26th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Lucock) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I address my question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is he aware that the Luigi gas plant at Morwell in Victoria will cease operations at the end of the year? Is he aware that the closure of this plant is due to the introduction of natural gas and that 320 men will bc deprived of employment as a result? As the Government is a party to the agreement covering the production and sale of petroleum products from the Bass Strait field, will the Minister inform the House what action this Government intends to take to rehabilitate those 320 men? Finally, will the Government compensate those men for the deflated values they will most certainly have to take for their homes on their departure from the Latrobe Valley to find work elsewhere?
– To begin with, 1 think the honourable member has his jurisdictions in the field of responsibility somewhat mixed up.
– They always are when you take action like this.
– The honourable member is also mixed up. The answer to his question is that I do not know the precise date at which this plant will be closing. Of course, J am generally aware of what is afoot. However, J am not aware of any agreement that this Government has with the Victorian instrumentality.
– I am not suggesting that you are tied up wilh the State government.
-Order! The honourable member for Gellibrand has asked his question.
– I might say to the honourable member that I have noticed many occasions on which the governments are not tangled up. Certainly, the Commonwealth does not set out to manage, control and regulate the State instrumentalities of Vic toria or any other State. As far as the displacement of labour is concerned, the normal routine action will be taken and the problem which currently exists should be manageable against the present background of hyper-full employment. Our big problem at the moment is to find enough available people to fill all of the jobs that are offering.
– These fellows take their homes on (heir backs and depart elsewhere, do they?
-Order! 1 ask the House to come to order. When a question has been asked and the Minister is replying, interjections from both sides of the House should cease in order to give the Minister an opportunity to reply and so that honourable members can hear his reply.
– As the matter raised by the honourable member is essentially the business of the Government of Victoria, and it is its responsibility to look after labour when it is displaced in this manner as well as to attend to housing and so forth, I, naturally, am not briefed in detail on what arrangements have been made. I will inquire into the opportunities for the re-employment of the men who are displaced but I would think that without too much difficulty they could be fitted into other sections of the labour force where their services will be needed. I shall inquire into this matter. However, I shall not probe those matters which are the direct responsibility of the Victorian Government.
– Has the Minister for National Development seen reports of a proposal by Mr Lang Hancock that a nuclear explosion should be undertaken lor mining purposes at Wittenoom Gorge in Western Australia? Have there been any discussions between the people representing Mr Hancock’s interests and officers of the Minister’s Department?
– The Commonwealth Government has known for some time of the interest of Mr Hancock in the feasibility of using a nuclear blast for assisting in developing his iron ore resources in Western Australia, but there has been no formal application made by him to the Commonwealth Government. If Mr Hancock decides that he would like to engage in such a process the first step that he must take is to approach the Western Australian Government which would then, if it saw fit, approach the Commonwealth Government. As I understand it, Mr Hancock’s proposal is for a fully contained underground nuclear explosion and, therefore, the nuclear test ban would not apply as there would be no venting to the atmosphere.
Before the Commonwealth could do anything along these lines, however, it would have to have undertaken a very comprehensive feasibility study which looked into aspects of safety, aspects of whether there was likely to be any damage from the shock of the explosion, and whether there would be any effect on underground water supplies, and of course this would take some considerable time. But 1 repeat that the first step would have to be in an approach to the Western Australian Government, and the Commonwealth would be interested in looking at this matter if the Western Australian Government brought the question up to it.
– Will the Minister for National Development publish the grounds for differences between the Commonwealth and State authorities in costing proposals for a major power house in central Queensland? Has Queensland justified to the Minister’s advisers its decision to place the power house at Gladstone rather than at the coal source? Is the State’s case for Gladstone based on the use of the Gladstone-Moura railway line which might otherwise become less economic with a decline in Mouras coal output, or is it based on expert advice that Gladstone and Queensland will get cheaper electricity by railing the coal than by piping water and stringing power lines to the power station?
– Of course, the honourable gentleman realises that this is a matter of policy which is under discussion by the Commonwealth at the present time. Reports by authorities to governments are not available, and I do not propose to discuss them.
– As the Prime Minister is to open a teachers training college in Perth on Saturday, will he take this opportunity to give the House some description of this impressive establishment, since it represents a most substantial contribution by his Government towards government school education in Western Australia?
– As the honourable member says, I will be opening this college in Perth very shortly. I have not had an opportunity to go through it so I cannot give a detailed description of it. But I have seen it on more than one occasion from the outside, as I have detoured in order to have a look at it, and it does appear to me to be a most impressive building architecturally and to offer very great opportunities and completely proper surroundings for the training of teachers for secondary schools in Western Australia.
The reason why I have been so interested in it was because, as the honourable member says, the finances were provided to a very great, if not a complete, extent from the Commonwealth Government, and when I was Minister for Education and Science we were able, in close collaboration with the West Australian Government, to divert to that State funds which otherwise would have been allocated to other States in order that the building could be proceeded with immediately, since plans were already available, and subsequently to transfer back to those other States the funds which over a period of time would have been available for Western Australia. Anybody who sees this building or anybody who sees pictures of it will see that it is a great contribution to the training of secondary school teachers and therefore to the State school system in Western Australia.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. As the Australian National Line is now an active participant in the United Kingdom-Europe conference and the Japan northbound conference, as an order has been placed for a ship to form part of the United States of America conference, and in view of statements by the Minister that the Line’s participation in these conferences will not increase freight charges, when can we expect a statement from the Government that the Australian National Line will build additional ships to extend its influence in these and other conferences? I have in mind the threat of an additional increase in freight charges of 2±%, which is causing so much concern to the Australia to Europe shippers association which believes it has once again been sold put by the Minister for Trade and Industry.
– As usual the honourable member for Newcastle seems to be working from a basis of misunderstanding of Australia’s participation in overseas trade. Initially Australia’s participation is intended to enable the Government to look into the operation of overseas trade in three different types of cargo handling. It is intended that the participation in cellular container ships, vehicular deck ships and the combination operation to the east coast of America will enable the Australian National Line, as an operator, to assess the relative economies and efficiency of the various types of cargo handling. As a result it should be possible to determine the benefits that can be gained for the exporters of Australian cargoes from the use of the different types of ships. 1 have not said that the Australian National Line’s participation of itself would prevent future freight increases. What I have said is that there will be no addition to the level of freights because of the extra accommodation or crewing costs incurred as a result of Australian manning and Australian conditions. In other words, because the standard of accommodation and the wages paid to Australian seamen are higher than they are in many other countries, there will be no additional increment in freight directly resulting from this.
In terms of the participation in freight negotiations, it will remain that freight will be determined as a result of discussions between the Australia to Europe Conference and each of the other conferences and the relevant shippers’ association. The Government for the first time as a participating member through the Australian National Line will have a complete knowledge of the construction of the freight charges. It will be able directly to prevent unjustified increases of freights and it is towards this objective that the Government is working. I believe that this is a development of which the Government can rightly be proud. It is a development that will contribute substantially to the containment of future freight rises and it is, as I have said, towards this objective that the Government is working.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Is the Minister aware of proposals made by the Australian Wheat Growers Federation last week that some flexibility be introduced into the pricing of wheat for stock feed and some other purposes? Is he aware also that the Federation is now supporting the principle of extra storage for over-quota and non-quota wheat? Has he had an opportunity to consider these proposals? If so, what action does he propose to take?
– There has been a great deal of public discussion about the price of feed wheat and wheat for industrial uses! Some people have had the impertinence to think that they should be allowed to determine the price or that governments should determine the price of feed wheat. Under the Wheat Industry Stabilisation Act the domestic price of wheat, whether for human consumption or other purposes, is determined by arrangement with the wheat industry and the State governments, which pass the necessary legislation. The wheat industry has been looking into this problem. Some weeks ago it considered the matter but decided that there should be no alteration in the price until it had more time lo investigate and to examine the many implications surrounding the adjustment of the price of feed wheat or wheat used for industrial purposes.
Last week the Australian Wheat Growers Federation again met in Perth. As a result of that meeting I met the executive of the Federation in Melbourne yesterday, where certain recommendations were put to me. The Federation recommended that the Australian Wheat Board be authorised to sell on the domestic market wheat for purposes other than home consumption - that is, as stock feed or for industrial use, such as the making of starch - at a price lower than the present horns consumption price of SI. 71 a bushel but not less than the guaranteed export price. Since the home consumption price in the States is a matter for State governments, no change could be made without their agreement. I undertook to refer the recommendation to the States. This morning I sent a telegram to each State Minister for Agriculture advising that the Commonwealth concurs in the Federation’s proposal and asking for the early agreement of the States to make appropriate changes in their legislation. The State Ministers are well aware of the widespread public interest in this matter. I hope that we will soon have agreement
As the price provisions of the stabilisation legislation are common to all States I have also offered to have a model amendment drafted so that each State might make the changes as soon as possible. In my discussions with the Federation reference was also made to the possibility of a Commonwealth contribution towards making up the difference between the present price and any newly determined price for stock feed wheat or wheat used for industrial purposes. The Commonwealth is not prepared to do this. Early action to permit application of the prices the Federation has proposed is a responsible approach by the industry to overcome some of the problems that are looming with the prospect of substantial quantities of over-quota wheat being available in the coming season in some States. I am sure that the proposals submitted by the Federation are ones which will be welcomed by the industrial users of wheat, by the provender millers and by the users of stock feed, such as the poultry, pig and cattle industries.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral a question. By way of explanation I refer to his answer to my request for a date for the introduction of colour television to Australia when he said that 53% of Japanese viewers were opposed to it. Is the Minister’s statement to be taken to mean that the introduction of colour television is to be postponed because a percentage of the Japanese people does not approve it? If so, will he say whether the 53% of Japanese viewers represented the total population or only television viewers? Do medical reports indicate that the in cidence of colour blindness in Japan is slightly higher than in most countries? If all of these are facts, does it mean that colour television in Australia is to be delayed until the Japanese favour it? If so, what percentage of the Japanese people must favour it for Australia to approve its introduction? Does the Minister consider that it is fair to the television industry in Australia and the Australian people to delay the introduction of colour television on the grounds that the Japanese people do not favour it?
– In his usual way the honourable member for Grayndler has misinterpreted what has been said in the House. What he attributes to me is not in fact the statement that I made. I pointed out yesterday afternoon that a survey in Japan had indicated that 53% of the viewers in Japan were more concerned with the programme content than about whether it was in colour or black and white. The honourable member has put quite a different interpretation on it this morning. I also indicated yesterday that in overseas countries the manufacturers were having great difficulty in selling colour television sets. The Government has been aware that there could be difficulty in this area. This is merely one of the considerations we are taking into account before a date for the introduction of colour television in Australia is determined. I am not in a position to indicate a date when it will be introduced.
– Can the Prime Minister tell this House whether the Government has any intention of allowing the Mascot aerodrome to be used by jet aircraft for 24 hours a day?
– I am not aware of any proposals that the Government has at all to allow Mascot aerodrome to be used for 24 hours a day. I will consult with the Minister for Civil Aviation but as far as I know there are no such proposals extant. I think I understand the basis for the honourable member’s question, because he represents one of those electorates where aircraft noise is such a significant factor in upsetting the people living in the area. I remember when he and two of his colleagues in adjoining electorates brought this to the Government’s notice so clearly that it was decided that Towra Point would not be an aerodrome adding to the noise nuisance in the area. I understand the approach. 1 know of no such proposals as he suggests, and 1 will get the Minister for Civil Aviation to talk to me or to him to clear it up.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question supplementary to the question asked by the honourable member for Barton. I ask it in the absence of the Minister for Civil Aviation, who seems to have been diverted or again to have lost his luggage on the flight he was due to make from Melbourne this morning. I take it that the Prime Ministers attention would undoubtedly have been drawn to the answer given in another place yesterday morning by the Minister who there represents the Minister for Civil Aviation. I would like to quote what the Minister said.
-The Leader of the Opposition is not allowed to quote.
– I am sure that the Prime Minister would have had the matter drawn to his attention, but my recollection is that the Minister who represents the Minister for Civil Aviation in another place pointed out that the Premier of Victoria was interested in having aircraft coming into the Tullamarine Airport in Melbourne for 24 hours of the day and he expressed his certain hope that in the future we would see an end to any objection in New South Wales. The right honourable gentleman will undoubtedly remember that at question time a month ago the Minister for Civil Aviation said that he had given permission - of course he knows that the permission must come from the Minister for Civil Aviation - for the importation of one complete quick change Boeing 727 and another modified quick change Boeing 727, and that the Minister told me it is obviously far more economic to have full utilisation during all hours of the night as well as the day. I ask the Prime Minister: Did the Cabinet consider the matter of giving permission for the importation of these quick change Boeings before the Minister for Civil Aviation gave his permission for them to be imported? I also ask him whether, to put a firm and clear end to all doubts on this matter, he will now undertake to reject any application which his Government might receive to use these aircraft in and out of Tullamarine and Mascot during the present banned hours between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.
- Mr Acting Speaker, I have noticed, but not read in detail, the report of proceedings in another place to which the Leader of the Opposition has referred. I- note that, according to the report 1 read, the question was directed towards Tullamarine. The question seemed to me to indicate that Sir Henry Bolte had been quoted as saying that he believed that Tullamarine should be an aerodrome at which 24 hour a day operations should be able to take place. That may or may not be the view of Sir Henry Bolte, but it is the one that was put forward in this question.
Tullamarine is in a completely different situation, of course, from Mascot. Honourable members will know that Tullamarine is at the moment virtually in the country, certainly well out on the outskirts of the city of Melbourne, and that flying operations there would by no means have the same effect on the numbers of people living around that aerodrome as would flying operations at Mascot. So, I would reject altogether the Leader of the Opposition’s suggestion that Tullamarine and Mascot were in the same category in this regard.
I would think that it was perfectly reasonable and sensible for quick change Boeing aircraft to be imported. The mere fact of the importation of aircraft which arc able to be changed over quickly from passengers to freight does not mean and is not to be taken to mean that merely because of that such aircraft would be used in an area such as Mascot. All I can do is to repeat what I said to the honourable member for Barton, that I know of no proposition having been put forward to us for 24 hour a day operations into or out of Mascot. I know of no such proposal. I will, as I said, confer with the Minister for Civil Aviation so that he can reply to the question asked of me by the honourable member for Barton.
– I ask a question of the Prime Minister. Having regard to the rapid development by Communist China as a nuclear power, the belligerence of its external policies and the reluctance of that country to show any goodwill in the international community, has the Government made any recent assessment of the dangers of the policy of a nuclear free zone in the Southern Hemisphere? Further, can the right honourable gentleman say whether there has been any recent happening which would in any way diminish the importance or the relevance of the Government’s decision to co-operate with the United States in the establishment of the North West Cape communications base?
– The honourable member’s question is based, I believe, on his own belief and my own belief that Communist China is a country which is a dogmatic supporter of the hard Communist line - that Communism and freedom cannot live together side by side in the world and that Communism must be spread over the world by all means including force. I believe that this country is giving all indications and has been giving all indications that that is the policy to which it adheres. We would, of course, like to see it abandon such a policy, but 1 speak of what I see the matter to be at the moment.
With regard to the question about a nuclear free zone, I have never been able to understand what was meant by a ‘nuclear free zone’. If what is meant is an area in which no nuclear weapons are stationed at all, then clearly the Southern Hemisphere could not be a nuclear free zone, could not be policed because clearly there would be Russian, Chinese and other submarines armed with nuclear weapons. Quite apart from that, the whole proposition appears to be something of a dream proposition because anybody from outside the zone is able to deliver weapons into the zone whereupon it immediately ceases to become a nuclear free zone. I have never been able to understand at all what the proposition once put forward - and perhaps still sustained - by the Opposition means. In relation to the nuclear non-proliferation treat)’ to which I think the honourable member referred, we would need - and this is a matter of well known knowledge - to be assured in our own minds of a number of points but the most significant one would be that the signature and ratification of this treaty would in no way impair the safety of Australia. We are not so satisfied and until we are so satisfied we would not sign the treaty.
– I ask the Minister for the Army whether the new system of mail deliveries to Saigon, which uses returning American rest and recreation flights from Sydney, is proving to be unpopular with our soldiers in Vietnam. Has the number of deliveries to soldiers in the Task Force camp at Nui Dat been reduced? Does the Minister know that our men are complaining that their mail is not arriving regularly in Australia? What action is being taken to improve these mail deliveries?
– I have seen several Press reports alleging that the new system of mail deliveries to and from our troops in Vietnam is not as satisfactory as the system which was previously in force. As the House will recall from an answer I gave during question time some weeks ago, under the new system mail is consigned to Vietnam direct between Australia and Saigon instead of through Honolulu as was previously the case. I recognise, of course, the importance of mail to our own troops. The honourable member and the House may be assured that every step is being taken by my Department to ensure that there will be no delay to the troops in the field under the new system. I have paid careful attention in recent weeks to current mail schedules. I can say, for example, that mail which closed at the Sydney General Post Office on 24th July arrived at the Post Office at Nui Dat on 25th July; that mail which closed on 26th July arrived on 27th July; that mail which closed on 27th July arrived on 29th July; and that mail which closed on 29th July arrived on 30th July. This means that there were four deliveries in 6 days and three of them were effected on the following day. At this stage I have not seen figures - they are not available - relating to the return mail from Australians in Vietnam. lt is true that under the new system experience has shown that there will be fewer deliveries per week but I am assured, in quite explicit terms, by my Department that under the new system no mail will be delayed in comparison with the system previously in force and that in fact some mail will be expedited. The only case in point which 1 have, to indicate dissatisfaction on the part of troops, and about which I have sought signal advice from Vietnam, concerns delay in the delivery of four letters. This matter is under examination by my Department. I can assure the honourable member that I do net treat this matter lightly. I realise the effect that it has on the morale of the troops. I am satisfied myself at this stage that there is no avoidable delay. However, if the honourable member or any other honourable member can provide me with information of any specific cases of delay in delivery I will have them investigated immediately.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Education and Science. What is the present position with regard to scholarships for students entering universities? Is the statement that there are now 2i times as many scholarships available for students entering universities as there were in 1951 correct?
– It is entirely false to imply, as the statement did - it was made, I think, on 9th September by the Leader of the Opposition-
– Mr Acting Speaker, I rise to a point of order. This was supposed to be a question without notice. This is the second time this morning that a Minister has answered a question which obviously was a question on notice. There is procedure, under the rules of the House, for a Minister to make a statement after question time. This gives the Opposition an opportunity to debate the statement. I feel that the Standing Orders are being abused.
– Under the Standing Orders a Minister may answer a question as he desires.
– I take the point of order, Mr Acting Speaker, that the Minister is being invited to debate a question that he failed to answer when he spoke after me 3 days ago. This is reviving a debate.
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– I can understand the Opposition’s reluctance to have the facts made available to the House in view of what was said on an earlier occasion, lt is entirely false for anyone to imply that there are only 2i times the number of scholarships available to those entering universities and other tertiary institutions as there were in 1951. I should like to give the facts. In 1951 there were 3,000 scholarships for all Commonwealth scholarship purposes. At present there are 7,500 open entrance scholarships - one category of scholarship - which, in fact, is 24 limes the earlier number. But if we restrict it to that, this ignores the fact that there are 4,000 later year awards and 2,500 awards for colleges of advanced education also in the tertiary field and that scholarships in this area for tertiary technical colleges earlier came out of the general scholarship quota. There are, in fact, now 14,000 scholarships a year for those entering tertiary institutions as opposed to 3,000 in 1951 and opposed to the 7,500 as applied by the Leader of the Opposition when he spoke. This is a higher proportion of all students in universities than it was at the earlier time. There has been a most noteworthy achievement over the last couple of years because from January 1968 to 1970, when the decisions of the last Budget will be put into effect, the increase in the number of tertiary scholarships made available by this Government will be increased by 55% in 2 years. This shows quite clearly that the Leader of the Opposition has again, I believe - and I say this advisedly - quite deliberately, for his own purposes, ignored the facts of the situation.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service: Does he recognise that there is now no hostel for the accommodation of migrant families in Canberra? Does he know that migrant families arriving here face extreme difficulty and, indeed, high cost in finding accommodation for themselves pending the allocation of housing by the Department of the Interior over a waiting time approximating some 31 months? Does the Minister recall that it was from this place in the House that I made the initial suggestion that migrant hostels should be replaced by self-contained flats providing the type of accommodation that is now being provided elsewhere for migrants? Will the Minister consult with his colleague, the Minister for Immigration, on the possibility of establishing blocks of self-contained flats to house migrant families in this national capital, the city of Canberra?
– The honourable member will recollect the former migrant hostel at Ainslie about which there was, when it was in operation, a continuous stream of complaints, many made by him. I received a number of deputations on this point. I recognised that there were many features about it which were unsatisfactory and in response to the representations made we closed it down. It is now used for other purposes. The question of the provision of transitory flats has been considered. I emphasise the word ‘transitory’. This is temporary accommodation for a period of up to 6 months. My colleagues, the Minister for Immigration and the Minister for Housing, have this whole project currently under review and are considering various propositions for different parts of the Commonwealth. I can give the honourable member no information at this stage because it is a matter of policy which has not been decided upon. As far as migrants coming to Canberra are concerned, one knows that anyone coming here is faced with housing difficulties, except perhaps those within the Public Service who are transferred here and who get quite generous rent subsidies for a considerable time until permanent housing is available. But the problem of accommodation is being looked at in relation to this and other places. The matter will certainly not escape attention. We have had it continuously under review in relation to the supply of migrants, labour market requirements and permanent accommodation.
