27th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. Sir William Aston) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– 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:
A further undergraduate representative on the Council of the Australian National University. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The Petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That there is a crisis in Aboriginal Welfare in the South West Land Division of Western Australia resulting from a population explosion, poor housing and hygiene and unemployment and unemployability.
That there is a need to phase out Native Reserve in the South West Land Division of Western Australia over the next three years.
That town housing must be providedfor all Aboriginal familiesw here the bread winner has permanent employment or an age or invalid pension entitlement.
That such housing must be supported by the appointment of permanent ‘Home-maker’ assistance in the ratio of one home-maker to every eight houses or part thereof.
That incentives of housing, ‘home-maker’ services and training facilities must be created in centres of potential employment for those who are currently unemployed or unemployable.
That insufficient State or Federal assistance has been made available to meet these requirements.
That adequate finance to meet these requirements can only be provided by the Commonwealth government.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will give earnest consideration to this most vital matter.
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 bumble petition of the undersigned citizens of Denison respectfully sheweth:
That they arc not gravely concerned that moral standards in the Australian community may be changing, particularly in regard to the community’s willingness to treat adults within it as reasonable and responsible people who are capable of making up their own minds as to what may be perfectly acceptable or unacceptable material in books, magazines, plays, films and television and radio programmes, and particularly when this material depicts life in human society, including language habits and sex habits and gives warning of the dangers of the use of violence and narcotic drugs;
That they in fact welcome this change, having regard for the fact that it demonstrates an increasing tolerance of and respect for the rights of individuals to think their own way through their own lives, free from informationwithholding restrictions which people of one religion or one standard of morals may seek to impose on either the majority or minority who do not hold the same views;
That they question the simplistic view that nations ‘perish’ because of a so-called ‘internal moral decay’ unless such ‘decay’ is taken to include an increasing unwillingness to face the facts of life in open discussion and freedom of thought;
That they welcome the statement by the Honourable the Minister for Customs and Excise, Mr Chipp, that the concept of censorship is abhorrent to all men and women who believe in the basic freedoms and that, as a philosophy, it is evil and ought to be condemned -
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that Honourable Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will seek to ensure that Commonwealth legislation bearing on films, literature and radio and television programmes is so framed and so administered as to give the maximum freedom to adults to choose what they will watch, read and listen to, even in the face of pressure from those who seek to impose their ideas and morals on others who do not share them.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia respectfully sheweth:
That the Commonwealth Parliament has acted to remove some inadequacies in the Australian education system; a major inadequacy at present in Australian education is the lack of equal education opportunity for all; more than 500,000 children suffer from serious lack of equal opportunity; Australia cannot afford to waste the talents of one sixth of its school children; only the Commonwealth has the financial resources for special programmes to remove inadequacies; and nations such as the United Kingdom and the United States have shown that the chief impetus for change and the finance for improvement come from the National Government.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives make legal provision for a joint Commonwealth-State inquiry into inequalities in Australian education to obtain evidence on which to base long term national programmes for the elimination of inequalities; the immediate financing of special programmes for low income earners, migrants, Aboriginal, rural and inner suburban dwellers and handicapped children; and the provision of pre-school opportunities for all children from culturally different or socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
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 die undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia respectfully sheweth:
That the Commonwealth Parliament has acted to remove some inadequacies in the Australian educa tion system; a major inadequacy at present in Australian education is the lack of equal education opportunity for all; more than 500,000 children suffer from serious lack of equal opportunity; Australia cannot afford to waste the talents of one sixth of its school children; only the Commonwealth has the financial resources for special programmes to remove inadequacies; and nations such as the United Kingdom and the United States have shown that the chief impetus for change and the finance for improvement come from the National Government.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives make legal provision for a joint Commonwealth-State inquiry into inequalities in Australian education to obtain evidence on which to base long term national programmes for the elimination of inequalities; the immediate financing of special programmes for low income earners, migrants. Aboriginal, rural and inner suburban dwellers and handicapped children; and the provision of pre-school opportunities for all children from culturally different or socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia respectfully sheweth:
That the Commonwealth Parliament has acted to remove some inadequacies in the Australian education system; a major inadequacy at present in Australian education is the lack of equal education opportunity for all; more than 500,000 children suffer from serious lack of equal opportunity; Australia cannot afford to waste the talents of one sixth of its school children; only the Commonwealth has the financial resources for special programmes to remove inadequacies; and nations such as the United Kingdom and the United States have shown that the chief impetus for change and the finance for improvement come from the National Government.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives make legal provision for a joint Commonwealth-State inquiry into inequalities in Australian education to obtain evidence on which to base long term national programmes for the elimination of inequalities; the immediate financing of special programmes for low income earners, migrants, Aboriginal, rural and inner suburban dwellers and handicapped children; and the provision of pre-school opportunities for all children from culturally different or socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
And your petitioners as In duty bound will ever pray.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully sheweth:
That they are gravely concerned at the apparent appalling increase in crime in Australia, particularly in densely populated areas;
That they fear the police forces of the various States and Territories are undermanned and underequipped to handle the increase in crime;
That their concern is aggravated by the apparent number of unsolved crimes particularly those involving violence to the individual including murder,
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Honourable members of the House of Representatives will seek to ensure that the Commonwealth Government will seek the co-operation of the Stales and supply extra finance to the States to enable -
proper town planning and development to halt the increase in densely populated areas which leads to increased crime,
the proper staffing and equipping of police forces to enable adequate crime prevention and detection measures to reduce the frightening increase of both solved and unsolved crime,
the proper detention of and rehabiliation of criminals, and
compensation to victims of crimes of violence.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister for Health. Has the Minister had his attention drawn to the fact that as from next Monday the minimum weekly wage for West Austraiian adult males will be $49? Is it a fact that, under the present provisions of the National Health Act, all West Australian workers on the minimum wage will then lose their present rights to have their contributions to medical benefit funds waived or reduced? If SO, will the Minister immediately exercise his powers under the Act to prescribe amended minimum income levels so that any discrimination against West Australian workers on minimum or near minimum rates can be avoided?
– 1 thank the honourable gentleman for drawing my attention to what has happened to the minimum wage in Western Australia, 1 will give consideration to what he asks in his question.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral whether he has followed up my question to him on 19th August last, in which I asked how long we would tolerate attacks on administration leaders and the destruction of property by lawless demonstrators. Can he tell me whether his investigations are complete? Will he inform the House of the results of these investigations?
– The investigatory process is really a continuing one, but I am in a position to answer the honourable member’s question by saying that as a result of the investigations which I directed to be undertaken back in August I have been able to authorise the institution of 21 prosecutions against various people for alleged breaches of section 7A of the Crimes Act, that being the section which makes it an offence to incite anyone to break a Commonwealth law.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral a question. He will have seen reports of another bomb outrage against the Yugoslav Consulate, this lime in Melbourne, presumably inspired or carried out by extremists or terrorist elements from Croatia or from other parts of Yugoslavia. I quote this description of the assailants from last year’s report of the Department of External Affairs, which went on to say that the Australian Government was taking measures to detect and prevent any further attempts at harassment. I accordingly ask him what has happened to the investigatory process in this field where the Commonwealth, under international law as well as in the interests of law and order within our own country, has the prime responsibility, [ ask him further: Can he explain how no prosecutions have ever been launched in respect of any of those attacks which have taken place not only in the national capital but in the Victorian and New South Wales capitals and in other places such as Cooma where there are symbols of other countries which have supplied migrants to this country?
– The fact that no-one has been brought to justice in respect of the very serious matters to which the
Leader of the Opposition refers does not mean that very strenuous efforts have not been made to bring suspects into police hands and investigate the offences that have been committed. There have been unremitting efforts on the part of State police, in which the Commonwealth police have joined, and indeed are joining at the moment, to bring these offenders to justice. Anyone must - I certainly do - take a most serious view of incidents such as the incident that occurred in Melbourne at the Yugoslav Consulate last night. This morning I have been in touch with the Acting Commissioner of Commonwealth Police, who has informed me that officers of his force are collaborating with officers of the Victorian police force with a view to ensuring that the offender is or offenders are brought to justice. Those efforts will be unremitting because this is a very grave matter. I assure the House that the suggestion, which is rather implicit in the question asked by the Leader of the Opposition, that there has been some slackness in the effort to bring these people to book, is quite unfounded.
– Has the Prime Minister been shocked by the extremism behind the actions leading to the mutilation and strangling of the Canadian Minister in the last few days? Is this shock, shared by most Australians, in any way due to an underestimation of the seriousness behind anarchist and extremist groups in many countries today? As most Canadians probably once shared our view that it cannot happen here, will the Prime Minister give thought to any measures which it may be wise to keep constantly in review regarding the activities and intentions of extremist groups in Australia such as those mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition in the last question, particularly those which deliberately inflame these attitudes?
