26th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston) took the chair at 2.30 p.m. and read prayers.
Mr CALWELL presented a petition from certain citizens of the Commonwealth and many world famous citizens of other countries showing that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights asserts ‘Every one has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country’ (Article 13 (2) ); ‘The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State’ (Article 16(3)); ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers’ (Article 19); that Wilfred Burchett is an Australian born citizen, and the son of an Australian born citizen, who has been denied his inalienable right to return to his native land.
The petitioners pray that the House of Representatives should act immediately to (1) assure Wilfred Burchett and his family of their freedom to enter and leave Australia in accordance with the rights of Australian citizenship; (2) restore the Australian passport to Wilfred Burchett; (3) ask the Honourable the Attorney-General whether it is alleged that Mr Burchett has contravened any law of this country, and if so what law.
Petition received and read.
– I ask the Treasurer whether during this session of the Parliament he will bring down the comprehensive amendments to the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act promised in 1964 and repeatedly promised since then. If not, when will they be brought before the Parliament? Why has there been this delay?
– I think the honourable member will know that for a period of at least 18 months I have been trying to get this Bill before the House. The problem is not related to the department concerned, but to the ability of the parliamentary draftsmen, with their limited resources, to handle what is an immensely technical Bill which will contain a great number of clauses. Only this morning I asked the Attorney-General whether he would have a look at it together with the Parliamentary Draftsman, and I hope the Minister will be able to give me a reply soon. But I cannot give any encouragement to the honourable gentleman as to when this Bill is likely to be introduced.
– I address a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. If, as the Minister has suggested, there is a trend away from science and technology in universities, why does not the Government rectify this trend by establishing national guidelines for labour requirements and if necessary giving more scholarships of greater value to those students who study science?
– It is true that recently I did refer to what is probably a serious trend amongst our students, that is the switch in applications away from science, engineering and technology subjects and towards arts subjects. The reason for this is by no means wholly clear. It is obviously somewhere deep in the education system that the basic causes lie. The honourable member will recollect that the Government some years ago, through a programme initiated at great pains by the present Prime Minister earlier in his political career, provided science and other facilities in schools. Certainly, my Department and I stand ready to assist or to give advice to anyone who wishes to read what can be read from future labour market requirements. In some countries there is a very much closer liaison between employment and education than there is here. Unfortunately it is not as highly developed in this country as it might be. But we would certainly stand ready to assist. The extent to which scholarships and direct financial rewards should be used to reverse this trend is another question. I have no doubt that my colleague the Minister for Education and Science has given this thought. But I would certainly not support a programme that took away the freedom of choice as to what careers people should follow. But I do think that this is the kind of question about which those engaged in education ought to think much more seriously,
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister a question. Will he advise the House whether it is intended to hold the next Commonwealth election on Saturday, 25th October? Is it true that the Government is holding the election several weeks before the effluxion of time makes it necessary because it is afraid of the wrath of the wheat farmers and many other sections of the community, as indicated by the 9% swing against the Government in the Gwydir by-election? Also, is the Government curtailing the Budget debate by several days to avoid the adverse criticism which will come from the Opposition on the many failures and the general maladministration of the Government?
– In reply to the first part of the question, I am happy to say to the honourable member: Yes, I will inform the House when the next election is going to be held, at the appropriate time - which will not be long delayed. I mean that there will not be a long delay before I inform the House. In reply to the second part of the question, the answer is no. The Government, when it does hold an election, will not be holding it for the reasons suggested by the honourable member, but merely so that the Australian public will have the opportunity to endorse the successful policies which the Government has carried out and the new approaches which the Government is making.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. Will he advise the House how far matters have progressed with the Australian Wool Industry Conference in the formation of a nonstatutory wool marketing authority? Is he aware that a company has been registered in Canberra known as the Australian Wool Marketing Corporation Pty Ltd? Has this registration beat the gun? Will he give an assurance that no revolutionary alteration of the marketing of wool will be sanctioned or agreed to before a plebiscite of growers is taken and/ or members of this House are given an opportunity to debate it? Will he consider the desirability of improving the specification of wool by way of a scientific analysis and appraisal rather than follow the haphazard method that is now adopted?
– I have seen statements and Press reports to the effect that the Australian Wool Board has secretly registered a wool marketing corporation in Canberra as a forerunner to a wool marketing plan. I want to correct those statements and reports. There was nothing secretive about the matter. The matter was discussed before the Australian Wool Industry Conference. It was announced that a body would be registered in this country as a formality for any possible marketing plan that might come forward. The AWIC has made recommendations to the Government about a nonstatutory marketing body - one which would lay down clip preparation standards and provide for elimination of small lots by interlotting and bulk classing. The Government is examining these proposals, but it has not taken any final decision. So far as the objective measurement of wool is concerned - the testing of wool - the Australian Wool Board is about to set up a technical committee comprising representatives of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and other technical people to investigate this matter and to study the benefits and practicalities of such a scheme.
– I direct a question to the Attorney-General. As there is a vacancy on the High Court of Australia and in view of the growth of executive and arbitrary power in Australia, which has been particularly illustrated by the actions of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department, I ask: Will the Attorney-General take special care to ensure that if an early recommendation is made for an appointment to the High Court the person recommended will be entirely free of the slightest political colour or implications?
– Firstly, I reject the implication that there has been any growth in the exercise of arbitrary power on the part of either my Department or myself. So far as the question of an appointment to the High Court is concerned, this matter will be very carefully considered and an appointment will be made on proper grounds, as is the usual practice for this Government.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry. The Minister will be aware of the recent restrictions which have been placed on the export of meat to the United States. Can the Minister advise the House of the extent to which meat exports to the United States will have to be restricted? Does the present position justify the substantial reduction in the price that is now offered by some meatworks? Further, can the Minister inform the House why the Australian Meat Board docs not keep meat exports to the United States at a constant level throughout the year?
– The arrangement we have with the United States Administration is that we are allowed to export 225,000 tons of beef, veal or mutton to that market this calendar year. Between mid-November 1968 and July of this year we exported 180,000 tons, leaving only another 45,000 tons for the last quarter of the year. In other words, we will have to restrict the rate of supply to the American market and for 25% of the year we will be able to export only 20% of the volume of meat that could go to that market. The honourable member asked why the supply is not controlled so that the meat is exported in a regular manner. It would be necessary to apply a quota to all exporters in order to do this. The meat industry, the meat industry organisations and the exporters were against this proposal when they discussed the matter at the end of last year because it did not give any flexibility to the exporters.
In some areas there might be meat available, and in other areas there might not be any meat available. They decided on another system which became known as the diversification programme. I believe that this is probably one of the most progressive steps that have ever been undertaken by the meat industry in Australia. In other words, to win an entitlement to export so many units of meat to the United States market a producer had to send so many units to other markets. This ratio was varied constantly throughout the year, according to the amount of meat that was going on to the American market.
When the scheme first commenced, the export of one unit to other markets entitled a producer to export one and three-quarter units of beef or veal to the United States market. For the next quarter the ratio was 1 to 3, and for the next quarter it was 1 to 4. But with the higher prices in America over the last quarter and the heavier turnoff of stock from the fattening areas of southern Australia and the drought stricken areas in Queensland, supplies went faster than the Meat Board had expected, so the ratio had to be restricted back to 1 to 2. Honourable members may say: ‘Is this having any adverse effect on beef prices?’ All 1 would like to report is that since Mr Shute, the Chairman of the Meat Board, made his announcement on 6th August, there have been slight decreases in price, of SI per 100 lb dressed weight, in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. There has been no change in price on the Adelaide market. I do not believe that there is any justification for a drop in price.
The figure of 20% is still a substantial portion to export over the next few months. Traditionally, meatworks in Queensland start to slow down in the last quarter of the year, many of them completing their season in September or October. I believe that there are people in Australia who are trying to bear down prices for their own interest. All I want to say to cattle producers across the country is that they should be a little cautious about the way in which they release stock for sale. There is no real reason why the price should come down.
- Mr Speaker, may I wake the Minister for Social Services?
– I ask the Minister for Social Services whether his attention has been drawn to a statement on television this morning by the Federal President of the Australian Bank Officials Association, Mr Keith Remington, that the so-called liberalisation of the means test would give nothing lo the overwhelming majority of retired bank officials and to other white collar workers? Whether or not the honourable gentleman has had his attention drawn to this statement, I ask him: In the light of the Treasurer’s statement last night that approximately 250,000 persons will become eligible either for a pension for the first time or for an increased pension under the proposed tapered means test, can he say how many persons will now receive a part pension for the first time, and how many will now receive a full pension for the first time?
– -Unfortunately, my attention has not been drawn to the television programme which the Leader of the Opposition mentioned, but I think I can give him some figures which are necessarily of the order of estimates. It is probable that about 100,000 people will be drawing increased pensions. These are part pensions of various kinds. There will also be approximately 140,000 to 150,000 people who will be drawing pensions for the first time by reason of the taper. The Leader of the Opposition will realise that we do not have statistics regarding people who do not draw pensions. We have made very careful estimates, but these must be in the nature of estimates. In my view, the number of people benefiting will be at least 250,000.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Defence. It concerns the ANZUS agreement and United States bases in Australia. I ask the honourable gentleman whether his attention has been drawn to recent antiseptic assessments of the ANZUS agreement arguing that Australia had no significant assurance of support from the United States in the event of crises. Further, does the honourable gentleman agree that the response to any international obligation depends in the ultimate upon the amount of goodwill built up by the respective contracting parties? If so, will the honourable gentleman say whether the Australian Government took the opportunity of re-affirming to the American Secretary of State that it regarded the American bases at Pine Gap, Woomera and North West Cape as being reasonable responsibilities under the ANZUS agreement, particularly having regard to the fact that the declared policy of the Australian Labor Party is to dismantle the bases?
Mir FAIRHALL - I think it would be quite true to say that two events of quite considerable significance, one to the world and one to Australia, have happened in recent times. Firstly, the President of the United States has made a world tour and, particularly in our sphere of interest, has been firm in his declaration that the United States intended to carry out her multitude of treaties around the world. Secondly, wc have had the ANZUS Conference here in Canberra and the opportunity has been taken by the Secretary of State to reaffirm the American adherence to the ANZUS pact which, as the honourable gentleman well knows, gives very valuable - indeed the greatest - protections to Australia and New Zealand. It is true that in the context of the ANZUS agreement Australia has agreed to participate. The honourable gentleman will not mind my making a modest correction to his statement. He referred to ‘American bases’. In fact, it is hard to call them bases, and two of them are joint AustralianAmerican facilities. The only one that does not come under that title, of course, is the North West Cape communications facility. As to the other two, they fall under ANZUS. I should think it would be a very poor Australian indeed who would seek to shelter under all of the protections offered us by ANZUS and then turn his back on the opportunity, which comes perhaps infrequently, to make a contribution to that joint defence capability which is written so strongly into the preamble of the ANZUS agreement.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. I again bring to his attention the inordinate delay of the Commonwealth and State officials committee on decentralisation in furnishing its report. Does the right honourable gentleman remember that this committee was set up following a Premiers Conference in 1 964 and that since then it has met only in the years 1965, 1966 and 1969? Does he recall writing to me in May of this year advising that the studies had reached an advanced stage? Is he aware of the utmost importance of the dispersal of industry to country centres, and is he able to say when the long promised report will be presented? What action does the Commonwealth Government intend to take to implement the spirit of decentralisation of industry and population?
– I am unable to tell the honourable member when I expect the report to be delivered but I will make some inquiries and let him know such facts as I can find out from the Commonwealth and State officials who are, I gather, the people meeting on this matter and who will be making a report. In regard to the second part of the honourable member’s question I would point out that a considerable amount of decentralisation of industry is indeed happening in Australia now- I do not canvass the question of whether it is enough or not enough, but there is quite an amount going on. If the honourable member, for example, turns his mind to the growth of such centres as Townsville or Darwin he will at once see that decentralisation in those areas is happening, not necessarily through industry but certainly through Commonwealth Government action; for example, in Townsville, in the placing there of a university, a college of advanced education, a teachers college and an Army camp, thereby bringing in all the ancillary services which those people require. I merely mention that in order to counter any suggestion there might be in the honourable member’s question that no centres are growing as a result of decentralisation at present.
– Is the Minister for Primary Industry in a position to inform the House when a decision is likely to be made with regard to the effects of devaluation on Tasmanian exports of fresh fruit?
– A decision has been made to pay compensation in respect of exports of apples to markets where postdevaluation losses can be shown to be demonstrable and unavoidable. The Government made a decision at the beginning of the year that where it could be shown during an early part of the season that there was a loss, a rate of compensation would be set and paid on all exports of apples.
However, the Australian Apple and Pear Board has now suggested that the entire season’s crop should be allowed to be processed and that then the amount of compensation that might be necessary be calculated. Exporters are expected to have all their documents ready for assessment about the end of this month. After we have seen that documentation I would think that through the Apple and Pear Board an assessment could be made and compensation paid.
– I ask the Minister for Immigration a question. In view of the upsurge in drug addiction in Australia and bearing in mind the petition presented to the Parliament today by the right honourable member for Melbourne, referring to the Government’s refusal to allow Mr Wilfred Burchett to return to Australia, how does the Minister justify the granting of permission to come to Australia to Mick Jagger, a prominent Rolling Stones artist and boy friend of the unfortunate girl Marianne Faithfull, when Jagger is reported to have had several convictions in the United Kingdom for drug addiction?
– The honourable gentleman should be aware that when he speaks in this Parliament he does so under privilege. The allegation with which the question concluded - that this man has several convictions in the United Kingdom - is, as far as my researches show, quite incorrect. The facts as I understand them are that Mr. Jagger had been convicted at one stage and sentenced to imprisonment by a magistrate but on appeal the sentence of imprisonment was changed to a bond.
– It is still a conviction.
– There was a conviction. The honourable member used a term such as ‘convicted many times’ or ‘several convictions’. The next point that should be made is that when a British subject, as this man is, seeks to come to Australia certain positive action must be taken by the Government if it is to prevent his arrival here. We do this only where the character of the person concerned is such that it is not proper for him to come here or where there are other very good reasons for preventing his coming here. Had I interfered on this occasion 1 am afraid that it would have been only because I was responding to suggestions that he was improperly cast in the role for which he came here. I assure the honourable gentleman that my responsibilities do not include the testing of whether a person is properly cast in a role. Finally, I seem to see many people around rae who have all the characteristics to play Ned Kelly admirably.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. I refer to the case presented by the Queensland Government requesting support in the construction of an 800 to 1000 megawatt power station in central Queensland. Can the Prime Minister indicate why the Commonwealth Government has not yet been able to announce support for the scheme?
– I raise a point of order. There is a question on the notice paper which deals with this matter and to which a precise answer can be given. It is question No. 1,755.
– Is the question on the notice paper identical with the question that has just been asked?
– Yes, everything that the honourable gentleman has asked is included in the question on the notice paper.
-I am afraid that the question asked by the honourable member for Lilley is in very similar terms to the question on the notice paper. If some of the other parts of the honourable member’s question are entirety different from the question on the notice paper I will allow him to continue.
– My question is rather different. My question to the Prime Minister is: If doubts exist as to the economic viability of the proposal, will he ensure that in its consideration of the proposal the Commonwealth Government does not impose on the scheme economic conditions more stringent than those which were imposed on similar schemes for which the Commonwealth announced assistance earlier this year and last year?
– The question got slightly interrupted and perhaps changed around in some slight form, so I can only do my best to answer it as I recollect it. The recollection of the question that I have is that I was asked whether I could tell the House why we have not yet told the Queensland Government that we could proceed with this power station. That was the question as I recollect it. The honourable member agrees. Good. The answer to that is: Yes, I can tell the House that. I can tell the House that the reason why that is so is because it has not yet been decided with any certainty what the cost of producing electricity from this power plant would be. There have been various estimates made, and it was agreed that the Snowy Mountains Authority should be appointed as an economic consultant to go into the question (a) of the cost of producing electricity and (b) of the use likely to be made of it. The report has only very recently been received and is in the hands pf the Queensland Government as well as of this Government. Indeed, I understand from a statement I read in the paper attributed to Mr Chalk that there is likely to be some discussion .as to whether the estimates made there as to the cost of producing electricity are or are not correct.
So, clearly, one of the first things to be decided before a project of this magnitude is to be continued with, if it is to be continued with, is to work out how much it would cost to produce the electricity. In the second place, there are other matters which are also not the subject of firm proposals or considerations in relation to the amount of finance which the State might put into such a power house and the amount which we might put into such a power house, and the conditions under which the State would be prepared to enter into the scheme. In short, to put it into a nutshell, it would be, I suggest, regarded by almost every member in this House as rather ridiculous to give the green light and say yes, that we will go ahead with a scheme for producing electricity, without knowing what the cost of producing that electricity would be and without knowing what the financial suggestions for financing the power house would be.
– 1 ask the Minister for Trade and Industry: Has he heard news reports that Australia and Canada, following a United States decision to cut the price of wheat to Japan, have decided to cut prices by 10c a bushel? If so, is there any truth in the report?
– I had hoped to get an opportunity to state what I will now state. Mr Hardin, the United States Secretary for Agriculture, paid me the courtesy of ringing me this morning to tell me of a decision made by the United States Cabinet a few hours ago. The President had asked him to ring me and for me to inform the Prime Minister. The facts are that the United States several weeks ago lowered its price quotation for wheat to Europe and to Africa and neighbouring markets. This action was taken as a result of the United States and Canada constantly being undersold by Russia, Romania and Bulgaria in those markets. It was clearly obvious that to achieve sales the United States and Canada would have to adjust their prices to meet the competition. I had volunteered the inevitability of this when attending the Washington meeting of Ministers. However the United States did not alter its prices in Japan, in the general Pacific area or in Central America and South America where Brazil, for one, is a big traditional market of the United States. Naturally enough both Brazil - and I think some other countries - and certainly Japan felt quite resentful that the United States would be quoting one price for wheat in Europe and Africa and a higher price for them. Protests were made. The Australian Wheat Board has held its prices up in relation to the United States and Canadian prices in each of the markets.
The United States Cabinet met yesterday and has decided, using its own term, ‘to globally equalise prices’. It has decided to offer wheat, for sale at the same price in the Pacific area and in the South American area as it has been offering wheat in recent weeks in Europe and Africa. The . Australian Wheat Board immediately will take appropriate steps to adjust its prices to a proper relationship, quality for quality, with the wheat being offered in these markets now at the new level of prices. This is an evidence that the United States does not wish to pre cipitate a price war in wheat. Mr Hardin, quoting to rae the decision of his Cabinet this morning, assured me that the United States, far from any intention to risk destroying the International Grains Agreement
– Arrangement, if you like. I am so accustomed to speaking of the old International Wheat Agreement that I say Agreement’ where the correct terminology is ‘Arrangement’. Far from intending to take any risk of destroying the International Grains Arrangement the United States official policy is a determination to preserve the International Grains Arrangement. In speaking to Mr Hardin I repeated what had been the substance of my views in Washington - views which were accepted. That was that while it was quite inevitable that to achieve sales of wheat one had to meet the price being offered by one’s competitors the high objective should be that when the forces of competition made it possible to do so there should be a return to the prices of the International Grains Arrangement as originally negotiated.
– I address a question to the Minister for Primary Industry and refer to the proposed marginal dairy farm reconstruction scheme. I ask: Has any further progress been made in negotiations between the Commonwealth and the States, New South Wales in particular, in this important matter?
– These rather drawn out negotiations are still proceeding. Mr Askin, who did lead or negotiate on behalf of all States other than Western Australia which had accepted the scheme, replied to the Prime Minister earlier saying that he could not accept our proposals and wanted alterations made whereby we made a complete contribution to the cost of these schemes. The Prime Minister replied that the Government was not prepared to alter its original conditions. In the meantime negotiations have been going on privately with the Queensland Government. I am very hopeful that we will soon be able to reach an agreement with Queensland, and having reached an agreement with Queensland I do not see difficulties with Tasmania and, maybe, South Australia and Victoria. However, up to date I am finding distinct difficulties with New South Wales.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Can he give any indication of the future developments of airports on the north-west coast of Tasmania, in view of the relinquishing of land options by the Department at Wynyard, on the one hand, and conflicting statements, the first being in May that the Devonport airport would not be upgraded, and the second as recently as 5 days ago that parliamentary approval would be sought for his Department to undertake considerable expenditure on the Devonport airport?
– I have just recently received a number of letters and telegrams from various people about the development of the Wynyard and Devonport airports. I am not quite sure what has created this interest, because I have not made any statement on the subject for quite some considerable time and to the best of my knowledge no officer of my Department has made any public statement about it. The position is that both Wynyard and Devonport are up to the F27 standard and are being maintained at that standard. This is the standard that the airlines require. If there is any change in the airline requirement in the future, we will certainly change the standard at that point of time. However, the services will continue for some time with the Viscount aircraft, until it is phased out, and with the F27 aircraft. It is possible that at some time in the future a medium type jet service will be introduced. If it is, the airports would have to be upgraded.
The situation is still the same as it was when, with the honourable member for Braddon and the honourable member for Wilmot, I met deputations from the councils. Virtually no change has occurred in the situation since then, except that we have undertaken some minor works at both airports. Devonport is the subject of a long-term proposal. It is possible that we will require some alternative jet facilities in that area in the future and we are planning on a long term basis that Devonport will ultimately be upgraded to take jet services. It would service principally as an alternate, because the airlines have not indicated that they will operate a jet service on a regular basis in that area at the moment. The position literally has not changed since it was explained to the councils on the occasion I have mentioned. The standards will still be maintained and, if any change does take place in the service in the future, we will see that the facilities are up-graded.
– 1 direct my question to the Minister for the Army. Is he aware that considerable concern is felt by a number of my constituents and other citizens of Australia for the future of the tracker dogs serving in Vietnam with the Australian Army? Will the Minister assure the House that every consideration will be given to these dogs, which have made a substantial contribution to the preservation of the lives of our fighting men?
– I know from Press comments and from representations which I have received that the matter raised by the honourable gentleman is one of concern to a number of people and, of course, I well appreciate the reasons which have generated that concern. Tracker dogs are required in Vietnam, as with other elements of the Australian Army, as an integral part of our activities. This may be a cause of amusement to Opposition members, who are laughing. They probably do not realise that these dogs are required there to add to the safety and protection of our troops. There are only eight of them in Vietnam. This may be regarded as a matter of mirth by some Opposition members, but it certainly is not regarded in that way by honourable members on this side of the House. The dogs have been specially trained for a particular task which they are carrying out. There is no thought of returning them to Australia as long as they continue to be fit and while there is a requirement for them. The matter will be reviewed should the circumstances change in the future.
– I ask the Treasurer a question. Before the debate on the Budget resumes will honourable members be able to receive such basic and independent economic documents as the annual reports of the Governor of the Reserve Bank, (he Commissioner for Taxation and the Commonwealth Grants Commission? If these documents will not be available to honourable members by that time, can he say why it is not possible to produce them in time for the debate?
– The statistical report o the Commissioner of Taxation will be available. With a little bit of luck the report of the Governor of the Reserve Bank will be available. I have heard nothing from the Commonwealth Grants Commission at all. The honourable gentleman would know the reasons for the delay without asking me. He knows it is outside my competence to direct the various authorities he has mentioned to present the reports to me. Nevertheless I. have frequently asked them to let me have the reports before the debate on the Budget is resumed. I assure the honourable gentleman that 1 have pressed them to present their reports at the earliest opportunity.