– I refer the Minister for Shipping and Transport to a statement he made in this House on 26th August last concerning the tragic sinking of the motor vessel ‘Noongah’ off Kempsey on the north coast of New South Wales and in which he said that an initial preliminary inquiry into this unfortunate disaster was taking place. 1 ask: Has this preliminary inquiry been completed? If so, can he inform the House of the result of that inquiry and what further action is contemplated? I also ask whether a full appreciation has been made of the rescue operations which involved the Royal Australian Air Force, the Navy, the New South Wales civil defence organisation and the police force, together with hundreds of civilians in the Kempsey area?
– To answer the last part of the honourable member’s question first, it is true to say that many members of the Services and of the civil defence organisation and the police force, as well as many local residents, spent a good deal of time and effort in assisting in the search for traces of the vessel that was lost off the north coast of NSW and also for any trace of survivors. To all those involved I express on behalf of the Government sincere thanks for their co-operation and effort. The preliminary inquiry has in fact been completed and the findings have been handed to me. They indicate that, contrary to the original belief, the ‘Noongah’ sank rapidly by the bow and not by the stern. The findings demonstrate that there is some doubt now as to whether or not the cargo shifted. They show that the vessel was well and properly stowed and they have not demonstrated any immediate deficiency in the life saving equipment, nor in the operation of the vessel itself. Accordingly, on the recommendation of Captain Pearson, I have referred this matter to a court of marine inquiry for a full and complete inquiry into all the circumstances of the foundering of the vessel and the consequential loss of life, and I have done this in the following terms: I have asked the Court of Marine Inquiry at Melbourne to make an inquiry into the circumstances of the foundering of the MV ‘Noongah’ off Nambucca Heads, New South Wales, on the 25th August 1969 and the consequential loss of life. I have been advised that the Court of Marine Inquiry will be able to commence its inquiries forthwith and that all those who have any interest whatsoever in the vessel or in the proceedings will have an adequate opportunity to appear at that inquiry.
– I ask the Minister for Education and Science: How many persons were undertaking tertiary education in Australia at the time Commonwealth scholarships were introduced in 1951? How many persons are undertaking tertiary education now? If he cannot give me these figures now how soon will he be able to supply them to me? I also ask: Will he confirm that there are now three times as many students entering universities and four and a half times as many passing matriculation level examinations as there were in 1951? In conclusion I ask: How soon will he be able to answer my questions that have been on the notice paper since 29th May relating to postgraduate awards and advanced education scholarships, the number of persons receiving them, the number of persons applying for them and the number of persons eligible for them?
– Each year the Leader of the Opposition has a habit of putting questions on the notice paper, some of which have up to 20 or 22 parts. Somethimes his questions run from year to year and it is merely a matter of updating them. At other times the Leader of the Opposition changes the form of his questions, which means that the basis of the statistics has to be altered to some extent. The honourable member knows quite well that the length of the question and the amount of precise detail in the question that he requires involve an enormous amount of work by officers of various departments. However, the questions will be pursued and I hope answered before Parliament rises. I know that a draft of one of his extraordinarily long questions was approved yesterday.
There were roughly 27,000 university students in 1951. I say this because when the Leader of the Opposition spoke on the estimates of my Department he left out of his calculations other persons who were studying at tertiary level at technical colleges of different kinds. Because of this the figures that I am giving also do not include those tertiary students. As I said, in 1951 there were roughly 27,000 university students. There are, from memory, 107,000 university students this year. Provision has been made for these numbers substantially to increase, of course, over the next 3 years in the programmes that have been introduced.
I would also like to confirm to the Leader of the Opposition that in total there were only 3,000 tertiary scholarships provided by the Commonwealth in 1951. There will be 14,000 tertiary scholarships provided from the beginning of 1970. Also, there will have been a 55% increase in the number of tertiary scholarships made available by this Government over the last 2-year period.
If the honourable gentleman would like some additional information I could say that from the year 1963-64 to this particular year what we spend on scholarships will have increased from $7,700,000 a year to over $32m this year. Also, it might interest the honourable member to know that the present number of scholarships will increase this expenditure to $40m in 3 or 4 years time. No government before the present regime had done anything in this area; no government has done more by way of student assistance than has the present Government in recent times.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister, bearing in mind that the Minister for Civil Aviation is absent in Melbourne at a very important aviation conference. Is the right honourable gentleman aware of the unequivocal and clearcut statement made by his Minister last night completely rejecting the proposition that operations of jet aircraft between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. will be permitted at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport and also that the Government has no intention whatever of lifting that curfew?
– I am glad to be able to add information to the question asked of me by the Leader of the Opposition and I am sure that he will be pleased that I am able to supplement the information given to him. When I previously answered his question I indicated that I knew of no proposals that there should be 24 hour a day flying into Mascot. I know of no such proposal. Since answering the question I have seen a report attributing to the Minister for Civil Aviation the unequivocal statement to which the honourable member refers which, of course, adds as I said to the information sought by the Leader of the Opposition.
– Pursuant to section 147 of the Defence Act 1903-1966 I present the annual report on the Royal Military College of Australia for the period 26th January 1968 to 31st January 1969. Mr Acting Speaker, I ask leave to make a very short statement in relation to this report.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Subsequent to the period covered by the report the death occurred of Sir Jack Stevens, K.B.E., CB., D.S.O., E.D., who had accepted an invitation to join the Interim Council of the College. I take this opportunity of recording the Government’s and the Army’s appreciation of the fine contribution made by Sir Jack Stevens in both military and civilian fields over a long period of public service.
The report states that no new buildings were constructed during the period under review. Honourable members will appreciate that any decision in this regard must await the outcome of the investigation being made into the question of a tri-Service college by the committee appointed for the purpose by my colleague the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall). However, in the meantime steps have been taken to ensure that adequate facilities are provided at the Royal Military College to meet current needs and the expected growth with next year’s cadet intake. The works proposed include extensions to the engineering workshop, physics department and chemistry laboratories.
– by leave - I did not expect - I was not informed - that the Minister for the Army (Mr Lynch) proposed making a tribute to Sir Jack Stevens in tabling the report. Therefore, while not being able to do so as fully as I would have wished to do so if I had had notice, I would like to say, on behalf of the Opposition, that we join in the tribute to a man who, in a long life of civil and miiltary service, and at times of fluctuating fortune, served this country very well indeed. I thank the House for giving me the opportunity to support the remarks which the Minister very properly made.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. I was misrepresented by the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) during question time today. Ministers have the opportunity in the debate on the Estimates to answer anything that is said in criticism of their departments. The Minister did not have the wit to do so the other day.
-Order! I suggest to the Leader of the Opposition, firstly, that he withdraws the remark that he has just made and, secondly, that in regard to the personal explanation he does not debate the matter.
– I withdraw the remark. Might I say that it is difficult to rebut, adequately and fairy in the House, the answers to questions that are put to Ministers by their supporters, taken out of the context of matters earlier said in the House. Therefore, Sir, I wish to say that everything I said in my speech on the estimates for the Department of Education and Science on Tuesday afternoon, including the passage to which the Minister himself referred this morning, was based on public documents or answers to questions which the Minister has given me. I gave a very great number of comments on answers which he had given me. He has not challenged any of the other comments. I take it he endorses them.
My speech on this particular matter, which was precisely phrased, was exactly based on questions which I have asked him and Sir Robert Menzies who previously was in charge of this aspect of Commonwealth administration for possibly a decade past. I have sought from the present Minister for Education and Science information on the number of persons entering or staying at tertiary institutions other than universities - teachers’ colleges, colleges of advanced education and technical colleges. I have been told that such information is not available. I have given interpretations of such facts as are available - all the facts that I could elicit. Accordingly I reiterate that what I said on Tuesday afternoon in the debate on the estimates for the Department of Education and Science was correct in this respect and in every other.
– I move:
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1966, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed works which were referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the Committee has duly reported to this House:
Construction of Jingili and Moil primary schools, Darwin, Northern Territory.
The proposals involve the construction of two primary schools each to accommodate approximately 315 primary and 175 infant pupils. Each proposal will include classrooms, art and craft rooms, school tuckshop, general purpose room, administrative section, an oval, basketball courts and landscaping. The estimated cost of each school is $700,000.
In reporting favourably on the proposal, the Committee commented that the Jingili school reference should have been submitted to the Committee late in 1968 to allow a reasonable time for completion and fitting out and furnishing before the commencement of the 1971 school year.
A comprehensive demographic survey was undertaken in 1968. It revealed that a considerable acceleration in the provision of school accommodation and facilities was necessary. A comprehensive forward programme of school building projects was prepared and although the time taken for this meant that the completion of the Jingili school could have been delayed, it was considered that this planning approach, rather than a piecemeal one, would be of greater benefit to the future development of the school programme for both Darwin and the Northern Territory in total.
The Department of Works is now undertaking development of planning to tender readiness stage and is advancing the major classroom wing with the view to having it ready for fitting out in time for commencement of the 1971 school year. The balance of the project will be completed progressively over the period from December 1970 to May 1971. Upon the concurrence of the House in this resolution, detailed planning can proceed in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee.
– The Opposition supports the motion. On two occasions this week we have had an opportunity to mention in the House matters relating to the construction of schools in the Northern Territory. On both occasions we dealt with high schools in Darwin and Alice Springs. The motion now before the House relates to the construction of two primary schools in Darwin. It is obvious that a population explosion of relatively large dimensions is occurring in Darwin, especially in the number of younger people. This was revealed by the demographic survey carried out in 1968, when I understand recommendations were made that there should be an acceleration of the rate of school construction to cater for the increasing enrolments, particularly of infants.
It is pleasing to see that these two schools which will now be constructed provide not only for the older children but also for infants. It is pleasing also to note that the schools have been designed in such a way as to permit participation in extracurricular activities, such as sport. I am not sure what is implied in the comment by the Public Works Committee that the reference should have been submitted to it late in 1968. This would seem to be a mild criticism by the Committee of the reference not being submitted to it earlier. The important thing is that the schools are to be constructed without delay, thus alleviating a growing problem that has been evident for some time, particularly as it affects younger children in Darwin. The Opposition supports the motion.
– I support the motion. I am very pleased to note that the Government is maintaining an interest in a school building programme to keep pace with the population explosion in the Northern Territory. I notice that the plans in respect of this work include provision for ovals, landscaping and a tuckshop. These are ordinary amenities provided in most schools, but I have noticed that some are absent in some schools in the Territory, such as Darwin High School and the school at Tennant Creek. I am pleased to see these amenities included in the plans for this work. I commend the Government for its continued activity in providing educational facilities for the children of the Northern Territory.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1966, the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report: Rehabilitation of 1942 building, G.P.O., Sydney.
The proposal involves the rehabilitation of the ground floor, mezzanine, first and second floors, as stage 1 of a selfcontained operations building housing mail handling equipment and telecommunications. The estimated cost of the proposed work is $1,100,000. I table plans of the proposed works.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill presented by Mr Anthony, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Nitrogenous Fertilisers Subsidy Act 1966 expires on 31st October 1969. The Bill now before the House gives effect to the Government’s decision announced in the Budget speech to extend the subsidy on nitrogenous fertilisers at the existing level of $80 per ton of contained nitrogen for a further three years to 31st October 1972. The Bill also makes provision for the payment of subsidy on imported fertilisers under specified conditions. The nitrogenous fertilisers subsidy applies to fertilisers manufactured from inorganic chemical nitrogen and to naturally occurring nitrate of soda sold in Australia for use as fertilisers. The subsidy also applies to the nitrogen content of fertilisers used as a stock food supplement.
The subsidy on nitrogenous fertilisers was introduced in 1966. This followed the provision in 1963 of bounty on phosphatic fertilisers. The Government was thus directly encouraging the use of the two major plant nutrients - nitrogen and phosphorus. On 21st August, when introducing the Phosphate Fertilisers Bounty Bill, I dealt with the role of phosphorus in primary industry. Nitrogen is also an essential element for plant growth. With the exception of legumes, all plants obtain their requirements of nitrogen from the soil. There are many parts of Australia where climatic or other factors limit the extent to which legumes can be used to increase the availability of nitrogen and in these situations it can be advantageous to add nitrogen fertiliser in order to promote optimum plant growth and yield.
The case for a subsidy on nitrogenous fertilisers rests on two main grounds. Firstly, the subsidy provides cost relief for the user of nitrogen and, secondly, it encourages the application of nitrogen to crops and pastures where it has been shown to lead to increased productivity and lower unit costs. The subsidy also encourages experimentation with nitrogen application where technical and economic aspects of nitrogen fertilisation have not been fully worked out. Before the subsidy the high price of nitrogen fertilisers in Australia relative to the prices paid by farmers in countries which were our main competitors in world markets, placed our producers at a heavy cost disadvantage. This was particularly so in those industries where nitrogen was an essential requirement for satisfactory crop production.
I think honourable members will agree that the primary objective of the subsidy is being substantially achieved. The immediate effect of the subsidy was to reduce the cost of nitrogenous fertilisers to the full extent of the subsidy in proportion to the nitrogen content. For instance, the price of sulphate of ammonia, which contains 21% nitrogen, was reduced by $16.80 per ton. Similarly, for urea which is 46% nitrogen, the price was reduced by $36.80 per ton. The subsidy has meant that for most nitrogen fertilisers, Australian farmers have been able to obtain their supplies at prices equal to or lower than farmers in most other countries. The enhanced productivity has also assisted farmers to contain unit production costs, especially in important export industries such as sugar, fruit, cereals and dairying. For example, it has been estimated that for 1968-69 the subsidy was worth some $220 to a typical Queensland cane grower.
Over the past three years subsidy payments have totalled $28m, representing equivalent savings in cash outlay on fertiliser nitrogen by farmers. However since 1965-66, the year just prior to the introduction of the subsidy, the overall Bureau of Agricultural Economics index of prices paid to prices received by primary producers has continued its downward trend from 102 to 89. Although to some extent this adverse movement in price paid to received has been offset by increased output, the squeeze on farmers, incomes in recent years has not been relieved; in fact it has tightened. There is therefore clear need for the various cost relief measures that the Government has introduced, including this extension of the nitrogen subsidy. Demand from farmers for nitrogen fertiliser has expanded rapidly both in volume and range since 1966. Consumption, expressed as elemental nitrogen, has more than doubled in the 3 years of the subsidy, from slightly under 70,000 tons in 1965-66 to an estimated level of 140,000 tons in 1968-69. Nevertheless, the potential for encouraging nitrogenous fertiliser use in new areas has not yet been fully realised. With the incentive provided by the extension of the subsidy, use of nitrogenous fertiliser should continue to expand. Subsidy payments in 1969-70 are estimated at $15m. It is confidently expected that the net benefits to the nation will be well in excess of the cost of the Commonwealth subvention.
I now come to the change in policy regarding imports of nitrogenous fertiliser which is introduced in the Bill before the House. Since 1966 the bulk of the increased demand for nitrogenous fertilisers has been met by imports. At the time of the introduction of the subsidy, the Government had in mind, apart from the objectives I have mentioned, that the increased demand should encourage local fertiliser production. New nitrogen plants have recently come on stream with a combined capacity more than sufficient to meet total Australian demand. Under the existing Act, subsidy is payable only on those imports which represent the shortfall between the requirements of primary producers and domestic production. Accordingly, unless the Act were altered, subsidy would no longer have been payable on most imports. This would have produced a situation where there was a risk that the subsidy could have become a protective device in cases where import prices were below domestic manufacturing costs. Also the northern producer could have suffered by virtue of his distance from centres of domestic manufacture.
It is proposed therefore to amend section 5 of the present Act to allow subsidy to be paid on imported fertiliser, not only where an equivalent is not available in Australia but also where Australian manufacturers are not prepared to meet the import price. However there is provision in the amendment to section 6 of the Act to ensure that such imports do not place the Australian manufacturer at an unfair disadvantage where the fertiliser has been exported to Australia at dumped prices. The wording of the amendment closely follows the wording of the Customs Tariff (Dumping and Subsidies) Act 1961-1965. Subsidy entitlement will be available on imports where the administering department, the Department of Customs and Excise, after investigation on the lines of that undertaken under the dumping and subsidies legislation, is satisfied that the proposed imports are not dumped and that the transaction will not be matched by an Australian manufacturer. To sum up; it is the intention of the Government that farmers be able to buy fertiliser at or near to the undumped import price of equivalent nitrogenous fertilisers. At the same time, it is anticipated that the local industry will have the opportunity to supply the great bulk of Australia’s requirements. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Dr Patterson) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr Erwin) proposed:
That during consideration of the Second Schedule of the Appropriation BUI (No. 1) 1969-70 the time allotted for the consideration together of the proposed expenditures for the departments of Shipping and Transport and Civil Aviation be varied to allow the proposed expenditures to be considered separately for the following times: Department of Shipping and Transport, li hours; Department of Civil Aviation, 2 hours.
– I would like to comment on this motion. I think it is a very good one. I am very glad that the Government has seen fit to divide these two departments so that honourable members may speak to them with some continuity. But I query why the estimates for the Department of Works and the estimates for the Department of the Interior, which are two separate departments altogether, were not set down to be considered separately. They should be considered separately. This week we discussed the estimates for the Repatriation Department and the departments of Health, Housing and Social Services in one group. Members were allowed to speak only once under the one group heading. There are members, including myself, who would very much like to have had the opportunity to say something on each of those subjects. The Department of Customs and Excise, the Department of Primary Industry and the Department of Trade and Industry were under one heading. It is ridiculous to lump the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Primary Industry under the one heading. There is a very great need for full discussion of the items of these two departments. The guillotine is very inequitable to members who want to express opinions. I hope that in futures years the Government will see fit to divide the debate on the Estimates so that every department comes under a separate heading.
– I support the motion proposed by the Leader of the House (Mr Erwin) and I thank him for his co-operation in agreeing to have the estimates for these two departments considered separately.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Consideration resumed from 11 September (vide page 1255).
Department of Shipping and Transport
Proposed expenditure, $82,212,000.
– First of all, may I express my disappointment and regret that the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) has not seen fit to table in this Parliament a copy of the annual report of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission, which is the Commission in control of the Australian National Line, so that members in this place could have an opportunity of studying it and debating its contents during consideration of the estimates for the Department of Shipping and Transport. This once again is the action of a Minister and a Government who hold this Parliament in contempt and treat it only as a rubber stamp.
On 26th August the Minister for Shipping and Transport made a statement in this Parliament relating to the sinking of the motor vessel ‘Noongah*. At that stage the members of the Opposition had some information relative to that most unfortunate tragedy, but we refrained from making any comment other than to express our sympathy to the relatives and friends of the men who lost their lives. On behalf of the Opposition I asked the Minister to give an assurance that he would submit to the Parliament a further report on the findings of Captain Pearson. The Minister in reply to me said:
I will not guarantee to submit to Parliament Captain Pearson’s report. This will depend on the nature of the report. But the terms of reference will be made known to Parliament and if it is desired it will then be a matter for open debate and discussion.
This morning we saw the blatant use of question time once again by the LiberalCountry Party Government to avoid its responsibility to give members of the Opposition an opportunity of commenting on reports and replies to prepared questions. The question that the honourable member for Cowper (Mr Robinson) asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport this morning was obviously a prepared question. The Minister has not kept his promise to bring the terms of reference before this Parliament so that they can be debated. If he had done the decent thing he would have sought leave to make a further statement to the Parliament. He would have been granted leave by the Opposition. The Government makes ministerial statements or crams question time with Dorothy Dix questions as it wishes. As far as this unfortunate tragedy is concerned, this Government, I believe, has something to answer for.
– Utter nonsense.
– I beg the Minister’s pardon?
– That is utter nonsense.
– It is not utter nonsense.
– We have now commissioned a full and complete inquiry. That is what the honourable member was after.
– Why did not the Minister rise in this Parliament immediately after question time today and make a statement so that at least the terms of reference of the inquiry could be questioned?
– A full and complete inquiry is being commissioned.
– Why did not the Minister do that to see whether members of the Opposition are prepared to accept what is being put forward?
– The honourable member does not want a complete inquiry.
– As far as this tragedy is concerned, the ship was the subject of a minor repair by Storey and Keers some 2 months ago. Members of my union, the Boilermakers and Blacksmiths Society of Australia, objected to the manner in which the repairs were being carried out and to the inadequacy of the repairs. As a result of their protests and objections concerning the manner in which this work was being carried out, a little additional work was performed on this ship. Instead of the ship being tied up for roughly a month while a complete survey was carried out, a rush job was carried through in a matter of 4 days when the heads of over 1,200 rivets of the tank top were welded.
As the honourable member for Wide Bay (Mr Hansen) who is a shipwright and who himself has worked in the ship building industry and the ship repair industry as I have knows, 1,200 rivet heads should not be welded on the tank top of a ship like the Noongah’ which was some 14 years old. It was built in 195S. This should not have happened. A complete survey should have been made of the intercostals, the floors, the shell, the tank top and everything else. If these rivets were leaking because the plate was rusted they should have been taken out and the holes should have been reamed and new rivets put in. This was not done. A patch job was carried out on this ship. This is not good enough. Men must go to sea in ships like the ‘Noongah’. As a result of the incident that occurred, twenty-one men have lost their lives. But the Government treats this matter in the cavalier manner in which it did this morning. It introduced this subject by way of a question, the lowest form of political tactics that are being used repeatedly by the Government in this place.
So, as far as I am concerned, 1 condemn most strongly the actions that were taken by the Minister for Shipping and Transport this morning. I have talked to the survivors of the ship as probably the Minister and other members of the Government have. These men could not get the lifeboats off the ‘Noongah’. The lifeboats were never launched from it. The Minister knows this. The lifeboats were not launched. The men were belting into the chocks to try to force them loose. Because of this, men have lost their lives. The life jackets on this ship were not satisfactory. The Seamen’s Union knows this and the Government knows it. The life jackets should have been replaced. The Government, which is responsible for the Australian National Line, was riding this ship out to its absolute maximum, getting every day of use that it could out of everything on the ship.