– I believe that not only 1 but virtually everybody in Australia would have been shocked, distressed and disgusted that a man could be kidnapped from in front of his home where he was playing with his children, taken away by thugs and murdered because those thugs wanted some kind of political activity on their behalf. This kind of thing I believe in the hearts of Australians bas the same effect as did the senseless assassination of President Kennedy or Robert Kennedy where we can see that a man’s life can be snuffed out like that by probably half-witted people walking the streets. I can assure the honourable member that that is the answer to his first question.
I do not think it was due to underestimation by the Canadian Government of the strength of feeling for a so-called free Quebec movement. There have been in the past, as the honourable member will know, instances covering quite a period of time when bombs were placed in letter boxes and other such activities were taken. The Canadian Government I think was aware of the movement but perhaps did not have the capacity to look sufficiently into a crystal ball, as none of us would have, to see that this kind of senseless murder might take place. I do not think that there are organised movements of this kind in this country although there are individuals who have from time to time endeavoured to make bomb attacks. I am quite sure that if such organised movements should arise in this country the people of Australia would expect the Government to see that they were kept in check by any methods necessary.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General and is supplementary to the question asked by the Leader of the Opposition concerning the bomb explosion at the Yugoslav Consulate in Melbourne last night. What investigations has the Government made of the activities of extremist national groups within Australia? Do these investigations support the view that these incidents are the work of extreme right wing national groups? Will he make a statement to this House in order to inform honourable members what the Government is doing to curb this sort of terrorism, which must result in serious loss of life if it persists?
– I answer the first part of the question by saying that, of course, the activities of subversive groups in all sectors of the political spectrum are kept under continuing observation and investigation by the appropriate authorities. This is a continuing process and, of course, it is a process that is applied to the sort of people whom the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has mentioned in his question. But I am sure he will bear with me when I say that 1 ought to follow a tradition long followed not only since governments of my political complexion have been in office but during the time when a government of his political complexion was in office. That tradition requires that, except in quite exceptional circumstances, T, as the Minister responsible for the operations of the security organisation, should not reveal publicly the nature of its operations. To do so would tend, as he would, 1 think, on reflection well appreciate, to undermine or compromise the very useful activities that are carried out in this field of countering subversion and politically inspired terrorism. Therefore I must say to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that my first reaction to his suggestion that I should make a statement is a very guarded one, because to make any statement, as 1 think he would readily see on reflection, would involve a real risk that important work that must be kept secret if it is to be effective would be compromised.
– I address a question to the Minister for Immigration. Why was Mr H. L. Davies, Senior Dairy Officer in the Department of Research and Specialist Services, Salisbury, who was invited by the Australian National Dairy Committee to attend the 54th International Dairy Federation Congress in Sydney refused permission to enter Australia? Why was the visa granted to Mr Davies in Pretoria withdrawn, and was it withdrawn on instructions from Canberra? If it was not withdrawn on instructions from Canberra, on whose instructions was it withdrawn? Why was Mr R. S. Garfield Todd, a permanent resident of Rhodesia, allowed to enter Australia last week and Mr Davies refused permission? Finally, as Mr Garfield Todd made statements to the Press on his arrival in Australia which were offensive to many former Rhodesians now resident in Australia, was this a violation of his privileged entry?
– In dealing with applications from persons seeking to enter Australia and who are the holders of Rhodesian passports or who are persons ordinarily resident in Rhodesia but who travel on other passports, the policy of the Australian Government has been to take a stand which is in every way consonant wilh the resolutions of the Security Council of the United Nations. The 2 applications to which the honourable gentleman referred were certainly determined in accordance with that policy and, in fact, after consultation with appropriate departments, the decisions were made by myself. [ might mention that in the case of Mr H. L. Davies, who applied to enter Australia in company with 4 other persons, the purpose of that visit was, as suggested by the honourable member, to attend 2 major international dairy meetings in Australia. The view taken by the Government was that because they were international conferences and because Mr Davies would have been travelling as part of a Rhodesian delegation, clearly such a visit in those terms would not have been consistent with Australia’s obligations under the United Nations resolution.
Mr Garfield Todd applied for permission to visit Australia in order to attend and address the Federal Conference of the Churches of Christ and also the World Convention of the Churches of Christ which are being held in Australia this month. Mr Todd, I understand was the first vice- - president of the World Convention of the Churches of Christ body and his visit here was taken to be a personal visit not entailing any official governmental connotations. I might also add for the information of the honourable gentleman that Mr Garfied Todd travels on a New Zealand passport, and therefore the basis of determination in his case was seen as different because of the variation in relation to separate sections of the resolution dealing with persons who are ordinarily resident in Rhodesia but who travel on other passports. I hope that from what 1 have said the honourable gentleman will see that these cases are different in type and that the decisions which were made were fully in accord with Australia’s obligations under the resolutions of the Security Council of the United Nations.
– I ask the. Minister for External Affairs a question about the bombing outrage against the Yugoslav Consulate in Melbourne. The right honourable gentleman will remember that the Government had to give an explanation to the Yugoslav Embassy about his alleged statements on the occasion of earlier such incidents. Whilst I expect that the Australian Government, in accordance with well established practice, will now have to reimburse the Yugoslav Government for the restoration of its property, I ask the Minister about the damage which, I think for the first time, has been done to neighbouring properties. To what extent and by whom will the neighbouring property owners be recompensed for the damages they have suffered in this incident?
– There have been 5 previous incidents involving premises of the Yugoslav Government in Australia. We are very sorry that this latest incident has happened. We have expressed our regrets to the Yugoslav Ambassador in Canberra. We have already made approaches to the Yugoslav Ambassador and said that if damage has been caused to Embassy property we will consider any request that it may make for reimbursement of the cost involved in reconstruction. We have been informed also that up to the moment investigations by the police have not been completed. Consequently, we are not in a position, and will not be in a position until the police report is completed, to make any other further approaches.
– My question to the Minister for Education and Science is supplementary to that asked a few days ago by the honourable member for Wilmot concerning the apparent shortage of places in the Univerity of Tasmania for second year medical students in 1971. Is the Minister aware that the reported shortfall of 32 second year places assumes no failures among the present first yeal students? Is it likely that the shortage will be appreciably less than the number stated? Is it true that the students were individually informed on enrolment of the likelihood that insufficient places would be available? Will the Minister nevertheless take what steps he can to remove the cause of concern?
-I recall the earlier question, and since then I have read the article in which this complaint was made. It was suggested in the article that out of 68 first year medical students at the University of Tasmania in Hobart, as it was put, 32 budding doctors would be prevented from entering second year because of a shortage of staff and facilities. This presented the situation in a manner which was incorrect in two respects. First of all, the restriction to 36 in the second year is one which has been had by the university for some time. The university applies its quota in the second year, not in the first year. For some years its quota has been 36. Students entering first year are informed of this. They are completely aware of it and they are aware also that, if they are not included in the quota for the second year, they will be able to continue with a science degree course.
Therefore, the inability of some students to continue in medicine in the second year is due not to a shortage of staff and facilities suddenly developing but to an existing policy of applying a quota in the second year. The second manner in which the honourable member is incorrect is in the suggestion that all the 68 students would pass and would be applying to enter second year in medicine. As I have said, this quota has applied for some time and having regard to failures it has never been quite filled. It is true that there was a slightly larger intake in first year on this occasion but whether people are excluded from second year will still .depend on the failure rate. It certainly could not be expected that 32 students would be excluded. Being a new medical school the failure rate has been rather high.
The honourable member asked whether I will inquire further into the matter. I expect to visit Hobart on Friday and Saturday of this week. I have arranged to make further inquiries there in case there are factors which have not been put before me. I conclude by saying that this quota is university policy and these restrictions have been put forward in the papers for this triennium. It would, of course, be open to the university, in preparing its submission for the next triennium, to make provision, if required, for larger facilities in its medical school. This would then be considered by the Australian Universities Commission.
– I address a further question to the Attorney-General relative to the matter raised by the Leader of the Opposition and me. Is the Attorney-General aware that it has been said on good authority that there is in the Melbourne Yugoslav Consulate another unexploded bomb which is expected to explode within the next half hour and that this bomb is considered by bomb disposal experts to be too dangerous to touch? Will the Attorney-General agree that the situation is now serious enough to warrant a full statement?
– I do not want to be thought to be treating this matter lightly because it is most serious. If I may say so I think the Deputy Leader of the Opposition may be making use of this occasion to indulge in a little too much rhetoric. Seriously, what does the Deputy Leader of the Opposition expect me to do? Does he expect me to seek leave of the House to make a statement while the bomb remains, if in fact it is there? The fact that an unexploded bomb has been reported still in the Consulate premises has no doubt caused the most serious attention to be given to the problem by the Victoria Police, which is the police force primarily responsible for dealing with such a situation. I thinkI have made the point very clear in my answers to a number of questions asked this morning that I view this matter most seriously. I am not persuaded by the logic of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition when he suggests that the presence of another bomb in the premises of this Consulate should require me to make a statement which I understand he wants me to make on the activities of the security service. I have already said that it is against long established policy to make such a statement. That is why I say the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has been indulging in a little too much rhetoric for political purposes.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. He will have noticed that the Opposition has asked at least 4 questions this morning about damage to the embassy of an iron curtain country by alleged right wing extremists. Can the Prime Minister recollect whether the Opposition evinced a similar concern when the American Embassy was attacked by alleged left wing extremists?
