purports to be of a revenueproducing character, the amount of revenue that it may reasonably be expected to produce; and
The present and prospective public value of the work.
Finally let me say that the Bill provides for the repeal of the existing Public Works Committee Act. This step was taken because of the quite substantial redrafting which has been required to give effect to the provisions 1 have mentioned. Because repeal is involved the Bm contains transitional provisions which will enable the members of the Committee at the time of repeal to continue in office for the balance of their terms. The Bill also provides for the continuation of consideration of matters which were before the Committee prior to the repeal of the Act. I commend the Bin.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Appointment of Select Committee Mr ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Lucock) - I wish to inform the House of the following appointments of members to be members of the Select Committee on Aircraft Noise: The honourable members for St George (Mr Bosman), Perth (Mr Chaney). Maribyrnong (Mr Stokes), and Cowper (Mr Robinson) have been appointed by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton); and the honourable members for Watson (Mr Cope), Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) and Gellibrand (Mr Mclvor) have been appointed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). The Prime Minister has appointed the honourable member for St George to be Chairman of the Committee.
Debate resumed from 26 November (vide page 3281), on motion by Mr Swarfs: That the Bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Mr Charles Jones had moved by way of amendment:
That all words after ‘That* be omitted with 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’.
– When the debate on this Bill was resumed last evening my colleague, the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones), who led the debate on behalf of the Opposition, moved an amendment in these terms:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with 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’.
At the moment there are some economic deficiencies in the operation of civil aviation in Australia, lt is important for the House to have a look at some of the issues that are implicit in this situation. The problem of providing air navigation services at a loss to the Department of Civil Aviation does not lend itself to a simple solution. The Government proposes to impose a charge on domestic airline passengers, but the Opposition does not think that is a sensible way to bridge the gap between the cost of providing air navigation services and the amount of revenue that is derived from air navigation charges. 1 draw the attention of the House to the figures that were quoted by the honourable member for Newcastle from appendix 35 on page 100 of the Department of Civil Aviation report for 1967-68. These figures show that the total cost of air navigation services provided by the Commonwealth was $59,718,000. On the other hand, the total! revenue collected by the Department including charges on airline operators for services provided by the Commonwealth and dividends from Trans-Australia Airlines, was $14,244,000. This represents a deficiency of about $45m. Recently in this House we have had a number of examples of the Government’s charging interest on capital used by various undertakings. One that comes readily to mind is the Post Office. It was suggested that the Post
Office ought to pay interest on the capital that was employed in it because it was a reasonable kind of business precaution and because it represented an adequate way of determining that the revenues derived from the postal services were commensurate with the real costs of providing the services. It seems that that kind of lesson is not being carried into effect in the civil aviation field.
I know it can be argued that if wc did not have commercial airlines some part of the civil aviation facilities would have to be provided - that merely for defence purposes we would have to have certain installations. But it is rather difficult to ascertain what the costs of those installations would be. One of the reasons given for charging interest on capital used by the Post Office was that if it were not charged there might be a wasteful use of the way in which capital resources are allocated. It seems to me that at the present time, implicit in the operations of commercial airways - and this applies both to passenger and freight traffic - there are uncompetitive advantages which favour the airways as against the railways. I am not arguing that the whole of this deficit of $45m necessarily ought to be loaded against the commercial operators but, nevertheless, this large figure of $45m is getting fairly close to one-quarter of the total internal revenue of the two airline services, Trans-Australia Airlines and AnsettANA.
In some ways it seems to me the airline operator is in the position of a railway operator who has to provide only the rolling stock while somebody else provides the railway stations and the railway tracks. The Commonwealth provides the facilities at the airports. It provides the equipment which is somewhat equivalent to the railway track - the landing direction systems, the weather precautionary systems, and the systems for landing in fog and so on. All that the operators have to provide are the planes themselves. The operators are also responsible for servicing the planes and for engaging the crews to operate the planes.
When I was a member of the Victorian State Parliament, which is many years ago now, the then Minister for Railways, the late Sir Arthur Warner, said that every airline ticket between Melbourne and Sydney had a subsidy in favour of the airway against the railway, which was the equivalent at that time of $4 per ticket I would suggest that now that money values have risen, the subsidy would be close to $8 per ticket. I always feel that if a subsidy is being provided and it is acknowledged as a subsidy, that is fair enough; but what is wrong is that sometimes there is a concealed subsidy and we do not ever get down to examining whether or not it is equitable or inequitable. This is what the Opposition had in mind when it moved the amendment.
We think that the airway operators ought to pay more for the services that are provided by the Commonwealth than is presently the case. On the one hand there is a constitutional difficulty, and on the other hand there are practical difficulties as to how these additional charges or legitimate costs ought to be imposed. This Bill is an attempt to impose the charges in one way, by making each person who purchased a ticket at certain airports in Australia pay the equivalent of an airport tax. The charge will not be included in the price of the ticket, as a practical device, but the person who pays for a ticket will count it as part of the total cost. Again I rely on the statistics which were quoted by my colleague, the honourable member for Newcastle, but I understand that out of some 11.0 airports in Australia, at only twenty-two of them will people be liable to pay this charge, because the passenger movements at the other airports are less than 35,000 per year. For an airport to have a passenger movement of 35,000 per year, there would have to be an average of 700 passengers a week or 100 passengers a day. Presumably any airport that has only one aircraft movement per day will not be subject to the tax. People who embark or disembark at the capital cities and at the larger cities such as Canberra, Newcastle and Broken Hill, will have to pay this tax.
The fact that the tax is being imposed in this way, I understand, has something to do with the rather peculiar operation of section 92 of the Constitution. Of course, another way in which the tax could be imposed would be simply for the Commonwealth to levy greater charges on the internal and external operators who use the facilities provided by the Commonwealth. Then the onus would be placed upon the operators to decide how they allocated the additional cost. I think it is significant to note that at the present time internal airways - and at this stage I cannot argue about external airways - would seem to have an unfair price advantage over the various State railway systems. Honourable members can refer to the details of the State railway finances if they look at the 35th annual report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission, about which we were speaking last evening. The report shows that the total railway revenue for 1966-67 was near enough to $490m and that the total operating expenses of the railways before interest was charged was $455m, which gave an apparent surplus of some $35m to $36m. However, after the interest components had been charged on the capital structure of the railways, what appeared to be a surplus of $36m became a deficit of $81 m.
It can be seen that the railways already have to bear a considerable financial burden, so far as the total finances of the States are concerned. It seems that an unfortunate additional disadvantage is being built in because of the unsatisfactory pricing policy that is presently being pursued so far as charges for airway passenger services and freight are concerned. This evening I do not intend to propound any remedy. I do not think there is an easy remedy. I think that this matter deserves a comprehensive examination by the Government. If it is thought that a certain part of these civil aviation costs are of a defence kind, some attempt ought to be made to assess what it is. On the other hand, if it is thought to be impossible equitably to adjudicate a proper share of costs to the operators, the Government ought to examine that. I am sure that the matter has not been examined critically enough.
In our railways we have a capital installation that runs into thousands of millions of dollars. The railways are as essential a part - in fact a much more essential part - of the nation’s transport as are the airways. I do not mean that the airways do not matter, but they certainly are not as significant in total as are the railways. Yet because the railways operate at a State level - a level of government that does not have the opportunity to find additional sources of revenue for subsidy purposes - they are at a disadvantage because of the independent policy that is followed by the Commonwealth. This is just another example of the many kinds of conflicts that can occur within the Federal structure if occasionally we do not stop to examine the situation as we find it. I would hope that the Commonwealth would make a careful examination of this situation. 1 read this morning, as I am sure most people did, the utterances of Mr Ansett who one would think was the most unfortunate citizen in Australia instead of being one of its most blessed as far as public benefaction is concerned.
– He is one of my constituentts
– He was a constituent of mine many years ago, but nevertheless I think that if he would look at his blessings as well as what he regards as being his disadvantages, he might find that the blessings far outweigh the disadvantages. Perhaps he was only shouting loudly to take the heat off another problem.
– Did he not repudiate navigation charges a few years ago?
– Yes. Exemption from sales tax and all kinds of special provisions were made for him, but 1 am afraid that he does not seem to reckon on them. I leave it at that. Some of my colleagues want to talk on this matter. We think that what the Government is doing is the wrong way to grapple with the problem and we ask it to consider withdrawing the Bill and coming up with a different proposition that might justify some additional charge. The Government should find an alternative way out of this situation.
– In speaking to this Bill, under which charges will be imposed on passengers embarking on or disembarking from commercial airliners, I want to make two brief points. I note that the airports concerned are those which have movements of over 35,000 passengers annually. Alice Springs barely comes within this category. Darwin would probably have twice this number of passengers. Many of the passengers to these areas are tourists, and as we are trying hard to build up the tourist industry in Australia the imposition of this charge represents a distinct knock to that industry. I gather that in any case its imposition will bring only $4im annually. Many of the passengers at Alice Springs and Darwin are local people - station owners and managers, contractors, and their employees - who are travelling distances of sometimes only 200 miles. Frequently air transport is the only means of travel, particularly in the top end of the Northern Territory during the wet season, lt may be all right to impose this charge on the main trunk services where fairly high fares are involved, but it is a big impost on short journeys. My colleague, the honourable member for Grey (Mr Jessop), has referred to the railway service to Alice Springs being out of operation on occasions. This is so.
Apart from the trunk line services from Darwin to Alice Springs and Adelaide via ports, from Darwin to Perth via ports, from Darwin to Mount Isa and Brisbane, and several international nights, many travellers move to and from settlements, missions, stations and mining centres. The airline service to these areas is being distinctly disadvantaged by this charge. Whereas at Darwin there are some sorts of facilities - and I say ‘some sort’ although I gather from the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) that early next year a contract is to be let for the improvement and extension of the Darwin airport - and at Alice Springs there is a modern terminal, the destinations to which many passengers in the Northern Territory travel are without facilities at all They go to dirt strips where there are flies, dust, rain and all manner of disadvantages, but they will still have to pay the embarkation fee. The Government should have another look at this.
At both Alice Springs and Darwin, apart from the regular airline services, there are charter services to outback areas. For instance there is a charter service as well as a regular airline service from Alice Springs to Ayers Rock. The regular airline service will be at a disadvantage through the imposition of the proposed charge, because the charter service will be able to carry on without it. Furthermore, the charter service does not have to face up to the same airline standards. This charge in such areas will certainly create anomalies. I ask the Minister to examine the matter to see what can be done in the future particularly as Alice Springs, as I have stated, has barely 35,000 passengers a year. Alice Springs is the centre of a famous tourist industry which we are trying to develop, and this charge will be an impost on that industry. Alice Springs is already unique in that for years it has had its own airline operating to about 120 different centres - stations, mining areas, camps, settlements and missions - in the Territory. This service, which started as a developmental service and has been battling all these years, may be just breaking into the big time, but it is now to be saddled with this charge. I ask the Minister to have another very good look at the charge.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– The Bill provides for the payment by certain passengers on aircraft of charges for the use and enjoyment of facilities provided by the Commonwealth at Commonwealth aerodromes. The Opposition has moved the following amendment:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with 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 amendment is self-explanatory. We believe that the method by which the Government intends to raise this $4.5m to offset some of the charges on taxpayers is the imposition of a head tax. It will be imposed only on those travellers using aerodromes with a volume of traffic of moTe than 35,000 passengers. This method will discriminate against those people in the community who use the major airports, and many thousands of people Who use other aerodromes throughout the Commonwealth will not be called on to pay this tax.
The Commonwealth provides facilities such as aids for pilots at aerodromes throughout Australia and the charges that are imposed on the aircraft operators who use these facilities may be warranted. However, I am opposed to the imposition of a head tax. Other methods of raising this revenue could have been used by the Government. Under this Bill, every time a passenger on an aircraft reaches one of the aerodromes specified in the Bill, he will have to dive into his pocket and pay the fee assessed by the Government. This will add to the present costs of air travel.
There seems to be some doubt as to who will collect the payments from the passengers. We do not know whether the airline companies will do this or whether the Commonwealth will use its officers to collect the money. We do not know whether the airlines will receive any of the money. It has been suggested that some of the airline operators have already informed the Government that they do not intend to collect this money unless they receive some payment from the Government. If the Government does make some payment to the airline operators, it will not receive the whole of the $4.5m that this legislation is expected to raise. We may find at the end of the year that the amount raised is considerably less than the estimate. Payments by the Government to the airline operators, who will be acting as the Government’s tax collectors, could amount to $600,000 or $700,000. 1 am opposed to this method of raising revenue. The air travellers should not be fleeced by the Government in this way. The revenue could he raised by other means. 1 would rather see all air fares throughout Australia raised slightly or air navigation charges increased. In this way everyone would contribute vo the amount that the Government intends to raise. The Government now spends about S60m on civil aviation each year, but it should not expect to have the whole of this expenditure returned to ii. For instance it should accept the responsibility to provide services to people in country areas, so that they will have easy transport between towns. Country residents are entitled lo some service and air transport is the responsibility of the Commonweatlh. The Constitution places civil aviation within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth. 1 believe that air fares could have been increased slightly. Everyone would then have had lo pay. and the small amount would not have been felt.
The extra charge on travellers between Canberra and Sydney will bc Si, between Canberra and Cooma 50c and between Canberra and Gladstone, a nonCommonwealth airport, via Sydney and Brisbane, 50c. This charge should not be imposed on these people. The Government is getting a little penny-wise in bleeding the air traveller by the imposition of this head charge. A charge will also be imposed on overseas passengers, although we are trying to increase the tourist trade. We are trying to entice people to come to Australia as tourists, but the moment they land here we will fleece them of $2. Tourists bring finance to Australia and help ail sections of the community, including hotelkeepers, shopkeepers, butchers and bakers. Everybody benefits from the tourist trade. But the imposition of this charge is not the right way to encourage tourists to come here. Every tourist who lands in Australia or departs from Australia will pay a fee of $2. Only 654,000 people are involved and the amount of revenue that will be raised by this charge is not large in comparison with the amount of money that is spent by tourists in Australia. The main issue behind recent developments in Sydney and Tullamarine was the tourist trade. People were hoping to receive a share of the money that comes with the tourist trade, lt has been estimated that the tourist trade in Australia is worth about S5m a year. We ought to be encouraging tourists instead of fleecing them. 1 know that similar charges are imposed in many other countries. This is typical of the attitude towards tourists. Employees in hotels expect to receive tips and governments seem to think that they can raise money by imposing charges on tourists. J am not concerned about such charges in other countries. We should be considering whether such a charge is in the best interests of Australia. If we do not believe in these charges, we should not impose them. Th: Commonwealth is reimbursed for expenditure on the facilities it provides by the tax on fuel used by aircraft, air navigation charges and so on. Also I think many other aspects are not taken into consideration. After all, we know that people are employed at airports. Certain goods are sold at these airports at which tax is to be charged. We know that the Government benefits as a result of this. People are employed at airports and they pay taxes on the wages they receive. People who come to airports in cars also buy items such as petrol and tyres which are subject to sales tax. We have all sorts of hidden charges that bring money to the airports.
I feel that the Government is receiving ample money from this source and should not be raising this money just by a head tax. As I said before, I think twenty-two airports in Australia will be subject to this tax. In other words, it will be imposed only on people who use certain airports. I believe that this tax should be levied on everyone. For example, the majority of people who travel to Coolangatta by aircraft are tourists. Here again, the tourist trade is involved. We are putting a slug on the poor old holidaymaker and the young people in the community who have saved money for a holiday on the Gold Coast. Now we find that the Government intends to increase the cost of travel by imposing this head tax. I feel that the Government should have another look at this proposal.
Members of the Australian Country Party who have spoken in this debate have been critical of the Government. The honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) was especially critical when he spoke about the effects that this tax will have on tourist revenue at Alice Springs. After all, the people of Alice Springs depend on the tourist trade. But people who visit Alice Springs will have to pay a head tax when they land and depart. I think that even members of the Country Party are aware that there are some airports where this tax should never be charged. I am led to believe also that there was great objection from the Country Party when the Government decided to impose this tax at country airports. Of course, it is quite natural that the responsibility for paying should be where the greatest population is or where people are using airports the most. As a result, this tax will be paid at the capital cities and at some major airports throughout the Commonwealth. I have not had an opportunity to go through every airport to see the volume of traffic that is handled, but 1 imagine that a great many airports would handle between 15,000 and 20,000 passengers a year. However, these people will not be called upon to meet the charge that the Government intends to implement. 1 feel that if an airport has a certain volume of traffic - even only 10,000 or 5,000 passengers annually - these people ought to pay their little bit, the same as the 35,000 or more people who use the larger airports in a year.
I am one of those who feel that the Government has introduced this Bill without a great deal of thought about the possibility of raising other revenues. I know that airport development is costing the taxpayers a great deal of money. This is quite natural’. We have to cater for the growing volume of air traffic and the size of future aircraft. However, I do not think that the people who build the aircraft give any consideration whatsoever to the facilities that have to be provided so that their aircraft can land and take off. 1 believe that the makers should contribute in some way to the development of the airports from which their aircraft are being operated. Of course, we know sales tax is not charged on aircraft landed in this country. Also, some of these aircraft do not attract customs duty. But the responsibility for meeting the cost of the development of airports is left to government. I believe that this matter ought to be taken up with manufacturers. I do not know how fast the Government wants to go or how many people want to be carried in aircraft. Airliners are flying fast enough for me at the moment, lt is quite natural that the more aircraft develop and the bigger they get, the more facilities we will have to provide.
I do not intend to speak at great length on this matter. I know that other honourable members will want to raise other matters, because this Bill affects the smaller States in particular. I know that members from those States will want to voice their opposition to the tax. But I believe that supporters of the Government in particular should give a great deal of thought to this Bill, because the majority of them come from areas where probably the greatest use of airport facilities occurs. 1 am sure that there will be resentment against this Bill. After all, it will introduce this charge on air passengers for the first time. We will probably get a great deal of opposition from the air travellers in the community. Many Government supporters should give a great deal of thought to supporting the Australian Labor Party on this occasion and voting for the amendment. If the Bill were defeated the Government would have to have another look at it and consider other means of raising money not just from a certain section of the community but from everyone who uses airports in Australia. Where taxpayers’ money is involved, I think that everyone should contribute his little bit. If everyone pays, this charge will not be a burden on the few people who use major airports.
