27th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. Sir William Aston) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the President and the Members of the Senate and the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The Petition of the undersigned citizens of New South Wales respectfully showeth.
That due to higher living costs, persons on Social Service Pensions, are finding it extremely difficult to live in even the most frugal way.
We therefore call upon the Commonwealth Government to increase the base pension rate to 30 per cent of average weekly male earnings, plus supplementary assistance in accordance with ACTU policy and by so doing give a reasonably moderate pension.
The Average Weekly earnings for adult male unit wage and salary earner means the figures issued from time to time by the Commonwealth Statistician and published quarterly.
Your Petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate and House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to bring about the wishes expressed in our Petition; so that our Citizens receiving the Social Service Pensions may live their lives in dignity.
And your Petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the President and the Members of the Senate and the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The Petition of the undersigned citizens of New South Wales respectfully showeth.
That due to higher living cost, persons on Social Service Pensions, are finding it extremely difficult to live in even the most frugal way.
Y/c therefore cull ua/u the Commonwealth Government to increase the base pension rate to 30 per cent of average weekly male earnings, plus supplementary assistance in accordance with Australian Council of Trades Unions policy and by to doing give a reasonably moderate pension.
The Average Weekly earnings for adult male unit wage and salary earner means the figures issued from time to time by the Commonwealth
Statistician and published quarterly.
Your Petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate and House of Representatives in Parlia ment assembled will take immediate steps to bring about the wishes expressed in our Petition; so that our Citizens receiving the Social Service Pensions may live their lives in dignity. And your Petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The Humble Petition of electors of Melbourne and other electorates respectfully showeth:
That they are gravely concerned at what they consider to be the adverse effect on moral standards in the Australian community of the increasing portrayal and description of obscenity, sexual licence, promiscuity and violence in films, books, magazines, plays and, to a lesser extent, television and radio programmes;
That their concern arises partly from the fact that historians, such as J. D. Unwin and Arnold Toynbee, have shown that nearly all nations which have perished have done so because of internal moral decay; and partly because obscenity and indecency are contrary to the teachings of Christianity which is the acknowledged religion of more than 80 per cent of Australians, besides being ‘part and parcel of the law of the land’ (Quick and Garran in ‘Commentaries on the Australian Constitution’, Page 931); and
That, in accordance with the findings of the Australian Gallup Poll, published iti the Melbourne Herald on 14th November 1969, the majority of Australian citizens want censorship either maintained or increased -
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that Honourable members of the House of Representatives will seek to ensure that Commonwealth legislation bearing on censorship of films, literature and radio and television programmes is so framed and so administered as to preserve sound moral standards in the community. And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of electors of Eden-Monaro respectfully showeth:
That they are gravely concerned at what they consider to be the adverse effect on moral standards in the Australian community of the increasing portrayal and description of obscenity, sexual licence, promiscuity and violence in films, books, magazines, plays and, to a lesser extent, television and radio programmes.
Thattheir concern arises partly from the fact that historians, such as J. D. Unwin and Arnold Toynbee, have shown that nearly all nations which have perished have done so because of internal moral decay; and partly because obscenity and indecency are contrary to the teachings of Christianity which is the acknowledged religion of more than 80 per cent of Australians, besides being ‘part and parcel of the law of the land’ (Quick and Garran in ‘Commentaries on the Australian Constitution’, page 951); and
That. in. accordance with the findings of the Australian Gallup Poll, published in the Melbourne Herald’ on 14th November, 1969 the majority of Australian citizens want censorship either main; tained or increased -
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that honourable members of the House of Representatives will seek to ensure that Commonwealth legislation bearing on censorship of films, literature and radio and television programmes is so framed and so administered as to preserve sound moral standards in the community.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
DrJ. F. CAIRNS- I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of citizens of the Commonwealth respectfully sheweth:
Your petitioners request that your honourable House make legal provision for:
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. Sir Frank Packer’s boat Gretel II’ having been deprived of victory because of a breach of the rules, will the Prime Minister express this Government’s sympathy to Sir Frank and assure him that Liberal governments throughout Australia will continue to allow him and bis companies to change the rule or suggest new ones?
– Order! This matter does not come within the ministerial jurisdiction oft he Prime Minister.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. I preface the question by saying that the price of wool in the last few days has dropped by 3 per cent on good wool and by 10 per cent on inferior wools. I am informed that this drop is partially attributable to a rumour. I ask the Prime Minister: Is there any basis for the rumour being spread in Europe and among wool buyers in Australia that the Government is considering suspending wool sales for a month? Why have Sir William Gunn and Mr Vines not repudiated these rumours? Are the operations of the price averaging plan contributing to the downward pressure on wool prices by stimulating a further rumour that as a result of these PAP operations stockpiling is taking place in Australia? Are the rumours being given substance by the threat of a single wool marketing authority which also raises the possibility of stockpiling? Will the Prime Minister make a statement that will remove these fears and give the wool market some prospect of recovery?
– The answer to the first part of the question asked by the honourable member is no. There is no basis for any rumour that the Government is thinking of suspending wool sales. The answer to the second part of the question is: I do not quite see why Sir William Gunn or Mr Vines should repudiate rumours without substance when, after all, those rumours are concerned with Government action which it is not intended to take. Thirdly, there has been no stockpiling as a result of the operations to which the honourable member refers. Fourthly, I do not believe there is any substance being given to any of these unsubstantiated rumours by the mere fact, as is well known, that the Government has before it proposals concerning a wool marketing authority. When the Government, which is studying these proposals as a matter of urgency, comes to a decision on them, a statement will be made.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral whether he can assure the House that he will take action to ensure that never again will any young man be imprisoned for 11 months, or any period, before it is discovered that he has a conscientious objection to military service entitling him to exemption from it?
– The honourable member for Lalor in his enthusiasm for his cause or causes omits - I can only conclude that he deliberately omits - to notice all the relevant facts concerning this case. We on this side of the House are not altogether unaccustomed to such an attitude on the part of the .honourable member. He knows, but he omitted to state this in framing his question, that Mr Ross who has now been released from gaol, as is publicly known, at no time took steps which were open to him to have his beliefs tested.
– Why did you-
– If the honourable member does not like what he is getting he should at least take it on the chin. I emphasised that this was a case in which the man concerned omitted to take - indeed, upon deliberate reflection refused to take - steps which were available to him under the National Service Act to have the question of his conscientious beliefs determined. In those circumstances the issue raised by the honourable member for Lalor is nothing hut a red herring and there is no case for giving the assurance he requests.
– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. As we all know, the Australian Broadcasting Commission is periodically accused of bias, probably without real justification. So that bias shall not only be absent but appear to be absent, will the Minister draw to the attention of the appropriate officer the fact that for 21 years the Liberal Party has been organised through State divisions, intra-State electorates and local branches, but its activities are consistently reported in the terminology of the Australian Labor Party, which consists of branches and subbranches
-Order! The honourable member is now giving a great deal of information. I suggest he ask his question.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral inform the appropriate officer that the terminology is as I have stated it and not as is consistently reported, the latest example of which was the Prime Minister’s address last Saturday to the New South Wales branch, so-called, of the Liberal Party?
– I know nothing of the incident to which the honourable member refers. If he is able to give me more detailed information I will certainly take it up with the Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
– I ask the Prime Minister about one of the attacks he made at question time last Friday morning - not the attack on the Governor of Queensland but the attack on the Premier of South Australia. In view of the right honourable gentleman’s reference to the Premier’s good manners and courtesy, I ask him whether he has ascertained that the Premier wrote not only to him on 8th July but also on the same day, as one would expect, to the Premiers of New South Wales and Victoria, the heads of the other 2 governments which are partners in the River Murray Commission. In view of the Prime Minister’s reference to a completely untruthful impression given by the Premier of South Australia I ask him whether his letter to the Premier on 1 7th August - the only one of which he gave the date - was a purely formal one and whether his only other letter, whose contents he summarised at question time on Friday, was written only the day before. Since it took him 10 weeks to send any reply of substance to the South Australian Premier’s letter on Chowilla, I ask him: How many weeks is it since his
Government received letters from the South Australian Government on drought relief and the Adelaide-Port Pirie railway, and how many more weeks will elapse before his Government replies?
– I have not ascertained whether the Premier of South Australia wrote to the Premiers of New South Wales and Victoria at the same time as he wrote to me asking me to get in touch with those Premiers for him. [ find it a little bit of an unusual suggestion that the Premier would not only write to me to ask me to act for him in this matter but, without telling me about it, would also write to the other 2 Premiers concerned. I repeat that I consider it to be, at the least, bad manners that he should then continue this correspondence after what is now said to be an initial letter and not in any case inform me that this was going on while the Premier of New South Wales did have the good manners so to inform me. 1 think it true to say that there was a completely untruthful impression given when the Premier of South Australia said that he had had no reply, whereas in fact he had had a reply saying that I was passing on his request to the 2 Premiers concerned and would let him know when I had received from them the results of their consideration of that request. Certainly it took some time for this to happen because the Premiers concerned had to reply to rae and because the Premier of South Australia had muddied up the waters by entering into, his own correspondence wilh the Premier of New South Wales. All I can say is, it seems to me to be a most extraordinary proceeding for the Premier of South Australia and one that I think merits the charge that was made against it.
In regard to the other aspect of the completely untruthful impression he gave, I would point out to the Leader of the Opposition that he charged this Government with playing politics on that matter when we had made no statements about it at all and had only sought to act as an agent for him, whereas he had come out in public and made statements on the matter which appears to me to be him playing politics rather than us. In regard to the other matters the Leader of the Opposition has raised, yes. -we have had a letter from the Premier of South Australia seeking to repudiate an agreement which had been made on the railway section between Adelaide and Port Pirie. This obviously requires very detailed consideration by the relevant department. I would not be prepared now lo say how quickly that could be done in a matter of such importance. I do not know who else the Premier of South Australia would be writing to on this matter but no doubt if he is writing to anybody I would be glad if he would let me know so that we can keep the line straight.
- Mr Speaker, my question is directed to you. I refer to standing orders 112 to 132, inclusive, dealing with petitions. I point out that some hundreds of petitions have been presented to this House this session praying that certain action be taken on many matters affecting the people of Australia. Will you advise the Parliament of what happens to such petitions after they have been presented and whether petitioners are not wasting their time preparing and signing such petitions? Is it not a fact that a committee examines all petitions presented to the House of Commons and makes a report to that place concerning such petitions? Will you consider recommending something similar in this place?
– In relation to the question raised by the honourable member I would point out that it is an ancient and honourable right of a member of Parliament to present a petition on behalf of his constituents. 1 would not like to see this disrupted or curtailed in any way. The position in relation to the House of Commons as stated by the honourable member is correct. Ft will be a matter for the Standing Orders Committee. When that Committee next meets I will raise the matter that has been suggested by the honourable member.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware of the great satisfaction with his and the Government’s decision to alter conditions concerning the construction and maintenance of telephone lines in rural areas? Is he aware that this wise decision will result in many delayed applications for telephone connections being brought forward and that this in turn will place a great strain on departmental resources? In view of this will the Postmaster-General investigate the feasibility of offering contracts to primary producers to undertake construction work under departmental supervision to ease this strain and to provide much needed employment for primary producers in their own areas?
– 1 believe that the announcement made by the Treasurer in the Budget Speech and subsequently amplified by myself in relation to the new policy for country telephones was received with some acclaim in country areas and that it will be of tremendous assistance to the people in these areas. Nevertheless it is not to be assumed that this new policy will be implemented overnight. It will have to be implemented over quite a substantial period.
Coming to the last part of the honourable member’s question, I think it must be appreciated that the digging of trenches and the laying and jointing of cables involves some work that must be done by people who are technically qualified. There must be co-ordination so that when a trench is dug it will not be allowed to collapse because of rain, thus requiring further digging. It is not easy therefore for the Post Office to make arrangements with private enterprise to do this work. I would be pleased to have a look at the matter raised by the honourable member to see whether it is possible to extend the use of private contractors in this or other Post Office activities.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Is he aware that frozen vegetable manufacturers have formed an association called the Commonwealth Quick Frozen Vegetable and Fruit Producers Association? Is he aware that this Association hopes to stabilise conditions in the industry by doubling the price of frozen vegetables throughout Australia? Is he aware also that vegetable growers, forced into smaller acreages in the coming season, will get nothing out of this new price fixing agreement? Will the Minister consult with the Attorney-General with a view to having the Association’s restrictive agreement examined by the Commissioner of Trade Practices?
– I have seen a report in the newspaper that there is a frozen vegetable producers association and that it has come to an arrangement with processors for the orderly marketing of their products to help them and also the producers of these vegetables, particularly the producers of peas.
– What about the consumer?
-Order! The honourable member for Oxley will cease interjecting.
– I know that honourable members and senators from Victoria would be particularly concerned about this question because I have received a deputation on it. Some honourable members sitting opposite will know of the very great concern that is being expressed in the vegetable growing industry about the very depressed prices that have been operating over the past 12 months. The members of this Association, which is a voluntary body, have got together to try to bring some sanity to the prices at which these commodities are being sold. The Commonwealth, of course, has no jurisdiction over the fixing of the prices of commodities. This comes within the jurisdiction of State governments. If the State governments feel that action ought to be taken it is in their hands. I would ask honourable members to react slowly to this matter because many facts have to be considered.
– Someone is making a profit; that is why.
-Order! I have already asked the honourable member for Oxley to cease interjecting. In spite of my warning he is still interjecting. If he continues in this strain I will deal with him.
– The point I want to make is that producers have been going through a very severe period. This is not confined to producers. If one looks at the record of the various snap freezing companies it will be seen that they also have had a very bad year. The interjections that have been made by some honourable members on the Opposition side of the House reinforce a contention I have held for a long time that some members of the Australian Labor Party believe in a cheap food policy.
– Has the Minister for National Development noticed statistics suggesting the urgent need for natural gas to replace heavy fuel oils and dieselene in industry due to the high gravity of Australian crude oil? Is the Minister aware of the work done by Mr Steele Hall, when Premier of South Australia, to bring together parties interested in a supply of natural gas to New South Wales? Finally, is it correct that New South Wales and South Australia have reached agreement on a supply of natural gas to New South Wales subject only to a further - feasibility study on supply from the Gidgealpa and possibly the Mereenie fields?
– It is a fact that crude petroleum discovered in Australia, particularly crude petroleum contained in the Bass Strait deposits, has a high light fraction content. This means that there is still a requirement for industry to import a certain volume of heavier fuel oil and heavy diesel fuel. At the same time, I should mention that we are also in the process of exporting certain petroleum products. In addition, I think it is common knowledge that there are some advantages today in the use of liquefied petroleum gas for automotive purposes. Experiments are being conducted in some other countries and a limited number of vehicles are operating in Victoria on liquefied petroleum gas. I can only commend those concerned with this operation and I hope that its usage can be extended. However, the answer to the question about the replacement of fuel oil by natural gas is very obvious: Natural gas can, under some circumstances and where economically feasible, take the place of heavy fuel oil. We hope that there will be an increasing opportunity for the use of natural gas in Australia. At the moment I do not know whether South Australia and New South Wales have entered into any agreement in relation to the supply of natural gas from South Australia to New South Wales. No doubt, if any agreement is reached, we will be informed fairly early in the piece. When that stage is reached I will certainly pass the information on to the honourable member. We do not have any knowledge as to whether Victoria and New South Wales have reached a similar agreement in this field.
– Is the Minister for the Interior aware that a citizen of the Australian Capital Territory, a Mr Gelmanovski, has alleged that he was recently assaulted in the cells of the Canberra Police Station by a senior officer of the Australian Capital Territory Police Force? If not, will he make inquiries and if there is such an allegation will he make arrangements with his colleague, the Attorney-General, to have a Supreme Court judge made available to inquire into the allegations so that Mr Gelmanovski himself does not have to pursue the alternative of instituting expensive legal proceedings and so that justice will have the appearance of being done in the matter?
– I am not aware of the allegation referred to by the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory, but I will have a look at it and give him a considered reply.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. It concerns a recent dispute in Queensland wherein the Queensland Colliery Employees Union contested the right of the Australian Workers Union to cover workers engaged on a coalfield. Is it correct that the Australian Workers Union in Queenland and New South Wales covers many occupations and is constantly under attack by left wing unions in demarcation disputes? Will the Minister therefore do all in bis power to preserve the right of workers to be covered by the unions they respect and to ensure that unions do not adopt attitudes designed merely to destroy the Australian Workers Union in certain States, such attitudes having been exemplified over a number of years by the shadow Minister for Labour, the honourable member for Hindmarsh?
– There is a demarcation dispute at present in Queensland in which the members of the Queensland Colliery Employees Union and the Australian Workers Union are concerned. Demarcation disputes are the vehicle for a great deal of inter-union internecine struggles but I do not think it would help if I made any comments on it at the moment. This matter has to be resolved between the parties and I think that the Australian Workers Union has shown in the past a capacity to look after its own interests notwithstanding what difficulties may be presented to it by the honourable member for Hindmarsh.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. Does he still adhere to his recent advocacy of upgrading Australian mineral exports such as bauxite? Will he, for this purpose, acquire the necessary technology to upgrade exports of Australian uranium by its enrichment, thereby quadrupling its value? Is his Government’s refusal to ratify the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons a prime impediment to the acquisition of such technology? How does he justify his insistence on the use of natural uranium in an obsolescent process for the proposed nuclear reactor at Jervis Bay and the slanting of specifications accordingly? Does his insistence prevent Australia’s achievement of world status in uranium utilisation and supply?
– There are 5 questions rolled up in one but I will do my best to remember them and answer them in sequence. I think the first question was: Do I continue to say that we should upgrade - that was the word used - minerals. I think what was involved was that we should process minerals as far as possible. The answer to that is yes, we do. We think that the more processing of minerals that is done in Australia the more valuable the finished product would be for export and the better it would be for Australia in all respects. The honourable member then went on to ask, in effect, whether we should put in an enrichment plant for uranium. I think that the honourable member would know that the cost of an enrichment plantisextremelyhigh indeed andI would not think that when he had considered all the facts that he would think that it was a reasonable thing for Australia at this stage to put in an enrichment plant for uranium. The third question, I think, referred to why we refused to ratify the Treaty and whether this was an impediment. The answer to that is no. The reasons why we were not prepared and are not at this stage prepared to ratify the Treaty were fully set out by this Government as they have been set out by the governments of West Germany and Japan. The fourth question was: Were we in some way retarding the progress of technology by suggesting that natural uranium should be used and the answer to that, I believe, is quite simply no. The answer to the fifth part of the honourable member’s question is, I believe, also no.
– I address a question to the Minister for Primary Industry concerning the export of meat to the United States of America. Can the Minister say whether it is true that the United States will not now accept beef exports from the Wyndham meat works? Can the Minister say also how many other meat works in Australia are so situated? Will the Minister indicate the exact position relating to the export of mutton from meat works in Australia to the United States and other markets at this time?
– At the moment I think 26 meat works have been struck off the list of meat works able to export beef to the United States market. This figure varies from week to week as certain abattoirs are delisted and others are relisted, so the position is in a continual state of flux. Regarding mutton, all meat works have been deregistered and 3 have been reregistered. I believe some more are coming up for consideration, but as each one of the abattoirs can meet the standards required by the Americans so too can it be submitted for re-inspection and relisting. Regarding the Wyndham meat works, an American inspector went there on 10th September and found certain deficiencies. The meat works did not conform to the requirements laid down by the United States Inspection Act and regulations, and we were informed on 17th September that it would be delisted and that meat would no longer be accepted from that works. I have made arrangements with the Americans to have a senior veterinary officer of my Department along with a senior United States veterinary officer inspect the works. I believe that that will be done at the latter part of this week. They can jointly examine the works and every action can be taken to have it re-submitted as soon as possible.
Mi CREAN - Is the Attorney-General aware that a firm, Oxford Insurance Co. Pty Ltd, registered in the Australian Capital Territory has been purchased by a Mr J. W. Beasley, a director of Pace Insurance Co. of New South Wales which has a paid up capital of $2? Further, is he aware that Oxford Insurance Co. Pty Ltd is now the receptacle for hundreds of policies switched from such companies as East Australian Insurance and that policy holders have no idea of the switching? Thirdly, has East Australian Insurance been declared by the Victorian Government as a company to be investigated under the Victorian Companies Act? Was East Australian Insurance sold by a Mr Michael Adams to the same Mr Beasley who bought Oxford Insurance? Has East Australian Insurance restarted business in its old premises with Mr Beasley as manager? Finally, are not these sorts of transactions, which might be described as collusion around the weaknesses of existing law, indicative of the need for a uniform Commonwealth law in the motor insurance field?
– The honourable member for Melbourne Ports was good enough to give me a little advance notice of this question, for which I am grateful, in the time available to me I have had some inquiries made. I hope he will agree with me when I say that unless 1 am in a position to substantiate all or any of the allegations that are implicit in his question I should refrain from making any positive comment. ‘ I understand that there is registered in the Australian Capital Territory a company of the name of Oxford Insurance Co. Pty Ltd. I understand also that the other company which the honourable member mentioned specifically, East Australian Insurance, is in the process of being investigated. I am not certain that it is not true to say that there are winding up proceedings, but T do not vouch for that. Some investigatory procedures are being undertaken in Victoria. May I say just this: If any person thinks that he or she is in possession of any information which would tend to show that there has been some improper course of dealing or improper course of business between those 2 companies - and T am not saying that there has been - then it would be right and proper for that person to con vey that information either to the Victorian Registrar of Companies, who is primarily responsible for the investigation being undertaken in Victoria into the affairs of East Australian Insurance, or, alternatively, to the Registrar of Companies in the Australian Capital Territory.
– Is the Minister for Trade and Industry aware that, although the Book Bounty Bill has been partially effective only, colour work for Australia is still produced in South East Asian countries in large quantities for Australia? Will he consider introducing a Bill similar to that of the United States of America where the copyright law states that to obtain copyright in the United States a book must be printed and bound from type set in the United States, that is, from a process wholly performed in the United States of America? I understand that that requirement conforms to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation Florence Agreement which is related to this subject?
– I, frankly, do not know anything at all about the matter which the honourable member raises. But I will make inquiries concerning it. The policy of the Government is this: We want to have a book industry in Australia. But it is not thought appropriate by the Government to protect the book industry by a tariff and, to that extent, to raise a barrier between the community of book readers and the availability of books because they are made dearer by a tariff. This is the whole explanation of the policy of the Government. As to the extent that colour printing is a factor that would impinge on that policy, I, frankly, do not know, but I will make inquiries.
Mi BENNETT - Because of the lack of provision in the Budget for 1970-71 for the completion of the sealing of the Eyre Highway connecting eastern States to Western Australia, will the Minister for Shipping and Transport, bearing in mind the national importance of this road, seek to have a special grant made for the completion of this road? Will the Minister set a definite date for commencement and completion of the work?
– The honourable member will be aware that it is not so very long since a Bill providing for a new Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement was introduced into the Parliament. That Bill made provision for a very substantial increase in Commonwealth allocations for road expenditure over the next 5 years. Over those 5 years, approximately $ 1,252m is to be allocated in different proportions to different States. As fas as the particular section of the Eyre Highway in South Australia is concerned, funds are available which can be spent either on the Eyre Highway or on other non-urban arterial roads, or from the section for which there is no specific designation on any road which that State itself desires that the money should be spent.
Priorities are up to the South Australian Government. At the same time, it is true also that, because of the general need for the upgrading not only of the Eyre Highway but also of the Stuart Highway, it will take, even on the substantially increased funds provided by the Commonwealth, a considerable period perhaps before those roads can be completed. At the moment it is and will continue to be predominantly a matter for the South Australian Government to determine what priorities should be given to the allocation of the Commonwealth aid roads funds. The amount that the Commonwealth aid roads funds provides is one-third only of the total amount spent in each State and the South Australian Government has complete flexibility in that other amount of money that is spent on roads. At the moment, my Department is having a look at the genera) level of improvement in road construction in Australia as a result of the Commonwealth aid roads funds allocation. But I do not expect that there can be an early allocation of any increased funds in view of the very considerable increase pro- videdinthelastCARallocation.
Mr E. R. HUDSON
-I direct a question to the Prime Minister. Is the Mr E. R. Hudson who recently approached the Prime Minister to prevent foreign control of Australian uranium fields identical with the Mr E. R. Hudson who is the chairman of Glass Containers Ltd, a company incorporated on 12th June 1969 for the purpose of manufacturing glass containers? If so, is it a fact that Consumers Glass Co. of Canada, through its subsidiary Con glass Australia Pty Ltd and the Bank of Montreal, has a controlling interest in this company? If this is the case, would it be correct to say that Mr Hudson believes in Australian ownership of uranium and overseas control of the manufacture of glass containers? Furthermore, has the Prime Minister received a request from Mr Hudson, or does he intend to intervene and prevent the overseas control and takeover of Glass Containers Ltd?
– The answer to the first part of the question, which was whether the Mr E. R. Hudson who approached me is identical with the Mr E. R. Hudson who is concerned with Glass Containers Ltd, is I do not know. The answer to the remaining parts is: See the answer to part 1.
– Has the Prime Minister been asked to receive a deputation consisting of either the Premier or the Minister for Mines of Western Australia, the Leader of the Opposition in Western Australia and the President of the Chamber of Mines of Western Australia? If so, does the deputation wish to discuss with him the provision of further assistance to the gold mining industry? If such a request has been received, has the Prime Minister decided to meet the deputation? If so, has it been advised accordingly? Has a date been set for the meeting?
– There has been an approach to the Commonwealth Government and to myself to meet a deputation from Western Australia, that deputation, as I understand it, being designed to press the case for a higher bounty on gold. I do not recall whether the request for the deputationhasorhasnotasyetreceived an answer, but this question is clearly a question of policy and therefore not eligible for question time.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. In the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of 19th September 1970 the following report appeared:
The Postmaster-General, Mr Hulme, told Mr V. J. Martin (Lab, NSW) that he did not think postal regulations should be altered to restrict the use of telephones to certain hours.
Mr Martin had asked Mr Hulme to consider making an offence under postal regulations to indiscriminately pester’ telephone ‘subscribers, by ringing ‘at all hours’.
That report is incorrect. The question I asked concerned a complaint from a widow in ill health, who was being worried at all hours of the day and night by telephone calls from business houses peddling their wares, and I emphasise that. I asked whether this was an offence under the postal regulations and, if it was not, whether the Postmaster-General would consider amending the regulations to make it an offence. I did not ask for the use of telephones generally to be restricted to certain hours.
-I have to present pursuant to statute the reports and financial statements of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation, the’ Commonwealth Trading Bank of Australia, the Commonwealth Savings Bank of Australia and the Commonwealth Development Bank of Australia, together with the Auditor-General’s reports thereon for the year ended 30th June 1970.
– For the information of honourable members I present the financial statements on Commonwealth Railways operations for the year ended 30th lune 1970.
– Pursuant to section 32b of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Power Act 1949-1966 I present the twenty-first annual report of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority for the year ended 30th June 1970 together with financial statements and the report of the Auditor-General on those statements.
– Pursuant to section 10 of the Science and Industry Endowment Act 1926 I present the report of the AuditorGeneral on the accounts of the Science and Industry Endowment Fund for the year ended 30th June 1970.
Motion (by Mr McEwen) agreed to:
That leave of absence for 1 month be given to the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter) on the ground of public business overseas.
Motion (by Mr Whitlam) agreed to:
That leave of absence for 1 month be given to the honourable member for Wide Bay (Mr Hansen) on the ground of parliamentary business overseas.
That leave of absence for 1 month be given to the honourable member for Bonython (Mr Nicholls) on the ground of public business overseas.
– In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969, I present the report relating to the following proposed work:
Engineering Services, District of Dripstone, at Darwin, Northern Territory.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– I move:
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the Committee has duly reported to Parliament: Augmentation of electrical supply system, central city area. Darwin.