– I have been a little interested in the great interest shown by the Opposition in the reprehensible attack on the Yugoslav Embassy. But it has also been crossing my mind while this has been going on that not only was less interest shown when the American Embassy was attacked-
– The House was not sitting.
– Really! There was also less interest shown when my own office was attacked with a brick and a petrol bomb. No doubt I can understand why the Opposition and the Leader of the Opposition would regard them as being in different categories, but on the whole I think they come within the same category - they are all reprehensible. The Attorney-General is dealing with them, I believe, in a completely impartial way while the Opposition clearly is not.
– I desire to ask the Minister for the interior a question. Was the request for premises licensed to sell spirituous liquor on an Aboriginal reserve one which emanated from the Aboriginal people themselves or from the people who desired to open the business? Was the Office of Aboriginal Affairs or the Welfare Branch of the Northern Territory Administration consulted before the licence was granted?
– The situation in respect of the granting of a hotel licence at Nhulunbuy is that the matter is presently before the court at Nhulunbuy and the decision whether or not a hotel licence will be granted will be made by that court. It really would be quite improper for me to say anything about it at this time.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Immigration. Has the Minister seen Press reports that Australia’s migration drive this financial year has got off to a mixed start in August with fewer migrants overall but more professional workers? Do these reports reflect the present position? Do they suggest that we will receive fewer migrants than planned? What is the likely result in relation to the number of migrants from the United Kingdom, which has also been subject to Press comment?
– I have seen the Press reports to which the honourable member referred and I can say that they do not accurately reflect the present operational results in the early months of this year’s migration programme. In the first place, monthly figures do, of course, encompass too short a time frame to be taken as a criterion for an overall judgment of the working of the programme. If one were to do so it would be fair to say that the intake figures for the month of August were in fact higher than those for August of the previous year. So far as the overall pattern is concerned, as questioned by the honourable member, 1 can say in quite confident terms that we have every expectation that this year we will achieve our target of 180,000 migrants which, as the honourable member would appreciate, is a figure based upon an assessment of national needs and objectives, the availability of good settlers and our capacity to integrate those who come here. The honourable member also questioned the figures in relation to British migration. Although this year we will meet the overall target, I would expect that the British migration figures will be down and that we will receive somewhere between 60,000 and 65,000 British migrants. Of course, it is something which is regretted but we are positively pursuing a most vigorous policy of recruitment in that part of the world whilst at the same time recognising the need to diversify our sources in other parts of Europe as in fact we have done in recent years.
– My question is addressed to the Attorney-General and is supplementary to a question asked earlier this week by the honourable member for Warringah. It concerns the Commonwealth Government’s lack of emergency powers such as those recently invoked by the Government of Canada. Does this mean that if, for example, a hypothetical state secessionist movement in Australia resorted to terrorisation the Commonwealth would not be able legally to invoke its defence power-
-Order! The honourable member will be out of order if he asks a hypothetical question. The question must be based on fact.
– If 1 may speak to that-
-Order! The honourable member may not speak to it. The honourable member may rephrase his question if he so wishes, but he must base his question on fact.
– Does this mean that the Commonwealth would be unable legally to invoke such defence powers under section 51 (vi) of the Constitution? If it is true that the Commonwealth could not use its defence powers in the event of an undeclared civil war right here in Australia how could the use of such powers be valid for an undeclared civil war several thousand miles away, for example, in Vietnam?
– I shall answer the honourable member’s series of questions briefly because I think that is how they deserve to be answered. It is a series of highly hypothetical questions. I content myself with saying that the scope of the defence power depends on circumstances. It would be incorrect to say that the defence power could not be invoked in the case of widespread civil insurrection or civil war in the type of situation to which the honourable member adverts. I hope I have said enough to answer the honourable member’s question.
– 1 ask the PostmasterGeneral whether a new shift arrangement has been finalised between the Public Service Board and the various unions connected with the Postmaster-General’s Department, which will mean a 5-day working week. How will this arrangement affect the service to the public who pay for this Commonwealth Department but who appear to be getting the thin edge of the deal?
– Yesterday the Public Service Board made an offer to the Australian Council of Trade Unions and various Post Office unions folowing representations of some 2 or 3 months ago which themselves were followed by work studies within the Department, by unions and by officers of the Public Service Board. The effect of the offer which was made yesterday is, from the point of view of the Post Office, that in one area there will be an increase in hours and in other areas there will be a reduction in hours. In terms of penalty payments and substantial additional payments for overtime the total effect of those offers, if they are accepted by the unions, will be an additional cost to the Post Office of about $6£m.
I know that the Opposition tends to believe that these things can be justified. If the Post Office were to show an additional cost of $6im in its accounts and if the loss in the postal service increased by a comparable figure the Opposition would say that that was the result of inefficiency. It has to be realised that if costs are increased because tribunals give additional benefits to the work force, then the community in some way or another has to meet those increases. 1 do not believe that the Opposition’s attitude of having a statutory corporation to control an organisation such as the Post Office overcomes what I would regard as disastrous increases which can flow from some determinations of tribunals.
– Did the Minister for Trade and Industry tell the House on Monday that the weighted average of freights from Australia to Europe has increased since 1966 by only 4 J per cent? Did Mr H. Dean, the Chairman of the Australia to Europe Shipping Conference, say the same day that the increase was 7 per cent? Can the Minister reconcile these 2 figures? Does either figure take into account the devaluation of sterling in 1967? If not, will the Minister agree that the actual increase in freight rates has been significantly greater than either he or the Chairman suggests.
– I naturally do not do my own accountancy work in arriving at these figures. But my own Department has been responsible for concern with overseas shipping matters historically and it is the people within my own Department who are the specialists in this matter who furnished me with the figure which I quoted. This is a customary state of affairs, naturally, for all Ministers. I quoted the figure of a freight increase of 4i per cent on the weighted average since 1966. I believe that figure to be right. But in the light of the point which the honourable member raises, I will feel obliged to have a scrutiny made of what other counter statement has been made and discover whether the figure I quoted does stand up.
35-HOUR WORKING WEEK
– In view of the fact that Mr Hawke regards 1970 as the 35-hour week year, will the Minister for Trade and Industry inform the House what the likely repercussions would be to Australia’s export trade and industry generally and the consequent effect upon the cost of living of workers throughout Australia if the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions achieves his ambition?
– Might I very shortly state one or two basic facts which bear upon my reaction to the question which the honourable member asks. The fact of the matter is that the whole Australian economy to a large extent is dependent upon our capacity to import our requirements from overseas. These requirements include developmental materials, raw materials and so on, but very little of consumer goods. The foreign exchange with which we pay for these imports is, as to at least 70 per cent, earned by the primary export industries.
In selling overseas there is one factor which is most embraceably and constantly determined in capacity to sell and that is costs of production indicating whether a country can sell at a profit or a loss competitively in overseas markets. It is true that a country can sell at a loss for a period. This is an experience being endured by many primary industries today. But it is equally true that a country cannot indefinitely go on selling at a loss. An industry that is confronted with doing its business at a loss will not attract investment. Tt must shrink. It must diminish. To that extent, it must have an effect upon the whole capacity of the nation to have a stable economy as the result of its foreign exchange earnings.
No-one would question the fact that, if the working week were transformed from what I believe to be the average standard of 40 hours to a 35-hour week, the cost per unit of production must increase very, very substantially. Figures that I have seen in regard to the total annual cost of the introduction of the 35-hour week vary from $2,000m a year to $2,700m a year. I do not know which figure precisely is right or whether anyone would know what is precisely right. But this is the range of the cost that I have seen coming from authoritative calculations.
Under our system, it is possible when a new cost arises for most of the community in due course to get an adjustment that enables them to bear that cost. This may be an increase in wages or salaries, an increase in prices or whatever the devices may be. The one sector of the community that is utterly powerless to pass on this cost is the producer for export who must sell overseas with no relationship to his own cost of production but in competition with other sellers of the same products on the same market. I would say unhesitatingly that the introduction of a 35- hour week at this stage, or in the near future as Mr Hawke advocates, would bear unbearably upon a rural community which at present is really in pretty desperate straits in respect of many of our products. I would have not the slightest hesitation in saying that in due course the whole Australian nation would suffer from this. This is not to say that 1 or my Party or this Government is immutably opposed to the shortening of hours. This is not the position and never has been the position. The attitude that we take is that hours can be shortened if increased productivity takes care of the added burden of costs, and this is the history of the matter. In my day in this Parliament I have seen the standard hours come down from 48 to 44 and to 40, but there have been enormous increases in productivity, and that is the criterion that must be in the mind of every responsible knowledgeable Australian - and that does not seem to include Mr Hawke.