– I was interested to listen to the remarks of the honourable member for East Sydney (Mr Devine). He said that we should give this Bill a great deal of thought. 1 direct his attention to the Budget speech made by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) on 1 3th August, at page 46 of Hansard, which indicated that the basic charge is to be 50c for embarkation and 50c for disembarkation. I draw the honourable member’s attention in particular to the Treasurer’s observation that he had announced the Government’s intention to introduce a passenger service charge a year before. So this matter has in fact been before the Government for almost a year and a half.
– He did not tell you that the charge was to be paid only at certain airports.
– The Treasurer said that this proposal had been before the Government for a year when he made his Budget speech. Therefore, I think it is fair to say that the Government has given this measure a good deal of thought. I think further proof of this lies in the clause of the Bill which provides for the 35,000-passenger limit.
The honourable member for East Sydney referred to my colleagues in the Australian Country Party. I would say that the great deal of thought that the Government has put into this matter has been as a result of the submissions put forward by our colleagues in the Country Party, and by some of my colleagues in the Liberal Party, too. These honourable members have drawn attention to the disabilities suffered by people in remote areas and country areas generally who use the smaller airports. It is incorrect to say that the Government has not given this matter a great deal of thought, because it has. Here I pay a tribute to the work put in by the honourable member for Grey (Mr Jessop) and the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder). Both of these honourable members have been interested in this project for many months. I believe that it is as a result of their representations that the clause limiting the number of passengers to 35,000 has been included in the Bill. I would say to the honourable member for Grey and others who represent country areas that it does not really matter whether there is a passenger limit of 20,000, 30,000 or 40,000, as there will be some areas of the community which will suffer disabilities. 1 think that the residents of Port Lincoln in particular, and Kingscote on Kangaroo Island, should be grateful for the work which has been put into this debate by the honourable member who represents them in this place.
– He is not in agreement.
– I know he is not in agreement. But he represents an electorate and he is putting forth the views that he believes are appropriate to his electorate. In spite of what he has put forward and what the Opposition puts forward, we will still not cancel out the debit no matter what formula is adopted. I think that one of the serious problems with this legislation is that it will result in a reduction by only slightly more than $4m of the $40m deficit in the operation of airports. I agree with the honourable member for East Sydney that the taxpayer is virtually subsidising those who use these facilities.
I only rose to comment very briefly on the speech made last night by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones), who led the debate from the other side of the House. The honourable member commenced to speak at 10.35 p.m. Unfortunately, he is not in the House at present: there are a couple of points concerning his speech that need clarification. In the first place, he got on the Australian Labor Party’s old hobby horse and referred to legislation by exhaustion. He commenced his speech at 10.35. He used 28 minutes of the 30 minutes allowed to each honourable member to debate such legislation.
– He is allowed 45 minutes.
– The only ones who were exhausted were those honourable members who sit on this side of the House.
– Why not get on to the Bill?
– I will get on to the Bill in a moment. My time is fast running out.
I wish to deal with what the honourable member for Newcastle, who led for the Opposition, had to say. He complained of legislation by exhaustion, but used up most of the time allotted to him by repeating the same thing over and over. If honourable members opposite read Hansard they will find that at page 3276, when dealing with the undoubted problems of the residents of Tasmania, he said:
For the Devonport to Wynyard trip, a distance of about 30 miles, the increase is 24.39%.
Later on in his speech he said much the same thing again. His words were:
I repeat that the increase in the fare between Devonport and Wynyard will be 24.39% -
Still later on - the third time round - he said:
A person travelling between Devonport and Wynyard will be required to meet an increase of 24.39%.
– He was stressing a point.
– The point 1 wish to make is that the Opposition has complained bitterly during this session of time being wasted and of the House sitting until a late hour. It is the Opposition that has been keeping us up to a late hour. Speeches such as the one made by the honourable member for Newcastle are very good examples of this. I should mention that last night the honourable member for Newcastle was asked to explain his reason for moving an amendment which states in part that the Bill should be withdrawn and redrafted to raise an equivalent amount of revenue by fairer and simpler means. I take it that the Opposition is satisfied that $4. 5m is sufficient revenue for this purpose. I was present during the debate on this Bill last night. I tried to elicit from the honourable member for Newcastle what he meant by ‘fairer and simpler methods’. After numerous interjections he went on to say that what he recommends and what the Opposition recommends is that fares should be increased by 2±%. I ask honourable members opposite: Does the amendment not imply that fares should be increased by 2i%? I suggest that such an increase would severely clout everybody in the community, including the workers that the Opposition alleges it represents. An aspect that has not been brought up in the debate, which I think should be-
– What about the 24% increase?
– I am pleased that the honourable member for Newcastle is now in the House. He had many opportunities last night to indicate a way in which he would raise this money. He said that the Opposition believed that there were several ways of raising the money but he did not indicate any of them until the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) needled him into saying:
A 24% levy on those total revenues would return $4m.
He went on to say that this was the way in which the Opposition would raise the money. My whole purpose in taking part in this debate is to draw the attention of honourable members opposite and on this side of the chamber, and of the Australian taxpayer, to the Australian Constitution and in particular to section 92. If I may, I will briefly read a few of the words of section 92. It states that the imposition of uniform duties of customs, trade, commerce and intercourse among the States, whether by means of internal carriage or ocean navigation, shall be absolutely free. My contribution to this debate is simply that I believe the Opposition’s amendment is unconstitutional and therefore irresponsible, humbug and purely an exercise in wasting time. I oppose the amendment and support the motion.
– Of all the legislation that has been introduced by this Government over the last 19 years, this Bill would be one of the most objectionable. It reminds me of a similar excursion into the field of raising revenue some years ago by the Post Office when a Bill was introduced to charge the poor old subscriber $20 to have his telephone installed. This is the sort of legislation that the Government has been introducing year after year to fill up the gaps in the balance sheets of its departments. That is all that the introduction of this type of legislation amounts to. I support the remarks made by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones), who put the Opposition’s case and moved an amendment. For the life of me, I cannot see that the amendment is unconstitutional. The Opposition merely asks that the Bill be withdrawn and redrafted to raise an equivalent amount of revenue by fairer and simpler means. The Opposition believes that its amendment is constitutional. If air navigation charges to the airline companies were increased and that increase percolated through, resulting in increased air fares, everybody using the services provided by the airline companies would share equally in meeting the deficit in the operation of the airports. But that has not been done. The Government has introduced discriminatory legislation in which only twenty-two airports have been singled out for this vicious head tax and the others are let off scot free. Only a section of the community is being penalised to meet the large gap between airport expenditure by the Government and revenue returned from the airline companies and those who use their facilities, lt is simply fiddling with the freedom of the flying public to bring in this kind of legislation. It is annoying, it is frustrating and it will be costly. It is also selective and discriminatory. The Executive Director of the Australian National Travel Association, Mr G. W. L. Tucker, said in his letter to us dated 24th November that the tax would discriminate against country air travellers, jeopardise the operations of some 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. That could not be a better summing up of our attitude to the Bill.
I would just like to refer in my short speech to a few points that have been raised previously. The airports that have been singled out in the Bill cover all States, but in Tasmania three airports are named besides Hobart, which, of. course, is the one serving the capital city. These are Devonport, Launceston and Wynyard. The Devonport airport is in my electorate. So is the Launceston airport, which is at Western Junction. The Wynyard airport is in the electorate of my colleague the honourable member for Braddon (Mr Davies), but many of the people in his electorate use the Pardoe airport, which is outside East Devonport in northern Tasmania.
The honourable member for Newcastle and the honourable member for Boothby (Mr McLeay) mentioned the kind of shocking discrimination against, and the heavy burden that will be placed upon, travellers between Wynyard and Launceston and between Devonport and Wynyard by this legislation. Another illustration of the impact on Tasmania of this legislation is to be found in the fact that four aerodromes in a little island like Tasmania are calculated to be large enough in passenger throughput to come within the scope of the legislation. The limit of 35,000 passengers is reached at these four airports in my State. From the point of view of size or geography no State is hit harder than Tasmania, because in that State the four main airports are affected. Tn many of the other States there are other airports that do not come within the 35.000 passenger limit and so are not affected, but Tasmania is hit to leg properly. The Premier of Tasmania has written to us about this and the honourable member for Braddon will deal with that in detail later. I just mention the fact in passing. All other organisations connected with the welfare of the State are opposed to this legislation.
I would like to mention also that the extent of air travel by Tasmanians is shown clearly from the fact that all our major airports are affected by this legislation because they qualify under the provision that sets the minimum qualifying limit at 35,000 passengers. This is a remarkable illustration of the great number of people who use aircraft to travel in Tasmania and from Tasmania to the mainland and back. Of course Tasmania is an island and we have to use air travel between our island and the mainland for considerations of speed, although of course we have the boat services for the more leisurely trips. Naturally our numbers of air travellers are higher, on a proportionate basis, than those of the other States, and for this reason we are hit hardest by this vicious legislation. lt is true that the public is subsidising air facilities, but what about the roads of Australia? Do we expect the people who use the roads to meet the total cost of those roads? They fail to meet the cost by many millions of dollars. If we are justified in implementing the legislation before us we would be similarly justified in imposing a tax on every motor caf that travels between the States. We could justify such a tax by saying that it was necessary to help meet the deficit between the cost of the highways and the revenue that we get from them. That would be just as logical as the scheme now proposed.
The legislation is estimated to bring in revenue of about $41/2m annually. We feel that a tremendous amount of inconvenience will be caused for a very small return. The figures given to us by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) show that in 1967-68 the total cost of maintaining, operating and administering aerodromes and air navigation facilities was $59,716,000. Revenue derived by the Department of Civil Aviation from the users of these facilities amounted to about $121/2m. Another$81/2m was paid by the domestic operators by way of aviation fuel excise duty. The total receipts amounted to approximately $21m as against expenditure of about$59m, leaving a deficit of some$36m. The Government will raise only $41/2m by this vicious, discriminatory tax.
There is one other vital aspect thatI wanted to mention. 1 refer to children from Tasmania, or from South Australia or Queensland or New South Wales, who travel by air to, say, Canberra.
– What about Victoria?
– And also from Victoria. Many children make these annual trips in parties of 30 or 40 from high schools, colleges or primary schools: They are the future citizens of Australia. They are travelling now more than children ever did before for the purpose of seeing industrial establishments, inspecting this Parliament, looking over Canberra and so on. They have been doing this at considerable cost to themselves or their parents, on trips organised by their headmasters and teachers in the schools that they attend. I know that thousands of young people from Tasmania travel to the mainland every year in sizeable parties. As soon as this legislation was foreshadowed in the Budget in August I asked the Treasurer what was going to happen with regard to these children and whether they would have to pay this vicious tax. 1 pointed out that it would bea body blow at the system of interstate trips by school children from the various States. The Treasurer never replied.
The only reply 1 have received has been in this legislation. What does it say? It says that children under 15 years of age and full time students at primary and secondary schools under 19 years are to pay 25c for each embarkation and disembarkation. They will be caught up in this tax. How are the people at the air terminals to decide whether a child is 16 years of age or 15 or 14? The children will have to take their birth certificates with them on these trips from now on. What a vicious provision! The two groups of children, those under 15 and those under 19 attending secondary schools, will have to pay half the basic tax. The children will have to take all the evidence with them when they go to buy their air tickets. When the schools organise these trips they will have to supply proof of age of all the children travelling. I could not think of anything more distasteful than this type of tax on children. Why should they not be entirely exempt? How much will the Government get from the children under this vicious scheme? It might be only $100,000. I think it is scandalous for children to be included in this scheme. It is bad enough for adults to have to pay this additional amount. This charge will greatly reduce interstate trips made by young people. What better education can our young people have than to travel interstate at the age of 15, 14, 12 or even 10 years?
– And travel to this Parliament.
– What better education could they have than to visit this Parliament and meet their member, to see this wonderful capital city, and then to go on to Sydney or perhaps even Brisbane?
– The Government put the charge on to keep them out.
– Yes, it may have put the charge on to keep them away. If so, its action has been even more dastardly. This is the worst piece of legislation to have been enacted against the children of this country. The levying of this charge is an unjust method to try to bridge the gap between expenditure on airports and the revenue obtained from the users of airports. I congratulate the Government on the airport buildings and terminals that we have. Some of these facilities are as good as any elsewhere in the world, but in any country the provision of such facilities is the responsibility of the government. Why should any government place taxes on passengers to meet this cost? Let it be a general revenue charge. Let it be a charge on all payers of income tax, not only on the people who will be affected. I utterly oppose the Bill.
– I thought that the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie) was making a wailing noise such as one would hear in Egypt. J thought he was a professional wailer. In his State of Tasmania and in every other State provision is made for children to pay half fare on the various transport systems. So this Bill does nothing untoward in that regard. The amendment reads in part: 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.’
I assure the Opposition that every avenue possible was explored by the Government. Most of the suggestions that have come from the sidelines are contrary to the Constitution. The honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones), who led for the Opposition, suggested that a tax should be imposed on cargo, but of course section 92 of the Constitution prevents the imposition of such a tax on interstate freight. This proposed charge will react unfortunately in regard to the aerodromes in Tasmania, but here an anomaly has crept in. 1 would like to know the number of passengers who travel between Wynyard and Devonport. How many of the passengers who travel between these two places travel interstate?
This embarkation and disembarkation charge will be fairly heavy as it affects Wynyard and Devonport, but the point that the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie) should realise is that but for expenditure on the establishment of these aerodromes people would have to travel by a more cumbersome means of transport and the cost would be greater. Let us be fair in this regard. We endeavour to equalise these matters as much as we possibly can. But why should Joe Blow and his family who will never travel on an aeroplane have to subscribe to the construction of airports for the use of a selected few? These fees will apply to a number of aerodromes. The Government has been very fair in this regard. There have not been substantial improvements to country aerodromes, and it would be unfair to impose this fee on country travellers. In most cases if a person has to go to a convenience he has to drop a dime in the slot, but this facility is free at these country aerodromes.
The honourable member for Newcastle took up the whole of his allotted time in reiterating certain points but he did not propose any method by which the Government could obtain funds to bridge the gap between revenue and expenditure on airports that it has established throughout Australia. I know that it would have been difficult, but one would have thought that of the number of honourable members opposite who have already spoken one would have endeavoured to make some intelligent appraisal of the position. If any Opposition members can suggest some worthwhile amendment that is within the terms of the Constitution, then we on this side of the House will support it.
– I support the amendment moved by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) to the Aerodromes (Passenger Charges) Bill 1968. It states:
That all words after That’ be omitted with 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.’ 1 agree with the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie) and other speakers who have pointed out that the island State of Tasmania will be one of the worst affected by this unjust and very discriminatory air tax. Tasmania is an island State and because of the need of its people to travel by air on business, sport or educational trips its airports and airlines are used considerably. This charge will be levied at airports which have more than 35,000 passenger movements a year. As has been pointed out, four aerodromes in Tasmania fall within this category. They are at Wynyard, Devonport, Launceston and Hobart. Those four aerodromes represent about 20% of the total number of aerodromes, apart from capital city aerodromes, which come within the ambit of the Bill. This tax which will be levied against Tasmanians is highly unjust and discriminatory. The Bill will add $1 to the cost of a flight between any two of the four aerodromes I have mentioned.
Many objections have been raised to this legislation. I have received representations from the Devonport Municipal Council and from the Burnie Chamber of Commerce. The letter from the Burnie Chamber of Commerce reads:
At the last meeting of the Burnie Chamber of Commerce, members expressed considerable concern over the effect on Tasmania of the proposed $1.00 per person Airport Passenger Tax. It was felt that Tasmania, as an island, was in a different position from the mainland States and the imposition of the proposed tax would be discriminatory against the Tasmanian public who have to rely so much on air travel.
The total tax payable by air travellers to and from Tasmania would result in an inequitable loading to the detriment of Tasmanian residents and the tourist industry which is of such great importance to Tasmania.
This Chamber therefore respectfully suggests that further consideration be given to either an exemption or a reduction in some manner of the proposed tax so far as Tasmania is concerned. A copy of this letter has also been sent to Tasmanian senators.
I sincerely hope that when this Bill is introduced into the Senate some Liberal Party senators will support the Opposition. When it suits their purpose to do so these people talk about State rights. They say that the Senate is a States’ House. They claim that they are not bound by Party decisions. I hope that they will cross the floor of the Senate and vote against this legislation. If we cannot defeat this Bill in this House we should be able to defeat it in the Senate. The Bill reeks of injustice to an island State. I appeal to those senators who have received a copy of the letter written by the Burnie Chamber of Commerce to do the right thing for once. They sold out the people of Tasmania when they voted in favour of the Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement, and in so doing sacrificed the pea and bean industry in our State. Some of them have regretted their action ever since. Let them now redeem themselves to some extent in the eyes of Tasmanians by throwing this measure out, because it is highly discriminatory against the people whom they are supposed to represent.
The amendment moved by the Opposition refers to inequitable and disproportionate charges. Trans-Australia Airlines operates within Tasmania a very fine intrastate service, using Beechcraft aircraft. The service operates from Hobart to Queens town and Strahan on the west coast. In four years the service lost $300,000. There has been considerable pressure from Government sources and elsewhere to have this TAA intrastate service discontinued. But we in Tasmania are aware of the importance of the service. The Premier of Tasmania realises how important it is to the people who live in the area which I represent. Many organisations in Tasmania recognise the value of the service. TAA has given an assurance that the service will be continued at least for the time being. But this legislation will surely sound the death knell of the intrastate service. The imposition of a tax of $1 on the fare from Devonport to Wynyard, which is now $4.10, will mean an increase of 24% in the fare. The fare of $7.40 from Launceston to Wynyard will increase by 13.5%. The fare of $5.10 from Launceston to Devonport will increase by 20%. The fare of $8.80 from Hobart to Launceston will increase by 11.36%. The fare from Hobart to Devonport will increase by 6.9%. The fare from Hobart to Wynyard will increase by 6.3%. I urge upon the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) the pressing need to modify the proposed charge on intrastate passengers. Having regard to the size of the percentage increases in the fares I think it is reasonable to ask that the proposal be modified.