The proposal involves construction of a city zone substation and associated switchgear, 2 66 kv underground cables, 2 additional 11 kv switching stations and 11 kv underground cables to upgrade the electrical supply system in the central City of Darwin. The estimated cost is $3.05m. The
Committee has reported favourably on the proposal and upon the concurrence of the House in this resolution, detailed planning can proceed in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee.
– 1 rise to support the motion moved by the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp). I commend the Government once again for its planning and development of the Northern Territory. The proposed work involves an expenditure estimated at $3.05m for the upgrading of the electrical supply system in the central city area of Darwin. While I am on my feet on this occasion I take the opportunity to commend the Minister and the Government for approving during this year, after inquiry by the Joint Statutory Committee on Public Works, the expenditure of $2.4m each for high schools at Darwin and Alice Springs, of $2.5rn on the Alice Springs water supply and of $19m on the Darwin harbour which the Committee will shortly visit. I have already referred to the proposed work on the Darwin electrical supply involving $3.05m. While I was in Alice Springs over the weekend 1 read an article which stated that the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) has had his plans for the Alice Springs Hospital approved. I hope that the Public Works Committee will shortly be going to Alice Springs to take evidence relating to the construction of the Hospital, which is estimated to cost $llm.
These amounts of expenditure are an indication of the Government’s great interest in the development of the Northern Territory, which was lagging until 3 or 4 years ago. The potential of the Territory is now being recognised by the Government and I pay a tribute to the Minister and the Government for their actions.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Consideration resumed from 17 September (vide page 1353).
Proposed expenditure, $18,966,000. Mr BROWN (Diamond Valley) (3.25) - It is an honour to speak on these estimates in the presence of such an exalted occupant of the chair as the honourable member for Herbert (Mr Bonnett). In his speech on these estimates last Thursday night the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) joined in the cacophony of protest that has arisen throughout this country in the last few months against the Government’s audacity to take steps to adopt a policy leading to the enforcement of the law, its audacity to take steps to fill gaps in the law particularly so far as the law operates on Commonwealth property, and its audacity to adopt a policy leading to the preservation of the rights and expressions of opinion of people without having those rights trampled on by a noisy and vociferous minority. The Leader of the Opposition has joined in this protest. In the course of doing so, in his speech last Thursday night he accused the Attorney-General (Mr Hughes) of insincerity in adopting the approach he has adopted and of being concerned with the law and order of the country only insofar as it concerns head breaking and club wielding. He accused the Attorney-General of adopting humbug and hypocrisy as his basic principles in this matter, of embarking on a course of rhetoric and nothing else; and of raising a political gimmick in the course of talking about the law and order prevailing in this country.
A number of conclusions could be reached from the comments made by the Leader of the Opposition on this matter, but the conclusion I have come to - L would welcome any opportunity for this to be shown to be an incorrect conclusion - is that the Leader of the Opposition is doing nothing other than aligning himself with those people in the community who do not want to see the laws enforced, with those people in the community who do not want to see gaps in the law filled and with those people who do not want to see the rights ot the majority in this community protected. On one interpretation of the facts in the situation as it exists today, one can understand the Leader of the Opposition taking such a view because we know he has his stormy petrels in the Labor Party who have recently made rather extreme comments and observations about the enforcement of law in Australia. For instance, the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) on a number of occasions has advocated that the streets of Melbourne and other cities should be taken over in the course of a demonstration if they were not given to the demonstrators. The honourable member for Maribyrnong (Dr Cass) has encouraged people to ‘break the bloody Crimes Act’, to use his own words. Even the usually mild Deputy Leader of the Oposition (Mr Barnard) has indicated that there was what he described as a mutiny some weeks ago and that that mutiny was justified.
In those circumstances perhaps one can well understand the Leader of the Opposition taking the stand that he has on this issue. That stand, on my understanding and interpretation of the facts, which I believe to be honest, is that the Leader of the Opposition has aligned himself with those who do not want to see the law enforced, with those who do not want to see gaps in the Commonwealth law filled and with those who do not want to see positive steps taken to ensure that the rights of the majority are protected. So long as the Leader of the Opposition continues to speak in this vein and so long as he continues to accuse the Attorney-General of this Government of being motivated by humbug and hypocrisy and of raising mere political gimmicks, the people of Australia are justified in believing that he has lined up with those who do not want to see the law enforced and with those who do not want to see gaps in the law filled. II do not particularly want to deal in this debate with those matters raised by the Leader of the Opposition but with 2 aspects of the Government’s policy on the enforcement and administration of law in Australia today. These are clear and distinct categories and they should be understood clearly and distinctly. The first is that we have a Constitution in Australia and the High Court makes interpretations of laws and legal situations in the light of that Constitution. The High Court recently did that in the case of Worthing v. Rowell, which has become fairly well known. Apparently it is not known to the Leader of the Opposition, because he did not refer to it in his speech. A short summary of the facts and situation of that case is very relevant to the present discussion. In that case a workman sued his employer, relying on a breach of some scaffolding regulations passed by the New South Wales Govern ment. The significant fact was that the scaffolding regulations were passed after the Commonwealth of Australia had acquired the property on which the man was working when he suffered his injuries. That place was the Richmond Airport in New South Wales. In essence the decision of the High Court was that the New South Wales scaffolding regulations did not operate on that piece of Commonwealth property because it had been acquired before the regulations had been passed. Merely to state that case in that concise way should indicate that a very important matter of the enforcement of Commonwealth law is at issue today. That issue is as to how sufficient is Commonwealth law and how far it should be extended. It has a very important bearing on whether any further Commonwealth laws should be passed.
On one interpretation of that case one would be justified in saying that there are large areas of Australia where no law at all has been articulated or operates, the scaffolding regulations to which I have referred being a case in point. If that interpretation is correct it is clear beyond any doubt that the Commonwealth not only is justified in engaging in an almost wholesale lawmaking exercise to ensure that these gaps in the law are filled but is obliged to do so and would be failing in its duty if it did not. People do not seem to understand. They say that the Commonwealth is embarking on some law and order crusade. The High Court has handed down its decision that, on one interpretation, large areas of Commonwealth property are not subject to the operation of any laws that have been articulated at present or, in many cases, fewer laws than people think. That is the first and it is a very important aspect of the matter.
The second aspect of the matter is that today law and order are under attack in Australia. One has only to look at incidents that occur almost every week to see that the Commonwealth is justified in adopting a course of enforcing the law, of filling gaps in the law where they exist and of ensuring that the democratic rights of the majority of Australians are protected and enforced. But the critics, including the Leader of the Opposition, have said that this is humbug and rhetoric, that the Commonwealth has engaged on a course of repression, a neo-Fascist campaign of repressing the rights of the people, and that it is not interested genuinely in law and order but is merely making political points and raising gimmicky issues. Without just denying that, which is a course that would be open to me. 1 would ask people, especially members of the Opposition, to look at what the Attorney-General, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Snedden) and the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) have said in clear terms on this issue. If one looked objectively and dispassionately at what they have said one would not be justified in saying that the Commonwealth is embarking on some repressive exercise.
Let us look at some of the observations made by the Attorney-General in recent months on this matter. The first example one could give would be that on 1.1th March this year the Attorney-General was asked a number of questions in this House, lt was put to him that if the law of treason in Australia requires that a particular country with which Australia is at war should bc proclaimed, why should the law not be altered so that it would be much easier to prosecute offences for treason. One would have thought that this would be an excellent opportunity for the AttorneyGeneral, about to embark on a law and order crusade, to jump in and say: This is what we will do. If this is an obstacle we will get rid of that obstacle and it will enable us to embark on our crusade all the more readily.’ The only reply that came from the Attorney-General was that this was something that required consideration. Again, when he was asked about a statement of defiance of the National Service Act and what was to be done about it - whether there were to be prosecutions or not - the AttorneyGeneral’s reply was that the matter was subjudice because there were prosecutions before the courts, and he could not comment on it. This is hardly an indication of an Attorney-General or a government embarking on a law and order crusade or some campaign of repression.
On the same day the Attorney-General was asked about a mutiny resolution coming from the Victorian Labor Party when it was under the control of its old left wing and before the new left wing took control. He was asked what was to be done about it and he said, fairly mildly - if I might place that interpretation on it - that he and the Solicitor-General had examined the facts of what actually had happened in Melbourne on that occasion and had decided that in all the circumstances no prosecution was warranted. This is rather curious evidence of an AttorneyGeneral and a government embarking on a repressive campaign for law and order without any justification. Again, on 12th May this year the Attorney-General was asked about the Vietnam Moratorium. He was asked what was going to happen to those who had broken laws or whether they had broken laws in Melbourne during the Vietnam Moratorium. He said merely that he would wait until some suitable court had passed judgment upon what had actually happened. He was not going to be involved in a debate on what might have happened or what might not have happened. The Attorney-General was not going to embark on this law and order crusade that is continually thrown up at us on the Government side.
Again, when he was asked by the honourable member for Balaclava (Mr Whittorn) in August this year about attacks on property and what was to be done about them, his only reply was that this was something that would be investigated. That is hardly an indication of a government or an Attorney-General embarking on a repressive crusade of law and order. On 26th August this year with respect to the same incident the Attorney-General said that more investigations were in progress. T could go on and cite many examples of this, but time prevents me from doing so. I believe it is fair to say that when one looks dispassionately and accurately at all of the statements made by the Attorney-General one cannot but come to the conclusion that here is a Government which is concerned above all with the laws that exist. The Government is looking at the precise wording of the laws and is examining each case on its own facts to see whether there is justification for a prosecution for a breach of the law. The Government is looking at the law overall to see whether there are gaps in it that should be filled. The Government is not concerned with repressive actions. It is not concerned with preventing people from exercising their rights. An indication of the tolerance of the Government is that it gives a complete go to the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant). What Government could be more generous or more tolerant than that?
Looking at the statements made by the Attorney-General, the Prime Minister and the Minister for Labour and National Service, one can see from the facts that this is not a Government that is concerned about a repressive campaign which is glibly referred to as a ‘law and order’ campaign. If it is wrong for a Government to enforce the law, this Government is guilty. If it is wrong for a Government to look at the law to see whether a law is meeting the needs of the community and to take steps to fill gaps in that law, this Government is likewise guilty. If it is wrong for a Government to take positive steps to enable people to exercise their democratic rights without being prevented from doing so by a noisy minority who have no conception of the rights of the people under a democracy, this Government is likewise guilty.
– I am rather disturbed that in the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department no apparent provision is made for expenditure on law reform, particularly at a time when the Government talks so much about the need to legislate in regard to law and order. During the recent byelection campaign in the Australian Capital Territory the Government was strongly criticised for its record in law reform and at the eleventh hour it stole the policy of the Australian Labor Party to have a law reform commission for the Australian Capital Territory with a commissioner with the rank of a Supreme Court judge. Nothing has yet been done. The matters on which the Government was criticised remain as they were, and not all of them require a law reform commission in order to be remedied. All they need is action on the part of this Government. The Government’s lack of action shows its lack of interest. Its record on law reform is a reflection of the low priority it has always given to law and order in areas where it is important, where it most counts and where it affects people in their everyday dealings with each other and with government. It is in these areas that the Government’s failure can be best seen.
One never hears members of the Government express concern over the need for law reform. All one hears are utterances from time to time that the Government must legislate to ensure better control over the people and what they do. The case of Worthing v. Rowell, to which the honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr Brown) referred a little while ago, is an exposure of the Government’s failure in that area because it is well known in legal circles that that neglect was there and was only waiting to be tested, and when it was tested it was exposed.
This afternoon 1 propose to give a few examples that are known to me as a barrister practising in one of the Commonwealth Territories and which point to a need for law reform. These cases are known to most other lawyers in the Australian Capital Territory also whether they work in private practice or for the Government. I believe that they illustrate the complete failure of this Government to interest itself seriously in the things that matter in law and the complete insincerity of this Government when it speaks now about legislating in an area which is completely unnecessary. The first example I propose to give stems from the failure of the Government to enact any suitors fund type legislation in the Australian Capital Territory. This type of legislation has existed in New South Wales for many years. Its absence in the Australian Capital Territory has recently given rise to what appears to be considerable hardship on 2 orphaned children.
What is suitors fund type legislation? It is legislation that overcomes the terrible hardship that can attach to a litigant who has gone to court and won his case and who is then taken on appeal to an appellate court by his opponent only to lose the appeal not through any fault of his own but because the appeal court has decided that the trial judge has made a mistake. When this happens the unsuccessful party in the appeal is invariably ordered to pay the costs incurred in the appeal court by his opponent. Of course, he -has to pay his own costs as well. This used to create terrible hardship in places like New South Wales and was completely wrong. Suitors fund type legislation provides that where this happens the costs are to be paid out of a suitors aid fund so that the person concerned is not out of pocket. As I have said, there is no such legislation in the Australian
Capital Territory. The lack of it has been known for many years and the Government has done nothing about it.
The next case to which i refer is that of Jarasius v. Brown. In November 1969 a decision was given by the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory in this case, lt was a very unhappy case. It was brought by 2 orphaned children for damages arising out of the wrongful death of both their parents in a motor car accident. The judge awarded damages totalling $34,478 and he ordered the defendant to pay the costs of the children in the action. The defendant insurance company considered that the judge had made a mistake and that the damages were too high, and it appealed to the High Court of Australia. The appeal had to go to the High Court because there is no intermediate court of appeal in the Australian Capital Territory - and this is another legal failure that should be sheeted home to this Government.
On the advice of counsel acting for the children an application was made by letter to the Attorney-General for assistance by ex gratia payment in the nature of a suitors aid fund payment. This had been given in a previous case in which the plaintiff was a man called Gridic. The application was made in a letter written on 23rd December 1969 and it stated that the plaintiffs, who were now the respondents to the appeal, had no money of their own. It asked for assistance such as would have been available to them had they lived across the border, say in Queanbeyan instead of in the Australian Capital Territory where the Commonwealth Government is responsible for their fate, so that if they lost the High Court appeal they would not have to lose a substantial part of their verdict if they were ordered to pay costs.
On 5th January 1970 the AttorneyGeneral replied that he would consider the matter and communicate with the solicitors as soon as possible. However nothing else was heard from him, and on 24th April 1970 the solicitors for the children wrote again saying that the case would be heard shortly and that the matter was becoming urgent because they wanted to be able to brief senior counsel to act for the children. There was no reply to this letter and the solicitors eventually had to deliver a brief and incur costs in order to secure the services of a suitable barrister in Melbourne where the High Court was sitting. In May of this year the High Court upheld the appeal of the defendant insurers and reduced the damages awarded from $34,478 to $19,549. The High Court ordered the children to pay the costs of the defendant insurer and left them to pay their own costs. This was exactly what the solicitors for the children had foreseen might happen.
I have been told by the solicitor acting for the insurance company in the appeal that his costs will be nearly $6,000 for the preparation of the appeal. This is a high sum partly because of the expenditure on the preparation of the appeal books and because barristers had to go to Melbourne. It may be assumed that the children’s legal costs will not be very much less. If it turns out to be that way, the damages that these children will eventually recover will be about half of what even the High Court said they should receive. This is a scandalous situation that is a direct consequence of the Government’s failure to enact simple legislation and also of the AttorneyGeneral’s failure to consider the children’s solicitors’ application in time. It shows where this Government really stands on matters of law that are important in the lives of people. I pause to ask the AttorneyGeneral . even at this late hour to give serious consideration to making a suitors aid type grant to the children.
I give another example. In New South Wales there is legislation which provides that an employer must take out compulsory insurance cover for damages he might be liable for to an employee if he is found guilty of negligence. Until late last year there was no such legislation in the Australian Capital Territory. Even now the legislation provides for a compulsory insurance cover of only $50,000. In about May of this year the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory considered a claim for damages for injuries suffered by a worker who had been made into a paraplegic. This young man is now a complete cripple. The case was Maljevic v. Frederick W. Neilsen Pty Ltd. The judge awarded the injured worker $93,000 to compensate him for his injuries. The defendant insurance company made no complaint and lodged no appeal so there can be no suggestion that the amount was considered excessive. However it transpired that, although the company had some assets, it had insurance cover for only $40,000, which was the amount required of it by the New South Wales law at the time the company took the insurance out.
The sum of $40,000 is all that the insurance company has paid the young man, and this has to cover the legal costs that he incurred in going to court. He is $50,000 short of the sum that the judge said would have been a proper and adequate sum to compensate him. Where would he normally get the proper compensation? He has been lucky because the employers have offered to pay him $5,000 every 6 months as they prefer not to be wound up. But it will take them approximately 5 years to pay the full amount of damages and they refuse to pay the injured worker any interest on the money, which they will have the use of in the meantime.’ They have also agreed to give him some form of light employment. But this does not detract from the fact that the injured man is a complete cripple and cannot be compensated in the way in which the judge intended that he should be compensated. The judge, of course, did not know about the $40,000 limit. If another such case were to arise tomorrow, the defendant employer may not mind being wound up and it may have to be wound up in such a way that an injured person would receive absolutely nothing by way of damages or receive only $40,000. This could happen in the Australian Capital Territory. This is another example of the Government’s inability to interest itself in matters of real legal importance.
Another example can be found in the field of workers compensation where the Commonwealth has a responsibility. There are at least 2 sets of Commonwealth workers compensation laws that have a common feature which works greatly to the detriment of an injured person. I speak of the Australian Capital Territory Workers Compensation Ordinance and the Commonwealth Seaman’s Act. In both cases there is provision that the amount of workers compensation that a partially incapacitated worker receives shall be based on a comparison of his pre-accident pay with his post-accident ability to earn. This seems fair enough on the face of it, but the statutes spell out that in making the comparison the Court must take into account all overtime that the worker earns or is able to earn after his accident but that it shall not take into account overtime that he has earned before his accident. This means that if a worker earned, for example, flat rate of $60 a week plus $20 overtime before his accident, making a total of $80 a week, and his injuries made him partially incapacitated so that after the accident he could get a job at only $40 a week and $20 a week overtime, he would get no workers compensation even though he was $20 a week worse off. This could not happen in New South Wales; it has happened many times in the Australian Capital Territory. This is an absurd result as was revealed in a High Court decision as long ago as 1957 in the case of L. W. Smith v. McErlane. It has been criticised by magistrates in the Australian Capital Territory time and time again but it remains part of the law of the Australian Capital Territory.
There is a ludicrous example of this indifference on the Government’s part when we look at the Australian Capital Territory Workers Compensation Ordinance and the rules that have to exist to give effect to it. One would expect ordinary normal standards of professional competency to dictate that the rules should relate to the Ordinance, but this is not the case with the workers compensation rules in the Australian Capital Territory where the Commonwealth is responsible. The Ordinance was enacted in 1951. It repealed an earlier Ordinance in 1946, which in turn repealed an earlier Ordinance. The rules which apply were originally made in 1931 and have never been changed. Many rules relate to sections in the Ordinance under which they were enacted which have been repealed, and which have formed no part of law of the Australian Capital Territory for more than 30 years. If one looks through the rules one sees descriptions of how to do something that can no longer be done. The scheme of the Ordinance that is in force today is completely different from the scheme of the Ordinance that the rules give effect to. This leads to confusion and it becomes a lawyer’s nightmare. It is ridiculous. But it illustrates again the Government’s lack of interest, its lack of concern and its lack of attention to what would be really simple matters - the question of enacting rules to give proper effect to a workers compensation ordinance. There is nothing in the Australian Capital Territory to prevent a defendant insurance company of being guilty of lengthy delays in making workers compensation payments. This has been criticised but nothing has been done.
I wish to finish on one point because of the shortage of time. I wish to refer to this serious point: One of the most fundamental features of our law is that a person charged with a serious criminal offence is entitled to a preliminary hearing of the evidence that is to be brought against him so that he may know what it is and test it by cross-examination. It is a form of pretrial procedure that is absolutely essential and basic to any civilised system of law. Last year some young men were charged in the Court of Petty Sessions of the Australian Capital Territory with rape. There are few more serious offences. Everyone believed that they would proceed to a preliminary hearing before a magistrate who would have to decide whether they should be committed to stand trial in the Supreme Court. This is a feature of the law of every State of the Commonwealth and it gives basic safeguards to an accused person. This Government, through its Attorney-General’s Department, decided that this procedure-
– I would like to take a point of order. The honourable member would well know, or if he does not let me tell him through you, Mr Deputy Chairman, that the case about which he is speaking is sub judice and should not form any part of the subject matter of comment in a debate in this House. The honourable member well knows that it is sub judice.
– This aspect of it is not sub judice.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Bonnett) - Order! If the case is sub judice-
– I can assure you, Mr Deputy Chairman, that it is.
– The reference by the honourable member is not to the case itself but to the proceedings by which the case was brought. That is different from the meaning of the standing order.
– There is an indictment presently before the court.
– I am not talking about the indictment before the court.
– It is awaiting hearing on an indictment filed by me.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- If the case is even awaiting hearing I rule it is sub judice.
- Mr Deputy Chairman, would you hear me on this? I am not addressing myself to the case that is before the court, which involves a charge of rape. I am speaking about a procedure that is now over and done with. It has been ruled upon by the trial judge.
– Mr Deputy Chairman, with respect I suggest that you tell the honourable member to obey your ruling on the point of order.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- I uphold the point of order.
– The honourable member is dealing with a procedure; he is not dealing with the case itself. The honourable member has made it quite clear that he is dealing with a procedure.
– Despite the avid assistance from the honourable member for Dawson I suggest that the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory is seeking to circumvent your ruling on a plain point of order. I suggest that he be directed by you to obey your ruling on the point of order and to proceed to the next part of his speech.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! If the case is waiting to be heard, I must declare the subject sub judice.
– May I move that the honourable member be granted 3 more minutes.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– We can move for an extension of time, can we not?
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Not in the case of an honourable member taking bis first period.
– This may be the practice, but I do not accept any practices of the House unless they are provided by the Standing Orders.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- I am ruling under standing order 91. The honourable member will resume his seat.
– May I compliment you, Mr Deputy Chairman, on the manner in which you have handled proceedings during the last couple of minutes. On 11th September last year I asked the then Attorney-General a question about reciprocal legal aid rights for people living in the various States. At that time I referred briefly to the fact that in Queensland a person can be disqualified from receiving legal aid, even though he might qualify on the gounds of finance if the case is brought in another State. I refer particularly to a case in 1943, where the husband of a constituent of mine disappeared. She did not find him until 1968. I think honourable members will agree that is quite a long time to be gone. When her husband was found alive this woman realised that she had deserted him. When the husband became aware that his wife knew his whereabouts, he commenced divorce proceedings from Sydney against his wife on the ground of her desertion. Unfortunately, because of the present- system in Australia and particularly the system in my own home State, and because the woman of whom I speak is not wealthy, she had to sit by in Brisbane and watch this case go through the courts of New South Wales without being able to defend herself.
I wrote to the Attorney-General (Mr Hughes) in December drawing the principle of this case to his attention and asked him what be intended to do about it. He explained that this matter was rather complex, I agree. He said it was not for him to tell the States how to enact their legislation. He also said that we in the Federal system could only sit by and hope that the States would see the need for change themselves. I believe that we as a Federal Parliament have some responsibility to see that these anomalies are removed. The previous Attorney-General stated last year that this subject would be discussed and he hoped that correcting legislation on the problems of the matrimonial jurisdiction would be drawn up. The present AttorneyGeneral has also said that he will give it consideration. With great respect I would take this opportunity during the debate on the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department to remind him of bis earlier undertaking and also to remind him of the undertaking given by his predecessor.
I have developed a habit, when 1 receive a letter from a Minister saying that he will look at something, of not writing ‘file’, on it and putting it away forever. Some months later I look at it again objectively to see what has been done. I hope that the Attorney-General, in accordance with his practice of attending to these things readily and rapidly, will follow suit in this instance. But during this debate I would not - I do not think the Attorney-General would expect me to do so - let the opportunity pass to mention the use of bugging and eavesdropping devices and the inadequacy of the Telephonic Communications (Interception) Act. It has been with some interest since, I think, about May 1967 that I have been pushing for reform in this area and I was very pleased to hear an answer given by the Attorney-General to a question by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) in the House on 28th August. He referred to problems in South Australia where officials of the Postmaster-General’s Department were listening to telephone calls. The Attorney-General stated there and then that he , had undertaken an investigation with a view to considering whether it would be useful or appropriate to amend the legislation.
I can tell him the answer now. Yes, it would be most useful because the legislation needs amending. Any Commonwealth legislation that can be made a laughing stock by State legislation should, I think, be amended. We had the situation in Victoria where Mrs Margaret Berman flouted the Commonwealth Act, taped telephone conversations and then set about using them in an inquiry. I believe that proceedings are now under way to bring to trial those who are involved, but when I raised this matter it was explained to me that she has been granted protection under the Victorian Evidence Act What a funny situation it is when we in the Commonwealth Parliament enact legislation and then the
State governments come along in their merry way and introduce covering legislation that cancels out our intentions.
Furthermore, some weeks ago I asked the Attorney-General - he might take the opportunity again at the end of this debate to give the House more details - a question about Alderman Penridge, the late Mayor of Cairns in Queensland who was successfully prosecuted for allegedly - and I mean allegedly, even though the court found him guilty - offering a bribe to somebody for the sale or purchase of a building for the Cairns City Council. In his answer the Attorney-General referred to the fact that it was a decision of his predecessor and he had no intention of canvassing the decision of his predecessor. I say that that is fair enough. I give him that point, but I would greatly appreciate it if later he would take the opportunity to explain carefully to the House in what situation either he or his predecessor could make a judgment as to whether or not the Commonwealth can act against those who flout its laws. This is apparently a discretionary power. If this is confirmed by the Attorney-General, I would not say it is dangerous, but it is wrong.
We in the Federal Parliament make Acts and yet the State governments can apparently come along, have a little chat to their counterparts in the Commonwealth Parliament and say: ‘Is it all right if we go ahead and prosecute X?’ Unless the AttorneyGeneral corrects this latter, it would appear that certain people, including the Commonwealth Attorney-General, can just say yea or nay. They can say: ‘We will not touch you, Mr State Attorney-General. You go ahead and prosecute and you will do it safely.’ The point I am making is that unless it is a matter of national security we in the Commonwealth Parliament have no right to sit in judgment on whether a person has committed a felony in the States which is so bad as would allow the State Government to prosecute safely. The Queensland Government does not have an Evidence Act, in the same sense as the Victorian Government has, that would give protection to the citizen. I hope that later the Attorney-General will take the opportunity to explain this fully so that not onlyI but the people of Australia can be made more aware of what is going on. I know that the Australian people are becoming more aware of the need to ensure that the individual is protected.
We are in the age of tape recorders. A piece can be cut from a tape and presented to a court as a comment or as a statement made by somebody but it may be changed completely. I do not think we should allow this to happen in this country. It has happened in other countries. It is rather interesting to recall that in Los Agneles at the beginning of this year a case was thrown out because a Supreme Court judge would not have anything to do with evidence that had been produced on a tape recorder. A statement was also made on this subject last year by the equivalent of a High Court judge in New Zealand. I look to the Attorney-General for complete leadership in this matter. He is showing leadership in the calm manner in which he is handling some other problems which tend at times to be emotional. I hope that he faces this problem with the same determination because I and, I am sure, quite a number of other people throughout the nation are looking to him for results.