– Is the Minister for Education and Science aware that the United Nations General Assembly, by a unanimous vote in late 1968, designated 1970 as International Education Year? Will he tell the House what action the Government has taken to support and participate as a result of the United Nations decision and the United Nations Education, Scientific Cultural Organisation’s subsequent appeal to member states to prepare programmes for 1 EY? In other words, will he explain clearly in what way 1970 is different - educationally speaking - from 1969 or how 1971 will be different from 1970?
– Under the present Government every year is a year of intense activity in education. It is also perfectly clear, if an honest look is taken at the statistics and the expenditure, that there has been a massive yearly increase in expenditure on education, such as applies perhaps to no other field. Indeed, over a fairly short period of time the total expenditure on education in this country has risen from $500m to over $2,000m a year. When we realise that this money has come out of the pockets of the taxpayers it is clearly a substantial subject matter with which we are dealing. 1 think that the efforts of the Commonwealth Government in this field have been exceedingly good.
Having said that 1 will proceed to deal with this International Education Year. The Commonwealth Government has supported a number of international activities in education in Australia during this period. I will not go through the list of them, but I will call the honourable member’s attention to the meeting of the World Organisation of Teachers in August in Sydney which was opened at the Town Hall by the Prime Minister and in which in a financial way and to a substantial degree the Commonwealth Government gave support. There was also the inter-visitation programme, under which international visitors experienced in education came not only for a conference in Sydney but then broke up into groups and those groups visited various educational establishments in a number of States. Each group did not visit all States. Each group had particular areas allotted to it. This also was in connection with International Education Year. 1 could go on with the list but I will not take up the time of honourable members at question time. If the honourable member wants any further information I will give it in the form of a letter.
– Mr Speaker, 1 answered a question the other day in which I think the words 1 used might inadvertently have left a wrong impression. I was asked about the carpet in the Australian pavilion at Expo in Japan. The questioner used the term ‘Australian wool carpet’. On examining my answer 1 found that I used the term ‘carpet made from Australian wool’. What I was doing was extolling the value of wool as a fibre for carpet making as against synthetics. I do not wish to alter the impression that I had intended to leave. But the fact of the matter is that the wool carpet at Expo was made in Australia of wool that came from Australia, New Zealand, Britain, India and Pakistan. The great fame that Australia has as a wool growing country is in the production of apparel wool. Apparel wool when used exclusively in a carpet tends to felt, and it is necessary to mix some coarser imported wools with the Australian wool Wool, as a product for carpet making, stands unexcelled.
- Mr Speaker, I claim to have been misrepresented. I refer to a statement which appeared in today’s Sydney Morning Herald’. It deals with a matter which concerns the Minister for the Army (Mr Peacock). The statement is a full report on this matter. It refers to a resolution and amendment moved in the Labor Party Caucus, and goes on to state:
Mr Barnard then left the caucus meeting and told Mr Peacock of the Labor Party’s attitude. He advised him not to take the matter too seriously.
I want to inform the House that this resolution and the amendment were moved at the conclusion of the meeting of the Labor Party caucus. Immediately at the end of the meeting members of the Caucus moved across Kings Hall so that they could have their photograph taken outside Parliament House. I moved with the rest of the members of Caucus. I did not move sway from them. I certainly did not inform the Minister for the Army of the resolution, as implied in this Press statement.
– Mr Speaker, I seek leave to make a statement on the matter which I mentioned to you.
-Does the Leader of the Opposition wish to make a personal explanation in relation to the matter?
– I wish to make a personal explanation. It flows from the statement which the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) made in the adjournment debate last night - 12 hours ago. I have checked it in Hansard. I do not purport to know what the Prime Minister said to the representatives of the Australian Broadcasting Commission or what they said to him, but 1 can give the facts within my knowledge. I have appeared twice on “This Day Tonight’ recently - on Thursday night, 24th September, and on Monday night, 28th September. On the earlier occasion the Canberra representative of ‘This Day Tonight’, Mr Philip Koch, made the request to my office that I should appear with the Prime Minister if he could be prevailed on to appear. The answer was that 1 would. Later in the day my office was told that the Prime Minister would not be available but was asked whether i would appear with the Minister for Defence (Mr Malcolm Fraser). The answer was that I would, and I did that very evening.
On the morning of Saturday, 26th September, I was telephoned at my Sydney house by Mr Gerald Stone of ‘This Day Tonight’ who asked me to appear on the programme on the following Monday night. I had made arrangements to go to Queensland on both the Sunday and the Monday. Accordingly, the interview was recorded at the ABC studios, Gore Hill, in the early evening of Saturday, 26th September. The Prime Minister also appeared in a separate interview on Monday, 28th September.
Over the past 3 years there have been repeated requests not only from the ABC but from commercial stations for me to appear with the Prime Minister. On every occasion I have signified that I would gladly appear, but the confrontation has never eventuated.
– Mr Speaker, I seek leave to make a personal explanation because I believe that quite inadvertently the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitiam) is completely misrepresenting what I have said. I have never said on the occasion of which we are speaking that the Leader of the Opposition would not appear. He seems to have taken it into his mind that he has been accused of refusing to appear. What I have stated and what is the fact is that the Australian Broadcasting Commission in seeking to excuse its repudiation of an arrangement for me to go on ‘This Day Tonight’ said it did not think it was right for me to go on after it had thought about it because it had not asked Mr Whitlam to go on. I said: That has nothing to do with me, get him on’. It said: We cannot get him on’. It could not get him on; he had gone away somewhere. Eventually he was got on. This is exactly what was said to me - it could not get him on. There can be no question of that. I think the Leader of the Opposition is being far too sensitive about this because the point was not anything to do with him at all. The point was an accusation by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) that 1 had demanded time on the ABC when the facts were it was offered to me and then withdrawn because the Leader of the Opposition was not on it and could not be got on it.
– When are you going to appear?
– I do not see why 1 should give him a platform.
– 1 wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, maliciously and intentionally yesterday.
– Does the misrepresentation appear in the Hansard which you have?
– Yes. I have taken the first opportunity to raise this matter after checking Hansard. Yesterday, as will be seen on page 2560 of Hansard, the honourable member for Boothby (Mr McLeay) represented me as saying that conscripts are in some way criminals. I did not say that. 1 said that the conscription policy had made criminals of people who would otherwise have had unblemished records. I was obviously referring to people who had gone to gaol because they would not conform with that policy.
– by leave - For the information of honourable members I present the text of a trade agreement dated 21st July 1970 between the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia and the Government of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
This Agreement, signed by me on behalf of the Government on 21st July iti Belgrade, will come into force on the date on which the two countries notify each other that their respective constitutional and other requirements necessary to give effect to the Agreement have been complied with. The Agreement is further evidence of our efforts to diversify Australian export markets generally. Amongst other things, these efforts are designed to alleviate potential problems associated with the possible entry of Britain into the European Economic Community by broadening the basis of our trade.
This has, of course, been the policy of the Government for many years. Australian exports to Yugoslavia in 1969-70 were in excess of $I7m and there are further export prospects in this very promising market.
The economy of Yugoslavia is growing at a strong rate and market forces are allowed to influence purchasing decisions to an increasing extent. Australian businessmen will, therefore, be operating in a market with many familiar Western characteristics. In addition, the recent establishment of a direct Australia- Yugoslavia shipping service will be of further assistance to those exporters interested in this market. Yugoslavia is of interest not only for its market but also because of the unique status it has in relation to both the European Socialist countries and the Western countries. Whilst it has Associate status in the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance, generally referred to as COMECON, it is also a member of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, commonly known as GATT, the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. This unusual cross-roads position gives Yugoslavia trade access to both eastern and western Europe and some triangular trade is already developing.
Australian traders could be well advised to look into these aspects. The special position that Yugoslavia holds in relation to eastern Europe could be significant because of the potential which exists for the expansion of international trade with that area. Trade between eastern Europe and the Western countries has been expanding at about 8 per cent per annum in recent years. The area offers openings for wool and wool tops, wheat, meat, hides and skins and other raw materials, fresh, canned and dried fruit, dairy products, footwear, coal, iron ore and pellets, and other items of export interest to Australia. Trade is a twoway street and if our exports to Yugoslavia are to increase we must expect increases in imports from Yugoslavia.
I discussed these matters in the course of my visit to Belgrade and I would anticipate that Yugoslavian exporters will make increased efforts in the Australian market. The basis of the Agreement with Yugoslavia is a simple exchange of mostfavourednation tariff treatment. Its existence is expected to benefit trade between the two countries as it gives a stable and secured basis for the expansion of mutual trade and provides a concrete indication to traders that it is the wish of the two Governments that trade be expanded. The Department of Trade and Industry stands ready to assist businessmen in their endeavour to increase trade with Yugoslavia and other countries in the area.