– I present the report of the Second Conference of the Presiding Officers and Clerks of the Parliaments of Australia, Papua and New Guinea, New Zealand, Fiji, Nauru and Western Samoa, held at Parliament House in Brisbane from 8th to 10th April 1969.
– I present the following paper:
Statement for the year 1968-69 of Heads of Expenditure and the amounts charged thereto pursuant to section 36a of the Audit Act 1901- 1969 (Advance to the Treasurer).
Ordered that the statement be taken into consideration in Committee of the whole House at the next sitting.
– In compliance with an undertaking which I gave to the honourable member for Yarra when I replied to question on notice No. 1294, a report of which is contained in Hansard of 29th May 1969 at page 2581, I lay on the table the following documents:
– by leave - 1 wish to give the House further information about the new programme of per capita grants for independent schools which was announced in the Budget Speech of the Treasurer (Mr McMahon). 1 will also speak about the Government’s review of its policy on teacher education and about an expansion of the Commonwealth scholarships programme.
The Government is concerned with the education of all Australian children irrespective of the type of school they attend. We believe that governments should deal equitably with the problems of all school children and that while the State must continue to make its own schools its primary responsibility, the independent schools are entitled to support also, provided they meet standards acceptable to the State.
There is no equivocation in our attitude towards the independent schools. We believe it is a democratic right for persons to be allowed to establish independent schools such as we have in Australia. We do not believe in government monopoly. The Government favours a continuation of a dual system of education on both educational and economic grounds. Just as there is value in having separate systems in each State in the sense that it leads to wider opportunities for experimentation and to alternative lines of development, so too is there value in having an effective system of independent schools running side by side with the government schools. We categorically reject the argument that because a significant number of citizens choose to seek a form of education for -their children which they prefer to the State system and are prepared to make financial sacrifices, those citizens cannot expect any help from the State even though they are easing its financial and physical burdens. lt is our policy to seek to work out ways of assisting independent schools so that, relying on their own efforts and supported by governments, they will be able in the future to provide places for that proportion of the school population which in the past has sought education in independent schools, lt is also important that the independent school system be able to develop in the future, not only in quantity but also in quality, more or less in line with the development of government schools. This too is a matter of concern to governments.
Not only is it educationally desirable for governments to support independent schools, there are also economic advantages to the general taxpayers, for if all children now enrolled in the independent schools were to transfer to the government schools, the enrolments in the government schools would be increased by almost 30%. Then very large additional expenditure by governments would be necessary without any resulting improvement in the standard of education offered to those children now attending the government schools. At least an additional SI 30m a year would be involved in the running costs of the government schools.
The independent schools have come under increasing financial pressure in recent years as they have endeavoured to meet the rising expectations of their students and their parents. In response to requests from various independent school authorities, the Commonwealth has examined the position of the independent schools with particular reference to their relationship to the government schools systems. The Premiers of New South Wales and Victoria have both asked the Commonwealth to provide additional assistance to independent schools.
The independent schools are not going to disappear overnight, hut there are ominous signs of an impending contraction. Over the last 3 years, during which enrolments in government primary schools increased by over 100,000, there was a reduction of 1,600 in the numbers enrolled in independent primary schools. If the traditional proportions had prevailed one would have expected nearly one quarter of those 100,000 children to find places in the independent schools. Costs in the independent schools have been rising and immigra tion together with increasing retention rates at the secondary level have placed substantial additional burdens on all schools.
The Government recognises that if the drift is not arrested the problems of the government schools will be multiplied and the education of all children will suffer. Certainly the economic burden on governments and on taxpayers will be much heavier than it now is. The problem is of particular significance in areas of expanding population where the absence of Roman Catholic schools has an immediate impact on the government schools which are themselves in a developing stage.
The Commonwealth has decided that it should supplement the contributions from the States by making per capita grants to independent schools throughout Australia. These grants will be directed to the running costs of the independent schools and particularly to assisting them in maintaining or increasing the number of qualified teachers employed.
The Commonwealth per capita grants will be at annual rates of $35 for each primary student and $50 for each secondary student, will include those attending special schools for the handicapped, and will commence from the beginning of the 1970 school year. At those rates the estimated cost in 1970 is $24.5m and in the financial year 1969-70 $16.28m, assuming payment for two terms during the financial year. Details are set out in a table which, with the approval of the House, I shall have incorporated in Hansard.
In arriving at the rates for its per capita grants, the Commonwealth has taken account of the assistance which State governments have indicated will be given to independent schools during 1970 and the Commonwealth has assumed that the States will continue to assist the independent schools at at least those rates.
Grants to independent schools at the rates approved by the Commonwealth, together with those to be made available by the States, will represent from 20% to 35% of the running costs per pupil in government schools in 1967-68, except in Queensland where the supplementary grants to the independent schools will take the figure to about 45% of the per-pupil cost of operating government secondary schools.
There are significant variations in the educational and financial problems of independent schools, not only from State to State but also within a State. The Commonwealth believes that the most reasonable approach is for its assistance to be on a uniform basis, except that the higher costs of secondary education justify a higher rate for that sector. In our view any other approach could lead to a significant interference with the internal working of individual independent schools.
Commonwealth payments for the benefit of independent schools in the States will be made through special purpose grants to the State governments and each State government has been asked to co-operate in the administrative arrangements for passing on these grants to the school authorities. Appropriate States grants legislation under section 96 of the Constitution will be introduced later in the present session.
The new programme of Commonwealth per capita grants to independent schools throughout Australia will be subject to the broadly expressed condition that they are to be used for purposes, other than capital expenditure, in connection with the education of children in the independent schools to which the grants are made. The precise manner in which the grants will be used, whether it be for meeting increased teachers’ salaries, employing more teachers, or meeting other running cost expenditure, will be a matter for decision by the schools themselves. Each school which applies for assistance will be required to certify to the number of students enrolled and at a subsequent time will be required to produce an audit certificate to the effect that the grants have been applied for the purposes laid down by the Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth has been making per capita grants to independent schools in the Australian Capital Territory and independent community schools in the Northern Territory in much the same way as the States have done within their boundaries. In the two Territories the present per capita rates will be increased from the beginning of 1970 by the amounts of the Commonwealth per capita grants to be made available to independent schools in the States.
No doubt some will argue that the Commonwealth has acted unilaterally without regard to the problems of the government schools, and that this new programme ought to provide for grants to government schools as well as to independent schools in proportion to their respective shares of total enrolments. Such an argument could be valid only if virtually ali the present Commonwealth financial contributions to education in schools were being distributed proportionately for the benefit of all children, whether they attend government or independent schools. That is not the case. The argument overlooks the fact that very large sums of money are now being paid by the Commonwealth for the benefit of children in the government schools. The Commonwealth provides almost one-half of the recurrent revenues of the States, excluding revenue from business undertakings, and on this basis the Commonwealth has been finding almost one-half of the annual running costs of government schools in the States.
The Government judges now that the financial difficulties of independent schools demonstrate an urgent need which, if not attended to, will seriously aggravate problems in the government schools. I have said on a number of occasions that T have been concerned that independent schools or classes in independent schools in some places, especially in the Sydney and Melbourne areas, would close from the beginning of next year if additional help were not provided. I have also indicated in public speeches that I believe that the method of support for one system may not necessarily be appropriate for the other. Let me give the House some figures to illustrate the Commonwealth’s support of education. Over the six years from 1963-64 to 1968-69, the States increased their recurrent expenditure on education in schools and State teachers colleges from S300m to approximately $500m and almost one-half of that increase came from Commonwealth sources. On a per capita basis for each person in the States this total expenditure on schools and State teachers colleges represents an increase from $27.50 to $41.65 per head. Over this same period, the Commonwealth has also provided large sums of money as direct payments for a wide and growing range of educational purposes. In 1963-64 the total Commonwealth direct expenditure on education was $68m. By 1968-69 this had risen to $192m and it is estimated to rise further to $266m this financial year. The Commonwealth share of total expenditure by the Commonwealth and the States on education was 17% in 1963-64 and 30% in 1968-69. It is certain to be even higher this financial year.
The Government’s record indicates clearly that both directly and indirectly it has been assisting the States in meeting the need for better education at all levels. Recently we agreed to co-operate in an Australia-wide survey which the States are now conducting to determine priority needs in education over the next few years. The States intend to prepare a national programme for their schools and for teacher education. Independent schools have been invited to conduct parallel surveys. On completion of the surveys the Commonwealth Minister for Education and Science and the Australian Education Council, which is composed of the Ministers for Education in all the States, will consider proposals for joint action to promote the further development of education in schools. I turn now to the important question of teacher education.
As part of its comprehensive approach to the development of education policies, the Government has reviewed its policy on teacher education. The need to improve the quality of the teaching force is central to the task of improving the quality of Australian education. Let me remind honourable members that the Commonwealth is already playing a significant role in the education of teachers. Forty per cent of Government teachers in training and the majority of those preparing for employment In secondary schools, obtain their academic and professional qualifications in universities. The Commonwealth contributes to the capital and running costs associated with their training in the same way as for other university students. In addition, it is currently engaged in a $24m programme of unmatched capital grants over the 3 years to June 1970 for the provision of some 4,350 additional places and some 1,300 replacement places in teachers’ colleges conducted by State Education Departments. In 1968 the Commonwealth introduced a $2.5m programme for expanding the facilities of pre-school teachers colleges throughout Australia.
However, to the present time, the Commonwealth has not been prepared to support teacher education activities in colleges of advanced education in the way that it does for universities and for colleges of advanced education in general. This attitude reflected the Commonwealth’s view that the 1964 recommendations for teacher education in the report of the Committee on the Future of Tertiary Education in Australia dealt primarily with matters of concern to the States. Insofar as financial assistance from the Commonwealth is concerned, the Commonwealth’s programme of unmatched capital grants involved a larger contribution than the Tertiary Education Committee had contemplated for the initial period. Assistance with capital costs also represented the highest priority for Commonwealth action as seen by State Ministers of Education.
There have been significant developments during the past 3 to 4 years. The colleges of advanced education have been firmly established with financial support from both Commonwealth and State Governments and the State governments have adopted new policies on teacher education which go to the heart of the Tertiary Inquiry Committee recommendations, principally by an extension of the period of training for primary teachers to 3 years. Rising enrolments, increasing retention rates and more attention to science and mathematics in secondary schools, warrant a substantial expansion in the number of places available to educate teachers whether they be intended for employment in Government or in independent schools.
The Commonwealth believes that it can assist in meeting the demand for teachers in two ways: Firstly, by carrying forward for another 3 years its programme of unmatched capital grants for the provision of places in departmental teachers colleges; secondly, by supporting the education of teachers in both academic and professional studies within colleges of advanced education. AD this will be in addition to continuing support for teacher education in universities.
The Government has decided to make unmatched capital grants to a total value of $30m over the 3 years commencing 1st July 1970 for provision of places in Government teachers* colleges. This represents a 25% increase on the present level of unmatched capital grants and is expected to provide more than 6,000 places over the 3 year period. The grants will be subject to the existing conditions, that is, the choice of location and the nature of the projects will be a matter for each State, subject to general endorsement by the Commonwealth, and up to 10% of the places so provided are to be available for students who are not bonded for subsequent employment in Government schools. Those unbonded students will continue to be eligible to apply for Commonwealth advanced education scholarships on their individual merits.
The distribution of the sum of $30m among the States will be decided after further consultation with them. This will be put in hand immediately because it is essential that each State be able to proceed with its forward planning of additional projects and with a knowledge of the extent of Commonwealth assistance. Appropriate legislation will be introduced in the autumn session of the Parliament in 1970.
After consultation with the States, the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Advanced Education has recommended projects in three States involving teacher education within colleges of advanced education during the 1970-72 triennium. These projects will be at Bathurst, Wagga, Toowoomba, Rockhampton and Hobart and the Canberra College of Advanced Education will also establish a school of teacher education during the 1970-72 triennium. Together, these projects will attract capital expenditure of $8.5m and recurrent expenditure of $5.5m during the triennium under the normal sharing arrangements for expenditure on colleges of advanced education in the States. The introduction of teacher education into the colleges of advanced education will provide an estimated additional 1 ,700 places.
The overall effect of these decisions on teacher education will be that during the next 3 years the Commonwealth will make payments for teacher education in State teachers’ colleges and in colleges of advanced education to a total of $3 7m compared with $24m in the preceding 3 years. The contributions from the States under the advanced education programme will take this total to $44m during the next 3 years. The programmes with which the Commonwealth will be associated will provide approximately 8,000 places for teacher education. This will be in addition to new places which the Commonwealth hopes the States will make available purely from their own resources.
In the future I would like to see colleges of advanced education taking a greater part in the education of teachers. The colleges will provide an opportunity for the intermingling of students training for the teaching profession with students training for other avenues of employment, lt should also encourage more of the better qualified academic staff and students to take up teacher education. If some teachers are educated in colleges of advanced education themselves they will be better able to point out to their students the advantages the colleges offer in tertiary education. The introduction of teacher education into country colleges of advanced education will provide the only means by which some of them can become viable tertiary institutions.
The Government makes annual reviews of the need for variations in the numbers of awards offered to students and of the scales of benefits provided under its various scholarships schemes. Last year the Government increased the number, of open entrance university scholarships from 6,000 to 7,500. It also increased the number of advanced education scholarships from 1,000 to 1,500. The increases in the number of scholarships in 1969 were thus, directed principally towards meeting the needs of students about to commence a tertiary education. In the course of making the review this year, the Government was impressed by the large number and quality of the applicants for later year and mature age university scholarships tenable in 1969 and later years. It has attempted to meet the stronger demand for these scholarships in two ways.
Firstly, it has decided to double the number of later year university scholarships, bringing the total number to be offered for competition in 1970 to 4,000. This substantial expansion of numbers for a type of scholarship awarded on the basis of demonstrated achievement in a university course emphasises the Government’s concern to assist students whose school results may not have given an accurate indication of their potential for successful university study. It believes too that there is good educational value in scholarships for students who have shown their ability to cope successfully with university education.
Secondly, the pressure of competition in the mature age category of university scholarships is to be eased by a modification of the conditions of the open entrance, later year and mature age categories of scholarships. As from 1970 persons up to 30 years of age will be able to apply for open entrance and later year scholarships whereas at present only those under 25 years may do so. Thus students aged between 25 and 30 will compete in future for one of the considerably expanded number of open entrance or later year scholarships. The mature age category will be reserved for applicants aged 30 years or over, including those intending to pursue their studies part-time.
As part of the Government’s important education policy to promote the development of colleges of advanced education, an additional 1,000 advanced education scholarships will be made available in 1970, taking the total offered to 2,500. This increase will assist in meeting the expanded demand for scholarship assistance which will result from the expansion of advanced education projected for the 1970-72 biennium. The Government will also make some fundamental changes in the method of selecting winners of advanced education scholarships for 1970. Wherever possible there will be special methods of selection appropriate to the type of training offered in each college.
I wish to emphasise at this point the marked difference between the selection methods for the Commonwealth university . and advanced education scholarship schemes which will exist when the new arrangements for the latter scheme are introduced. In the case of the university scholarship scheme, the concept of an open entrance scholarship, awarded on the basis of results obtained in the examination taken at the end of secondary schooling, is closely related to the general requirements for university matriculation and admission and is considered appropriate for the scheme. However, the range and special needs of advanced education courses are such that an open entrance type of scholarship is not suitable for them and specific selection procedures for individual courses or groups of courses are needed. We will, of course, continue to employ the principle of selection based strictly on merit. It follows that advanced education scholarships will in the future be for tenure in a specific institution or course and a student selected for a scholarship will be able to apply it only to the institution and course which he has nominated. The new procedures for these scholarships are intended to encourage students to take up those courses for which they are best suited and thus to maximise the usefulness of the scholarship.
The Government has also reviewed the rates of living allowance payable under the Commonwealth university and advanced education scholarships scheme. A case for increased rates of living allowance has been presented by the National Union of Australian University Students and the Government has had its own inquiries made into the matter. These living allowances are subject to a means test and the current maximum rates are $559 a year for scholars living at home and $904.80 a year for those living away from home. The Government has decided on rates of $620 a year for scholars living at home and $1,000 a year for scholars living away from home from the beginning of 1970. Taken together, the increase in number of tertiary scholarships and the greater benefits for scholarship holders are estimated to cost $2.77m in the full year 1970 and $1.75m in 1969-70. Total expenditure on the scholarships administered by the Department of Education and Science is estimated at $32m for 1969-70 and $34m for the full year 1970, rising to an estimated $40m when in full operation.
Details of Commonwealth expenditure on education from 1963-64 to 1969-70 are set out in a table which, with the concurrence of the House, I will have incorporated in Hansard.
Expenditure on Goods and Services - Department of Education and Science(6) - - Recurrent - Capital
Australian Universities Commission Australian National University - - Recurrent - Capital - Australian Research Crams Committee Grants - Affiliated Colleges -
Canberra College of Advanced Education- - Recurrent - Capital
Australian Capital Territory- - Recurrent - Capital . .
Northern Temtory(c)- - Recurrent . . . . . . - Capital
Other- - Recurrent.. - Capital……
– Recurrent - Capital
Colleges of Advanced Education- - Recurrent -Capital
Science Laboratories . . . . Technical Training Facilities … Teacher Training Colleges School Libraries Pre-school Teachers Colleges Australian Research Grants Committee Grants
Aboriginal Advancement - - Recurrent . . . . . . - Capital ..
Independent Schools ..
Scholarships and Allowances - Commonwealth Scholarship Schemes- - Post-graduate - University. . - Advanced Education - Secondary. . - Technical
Soldiers’ Children Education Scheme
Aboriginal Study Grants Other
Honourable members will note that the total Commonwealth expenditure is likely to be 38% higher in 1969-70 than in 1968-69. These new decisions on support for independent schools and for teacher training and an expansion of tertiary level scholarships will further deepen the Commonwealth’s involvement in education. If there are any doubts remaining, this action should serve notice that the widening interest that began when Senator Gorton first became Minister-in-Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research has grown and been strengthened. The Commonwealth is committed to assist in the provision for all children of the best education that the resources of the nation will allow. Our energies have been and will continue to be directed to that end. I present the following paper:
Motion (by Mr Erwin) proposed:
That the House take note of the paper.
– The Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) concluded his statement with an extremely important paragraph in which he said:
The Commonwealth is committed to assist in the provision for all children of the best education that the resources of the nation will allow.
Since the Minister has accepted this principle it is a great pity that he did not give some hope to the States in the field of government schools. The Minister has elaborated on assistance to independent schools announced in the Budget. Honourable members will be able to debate the Budget at greater length next week. At this stage I would like to make some brief comments on these proposals on behalf of the Australian Labor Party. The principle of assistance to non-government schools is now accepted by all political parties. This assistance extends to the day-to-day running costs of the schools. For the first time the Government has introduced the principle of making per capita grants for running costs of non-government schools throughout Australia. It should be recalled that this principle was put on behalf of the Labor Party in 1966 in the election policy speech delivered by the former Leader of the Opposition, the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell).
In recent months the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has confirmed this pledge and has outlined the Labor Party’s policy of assisting both government and non-government schools. There is not the slightest doubt about the Labor Party’s position. It was affirmed by an overwhelming vote at the recent federal conference of the Party. However, there is a very clear distinction between the Government and the Opposition on the basis on which Commonwealth assistance should flow to nongovernment schools. This afternoon the Minister for Education and Science has made it perfectly clear that this Government is not prepared to enter into the fields of primary, secondary and technical education for government schools in any State. I think that one can detect for the first time in a statement made in this House by the Minister for Education and Science that the Minister himself is somewhat concerned about the position of government schools in the various States. But it goes no further than this. The Government acknowledges that the system could be improved and that more finance Ls required at these levels in the various States but the Minister’s statement deals only with assistance to nongovernment schools. Apparently government schools are to continue to be ignored by this Government.
The Opposition has always insisted that assistance to Australian schools should be given on the basis of need. Priorities should be assessed and Commonwealth grants should be made to those schools, whether government or non-government, where the need is greatest. For this reason Labor Party policy calls for the establishment of an Australian schools commission to examine and determine the needs of students in government and non-government primary, secondary and technical schools. This commission could then recommend Commonwealth grants to the States under section 96 of the Constitution in meeting the requirements of all school age children on the basis of needs and priorities. It is ironic to compare the basis for Commonwealth assistance to the universities with the basis of its assistance to primary and secondary schools. In his Budget Speech the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) gave broad details of the programme of the Australian Universities Commission for the next triennium. In due course the Minister for Education and Science will outline the programme of assistance on the recommendations of the Australian Universities Commission and the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Advanced Education. These will be considered recommendations made after careful investigation by skilled committees and staff. The recommendations will be fully documented and supported by a mass of statistical information. What a contrast to the blanket grants to non-government schools announced in this Budget and amplified today by the Minister for Education and Science. For 14 years in this House members of the Opposition have been requesting the Government to set up a competent committee of inquiry to examine education at the primary, secondary and technical levels in government and non-government schools.
– Are you opposing these grants?
– The Minister for Education and Science, who is now very vocal, has always opposed the motion for the establishment of such a committee moved by members on this side of the House. He has resisted any inquiry into education at the levels to which I have just referred but he has been prepared to accept some of the recommendations that have been made to the Government by the Universities Commission and the recommendations made to the Government as a result of other inquiries initiated by the Commonwealth. All honourable members on this side of the House can appreciate why the Government has consistently refused to set up a committee of inquiry to examine education at these levels. This afternoon the Minister for Education and Science has acknowledged that independent schools in Australia are in need of financial assistance. This is not denied by the Opposition. Indeed, the amount of assistance mentioned by the Minister was promised by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) some months ago. Our quarrel with the Government is that while it is prepared to recognise the need for financial assistance to independent schools it ignores completely the need which the Minister and the Government know exists in government schools at the same level. One would expect that in a considered statement delivered to the House this afternoon the Minister might have given at least some indication that while financial assistance is required for independent schools, some assistance also is necessary for government schools.
We believe that a schools commission dealing with primary, secondary and technical education would act in a similar way to the two tertiary education commissions which have done extremely valuable work. Such a commission is at the core of the Labor Party’s policy for Commonwealth assistance to both government and nongovernment schools. The proposal for such a commission represents a responsible approach to the giving of Commonwealth assistance to areas of the greatest need, whether government or non-government. The Labor Party recognises that it would take some time for such a schools commission to be formed, to make its surveys of school systems, and to submit its recommendations. To fill this gap Labor’s policy is to make emergency grants to government and non-government schools alike to provide adequate standards as soon as possible. This emergency assistance would be designed to remove deficiencies in staffing, accommodation and teaching facilities. The Leader of the Opposition has made it clear that under Labor non-government schools would receive emergency grants totalling not less than $2Sm. This would mean that an equivalent sum, based on the number of students, would flow to government schools lo remove deficiencies in starling, accommodation and facilities.