– At the outset I would like to congratulate the Attorney-General (Mr Hughes) and the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Snedden) on the way they finally - I emphasise ‘finally’ - dealt with the Brian Ross case. I felt strongly about it and I think many other honourable member’s on this side and, I hope, on the other side of the House also felt strongly about it. I am certainly pleased that he ignored what I would call the barbarian type of attitude presented the other day at question time by the honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr Brown). In speaking to the estimates of the Attorney-General’s Department I would like to express my pleasure at hearing that the salary of Mr Clarrie Hermes is still being paid by the Attorney-
In an address to the Sixth National Conference of the Australian Council of Social Services on 27th May of this year the Attorney-General discussed the establishment of a national institute of criminology and a criminology research council. I note, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) noted the other day, that the Budget still provides no money for this purpose because the New South Wales Government, which also claims to be very interested in law and order, apparently will not co-operate. More importantly, to my mind, in the same address the AttorneyGeneral showed that he had read ‘An Honest Politician’s Guide to Crime Control’, a book by Professor Morris and Mr Gordon Hawkins. By the way, I would like to draw to the attention of the AttorneyGeneral to what I hope was a verbal slip. He referred to the book as ‘An Honest Politician’s Guide to Crime’. I hope that when he is drafting amendments to the criminal code for the Australian Capital Territory - a code which is to act as a model for the States - he will be in one of his honest politician phases rather than at the law and order stage. Morris and Hawkins propose that certain crimes without victims should be removed from the criminal code. They suggest that this would help by making more law enforcement available to prevent crimes against the person and property and by not interfering in what are really questions of private morality. I do not necessarily agree with all their propositions. As a matter of fact, since I made my own maiden speech earlier this year in which I mentioned termination of pregnancy as a crime without a victim I have had lengthy discussions on and have thought about this subject. I now feel that whilst on balance I would personally support liberalisation of abortion laws I see that it can well be argued that we are here dealing with a possible victim needing protection.
In the lecture to which 1 have referred, the Attorney-General discussed the question: What deviant behaviour ought to be or ought to continue to be characterised as criminal and deterred by the sanctions of the criminal law? He went on to say, and I quote him approvingly:
In making the decision to which I have just referred, government should not overlook the Important consideration that, generally speaking, it may be unwise to bring, or to keep, within the reach of the criminal law, activities mat in their nature are difficult, sometimes practically impossible to detect, where there is involved no risk of physical or moral injury or proprietary loss to others who have no claim to protection of the law.
He then gave an example. He said:
It is one thing to disapprove on moral grounds of homosexual connection in a private place between consenting adults. It is another thing to permit such disapproval to drive one to the conclusion that conduct of that description should be classified as criminal. In a pluralist society it is no part of the function of the criminal law to uphold and preserve the Judaeo-Christian ethic simply because that ethic exists. Any attempt to make the criminal law perform such a task would reflect a confusion between the respective places of law and morality in such a society . . . These are not necessary parts of the law’s task: Certain categories of misconduct ought to be a matter between man and his Maker rather than a matter of criminal consequence between man and his temporal law maker.
Further on he said:
The community at large has an undoubted interest, justifying the imposition of punishment, in seeing that juveniles are protected from the corrupting depredations of adult pederasts, lt is highly questionable, however, whether it has an interest of such strength as to warrant the infliction of criminal punishment in discouraging adults from private indulgence in sodomy or other forms of conduct commonly described as unnatural. This is one of the many problems that demand my attention in the course of my endeavours to achieve final formulation of a criminal code for Commonwealth Territories. It is not an easy task. I do not claim to have made up my mind upon the answer or even to have looked sufficiently long at all the aspects of the problem. But at least 1 can express the present trend of my thoughts.
Incidentally I was somewhat sorry to see that the Attorney-General seems to be having second thoughts on this question now. This has been an extensive quote from the Attorney-General, but 1 think he was worth quoting. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that social questions should be treated on a non-party basis. I hope that sooner or later all parties will agree to this. In brief my own attitude to the function of the law in regard to homosexual behaviour is the same as in regard to heterosexual behaviour. Apart from providing protection for the young and immature and protection against affronts to public order and decency, the criminal law should not trespass in this area. As Morris and Hawkins put it in their book:
If all the law enforcement agents involved in ineffectual efforts to control buggery were to be diverted to an attempt to improve the current very low percentage clearance rate for burglary it is unlikely that there would be an immediate fall in the burglary rate. But it is utterly unlikely that there would be an increase in buggery; for people’s sexual behaviour is among the least changeable of their responses, as the almost total failure of cures and treatment programmes for homosexuals should have taught us. And in the long run such a redeployment of resources could not but be beneficial to society.
I was certainly pleased to read the AttorneyGeneral’s lecture because it showed that there is at least some difference between him and the honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Irwin). The latter certainly illustrated, when speaking on the adjournment debate on 2nd September, the politician who relies heavily on the criminal law and likes to invoke criminal sanctions in connection with most social problems if only to indicate his moral fervour and political virtue. Politicians like him take little interest in the consequences of the invocation. Moreover, support for the removal of a sanction is often interpreted as support for the behaviour previously punished: If a person votes for the legislation of consensual adult homosexual conduct he must be homosexual. Likewise the public often cherishes criminal sanctions as an expression of their virtuous inclinations as distinct from the rather squalid realities of their lives.
It is necessary, however, if we are to be serious about the crime problem, to clear the ground of action of the criminal law. This is essential to the police, to the courts, and to the correctional agencies. They must deal only with those problems and those people for whom their services and their capacities are appropriate, not those who are merely being sacrificed to prejudice the taboos. Public sacrifice - throwing virgins off the rocks or homosexuals into gaol - to placate the ancient gods is not the job of the criminal justice system. I am broadly in agreement with John Stuart Mill’s definition of the proper sphere of the criminal law in his essay ‘On Liberty’ when he wrote:
The principle is that the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their members is self-protection: That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community against his will is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant; he cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it would be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinion of others, to do so would be wise or even right.
The function, as I see it, of the criminal law is to protect the citizen’s person and property, and to prevent the exploitation or corruption of the young and others in need of special care or protection. I consider it improper and usually socially harmful for the law to intervene in or attempt to regulate the private moral conduct of the citizen. We have a highly moralistic criminal law and a long tradition of using it as an instrument for coercing men towards virtue. It is a singularly inept instrument for that purpose. It is also an unduly costly one, both in terms of harm done and in terms of the neglect of the proper tasks of law enforcement.
Another area where I feel that the law should be completely changed is in the concepts of vagrancy and disorderly behaviour. The concept of vagrancy should be scrapped completely. It was originally introduced in 16th century England and could possibly be justified then in dealing with so-called vagabonds. There has always been a strong element of class bias about vagrancy law and now it is often used on long haired youths who do not play football. In other words, it is used to enforce conformity. The commentary on the American Law Institute’s Model Penal Code states:
If disorderly conduct statutes are troublesome because they require so little in the way of misbehaviour, the vagrancy statutes offer the astounding spectacle of criminality with no misbehaviour at all.
Mr Ken Buckley of the New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties in his new book Offensive and Obscene’, dealing with some Council for Civil Liberties cases, defines vagrancy as: ‘Doing something the police don’t like when you haven’t got a job’. It defines offensive behaviour as: ‘Doing something the police don’t like when you have got a job’.
One of the so-called crimes which should be looked at is the crime of bigamy. Bigamy has been described as the triumph of hope over experience. It is the contracting of a second marriage during the existence of a prior marriage and is a statutory crime. It does not constitute a serious part of the crime problem. 1 mention it only as an interesting example of the legal stigmatisation and punishment of conduct which may - as when both parties are aware of the previous marriage, which is the general situation - harm no-one although it offends some religious and moral codes. The bigamous marriage itself is legally a nullity. In many cases the only anti-social consequences of bigamy are the falsification of State records and the waste of time of the celebrating officer. This problem would be better handled by penalties for false declarations in relation to ceremonies of marriage. Sanctions are to be found in all criminal codes for giving false information in relation to official processes, and deceiving the woman would be an aggravating circumstance relevant to sentencing. Commonly all that is involved in bigamy is, as Glanville Williams put it, a pathetic attempt to give a veneer of respectability to what is in law an adulterous association’. One Australian judge, impressed with this analysis, when sentencing a convicted bigamist, allegedly said:
Wretched roan! Not only have you and thu young woman deceived your friends. Worse, you have thrown Her Majesty’s records into confusion.
Another area where governments should tread very warily, if at all, is the question of censorship, pornography and obscenity. lt is still confidently asserted in some quarters that exposure to erotica and pornography leads to sex crimes. But a United States study of 15,000 sex offenders found no evidence that pornography was a causal factor in the offences. Indeed, its findings suggest that it may rather be inability to secure fantasy-release of impulse by means of pornography which distinguishes sex offenders from other people. If prurience can find satisfaction by reading books or looking at pictures; it is difficult to conceive anything less harmful to society. It is those who cannot achieve satisfaction in this way who may constitute a danger. If controls are felt to be necessary in this area, I think that they should be limited to providing protection for the immature and preventing affronts to public decency.
Finally, coming back to the original proposition, I would argue strongly that we must establish some type of standing criminal law revision committee charged with the task of consideration of the fitness and adequacy of the criminal law sanctions to social needs. I would argue that our present criminal law is a product of a series of historical accidents, emotional over reactions, and the comforting political habit of adding a punishment to every legislative proposition.
-Mr Deputy Chairman, in the discussion of the estimates of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department, I wish to bring before the Parliament some aspects of community unrest which I believe are of the greatest importance. 1 wish to deal principally with student unrest. In doing so, I preface my remarks by quoting from the report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, specially appointed by President Johnson of the United States of America on 29th July 1967. In the introduction to Chapter 12 of the Commission’s report, the following views are expressed:
To analyse the complex social causes of disorder, to plumb the impact of generations of deprivation, to work for broad and sensitive efforts at prevention are vital tasks, but they are slow and difficult.
When in the meantime, civil disorder breaks out, three simpler principles emerge. FIRST: Preserving civil peace is the first responsibility of Government.
Individuals cannot be permitted to endanger the public peace and safety and public officials have a duty to make it clear that all just and necessary means to protect both will be used.
Our society is founded on the rule of law. That rule must prevail; without it, we will lack not only order but the environment essential to social and economic progress.
SECOND: In maintaining the rule of law, we must be careful not to sacrifice it in the name of order.
In our concent over civil disorder we must not mistake lawful protest for illegal activities. The guardians of the law are also subject to the law they serve.
The Report then quotes from the American Federal Bureau of Investigation riot manual for law enforcement officers before dealing with its third stated principle, which is:
Maintaining civil order is the responsibility of the entire community.
Mr Deputy Chairman, although these views refer to the American situation, I believe that they have application in this country, and I would attest my belief particularly in that section which states that our society is founded upon the rule of law and, without that foundation, little meaningful progress can come. However, whilst I do believe this, I also believe that it is very necessary that we should examine the causes which provoke some sections of the community, particularly sections of the student community, to promote, assist and perpetrate actions designed to change the prevailing order of things by disregarding lawful process and, in fact, by taking the law into their own hands. Only by an understanding of the rationale adopted by members of such activist groups can we hope to establish and to maintain the vitally necessary communication between those in authority and those subject to that authority.
First, it must be remembered that student unrest is neither new nor confined to any particular culture. The great European universities have a history studded with clashes between ‘town’ and ‘gown’, and these were no minor clashes either; lives were lost and property was extensively damaged. I would not argue for a moment, though, that conditions then and now are similar. In fact, they are markedly different. To amplify these remarks, I point out that -today we find that there are far more universities than there were previously and that that the individual university occupies a far more central position in our society than it ever did before. Universities have grown larger and more impersonal. The student-tutor relationship has largely broken down. Additionally, a greater percentage of the total population of young people now attends universities or other centres of advanced education. Even those who do not, by virtue of improved general education, can more readily empathise with students than was the case in the past.
In many cases, students feel ‘cut off’ from society and forced to take part in a system that they feel to be too rigid and authoritarian. It is a system increasingly felt to be based on the requirement to prove capacity by the production of an appropriate degree or diploma with little regard for the true educative process or the relevance of. the attained certification to the maximisation of personal development. Student dissatisfaction takes many forms. But it is often centred on the meaning of the person and the social framework within which the individual operates. It is in the pursuit of answers to questions or actions sought in response to disquiet - often quite legitimate in themselves - that actions and proposals are followed which exceed and abuse that right to academic freedom so jealously guarded by the universities. I believe, that one of the most disquieting aspects of student unrest is that the tolerance of universities- -that tradition of free and open discussion, of contemplation and consideration of differing points of view - is being abused, in many cases by those very people and groups who complain so vociferously that free speech is being denied them. In the control of this abuse of tolerance, I believe that the university bodies themselves have the obligation to face and to overcome these problems themselves. The individual university cannot, in the words of one American writing on the subject: ‘shirk the responsibility of protecting itself against the barbarians who betray the privileges extended to them’.
I think that it is relevant also to consider that a significant proportion of the community - and todays students fall into this category - have been raised in a rapidly changing post war world whose standards, attitudes and beliefs are undergoing increasing scrutiny and alteration. Mr Chairman, this again is not new. Change has always taken place. But the rapidity of change has increased and, more particularly, will continue to increase. The very affluence of our. society has created the opportunity for younger people particularly to realise and to implement their abilities and their capacity to influence public reactions. Allied to this, and as a consequence changes such as the advent of television, the instantaneous nature of communications, the increased mobility both intranational and international, is the marked change in accepted values between the older and younger generations, leading to the so-called generation gap. This gap is in itself a product of the total insecurity brought about by the inability to adjust to rapid changes. This then leads to the situation in which we find ourselves today - and the dangers of the situation are, to my mind, very real.
Mr Chairman, we must make very clear to the extremists - of both sides - that the country and the Government must and will uphold the rule of law. This means protection of the individual and the protection of property. At the same time, we must indicate an understanding of different points of view, a capacity and a willingness to protect the right to legitimate protest and an appreciation of the fact that many people, particularly the younger segment of society, feel great and legitimate concern over aspects of our society that hitherto have been accepted largely without question. This requires open lines of communication and it is only by the establishment of effective communication between various sectors of the community and government that we will prevent a massive polarisation of society, a hardening of attitudes on both sides and a widening of the communications gap which could split and fragment this country.
– Recently in this House and in this country we have seen arise the frightening specture of government by fear. We had hoped that we had seen the end of government by political gimmickry in this country. When Sir Robert Menzies decided to resign from this Parliament we thought that we had seen the end of government by gimmickry, but unfortunately that is not so. During the 1950s the Communist bogy was raised at every possible opportunity. There were imaginary threats from Russia and the bogus Petrov affair. In 1963 we were told that we were about to be invaded by Indonesia. In 1966 we heard about the downward thrust of China and the domino theory. So now, with the Liberals facing defeat and political oblivion, we have the issue of law and order.
– Tell us what happened in the Chisholm by-election.
– Unfortunately when liberals fight on issues they go down to inglorious defeat. They can succeed only with gimmicks. The loss of 17 seats at the last general election set the Liberal Party experts in the back rooms looking for an issue. We have seen the internecine strife between both partners of the coalition; the fratricidal struggle to oust the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) earlier this year; the revolt in rural Australia; the off-shore mineral debacle that occurred in this chamber not so long ago; and the Budget that was for the few by the many. We have seen this Government wallowing around in a whirlpool of uncertainty and discontent. The old guard and disappointingly the new guard, or the new Turks as they are so often described, look around for a way to get the monkey of political defeat and political oblivion off their back.
Somebody in the Liberal Party read a book - a most dangerous habit for Liberals - and it has acted on them like a drug. They are like drug addicts trying to dry out, but they cannot kick the habit. So they are on a law and order trip, Unfortunately. like drug addicts, their judgment has gone astray. They have not judged the pulse or tempo of contemporary Australia. I heard the honourable member for Hume (Mr Pettitt) in one of his more brilliant moods a few moments ago refer to the Chisholm by-election. I suggest to the honourable member that he should have another look at the figures for the Chisholm by-election and ask himself how the combined Australian Democratic Labor Party and Liberal vote, which represented approximately 61 per cent of the total votes cast in Chisholm 9 months ago, has dissipated to 53 per cent in a very short time. If the Government loses the DLP support to that extent in future elections, the honourable member for Hume and the rest of his colleagues will not be here.
To return to the theme I was developing, the chief pusher, the Attorney-General (Mr Hughes), has convinced his country cousin, the clown prince of politics, Mr Askin, to go on the same trip. The analogy, unfortunately, which so many speakers draw between the United States of America and Australia just will not wash. To try to compare the situation in Australia with the position in the United States is bordering on the absurd. In the United States there were race riots at Watts and Newark, racial murders, the burning of towns and portions of towns, massive civil disobedience and’ civil rights riots in Chicago at the Democratic Convention. There were repeated marches on Washington in which hundreds of thousands of people were involved. There has been an unprecedented crime wave in the United States which has no relation to civil disorder. The law and order debate has continued in the United States for some time.
I do not intend to debate the rights and wrongs of what is happening in the United States. I simply make the statement that to compare what is happening in the United States with what is happening in Australia is bordering on the absurd. What has happened in Australia with regard to civil disorder and civil disobedience? The first Vietnam Moratorium demonstration was hardly comparable with, say, the riots in Watts in California. The Vietnam Moratorium was fairly peaceful. A few people were injured and I understand there were a few sore heads in Adelaide, caused mostly by a few members of the armed forces. Then there was the Budget strike, that memorable strike which was condemned as the most dreadful thing that had ever happened in Australia. In that strike a couple of hundred thousand workers were absent from work for 2 hours. There have been a number of sit-ins which usually involved no more than a couple of hundred people. There was the attack on the Attorney-General’s home. Not one person on this side of the chamber whom I have heard, either inside or outside this Parliament, has supported that action. Each and everyone of us deplored the al tack by these people. I repeat that I. have not heard one person either privately or publicly condone the action of the people who disturbed the Attorney-General at his home. I regard it as a deplorable breach and action should have been and I hope will be taken against the people involved.
If there is lawlessness and disorder in Australia, whose fault is it? After all, there has been 20 years of Liberal Government. At present there is a Federal Liberal Government and 5 State Liberal-Country Party governments. The law and order issue usually is raised by those in opposition, but we have the unique situation in which it is the Government that is raising the issue now. If the Government cannot handle law and order in this country, why does it not resign and let somebody else govern? Honourable members opposite are censuring their own administration by this campaign about law and order.
The hypocrisy of the Government’s situation is outlined by a comparison of the increase in crime with the increases in the numbers of offences for civil disorder. I shall quote very briefly from the speech which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) made on 17 September when opening the debate on the estimates for the
Attorney-General’s Department. TTc said:
The incidence of crime for every 100,000 of Australia’s population has increased since 1964 by 23 per cent, lt has increased in the case of Victoria by 16.9 per cent, of New South Wales by 20.7 per cent, of South Australia by 26.5 per cent, of Queensland by 34.8 per cent, of Western Australia by 53.4 per cent, of the Australian Capital Territory by 65.2 per cent, of Tasmania by 89 per cent and of the Northern Territory by 148.3 per cent.
This to me and I think to most Australian people makes a laughing stock of this campaign about law and order. As I mentioned previously, the Premier of New South Wales, Mr Askin, asked for a mandate on the law and order legislation which he proposes to introduce into the New South Wales Parliament. He received it on Saturday when the vote for the Liberal candidate in the New South Wales by-election dropped by some 6,000 votes. If people feel threatened it is not because of a few demonstrators: it is because of the vast increase in criminal activity. As 1 asked before: Who is responsible for that situation? 1 shall quote something that I read recently in the newspaper which you can trust, because 1 think it highlights what I believe is a deliberate attempt by the Attorney-General to provoke and promote disturbance within our universities. The Daily Telegraph’ of Tuesday. 8th September 1970, under the headline ‘Hughes lini. Visit Today Cancelled’, contained the following article:
Canberra, Mon. - The Federal Attorney-General (Mr Hughes) said yesterday he would not visit the University of Sydney until assured that the campus is free from ‘organised violence.’
Mr Hughes was due to address a meeting of students at the university tomorrow.
He has already attended one meeting at the university which resulted in a near riot.
Today Mr Hughes received a telegram from the president of the University’s Student Representative Council (Mr Barry Robinson).
The telegram said:
Request that you postpone your visit to University of Sydney due to current feelings on campus on conscription issue.
I would be only too pleased to extend an invitation on behalf of the SRC at a later dale in third term. 1 strongly urge you to consider the seriousness of situation as well as the lateness in the academic year and the bearing any disruption would have on many students’ academic careers.
The university should always be open to guests presenting their point of view however the academic timetable should surely be a consideration.’
I regard that as a very moderate telegram warning the Attorney-General of the various aspects of his proposed visit. The reply to that telegram was a most incredible, provocative and aggressive attempt by the Attorney-General to capitalise on what I think was a very sensible attitude adopted by the President of the University’s SRC. The reply was:
I regret that the SRC should find it necessary to make this request on the ground, as emerges from your telegram, that ‘current feelings on campus’ and ‘the seriousness of the situation’ lead to a reasonable apprehension that there would be a violent demonstration.
I put it to honourable members that that is what the Attorney-General has read into the telegram sent by the President of the SRC. The Attorney-General’s reply went on to state:
While 1 welcome your statement that ‘the university should always be open to guests presenting their point of view’ it is regrettable that this very sound principle is being undermined by threatened violence on the part of an unrepresentative minority of the student body, fomented by at least 1 person who is not a student.
Any form of stifling legitimate freedom of discussion is objectionable.
But to stifle such freedom by threats of violence in inexcusable.
There was no mention of that in the President’s telegram. The Attorney-General’s reply went on to say:
In all the circumstances, and after consulting the Sydney University Liberal Club as convenors of the proposed meeting and conveying your request to them, I have decided with their concurrence that I ought to comply with your request
I remain ready and willing, however, to speak at the university when the university authorities and you on behalf of the SRC consider that-
I emphasise this final line. freedom from organised violence on the campus can be reasonably assured.
If ever there has been a provocative attempt by the Attorney-General to stir up trouble, this is the classic example.
– You should look more serious when you speak about this.
– The Minister will not be laughing when the Government is defeated on this issue at the next general election. I want to give an example of this Government’s attitude. It permitted the First Secretary of the South Vietnam Embassy, Mr Luu Tuong Quang, to speak at the Democratic Club, University of Queensland, but denied entry to this country to a distinguished negro comic, Mr Dick Gregory. I wonder whether the Government can see some conflict in its attitude to these 2 persons. The Government permitted a representative from the Embassy of South Vietnam to go to a university. It is obvious that a man who holds political views such as those held by this gentleman will finish up causing a disturbance and possible riots at a university. Yet a man who has an opposing point of view is prevented from entering this country.
I want to conclude my remarks on this note: While we hear all this nonsense about law and order practically every member of this House has committed a bad breach of the Commonwealth Electoral Act which states that honourable members shall not spend more than $500 on a political campaign. What nonsense! Every member of this House knows that to get into this place one has to spend thousands of dollars. The Attorney-General knows full well that an average campaign would cost about $4,000, $5,000 or $6,000.
– Did you spend that much?
– I spent well in excess of the limit- close on $6,000. If the Attorney-General wants to prosecute me he may do so. What happened recently when 200 members of the Navy decided to mutiny? I can recall the days when mutineers were hung from the yard-arm but in this case the Minister - possibly quite rightly - increased Navy pay and thereafter the matter disappeared off the front pages of the Press. But when a few students demonstrate or take part in a sit-in everybody wants to have them locked up in gaol. Everybody wants to crack down on these people who occasionally commit a minor breach of the law.
– Would you like to see your house burgled?
– I have been very worried while you have been in this place. I have to keep an eye on you to see whether you are always sitting there. I conclude with this comment: The law and order campaign is a complete and utter failure.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– As there is not very much time left for the debate on these estimates and as other honourable members want to speak I will confine myself to the matters which have been raised by honourable members by way of criticism of my detailed administration of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department. Quite frankly I do not propose to say anything in reply to the rather puerile political posturings of the honourable member for Robertson (Mr
Cohen) who has just resumed his seat. Those Opposition members who blow the anti-public order trumpet, as some are doing, would do much better for the cause they want to promote if they held their fire until they see the legislation relating to violent demonstrations which this Government will introduce in a fairly short time.
I think that honourable members on the Opposition side are short selling their case by indulging in an anticipatory attack on this proposed legislation before they have seen the content of it. They are short selling their case because to criticise something before it can be seen in fine print tends to give grounds for the conclusion that those honourable members on the Opposition side are against any legislation whatsoever to control violent demonstrations. They are betraying themselves for what their Party stands for; Namely, a Party which consists in part of honourable members like the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) who thinks in the best Marxist tradition that government ought to be carried on in the streets by crowds. This is not to say that there is not every need for the protection of peaceful and lawful demonstrations.. I have never denied that there is a need to protect that very basic and sacred right, the right to demonstrate by lawful and peaceful means.
The honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr Enderby) referred to one matter with which I particularly want to deal and that is the case of Jarasius v. Brown heard in the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory. It later went on appeal to the High Court of Australia. The burden of his criticism was that in some way I had been neglectful in that I either omitted to deal with an application made by the infant plaintiffs in that case for legal assistance or in the alternative, as he put it, having dealt with the application f refused it. I regret to have to inform the Committee that the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory is sadly misinformed as ito the true facts relating to the part played by my Department in the consideration of the plaintiffs application for legal assistance. The only other view is that he has somehow embarked on a course of misrepresenting the position. I would hesitate to believe this and I expressly refrain from suggesting that he has. I do not think he would do so. He is, therefore, sadly misinformed.
After the application for legal assistance in connection with the High Court appeal, made on behalf of the infant plaintiffs, was received in my Department it was given consideration. It was decided that it was proper to follow the procedure which is adopted in New South Wales when applications for relief out of the suitors fund are made. The procedure which is adopted in New South Wales is that such applications are entertained and decided after the litigation - in this case the High Court appeal - has been concluded. It is true that the infant plaintiff’s solicitors were not informed in writing of this decision but I am informed - 1 sent for the departmental file on this matter - that shortly after 16th March, which was before the High Court appeal was heard, a Mr Roberts, a member of the firm of solicitors acting for the infant plaintiffs, was informed that he ought to write to the Department renewing the application for legal assistance after the High Court appeal had been determined should that appeal result adversely to his clients.
What I am concerned to tell the Committee therefore is that the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory has, unwittingly I am sure, misrepresented the facts. I might be pardoned for commenting that he might have made more careful investigation of the facts before embarking upon a personal attack on my administration. The record should be set straight and I think I have set it straight. I conclude my remarks on that topic by making it quite plain, as ( wanted to do. that so far as 1 am concerned the matter is not concluded. If the solicitors for the infant plaintiffs care to take the course that they were counselled to take by an officer of my Department in their conversation with him and renew the application for legal assistance it wm be given proper consideration. The honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory made some remarks about the administration of my Department in relation to the High Court decision in the case of Worthing v. Rowell. The obscurity, of his remarks baffled me but as far as I understood them they were. to the effect that I and my Department were singularly lacking in foresight in failing to anticipate the decision of the High Court in the case of Worthing v. Rowell, which related to the applicability of State laws over property acquired by the Commonwealth for public purposes and should have legislated before this decision was made to obviate the need for litigation on this subject.
I hope that in those cases in which the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory may still appear for clients at the bar he will be slightly more careful about the facts than he has been in relation to that case and the case of Jarasius v. Alyta because he seems, conveniently or inconveniently, to have forgotten that the decision of the High Court in the case of Worthing v. Rowell was given by a majority of 4 to 3 in favour of the proposition that certain State laws did not apply to properties acquired by the Commonwealth for public purposes. How in those circumstances any charge of lack of foresight or prudent caution could be made against the Department for which I am responsible would baffle anyone with a minimal sense of fairness. I have not time at my disposal to deal with many of the valuable suggestions made by honourable members on both sides of the House in those speeches which did not consist of the rankly political content which was evident in the speeches made by the honourable member for Robertson today and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) the other night The broad matters of policy which they raised, if one could say that is what they really raised, are matters more appropriate to be dealt with on a future occasion and not in a debate on departmental estimates. I am indebted to those honourable members who did make use of their time in this debate to raise matters of substance connected fairly closely with the departmental estimates. Having said that I shall reserve for a more appropriate time my reply to the questions posed by such speakers in the debate as the honourable member for Robertson and the Leader of the Opposition.