– by leaveThe Opposition welcomes this Agreement and congratulates the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) on his initiative and on the part that he has played in it. This Agreement has a number of very significant aspects and, without allowing any further time to pass, on behalf of the Opposition I would like to make clear what we think these aspects are. Australia’s export situation is very serious; it is desperate. The Minister was reported in the Press yesterday as saying that the decline in wool prices to a point lowest since 1946 is a national disaster. I think it is well for the Australian people, this Parliament and the Government to realise the serious nature of Australia’s export situation. The rate of growth of this country is limited by our capacity to export. It is not that the rural industries - the export industries - represent such a large proportion of Australia’s gross national product. It is not in this sense in any way that Australia rides on the sheep’s back. The significance of exports for Australia is that our rate of growth is limited by our capacity to export. Unless there are significant changes in our exports over the next decade our exports will not allow the rate of growth in Australia that we have had during the last decade. 1 sometimes wonder whether the Minister for Trade and Industry is as much supported by other Ministers of the Government in realising the significance of this as he should be. I believe that unless certain changes take place in the next decade we will not be able to support the rate of growth in gross national product that we have had in the last 10 years.
What changes could take place that would prevent this from happening. The most important is raising living standards in countries where living standards are now low. In almost every one of these countries where living standards are low there is a significant political situation. The evidence is now conclusive that living standards in these countries will not rise significantly unless there are political and national changes there that amount, in fact, to a national revolution. Yugoslavia, according to the Minister for Trade and Industry, is now growing at a strong rate. If the economies of less developed countries are to grow at a strong rate there must be significant political and national changes. But Australia is not on the side of those changes. It has not been easy for the Australian Government to reach a trade agreement with Yugoslavia, because Yugoslavia is a Communist country.
It is not easy for the present Australian Government to show any sympathy to those forces in the less developed countries which must come to the top if there is to be the increase in the living standards of those countries that can generate a demand that will help to solve Australia’s export problems. This is all too apparent in the case of China. The old order in the less developed countries will not and cannot produce policies that will allow rising standards, but the Australian Government has identified itself with the old orders in the less developed countries. There can be no appropriate, amenable arrangement to allow Australian exports to increase unless the attitude of the Australian Government changes. We know very well that in some parts of the Australian Government the attitude has changed. We know that the Australian Country Party is in favour of trade with China. We know that the Country is in favour of trade with Yugoslavia. We know that the Country Party would be in favour with trade of any of these new national emerging forces despite their politics, because the Country Party thinks in money rather than in ideology in these matters. It gets the best of the deal, of course, by being as anti-Communist as anyone else and it talks to an audience which does not find it apparently inconsistent to sell $200m to $300m worth of commodities to China at the same time.
– And iron and steels.
– Iron and steel as well. They do not see any inconsistency in selling these products to China at the same time as it is said: ‘We are in great danger because of the downward thrust of China’. The Country Party is supported by people who are realistic enough to accept both those deals or unable to see the difference between them. The point I want to make strongly is that the first change that has to take place in the Australian Government’s policy is to establish a more favourable relationship with those people in the less developed countries who have come to the top if those economic, social and political changes have to take place in those countries that will allow their living standards to develop. The old order cannot do it The old order is made up of landlords, aristocrats, officials, generals and money lenders like-
– This sounds like the thoughts of Mao.
– Like you would be if you were there. The Minister is a landlord - an old aristocrat. He is part of the old order and is just like the people in Latin America. If he were in Latin America or in Rhodesia he would be exactly the same as those who dominate those countries and who have no thought whatever for the poor people but who believe in their own superiority.
-Order! I would suggest that the honourable member come back to the matter before the House.
– Tell the honourable member not to interject. If you want order, keep him quiet.
-Order! The honourable member will not address the Chair in that manner.
– The point I am making is that there must be a change, with which the Minister for Trade and Industry is completely in agreement, and we must establish more favourable relations with the people in the less developed countries that are willing to raise the living standards of their people, like the Government of Yugoslavia is willing to raise the living standards of the people in that country and the Government of China is willing to raise the living standards of the people of China. For 5 or 6 centuries there was never a government in China which was willing to import millions of dollars worth of wheat to feed its people. Prior to the present Mao Tse-tung Government the history of China was that the people starved. China had a history of famines, but there has been no famine in China since Mao Tse-tung came to power. There was no government in China that was prepared to buy millions of dollars worth of wheat from overseas to feed its people until Mao Tse-tung came to power. These, of course, are facts that cannot be disputed.
The Government of Yugoslavia has governed more in the interests of the people of Yugoslavia and of that area than any government for centuries has governed in the interests of those people. The Government of China has governed more in the interests of the Chinese since 1949 than governments in China have governed in the interests of those people for several centuries past. The point I am making - and it is obvious that it has to be made because in this House there are members who will not accept this and who will not come to favourable arrangements with the new people in the world - is that the third force that is emerging is taking a stand which is consistent with raising the living standards of their own people. In Australia we will not be able to sustain a rate of gross national product increase in the next decade equal to the one we have sustained in the last decade unless we arc willing to change our attitude to the forces - the people - in the less developed countries that will raise the living standards of the people in those countries. Australia must follow a policy amenable to those changes. Australia must recognise the Government of China before long. Australia will recognise the Government of China before long because Australia will be moved into this by money, and money has more influence on the people who make decisions in this Government than does ideology. Members opposite will choose money rather than ideology when they have the choice to make.
Everybody knows why Canada has recognised China. Canada has recognised China because it will give her a better position to sell wheat to China. Sooner or later the Australian Wheat Board will tell members opposite about this and sooner or later the pressures through the Country Party and through the Minister for Trade and Industry will be to keep up with Canada in the recognition of China. As Bob Dylan or Pete Seeger said: “The times they are a’changing’. The old antiCommunist does not have quite the same sound on the day that the Government signs a trade agreement with a Communist country. So I say that we should look forward soon to a government in this country which will be prepared to establish more favourable relations with these new national forces in Asia, Africa and Latin America instead of with the broken-down old generals, the worn-out aristocrats, the landlords and money lenders who take half to two-thirds of a crop in rent and interest and leave nothing for the ordinary peasant or worker for income to buy Australian wheat and wool. These worn out old aristocrats and generals whom the Government is supporting do not even have the decency to buy Australian wool or wheat. They live at a much higher standard than that and most of their surplus goes into Swiss banks, not even American banks. So it is time that these changes occurred.
I come to the third change that has to take place. The Minister for Trade and Industry has done as much as any man in the history of Australian government to move in this direction. I refer to his willingness to supplement free enterprise by government action and his willingness to sign trade agreements so we can have a better idea of what our trade future will be, so we can anticipate our problems and make arrangements to meet those problems, and so shipping services can go to the places where they are needed. The Minister for Trade and Industry spoke of the operation of a shipping service to Yugoslavia. But we need also banking and insurance arrangements in which the Government has to take the initiative and has to innovate. We need vigorous and effective selling activity and vigorous and effective selling agencies. All these things have started during the time that the right honourable gentleman has been the Minister for Trade and Industry. Australia is indebted to him and those people in his Department who have been willing to take the initiative in these fields. We would say that what has been done has not gone far enough, but it is a substantial beginning.
Many of our relations in these fields have been in the hands of conventional free enterprise and too many of them have been European orientated. In the past we just did not have connections with Asia and other countries with which we increasingly have to trade. Everyone knows that the outstanding trade statistic is that in 1939 over 60 per cent of our trade both ways was with north-western Europe, most of it with Great Britain, whereas now that trade is below 20 per cent of our total. That is the most significant trade statistic and probably the most significant economic statistic in Australia. All our conventional free enterprise arrangements - shipping, insurance, banking and selling - were orientated with places where we did 60 per cent of our trade in 1 939. and they are still orientated with those places although we now do only 20 per cent of our trade with them. Unfortunately we are tied in these conventional links in this area and we have to have government initiative and government innovation to lead us into the new world where our future lies. If we do not enter that world in the next decade we will have nothing like the rate of growth in our gross national product that we have had in the last 10 years.
For all these reasons we on this side welcome this agreement. It fits some of the requirements I have just mentioned. Not only do we have a trade agreement with Yugoslavia, but we have an immigration agreement with that country. Yugoslavia has become the second or third largest source of migrants. Of course Yugoslavia, although a Communist country, is somewhat more bilateral than most. The Minister for Trade and Industry in his statement pointed out that Yugoslavia was in some ways the bridge between eastern and western Europe. He pointed out that the agreements of this country tend to span this gap. For this reason Yugoslavia is of special significance.
This agreement is of significance to the second point that I have emphasised, that is, establishing relations with a government with which Australia, up until recent times, has been roughly unwilling to have constructive relations. I want to say a few words about the limits of this agreement. The value of our exports to Yugoslavia, for instance, has varied from (15m a year in 1965-66 up to $17m in 1969-70. It was $ 18.8m in 1966-67. That is not a very large figure. When we look at the composition of that figure we see that the largest item is textile fibres, which has been running at from $10m to $15m a year. The only other significant item is hides and skins, which has been running at from $2m to $3m during these years. Then we have to come down to metal ores to find another figure that amouts to Sim. All the rest of the 40 or 50 items are quite insignificant.