– The honourable member is making allegations not based on fact. They are based on supposition.
– I am making allegations on statements made to me by some of the men who survived this tragedy.
In my view, this matter should have been brought before the Parliament in a decent way in the form of a ministerial statement. The Minister will stand condemned forever because of his failure to do that.
– Is the honourable member going to prejudge an inquiry?
– I am not prejudging an inquiry at all. All I am doing is bringing to the attention of the Committee the fact that you, as the Minister responsible for this, are trying to hold debate off and to stop debate in this place until such time as the election is over. That is what you are trying to do, because you are a guilty man. You realise this - that your Department has made an error, has made a mistae-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Hon. Sir William Haworth) - Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.
– Mr Deputy Chairman, I grossly resent the charge that I am a guilty man. I ask that the honourable member withdraw that remark and I seek his apology for it.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- The honourable member for Newcastle will withdraw that remark.
– As I wish to proceed with my remarks in this debate and as there are other matters that I wish to debate today, I will withdraw the statement. I say that this Government has committed an error and must accept full responsibility for it. It is trying to hide because of the election. It is trying to stave off any result of any interim inquiry so that such a result will not be made public until after the election is held. That is all I wish to say about the ‘Noongah’. The incident was a great tragedy. I regret most sincerely that I had to raise the matter. It was not my intention to raise this matter here today. Honourable members on my side of the Committee know that I asked them to go to my room and to grab a few notes from my desk that I had made from inquiries that I have conducted already on this matter. It was not my intention to raise this matter. The Government used the forms of this place to sneak in a report on it, so that honourable members would not be given an opportunity to debate the matter.
Other matters relating to the Department of Shipping and Transport concern me very much. The first one with which I wish to deal is freight rates on overseas trade. This matter involves the primary producers of Australia. We have seen announcements and statements in the Press recently by various shipping interests which are greatly concerned with the report that shipping freights will be increased by some12½%. The Australian-Europe Shippers Association is greatly concerned with this matter. Those involved in shipping goods from Tasmania and from the northern ports of Queensland are concerned at the raw deal which is being meted out to them by the container consortium of which we are now a part as we now have one ship in the AustraliaEuropeUnited Kingdom Conference, one ship in the North Bound Japanese Conference and shortly we will have one ship in the United States Conference.
The shippers and the Conference Lines are claiming an increase of 12i% in freight rates on the pretext that they have incurred additional stevedoring charges in Australia as a result of the report of the Woodward Committee. This may be ture. I am not disputing that statement for a moment. But what they have not brought to the attention of the shippers of this country is how much has been saved as the result of the introduction of containerisation and what has been the result of the savings following the introduction of containerisation. Furthermore, those concerned are refusing to pass on to Australian shippers any benefits from the 20% shipping investment allowance which is being granted to shipping companies by the United Kingdom Government. They are refusing to give any details of these savings to Australian shippers so that at least a fair and reasonable assessment of freight rates can be arrived at.
On the subject of freights, I wish to draw the attention of honourable members to the unfair discrimination exercised against Australian shippers compared with United Kingdom shippers. On 30th April of this year, I asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport a question relative to freight rates in the United Kingdom and freight rates in Australia. The position in the United Kingdom - I will quote a hypothetical case, but it is a factual one - is that a manufacturer in Manchester who shipped from Liverpool to Australia now, as a result of the rearrangement of ports, has to send his exports to Australia from Tilbury through the Port of London Authority. But that shipper will pay no more to export his goods to Australia than he did previously. Let me take this hypothetical case a little further. Let us assume that it costs him $1 per ton to send his exports from Manchester to Liverpool and that it now costs $4 per ton to move his exports from Manchester to London. The charge to the shipper for moving his goods between Manchester and London will not be lc more than the $1 per ton per charge that previously applied.
What is the position concerning the Australian shipper? Our exporters in Tasmania and in Queensland - other than from the port of Brisbane - all must pay a surcharge on the containers that are being exported from their ports to the United Kingdom, Japan or the United States of America. An unfair surcharge is being imposed on these people. I have a reply from the Minister for Shipping and Transport which confirms what I have just said. I asked my question on 30th April last. I received a reply from the Minister on 11th August. When I asked my question on 30th April, I was already in possession of the information that I was seeking. But it took the Minister from 30th April to 11th August to provide me, a member of the Opposition, with information as to the real position concerning shipping in this respect. This is a typical example of the withholding of information from honourable members. If I can go to England and obtain this information -
– The honourable member already had the information.
– Why cannot the Minister obtain this information much more quickly than he does? If I can talk to people here in Australia and be given this information why cannot the Minister obtain the information and pass it on to honourable members? This is the real concern that I have in relation to the handling of shipping and transport in Australia. Too much information is being withheld from the people who should be supplied with it - that is, people in the trade and members of the Opposition when they ask legitimate questions. It is remarkable that when honourable members on the Government side ask curly questions seeking a great deal of detail the information is supplied straight over the table by the Minister; but when members of the Opposition ask curly questions seeking detailed information it sometimes takes weeks, even months, to provide it. This is one of the things that the Government has to answer for.
There is unfair treatment of and discrimination against exporters who ship through ports in northern Queensland. The same applies to Tasmania, with its export of fruits. They are subject to keen competition from overseas. The Tasmanian fruit industry is in serious straits at the moment. My colleague the honourable member for Braddon (Mr Davies) will have plenty to say about this later on. There are many other matters referred to in these estimates with which I would like to deal. I had intended to deal with them, Mr Acting Chairman, but I resented the manner in which the Government brought in its sneak report on the ‘Noongah’ and I had to spend too much time on that subject. There are other matters such as the Government’s failure to do something about national rail development, a national integrated transport system and a national roads plan. All these things require answers from the Government. To date it has not attempted to provide answers. It has not introduced clear and concise policies in these fields.
The Minister hedged this morning when replying to a question about extending the activities of the Australian National Line into the conference lines in the United Kingdom and Europe as well as to the United States and Japan. We do not have the real facts. The Australian Labor Party has been saying for years that Australia should be in the overseas shipping conferences and the freight agencies and that we should be providing our own ships, controlled by the ANL or Australian companies, so as to provide competition. We have seen continually that competition has reduced freights.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Shipping is the life blood of Tasmanian commerce. Being an island State, Tasmania has not had the advantage of the alternative forms of transport that are available to the other States for both interstate and overseas trade. Any fluctuations in the charges and timetables of our shipping schedules vitally affect our exporters and their welfare. I do not want the Committee to think that we in Tasmania do not appreciate the assistance that has been given over the years by the present Government. Ships have been made available and they have almost revolutionised our shipping. I will have a little more to say later about the freight costs and the proposal to introduce containerisation.
When the co-ordination and rationalisation of shipping was embarked upon in 1966 the Tasmanian exporters were assured of a regular shipping service. Unfortunately this is not proving to be the case as we move towards the advent of containerisation. Tasmanian exporters did not disagree with the prospect of a faster and better overseas service. In fact, together with other States, Tasmania welcomed the innovation. But Tasmanian exporters have been lulled into a false sense of security, I regret to say. A Senate select committee was set up to report on the container method of handling cargoes. The Committee made special reference on two occasions to the position of the feeder ports or outports. Tasmania falls into this category. I want to take the time of the Committee to remind honourable members of the feeling of the Select Committee at the time it made its report. I shall quote two sections of the report. This is what the Committee had to say in paragraph 70 under the heading ‘“Feeder” Services’:
As the cellular ships of the British consortia will operate only from the ports of Fremantle, Melbourne and Sydney, a comprehensive service of feder’ ships is planned to cope with trade from as far apart as Darwin and Tasmania. The Committee was given assurances by the shipping companies concerned that there would be a uniform rate applicable to cargoes from main ports and feeder ports.
I wish to emphasise this next point:
The Committee is adament that, in accordance with these assurances, there should be no differential rates applied to cargoes from feeder ports.
This matter is referred to again at page 77 of the report in paragraph 9 of the Committee’s recommendations. The report states:
The shipping consortia should conform to the assurances given to the Committee that no differential freight rates will apply to cargoes exported from feeder ports as distinct from terminal ports.
Having been given these assurances, the people of Tasmania felt quite satisfied that they were to receive a fair deal in shipping and that they would suffer no greater disadvantage than people shipping from the northern ports of Queesland or from closer ports such as Adelaide or Brisbane. We were further reassured by an answer to a question in this House on 23rd February this year by the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen). This is what he said in reply to a question asked by one of his colleagues:
The ships will load and unload in only three Australian ports- Sydney, Melbourne and Fremantle - and there will be feeder container services from all Australian ports to these major terminal ports. The cost of the feeder services will be absorbed so that there will be a single Australian freight rate. This is a very important aspect. 1 think some disappointment was felt because Hobart was not accepted as one of the terminal ports. We in Tasmania realised that we were somewhat isolated and that some of our major export crops would, perhaps, still have to be exported by conventional shipping. I believe that fruit will be one of the last commodities to be containerised. Nevertheless we still felt that, although we had been ignored and the advantage of a terminal port had been overlooked, the Tasmanian exporters would be at no greater disadvantage than their counterparts on the mainland. We began to feel some cause for apprehension when, in June 1969, a statement was made by the Minister for Trade and Industry. I have before me a letter which states:
Mr McEwen said that container ships were calling at Fremantle, Melbourne, and Sydney, and cargoes from Brisbane, Newcastle and Adelaide were being fed into these two ports.
At this stage the cost of feeding cargo from other centres, either by land or sea, is additional to the basic service charge. However, it remains the clear intention of the container consortia, as notified two years ago. to provide feeder services from all Australian ports. But this can only be done when it is economically feasible. At the rates currently being quoted for feeder services from Tasmania, it is certainly not economic, but studies into this problem are proceeding.’
Mr McEwen said the Government would continue watching the position of Tasmania to see that no exporter was put at a disadvantage.
Sir, I am sure that all honourable members here who have a sense of fair play and justice will realise the apprehension of the Tasmanian exporters at the present time. It would appear that all our ports are now to be subject to separate negotiations with the shipping companies which will provide feeder services to the main container ports. We are told that costs cannot be averaged because of the high cost of Tasmanian freights. We are not disagreeing with the point about Tasmanian freights being high - we regret that they are high - but we have been given no evidence that shipping costs, as distinct from shipping freights charged, are any higher between Tasmania and the mainland than they are from Adelaide to Melbourne or from Brisbane to Sydney. In both cases, from Adelaide to Melbourne and from Brisbane to Sydney, the sea links are longer than the links from Tasmania. But these ports have been included in the basic rate and they will enjoy a benefit that Tasmania does not enjoy. Is the reason for the application of the base rate to the other capital cities on the mainland that feed the container ports that there is competition from road and rail? Tasmania, of course, has no alternative but to resort to the use of shipping.
The question of freight rates is a grave problem exercising the minds of Tasmanian exporters. Freight rates have a vital effect on their very existence, particularly if they are not able to benefit by the averaging of charges that was envisaged initially and about which we were given constant assurance until mid-1969. We are being forced into negotiating with the feeder services and we realise only too well that, in many cases, we will be negotiating with a consortium which, although admitting that charges from Tasmania are too high, owns the subsidiary company that is freighting goods from Tasmania.
– Why do you not talk to them?
– What does the honourable member think I have been doing? It also appears that the mainland outports will have to negotiate separately with the major shipping consortia. A review of the activities of the Australian National Line would indicate that the Tasmania run is profitable. A profit is being made on that run, but heavy losses are being incurred on the Darwin run. People on the island cannot escape the thought that in all probability the Tasmanian business is subsidising the Darwin trade. We are not satisfied that that is not, in fact, the case. We are not satisfied that the freight situation has been reviewed as carefully as the position justifies. Perishable goods are exported from Tasmania to Great Britain where they come into direct competition on the open market with the same products from mainland Australia and from New Zealand. It is eminently desirable from every point of view that Tasmanian goods be landed at the overseas markets in as good a condition as possible. It is necessary to have fruit and lamb exports conveyed under refrigeration but these are not compatible cargoes because of the different temperatures at which they must be held. We should not have to rely on the irregular services that it seems we must contend with in the months ahead. We should not be faced with changes in temperatures which can vitally affect the condition of lamb carcasses. Hide and skin merchants who are exporting from Tasmania to the European markets hope to be able to get a regular service so that they can assure their overseas purchasers of a receival date. This is not possible with the present system of shipping that is inflicted upon us.
As an islander I hark back to my earlier point that we are dependent entirely on shipping for our livelihood. We cannot allow the situation to go unchallenged. We must either be accepted into the uniform scheme, which was promised by the Senate Select Committee originally and later by responsible members of the Government, or be given a subsidy to cover the additional freight costs that will be incurred.
Apparently there will be temporary delays in containerisation but we hope these will not be extensive. I believe that the abrogation of a major principle is involved here. If it cannot be rectified by an averaging of the freight rates from Tasmania to the container port of Melbourne, I believe the Government has no alternative but to assist
Tasmania with a subsidy to cover the additional freight rates that will apply. This will be the only way by which some of our industries can survive.
If the system is to be of overall benefit to Australia - if, indeed, it is to be a Commonwealth undertaking - how can we justify a situation where we enable some ports to enjoy the enormous benefits that contameristion may well bring in its wake and allow outports to be so desperately disadvantaged? This does not appear to me to be a Commonwealth undertaking. It is most unreasonable that we should countenance the situation that may well develop where freight rates to the container ports shall determine where industries shall be established and so determine the effect on the future of Australian exporters. Unless there is an averaging of freight rates it will mitigate against the best interests of the isolated areas of Australia which we hope to build up and, by so doing, encourage decentralisation and encourage people to produce what they are capable of producing. Failure to average freight rates will inhibit development and will have detrimental effects. I make the strongest appeal to the Minister for Shipping and Transport who has been most helpful so far - and I hope that he will be in the future - to rectify the parlous situation.
– I find myself joining with the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Pearsall) in his protest at the changed attitude of the Government towards the single freight rate. As a Queenslander 1 can share his feelings. I should have thought that when the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) opened the Australian National Line’s container terminal at Townsville he would have cast some light on the position. On that occasion the Minister acknowledged that Queensland, with 14% of Australia’s population, contributed 19% of Australia’s export earnings. While a lot of Queensland exports might not lend themselves readily to containerisation this is a matter that will be adjusted soon. I should like further consideration to be given to the granting of the single freight rate to Queensland ports if this is at all possible.
I support the criticism of my colleague, the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones), of the manner in which the
Minister announced an inquiry into the sinking of the ‘Noongah’. The Minister gave an assurance to the honourable member for Newcastle that the terms of reference of the inquiry would be announced in the House and that, if necessary, a debate could ensue. This is how I understood his statement and how I read it in Hansard. If it is to be an open inquiry we appreciate this, but the honourable member for Newcastle has brought to light some evidence that he has accumulated which casts serious doubts on the condition of the ‘Noongah’ some time prior to this fatal voyage. One of the things that has bothered me is why the lifeboats were not launched or no attempt was made to launch them. From the Minister’s statement in the House it appears that the vessel had little warning. This would indicate that something drastic had happened to the Noongah’ in the heavy weather prevailing at that time. I have already noted some criticism of the life preservers on the Noongah’. I have also noted that the crew of one of the Australian National Line ships refused to take their vessel out from Newcastle yesterday until the life preservers were changed. However, like all other honourable members in this House, I extend my sympathy to those who have lost their near and dear ones in this tragedy, and I hope the inquiry which the Minister has announced, not unexpectedly, will throw some light on what did happen and perhaps action will be taken to prevent similar tragedies.
What I particularly wish to speak about is the position in Australian shipyards at the present time. I have before me a document issued by the Department of Shipping and Transport titled ‘Australian Shipping and Shipbuilding Statistics’. This is the latest edition. It was handed out at the commencement of this session of the Parliament. It provides information up to 30th June 1968, more than 12 months ago. At this stage of the debate on the Estimates we have not available to us the report of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission. My recollection is that usually this is available to us at this time of the year. The Minister in his speech at Townsville said that the earnings of the Commission would be drastically reduced.
This week has been an important week for all Australians because we all have to pay directly or indirectly the cost of shipping our exports overseas. This week has seen the re-entry of Australia into the overseas shipping business. The last time the Australian people had ships plying to overseas ports was 30 years ago. I commend the Government on its change of heart. It demonstrates that continual dripping will wear away stone. I must say that the present Minister for Shipping and Transport has been an advocate for this country’s entry into the overseas shipping trade, but members of the Liberal Party have consistently in this House opposed such a move. The Minister’s Party recognises, as it should, the position in which Australia is placed in regard to the shipping conferences which fix the freight rates that will be charged for shipping our produce overseas. Nobody is more seriously affected by these charges than the primary producers themselves. The Minister said in his speech at Townsville:
With these two vessels the Australian Government will have, for the first time in 30 years, its flag in overseas shipping. It is a unique opportunity for the ANL to service Australian exporters and to gain experience in overesas operation of two entirely different types of modern sea transport.
Out of this experience could come a whole new approach to the transport of goods by sea. lt is hoped that it might also be a means of containing future freight rate increase in Australia’s trades as well as facilitating the movement of Australian goods overseas in Australian bottoms and thus reducing the outflow of the substantial sums paid today to overseas shipowners.
Those words could quite easily have been said many times over the years by such members of this House as the honourable member for Newcastle, the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Curtin) and others.
The position in Australian shipyards is one of concern, particularly to the people employed in those yards. At Cockatoo Island dockyard all building berths are empty. The Evans Deakin yard is in dire need of further contracts to ensure continuity of employment and to retain skilled personnel. Looking through the information obtained from the office of the Minister for Shipping and Transport we find that at Whyalla major contracts will keep the yards going until April 1970. Present contracts will be sufficient for Evans Deakin to operate until about the same date. The New South Wales State dockyard will be able to continue until February 1971 with the contracts on which it is at present working. Walkers Ltd at Maryborough will be able to continue until October 1970, and Adelaide Ship Constructions until May 1970. The Minister has stated that there is a requirement for various vessels for which tenders may be called. 1 do not know whether it is rumour or fact, but it has been reported that some people requiring new vessels have doubts about entering into contracts with the Evans Deakin organisation. I do not know the full story but this rumour is quite prevalent in the shipyards in Queensland and amongst the unions whose members work in shipyards. It has been some time since the Tariff Board made its last report on shipbuilding. A new inquiry will shortly be held. I would like to see the inquiry extended to include smaller vessels. I refer particularly to fishing vessels.
– The inquiry covers all shipbuilding, so they would not be excluded.
– I know that in other countries, some of which are exporting fish to Australia, considerable financial aid is given for the construction of fishing vessels. I would like to see the Tariff Board consider a rationalisation of the industry as between yards. It is economical to build a number of ships of the same type in the one yard. I know that in some cases yards have under-tendered. I suppose this is all very well for the purchaser, but the result has been that many smaller yards with limited capacities have had a battle to retain their skilled personnel. Since the last Tariff Board inquiry Evans Deakin and a number of other Australian shipyards have been heartened by an extension of the subsidy to cover vessels of over 200 tons and they have carried out considerable expansionary programmes. Evans Deakin has built what is known as the Frank Nicklin Dock, named after the former Queensland Premier. This is a building dock. The company has moved with the times, although the losses that it has sustained in recent years have not encouraged it to continue in shipbuilding.
Another matter I would like to bring to the notice of the Minister concerns the lighthouse service. In 1936 when the present Minister for External Affairs (Mr Freeth) was Minister for Shipping and Transport tenders were accepted for the construction of two lighthouse service vessels for the Torres Strait-New Guinea lighthouse service. One of these tenders was offered to Walkers Ltd. The other, by a Tasmanian firm, was accepted, but the firm later asked to be relieved of its obligation. The second vessel was not constructed and to this day, to the best of my knowledge, no tender has been called for the construction of that second lighthouse service vessel. I ask the Minister whether anything is being done in this regard.
In my maiden speech to the House I spoke about the extension of the standard gauge rail link to north Queensland. At the present time there is a standard gauge railway from Sydney to Perth, and also, from Sydney to Brisbane. From Brisbane northwards there is a narrow gauge line. It is a matter of great concern to all Australians whether this narrow gauge should continue or whether a standard gauge line should be laid through to north Queensland. I know that this might conflict with some shipping services. Nevertheless, many Australians have cause to be grateful for the service that was given by the Queensland railways during the war years when troops and material were transported by them. The Queensland railways were used to such an extent over this period that its rollingstock was very much run down. During those days the men who ran the railways worked many hours of overtime. I know that quite a few of those men ended up as heart cases and had to retire from the service long before their due time.
– What rewards do they get?
– They get the pension.
– They would not have got too much - it was under a Labor government.
– They were paid a just amount of overtime. However, I can tell honourable members that if their condition could be shown to have been caused by their work they would be eligible for compensation. I know that these men worked under a Labor government-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- -Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I commend the Minister for Shipping and Transport and the Government on the introduction of ships flying the Australian flag to the overseas shipping service. As the honourable member for Wide Bay (Mr Hansen) pointed out, this has not occurred for some 30 years and it is something of which we can be justly proud. We hope that such a move will bring benefit to all sections of the community in Australia.