The intrastate service in Tasmania is similar in many respects to the commuter type operations in other States or to intrastate operations in those States, which cater for small numbers of passengers and which under this legislation attract a charge of only 50c. The honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Irwin) asked how many people use the intrastate service in Tasmania. I have pleasure in answering him. Passengers whose journey originates in Hobart and who proceed to Launceston, Devonport or Wynyard will be charged $1 for the single journey because Launceston, Devonport and Wynyard have annual passenger movements exceeding 35,000 a year. But the number of people using these airports does not represent solely people using intrastate services. Passengers on intrastate services amount to only 7,000 movements a year at these airports. The majority of passengers using these airports are on interstate flights. So the intrastate passengers, numbering about 7,000, will be forced to bear the burden of the high percentage increases in fares. In other States where (he $1 is charged on intrastate services, such as Adelaide to Kingscote or Sydney to Dubbo, the major part of the airport passenger movements is derived from intrastate passengers only but in Tasmania airport passenger movements are accounted for by interstate passengers arriving and leaving. So the intrastate traffic in Tasmania is penalised because of the influence of the intrastate traffic at airports such as Launceston, Devonport and Wynyard. For this reason I submit that the proposal should be reexamined. Surely we are entitled to ask for some modification of the proposed charge on intrastate passengers in Tasmania using the excellent service provided by TAA with Beechcraft aircraft. If this proposal as it affects Tasmania is not modified it will sound the death knell of the intrastate service that has operated to great advantage in our State.
Let me say a few words about interstate services. The fare of $19.50 from Launceston to Melbourne will increase by 5.13%. The fare of $25.80 from Hobart to Melbourne will increase by 3.88%. The first class fare of $17.20 from Wynyard to Melbourne will increase by 6% and the economy fare of $14.60 will increase by 7%. These are steep increases and they penalise an island State, The charge of $1 is comparatively insignificant in the case of long routes. For example, the charge represents an increase of less than 1% on the fare of $133.80 on the flight from Hobart to Perth. The fare from Sydney to Perth will be increased from $133.50 by only 0.75%. The fare of $109 from Melbourne to Perth will be increased by less than 1%. However, people travelling interstate from Tasmania will have to pay increases ranging from almost 4% up to 7%. These people are picked out and discriminated against by having to pay this unjust tax. We thought that the Government would not have applied this charge to interstate fares from Tasmania.
Mention has been made of the great work done by the Country Party, but surely credit ought to be given to the representations that were made by the State of Tasmania on a government to government and Premier to Prime Minister level. These representations were rejected out of hand by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton). The legislation contains many anomalies. The costs of travel on many routes will be increased by a large percentage, particularly from airports in Tasmania. Tasmania is not linked to the mainland by a bridge, and people who wish to travel to Melbourne to see the Davis Cup, the cricket, the Melbourne Cup or the Victorian Football League final have to fly. Under this legislation the air fare they will pay will be increased by from 4% to 7%. Is it any wonder that tourist travel authorities are concerned about the effect the charge will have on the number of tourists who visit Tasmania? The State is on the brink of a record-breaking tourist season. The Government is not content with causing excessive increases in adult fares. It is going to fleece the school children too. This point was brought out by my colleague, the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie). The Minister for Civil Aviation said in his second reading speech:
The charges for children under 15 years of age and full-time students of primary and secondary schools under 19 years of age are to be 50% of the adult rates. 1 ask the Minister whether he will exempt from this provision parties of school children on education by travel excursions. Concessions are offered to school children travelling within the State. Many parties of school children in charge of a teacher go on excursions. When they are travelling backwards and forwards by rail or road on holidays they have only to present to the travel authorities a form from the school headmaster certifying that they are bona fide pupils of a school to qualify for the concessions. I cannot see why the Government cannot bring in a system whereby parties of youngsters may travel to the mainland at concessional rates.
Some 18 years ago, with the assistance of Mr Bert Flood, the travel manager of Ansett-ANA, the first party of school children came to Victoria from Tasmania by air on a fully organised trip. From this simple start we have seen the scheme of education by travel grow. This year over 1,000 youngsters took off from Wynyard and Devonport airports to come to the mainland on organised trips. This indicates that an increasing number of youngsters are travelling interstate. Of course, we do not disparage our own State. We make sure that many of the youngsters see the great primary and secondary industries and hydro-electric schemes in their State. They also visit places of historic interest in their State before we encourage them to travel interstate. Ever since we initiated the scheme of organised tours for school children we have felt that the educational experience of children should be widened by sending them on organised trips to see the assembly line of enterprises such as General Motors-Holden’s Pty Ltd and Ford Motor Co. of Australia Ltd, and to Alice Springs to see the centre of Australia, to the Barrier Reef and to giant undertakings such as the Snowy Mountains scheme. One could mention many other places.
I remember the most enjoyable and rewarding experience, before I came into this place, of taking parties of school children from Tasmania to see the Olympic Games in Melbourne in 1956. A member of the Australian Country Party has referred to school children visiting Canberra. The national capital is being put on the itinerary of more and more tours for youngsters who come over from Tasmania. Many Tasmanian school children have been here. They fly across Bass Strait, join a coach in Melbourne and travel by road to Canberra. They look at the national Parliament and then they go on to Sydney, Brisbane or the Barrier Reef. I did not like the smart interjections that were made when my friend the honourable member for Wilmot was speaking about costs. Some honourable members were rather off-hand about the fact that the charge to be levied on school children will be 50c for the forward journey and 50c for the return journey. I say to those in this Parliament who live in an affluent society or an affluent State that, if they had experience of trying to raise money to assist children who did not come from wealthy families to go on these trips, they would realise just what it means to find that extra 50c for the fare over and the extra 50c for the fare back.
Teachers, and members of parents and friends associations as well as parents themselves in Tasmania have done a wonderful job by raising money and by making great sacrifices to see that children go on these education by travel excursions to the mainland. So often parents say: ‘We did not have the chance ourselves. These trips were not available when we were at school. We see the benefit and value of them. We will do everything possible to see that our children take part in this wonderful educational experience.’ Because these children live in an island State they must fly over Bass Strait to join the buses on the mainland. Before they start on these tours they are to be taxed 50c for the forward journey and they must pay another 50c for the return journey. I want to know the reason for the discrimination. A person in charge of a party of youngsters from Victoria, Queensland or South Australia puts them on a bus and takes them to, say, Canberra. Youngsters come here from Tasmania. I have seen them sitting up in the gallery alongside parties of school children from other States. Honourable members on the other side of the House can look up and see them. These youngsters will have to pay an additional $1 for their trip to Canberra.
The Government is putting a head tax on children. As the honourable member for Wilmot said, Tasmanian children will have to pay an extra $1 simply for the privilege of coming to Canberra to see Parliament in operation. The Government says that it wants them to come here, but it pays only lip service to this proposition. The Government does not mean what it says because it is to charge the youngsters from the island State who sit in the gallery an extra $1. They sit there alongside parties of school children from States on the mainland who do not have to pay this tax. Once they get to Melbourne they all travel by road or rail to visit Canberra. I say that this charge of 50c is scandalous. I wonder what sort of conscience the people who thought it up must have. I appeal to the Minister to remove the charge. We realise that this anomaly might not have been apparent when the Bill was presented, but this is one of the most shocking anomalies in this Bill. I appeal to the Minister to have a look at the matter before the Bill is sent to the other place.
Youngsters travelling from Tasmania to the mainland on organised school tours should be exempted from paying what is in effect a Si surcharge. The people in charge of the tours could certify to the travel authorities that these youngsters are school children. I hope that the Minister will give consideration to my appeal. I point out to the Parliament that the charge will discriminate against air passengers from Tasmania. For the 7,000 people who travel intrastate in Tasmania each year the charge will increase fares by as much as 20%. Tasmanians will be discriminated against in that respect. Fares for interstate travellers are to be increased by from 4% to 7%. Yet the fares for people travelling from Sydney and Melbourne to Perth will be increased by less than 1%. Tasmanians are to be unjustly treated. Because we do not have a bridge across to the mainland we have to travel by air to get to Melbourne. The worst feature is that the charge is a head tax on youngsters. Surely the Minister should look at this matter again and see whether these youngsters who come to Australia on legitimate, well organised school education by travel tours at least can be exempted from this legislation. I support the amendment moved by the honourable member for Newcastle, but if the amendment is defeated in this chamber, 1 hope that tl.’e legislation will be defeated when it is considered in the other place.
– lt would be wrong to pretend by any stretch of the imagination that this legislation does not affect Tasmania. It does, lt affects Tasmania in more ways than it affects most of the mainland States. I believe that we in Tasmania are in an unfortunate situation in that we have less available means of interstate travel from Tasmania. Therefore, the effect of this passenger charge is greater in Tasmania for that reason alone. The charge also has another implication in that Tasmania is not joined by a railway system to the mainland States. As the honourable member for Braddon (Mr Davies) pointed out, this limits interstate travel by children or by adults to either sea or air transport. So the imposition of this passenger charge will affect air transport in Tasmania more than in any other State. If one needs to illustrate this point one cannot draw a better comparison than by referring to the fact that four airports in Tasmania will be affected by the imposition of this tax as compared with one airport in Victoria. This, in itself, illustrates the point I am attempting to make, when one considers the population of Victoria as opposed to the population of Tasmania.
The imposition of the passenger charge will have other detrimental effects on Tasmania. One effect is the damage it could do to our tourist trade. The tourist will have to decide whether he wants to go to Tasmania or whether he wants to go to some other part of Australia. It could so happen that the tourist may prefer to go to some other place on mainland Australia rather than to Tasmania. This passenger charge will have no relationship whatever to the miles that a person travels. A person may travel from Launceston to Wynyard on the intrastate air services in Tasmania. Although it would be a very short distance of 50 or 60 miles, he would have to pay the same passenger charge as is paid when travelling to other major airports, lt has been said that the passenger charge is to be imposed in order to recover some of the money spent by the Commonwealth in providing facilities at Commonwealth aerodromes. But the same tax is paid regardless of whether the distance travelled is 60 miles or 1,000 miles. This seems to be an inequity in the legislation which perhaps deserves some very careful consideration by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz).
I find myself in a situation in which 1 have subscribed to the Government’s Budget, and part of the fiscal policy of that Budget relates to the introduction of this tax. It would be irresponsible on my part if I were to oppose this tax in toto or in any way at all because it is indeed part of the Government’s Budget. However, that does not prevent me, on behalf of the people whom I represent - and I believe I ought to do this on their behalf - from expressing my objection to the manner in which this tax is now being implemented. There was the broadest drawn suggestion of this tax in the Budget speech delivered by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon). This is understandable. Of course he could not spell out all the different legislation within the framework of the Budget speech.
But now that the Budget speech has been translated into legislation and the legislation relating to this tax is now before the chamber, being a Tasmanian I cannot claim that this tax is anything but an imposition upon the traveller to and from Tasmania and the traveller on the intrastate services within the island itself. I cannot refer to it as anything but discrimination against the best interests of the State which I represent. I would be less than faithful to my trust if I were not to stress this objection in the strongest terms possible. But as this tax is part of the Government’s Budget policy, it would be irresponsible for any honourable member on this side of the chamber who supported the fiscal policies of this Government as set out in the Budget to oppose it. However, now that the legislation has been spelt out in detail, I find that my State is adversely affected.
Tasmania has other local problems that are tremendously important. One of the problems is the value of the intrastate air service between the major cities. The service is different in many respects from that in the mainland States, in that we have a peculiar geographical problem in Tasmania. Journeys by air are so short, quick and brief that many people in Tasmania choose to use intrastate air travel. Although the journeys are short by air, they are long, tedious and problematical journeys by road. By introducing this legislation we are creating a situation in Tasmania which will tend to result, firstly, in our commuter services losing the benefit of the patronage which they receive at the present time. This could result in the commuter services running into an uneconomic situation. It would be a great pity if Tasmania were to lose its commuter service. Secondly, the legislation will do something else which is not in the best interests of society. More people will travel by road than by the more expedient means of travel by air.
– It is a safer means of travel.
– Air is a safer means of travel, as I am reminded by my friend, the honourable member for Boothby. This is how the legislation affects Tasmania. Four of the airports in Tasmania will be affected by the imposition of this airport charge. Although people in Tasmania enjoy the advantage of travelling shorter distances, the imposition of the charge will be the same whether a persons travels 30, 40 or 50 miles in a commuter aircraft in Tasmania or whether he travels from Melbourne to Sydney or from Melbourne to Perth or Adelaide. This, to my mind, is out of line with all the other charges that are based on the distance one travels.
I believe that I am entitled to register my protest on behalf of the people in Tasmania. I ask the Minister to bear in mind what 1 have said about how this legislation affects the island State of Tasmania, the fact that we are limited in the choice of travel available to us and the fact that all the railway systems of Australia which are losing money are being subsidised in one way or another by the general taxpayer, not by the traveller. I emphasise that point. As a result of the railways losing money, a veiled subsidy is continually being provided for the railway traveller. In Tasmania there is a limitation upon the extent to which our railway services may be used. The topography of the island, of necessity, prevents the maximum use being made of this alternative means of travel. For this reason there is an additional justification, firstly, for a review of this legislation and, secondly, for a reconsideration of the legislation as it affects Tasmania.
I have stated my position. I raise these matters for the mature consideration of the Minister. If this legislation becomes law, in the light of the way in which it adversely affects the island State of Tasmania, perhaps it will be reconsidered in the very near future. At the same time as I utter these words I appreciate that some constitutional issues may be involved. Nevertheless, Tasmania is deleteriously affected by this legislation. I believe that I owe it to the people I represent to make these strong protests but at the same time to point out that being a responsible supporter of the Government and having supported its Budget, I reluctantly support the legislation.
– It is quite apparent that only one speaker from the Government side has supported this legislation. The honourable member for Franklin (Mr Pearsall) and the honourable member for Braddon (Mr Davies) made it quite clear that Tasmania will be prejudiced by this charge or tax, call it what we will. The people of the island State have the choice of using either a ferry or air transport to get to the mainland; it is too far to swim. The proposed charge will work against the best interests of Tasmania. The honourable member for Franklin pointed out, quite adequately, that the 50c charge will apply at almost every airport in Tasmania, whereas it will apply at only one airport in Victoria. He instanced the difference between the population of Tasmania and that of Victoria. The honourable member for Newcastle has moved as an amendment:
Thai all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view 10 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 supports the amendment. It does not object to charges being applied to international passengers. In fact a charge of $ I would not be out of keeping with charges that are applied in other countries. Most other countries do make a charge. The honourable member for Newcastle emphasised that in France the charge is $5 a head. We believe that the requirements of international passengers, and the facilities provided for them, justify the imposition of such a charge; but to apply a similar charge to people using airports that handle 35,000 passengers a year is unjust and disproportionate.
The annual report of the Department of Civil Aviation shows that passengers in and out of Australia in 1967 totalled 685,716, an increase of 124,990 over the 1966 figure, and that the domestic services carried 4,639.379 passengers in 1967, an increase of 7.3% over the previous year. Apparently it is unconstitutional to refer to the proposed impost as a tax, but it is all right to refer to it as a charge. Its imposition is an attempt by the Government to bridge the widening gap between the cost of providing facilities for the civil aviation industry and the revenue derived from the industry for the use of such facilities. Last year the cost of maintaining, operating and administering aerodromes and air navigation facilities was almost $60m. This sum included interest, depreciation and superannuation charges. While the domestic airline companies have agreed to a 10% increase each year in their charges to try to catch up with the cost of providing additional facilities, the amount secured therefrom is insufficient. It is not denied that facilities are needed. Australia can be proud of its record of air safety and of the requirements stipulated by the Department of Civil Aviation. Although we have had a number of air fatalities, the number is low in proportion to our traffic and certainly low in comparison with aircraft activities overseas. The 10% increase in charges to domestic airline companies meant an increase of SI. 4m in revenue to the Department of Civil Aviation in the last 12 months.
The honourable member for Newcastle has suggested that the cost of providing installations and facilities might more adequately be raised by a turnover tax on the activities of our various domestic airline companies. He asked why only the passengers should pay for the services provided. As I have mentioned, it has been claimed that Tasmania is more harshly treated by this legislation than any other State. The honourable member for Braddon said that this additional charge would represent an increase of 24.39% in the air fare from Wynyard to Devonport, a distance of 30 miles. The Minister, in a letter that I received earlier today, intimated that within my electorate the charges would apply only to passengers embarking or disembarking at the Brisbane Airport. The honourable member for Newcastle pointed out that a passenger travelling from Geraldton to Bundaberg would not pay this charge even though he would probably make better use of the facilities provided at the capital cities between those airports than would persons disembarking at the capital city airports. Generally persons disembarking are keen to get to their homes or places of business and they do not make full use of the facilities that are provided. As an air passenger who frequently has to wait an hour or two at the Brisbane or the Sydney terminal on my way to Canberra I can fully appreciate the situation.
The facilities that are available at capital city airports are far superior to those provided at outlying airports. Dining rooms are available and newspapers can be purchased. A passenger in transit can occupy himself in the various lounges where meals and bar facilities are available. He uses these facilities more than do passengers who are embarking or disembarking at various airports. The Department of Civil Aviation has pointed out that operating and maintenance costs at the eleven major airports for 1967-68 were Sydney, $2,684,000; Essendon, $1,744,000; Brisbane, $1,658,000: Adelaide, $1,094,000; Canberra, which is shared with the Royal Australian Air Force, $368,000; Hobart, $301,000, a substantial decrease on the cost for the previous year, which was $670,000; Launceston, $618,000; Perth, $975,000; Townsville, $437,000; Cairns, $252,000; and Darwin, $875,000.