In the face of this Budget it is impossible for the Government to argue that Commonwealth resources cannot be freed to raise standards of education in both government and non-government schools. In an inflationary economic context the Government has found resources for a wide range of fiscal measures. In the light of this Budget the Government should never dare to question how Labor would pay for its election pledges. The Opposition’s education policy is that a Labor government would make emergency grants to Government and non-government schools. It would then establish a schools commission to direct Commonwealth funds for education to areas of greatest need. The magnitude of Commonwealth assistance now may be gauged by recommendations of the Australian Education Council. The Council has estimated that to bring only government schools up to a reasonable standard would need additional expenditure of S250m in the period 1964-65 to 1967-68. For the 3-year period 1969-70 to 1972-73 Commonwealth funds of at least S400m would be needed to bring both government and non-government schools up to an adequate standard.
The policy I have outlined on behalf of the Labor Party is designed to achieve this purpose. The policy outlined by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) and the Minister for Education and Science completely ignores the urgent needs of government schools. Even in the non-government area the Government’s policy is utterly discriminatory since the benefit of its per capita grants will go in greatest measure to the affluent independent schools which are in no need of Commonwealth assistance. The Government’s policy is designed to perpetuate the existing anomalies and inequities in education. These grants are discriminatory. They are not directed to the areas of greatest need. They neglect the government school system. To the extent that they will bring relief to sorely pressed nongovernment schools, particularly Catholic parochial schools, the grants are welcome. No member on this side of the House would refute the proposition advanced by the Minister this afternoon that schools in this category are in need. But I reiterate that the Government has refused to face up to its responsibilities in education at the high level. Surely the Minister will concede that an Australian schools commission, established to examine education at the primary, secondary and technical levels in both government and non-government schools, would hardly recommend to a responsible government that some independent schools in this country are in need of assistance under the terms of the legislation which the Minister will shortly introduce. To the extent that these proposals further distort the operation of Commonwealth assistance to education at all levels they are to be severely criticised. The Minister outlined new Government proposals for Commonwealth scholarships assistance for teacher training. The House will have another opportunity to debate these measures, and I do not want to say too much about them at this stage.
The Opposition welcomes these proposals. The extension of tertiary scholarships is particularly welcome. I would single out the proposals for later age and mature age scholarships as being extremely desirable. The Government has extended its assistance to teacher training. It has taken the Government a long time to get around to this proposition. After all, the recommendation was made in 1964 by the Committee on the Future of Tertiary Education, in Australia, known as the ‘Martin Committee’, which investigated teacher training in this country. The Government has consistently ignored that Committee’s recommendations. Now at this late stage the Government has decided to give some increased assistance for teacher training. I would like to point out that although the Government has improved Commonwealth assistance for teacher training its proposals fall considerably short of the Labor Party’s policy. We believe that the Commonwealth should assume the entire responsibility for the training of teachers. This would free much-needed resources to the States, which have struggled manfully, with little assistance from the Commonwealth, to improve standards of education.
It is not a new proposition that I have stated this afternoon on behalf of the Australian Labor Party. We have consistently stated our attitude in relation to teacher training. We have stated that this should be a Commonwealth responsibility and that teachers should not be bonded. In addition, we have stated that if the Commonwealth Government is prepared to accept the full responsibility for teacher training, as it should, this will release in the States revenue which will then become available for education at the primary, secondary and technical levels.
May I conclude by again stating on behalf of the Opposition that there are some aspects of this statement which the Opposition appreciates and which we agree will provide sources of income in a sector of education where it is greatly needed. The Government is to be commended on what it has done in this respect. But the Opposition will take the opportunity when the appropriate measures are before this House to elaborate and enlarge upon the argument that I have advanced here this afternoon, that in addition to the responsibility which the Government now accepts for independent schools a similar responsibility must be accepted for government schools.
Debate (on motion by Mr Chaney) adjourned.
-I have to inform the House that I have received a letter from the honourable member for Dalley (Mr O’Connor) resigning his seat on the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works.
– In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1930-66 I present the report of the Public Works Committee on the following proposed work:
Rehabilitation Centre, Glen Waverley, Victoria.
Ordered that the report be printed.
-I have received a letter from the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:
The failure of the Federal Government throughout its 20 years of office to implement an effective drought mitigation programme to minimise economic losses in established areas which are highly susceptible to devastating droughts.
I cal’l 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)
– It is becoming very clear that the members of this Government, from the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) down through all his Ministers, have little appreciation of the seriousness of the drought which is devastating twothirds of Queensland and which is spreading into Western Australia. It was quite obvious from listening to answers given at question time today that the members of the Government are completely ignorant of the facts of the situation. No less a person than the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony), when answering a considered question by the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett), warned cattlemen to be very cautious in the disposal of their livestock because of the drop in prices as. a result of quota arrangements for Australian meat on the American market. If the Minister was conversant with what is happening in Queensland he would know that the only alternative to selling one’s cattle in some areas is to let the cattle die, while in other areas the only alternative is to reduce the total available feed to the individual cattle and so to weaken the whole herd. It is obvious that this type of remark will not be received very favourably by cattlemen in Queensland who are today wrestling with the worst drought in Queensland for the last 98 years. Records are available only for the last 98 years, and even now, in August, the drought has reached record proportions, and the best that can be expected is early rain in late October or November. Even if this rain eventuates, we still have 3 months to go in a drought which, as I have said, in some areas is worse than any other drought that has been experienced in Queensland’s history.
The Prime Minister, in answer to a question today - and I am sure that this will not be appreciated by the honourable member for Herbert (Mr Bonnett) - painted a glowing picture of Townsville as a boom city. In Townsville today the rate of bankruptcy in some of the industrial firms is very high. The threat of unemployment and the low level of economic activity are causing considerable problems in that area. I am quite certain that honourable members who represent Townsville and adjacent areas will not appreciate the Prime Minister’s glowing picture of the booming decentralised city of Townsville.
If ever the Australian primary producer wanted evidence of an apathetic Government, the Budget that was presented last night provided it vividly. The most glaring omission from the Budget, as it affects primary producers, and certainly as it affects Queensland and the drought crisis there, was in its failure to make any statement at all on the wheat crisis or about what the Government intends to do about the worsening drought, particularly in those coastal areas where the Government can do something, particularly in those areas where water is available. It is too late, of course, to construct large-scale dams, but at least some decision could be made by this
Government not to wait until the next drought comes before making some worthwhile decision.
Again in the Budget we had no statement at all about the insidious increase in production costs. The rate of increase in these costs is shown by the latest figures put out by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. The rate of increase in production costs on farms is higher now than it has been in any previous period in the post-war years. The Budget contained not one word on what the Government intends to do about the mounting wheat surplus despite the pleas of people in the cattle industry and the sheep industry to allow some of the unsaleable surplus wheat to be diverted to drought areas so that a nucleus of stock might be saved. Why cannot Queensland and Western Australia enjoy the same relief that was provided to Victoria when that State experienced drought? At that time a Commonwealth grant was made to Victoria to allow wheat to be sold to starving stock at a discount of 40c a bushel. If it is good enough for Victoria it is good enough for Queensland and Western Australia. I see no reason why this could not be done, particularly as Victoria has 1 drought in 23 years, while the livestock areas of Queensland average 2 droughts in 7 years.
I am concerned about this matter, and I have no doubt that when the Government gives an answer, since an election is to be held shortly the answer will be merely some kind of political shambles about what it is trying to do. I hope that it does adopt that approach. I can assure the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) that this is no laughing matter. This is no political joke; this is something that is deadly serious. Those industries which have been the foundation of Australia, the livestock and agricultural industries, are today facing, as I said before, a calamity of tremendous magnitude in the northern and western parts of Queensland and now in mounting proportions in Western Australia. The Government’s approach to drought in the last 20 years has been the typical ad hoc Treasury approach - ‘wait and see’. This approach is based on two fundamentally unsound premises. The first is that there is no guarantee that there will be another drought. This is true; no-one can say that there will be another drought. But we know that as sure as night follows day there will be another drought. We know that these droughts are gathering momentum as far as economic losses are concerned because of the increasing economic problems they pose and because of the decline in the real value of money. We know that serious droughts in the future will be of greater economic magnitude.
The second premise on which the Government’s approach is based is this: Wait till the drought becomes of serious enough magnitude and then we will step in and channel money into the drought areas in the form of fodder subsidies, transport subsidies and short term carry-on loans.’ These are good; we admit that they are good in some areas, but they do not get to the crux of the problem. As a result, this nation is constantly suffering heavy losses of national and export income. In the arid and semi-arid areas of Australia not much can be done about large-scale water conservation. This is recognised and accepted, but it is certain that something can be done about fodder and grain storages. Although these droughts are of terrifying magnitude in the western area, the areas today and the areas in the post-war years that have had the greatest cumulative losses in terms of value of national income and export income are the coastal areas of Queensland - the areas embracing the Burnett, Fitzroy, Burdekin and Pioneer basins. This is the greatest area of livestock concentration - cattle concentration - in Australia. As a comparison, within a 150 mile radius of Rockhampton there are more cattle than there are in the whole of the Northern Territory and the Kimberleys put together, yet this area is constantly devastated by recurring droughts. There is an answer. Every authority, including the Queensland Government, has told the Commonwealth Government that the key to the problem is water. There is plenty of water in the area. There is water in the Burdekin, Burnett and Fitzroy basins. It is the answer to stabilising production - and I am not talking about increasing production. The cumulative value of losses that have been generated in the Burnett, Fitzroy and Burdekin basins would have been sufficient to have built major dams and reticulation works in the area. Still this Government refuses to take positive action with respect to water conservation in the most drought devastated area of Australia. It is an area which will continue to be drought devastated until permanent water is made available.
The Government’s record over the last 20 years in respect of positive action such as water conservation in the well watered but highly susceptible drought areas - the coastal and near coastal areas of Queensland - is about the worst record of any developed nation. If the Minister can cite any country that has a worse record I will be glad to hear of it. I am not talking about remote areas when I speak of these areas. Large decentralised towns are involved. They include Bundaberg, Gladstone, Rockhampton, Mackay, Bowen and Townsville. Many of these were thriving towns, but today some of these are in the doldrums with the possible exception of the Pioneer Valley which has been fortunate in having had some rain this season.
We see the same blatant discrimination displayed against Queensland with respect to power. We have all sorts of excuses why the Commonwealth cannot advance some funds to Queensland to give it at least the same opportunity as has been given to other States with respect to power. Was this fine tooth comb economic treatment applied in the evaluation of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority? Of course it was not. If that policy had been adopted we would never have had the Snowy Mountains Authority. When the Leader of the Country Party (Mr McEwen) went to Bundaberg before the State election he said that he would wring the money out of Canberra for the KolanBurnett project. We have heard nothing from him since. The most important point is this - and the Government had better heed it - that the people in these areas are getting fed up with the sudden emergence of southern Ministers who appear on the eve of an election and make all manner of promises about what they are going to do to beat the drought. They promise water conservation and refer to all sorts of plans, and then the people do not see those Ministers again until1 perhaps the next election.
I cannot emphasise too strongly in this Parliament the serious economic and social consequences facing such areas as the
Burdekin, Burnett and Fitzroy basins. These, as I said before, are not remote areas; they are areas of tremendous potential which contribute substantially to Australia’s export income. The underground water basins are shrinking progressively. In some areas the water table is at its lowest level. In the Burdekin area there are serious problems of salt encroachment. This is a very serious matter because once salt encroaches to a high level in an underground water table it is most difficult to eradicate. In the areas that I have been discussing there are ample water resources. The run-off from the Burdekin and Fitzroy Rivers is 13 million acre feet annually. In the Don, Pioneer and Styx Rivers there is a run-off of 7.6 million acre feet annually.
As 1 said before, this is a serious matter. I recognise and accept that the Government has done certain things to minimise the economic losses, but it is like waiting until the horse gets out of the paddock before attempting to do something like mending the fence or fixing the gate to keep the horse in. Something must be done in the two areas of Australia which today are being devastated by recurring drought - the semi-arid and arid areas, and the coastal areas of Queensland where we have major problems. It is impracticable and certainly uneconomic to have large-scale water conservation in the drier areas but there is scope for small-scale storages. In these areas there is scope in selected parts for a realistic fodder and grain conservation scheme to utilise the surpluses of our wheat and our ability to grow coarse grains at cheap prices. This can be done by the provision of drought banks and their use in selected areas - not all areas - contiguous to railheads and to efficient communication systems. The grain can be sold at reasonable prices to the owners of starving stock in the western areas. This would help to minimise losses in those areas. This involves another subject that I will deal with on another occasion. It will involve, possibly, a stabilisation scheme for coarse grains, one which the industry would welcome judging from the remarks of its leaders.
I again emphasise the importance of water conservation in those areas where drought losses are so devastating and where water is available. I remind the Parliament of the prophetic words uttered in a preelection policy speech in 1949: ‘We will proceed with the Burdekin scheme immediately and not keep it in a pigeon hole as a blueprint for depression’. Who said those words? They were stated by no less a person than the then Leader of the Australian Country Party, Sir Arthur Fadden, who in a few days became Treasurer of the Commonwealth. But in 20 years the Government has not honoured this promise, and I can tell the Minister for National Development that the people in the areas that are devastated by drought have had this Government and its repeated promises about what it is going to do with respect to water conservation. They know that the cumulative value of the losses sustained in the post-war years is greater than the cost of storages and reticulation works in those areas, particularly in the Burnett, Burdekin or Fitzroy basins.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I was sorry that the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) commenced his speech by saying that there was little appreciation in this Parliament of the position in Queensland. I believe that is quite an incorrect statement. On this side of the House we have the honourable member for Herbert (Mr Bonnett), the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter) and the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett).
– I said Ministers.
– If one looks at the area of Queensland one will see that the area represented by the honourable member for Dawson is very small when compared with the areas represented by the members on this side of the House. Of course, we get constant reports from those members. Ministers, too, in their various responsibilities are keeping closely in touch with the problems. We all realise it is a tragic position. Unfortunately, Australia has always been prone to droughts. My own family was in Queensland during the 1902 drought and I have heard from them many stories of the tragedies in those days when there were not the facilities for overcoming droughts that there are today. But to say that there is little appreciation - whether the honourable member says by Ministers or members - is quite incorrect. I am sure that everyone in this House realises the tragic plight of certain areas of Australia that are affected by drought. But we have only to look at the Government’s record to see what has been done.
When I read the text of the matter that the honourable member for Dawson proposed to raise, I thought he would take a national point of view. However, he has confined himself entirely to a small area of Queensland. Let us look at the record of this Government and let us look at what can be done to mitigate drought. All of us who have been associated with the land know that although there is a certain amount that can be done to mitigate the effects of drought, there is a lot that cannot be done. No matter how much is done in the way of fodder conservation, water conservation and so on, over a large area of Australia primary producers are vitally dependent on rain. However much the farmers try and however much governments assist them, there is a limit to what can be done. But let me go over the list of what can be done and show what the Government is doing. Governments can encourage water and fodder conservation. They can give freight concessions for the transport of fodder and the transport of stock for agistment or sale. They can make grants to farmers and can make loan moneys available through the banks for rehabilitation. They can improve transport. They can carry out research and extension work through the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and the departments of agriculture and they can assist farmers by reducing taxes when adverse conditions strike.
Let me show what has been done. Firstly, I will deal with what has been done in the field of water conservation. I was amazed that the honourable member for Dawson should say that we had the worst record of any developed nation. Let us look at what the Australian Labor Party did when it was in office in Queensland. It held power in that State for years, but we did not see one dam built there.
– That is not right.
– It is not very far from the truth. There may have been an odd little dam built, but no major dam was built there. This Commonwealth Government has assisted the Liberal-Country Party Government in Queensland to conserve water. When this Government came into office, the total capacity of all major irrigation storages in Australia was about 7 million acre feet, lt will be over 50 million acre feet when everything now under construction is completed and even this volume will be increased when the Dartmouth dam gets under way, we hope shortly. This is a record of achievement in a short time. But we have done much more in the water conservation field. We have set up the Australian Water Resources Council and it has assisted in assessing the water resources in Australia, both surface and underground. Already the Government has assisted financially with what the States were doing on their own before we set up the Council. Total expenditure has exceeded $7m and Queensland alone has had nearly $2m to use for the assessment of surface and underground water resources.
We have set out the national water resources development programme. When we announced it we promised that we would commit about $50m over a period of 5 years. This programme has run for less than 3 years, yet we have committed $53m under it, including a major grant to Queensland of $20m for the Fairbairn dam. When 1 first became Minister for National Development, the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard) rose often and asked me when we would proceed with the Ord dam. He does not do that any more, because he knows it is under way. The Commonwealth has given $57m to the Western Australian Government to proceed with this project. I could go through the length and breadth of this country naming such projects as the Blowering dam, the Western Australian Comprehensive Water Supply Scheme and the vast Snowy scheme, on which we have spent nearly S700m and which was very effective in lessening the effects of the recent drought in the Murray and Mumimbidgee areas.
This has all been achieved in a relatively short period in the history of Australia. But we are not stopping here. We are proceeding not only with these projects. We also have water research scholarships, which are assisting the States. We have made the services of the Snowy Mountains Authority available to the States and it has carried out a considerable amount of work for the States. Without the work that has been done by the Authority, undoubtedly some of the States would not have been able to proceed with their water development projects as rapidly as they have. I have a list here of what the Authority has done for Queensland. Queensland, of course, paid for the work, but nevertheless it had the services of people from the Authority and would not have been able to carry out as much water conservation work as it has unless it had had that assistance from the Authority.
One could go on detailing the work that the Commonwealth has done in the development of our water resources. The honourable member for Dawson tends to think that water conservation is 95% of drought mitigation. I do not agree with this view. I believe that basically drought mitigation is a job for the farmer. He has to decide how much fodder he needs on his property, how long he will keep his stock, whether he will buy feed and whether he will sell his stock or send it away on agistment. He must decide how much water he will have on his property. It is through the far-seeing measures adopted by this Government, which has encouraged the farmer with taxation concessions, that he has been able to improve his ability to withstand droughts. We all know that at some time we will have a drought that will test any farmer, however much he conserves. In my area, 2 years ago we had a rainfall of less than 10 inches, although we have an average of 28 inches. Naturally there were people who had to sell their stock because they did not have adequate fodder. But do the farmers go far enough in conserving fodder? I was fortunate in having put away some ensilage in pits more than 20 years ago and I was able to dig it up. As a result I was able to buy stock instead of selling it and I was able to feed the stock throughout the length of the drought.
These are the activities that we want to see encouraged by Government concessions and in fact we have gone out of our way to give this encouragement. We have given concessions to encourage farmers to conserve fodder, to build water conservation dams, to put down bores and wells and to do everything that would tend to make their properties more drought-proof. We have given freight concessions for the transport of fodder and for moving stock away on agistment. Since 1965-66 the Commonwealth has given more than $80m to the States for drought mitigation and relief in one way or another. In this year alone we have made $8m available to Queensland. This is a considerable increase on the amount that was made available last year. These grants are provided for a number of purposes, such as re-stocking, freight rebates and enabling local government authorities to maintain employment.
We have ensured that sufficient bank finance is available. This has been remarkably well handled by the Commonwealth Government, by the Commonwealth Bank and by the private banks. One does not see, as one would see in the old days, people with a good asset suddenly being sold up because of the drought and losing virtually everything they had. 1 think one of the great lessons that has been taught in recent droughts is that, provided a person can obtain sufficient loan funds and finance, he is able to re-stock. It may take him some time to get back on his feet, but he is able to remain on his property, to re-stock and to make good. We have been spending a lot of money to improve transport. Again a reason why drought nowadays does not have the effect it had in the old days is that it is possible to move stock away and to move fodder in. In the olden days in certain areas it was virtually impossible to do this. Once a drought had set in your stock had to stay there. If you were lucky and the rain came they lived, but if rain did not come the stock died. The Commonwealth. State and local governments have done a tremendous amount to develop road transport. One only has to look at the Government’s plan for beef roads in Queensland in particular, in the Northern Territory and in Western Australia to see that this is so. There is now a plan under which $39m will be made available over a 7-year period to Queensland for the development of its roads. This amount will be over and above the enormous increase that is taking place under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement. When I first came into this place total Commonwealth aid to the States for the development of roads was S I 8m per annum.
Now it is about $250 per annum. As a result of the increase in grants our roads have improved tremendously and because of this the transport system also has improved. Stock can now be taken out and fodder can be brought in. Not only has there been this improvement in roads but also our railways systems have been improved. The Commonwealth Government has assisted Queensland with the Mount Isa railway, and a number of other railways throughout Australia have been improved with Commonwealth funds. Our harbours have been improved thereby assisting transport by sea as well as by road, rail and air.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation is carrying out a vast programme of research. I referred to the way in which the Government, through taxation concessions, is looking after people who are having trouble with drought. Where there are forced sales because of drought the Government has arranged for the profits from the sales to be spread over a longer period so that a farmer does not have to pay so much at the one time. If he has to shear twice in one year he does not have to include in his return the profits from the two shearings. He may carry one shearing forward to the next year. His losses may be carried forward indefinitely. The Commonwealth has done all those things and is continuing to do such things. The Government has a proud record in drought mitigation. The Opposition does not want the Commonwealth to assist the States and the farmers. The Opposition wants a centralised government which has complete power so that it can go to the States and say: ‘This is our plan. Take it or leave it.’ Occasionally this Government is criticised because the States say that we are trying to usurp State powers. What would happen if there were a Commonwealth plan of this sort with the Commonwealth taking over everything and directing the States without the States having a say at all? This Government is proud of what it has achieved. It is not possible to avoid droughts. They do occur. We have to face them as well as we can. and in this respect I think that the Government can be proud of the job that it has done and is doing.
– Floods and droughts are occurrences of nature over which we have absolutely no control. Despite what the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) said as to the responsibility of farmers in providing sufficient feed to tide them over a drought period, no matter how efficient a farmer may be he is still to a very large degree at the mercy of the elements. All other aspects being equal, it is still the climatic conditions that determine good or bad crops or whether there will be an abundance of feed, a shortage of feed or no feed at all. The same applies to water supplies. Because of this and because a severe drought will inevitably have disastrous effects, not only on individual farmers and those closely associated with the farming industry but also upon the economy of the country generally, surely it is only reasonable to expect that the government of the day should have a definite and adequate policy whereby immediately it becomes apparent that a State or an area within a State is likely to suffer from drought the machinery for relieving those drought conditions should immediately be able to be put into operation. The old saying ‘a stitch in time saves nine’ is most appropriate in regard to drought relief where early action such as the supply of supplementary feed can make the difference between saving a large number of stock and saving very few.
Despite the fact that over the last couple of decades Australia has had several very bad droughts which have had disastrous effects on some areas, the Commonwealth Government still persists with its hit or miss, wait and see, pray for rain attitude. This uncertainty, this waiting to see what, if anything, the Government intends to do is so disturbing. The question arises: Will it be the same on this occasion as it was on the last, or something different? The drought which is being experienced in Western Australia now and which has spread over quite a large area in that State has reached a very critical stage. It is expected to have a very serious effect upon wheat production. No doubt the Government looks upon the drought with respect to wheat production as a heaven sent detergent which may remove some of the odour which clings to the Government as a result of its mishandling of the wheat situation. Irrespective of the effect on wheat the drought is having and will continue to have a very serious effect on feed growth and in turn upon the stock.