– The Attorney-General (Mr Hughes) at the outset of his remarks suggested that members of the Opposition were selling their case short by not waiting to see the proposed legislation on law and order. Of course, the Attorney-General would not want to be reminded that Mr Askin, the Liberal
Premier of New South Wales, at the polls last Saturday specifically asked the electors in the State electorate of Georges River, which is substantially in my Federal electorate of Barton, for a mandate to bring in an unseen law and order Bill. He got his answer on that matter. This Government has also postured on the matter because of the Federal by-election in Victoria last Saturday. I think the public at large would be much more convinced that the Government was really doing something about law and order if they could go away from their homes without the current well-justified fear that their homes will be burgled in their absence, if they could go out driving at week-ends without the overwhelming fear of becoming further victims of the lawlessness on our highways, if they were not so impressed with the bank robberies that take place almost daily, the shops that are burgled, the cars that are stolen, the hold-ups at railway stations and Totalisator Agency Board offices, the breaking into of schools and so on. The people would be much more impressed if they had that kind of protection from their governments. It is not my intention however to speak further on those matters today.
I want to raise on behalf of a number of ex-servicemen the matter of extending the appeals system to ex-servicemen who were convicted by courts-martial prior to the establishment of the appeals court in 1955. At present the appeals court deals only with convictions dating from 1957 onwards. There are still many exservicemen, particularly those who served in World War II, who feel aggrieved by the wrongful convictions they sustained in what they felt were unfair trials. They have spent many years in some cases to my knowledge in trying to clear their names. It is not that their convictions have necessarily interfered with their progress in civil life; it is just that they feel a smear has been made on their personal characters. They are very anxious to vindicate their innocence. When we think of it, war time administration of law in the Services could hardly have been expected to be the acme of legal perfection. If we remember the situation at that time, there were likely to have been injustices and miscarriages of justice. Many of the persons who were trying these men were inexperienced in the law. The war and its whole environment engendered a certain amount of emotion and prejudice which could have only harmed the functioning of many a courtmartial. The pressure of events during war time surely would have mitigated against justice in many cases. Possibly the adjudicators were unconsciously - I say that very advisedly - less careful, knowing that there was no right of appeal against their determinations.
Those affected in a vast number of instances were young men. They were men of immaturity. They needed protection. Yet in many cases they have become victims of the law as then provided. I would suggest in this situation that there were varying notions of what constituted good discipline in the Services, just as notions on this subject today vary. Therefore there could have been a good deal of subjectivity which crept into the administration of the law. Members of courts-martial did not necessarily need legal training. Lawyers were provided where possible as prosecutors and for the defence. In the debate which took place in this House in 1955 when the appeals system was set up there was testimony by wartime Defence Ministers that they had considerable doubts about many of the convictions of courtsmartial, particularly during World War IT. I remember one member of the Government of that time, who has since died, relating an incident involving a British soldier. He testified to the House that this British soldier had been charged with desertion. Actually, he had not deserted. He simply lost touch with his unit and joined another unit. In the course of operating with that other unit he won the Distinguished Conduct Medal for bravery in the face of the enemy. Ultimately he was discovered by his own unit and. believe it or not. he was charged and convicted despite the recognition he had enjoyed from the Sovereign.
Appeal courts as they now exist are constituted of members who are highly qualified in the law. They are experienced legal men. There is need for a retrospective application of an appeal right. This has been indicated in recent times by the present legislation and the present procedures. Might I remind the House of a very significant recent case in which a man who had been convicted by court martial of having killed a lieutenant in Vietnam was subsequently vindicated by a court martial.
I refer to the case of Gunner Leonard Edward Newman, aged 22, of Brisbane who was convicted for the manslaughter of Lieutenant Robert Birse. Newman had been sentenced to 5 years gaol and had been discharged from the Army. He was prosecuted because it was alleged he had thrown a grenade into Birse’s tent on 10th December 1967. Apparently the important thing was not that he was convicted and ultimately cleared by the appeal tribunal but that the appeal tribunal found that the court martial had:
Even today courts-martial can be guilty of this kind of thing. There is need for a proper legal tribunal to investigate this.
Then there was the case of Captain Clarence Rule, also a Vietnam veteran, who was charged on 5 counts. He was cleared but, in what I think most people would interpret as a sense of vindictiveness by the Army authorities, he was pursued with 3 further charges. Ultimately, I suggest, the Government brought pressure to bear and the 3 charges were dismissed without the cases being heard. The bringing into existence in 1955 of an appeal tribunal indicates the need, even at this belated state, to extend the opportunity for appeals back to those men. who served in earlier times to give them an opportunity to clear their names. I hope that the AttorneyGeneral and the Government will, even at this belated stage, give some consideration to the extending back of appeal rights to those aggrieved ex-servicemen.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Department of Civil Aviation
Proposed expenditure $72,823,000.
– First of all may I register my protest at the failure of the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) to make available to honourable members a copy of the annual report of the Department of Civil Aviation? 1 lodged this complaint last year during the debate on the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation. I regret that I have to make this complaint again. I oft times wonder how the Minister thinks honourable members can debate and discuss the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation, without having at their disposal, for a reasonable time to allow them to study it, a copy of the annual report of the Department of Civil Aviation. I trust that the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation will convey my objection to him.
One very important thing is happening in civil aviation today which is causing everyone a considerable amount of concern and which has cost about $50m in loss of aircraft. I hope and trust that no lives will be lost, although at the moment a considerable number of people has been detained. I refer to the recent hijacking in the Middle East. What concerns me is the complacent, ‘it can’t happen here’ attitude being adopted by the Department of Civil Aviation and by the Minister. On 9th June in this place we debated a Bill dealing with hijacking. Its purpose was the ratification of the Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft, held in Tokyo in 1963. The Civil Aviation (Offenders on International Aircraft) Bill passed through this place on 9th June this year. I had a question lined up to ask the Minister last Tuesday, but unfortunately a member of the Government directed a question which included enough of mine to make my question worthless.
What concerns me is the answer that was given by the Minister to the question directed to him by the honourable member asking what action was being taken by Qantas to safeguard the passengers who travel on their aircraft and on aircraft in general. The Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) said:
We have noted that the United Nations Security Council has condemned very strongly these acts and the perpetrators of them. We also stand ready to attend, if required, any special meetings which may be called or held when the United Nations General Assembly meets shortly.
He went on further to say:
Within Australia our domestic laws are suitable and adequate to deal with the situation and severe penalties can be applied not only for this type of act but also for other acts associated with interference with aviation generally. So I can assure the House that the Government is aware of this problem and is taking every possible action at the present time to deal with it.
– Did you read the reference to International Civil Aviation Organisation, which is the principal instrument?
– Yes, I read the reference to the International Civil Aviation Organisation and to what is taking place. The situation is like the old story: Before you can have hare pie you have first got to catch your hare. Before a penalty can be imposed on these hijackers we have to catch them. The real problem concerning all the countries that have signed the Convention is catching the hijackers. The Minister for Civil Aviation conveyed very little in answering 3 questions which were directed to him in the Senate. He gave less information than the former Minister for Civil Aviation. What concerns me and what I want to know is: What is Qantas doing and what is the Government doing to safeguard the passengers who are travelling on Qantas aircraft? Surely the Government does not think for one moment that hijacking cannot happen here. Qantas aircraft fly over almost identical routes to the aircraft that have been hijacked, so there is no reason to think for one second that we will be immune - that we have some special dispensation from the hijackers so that they will nol touch any Australian aircraft and the passengers who travel on them. I refer not only to Qantas but to the other airlines operating out of Australia. I want to know what the Government is doing and what positive action is being taken to prevent, as far as is humanly possible, Australian aircraft and aircraft leaving Australia for overseas carrying Australian passengers from being hijacked. The American Government has taken some positive action by putting security guards on their aircraft. The Israeli and Ethiopian airlines also have security guards operating on their airliners. I ask whether this is one of the things that the Minister meant when he said in his reply that this Government is taking action to prevent hijacking. If it is, let us hear about it. At least let the Parliament and the people of Australia who are travelling on airlines today know what is happening.
What action is being taken by the Department of Civil Aviation at the airports to apprehend people who intend to hijack aircraft? I would like some definite answers from the Minister. I know the Minister for National Development, who is sitting at the table, is well versed in matters of civil aviation and would know what is happening. I would like him to tell the Committee what is happening and what preventive action the Government is taking. I know it is a complex question that has all the governments of the world worried. The only apparent action by Australia has been to sign a convention on hijacking. When the Minister answered a question last Tuesday he gave the impression that Australia had already signed the convention. My understanding is that our signature to that convention did not become operative until last Sunday night. Why did it take us from 9th June until last Sunday night, a couple of months, to ratify the agreement? I would like something positive from the Government, particularly from the Minister for National Development, about the measures that are being taken by this Government to counter the possible hijacking of Australian aircraft. What action is being taken at airports to prevent firearms from being taken on board or to prevent explosives being place on board aircraft so that they can be blown up in flight? What we are really concerned about is what happens to the hijackers when they take over and what directions have been given to Qantas crews.
In the limited time available to us to debate the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation I wish to raise the accident involving a Boeing aircraft at KingsfordSmith Airport on 1st December 1969. 1 placed on notice a question on this matter. I do not want to waste time by referring to the question but I did not receive a reply until 18th September, last Friday. I received at the same time a copy of the accident investigation report. One of the things which concerns me is that when these investigations are made into accidents involving in some cases loss of life or, as in this case, just damage to an aircraft running into a considerable amount, members get an opportunity to debate the report only in the adjournment debate late at night or in the debate on the Estimates.
There are just a few things to which 1 would like to refer. First of ali, why has ii taken so long to carry out an investigation into this accident and what is the Government doing to try to remedy some of the things referred to in the accident investigation report? It is obvious - this is contained in the report - the aircraft took off overloaded to the extent of some 6.800 lb. In other words it was overloaded by in excess of 3 tons. This is a serious breach of regulations. This is a serious accident. The explanation for the overloading is that one of the hydrometers was faulty and that this resulted in the aircraft taking on 6,800 lb more fuel than was planned. The permissible take-off gross weight was 303,100 lb. The planned take-off gross weight was 302,748 lb. These figures show that there was a margin of only 352 lb between the permissible take-off weight and the planned take-off weight. So the all up weight of that aircraft was pretty close to the permissible maximum. The actual take-off gross weight was 309,560 lb, which was 6,812 lb more than the planned weight. I think the Department has to give us some answers as to what remedial action it is taking to prevent similar occurrences. The accident investigation committee arrived at 12 conclusions. I am concerned with the third conclusion. It states:
The aircraft was inadvertently loaded 6,800 lb in excess of the flight planned weight, primarily as a result of u« of a defective hydrometer.
What is the Department of Civil Aviation doing to ensure that a faulty hydrometer will not in future result in an aircraft being overloaded to the extent of 6,800 lb? Admittedly things have to go wrong sometimes. When an aircraft is travelling at over 100 knots and passes through a flock of pigeons the captain has to make a split second decision whether to abort the take-off or to keep going. We never know whether the decision made is the right decision or the wrong decision, in this case if the captain made the right decision we will never know. If he made the wrong decision once again we will never know because we will never know whether, if that aircraft had become airborne, it could have kept going. From the inquiry it would appear that the captain probably made an error of judgment in deciding to abort the take-off. It appears that he could have gone on with it. I am not critical nf his decision. I always think it is better to err on the side of safety than to take a risk, i have no comments io make about what the captain did on that occasion, but I am concerned that an aircraft can be overloaded to the extent that this aircraft was overloaded because of a defective hydrometer.
What is the Department of Civil Aviation doing about conclusion No. 8 which states:
The effective point of commencement of take-off was displaced some 320 feet from the threshold as a result ot the rolling start technique employed from a side entry to the runway together with progressive application of thrust.
What will the Government do about this? Is it accepted as a safe procedure? If it is a safe procedure, why was it referred to in the conclusions? If it is not a safe procedure, what is being done to prevent this type of take-off? I would like some answers from the Minister on that point. The last conclusion to which I want to refer is conclusion No. 9, It states:
The head wind component encountered by the aircraft was significantly less than that forecast and that used in the take-off computations.
According to this inquiry there was a late change in the weather conditions. There was a change in the wind, in both velocity and direction. Are the pilots advised of any serious change in wind velocity or direction when their aircraft are on the verge of taking off, particularly when they are working on a margin of error as close as the 352 lb I mentioned earlier in the computed all up take-off weight? As I mentioned, the aircraft had a planned take-off weight only 352 lb less than the maximum permissible take-off weight.
In view of the fact that we do not get an opportunity to debate these reports in the Parliament I now ask the Department of Civil Aviation to provide some definite answers as to whether it considers the performance of that aircraft was satisfactory and whether it proposes to take any remedial action to prevent such an accident occurring again. I would also like to know what the Government is doing about preventing the hijacking of Australian aircraft.
– Order! - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Until today I had no intention of speaking during the debate on the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation but a decision by Qantas Airways Ltd which was related to me yesterday has caused me, to say the least, to become extremely bitter, disappointed and disillusioned. Realising that words spoken in anger are often later regretted, I decided to sleep on it and see how I felt today. Usually with the passage of time one does not feel as strongly but in this case I feel even more resentful than I did yesterday. I am now on my feet because I believe an injustice is being perpetrated in the name of an instrument of the Australian Government.
For some time now I have been the National President of the All Australia Karate Do Federation. As most honourable members would know, the art of karate is now being taught in Western Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, and I might say, is a rapidly growing sport attracting some of the nation’s finest young men and women to its ranks. Earlier this year Australia was invited to attend and participate in the first world championship tournament to be held in Tokyo and Osaka, Japan, next month. It was decided that Australia would send a team and, as Australian President, I was asked to lead the team. I accepted this great honour. Whilst the tournament is being organised by the Federation of All Japan Karate Do Organisations, it has the firm support of the Japanese Government in that the Japanese Ministry of Education, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Transport and the Metropolitan Government of Tokyo are assisting the Japanese body in the organisation of the world tournament.
Honourable members will acknowledge that it is natural for an Australian team to turn to this nation’s international airline to facilitate transportation. Qantas Airways Ltd, like most of the major airlines throughout the world, is a signatory to the International Air Transport Association Agreement, and, I believe, generally works within the framework of the Agreement. The Australian team is not receiving, nor has it asked for, a free handout to enable it to cover the fare to Tokyo and back. In other words, we are paying our own way out of our own pockets. The team comprises a representative from Victoria, 1 from New South Wales and, I might say with a degree of pride, being a Queenslander, 3 Queenslanders. The Queensland instructor, who is our team coach, and his wife, both being Japanese born, are accompanying the team and naturally taking advantage of the opportunity to visit their parents in Japan. With myself as National President leading the group, the party will comprise 8 members.
The IATA Agreement carries no resolution to prevent an airline company indulging in what is known as a contra deal nor does it promote the concept. A contra deal is simply an agreement between the 2 parties whereby the carrier will give a specified discount on the total fare of a single person or a party of people if a guarantee is given that a similar value of publicity or services will be given to the carrier in return for the fare discount. The United States Federal Aviation Act of 1958 similarly requests carriers to charge exactly the fares set out in the published tariffs and I might add, in fairness of presentation, the American Civil Aeronautics Board ‘or CAB’ is not happy with contra deals, but it is a practice heavily employed throughout the world and legally so. In a contra contract it remains at the discretion of the airline company to determine the value of the services or publicity given in return for a fare discount and it is the practice that a contract is drawn up between the parties where guarantees are given. Being aware of this arrangement, as the Australian President, I approached a large newspaper company in Japan on 18th May, through their helpful Australian representative, seeking their assistance in this regard. Unfortunately, some weeks elapsed before it was definitely established that we in Australia could not exclusively undertake to guarantee sole publicity rights to that Japanese company. As a result of this, our negotiations did not come to fruition. But we still tried.
At the beginning of this month, I approached a Brisbane daily newspaper and asked it whether it would provide coverage of the Australian team’s participation in the world tournament to enable us to approach our - meaning Qantas - airline so that I might secure for the team a discount for its fares. I even said I would take personal responsibility for cabling our team’s daily result back to Australia. The newspaper agreed to assist. The group fares paid by the members will be in the vicinity of $7,200 but in all fairness to QantasI am obliged to mention that we are flying Qantas from Australia to Manila and on the way home from Singapore to Australia, the fares being at economy class $292 and $242 respectively which, multiplied by 8, is close enough to $5,000. Qantas was unable to meet our schedule requirements for the rest of the trip. After many months of endeavour I at last had a supporter in a newspaper and even more pleasing, an
Australian company. My reason for not going to an Australian company in the first place was because it was suggested that we could be successful with the aforementioned Japanese firm. On 10th September this year, with great optimism and faith that Australia’s own airline company would do something for an Australian team, I formally wrote to Qantas, advising it of the departure coverage which had been promised and that if the newspaper concerned was unable to mention Qantas in its build-up articles, the Federation in Australia would place advertisements next to the articles to bring about the association which Qantas would require.
I state at this stage that in my letter I said: ‘I do not - and I repeat do not - want this discount for myself. The intention was that the value of the discount would be divided among the team members. Yesterday Qantas advised me that it would not accede to our request. We were not asking for something that was illegal or has never been given - we were asking only for help in the same manner it has been given thousands of times before throughout the world by signatories to the IATA Agreement. I believe it to be a shameful condemnation of the spirit motivating this nation’s airline when on one hand it gives trips away to some of the nation’s better known people, yet refuses to support a team of young Australians having to pay their own way to represent our country. It’s fitting that I recall the words of the President of IATA spoken at its 1966 meeting: . . The member airlines of IATA that carried 91 per cent of the world’s traffic numbering 177,000,000 passengers in 1965 above all practical purposes have a definite contribution to make to world peace by providing the most effective means of bringing together the peoples of the world . . . ‘
If I had known that Qantas would have adopted this attitude last May when I began mynegotiations,Iwould have had no hesitation, in the interests of the members of the team, in approaching another airline where we most certainly would have received a more favourable response to our request. Has Qantas reached the stage where it has to make its profits by preying on the national sentiment of Australians who naturally think of their nation’s own airline when wishing to fly outside this country?
When honourable members recall my earlier statements of the support from the Government of Japan, I feel even more ashamed of the attitude prevailing in my own country. I have established beyond doubt that Qantas could legally have given help, if only to the tune of $500 which, on the total fares, would have been approximately 6 per cent discount, which would have been repaid under our agreement; not a great price to pay to support a group of young Australians setting out in an attempt to place this nation’s flag right at the top of the pole in an international circuit. I take this opportunity to warn every sporting body or other organisation planning to attend a contest away from our shores that this is the type of treatment you too might receive. Do not allow your national pride and affiliation to be the cause of unnecessary extra expenditure which, with a little foresight and knowledge, could have been saved.
I recognise and respect Qantas’s great reputation as a safe and reliable airline on which to fly. Like a number of other countries’ airlines Qantas realises how important it is to have this attribute because it reflects on the airline’s country of origin. May I also compliment the Brisbane staff of Qantas with whom I have dealt in the last few months. As always, they have been courteous and attentive. The decision I condemn today was one made in the company’s head office and it is to there I direct my comments. I am as proud of my country and its achievements as anyone could be and I would hate to see Qantas acquire the reputation of being the world’s most miserable airline, not perhaps in the eyes of the world, but in the eyes of Australians - those who finance the airline’s very existence. The answer to that lies in the airline’s own hands. I hope that these words will not go unheeded by the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation because, as I said earlier, it is a terrible condemnation of the attitude which has been adopted by Qantas. I know that the Minister is no longer the Minister for Civil Aviation but I hope that something is done in the very near future to correct this situation.
– I, too, want to deal with matters concerning the Department of Civil Aviation, but mainly as they relate to the estimates which we are discussing. Honourable members will notice that the Department runs at quite a substantial loss. In other words, the taxpayers have really to subsidise the Department to the tune of approximately $60m. The income of the Department is a mere $24m and the expenditure is some $84m. As honourable members know I represent the area around the major Sydney airport of KingsfordSmith and one wonders why it is that the airport in this area, which is represented not only by myself but some of my colleagues, is denied the opportunity to develop as all international airports throughout the world have. We are sick and tired of listening to the explanation by Government supporters that the future of KingsfordSmith or Sydney’s second airport is still under consideration and that there is an interdepartmental committee still sitting. The plain facts of life are, of course, that the Victorian influence in the Government has successfully achieved the building of a new international airport for Victoria. We do not deny them that, but on the question of priorities surely one would have thought that by now the people of New South Wales would have been given their rightful consideration.
On any count at all, whatever way one looks at it, one finds that the air traffic in Sydney, whether it be in freight or passenger movements, is increasing more rapidly than that of Melbourne. I am not anxious to take a parochial attitude on that, but one must on this occasion admire the former member for St George, Mr Bosman, who said that Sydney got nowhere because of the parochial influence of Victorians. Of course he did not say it while he was a member of Parliament; he waited until he was defeated. But the real statistics show that movements in and out of Sydney are continuing to increase and are now about 10,000 a month or 120,000 a year. By comparison air traffic in Melbourne is not increasing. It must interest people to note that in freight movements alone the volume in Sydney has now increased by some 6,000 odd tons in a short period while that of Melbourne has virtually declined. So on any count at all, if one wants to look at the needs of an area, surely Kingsord-Smith should receive its just entitlement. The Kingsford-Smith complex comprises a mere 1,600 acres, one-quarter of the available area now allocated to Melbourne. There would be no international airport in the world with such a narrow confined space and it is an indictment of this Government that it could not care less about what happens to the Kingsford-Smith complex. There was some effort made to alleviate the situation about 1968 when it was contended that the best method of overcoming the many problems of Sydney would be to locate a second strip at Towra Point.
The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) then came into the picture because he realised that the people of Towra Point were entitled to say: ‘We do not want the problem of aircraft flying over us.’ It so happened that that area was represented by a member of the Liberal Party and still is. He was able to convince the Prime Minister that that idea should be abandoned. When the Prime Minister, who is the senior man in the country, made that decision surely he must have had in mind where the alternative site would be. He made that decision in 1968 and we still have no alternative site. I think it can be said to the people of Kingsford-Smith that the alternative is well known. It will be parallel runways both north and south and east and west. So never mind the needs of the people of Kingsford-Smith, never mind their problems. But the Government is not game to say if yet. It is still wondering what its interdepartmental committee is going to do.
That brings to my mind some of the reports made to the previous Parliament - namely, the report on the proposed runway extension by the Public Works Committee. The Committee in effect said quite fairly: ‘We have been mentioning to this Parliament since 1963 the problems of the Sydney complex and what should be done about them. We have taken evidence from the people who live under the flight paths of Mascot and Botany’. That is the area I represent. It also said: ‘We cannot fail to be impressed by the apprehension in that community about the effect of noise and how it affects their everyday livelihood’. What efforts have been made to help them? The Committee back in 1968, when referring to an earlier period, said that no significant progress or work had been done in that field. Again in 1965 the Committee said: ‘The Works Committee of this Parliament recommended that immediate steps be taken for a second airport for Sydney and nothing was done or has yet been done or is going to be done.’ If we want to look at the practicalities, let us remember that it took 10 years to bring Tullamarine even to its present position from the time of acquisition and taxpayers* money to the extent of some $34m has been spent in that period.
If we look at the estimates for the works programme for the Department we now find that in civil aviation we will spend another $30m this year. One wonders whether we are getting good value for the money when we have in mind the problems of Kingsford-Smith. The logical thing to do is to establish a second airport now. There should be no further increase in flight facilities at Kingsford-Smith because the air space cannot take it. An immediate alternative airport and future satellite airports in the areas adjacent to, perhaps, the Newcastle complex and the Campbelltown complex and, certainly, in the south if possible should be established. This could well be planned now and the land acquired. One significant thing comes to mind immediately when we look at the civil works programme. We find that a sum has been allocated for the investigation of parallel runway systems in Kingsford-Smith. This has not been admitted by any Minister. The Prime Minister at this stage would not be prepared to say that he is going to put parallel runways in Kingsford-Smith because he could well lose a few seats he now holds. If this means, as it does, that we could more than double the present air traffic, what about the people in the area and the noise from which they are suffering? What about the schools, the hospitals and the churches and all these other normal facilities of life? What consideration was ever given to them?
The Prime Minister has failed miserably in his duty when he says that because of a mere political point of view he will not have an airport at Towra Point. To have no plan for any other airport is an act of cowardice in the face of the rights of people in the area. And what obligation did he have to them? All he did was to preserve one of his own team. What about the people in that area? They number perhaps 1 million. It would be just as logical for us, when we become the Government next time, to say: ‘The second airport ought to go to Pymble because that is the area represented by the honourable member for Bradfield and we could not care less about what happens to Pymble.’ That is the Government’s approach to this problem. We have heard all this nonsense about a senior committee investigating this problem. It has been investigating it for years now, and is still investigating. The Minister in another place is saying: ‘I expect to have a report soon. Something will be done.’ I am now advised that after the Prime Minister made this political decision - fired from the hip again, we might say - just to save one of his colleagues, he obviously decided, with the knowledge of the then Minister for Civil Aviation, that there would be parallel runways at Kingsford-Smith.
One has to find out these things by some secretive method, apparently, and I have here a letter from the Sydney County Council, which is the electricity supply authority in Sydney, to the Botany Municipal Council, which is a local government authority. It was written after the decision to abandon Towra Point was made. It states:
I have to advise you that the OCA some 3 weeks ago verbally notified this Council that they intend to build another north east/south west runway . . .
This was a letter written by the General Manager to the Town Clerk and we are, I might add, talking about the end of 1968. This east west runway, I might add, affects my colleague in Rockdale and seriously affects all the people I represent. This means that the aircraft have to fly over the main expressway. This means that the lighting will have to be altered and there will be a serious problem from the point of view of existing lighting. The Sydney County Council said that it would cost some $7,000 to $8,000 to alter the lighting and it sought the co-operation of the local authority. I emphasise that this was a verbal communication. One might think that that was not very strong and that there should be something stronger. Sure enough last year the then Minister for Civil Aviation, Mr Swartz, wrote to the present town clerk saying:
With reference to the lighting position I want to tell you that there will be future parallel east-west runways at Sydney Airport and because of that 1 will make some contribution to the lighting cost.
This, as I say, was a letter from the Minister for Civil Aviation. There are to be future parallel runways according to the correspondence. We have heard an oblique reference to this in the estimates. Why all this nonsense about their being some immediate decision to assist the people of Kingsford-Smith? There will be no such decision. Why this deceitful method of issuing a noise exposure forecast and saying: ‘Well, of course, you are taking over 100,000 flights now and you will have to take some more. We are issuing this forecast on the basis that there will not be any alteration to the existing runways at Kingsford-Smith’? This is not true either, because the forecast is to cover the period up to 1976 or 1980 and it has been issued on the basis that it will become a completely restrictive covenant on the whole of the area that 1 represent. People are no longer able to redevelop their properties because the airline operators think they have the top priority and that they alone must be considered. If we stop to consider the amount of taxpayers’ money that has already been put into this proposition we wonder how any Government could say that it is a viable proposition.
The noise exposure forecast recognises some of the problems. If the traffic increases - the authorities know it must and I can say that if the parallel runways are put in it certainly must - the people in Rockdale and other areas, particularly Marrickville, will suffer even worse than they are suffering now. The people I represent will be even more adversely affected. In all fairness, in this democratic age, why is it that the Prime Minister can make such a decision as will affect so many people to their detriment and not have sufficient courage to say what is really intended? Why is it that the influences of perhaps the Ansett organisation and its shareholders and those who may be close to some members of the Government are able to control the destiny of civil aviation in Australia? It is not right and it is not fair. We want the opportunity to say to any government: ‘Have a look at the situation that is developing throughout the world.’ In Montreal the authorities have acquired a 12,000-acre site ‘ for an aerodrome at a cost of about 814m. Nothing has been done in Australia. In Paris the authorities are closing down an airport of 2,500 acres because it is not big enough and have acquired a new area. We should bear in mind that the traffic at the Kingsford-Smith Airport is in world class.