What does the Minister consider this agreement will do to increase our trade with Yugoslavia? He mentioned wool and wool tops, wheat, meat, hides and skins and other raw materials, fresh, canned and dried fruit, dairy products, footwear, coal, iron ore and pellets, and other items of export interest to Australia. He did not tell us what is being done. Are there Australians in Yugoslavia, and are they working in these fields? He gave an indication that these were the field of interest to Australia but he did not give the House any information about whether anything was being done and, if so, what was being done. Righly, towards the end of his statement, he said.
Trade is a two-way street and if our exports to Yugoslavia are to increase then we must expect increases in imports from Yugoslavia.
This is a very critical and crucial aspect of this agreement, because when we turn to the statistics we find that the value of our imports from Yugoslavia was only $700,000 in 1965-66, $342,000 in the following year, and $602,000 for the next year. It exceeded $lm in only 1 year, and that was 1968-69, when the figure was $1.7m. So far this year the value of our exports from Yugoslavia amount to $880,000. In every year except one we have taken less than Sim worth of imports from Yugoslavia and we have sent to that country exports ranging in value from $15m to Si 8.8m.
In the modern practical world no country can expect to have growing trade with another country unless it is two-way growing trade. The limits on this agreement are precisely these limits. If we are to increase our trade with Yugoslavia, of course the account can be settled by multilateral trade relations with other countries and there will be no difficulty in Yugoslavia paying. But from a hard, practical, realistic business point of view we have to do more. We have to buy more from Yugoslavia if this agreement is to grow. So far we have imported very little this year. The most significant item was leather, which accounted for only $100,000 or so. This was followed by textile yarn, fruit and vegetables and, more recently, professional and scientific instruments, and lastly chemical elements and compounds. Those 5 items are the only ones worth mentioning.
If this agreement is to mean something there will have to be an increase in our imports from Yugoslavia. In what areas will this increase be? The Minister did no; mention them. He is well aware of the things that he wants us to sell to Yugoslavia, but he did not mention the things that he thinks Yugoslavia will be able to sell increasingly to Australia. If there is an increase in imports this will affect the Australian producers. There will be resistance from the Australian producers of some of the items 1 have mentioned. There will bt* resistance from the producers of leather and textile yarn and perhaps from the fruit and vegetable growers in Australia. We will have questions from the back benches on both sides of the House if this goes on. The Australian chemical industry is in a very uneconomic situation today. There will be pressures from that industry and also from the manufacturers of professional and scientific instruments.
My main criticism of the Tariff Board, the Minister for Trade and Industry and his Department is that we do not look at the areas which are likely to be affected by an increasing flow of imports. We wait until these things happen. We wait until the people who have been hurt set up a shout, then some arrangement is made. Generally this leads to a higher tariff or an emergency duty to keep out these items. This is where I criticise what is going on. 1 think we have to set up machinery that will allow changes to take place. If it is necessary to transfer some Australian resources out of an industry in Australia to allow increased imports, arrangements have to be made to allow those transfers to take place. We have to be able to compensate the people affected.
It may be necessary to build in retraining arrangements; it may be necessary even to compensate the holders of the capital. I am quite sure that a laissez-faire Treasurer such as the present Treasurer (Mr Bury) will never be prepared to do these things until circumstances push him to the brink. Unless the authorities in this country are prepared to see the necessity of establishing the means to gear in retraining schemes and provide compensation in some cases for the holders of capital that has to be transferred out to allow the kind of imports that we need to make a solution of our exports problem possible, we can never do the job.
For a long time Australia was regarded as one of the leaders in this field, but we have now fallen behind practically every other comparable country. We are no longer in the lead in the innovations necessary to solve problems of this kind. For many years Australia took the lead in social legislation. We were among those who were in the lead. Now we are a long way behind countries such as Western Germany, the Scandinavian countries and Japan in our ability to make these adjustments which are necessary to remove the resistances that a competitive free enterprise economy invariably puts in the way of economic change and development. There is no indication whatever from the Minister, his Department or from the Tariff Board that they are even aware of the necessity for these developments.
I want to mention only one final matter. The Yugoslav Consulate was bombed this morning, on the same day as the Minister announced the signing of a trade agreement with Yugoslavia. I ask the Parliament and the country whether there is any coincidence in this? Of course there is. The Yugoslav Consulate was bombed because the trade agreement was signed. Terrorism is senseless, cruel and criminal. The history of terrorism has shown that it never achieves its purpose. Terrorism tends to damage the situation of those who are senseless enough to use it.
– It would have in Vietnam but for the United States and Australia.
– It is a totally different situation in that country. What you call terrorism by the National Liberation Front is justified by the National Liberation Front from its viewpoint. If you were Vietnamese and you were there you would be doing the same thing if you had any courage and decency. A war is being fought in Vietnam; there is no war in Australia. The bombing of the Yugoslav Consulate is not part of a war. But what the honourable member is attacking in Vietnam is part of a war. If he does not understand the position of the Vietnamese people who are fighting in that country he is Jess than human. There is no parallel whatever between the situation in Vietnam and the situation in Australia. 1 suggest that the Government has an extensive and detailed knowledge of antiYugoslav terrorism in this country. A recent report of the Department of External Affairs stated that there had been some demonstrations against Yugoslav officers in Australia-
-Order! The honourable member was given leave to make a statement following the statement made by the Minister for Trade and Industry about a trade agreement signed between Australia and Yugoslavia. The honourable member will not be allowed to digress to the extent that I think be is intending to digress. The honourable member was given leave to speak on the trade agreement.
- Mr Speaker, with all respect to what you have just said, I suggest it is not much good signing trade agreements with a country if you are to bomb its consulate on the same day. I think there is a pretty close connection between these things.
– Older! If the honourable member can show this he will be allowed to continue. But he cannot reply to interjections. We are not here to wander all over the place. The honourable member cannot refer to Vietnam and other places. Leave was granted to the honourable member to make a statement about the trade agreement with Yugoslavia.
– I shall show the relevance of this. What I am saying is that I believe the Government is responsible for this bombing. I think the Government has been soft on these Yugoslav terrorists. The very day that these people assembled outside of the Yugoslav Consulate in Sydney who should walk along the street at that time but the Minister for External Affairs (Mr McMahon). What did he say when interviewed by the Press? He said: ‘These are fine men; they are great migrants to Australia and it is great to have them’. The Minister was talking about the people who are bombing Yugoslav Consulates.
What happened in Geelong? You have the ignorant and you have the unaware. The then Minister for Immigration attended a function in Geelong at which there was a photograph of Ante Pavelic who is the symbol and god of these people. But what did he say? The former Minister said that he thought this person was the president of the club. There are people in this Government who know the difference between Ante Pavelic and the president of a club and who are thoroughly sympathetic with the Croatians who are responsible for this terrorism.
-Order! 1 remind the honourable member that I have already drawn his attention to the fact that he is going outside of the ambit of the debate.
- Mr Speaker, my argument is that it is not much good a government signing a trade agreement with a country if ministers in that government are sympathetic with people who bomb its consulates.
-Order! I do not think this has any relevance to the statement that was made by the Minister for Trade and Industry.
– It seems to me that there is a close link between these 2 things. I am sorry that the point is cutting members on the other side of the House so deeply. Its effect is showing the intensity of its relevance. I cannot for a moment fail to put this point. Indeed, I would be failing in my responsibility if I did not put it. While the Government has been in office the Yugoslav Consulate has been bombed 5 times. No arrests have been made and as far as I know no-one has ever been questioned.
-Order! I will not allow the honourable member for Lalor to continue in this vein.
– I am sorry that it is embarrassing.
– It is not a bit embarrassing to me. The fact is that Standing
Orders have been formulated to be interpreted by me and I cannot see that this matter has any relevance.
– 1 think 1 have made the point very clear. I conclude by asking the Minister for Trade and Industry, who in the past has done a very creditable job - he has done more than any other Minister in this field in the history of this country - whether he is satisfied with the attitude of other members of his Government to the country with which he has just signed an agreement?
– The answer is yes.
– I present the following paper:
Taxation - Forty-ninth Report of the Commissioner of Taxation dated 1st October 1970. and move:
That the report be printed.
Honourable members will recall that it is the practice of the House to agree forthwith to the motion to print this paper so that it may be covered by parliamentary privilege. This course has the concurrence of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). When the motion to print is agreed to, the report will be circulated immediately.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate without amendment:
Agricultural Tractors Bounty Bill 1970
Income Tax Assessment Bill 1970.
That, unless otherwise ordered, commencing on Tuesday, 27th October and continuing until and including Friday, 30th October, the House shall meet for the despatch of business on the following days and at the times specified:
Tuesday, 27th October - 2.30 p.m.
Wednesday, 28th October- 2.30 p.m.
Thursday, 29th October- 10.30 a.m.