Under the Bill, a person booking a return flight from Canberra to Sydney will pay an additional $2. The imposition of the passenger charges will result in a gain to the Commonwealth of $4.5m. But how much of this amount will be lost in collection costs such as fees to booking agents? Is the $4.5m the net gain to the Commonwealth? What percentage will be paid for the collection of the charge? It has been clearly stated that one airline company has demanded a fee of 15% for the collection of this charge. I understand that persons travelling between airports who stop over at another airport or who travel on different airlines will not be charged an additional fee. For instance, I travel from Maryborough to Brisbane with Ansett-ANA and transfer to Trans-Australia Airlines for the remainder of my flight to Canberra. Maryborough is an exempt airport and I will not be required to pay the charge from that airport. But I will be travelling to Canberra, which is not exempt. So, although I travel between Brisbane, Sydney and Canberra, I will pay only the one charge of 50c when 1 disembark at Canberra.
Nothing in the second reading speech of the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) or in the Bill requires persons using private aircraft to meet this charge. The amount involved is not small. Many people travelling between Sydney and Canberra and from other centres to capital cities use light aircraft. The number of light aircraft, not only privately owned but also available for charter, is large. One company that has motor cars for hire also has light aircraft for hire. The use of light aircraft will be a feature of our way of life in the time to come because sometimes it is cheaper to hire an aircraft than it is to hire a motor car or a taxi cab. We have not been told whether users of private aircraft will be liable to pay the charge at the various airports.
Because the charge falls unjustly on sections of the community, I must oppose it and support the amendment moved by the honourable member for Newcastle. This is an unjust charge because it asks only a certain section of the people to pay for the facilities provided by the Commonwealth. It does not purport to meet the differential between the cost of providing the facilities and the amount raised by air navigation charges, including the increase of 10% that has been agreed to by the various airline companies, the tax on fuel used by aircraft and so on.
– 1 would briefly like to add my voice to the complaints from my colleagues from Tasmania at the effect that the Bill will have on my island State. I do not propose to traverse in detail the reasons advanced by my colleagues, particularly the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Pearsall). I do not quite go along with the honourable member for Braddon (Mr Davies), who suggested that the Bill will have the effect of stopping school children in Tasmania from flying. I concede to him that it will be a hardship in some instances. No-one denies that it will. But most people in Tasmania would regard it as unreasonable that Tasmanians should pay no charge at all and that the costs should be met by our friends on the mainland. In view of the particular circumstances, both geographic and economic, in which Tasmania finds herself, and particularly in view of the point made by my honourable friend from Franklin that rail services on the mainland are subsidised, I think it would be reasonable for the Government to reconsider the position of Tasmania and provide for a reduced charge to apply to that State. I can see no objection from the Tasmanian people if there is a charge but a reduced charge for travel to and from Tasmanian airports.
While I am on my feet 1 would mention one other point that has given me concern. The Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) in his second reading speech said:
In drawing up the scheme of charges, the Government gave a lot of thought to whether they should be applicable at all Commonwealth aerodromes, and concluded that it would be appropriate to restrict them to the busier airports. It has been decided therefore, that no charges will be levied for embarkation or disembarkation at any Commonwealth aerodrome where, in the most recent completed year, passenger movements were fewer than 35,000.
I should like to know how the figure of 35,000 was reached. The Minister gave no logical approach to this. All we see in the Bill before us is clause 5, which has the figure of 35,000 included in it. It is unsatisfactory to mc to have this figure drawn out of the air. If there is a reason for it, I hope the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn), who is at the table, when replying to the points I am making will give the House the reason for choosing the figure of 35,000.
I cannot object in principle to the Bill, nor can my friend from Franklin, because we voted in favour of the Government’s Budget. But 1 would ask, along with my colleagues from Tasmania, that the Government give urgent consideration to the particular circumstances of Tasmania. I would never hope that we would not have any charges at all - that is too much to hope for. But I hope that there will be reduced charges in the ease of Tasmania.
– I have been rather thrown into the position of handling this Bill because my colleague, the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz), has unfortunately had to go to Melbourne to attend an International Civil Aviation Organisation meeting. He asked me to take note of the representations made. I have listened carefully and attentively and I will pass these representations on to him when he arrives back in Canberra tomorrow morning. All I can say at the moment is that the Government rejects the amendment moved by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones). I agree with my colleague, the honourable member for Boothby (Mr McLeay), about the amendment proposed by the honourable member for Newcastle. If it means what I take it to mean, and that is an increase in fares by 2i%, the best legal information that we can get is that this would be illegal and would be against section 92 of the Constitution which provides for freedom of transport between States.
– Are our present charges legal?
– Yes, they are legal because they are charges for the use of facilities. The Bill before us intends also that the new charge should be a charge for the use of facilities. The charge is not, as some honourable members have thought, dependent on the distance that is travelled. These charges are made for the facilities that are used at airports. We know that facilities differ quite considerably at different airports. But whatever airport aircraft take off from or land at, certain facilities are still used. These include instrument landing facilities and runway facilities. The charge is for the use of these facilities and not the use of the air between airports. The honourable member for Braddon (Mr Davies) said that the new charge would increase air fares between Wynyard and Devonport by 24%. But this charge is a charge for the use of the facilities that are provided by the Department of Civil Aviation. These facilities cost the Government an enormous sum annually at present. In his second reading speech, the Minister for Civil Aviation said that the total cost of maintaining, operating and administering aerodromes and air navigation facilities was almost S60m last year, including interest, depreciation and superannuation charges. On the other hand, revenue derived by the Department of Civil Aviation from the users of these facilities amounted to approximately $12.5m while another S8.5m was paid by the domestic operators in aviation fuel excise.
We have to decide whether to make this enormous annual contribution by way of subsidy to civil aviation or to try to get some small percentage back in revenue. And this charge will return only a small percentage. About 10 years ago I drove from New York to Washington and every few miles I had to stop at a barrier and pay 25c before I was allowed to pass. It cost more to drive by road from New York to Washington in those days than the amount of this airport charge imposed 10 years later in Australia. It is not unreasonable - indeed, it is only fair and just - that the people who use the facilities should pay for the use of them. The honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie) and the honourable member for Braddon, as well as some of my colleagues on my side of the House, complained that this charge will beaT heavily on Tasmania. I suppose it will. Tasmanians use air transport a good deal to travel to the mainland. I think we can say that the facilities in Tasmania are remarkably good. Where else in Australia - perhaps in the world - would one discover an airport like Launceston, with the facilities it has, for the size of the city it serves? I am not say ing that Launceston should not have these facilities. What I am saying is that the facilities are most expensive, and I do not believe it is unreasonable to impose a charge on the people who use them.
Again, I would like to point out that this charge bears no relation to the mileage that is travelled in the air. It is related to the facilities that the Commonwealth has to provide. If we look at the Budget, we see that we have had three areas of expenditure which have reduced the ability of the Commonwealth to provide improved facilities or grants, or whatever it may be, to other areas and other people who merit them. One area is defence expenditure, which has increased a lot; the second is education, where costs have risen; and the third area is civil aviation, where there has been an enormous increase in the annual cost of improving facilities. I find it a bit hard to follow the honourable member for Wilmot. At one stage he complained that the charge was vicious and discriminatory. A moment later, he said that it would raise only $4.5m, as if to suggest that it would not raise enough. I do not know which side the honourable member comes down on.
The honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) pointed out that if an aircraft belonging to a registered airline such as Connellan Airways Ltd travels from Alice Springs to Ayers Rock and back, the passengers on that aircraft will pay tax. But passengers on a charter aircraft making exactly the same trip will not have to pay tax. I am the first to realise that there is an anomaly here, I agree that we ought to look at this and see what can be done. The only point that I find a little difficult to understand concerns passenger movements at Alice Springs Airport. The last report of the Department of Civil Aviation, at appendix 10, sets out the principal airports in Australia and information about passenger, freight and aircraft movements. For the year ended 31st December 1967, Alice Springs is shown as having a movement of only 31.962 passengers. If this is so, I cannot understand why that airport is included in the category of airports that have a passenger movement of over 35,000 people a year. As I said before, this Bill does not concern my Department. There seems to be something wrong and 1 will get the Minister to see whether these figures are correct and whether a tax should be payable at Alice Springs. I will also convey to him the other representations that have been made, and he will look into them. I repeat that the Government does not accept the amendment moved by the Opposition.
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr Charles Jones’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr Acting Speaker - Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority . . . . 37
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question put:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The House divided. (Mr Acting Speaker - Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority . . 38
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Fairbairn) read a third time.
– I present the sixth report of the Printing Committee.
Report - by leave - adopted.
Statement taken as a whole.
Motion (by Mr Freeth) proposed:
That the Committee agrees with the Statement for the year 1967-68 of Heads of Expenditure and the amount charged thereto pursuant to section 36a of the Audit Act 1901-1966.
– This is a formal matter and we do not intend to debate it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Debate resumed from 20 November (vide page 3054), on motion by Mr Fairhall:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This is a drastic and unprecedented piece of legislation. A Commonwealth Bill has been introduced to override a State proclamation. Honourable members will have extreme difficulty in recalling any earlier occasion on which such a course has been followed. Federal Liberal
Ministers will no longer talk to State Liberal Ministers. This has been a matter of notoriety for months past and the introduction of this Bill bears it out. The Bill is a piece of legal sharp practice. It shows the practised hand of the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen), the author of the MLC ordinance and the Patents Bill.
Under the Lands Acquisition Act it is not possible for the Commonwealth to acquire land which has been reserved for public recreation. In February last year the New South Wales Minister for Lands reserved for public recreation the lands leased to the Commonwealth at Holsworthy - which lease will expire at the end of this year - and the lands which the Commonwealth has proclaimed its right to enter - which right will expire at the end of next year. The proclamation by the State Minister followed months - perhaps years but certainly months - of fruitless negotiation between the Commonwealth and the State concerning this land.
– Years, as I said in my second reading speech, if you recall.
– Yes, the Minister did say that, but the instances he gave were only in the preceding months, during his term as the relevant Minister, which coincided with that of his Liberal counterpart in New South Wales. The proclamation made by the State Minister was a subterfuge. The State Government did not intend to use the land for public recreation. It intends to use some of it for industrial and residential purposes. The land has been used for years, and in some cases for decades, by the Commonwealth. It has been used in conjunction with the Commonwealth’s own freehold land at Liverpool, which is the military capital of Australia. To overcome this proclamation, puerile and petulant as it was, the Commonwealth has now introduced a Bill to exclude the operation of the sub-section of the Act which prevents acquisition of land reserved for public recreation. My Party believes that the Bill goes too far.
It is always possible for the Commonwealth to pass a specific Act to acquire land for any purpose for which the Commonwealth has power under the Constitution. It could do so in respect of this land and acquire it for the military purposes for which it has been used. We are not encouraging the Commonwealth to do that. But if we pass this Bill the State will be as securely excluded from the field of negotiation as the Commonwealth has been by the State proclamation. To give a proper opportunity for negotiation and to help resolve this territorial dispute between the Commonwealth and State governments, and the acrimonious disputes between Liberal Federal and State Ministers, I move:
The consequence of the amendment would be that the Slate proclamation would he ousted until the end of 1970. This means that the present Commonwealth government or the government elected at the next Federal election would be able to negotiate with the present State Government or the government elected at the next State election the acquisition of the whole or part of any of the land covered by this Bill. If, however, the negotiations had not satisfactorily concluded by the end of 1970 then the Commonwealth Government of the day would have to come back to the Parliament. The Opposition suggests that in the meantime a committee be appointed to look into this matter. The land has for years, indeed for decades, been used for military purposes. Nobody would suggest that Commonwealth freehold land with $65m worth of installations such as quarters, depots, training fields should cease to be used for these purposes. In fact those purposes arc consistent with the development of the city. At the same time, surely it is fantastic to believe that the artillery range in the leased area or the manoeuvre area in the land to which access has been proclaimed should indefinitely be used for such purposes.
In the 16 years I have represented the northern and larger portion of this land there have been complaints about the effects of the artillery range. The former Minister for the Army examined such complaints.
The disposal of ammunition and the explosions of artillery, particularly in weather conditions such as low cloud, have caused damage and alarm. It is incredible that such a range and such activity should continue in the midst of an expanding residential and industrial area. It should be possible for the Commonwealth to have all the land that it reasonably needs, including all the present installations near the Sydney area, lt ought to be possible for the other land to be released for proper industrial and residential purposes. It should be possible for an artillery range and manoeuvre areas to be acquired elsewhere. A Commonwealth government and a State government, particularly if they are of the same political complexion, should be able to work out proper military, industrial and residential purposes for the land, which is the biggest defence establishment in Australia and is surrounded by or is adjacent to the largest city in Australia.
Joint select committees of this Parliament have established that they can ascertain facts and make recommendations in a practical and bi-partisan manner. I hope that the amendment will be accepted. Everything that the Commonwealth wants can be achieved in the 2 years provided for in the amendment. If the amendment is not accepted the Opposition will vote against the Bill. The use of the land was discussed in the recent Outline Plan for the Sydney region produced for the period 1970 to 2000 AD, published six weeks ago by the Minister for Local Government and prepared by the State Planning Authority of New South Wales. I shall read at page 79 of the report, which deals with this particular land, lt states:
The Defence Area comprises about 85 square miles, of which about 1,600 acres in the most northerly part are developed and used for training schools, ordnance depots and barracks, with a further area for a rifle range. The remainder of the area is used as an artillery range and for Army exercises.
The northern part is relatively flat, with slopes of less than 5%. The terrain changes steadily southwards, at first becoming undulating, then assuming a series of ridges and deep gorges running in a north-south direction. Approximately 27,000 acres is suitable for urban development.
Land within the Cumberland Plain and in close proximity to Sydney is, as indicated on the map showing factors inhibiting development, extremely limited for urban use. Such land must of necessity be carefully and economically developed to satisfy the urban expansion needs of Sydney. Nonconforming uses based on old patterns which have been, or are about to be flanked by urban expansion must be re-assessed in the light of contemporary developments. The Military Manoeuvre Area is in this category, and the outstanding advantages of this land for urban expansion must be carefully considered and weighed against the claims for a continuation of the present defence uses.
Part of the area is owned by the Commonwealth Government and part by the State. The Commonwealth part is generally the northern section and about 700 acres are developed for training schools and ordnance depots and used intensively. These uses could be reconciled with general urban development. The remainder of the area would provide about 2,000 acres of industrial land (about 40,000 job opportunities) and accommodation for about 250,000 persons. Public Utilities
The supply of water to the area would require amplification of existing systems and the provision of sewerage would require a new treatment works. These services could be more effectively provided if planned in conjunction with the new facilities for the Campbelltown area. It is for this reason that an early decision in principle is needed about the future release of the area’ for urban development.
Because of the use of the land for defence purposes and the extent of works for utilities, it is anticipated that this land would not be available for development until the 1980-90 stage at least.
The report goes on to deal with the other area covered by the Bill - the Menai area in which the Commonwealth is concerned only insofar as a buffer zone of 1-mile radius is required around the Lucas Heights establishment. I propose to say no more about that area or that establishment, because I understand that this is not a matter which need cause any continuing dispute between the Commonwealth and the State. I limit my remarks to the Army area which apparently is to be the subject of interminable dispute.
I have read the proposals of the New South Wales State Planning Authority. They appear to be reasonable, timely and practicable. I should have thought that the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall), in his second reading speech, would at least have acknowledged the existence of the State plans. These plans were published 6 weeks ago. Unless these proposals are shown to be unreasonable or impractical they deserve consideration. Apparently the Minister is unaware of them, or he has chosen to ignore them. Honourable members should not ignore them. It is true that these plans extend into what the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) would call the far future. I suppose it is too much to expect the Minister for Defence to plan 30 years ahead when he has proved incapable of planning for 3 years ahead. I suppose even he would concede - to use the words of his master - that we can expect a decision in principle that troops will still be stationed in Liverpool up to the end of 1971. What is to be the future use of this area? Will the artillery range in this area still be used into the far future - and into the 1980s? Are we into the 1980s to deny 40.000 job opportunities and accommodation for 250,000 persons in an area readily reticulated by transport and by urban services just because the Commonwealth will not face up to the fact of training and accommodation in modern circumstances? This training - artillery and manoeuvres - is not required for the defence of Sydney or for the defence of Australian industries. The artillery range can be conducted just as well in a military sense elsewhere; in all other senses, much better.
– But why-
– The honourable member for Mitchell sounds like a blunderbuss. I am talking about the 1980s, not the 1880s. 1 am talking for the decade after his existence rather than the decade before. The Bill results from failure in two areas - planning and negotiation. It is a discreditable story of the relations between two Liberal governments. There has been a proclamation by a State government and a Bill by a Federal government - both puerile, both petulant. The Minister for Defence and the State Minister for Lands are glaring at each other eyeball to eyeball, waiting for the other to blink. New South Wales obviously does not want this land for recreational purposes, lt is not being honest in so reserving it. The Commonwealth cannot reasonably expect to retain all this land for military purposes for the indefinite future.
– Have I not admitted that?
– But the Minister did not refer to any of the State’s plans. Does he suggest that the State Planning Authority’s proposals are unreasonable?
– No. I accept the point you make. You have not read my second reading speech.
– Indeed I have. I have read it many times. I have relished it many ways. I shall repeat it for use in other places. For instance, talking about the Liberal State government, the Minister complained that the proclamation was made without prior discussion with the Commonwealth. He referred to ‘this unilateral State action*. He said that the State remains obdurate. He said:
In neither case can we risk any peremptory demand to vacate all State lauds.