What about the question of safety? I can tell honourable members that the air traffic controllers have already given evidence to a committee of this Parliament to the effect that air traffic at Kingsford-Smith Airport has reached saturation point and cannot take more, yet the Government is saying: We cannot face up to the mistakes we made in the past. We gave preference to Melbourne. We cannot do anything about that now. We are not going to do anything to help Kingsford-Smith except to put more aircraft into the area’. This must have an effect on safety. What about my people who are living under the flight paths? What about the danger to their safety? Evidence has been given that little children run inside when jets fly low overhead. We have a further classic example. Qantas Airways Ltd seems to have a mortgage on the Kingsford-Smith Airport. Its investment there is estimated at about $70m and from its point of view that will be the international airport and whatever it wants will happen. This means that jumbo jets and all international flights will come into this airport in increasing numbers with an even greater noise problem. Do not accept for one moment the nonsensical suggestion that there will be less noise. This is a severe indictment of any government and on behalf of my electorate I urge the maintenance of the present curfew with no increase in air traffic and an immediate decision on a second airport for Sydney.
– The development of civil aviation in Australia has been spectacular in the last few years. This is only to be expected in a country of such great distances and in an apparently affluent society with much industrial development, particularly in the mineral field. Communications are tremendously important in a country as vast as Australia. The Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) has indicated the importance of communication by the tremendous strides that have been made in extending telephone services to remote country areas. I want to draw attention to a particular section of civil aviation, the commuter or third airline services as they are called. The third air line services supply a vital and worthwhile service for communities and make a big contribution to development. They are an aid to decentralisation. It is hard to estimate how important they are in assisting decentralisation which is so vital to Australia. Fast means of communication over vast areas and between large centres and areas of industrial activity are extremely important. Commuter airlines have already contributed much. They have fulfilled an important role and will continue to play an ever-increasing part in the development of new industries, of the inland and coastal areas of Australia.
The Commonwealth Government, in conjunction with local government authorities, has done much in providing assistance in the construction of aerodromes in country areas. Adequate aerodromes with lighting and, in many cases, direction finding equipment, have been provided through a co-operative plan involving the Commonwealth Government, the D:part.ment of Civil Aviation and local government. However, many commuter services today are in desperate circumstances and urgently need financial assistance. This has been brought about because few of these services had sufficient capital when they commenced operations. They have not been able to control the increasing costs with which they have been faced. Costs have risen far beyond the level past which they imagined possible for them to rise and vast sums are needed to maintain even small airline services without the cost involved in servicing aircraft or in securing spare parts. Today we read of company after company either going bankrupt or being taken over by some other more successful small airline service. Even some of the more important services are running into difficulties because of the cost structure and because of the economic situation in country areas.
I stress again that these airlines are performing a vital pioneering work in many areas. I pay a tribute to those people who have invested in and built up these commuter airline services. I commend them for their courage and vision in developing such services against tremendous odds. In my electorate is the very successful Masling
Airlines, which is based at Cootamundra. lt is a decentralised industry which is providing much employment at Cootamundra. Up until now it has done most of the servicing of Cessna aircraft from Canberra and other areas in western and southwestern New South Wales. Not only has Masling provided an excellent service up and down the coast of New South Wales and over vast areas of southern New South Wales but he has done so without a subsidy. He has serviced many private aircraft in the inland areas. Unfortunately because of the economic situation in western New South Wales and northern Victoria many private aeroplanes are no longer flying. They are being left in hangers to accumulate dust. In the past week Masling has had to put off 9 or 10 technicians because he has not been getting work at Cootamundra. Whatever way we look at it this is a tragedy for any country airline. Masling has been a successful man with an extraordinary career ranking almost with the spectacular rise of Reg Ansett but in a later day with greater difficulties and more competition.
When 1 first came out of the Army, Jack Masling was head mechanic in a garage at Cootamundra. He used to go out and service tractors on properties.
Eventually, he obtained a garage of his own. He started an air charter service with a small aeroplane. From that point, he developed an airline. He developed an airline business. He had an agency for Cessnas and the servicing of Cessnas. Then, he entered the third airline service and, to date, he has been one of the most successful of those in his field and is providing a tremendous service to country people.
Cootamundra is 240 miles from Sydney. I can leave Cootamundra and arrive in the centre of Sydney in less time than it takes persons who live at Palm Beach and Cronulla to travel there. This is the sort of service which is so important in country areas. The problem is that country airlines, even Masling, axe finding difficulties in carrying on. Masling does not receive the amount of support from the Government that is received by Trans-Australia Airlines, Ansett Airlines of Australia, EastWest Airlines, Airlines of New South Wales, Connellan Airways Ltd and many others, whose services are subsidised by the Government. Commuter services receive no such support yet they provide a tremendous and really worthwhile facility. They receive no subsidy whatsoever.
I maintain that it is vitally important to keep this industry in country areas to provide this service. Despite what the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) said about far too much money being spent in country areas, it is vital to spend more money in country areas. The people who have the courage to go out and to develop these areas should be encouraged. 1 would like to see commuter services given a good deal more consideration and assistance by the Government. This would be in the interests of country people in particular but also it would be in the interests of the nation if these operators received such assistance so that they might stay in business. They are not asking for anything that is at all unreasonable.
Anybody who obtained a copy of the balance sheet for the New South Wales Railways would see that today country towns and country people are providing cheap transport for city workers. It is the produce from country areas that provides railway systems with their profits so that they might run services on suburban lines on which tremendous losses are incurred. We find that the major airlines and railway systems are being subsidised very substantially in one way or another- Yet, these people providing these very worthwhile commuter airline services throughout the nation are not receiving this type of support and are in very grave danger, unless something is done, of breaking down. I appeal to the Minister for Civil Aviation and the Government to look seriously at the very worthwhile development of third airline services to see what can be done urgently to keep them operating and to permit them to continue to develop in the way in which they have been developing so that they might serve this country as they wish to.
– This evening, we are dealing with the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation. Civil aviation, although a modern phenomenon, involves, it seems to me, an age-old conflict between the traveller and the resident. Possibly this conflict goes back to the time when homo sapiens for the first time jumped on a horse, went through a puddle and splashed a bystander. We are living still with this notion of pollution and the effect that the traveller and the devices that the traveller uses has on the public and particularly upon the resident.
As you know, Mr Deputy Chairman, I am a member of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Aircraft Noise. Through the hearings of that Committee, I have come to the conclusion that I am far from satisfied that the Department of Civil Aviation is giving as sufficient attention to alleviating aircraft noise nuisance as it should. The interests of people living in noise affected areas is running a poor second place to the interests of airline operators. Australia in fact trails well behind other countries of the world in minimising the aircraft noise nuisance. Yet, to listen to successive Ministers for Civil Aviation and honourable members opposite one would think that we are leading the world. This is demonstrable nonsense.
Twelve years ago, before the age of the passenger jet, the British authorities introduced at Heathrow Airport a maximum noise limit of 110 EPNdBs - the measurement of noise - for day movement and 102 EPNdBs for night movements. This was 12 years ago. Despite the introduction of new and noisier aircraft, this limit has been maintained. But, to this day, no limit is imposed by the Department of Civil Aviation on the activities and the operations of any aircraft at any Australian airport. Years before this Government got around to instituting an inquiry into aircraft noise, the British Government had set up a committee on this subject. That committee had taken evidence, had produced recommendations and the British Government had acted upon them years before, as I say, we ever got around to such action.
Honourable members opposite and particularly successive Ministers for Civil Aviation have seemed, to indicate to the Australian people that the maintenance of the curfew at Mascot was a retrograde step and that we were falling behind the progress of other nations. I wish to quote from information supplied by the Department of Civil Aviation concerning a few international airports abroad. The airports at Montreal, Toronto, Nice, Paris, Dusseldorp Osaka, Oslo and many more have restrictions or curfews imposed upon operators into those airports. The Australian Government is paying lip service only to the Australian airport curfew - particularly at Kingsford-Smith. Over the last 2 years, approximately 40 aircraft movements a month have occurred inside the curfew hours. Those movements have been by jet aircraft. This was a matter that concerned the Committee on which I served. It particularly concerned me and my colleagues from the neighbouring electorates of Kingsford-Smith (Mr Lionel Bowen) and Barton (Mr Reynolds). In the report which was tabled in the House at the end of the last session by that Committee, we pointed out in no uncertain terms that the Committee: ‘is concerned at the frequency of such approvals’ - that is, approvals for flights during curfew hours: ‘and the Committee recommends that a more stringent application of the criteria authorising jet movement in curfew hours be made to ensure the preservation of the original intention of the regulation’. But, still nothing has been done and, from the comments of the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton), it appears that nothing will be done. We have the absurd position that on 3 nights a week Qantas schedules an aircraft movement out of Mascot at 11 p.m. Has anybody in this chamber ever taken off in a plane which the airline company says will leave at 11 p.m. and which in fact has departed at 11 p.m.? The absurd programme of departures right at the commencement of the curfew period ls one of the reasons why aircraft should not be scheduled at such times.
There have even been suggestions emanating from Ansett Airlines of Australia that it will employ or utilise aircraft which in fact will be by-passing the very spirit of the curfew. We have heard from Ansett Airlines of Australia that it intends to introduce the Electra aircraft as a night freighter. This is of great concern because the Minister for Civil Aviation, speaking in the Senate, pointed out that during spot checks by the Department of Civil Aviation the Electra aircraft was found to create slightly more noise at one of the 2 selected measuring points under the landing approach than a DC9 pure jet. He went on to say that further checks had taken place and that these had indicated it was significantly quiter. But the point at issue is that the Electra aircraft is capable of making more noise than a DC9 jet aircraft, but, under the arrangement for the curfew at Sydney airport, at the moment Electra aircraft can operate during the hours of the curfew.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting for dinner I was indicting the Government for its neglect of people who live in areas affected by aircraft noise and for trailing behind other parts of the world in introducing effective noise abatement procedures. 1 said that it seemed to me that the interests of people who live under a flight path were running a poor second to the interests of airline operators. 1 also pointed out that the curfew as at present administered was a complete farce. But the future for people who live in my electorate is even more gloomy. We have been told by the Department of Civil Aviation that the number of movements of regular passenger aircraft by 1980 will be 120,000 per year. This means 330 movements a day or, if my arithmetic is correct and we adopt, as the Government obviously intends to adopt, a 24 hour service, one movement every 4 minutes. So long before the saturation of aircraft movement is reached, the people in my electorate will be saturated by aircraft noise. lt is very obvious to all of us on this side of the chamber that the Government intends to construct double runways - 2 runways north and south and 2 runways east and west - at Sydney (KingsfordSmith) Airport. This is because of the Government’s lack of foresight and lack of planning in introducing at an earlier stage than this a site for a second airport in Sydney. So much money has been spent on Mascot that the only possibility for this Government, which has shown its ineptitude, is to continue to throw good money after bad at Mascot. Mascot covers an area of 1,600 acres. Tullamarine, which is the new airport in Melbourne, has an area of 5,500 acres, and most overseas airports in this modern day and age have areas of between 12,000 and 14,000 acres. This Government, through its incompetence, and lack of foresight, will continue to pour money into this very narrow area of land at Mascot. 1 know that the Government is not particularly worried about noise reasons, but even for commercial reasons it should be obvious to all that an area the size of Mascot cannot be developed any further beyond 1980, and it is about dme - in fact, it is past the time - that this Government started to think about a second airport for Sydney. As I have mentioned, the Government has shown incompetence. In one respect it has shown monumental incompetence in its planning and development of Mascot. Back in 1965 the Department of Civil Aviation ignored the advice not only of the New South Wales airport development committee but also of the Australian Federation of Air Pilots which pointed out in that year that the proposed extension of the north-south runway to 8,500 feet was inadequate and also unsafe. It seems to me, on looking back over this period, that there was a conscious decison to limit the length of runways. Again it seems to me from comments made by Senator Henty, in another place, that this was to restrict competition from other international airlines whilst Qantas Airways Ltd did not have the latest aircraft. With short runways, aircraft on international routes could not take off with full pay loads. What may have served Qantas’s short term interest has been paid for dearly by the Australian taxpayer.
I should like to give some figures which have been provided by the Department of Civil Aviation on what this stop and start policy on runways at Mascot has cost the Australian taxpayer. 1 preface my remarks by saying that in the United States the cost of runways and taxiways is approximately $300 per foot. The cost of construction of the original runways and taxiways at Tullamarine was $570 per foot. The cost of the extensions into Botany Bay that are now taking place at Mascot is $5,500 per foot. This arises because of lack of foresight by the Government. The dredge that was already in position in Botany Bay was lost, and the construction of any extensions always presents a contractor with handicaps, such as maintaining a degree of serviceability of the runway that is being extended and all the other costs associated with the restraints that are placed upon a contractor under these conditions. So throughout the history of the last 10 years of the development of Mascot we have seen incompetence, complete lack of foresight and complete lack of planning on the part of the Government. It has added up to a deplorable record of waste and mismanagement.
It is about time that the Department of Civil Aviation developed a planning section which was not looking at what developments will be in 2, 3 or 4 years time. International civil aviation is the fastest growing industry in the world and its requirements have to be foreseen. Admittedly, sometimes we have to look into the crystal ball. But on many occasions in the past the Department of Civil Aviation has not been able to look beyond its very small nose. I hope that the decision about the development of a second airport for Sydney will be made now because, as we have seen from the experience at Tullamarine, it takes at least 10 years to develop an airport from the time the first sod is turned to the first flight of an aircraft. My colleagues and I believe that this decision has to be taken urgently. In the meantime I hope that the Department of Civil Aviation will give its full attention to alleviating noise in Rockdale, Banksia, Bexley, and other suburbs in the constituencies of my colleagues the honourable member for Barton, the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) and the honourable member for KingsfordSmith. People are involved, and to my mind it is the purpose of government that the interests of people should supersede those of profit.
– Before discussing the estimates I should like to refer to what the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Lionel Bowen) said about parallel runways at airports. Why should there not be parallel runways atairports?
– Are you making a speech?
– Sit down. Every other leading airport in the world has parallel runways. Why should we not capitalise on the investment at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport? Why should we not put in parallel runways as is done at every other major airport in the world? After all, even 25 years ago there were parallel runways at Alberta, so why not have parallel runways at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport today?
The honourable member for St George (Mr Morrison) and other honourable members opposite have criticised the Government for spending money on Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport. Originally they were all howling and saying that money should be spent on the Airport to enlarge it to take international flights. Now that money is being spent on the Airport, they do not want it. But they must remember that overseas airlines cannot operate economically unless they are allowed to use airports for 24 hours a day. Now honourable members opposite say that they want a second major airport for Sydney. Where do they want it? Do they want it 60 miles out of town? It is all right for them to rise, to shriek, and to say that they want this and that. Let them put up a practical proposal.
The honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) spent a lot of his time talking about hijacking. He asked what Qantas Airways Ltd and the Government are doing about hijacking. I ask: What is he doing about it? He rose and asked: What is the Government doing about it? Has he any practical proposal to present? He does not have the faintest idea. He said that other airlines had mounted guards. I believe that the Russians shoot hijackers, and that is a good thing too. An ordinary high flying aeroplane will stand a few bullets through the fuselage without collapsing, so why not take the chance and drop the hijacker. The Russians do it and after all they are your mates and you ought to be following them.
I have a sound suggestion with regard to the hijacking of aircraft. So far honourable members opposite have not put up any suggestion. If an aircraft is being flown from point A to pointB andthe hijacker knows very well that the aircraft will not get to the destination to which he wants it to go then there is no point in hijacking it. If the passengers were segregated from the crew, no matter how many people were menaced in the cabin the aircraft would continue on to point B, and this defeats the whole idea of hijacking.
– That would not work.
– The honourable member should get back on the Wharves and be quiet. The honourable member for Newcastle said that certain things were being done by other airlines and he wanted to know what Qantas was doing. We could have the flight deck partitioned off from the hijacker and the passengers and amongst the passengers we could have guards trained in karate, as one honourable member said this evening, or we could have persons trained in unarmed combat. But we should not tell the hijackers what we intend to do. We should not demand certain action in this place so that it will appear the next morning in the Press. We should do something quietly. This is a practical approach by a commercial pilot to the problem of hijacking aircraft.
In debating the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation I would like to say that the safety record of Australian commercial airlines is very good at the top line level of registered airlines but for light aircraft, including charter aircraft and aircraft piloted by private pilots, the record is very bad indeed. I refer to the accident at Gove during the year, a recent accident that occurred between Coober Pedy and Adelaide, and another when a rather overoptimistic pilot tried to get into Daly Waters from McArthur River some time last year. It is a known and recognised fact in the flying world that pilots at the stage of 100 hours and 1,000 hours suffer from overconfidence. This is a matter which I would ask the Department of Civil Aviation to look into. A man who has 1,000 flying hours can have quite a few tickets but at that stage of his career very often he has far more confidence than ability. I ask the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) who represents the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) to refer this matter through the appropriate channels so that the Department can have a very good look at private flyers. I note that as a result of an accident which occurred recently at the Gove airstrip near the township of Nhulunbuy in Arnhem Land the Department is installing flight aids which will include a flight service unit, a power house, airport lighting and a remote transmitter. Apparently the Department has got the message on this and these facilities should assist the steady in crease of aircraft coming into this very swiftly developing area which involves the Nabalco alumina complex.
We have international terminals at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport, Tullamarine Airport and at Perth but I urge the Government to look very deeply into the matter of improving the northern terminal at Darwin. At both Darwin and Alice Springs on those days when jet and prop-jet aircraft arrive simultaneously from the north and south very often only standing room is available in the terminal areas. This situation does not exist at Tullamarine or Kingsford-Smith. One can usually find a seat somewhere but this is certainly not so at Darwin or Alice Springs. I ask the Minister to have this matter placed higher on the list of priorities, particularly in view of the increase in air fares. The people in the north have just as many rights as have those who travel between Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane and generally in the southern area.
As to the Alice Springs Airport, the town of Alice Springs has an increase in population of about 1 1 per cent. The programme for the improvements to the Airport is no doubt scaled to the population increase and the developmental rate of the township but it is possible that the itinerant population has been overlooked. The itinerant population coming in and going out of Alice Springs is 15 per cent to 20 per cent more than the increase of the town population. I urge the Minister to give the improvements for the Darwin and Alice Springs airports a higher place on the priority list.
While I am on the subject of airports I urge the Government not to turn its back completely on the airport at Daly Waters. That airport has served Australia during war time and during the period since the war. The airport there has a particularly long runway. Airports cost a lot of money to build. I know that the air traffic through Daly Waters does not warrant very much in the way of terminal buildings but I urge the Government not to turn its back on this airport. It has a long runway and in that area this is something which is not to be overlooked. While on the matter of intermediate terminals I mention that Tennant Creek airport needs either lengthening and strengthening or the airlines which use this airport should be encouraged to use aircraft which are suitable for carrying the loads that are available. Tennant Creek is a fast developing mining town. Many of the heavy industrial parts and mining materials consigned to Tennant Creek arrive in Alice Springs and on some occasions have to go up there by road. This is another 320 miles. [ have seen fully loaded Hercules aircraft on the airstrip at Tennant Creek: so it is only a matter of getting an aircraft with a suitable tyre loading to go in there. That is a suggestion which can be considered by the Department.
Katherine is a fast developing town and it is fortunate in that it has a jet airstrip. The Government has spent a lot of money to ensure that Katherine has a first class airstrip. 1 urge that it be used commercially. The airstrip can take any size of jet flying in Australia. I am certain that if jet aircraft were to go into Katherine the business in this area would build up. I ask the Minister to refer this matter to his colleague so that the next time the Minister for Civil Aviation visits the Northern Territory, which I imagine may be fairly shortly, he could give this matter some consideration if he is in Katherine.
I want to say something about the dual air service which operates round the coastal strip of Australia, serving Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. The main jet aircraft depart at about 2- minute intervals. I once again ask that the Department inquire into the possibility of staggering these lights. This could be worked out and rationalised so that jets would be running all through the day instead of just at peak periods. Possibly these aircraft could be used to travel further outback - for example, Sydney-Alice Springs-Perth or Sydney-Alice Springs-Port Hedland and down the west coast. This is where the country is developing. This is where the people want to go. They do net want to stay in the city electorates to be abused by noise and listen to their local members screaming anti-jet. They want to get into the country and develop Australia.
Airlines are run and aircraft and airports built to serve the people who travel. Airports are not built to serve the people who have decided to live alongside them, with the one exception of Sydney (Kings ford-Smith) Airport. In that case I would say the people and the airport grew up together. West Beach, Tullamarine and the rest of the airports were in the sticks when they were built. If someone is idiot enough to want to live alongside them I do not see why he should curtail the operations of our airlines, whether international or domestic, by demanding that aircraft stop flying at sundown. This does not happen in any other country. One cannot run an airline business with a curfew. But I would say that the people adjacent to Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport do have a point because the airport and the residential areas grew up together.
– I rise not for the purpose of entering the debate, but to raise a point of order. The honourable member for the Northern Territory has made so few speeches in the House that I did not want to interrupt him earlier. But he treated me in such a truculent manner when I entered the chamber-
– Order The honourable member for Sturt will resume his seat. I point out to him that his rising might be regarded as a call from the Opposition side. If the honourable member wishes to raise a point of order he should do so immediately the issue arises. If he is called after a member from the Government side has spoken that is regarded as a call from the Opposition side.
– 1 was a little upset by a few of the later remarks of the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) in which he referred to people living alongside airports as idiots. I do not think any of the people living alongside the Perth airport in the electorate of Swan are idiots. In fact, if anyone is to be called an idiot it is the Government which built the airport alongside the people living in Swan. I will leave it at that. I do not happen to live alongside the airport but I unfortunately live under the flight paths of a few of the honourable member’s wonderful aeroplanes.
I wish to express my alarm and regret at the fact that these estimates make no provision for compensation to people in my electorate of Swan who reside in Newburn and adjacent areas. They have been served notice that their properties will be resumed for airport extensions. A zoning blanket has been placed on this area by the planning authorities, preventing further development but giving no indication when the land will be finally taken and compensation paid. Periods as long as 15 years have been suggested but certainly it will not be this year according to these estimates. However, the Government is no doubt aware of public agitation for an alternative site for the airport. It is now situated in the centre of the city. The noise exposure forecast has cast a blight on all surrounding shires. The proposed zoning restrictions that have been adopted by the State Planning Authority on the recommendations of the Department of Civil Aviation, supported by the State Liberal Government, are in direct defiance of public opinion and the overall plan for the city of Perth suggested by Professor Stephenson who recommended in the Stephenson-Hepburn report that the airport be shifted to Lake Gnangara, which is a site approximately 3 miles further from the city than the present site. The Lake Gnangara site would permit flight patterns over the sea and over the adjacent pine plantation.
This area is not developed as yet and it leaves sufficient room to allow a site to be chosen adjacent to the general area recommended by Professor Stephenson. There is relatively little developed land between that site and the coast and with the sea to the west and the pine plantation to the east it is an ideal site. But for reasons best known to the State and Federal Governments they wish to utilise this land for other purposes. So, with indecent haste, they are pressing to have it developed as a residential area knowing full well that once this subdivision has taken place the alternative site which they have known of for so long will be lost to posterity. They know that the policy of the Labor Party in Western Australia includes the acceptance of the recommendations of the people’s organisations and the shire councils affected. The Labor Party has a policy for the shifting of the airport but in the intervening period while this caretaker Government is in the State and until it can be changed at the next election, proper regard must be given by the existing Government. It should give proper consideration to the matter and not treat it as it has done by putting profits before people. On 15 September 1970 the State Minister for Town Planning replied to a letter sent to him in protest against the proposed development of the Gnangara area for housing. The letter was in fact sent to him within the statutory time provided by State law for public objection. In a letter addressed to Mr P. Ravine, of 120 Old York Road, Greenmount, the Minister said:
I refer to your letter of the 3rd September concerning the location of an airport adjacent to the coast at Wanneroo.
The area suggested is already committed to urban development and is the subject of the Sorrento-Mullaloo development project which has already commenced and will provide housing and associated uses and facilities for some 50,000 people.
At the moment there is only about one house in the area. The Minister continued:
Further consideration could not, therefore, be given to your suggestion for this area.
The question of the future of the airport is still being studied by the State and Commonwealth instrumentalities.
I note he says it is still being studied by the State instrumentalities and Federal authorities. So the State Government is worried about a proposed population of 50,000 for this area. They do not give a darn about the 56,000 people in the growing electorate of Swan or for that matter those other thousands in the adjacent areas of the Darling Ranges and associated suburbs in Bassendean, Bayswater, Guildford and Midland. Some large development company has a solitary spur road into the proposed Grangara site so it becomes impossible to hold the matter over for proper investigation. No mention is made of the retarded development in the other areas already affected by the airport and the problems presented to redevelopment proposals. No mention is made of the public protest meetings on the airport within the Kalamunda or the Belmont Shires and the petitions of protest seeking the shifting of the airport or the implementation of a night curfew. All these are being disregarded by the State instrumentalities and, for that matter, by the Federal authority itself, and I do not say this lightly. Let me quote the Minister for Civil Aviation on this matter. In a written reply to a question I asked the Minister said:
The Minister for Civil Aviation believes that there is strong support for Perth Airport to continue on a 24-hours basis, for both international and domestic operations, and as a major contributor to the rapid transport of mails and freight additional to air passengers, for the general good of the metropolitan area and the State of Western Australia.
From discussions with State Planning Authorities it is clear that by concentrating operations on the north/south runway advantage can be taken of predominantly non-urban areas to the north and south to keep aircraft noise nuisance within reasonable limits. After taking into account the shore line to the west, the hills to the east, the RAAF bases at Pearce and Gin Gin to the north and the general aviation centre at Jandakot to the south, it is believed that there is not an alternative site within SO to 60 miles of Perth.
Apparently Professor Stephenson’s recommendation is not even to be considered. How about buying the land from the residents of Newburn, who cannot do a thing with it, before the Government starts to say that property values are too high for it to buy the land? How about purchasing the homes of other protestors in the flight paths so that they may shift before the Government says: ‘The properties adj’acent to airports increase in value in time’. Let us consider purchasing them now. 1 do not accept the Government’s explanation on the matter. It says there is a demand for a 24-hour airport. I ask: Whose demand is it? Is it a demand by the airline companies or the air travellers who are few when compared with the number of people who are inconvenienced, woken up and disturbed in their private lives by companies which, if they made a fraction of that noise with a motor vehicle on the roads, would be stopped by the police, made to rectify the problem and charged with an offence as well. It is just not good enough for people to have to tolerate this type of nonsense. Why should airlines be sacrosanct?
Every planning authority in Australia controls or sets down guidelines as to where heavy, noisy industries will be located and sets restrictions on developments and associated industrial wastes and pollutants. Yet we are led to believe that for some special reason airlines and airports are exempt in these matters. This nonsense must stop. Proper regard for our people must be accepted by this Government and all authorities.
In this case the ones who are falling down are the State and Federal Governments which are not even taking into consideration the planes of today. The Anglo-French Concorde 002 is now flying and causing complaints at London (Heathrow) Airport where it landed recently. People living in its approach path said that the thunder of its engines loosened roof tiles and rattled windows. Numerous telephone complaints were received at the airport. Yet the powers that be want Perth to be a 24-hour airport receiving during the night such international aircraft as these that are being developed. The reason is that these planes are not permitted to land at the near east Asian airports and the airports in eastern States. The ideal situation is to land them in Perth where the authorities do not appear to care about the people.
The Belmont Shire has made an official request to the authorities to have the airport relocated and to have the rezoning of the Lake Gnangara area refused until such time as the matter is finally resolved. Let us bear in mind that the people have had enough of the nonsense associated with the official explanations that have been given. Let us bear in mind also that this airport was shifted from Maylands to its present site and many residents were there prior to that. As some other honourable members have suggested, they would have been idiots to have taken up residence there knowing that the airport would be located there. Let us face it: These people were there long before, and we hope they will be there long after, the airport was shifted.