Friday, 30th October- 10.30 a.m.
This motion determines the days of sitting next week and the hour of commencement of the sitting for each day from Tuesday to Friday. I hope that the sittings will finish next Friday. I am unable to say at this time whether they will or will not finish but I expect that they will. If it is necessary to sit beyond next Friday to complete the legislative programme then we will resume on the following Monday and sit as necessary. If that is necessary I will introduce another motion towards the end of next week. I would have to give notice on the Thursday that I would move a motion on the Friday and on that day I would notify the House of the times of sitting.
– I just want to raise my voice on behalf of the silent minority around this place, the people who supply the resources which make this Parliament work. To start with, has anybody given any consideration whatsoever to what a series of 4-days-a-week meetings running late into the night means to all the people who make this Parliament work, including the Hansard people, the Library people and the staff everywhere else? Not a single thought is ever given to them. I raise this point particularly because T know that the Library is coming under increasing pressure, lt is highly discourteous and thoughtless to conduct business in this way. For instance, as far as the Library is concerned at present, the pressure on the resources of the research and reference service is being accentuated by 3 additional factors according to a report which was prepared recently. These include extended sitting hours, extended sessional periods, the reduction of the winter recess to about 8 weeks, and so on. That is my first point. When are we going to start considering people as human beings? If we do not care about ourselves, that is our affair. If we are idiots enough to treat ourselves like this it is perhaps our affair, although I blame the people on the other side who mutely accept the way in which the Leader of the House (Mr Snedden) runs the place.
On behalf of all those who can say nothing for themselves, let me put my plea on record and let us hope that in the future something is done to regard this place as an institution which relies on human beings for its successful function ing. The other thing that I want to say is that I believe this variation to be a breach of faith. On 3rd September we passed a motion to the effect that we would go through a cycle of 2 weeks on and 1 week off and that this cycle would come into operation on 13th October 1970. I want to make my position clear. In the initial discussions about the meetings of Parliament which were conducted by the Standing Orders Committee I thought that we ought to run a series of perhaps 4-day or 5-day weeks in a regular way. I have no objection to the Parliament meeting consistently as long as it is prepared for it and as long as people are advised of it. But only a few weeks ago after a long discussion and serious consideration of all the disabilities we decided on a free vote that we would meet on a cycle of 2 weeks on and 1 week off. I want to make it quite clear that I personally do not mind if we meet continuously. I thought that that would have been better in many ways, but I accepted the majority view.
But here almost before the ink has dried upon the printed word, after coming back from a week’s recess the message comes floating round through the system that the Parliament will not do that but will do something else, that it will meet for 4 weeks until we have completed whatever the programme is. That is another thing. Ever since 1 have been here we have been complaining about the rights of the member and saying that the backbench member is ignored and that nobody takes any notice of him. Yet we continue in this vein. Why are we going to do this? Why have we broken this resolution of the House? It has been broken because the Senate election will be held on 21st November. Why is the Senate election being held on 21st November? I understand that it is because His Holiness the Pope will visit Australia late in November and nobody wants the Senate election confused with that event. Why must it be held on 21st November? Somewhere in the deliberations of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and the Leader of the House they got out their pocketbook, or whatever shirt cuff they happened to be running the country from at that moment and they decided that they would have it then.
I understand that the election could be held at any time until May next year, so if is not only discourteous to the people who run this place but, 1 believe, it is a breach of faith and a breach of the result of the discussions we held here. The lighthearted way in which this decision was made about the Senate election is what makes me weep. If this is the way the Government runs the Parliament, no wonder the country is a continuing mess. We have just seen the Leader of the House, the man who stands up and sneers at the idea of a 35-hour week and so on, the man who is supposed to be responsible for the development of good industrial relations in this country, handling the situation in this haphazard fashion. He hopes that he will get everything through next week. If we do not we will come back the following Monday. We will salute smartly, march off and, I have no doubt, do exactly as we are told. We have a new system here; it is not parliamentary democracy, it is the system of Sneddenism. It has nothing to do with government by discussion, it has something to do with government by confusion. Whan there is not chaos there is hiatus. We are running from week to week in a great panic wanting to get everything through. Suddenly we come to a dead halt.
We will grind to a halt in a few weeks time and then vanish into the limbo. The Government will dive into recess taking with it, it hopes, the report of the Australian National Line before we get a chance to discuss it properly and taking with it all the other things on the notice paper, and we, the representatives of the great democracy, will slide into the limbo with them. I do not understand how we can possibly operate a country under these conditions. But I raise my voice on behalf of the Parliament itself which passed its resolution, and on behalf of the staff who are going to have continuing and heavier pressures placed upon them over the next few weeks. The members of this Parliament might well do what they like to themselves but I believe that this is a serious breach of our responsibility to the people who run the place and is not the way we conduct the government of this country. We should not allow the kind of operations that are now predicted to take place.
There is also the matter of the 11 o’clock rule. What sort of idiots are we to keep going day after day and night after night, turning up here at 9 o’clock in the morning and going through to 2 or 3 o’clock the next morning? How can we run the country that way? How can we do our work properly? How can we apply ourselves in a properly industrious manner? If parliamentary democracy gets into continuing disrepute because of this we are the people to blame. I hope that before we get round to the discussion on the second part of this proposal, the operation of the 11 o’clock rule, all honourable members opposite will start to show some of this vigour and determination and dynamic private enterprise spirit they all talk about. When one talks to them in private conversation they are full of grief about it. They say: T wish we did not work late at night. Why do we go on like this?’ I have heard the Prime Minister and other distinguished members say it in private conversation. Why do they not vote against late nights? They are private revolutionaries and public doormats.
– This would not be the first occasion we have heard the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) speak in a similar vein to that in which he spoke a few moments ago. Year after year, on every occasion on which any alteration of sitting times such as extended sitting hours takes place the honourable member for Wills is always on his feet giving a whole lot of claptrap as to why we should not be altering the sitting times. I think I am correct in saying that orginally the honourable member for Wills said that this House would commence on a new formula of sitting 2 weeks on and virtually 1 week off. Because of the announcement of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) to the effect that we would have a Senate election of 21st November and that certain legislation had to be resolved in this place before that election it was decided that we would sit for 4 weeks straight. Because of the efficiency of the Leader of the House (Mr Snedden) and the co-operation of the Government we now find ourselves in a position in which we hope to be able to complete the legislative programme in 3 weeks. For my part, I am very much in favour of it. No-one likes to sit to an ungodly hour of the morning to deal with legislation but we must remember that the legislation must be dealt with.
I am interested to note that the honourable member for Wills has made his comments and is vacating the chamber. He is not prepared to listen to the other side of the argument. Nevertheless, the only point I really wish to raise on this occasion is that honourable members will recall that earlier this week I asked the Prime Minister whether he would consider bringing the House back after the Senate election in the event of certain legislation not being passed or at least not being brought before this House. I am referring to the measures which affect the wool industry. I would like to ask the Leader of the House whether he has considered this point. After all, this is very important legislation. Naturally, I would agree that, if it could not be brought in or if there was some doubt about its being brought in in the fourth week of this sitting, it is impossible to see bow it would be brought in in the 3 weeks. It has been suggested that some sort of temporary legislation may be introduced. I would like to know whether the Government has made any progress on this matter. If there is going to be no legislation in the next 2 weeks will the Leader of the House give me and many supporters of the Government, in particular those connected with the wool industry, an indication whether we will be dealing with this very important legislation this side of Christmas?
– I had anticipated that the House would oppose the suspension of the 11 o’clock rule which is covered by standing order No. 103. As a result of what has been said by the honourable member for Wimmera (Mr King) one or two things ought to be said in relation to this matter. Iri a sense, they should be taken together. The honourable member raised a very important point about what the House intends to do after the Senate election. I would have been opposing, and will oppose, on behalf of the Opposition, the suspension of the 11 o’clock rule, for very obvious reasons. The Leader of the House (Mr Snedden) indicated the programme for next week. The House will sit on Monday and will adjourn, one would think, early on Tuesday. It will rise on Friday or in the very early hours of Saturday morning, if the Government and the Leader of the House anticipate that the business that is before the Parliament can be completed. ° The plain fact is that the business before the House cannot be completed in that time. One has only to look at the notice paper to see clearly that it would not be possible for members of this Parliament to deal with all the matters on the notice paper unless we sit late at night every night next week. 1 do not anticipate that the Leader of the House will keep the House in session into the early hours of the morning every day next week, but if we are to be able to complete the business this would be necessary. Therefore, I think it is relevant to deal with one or two of the issues that are involved when we consider the notice paper and the Government’s decision to raise the House at the end of next week. In fairness to the Leader of the House 1 should say that he did indicate that if the business was not concluded by the end of next week Parliament would sit the following week until the business had been completed. 1 submit to the House that if we were to deal with all of the matters that are on the notice paper this Parliament would have to sit well into December, even excluding the period that will be occupied by honourable members campaigning in the Senate election. To illustrate what I mean in this respect -et me indicate that the Government has now resolved that we will complete the business on the notice paper - I refer to the notice paper for Thursday, 22nd October - and that we will complete the Bills listed on the notice paper down to No. 19, the Education Research Bill.