In conjunction with the honourable member for Grey (Mr Jessop) I have continually demanded that the Government provide a permanent means of surface transport between Alice Springs and Port Augusta. The railway between the two centres has not been subjected to so many delays this year as it has in previous years mainly because the local rivers in the Oodnadatta-Finke area have not been carrying quite so much water this year. This has meant that the railway line has turned in a better performance. I urge the Government to take serious steps towards rehabilitating this line either by upgrading the Marree-Oodnadatta section - which mainly goes through low lying areas alongside Lake Eyre - or by building a new line on the higher country from Tarcoola to Alice Springs via Granite Downs.
While on the subject of the railway line, I should mention that I recently found that there is cause for complaint about the service between Alice Springs and Port Augusta. The service provided is of a container type to a great extent and the Commonwealth Railways states that there should be a 4-day turnround for the containers. I have found that the three local companies, which are the local shippers of containers, are complaining that the container service often takes as long as 3 to 7 days over and above the 4 days stated time for delivery. I have also found that the southern bound passenger train to Port Augusta from Alice Springs - the Ghan - is continually overbooked. I think one has to book 5 or 6 weeks ahead in order to get a seat on this train. Only the other day I found that this train tended to be overbooked at Christmas time. I know that the trains on this run carry 1,000 tons. I do not think that the trains can be lengthened. But I would suggest that there should be an increase in rolling stock or in the number of trains that use the line. There may be some answer to this, but it is an impossible situation when people are told that they have to wait 4 or 5 weeks before they can board this train. I know that this is a very good train. I travelled on it earlier in the year and the service and the actual running of the railway itself leave very little to be desired.
I would now like to refer to the North Australian railway. I note that as a result of the rehabilitation plan very few delays have occurred in the delivery of iron ore to Darwin from the Francis Creek or Pine Creek areas. However, I am assured that the number of tons handled by the railway are getting behind schedule. I think the reason for this is that the railway cannot attain the originally estimated speeds on the line. I notice also that new workshops are being erected in Darwin at the Two-mile Yard and that these workshops will be very well equipped. The repairs that will be carried out in them should make rail travel on the North Australian line faster and safer and should lead to a general upgrading of the service.
I now wish to say a few words about the southern end of the North Australian railway line. I speak of the part of the track that runs through Katherine and Mataranka to Larrimah. This is the part of the line that could possibly become redundant owing to road transports unloading in Katherine. I know that 100 miles of railway is a pretty expensive item, but the line I am referring to is reputed to be in very good order. Therefore, I say to the Minister: Please do not let this line fall into disrepair. I know that this section will be of great assistance to cattle truckers into the Katherine meatworks, which has reopened after the disastrous fire earlier in the year. The terminal facilities at Larrimah also should not be allowed to fall into disrepair.
I now turn to the subject of roads. I would like to say something about the Alice Springs-Port Augusta road which was recently cut by a little heavier than normal fall of rain in the Coober Pedy area. I have constantly asked the Government to upgrade this road because traffic is held up with every fall of rain in the area. The traffic on this road can be held up 200 or 300 miles out of town and for a lot of people the delay and inconvenience represent a major problem. Many people do not travel equipped to cope with those conditions. It is dangerous for motorists to be in this sort of pitfall. Also, when this road is flooded cargo and passenger schedules are thrown out of gear all over the country. So, I urge the Government to supply an all weather surface link from north to south. I believe that the Government should either upgrade the road or the railway line or both. I ask for a solid and practical answer to be given to this great transport problem.
I know that the South Australian Government has a responsibility with regard to this road, because two-thirds of it is situated in that State. From a recent trip which I made over the road, I must admit I found that the South Australian section of it was considerably worse than the section in the Northern Territory. Apart from the ordinary running surface of the road, which seems to be under better repair, the Commonwealth Government has opened an allweather cement crossing across the Hugh River, and it has built bridges over the Finke and Palmer Rivers, which are big rivers. I think that these two bridges are to be opened next weekend. This is a step by the Government towards building a reasonable all-weather road between the north and the south, and it is to be commended for that. But I urge the Government to continue its efforts to construct this all-weather link between Port Augusta and Alice Springs, which would connect the two capitals of Darwin and Adelaide. Not only would it mean tremendous savings in freight but it would also open up the country for the great number of tourists who are flocking to the Northern Territory more and more every year, because Australians are great motor travellers. This allweather link would be of great advantage to people not only in Darwin and in the Northern Territory generally but also in the rest of Australia.
Continuing on the question of road transport in the Northern Territory, I urge the Government to support the Northern Territory Legislative Council’s decision not to limit the bogie weight on the semi-trailers or road trains which operate between Alice Springs and Darwin. Some of these vehicles have two or three trailers behind them. I ask the Government not to limit the bogie weight to 13 tons. The Northern Territory Legislative Council has recommended a bogie weight of 16 tons. I point out that this road, which was built many years ago and which has been maintained, has carried far greater loads than 16 tons. If the Government were to introduce a bogie limit of 13 tons the result will have to be that we will see light semi-trailers racing up and down the road at speeds far greater than we see at the present time - at 50 or 60 miles an hour - and there will be a considerable rise in freight costs because all the local transport operators will have to re-equip their fleets. The general result will not be in the best interests of the Territory.
Finally, I want to say a few words about the Darwin port facilities. When tI was down on the Darwin wharves last Friday speaking to the wharf labourers, I found, as I have always found, confusion on the wharves. They are overcrowded and there is a slow turnround of ships. There is confusion in getting goods away from the wharves. All of this tends to increase the cost of freight into the port of Darwin. So I urge the Government to implement the findings of the Maunsell report. I was asked on several occasions by the men working on the wharves to urge that this report be implemented because these men are there every day and they see the holdups which are occurring. They know the situation - we all know the situation. We see ships waiting to get alongside the wharves and be unloaded. So once again I urge the Minister to see whether the Government will implement the findings of the Maunsell report because the port of Darwin is strangling itself. Darwin is a very fast growing city. A lot of goods have to be imported through the port. Darwin is growing as the export trade is increasing. But cargo is stacked up along the wharves and it is almost impossible to clear ships. If the ships are unloaded quickly the wharves cannot handle the goods. I urge that the findings of the Maunsell report be implemented.
Sitting suspended from 12.46 to 2 p.m.
– I wish to deal with the financial assistance for the Melbourne to King Island shipping service, which is included in Division 480 of the estimates for the Department of Shipping and Transport. The appropriation for 1968-69 was $141,000, and this amount was expended, but for 1969-70 the amount has been reduced by 33% to $94,000. I would like the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) to explain why the allocation has been reduced. This is a matter of great concern to me. We have enjoyed this subsidy for several years.
– The amount covers the period only up to the end of February. It was thought that by then the result of the consultant’s survey would be on hand. The subsidy is the same but the amount covers only part of the year. There is no significance in the reduction of the amount in the estimates.
– I take it then that if the survey is not completed and no decision has been reached following the feasibility study, the subsidy will continue at the current rate.
– Yes, up to the end of the year.
– I seek from the Minister some indication of the Government’s intention. If he cannot give it to me now he may be able to let me know in a few moments. In his reply to me by way of interjection he mentioned the feasibility study. Will the subsidy continue until the end of the year or will it continue until the feasibility study has been completed?
– For the moment it has been extended for a financial year. It is thought that continuation of the amounts payable after February will depend on the result of the examination of the feasibility study.
– I thank the Minister for the information he has supplied. The subsidy is a matter of importance to the island that I represent. It lies midway between Victoria and Tasmania. The subsidy was introduced on 1st January 1965 and was $5 a ton on general cargo. It continued at that rate until 1968. This is the reason why I could not understand the reduction in the amount in the estimates, but this has now been explained. From 1st August 1968 the subsidy on general cargo was reduced from $5 a ton to $3.35 a ton. The shipping company that receives the subsidy found it could not operate at the freight rate then operating and was forced to increase its rates. The people on the island are very appreciative of the subsidy. It is very valuable and we welcomed it with open arms. It was introduced after consultation between the then Tasmanian Labor Government, the then Minister for Customs and Excise, Senator Henty, and representatives from King Island. After a study of the position, the Government realised the difficulties that faced the primary producers and exporters on the island and agreed to introduce the subsidy.
I do not intend to run through all the rates, but I would like to give a few so that the Parliament will have some idea of what the subsidy means. The subsidy on general cargo is $3.35 a ton. This is 33i% of the total rate. The subsidy on ales, beer and stout is $3.46 on a 40 cubic foot pack. It is $10.58 on 1,000 bricks. On bulls it is $5.03, on cows $5.03, on vealers $2.35 and on sheep, lambs and ewes 74c. This is a most valuable subsidy and we hope that it will continue at least until the feasibility study has been completed. Recently, in answer to a question, the Minister said that he is examining the report. He has received it. The State and Commonwealth governments have contributed to the costs of the study on a $1 for $1 basis up to $100,000. We hope that it will provide the answer to the $64 question, which is how in the long term we can solve the problem of shipping to King Island. The Minister has the report and he knows the answer. However, we understand that the study may not meet all the difficulties. I ask the Government to continue the subsidy at the present rate a! least until some definite solution is found to the problem of shipping to the island.
The problem may be solved when the report on the study is tabled and some indication is given of the location of the port. I understand some associated matters are dealt with in the feasibility study. Perhaps the subsidy could continue until such time as the Commonwealth Government, in conjunction with the State Government, undertakes port development. The subsidy could then be capitalised. I have discussed the problem with the Minister and I think the answer lies in the provision of a through service from the port of Stanley to King Island and on to Mel- bourne. This would increase the volume of cargo and, of course, the only thing that will keep a shipping service in operation is increased tonnage. If the feasibility study recommends only the continuation of a service between King Island and Melbourne, I hope that some other solution will be found. The solution to the problem lies in the through service that I have mentioned from Stanley to King Island and on to Melbourne.
For some years now this problem has been studied by a committee that is well known to the Department and to the Australian National Line. It is called tha Standing Committee on Shipping for Circular Head. We appreciate the service we get from the Australian National Line. The ‘South Esk’ averages seventeen runs a year servicing the port of Stanley, but this is not the answer. It is impossible to place orders ahead, especially when there is a delay in the service provided by the ‘South Esk’. Today with the virtual door to door service available from roll-on roll-off ships people on the mainland expect to be able to order by telephone and have the goods delivered by the searoad service within a few days. We cannot guarantee such delivery at the present time from Stanley because we have a service only once every 3 weeks. We may be in a better position if we had roll-on roll-off service from Stanley. The Tasmanian Government has assured us that the money is available for this service. The Marine Board is ready to go ahead with the necessary installations and wharves. It would not take us very long to develop the berthing facilities and storage accommodation in readiness for such a service.
– There would be plenty of cargo to be picked up at Stanley.
– A roll-on roll-off service would generate cargo. A terrific volume of timber goes through the ports as well as frozen meat and processed vegetables. Firms such as W. D. Peacock and Co. have spent large sums of money expanding their works in the district. A roll-on roll-off service from Stanley would be a boon to the northwestern corner of Tasmania - Circular Head - and would solve the problems of the island.
What I have sought would restore a shipping link between Tasmania and King Island. We have been without this link for some years and we would very much like to restore it. Because of this we all1 look forward with a great deal of interest to the result of the feasibility study to which I have referred. I appreciate the co-operation of the Australian National Line with the committee on which I serve but we are worried because the ‘South Esk’ is due to go off the run in the near future. Unless we can continue the service we will be in trouble. I was pleased to receive from the Minister for Shipping and Transport a letter dated 2nd September 1969, because everybody had been concerned about remarks which he is reported to have made in Townsville recently. In his letter to me the Minister said:
There is, X can assure you, no intention whatever to discontinue the searoad services to Tasmania. Tasmania’s vital interest in the maintenance of an economic and efficient sea transport link with the mainland must be paramount in determining the future pattern of transport operations.
The Minister referred to the development of tourism as a valuable adjunct to the development of the link. As the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Pearsall) has pointed out, we in the island State depend on the searoad link. We are very happy to have the Minister’s assurance that it will be continued.
I join with those honourable members who have expressed their dismay at the foundering of the ‘Noongah’. She was a regular visitor to Burnie and Devonport. I knew many of her crew. It is strange that although we can put a man on the moon and watch his performance on television from 250,000 miles away, then bring him safely back to earth, we cannot pluck twenty men out of the sea 20 mites off the coast. Something is wrong here. I hope that advances in technology will make it safer for the men who go down to the sea in small ships. I was interested in the comments of the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) and the honourable member for Franklin about container cargoes. If some system of equalisation applies where cargoes are taken from Brisbane or Port Kembla to the container ports of Sydney, Fremantle or Melbourne, why do we in Tasmania have to pay a couple of hundred dollars to get a container to Melbourne? To get a container from Tasmania to Melbourne costs about onethird of the cost of taking the container the rest of the way to the United Kingdom. We fail to see why Tasmania should be penalised. We hope that the subject of equalisation of freights will be determined quickly because freights have a tremendous impact on Tasmania’s economy. This claim is borne out by the latest annual report of the Australian Apple and Pear Board. In its report the Board states:
The Board is referring to the export of apples and pears-
In 1968, for example, the freight rate accounted for nearly 60% of C.I.F. minimum selling prices, which even so were regarded by importers as too high to attract forward buying.
The Board also states:
The result is a three-year agreement with the Conference Lines covering the years 1969, 1970 and 1971.
Now that the Australian National Line is a member of the Conference I hope that we can get at least some reduction.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– As time for this section of the Estimates is fast running out I will be brief so that the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) may reply to the matters that have been raised in the course of the debate. The electorate of Mallee in the north western corner of Victoria covers about 25% of the State. As the member for this vast area I am keenly interested in the port of Portland. I urge the Minister to do everything in his power to extend the port and to encourage shipping companies to use the port. As Minister for Shipping and Transport he would have perhaps more opportunity to do this than would any other man in Australia. In the last 20 years the port of Portland has been extended remarkably. It is a deep water port. Big ships use the port. I cannot see why it should not be further extended to handle all of the produce grown in the western and north western districts of Victoria and in the south eastern part of South Australia. If this were done it would be in the best interests of Australia. The areas to which I have referred are highly productive. The increasing use of superphosphate will mean an increase in the production of fat lambs, all of which could go through the big freezing works at Portland. Already large shipments of lamb and mutton go through the port.
I desire to direct attention to wheat, barley, oats, dried fruits and citrus. In the north western corner of Victoria about 70% of Australia’s dried fruits are grown. This production could be and should be shipped through Portland. The primary producers in the large area to which I have referred should be able to receive through Portland all of the things that they require for carrying on their businesses. The area should be both exporting and importing through Portland. The Minister may say that it would be very difficult for him to get the primary producers of the area to ship their products through Portland but logic tells me that wheat, which is shipped in large quantities from the area, should go through Portland, instead of through Geelong as at present. When Portland was first discovered many years ago - even before John Batman came up the Yarra - it was thought that it would be the great outlet and inlet for Victoria but the city octopus has grown and Geelong, being close to Melbourne, has grown as a port at a much faster rate than Portland.
The people of the north west of Victoria are keenly interested in the development of Portland. Shires like Karkarooc, Dimboola and Mildura in the north are anxious to get the port opened. If through Portland all of the goods of the large area to which I have referred, and perhaps even the southern Riverina as well, were to flow, the benefits would be immense.
– All the members of this Parliament share in the sympathy expressed for those who were lost on the vessel ‘Noongah’. However, the wild, irrational and emotional speech that was made by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) earlier concerns all of us in that it shows the complete unsuitability of the Australian Labor Party to govern this country. The only conclusion I can draw from what the honourable member said is that he is seeking to reduce the range of the inquiry. I can only presume that he does not want a full inquiry. What I undertook to do when I spoke to the honourable member for Newcastle by way of interjection after I had made a statement on the sinking of the vessel was to make known to honourable members the terms of reference of the inquiry. This I have done. The inquiry is to be a full and complete inquiry into the foundering of the vessel and into the loss of the persons from it. I also undertook to facilitate an opportunity for debate. Today three speakers have referred to the ‘Noongah’. There has been a debate in this Parliament. By making known the findings of the preliminary inquiry to this Parliament, I have afforded honourable members every opportunity to debate the matter.
Let me amplify this. I am quite prepared to make the report of the preliminary inquiry available confidentially to any member who would like to have a look at it. This of course includes the honourable member for Newcastle. The reason I have not tabled it in the Parliament and the reason why it has not been made public, as the honourable gentleman should surely know, is that there is to be a full and complete judicial inquiry by a court of marine inquiry. This court will look at all the circumstances surrounding the sinking of the vessel. But the honourable member for Newcastle apparently does not want this to be done; apparently he wants it to be confined in some way. We do not want to hide anything; we want to ensure that every circumstance is taken into account. If the report of the preliminary inquiry was published, people might prejudge the issue and they might think that the preliminary inquiry was a full inquiry. It was not intended that it should be a full inquiry. As I said, I am quite happy to make the report of this preliminary inquiry available confidentially to any member who would care to look at it. I do not want the report to be made public, because I feel that this would lead to a prejudging of the issues which are to be examined in toto.
A full inquiry will be made into circumstances of the ship, its seaworthiness, its stowage of cargo and into the circumstances of the repair to which the honourable member for Newcastle referred. I am assured that a Lloyd’s surveyor issued a certificate on the completion of the repair work, indicating his satisfaction with both the work and the seaworthiness of the vessel before it was allowed to proceed to sea. A full inquiry will be made into the circumstances of these repairs, into the life equipment, the launching of the lifeboats, the buoyancy of the life jackets and all other aspects of the loss of life on board the vessel. These are the terms of reference of the inquiry which this Government has instituted. Presumably the honourable member for Newcastle has sought to take issue because he does not want to have anything so wide.
– I raise a point of order. If this information is the basis of the Minister’s speech why did he not give it by way of a ministerial statement?
– There is no point of order.
– The Minister is not the Chairman. Since when has he been the Chairman? I am raising a point of order. I do not have to resume my seat. If the Minister wants to deliver this information to the Parliament why does he not make a ministerial statement so that honourable members may debate it?
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Hallett) - Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– As I have stated, a court of marine inquiry is to conduct a full and complete inquiry into the sinking of the ‘Noongah’. There is no basis whatsoever for any allegation that the Government is trying to hide anything and it would be absolutely ludicrous to make such an allegation.
I would now like to refer briefly to some of the other matters that have been raised in the debate on the estimates for the Department of Shipping and Transport. The honourable member for Franklin (Mr Pearsall) and other members from Tasmania, and also the honourable member for Wide Bay (Mr Hansen), have expressed concern at the freight rates that are charged for container cargoes from ports in north Queensland and ports in Tasmania, in particular from the port of Hobart. The significance of the container service is well recognised. lt is intended that a residual service with conventional vessels will continue to be provided to those outports which are not at this stage to be services by container vessels. This residual service will cover the refrigerated cargo that is so important to Tasmania. There is an obligation to provide and adequate and sufficient service for these ports, and at this stage an inquiry is being undertaken by the shippers association and the shipping conference into ways and means by which these outports can be brought within the service and can be brought in at the standardised rate. It is my hope that this will result in a satisfactory solution and that the ports of Tasmania, with which’ I know the honourable member for Franklin and other members are concerned, will be given the same opportunity to ship their goods as they have enjoyed in the past and will be given an opportunity to ship their goods by this improved form of transport.
The honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) expressed his concern at some impediment to traffic movement in the centre of Australia. I would like to point out to him that the estimates for the Department provide very substantial sums of money for both the Central Australian Railway and the North Australian Railway. A sum of $2,100,000 has been allocated for the upgrading and general maintenance of the Central Australian Railway and a sum of $3,300,000 has been allocated for the North Australian Railway. Both these allocations are expressly intended to provide for the maintenance of service in spite of weather conditions. The blocking of the road to Coober Pedy did create a substantial impediment to the movement of quite a number of tourist buses and private automobiles which were in the vicinity at the time. I appreciate the difficulty of moving passengers in the weather conditions which led to the road being blocked.
Within the allocation under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement an opportunity is provided for a substantial upgrading of such arterial roads. Indeed, the purpose of the Commonwealth aid roads allocation is that there should be a national road programme for the first time. For the first time the Commonwealth has allocated to three specific areas funds for the upgrading and reconstruction of the road system. I hope that the road to which the honourable member for the Northern Territory referred can benefit as a result of this very substantial increase of 67% in the allocation under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement.
The honourable member for Braddon (Mr Davies) expressed concern about the shipping service to King Island. I can appreciate that for those who live in island communities there is a very real importance in having an adequate and efficient transport service for the goods which they produce. I know that the members of the King Island community are interested to hear and see the results of the consultants’ report on this service which is now under examination by the Tasmania and Commonwealth governments. It is of concern that the producers on King Island should have an adequate opportunity to export their goods. It is for that purpose that the Commonwealth has maintained its subsidy and intends to do so at least until 30th June 1970, subject only to any decisions might be taken as a result of the consultants’ report. I would hope. that these might be known before too long.
The honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) mentioned development at Portland, and other members mentioned development at other ports on the Australian coast. There is one thing I would like to say on this. It is increasingly important in the Australian community that we look critically at all forms of transport. It is essential that we look not only at port development but also at the viability of rail operation as against coastal shipping and the viability of coastal shipping as against road transport. Of course, these three methods of transport should be compared with a slightly different field, and that is the movement of goods by aircraft. The importance of the costing of the transport operation must be increasingly recognised. It is with the hope of achieving a greater integration of these services and of achieving improved efficiency that under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement we have provided for consultation by the Commonwealth with the respective States. The objective is to ascertain in greater detail the level, order and nature of transport costs. For all these reasons I commend the estimates of my Department to this Committee.
– In the few minutes left for debate on the estimates for the Department of Shipping and Transport I wish to point out that one of the things that certainly must concern the electors of Grey is that the honourable member for Grey (Mr Jessop) did not participate in this debate to raise once again-
– The honourable member for the Northern Territory spoke on behalf of the honourable member for Grey.