The Government places restrictions on density development up to 1980 by the noise exposure forecast. It has no thought about seeking an alternative site for the airport to remove the nuisance. This appears to be illogical. The airport is placed in such a position that it will continue to be surrounded by residential development for ever, except in the case of Newburn which is an area of about 1,700 acres which the Department of Civil Aviation has indicated that it wishes to take over for airport development and buffer zones. The Government has failed to say when it will take over that area and the people must retain their blocks of land which they cannot develop or sell. Who would want to buy a proposed airport at $6,000 an acre? Local residents must retain land worth $10,200,000 odd, waiting on the whim of the Government so that they can move and start life afresh and plan for the future. The amount I quoted was the minimum value.
In the meantime these residents must tolerate the purgatory of constant night flights as airlines find it economical to have Perth an all day and all night airport. The turn-around times of the night flights, both interstate and overseas, are not governed by responsibility to the people of Perth. The convenience of transport requirements is governed by the eastern States. This cannot be denied in relation to the hours of curfew applying to the eastern States. If a tail wind condition exists the plane is delayed in Perth so that its early arrival will not disturb the residents of the eastern States. No consideration is given to the nuisance imposed on and the distress caused to Western Australian residents. That does not appear to matter. No wonder they have come out in their thousands to sign petitions and protest at this absurd situation. Now they are fearful that, as has been announced, there will be no night restrictions on Tullamarine. I wonder whether these night flights are heading to Western Australia so that the airlines can obtain maximum utilisation of their aircraft, perhaps by using them as night freighters.
It is no good saying that people knew what was happening when they shifted near the airport. The truth is that the airport was shifted near to them. In many instances the people of whom I speak were residents before the airport was located there. Others are residents of State Housing Commission homes who, because of the desperate shortage of homes in Western Australia, were unable to refuse the offered residence or who, for that matter, cannot find alternative accommodation. So they have until recently suffered in silence. But now they hear that Perth is to become a full international airport with a proposed 70 flights by night a week and at least 22 by day, making an annual 24,000 flights with at least 1.3 million people passing through the terminal each year by 1980. No wonder they consider this adds insult to the injury they have already suffered. Nobody has been honest enough to say to them as yet that aircraft noise will become increasingly worse. All that has been attempted is a public relations effort to try to convince the people that it will not hurt them a bit. I do not agree.
Only recently 1 read about America’s proposed supersonic transport aeroplane costing about $290m which has the trade name ‘SST’, being developed by Boeing. It is designed to fly faster than sound and will rocket across oceans at 1,800 miles an hour. It has been banned from flying over land. At take-off it will create an earsplitting noise, as loud as 50 jumbo jets taking off. Whether one likes it or not, these are part of the pattern for the future. We are planning an international airport in the middle of a city. We will spend millions of dollars of public money on an impractical site, in complete defiance of Professor Stephenson’s overall plan for the City of Perth which shows an airport at Lake Gnangara. I appeal to the Minister to carry out an urgent logical survey to find an alternative site for the proposed international airport. Sites have been suggested other than that suggested by our worthy planner which are adjacent to the coast and which would allow flight patterns to be developed maximising the sea route, as is done in Sydney. We do not even have the opportunity to do this at the moment. The matter should be treated seriously before millions of dollars of Government money are committed to a site which is already causing strong unrest among the public. A public committee of inquiry with a view to establishing the international airport at the new site is needed to take into consideration noise levels and accessibility. Above all, the local shires need to be consulted as do local public organisations.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I am prompted this evening to rise to my feet in defence of the address given in this chamber a few minutes ago by the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder). I was surprised to hear a point of order raised by the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster) when he referred to the honourable member for the Northern Territory in a derogatory way. He referred to the fact that the honourable member for the Northern Territory seldom speaks in this House. I venture to say that the honourable member for the Northern Territory more than holds his own in this chamber. He speaks on all subjects relative to the Northern Territory. When one considers that the Northern Territory is virtually a
State represented by 1 member, in comparison with virtually dozens of representatives of other States, one should congratulate the honourable member for the Northern Territory on his magnificent contribution since he has been in this Chamber.
His record in aviation is equal to that of anyone in this chamber. During the war he served as a fighter pilot. Following the war he took up a commercial licence. I understand he has flown up to about 1,000 hours a year. This in itself is a fine contribution by a man who certainly understands a little about aviation. I am informed that he bas held a licence for about 25 years. I do not think anyone else in this chamber has such a record. I congratulate the honourable member on his contribution here this evening. In doing so, I would also tike to pay a compliment to the present Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) and to some of his predecessors. I extend this compliment to the Government because over a period of time we have come a long way in civil aviation. Nevertheless we still have a long way to go.
I want to raise at this juncture the question of third level airline services that are in operation in Australia. Unfortunately a lot of people are not aware of the advantages of these services in country areas. We have heard over the years a lot about decentralisation. What better service can we offer to counter the problems of the rural areas than a first class air service? I pay a tribute to the many services of this type that have been operating throughout all the States. I naturally take advantage of these services, as do a lot of other country members. If these services were not in operation many members of this place, besides a lot of business men in country areas, would have great difficulty in travelling and being able to carry out their duties.
The problem as I see it is that unfortunately the country areas do not have large numbers of people who wish to take advantage of such services, and consequently those operating the services have to introduce smaller aircraft and then the service becames a little bit uneconomic. I have put forward propositions to the Minister from time to time and I have asked him to consider granting some form of subsidy to those who operate third level services with small aircraft. I think this could be introduced on a passengers carried basis, not so much as a straight out subsidy on the seats of an aircraft flying into a certain area. This of course would squeeze out those who endeavour to take advantage of the proposed subsidy and would give advantage to those who operate a service that is a necessity. So I urge the Minister and the Government to have another look at this because these services make a very worthwhile contribution to the welfare of our nation.
When it comes to assistance given at the local government level all we can do is to congratulate those local government bodies which have contributed to the self help scheme that we have in operation. Many of these local government bodies have contributed many thousands of dollars with a view to trying to get a service in operation and, naturally enough, to have it maintained. As I said a moment ago, the question of economics is always a problem. In the last 10 or 15 years or so no fewer than 5 different companies have tried to operate a service into some areas of western Victoria. They have been able to do so only by virtue of the fact that they have had assistance at the local government level. This assistance, of course, must be recognised by this Government.
I believe that because of Australia’s geographical position, its size and its increasing population we must give every consideration to investigating the possibility of introducing an aircraft industry in Australia. It is of no good trying to convince me or anyone else that we cannot build aircraft in Australia. It is ridiculous to think that way. Not many years ago we said that we could not even build motor cars in Australia but we are building a few today. The same thing applies to aircraft. We could not build aircraft in Australia X years ago. But what happened during world Wai II? Did nc not build many hundreds of aircraft that served a very useful purpose? As I said, with the way Australia is growing today, we must give every consideration to establishing our own aircraft industry.
Finally, I want to make comment about the hijacking of aircraft. It will be brief because I am not in a position to recommend what is the right or wrong way to handle the problem. We have heard a terrific lot about hijacking in recent months. I again compliment the honourable member for the Northern Territory on his contribution in relation to this matter. To my mind the hijacking of aircraft is one of the most serious problems which we find ourselves facing today. Fortunately, because of our geographical position, the chances of an aircraft being hijacked in Australia are perhaps not quite as great as they are in other countries. Nevertheless we must be prepared for such an event if and when the time arises. Any action taken by the Government must be good solid action so that in the event of such a thing occurring we will be able to do something effective and make sure that it occurs only once. I was moved when I heard about a week ago that one hijacker was no longer with us. While 1 do not believe in this kind of thing, I think it must be a lesson to the rest of the wouldbe hijackers. I suggest to the Government that it take firm action in preparation for the day when a hijacking may occur in Australia. It would certainly have my backing whatever it may be.
– I want to raise a matter that will not take up more than a few minutes of the Committee’s time. It does not involve a very large expenditure but it may have effects which will be out of proportion to the expenditure involved. I refer to the intention of the Department of Civil Aviation to erect a light aircraft terminal at Adelaide’s West Beach Airport. The intention to construct this terminal was announced by the South Australian Regional Director in the Adelaide Press on 2nd July. The Director was quoted in the same article as saying that this project was needed to cope with the increasing use of the Airport by twin engined light charter aircraft.
My concern on this matter is that of aircraft noise. From evidence which was presented to the House of Representatives Select Committee on Aircraft Noise last year it is quite apparent that the volume of traffic at West Beach is increasing very rapidly indeed, and the inconvenience to the people who live in the area surrounding the airport, some of whom are in my own electorate, is growing in proportion. It follows that the group reaction of those citizens will become stronger also. I had the experience last year of attending a public meeting of residents in areas adjacent to the runways, and I can assure the Parliament that those residents were very disturbed indeed.
I am not blaming the Government which moved the principal air terminal from Parafield to West Beach. As this change preceded the really noisy aircraft, no-one really foresaw the situation that would arise. Nor do I blame the officers of the Department of Civil Aviation, who do a good job in the circumstances. But I still hold the view which I expressed to the Select Committee last year that the Government should contemplate moving the airport out of the metropolitan area or, at the very least, should consider acquiring land and holding it for the present time so that it can keep its options open.
But what particularly concerns me now is the announced intention of the Department to construct this light aircraft terminal. It is true that the light aircraft individually do not cause the same noise disturbance as do the larger aircraft, but the effect is cumulative. I believe the noise level is gauged by what is known as the noise and number index and that this index is already at that critical level which at other airports starts to produce signs of group behavioural responses in the residents in the area. It is interesting to note that this light aircraft terminal will be constructed even closer to the residential areas at West Beach than the existing main passenger air terminal. There is already a light aircraft centre at Parafield. I think we might reasonably ask: Is it really necessary to increase the volume of light aircraft traffic at West Beach? But even if it is necessary I would like to see the decision justified by the Government.
The honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly) who is Chairman of the Public Works Committee told me this evening that this matter has not come before the Public Works Committee and in view of the fact that the expenditure is relatively small it is not likely to come before that Committee. A small expenditure may be involved but this airport is contributing to a very large problem - one that cannot be measured only in money. I object to this bureaucratic decision and I hope that the Government will submit the proposals and the justification for them to the Parliament before construction proceeds any further.
– Listening to this debate took my mind back to an occasion in the House some months ago when I informed the House of a pamphlet which read: Think Big for an Internationa] Airport at Mildura’. Having heard about aircraft noise and the other problems associated with airports in cities I realised that this was not just a possibility but a probability. It is probable that we will have big international airports a long way from capital cities. The pamphlet I have mentioned was brought out by Mr George Tilley who is the editor of the Sunraysia Daily’. The pamphlet contains a map showing that Mildura is situated on a straight line between Perth and Sydney. Of course, Mildura is near Adelaide. It is also on a straight line between Adelaide and Sydney. In addition Mildura is on the corner of 3 States - New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.
– Does anyone live there?
– It is ideally situated. The honourable member for Sydney (Mr Cope), who comes from the great city, asked whether anyone lives there. People who reside in Sydney think that that city is the start and finish of Australia. But that is not so. Mildura is one of the great provincial cities of Australia. It is growing tremendously. The people of Mildura think big. They want an airport at Mildura.
Perhaps I could quote one or two passages from the pamphlet. The pamphlet states: ‘Night flights must come’. Some honourable members tonight have said that we will have to have night flights and that we cannot have the curfew. If we want to have the great nation that we feel this country should be we have to strive for these things. The pamphlet went on to say:
Australia’saviation controllersknowthat operation of aircraft on night schedules must come if Australia is to move passengers as they should be moved.
Night movement is not appreciated over big cities . .
Members of the Opposition tell us all the time that night flights are not appreciated. This is so especially in the case of people who live in close proximity to an airport. The pamphlet continues: but it would cause little concern from an airport 8 or 9 miles out of Mildura.
If an international airport were established at Mildura international flights could land there and smaller aircraft, which of course do not make anything like the noise made by larger aircraft, would carry passengers to the different capital cities. Mildura would be the very centre for people coming from overseas. Honourable members should read the pamphlet from which I have quoted.I can supply them with copies. I gave some honourable members copies of this pamphlet when I first brought this matter up in the House. As I said when I commenced my speech, after listening to this debate tonight I was seized with the idea that the construction of an international airport at Mildura is something which is more practical than honourable members realise and I think such a scheme should be supported.
Other parts of Australia are seeking to have a national airport away from cities. As honourable members know, Mildura was selected by the Royal Australian Air Force as a training place during the war and many airmen trained there. Mildura is quite safe as an airport because there are no mountains in this area. It is a certainty that an aircraft will not run into a mountain around Mildura. Of course, Mildura already has an airport. This airport only needs to be extended. The Commonwealth Government and especially the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) and the Department of Civil Aviation want to think big on this. They should think big about this proposition for we must look to the future.
It has been said in this place today that when one starts to build an airport one does not start flying planes from it within 6 or 12 months. It takes years to do this. Tullamarine Airport has taken a long time. It will take years to build an airport. I would again say to Opposition and Government members to think big.I say that we shouldgetmovingtoestablishanairportin an ideal place. There is any amount of room for an airport at Mildura. There is a progressive population there. Some honourable members have asked: ‘Where is it?’ I am sorry, but this only shows their lack of knowledge of Australia. The establishment of an international airport at Mildura is something worth looking into. I believe that it is in the best interests of the community generally and of the future of this country for the Department of Civil
Aviation, in conjunction with the Minister for Civil Aviation, to make a close study of this matter. I will provide them with the pamphlet and any further information they may require. If the powers in this country give it proper investigation they will see that such a scheme has so many advantages in its favour that they will have to give serious consideration to building such an airport.
– I rise to congratulate the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) on the only sensible statement I have heard him make since he has been in the Parliament - the statement that he wants an aerodrome at Mildura. On behalf of the Opposition and all of those suffering souls in my electorate and the electorates of St George and Barton, I extend to him my best wishes in his efforts to have Mascot aerodrome relocated in Mildura. I thank him for the offer to take the airport there. I only hope that the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz), who is sitting at the table, will accede to his request. The sooner he gets his wish the better. I do not know where Mildura is - the only one who seems to know is the honourable member - but it is the kind of place where there ought to be an aerodrome. I sincerely trust that the Minister will recognise the wisdom for once of the honourable member. It is not often that he makes an intelligent contribution to this Parliament. But if he wants an aerodrome let him have it because he is the only person in Australia who does.
I rise tonight to register my protest, along with the protests of honourable members opposite, at the dilatory approach by the Government to the problem of aircraft noise. In my electorate the aged, the sick and the infirm are suffering day and night because of noise from low flying aircraft. This Government has done nothing at all about the problem. Not only has the Government done nothing but it has extended Mascot airport and added to the woes that befall people who live within the range of the airport. Earlier tonight the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) spoke about the establishment of an international airport at Alice Springs. Before the honourable member for Mallee said a few words I too was inclined to agree that an airport should be established at Alice Springs. However, as long as an airport is out where the honourable member for Mallee thinks big that is okay with me. Consequently, 1 hope that the Minister will accede to what has been suggested by supporters of the Government - that you cannot have aerodromes in the middle of residential areas. Before the honourable member spoke I thought that perhaps such an airport could have been located at Richmond or elsewhere in the electorate of the honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Irwin). Evidently that is beyond the capacity of this Government to carry out. Therefore, I suggest that the Minister should accede to the request of Australian Country Party members for aerodromes to be shifted well outside the range of the cities of Australia.
This Government set up a committee to investigate where airports should be sited. However, the Government refused the Aircraft Noise Committee an opportunity to go into this problem. The Government lifted the curfew at the suggestion of the honourable member for McMillan (Mr Buchanan), who lives out around the cows in cow country. He would go mad, of course, if aerodromes turned the cows off their milk, but he does not mind if people in the metropolitan area cannot sleep because of planes flying all night. The Government has lifted the curfew at Melbourne and this will happen at Sydney unless some effective action is taken. In my electorate there are aged people suffering in homes because of aircraft noise. Also, schools in my electorate are practically closing down and church sermons are affected. People on night shift are unable to sleep because of aircraft noise. Also, lamps are clattering down in factories and other places. But this Government refuses to give any compensation to these people or to provide any relief. In an endeavour to save 2 Liberal members of this Parliament the Government directed aircraft over my electorate in the last few days of the last election campaign. This was a deliberate effort to save 2 Liberal members, and to cause my defeat in the constituency of Grayndler. The people of Leichhardt, Annandale, Newtown and Marrickville will not forget that foul act by this Government. Never let it be forgotten that not only did the Government fail to dislodge me but it lost the 2 Liberal members into tie bargain. That shows that mean, contemptible tricks do not count even at election time. The point I make is that the problems caused by the Kingsford-Smith aerodrome, located where it is, will get worse for residents if the curfew that has been imposed is lifted. We have Ministers of this Liberal Government saying that they will lift the curfew because Reg Ansett runs the Government. He dominates their thinking and they jump to do what he says.
The honourable member who is Chairman of the Public Works Committee is no different from the rest. When he went to Melbourne he went right outside the reference and Ansett bulldozed him into suggesting the lifting of the curfew on Tullamarine, hoping that ultimately it would be lifted at Kingsford-Smith also. I had a fair amount of respect for the honourable member but it disappeared almost overnight when he took that action. By that action he condemned many people in Sydney to long nights of suffering. That is unforgivable, but the fact that the people are in the electorate of Grayndler makes it most important. I believe, with the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner), that most of the improvements that have been done at Kingsford-Smith airport should never have been commenced. It is in the middle of a residential area and if the aeroplane which crashed a couple of years ago because a bird or something blocked the engines had gone another 300 yards it might have caused the deaths of many hundreds of people right within the boundaries of my electorate. It crashed only 300 or 400 yards from a thickly populated residential area. And now we see the Chairman of the Public Works Committee and the Chairman of the Select Committee on Aircraft Noise favouring the lifting of the curfew and condemning people in this area to endless hours of suffering. This v/i!! happen bec?’.!’? of ‘h? action of those people and their disregard for the welfare of the people in that area.
All this hinges on where the Government intends to put the second airport. I do not say this facetiously, but the central aerodrome for Australia ought to be right in the middle of Alice Springs. If it was there we would have other aeroplanes flying people to the various cities of Australia. This will certainly happen because of jumbo jets and other large planes landing in Australia. The Chairman of the Select Committee on Aircraft Noise knows that the Government will phase out two-thirds of my electorate as well as that of the honourable member for Sydney, the honourable member for St George (Mr Morrison) and the honourable member for Barton (Mr Reynolds) and it will let aeroplanes fly in while people are forced to go right out of the city. This was never meant to be. The fact that some people want to travel by aircraft is no reason to destroy residential areas. I wonder whether honourable members realise that Newington College in the middle of my electorate - one of the greatest colleges in Australia - is below these aircraft night paths. It will ultimately have to be completely removed from where it is; it will not be able to function because of aircraft noise. That brings me back to the point that these aerodromes must be a long way out and that is why tonight I offer congratulations to the honourable member for Mallee. He is one of the few people who wants an aerodrome. I hope he gets it. He deserves it because he will not be around this Parliament long after he does.
I suggest to the honourable member for Mitchell that perhaps a major aerodrome will be suitable for his electorate. That might offend my honourable friend from Chifley (Mr Armitage) because they would then fly over his area. That is one thing, but let us be quite honest. These aerodromes have to be well away from Mascot and the metropolitan area. Perhaps somewhere near the Blue Mountains would be appropriate if Mildura or some other place is not available. I cannot understand any Minister not giving effect to a request from a member of his own Party for an aerodrome. I want to curtail my speech on this matter, but this is of tremendous importance to me. In areas such as Leichhardt, Marrickville, Newtown and Annandale, or any of those places where aircraft fly overhead, even speeches like mine are interrupted. We have school teachers unable to continue their classes, ministers unable to speak to their congregations, people in hospital and women expecting babies who are unable! to sleep and who are all disturbed by this tremendous noise overhead. That is why today the Minister wants to give much better than his usual long winded explanation to this Parliament.
I hope that he accepts the offer of the honourable member for Mallee and takes Mildura. It is the only offer that has been made and he ought to accept it. If that is not acceptable it should be offered to the honourable member for Chifley. Perhaps he might like an aerodrome. But if he does not perhaps the honourable member for Mitchell would. But whatever the Minister says justice must be done and an area outside the metropolitan area must be accepted as the place for an aerodrome. Let us hope that the Minister appreciates the wisdom shown in the debate tonight and gives effect to the suggestions that have been made. But for my part, I have survived the efforts of the Government to save two Liberal members from defeat and I never want to go through it again. I hope that the Minister at the next election will not stoop to the contemptible tactics adopted by this Government in the past and make people in my district suffer because it wanted to save some Liberal members from defeat. If they had been good members I would not have minded but they were not so hot at any stage. But the fact of the matter is that that is what was done. I hope it will not occur again and I hope the Minister will accept the offer of the honourable member for Mallee and place the aerodrome at Mildura.
– I know that the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) has a reputation as a humourist but I am afraid he carried this a little too far in some of the points he made tonight. One thing that has been missed in this debate relates to the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation, is that no member of the Opposition, perhaps with the exception of the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) who did make brief reference to it, paid a tribute to the work that the officers of the Department of Civil Aviation are doing. I know from experience, after being with them for some years, that they give dedicated service, and I am sure the whole of this House recognises the world standard that has been achieved by the Australian Department of Civil Aviation. We know also the vital role that is being played by civil aviation in Australian development today. It is being played by the aviation industry and the Department of Civil Avi ation in partnership. So I think on an occasion such as this a tribute should be paid to what has been achieved with perhaps a little less criticism directed against the industry and the Department.
It has gone on record overseas time and time again that the Australian Department of Civil Aviation and the Australian aviation industry are among the best in the world. That reputation is being maintained today and will be maintained in the future. The estimates on this occasion again indicate the determination of the Government to maintain the service that is being provided by the Department and by the industry.
The honourable member for Grayndler mentioned one matter which I think should be corrected. He referred to a statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) at the opening of the international terminal at Tullamarine recently when he announced that the operations at Tullamarine both for international and for domestic operations, when they commence sometime next year, will be permitted during the 24-hour period, with some normal restrictions on operations and on ground running at the same time. But the 24-hour operation applies as far as Tullamarine is concerned. The honourable member for Grayndler said that the Prime Minister announce the lifting of the curfew at the new Tullamarine airport. Of course, he knows that this is entirely incorrect. It is incorrect because there has never been a curfew applied and it was never intended that a curfew would be applied at Tullamarine. The very reason why that site was selected, why such a large area was secured at that time and why other arrangements were made was to ensure a full round the clock operation and when the terminal was opened for international operations recently the Prime Minister reaffirmed the previously announced policy, which I myself stated in this House some years ago - that is, that when Tullamarine was opened there would be a 24-hour service. So the honourable member’s statement, like many of his statements, was entirely incorrect. He referred also by inference to what he claimed to be a fact - that this would mean a lifting of the curfew in Sydney. Of course, again he knows that this is incorrect also. The Government has affirmed on quite a number of occasions that the curfew for operations at
Sydney Airport is being maintained. That still applies.
The honourable member for Newcastle, in opening the debate for the Opposition, referred to a matter which is of great concern at present, and that is the question of hijacking. He asked why no statements had been made and he queried the action that is being taken by the Government in relation to this matter. Only about a week ago I answered a question in this chamber on behalf of the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) in which I indicated the actions that are being taken. Australia has been particularly active in the international field in dealing with this question. We have acceded to the Tokyo convention, as has already been stated. This followed approval by legislation which was passed through this Parliament earlier this year. When the honourable member said that this became operative a matter of only some days ago he was, of course, quite correct, but this was a matter of the normal processes for the introduction of the terms of the convention. Our legislation has been effective since 1963.
We have been active also in drafting the proposed convention on the extradition of offenders in hijacking cases. Australia was represented by a very strong delegation, headed by the Director-General of Civil Aviation and including representatives of Australian pilots, at the Montreal conference in June 1970 when certain recommendations were made by the International Civil Aviation Organisation which have been adopted by various countries. At that particular meeting representatives of over 90 governments strongly condemned hijacking and considered security measures to prevent criminal action on aircraft in future. A list of security measures at airports was drawn up at that time. As I stated the other day, the Department of Civil Aviation has implemented certain measuresandstepshavebeentakenbyour international operator and our domestic operators in Australia to safeguard passengers in accordance with the ICAO resolutions which were drawn up at the June conference. A further meeting of the ICAO Council was held last week in Montreal. That meeting dealt with a number of matters in relation to hijacking and a further meeting will be held on 29th November at which Australia will be strongly represented. I can merely conclude on this point by saying that everything possible is being done by the Australian Government to ensure that its aviation and passengers associated with its aviation operations are safeguarded.
The honourable member for Newcastle queried also the accident report in connection with the accident which occurred to a Pan-Am aircraft in Sydney in December 1969. He questioned what he termed the delay’ in the report being furnished to him and publicly. No delay occurred, but the reason for the time which elapsed before the final submission of this report was that the aircraft engines had to be sent to the United States of America for stripping down and for examination there. After this report was received a copy of it was sent by the Director-General of Civil Aviation in Australia to the United States National Transportation Safety Board and he drew attention to its conclusions and commented on the matters likely to warrant being referred to the operator, Pan American World Airways Incorporated, for consideration.
The honourable member for Newcastle questioned whether or not, if there were a change of wind before take-off, the pilot of an aircraft would be notified. This, of course, is a normal practice. If there is a change of wind before take-off this information is conveyed to the pilot at the time. There could, of course, be an occasion when after the operation of take-off had commenced a wind change could occur, but up to the last practical moment such information is conveyed to the pilot concerned. The honourable member for Hume (Mr Pettitt) referred to the question of subsidy for commuter airlines. I can only draw the attention of the Committee to the fact that a subsidy is being paid to certain commuter operators, as was announced in the Parliament some time ago,whentheytakeoverroutesfromair- line operators. In other cases, although consideration has been given to the special circumstances that have been outlined by the honourable member, it has not been found possible to meet the request up to the present time. In view of the fact that the honourable member has raised this matter again I will see that it is conveyed to my colleague in another place for his attention.
The honourable member for KingsfordSmith (Mr Lionel Bowen) and the honourable member for St George (Mr Morrison) referred to a number of matters relating to noise. They referred also to the development of Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport. I think they both queried the provision of parallel runways and suggested that this was something new which had been only just thought of in relation to future development. This is rather strange because the whole of the development plan for Sydney Airport relates to the provision of parallel runways. I can recall some years ago calling Press conferences in Sydney at which were present representatives of the Press, television and radio. My honourable friends opposite would be well aware of the situation at the time. We did provide not only full details but diagrams of the future development. I can recall that these appeared in the Sydney Press and on television and were quoted over the radio on a number of occasions following the meetings at that time. So this is nothing new. It is basic to the future planning of Sydney Airport that parallel runways will be introduced. There never has been any change from the initial planning which took place about 7 or 8 years ago. That was fully understood by the people at the time, and it still applies.
The question of noise is one that would take too long to deal with at present. This problem has been fully recognised by the Government. I can only repeat what has been said on several occasions in the past. Australia has taken the initiative in this field in the international sense in that we raised the matter first in ICAO and had an additional annexure made to the convention of ICAO dealing with this particular problem. Subsequent to that various meetings of the special committee of ICAO have been held and a number of resolutions have been passed already which have been of assistance to Australia in furthering noise prevention methods and of assistance to other countries. Everything possible is being done in this particular field. An earnest of the intention of this Government and this Parliament is the fact that, as has been mentioned already in this Committee during this debate, a committee was established to examine the noise problem throughout Australia. A previous committee did submit an interim report, and an interim report already has been submitted by the present committee. When that committee’s final report is received it will be examined very carefully by the Government in the light of circumstances at that particular time.