I would not think that there was anything peremptory about the suggestions of the State Planning Authority. The Minister concluded by expressing the hope that if this Bill is passed, giving a permanent charter to the Commonwealth over this land - unprecedented overriding of State legislation - we can come to a sensible accommodation.
Can any honourable member recall any second reading speech referring to a State government in such terms? One has to go to the statements made by State Liberal Ministers to find comments like that. One has to go to the statement made by the New South Wales Minister for Health, who said: ‘I will not lift a finger to help the Federal Government to be returned’. Or one must go to the New South Wales Minister for Education, who said of the Prime Minister: ‘Our Federal colleagues are dealing in theories and statistics. They are not dealing in facts and they are not dealing with people’. Or one has to go to the Liberal Premier of Victoria, who says: ‘My State is becoming the Rhodesia of Australia. We have been threatened with economic sanctions if we do not lift the State wages tax by 1970. I have played along with Canberra too long’. The Liberal Premier of Victoria as Treasurer has called the Commonwealth Treasurer a paranoiac who is not to be trusted or believed.
Believe me. I have read the Minister’s second reading speech. I well recall it. I have read what State Ministers have said about the Minister for Defence concerning this Bill. To ease the minds of honourable gentlemen opposite, I do not propose to recall the painful utterances about the Minister which appeared in reports and editorials last Friday and last Saturday.
– You have read two newspapers for each of those days, have you?
– I read the Sydney newspapers. I did not read other newspapers in New South Wales. I would imagine that the Newcastle newspapers were not so very favourable.
– They mentioned nothing of the matter.
Me WHITLAM- Let us see whether the Minister will answer what his State Liberal colleague has said about him. One can scarcely blame the State Minister for saying these things when the Liberal Federal Minister has made the deliberate comments in his second reading speech from which I have quoted. These were prepared remarks. The Bill was introduced surreptitiously late at night. The State Minister complained that he had to send for a copy of the Bill. I believe that the attributes of the Minister for Defence were particularly well described by his colleague the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) in a memorable address which the Minister gave, ostensibly about the Public Service but more memorably about his own colleagues. In particular let me quote this passage from the address of the Minister for External Affairs:
Many of the risks of bad government today arise because some politicians who are not technically expert tend to lean too much on the advice of technical experts who know little about politics. There is the glamour for the politician of being thought advanced and living in the modern age. Wilh a limited education himself-
If there is one group of Cabinet which holds more contempt for its fellows than the Oxbridge graduates hold for Australian graduates it is the Australian graduates who hold in contempt those who have degrees from neither, in which category the Minister for Defence would fall. The Minister for External Affairs continued: and limited time in which to become more knowledgeable, he gets some gratification at hobnobbing with the experts and he soon picks up their jargon-
There is no Minister who jabbers jargon better than does the Minister for Defence - quotes their analyses and their statistics as though they were his own and fairly soon has also fallen into their state of mind by contradicting or confuting his critics by reeling off technical and scientific information supplied to him on a piece of paper.
In the present instance the Minister for Defence was not speaking about the Fill aircraft. He was not reading public rela tions handouts from another country. He was not hiding behind technical jargon. He was talking about matters of town planning and explosions which are comprehended, heard and resented by many lay people. He cannot fob the public off in this House. He cannot ignore what the town planners have said. He cannot ignore what the residents have said. He cannot ignore what the modern armies practice. What other city of 2,000,000 or 1,000,000 inhabitants would have on its outskirts for an indefinite time ahead an artillery range? One wonders how the Minister for Defence treats our international allies when this is the way he treats the States, even States governed in the family, to use the Prime Minister’s phrase in the early days of the regime. How must the Minister treat those with whom he differs politically when he treats in this way his fellow Liberals from his own State?
– Have 1 not always treated you with respect?
– If I am patient enough I suppose the Minister gives me my rights as a member of the same parliament, with respect, but scarcely with good speed or grace. The Minister knows that he cannot, for instance, deny me information as he denies it to the States, but he still delays it. In this matter the State surely has approached him in good time. Let me give an example of a Minister who is respectable, courteous and prompt. I refer to the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz). I have asked him about matters concerning the Outline Plan for Sydney and its proposals for Commonwealth properties in and near Sydney. He has stated frankly that the State Planning Authority has come to his Department about Commonwealth property at Mascot, Kurnell, Wyong and Hoxton Park. In each case an approach was made by the State authority. At least the Minister for Civil Aviation has said that his Department is now discussing the matter. There has been no action on his part to preclude changes in occupation as settlement expands or as other demands arise.
This is not a 3-year programme; it may be a 30-year programme. It may be difficult for the Minister for Defence to cope with it, but at all events it is not a matter of imponderables. We know the facts. The Minister knows what the State has in mind.
He knows what other military establishments would do in our other great cities. He has given no indication of how this land will be used by the Army. He has not said what it would consider a reasonable State use. As the State Planning Authority says, the use to which the Commonwealth puts the property it owns in freehold - the depots, the quarters and the training areas - could be well fitted into the framework of an expanding city. An artillery range and a manoeuvre area cannot. The Army should be sufficiently flexible and modern to make arrangements for the future. If this is how a Liberal State Minister and a Liberal Federal Minister treat each other in public, and if this is the way that the Federal Government treats a State Government in our federation, it gives us very little confidence in the way in which the Minister for Defence will deal with allies and in the goodwill that he can establish in territorial disputes arising in our neighbourhood. His Government and his colleague the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) and the State Liberals are unable to come to a rational accommodation.
I commend the amendment to the House. A joint select committee, on which the Government would have a majority of members from each place, could solve the problem and the period of 2 years should be enough to make adequate legal arrangements for the development of Sydney and of Australia’s defences.
-(Mr Hallet)- Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment.
– We have just heard a remarkable discourse from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). One would think from what he said that there was no other land for development in the whole of this area. Had the Cumberland County Council, the forerunner of the State Planning Authority, had any intelligence in planning, it would not have allowed the area in and around Holsworthy to be developed. It is the old story. A serviceman in peacetime is not very highly regarded, but in wartime he is a hero. In wartime it would have been all right for the Government to have kept this land. But in peace- time the Labor Party implemented the Cumberland County Council plan, which allowed areas around this military establishment, which has been there for nearly 100 years, to be developed. Why were they allowed to be developed? I will tell the House why. It was because members of the Labor Party and their relatives and friends owned land in this area. The Cumberland County Council was conceived in deceit and was kept going by bribery and corruption. This is the main reason why the development has been brought about in this area. Any responsible planning authority, knowing full well the requirement of this land for military purposes, and having regard to the thousands of unexploded shells in the area, would never have allowed it to be developed.
The Holsworthy training area is used by the Army for military training of both the Regular Army and the Citizen Military Forces. The State land occupies about 53 square miles and is all virtually undeveloped. The Holsworthy Army establishment is located on the adjoining Commonwealth owned land, totalling some 27 square miles. From the Commonwealth’s point of view, resolution of the Holsworthy question is of some urgency, as the current arrangements for occupancy of the training area will expire on 31st December 1968. Without prejudice to its final position the Army has already suspended training in one area - area B on the map - for which permissive occupancy arrangements expired on 31st October 1968. The Army has occupied Holsworthy since 1912 and there has been extensive capital development on the Commonwealth-owned northern portion. At current replacement costs, these assets are worth about $65m. The Leader of the Opposition wants to throw them down the drain. Holsworthy is the major Army complex in Australia and performs a vital role in the production of combat-ready troops for operations as well as general training and logistics functions. Any reduction in the present size of the complex would seriously reduce the efficiency and training effectiveness of the area. Holsworthy is regularly used by a total of 19,000 troops- 1 1,000 ARA and 8,000 CMF. All regular units in New South Wales conduct the major part of their training there.
A careful1 review by the Army has indicated that it would not be possible to reduce the area currently available. The whole of the land is required for danger, impact and manoeuvre areas. Meticulous co-ordination is required to allow the concurrent use of these areas with safety. Any reduction in size could not be tolerated because of the danger hazard to the troops being exercised. In addition, it would be impossible to contain tank, artillery and mortar fire within the confines of Commonwealth owned land. Further, any civil development of land which might be relinquished by the Army would create safety hazards for the public. Such development would also introduce noise and damage factors. Vital as Holsworthy is in its own right as a major training area, the issue has even more fundamental implications. The siting and development of major Army installations throughout Australia have been carefully planned and co-ordinated in relation to each other, to major population centres, to the growth of the Army and to the needs of training. If the future of major well-established and heavily-committed centres such as Holsworthy goes into the melting pot, the whole structure of planned Army training and development will be threatened.
The Holsworthy training area is only 25 miles from Sydney and thus it is readily accessible. On the other hand, the other areas in New South Wales where the Army can manoeuvre and conduct field firing are relatively remote from Sydney. These places are Tianjara, which is 130 miles south of Sydney, Singleton, which is 150 miles northwest of Sydney, and Putty, which is 80 miles north-west of Sydney. The Tianjara and Putty areas are not Commonwealth owned, but are used on permissive occupancy and are proclaimed when training is to be carried out. Both are used by Australian Regular Army and Citizen Military Forces units, but live firing by artillery takes place at Tianjara only. Both areas are used for CMF annual camps: Artillery units are at Tianjara and other units are at Putty. Singleton, which is owned by the Commonwealth and is the permanent home of the Third Training Battalion, is also used by the CMF and by cadets for annual camps. These areas are essential to supplement the Holsworthy training area. Singly or combined they could not replace Holsworthy.
To build another Holsworthy further from Sydney would take many years and very considerable capital outlay, and it would involve an unacceptable disruption of training during the transitional period. Removal further from Sydney would not be satisfactory for the training of the numerous CMF units in the metropolitan area, and the proximity of barracks and married quarters, with which Holsworthy is well provided, to a major metropolis has an important effect on Army morale. All these factors mean that there is no satisfactory alternative to Holsworthy. The proposal to acquire the State owned land in the Holsworthy training area was first taken up with the State Government, through the New South Wales Department of Lands, in 1954. That Department strongly opposed the land being acquired by the Commonwealth, and eventually it was agreed that the Commonwealth should continue in occupation on a permissive occupancy basis. In 1959, when the question of acquisition was raised again, the Chief Property Officer of the Department of the Interior in New South Wales advised the Army that the Department of Lands had no objection in principle to the use of the land for training purposes, but that it would not agree to the acquisition of the fee simple, having in mind that defence requirements could possibly change. The New South Wales Department of Lands then approved the permissive occupancy for a further 5 years from 1st July 1958. This period of permissive occupancy was not considered suitable, and in replying to the Army’s objections to the limited period of 5 years, the Chief Property Officer advised that the Slate Department of Lands had no objection to the use of the land by the Commonwealth but would strongly oppose acquisition by the Commonwealth. After further negotiation the period of permissive occupancy was extended to 10 years from 1st July 1958.
In view of the expected growth of Army assets in the Holsworthy area, a more secure tenure over the training area was again considered necessary. The Department of the Interior advised Army that if at some future date the Commonwealth and the State failed to agree on the need to retain the area for defence purposes the question of compulsorily acquiring the land should then be pursued. However, following further representations by the Army, the
Chief Property Officer again took up the question of possible acquisition with the New South Wales Under-Secretary for Lands. During 1962 and 1963, in addition to correspondence, discussions and conferences were held with officers of the Department of Lands during which the Commonwealth’s requirements were fully explained. The Department of Lands was also advised that the Chief Property Officer would be prepared to recommend as a condition of any settlement: (a) that existing rights for removal of gravel, sand, etc., wOuld not be terminated and that further licences would be granted to suitable applicants sponsored by the State, providing such licences would not interfere with defence requirements; and (b) should at any time any of the land be no longer required for Commonwealth purposes, the State would be given first offer to purchase it at a price to be determined in the tight of circumstances then existing.
During the same period an amicable and satisfactory agreement was made between the Army and the Department of Civil Aviation on the use of air space over the Holsworthy manoeuvre area. This arrangement still obtains. In July 1964 the New South Wales Under-Secretary for Lands advised that after full consideration of the relevant facts the State would not agree to acquisition. The State and the tocal authority’s concern was that such a large area of land on the southern outskirts of the city should be lost for future development. In late 1966 the Department of Defence and the Department of the Interior initiated further negotiations. As a consequence, on 27th July 1967 a meeting was held at the Department of Lands between the New South Wales Minister for Lands, the Minister for Local Government and the Minister for Defence. The State put forward certain proposals which, in essence, involved the surrender by the Commonwealth of virtually the whole of the northern portion of the training area - including Commonwealth land - which the State proposed should be used for extension of the Sydney metropolis. How stupid can you become?
The State proposal was not acceptable to the Army because: (a) it would reduce the available range area to such an extent as to make it virtually useless for artillery practice; (b) the fixed installations - barracks, etc. - would be separated from training areas and ranges by urban development; (c) travel to and from training facilities would be costly in time and money; (d) costly and inefficient relocation of many existing facilities - such as close training areas and small arm ranges - would be required; and (e) daily troop movement through urban development and the use of the training and range areas adjoining such development would produce constant problems of noise and damage.
The Holsworthy artillery and field firing ranges have been used continuously since World War 1 for the firing of high explosive projectiles. It is inevitable that over the years considerable numbers of unexploded projectiles have lodged in or under the ground surface and now remain unlocated and, in some cases, undetectable using even the most modern methods. This touches on a most significant aspect of the State proposal, namely, that approximately the northern third - or the most used parts - of the existing range area should be devoted to urban development. In other words, put urban development where it can get blown up and let the Commonwealth be responsible for that in perpetuity. No scheme for clearing unexploded projectiles would guarantee that the area was absolutely free of dangerous objects. In any event, the size of the impact area would make such a clearance scheme quite impracticable.
On 29th September 1967 information was received from the Department of the Interior that the State had ‘reserved from sale for public recreation’ a large area of land at Holsworthy, including both the permissive occupancy and the permit to enter areas at present held by the Commonwealth. This appeared in State ‘Gazette’ No. 19 of 24th February 1967. Under section 6 (2) of the Lands Acquisition Act 1955-56 the Commonwealth is precluded from acquiring any interest in land reserved for public recreation. This matter was referred to the Commonwealth Crown Solicitor who advised that it was within the power of the Parliament to pass a special Act to enable the Holsworthy land to be acquired by the Commonwealth.
Negotiations continued and resulted in a conference involving Commonwealth and State Ministers being held in Sydney on 8 th August 1968. No agreement was reached at this conference or at a subsequent meeting which was held in Canberra on 14th August 1968. In a letter dated 18th September 1968 the New South Wales Minister for Lands advised that the State had decided to allow further negotiations, if the Commonwealth so desired, until 1st November 1968 after which time the State Government would make a final decision as to its attitude on this important matter. No agreement between the Commonwealth and tne State was reached by 1 st November and. in view of the State’s expressed intention not to continue negotiations beyond that date, it has been deemed necessary to proceed with the introduction of legislation that will protect the interests of the Commonwealth in this vital issue.
The Commonwealth is not to blame in any way whatsoever and but for the Cumberland County Council zoning and allowing the area around this district to be developed this position would not have arisen. If all the available land within 30 miles of Sydney had been acquired there may have been some justification, but there are thousands upon thousands of blocks of land in the western perimeter of Sydney where roads have been constructed, electricity reticulation provided and water laid on which have not been developed because of the Cumberland County Council. Over in the Liverpool area where Labor Party members’ friends and relatives own land, development was permitted. This is the reason why we are having this difficulty today, and this is the rottenness of the whole plan. The one time Minister for Local Government gave an assurance that the Marcus Clark land between the Pacific Highway and the Fox Valley would never be allowed to be developed but would be kept for the people in perpetuity. Within 1 year development was permitted and a big developer walked in. I wonder who got the rake off for that. Fancy developing Sydney to a population of 6 million people in a nuclear age. What about decentralisation? What about the lip service that members opposite give to decentralisation? What about the wonderful harbours that we have on the north coast of New South Wales?
Why have we not arranged for cities to be built there instead of providing costly services for a city of 6 million people in a nuclear age? The whole think stinks to high heaven and but for the rottenness of the planning that has been done in and around this area the Commonwealth would not bc in the position that it is in now.
– In listening to the honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Irwin) I was reminded that bell hath no fury like a land speculator baulked of his prey. If the cap fits the honourable gentleman, let him wear it.
– You sold adulterated petrol under the name of NRMA or something like that and that is why you cannot be enrolled as a solicitor.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, will you shut him up?
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Hallet)Order!
– He is trying to shut me up.
– He will not listen to me.
-Order! The honourable member for Mitchell will cease interjecting.
– Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. A lot of synthetic heat and fury has been generated in respect of this legislation by the honourable member for Mitchell but we will take him for the political lightweight he is and not worry about answering him. The main point of this legislation is very simple, although the Government has attempted to create an atmosphere of crisis. It has been suggested that the Commonwealth’s establishment at Holsworthy, with a development commitment of $65m, is in jeopardy. It has been suggested also that the Commonwealth is in dire danger of eviction. Neither suggestion is correct.
It has been said that the State Government is not in any way co-operative, and in that regard it might be well to refer to the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of 21st November in which the State Minister for Lands is reported to have said that the Commonwealth Government had been offered an alternative site at Singleton for the Army greater in area than the site it now holds at Holsworthy. This, I think, is of vital importance. Mr Lewis said that he had sought to negotiate a 10-year lease of the area in question - that is, the corridor area which the State Government is seeking ultimately to acquire, not immediately but ultimately and after a minimum period of 10 years. Mr Lewis sought to negotiate this lease so that the land ultimately would revert to the State for residential and industrial development. That is not an unreasonable proposition. It certainly puts paid to the Government’s suggestion that there is very grave urgency and that legislation should be introduced late at night. Copies of the second reading speech of the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) have not been made available to members and we had to request that maps be provided also. These are matters of elementary courtesy. It is information to which members of the Opposition are entitled. Let the Minister look after his own Party if he so desires.