– 1 did not know that it was possible for one honourable member to speak on behalf of an another honourable member. The honourable member for Grey did not raise two very important subjects here, namely, the construction of a new rail link from Whyalla to Port Augusta and also the standardisation of the rail link from Adelaide to Port Pirie. These are two very important matters.
– The honourable member for Wilmot was not here yesterday to talk about the water scheme in his State.
– The honourable member for Wilmot was sick in bed at home. The honourable member for Franklin knows that. This is the type of trick one would expect from Government members.
– Only ten members of the Australian Labor Party are present in the Committee now.
– That does not matter. Call for a quorum if you wish. It is most important that these matters should be brought to the attention of the Government. The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) in reply to questions by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) continually has hedged on this matter. He has not been prepared to make a clear statement as to whether the Government w’ill construct a rail line from Whyalla to Port Augusta, to connect that line to the trans-continental railway and to provide an additional access to assist Whyalla and the development of South Australia. The Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd has indicated its desire to ship steel by rail from its Whyalla steel plant. Yet, this Government is not prepared to do anything about this rail link. Huge quantities of steel are being transported in a most uneconomic way by road from Whyalla to Port Pirie. This Government continues to dither by not making up its mind whether it will construct this line. On the subject of the standardisation of the rail link between Adelaide and Port Pirie, 1 point out that there is an agreement between the Commonwealth Government and the State of South Australia going back to the days of the Chifley Labor Government in this place. Once again, the Liberals have let South Australia down.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The time allotted for the consideration of the estimates of the Department of Shipping and Transport has now expired.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Department of Civil Aviation
Proposed expenditure, $60,895,000.
- Mr Deputy Chairman, I wish to raise on the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation a matter dealing with the management of Trans-Australia Airlines and relates to its treatment of staff members. If the example that I am about to quote is an indication of the way in which the staff of TAA is treated by the management of TAA, it is no wonder that TAA is losing over$1m in revenue each year because of staff difficulties and stoppages. I am far from satisfied that justice has been done in the case with which I will deal.
This case concerns a young trainee executive who was with TAA from about May 1966. He was summarily dismissed on 17th June 1969 for reporting late for duty. On 19th June 1969,I was interviewed by his parents. I contacted a senior officer of TAA in Sydney and was told that the young man had been dismissed because of a bad record. I interviewed this young man on 20th June in order to find out his version of the story. I wrote to the General Manager of TAA in Melbourne on 26th June. I will read this letter. I did not intend to quote the name of this young man or the name of his parents. I will leave them out.
My letter reads;
Mr and Mrs inform me that their son was employed by TAA as a Trainee Executive for approximately three years. He was dismissed on Tuesday, 17 June 1969, after reporting late for duty. 1 am informed that the circumstances of bis late arrival are as follows:
Together with two companions, he travelled to Surfers’ Paradise using a concession flight ticket, to spend the Queen’s Birthday week-end. Mr - , with one of his companions, inquired of the TAA office in Surfers’ Paradise on Monday morning, 16 June, regarding the availability of seats on a return flight to Sydney and were informed that the Flight at approximately 3.15 p.m. had a number of vacancies. Both young men indicated their intention to travel by this flight. Their other companion left for Brisbane to visit friends and intended to make his own travel arrangements.
On returning to the TAA office Inter in the day to join the flight, they were informed that the flight had been cancelled, but that another plane might be available later or failing this passengers travelling to Sydney would be transported to Brisbane by coach to connect wilh a Sydney Flight. They returned to the TAA office in Surfers’ Paradise on two or three occasions to ascertain the current position and were finally told that no flights were available and no purpose would be served in travelling to Brisbane as conditions there were chaotic. This point is borne out by the fact that their other companion did not arrive back in Sydney until approximately 1.00 a.m. on Tuesday, 17 June 1969, after a long wait at Brisbane Airport.
I would mention that a message was transmitted to Sydney to inform TAA of their predicament and possible late arrival for duty.
Mr- and his companion arrived in Sydney at approximately 12 noon on Tuesday, 17 June, and immediately reported to Head Office. Both young men were instantly dismissed.
This action seems to me to be arbitrary and unfair.
Mr- had made every attempt to arrive back in Sydney in time for duty and his failure to succeed was due to a breakdown in the scheduled flights of TAA and not through any default on his part.
I am further informed that Mr- service with your company has, up until this breach, been regarded as satisfactory. He was involved in an incident at Mascot Airport, while off duty, several weeks ago and was warned on his behaviour. The only other incident which has been under notice was several months ago when he was found to have acted with due propriety.
I appreciate that it is not in the interests of your Company to have staff reporting late for duty and that discipline must be maintained butI do feel that the action taken in this case is much too drastic.I understand that Mr- attendance and punctuality record has been good. I am also informed that at least one other employee who reported late for duty on the same day for similar reasons was not dismissed.
Yon may be interested to know whyI have taken the trouble to submit this case to you. The reason is that Mr– is not a member of a Trade Union and, therefore, has no one to make an appeal on his behalf. 1 have spoken with your Sydney office on the matter.
Mr and Mrs assure me that their son was very happy in his employment and is most anxious to regain his position. 1 feel certain that he has been taught a salutary lesson and would prove to be an exemplary employee if given another opportunity.
I shall be extremely grateful if you will be good enough to review the decision with sympathy and understanding and withdraw the dismissal notice.
I subsequently received a reply from the Deputy General Manager of TAA, dated 30th June 1969. My letter to TAA was dated 26th June 1969. The Deputy General Manager said:
I have had this matter investigated and would advise that Mr– was terminated due to the fact that his services with TAA were considered to be unsatisfactory. When Mrarrived back late for duty on the 17th June 1969 it was necessary to not only review this particular matter but also his overall services, and it was decided, having regard for his past record that he should be terminated.
In regard to the late arrival back from Coolangatta, our records indicate that Mr– was advised to proceed to Brisbane to join a flight which would have arrived in Sydney in time for him to commence duty at the normal hour. It was also ascertained that the aircraft which left Brisbane late on the evening of the 16th June did in fact have vacant seats.
It is regretted that it was necessary to take this action but. having reviewed the whole situation, I am satisfied that the decision taken was correct.
I therefore obtained a statutory declaration from the young man. On 9th July,I wrote to the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz). I said to the Minister:
I am not satisfied that Mr- has been treated fairly and I appeal to you for your personal interest and assistance in the case.
You will note that my letter to Mr Ryland is dated Thursday, 26th June 1969 and would not have been posted at Lakemba until approximately 5.00 p.m. It would be reasonably safe to assume that the letter did not arrive at the TAA office Melbourne before Saturday, 28th June 1969. Yet, the reply I received from the Deputy General Manager is dated Monday, 30th June 1969. I admit that this letter was not posted until Thursday, 3rd July 1969 but it still appears that little, if any, consideration was given to my representations on behalf of Mr- as the letter which was prepared on Monday, 30th June, is the reply which was finally forwarded to me.
This reply is peremptory and brusque and gives no specific reasons to substantiate such drastic action being taken against Mr - .
Since the receipt of this letter I have interviewed Mr - and he has now provided me with the attached Statutory Declaration which denies (1) that his record of service with TAA has been unsatisfactory and (2) that he had been advised to proceed to Brisbane to join a Bight.
I would also mention that in a conversation with a Senior Officer of TAA in Sydney I was informed that Mr - had received several reprimands over the past 18 months.
Being under notice on two occasions in three years’ hardly constitutes unsatisfactory service or several reprimands.
I submit that the failure of Mr - to report for duty on time on 17 June 1969 was not a careless or premeditated action on his part. His intentions were good. He tried to catch a plane in ample time to return him to Sydney for duty. It was the cancellation of scheduled services which placed him in his present dilemma and which, undoubtedly, caused severe inconvenience to many passengers booked to travel by TAA flights from Queensland on the same day.
I wonder how many prospective passengers cancelled their tickets for flights on the day in question.
You will appreciate that the termination of the services of a young man from a career position could well jeopardise any future employment in the same industry and it is this aspect that I ask you to consider.
I shall be extremely grateful if you will do everything possible to arrange for Mr - to be reinstated to his position.
That letter was written on 9th July. On 1st August 1 sent a telegram to the Minister asking for a reply to my representation. I followed the matter up with telephone calls on 14th August, 21st August and 28th August and finally received a reply late on 28th August. That reply was marked Confidential’ and therefore I shall not refer to it in detail here. There was one piece of information in that letter which was new to me and which had not been told to me by the young man. In his final paragraph the Minister said that he could not agree to my representations. There is nothing confidential about this so I will quote from the Minister’s letter. He said:
I have given careful consideration to your representations but in the light of all the factors involved 1 am not prepared to vary the decision reached by the management of Trans-Australia Airlines on the employment of Mr - .
After receiving from the Minister that letter dated 28th August I again interviewed the young man and I asked him several questions - questions that I took from the confidential letter that the Minister had supplied to me. The young man gave me a further statutory declaration. The first statutory declaration read as follows:
His second statutory declaration reads:
I think that this young man, in a career position, has been very harshly treated. He arrived back late for duty, certainly. He reported to head office and was there told, together with his companions, that his services were terminated. From that day to this I. do not think he has been given an opportunity to explain himself. I have made all the explanations that were necessary. The point that irks me is that the letter I received from the Minister is almost a repeat, with a few additions, of the letter I first received from the Deputy General Manager of TAA in Melbourne.
I ask the Minister to have another look at this case. You cannot deal with people in this manner. This young man was with TAA for 3 years. He was being trained as an executive. In those 3 years he had had one reprimand and on one occasion, when his actions were investigated, he was found not to have committed the offence he was alleged to have committed. He may nave been remiss on a few occasions in staying away from his employment but his record is not nearly so bad as to merit an arbitrary dismissal such as he received. His opportunity of getting any employment in the tourist industry or airline industry has now been destroyed completely. ! think it has been destroyed without his being given a fair trial by the management of TAA. On top of that J think that the management of TAA paid little regard to the representations 1 made. I do not think the Minister took due regard of the representations I made to him. 1 enclosed the statutory declaration but in his confidential letter the Minister made no mention of it. I am prepared to give the Minister another statutory declaration denying most of the allegations made against this young man.
Trans-Australia Airlines is a commission. lt has authority over its staff and it is entitled to expect efficiency; but it is not entitled, without giving persons the opportunity to explain themselves, to dismiss them and to destroy their careers as this young man’s career has been destroyed. In the light of what I have said today and in the light of the statutory declaration that I shall give to him I again request the Minister to ask TAA to review this case. While he is at it I would like him to a«k TAA why it tells its trainee executives not to join trade unions. I would not have been in this position had this young man had the opportunity to take his case to a trade union. [ feel reasonably certain that had he taken his case to the trade union this might not have happened.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I rise to commend the Department of Civil Aviation. I listened to what the honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart) said and I admit that the representations he made on behalf of that former employee of Trans-Australia Airlines were quite justified. However, to spend the entire 15 minutes at his disposal in referring to this matter is to extend things a little too much. It was admirable of him to do so but I think we could have looked for a better exposition from him in this debate. Upon looking through last year’s debate on the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation I found that the Opposition made a great song and dance about Towra Point. Very definite statements were made about the Cabinet having approved the Towra Point airport project, that the land had been purchased and that Sydney’s second airport was to be established there. We find that that is not so and that there has been no decision as to a site for a second airport.
Of all the government departments 1 think that the Department of Civil Aviation is the one that we look to for efficiency of the highest standard. Compared with other forms of transport air transport is young but it is growing faster than any other transport industry because of the technical and scientific approach that must be applied. We commend the Department of Civil Aviation on its work. When one considers that $3,900,000 is being expended on meteorological services, primarily to ensure the safety of aircraft, one appreciates the great value this must be to the airline operators. Although airport charges to commercial operators in Australia are substantial the amount paid would not be sufficient to cover the cost of the services provided by the Department of Civil Aviation.
The Department cannot, of course, influence the companies in respect of the types of aircraft they purchase. We have been told that the Department’s duty is to see that the aeroplanes operating in Australia are airworthy and measure up to the Department’s requirements, but one would think that the airlines, in deciding what planes they would purchase, would give some consideration to the British aircraft industry which has been experiencing a difficult time. J have in mind the BACIII, the extended version of which would be equal to and perhaps better than the DC9. I am supported in this opinion by the large number of BAC111s the American domestic airlines agreed to purchase. They had purchased about forty of these aircraft when the export ban on money from the United States of America caused the cancellation of a greater number of these aircraft for the domestic airlines of America. I mention this because I believe that at that time we should have maintained our import duty policy in respect of the DC9 aircraft. My memory is that the altitude that was adopted here was that the extended version of the BACIII was only on the drawing board when orders were placed for the DC9s. When I rang the British Overseas Aircraft Corporation for information, true to
British standards I was told that the Corporation had lost orders for the supply of these aircraft but that it did not want to complain. It looked to the future when it would be able to supply aircraft. This wonderful aircraft came to Australia and I had great pleasure in flying in it. Although comparisons are odious I believe that it would have suited our internal airlines far better than the DC9. It is not well known that during the early stages of the development of the BACIII difficulties were experienced and three senior test pilots lost their lives. But again the British revealed their great worth and when they made a historic discovery in the field of aerodynamics they made their findings available to the world. This discovery has been of great advantage to the aircraft industry.
This morning we saw and heard a tirade about the use of Mascot airport for 24 hours a day. I think the situation has been blown up out of all proportion. I have read the questions and answers in the Senate and I have no doubt that the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz), the Cabinet and the Government have considered this matter. Forthright statements have been made similar to those that were made about Towra Point. The present curfew at Mascot will continue and rightly so. I suppose that the great majority of the people who live in the area and who are annoyed by aircraft noise will never travel by plane, but it is the Government’s desire and responsibility to ensure that a person shall be able to live in his home with a minimum of hindrance and annoyance from public transport. I am sure that the Minister, his Department and the Government are doing everything possible to preserve this situation and to alleviate this nuisance. I congratulate the Minister on his handling of his Department. It is a challenging portfolio. He is responsible for ensuring the development of air facilities in country areas. I suppose that Australians are the most air minded people in the world and it is due to the tenacity and carefulness of the Department of Civil Aviation that Australia has such a wonderful record in the aviation field.
– As a federal member representing the island State of Tasmania I am very interested in airport development. As I indicated earlier this afternoon when speaking on the estimates for the Department of Shipping and Transport the people of Tasmania are very interested in a sea road link with the mainland not only from the ports on the island of Tasmania itself but also through King Island. Tasmania has not any alternative forms of transport such as road and rail as exist in the mainland States, and is restricted to sea and air transport. I know that the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz), who is sitting at the table, appreciates our problems and is aware that we are interested in airport development. 1 have been asked by people and organisations along the north-west coast of Tasmania to ascertain from the Minister whether there is to be any political or departmental conflict over projected airport developments on the north-west coast of Tasmania.
To put the record in a correct perspective I want to refer firstly to a newspaper report of 27th June this year stating that a letter received by the Devonport Chamber ot Commerce from the Department of Civil Aviation was. to the effect that the Department had no plans at all to upgrade the Devonport Airport to take larger aircraft. That item stated:
In a letter to the Devonport Chamber of Commerce the Department said there were no plans in hand to extend the airport to handle jet aircraft or other types larger than the Viscounts and Fokker Friendships which now used the airport.
As I said, this letter was sent by the Department of Civil Aviation to the Devonport Chamber of Commerce on 27th June. This matter was then followed up by Senator Lillico from Tasmania, and about 6 weeks later he advised the Devonport Municipal Council that there had been no change in the decision by the Department of Civil Aviation not to introduce jet services to the north-west coast. My understanding was that no jet service to Devonport was to be introduced. However, 5 days after the receipt by the Devonport Chamber of Commerce of that letter from the Department the Minister, in reply to a question I asked, said:
So we had the situation in June and again in August, only 6 weeks later, of the Department of Civil Aviation telling the authorities at Devonport that the airport there was not to be upgraded to receive jet aircraft, although 5 days after the first letter from the Department the Minister said that the airport at Devonport would be upgraded to take jet aircraft. This, of course, is good news. We welcome any advancement or progress and the upgrading of any airport in Tasmania and we have no complaint now that the policy of the Department to upgrade Devonport has been changed. The airport at Devonport is a very important one, and as I said, there is no complaint whatever about this change of policy. However, I do point out that on two occasions in the middle of the year the Department had said that it did not intend to upgrade the Devonport airport while the Minister in reply to a question said that it would be upgraded to take jet services.
At about that time there was a good deal of confusion and frustration being experienced regarding Wynyard airport, which is the other airport on the north-west coast of Tasmania. Because of certain reports that had been circulating in that area a meeting was called and attended by representatives from the Queenstown, Zeehan, Waratah, Wynyard, Burnie and Penguin councils and the Wynyard and Burnie Chambers of Commerce, and other interested persons. At that meeting the Warden of Wynyard, Councillor B. T. O’Halloran, indicated that he had received an official communication from the Department in 1968 which clearly stated that it was intended to extend the Wynyard Airport for jet services at some time in the future. The reason for the confusion and frustration was that later information had been received from several reliable sources that indicated the Department no longer intended to proceed with the extension plans, but the Wynyard Council, as pointed out by Councillor O’Halloran, had been unable to obtain in writing any indication of the Department’s current planning. Councillor O’Halloran on behalf of the Wynyard Council put to that meeting the following case:
Last year we were given details of proposed development of Wynyard Airport for all types of aircraft likely to be used in Tasmania in the future, and we were told Wynyard was the only site within a 50-mile radius of Burnie suitable for the necessary development works. … As late as April this >eur-
That is 1969- we sent a plan of a proposed water main to pass near the airport area to the Department of Civil Aviation for its comments and the plan was returned diverting the pipeline route well clear of the proposed airport extensions.
We have consistently also received verbal advice that the proposed extensions would go ahead and on this advice we zoned the area near the airport as rural rather than industrial. But now we cannot get information in writing. It is all most confusing and frustrating.
At about that time Mr Costello, M.H.A. in the State Parliament, became very interested in this matter and his inquiries revealed that owners of land in the area on which options were held by the Department of Civil Aviation were suddenly told verbally that the land was no longer required and the options were cancelled. Mr Costello said that none of the landowners had been informed, except by word of mouth, that the development which was due to start in 6 months time was now off. Mr Costello is reported in the ‘Advocate’ of 7th August 1969 as follows:
Preliminaries have gone as far as the building of test holes and establishment of footings. Samples from the test holes had been laboratory-tested.
Commonwealth-employed plan and design engineers and hydraulic engineers had examined the site.
It was common knowledge that the Department intended to do something at Wynyard, that it intended to put in a completely new runway, parallel1 to one of the existing runways, and that it had options over the land at each end of the airport in order to extend the new runway to take jet aircraft.
One can imagine the confusion that existed at that time. I simply repeat that during those months in the middle of the year the Department or its officers had been informing responsible people and responsible organisations such as the Wynyard and Burnie chambers of commerce and the Devonport Municipal Council that it had no intention of upgrading Devonport to take jet aircraft, and then suddenly there was an about-turn and the Minister said: ‘Yes, we are going to upgrade Devonport for jet services’. But at Wynyard, on the other end of the north west coast, some 30 to 40 miles away, there was a complete opposite development. The municipal authorities bad gone to the extent of rezoning the land. They had sent plans and specifications of pipelines and the Department had rerouted them and made them go around the proposed extensions to the aerodrome. According to the State member - and I have no reason to doubt him - tests were being made on the footings and apparently everything was ready to go ahead at Wynyard Airport. Then, suddenly, we find that the options over the land had been relinquished.
The people in the municipality are very anxious to get their airport upgraded to jet standards. One can imagine how disappointed, confused and frustrated the organisations in this part of Tasmania feel. I can appreciate this because the organisations are made up of responsible people who represent public opinion. I speak of such organisations as manufacturers bodies and chambers of commerce from Queenstown right through to the rapidly developing mineral area on the west coast where there is tremendous mineral and industrial development. This opinion is also expressed by organisations along the north west coast, in the town of Penguin which is westward from Burnie where great expansion is taking place and where a $14m acid plant is under construction. In Burnie we have also the giant complex of APPM. Organisations from the rapidly growing and very extensive area covered by the Circular Head municipality have also expressed opinions. These organisations, of course, have been looking forward to the day when their airport is upgraded and it appeared that departmentally everything was going along well. However, suddenly the departmental officers, as it were, were pulled out.
As I have indicated to the Minister, this has caused a great deal of confusion and frustration. I hope that when he replies that he will be able to give me some indication of the departmental plans for this part of Tasmania. As I indicated when I began my speech this afternoon we are an island State. We do not have recourse to the road and rail transport that is available to other States. We rely on Searoad and also on air transport. We have no axe to grind over any one airport being upgraded. We think that both Wynyard Airport and Devonport
Airport should be upgraded to take jet aircraft because of the rapid growth of population and the rapidly expanding economic and industrial development that is taking place in this area. I simply ask the Minister the question posed at this meeting: Does the Department of Civil Aviation’s stated intention eventually to upgrade Devonport Airport to take jet services necessarily mean that the planned development of the Wynyard Airport for jets as indicated by the Department, last year has definitely been abandoned?