The question of Perth Airport was referred to at length by the honourable member for Perth (Mr Berinson). I can only say to him that the facilities that have been provided there are of a very high standard. The question of the utilisation of the airport has been considered on quite a number of occasions and a careful study has been made of the various points he has mentioned. I will see that the points he has raised are examined again to see whether any further action can be taken in relation to the question of noise abatement. I conclude by expressing a note of disappointment that in this debate there was a lack of reference to the splendid work that is being carried out by the officers of the Department of Civil Aviation and by the aviation industry generally in Australia today.
- Mr Chairman, I wish to raise two or three aspects of the matter of civil aviation. I was very interested to hear the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) tonight offer to put the next airport for the Sydney area into the electorate of the honourable member for Mitchel (Mr Irwin). The honourable member for Grayndler suggested that that would be very nice because aircraft then would fly over my electorate. I can appreciate the great interest shown by my friend in getting the airport away from the Grayndler electorate. But I do not wish to see anybody suffer discomfort in the areas represented by the honourable member for Mitchel or by myself. For this reason, I rise tonight to deal with this issue and to indicate to the Committee quite a number of items of corespondence that I have received and what is in these items of corespondence.
As honourable members will know, I have been writing to the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman), the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) and various other Ministers since I first raised this matter in the Parliament earlier this year. I first raised the issue on 18th
March. The following day the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz), who represents the Minister for Civil Aviation in this place, answered a question asked by the honourable member for Mitchell on this subject. That night, the honourable member for Mitchel spoke on the motion for the adjournment of the House. The reason for this action was that I had heard that a land survey had been carried out in the Richmond-Londondery area. This was what was called a ‘preliminary land survey*. At the time, the only inference that could be drawn from what either the Minister or the honourable member for Mitchell or any other member on the Government side had said was that no such land survey had occurred.
In fact, the honourable member for Mitchell when speaking on that matter on 20th March 1970, at 12.2 a.m. - very early in the morning - said:
A survey was made last year. I was brought into it because many of the property owners involved got in touch with me and wanted to know what was going on. It was simply a survey by the Department of Air in relation to the identification of blocks of land that the air base at Richmond had controlled for many years. There is nothing in the suggestion about the establishment of an aerodrome in the area. Many locations are under consideration at present but I say without fear of contradiction that there has never been a survey of this area for that purpose.
Subsequently, we found that the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) and later the Minister for Air admitted that a land survey had been carried out in the area. It was important to know that a survey had occurred. But that was not the only point, because that information raised the question whether there were any suggestions that an airport would be established there. Varying rumours were floating around the area at the time and we wanted to know whether this was a proposal by the Department of Civil Aviation or by the Department of Air. The Department of Air said that it was looking at it from the point of view of a long term proposal. It said that, in the event of the Royal Australian Air Force acquiring larger planes in the future, the Department might wish to put a new airstrip in the Richmond-Londonderry area. Let us look at some of the statements the Minister for Civil Aviation has made to me in reply to various items of correspondence.
I refer first to a letter from the Minister for Civil Aviation dated 21st July 1970. The Minister said:
The area in the general vicinity of Richmond is one of the suitable locations from a purely aviation point of view.
The Minister was talking about the possibility of a second airport in the area. The Minister for Air in his letter dated 8th August said:
As you will be aware, the Department of Civil Aviation has shown some interest in the Richmond area in connection with possible civil aviation requirements.
I refer next to a telegram from the Minister for Civil Aviation dated 18th August 1970 which said:
I have already advised you that the area in the general vicinity of Richmond is one of a small number of locations near Sydney which are suitable for a civil airport.
I come now to a letter dated 3rd September - that is, it was written this month - from the Minister for Civil Aviation. The Minister states:
Insofar as the Richmond area is concerned it, is one of the locations which I am expecting the Committee to comment upon-
The Minister refers there to the interdepartmental committee set up to recommend to the Government, first, whether there should be a second airport and, secondly, if so, where it should be sited: . . but I am sure that a great deal of survey and engineering work will be necessary before any proposal could be developed with the tentative lay-out of runways. Such a lay-out would govern the flight paths of aircraft and their height above the ground at particular points.
Having read such correspondence, I ask honourable members: Is it any wonder that the people and the municipal councils of this area are concerned as to whether or not the Government is interested in this area for civil aviation requirements and whether the interdepartmental committee itself is interested in the area.
It te most important ,1, 9 this interde partmental committee should bring down its report as quickly as it possibly can. I believe that this is absolutely vital because a great deal of conjecture is going on in all sorts of circles about this matter. For instance, the New South Wales State Planning Authority, a State instrumentality, has advised the Penrith City Council that it will refuse - and it actually has refused - applications in the Londonderry area for the development of an extractive industry. The reason given for the refusal was that that area possibly could be considered as the site for a civil aviation airport. The State Planning Authority went further than that finally and offered to enter into negotiations for the purchase of the said land because it possibly could be so affected. When a situation such as this arises, is it any wonder that members like me come to this Parliament and say: ‘Surely it is time for the interdepartmental committee to present its report’. I would say that it was approximately 3 weeks ago when the Minister told me that the report would be out within the month. But what I cannot find out so far is whether that report will be tabled and made public after the Minister receives it. In other words, when the Minister receives it approximately within the next week or so, will the report be made public?
– Of course not.
– The honourable member for McMillan says: ‘Of course not’. The very issue which we on this side of the Committee are complaining about is the extreme secrecy of this whole inquiry, not by a committee of this Parliament - keep that in mind - of members from the Opposition and Government sides of the Committee. When we requested that the House of Representatives Select Committee on Aircraft Noise should be given the power and the right to inquire into whether Sydney should have a second airport and where that second airport should be sited so that the people’s representatives in this Parliament could make a decision or a recommendation on the matter, our request was refused by the Government. Instead of doing that, the Government has handed this matter over to a committee which meets in secret. The Government also refused appeals made by myself and other honourable members on this side of the Committee, including the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti) and the honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman), asking that the Penrith City Council which had made the request should be allowed to appear before the interdepartmental committee and give evidence as to its considered view of and the way in which this area would be affected by any such proposal. In other words, this committee insists as a departmental com mittee of the Public Service - not of this Parliament - that it should meet in secret and make its decisions in secret.
When I rose in this Committee tonight and said that I hoped that the report of this Committee would not be kept secret after it was given to the Minister and when I asked whether the report would be released to the House, the honourable member for McMillan from the Government side called: ‘Of course not’. This is a ridiculous situation. I sincerely hope that when the Minister receives the report he will make it available immediately not only to members of this Parliament but also to the various organisations which have expressed concern about this matter. Surely the honourable member for KingsfordSmith (Mr Lionel Bowen), the honourable member for Grayndler and the honourable member for St George (Mr Morrison) have a right to see the report.
Only today the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith suggested that it might be proposed to construct extra runways at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport. Surely he and the residents in his electorate have a right to know what has been proposed by this committee which has been meeting in secret, even though the honourable member for McMillan says that its report will not be made public. Surely the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith, the honourable member for Mitchell and I have a right to find out what conclusions the committee has reached.
The important point is that this committee has been meeting in secret. It has not been taking evidence and it has not given an opportunity to outside organisations to ascertain what course its deliberations have been following. The honourable member for Kingsford-Smith suggested that the Government obviously has a fairly clear idea where the next airport for Sydney will be. I cannot help but agree with him. From what the Minister said in the various letters to which I have referred, I think that he has some understanding of the sites at which the interdepartmental committee is looking. The Minister says that he cannot give a definite decision on where the next airport for Sydney will be but, nevertheless, he believes that Richmond will be one of the areas to which the committee will direct its attention. He stated that. The
Department of Air also said that that is one of the areas in which the Department of Civil Aviation is interested.
As the honourable member for KingsfordSmith said, perhaps the Government already has an idea where the next airport for Sydney will be. This means that one cannot help but wonder whether the setting up of the interdepartmental committee was merely a blind to detract attention away from what is the real issue, and that is where the next airport for Sydney will be. I have adopted a very simple approach to this matter. I want to see my electorate protected against aircraft noise. Large areas of the electorate and large areas near the electorate could be affected by aircraft noise. As I say, I have adopted the very simple approach of not burying my head in the sand and hoping that the aircraft noise problem will not arise. I have adopted the approach that it is best to kick up as much noise as I can at this stage in order to make sure that the public is aware of what is happening and what is likely to happen in the area. The 5 municipal councils in the Blue Mountains - Windsor, Blacktown, Penrith and Colo areas - have joined together to protest against the possible siting of a second airport for Sydney in their area. I make the final point: Should a second airport be planned for Sydney, I believe that it must be well removed from developed areas, particularly housing areas.
– Order! The time allotted for consideration of the proposed expenditure has expired.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
– Mr Chairman, may I say a few words?
– I am sorry, but I did not say that the honourable member’s time has expired; I said that the time allotted for consideration of the proposed expenditurehadexpired.
Department of Customs and Excise
Proposed expenditure, $28,112,000.
Department of Primary Industry
Proposed expenditure, $77,867,000.
Department of Trade and Industry
Proposed expenditure, $40,030,000.
Mr FitzPATRICK (Darling) (9.37) - Following the introduction of the 1970-71 Budget, in his Press statement the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) made great play of a record sum of $2 15m which had been appropriated for assistance to primary industries. But what the Minister failed to state was that a record number of our primary industries are facing an economic crisis. This record appropriation of $2 15m is spread out so thinly that in places it will have little or no useful effect. An examination of the estimates will show how thin the assistance becomes in many critical places. It will show also that some very depressed sections of our rural industries have been overlooked altogether by the Government.
If we examine the Government’s trade policy we find that it has contributed largely to the present plight of our rural industries. The appropriation itself tries to cover no fewer items than a raw cotton bounty, a wheat industry stabilisation scheme, a phosphate fertilisers bounty, a nitrogenous fertilisers subsidy, a butter and cheese bounty, a processed milk bounty, assistance for petroleum products, assistance for a marginal dairy farm reconstruction scheme, a wool marketing assistance scheme and emergency assistance to wool growers. Some sections of primary industry got as much as they were entitled to, others got very little and some very depressed sections were forgotten altogether.
The provision of $46m for a phosphate fertiliser bounty, $41,500,000 for a butter and cheese bounty, plus $25m for petroleum products surely must be justified. But when we look at the provision of $2,900,000 for marketing assistance to the wool industry, which is one of the most vital rural industries, we get some idea as to how sincere this Government is in its efforts to relieve the critical position facing wool marketing. But, of course, there are other parts of the problem facing rural industrieswhichthegovernmenthasnot considered at all. One of the most outstanding of these must surely be the crisis in local governments. Why is it that councils and shires which are unable to collect rates and charges from primary producers who are nearly bankrupt are given no assistance by this Government when the lives of so many rural people depend so much on the services provided by these country shires and councils? All over the country we see irate ratepayers forming into associations. On 28th August the Lachlan Shire Ratepayers Association was formed at Condobolin and it carried a resolution asking for a SO per cent reduction in shire rates. This did not represent a step away from law and order but it is a warning to this Government that country people are sick and tired of waiting for it to give them some definite assistance.
In Cobar the Council has $356,000 outstanding in rates and charges. Some graziers have not had to pay income tax for 7 years and they have been unable to pay rates for the last 6 years. We also have the problem of business people in country areas who can prove that they are almost bankrupt because of the assistance they have given to primary producers. Some of these people are urgently in need of low interest long term loans. The only assistance the Government seems to give these people is to advise the wool and wheat growers that they should diversify, but even while they are carrying out the Government’s direction they get little corresponding assistance from the Government. In the Narromine-Warren area landholders have done much to adjust to the changed market conditions. They have formed their own water development association and they have gone on with an irrigation scheme at great financial risk to themselves.
There was some promise of some success but only last year they found the worst mice plague in the history of the area and even today, while they are getting ready for next year’s crops, they are troubled by hundreds of mice in swarms 8 to 9 inches under ground. There is every likelihood that with the advent of the warmer weather there will be a bigger mice plague than the last one. The job of the eradication of the mice is too big for an individual landholder and in any case it is not his responsibility because it extends far beyond the boundaries of his own holding. Any worthwhile Government would accept the responsibility. Technical advice should be made available through the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and this should be followed up by definite action initiated by Government departments. In the Trangie area we find the same hostility towards a lack of action by Government departments. Here again we see that much hard work, technical skill and personal finance have gone into diversification. Some success has resulted here but there is an acute shortage of housing caused by the extra workers required to harvest the crops. Appeals have been made both to the State and Federal governments but with little or no results.
In spite of all that it has had to say about assistance to rural industries, the Government has made only token attempts to solve the problems of rural industries and in the main it is still hiding behind State governments.. It seems to take little or no notice of the wool and wheat growers organisations, let alone the individual growers. One good example of this is the research into arid and semi-arid land problems. For a long time the Pastoralists Association and the pasture protection boards of West Darling and the Western Division Committee of the Graziers Association of New South Wales have been pressing for a CSIRO station at Broken Hill to carry out this research but no finance has been made available. These lands have to depend upon research done in central Australia which has a different climate, soils and pastures and in any case carries cattle and not sheep. The alternative is for these lands to depend upon research done at Deniliquin. The results of research done there apply mainly to the Riverina which also has different soils and pastures and, of course, a much higher rainfall than the Western Division and the adjacent South Australian pastoral areas. Yet these boards I have mentioned are representative of 11 pasture protection boards. The district and pastoral areas to which the research would apply in normal times carries nearly half the sheep in the whole of pastoral Australia. The Government keeps telling the wool grower to become more efficient. But how efficient is the Government itself?
In the dried fruits industry the growers are finding it increasingly harder to obtain an economic market for their products. Wine grapes have had some valuable assistance. The Minister for Primary Industry speaks of the Government’s determination to take whatever steps it can to help the rural industries. At the same time the Government places a levy on wines. The repercussions of this could not have been studied in depth and the damaging effect on this vital and important rural industry could not have been taken into consideration. It is either that or this Government has been ill-advised and has once again turned a deaf ear to the cries of the citizens affected by its mad decisions. This is not the only complaint of the dried fruits industry. The people in this industry are complaining bitterly about the Government’s lack of action in another direction. They cannot understand why the Government allows new areas to be opened up and new planting to take place when they are unable to get an economic market for their products and much fruit is left unsold. No notice was taken of the vigorous protests of the United Fruitgrowers Association about this matter.
If the Government were really sincere and wanted to help the rural industries, or for that matter if it wanted to help the pensioners and housewives, it would take immediate steps to see that the man on the land gets the right price for his products. Why is it that market gardeners can grow carrots, pick them, wash them, bag them and deliver them to the market for$1. 60 per bag when 15 minutes after he sells them they are worth $5 per bag? Graziers who are forced to de-stock on account of dry conditions can receive only$2 per head for sheep and the next day the pensioners and the housewives have to pay as much as $7 for a side of sheep. The only answer the Government has is to blame the increase in workers’ wages. But what is the wages cost in these transactions? One estimate is 40c in the case of the carrots and $1 in the case of the sheep. If the Government wants law and order in this country it should stop using the workers’ pay packet as a smokescreen to cover up profiteering.
On the subject of trade we can say that the Government policy should take much of the blame for the plight of the rural Industry (Mr McEwen) has told this Parliament that many Australian agricultural exporters face disaster with Britain’s impending entry into the European Common Market but the only solution he has had to offer is an approach to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. The Minister’s solution to this problem could not be called anything but tragic. The Government’s trade policy is not one of action; it is a policy of cover up for inaction. But in spite of what the Deputy Prime Minister tries to cover up, many well informed Australians know that the real cause of our trade problem is the fact that the Commonwealth Government has been spending hundreds of millions of dollars purchasing defence requirements from the United States without a thought for the fact that the United States will not admit our primary products except in token amounts.
The average annual trade balance with the United States is some $500m in favour of the United States. We have bought more than $ 1,000m worth of civil and defence aircraft alone from the United States since 1958. Some people connected with the aircraft industry claim that by favouring United States aircraft, including the F111, the Government has contributed materially to the collapse of the British aircraft industry and this in turn has added to the pressure on Britain to enter the Common market. The Deputy Prime Minister says he is very concerned at Britain’s attitude. No doubt Britain is also very concerned at our attitude. Of course, the Government’s trade policy must take much of the blame for the plight of the rural industries. Why is it that when sending troops to Vietnam the Government shows courage and determination but when negotiating a trade agreement with America or Japan it is meek and condescending. We should refuse to accept destroyers, aeroplanes or anything else unless those who want to sell them are prepared
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Hallett) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The first thing I want to do is register my dissatisfaction at the fact that these 3 departments, each very important in its own right, aregrouped together and honourable members are asked to deal with them in 15 minutes. I understand this is to be cut down to 10 minutes in future years. I for one would very much like to spend 15 minutes on each department. There are many things in Customs which have changed since we last had an opportunity to speak on the Estimates. The Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) has made several moves which have very much improved the handling of by-law procedures. We have also seen the reclassification of the Brussels nomenclature. All these warrant the spending of some time and unfortunately I cannot do it. The estimates for the Department of Trade and Industry obviously should be dealt with entirely on their own. I could spend 15 minutes without any trouble at all telling the Committee and the people of Australia that we should have a separate department for secondary industry or manufacturing industry, instead of it being only a division within the Department of Trade and Industry. There are many reasons for this suggestion. Primary industry has proved how valuable it is to have a Minister who is able to speak for it and is able to bring the difficulties that it endures before the Government. The same thing would apply to manufacturing industry. I would like to voice my opinion that we should have a separate ministry for this purpose.
Tonight I would like to speak about primary industry, specifically dairying, because that happens to be the sector that is most prominent in my thinking at the present time. It is necessary for all of us interested in the re-development of our country areas to explore every opportunity and every avenue in order to return to a healthy state this important contributor to the health of the nation and the prosperity of the countryside. I think everybody agrees that at present dairying is not enjoying a very good time. Dairying has been through this before; it is not the first time we have been down to very low prices and been worried by the fact that the return is inadequate for the amount of work put in by the farmers. This has happened repeatedly; it will happen again. We will come out of it. I am not at all worried about the future of dairying. It is very strong because it is an essential industry, one that is required by the people. Nobody would doubt the fact that milk, for example, is one of the most healthy foods given to children and we continue to enjoy it for the rest of our lives. I would like to say on behalf of the farmers in my electorate that we are most grateful for the consideration that has been given by this Government to the difficulties that have beset the industry in the last few years.
This year, because of over-production and a very bountiful situation last year when we had excellent grass growth, a lot of farmers have had forced on them an expansion of their business mainly because of the failure of leaders in the industry to realise that while we are getting into this situation where easy expansion of production is possible, at the same time we are facing heavy and intense competition on the world market from other nations which are perhaps in a similar position. The world market consequently has become depressed and I do not need to tell honourable members just how bad this has been. This situation has arisen because there has been such a big over-production of butter fat. For some reason we have not been able to persuade the people responsible for the policies within the industry - the industry leaders - that we are producing a product which the world does not want. I am very hopeful that within a year - maybe it will take a little longer - we will see a change in the method by which farmers are paid for their products. I want to see an emphasis on payments for solids not fat so that the value of proteins and minerals, which are the most valuable part of milk is recognised. The farmer would then be given a price for a product which is wanted and he would not be put in a position of producing an article which the world does not want.
I have been advocating for some years a system which would discourage the production of surplus butter fat. This is responsible for so much of our problems in the disposal of the product. The wholesale price for butter on the domestic market is $53 per cwt. On the London market it is $25.70. In other areas where we are able to make sales, such as Asia and South America, the price is $25.05. Manufacturing costs are the same no matter where it goes and the bounty is the same. The return to the farmer is roughly $53 a cwt on the local market and $25 a cwt for everything that is exported. Under equalisation these amounts are brought together and the farmer is paid a composite price. Surely the only way to handle over production is to tell the fanner that he will receive a certain income from the domestic market at a good price, and if he is silly enough to produce a whole lot more and accept the overseas price for it, that is his affair. A very small proportion, maybe 10 per cent, is sold at a very much lower price for the production of butter oil. It returns to the farmer about 11c or 12c a lb of butter fat.
I know that quite a lot of farmers would be able to produce and sell butter at the lower return of $25 a cwt. They could do this because of favourable conditions on their farms or because of the favourable condition of their labour. Others are not in a position to do it. We find that this year the Minister has told the industry exactly where it is. He has given the farmers the full lead on what they should be doing, but they will not take any notice. They say to him: ‘No. This industry must go on. It is an essential one and we want to maintain the population in the country.’ I agree with this, but their idea of doing it was to say: *We will try to limit our production voluntarily.’ They acceded to the Minister’s request only because the Government said to them: ‘Unless something is done we will not be able to continue to underwrite butter at 34c a lb.’ Faced with this, the farmers went away and did some more thinking. After having been very obstinate for months they went away and came back with the proposal that there should be a voluntary restraint on the amount each farmer would be able to send into his factory. The only way to control this is to tell the factories that they can take only a certain amount of butter fat over the whole season.
The Australian Dairy Industry Council came back with the proposal - I think it is an extremely poor one - that it would ration the whole production of Australia to 220,000 tons of butter and 70,000 tons of cheese. Theoretically this would give the same return to the farmer as he would get if the Government retained the underwriting of 34c a lb. If the industry produces more than its 220,000 tons of butter and 70,000 tons of cheese its return will be less, because the Government has indicated clearly that it does not intend to give any more to the dairy industry than it has so generously given this year by increasing the subsidy from $27m to $46,250,000. That has been one of the highlights of the Budget as far as I am concerned.
What worries me is that Victoria’s total is to be 136,000 tons out of the 220,000 tons. In order to meet that the Victorian producers have been asked to reduce their production by 3i per cent. This sounds very little. One might say: Put off a few cows and you will get your 3i per cent reduction without any trouble. In actual practice it is silly to expect that each farmer will put off 2 cows voluntarily. He will look over the fence and say: T do not see Jack putting off 2 cows. Why should I?’ In some areas - I have one in mind in south Gippsland - redevelopment has taken areas out of dairying and has subdivided them for residential purposes. The factory management concerned says: ‘We have that much less production coming in, so our farmers will not have to reduce at all.’ That is not fair to the farmers in other areas who will be required to make the reduction. The position is worse up in Queensland where they are given a quota of 26,000 tons. To fill that quota farmers will have to increase their production. We all know that production in Queensland over the years has been far from economical. The farmers cannot compete with the Victorian dairy farmers, and yet the Victorians are asked to make a reduction in a year of difficulty and the Queensland farmers are told that they can produce more because they have had drought. It is pretty obvious that a lot of those farmers will not be able to produce. My main point is that the whole thing has to be properly shared. There is not a proper sharing of the burden.
Added to that, in July, which is the first month of the season, there was an increase in our production of about 18 per cent over the previous year. So our reduction is now not 3i per cent for the season but about 4i per cent. The thing that I want to know and that the farmers of Gippsland want to know is after the very difficult situation this year what are we going to do about next year? I make a plea to the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) to make a statement about what the farmers are going to do next year. At this time of the vear the farmers are thinking of the matings that have to be made to keep their production going for next year.
– I wish to address a few remarks on the estimates for the Department of Primary Industry. The House will recall that in the first week of the first sessional period of this year - on 15th March - the Labor Party submitted a matter of public importance for discussion by the House which we, and 1 feel sure the bulk of the Australian people, considered to be of very considerable importance. The subject we raised was the failure of the Government to give any positive leadership to halt the growing economic crisis in primary industry. Certainly it was a subject of some width and one which we felt could draw a very valuable and lengthy debate. Naturally, with the situation as it was at that time, we expected the Government to be keenly interested in hearing views from this side of the chamber and perhaps even hearing views from its own side. Strange to say, this was not the case. When I rose to speak as the third speaker on this side we witnessed a rather undignified spectacle of a Minister struggling to his feet to move that the next business be proceeded with. What he was actually doing was gagging a debate on the problems of primary industry which at that time had lasted less than SO minutes. Believe it or not, the Minister who moved to prevent any further discussion on the matter of such extreme importance to the farmers was none other than a Minister from the ranks of the Australian Country Party. I might add that during the division that followed every member of the Government, including those members of the Country Party, moved to support the gag. I mention that as one of several experiences we have had which gives some indication of the Government’s attitude to the problems of primary industry.
The problems facing the industry in March this year are still with it today. In fact in most areas they are worse than they were at that time. The Government’s only idea for solving these problems seems to be the slogan of: ‘Get big or get out.’ That could solve an immediate problem in certain sections of the farming community but it is not the answer. In solving 1 problem many more will be created. This situation is becoming more apparent every day with regard to wheat and the allocation of quotas. Yet this Government brushes it aside with the expressed view that it is a State responsibility. As a matter of fact it seems to be disinclined to accept responsibility for any problems in rural industry.
From what I can gather from listening to Government speakers the Government believes that farmers on small holdings are quite inefficient, when of course the oppo site is the fact in many cases. A farm unit that is economic today can become quite uneconomic in a very short space of time due to the increasing costs of production which this Government has taken no steps to overcome. It allows manufacturers to have tariff protection but it does absolutely nothing to ensure that those manufacturers put their items on the market at a reasonable price. As a result the farmers and many other people suffer.
The only lead that the Government has given cotton farmers on the Ord River, for instance, was one along the road to bankruptcy - that is, by the deliberate phasing out of the cotton bounty very much earlier than was warranted in that area. Still worse is the fact that the Government did not bring down legislation to provide for any other assistance of equal value. When the Government introduced the phasing out legislation, as you will remember, Mr Deputy Chairman, we proposed an amendment which would have provided a means of protecting cotton farmers on the Ord and in certain other areas who were not then and are not now properly established. We pointed out that farmers on the Ord, for instance, were pioneers in the industry - not just pioneers in Western Australia but, more particularly and more importantly, pioneers in an area in the far north of Australia where we needed a primary industry which would open up and populate the north.
The Government thought otherwise and refused to accept our amendment. It was prepared and is apparently still content to see the Ord River farmers, who were encouraged by this Government and the Western Australian Government to go to that area, forced out of the industry and even become bankrupt notwithstanding the fact that they not only had invested their life savings but had gone heavily into debt as well. I was dismayed to hear the Liberal member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) say a short time ago that he hoped that the last dam in the Ord River project would never be completed. I was even more dismayed to find that not one member on the Government side raised any objection to his remarks.
One of the problems that is facing the rural industry today is the delay which occurs before any firm decision is taken. We have seen this in relation to the wool industry and also in relation to the effects of drought. Here we are in 1970 and the Government still has no plan for drought assistance other than drought bonds, which are far too restrictive to be of very much use. For several weeks, in fact months, we have seen headlines in the Press referring to the plight of farmers in drought stricken areas in Western Australia. They are calling for assistance from the Government to help them over their bad times. The Federal Government is placing the onus for such assistance on the State when the State is saying that it has not sufficient funds. While all this is going on of course the farmers are suffering and indeed some of them are starving. Just recently we learned that farmers in Western Australia in a drought stricken area could receive assistance up to a $450 maximum, which had to be repaid and which would not be sufficient to pay for soup bones at a soup kitchen. And, of course, before they get any assistance they have to fill in forms which in turn have to be studied. So if they are fortunate they may receive some assistance just this side of next Christmas.
Then we have the ridiculous situation that a wheat farmer does not know what his quota will be until he has started harvesting or until a short time before he starts harvesting. How anyone is supposed to organise his property on that basis is beyond my comprehension. In my book this Parliament must be more than interested in the quotas. We must be interested, and vitally so, in their effect upon the individuals as well as upon the industry generally. It is not sufficient simply to concern ourselves with the effect upon overall production. We cannot be satisfied simply because the quota system will bring production to the required level.