I refer now to the ‘Daily Telegraph’ of 22nd November and a report of a statement by Mr Lewis, the State Minister for Lands, who said that the area the State wanted was in the northern portion of the complex and it provided a direct link between Campbelltown to the east and the EngadineHeathcote area to the west. That is the corridor to which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) referred when quoting the outline plans for Sydney, the product of the State Planning Authority, and covering the period 1970 to 2000. Mr Lewis said that the State had told the Commonwealth that it would not need - here is a repetition of what I previously stated and a confirmation of it - this land for at least 10 years and would be prepared to lease it to the Commonwealth for this period. He said that a lease of even 15 to 20 years would not have worried the State Government unduly. The State Government had told the Commonwealth that it would not need the remaining southern portion - about 2,600 acres of the 7,300 involvedfor about 40 years. Yet we have this panic legislation in an atmosphere of synthetic crisis, lt was pointed out by the State Minister for Lands that the main complex to the north, that is the area which is vested in the Commonwealth today and which it has held by various acquisitions between 1912 and the present time - an area of 27 square miles - would not be affected in any way. Access could still come from that main complex, if that were desired. The State Government was prepared to go so far that it would provide access over a gap of 3 or 4 miles through the corridor area and the Commonwealth could still use the areas to the immediate south of the corridor.
The aim of the Bill is to amend the Lands Acquisition Act pro tanto so far as section 6 (2.) prevents the resumption of land that has been dedicated for public recreation or park purposes. Quite a complex procedure is involved and it is worth noting. Firstly, notice to treat is to be given. If particulars are not furnished within a period of 14 days and after that a further period of 28 days elapses, the Minister can recommend acquisition by compulsory notice. The Minister then must gazette the formal acquisition of the title to the land. The title then is merged into a claim for compensation by the dispossessed owner and within 14 sitting days after publication of the gazette notice the notification is laid on the table of both Houses. Disallowance can occur within 30 days.
If the Government feels that it is short of remedies, surely it has one in the event of the alleged immediate eviction under section 69 of the Defence Act. In point of fact it already holds some 32 square miles of the O’Hare’s Creek area, where by proclamation it has authority to enter for training, subject, in terms of the Act, to payment for damages. I understand that no claim has ever been made. This present impasse reflects nothing but the greatest discredit on the Commonwealth Government. It is no credit, either, to the New South Wales Government that such an impasse should have been reached. If federation means anything, it means some basis of respect for the mutual rights of both the State and the Commonwealth. In this instance we have had an exhibition of mulishness and stubbornness that redounds to the discredit of both governments. The subterfuge - and a paltry one at that - by which the State Government gazetted the area for public recreation was a foolish one and it probably precipitated this action. But that is no excuse for the arrogant action that has been taken.
The Minister for Defence suggested that the Leader of the Opposition had not read his speech. He had read it very carefully indeed and I want to quote from it. The Minister said that the Commonwealth expected that at some unspecified date it may be possible or desirable to make other arrangements, that he would in fact make land available at present day prices when it was no longer required. But the rub was that the essential termination of occupancy was to be at the discretion of the Commonwealth. Power was to be exercised for its own sake. There was no basis of compromise and no suggestion of tolerance or reciprocity. The Minister has yet to convince the House that there is any reason why the Commonwealth could not negotiate and obtain an extension of the tenancy on the terms that have been offered by the State Government. 1 think this is the starting point and this is the reason why the Opposition has moved its amendment. 1 want to deal now with another aspect. lt relates particularly to the setting up of a special committee, in the words of the amendment, ‘to inquire into and report upon the most appropriate use of this land’. I want to draw the attention of the House lo several extracts from the outline plan of the Sydney region for the years 1970 to 2000, which was prepared by the State Planning Authority. The population basis of the plan is given at page 19. I speak here of a matter of life or death for the city that I have the honour to represent and of its future development. At page 19 these words appear:
After careful consideration, the State Planning Authority has concluded that an integral part of the population strategy for the Sydney Region should be the adoption of a provisional aim to steer 500,000 of Sydney’s projected growth to new centres in other areas of the State, outside the Sydney Region. This might be partly to appropriate areas immediately outside the Sydney Region as defined, for example, to the northern parts of Wollongong, and partly to areas well away from the Region. This is an ambitious aim. It will require a thorough study of ways and means.
The military area stands athwart the ultimate link that must be made between the City of Greater Wollongong and the metropolitan area of Sydney. The State Planning Authority has correctly pointed out that by the year 2000 there will be a conurbation of some 5,500,000 people in a long coastal strip from Newcastle in the north, through
Sydney and to Wollongong in the south, that it will be a major city that will extend to the foothills of the Blue Mountains, that it will be certainly the major centre of population and the major centre of industry in the Southern Hemisphere.
We are confronted at this stage with nothing less than an arrogant, obstinant attempt by the Commonwealth Government to stand in the way of this ultimate development. No-one objects to the interim use of the area. An offer of a 10-year term has already been made. It is quite a reasonable offer. In this period the Commonwealth could see what the future trends of population and development were. I want to make an observation about population trends and here I quote from page 27 of the outline plan for the Sydney region, which deals with economic diversity. It states:
Sydney’s economy is broadly based, and as Australia’s premier commercial and industrial centre and port, it offers a wide variety of employment opportunities. The neighbouring cities of Newcastle and Wollongong, however, depend substantially on heavy industry, and their economies do not have the diversity which is desirable today to ensure full and stable employment opportunities. Insofar as the future development of Sydney can be guided so as to draw it into closer relationship, physically and economically, with the Newcastle and Wollongong areas, this will help to strengthen and diversify their economies also. More varied port facilities will be offered to the Central Coast area as a whole. As an urban complex with an eventual population of 6-7 million, a diverse economy, and a wide range of port facilities, Sydney-Newcastle-Wollongong will possess greater strength and opportunities in the pattern of world trade. It is for these reasons that one of the basic, objectives of the Outline Plan is lo brins about this closer relationship between the three areas.
If the Government chooses to assert that it will decide if and when it will vacate an artillery range in the manoeuvre area, this plan will never be consummated and the Government will be branded with the responsibility for it for all time.
Estimates have been made of the future - population of the area in which I am greatly interested. The State Planning Authority has estimated that in a city at Campbelltown, which is 30 miles from Wollongong. 35 miles from Sydney and immediately to the west of the Holsworthy area, there will be 340,000 people. Camden, which is 40 miles from Sydney and 40 miles from Wollongong will have a population of 100,000; Appin, which is 20 miles from Wollongong and 40 miles from Sydney will have a population of 60,000. Even Liverpool, which is 20 miles from Sydney and only 40 miles from Wollongong, will have a population of 150,000. The Wollondilly Shire, which is 25 miles from Wollongong and 55 miles from Sydney, will have a population of 90,000. The total population of these areas will be 740,000 people. Therefore, about three-quarters of a million people will be cut off from immediate access to their legitimate port and commercial centre.
Traditionally, Wollongong has had great difficulties of access. The district was first reached by sca. Later it was reached by mountain trail, then by primitive road and finally by rail. We are hemmed in on the west by the metropolitan catchment area, where there are four major water supply dams and where residential development is precluded; to the north we are hemmed in by the Royal National Park and the catchment area of the Woronora Dam. The only corridor we have is in this salient which projects up into the heart of Sydney and along the western perimeter where Sydney is already extending towards Campbelltown and beyond, lt is of vital importance that if there is to be a conurbation of the ultimate strength envisaged for this huge coastal city, ultimately the whole of this area should be released. Of even more importance - this is of particular significance in view of the statement made yesterday by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) - is the fact that the Commonwealth intends to participate in overseas shipping with the Associated Container Transportation Ltd consortium.
Of very great interest are the three main original coach roads giving access to the former township of Wollongong from the city of Sydney. The original pioneers chose well. The first and main one of those coach roads is the old Illawarra Road, as it is termed, which runs from Holsworthy due south to Darkes Forest along the road between Williams Creek and Deadmans Creek. It is the original and still legitimate means of access between Wollongong and Liverpool and the industrial complex of the southern part of Sydney. This route is also of particular significance because of the Commonwealth’s association with the ACT consortium. The main stuffing depot, as it is termed, for containerisation will be sited at Villawood, near the intersection of Woodville Road and the suburban branch railway line. That is 22 miles from the projected and ultimate port development of Botany Bay, which will inevitably replace Sydney Harbour as the main port. By way of Woodville Road, Henry Lawson Drive and a minor bridge over the Georges River at the East Hills railway terminus, access can be given to Port Kembla for containerisation purposes. I do not see this as a parochial matter because the truth is that while Sydney has one of the most magnificent harbours in the world, it has one of the worst ports. Villawood was chosen as the locale for the container loading depot because it is the heart of the industrial freight centre of Sydney. Both inwards and outwards, more freight would be collected from there than from the heart of Sydney. That freight centre is moving further southwards and ultimately will move down to the south Bankstown area. lt is possible to develop only two container berths in the port of Sydney because of the extensive areas required for the storage of containers. The alternative that is being considered is well outside the financial competence of the Stale Government. I refer to the development of Botany Bay. While the Commonwealth Government is treating that proposal us scurvily as it is, its State colleagues will never agree to go ahead, because the cost will be $120m. An alternative to this site which is readily available is the inner harbour of Port Kembla, which is a distance of 45 miles from Villawood. The opening of one of these roads through the military area would make it possible to have over 32 miles of high speed driving through a literally uninhabited area. For that reason alone, my city is vitally interested in the development of the area. The road to which I referred, between Darkes Forest and a point known as Eckersley, is on the eastern boundary of area E on the plan which the Minister has circulated.
There is an alternate road that can be more readily used. This is the one from the intersection of Menai Road and Heathcote Road to Eckersley. This, again, is one that could be readily liberated. Another road which will be vital to the cities which will develop at Campbelltown, Camden and Appin will be the old Campbelltown Road which branches off a few miles above
Darkes Forest and the old Illawarra coach road, and crosses the Georges River near Campbelltown itself.
We are vitally interested in these roads and we want to see that they are opened and used. We want to see that a select committee is given the responsibility for this. I wish to quote from paragraphs 152, 153 and 154, at page 37 of the report of the Senate Select Committee on the Container Method of Handling Cargoes some observations about the future of the port of Sydney. These sections deal with the possible development of Botany Bay as a container port subject to a survey of the bay’s hydraulic features. The report states:
Even the most advanced present planners, however, are uncertain of the future development of shipping trade patterns. Criticism might well be made that present planning is of a piecemeal nature which could result in future development problems, lt is conceivable that, if trade volume and patterns develop along explosive lines, the future will demand virtual replacement of existing and planned port facilities.
This is of the utmost importance - would be the present expenditure of immense amounts of money on redevelopment or a new development such as a huge complex at Botany Bay complete with wharves, ample terminal area, nearby depots, rail heads, wool centres, processing and packaging centres, road transport, and access roads. Tn short a new and total container port.
Practical realism and availability of finance may be used by the relevant authorities to justify piecemeal development-
That refers, of course, to Sydney Harbour itself- unavoidable though future waste and redundancy may be, but the Committee sees more merit in the preparation of a blueprint now for the future development of a total container port complex to serve New South Wales.
There is a revolution taking place in shipping. The ports of the future will be ports remote from intense, dense traffic of major metropolitan areas. It is literally impossible to have access to most of the wharves in the city of Sydney which have been developed and which have existed since the days of the sailing ships. To my knowledge there are 129 wharves in Sydney, of which only twenty-five have rail links. The remainder are served by motor trucks which fully laden must fight their way through the densest traffic in the Southern Hemisphere. In a situation such as that we get the utmost inefficiency, and complaints are made by the shipping companies about the high cost of cargo handling. The ports of the future will be in relatively open areas where there are not traffic problems. After all containerisation has a door to door delivery problem. Movement of the container from the point of loading to the point of shipment is only one of the incidental factors. The main thing is the location of the filling depot itself.
For these reasons 1 support with great vehemence the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition. I repeat that it is a matter of life and death to us. There are further aspects that need to be considered in the development of this area. One of them is this: Even the State Planning Authority has indicated in the folder plan attached to its outline that the Tempe-East Hills railway line will bridge the Georges River at the same point to which I have referred - the East Hills terminus - and link up with the main southern railway line at a point near Casula, which is a few miles south of the city of Liverpool. There again the aim is access to Botany Bay. This access cannot be denied because to deny it would be to frustrate the use of Botany Bay as a port of shipment to certain of the southern areas of New South Wales. Conversely there is a case to be made - this again would be the function of the committee - for careful planning for the construction of a railway line from Liverpool through the Holsworthy area to Waterfall to link with the Illawarra line and thus provide for diversion of some of the bulk traffic from the west of New South Wales via Granville Junction to Port Kembla. These matters need much more consideration than can be given to them late at night on a Bill that was introduced with a minimum of publicity and a maximum air of crisis. I strongly support the amendment and commend it to the favourable consideration of the House.
– I think that those honourable members who were in the House earlier tonight are entitled to assume that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) enjoyed himself in the recital which he addressed to the House on this Bill. It was a nice piece of tightrope walking. On the one hand, of course, it was a predictable performance. He had to put up opposition to a Government proposal because that is the basic function of a Leader of the Opposition. On the other hand, [ thought there was a slight semblance of tongue in cheek. Within the Holsworthy complex or adjacent to it there are about 1,600 homes which are occupied by military personnel and their dependants. These people may well be on the hoped for electoral strength of the Leader of the Opposition. Therefore, he must be very careful in what he says. I think this explains the Mona Lisa smile which flitted across his face from time to time during his recital of the alleged facts. Let me put one or two things in their proper perspective. Firstly, under the Commonwealth Lands Acquisition Act, as the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) has indicated, the Commonwealth is not entitled to acquire compulsorily or by agreement lands which have been dedicated for recreational use. Until just over a year ago this land was not so dedicated and the Commonwealth therefore would have been entitled to acquire it compulsorily or by negotiation. But as I pointed out in my second reading speech, without any indication to the Commonwealth Government the State Government put down a proclamation on the Holsworthy training complex declaring it for recreational use.
The Leader of the Opposition pointed out - I do not mind confirming what he said - that the State Government had no inclination or determination to use the area for recreational purposes. Clearly it was to be used for housing and industrial development. As a pursuit of the right and proper responsibilities of the State Government, I have no objection to that at all. But what the proclamation did was to bar the Commonwealth from acquiring the land compulsorily or by agreement. To restore that situation, the Bill which is now before the House became essential because negotiations appeared to have broken down. This Bill does not acquire the land but permits the Commonwealth Government to acquire it either compulsorily or by agreement.
As I said in my second reading speech, this Bill having passed into law the Commonwealth would still hope that it will be able to negotiate a satisfactory agreement with the State Government, preferably to acquire the land by agreement. If we are able to acquire the land by agreement - I go on to the second point I made in my second reaching speech - we see that within a reasonable time - and who could put a year on that in the light of developments in the world today - one could anticipate that the pressures of growing population in Sydney would produce a situation where the Commonwealth would be obliged, would be willing and would be able to vacate the area. Under those circumstances I undertook on behalf of the Commonwealth that we would return the land to the State at the same cost - in other words, at the cost of acquisition. I thought this was a reasonable and proper deal.
Now the Minister for Lands in New South Wales has indicated - and I take the words of the honourable member for Cunningham here - that the State might reasonably have contemplated a 15-year or 20-year lease of the particular area in question - the northern sectors of the training area - and might have accepted a 40- year agreement on the southern end. I do not think there is much difficulty at all about the southern end. Those who continually fly over this area to and from Sydney will know that half, or a good deal more than half, of the southern part of the area in question is what might be termed tiger country. It does appear that it will be a long lime before that area will be useful for residential or industrial purposes.
But the Commonwealth cannot say what the developments are going to be in the future, lt has been pointed out, 1 think by the Leader of the Opposition’ himself if I recall his statement, that really Holsworthy is the centre of the military training complex not only of New South Wales but throughout Australia. That is, there is a steady military population of 7,000 servicement there and there are as well training facilities for and general occupation by something like 8,000 CMF personnel who come from Sydney. In the first place, the 7,000 Permanent Army people who occupy the area are not likely to decrease, and the 8,000 CMF personnel who use the area for training and who would be vastly inconvenienced and the cost of whose training would be vastly increased if they were trained elsewhere, one would hope to sec increase with the passing years. If the State is prepared to allow something like a 15- year or 20-year period it may be that within (hat or perhaps some longer period the Commonwealth would be able to find a new training area, to find the money to make the transfer and to put up with the difficulties, inconvenience, inefficiency and so on of moving this training complex to the new area. But I pointed out in a remark in my second reading speech, which seems to concern the honourable member for Cunningham, that the nub of this whole matter is that the initiative for moving out ought to lie with the Commonwealth.
I think the general source of joy for the Leader of the Opposition this evening was the fact that he had a Liberal Government in the State and a Liberal Government in the Commonwealth apparently taking up opposite positions. There are two competing responsibilities. 1 do not want to put this on the basis of any clash between the State and Commonwealth Governments; but I do appreciate that there is a collision between a right and proper responsibility of a State Government to provide housing and facilities for growth of population and for the establishment of industries and the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government. As far as the Commonwealth is concerned, we have what I believe to be a pre-eminent responsibility, that for the defence of the country, and I would believe that in the public mind, as it does certainly in my mind and in the Government’s mind, the need for facilities for the defence of this country would take priority over the need of the State Government.
As my honourable friend from Mitchell (Mr Irwin) so adequately pointed out, if one looks to the west and north-west of the Sydney area it would seem that there is still ample land as close to the centre of Sydney as is the area in question which could be taken up and which could be developed for residential and industrial purposes.