Farmers in Western Australia are pointing out that the situation in relation to stock feed and water has now reached the stage where desperate action is necessary. This desperate situation is not enough according to the Western Australian State Minister for Agriculture. He has stated that before a drought can be declared the area must have reached a position where there is no feed or no water or neither. If you must wait for that stage to be reached you will have reached the stage where there will be no stock; but apparently that does not enter into the calculations. Some farmers in Western Australia have applied to buy wheat to help tide them over this critical stage, but they have been told they may do so only if they are prepared to pay the home consumption price of $1.70 a bushel. They have been told that the law does not allow the wheat to be sold in any other way. Yet I understand - this afternoon - the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) referred to this that farmers in Victoria who were suffering the effects of drought a couple of years ago were permitted to buy wheat for stock feed at a price well below the home consumption price. As the honourable member for Dawson said, if it is OK in one State it should be OK in others.
If the law is the only obstacle and it requires to be altered, surely there has been plenty of time to do so since the need arose for stock feed, particularly in Western Australia and certainly in Queensland. As bad as the position may be in Western Australia it is certainly much worse in Queensland. The Government’s failure to take early and adequate steps to assist the farmers in that State causes us in Western Australia considerable concern, as the drought there can and almost certainly will become much worse. When farmers have no idea of what assistance can be expected from the Commonwealth or from State governments, it is impossible for them to plan their best method for survival. It is absolutely shocking to witness a situation where after several months of drought in Queensland the Government apparently expresses very little concern for the situation in Western Australia which may easily become similar to that in Queensland.
Honourable members are aware that the honourable member for Dawson has tried every card in the pack in his attempts to have the drought in Queensland treated with urgency. He has criticised the Government; he has appealed; he has beseeched; he has used every form of the House at his disposal - urgency motions, grievance debates and adjournment debates. But all his requests and pleas have fallen upon deaf ears. It is well known that Government members, particularly those of the Country Party, would do anything to destroy the honourable member for Dawson politically and would do nothing which may help him. It could well be that their failure to act on bis suggestions is simply due to a fear that they may help him politically.
– It would take more than that.
– To show how little concerned the Government is about the effects of drought, I refer honourable members to a grievance debate in March of this year in which the Country Party member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett), speaking on drought, said that he understood the Commonwealth Government had indicated it would consider making grants available to Queensland if representations were made after 30th J une. He went on to say that he appreciated the Government’s attitude and felt sure the people of Queensland would also appreciate it. I could not imagine anyone appreciating a situation where under extreme drought conditions they are told they have to wait for at least 3 months before they can make representations for any relief.
The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) told us in May last that his Government has always considered that the responsibility for drought relief lies in the hands of the State government where the drought exists and that when the effects of the drought extend beyond the capacity of the State to meet the situation, the State should then make a request to the Commonwealth. How very simple, how very generous, providing of course that the elements are prepared to co-operate. As I said earlier, if a State finds in February or March that the drought has extended beyond State resources it is idle for it to make any representations to the Commonwealth before June. Apparently the fact that the bulk of the stock which is still surviving in February or March will not be alive at the end of June does not mean 3 thing. The reference made in the Budget Speech about tax deductions in relation to silos, dams and hay sheds, as far as drought stricken areas are concerned is like handing a knife and fork and nothing else to a starving man.
However, the honourable member for Maranoa in the grievance debate also said that while appreciating the Government’s attitude, he felt that assistance after June would be too late. Of course, it was quite obvious to everyone that it would be too late. But this is the amazing part about the attitude of Government members. As 1 said, it was towards the end of March that the honourable member for Maranoa expressed a fear about the delay in drought assistance. But in the following month. April, the honourable member for Dawson proposed discussion of a matter of public importance in the following terms:
The failure of the Government to take adequate action to alleviate the effects of the Queensland drought disaster.
Obviously, as could be judged by the proposal, the Australian Labor Party was very disturbed at the situation in Queensland and required that immediate action bc taken. But if that proposal was to be debated, as honourable members know, a certain number of members had to rise in their places to show their support for its debate. Even though it was a proposal which should have received the support of every member of this House, and particularly those from Queensland, when Mr Speaker called upon those members who approved of the proposed discussion to rise i:i their places, not one member from the Government side, not even one Government supporter from Queensland, rose to ensure that the debate went on. No-one can say that members on the Government side of the House are so very concerned, because surely if they were really interested they should have been prepared to support any discussion which may, no matter how remotely, have brought about a situation in which the drought conditions could have been improved. So it is idle for them to claim that they are disturbed about the terrible effects of drought because when they get an opportunity to speak on this subject they fail to take it.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– One would assume from the impassioned speech of the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard) that only one person in all this world had any feeling for or any evaluation of the drought conditions that exist in Australia, specifically in Queensland, and that that person is the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson). Let me say that despite many of the valuable comments that the honourable member for Dawson made today, I must immediately impress upon the House that I and a group of my colleagues who were formed into a drought committee have been the shock troops in the field. We have been evaluating the position and moving around in the drought areas. We are not back room boys; we are not theorists. As a matter of fact most of the members of this committee are themselves seriously affected by the drought, and hence they are not waving political banners or attempting to gain political kudos out of what is a tragic situation. We have been travelling around in the drought areas and interviewing literally thousands of people who are affected by the current drought.
Note one thing and note it well: There are different conditions in different drought areas. A remedy that might be applied to one drought area could be quite futile in another. Realising this, we have never stopped. We have continued month after month to travel around these areas to exaluate the position and to exert all possible pressure towards painting the picture here in Canberra in a manner which will produce results. This is the very reason why the committee was brought into existence.
When it was clearly seen that the drought in Queensland, as the honourable member for Dawson truthfully stated, was developing into the most critical drought that we have ever had to face, we immediately realised that a state of great emergency was developing, and our leader, the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen), decreed that a few of us should get together with the object of bringing to Canberra realistic and vital information that would result in urgent action by the Government. The first thing that we did was to confer closely with the Queensland Co-ordinator General.
We got a complete picture of what was happening in Queensland and we then used all the various methods available to members on the Government side of this Parliament to produce a remedy or at least part of a remedy - and, note well, it was only a part - to meet the situation as it existed then. The fact is, of course, that the situation that exists now is even more critical. The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) announced that, having considered the various propositions put forward by the State governments, the Commonwealth Government had decided to meet on a Si for $1 basis allocations for drought relief made by the State up to an amount of $4m. Over and above that, there would be outright grants to the value of about $9m to SI Om.
I am not critical of anyone for bringing this matter before the Parliament for discussion. I commend any action that will focus attention on the critical drought situa-tion that exists in Queensland and show how important it is and that no machinery exists at the moment to meet a drought situation when it arises. Here I must go along with the proposition that has been put forward that pre-planning is almost nonexistent. The assumption is made - and note it well - ‘It is going to rain tomorrow so let us not worry very much. Let us hope something happens.’ But, my goodness, surely the members of the Labor Party will not ask the people of Australia, and particularly the people of Queensland who are most affected by this drought, to believe that the present Commonwealth Government has done absolutely nothing to relieve the situation. I represent one of the areas most critically affected by the drought, the Burnett valley. As the honourable member for Dawson pointed out, a condition exists in that area which nobody realised, in that the fruit growing industry in that area may cease to exist in the not far distant future. Surely the members of the Labor Party will not ask the people to believe that this Government has done nothing to alleviate the situation. Let me say emphatically that the situation that now exists in Queensland results from 40 years of almost utter neglect in the field of water conservation. There was throughout that period an almost completely sterile record in this field. The exception, perhaps, is the Tinaroo dam scheme. If there is any other scheme that was implemented in Queensland for drought alleviation during the period when the Labor Government was in office in that State, then I ask the Labor Party speakers who will follow me to tell me what those schemes were.
Now I come to beef roads. We are talking facts now; we are not speaking of nebulous emotional propositions. During the 1902 drought well over half the cattle population of Queensland died. Tragic though the present drought is, at least by means of the beef roads and other transport facilities which have been provided by this Government the producers in the affected parts of Queensland will be able to move the major portion of their flocks and herds, either to sell them in southern States or to place them on agistment somewhere. Admittedly there have been complex problems, but these actions have saved large numbers of sheep and cattle in the State.
My colleagues and 1 have been closely examining the drought situation and have put various propositions to the Government and its instrumentalities. We are of the opinion that one cannot get across to the Federal Government fast enough an appreciation of the deteriorating drought situation. Action is not being taken anywhere near as quickly as it should be taken. This has been quite evident during the recent drought. The object of our operations was not to reflect upon the indifference of the Government but to get across to it the critical drought situation that exists in Queensland. We believe that there should be some machinery whereby the urgency of the situation can be immediately and forcibly brought before the Federal authorities. The simplification of assistance is also necessary, but this applies more to the States themselves.
Whilst on the question of the sovereign rights of the States I should point out that, as the honourable member for Dawson would be aware, in relation to Federal assistance for water conservation - and I could not agree more with the honourable member on the tremendous value of water conservation to the nation - there are schemes in Queensland which are crying out for assistance at the moment. The one which has been decreed to be the one which is most urgently in need of assistance in Queensland is the Burnett-Isis-Kolan scheme. It is hoped that the Federal Government will evaluate this scheme as a scheme that is critical to the future of the sugar industry and many other industries in my electorate.
I hope that something material will be forthcoming in regard to a decision by the Federal Government on assistance to this area. If one is honest about the matter one must recognise the fact that water conservation schemes must commence at a State level. It is then that the Federal Government - this point has been repeated so often in this House by the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) - has a took at the scheme on a national level and provides assistance if it considers that the scheme has the greatest priority. The Nogoa scheme is an example of material assistance to alleviate drought It has been said that honourable members on this side of the House are disinterested in this matter. If that is so, why did the Government members’ national development committee go to Emerald to examine this scheme? Why did the Treasurer (Mr McMahon travel to Emerald to examine this scheme? The Minister for National Development also went to Emerald and closely examined the scheme before finally decreeing that it was worthy of Government support. It will prove to be one of the greatest material contributions towards drought alleviation - at least in the State of Queensland - in the history of the nation. I believe that there is great virtue in the urgency matter that is before the House. It serves the purpose of drawing attention to the necessity for - and T appeal to the Government on this basis - the setting up of a standing committee comprising State, Federal and industry representatives to take measures to alleviate the effects of drought in Australia and particularly in Queensland, which is the State I represent m this House.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Failes)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I am indebted to the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter) for the support that he has voiced for the Kolan-Burnett-lsis scheme. I have followed the work and investigations that have been carried out during the last 7 years by a very energetic committee known as the Bundaberg and District Irrigation Committee in preparing a case for the scheme. This work has been done at great financial cost to the Committee. I will talk on that aspect a little later. The honourable member for Kennedy said that he is pleased that this matter of public importance is being discussed. I agree that it is of importance to Queensland. But the Opposition’s motion does not embrace only Queensland. The Opposition is also concerned about - the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard) mentioned this point - the drought in Western Australia. I am also grateful to the honourable member for Kennedy for clearing the air regarding the drought committee of which he is chairman. I was wondering why no members of the Liberal Party of Australia were on the committee. Now I know that it is not a Government member’s committee. I had been led to believe that it was.
– The members were from drought affected areas.
– I was wondering why members of the major political party in the coalition Government were not members of the committee. I understood that it was advertised as a parliamentary drought committee. I am grateful to the honourable member for clearing up this aspect. I think the honourable member for Kennedy is a bit unkind in saying that for 40 years the Labor governments in Queensland did not do anything to assist water conservation schemes. The honourable member for Kennedy was a member of the Australian Labor Party during that period. Then he joined the Queensland Labor Party and the Democratic Labor Party. He is now a member of the Country Party. During the last 20 years the Federal Government has failed to implement an effective drought alleviation programme in order to minimise losses. During World War II it was suggested that a Brisbane line had been drawn and that, in the event of invasion, a scorched earth policy would be applied to everything north of that line. This is almost the position now due to the drought. There are farms where there is not a blade of grass and one can see every stone. The only thing that has been keeping the stock alive in these areas is the bushes. The water is fast running out. I think it is worth recording words that Sir Robert Menzies used on 26th August 1965 when speaking of the drought then existing in Queensland and New South Wales. He said:
The trading banks have been asked to continue to keep the Reserve Bank informed of the extent of demands for drought finance upon them. The Reserve Bank is closely watching the situation, including the trading banks’ continuing ability to provide additional loan finance to drought affected clients.
I was wondering what effect the recent increase in bank overdraft interest rates will have on those people whose properties were ravaged by drought. It is well known that if one is able to obtain money from the usual loan sources one is ineligible for loans under the drought relief scheme. The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) has said that under the present arrangement the Commonwealth could provide assistance of $8m to Queensland. That does not seem to be a very substantial amount. Honourable members will recall that the amounts were listed by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) last night. On the same occasion as I mentioned earlier Sir Robert Menzies said:
We recognise of course that the measures of drought relief which the States and ourselves have introduced or contemplate do not deal with the long term problem of drought mitigation measures.
He went on to say:
The unfortunate consequences of the present drought have served to stimulate an awareness of the ravages that droughts in this country can cause, from the standpoint of both individual primary producers and the nation as a whole, and there is general acceptance of the need for further action to mitigate the effects of droughts ….
Sir Robert Menzies said that in 1965. We have had another drought since then. The effect of the drought on the electorate of Wide Bay has resulted in complete failure of the maize crops this year and there has been about 25% return on the peanut crop. In some areas there has been a complete failure of the sugar crop. To give some indication of the position in the Maryborough and Isis mill areas, I point out that some cane growers will not have any crop whatsoever. One farmer who cut 2,500 tons of cane last year will be lucky if he cuts 200 tons this year. Another fanner who sent 3,000 tons of cane to the mill last year will cut only 300 tons this year. The case in support of the BurnettKolanIsis scheme refers to the average annual shortfalls in the six mill areas which would benefit from the scheme. The initial cost of the scheme is estimated to be $47m, which is far beyond the resources of the State of Queensland. I think that even honourable members opposite will agree with me on that point. The average annual shortfalls for the six mills over a 40-year period were: Gin Gin, 24.3%, Bingera, 11.4%, Fairymead, 9.8%, Qunaba, 13.9%, Millaquin, 8.2% and Isis, 24.8%. In the Fairymead, Millaquin and Qunaba areas there has been an intensified irrigation of the cane from underground water supplies, but there is a problem with salt because some of the wells are below sea level. The value of the shortfalls in the two successive years, 1964 and 1965, at the respective average prices received reached the staggering total of $18,776,000, which is about 40% of the capital cost of stage I development of the proposed irrigation project.
There is also the question of cumulative losses. There is loss of employment because of a shorter crushing period. There is the problem with people who have purchased harvesting machinery under hire purchase conditions. They will be able to use the machinery for a period of only 6 weeks. It has also been stated that because of the shorter crushing period the skilled permanent staff who are normally stood down for a 3-week period at Christmas will face a longer stand down period. Money is not being spent and this is affecting the towns. Some motor retailers in one area told me that their sales for the current year were down 6%, although the Commonwealth average for retail sales of motor cars had increased by 9%. Drought has a cumulative effect. The scheme to which I have referred has been supported by the honourable member for Kennedy. No action has been taken in the past 20 years to introduce a scheme which it has been shown could minimise economic losses in established areas which are highly susceptible to drought. I hope that in the short time before the next Federal election the Government will make some statement on this scheme. I understand that the Queensland Government has given the scheme first priority. I also understand that the Deputy Prime Minister, the Leader of the Aus tralian Country Party (Mr McEwen), has also stated that he will wring the money for the scheme from the Government. 1 hope that he is successful, because in one particular area it will at least minimise the economic losses caused by drought.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Failes)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– One thing which has emerged in this debate is the genuine concern of members on both sides of this Mouse for the drought conditions which still exist over a large part of Queensland and also a large part of Western Australia. It is a pity that the debate has degenerated, to some extent, into a political argument, and that some statements have been made which facts do not bear out. I think we should realise that traditionally the provision of direct financial assistance and relief for those people affected by natural disasters, such as drought, has been primarily the function of State governments, one of the main reasons being that they are in the best position to assess the conditions in their respective States and to assess the needs of those affected by the disaster. However, the Commonwealth has recognised that the States have only limited financial resources on which they can readily draw to finance emergency expenditure such as is required when a natural disaster occurs. Where a disaster is on a large scale, requiring relatively large relief expenditures, the Commonwealth has, as a policy, assisted the State or States concerned in financing such expenditure, usually by meeting half the cost.
In such cases the basic approach of the Commonwealth is that governmental assistance should be concentrated primarily on those who are in real need and who are unable to obtain assistance elsewhere. Looking back over the 4-year period up to the end of June last, it is very interesting to see that the Commonwealth has expended over $80m already on drought relief to the States, and that Queensland has so far had an allocation of over $17m. I have a table here, which we have just brought up to date, setting out the whole of the financial assistance to all of the States in the period from 1965-66 to 1969-70. It sets out loans, important document, and with the concurfreight rebates, employment, other assist- rence of honourable members 1 shall incorance and the totals. I think it is a fairly porate it in Hansard.
11,994 7,220 6,852 9,364 4,483
4,555 2,613 4,725 4,489 2,402
4,750 7,952 7,359 6,805 1,434
401 134 669 311
I think that if we look back we see that the present position arose with the severe drought that occurred in New South Wales and Queensland in 1965. At that time the Commonwealth, as a policy, undertook to provide all the funds needed to finance certain drought relief measures which the Commonwealth and those States had agreed at that time to be necessary. The Commonwealth reimbursed the States of New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia for their total relief expenditure in the year 1968-69. This expenditure covered items such as loans which were made during the whole of 1968-69 to drought affected farmers who had established a need for ‘carry-on’ loan assistance prior to the end of September 1968, or for loan assistance for re-stocking prior to the end of December. It also covered freight concessions extended to drought affected farmers prior to the end of December 1968 on the transport of stock back from agistment or for re-stocking purposes. In addition, the assistance also covered expenditure actually incurred on other measures, including expenditure by local authorities from grants for the maintenance of employment in rural areas prior to the end of September 1968.
When these arrangements were announced it was emphasised that it was not the Government’s intention that State expenditure on the various relief measures should necessarily cease on the dates on which Commonwealth assistance at that time to the States ceased. If a State felt it was necessary to continue a particular relief measure after the cut-off date of the Commonwealth assistance, it was thought reasonable that the State itself should meet the limited expenditure which was involved. The Commonwealth indicated, however, at the time that it would be prepared to consider any new arrangements for assisting the States if drought conditions were to re-emerge on a large scale. I merely refer to the recent statement by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) which was released in Canberra on 5th August last. He indicated that in 1968-69 the Commonwealth had given approximately $2m to Queensland on a $1 for $1 sharing arrangement between the Commonwealth and the State. In Parliament House, after the last Premiers Conference and Loan- Council meetings, the Premier and Treasurer of Queensland discussed this matter with the Prime Minister and the Treasurer (Mr McMahon). It was indicated at that time that the matter would be considered when the existing expenditure had run out at about the end of the financial year. The statement now being made is that the Commonwealth is prepared to give $2m on the same sharing basis, and in addition will give the whole of any agreed relief expenditure which the State may incur in excess of $4m. The excess expenditure is estimated tentatively to be approximately $6m. So the result is that compared with a grant of $2m last year the Commonwealth stands ready this year to provide an estimated $8m. This was contained in the Prime Minister’s statement on 5th August. I am sure the honourable member for Dawson must have read it although he did not indicate that he knew clearly what it was.
But in addition to the direct financial assistance 1 have mentioned there are, of course, other special assistance forms given in the financing of State drought relief. The Commonwealth has taken action in many fields to alleviate the effects of drought, first of all by special revenue assistance for State budgets, by special banking arrangements, by expenditure and research relating to drought mitigation and by special taxation measures. The Commonwealth also announced in 1967 that it was prepared to make available $50m over the next 5 years to assist the States with suitable water conservation projects. Some projects, as honourable members know, have already been approved by the Commonwealth and other proposals are being submitted by the States for examination. One example of this, which has already been mentioned in this debate, is the Fairbairn scheme in Queensland on which the Commonwealth estimates it will spend approximately $20m. Contrary to what the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard) said, this indicates the Commonwealth’s determination to attack drought wherever possible, not only by relief after the event, but by water conservation measures. The total spending in Australia on the development of water resources will be running at about SI 00m annually when all the projects which are now approved are completed and the major water storages will total about 50 million acre feet as compared with about 7 million acre feet about 20 years ago. In addition to this the Commonwealth is co-operating with the States in the exploration for and the measurement of Australia’s water resources and in the construction of certain water conservation and water supply works. Assistance is already being provided to the States for agricultural research and extension services. Commonwealth agencies such as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the Bureau of Meteorology and the Bureau of Agricultural Economics have intensified their investigations into drought mitigation, all on the policy of prevention rather than cure. The Government also has announced that it will introduce a scheme of tax deductible drought bonds to assist pastoralists, mainly in arid areas, who are unable to conserve fodder and water, to make financial provision against natural disasters within the limits to be specified.
I think I could list very quickly quite a number of other ways in which the Commonwealth indirectly is assisting in the field of drought mitigation. I mention the water resources development programme, the Snowy Mountains Scheme, the Ord River scheme, financial assistance for flood mitigation works, the construction of dams such as the Copeton Dam, the Western Australian Comprehensive Water Supply Scheme - which was not mentioned by the honourable member for Kalgoorlie - the development of Tasmania’s hydro-electric schemes, the development of the Murray Valley water resources scheme and an accelerated programme of assessing services and underground resources throughout the nation. In the very brief time that has been available I have referred very quickly merely to some of the things which the Commonwealth is doing not only to assist the States directly when droughts occur but to have a continuing policy of drought mitigation.
– In view of the pressure of our programme I have been asked to keep my remarks brief, but I cannot let this occasion go without protesting at the neglect of the Federal Government in regard to very urgent measures in the central Queensland region. First of all, the Minister Assisting the Treasurer (Mr Swartz) mentioned the Nogoa scheme, which is the first major project financed by Federal funds to harness the huge wastage of water in northern Australia. The tropical half of this continent receives 62% of the annual rainfall and runoff, yet it has less than 10% of the irrigation and conservation works used in Australia although the variability of rainfall is far more devastating in that area than anywhere else. The Labor Party has been accused during this debate, in particular by the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter), of having neglected this situation for many years while it was in power, particularly in the States. The fact is that the Federal water conservation scheme was started by a Labor government against the strenuous and loud opposition of conservative governments which have been forced to carry through the Snowy Mountains scheme and the Murrumbidgee scheme by the pressure of public opinion.
It has been the pressure of public opinion, particularly following the Capricornia, Dawson and Isis by-elections and the recent Queensland State elections, which has forced the attention of this Government and the State Government to the growing need for water conservation and not for assistance to drought stricken farmers. Certainly this assistance has been given. It has been called for, it has been necessary and we have applauded it, but what we are asking for is urgent water conservation. This is something this country will have to pay for over and over again so long as it does not provide the capital for such schemes. We are paying for these schemes whether we get them or not and we cannot afford not to have them. It is over a year now since the Queensland Government asked for help in this direction as an urgent priority and we have received no assurance that even one weir will be built under the Kolan, Isis, Burnett scheme where the salt water is threatening to flow in and in fact has started to flow in because this area is below sea level. How long will it take to get rid of this salt water once it flows in?