We must go further than that. We must ensure that quotas as they are presently being allocated are not just propping the speculators,thesyndicatesandthecom- panies and by that process are allowing the individual grower and the family grower to fall by the wayside. If we let that happen - certainly it can happen, and in fact is happening now - we not only are failing in our responsibility to the small grower and the industry as a whole but also we are failing in our duty to the nation, because we must ensure the retention of at least that required level of production. It must be remembered that speculators, syndicates and companies will jump out of wheat production just as quickly as they jumped into it if they can see something better to turn to. They will not be interested in whether Australia has an over-supply or whether we have an under-supply. Theirs is purely a self interest and we cannot afford to allow the situation to develop where the genuine wheat grower can no longer keep going. They are the people that I say must be protected. There is a second reason. Even if the speculators and the syndicates take over the farms of those small farmers who are obliged to move out, and even if they take over the quotas of those small farmers, it will be not only the small farmer who suffers and has to leave the district. Many others in the community will suffer also and will be obliged to move.
The Minister for Primary Industry has been reported as saying that it is not the responsibility of the Government to determine what is best for the farmers. This is correct up to a point. It is correct with regard to the rights of the individual but it is not correct with regard to the industry as a whole because any decision can have far reaching effects, good or bad, inside or outside the industry which can extend into the distant future as well as into the immediate future. Therefore it is very important that any decision taken is the right decision in relation to the whole of the industry and those dependent directly and indirectly upon it. Therefore it must surely be the responsibility of the Government, when dealing with such an important industry, to determine which section of wheat growers are working in the best interests of the industry and the community, not just in the short term, as I said just now, but more particularly in the long term.
The Government must also accept responsibility for any detrimental effects which may flow from any decision in rela- tiontoourexportincomeoravenuesof export income. It should accept responsibility for any loss of markets. It should be the Government’s responsibility to find new markets. It should be the Government’s responsibility to ensure that the people who are engaged in seeking markets for wheat and other primary products are experts in each field. Australia cannot afford the luxury of taking risks in that respect. We cannot afford to lose markets or overlook markets simply because our salesmen are not equal to what is required of them. There is far too much at stake because not only the farmers but so many others can suffer.
But it would seem that the present Government either fails to realise or refuses to be interested in the obvious fact that the failure of the wheat industry or a serious decline in the number of people engaged in the wheat industry will also have a very serious effect on the whole population and upon the whole business community in wheat growing areas. It will, like a decline in any other primary industry, have a severe detrimental effect upon many industries and business places elsewhere, not the least of which will be in the metropolitan areas. Members with city electorates would do well to remember that the primary industry areas, and more particularly the people who live in those areas, play a pretty important part in the stability of city business. If a situation develops where instead of having, say, 100 individual farmers in a district we have only 20 or 30 syndicates or companies, we can be quite certain that the little town and small business people who served the 100 farmers previously will not be around any more because the large companies do not deal with small business people in small towns but go to the city to look for city discounts.
So it is not just sufficient to say we will ensure that a certain amount of wheat will be grown, accepted and paid for, and that to achieve this state of affairs quotas will operate. We must also ensure - this is what the Federal and State governments are not doing - that in the production of wheat and in the allocation of quotas we retain in the wheat growing areas the highest possible number of growers. The Government either to evade responsibility or because it is not particularly interested, or most likely both, apparently took no action to find out or make any recommendations on how quotas should be allocated. It took no steps to ascertain whether a reduction in the normal delivery of the small growers would pose a real problem to them or whether they were in a position to withstand it. It took no heed or was not interested in the fact that by reducing the small farmer’s delivery by 2,000 bushels it would also be reducing his first advance by over $2,000 and thereby denying him $2,000 which he desperately required to meet various payments for which he was already committed not only for that year or the following year but for some time to come.
On the other hand the Government has ensured that speculators, syndicates, companies and very large producers who do not actually require the full amount of first advance will receive it in full and on every bushel of quota wheat they produce. For instance, in Western Australia there are quotas ranging from 70,000 bushels to 250,000 bushels and I would take a lot of convincing that they require the full first advance or maximum first advance to keep them on their feet. Indeed, I would take a lot of convincing that quotas of such magnitude are necessary or should be granted when at the same time small growers are being reduced to what is obviously an uneconomic level. Despite this injustice and the obvious move towards centralisation rather than decentralisation and despite the fact that it can in the long run be detrimental to the industry as a whole, this Government is content to wave it aside as a responsibility of the industry itself and of the States. We cannot overlook the fact that the rural industry is responsible for a very substantial portion of our export income. It must be realised that without that income Australia could and indeed would find itself in a difficult, if not an impossible situation. Therefore, as the industry is of such national importance and as it means so much to the Commonwealth generally, surely it becomes the responsibility of the Government of the people to determine how best it can be utilised and how best we can obtain from it the maximum benefit and the maximum advantage over the longest period of time.
– It is my purpose to address myself to the crisis in the rural industries generally and in the wool industry in particular. I do so for 3 reasons. Firstly, this is a very important sector of the economy. Secondly, it involves large contributions of taxpayers’ money and other resources, from my constituents as well as from others. Thirdly, the maldistribution of resources in the economy means lower material standards for our people and reduced capacity to survive in a very difficult world. The crisis has been obvious for years. There is nothing new about it. It was perfectly obvious that Britain would have to go into the European Common Market. This was simply a matter of time. Also, the threat to the dairy industry and dried fruits industry, fresh fruits, sugar and jams because of Britain’s entry has been evident for years. Again, the threat to wool from man made fibres has been perfectly evident for years. The cost price squeeze is by no means new. We have gone on with ad hoc measures as far as our tariff making is concerned in the face of the cost price squeeze. All this has been in addition to industrial unrest and other factors.
What action has been taken by the Government over the years to deal with these foreseen and foreseeable problems? We have had all sorts of palliatives. We have had subsidies in the dairying industry which have increased the production of products that we could not sell. We have had irrigation schemes. The honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard) referred to the Ord and mentioned cotton, which we cannot sell. Irrigation schemes have been implemented to increase the production of sugar which faces a highly dubious future. Compensation has been paid to rural industry. But the old shibboleths will not serve us very much longer, i mention such things as stabilisation, orderly marketing, protection all round, devaluation compensation, home consumption prices, guaranteed prices, cost of production, freight concessions, bounties on fertilisers and other commodities, tax allowances, low interest rates, reduced probate duties and research. This is the end of the road. These old palliatives will serve no longer. Indeed, the moment of truth has arrived.
The present wool market is at its lowest ebb and it will be a miracle if Britain does not go into the European Common Market. What is wanted is a policy. Whan and how should a policy be framed to meet these circumstances? When? I suppose the only answer is long ago, but the time has passed so it is no use talking about it. The European Common Market and synthetics are things that have been with us for a long while and it is perhaps too late now to do anything. These are the years that the locusts have eaten. What would be the correct way to arrive at a policy designed to meet these problems? I suppose the way 22106/70- -R.-[5f] to do this, except in a bush parliament, would be firstly to ascertain the facts, secondly to identify the problems, and thirdly, to make proposals to meet the situation. All of these matters ought to have been ascertained by an expert committee. We should then have a discussion of the proposals. After this a statement should be made of the Government’s policy in relation to these matters. Finally, there should be the opportunity for argument and persuasion to convince all of the people, not only the industries concerned, that the Government’s policy is correct and just. Finally, of course-
– The Government has been waiting for the Labor Party to tell it what to do.
– Yes, it is too late. I said so. I said this would have been the way to do it if the locusts had not eaten the years when it should have been done. There is now no time for this kind of thing.
Let us have a look at the steps that have been taken in respect of the wool industry. Firstly, there was the report of the Philp Committee some years ago, which until now has been ignored. Then the Australian Wool Board set about promoting the sale of wool as an exclusive fibre. This has not been very successful. Then the Australian Wool Industry Conference - the wool growers parliament - found a conspiracy among buyers to keep down the price of wool. So it said: ‘Let us establish a sellers’ monopoly and jack up the price by manipulating the market. The world must have our wool’. Must it? Wool is not in a monopoly situation and you cannot use monopoly methods. Wool has to meet the competition of synthetics. Those suggestions by the AWIC were idiotic from the start. No attempt was made to point out that they were. Then we had the first interim report of the Australian Wool Board Advisory Commitee, published in July 1970. Part I of the report contained a statement of short term measures. The Commitee regarded these as the least important. The result has been an allocation of $30m in the current Budget. Part II gave very brief preliminary consideration after all these years to long term measures. The first of 2 long term measures was production readjustment through amalgamation of holdings. It was suggested that the New South Wales Rural Reconstruction Board might be the kind of authority that could help in this regard. In 1935 or thereabouts the South- West Commission in New South Wales was established in effect to reallocate holdings. A great part was played by the Rural Bank of New South Wales in this reconstruction. Of course, all of this means diversification and alternative occupations for those who have to leave the land. One would have thought that connected with this was the question of decentralisation of industry so that those who have to leave the land do not have to go into the already too large metropolitan areas. But we have done nothing about decentralisation.
The second long term measure was in respect of marketing which involves the handling complexes, the presentation in lots of suitable size of wool, objective measurement, sale by sample and so on. Many of these things were in the Philp report but nothing was done because the industry was preoccupied with the conspiracy against wool. Finally, the Australian Wool Board produced a proposal for a single marketing authority - I have it here - in July 1970. Now, the objections to this method of procedure, apart from its taking so long, were first of all that since the Government - that is to say the taxpayers, including my constituents I am sorry to say - is intimately concerned in whatever is done about wool or the other commodities it should have appointed the committees to investigate and report. This should not have been left to the industries because its members were not the only people concerned.
Secondly, the reports emanated from a source - I refer to the Wool Board - that has in any event failed in its efforts to rehabilitate this industry and lacks the confidence even of the industry itself and certainly of the informed public. These reports, of course, were not even distributed among members of’ this Parliament. This is how much this Parliament matters in these things. I have been criticised sometimes for saying so. Thirdly, of course, these reports bear all the marks of hasty preparation. It is a wretched result after many years. The issue is now wrapped up in hugger mugger. The Minister will get a further report from the Bureau of Agricultural Economics and make recommendations to Cabinet. Of course, Parliament will know nothing about this. It is all wrapped up in hugger mugger. The Parliament should seek assurances against open ended commitment to bolster up uneconomic producers at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars and the introduction of a guaranteed floor price by stealth.
There are good arguments for a single wool authority and I shall not dismiss them lightly. They are, first of all, to force objective measurement on the industry; secondly, to maintain export standards; thirdly to centralise handling, and finally to ensure orderly selling. The ‘Bradford Wool Record’, a very conservative and very well informed paper, the other day had this to say:
Many wholesale and retail outlets for wool products are quietly passing into the ownership or under the influence of manmade fibre orientated bodies.
We will probably find that the trend towards synthetics cannot be reversed in the United States. The only possibility of doing anything in this kind of market is through promotion aimed at the ultimate consumers.
The big synthetic manufacturers have got in on the top floor among the spinners and the weavers and have moved down so that all that is offered now in the retail shops is artificial fibres. We cannot do much about this now. Western European countries such as the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Italy, are moving in the same direction as the United States - that is to say, the manmade fibre people through their strength, wealth and foresight, unlike the wool industry here, have got in at the top and moved down to the retail store. In Eastern Europe - the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia - and also in Egypt, Pakistan and India there is perhaps still a market for wool. It is perhaps the best market that we can hope to get. But how are we going to get into these markets? These are peculiar markets. I refer to the Communist countries, the countries of North Africa and Asia. Here perhaps objective measurement would help, but above all we must have trade agreements and perhaps terms of a year or two to pay are more important than the precise price, not that the price is unimportant. We must try to forestall the slide into synthetics in these markets.
This, it may be argued with some force, requires a statutory body working closely with the Government. That body should consist of really capable people and here - I hope it will not do him any irreparable harm - I want to quote with great approval what the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt) said in the House on 27 August. He said:
I believe that the establishment of an Australian wool marketing authority independent of the Australian Wool Board and under the management of top men chosen because of their proven commercial, technical and financial judgment will result in a new confidence and a higher level of prosperity to this industry. 1 could not agree more. There are many reasons why such an authority might at last retrieve the disasters of the past and catch up on the years that the locusts have eaten. Of course, the generalised reason for a single authority is the fragmented nature of the industry compared with the giants in the manmade fibre world. A wool grower has whatever sheep he may have happened to buy. All the wool from some given district may be shorn at the same time, perhaps because of drought. It comes to the market at the same time and probably depresses the price for that particular type of wool. There is no even flow of it on the market. The brokers are multiplying bulk classing and this, of course, is adding to cost under present conditions. The economics of presentation through the old system of visual appraisal and all the rest of it are obviously uneconomic. Control of marketing is much more important than acquisition of the clip. The Wool Board has concentrated on a reserve price and supply management. This is an error. The other things are more important.
Let us then have what the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly) has been urging for a long time - that is, a body comparable to the Tariff Board to preside over the requirements of rural industry. Until this happens and until there is a thorough-going inquiry into the needs of rural industries, including wool, by such a body there can be no confidence that policies that germinate in hugger mugger are going to be right for this country. Certainly if they are not presented not only to the wool growers and the other rural pro ducers but to the public as something just then we shall have no agreement to them.
– Having listened to the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) we can be in no doubt at all about the deep divisions in the ranks of the Government about what might be done in the future for primary industry. As we consider the estimates of the Department of Primary Industry tonight and review the estimated expenditure of $70m we must pose the query as to how the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) can accept the present crisis in the countryside. It might be said that he does not accept it all, that he is fighting manfully to end the crisis, to restore confidence and prevent the flight from the farms. Yet it is the policies that have been his direct responsibility on behalf of the Government that have led to the present crisis in half the nation. In Western Australia 10,000 farmers face disaster. The New South Wales Minister for Lands only- yesterday said that many western land holders in New South Wales have passed the point of no return. In Queensland there is stark ruin for many.
The actions of the Minister and the Government could well be summed up, as they were in the words of one distinguished agricultural writer the other day, by saying that this has been the year of the mouse. While we have had a plague of rodents which ate the heart out of many summer crops in eastern Australia, we have had the Government in its role of the giant mouse of Canberra and the Government in this role has eaten the confidence out of rural Australia by its decisions. The major responsibility lies with the Commonwealth and with the States compounding the felonies by weakly surrendering even when they have known that Canberra was wrong. The actions of the Commonwealth in facing up to agricultural problems at present are reminiscent of a couple of characters in history - Pontius Pilate washing his hands of any responsibility for decision-making and Mark Antony in throwing discretion to the winds in pursuing Cleopatra.
In no case has the paradox been more clearly demonstrated than with wheat. The Government’s decisions on wheat have contributed to the crisis in the countryside in a major way. I instance that in the West Wyalong district of the Riverina there are 1,000 farms which produce 7 per cent of the States wheat crop. On 18th March 1969 the Minister for Primary Industry told this district:
I see West Wyalong today in a good position . . . Wheat forms the basis of the district’s prosperity and the springboard for progress.
He was telling the same farmers and their bank managers 6 months later that they should not have sown so much wheat, they should have cut back. He said: 1 warned you. In any case, it has nothing to do with the Government.
He said that the whole idea of wheat rationing in the middle of the season was the growers’ idea. Apparently the ‘springboard of progress’ means we should go back. We have a new language to learn: Progress’ means ‘to retreat’ and ‘springboard’ means ‘to be unsprung’. If it were not so serious this would be comic, but the fact is that the Government panicked, lt misread the season and the facts of the situation and feared a harvest of 500 million bushels in 1969-70. In a Mark Antony role the Government rushed to impose rationing by telling the industry it would be given just enough credit to pay a $.1.10 a bushel first advance on 357 million bushels. There was then an elaborate pretence by all those who accepted this decision, including the States, that it was all the fault of the farmers. They had got themselves into trouble; they had overproduced: then they had asked for rationing in the middle of a season. Then Pontius Pilate took over again in Canberra and washed his hands more vigorously than before, making it plain that all these decisions belonged to someone else - the industry, the States. But what happened was that we did not reach the national ration for last season set by the Government. The rationing proved unnecessary, yet the Government refused to act to take in all the wheat and pay the first advance. The Treasurer (Mr Bury) was prepared to make all the money available to do so. The Minister for Primary Industry refused to take and to use that money. He refused to give the leadership to enable it to be done. Today there is wheat that has been delivered by farmers which has still not been paid for. In other cases wheat is still being held on farms. Yet the Treasurer has made clear that money is available to take and pay for it all, but the Minister for Primary Industry refused it. In this year of the mouse he bears a personal responsibility for that decision.
Time and time again the Minister has denied that there has been any significant black market trading in wheat. I have asked myself how he could really believe this to be true and 1 have come to the conclusion that among his historic roles in the past year he has included that of Nelson: His blind eye has been most active.’ Wheat carried through 2 Riverina centres alone between 12 midnight on 12th April and 6 p.m. on 15th April amounted to nearly 25,000 bushels. This information was ascertained from just one random test on 2 roads only. Two properties alone contributed 80,000 bushels to cross border trading. But what was the Minister’s reply when he was asked by a Riverina delegate to the annual State conference of the Country Party at Griffith whether he was sympathetic to growers who had been forced by Government policy to sell wheat on the black market? The Minister said: They will get no sympathy from me.’ He said that interstate dealings were despicable and sabotage. Immediately the ViceChairman of the New South Wales Country Pary, Mr R. M. Mack, rose in his place and said that he had sold wheat interstate. He said that he had 4 years quota in mesh bins and after 7 months the hessian sides started to rot and the mice were getting into his wheat. He said: ‘Unless the Minister can suggest any other method 1 will continue to sell it over the border*. What was the Minister’s response? He sought the Crown Solicitor’s opinion on an excise duty of 50c or 60c on interstate wheat sales. He has been backed by only one voice in this Parliament - that of the honourable member for Hume (Mr Pettitt) who wanted members to turn informer on their constituents and report them to the Government for selling outside the Board. The guilty men are not the growers but the Minister and the Government who had money to take in and pay for the wheat within their own ration but refused to do it. So the crisis in the countryside has been contributed to by the Government’s decision on wheat.
What is proposed for this year? We have a roaring drought in the nation and the Government admits that its own national ration will not be reached, but we still have an army running around the countryside with bits of paper for rationing which is totally unnecessary this year. I can forgive the Government and the Minister in their successive roles as Mark Anthony, Pontius Pilate and more latterly as Nelson, but I cannot forgive them for their stubborn refusal to face the realities of the coming season. We will not reach the national ration. There is a strong demand for wheat and the so-called huge surpluses are disappearing steadily. I want the Committee to know that a month ago the price of black market wheat along the New South Wales-Victorian border rose sharply, in some localities to 80c a bushel. Within the past week there have been further offers at 90c a bushel at the farm gate. This will be a better return than the Government can provide through the Australian Wheat Board. Contracts have been offered and prices have risen. The demand is strong. I warn the Government that if it persists in its attitude more wheat will be sold outside the Board than will be sold to it. In many cases growers will not be bothered with a Government which persists in policies of retreat and pessimism. They will sell where they, can out of desperation. I challenge the Minister to gaol, fine or harass the growers forced by his policy to go against their own desires and principles. It would be a graphic illustration of the bankruptcy of the Administration if it were reduced to prosecuting its own members, supporters and even State leaders for acts born of despair of their own government.
The wheatgrowers have done well by the nation and the Treasury. By next March or soon after, according to the Minister they will have repaid advances of $250m on the nation’s record harvest. Not only will the Government get its money back but also the growers will pay $25m in interest at rates which were increased over the years by the present Government. The Minister, while saying that he wanted to defend the growers and wanted people to understand their commitments, said in Western Australia that the Government would have to find some $30m for stabilisation and that this money would go to the growers. He knows that this is not true, that large sums go to the debt ridden State railways and to the Government itself by way of interest Yet he has never mentioned these things.
While talking of huge surpluses, the Minister and the Government refused direct gifts of wheat to starving Queensland stock. Yet in the very week that the Government was asked to do this it announced a gift of 30,000 metric tons of wheat to Pakistan. That followed the gift of 26,000 tons last year. This represents $3m worth of wheat which has gone to Pakistan in 2 years because of flooding in that country. Why has there not been some direct aid, some direct assistance, of similar magnitude to Queensland without the bureaucratic circle of red tape? The Government has power in its hands to begin to end the crisis in the countryside by taking in and paying for all wheat produced last season and this season within its own national ration. It can help Queensland by extending the same generosity as it extends to Pakistan. It should recognise that the coming season could see it losing control of the industry altogether. Let the Government end the year of the mouse and stand up to its responsibilities for a change. That is the challenge of this season and this time.
– I desire to take part in this debate and to concentrate my remarks mainly on the Department of Primary Industry, particularly so far as the meat industry is concerned, and on the Department of Trade and Industry. This financial year, it is estimated, $14m will be required to run the Department of Primary Industry. Over half that sum will be spent on staffing - mainly inspection staff - and the remainder will go to the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. We have just heard the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) say that there is a crisis in the countryside. I want to talk about a brighter side of agriculture. While most of our primary industries are in serious trouble because of production and marketing problems, until the present time one section of primary industry has been a rather bright spot in mir rural sector. I refer to the Australian meat industry, covering lamb, mutton, pork and beef - particularly beef - production. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) has announced that he has approved the allocation of $3,274,000 from the Meat Research Trust Account for meat research this financial year. More than $2m of this total will be for research associated with cattle and beef and almost $lm for investigation concerning mutton and lamb. Funds are provided by meat producers which are matched by the Commonwealth. These are the main source of the finance I have just mentioned. But the meat processing industry also contributes towards research into problems encountered in meat processing. Those contributions also are matched by the Commonwealth.
Forty-two per cent of the total allocation would be to the Commonwealth” Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, 28 per. cent to State departments of agriculture, 18 per cent to universities and the remaining 12 per cent to Northern Territory Administration, the Australian Meat Board and the Bureau of Agricultural Economics as well as administrative costs. This indicates the interest of the Government and the Minister for Primary Industry in the carrying out of research at all levels of the meat industry.
Australia is in the fortunate position with this industry that we consume approximate 70 per cent of what we produce. This forms a valuable local market - a valuable base load, in other words - for the industry. Our export earnings from this industry for the year ended 30tb June 1970 were over $380m. Beef accounted for $294,184,000 of this amount. These figures show that only wool exceeds meat in the primary produce section of our export earnings. Our export earnings from primary produce and minerals for the year ended 30th June 1970 was over $4,000m. Our main markets have been the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada and Japan.
The Department of Primary Industry at the request of the United States Department of Agriculture has placed very strict and stringent hygienic conditions on our abattoirs and meat works. This has meant the expenditure of millions of dollars on those works to bring them up to the standard required for export licences. Abattoir managements, primary producers and meat operators face great problems when an export licence is cancelled. Cancellation is happening quite frequently. I have here the Weekly Times’ of 16th September 1970. This is a Victorian publication. Its heading is: ‘Two leading meat works lose
United States licences.’ The relevant article reads in part:
Two of the biggest and most important meat works in Melbourne have had their licences to export to the United States withdrawn.
The article goes on to state die - effect that this has had on the market.
After cancellation, an adjustment period takes place until the works are brought up to the standard required by the United States Department of Agriculture. This is for the betterment of the trade and, in the long run, will pay dividends. Quotas have been set up by the United Suites Department of Agriculture on our export of meat to that country. Although Australia’s 1970 exports of meat to the United States of America will receive a welcome 9,600 ton boost from allocations announced early in July, once again Australia’s share of the United States market for meat subject to import law has been reduced.
Prior to the introduction of the voluntary restraint agreement between major supplying countries and the United States for the 1969 shipping year - those are arrivals at United States ports during the calendar year 1969 - Australia had supplied in 1968 over 50 per cent of the imported meats in question. In fact Australia had voluntarily suspended shipments late in (968 to avoid triggering United States quota legislation, and this affected its market share for that year also. In 1967 with no controls Australia supplied 53.4 per cent of United States meat imports subject to the legislation. The new allocation for Australia represents only 47.1 per cent of United States imports for the year. As Australia’s original share of 1970 imports was 49.7 per cent and an agreement with the United States authorities that any increased allocation would be at least in that proportion was very widely publicised, one might perhaps be underestimating Australian reaction by saying that it was one of great disappointment. Our Ministers have expressed this disappointment in the Press recently.
The significant trade by Canadian importers in the transshipment of beef and mutton through Canada to the United Stales was cut off during July by regulatory procedure of the United States authorities. This caused problems in Canada where cold stores were at capacity. Australia was asked by Canada to suspend shipments of beef and mutton pending the settling down of the situation and discussion at government level. This caused great problems in the industry in Australia - to the abattoirs, to the operators and to the primary producers with their market. Unfortunately New South Wales was the State hardest hit because ships were loading in both Melbourne and Brisbane for Canadian ports. The regulations allowed them to load and take the meat away whereas New South Wales was not so fortunate in that it did not have shipping available and consequently the people who purchased the meat for export to Canada had to make other arrangements to dispose of it, but I am very happy to say that the position has been cleared and shipments to Canada are being resumed now on a normal basis.
Japan is rapidly becoming a very important customer for Australian meat. We are supplying 78 per cent of Japan’s beef market and 34 per cent of Japan’s mutton market, representing 5 per cent of our total exports of beef and 19 per cent of our total exports of mutton. Our main problem with the export trade to Japan is the Japanese import quota system. Although some items are under strict quotas, these are being increased. I instance beef and veal. In 1966 total imports were 13.3 thousand metric tons and in 1969 they had increased to 18.6 thousand metric tons. All indications are that despite the restrictions, food demand will increase dramatically and Japanese agriculture will be incapable of meeting the demand. The Japanese expect that by 197S they will double the present income per head, and by 1980 Japan’s income per head will exceed that of the United States of America. How much of this demand we will be able to supply from Australia depends as much on commercial considerations as on actions of governments.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Corbett) - Order! It being 11 p.m., in accordance with the order of the House of 26th August, I shall report progress.
-Order! It being 11 p.m., in accordance with the order of the House of 26th August, I propose the question:
That the House do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.1 p.m.
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS UPON NOTICE The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
Subsequently, following receipt of the report prepared by the National Capital Development Commission and the New South Wales Department of Main Roads, on the alternative routes which a road between Canberra and Tumut might take, I wrote to the Premier of New South Wales on 23rd September, 1968 advising him that I had arranged for appropriate Commonwealth Departments to examine this evaluation and that I would be in touch with him after the examination had been completed. The Premier acknowledged my letter on 8 October 1968 Indicating he would let the New South Wales Minister for Highways know of this development.
On 19th May, 1969 I wrote to the Premier saying that the Commonwealth Government had completed its examination of the evaluation report and agreed with its conclusions. I went on to propose that, if the New South Wales Government also agreed with the findings, the Commonwealth and the State might arrange a joint statement informing the public of our joint agreement with the report’s conclusions.
The Premier replied on 18th June 1969 informing me of his State’s agreement with the conclusions of the report and with my proposal for a joint statement in relation to this matter. The joint statement, as mentioned above, wau issued on 1 1th July 1969.
Canberra-Tumut Road (Question No. I07S)
The cost comparison technique used in the Canberra-Tumut Road Report ls one which has been developed by the New South Wales Department of Mam Roads and seeks to identity the readily assessable costs of construction and immediate benefits from direct user mileage calculations. The particular cost benefit analysis used don not employ the discounted cash flow techniques. However, it has the advantage that it is the same technique used by the New South Wales Department of Main Roads on other projects and as such the results obtained from the CanberraTumut road are directly comparable with other works within the State of New South Wales. General consideration was given to such things as the existence of the Burrinjuck Dam Lake, the development of sporting facilities, the access to other recreational uses and also to the question of long distance heavy-haulage and the influence of the New South Wales State Co-ordinotion Road Tax.
Information on Commonwealth assistance to industry is contained in Statement No. 9 attached to the Budget Speech 1970-71.
The tables below provide details of Commonwealth payments to industry and contributions to promotion and research for the years 1965-66 to 1969-70 and of estimated expenditure in 1970-71.
Detailed information on State Government expenditures of a similar nature is not available.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 22 September 1970, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1970/19700922_reps_27_hor69/>.