There are one or two points about this range which have only been touched upon. On the map which I was able to circulate to honourable members there are two hatched sections in the green area which belong to the Commonwealth and which the State Government would like to have for residential purposes. These make up, I think, something like 5,000 acres. The net effect of providing these two areas to the State for residential and industrial use would be to cut off almost completely - almost, to isolate - the barracks, the schools, the training areas and the instructional areas in the Holsworthy military complex. This is an area in which, 1 must point out, something like S65m of public money has been invested. But more important, of course, is the area marked ‘C on the map. which has been referred to, I think, by speakers on the Opposition side as the waist of the area. This is an area which 1 must thank the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) for describing to us as relatively fiat land, gently sloping and suitable for housing development. There is only one difficulty about it and it happens to be this: For some 60 years this has been an artil’lery range. Who knows how many blind or unexploded shells have been buried in that land over that period?
– There are detection devices, surely.
– I will come to that if the honourable member will just be a tittle patient. During the course of our discussions with the State Government on this matter, which have extended over many months of quite intense negotiation, it was made perfectly clear to us that this was the area above all others which the State required for housing and industrial development - and I can understand this very well. But it was pointed out to the State Government that there may well lie in this area uncounted unexploded shells. The State Government put to us two propositions. One was that the area should be cleared of unexploded shells. The area in question covers about 10 square miles. It is a good deal of country, and therefore inevitably a high cost would be involved in clearing it. The estimates range from SI 3m to $25m to be perfectly certain that the area is cleared so that it is suitable for residential accommodation. As an alternative, the State Government demanded that the Commonwealth indemnify it, or indemnify the people who might come to live in the area, in perpetuity for any damage or loss of life that might result from the setting off of an unexploded shell.
The Commonwealth has had some previous experience of this kind of thing. I well recall that during the last war an area near, I think, Murray Bridge, in South Australia, was taken for an artillery range. Later it was handed back to the State for rural use. An unfortunate farmer later ploughed up a shell which exploded and killed him. The Commonwealth was obliged te make compensation, and the end product of that exercise was that the Commonwealth had to acquire the land and virtually isolate it and prevent its further use.
We have an enormously important situation in the Holsworthy area. There is another important factor about this relatively flat land. The areas marked ‘Dl’ and ‘C on the map circulated are, as 1 pointed out and as the Opposition has agreed, relatively flat country. On this country are most of the training ranges belonging to the training complex. If this area were to be taken away from the Commonwealth - if it were to be removed from the training area - not only would we put a 4-mile buffer zone between the administrative headquarters, the schools and so on, and the military training area - which would thereby be reduced by 10 square miles - but also we would be obliged to find a new location for these training ranges, and we would most clearly have to move into the broken country at the southern end of the training area. Because of the very nature of the country, which is clear immediately from even a casual survey of the map, the ranges would take up so much of the broken country to the south that it would be useless for anything else.
My colleague, the Minister for Lands in the State Government, pointed out that he did not want to take the whole area from the Commonwealth but wanted to take one part of it. Nevertheless the section to be excised from the range and therefore removed from Commonwealth control is such as to destroy the value of the entire range, ft is not nearly good enough to say, iis the State has said: ‘We will find you another area. We will give you a similar area near Singleton or somewhere else’. The range could be shifted to the back of Bourke, but nothing would alter the fact that the Commonwealth would be obliged to find upwards of $100m at least to cover the development of the area and the provision of housing. Over a long period the Commonwealth would have to put up with the inconvenience of reconstruction of the range and the inefficiency and the disruption of what might well be quite vital military training. The Commonwealth then would invite servicemen to bring their families to live somewhere in the bush. My friend, the honourable member for Mitchell, with long years of military experience behind him, pointed out the effect on morale. I add to that the effect on recruiting if permanent military men do not have reasonable access to city amenities for themselves and their families. The honourable member for Cunningham drew attention to the odd atmosphere of urgency which has been built up about the reclamation of the range. He spoke about the dire danger of eviction.
The amendment moved by the Opposition seeks to extend until the end of 1970 - for 2 years - Commonwealth occupation of the area, provided that the State Government is prepared to agree, before submitting the matter to a committee to decide the appropriate use of the land and so forth. This might well be intruding on the responsibilities of the State Government. The honourable member for Cunningham spoke about the responsibility of the State Planning Authority, lt may resent - indeed, I am sure it would - any intrusion by the Commonwealth in trying to decide what is the right and proper use of land which the State not only owns but says it must resume virtually forthwith for residential and industrial planning in accordance with the area plan. Of course we may not have 2 years. I have before me a report from a political roundsman. It is only a Press telegram and 1 do not want to rely on it too heavily; I do not quote it as gospel truth.
– Why not? They do.
– That may be true. This report seems to indicate that the State Government is about to serve notice on the Commonwealth that its permissive occupancy of the 7,500 acres in the Holsworthy area in which we are interested - this is in the area marked ‘C* - is to be terminated as at 30th June 1969. There is not much point in establishing a committee to deal with this matter after 1970 if the State Government says that our occupancy is to be terminated as at 30th June 1969. If we are to have 6 months before our occupancy of Australia’s greatest military complex is to be terminated, then I hope I may be pardoned for saying that there is, contrary to what the honourable member for Coningham said, a good deal of urgency about the Bill, which I invite the House to support.
– The Government still has powers under the Defence Act.
– We do not have any powers under the Defence Act that we care to use on this occasion. We have the Lands Acquisition Act. We hope to use that Act reasonably to negotiate with the State Government. The Leader of the Opposition has pointed out that the way things stand at the moment, the State having proclaimed this area and therefore removed it from the authority of the Lands Acquisition Act, we cannot reasonably negotiate. The Leader of the Opposition complains that the Commonwealth has rectified that situation, but in so doing it has put the State in the position where it cannot negotiate. In my second reading speech I said, and the Government stands behind it, that the Government is ready to continue negotiations with the State Government, notwithstanding the passage of this Bill in the next day or two, as I hope.
That is the Government’s undertaking. As I pointed out, the Government is not prepared to regard this as a battle between the State and the Commonwealth. There are right and proper responsibilities resting with the State Government on the one hand and with the Commonwealth on the other. The Government is not anxious to tell the State Government how to go about its planning or what it ought to do. That is its function. I do not mind establishing the fact in my mind and in the mind of the Government, and I am sure in the minds of the people of this country, that the needs of defence must take prior rights. The Government cannot accept the amendment proposed by the Opposition because the Government is completely unwilling to surrender its responsibilities in a matter of this kind. I think that enough has been said to point out that if the State Government docs not see a pressing need for this country for 15 or 20 years, as appears to be indicated: and if it is accepted, as I believe it must be, that the Commonwealth may find itself obliged in 20 or 30 years time to vacate the area, then the State Government might reasonably agree to the Commonwealth acquiring the entire area preferably by negotiation. If that is to happen we need the amendment to the legislation which is before the House tonight. If that is so, the Commonwealth Government undertakes to negotiate, and reasonable terms and values will be set in the usual way by agreement or arbitration.
The Commonwealth Government stands ready to undertake that when it is finished with the land, as at some time it must be, it will be handed back to the State Government at the same price at which it was acquired. It is right and proper that the interests of the State are preserved for the future, but more importantly the rights and proper responsibility of the Commonwealth for the defence of this country should be preserved from here on. Again I commend the Bill to the House.
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr Whitlands amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr Acting Speaker - Mr P. E. Lucock)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Fairhall) read a third time.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate without amendment:
States Grants Bill 1968.
Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Bill (No. 3) 1968.
Loan (Qantas Airways Limited) Bill 1968.
Airline Equipment (Loan Guarantee) Bill 1968.
Public Service Bill (No. 2) 1968.
Loan (Defence) Bill 1968.
Salaries Bill 1968.
Australian Universities Commission Bill 1968.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
– This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the proclamation of independence of the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. This significant anniversary is being celebrated in all the Western countries but ironically it is forbidden to celebrate the occasion in the three countries themselves; the celebration is forbidden by their present Communist rulers. But, these countries, whose people havelived on the shores of the Baltic Sea for between 3,000 and 4,000 years, have not given up their struggle for independence, even though they live under the worst and most brutal kind of colonial rule by Soviet Russia. The Baltic Council of Australia has issued a resolution to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of these slates. It reads:
On the eve of the Baltic Week to be held in commemoration of the Fifieth Anniversary of the Proclamation of Independence of the Baltic States, the Baltic Council of Australia, representing the Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian ethnic communities in Australia, has unanimously adopted the following resolution:
We commemorate the proclamation of independence in 1918 of the sovereign States of
Lithuania on February 16th 1918
Estonia on February 24th 1918
Latvia on November 18th 1918 by the three Baltic peoples who have lived on the shores of the Baltic Sea for 4,000 years.
We honourthe memory of the freedom fighters who during the wars of independence in 1918-1920 liberated our countries from the occupation armies of Germany and Russia; who from 1940 to 1952 defended their freedom from foreign Soviet oppressors in armed combat; and who to this very day show their contempt for the Communist rule imposed upon them by force and oppression.
We recall with pride the political, cultural, economic and social achievements of the three Baltic States during their brief independence period of 1918-1940.
We brand the Soviet Union again as an imperialist and colonialist power which on June 15-17 1940 occupied our countries by force and aggression and which still continues this occupation against the will of the people.
We accuse the Soviet Government of the murder and deportations to concentration camps of more than i million of our compatriots and of a still continuing genocide of our brothers and of their systematic replacement by colonists from the Soviet Union.
We protest against the suppression of freedom, extermination and perversion of our culture and national heritage, nationalisation of private property, exploitation of the population, persecution of the faithful, restriction of religious freedom and closing ofhouses of worship.
We declare that all these practices were not confined to the so-called ‘Stalin era’, and that they are still continuing in the Baltic States under Brezhnev and Kosygin, and that at a period of history when so many former colonies on the continents of Africa and Asia have gained freedom and independence, the Baltic States remain colonies of Soviet empire in Europe.
We therefore appeal to the public opinion, to the Governments and the press of the free world to join us in condemnation of this blatant violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms and to recognise and expose the duplicity of the Communist rulers, the suppression of democracy, the continued colonial oppression and denial of selfdetermination to the Baltic States.
In the knowledge that our brethren behind the Iron Curtain cannot express their free will, we, the representatives of the Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian people who ure fortunate enough to enjoy the democratic freedoms of this country are morally obliged to speak on their behalf and to appeal to the conscience of all free people and to demand that the independence of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania he restored and that they be allowed to join the community of free nations.
I support the sentiments expressed in the resolution and 1 hope and pray that one day these small nations will achieve the freedom they deserve.
– Tonight I want to raise a matter which I referred to today in a question which was answered in a most unsatisfactory manner by the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen). At times one wonders with what sort of altitude he views this place when he answers questions in the way in which he answered me question asked by me today. To refresh honourable members* memories, 1 remind them that at question lime today I asked the AttorneyGeneral about a play ‘Viet Rock” written by Megan Terry which has been presented in other countries, including the United Stales of America. So far as we have been able to discover there has been no official interference with the presentation of this play overseas, and wc are positive thai there has been no official interference in the United Stales. However, I have been advised that the play which is in the process of being produced and will open next week at the Canberra Theatre Centre has been the subject of interest by members of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation.
My advice is (hat about nine members of the cast have been so concerned at suggestions which have been made lo them - not necessarily in every case by members of ASIO - that their employment as members of the Public Service might be cast into some .sort of jeopardy, or al least their future prospects of promotion might be prejudiced, thai they have withdrawn from the cast of the play. In some cases these suggestions have been made by innuendo or implication, but possibly in some cases direct statements have been made. I have been advised that some of these people have admitted that they have been approached directly by a person or persons claiming to represent ASIO and suggesting to them that it would be in their best interests to withdraw from the play. 1 am greatly alarmed at these allegations. The play is what I suppose could be referred to as a spoof, ll is a blow-up of attitudes towards war. It is not anti-United States policy.
– How would the honour.aable member know? Is he familiar wilh the play?
– Yes, I have read the script.
– I doubt whether the honourable member could read it. The play has not been produced in Australia before.
– It has.
– I have been assured that it has not been produced in Australia. As I was saying, the play is not antiVietnam: it takes a general humanistic line opposed to war. Surely thoughts and idea*: are not so frightening to the community that representatives of ASIO should have to come along and lean on people to discourage them from participating as actor: in this play and. even worse, to exploit the position of these actors as members of the Public Service, indicating to them that it would be in their best interest to desist from further participation in the play. I stress that these arc allegations that have been made to mc. Quite obviously I have no personal knowledge of the matter.
I was so concerned about these suggestions that I raised the matter wilh the Attorney-General in this House today. This would have been an excellent opportunity for the Attorney-General, had there been no validity in the allegations, to have refuted them completely. A lew responsible words from him would have completely removed any doubt from my mind and from the minds of the people who are upset about this matter. But we did not get any responsible or rational words from him. This situation is developing in Canberra, in the Australian Capital Territory. The Attorney-General gave a vague, irrelevant answer about the State police forces. How are the State police forces relevant to the presentation of a play in Canberra, particularly when, as I clearly conveyed to the Attorney-General in my question, the play is apparently being given a special interest by ASIO? When the Attorney-General adopts an evasive attitude, as he did today at question time, my suspicions commence to grow. If the statements are true and an agent of ASIO has interfered in the production of this play, I do not believe that it was as a result of a conscious policy objective on the part of the Government. I. sincerely hope that it would not be. I find it impossible to believe that it could be.
If ASIO is in fact doing this sort of thing, it is playing a very peculiar and, I would suggest, a very dangerous role in our society. Despite the great deficiencies which a previous Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, may have had in many fields, I will say one thing for him: He had a reputation for keeping a fairly close watch on the activities of ASIO. Although some criticism was levelled at the way in which ASIO operated, he maintained a close supervision of the activities of this organisation. The late Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt), and more especially the present Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), have not shown a special interest in the activities of this organisation.
ASIO is a secret organisation which occupies a position of great power and authority, lt is able to intrude into the private lives and confidential affairs of individuals in a way which causes many people a great deal of concern. Probably their suspicions exaggerate just what: the organisation does do. Because this organisation occupies this sort of position, it needs to be carefully screened constantly by the most senior Minister in the Government. We on this side of the House, and an increasing number of people in the Australian community, are far from convinced that a proper scrutiny is being applied at all times to the activities of this organisation. Is this organisation in fact now reaching a stage where, of its own accord, it is creating files and indulging in all sorts of extraneous and abstruse activities in the community - activities which at best bear a most tenuous relationship to what could be called security matters. ‘Viet Rock’ is an innocuous work and adopts a rather new style.
– Has the honourable member read it?
– I have had a quick browse through it. 1 have a copy of it here. The words are not very big. The honourable member for Adelaide will probably understand it if he reads it slowly. I cannot understand why this play or the members of the cast who are to participate in it should be the subject of interest by ASIO. If ASIO has not been responsible for what has been alleged, why did the AttorneyGeneral not refute the allegations with a few carefully chosen and responsible words at question time this afternoon? We are used to his trotting across to the table to make his terse little statements about things being utter rubbish, utter rot or utter something else and then trotting back to his seat after having told us nothing. Why did the Attorney-General not take the opportunity at question time this afternoon to completely dispel these doubts if there is no reason for them?
I suggest that the way in which the Attorney-General discharges the duties of his portfolio in relation to the activities of ASIO has caused more embarrassment for the organisation than is necessary and has fostered the suspicion which is always rampant in the community about the way in which ASIO operates. As I said before, it can intrude into the personal and confidential affairs of people. This organisation should be required to account for its activities, in some way. I ask the AttorneyGeneral now whether he will give a clear statement in relation to the allegation that ASIO is supposed to have interfered with and applied pressure to members of the cast who arc preparing to appear in the presentation of ‘Viet Rock’ in Canberra. These allegations have been made not only in this House today by myself but publicly on television and in the Press.
Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Thursday, 28 November 1968
– I have heard the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) let fly tonight on what was intended originally to be a harmless simple play. His speech has turned out to be the usual Opposition attack on the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. This same trick has been pulled on a number of occasions. He was not attacking the context or the substance of the language used in the play which I have read and which 1 do not believe he has read. Instead he has indulged in an allround attack on the Australian Government, the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) and ASIO.
Let us make one or two points very clear while we have this opportunity. We sit today in this Parliament, we live in a land of freedom, and we have a degree of security, comfort and everything else because we live in a democracy. There are members of the Opposition who are prepared to stand in this place and attack ASIO. They are shouting now. They do not like it when the boot is od the other foot. They are happy to have a good old slam at something which they know jolly well they would not have the guts to speak against if they were not in Parliament. I say to them: Put yourselves in our position on this side of the chamber and then have a good look at yourselves. ASIO has done a great deal for Australia. We have only to mention such organisations as Save Our Sons, the Campaign for Peace in Vietnam and the Campaign for Peace and Protest in every State in Australia and they really shout and jump up and down. It is one thing to ridicule the Parliament. It is another thing to ridicule the people. So they take the opportunity of the freedom afforded by parliamentary privilege to have a good lash.
The honourable member for Oxley, for whom I have a certain amount of regard and admiration, on a few occasions has let fly and has accused ASIO of intimidating people. I do not know whether members of ASIO have intimidated or have included themselves in the cast of this play or have tried in any way to destroy the validity of the original play. What I do know, however, and what every Western country in the world knows and what every freedom loving country in the world knows, is that an organisation has been set up to protect the majority of the people against a wilful, maiming minority. We have seen the activities of the minority on so many occasions and in so many places in Australia.
Let us look at some of the so-called unofficial organisations in each State. Let us look at the Campaign for Peace in Vietnam organisation in South Australia which is run by the two nuts, Medlin and Blewitt, with Alexandra Fricker and a few others. They have stood up on a few occasions and complained that ASIO was investigating them. I have spoken to university students who have said that ASIO has been censoring their mail. Opposition members are interjecting again. Come on, you know damn well what I am talking about.
The ACTING SPEAKER-Order! I remind the honourable member for Adelaide that he should address the Chair.
– Honourable members on the other side know damn well what 1 am talking about. These are the university students who are having a wonderful bat against the Government. They are living in the sheltered, hallowed confines of the universities for 3 years, and until they go into the hard cold world of dollars and cents they will not realise exactly what is going on. 1 should like to speak about the other young people of this country - the young people who do not protest, the young people who do not burn the Australian flag, the young people who do not tip bottles of ketchup and tomato sauce from the sixth floor of buildings, the young people who do not raid and blockade the American Embassy. They are the young people who carry out the majority of purposes in this land and to whom the Opposition has never given any credence. Yes, we laugh and turn our backs and say: This could not be happening. It is ten past twelve in the morning.’