There may be a wet season this year. We hope it will come in October or later, but if the water is allowed to run off, as 90% of our water does, and to be wasted the same thing could occur again next summer. It is urgent to start building now and it is no good saying that the money is not available. We will get the money because in one dry year we would save far more in the sugar crop alone than would be required for stage 1 of the Kolan, Isis, Burnett scheme. There is no excuse for further delay, at least on stage I which has been proved up to the hilt. The only possible reason I can think of why the Queensland Government’s proposition in this regard has not been accepted and undertaken is that there has to be something left over from the Budget Speech to be promised in the Government’s election policy speech. I condemn the Government for its delay in making a definite proposal for this scheme.
– There are just one or two remarks I would like to make in relation to this debate. We all appreciate the cycle of the seasons in Australia and the fact that in various areas this cycle does in fact produce droughts. In the history of Australia this is common. It is more common, of course, in some places than others. Queensland, as we all know, is suffering one crf these cycles now, and as I understand the position the Commonwealth has in fact offered assistance. It has been mentioned today that it has been unusually dry in the southern portion of Western Australia. Whether this position amounts to a drought is a matter which has to be looked at. It has been looked at over the last few weeks, and that is what I want to mention today. When we reach this situation in any part of Australia the preservation at all costs of breeding ewes and breeding stock generally is of great concern to all of us. This is how I view the situation. It is this matter that concerns me at the moment as far as Western Australia is concerned.
As has been stated, certain procedures must be followed if the Commonwealth is to take a hand in these matters. A State must approach the Commonwealth setting out its position. This procedure has been examined in Western Australia. As I understand the situation, in the last week or two Mr Nalder, Minister for Agriculture in Western Australia, has been in touch with the various shires affected. From reports that have been received the shires were not prepared, at least until recently, to put before the Minister a case for drought relief. Nevertheless, the Western Australian Government has taken action to overcome immediate problems. It has offered to pay all freight charges on coarse grains delivered anywhere in the southern portion of Western Australia from bins wherever they may be situated. This concession will ease the position in Western Australia for a time. I have no doubt that in the next week or so further investigations will reveal what is required. I have no doubt also that if the State sees the problem as one in which assistance is required from the Commonwealth, it will make an application to the Commonwealth. This stage has not yet been reached in Western Australia but it is important that action be taken before the stage is reached of stock being lost in large numbers. Action has been taken by the Western Australian Goverment to deal with the immediate position. There is a crisis in the south eastern area and in other areas where provision of water presents a problem. It was gratifying to hear that some of these areas last week received considerably better falls of rain than they received in the earlier part of the year.
In this debate I have noted that the Commonwealth is blamed for the shortcomings in drought relief. Certain machinery exists for the provision of drought relief. Surely we as a Commonwealth must continue to operate under this machinery, which takes account of the responsibilities of the States.
If the States want assistance from the Commonwealth they must apply for it. The shires in Western Australia have been asked for their opinions in the matter. The collation of this information is necessary in order to understand the position. As for tha future I could not agree more that we must continue to make improvements in water storage facilities and facilities for the storage of fodder for our ever-increasing stock numbers. This work has been proceeding over the years. The tax relief measures adopted by this Government will encourage this work to continue. In good years we must put away for the lean years. This practice has been followed in many areas. Unfortunately I imagine that in some parts of Australia this cannot be done without assistance from the Commonwealth.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Failes)Order! The discussion is now concluded.
– I move:
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1966, it i? expedient to carry out the following proposed work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the committee has duly reported to this House: Augmentation of water supply, Darwin.
The proposal involves the construction of a dam on the Darwin River, a pumping station, a pipeline from the dam to the McMinns pumping station and diversion of the railway and telegraph line. The estimated cost of the proposal is $9m. The Committee has reported favourably on the proposal, and recommends construction of the works. However, the report contains observations on the timing of the implementation of the augmentation works.
Based on predictions by the Department of the Interior through its Northern Territory Water Resources Branch, the McMinns underground water had, until the latter part of 1968, been considered to offer the most economical source of immediate augmentation of the Darwin water supply. More costly alternatives had been under consideration but action to proceed with one or other of them was deferred as long as was prudent while maximum opportunity was taken to explore and utilise bores at McMinns. As recommended by the Committee, the McMinns water source will be further explored by a wider spread of pumping locations.
As observed by the Committee, undue delays have occurred in the completion of certain works previously approved by Parliament. The size and height of the elevated water storage tank at Winnellie presented unusual technical problems which delayed award of a contract, and the construction work was delayed by site difficulties and industrial troubles. The project is now nearing completion and the tank should be in regular use in October 1969. The only outstanding part of the Casuarina project is a similar elevated tank. The Committee was informed at its 1965 inquiry that limitations of finance available for the Northern Territory might necessitate construction of parts of the proposed work being deferred. This elevated tank is now scheduled for inclusion in the 1969-70 works programme and if this is accepted the Department of Works will invite tenders towards the end of 1969 and the job should be completed towards the end of 1971. It is recognised that the time allowed for the Darwin River dam and associated work is short and therefore special endeavours will be made to maintain the tight timetable necessary.
Planning for augmentation of the Darwin water supply is carried out jointly by the Department of the Interior and the Department of Works on a long range basis using the best planning advice available within and outside the departments and utilising the most up-to-date techniques and procedures for the planning and for subsequent design. Discrepancies of planning and implementation referred to by the Committee have occurred, partly due to deferment in the programming of these works for higher priority projects and partly due to technical difficulties. Upon the concurrence of the House in this resolution, detailed planning can proceed in accordance with the Committee’s recommendations.
^1 support the motion to approve work on the augmentation of Darwin’s water supply. I commend the Government on spending $9m on this project because the future development of housing in Darwin is wrapped up in the augmentation of the water supply. The first step in housing is to get water to the job. I notice in the Estimates that hundreds of blocks of land will be available in the next few years in Darwin’s new subdivisions. 1 commend the Public Works Committee on its vigilance in policing the original proposal. What the Minister for the Navy (Mr Kelly) has said is only too true: The quantity of the water from the McMinns bores was misjudged, lt did not meet early expectations. A miscalculation also seems to have been made with respect to Darwin’s increase in population. The increase has been more than 10%; not 9%. This means that the augmented water supply will be needed far sooner than was originally estimated. The timing and the slow rate of construction mentioned by the Minister are unfortunate So, while commending the Government for approving this project and the Public Works Committee for its vigilance in policing it, I would urge the town planners concerned to take a more realistic attitude and to have a greater sense of urgency in relation to these vital developmental matters in such fast growing northern communities as Darwin.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr Nixon, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Bill now before the House extends the operation of the Sulphuric Acid Bounty Act 1954-1966 for a further maximum period of 12 months to 30th June 1970 unless an earlier date of cessation is specified by proclamation. Under the existing Act, bounty ceased to be payable after 30th June 1969. The Pyrites Bounty Act 1960-1965 also expired on 30th June 1969 and I shall shortly introduce a similar Bill to extend that Act for a further period of 12 months.
The sulphuric acid and pyrites industries are closely allied. Bounty is paid on iron pyrites received into a sulphuric acid manufacturer’s premises for the purpose of being used in that manufacture and is also paid on the sulphuric acid produced from the iron pyrites. In addition, sulphuric acid bounty is paid on the acid produced from lead sinter gas. Because of this close alliance, I shall deal with the reason for the extension of both Acts in this speech.
The Tariff Board is currently reviewing both industries and is examining the general question of what assistance should be extended to the producers of sulphuric acid and iron pyrites in Australia. Public hearings were commenced in June this year and it could well be early next year before its report is received. The Government considers that the present level of assistance to the industry should be maintained pending receipt and consideration of the Tariff Board’s report. Accordingly, the operation of the sulphuric acid bounty legislation is being extended to 30th June 1970 or to an earlier proclaimed date. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Dr J. F. Cairns) adjourned.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr Nixon, and read a first time.
– I move:
It is proposed to extend the operation of the Pyrites Bounty Act 1960-1965 for a further maximum period of 12 months to 30th June 1970 unless an earlier date of cessation is specified by proclamation. The purpose of the Bill is to implement this proposal. I have already outlined the reasons for this extension in my speech concerning the extension of the Sulphuric Acid Bounty Act. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Dr J. F. Cairns) adjourned.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr Nixon, and read a first time.
– I move:
The Bill now before the House extends the operation of the Cellulose Acetate Flake Bounty Act 1956-1966 for a further maximum period of 6 months to 30th June 1970 unless an earlier date of cessation is specified by proclamation. Under the existing Act, bounty will cease to be payable after 31st December 1969.
The Tariff Board is currently reviewing the industry and is investigating the question of what assistance should be accorded the production and sale of cellulose acetate flake and related products. Public hearings were commenced in July this year and it will be early next year before its report is received. The Government considers that the present level of assistance to the industry should be maintained pen d hig receipt and consideration of the Tariff Board’s report. Accordingly, the operation of the cellulose acetate Sake bounty legislation is being extended to 30th June 1970 or to an earlier proclaimed date. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Dr J. F. Cairns) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 29 May (vide page 2503), on motion by Mr Fairbairn:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The purpose of this Bill is to empower the Minister for National Development to authorise survey parties to enter properties to carry out survey operations, to establish survey marks and, if necessary in the course of these activities, to trim down bushes and trees. The mapping surveys are for the purpose of taking measurements, placing or erecting survey marks, taking photographs, the establishment or setting up and operation of equipment and the operation of aircraft. It is certainly a comprehensive, allembracing piece of legislation. It deals with all aspects of mapping and surveying. The definition of ‘survey’ includes a topographic survey, a geodetic survey, a bathymetric survey, a hydrographic survey, a geological survey, a geophysical survey, a hydrological survey and a survey of the earth’s natural resources including timber and other vegetation, lt provides for a comprehensive survey and assessment of the terrain and the natural resources.
The Opposition welcomes the Bill because in a nation such as ours, which has expanding frontiers, which has new resources being developed and which has new resources to be tapped, in order to develop and plan a nation it is necessary that there should be accurate measurements of areas and of resources. We acknowledge this. Another purpose of the Bill is to provide an atlas of resources. This will be of great importance in the planning and development of our country. The atlas of resources should emphasise, as it has on other occasions, the regions of our nation. The presentation of the resources of our country on a regional basis is of great value not only to the nation as a whole but also to people in regions concerned with their local development. It is important that boundaries should be defined. May I pay a tribute to the Bureau of Mineral Resources for the excellence of the publications it produces containing detailed information about numerous aspects of its activities. It is necessary for this work to be done, and we should applaud those who serve the nation so well.
Clause 5 of the Bill provides that the Minister, or a delegate of the Minister, may, by writing under his hand, appoint a person to be an authorised person for the purposes of this Act. Clause 6 makes it clear that these authorised persons may enter upon any land for the purpose of carrying out a mapping survey or maintaining, repairing, replacing, demolishing or removing Commonwealth survey marks. There is always a section of our community that has a resentment for the official, the Government official in particular. People object quite strongly to some person representing the Government coming along, invading their property for the purpose of setting up marks and carrying out their duties. There is need for the utmost tact and consideration to be shown by authorised officers so that by courtesy they can approach the owner of land or the lessee and in the most conciliatory way explain the purpose of their business and indicate what they want to do. They should have regard to the convenience of the occupier of the land, for it does happen on occasions that some departmental people, feeling that they are backed by the nation - the Commonwealth of Australia - believe they have the right to take equipment on to properties and to ride virtually roughshod over those who occupy the land. They are anxious to assert their special position. in acting as representatives of the Minister.
The Bill also provides that those who engage in mapping and surveying will be entitled to trim, lop or cut down trees or bushes. This is a matter that could cause resentment among property owners, for it may happen that an owner could have on his property certain vegetation and trees that he feels belong to the property because they are landmarks, historic, or form part of the very countryside. Quite naturally a farmer would object to these trees being cut down or severely lopped. He would object to the destruction of trees that may be regarded as forming a beauty spot on the property. Whilst most surveyors are good conservationists, people must be protected from the high handed attitude of the officious officer. I note that clause 7 allows for 7 days notice to be given to the owner of land of the officer’s intention. In some instances it allows a period for the officer to acquaint the landowner with his intentions and to explain to him the purpose of the work. Furthermore if there is any difficulty the departmental officer is obliged to notify the person concerned, to inform the community by advertisement in the Press and to notify the civic leaders through the local member of Parliament. This seems to be a reasonable proposition. If the owner or lessee of the land is not available then a notice should be sent to him or to his manager. Furthermore, by notice on the property, the intentions of the surveyor with respect to the provision of marks should be indicated.
I want to emphasise that while we accept that things like this must occur in the great work of mapping this country, at all times there should be respect for the views of the owner and situations should be avoided which cause friction between the Government officer and the person who owns land or tries to till land. I believe that the proper course on all of these occasions is personal approach and personal representation. The officer should visit a property to inform the owner of what is planned in the area and to indicate that perhaps equipment will be required to be taken on to a property and that that equipment will not be placed in a position to inconvenience in any way the property owner. If these conditions are observed there will be little friction in carrying out this important work of mapping and surveying our country. With an appreciation of the need for this most detailed work, for maps, and for the many purposes for which these surveys will be required, and having also concern for census requirements, the Opposition does not oppose the Bill. We ask only that the utmost courtesy and consideration be shown to landowners and to those who have the responsibility to maintain properties and are responsible to others for the care and development of such properties. The Opposition welcomes the Bill and is pleased to accord it support.
– It is not my intention to take much of the House’s time on this technical Bill, but as all members of the House are aware or should be aware the work of the Division of National Mapping and the Bureau of Mineral Resources is something of which we should all be very proud and for which we should be grateful. It is a great pity that we do not give anywhere near enough publicity to the excellence and availability of maps that are produced by the Department of National Development. For my own part, I was under the impression that most of these maps were available only from the Mapping Division’s own offices in Hobart Place, Canberra. However, upon referring to the Parliamentary Library this morning, I found that there is an extensive list of booksellers who are authorised agents for maps published by the Commonwealth Government. I believe we should give more publicity to these outlets and, to this end, with the concurrence of the House I incorporate in Hansard a document containing a list of such authorised agents.
This Catalogue is a loose-leaf publication for which revised information sheets will be issued from time to time. It covers topographical mapping produced by the Division of National Mapping and by the Royal Australian Survey Corps at scales of 1 : 250,000 and 1 : 100,000. The 1 : 100,000 section also shows the availability of 1 : 100,000 photomaps (photo indices). The catalogue is planned to embrace other Commonwealth topographical mapping listed below. Commonwealth survey air photography will be covered in a separate catalogue.
In addition to the 1 : 250,000 and 1 : 100,000 maps and photomaps (Photo indices) covered in this catalogue, the following Commonwealth topographical mapping is also available. The conditions of sale listed at paragraph 4 apply equally to this mapping.
Northern Territory (Pastoral) 1 : 2,000,000 (1953).
Some topographical mapping is available from the Lands Department in each State usually at the 1 : 31,680 scale. Another supplement to the Catalogue will show this coverage.
Commonwealth photo maps can only be obtained from the Director of National Mapping. They are not available at wholesale rates. The 1 : 100,000 series (litho) costs SO cents per sheet Bromide copies of the older series at 1 : 63,360 and 1 : 253,400 cost $2.80 per sheet.*
Maps can also be purchased at retail rates from Authorised Agents (see list at para. 6).
Map Sales Section,
Department of National Development, 203 Collins Street, MELBOURNE. VIC. 3000
Department of National Development, Commonwealth Centre, SYDNEY. N.S.W. 2000
Canberra Tourist Bureau, CANBERRA CITY. A.C.T. 2601 Verity Hewitt Pty Ltd, Garema Place,
Paddy Pallin Canberra, 19 Garema Place, CANBERRA CITY. A.C.T. 2601
Boy Scouts’ Association, 265 George Street, SYDNEY. N.S.W. 2000 Davies Newsagency, 112 Junction Street, NOWRA, N.S.W. 2540 Dymocks Book Arcade Ltd, 424-426 George Street, SYDNEY. N.S.W. 2000 Department of Lands, Box 39, G.P.O., SYDNEY, N.S.W. 2000 Race and Rally, 129 Liverpool Road, BURWOOD. N.S.W. 2134
3 Spring Street, SYDNEY. N.S.W. 2000
Paddy Pallin Pty Ltd, 109a Bathurst Street, SYDNEY, N.S.W. 2000
Stationery Supplies, 78-80 Hunter Street, NEWCASTLE. N.S.W. 2300 Stevenson’s Book Shop, 129 Katoomba Street, KATOOMBA. N.S.W. 2780 Swain & Co. Pty Ltd, 119a-124 Pitt Street, SYDNEY, N.S.W. 2000 Yorke Educational Centre, 181 Church Street, PARRAMATTA. N.S.W. 2150
N.T. Administration, Lands and Survey Branch, ALICE SPRINGS. N.T. 5750 Alice Springs Newsagency, P.O. Box 3,
Surveyor General (Maps of Qld only),
Watson Ferguson & Co., 221-243 Stanley Street, SOUTH BRISBANE. QLD 4101
Boy Scouts Association, 119 Pirie Street, ADELAIDE. S.A. 5000 Kirkwood & Gee, 32 Commercial Street West, MT GAMBIER, S.A. 5290
Australia, Hindmarsh Square, ADELAIDE, S.A. 5000 Sands & McDougall, King William Street, ADELAIDE. S.A. 5000 Science Aids (Aust.) Pty Ltd, 57 TodviUe Street, WOODVILLE WEST. S.A. 5011
Auski, 9-U Hardware Street, MELBOURNE. VIC. 3000 Campbells Gemsiones, 800 Nepean Highway, MOORABBIN. VIC. 3189 Cowans Newsagency, COLAC. VIC. 3250 John Donne & Son, 372 Little Bourke Street, MELBOURNE. VIC. 3000 Surveyor-General’s Office, Department of Lands and Survey, MELBOURNE. VIC. 3000 Rankine & Dobbie, 17 Cenlreway, Collins Street, MELBOURNE. VIC. 3000 Robertson & Mullin, 107-113 Elizabeth Street, MELBOURNE. VIC. 3000 Whitcombe & Tombs Pty Ltd, 8 Exchange Arcade, GEELONG. VIC. 3220 Technical Book & Magazine Co., 295-299 Swanston Street, MELBOURNE. VIC. 3000 Westland Book Shop, 6 Beasley Street, WERRIBEE. VIC.
Sands & Macdougall Pty Ltd, 669 Hay Street, PERTH. W.A. 6000
Freytag Verndt U. A marie, Sortimentsabteilung 1, Kohlmarkt 9, VIENNA. AUSTRIA.
Angus & Robertson Ltd, 54-58 Bartholomew Close, LONDON. E.C.1. ENGLAND. Edward Stanford Ltd, 12-14 Lang Arc, LONDON. ENGLAND. Zumsteins Landkartenhaus, Thierschstrasse 11, MUNCHEN 22. GERMANY. Rcise and Verkehrsverlag, Postfach 730,
In his second reading speech the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) informed the House that the National Mapping Division is engaged at this time on the preparation of a very large number and very wide range of maps for the next census to be conducted by the Bureau of Census and Statistics. He went on to comment on such operations as the active collection of geostatistical data by his Department, the work of the Mapping Division in providing aeronautical charts for the Department of Civil Aviation, the production of geographic maps showing resources of particular regions of Australia and a wide range of mapping work that is vital’ for defence planning and operations and many other activities as well. The scope of the work undertaken in the preparation of maps seems limitless, and we should be grateful to the dedication and effort that is put in by this small body of professional men and women.
In the Division of National Mapping, for example, average employment for the year 1968-69 was 281, according to the Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure for the year ending 30th June 1970. In the same papers it is shown that there will be a necessary, but modest, increase of 20 in the staff of the Map Production Branch and a similarly modest increase of 11 in the Topographic Survey Branch in the current financial year. With the vast amount of work that has to be undertaken this year, I only hope that these modest staff increases are sufficient to maintain the extremely high standard of work we have grown to expect from them.
It has been my good fortune to visit the offices of the Mapping Division and talk to several officers. I have been most impressed by their professional involvement and competence. Next time the Division holds a display of maps I recommend to all honourable members that they take the time to visit it, for it will be of great and perhaps surprising interest to them. In fact, I would suggest to the Minister that such an exhibition could become a regular feature of the display programme that is arranged for Kings Hall. It would be much more interesting than some displays we have had in Parliament House and would be an appropriate way of paying a tribute to these professional members of the Commonwealth Public Service. Any Bill that facilitates their work, no matter how, deserves the full support of both sides of this House, and I am pleased to hear from the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti) that the Opposition is giving such support.
The Minister has discussed the need for electronic computing equipment and other modern and sophisticated technical aids to produce even more accurate and better maps. Important though these may be, they will be only as good as the men who operate and interpret them. Quite understandably the pride and joy of the Division of National Mapping has been the completion in September 1968, after 15 years of hard work, of a detailed series of 541 maps comprising the first complete map coverage of the Australian continent with geographic information in great detail. It is a remarkable achievement and one which is not properly acknowledged by the public. It should be remembered that at the close of World War II only 5% of Australia had been adequately mapped, that is adequately mapped by Australians. But the mapping programme has been successful and there are many who would say that if it had not been for the availability of precise and accurate geological maps in sufficient detail the magnificent mineral development that is currently going on in Australia would not and could not have been even contemplated, let alone brought along to its present exciting phase.
Now we find that the Division of National Mapping, assisted by the Army Supply Corps and the States, has already started on an even more detailed series of contoured maps at a scale of 1 to 100,000 with contours at 20 meter intervals. This series, if it covered the whole of Australia, would involve more than 3,000 sheets as compared with 541 maps in the series just finished. I believe the present target is to complete the new series by the end of 1975. If this programme is to be completed on time, if this programme is to go through without any hitches, if this programme is to keep to its tight schedule, then the powers as set out in this Bill must be available and I hope there is no hitch in the Bill’s having a speedy passage through both Houses of Parliament.
Before I conclude, Mr Speaker, I would like to draw the attention of the Division of National Mapping to its excellent foursheet geographic map of Australia. In its present form, it is very difficult to put together and I commend to the Map Production Branch the idea of making the map with the same measurements on either one sheet or, if that would present too difficult a printing problem, on two sheets. I have already ruined two sets of the four sheets trying to put them together and no doubt there are many others who suffer from the same clumsiness. This map is the one hanging in the Parliamentary Library and its excellence will be well known to honourable members.
I would hope that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) could see his way clear to instituting a scheme similar to that instituted by Sir Robert Menzies when he was Prime Minister. As you are aware, Mr Speaker, Sir Robert Menzies arranged for all schools and all organisations concerned with the welfare of Australian youth to be given an Australian national flag as a gift from the Australian Government. This scheme has proved to be most successful in its purpose and from practical experience I know it is greatly appreciated by all recipients. I would like to make the suggestion to the Prime Minister that the Government should now agree to have all schools and all organisations concerned with the welfare of youth similarly supplied with a copy of this map of Australia - that is, the one on the scale of 1 to 2,500,000- as a gift from the
Australian Government with the same purpose of promoting pride, interest and knowledge in and about their own country.