– In speaking to the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation I congratulate the Government on the extensions to the Adelaide Airport - through which many Territorians enter the south - at an approximate cost of $1.5m. I see from the estimates that $500,000 was spent to June 1969 on airport facilities at Darwin, Tindal and Alice Springs. At long last the domestic terminal at Darwin is being extended and improved. While I was up there last week I noticed the tolerance shown by travellers and the staff of the airways concerned in putting up with the overcrowding which occurs and the temporary arrangements which of necessity have been put in hand to handle traffic while the new facilities are being built. I hope that this work will be finished by the time the ‘wet’ arrives because under the present arrangements there is nowhere for passengers to go. Also, at present their luggage is collected outside. We all realise that this cannot be avoided, but I hope that the work will be continued with expedition and that it will be finished before the ‘wet’ because at the moment it looks as though the ‘wet’ could arrive early in Darwin.
Before taking off from Darwin I would like to raise the situation which exists at the light aircraft area at Darwin aerodrome, where there are dozens of aircraft with little or no repair and maintenance space or passenger facilities. Honourable members may imagine - 1 know that the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) does not - that light aircraft are aircraft such as Cessnas, 180s, Victas and that sort of thing. But on the tarmac there are such aircraft as DC3s, Cats, an old Boston, 4-engined Herons, 310s, Beechcraft and so on. There are dozens of such planes with little or no facilities. These light aircraft and the people who operate them are the life blood of the north. Light aircraft fly in and out of Darwin to mines, missions, cattle stations and all mining, industrial and social centres within a 1,000-mile radius of Darwin. The other day I saw that a light aircraft charter company was preparing to fly to Perth because of some delay involving one of the recognised operator’s aircraft.
I would like to say again that light aircraft at Darwin Airport are in a crowded condition, and maintenance, of course, is very hard to do in the open. Most of the light aircraft have a very small amount of hangar space. As the Minister knows, the safety and success of our aircraft operations in Australia are based on a very high standard of maintenance. This cannot be carried out successfully in very crowded, borrowed quarters or out in the open, especially in the type of country that we have in the Northern Territory.
The situation with regard to aero clubs in the Northern Territory seems somewhat obscure at the moment. They are all endeavouring to make enough money to enable them to keep operating and to retain their instructors as well as build their own hangars for the protection of their own aircraft and their members’ aircraft. The aero clubs are situated in areas where there are extreme temperatures. From now on in the north there will be constant rain, and there will be very high temperatures at other times. So I make a pica on their behalf that they be allowed to do sufficient charter work to keep themselves in business. I believe that in other States aero clubs are in a position to earn sufficient money to meet their needs. At Alice Springs, I believe, Connellan Airways has a first class light aircraft maintenance centre. Aero clubs in the Northern Territory should be in a position to do their own maintenance and look after their own aircraft. f would now like to say something about airports in the Northern Territory. 1 have already mentioned Darwin Airport which is to be greatly improved. At Tennant Creek there is a difficulty. Viscount aircraft are being phased out, and DC9 and Boeing 727 aircraft cannot land there. I have seen the BACIII, which was mentioned by my friend the honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Irwin), on the ground, and I imagine that it could operate economically out of Tennant Creek. Tennant Creek is left with the problem of being serviced by Friendship aircraft, and for some reason or other - beyond the control of the Minister, I hope - they all seem to arrive at the weekend. Both airlines seem to operate aircraft into Tennant Creek on Saturdays and Sundays. There is a lot of dissatisfaction concerning the freight situation in Tennant Creek. Very often freight arrives in Alice Springs from Adelaide on a DC9 aircraft and it is taken by road to Tennant Creek, 325 miles away, which defeats the whole object of sending articles by air freight. I urge the Department to look into the situation at Tennant Creek, even to see whether the airline companies could consider running freight aircraft to Tennant Creek.
Tennant Creek is a very busy centre. 1 think it is currently producing approximately 30,000 tons of copper a year. I do not know exactly the amount of gold which is exported at the present time, but I know that over the years £A25m worth has been produced. With the new Warrego mine being opened up in the west of Tennant Ceek, the amount of copper produced in the area will be doubled. Tennant Creek is not to be taken lightly. It is one of. the towns in the Northern Territory which is actually producing a very significant amount of wealth for Australia. If the Government cannot get the airlines to fly more aircraft into the Tennant Creek district, I ask it to look at the possibility of lengthening and strengthening the strip at Tennant Creek in order to give the town a service similar to that enjoyed by Alice Springs and Darwin. Let us face the fact that a great number of aircraft operate in and out of Alice Springs and Darwin. I am sure that people in those towns could not complain about the frequency of the service.
While discussing airports, I should like to refer to the terminal building at Alice Springs, which I use fairly often and which I see under all conditions - sometimes when there is no-one there at all. But I would imagine that on days such as yesterday there would be standing room only in the terminal building. I have seen this situation quite often. I ask the Government to look at this matter because large jet aircraft have been introduced and people are travelling in them. The terminal building at Alice Springs is similar to the terminal building at the Adelaide airport before the new buildings for which I commended the Government were erected. Also at Alice Springs for some time there has been a noticeable lack of refreshment facilities. I do not quite know why this is so. I imagine that the people concerned have made a request to install additional facilities. Perhaps there is not sufficient room. I imagine that under the conditions which are experienced on Mondays and which no doubt operated yesterday, there would not be sufficient room in which to install additional facilities. By the same token, it is necessary to provide some sort of catering facilities for the people travelling through the airport.
Katherine, which is a couple of hundred miles south of Darwin, is a rapidly growing centre. It will be the centre for very large agricultural and meat industries. The meat works, which unfortunately was burnt down earlier in the year, was reopened on 1st September as a result of a terrific effort by the management and the people of Katherine. The people of Katherine are fortunate in having the Royal Australian Air Force strip at Tindal, which is only 12 miles south of Katherine. This strip can take any sized jet aircraft that is operating in Australia. Naturally enough, the people of Katherine say: ‘Why can’t jet aircraft land here?’ I think that their request is reasonable. I say to the people who are in charge there that I am glad to see that they have left the existing facilities and the existing north-south strip at Katherine for the use of light aircraft. These facilities will be much appreciated by the people who operate in and out of this area. As the local people in Katherine are fortunate to have near their town an aerodrome which can accommodate jet aircraft, I think that they are entitled to a jet aircraft service instead of the Friendship service which operates on 2 or 3 days a week. I note that in the estimates money is being allocated this year for the Tindal airstrip. There is a passenger terminal there, and the money will bc used for providing lighting facilities and so on. I ask the Minister to look at the passenger and freight positions up and down the Northern Territory. The Territory is growing very rapidly. I think that quite a deal of forward planning is required. I hope that the Government can do this planning in order to keep ahead of expansion.
– In rising to speak to the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation, once again I should like to draw attention to the fact that honourable members are expected to debate these estimates without having before them the annual reports of Qantas Airways Ltd, Trans-Australia Airlines and the Department of Civil Aviation. So 1 ask the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz), to give the explanation for this situation, when he has an opportunity to reply. Why cannot this information be made available to honourable members? I make this complaint year after year. The Minister, deliberately, accidentally or for some reason best known to himself, is not prepared to make this information available to honourable members before we debate the estimates for his Department. How can we discuss the activities of Trans-Australia Airlines and Qantas, how can we discuss the affairs of the Department of Civil Aviation, without having these annual reports before us? I think this is a further example of the Government’s arrogance and contempt for honourable members in this place, or else the Government expects us to be rubber stamps - not only members of the Opposition, but also fts own supporters. I am surprised that Government supporters have allowed this state of affairs to continue and have not needled the Minister into coming up with some answers.
First of all, I should like to refer to Scott’s dead cat, or to put it into correct parliamentary language, I should like to refer to a reply by Senator Scott in another place to a question asked of him by Senator McClelland relative to the lifting of the curfew at Tullamarine airport in Melbourne when it is opened, and to the pressure which is being applied by Sir Henry Bolte, the Premier of Victoria, to have the curfew lifted. An explanation was given by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) in this place this morning, but I do not think he was very helpful to members of his own Party who are fighting for their lives in the electorates of St. George, Barton and Cook, which are situated around the Sydney airport and which today are being subjected to quite a considerable amount of noise and inconvenience from low flying aircraft. I think that where there is smoke there is fire. Senator Scott, in concluding his reply to Senator McClelland’s question, said: . . 1 certainly hope that in the future we may ses an end to any objection from New South Wales.
Certain Ministers of the Government have denied that the curfew will be lifted. But Senator Scott represents the Minister for Civil Aviation in the other place. He answers all the questions on civil aviation. If he can answer them off the cuff, he does so; if he cannot he refers them to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Those of us who try to keep a check on what is happening in both places notice constantly that he does this. Obviously he must have had some inside information on this subject. If he had not had some inside information on what was happening, he would not have answered Senator McClelland’s question off the cuff. He would have said, as he does on other occasions: ‘I will refer the question to my colleague, the Minister for Civil Aviation’.
I come to one clear conclusion on this matter. Where there is smoke there is fire and my conclusion is that it is the intention of this Government to lift the curfew on Tullamarine. Great pressure is being applied to the Government by its old friend and supporter, Sir Reginald, to lift the curfew. Do honourable members think that Sir Reginald would have ordered a quick change Boeing 727, costing an additional $500,000 over the conventional type, just because he wanted to help Boeing out of some difficulty that company had? Perhaps the company had built an extra quick change Boeing 727 and wanted to get rid of it, so Sir Reginald generously gave the company another $500,000. After all, what is another $500,000 to Ansett Transport Industries Ltd? But is this the real position? Of course it is not. The real position is that Sir Reginald is buying this aircraft, which will be delivered later this year, because he is confident that he will be able to get his friends, the Liberals, to agree to his request to lift the curfew. This is the position and the electors of Barton, St George and Cook’s River should realise it. They should realise that they have been sold down the drain by this Government.
The Government has a lot to answer for in its attitude to Sydney. What is it doing about providing a second airport for Sydney? Honourable members who use Sydney airport know that it is completely unsatisfactory for modern jets. In the old days when only DC3, Convair and similar aircraft were operating, it was good enough to have an airport of this type in Sydney, at West Beach in Adelaide, in Perth, at Essendon and the other major centres. Those aircraft made a lot less noise than the modern aircraft do. Residents near the airports suffered some inconvenience, but with the introduction of the modern jets they are now subjected to considerable inconvenience by aircraft flying low over their bornes. People as far afield as Kurnell on the south side of Botany Bay have suffered considerable inconvenience from low flying aircraft.
This Government should have come forward with an alternative site a long time ago. There has been talk about a site for an airport at Camden and at Windsor. Of course, if Windsor were chosen the Royal Australian Air Force would have to agree to operate the airport on a joint basis with the Department of Civil Aviation, in the same way as it does at Canberra. Another alternative site has been suggested at Wyong. One suitable site in this area has just about been built out and there is now sufficient residential development to make it unsuitable. Another site there could be used. But what I am concerned about is that this Government is not doing anything constructive to provide an alternative airport for Sydney. I am satisfied that the present airport must go.
– There is a committee looking into this.
– There is a committee looking at everything. But this is a matter of such importance that the Minister should say that Sydney is the No. 1 airport in Australia today and it is the principal international airport.
– No, it it not.
– It is. It is the principal international airport. The right honourable gentleman made a comment that is typical of Melbourne members. With all respect to my colleague I say that Sydney is the principal Australian international airport and it is the principal domestic user. Therefore it should occupy a site where aircraft can use it for 24 hours a day without causing inconvenience to residents. I am quite clear about that. But Mascot must never be opened to use for 24 hours a day unless aircraft that make no noise are used, and their introduction is a long way off. The Government should be getting on with the job of selecting an alternative site instead of referring it to a committee that will bring down a report. It should select an alternative site not only for Sydney but for every city in Australia. This is a matter that needs urgent attention.
What will happen if the Government does not come forward with an alternative airport for Sydney? Sir Henry Bolte, with his tribalistic instincts, if I may adopt the expression used by Senator McClelland, will push and push this Government and I am confident that he will get his way. Tullamarine will be allowed to remain open for 24 hours a day. Once aircraft get up, where do they come down? Australia has only a couple of airports where large jet aircraft can land. But the traffic that the operators are interested in is the traffic between Melbourne and Sydney. This is the most heavily used air route in Australia today and this is the one they will be pushing for. If an alternative site is not provided for Sydney, there will be one result and one result only. This is what the old tribalistic Premier is after. Melbourne will become the No. 1 jet airport. Then, instead of having the situation that we now have, with aircraft stacked up outside Sydney in the morning waiting for the Town Hall clock to chime 6 o’clock so that they can land, they will pass over Sydney and go to Melbourne. I say to the Lord Mayor of Sydney and to the Premier of New South Wales: If you do not want Sydney to become the second airport in Australia, giving way to Tullamarine, get moving yourselves and get this Government moving. It will not be necessary to deal with this Government for much longer; it is on the way out. The Australian Labor Party will do something about this problem when it takes office.
I leave that subject now. I would like to deal with a lot of other matters in the limited time available to me this afternoon.
We recently read with disappointment and regret that more than SO people unfortunately lost their lives when the aircraft in which they were travelling was struck by a small single engine aircraft when it was coming in to land in Indianapolis. The small aircraft cut the tail off the DC9, the DC9 crashed and all these people unfortunately lost their lives. The explanation given at this stage is that, because of the inadequate radar installed at that airport, the small aircraft was not picked up on the radar screen at any time before or at the moment of impact with the DC9. I ask: Can it happen here? I know that the Minister for Civil Aviation will say that it cannot happen here. I hope that he is 100% correct. But it is time that the Government examined the position of light aircraft operating in the air circuits around Sydney, Tullamarine, Brisbane and other major airports. This matter should be examined and the Minister must come up with a statement setting out what he is doing to control light aircraft being flown by students pilots, as was the light aircraft in the accident I have described.
The Minister should not say that such an accident cannot happen here, because I have an article which describes an incident that could have resulted in an accident. The article is contained in Aviation Safety Digest’, which is a magazine published by the Department of Civil Aviation. The incident that it describes was not brought to the attention of honourable members in a report by the Minister. However, it was brought to my notice. I did not think it could be true, so I made a few inquiries. To my surprise, I found it was correct. On Tuesday of this week the Minister in a reply to me revealed that the article was correct. Approximately 15 months ago two F27 Fokker Friendship aircraft took off from Brisbane almost at the one time on the same flight path. They continued out of Brisbane on the same flight path, operating together.
In the very limited time remaining for me to speak, I would like to read a passage from the article which appears in ‘Aviation Safety Digest’ of March 1969. It states:
As a result of inquiries which were initiated on receipt of the check captain’s advice, it was found that, about one month previously, two Fokker Friendships .had departed Brisbane Airport within minutes of each other and had flown the same track at the same flight level in controlled airspace for some 30 minutes. During this time the second aircraft overtook the first but neither crew was aware of the other aircraft until they each subsequently reported position and flight level to Brisbane Flight Service Unit when beyond the control area boundary. Although both crews then appreciated the relative positions of the aircraft and one crew actually sighted the other aircraft at the same level, neither crew apparently recognised the situation as an incident which should be reported.
This is a serious matter. Here two aircraft took off at the one time and followed the same flight path in the same airspace. Fortunately for the passengers in them, there was no collision. There could well have been a collision if they had been taking off in cloudy conditions. Will the Minister approve of my incorporating in Hansard all of the article so that honourable members may read it?
– No, it is a public document. It is available.
– That is OK by me. My point is clear. I hope that what happened in Indianapolis is never repeated here, but it could be. We are dealing with human beings. I have the greatest respect and admiration for the men in the Department of Civil Aviation, particularly those who control flying operations, but they are only human. They can make mistakes. I make mistakes. The incident to which I have just referred is an example of the sort of mistake that can happen. It is only an accident that this situation was discovered and brought to the attention of the Minister and the Department, where it was investigated. I am glad to see in the report that the problem has been overcome, but what would have happened if those two aircraft had collided in mid air? The honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Graham) may laugh but these are facts. The situation was serious enough to cause the Department to inquire into it.
I would like to refer also to the inefficient handling of passengers by the two major airline operators - Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett Airlines of Australia. We have had numerous complaints from members of Parliament about flight cancellations and the loss of luggage. We who travel regularly by air know how the services provided by these two airlines have deteriorated. The position is now so bad that it is time the Minister gave some thought to rationalisation.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– We have witnessed a most interesting foray by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr CharlesJones) into the land of fear. For 15 minutes he tried to instil fear in the people not only of the electorate which 1 represent but of Australia. As for the incident involving the two Friendships, all
I can say is that the safety standards set by the Department of Civil Aviation are respected internationally. The honourable member’s alarming remarks were illfounded. There is no room for them in the pattern of civil aviation in Australia. There is no basis for the suggestions made in the last 2 days that jet operations will be allowed at Mascot between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. This exercise, which has been carried out both inside the Parliament and outside, has been well organised and interesting. Today the honourable member for Newcastle has tried to prey on the fears of the people. No doubt people are apprehensive about jet operations between11 p.m. and 6 a.m. but the honourable member knows, better perhaps than his colleagues, that there is no foundation for the suggestion that such operations will be permitted.
Reading from the record of proceedings in another place the honourable member drew the inference that a Minister in another place had some inside information on the subject. The honourable member did not have the courage to quote the clear statement made today by that same Minister who said that in his earlier remarks he was expressing not Government policy but a personal opinion. I concede that the people of St George and Barton, as well as those who live near the airports of Adelaide, Brisbane and Melbourne, cannot afford the luxury of a Minister in another place expressing a personal opinion on this very sensitive subject. But for the honourable member to trade on this fact in the hope of winning a handful of votes - a very doubtful hope - is reprehensible, as it would be in any of his colleagues who acted in a similar manner. T know that the honourable member has some experience of the problem of aircraft noise but if he had supported the people of St George and Barton, as well as his colleagues the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly), who represents the area around Marrickville, and the honourable member for Watson (Mr Cope), in their endeavours before 1963 to get something done about aircraft noise we might have seen more rapid improvement in the situation. Until 1966 Barton had for years been represented by Labor. Until 1963 St George had for years been represented by Labor. Yet nothing was done by the Labor members who represented those electorates.
– What could they do?
– I answer the right honourable member for Melbourne, who has already claimed, by way of interjection, that Melbourne will be Australia’s No. 1 airport. I will tell him what has already been done in St George. Aircraft patterns have been reorganised. The Department of Civil Aviation has been persuaded to acknowledge that an aircraft noise problem exists. The Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) has been persuaded to stand his ground and to reaffirm that he will not lift the curfew on jet operations at Mascot or at other airports in Australia. The Minister stated the position clearly last night andI believe that he will do so again this afternoon. Not only have we had aircraft patterns reorganised in order to reduce aircraft noise, we have also brought about a complete review of the situation. The people of St George - those who live in Kogarah and Rockdale - know only too well that the situation has improved out of sight in the last 6 or 1.2 months. This is not an electioneering stunt; it is the result of a definite programme carried out since 1 966.
The Government has acknowledged what is involved in the present situation. It acknowledges the problem of aircraft noise; it is aware of the impediment which aircraft noise causes to private living in those areas. What more would you want the Government to do at this stage? The entire world, through the International Civil Aviation Organisation, is trying to come to grips with this problem. What more would you ask the Government to do than appoint a select committee - the very thing which honourable members opposite are constantly calling upon the Government to do in order to investigate a wide variety of matters in this country? The Opposition would brush aside the importance of the Select Committee on Aircraft Noise, but I would tell honourable members that the Committee has covered a great deal of ground already. In the next 2 weeks it will submit its interim report, but a further 9 or 12 months will elapse before the Committee can cover all the ground.
What else has been done? Let me tell honourable members opposite. In the last 1 2 months the Minister has had the courage and foresight to pay serious attention to representations by the Government Members Civil Aviation Committee. He has been prepared to take those representations to the International Civil Aviation Organisation in July this year. He has placed on the table of the Organisation a convention, which ICAO has accepted. Today Australia has been projected to the forefront in the field of aircraft noise investigation and its solution. One of our most respected workers in the Commonwealth Acoustics Laboratory has been invited to attend in November a meeting of the International Standards Organisation. He is accepted internationally as an expert in the field of noise standards. What else does the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) want at this stage? The Select Committee is giving leadership not only to Australia but to the world so far as aircraft noise is concerned, and we will achieve more. The Labor Party has done nothing. Nothing was done in St George until 1963; nothing was done in Barton until 1966. Even the honourable senator who asked a question in another place has admitted that he cannot attack the Government over its handling of the aircraft noise problem. He knows what we have done in the past 12 months. What he has attacked is the idea that jet cargo operations may be permitted at night; that the curfew on jet operations at Mascot between 1 1 p.m. and 6 a.m. might be lifted. He has traded on the fear of the people.
I know that certain sections of the Press, to whom I address myself, through you, Mr Deputy Chairman, are organised on this issue. When the Minister made a blue the other day they swung into action. Just read this morning’s ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ and you will see what I mean.
The opinion of a parliamentary candidate was quoted first, and what the Chairman of the Select Committee on Aircraft Noise appointed by the Federal Parliament had to say was contained in about three remarks at the end of the article. I ask the right honourable member for Melbourne whether that is fair representation. He stands and talks about Press favouritism in this Parliament. I ask: Is that a fair go? In about 10 minutes time let him go out and read the Sydney ‘Daily Mirror’ and see how it presents a case for the Opposition. If this is not a campaign stunt, what is it?