We want to talk about ASIO and about the play. I suggest that the honourable member for Oxley should read the play and should have a very deep, cold, hard look at its contents, scene by scene, act by act, stage by stage, character by character. He walks out of the chamber tonight. He will see that this is not just a normal play. It is a good old fashioned swing against the Government, as we have come to expect in the last 12 or 15 months. The only point
I want to try to make tonight is that there are young people in this country and there are people in the world of theatre, of amateur production and of entertainment who are trying to get a sincere and genuine message across. Whether it be right or wrong, good or bad, happy or unhappy, just or unjust, nevertheles it is a message. But the honourable member for Oxley stands up and uses these people to attack ASIO, knowing jolly well that if he were in the same position as Government supporters he would have no alternative other than to accept the fact that this organisation exists. The honourable member has the audacity to stand up and attack what he knows to be inevitable.
Let us boil this matter down to one particular point. We are talking about a play. If this sort of production is allowed to continue, if this sort of play, if one can call it a play, is allowed to continue and if this sort of amateur theatrical gimmick and boot against the Government is allowed to continue, what chance have the Australian people of being able to make up their own minds, to decide their own fortunes or to pit their wits against the rights or wrongs of the situation in which we inevitably find ourselves. Boiling the matter down and bearing in mind our degree of freedom of speech, let us look at the ulterior, evil motives. Honourable members opposite laugh. Look at them reclining in their seats and laughing. They laugh because they do not like what I am saying. If they do not like what. I am saying tonight, I will go back to Adelaide tomorrow and say the same thing. 1 will get the message across just that much more clearly, do not worry about that.
Honourable members opposite laugh. They have an opportunity to attack a Government instrumentality. What they do not like is the fact that this same government instrumentality is finding out things in Australia today which have not been found out previously. Honourable members opposite roar with mirth. All the left-wingers and the Corns in this place laugh their heads off. But coming to the point I wish to make, ASIO has done a good job. It has done a worthwhile job. It has done such a good job and it has made honourable members opposite so worried that they have to attack it in Parliament.
– On behalf of a prominent Australian Labor Party member and member of the New South Wales Branch of the Australian Workers’ Union I raise a matter concerning serious allegations of fraud and corruption in connection with certain court proceedings. I have observed the customary courtesy of advising the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) of my intention to raise the matter tonight. The allegations are contained in statements attributed to Mr C. T. Oliver, the Secretary of the New South Wales Branch of the Australian Workers’ Union and published in the ‘Australian Worker’ of 13 th November 1968. The Worker’ quotes Mr Oliver as saying:
There is no doubt some person, or persons, have conspired to mislead the Court by creating irregularities.
Mr Oliver was referring to a Commonwealth Industrial Court inquiry into a disputed ballot conducted last year by the New South Wales Branch of the Australian Workers’ Union. The court inquiry was the outcome of a successful application by Mr Lewis George McKay, a former AWU organiser, of Port Kembla, who had asked the Industrial Registrar to refer the AWU ballot in New South Wales to the Court for investigation. In his application to the Registrar, Mr McKay alleged that the ballot bad been corrupted by widespread irregularities involving serious breaches of union rules including multiple voting and hundreds of forged ballot papers in favour of the officials including Mr Oliver for the position of delegate to convention. Mr Oliver was not opposed for the position of branch secretary.
The court inquiry, which was conducted by Mr Justice Kerr, ended earlier this year after only about 10% of the ballot papers in question had been examined by a handwriting expert from the Commonwealth Police. The expert stated that, of the ballot papers examined, nearly 50% were forgeries. Mr Oliver and the officials at first strenuously opposed a fresh ballot as sought by Mr McKay, but in the light of the evidence produced by Mr McKay, Mr J. H. Wootten, Q.C., who appeared for Oliver and the officials, consented to the inquiry being adjourned and told Mr Justice Kerr that Oliver had agreed to recommend to the Union’s Executive that a fresh ballot be held for all positions save that of Branch
Secretary. The holding of a new ballot was the substantial relief sought by Mr McKay. There is no doubt at all that the ballot was crook.
In addition to the forged ballot papers in favour of Oliver and the officials, McKay’s counsel alleged that the nomination papers submitted by some of the officials contained irregularities which, if proved, would have been sufficient to upset the ballot on that basis alone. Mr Mark Harrison, who represented McKay, made these allegations following his examination of the nomination papers in the presence of court officials. In fact, Mr Wootten was supplied with further and better particulars of these nomination irregularities some 3 or 4 weeks before the hearing concluded.
These were the only nomination irregularities complained of by Mr Harrison. In fact, I am led to believe that all of the alterations now complained of by Mr Oliver existed at the time they were deposited with the Registry. It is even suggested that the alterations were made by the Union’s returning officer, Mr H. V. Moore, and/or by some other official of the Union itself.
Mr Oliver complains that when his solicitor asked to see the nomination papers, he (Oliver) discovered that the Union’s returning officer had given them to Mr Wootten, and that Mr Wootten had arranged for the nomination papers to be placed in the safe keeping of the Sydney Registry. It is further claimed by Mr Oliver that when a search was made for nomination papers, Mr Wootten told Mr Justice Kerr of his ‘inability to locate the nomination papers’. Referring to this incident, Mr Oliver is reported as saying:
Vital documents like the nomination papers were placed in the custody of the Court early in the proceedings when wanted in evidence could not be found, and only after a frantic search extending over some hours were the documents discovered.
The nominations were, in fact, found in the Registry and brought to the Court and made available to Mr Wootten. In fact, Mr Oliver goes on to state that he subsequently sought the permission of the Deputy Registrar to examine the nomination papers. His request was at once granted by the Deputy Registrar and, together with Mr Wootten’s junior, and a Mr Adams, Oliver then inspected the nomination papers. It was during this inspection that Oliver claims to have discovered the alleged alterations about which he now complains.
– I take a point of order, Mr Acting Speaker. I would submit that this matter is out of order in that there is a court controlled ballot being held at this moment for the offices about which the honourable gentleman is speaking. In accordance with the spirit of the Standing Orders, it would be prejudicial for any comments to be made here which might affect the proceedings that are taking place under the order and supervision of the court.
– Speaking to the point of order, Mr Acting Speaker, it is not true that there is a court controlled ballot being conducted. A ballot is being conducted by the Commonwealth Electoral Officer. I have a perfect right to bring up in this Parliament allegations of misconduct against officers of the Commonwealth Industrial Court. I intend to pursue it. The allegations made are serious ones.
-Order! If I understand the honourable member for Hindmarsh, the actual case to which he is referring has no effect on the subject matter referred to by the Leader of the Opposition. In that case, 1 would feel that the honourable member for Hindmarsh has a right to bring up the matter in this House.
– If there is any doubt about whether the matter is being held under a court, order, this matter should not proceed. It is impossible at this hour to check whether that is so. But my recollection is that a ballot is being held as a result of proceedings in the court and under the auspices of the court.
– That is not so.
– My recollection is that it is so.
– I give you my word that it is not; the one you are talking about will not be until next year.
– There is a ballot at the moment.
– By the Commonwealth Electoral Officer.
-Order! I can only rule that the honourable member for Hindmarsh is entitled to raise this matter on the floor of the House provided he can assure me that it is nol before a court at present.
– The ‘Worker’ outlines what Mr Oliver claims to be the irregularities that had been committed. The Worker’ reports Mr Oliver as describing these alterations as a fraud that must be exposed, and goes on to say:
Whoever the person or persons are who conspired in the fraud must be brought before the court to answer for their conduct.
The inference is plain, lt is an inference involving the court, its officials and those involved in the proceedings which, I believe, will be rejected after investigation. Mr Oliver’s innuendo that fraud and conspiracy occurred while the nomination papers were in the custody of the NSW Registry is extremely serious. If the allegations are untrue they are even more serious. I mention the latter possibility because rn the same article Mr Oliver made the false allegation that in the case of Watson v. Australian Workers Union, the court ordered Mr Watson to pay half the Union’s costs, when the truth of the matter is that the Union’s application for costs was rejected by the court. Mr Watson is a loyal and dedicated member of an ALP branch in my district. He is one of my constituents ami he deeply resents the false report published by Mr Oliver. Apart from anything that might be implied by Mr Oliver, no-one in the trade union movement has suggested, or would suggest, that the Deputy Registrar, Mr Hastings, or any of his office rs would commit a fraud or engage in a conspiracy to deceive a judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court. 1 cannot name the person or persons who may be involved, lt is on behalf of Mr McKay that I have been asked to raise this matter in the Parliament and to demand that the Attorney-General take swift and stern action to deal with the culprits and thus to remove the slur that now rests on those who are innocent. Mr McKay emphatically denies the false insinuation that he committed a fraud, conspiracy or forgery of papers and is demanding a police investigation of Mr Oliver’s serious allegations. As a matter of fact Mr McKay has sent a telegram to the Attorney-General. He has asked the Attorney-General to have an inquiry made. He has denied any implication in the matter and has offered to co-operate with the Commonwealth Police.
As I have already said, I believe that these charges are false. I believe that these accusations have been made for the purpose of damaging Mr McKay and others who are standing as candidates against Mr Oliver and those who support him. [Extension of time granted.] I repeat that Mr McKay emphatically denies the false insinuation that he committed a fraud, conspiracy or forgery of papers and is demanding a police investigation of Mr Oliver’s serious allegations. He sent to the Attorney-General a telegram which reads:
Please refer AWU Worker 13 November Oliver allegations fraud, conspiracy, forgery of papers whilst in custody Commonwealth Industrial Court. I deny insinuation 1 am responsible. Allegations are slur on myself and officers of Court. I respectfully request police investigation and offer full cooperation.
Signed Lewis George McKay.
As 1 have already said, I cannot say who, if anyone, is responsible for this alleged fraud and conspiracy. In fact, I am far from satisfied that any fraud or conspiracy was ever committed, apart from the ballot forgeries of which Mr McKay complained to the Court. But 1 can say that Mr Olivers protests should be very deeply investigated because he has, on the face of it, made reflections which involve the Public Service of this country. This matter must be cleared up as quickly as possible. That much, at least, we owe to the Court and to everyone involved in the case. I repeat, the trade union movement generally has complete confidence in the integrity and competence of Mr Hastings and his officers. For this reason-
– Mr Acting Speaker, I raise a point of order. 1 do not think it right that the honourable member for Hindmarsh should be subject to constant interruptions during his speech. I request thai you look into this matter.
-I suggest to the honourable member for Lang who has been interjecting from a seat beside the honourable member for Hindmarsh that he cease interjecting. I think the honourable member for Lang would understand that if the Chair interrupted the honourable member for Hindmarsh in order to deal with interjections, this would cut into the time allowed to the honourable member for Hindmarsh. This I do not want to do. That is the reason why 1 have not called the honourable member for Lang to order. I would expect the honourable member for Lang to extend courtesy to an honourable member who is explaining something, irrespective of whether the honourable member for Lang agrees with it. If the honourable member for Lang does not take note of the request I have made then I will take action against him. I call the honourable member for Hindmarsh.
– For this reason, the insinuations by Mr Oliver should be thoroughly probed in order to quash any suggestion of misconduct, whether against the Public Service or any other innocent person. Until this is done, Mr Oliver’s charges of conspiracy and fraud hang like a cloud over every person involved in the court inquiry. Mr McKay has already telegraphed the Attorney-General asking for a police investigation into the matter and offering to co-operate with the police in every way possible. If Mr Oliver will make the same request and offer of co-operation, the Attorney-General should act to authorise the Commonwealth Police to conduct a thorough investigation of Mr Oliver’s protests and allegations so that charges can be brought against the guilty party or parties involved.
The Attorney-General may consider that Mr Oliver’s libellous allegations should be resolved in civil proceedings. I do not agree. I believe the Government should act now so as to remove the stigma cast upon Mr Hastings, Mr McKay and all other innocent people who have been impugned by Mr Oliver’s allegations. I do not believe that there is an atom of truth in the allegations made by Mr Oliver against Court officials or Mr McKay. The allegations are a gross libel really calculated to damage the candidature of Mr McKay and others opposing Mr Oliver in the ballot being conducted by the Commonwealth electoral officers. Sir, I believe this is an improper use of the union’s journal for a union official to publish damaging, libellous and untrue statements against rivals who are nominating for union office and 1 think it ought to be stopped.
– Mr Acting Speaker, I read the article in The Worker’ which was referred to by the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) and I did receive a telegram from Mr McKay to which the honourable member for Hindmarsh also referred. This matter first came before the Commonwealth Industrial Court, presided over by Mr Justice Kerr, on 22nd April this year following an application by Mr McKay for an inquiry under section 159 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act into alleged irregularities in the election of officers in the New South Wales branch. Hearings extended over several days, in April, May, June, July, September and November of this year. Certain material was lodged with the Court by the union, including some nomination papers.
I have made inquiry into how this was handled, because it is in respect of these nomination papers that the allegations are made. I am informed that the papers were received for safe custody. They were not tendered in the Court. They were kept under security, locked up, in the New South Wales Registry of the Industrial Registrar’s Branch. On the 30th July the Court was adjourned until 2.15 the next day. About 2 hours before the Court was due to resume a request was made for inspection of certain of these documents. The first thing alleged in the article is that there was a delay of about 2 hours in locating them. The reason for this delay was that the officer who had custody of the documents was away. A new man was on duty and he did not know where they were kept or how to get at them. This accounted for the delay, part of which occurred during the lunch hour. When the documents were located, they were taken out of locked custody but remained in the custody of officers of the branch. There is nothing in the fact that a search had to be made for them and that there was delay in locating them.
When they were located, it appeared that certain of the nomination forms were old forms that had been printed before the current rules of the union were adopted. Some alterations had been made. Rule 47 had been altered to rule 68 to bring it up to date with the current rules and a figure in pounds had been altered to a figure in dollars. That is the type of alteration that had been made and that is the irregularity that has been referred to. There is no evidence to show when the alterations were made. All my information is that the forms were received into the custody of the court, remained there and the court had no reason to look at them. As I say, they were never tendered. They were just kept at the Registry for safe custody and that is where they remained.
Suggestions have been made that there may have been some malpractices in relation to the forms. 1 see no evidence whatever that could possibly implicate any of the court officers. I have been asked to make some form of inquiry, but it would not really be proper to make an inquiry unless there were some evidence of a breach of Commonwealth law, of some fraud on the court or something of that sort. These forms have never been tendered to the court. On the material before me, there does not appear to have been any evidence of a breach of the law that would call upon me to cause the Commonwealth Police Force to make further inquiry. If anyone can bring evidence before me to suggest that these alterations were deliberately made to create an irregularity and not simply to bring an old form up to date or if anyone can produce evidence to me to show who may have done this, whether a person associated with the proceedings or someone else, I will take a different view. But on the material before me I see nothing at all that would cast any reflection on any court officials and nothing to point to any particular person. In these circumstances I am not prepared to engage the time of the Commonwealth Police in investigating the matter without further material being put before me.
Another matter was raised by the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden). He referred to a play called ‘Viet Rock’ written by Megan Terry. Since he has asked the question, I have made some inquiries. According to the information I have, the intention was to perform this play in Thetis Court in Manuka, but the shopkeepers complained about the use of four letter words in the play and other matters, lt was eventually decided to perform the play in the Canberra Theatre. I understand that the producer has appeared on television in the programme ‘This D3y Tonight’. In making his allegation he, like the honourable member for Oxley, disclaims any personal know ledge whatever but he suggests that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation had influenced some people not to take part in the play. The honourable member for Oxley repeats this suggestion and puts it that he is advised.
– How else would the Minis ter expect me to put it?
– I am informed that there is no substance in this allegation whatever. I remind honourable members that the function of ASIO is an intelligence function, not a police function. This constant raising of matters about ASIO reveals a complete lack of understanding of its activities. It is not a police force; it is an intelligence gathering organisation.
– How do we know that?
– You have had your say.
How about keeping quiet?
– You are-
-Order! The honourable member for Oxley has spoken in this debate. He has been reminded previously of that fact.
– The fact is that ASIO is directed to protect Australia against espionage, sabotage and subversion, and it performs that function. Certain people who are enemies of Australia do not like the activities of ASIO. Those people, against whom ASIO directs ils activities, are enemies of Australia. It is remarkable to see the campaign which attempts to ridicule or criticise ASIO, or to render it subject to some criticism in the eyes of the public. The only purpose that the people who make those suggestions are serving is to make glad the hearts of the people who arc enemies of Australia. I suggest that the function of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation is protective for all of us. This should be recognised. It is a very fine organisation and it is doing its work. One wonders about the motives of people who make this sort of ridiculous suggestion, which has no substance in it whatever. In this particular instance, of course, a great deal of publicity attaches to the fact that the play will be performed in the Canberra Theatre Centre. The honourable member for Oxley was very careful to say where the performance is to take place. One can have only very grave doubts about the motives of people who raise this type of matter in the House.
– I appreciate that it is essential for a nation to have an organisation such as the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. I offer no personal criticism of it. I know that it has a job to do. Its purpose is to prose cute persons who are guilty of subversive activities. I would like to learn from the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) how many people have been prosecuted in Australia by ASIO for subversive activities since the organisation was established by the Chifley Government about 19 years ago.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 12.37 a.m. (Thursday)
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice: ). How many times over the past 2 years were domestic aircraft chartered by all Government instrumentalities, including the Navy, the Army and the Air Force?
– The answer to the honourable member’s questions is as follows:
This is a matter which has involved a great deal of detailed investigation by the relevant Departments. The advice of the Departments is contained in the following table:
asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows: 1 and 2.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 November 1968, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1968/19681127_reps_26_hor61/>.