Mr Speaker, the mapping activities of the Department of National Development have certainly come of age and all involved are to be congratulated and encouraged in their efforts. This Bill will help them while at the same time ensuring that the rights and property of landholders are properly protected. I too support the Bill.
– In dealing with a measure such as this, we have come a long way from the days of Eratosthenes and Ptolemy Soter. I am greatly concerned at the absence of a recent map for the area that I represent. Whilst it is a notable feat for the Department to map Australia as a whole on a scale of 1 to 250,000, there is still a strong case for the a retention of the original ordnance type of map with a scale of 1 to 63,360. That is a scale of 1 inch to the mile. The maps relating to Wollongong and the areas to the north and south are well over 25 years old and certainly do not meet the requirements of a modern community.
My main purpose in participating in this debate is to stress the need for an urgent geological survey. I am speaking in terms of coal deposits, their availability and their extent. There is a very real need for the coking coal reserves in particular of New South Wales to be explored to the very maximum. Without taking up the time of the House, I want to draw the attention of the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn), who is at the table, to the report of the Joint Coal Board for the year 1967-68 and particularly to the comments in paragraphs 2.23 to 2.28. In those paragraphs the Board and the Managing Director of Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd, Sir Ian McLennan, refer to the problems and limitations of the recoverable coal reserves of New South Wales. The figure is given there of 990 million tons. It would seem to be a substantial figure. Even at present rates of consumption, with the normal growth of 5% a year, by the year 2000, which is only 32 years from now, 600 million tons of coking coal would be required. In my own constituency, the construction of the No. 5 blast furnace at the Port Kembla steel works alone will add about 40% to the steel producing capacity.
It will be a matter of about 1.4 million tons. I would say that, for reduction into coke, possibly another 2 million tons of coal a year would be required in addition to the 4.75 million tons we now consume there.
That being so, J commend to the Minister for his consideration the comments that were made by Mr A. C. Cook, who was the senior lecturer in geology at the University College in Wollongong and his projections of the limitations of coal within my constituency. Mr Cook’s figures are alarming. He points out, and so does the Joint Coal Board, that there is a considerable degree of competition between the export needs of coal and the contracts that have been entered into and local consumption, both in type and in quality. In his projections, Mr Cook suggests that, with an expansion of production yearly of 5%, the limit of the life of the reserves would be a matter of 39 years. If the rate of expansion is 9%, the life would be down to 28 years. It is true that contracts have been entered into, but those contracts must be honoured. It is true that there is no need for panic, but there is need for extreme care and for urgent attention to this problem. Above all, there is a need to ensure that the jobs of men who have devoted their lives and their careers to the coal industry are preserved. 1 suggest to the Minister that there is a very real and a grave need for an urgent inquiry into the limits of the hard coking coal reserves of New South Wales. We can get inferred figures which suggest substantial supplies. There are the problems of geology. There are the problems of the depth of the overlay and of the methods of recovery. It is generally considered that 70% of coal in any given area is the limit that can be recovered. It is my duty to strike a note of warning. It is conceivable that we can continue to export for some time, but the point that I particularly stress is that reserves of hard coking coal for the major centre of steel production in the southern hemisphere should be preserved and there should be a strict plan for the preservation of adequate supplies of coal for the known needs of the Port Kembla steel industry for the foreseeable future.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Fairbairn) read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 5.59 to 8 p.m.
Motion (by Mr Whitlam) agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent a motion being moved that the Minister for Air should withdraw or prove his statement that the honourable member for Reid was asking questions in this House which were led off by the Russian Embassy.
– I move:
That the Minister for Air should withdraw or prove his statement that the honourable member for Reid was asking questions in this House which were led off by the Russian Embassy.
Yesterday afternoon the Minister for Air (Mr Erwin) made a statement, which is recorded at page 14 of Hansard, in answer to an interjection. That statement was as follows: lt means that he- that is, the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) - was asking questions here in this House which were led off by the Russian Embassy.
There will be no need to take up the time of the House if the honourable gentleman withdraws that statement. I ask him to do so. and I give him the opportunity to indicate whether he will. The honourable gentleindicates that he will not withdraw the statement.
The statement came to be made in these circumstances: After question time yesterday the honourable member for Reid, by leave, made a statement concerning litigation in which he had been engaged for the last 61 years. The litigation ensued on statements which were made in publications of John Fairfax and Sons Ltd and Australian Consolidated Press Ltd. They flowed from statements made in the House by the Minister when he was a private member. It was not possible for the honourable member for Reid to make any statements on these matters for 6i years because throughout that time he was engaged in litigation.
The litigation was against two of the largest companies in Australia. There were three jury trials. There were many appeals from a judge and jury of the Supreme Court of New South Wales to the Full Bench of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, to the High Court of Australia, and in one instance to the Privy Council. This was protracted, exhausting litigation. At the end of it the honourable member for Reid received damages and unqualified apologies from both defendant companies.
The honourable member has taken the first opportunity to make a statement in this House on subjects which through all these agonising, lonely years it was impossible for him to raise in the Parliament. He referred to the statement which the honourable member for Ballaarat (Mr Erwin) had made at the end of 1962. The Minister for Air, as he now is, by leave, followed the honourable member for Reid. One would have thought that he would have taken the opportunity to explain the extraordinary coincidences to which the honourable member for Reid had referred in his speech - coincidences of speeches by the honourable member for Ballaarat and newspaper articles, and the suggestion that there was a relation between those speeches and those articles. Instead the Minister made fresh allegations. The honourable member for Reid heard the first two of the three allegations that the Minister made. He rose and answered those allegations, as he was entitled to do, because he had been misrepresented. Hansard shows, however, that the third allegation which the Minister made was in answer to an interjection. Honourable members will recall that at that time there was considerable noise in the House. The honourable member for Reid did not hear this third allegation. He therefore did not rebut it, as he could have, because it also was a misrepresentation.
After he was told of this allegation and he obtained the text of it from Hansard it was too late for him to ask that this allegation be withdrawn. The only way in which he can ask for it to be withdrawn is on a substantive motion such as I have now proposed. The allegation is a serious one. It is a breach of parliamentary practice. It is a breach of privilege for any honourable gentleman to ask a question on the inspiration or motivation of interests outside the Parliament. It is certainly defamatory to suggest that any honourable member would ask a question in this House to the disadvantage of his own country and at the instigation of representatives of another country. There could scarcely be a more serious allegation. The allegation which the Minister for Air made as a private member in 1962 concerned an association - so he said - between the honourable member for Reid and Mr Skripov of the Embassy of the Soviet Socialist Republics. Because newspapers based stories upon this allegation the honourable member for Reid took action in the courts. He won those actions. One would then have thought that it was the end of the matter. The newspapers had alleged treachery or treason on his part and he was vindicated three times by special juries of his fellow citizens. He was vindicated in the highest court of appeal.
Instead of explaining these extraordinary coincidences to which the honourable member referred in the first speech that he could make in the House on this subject, the Minister made another allegation. He said that the honourable member for Reid had asked questions at the instigation, or inspiration, not of Mr Skripov but of Mr Gamazeishchikov, also of the Russian Embassy. He said that if the newspaper stories and his own first statement had mentioned Mr Gamazeishchikov instead of Mr Skripov then his speech and the stories would have been accurate. If there was any truth in the suggestion of an association between Mr Gamazeishchikov and the honourable member for Reid one would certainly have thought that this would have been pleaded by way of defence by those two great companies which have all the sources of information at their command. In all this litigation they never made the allegation. If there was any truth in this allegation it is amazing that the Minister for Air has kept it to himself for all these years. If there is any truth in it he is free to repeat it now outside this House.
The Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) this afternoon chided an honourable member who asked him a question. He said the honourable member should have remembered that he was speaking under privilege and that he should not cast aspersions on persons in these circumstances. Here there is a Minister of the Crown who, almost 7 years after the rele vant time, makes a most serious allegation. If there is any truth in the allegation why does he not repeat it outside? The honourable member for Reid has demonstrated that he is not afraid to sue the largest companies in the country; he is not afraid, with the support of his family, to jeopardise everything he has in these cases, even when they involve protracted litigation. It is not to be thought that he would falter in any suit against the Minister.
The Minister will not repeat outside the House what he has said under privilege within the House. If he believes that what he said yesterday was true then he should be prepared to say it outside the House. As a man of honour or courage, could he do any less? I gave him the opportunity. I invited the Minister to withdraw what he said. He has not done so. Presumably he stands by what he said. There is no way in which these matters can be determined by the House or by any committee of the House, but it could be determined outside. The honourable member for Reid will take the Minister for Air to court if he repeals outside what he said yesterday inside the House. We can draw our own conclusions. I have no doubt that his colleagues and his sponsor will draw their own conclusions about this latest appointment to the Ministry.
Lest anyone believe that there is nothing in this matter, let me give the facts. The honourable member for Reid first raised this subject, which has been fully litigated in the courts, back in 1961. He asked a question on 16th March 1961. It was the second question that he had asked in that session. A little before the House sat on 28th February an article appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald’. The honourable member sought leave yesterday to incorporate this article in Hansard. The Minister for Air refused him leave to do so. I do not propose to take up the time of the House by reading the article. I will identify it by giving the headings of the article, which appeared in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ on 28th February 1961. The story, which ran for about 16 inches, appeared under the heading: ‘Reactor to Run US Radio. Move For First Aust. Atom Power.’ The honourable member for Reid asked a question on this after Parliament had commenced its sitting. The next question he asked was on 15th August 1961, the day the House resumed for the Budget session. His question again arose from a story in the Sydney Morning Herald’. The story, which appeared on 21st July 1961, ran for 10 inches under the heading ‘Big Radio Station. £40m US Project Likely’. This again was a story which the Minister refused the honourable member for Reid leave to incorporate in Hansard.
The significance of what I am putting to the House is this: The honourable member for Reid told the House yesterday, on the first occasion that he could speak in the House on this matter which for 6i years had been sub judice, that his questions on what is now the Harold E. Holt Naval Communication Station at North West Cape arose from stories in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’. He could scarcely have asked those questions at any earlier stage. They were matters surely of very great moment to this country. Could any honourable member have been criticised for raising a matter which the Ministry was notably reluctant to expound and explain? In these circumstances how can it be said that the questions were motivated by Mr Skripov? Did Mr Skripov inspire the stories in the Sydney Morning Herald’? The honourable member for Reid gave the chronology yesterday in his statement by leave. I would have thought it was a convincing enough explanation for anyone. The honourable member for Reid convinced three special juries on this matter.
Yesterday the Minister belatedly purported to reveal something that the largest news gathering organisations in the country did not seem to know. The Minister has kept to himself all these years that the inspiration came from Mr Gamazeishchikov I have not been able to check, but I think it quite likely that Mr Gamazeishchikov did not arrive in Australia until after the articles had appeared in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’. That, however, can be checked.
– Why did you not check it?
– Because this matter arose only today. The Minister was given an opportunity this afternoon” when the suggestion was made to him that he should withdraw this matter. The significant thing is that the honourable member for Reid proved his points in the courts where it was possible for him to have these matters determined. He established his good character and reputation and was compensated for the damage done to him. Belatedly, a Minister of the Crown makes allegations which cannot be litigated unless he repeats them outside of the House. They cannot be determined by the House or any committee of the House. He should withdraw them. He has had an opportunity to do so but instead he has chosen to take up the time of the House to debate the matter. He is imposing on the loyalty of his colleagues to save him from clearing the reputation of another honourable member. The honourable member for Reid would take him to court if he made the remarks outside. The least we can do now, since the Minister will not repeat his allegation outside and since he will not voluntarily withdraw it, is to resolve that he should withdraw it or that he should prove it. To put the matter in proper parlance he should put up or shut up.
– Is the motion seconded?
– Yes, I second the motion and reserve my right to speak.
– I listened to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) with a great deal of interest. The first thing I want to say to the honourable gentleman is that I have been a member of the House, as well he knows, for over 14 years.
Opposition members - Too long.
– I know that in the opinion of honourable members opposite I have been a member for too long. I also know that they have relentlessly complained about it.
-Order! I warn honourable members on both sides that this is a serious matter affecting two members of the House and that the debate should be carried out with the dignity and decorum that the House requires. Those honourable members who are interjecting should refrain from doing so.
– Mr Speaker, is any honourable member-
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.
– I want to ask a question.
– The honourable member cannot ask a question but he can raise a point of order.
– On a point of order, Mr Speaker; I would like your advice on whether any honourable members are entitled-
– Order! The honourable member cannot seek advice on a point of order.
– As I was saying before that felicitous interruption, I have been a member of the House for over 14 years. During that time I have had some hard things said about me by rather tougher nuts than the present Lord Fauntleroy who leads the Opposition.
– Well, the distinguished gentleman who leads the Opposition. The first point I want to make is that I have never complained about anything that has been said in this place by anybody. I would be interested to know whether any honourable gentleman opposite can get up and contradict me. I have tried to live by one thing in this House and that is to dish it out in a gentlemanly fashion - despite my sensitive feelings at times - and to take it. I think that in the ultimate this is the great test of Parliament. I think it is the great test of those who go to Parliament. So the first point I want to make is that I speak as one who has never complained about anything that has been said of him by anybody on the other side of the House or, for that matter, by anybody on this side. I say that in spite of the flute obligato that I now hear from the Opposition. The second thing I want to say about the Leader of the Opposition’s argument is that what he has put-
– Have you not litigated-
– Now then, sergeant, back to the street patrol.
– I might catch you if I go back there.
– The honourable member would find that I would not sing like a canary.
-Order! The honourable member for Moreton is getting away from the motion that is before the House and I suggest that he come back to it.
– In short, the Leader of the Opposition has put to the House that harsh things were said which should be withdrawn or, to use a legal term, that equity should be done. I want to point out to my friend that he has been out of the courts for a long time. I still live in them.
– Yes, indeed.
– And with success. I want to point out to the Leader of the Opposition that there is a great principle of equity that he has no doubt forgotten and it is this: He who comes to equity must come with clean hands’. Those are the propositions upon which I have examined the motion moved by the honourable gentleman this evening. The first is in relation to harsh things being said and the second is in relation to whether the honourable gentleman has clean hands. Whatever may be the manifest failings of us all - and 1 confess that I have more than my share - this is a House of hard knocks. I think that the longer people sit here the more they know about the place and the more they will be prepared to agree with me. This is a House of hard knocks. If, every time an honourable member get up and says to member X that he has fierce anti-social feelings, that member stands up and says: ‘You must withdraw that because you have offended me’ the business of the House will collapse into nothing.
– You and I both will be struggling.
-Order! The honourable member for Hunter should cease interjecting.
– He is starry-eyed with all the voluntary confessions he has got over 20 years.
– Just wait. I will get you one of these times.
-Order! If the honourable member for Hunter interjects again I will deal with him.
– That is the sort of youthful exuberance that comes from the north of Newcastle. One of my colleagues reminds me that I should get back to our muttons. If people are to complain about everything that is said of them in this place there will be no end to it all. The major fallacy in the argument put by the Leader of the Opposition tonight is his statement that what is said in Parliament may be offensive but if it is said outside it is actionable. To use a Latinism - and forgive me for using it - this dichotomy between what is passable in Parliament and what would be actionable outside puts Parliament in a rather poor light. Before I sit down I will put it to my honourable friend in what I hope will be rather sharp perspective by way of two illustrations. I will use the Leader of the Opposition as the illustrator in these illustrations. It is not a long time ago since he said of me that I held racist views.
– Hear, hear!
– I am delighted to get the honourable member’s affirmation of this because I want to point out that if his leader went outside the Parliament and said that he would make himself subject to all the remedies that the law may offer. But may I say to the Leader of the Opposition, who made the allegation against me, that I for one swam bare arsed in the Condamine with Aboriginals-
– I went to school with Aboriginals, I mustered with Aboriginals, I fought with Aboriginals, I have put Aboriginals on juries and I have secured acquittals for Aboriginals. I wonder whether my honourable friend can say the same thing. It is easy to put a label on persons in this place. It is very easy to use an adjective in this place. It is a different thing to prove it. What the Leader of the Opposition suggests tonight is that the Minister for Air (Mr Erwin), because of various happenings in this place, should put to Parliament beyond all reasonable doubt - that is the criminal proof - that certain things took place. Let me take another allegation which the Leader of the Opposition has made against me. I did not complain about it at the time, nor 3 days later nor 3 months later. But I invite the honourable gentleman to go and say it outside. He said that the honourable member for Moreton was a Fascist.
– Hear, hear!
– There is the honourable member for Hindmarsh. Here it is. I do not object to that being said in this place because I am old enough and I hope capable enough to look after myself, but I invite the honourable member for Hindmarsh to go out with his devoted leader, the Leader of the Opposition, and say it outside. What points up in my mind about the honourable gentleman who makes these allegations-
-Order! I would remind the honourable member for Moreton that it is very difficult to see the relevance between what he is saying and the motion before the House.
– If I may, I will make the argument with a relevance that has a degree of sharpness which will not escape even the dullest amongst us.
-Order! The honourable member will not canvass a reasonable request from the Chair. I am suggesting that the honourable member is superseding the motion before the House by dealing in irrelevancies. I suggest that he come back to the motion before the House.
– I am coming back to the argument that was put by the Leader of the Opposition who challenged the Minister for Air to say things outside. What I am putting to the Leader of the Opposition is this: If he wants to enter upon this affray by saying outside what he says inside, he will find himself very soon described as Australia’s most constant litigant. Judging upon past experience, I am bound to describe him, in my own views, as one who would be Australia’s most unsuccessful litigant. He has put to the Minister for Air this evening this charge. Or to indulge in euphemism, with this mildness of manner that commends itself so sharply to the Leader of the Opposition, I shall say that he has put to the Minister for Air this homely invitation: ‘Go outside and say these things’. I want to throw back to the honourable gentleman: ‘You go outside and say the things that you have said about some members on this side of the House’. That is the test. I am sure that all honourable gentlemen on this side of the House, who have at one time or another been fixed by the honourable gentleman’s sharpness of tongue practised, of course, for many weeks before he lets go, would agree with me. All honourable people outside who have had any acquaintance with the honourable gentleman would also agree with me.
But to come back to the point in question, as you, Mr Speaker, have invited me to do with such delicious language, I want to refer to the debate on the North West Cape base. The honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) was seen, so the allegation goes - and I neither affirm nor deny it - talking to a representative of the Soviet Union. I do not know whether that is true or false, but for the purposes of my argument, may I say that it is true. I attach nothing to that. If the honourable gentleman is seen talking to the Ambassador from South Africa, I would attach nothing to that.
– Nor would we.
– Yes, you do, and you do it with a readiness that rather staggers me. But to return to the argument in question concerning the North West Cape base, I refer to Hansard, which is a sturdy record of things said in this place, of 16th May 1963. This was one of my typically dull speeches. I thought that I would get a little bit of agreement on this point, even from the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) who laughs. In dealing with the matter in dispute, that is, the North West Cape base, I made two statements. The first was:
The building of the base, which is close to the area in which the national liberation movement of the peoples is being intensified, is a particular danger for the countries of South East Asia.
The second statement which I cited was:
The radio station to be established will be for war purposes and not for the purposes of peace.
I went on to say in this typically dull speech:
One of those statements appeared in a publication called the ‘Red Star’, which is the official journal of the Soviet armed forces. The other statement was made by a Labor member of this Parliament.
I invited the Opposition to say which statement appeared in the ‘Red Star’. That is 6 years ago. I mention that, not to take some undergraduate debating point, but for the reason that this Parliament is made up of men and women - delightful women - who try to reflect the concensus of the Australian community, and I think that by and large they do so. Men and women in this place draw inferences upon information which they have and upon evidence that is before them. Without doubt, some of the conclusions drawn would be ungenerous and would be lacking in charity. But it is of no avail to complain about it.
The honourable member for Reid has served in the Second Australian Imperial Force with distinction. I know this, not from first hand knowledge, but from very reliable second hand sources. I would be the last to attribute to the honourable gentleman any mischievous motive at all. But things are said, and people draw conclusions and inferences which are unfair and which may be lacking in terms of legalism and in terms of substance. But if every time something harsh is said in this Parliament the Government or the Opposition were to say: ‘Unless you can prove it, you should withdraw it’, this Parliament would be lacking in substance and lacking altogether in the conduct of its affairs. That is why I say to my friends opposite that 1 can understand the sentiment which may lie behind the motion they have put forward, but they miss out on this one point: If every time an honourable member in this Parliament who says something critical of another member is condemned on one side or the other because you argue that what he says lacks that sense of proof which commends itself to a criminal court and you say that the member should go out and apologise, no longer would this be a Parliament. This would be a forum which would have its affairs conducted entirely by legalism; a forum which would shrink from its real responsibility, that is, to argue, to debate, to parry, to counter and to conflict one argument as against the other, as members who come here see the position in the interests of the people of Australia.
My learned friend, the Leader of the Opposition, has not come into this Parliament with clean hands. I invite the honourable gentleman, if he is going to charge the Minister for Air, to go outside and to say the things that he has said about people on this side of the House. I think that is the crunch. That is the simple crunch. If this Parliament is going to become a place where only pussyfooting can survive then the interests of the people of Australia will be neglected.
– This debate concerns two members of this House, the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) and the Minister for Air (Mr Erwin). It does not concern the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), or the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James), or the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron), against whom the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) has made the greater part of his speech. 1 want to bring this debate back to the two men that it concerns. The Minister for Air has made two most serious allegations against the honourable member for Reid. He has said that the honourable member for Reid deliberately came into this House and asked questions of the then Minister for Defence about a very important American base in Australia, questions which were suggested to the honourable member for Reid by a member of the staff of the Russian Embassy to get information for Russia, a country that is regarded by many as an enemy of this country. This is a very serious allegation.
The honourable member for Moreton was the first speaker for the Government. He made no attempt to suggest that there was evidence of any kind whatever to support the Minister for Air in the allegations he has made. He did not suggest that there was any association of any kind between the honourable member for Reid and the Soviet Embassy although he bad 20 minutes in which to do it. He confined himself to clever remarks, even about you, Mr Speaker. The honourable member for Moreton could do no more than suggest that he could not draw any conclusions about the honourable member for Reid that were unfair to him. But the Minister for Air has made a statement that the honourable member for Reid is guilty of something pretty close to treason. The honourable member for Moreton said that he would not draw any conclusions about the honourable member for Reid and he asked: If, every time some criticism is made of a member in this House, we are to require a with drawal, where will it end? But this is not an ordinary criticism, this is not just something that might be regarded as a political fault. This is an accusation of a serious offence, if not a crime. It is quite a different matter from what the honourable member for Moreton was playing with in his speech. He mentioned, incidentally, that he lives in the courts. If he does so, I think he had better make every effort he can to retain his seat in this Parliament because he will starve outside.
The truth is that 6i years ago an accusation was made in this Parliament by the honourable member for Ballaarat, who since then by some strange quirk has become the Minister for Air. An accusation was made in this House by the honourable member for Ballaarat that the honourable member for Reid had been trying to get information for the Soviet Embassy. That accusation was the basis of a number of newspaper reports that were published later on and the honourable member took the matter to court. For 64 years he has been engaged in litigation. The Minister for Air laughed when that was mentioned but the honourable member for Reid faced costs of up to $20,000 at one stage and placed his and his family’s security at stake in order to clear bis name. After 6) years of litigation he received a favourable decision from three juries of this land and substantial damages and unqualified apologies from two of the newspapers that had repeated accusations made under privilege by this man. That is what happened.