It is reprehensible for the right honourable member for Melbourne or for anybody else in this chamber or in the other place to trade on the fears of people who have suffered from this thing for years and years because they could not get any leadership from the representatives in their area. But they are getting leadership now and they will get it for the next 3 years, particularly in the electorates of St George and Barton and, if necessary, other areas also. The right honourable member for Melbourne is trying to interject. I do not want to hear any of his interjections because I know what I am talking about on this subject even if I do not know much about the other aspects of administration. I say again - I have to say it to a Minister of my Government - that if the Minister thinks he can afford the luxury of a personal opinion on this matter he has another think coming. We cannot afford to have him experimenting in this field. He lives in Perth and spends the rest of his time in Canberra, and he never encounters this problem. I offer him a fortnight’s free accommodation for him and his family in Rockdale right under the flight path of aircraft. He may stay there for a fortnight. I will show him whether he can afford the luxury to stand up in another place and say that he hopes that people will be exposed to aircraft noise between 1 1 p.m. and 6 a.m. There are two things I want to say to the Minister for Civil Aviation in this regard. I had intended to leave it until next year before opening up on this subject. I had intended when I came back here to say something about what I proposed to do.
– The honourable member had better get in and say it now because he will not be here next year.
– We will get every opportunity in the world. The Opposition is banking too much on this foray. I am confident that the people in St George will weigh the matter up for what it is - a 5-minute foray by an outsider who moves into the area and thinks he can get away with a well organised campaign by other people outside. I want the Minister for Civil Aviation, firstly, to institute immediately, if necessary, a feasibility study of the value of ensuring immediately or as soon as practicable that all cargo flights, including propellor driven ones, use the Richmond Air Force base on a joint user basis with the Royal Australian Air Force. The Richmond air base is 35 miles from Sydney and there is no reason in the world why it cannot be used. I am opposed not only to jet aircraft flying in between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. but also to propeller driven ones coming in. They go to no trouble to limit the nuisance. They fly right over the top of built up areas.
I ask the Minister to institute a feasibility study on the practicability of encouraging or enforcing as soon as possible all scheduled flights between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. to use the Richmond airport. There is no reason in the world why it cannot be done. At that time of night there are no traffic problems on the road. With high speed trucks the cargo could be brought into Sydney in as little as 1 hour, and 1 hour is worth all the money in the world to the people who live around the Mascot airport and the other airports, such as the Brisbane airport. Is there any reason why the Amberley air base near Brisbane could not be used for the same purpose? It is suitably located.
I want to make one other point about something that was in one of the Melbourne newspapers this morning. A situation seems to be emerging in which Ansett Airlines of Australia is moving itself into an unenviable situation. The public can be excused if they consider that Ansett Airlines now has a vested interest in seeing that the Liberal members for St George and Barton no longer hold their seats. I leave that to the Committee to think about. Ansett Airlines could have a vested interest in seeing that the Liberal Party no longer holds these seats because of the progress that has been made in relation to aircraft noise and because there is the possibility that more money will have to be spent by the airlines in the interest of the people who live near airports. I took the opportunity on the debate on the estimates to raise these matters. I had prepared a speech, but because of the scurrilous campaign that has been organised in the last 2 days I have taken the opportunity to point out to the Parliament what has gone on - that it is only a stunt campaign for the purposes of the election. There is no foundation for it at all.
Jet cargo flights will not be introduced into Kingsford-Smith Airport, despite what Sir Henry Bolte said. He is a stirrer from way back if ever there was one. The people will not fall for it. These flights will not be introduced. I ask the people who have confidence in the honourable members for St George, Barton (Mr Arthur) and the State member for Cook’s River, who at this time last year gave an assurance to the people that the development of Towra Point as a second airport for Sydney would not go ahead. This project is now off the book. The honourable member for Newcastle today uttered a lot of rubbish, the same as he put forward a lot of rubbish about Towra Point. What does he think about Towra Point now? The Opposition did nothing to show that aircraft noise at Towra Point would not be the same as it is at Mascot. 1 assure honourable members that that is what the position would have been. They can consider that.
Motion (by Mr Calwell) proposed:
That the honourable member for St George be granted an extension of time.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I have moved that the honourable member for St George have his time extended.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- The motion is out of order.
– I raise a point of order. In what respect is my motion out of order? The Standing Orders provide that any honourable member may at any time move that any other honourable member be granted an extension of time.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN - I point out to the right honourable member that under the Standing Orders an extension of time may be moved at any time except for a first speech in Committee. The honourable member for St George has just made a first speech in Committee.
– And then he disappeared. I accept your ruling, Mr Deputy Chairman.
– We have just listened to an emotional speech by the honourable member for St George (Mr Bosman), who was trying to cover up the inadequacies of his own Government and the fact that one of his own Ministers in another place made a statement which has upset him immensely. He resorted to abuse of that Minister, who is not in the position to defend himself in this place. He also rubbished a Liberal Premier. This is typical of the lack of harmony within the Liberal Party and the Country Party in this place. Here we have a Liberal in the House of Representatives attacking a Liberal Minister in another place. We have a Liberal member in this place attacking a Liberal Premier in Victoria. We have the continual bickering between the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) in this place and the Premier of New South Wales. The Treasurer has said on previous occasions that the Premier of New South Wales would not know what he was talking about. So how can one come to any other conclusion than that this Government has had it and that the people are living on borrowed time.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN - Order! I point out to the honourable member that he is not making his remarks relevant to the estimates before the Committee.
– If I am not it is only because I am replying to the remarks of the honourable member for St George. After all I am trying to defend the Minister in another place from the attack by the honourable member for St George. As the honourable member said, the Government did appoint a select committee on aircraft noise. It appointed four members of the Government and three members of the Opposition, including the honourable member for Watson (Mr Cope), the honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Mclvor) and myself. We have all taken an interest in what has been happening in an endeavour to come up with the correct decision. But what I wish to draw to the attention of honourable members is that the Government did not make this decision to appoint a select committee to inquire into aircraft noise until long after the British Labor Party in the United Kingdom had appointed a select committee known as the Wilson Committee to inquire into aircraft noise. Once again, the Liberal Party has pinched a policy from the Labor Party. Whether it is the Australian Labor Party or the British Labour Party, the Liberals come in second all the time in regard to whatever we put up. That is all I wish to say on the House of Representatives Select Committee on Aircraft Noise.
I am not trying to scare people with regard to the tragedy that occurred at Indianapolis. What I am pointing out are the facts. Does the honourable member for St George deny the facts that I repeated to the Committee? I was prepared to incorporate the whole of that report in Hansard. The Minister for Civil Aviation would not agree to that course. I am not trying to hide anything. I am not trying to scare people. All 1 am trying to do is to bring facts to the attention of the people and to illustrate what might happen and to show that what did happen in Indianapolis could have happened in Brisbane. I think that it is a serious incident when two aircraft are permitted to take off from an airport on the one flight pattern and flying in the same direction. If it is scaremongering to raise these matters, then I propose to engage in scaremongering continually in this place.
I wish to deal with many other matters concerning the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation. As I said earlier, once again we are at the disadvantage that we are debating these estimates without having before us the annual reports of Qantas Airways Ltd, Trans-Australia Airlines and the Department of Civil Aviation. When I resumed my seat on the earlier occasion when my time expired, I had commenced to say that I considered that the services being provided by Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett Airlines of Australia today are not as good as they used to be. These airline companies have lost the initiative to get up and go. They no longer have the desire to win passengers or to win customers to their services.
I believe that this state of affairs has been brought about as a result of the rationalisation programme of the Government under which it does not matter a hang how hard an airline company works or what sort of a service it provides to its customers or to attract more customers. It does not matter what an airline company does or how hard it works in this field because it must still share passengers with the other company. For example, if Ansett Airlines is prepared and capable of building up its passenger trade, it still is required to give a part of that trade to TAA. In my view, this is just not good enough.
This system of rationalisation has been in existence for long enough now. The two airline companies have been established long enough and have been operating long enough. Both airlines have received sufficient assistance by way of loans under the same conditions with which to buy replacement aircraft. I feel that it is time that these two airlines were permitted to operate off their own bats. They should be able to go out and chase custom. If one company can attract more passengers and freight than the other I say good luck to it. I say that it is time the Minister took the hobbles off both of these airlines and let them try to step up their efficiency.
We hear complaints about our airline services continually from honourable members. The Government Whip, the honourable member for Henty (Mr Fox), asked two very embarrassing questions of the Minister for Civil Aviation. I am led to believe from inside information that these questions really stirred the airlines up. The people about whom he was asking these questions - I do not want to be partisan on this - were on the telephone asking: ‘What is wrong with Fox? What is he raising these matters in the Parliament for?’ His questions really stirred them up. This is what I hope to be able to do. I hope that other honourable members will be prepared to raise these questions.
Too often we find when we arrive at an airport to make a connection that our flight is either too late or unserviceable, or the aircraft has not been able to keep to its schedule in coming from another place. No regard whatever is had for passengers. I wish to quote to the Committee a case to illustrate what happened to me and to other honourable members just recently. If honourable members want the date, this incident occurred last Tuesday fortnight. I arrived in Sydney from Newcastle with other members of the Opposition on TAA Flight 528. We were to connect with TAA Flight 241 from Sydney to Canberra. We arrived in Sydney at 8.10 a.m. Flight 241 was to leave Sydney for Canberra at 8.30. I came into the airport terminal building and looked at the flight departure board. There, on the board, I saw flight 241 scheduled for departure at 8.30. I booked my luggage in and then went, in the usual way, to the seat allocation lounge. After a while, an announcement came over the loudspeaker that flight 241 was late.
My point is this: Everyone in that airport who had anything to do with the control of this aircraft knew full well that flight 241 was going to be late. I believe that flight 241 could not get out of Canberra because it had a cracked windscreen that morning. That windscreen had to be replaced. I am not complaining about that fact. I am always grateful that aircraft, are held up for the replacement of unserviceable parts. I do not want aircraft flying which in any way are unserviceable. The aircraft had to be serviced in Canberra, but no-one bothered to ring Sydney from Canberra and say: ‘Look, you had better let the passengers booked on flight 241 know that they will not get out of Sydney before 9.10 or 9.15’. In other words, flight 241 was 45 minutes to 50 minutes late. No-one rang through to let the passengers know that this was so in order that they might, if they wished to do so, make alternative arrangements.
I had an important meeting to attend in Canberra on that morning. I “had to make that connection to arrive in Canberra at that time. The result was that I was late. I held up the Committee meeting that I was to attend because I was late. I point out that TAA could have spoken to its officers at its terminal in Sydney and said: ‘Right, this aircraft will be late. Ask your passengers whether they wish to transfer over to the Ansett flight so that, at least, they may arrive in Canberra on time’. I was in Sydney on that occasion with sufficient time to transfer to the Ansett flight. I would have been prepared to do so if I had been advised in sufficient time that flight 241 was late. But I was advised, as were the other passengers, that this aircraft was late after the Ansett aircraft had taken off for Canberra.
This is not good enough. If we have a rationalisation system operating in regard to our public transport system, this is the sort of thing that should be done, lt is only a hop, skip and a jump from the TAA terminal to the Ansett terminal. I could quite easily have transferred to the Ansett flight. On the other hand, TAA flight 499 was due to take off from Sydney for Canberra at 8.45. Were any passengers from flight 241 invited by TAA to transfer to this earlier flight? Of course not. Those who were sufficiently interested in transferring to this flight made inquiries and were able to make this transfer. These courtesies are the sorts of things that I consider are lacking in the service that is being provided for passengers by the two airlines. I believe that, if the Government were to remove its rationalisation policy, greater interest would be shown by the airlines in the comfort of passengers. I believe that the airlines would do these things that I have mentioned and would look after the needs of passengers, including honourable members.
I turn to the subject of lost luggage. Only this week, the Minister for Civil Aviation informed honourable members that his luggage had been lost. Recently, I travelled from Brisbane and transferred to a Masling flight to Newcastle. When I arrived in Newcastle, my luggage had been lost. I found out later that my luggage had gone on to Melbourne. A lady boarded the same plane to Newcastle at Sydney as 1 did. She had just flown from Melbourne to Sydney. When she. arrived in Newcastle her luggage likewise was missing. Here were two instances of two passengers - one travelling from Brisbane and one travelling from Melbourne –whose luggage was lost in the one morning. Does this indicate efficiency on the part of the airlines? Of course it does not.
The President of the other place, I believe, has stopped travelling with one airline because it has lost his luggage on too many occasions. The honourable member for Shortland (Mr Griffiths), my colleague from Newcastle, is in a similar position. One airline has lost his luggage so often that he has given away travelling with that airline. Another complaint is that the airlines will not wait for passengers. On one occa sion, one aircraft would not wait for 3 minutes and on another occasion the time it was requested to wait was 8 minutes.
There are many matters on which the airlines could tighten up their services. These things should be tightened up to bring airline services up to a reasonable standard, so that the welfare of the people who are travelling on these services is taken care of. I have illustrated to the Committee some of the things which have happened to me. I am only one passenger. I am not like Robinson Crusoe; everything does not happen to me. The things that T have described happen to everyone. I have spoken on behalf of those people who have missed airline connections through the fault of the airlines, who have had to wait for long periods at airports and who have had luggage lost by the airlines. I could continue making these protests to the Minister for some considerable time by quoting instances of inefficiency on the part of the airlines. 1 ask the Minister to do something about the rationalisation scheme. The airline companies have been operating long enough to stand on their own two feet and to compete fairly one with the other. An airline that attracts customers should be permitted to hold those customers and should not be required to share them with the other airline. If the Government is to have a rationalisation scheme in the true sense, why does it not lift the prohibition on TAA operating intrastate services in New South Wales. Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia? Why is this airline not permitted to operate fairly and on an equal basis with its competitor, Ansett Transport Industries? I. think that this is a fair and reasonable proposition. For some reason best known to the Minister, he is not prepared to do this. The honourable member for St George talks about an Ansett fix to get rid of him. Ansett has never supported the Australian Labor Party in his life and he never will do so. As far as Ansett is concerned, if he was doing anything for anyone, he would be doing something to retain the honourable member for St George as a member of this Parliament. 1 turn now to the service provided in aircraft. This is a matter to which I have referred concerning some of the operators, including TAA. I mention the serving of meals to travellers and the unsafe procedure we see continually. The flight between Sydney and Melbourne and vice versa takes approximately one hour. What I am about to say honourable members know to be true. On numerous occasions on these flights we see this procedure followed: Meals are served after bar service is provided to those who want it, excluding wowsers like myself who do not want it. As I say, after the bar service, a light snack or a meal is served. This means that those passengers are served last with their meals. On numerous occasions I have seen the hostesses rushing backwards or forwards to the pantry, collecting trays and cups, and putting them away while the aircraft was on its final approach into Sydney or Melbourne. If the Minister and the Department of Civil Aviation consider this to be a safe practice, I do not. I hope the Minister and the airlines will have a good look at this practice. This happens not only on flights to and from Sydney and Melbourne; it happens on flights from Melbourne to Tasmania and on others, particularly short flights. I ask the Minister to investigate this.
– You do not get any lollies now either.
– I am not concerned about lollies; I am concerned with the safety of the employees who operate these aircraft. The final matter I want to refer to is the industrial attitude of Trans-Australia Airlines. I refer to the strike which took place earlier this year - I think it was on 15th January - when transport workers stopped work. I do not wish to enter into discussion as to whether the strike was justified. I do not have time to do this. But I draw the attention of the Minister and honourable members to the two disastrous strikes which affected TAA, both of which cost it over Sim in lost revenue. There was the pilots strike last year and the transport workers strike this year. The uncompromising attitude adopted by the TAA management is not the way to bring about industrial harmony and peace in any industry. Why is it that TAA has these disastrous strikes which cost it over $lm when they do not occur in the Ansett airline? Is the Ansett company a more compromising company? Are the Ansett people prepared to listen to legitimate complaints from trade unionists and men in their employ in order to solve the problems? Do they adopt that attitude while TAA adopts a heavy-handed method? The same thing can be said about Qantas because on a number of occasions it has gone through pretty disastrous financial strikes. I ask the Minister to look into this matter. Did he think when eighty-two summonses were issued against individuals that this was something which the trade union movement would tolerate? I know that the Minister must have approved of that action because nothing of that import would have happened if he had not been happy about it. That is not the way to settle disputes.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I want to congratulate the honourable . member for St George (Mr Bosman) upon his fighting speech. I realise the great consideration that he has for the electors of St George and Barton but at the same time I want him to realise the great regard and respect which I have for the electors of Richmond. I do not want the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) to approve the use of the Royal Australian Air Force base as a commercial airfield. The people of Richmond are wonderful; they never complain. At that base student pilots practise every night from 6 p.m to midnight. I must consider my electors in Richmond; insomnia is a bad thing and it might twist their thoughts. The Caribous make a lot of noise when they land. The pilots land, take off, circle and land again. This noise is going on all the time in the Richmond area but the people never complain. The only time that they can sleep - and they do this with one eye open - is from 12 midnight until 6 a.m. I plead with you, Mr Minister, not to license the Richmond base for commercial flying.
Referring to what the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) said, I think that once the travelling public purchases tickets from either of the airlines the companies give them scant recognition. But this appears to be the case all over the world. When I was flying from Rome to Tel Aviv my luggage went astray. It was returned to me from America. I picked it up 5 days afterwards when I was flying out of Tel Aviv. A similar thing happened in Rome. Our aircraft did not arrive and we were kept banging about for 8 hours. If we had been told of the delay we would have been able to see some of the historical sights. However it appears that once the airline gets your fare and you have your ticket you just do as you are told. 1 think that the system in this regard needs tightening up. I thank you, Mr Minister, but please do not license the Richmond air base for use as a commercial flying centre.
– 1 shall refer first to the last matter mentioned by the honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Irwin), which was referred to also by the honourable member for St George (Mr Bosman). The only thing I can say at this stage in relation to the Richmond Royal Australian Air Force base is that an interdepartmental committee is considering an area for the establishment of a new airport to service Sydney in the future. The suggestion that has been made will be referred to that committee, as will the comments made by the honourable member for Mitchell. I noted with pleasure the new advocacy of private enterprise on the part of the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) and his firm support for Ansett Transport Industries as a partner in the two airline policy. This was rather unusual on the part of the Opposition. We do appreciate even these small mercies when they come.
The honourable member for St George, and a couple of other speakers, quite rightly raised the question of noise, particularly as it applies to the situation at Sydney airport. This matter was raised because of an answer given by my colleague in another place yesterday in reply to a question. I understand that he elaborated upon the subject this morning and provided some information of a factual nature. I. would like to take this opportunity to re-affirm the intention of the Government in relation to this matter. I assure the honourable member for St George and other honourable members who are interested that the Government has no intention now, or in the foreseeable future, of amending the present restrictions which apply at certain of our major airports in Australia. Those restrictions apply because of the existing conditions. While those conditions continue in the future it is not the intention of the Government to change the restrictions. Australia is the one country which has applied these restrictions to this extent. No other country applies restrictions of this type so rigidly. This is a measure of the earnestness of my Department and this Government to meet the interests of the community.
I would like to elaborate a little further on what action the Government has taken to deal with this worldwide problem of aircraft noise. As the honourable member for St George said, Australia had the opportunity last year to attend the general assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organisation held in Buenos Aires. During the opening plenary session I was able to introduce, on behalf of Australia, a proposal for an annex to the ICAO convention to deal with the subject of aircraft noise for adoption by the general assembly. The proposal, discussed later in committee, was accepted and adopted unanimously by over 100 nations represented at the assembly. Australia took the initiative in this regard. Resulting from that action the first meeting of the ICAO committee to deal with this particular problem will be held in Montreal in October. We hope that emerging from that meeting some guidelines will be laid down on an international basis and will be standardised throughout the world. We will use these guidelines as the basis for legislation which will be introduced into this Parliament in the future.
In addition, as honourable members know, the House of Representatives did set up a select committee to investigate aircraft noise. Several members of that committee have been present during this debate. I pay a tribute to the committee members for the work they are doing. 1 understand the committee will present an interim report before the Parliament rises. We are looking forward to that report and to the final report because we are waiting on the information that the committee is now collating and the recommendations that it will be making. At the same time we are adopting procedures that are standardised throughout the world, but which have special application to our situation, to try to eliminate as far as possible the noise problem by procedural devices. In addition we use the system of a third runway where possible. This practice applies extensively at Sydney airport. Further, engine manufacturers throughout the world are conducting a tremendous amount of research into this aspect and in recent months there has been a major breakthrough whereby the new engines that will be operating in the Boeing 747 aircraft - the first of the jumbo jet type aircraft - will emit noise of about 15 decibels less than the noise from the engines fitted to the Boeing 707. This indicates that much work is being done in this particular field. We realise, of course, that this work is absolutely essential and Australia is determined to pursue it to the utmost. I conclude on this particular issue of noise by assuring the Committee that the Government has no intention now, or in the foreseeable future, while existing conditions apply, of altering the restrictions that apply to certain major Australian airports.
I apologise to the honourable members for the absence of the annual reports of my Department, Trans-Australia Airlines and Qantas Airways, to which the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) referred. The reason for this situation is that the debate has been brought forward this year because of the early election. The material for my annual! report has been in the hands of the Government Printer for some time but due to pressure of work it was not possible to get it here before the Estimates were debated. I understand that it will be available next week. I have also cleared the financial figures for the end of the financial year for TAA. The figures relating to Qantas should be cleared within the next 24 hours or so. Those reports should be available next week. Unfortunately, due to this early debate, they are not available now.
The honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart) raised a matter related to an individual. I had provided him with some information on a confidential basis in relation to this matter but as he has produced a further statutory declaration from the person concerned and has asked that the case be reviewed ‘I will certainly see that this is done. I will communicate with him direct by correspondence as soon as possible.