Yesterday the honourable member for Reid at his first opportunity came into this House to put on record what had happened. He denied that he had ever asked any questions in this House at the suggestion df anybody connected with the Soviet Embassy, not only Mr Skripov but anybody else. He denied it for you to hear, Mr Speaker, and for the Minister for Air to hear. He said that his questions had been asked in this House as a result of something he had read in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ and he brought those two articles into the House. He said that they had been produced before the courts of this land and they had been examined by the most highly qualified Queen’s Counsel that two large companies had been able to bring into court, and the connection between those two articles and the honourable member’s questions a few weeks after they appeared in the newspapers was clear for all to see. The honourable member for Reid asked that they should be incorporated in Hansard but the Minister for Air was the one who objected to that being done.
The honourable member for Reid went on, as he had a right and a responsibility to do, to show the connection that there was between these accusations that had been made against him by two great newspapers, which he had taken to the courts and against which he had obtained results, and the honourable member for Ballaarat. He showed that the honourable member for Ballaarat had given a defence to those two newspapers so that they could claim, when they were defending themselves against the honourable member for Reid, that they were engaged in a public discussion of a matter of public importance, and their defence depended upon what the honourable member for Ballaarat had done in this House. That was the significance of the honourable member for Ballaarat in this matter. He provided the defence for these two newspapers against the libel action the honourable member for Reid had instituted. The honourable member for Reid had a responsibility to show that connection between the Minister for Air and the libel that was committed against him by the newspapers.
One would have expected the Minister for Air to have risen in his place and explained that connection, but no, he did not do that. He rose in his place and repeated the accusation. He said, I repeat, that the honourable member for Reid asked questions in this House to get information for the Russian Embassy. But he said, in effect: I made a mistake when I made that accusation in 1962. It was not Mr Skripov as I suggested in 1962, it was another Russian he had been talking to.’ He admitted he had made a mistake. He also said, in effect: ‘If I had mentioned this other man’s name in 1962 he would not have succeeded in his action.’ But he said that in saying that Skripov was the man who asked the honourable member for Reid to ask the questions he had made a mistake. He said: T want to correct that mistake and I want to accuse the honourable member for Reid of really getting the information for Mr
Gamazeishchikov.’ That is what he said yesterday. How many more mistakes is the Minister for Air going to make?
It is quite clear that the Minister for Air said in 1962 that the questions had come from Mr Skripov and it is quite clear that yesterday he said the questions had come from Mr Gamazeishchikov
– Mr Speaker, on a point of order I submit that it is out of order for the Minister for Air to be trying to interject when he knows he is not going to be allowed to speak.
– There is no substance in the point of order.
-Order! The honourable member for Newcastle will withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw the remark, Mr Speaker.
– The Minister for Air has made a fresh accusation against the honourable member for Reid. The Minister says: ‘You were asking a question at the suggestion of Mr Gamazeishchikov not at the suggestion of Mr Skripov, as I said in 1962’. The Minister says in his accusation that this means that the honourable member for Reid was asking questions in this House which were led off by the Russian Embassy. The Minister says: ‘This is something the honourable member for Reid cannot answer. I know it to be true.’ But the honourable member for Reid had already answered that allegation. In the hearing of the Minister for Air he had denied that he had asked any questions suggested by the Russian Embassy. He had explained to the House how and why he had asked questions.
What is the evidence that the Minister for Air has that the honourable member for Reid might have asked a question suggested to him by this man from the Russian Embassy? His evidence is: ‘I would be able to prove, Mr Speaker, that he has been in the electorate of the honourable member for Reid on a number of occasions’. That is his evidence. From what I hear of his gossiping at the Hotel Kurrajong last night the Minister for Air also has evidence that once Mr Gamazeishchikov had a cup of tea with Mr Uren. The Minister understands that on another occasion Mr Gamazeishchikov was in your gallery, Mr Speaker, where you must have permitted him to go as a result of an invitation from the honourable member for Reid. According to the Minister for Air this is the evidence that the honourable member for Reid would commit treachery.
The honourable member for Reid assures me of a number of things. The first is that Mr Gamazeishchikov has not been in his electorate. The second is that Mr Gamezeishchikov was not in your gallery at the honourable member’s invitation. But the honourable member does say that he did have a cup of tea once with Mr Gamazeishchikov. Is this the evidence which the Minister for Air - a Minister of the Crown, backed by the Government, supported by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and in a little while to be supported by the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) - has that the honourable member for Reid would ask a question in this House to get information about a sensitive American base for the benefit of the Russian Embassy? I ask Ministers: Is this your evidence? Is this the evidence which the Minister for Air has? Is this the evidence possessed by the Prime Minister whom I see standing behind the Minister for Air at the entrance to the chamber? Is this the evidence they have to support this charge? If there is no further evidence, is the charge proved? If there is not more evidence are you to permit responsible Ministers in this House to make accusations of treachery on that kind of evidence?
Assuming that we can be satisfied tha/ the honourable member for Reid once had a cup of tea with Mr Gamazeishchikov what does it prove? It might suggest that Mr Uren was anxious to get information about the Soviet Union and its attitude to things. It might suggest that the honourable member had a certain ideological sympathy with the Soviet Union. But does it suggest that he would commit treachery? Does it suggest that a man who was a prisoner of war for 4 years while serving Australia would get information from the Minister for Defence for the benefit of the Soviet Union? Is that what the Minister for Social Services wants to suggest? If it is not, the Minister should not be supporting the Minister for Air. This is a serious matter. It is not a trivial matter. This is not an accusation of the kind that has been levelled against the Prime Minister, with very little evidence. It is far more serious than anything with which the Prime Minister has been accused, and in this case I think there is less evidence than was present in the case of the accusations against the Prime Minister. 1 wonder how far this matter will go. Of all the possible ways to explain this association - this having a cup of tea with Mr Gamazeishchikov - the Minister for Air wants to choose only one explanation. It is the explanation of treachery. The Minister for Social Services will in a few minutes’ time back that accusation. The Prime Minister will back the accusation by sitting on the front bench with the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) and identifying himself with the accusation. If the Minister for Air is in possession of certain evidence, such as the honourable member for Reid having a cup of tea with Mr Gamazeishchikov, his getting a ticket for your gallery, Mr Speaker, or his having a member of the Russian Embassy staff in his electorate, does the Minister get some of this information by inspecting the record you keep in your office of people who enter your gallery? Does he get it by inspecting the book in the parliamentary dining room showing who books tables there? Does he get information from the Department of External Affairs or the Security Service as to who enters the electorates of honourable members? Where does the Minister get this evidence about which he gossips at the Hotel Kurrajong - evidence which in this House he claims indicates that the honourable member for Reid might have been guilty of this charge? The Minister for Air is not a mere back bench member: He is a Minister of the Crown. The Prime Minister and other senior Ministers are backing him in this accusation of treachery against the honourable member for Reid. The Minister has made a very serious allegation. He has alleged that the honourable member for Reid was prepared to ask questions in this House in order to get information for the benefit of the Russians about a very sensitive American base. But the honourable member for Reid has denied this in the House. He denied the allegation before the
Minister for Air repeated it. The honourable member for Reid has produced copies of the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ showing how and why he asked questions in the House. He has been to the courts and has obtained verdicts that have cleared his name of this accusation, first made by the Minister for Air.
What is the evidence to support the position taken by the Minister for Air? As far as I know it is that the honourable member for Reid once had a cup of tea with Mr Gamazeishchikov. No honourable member is safe from the tongues of slander and malicious gossip if this is to be the standard of this House and, through this House, the nation. No-one is safe if this is to be the standard, not even the Prime Minister. What do we do about it? I suggest that there are two things we might do. One is that if we think there is anything in this accusation we could ask the Minister to produce his evidence. If we think there is anything in this accusation against the honourable member for Reid that he asked question in the House to get information for the benefit of the Russian Embassy about a sensitive American base we should demand that the Minister for Air produce his evidence. But not one word comes from the Minister. Not one word of evidence has come from anybody who is defending the Minister’s situation. If we think there is nothing in the Minister’s accusation we in this House should decide to stop this practice. We should require the Minister for Air to withdraw his accusation. This has been done in the House before. In 1964 when the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden), who was then the Attorney-General, made an accusation against me - it was an insignificant accusation compared with the one now made against the honourable member for Reid - the Prime Minister at the time, Sir Robert Menzies, and the AttorneyGeneral, Sir Garfield Barwick, who is now the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, were associated with the Minister in his withdrawal of the allegations he had made in this House. Subsequently, the 24 hour suspension that had been imposed upon me for calling him a liar was lifted, I think for the first time in the history of this House, and I came back into the chamber.
If we are to allow this decline in our standards to continue, where will this kind of slander end? This is not just an ordinary criticism, that the honourable member for Reid may have had certain faults; it is a serious charge. The Minister for Air should be required to prove his charge or withdraw it.
– I claim to have been misrepresented by the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns). Shaking a minatory finger at me, he suggested that I had evidence of some kind which would support, as he later said, a charge of treachery against the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren).
– I did not say that.
– Yes, you did.
– Not at all.
– Yes, you did. I wish to make it perfectly clear that that is an utter misrepresentation. I do not believe that I or other members on this side of the House would ever level such a charge against the honourable member, nor that such a charge has ever been levelled. What in fact occurred was not that at all; it was a suggestion made by the Minister for Air (Mr Erwin) that certain questions were asked in this House at the suggestion of Mr Skripov. To accuse me, as the honourable member for Yarra did, of supporting a charge of treachery against the honourable member for Reid is a complete misrepresentation of all members on this side of the House.
– We are debating tonight events which took place 7 years ago or more. I think I should start by putting these events in some kind of perspective. I think it was in 1959 that the Soviet Embassy was re-opened in Canberra, and from that time forward it endeavoured, as it is perhaps reasonable to expect an embassy to do, to obtain information about what was happening in Australia and to influence Australian policy. This is the business of an embassy, but in doing this some members of the staff of the Soviet Embassy went beyond the normal diplomatic protocol and endeavoured to use certain journalists for their purposes. These journalists, to their credit, reported the matter to the then Minister for External Affairs.
I now move on to July 1962. At that time two Russians were expelled from New Zealand for activities such as I have described. Following upon their expulsion, which I think was on 16th July 1962, an article appeared in the Melbourne ‘Age’ pointing out that the same kind of thing was going on in Australia. The article said:
At the same time the diplomats began cultivating a number of back bench members of Federal Parliament.
Cultivating’ was the word used. Nobody is suggesting that these backbench members knew that they were being used in this improper way. They were a little simple, perhaps, but nobody has suggested treachery on their part. This article, as I said, appeared in July 1962. About that time there were numerous meetings in this House between Mr Skripov and Mr Gamazeishchikov, who I think was a Press attache to the Russian Embassy or a correspondent from one of the Russian newspapers, and certain backbench members of the Australian Labor Party. These meetings were noticed by one of the attendants in this building, a Mr Tompsitt, to whom I have spoken on the telephone tonight. He was so disturbed by these meetings that he mentioned the matter to the present Minister for Air (Mr Erwin), who was then a backbencher. The Opposition members concerned were three in number. There was the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James)-
-Order! I would suggest to the Minister that this matter concerns the honourable member for Reid and the Minister for Air. At this stage he should not make any reference to any other members.
– The relevance of what I am about to say will appear in a moment The three members were the honourable member for Hunter, the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) and a man who is no longer a member of this House, Mr Haylen, who at that time represented the electorate of Parkes. These meetings occurred fairly continually and fairly frequently - so frequently, indeed, that one of the attendants mentioned the matter. He mentioned that on one occasion Mr Skripov, I think it was, was actually able to summon one of these members from the chamber. I am not suggesting that these honourable members were improperly giving information. I am not suggesting that they knew what they were being used for, because there were two prongs to the Russian attack upon us. The first, of course, was to obtain secret information.
– I raise a point of order. These remarks which have been made by the Minister for Social Services are offensive to me. They are false and I take exception to them. These things never happened. Therefore I ask the Minister to withdraw his remarks.
-I do not think that any point of order of substance is involved.
– He is just telling plain lies.
-Order! The honourable member will withdraw that remark. He will resume his seat and withdraw that remark.
– I will withdraw ‘lies’ and say just plain falsities’.
– I wish to speak to the point of order. I heard the Minister for Social Services say that it was one of the aims of the Soviet to get secret information, and he related this to occasions when he said that Soviet officials were frequently meeting the honourable member for Reid, a former honourable member for Parkes and the honourable member for Hunter. If this is not a suggestion or a statement that the Russians were trying to get information from these members, I do not know what it is. I suggest that if that is what the Minister implied in his remarks they are offensive to any member on this side of the House. They must be offensive to the honourable member for Reid, and he has a perfect right to ask for them to be withdrawn.
– I was not allowed to finish the sentence. I speak to the point of order. The rest of the sentence was this: I do not believe that the members had secret information. It was the second prong of the Soviet attack which was important.
The second prong was to deflect Australian policy, to influence Australian policy.
– In that case there is no substance in the point of order.
– Mr Speaker-
– Does the honourable member wish to speak again to the point of order?
– Yes. The objection I make is on the question of falsity. The Minister said that there were frequent meetings. I never met any members of the Soviet Embassy, either Skripov or anybody else, on frequent occasions. This is completely false.
– There is no substance in the point of order.
– I have only repeated what I was told over the telephone when I checked up on these matters tonight. I do not believe that the purpose of these meetings was for the Russians to obtain secset information from unwitting members. I believe the purpose was to influence the Australian Labor Party through its left wing and to influence and control Labor policy. The effect of this was fairly simple, because this is what occurred: the great point of Russian policy at that time was to prevent the establishment of the United States communications facility in the north-west of Australia, and this is what they did: They were able, through the left wing of the Australian Labor Party, to control that Party - perhaps unwittingly, perhaps the Australian Labor Party did not know what it was being used for. Perhaps the fact that it was next to the Communist Party in the political spectrum was the relevant point. But whatever the reason the Australian Labor Party did in point of fact do what the Russians wanted.
-Order! I would remind the honourable the Minister of the motion before the Chair and would suggest that he come back to the context of that motion.
– Indeed, Sir, I am right on that context because I now look at the conduct of the honourable members concerned - the public conduct - and I say that what they were doing was in line with what the Soviet wanted. This stands on the public record. No secret information-
-Order! The Minister is getting far away from the motion. I would suggest that the merits or demerits of the case are not in question at this stage. I remind the honourable the Minister of the motion before the Chair. I will not remind the honourable the Minister again in this regard.
– Mr Speaker, I rise to order. The Minister for Social Services has said that the Labor Party made its decision in respect of the North West Cape base - and I was the Leader of the Party at that time - under the influence of Russian Communists to benefit Russia. I object to that and ask for a withdrawal.
-Order! Remarks which can be taken to be and may be undesirable are not unparliamentary when applied to a whole party where members cannot be identified. I have ruled in this manner on several previous occasions and I see no reason to alter my ruling on this occasion.
– I move: That the ruling be dissented from. May I speak to my motion, Mr Speaker?
– No. The Leader of the Opposition must put it in writing. (Mr Whitlam having submitted in writing his objection to the ruling.)
– Mr Speaker, this is a matter upon which you have given a similar ruling on many occasions. It is a matter upon which the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock), the Deputy Speaker, has given a contrary ruling. It is a matter upon which we propose to dissent from this ruling if you give it on future occasions. Our reason for this, Sir-
-Order! May correct the Leader of the Opposition at this stage? The honourable member for Lyne, as Deputy Speaker, has not ruled contrary to this. He has ruled in conformity with it. He has ruled in the same manner as I have ruled.
– With respect, my recollection is that he gave a contrary ruling. I cannot take the time of the House in looking up the records but, Sir, this is a matter which does concern all members of ali parties. You have, in effect, said that if something is said defamatorily of a whole party then neither that party nor any of its members can complain. Let me illustrate what could happen. If any honourable member says that a particular Minister is corrupt and that he has taken a bribe, for instance, for the importation of any particular aircraft that honourable member can be required to withdraw the allegation. If any honourable member says that the whole Ministry shared a ‘bribe to permit the importation of some particular aircraft then that allegation can be compelled to be withdrawn. If, however, an honourable member says that some members of the Ministry shared a bribe to permit the importation of a particular aircraft then nobody can have the allegation withdrawn. That is, we have the situation where nobody can say: ‘This inevitably points to me”. If a member mentions a single Minister that remark can be withdrawn. If he mentions the whole Ministry any member of the Ministry can have it withdrawn because clearly it points to every member in that Ministry. If, however, a member subtly says: ‘Half the Ministry is corrupt. Some people whom I do not name have shared a bribe,’ then it is not possible to have that remark withdrawn. We have pointed this out particularly in respect of allegations of the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth). He is a past master at making allegations which no single member can have withdrawn. He casts these allegations without sufficient precision. He will never say, for instance, that the Leader of the Opposition has done something unparliamentary or dishonest because I could have it withdrawn. He does not say that the Opposition Executive has done something unparliamentary or dishonest: Any of us could have it withdrawn. He just says that some of us have done it. That means that we are all under a cloud and none of us can dispel that cloud. I submit, Sir, that you should reconsider this matter. This collective, indiscriminate defamation should stop.
- Mr Speaker, the House is being asked to disagree with your ruling that an assertion about a political party does not apply to individual mem bers of it. I believe, with respect, Mr Speaker, that this cannot be held as valid in the present political situation. Tonight it is almost certain that once the finger of the Leader of the House (Mr Erwin) is put up every member on the other side will stand up and vote according to the directions given to them as a matter of party discipline and party loyalty which is of the very structure of this Parliament. An honourable member cannot say anything about a party or group in that party without involving every member of that party. I believe that it is important that this Parliament be protected from the kind of assertions and collective defamation which have become the stock in trade of people such as the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth). It is part of our political system that we all accept responsibility collectively and individually. The Labor Party has for years built its discipline and its structure upon this method. If honourable members talk about the left wing or the right wing - whatever they may happen to be - and talk about policies they mean all of us. No member can traduce the Labor Party without traducing every member in it and therefore I believe that it is in the interests of parliamentary democracy to protect the Parliament from the kind of thing that has been presented as a spectacle for the public of Australia tonight. Mr Speaker, you should silence forever this kind of assertion and make the members who make this kind of statement withdraw it or leave the precincts of the House.
- Mr Speaker, I support the motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). On previous occasions I have supported similar motions moved in opposition to rulings that you have given that collective insults should not be subject to withdrawal. I have in mind, for instance, the case of the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Andrew Jones) who on one occasion said that half the members of the House were drunk all the time and he was made to withdraw. His fundamental error was that be should have said that all members were drunk all the time and then he, under this ruling, would not have had to apologise at all. Is this not a senseless approach to the problem? I could, for instance, say that the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) was corrupt and embezzling the funds of the nation and be called upon to withdraw. But if I said that the members of the Ministry were all parties to corruption and embezzlement of the funds of this country I would not be obliged to withdraw anything at all. Tonight, I gaze at the collection of Fascists opposite. I am speaking of them collectively - every one of them. Not for a minute am I referring to any one of them, but to the whole lot of them. So they cannot ask me to withdraw that statement. What an insulting phrase for me to apply to them, without redress.
Consider the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth). He does not insult any individual member. He insults them collectively or makes statements that apply collectively to members of the Opposition. In this way he hides in a coward’s way behind insults that he knows he should withdraw. The fact that he applies his insults collectively does not make them any less sincere. I believe that a farce is being made of the Parliament when I cannot say, for instance, that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) is handling the administration of national service in a corrupt way without being asked to withdraw my remarks, although I can say that every member of the Ministry is as corrupt as it is possible to be and is not fit to govern this country, without being called upon under the terms of your ruling, Mr Speaker, to withdraw that charge, which 1 know to be completely unfounded. Let me take advantage of your ruling, Mr Speaker, and say that I doubt the honesty and integrity of every honourable member who sits opposite me and I doubt the ability of every honourable member opposite to be-
– Order! The remarks of the honourable member for Grayndler are becoming a little irrelevant to the point of order.
– Not for a moment am I referring to individuals. I deal collectively with them. Every one of them is unfit to govern this country. Every one of them in some way is corrupt in his method of governing. I do not say that the Treasurer last night was corrupt individually, but every honourable member who sits behind him and votes for the Budget in a corrupt way is seeking government on any basis. Mr Speaker, do not misunderstand mc. I refer collectively to everybody from the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) to the member who sits on the back benches behind him and I do this only to show the strangeness of your ruling and to show why you should revise your decision. An insult is wrong whether it applies to all or to one.
The ruling you have given tonight supports honourable members opposite. The Minister for Social Services, who is not prepared to name individuals, says that all Opposition members are supporters of or sponsored by the Communist Party. He says that is not insulting to us. Let us assume that he does say this. He would say it quite often, if be felt like doing so, and he would claim that it is not insulting to us, although each Opposition member individually would feel that it is an insult. If this attitude persists, on some occasion every honourable member on the Opposition side of this Parliament will rise individually and ask for the remark to be withdrawn. If that happened, it would take you 3 weeks to get through the apologies that would be demanded. What a farce that would be. What about your ruling tonight? Surely you would object if I referred insultingly to all members of the Liberal Party, because you would be included as a member of the Party. I say that all Liberal members of this Parliament are paid agents of-
-Order! Any reference that might be derogatory to the Chair is out of order. I also remind the honourable member for Grayndler that I am elected by the House as a whole and I show complete impartiality.
– I bow to your ruling, Mr Speaker, but I would say that you were not elected unanimously, if my memory serves me correctly. As one who is always willing to learn, it is nice to know that a member of the Liberal Party, who is now Speaker, is completely independent and evidently was elected by some strange process not connected with party politics. Mr Speaker, I exempt you from the charge I made. Therefore, when you ask me to apologise to everyone, I exclude you. I say that collectively all honourable members opposite are the paid agents of big business in this country. I put everyone opposite in that category, except you, Mr Speaker, because you have specifically asked to be excluded. I say this tonight only to show the stupidity of rulings of the kind we are now discussing. 1 believe that if we insult people collectively we insult them individually. There is no limit to the extent to which I could go if time permitted tonight in throwing insults en masse at those who sit opposite and not one honourable member opposite could take exception. As long as I included everyone, I could impute to the Prime Minister the lowest possible principles. I could say anything I liked about the Prime Minister, as long as I included every honourable member who sits opposite. It would not be difficult for me to do so, because I think they would all be well included.
But the fact is that I use rather extreme terms to demonstrate that you should revise your ruling, as the Leader of the Opposition has suggested. I have great respect for you, Mr Speaker. You show wisdom, tolerance and understanding for the honourable members on the Government side who support you on occasions, though I would not be so tolerant towards them. I think you are tolerant enough to realise that your ruling should be revised and to acknowledge that an insult to all is just as bad as an insult to an individual. I do not intend to run through the wide range of collective insults that I have with me on this sheet of paper. I mention this again tonight to show that the ruling needs revision. The Leader of the Opposition, in an analytical and practical way, has shown the effects that this ruling could have. There are some decent fellows sitting opposite, though they are pretty rare. But I am amazed to learn that I could insult them in any way I liked, provided I included everybody. I could say what I liked about the Minister for Social Services. I would not like to include everyone on the opposite side in those remarks, because not everything I could say about him would apply to all honourable members, but in order to make my point I would have to make my remarks about them all.
That situation shows the lack of validity in the ruling. This is not your fault, Mr Speaker; you are following the Standing Orders and I hope you will revise them. I hope that the House in its wisdom will ensure that honourable members on this side who feel harshly about some honourable members opposite will not have to offend everyone by applying what they sincerely believe about individual honourable members to everyone collectively. I support the motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition. 1 hope that those honourable members on the other side who appear to be just, reasonable and tolerant, especially those with legal training - they are limited, of course - will cross the floor and vote with us on this issue. It does not give me any great pleasure to have to stand up and say that all honourable members opposite are corrupt from the Prime Minister to those who sit behind him, that the Treasurer is an embezzler and misleading this country-
-Order! The honourable member will withdraw that remark.
– I do, but I was referring to everyone opposite.
-The honourable member for Grayndler will withdraw the remark he passed about the Treasurer and apologise.
– I do, Mr Speaker. You did not let me finish.
-Order! The honourable member for Grayndler will withdraw the remark.
– I withdraw the remark.
– And he will apologise.
– I apologise. I say that all honourable members opposite are forgers and embezzlers.
– In this debate on the motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), reference has been made to a ruling that I gave. My ruling was exactly parallel to the ruling that you have given, Mr Speaker, on this occasion. I point out to Opposition members that I gave the ruling on 23rd April of this year, which is not very long ago. I said:
It has been the practice in this House that a general statement cannot be regarded as offensive. Only a statement referring to a particular individual in the House can be claimed to be offensive. Therefore, there is no substance to the point of order.
Many speeches were then made and the debate on the motion that the ruling be dissented from continued until about 4.45 on that Tuesday afternoon. The House then voted on the motion and it was defeated by 56 votes to 33.
The speech made tonight by the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) is almost identical with the speech he made on the occasion that I gave my ruling. He was then called to order by me in much the same places as you had to call him to order tonight and he received from Opposition members the same expressions of hilarity as he received from them tonight.
- Mr Speaker, the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock)-
-Is this a personal explanation?
– Yes, sir. The honourable member for Lyne has referred to a ruling that I claimed he had made. The ruling which I referred to was given by him as Acting Speaker on 4th May 1967. It is reported at page 1794 of Hansard. It was in respect of a similar statement made in unspecified terms by the honourable member for Mackellar before he became a Minister. The statement which the honourable gentleman made on that occasion was this:
I took the point that the honourable gentleman should be made to withdraw that statement. I could read the argument which I put. The honourable member for Lyne, who was Mr Acting Speaker, upheld the point. He required the honourable member for Mackellar to withdraw that statement. I reiterate that there is a ruling by Mr Acting Speaker Lucock which is at variance with the ruling which you, Mr Speaker, have just given. I believe that whenever such an occasion arises the Opposition should put the ruling to the test.
That the ruling be dissented from.
The House divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Debate resumed (vide page 231).
– This Parliament has heard fewer more infamous speeches than that which honourable members heard tonight from the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth). Tonight charged before this House is not the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) but the Minister for Air (Mr Erwin), one of the Ministers of the Crown. Of course the Minister for Social Services is following in the path of history. It is part of the ancient heritage of his family. This is what Sir Henry Parkes had to say some 100 years ago of one of his ancestors:
Mr Wentworth exhausted his great powers of invective in denouncing the new party of reformers as Socialists, Communists, uprooters of law and order, and everything else for which a vile name could be found, though it included many of the most respectable men in the country.
– That was one of the ancestors of the Minister for Social Services. That is the continuing theme with which this Party-
– Honourable members opposite can laugh, Mr Speaker. They can shout as loudly as they like but they will not silence me. Tonight the man under charge is the Minister for Air. He is the man who spoke in the House yesterday and who concerning something that happened 7 years ago laid charges against my friend the honourable member for Reid. He made further accusations in the House last night. This has nothing to do with the Labor Party’s left wing or right wing or whether the Labor Party is under this sort of control or that sort of control. What is before the House tonight, and the subject upon which every supporter of the Government has to pass judgment, is whether this is a reasonable assertion by one member of this House against another member of the House. The Minister for Air, in answering a statement by the honourable member for Reid, said:
Secondly, the honourable member for Reid would not have had a leg to stand on if I had named another member of the Russian Embassy . . .
Then, in answering an interjection, the Minister for Air said:
It means that he was asking questions here in this House which were led ofl! by the Russian Embassy.
That can only mean one thing, that in a time of crisis in Australian political affairs, a time when the subject under discussion was the question of Russian influence in this country and American participation in bases in this country, one of the members of this House was guilty of supporting, fostering and putting forward the views of the Russian Government. That is a charge of treachery. There is no other way that one can describe it. There is no way in which the Minister can shuffle out of it.
So the man under charge tonight is the Minister for Air. What is he charged with? He is charged with making false accusations. That is a serious enough matter, surely to goodness. He is charged with defaming a distinguished colleague, a man who has given everything he has to his country. He is charged with shirking his duty because his duty is to protect the honour and integrity of this Parliament. His duty is to stand before the people of Australia and set standards, in private life and particularly in public life. He is charged with hiding behind privilege. He is charged - and this is not a legal point - with shirking his responsibilities as a decent dinkum Australian to stand up here and say what he stands for, to lay his proofs on the line or apologise like a man. If he does not do that tonight, there is a good Australian term for people who shirk their duty in this kind of situation. It looks to me from all the evidence, from everything that has gone forward in this debate, that that is what he is going to do tonight.
The honourable member for Reid has taken his case through the courts. There is no doubt about the judgment. It was the judgment of three juries. It was the judgment of every court in the land. It was the judgment of the Privy Council. The matter has been apologised for by people who are not given to making apologies to the Labor Party. Therefore the accusations have been disproved in every possible public and judicial way. Yet the Minister for Air, a Minister of the Crown, the man charged with the conduct of one of the most important services of the country, came into this House yesterday and made the assertion again. What manner of man is that? What manner of men are those who sit behind him and support him? What manner of man is the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) who will come into the House and make the statement that he did make and then vote for the Minister all the way? What manner of men are they who will keep this man in the Ministry?
The honourable member for Ballaarat is the Minister for Air. He controls one of the most important services in Australia’s defence, a service which is based upon loyalty and steadfastness. The Minister for Air ought to be the man who sets the highest possible standards in his own personal, political and parliamentary conduct if he is going to control such an important instrument of Australian public affairs. But the Minister also represents the constituency of Ballaarat. Some honourable members would find it worthwhile to visit Ballaarat. It was there some hundred or so years ago that the miners of Eureka challenged the forces of law and order. I believe that the very spirit of Australia is expressed in the monument to this event al Ballaarat. On one side are the words ‘In memory of those who fell at freedom’s call’, and on the other ‘To those who fell in sacred duty’s call’. Ballaarat expresses tolerance, understanding and humanity. Tonight it is represented in this House by a man who not only will use the privilege of this House but will use every resource at his disposal to blackguard one of his colleagues and then shirk his public duty to stand up and either support or withdraw what he has said. What manner of man is that? What we want to know is: How does the Minister know the kind of things he has put before this House. How does he know that the Russian Press attache, or whatever he was, went down to Sydney so often? How does he know, as the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) pointed out, that these people dined here? What manner of man is this? Is he a man who uses the service that he controls to pimp and sneak upon members? Is he one who spends his private ‘time looking around corners and through keyholes? Is that the kind of man he is?
-Order! I would remind the honourable member for Wills that any reflection on the conduct, character or motives of the Minister is extremely out of order.
– The Minister for Air said this. It is on the record. He said that the honourable member for Reid had been associated with people from the Russian Embassy. In public and in various places he said that the honourable member for Reid had been with them and had done all sorts of things. The Minister for Air implied that the honourable member was asking questions at their behest. He can only have found out these things by what are known as ordinary pimping procedures. People who follow pimping procedures are pimps themselves.
-Order! 1 think the honourable member for Wills is going beyond the thought I just gave him a moment ago that reflections on the conduct or character of individual members are completely out of order. I feel that the honourable member should withdraw that.
– I apologise then; I withdraw that assertion. I believe that is exactly what we are discussing tonight - that people do not do that sort of thing.
The principles of a civilised community are based upon freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of religion. One of the most precious of these is freedom of association. One of the most precious guarantees of Australian democracy is a person’s right to associate with whomsoever he likes without being charged with guilt by association. Honourable members on this side of the House and in particular my colleague the honourable member for Reid have been continually charged - only yesterday the honourable member for Reid was charged - with guilt by association. He was charged not with having tea with the Russians, not with having them visit his electorate but with asking questions, at the behest of the Russian Embassy, for the advantage of the Russians and to the disadvantage of the Austraiian nation. In anyone’s language that is a charge of treachery. The people of this nation have always been steadfast and loyal, and nobody has been more steadfast and loyal than the honourable member for Reid. Of course, this has been the history of this country’s politics for the last few years. We have the blackguarding of people by charges of guilt by association. This is the history of McCarthyism which formed one of the blackest pages in American history and which has flowed through our history until recent years. It was part of the pattern of Australian politics, particularly from 1944 to 1949. In those days we had an anti-Communist Bill. I have here before me-
-Order! I reminded the Minister for Social Services that he was going outside the motion. I think that the honourable member for Wills is now going outside the contents of the motion. I would ask him to confine his remarks to the motion.
– The theme I am developing is that this has been almost a continuing theme - I shall use that word again - in this Parliament of certain members of the opposite political party and that the Minister for Air has been the latest in this pattern of events or incidents. He has been carrying on in a manner which is unbecoming to a member of this House. He should be asked to withdraw. He should be asked to pattern himself on a former Leader of the Government, the right honourable Sir Robert Gordon Menzies. When dealing with the Communist Party Dissolution Bill 19 years ago the Prime Minister read out in the House a list of people who were Communists. He was challenged about that.
-Order! I think the honourable member is getting beyond the bounds of the motion. The question is plainly put that the Minister for Air should withdraw his statement. I fail to see what connection this has with the Communist Party Dissolution Bill.
– With proper respect, Mr Speaker, I am quoting a precedent. On 27th April 1950 the Prime Minister at the time read out a list of members of the trade union movement whom he said were Communists. Their names are in Hansard to be read by anyone. The former Prime Minister’s reference can be found on page 1996. He was challenged about it. A few weeks later the right honourable gentleman, with a proper regard, I believe, to his duty as an Australian leader, as a member of ‘his Parliament came into this House and by leave made a statement withdrawing the charge against the people whom he named. That is a most honourable precedent and one that any other member of this House would heed. If I were guilty of the kind of things that have been alleged tonight against the Minister for Air I would be the first to withdraw.
I believe that this is a most important debate. It is a debate on the morals and ethics of the procedures of the Parliament and the way in which we are to conduct ourselves each one towards the other. The Minister for Air has said things about the honourable member for Reid that cannot be sustained. Nobody believes these things. The Prime Minister does not believe them, the courts have rejected them and the Press has apologised for printing them. The Minister for Air, if he is a man at all, if he is to be worthy of his membership of this place and the high office that he holds, should withdraw what he said. It is his duty as a Minister of the Crown to establish precedents and to carry out tradition in the highest possible manner. I believe that tonight the House will either have to pass a vote of censure upon the Minister or suspend him until he withdraws. Otherwise he should retire gracefully from the scene. The Parliament should not tolerate having in its presence a person whose words about one of his colleagues were so defamatory. These words have been disproved in every court in the land before innumerable juries. Tonight honourable members opposite who are members of the Liberal Party or the Country Party sit as members of a jury. I hope that it will be in accordance with their consciences and not their Party disciplines that they pass judgment upon this motion. The Minister for Air stands charged with a dereliction of duty; with failing to face his job as a man and a Minister of the Crown. He should stand up as a man and withdraw his unjust and defamatory accusations.
– I move:
That the debate be now adjourned.
– Mr Speaker, this trouble arose because in 1962 the Minister for Air prevented the honourable member for Reid from making-
-Order! The honourable member for Oxley will resume his seat.
– Mr Speaker, I claim to have been misrepresented.
-Order! The honourable member for Hunter will resume his seat. It is the custom to call honourable members alternately from the left and the right of the Chair. This I have done. The question is that the debate be now adjourned and that the adjourned debate be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting.
– I wish to raise a point of order. A motion has been moved against the Minister for Air requiring him to withdraw or to take certain action. The Minister for Air has not said one word-
-Order! There is no point of order. The question is that the motion be agreed to.
– I rise to order. An extremely important point has been missed so far and that is that a character which has taken 6i years to be re-established will be destroyed in as many seconds tonight if a retraction is not made.
-Order! There is no point of order. The honourable member will resume his seat.
– I rise to order. At what time under the Standing Orders may the honourable member for Hunter make his personal explanation?
– After the division.
That the debate be now adjourned.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. W. J. Aston) Ayes . . . . . . 70
-Order! If the honourable member for Yarra continues to behave in this manner I will name him.
– Mr Speaker, if I cover my head may I say to you that the Prime Minister is identifying himself in this?
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 29 May (vide page 2472), on motion by Mr Barnes:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– Mr Speaker, this is a Bill to provide for the government of certain islands-
– 1 wish to make a personal explanation.
-I am afraid that I have called the Leader of the Opposition.
– I yield.
– Does the honourable member for Hunter claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. 1 am grateful for the courtesy of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and of you, Mr Speaker, in allowing me to make a personal explanation regarding the speech made tonight by the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth). He named me as frequently seeing a member of the Soviet Embassy in King’s Hall, and he said that he had verified the fact from one of the attendants. I wish to state that I have never seen a member of the Soviet Embassy in excess of what I believe is the normal courtesy which I would extend to any member of any foreign embassy in Australia. I have extended the same courtesy to members of other embassies - the Spanish Embassy and the South African Embassy. I attended a function at the South African Embassy early this year or late last year. I will continue to extend the same courtesy to all embassy officials, irrespective of class, colour or creed as long as I am a member of this Parliament and I will never injure deliberately my own nation.
– I rise to order, ls any Minister entitled to make a statement in this House which alleges that a member of the House has been seeing or interviewing a member of an embassy of a foreign country, based on something that he alleges was told to him by a messenger in the Parliament?
-Order! The right honourable member cannot debate the point of order. Up to date, there is no point of order.
– Is not that relevant? Can a Minister make a statement and say that he was told something by a messenger in the Parliament and not give the name of the messenger?
-Order! The point of order that the right honourable gentleman has raised is quite irrelevant. It has no substance.
– I raise a point of order. I think that a very important issue has arisen from the statement of the Minister for Social Services. It would appear from what he said that one or possibly more of the members of the staff of this House are used for some sort of detection and reporting system.
-Order! The honourable member will state his point of order.
– I am asking you, Mr Speaker, first of all, to what extent this sort of behaviour of an employee in this House would contravene the regulations and conditions under which he is employed.
-Order! It is not the responsibility of the Chair to advise members during a debate.
– With respect, I submit to you as the senior administrative officer in charge-
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order. If the honourable member wishes to raise this matter at some later date and at an appropriate time, I would be willing to consider it. There is no substance in the point of order at this stage of the debate.
- Mr Speaker, this is a Bill to provide for the government of certain islands acquired by the Commonwealth. They are islands in the Coral Sea, and are thus distant outposts of Australia’s empire.
In both area and population, Australia now rules the largest empire in the world. It is true that the empire is declining and will decline further. Last year the Trust Territory of Nauru was granted independence. In a very few years the colony of Papua and the Trust Territory of New Guinea similarly will gain independence. I would hope that without any further delay we would make that process easier and more harmonious by speeding the consultations with Queensland to rectify the boundary which was set in 1878 between Queensland and Papua and which runs for some 60 miles within 3 miles of the coast of Papua. The third Territory, the Australian Antarctic Territory may have lapsed. At least, our claim has been put into cold storage by Article IV of the Antarctic Treaty 1960. I notice that in no official publications today do we refer to the Australian Antarctic Territory.
The jurisdiction over the many islands surrounding the great Australian continental land mass is in a variety of hands. Lord Howe Island is part of New South Wales. Macquarie Island is part of Tasmania. Norfolk Island was accepted as a Territory by the Commonwealth in 1913. It had previously been an independent British colony which, however, shared the governorship with New South Wales. The basic laws of Norfolk Island are identical with those of New South Wales. Next in history was the Australian . Antarctic Territory which was accepted as a Territory of the Commonwealth in 1933. The Governor-General was given power to make laws under the Act of Acceptance. Since 1954 those laws have been supplanted by the laws of the Australian Capital Territory, which are basically the laws of New South Wales.
Also in 1933 the Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands was accepted as a Territory of the Commonwealth. At that time the basic laws were those of the State of Western Australia. Since 1938 they have been supplanted by the laws of the Northern Territory, which basically are those of South Australia. In 1953 the Territory of Heard Island and McDonald Islands was acquired by the Commonwealth. This is the only Territory which was described as being acquired by the Commonwealth before the
Coral Sea Islands Territory which is the subject of this Bill. The laws which apply in the Territory of Heard Island and McDonald Islands are those of the Australian Capital Territory. In 1955 the Territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands was accepted as a Territory of the Commonwealth. The basic laws of that Territory are those of Singapore. In 1968 the Territory of Christmas Island was accepted as a territory of the Commonwealth. The basic laws which apply in that Territory are either those of the Straits Settlements, which made laws between 1887 and 1946, or the Colony of Singapore which succeeded in the latter year.
I have the greatest doubts as to our wisdom in accepting the Territories of Cocos (Keeling) Islands and more particularly Christmas Island. There are problems of citizenship applying to both these remote Territories. In the latter in particular there is the whole question of indentured labourers. We were more than generous, I feel, in helping Britain to wind up her empire in South East Asia by accepting these two Territories.
I have mentioned the various basic laws applying in the Territories because I note with approval the different procedure which has been adopted in the present Bill. One could scarcely imagine a greater variety of laws than those which, in the last generation, have applied to the Territories of the Commonwealth. At various stages and in various Territories these have basically been the laws of Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Queensland - whose laws apply basically in Papua and New Guinea - the Straits Settlements and Singapore.
There are no inhabitants in this new Territory, our imperial outposts in the Coral Sea. It is true that there are three meteorologists who are rotated in the station on Willis Island but otherwise the islands are uninhabited. Nevertheless, we know from experience that other nations are manifesting increasing interest in the South Seas, and not least the seas surrounding Australia. These countries are interested in the fisheries, the pelagic, the demersal and the sedentary fisheries in Australian waters. They are interested in the continental shelf. They are interested in the sea bed and what lies thereunder. It is very appropriate therefore that laws should be made and that a structure for law making should be enacted. Crimes can be committed, in particular by people who are not residents and who are in fact birds of passage or blackbirders of passage. On 14th May last the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Bowen) presented a draft criminal code for the Australian Territories, He recalled that some 5 years ago his predecessor, now the Chief Justice of Australia, had asked the Law Council of Australia and its Queensland Committee to draw up such a code primarily designed for adoption in the Australian Territories.
– In the Australian internal territories.
– Yes, in the Australian internal territories, and in those cases where the Commonwealth needs a general criminal law, for instance, on ships and aircraft and for use in the defence forces. Also, I might recall, for use in the Australian Police Force in Cyprus. Clearly, however, there can be no field in which the draft criminal code for the Australian Territories is more to be desired than in the overseas Territories, the external Territories, those whose laws are so various as I have just described.
In his second reading speech the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) recalled the promise which was made by the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn), that there would be a specific act to deal with the petroleum submerged lands legislation as it concerns the islands in the Coral Sea. One appreciates this renewed undertaking. I say, however, at this stage that if the Bill comes up this year then we on this side of the House will, with still more conviction, attack it and, of course, next year we would bring in a Bill in a very different form.
Our confidence has been reinforced by the opinions expressed by our Sir Percy
Spender, the immediate past President of the International Court of Justice, and then by the opinions expressed last week by the members of the High Court who expressed a view on this matter. The Chief Justice, Mr Justice Kitto and Mr Justice Windeyer, the only judges who expressed a view on this matter, made it quite clear that in no case did States have jurisdiction for more than 3 miles beyond low water mark. This brings in issue the whole of the petroleum legislation, much of the fisheries legislation which the Government has introduced and many of the arrangements which the Government has accepted in recent years. It is salutary to find from the High Court such rejection of these shibboleths of sovereign states. The States in fact with federation achieved no more status than they had last century when they were British colonies and their writ did not run on the sea, beneath the sea, on the continental shelf, on the sea bed or below the sea bed for any more than 3 miles from low water mark. Indeed, in many cases it is clearly now the opinion of the High Court that the Commonwealth has concurrent power with the States within that 3-mile limit. The Opposition supports this Bill. It will make it much easier to ensure peaceful passage and proper development in the Coral Sea islands. The Commonwealth is very properly asserting its rights over these islands and establishing a framework for laws relating to them.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Bowen) read a third time.
House adjourned at 10.20 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
British Imperial Oil Co. Ltd v. Federal Commissioner of Taxation, (1925) 35 C.L.R. 422, at pp. 433, 435;
Porter v. R; Ex parte Yee, (1926) 37 C.L.R. 432, at pp. 445-6; Shell Co. of Australia Ltd v. Federal Commissioner of Taxation, (1931) A.C. 275, at pp. 298-9; 44 C.L.R. 530, at pp. 545-6; Federal Commissioner of Taxation v. Munro, (1926) 38 C.L.R. 153, at pp. 163, 199-201.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
– The information which has been collated for the honourable member is too lengthy and complex to be published in Hansard. Copies are available at the Table Office of the House of Representatives.
Education: Secondary Scholarship (Question No. 1617) Mr Whitlam asked the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
The numbers of applications received for Commonwealth Secondary scholarships and the numbers and percentages of successful applicants each year are as follows:
Within each State Commonwealth Secondary scholarships are awarded solely on merit and no specific allocation is made for particular categories of schools. The number and percentages of scholarships awarded each year to students Government, Catholic and other schools are as who at the time they competed were attending follows:
Scholarships awarded to students attending -
Data not available.
lt is not possible to provide the information sought in this part of the Question since statistics of enrolments at schools in metropolitan and other areas respectively are not available.
The numbers and percentages of Commonwealth Secondary scholarships awarded to boys and gills respectively each year is as follows:
Immigration: Applications for Entry from Rhodesia (Question No. 1494) Mr Whitlam asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Mr (Immigration (Question No. 1556)
Hansen asked the Minister for
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Table 1, attached, contains data only as from October 1966, i.e. since migration statistics have been processed by computer and arrivals classified by age and State of intended residence have become available. For the period before October 1966 only the figures shown in the attached Table 2 are available which indicate settler arrivals by State of intended residence irrespective of age or sex.
Immigration, upon notice:
What was the migrants intake of each of the Australian States during each of the past 5 years classified as (a) adult males, (b) adult females and (c) children.
* October to December only. t Includes settlers who proceed to the Reception Centre at Bonegilla and who do not know at the time in which State or Territory they will eventually settle.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 13 August 1969, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1969/19690813_reps_26_hor64/>.