The honourable .member for Braddon (Mr Davies) raised several matters about airport development on the north west coast of Tasmania. He asked for advice about the present position. I will not deal with the various matters that led up to his question but merely try to outline quickly what the position is there. Some time ago, as the honourable member will recall, I was with him and the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie) in Tasmania and we discussed the matter with various councils. It was indicated at the time that we were going to maintain the airports at Devonport and Wynyard up to F27 standard and we were considering what the future developments would be. The position at both Devonport and Wynyard is that the airports are being maintained up to F27 standard at the moment. I indicated in this chamber fairly recently that it is intended at some time in the future - and we cannot yet indicate on a firm basis just when this will be - to upgrade the airport at Devonport to handle DC9 aircraft as an alternate for Launceston and Hobart. It is necessary to have an alternate airport somewhere in the vicinity for jet aircraft, so Devonport will be upgraded for alternate purposes only. Some time ago it was visualised that when jet aircraft for normal services commenced to operate in that part of Tasmania they would probably be of the DC9 type. Since then new intermediate types of jet aircraft have become available. Indeed we have one F28 which is to commence operations in Western Australia in the next few days. We have had experience of providing facilities for the F28. This is the type of aircraft we visualise replacing the F27 as a jet service to this part of Tasmania.
We have found that upgrading’ an airport from F27 standard to cater for F28 aircraft is a minor requirement. The actual length of runway required is the same for both aircraft, so the F27 standard runway length at Wynyard and at Devonport if necessary can be used for the F28. AH that is needed at either of those airports, and certainly at Wynyard, is a strengthening of the runway and some additional aids, because an instrument landing system is required for jet operations. This is not a major or costly job. Fortunately we know the situation now. We did not know it 12 months ago or even 6 months ago. If and when the airline companies which are responsible for the introduction of services decide to introduce jet services to that part of Tasmania I can assure the Committee that the facilities will be provided. The runway length at Wynyard is adequate for the purpose and it is a relatively minor job to strengthen it and to provide the additional aids that are required. We are planning, as I have said, for the upgrading of Devonport not for regular jet services but as an alternate airport for Launceston and Hobart. Of course, the Devonport facilities could be used for jet services when they are introduced at some time in the future. I hope that that clarifies the situation for the honourable member for Braddon.
The honourable member for the’ Northern Territory (Mr Calder) referred to the requirement of facilities for general aviation at Darwin and a number of additional facilities and services required at other places in the Territory. We will certainly be looking at all these aspects, but I point out to him that we have just completed a new hangar, which is being provided at a cost of over $300,000 to the Department of Civil Aviation, at Darwin for general aviation purposes. This is becoming available now and it will be utilised by the operators there. Some additional lond has been made available for operators to construct further buildings. I feel that this will overcome the problem to which the honourable member has referred. I remind the Committee that charter operators in the Northern Territory do have the advantage of restrictions that apply there whereby, because there are a limited number of operators, we do not allow other operators to come into the service. The charter operators have that protection and this applies to the Darwin Aero Club the same as it does to other charter operators.
The final point I want to touch on is the question of air safety that was referred to by the honourable member for Newcastle. There is no need to refer to the high standard of air safety that has been achieved in Australia, but I draw attention to the fact that the document he was quoting from is a public document which I provided to him and which is available to any honourable member or any member of the public who wishes to read it. One thing we do in Australia to maintain our high standard is to report not only accidents but also incidents. We are trying to convince all other countries, through ICAO, that they should do this too. We record every single accident that is reported. The major ones are recorded in the ‘Safety Digest’ and we have a record in the Department of every incident that is reported. From this record we are able to maintain this high standard. I think it is indicative of the standard that is being maintained in Australia that we do produce these documents and they are made available not only for our own records in Australia but also to every other country in the world.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Department of Works
Proposed expenditure $62,614,000.
Department of the Interior
Proposed expenditure $87,713,000.
Mr CALWELL (Melbourne) L4.30] - I wish to say something about the estimates for the Department of Works and the Department of the Interior. We hear in the Senate and in this place reference to tribalism among State parliamentarians. There is tribalism in every State Parliament in Australia. We must try to convince members of other Parliaments that this notion is greater than any held in a particular section of the community and what is happening in Canberra is of paramount importance to all Australians. I saw a reference yesterday by a junior Minister in the New South Wales State Government to Canberra as a country town. That reference dealt with the expenditure of funds in Canberra in building another hospital. I think that the Government is acting in a correct manner in building up the amenities of this great national capital. If we are not Australians first then we are nothing.
The display of tribalism by this junior Minister in the New South Wales State Government offended me because if it were not for what is happening here then all States in Australia would be at each other’s throat on financial affairs and other matters and the nation would thereby suffer. I do not like to have to say this, but today State Parliaments are not much more than glorified shire councils, and their importance is diminishing all the time. If one looks at this from the point of view of air travel, Sydney and Melbourne are only outer suburbs of Canberra, but you cannot convince a lot of people who have vested interests in Sydney and Melbourne that this is so. I think that the Department of the Interior should hasten the transfer to Canberra of the headquarters of all Government departments, branches of Government departments and Government instrumentalities. Provision is made in the Broadcasting and Television Act for the transfer of the Australian Broadcasting Commission to Canberra, and that provision was inserted in the Act in 1940. The ABC made a token recognition of its responsibility to transfer to Canberra and it applied for a grant of land, but it has never come here and it does not want to come here.
I cannot imagine a government instrumentality being administered in the proper manner away from the national capital. I think the Reserve Bank of Australia should have its headquarters in Canberra. I think the Commonwealth Bank should have its headquarters here. The Commonwealth Treasury is here and I can see no reason why the headquarters of the two financial institutions associated with the Government should not also be brought here. There is a selfish motive in all these remarks expressed by those who want to make hit and run raids on Canberra and then go back to what they think is a better life in some capital city.
It is a long time since the first transfers were arranged of Government departments to Canberra. The first transfers made from Melbourne were effected in 1927 and it is only recently that the Royal Australian Mint was brought from Melbourne to Canberra and the mint in Perth was closed down. The transfer of all central Government offices to Canberra is long overdue. As far as I can see there is nothing wrong in what the Government is doing in developing Canberra and providing amenities for the people who are living here. One out of every five persons living in Canberra was not born in Australia, and those persons have a right to expect the same facilities in Canberra as are available in the State capitals. I have no objection to the criticisms offered by State Premiers or by others on the need to spend more money on hospitals, health and that sort of thing. We have to get around to this question of what more we can do to help State governments and local government to manage their affairs.
That is not the question at the moment. But there is a question concerning local government which is of major importance. That relates to the purchase by the Commonwealth Government of existing buildings in capital cities for the purpose of accommodating departments rather than building its own offices. In Melbourne the Department of Immigration was moved into a new building and as a result the City of Melbourne lost a tremendous amount in rates, and that should not happen. Some day, when the block in the Commonwealth Centre in Melbourne is completed, this Department and other departments for which the Department of the Interior is paying rent will be moved out and the areas freed will be available to private enterprise from which the municipalities can obtain rates and upon which they can levy rates, but under the Constitution no State government can levy rates on any Commonwealth instrumentality and it ought to be that way. On the other hand, I think that we ought to show our best endeavours to help the municipalities, particularly the big city municipalities, by erecting our own buildings as quickly as possible and by making an ex gratia payment, if that is possible, on a better scale than is done now, so that the municipalities and even the State governments can be helped in providing the facilities that are available.
This mixes up a question concerning the Department of the Interior with a question concerning the Department of Works. I have an idea - I have held it for a long time - that Sydney and Melbourne should be declared open cities and all defence installations should be moved out of them. I think that Ingleburn should be the headquarters of the Army in New South Wales. I think that this Government ought to sell the Victoria Barracks site to the New South Wales Government. I think that in Victoria Watsonia ought to be made the headquarters of the Army and that the Government should move out of Victoria Barracks in Melbourne and also vacate the land which it occupies at present, upon which it pays very good rent in Albert Park, and which it has held since the early days of World War 11. All of these questions are very important. It may be that the Government could appoint a select committee to examine them and make recommendations for consideration. What 1 say about Sydney and Melbourne is true also of Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and, I think, Hobart.
I was a member of a Cabinet subcommittee which purchased the two sites in Melbourne and Sydney. We were under a good deal of pressure to take other sites but I think the decision of the Chifley Government in regard to the purchase of these sites was a very good one. I would like to see them developed. What happened since the Chifley Government went out of office was that there was pressure by the Department of the Interior not to build in Currie Street, Adelaide, where a site was selected, nor in down town Hobart. Why no building of the same proportions as those which exist in other cities was erected in Adelaide, which is entitled to these facilities, 1 do not know. A building was not erected in Hobart because someone in the Department of the Interior said at the time that it was cheaper to rent a run-down building in Hobart than to erect a new building. In my view, this was not a good argument. I hope that the Minister will go over all these things again, I hope that he will turn over the files and get some advice on what ought to be done to erect good piles of Commonwealth buildings. It is most important that the people of Australia should see not only good piles of State buildings but also good piles of Commonwealth buildings. The Commonwealth should not be renting places all around the capita] cities when it could erect buildings which would be symbolic of the Commonwealth’s strength and importance. I ask the Minister to consider the matter.
Mr McLEAY (Boothby) [4.4.1 j- I wish to discuss the estimates for the Department of the Interior and T am particularly pleased that the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) is in the chamber. I feel confident that he will be in the Parliament in that capacity for some time to come. I want to direct his attention and that of all honourable members to the report from the House of Representatives Select Committee on The Naming of Electoral Divisions. The Parliament will not debate the report in the current session. But at some time in the future some other Parliament and some other Minister will have to act on the recommendations of this Committee or on the recommendations of some other committee.
I want to refer to a couple of points that were made in the Committee’s report. 1 do so particularly for the information of the Minister. I am not anxious to be unreasonably critical; but I am anxious to be critical. I believe that much more research should be undertaken before any finality is reached on the naming of electoral divisions and that a future Parliament and a future Minister should reconvene this Committee. I hope that I will perhaps have the opportunity to be a member of such a committee in a future Parliament. Some of the recommendations that the Committee put forward in my view were based on very superficial research. I agree with the Committee on many of its recommendations. I agree in particular that divisions should be named after former citizens who have rendered outstanding service to their country. I agree especially with the recommendation that divisions should be named after former Prime Ministers. It is interesting to note that seven Prime Ministers have come from New South Wales; eight from Victoria; three from Queensland; one from Western Australia; but none from South Australia or Tasmania. It is unlikely that we will have a Prime Minister from South Australia or Tasmania in the immediate future. Because we have had only 19 Prime Ministers it should not be difficult to perpetuate their memory ultimately right throughout Australia. In fact, I believe that the names of some Prime Ministers who are deceased should be used now. Prime Minister Lyons is a classic case.
However, T am concerned only with South Australia. I would like to remind the Minister for the Interior and the Government that at the general election in 1901, South Australia and Tasmania were each polled as one division and that the first election at which separate electorates appeared, at least in South Australia, was in 1903. The original seven electorate names in South Australia have been retained. They are Adelaide, Angas, Barker, Boothby, Grey, Hindmarsh and Wakefield. In my view the names of these electorates should be retained for all the reasons set out in the report, and a few others. It is true that Hindmarsh, which is mentioned in appendix F of the report, is a district name as well as the name of a division. But there will always be a large residential electorate west of the city of Adelaide. Simply because the location and the name of an electorate are generally regarded as synonomous I do not think that this should provide grounds for abandoning such a famous name. However, we may do something about changing the representation of this electorate.
My particular concern is the suggestion that the name ‘Boothby’ should be abolished. The division of Boothby appears on a list of names in appendix E of the report. This is the part of the report in which the Committee considers that more appropriate names could be found. Presumably the Committee felt that the Division was named after somebody who could not be regarded as a sufficiently important citizen.
– Why not call it McLeay?
– That is a sound thought. To take that thought a little further, and to be perfectly serious, there is no reason why family names cannot be used, because it will be found often that a series of people in a particular family have rendered outstanding service. In Appendix E to the Committee’s report we find the suggestion that Boothby was named after William Robert Boothby who was the returning officer for the first election in 1901. 1 have done some research on this and I am quite convinced that the report is incorrect in this regard.
There were three members of the Boothby family who were well and very favourably known in South Australia in the years before federation. The first was Benjamin Boothby who was a judge. His son, William Boothby, was the ene whom the Select Committee believed that the electorate had been named after. There was a grandson, Guy Boothby, of whom we can dispose of very quickly because he was a novelist. The one after whom the Committee believed the electorate had been named was the electoral officer in South Australia who ultimately became the Deputy Sheriff and then the Sheriff. But the Boothby whom I believe to be the one after whom this Division was named was a judge of the Supreme Court. Benjamin Boothby was appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court of South Australia in 1853. He had a reputation as a fighter, if I may use that word in the legal sense, in the interests of the colony of South Australia.
He frequently clashed with the Colonial Secretary in London on local matters. In the later years of his career as a judge he declared the Constitution Act 1856 together with all laws enacted under its provisions, to be invalid, and he postponed the trial of many prisoners who bad been arraigned before him on charges under those laws. He was a colourful and highly regarded figure in South Australia.
In my view the Select Committee mistakenly assumed that the Division was named after William Robinson Boothby. His stature in the then South Australian colony was minor compared with that of his father, Benjamin Boothby. William Robert Boothby’s contributions to the community were important and significant - I have mentioned that he was the electoral officer and a dedicated public servant - but the important point is that he was still living at the time of the general election in 1901 and it is even possible that he could have been the returning officer in the election in 1903, although he died in that year. I. hope the Minister will check on these figures which may be found in the ‘Australian Encyclopedia’.
I think there is no doubt that the Division could not have been named after William Robinson Boothby but must have been named after his father, who was an identity in those early days. What is even more significant is that Benjamin Boothby was a contemporary of every one of the other famous persons I have just mentioned and whose names are recalled in the Parliament today. Sir George Grey died in 1898; Sir John Hindmarsh died in 1860; Sir George Kingston died in 1880; Charles Sturt died in 1869; E. G. Wakefield died in 1862; and George Fife Angas died in 1879. Mr Justice Boothby, the one who, I believe, has claim to this recognition, died in 1868, which was in the same period. So I submit that the name Boothby should continue to be honoured in this Parliament.
I think it is important to have these facts recorded, in this Parliament and particularly in this chamber. I hope to have the honour to represent the electors of Boothby for many more years, but no matter who is the elected representative I trust that he will ensure that the name Boothby is retained and that the records of the Select Committee are put straight on this point. I believe also that the name Hawker should be retained. Unfortunately I have not had time to carry out the appropriate amount of research on this name, nor do I have time to talk about it in this debate. Hawker is the name of an electorate which will be involved in an election for the first time on 25 th October, yet the Committee has indicated (hat it thinks that the name Hawker should be abandoned. Like the Boothby family, not one, but several members of the Hawker family have rendered outstanding service to Australia over an incredible number of years. One of the members of the Hawker family was a member of this place. So I ask the Minister: What is wrong with using the names of distinguished families? In the case of the Hawker family, community service rendered by C. A. Hawker, M. S. Hawker, G. C. Hawker and E. W. Hawker totalled well in excess of 100. Surely Hawker is a satisfactory name to use for this electorate.
In the short time left to me, I shall say something concerning the one vote, one value proposal put forward by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). I should like to recommend to future distribution commissioners, future Ministers and future parliaments that anything put forward by the Leader of the Opposition in relation to redistribution proposals should be very carefully examined. Honourable members will remember the long speech made by the Leader of the Opposition last year when he advocated the use of the one vote, one value principle, and went so far as to define the meaning of the word ‘gerrymander’. There is no need for me to go through that, because there is not sufficient time. Obviously the Leader of the Opposition is a man of high principles, but occasionally he finds these principles something of a nuisance and an embarrassment. Honourable members will recall that during the course of the deliberations on redistribution proposals last year, the Leader of the Opposition spent a lot of time attacking the Government Parties and accusing them of creating a gerrymander in New South Wales. In a letter which he wrote to the distribution commissioners on 19th August he submitted that an area of the division of Prospect containing an estimated 4,000 voters be transferred from Prospect to Reid. This would have made the electorate of Reid the largest in New South Wales. He rationalised this inconsistency by expressing concern for the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) whose home would otherwise have been placed in the electorate of Prospect.
I should like to quote briefly from the journal ‘Focus’ which was distributed at about this time. In the issue of 1st October 1968, under the heading ‘Whitlam Again Strikes Trouble’, the journal explained what had happened concerning the Leader of the Opposition’s submission to the distribution commissioners, and it went on to say:
His aim was undoubtedly to prevent the majority of A’LP members resident in West Guildford from voting in the forthcoming pre-selection ballot to be contested by his son, Mr Anthony Whitlam.
This is the man of high principles who talks about gerrymandering. I know there is not sufficient time to build this case up to any significant proportions, but, as I have said, the next time redistribution proposals are introduced, we ought to look very carefully at propositions advanced by the Leader of the Opposition. I suggest to members of his Party that they should do the same. I should like to quote what the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) said about his leader at the time of the leadership struggle, because it is important that we know the mentality of a man who is making submissions upon which future electorates may be subdivided. The honourable member for Yarra said:
His resignation and conduct have endangered our Party because they brought completely into the public arena matters which should have been settled elsewhere . . . They have raised the question just how far can Mr Whitlam go in defying majority decisions of the Party . . .
Although they are not my words, Mr Deputy Chairman, they are my thoughts. The honourable member for Yarra went on to say:
I do not think Mr Whitlam has proved himself a stable leader and an unstable leader means an unstable party. Such a leader should be the last man to be given greater power.
The honourable member went on to accuse the Leader of the Opposition of intellectual arrogance. We saw evidence of that only today. The honourable member for Yarra completed his letter to members of the Federal Labor Caucus by saying:
It would be disastrous for the Party if Mr Whitiam could claim a mandate to continue what was this week called ‘his war against the Party’. The only effective restraint against this is the election of a new leader.
I believe that future electoral commissioners and future Parliaments should look very carefully at any submissions put forward by the Leader of the Opposition on the one vote one value principle. I hope the electorate will have a good look at any submissions he puts forward during his election campaign.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Hon. Sir William Haworth) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Proposed expenditures agreed to.
Remainder of Bill - by leave - taken as a whole, and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr Erwin) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 12 August (vide page 113), on motion by Mr McMahon:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Erwin) read a third time.
House adjourned at 4.58 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
(a) Payments made to registered hospital benefits organisations by their members during the financial year 1967-68 amounted to $93,685,199. Figures for 1968-69 are not yet available.
(a) Payment of Fund benefits (including ancillary ‘benefits) to members by registered hospital benefits organisations during 1968-69 were $97,082,532, and
(a) There were 3,877,492 members of registered hospital benefits organisations as at 30 June 1969.
(a) Claims that qualified for Fund benefits during 1968-69 totalled 1,303,607.
(a) The average amount of Fund benefit paid per claim during 1968-69 was $74.47.
The principal reasons for refusing organisation benefits were:
Information to permit a calculation of the percentage of claims refused for each of the reasons mentioned is not available. However, the total number of days for which Fund benefit was refused represented 2.4% of the total days for which Fund benefit was paid.
(a) The aggregate reserves of registered hospital benefits organisations, including provisions for outstanding claims, was $75,507,605 as at 30 June 1968. The 1968-69 figure is hot yet available.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
What payments were made to registered medical benefits organisations by:
What payments of
How many members
How many claims qualified for
What was the average amount paid in
What are the
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
(a) Payments made to registered medical benefits organisations by their members during the financial year 1967-68 amounted to $68,018,974. Figures for 1968-69 are not yet available.
(a) Payments of Fund benefits (including ancillary benefits) to members during 1968-69 totalled $58,031,143, and
(a) There were 3,635,426 members of registered medical benefits organisations as at 30 June 1969.
(a) Claims for Fund benefit were accepted in respect of 33,964,904 services during 1968-69.
(a) The average amount of Fund benefit paid per service during 1968-69 was $1.71.
The principal reasons for refusing payment of Fund benefits were:
Information to permit a calculation of the percentage of claims refused for each of the reasons mentioned is not available. However, during 1968- 69 the number of individual services for which no Fund benefit was paid represented 1.23 per cent of the total individual insured services.
(a) The aggregate reserves of registered medical benefits organisations, including provisions for outstanding claims, were $43,938,511 as at 30 June 1968. The figure as at 30 June 1969 is not yet available.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable members question is as follows:
16 boys and 4 girls are maintained by the Department in Child Welfare institutions in New South Wales.
Barnardo House. 2 Atherton Street, Downer, A.C.T. - 3 children.
Berwick House, 19 James Place, Curtin, A.C.T. - 3 children.
Marymead Children’s Centre, Goyder Street, Narrabundab, A.C.T. - 19 children.
Mount Penang Training School, Gosford, N.S.W.- 4 children.
Ormond School, Thornleigh, N.S.W.- 2 children.
Parramatta Training School. Parramatta, N.S.W.- 2 children.
Daruk Training School, Windsor, N.S.W.- 2 children.
St Heliers Special School, Muswellbrook, N.S.W.- 2 children.
Mittagong Training School for Boys, Mittagong, N.S.W.- 5 children.
Yawarra Training School, Kurri Kurri, N.S.W. - 2 children.
Barnardo House -$12 per week.
Berwick House - $12 per week.
Marymead Children’s Centre - $12 per week.
Mount Penang - $28 per week.
Ormond - $34 per week.
Daruk - $27 per week.
St Heliers- $38 per week.
Mittagong - $26 per week.
Yawarra - (Rate not yet fixed).
Parramatta - $34 per week.
In addition, capital grants have been made by the Commonwealth to Dr Barnardo’s and Marymead.
Institutions will be provided in the Australian Capital Territory when the need justifies the establishment of the facilities necessary to provide a specialised range of training.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 12 September 1969, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1969/19690912_reps_26_hor65/>.