This means that there are 19 Bills to be dealt with next week. I put it to the Minister - indeed, I put it to the nation and to this Parliament - that it would not be possible for honourable members in this House to be able to deal sensibly and responsibly with 19 Bills in the short time that is available to them next week, even if one takes account of the fact that there will be late sitting nights. We will be dealing with 19 Bills, a number of them containing controversial issues, upon which there is some difference of opinion between the Government and the Opposition about how these Bills ought to be determined, whether they should be amended or whether they should be approved by the
Parliament. Some of them concern controversial issues which will almost certainly bring about a debate in this Parliament. The only way that the Government can deal with 19 Bills, even having late sitting nights, will be for it to apply the guillotine. The most serious aspect of this is that while we may complete 19 Bills - obviously, these are the Bills that the Government has determined are important, that ought to be completed and passed through this House before it rises at the end of next week- the plain fact is that there are 12 Bills which will not be dealt with. The 12 Bills that will not be dealt with during this session are the same Bills as. were on the notice paper during the first session of Parliament this year. f refer honourable members to the Immigration (Education) Bill to which my colleague the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) referred during the first session of the Parliament in 1970. He made a number of requests to the Leader of the House in an endeavour to ascertain when the Bill would be brought on. 1 repeat, that was in the first session of the Parliament early in 1970. This House will go into recess at the end of next week or probably the middle of the following week, if one can accept the proposition of the Minister. This Bill will remain on the notice paper until 1971. It is clear that here is a Bill which will have been on the notice paper for almost 12 months when this Parliament resumes. I refer honourable members to the Australian War Memorial Bill, the Sugar Agreement Bill, the Mapping Surveys Bill and the Territorial Sea and Continental Shelf Bill. Is there anyone in this House who is going to suggest that the latter Bill is not a matter that ought to be discussed in the Federal Parliament? This Bill was on the notice paper in the first session of the Parliament this year. It has remained on the notice paper for the whole of this session and it is one of the 12 Bills that the Government will place back on the notice paper in 1971. Of course, we have no assurance that even in 1971 we will be able to deal with the Bill.
L turn now to another very important aspect, which reinforces what I am putting to the House, which is the need for this Parliament to sit much longer than the period indicated by the Leader of the House. Surely he does not suggest that it is necessary for honourable members to sit into the late hours of the night in order to conclude the business. The Senate election will be held on 21st November. If we take the 9 days in November and then go into December - surely it is reasonable to argue that the eai earlierst date on which the Parliament should rise is 4th December - this means that there is a clear month in which the Parliament would be able to deal not only with the 19 Bills that we will be expected to discuss next week but also with the 12 Bills which I have pointed out to the House remain on the notice paper and will otherwise be there when we came back in 1971.
I turn to one other aspect to indicate just how important it is for this House to sit longer than the Government has determined. I refer honourable members again to today’s notice paper. For the information of the Minister, 465 questions that have not been answered still remain on the notice paper. Will these 465 questions be answered next week or will honourable members be receiving answers to their questions in December, after the Senate election, or early in the New Year?
I pose this question to the House: Who is the greatest offender in relation to the 465 questions on notice which remain to be answered? The greatest offender in this respect is the Minister for Labour and National Service - the Leader of the House - the Minister who wants to close down the Parliament. Of the 465 questions on notice remaining to be answered, 121 are directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. These questions are the responsibility of the Minister.
One could continue to point out how the Government intends to treat this Parliament and how irresponsible its attitude is when it determines that it will conclude the business of the House by the end of next week. I have referred to the number of questions on notice which are the responsibility of the Minister for Labour and National Service to answer and which remain to be answered. But he is not the only one. The Treasurer (Mr Bury) has 35 questions on notice to answer. Thirty-seven questions on notice directed to the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) remain unanswered. The Minister for Defence (Mr Malcolm Fraser) has 34 questions on notice to which he has not replied. Altogether, I repeat that more than 400 questions on notice remain unanswered.
Finally, 1 turn to the Notice Paper becauseI submit that the question is not merely the business that this Government ought to bring forward or the question of the determination by the Government of the business that ought to be concluded before the House rises. 1 submit that the Opposition has some responsibility in these matters. It is entitled to have on the Notice Paper the matters that it has in the form of matters for discussion under the heading of ‘General Business’. Surely we could expect that the Government would treat these notices of motion more seriously than it has. I gave notice of I motion in 1969; it is on the Notice Paper in 1970. I will have to put it back on the Notice Paper in 1971. I think the same situation applies as far as my colleague, the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson), is concerned. He has a notice of motion listed which is not likely to be dealt with by the Parliament. Yet, these are important issues not only to honourable members who sit on this side of the House. They are important issues that ought to be dealt with before the Senate election is embarked upon. Most of these motions relate to issues which obviously will be matters for discussion during the course of the Senate election.
Let me conclude on this note: I say that it is completely irresponsible first for this Government to determine that there should be late sitting hours next week merely to conclude consideration of 19 Bills which, in normal circumstances, would take probably 2 weeks at least with which to deal. Twelve Bills will be left on the Notice Paper. All those Bills were there at the beginning of 1970. More than 400 questions on notice remain to be answered. Important matters have been placed on the notice paper by honourable members on this side of the House. No opportunity will be given to the honourable members to debate these issues. I think that the Minister ought to reconsider both of the motions that he has proposed - that is, the motion that he has moved in relation to sitting days and the motion that he will move in respect of the suspension of the11 o’clock rule.
If the Government has determined that the Parliament should adjourn for the holding of the Senate election - nobody would deny that this must be done - it is within the power of thegovernment to call Parliament together after 21st November. The membership of the House of Representatives and, indeed, the Senate will not be altered as a result of the Senate election. Those who are elected to the Senate as a result of the forthcoming election will not take their places in the Senate until 1st July 1971. The membership of the House of Representatives will not be altered. No alteration will occur immediately in the composition of the Senate. Surely, in these circumstances, there is no logical reason why this Government should not be prepared to call the Parliament together again after 21st November. This would mean that we could deal, I believe rationally and sensibly, as I have already indicated, with the Bills that will remain on the notice paper. I therefore urge not only those members on this side ofthe House but also those members on the Government side who believe that today insufficient opportunities are available to debate the legislation that is on the notice paper - legislation that concerns the people of this country - to support my stand. For these reasons we will be opposing both motions.
Motion (by Mr Giles) put:
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker - Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority . . 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
This action is taken in each parliamentary session as we reach the end of the session. This has been done for decades, and for decades people have got up in response to the motion and have said that it is legislation by exhaustion. They are sure to use this term, but it is nothing of the kind at all. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) normally enunciates for 20 minutes on this issue but he has already taken his 20 minutes on the last issue. Histrionically he deserves an award for it and I admired his performance today. I thought his performance today was better than it had been on prior occasions on this matter.
– On a point of order. Have we yet dealt with notice No. 1? I thought we were voting on whether the question be put.
– Order! I point out to the honourable member for Adelaide that we have already voted on the motion that the question be put. The question has already been put and the House has agreed to it. We are now dealing with the further motion.
– ‘When we were debating the last motion the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that the matters had coalesced and he was speaking on both matters at the same time. We have had the debate and I therefore would like to move that the question be put.
-Order! I point out to the Leader of the House that the question has not actually been proposed from the Chair, and the suggested motion cannot be moved until the question has been proposed by the Chair. I now put the question that the motion moved by the Leader of the House be agreed to.
-I object strongly to the Parliament being required to deal-
Motion (by Mr Snedden) put:
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker - Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority . . , . 6
That standing order 103 be suspended until the end of the year.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker - Mr P. E. Lucock)
Bill presented by Mr Bury, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The main purpose of this Bill is to authorise the payment in 1970-71 at special grants of $5m to South Australia and $13,680,000 to Tasmania. These payments are in accordance with the recommendations by the Commonweatlh Grants Commission contained in its thirty-seventh report, which has already been tabled. The Bill also seeks authority for payment of advances to the 2 States in the early months of 1971-72 pending receipt of the Commission’s recommendations for that year and the enactment of new legislation.
Special grants are paid to financially weaker States, the purpose being to compensate them for such factors as lower capacity to raise revenue from their own resources and higher costs in providing Government services of a standard similar to those in the financially stronger States.
When specal grants were first paid they constituted the only regular form of general revenue assistance paid to the financially weaker States for this purpose. The main way in which special compensatory assistance is now provided is through the higher per head financial assistance grants paid to the four less populous States. The financial assistance grants are, of course, the main general revenue grants to the States. The special grants, therefore, may be regarded as supplementing the financial assistance grants, and having the special characteristic of being independently and expertly assessed by the Grants Commission.
Up to 1959, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania received annual special grants on the recommendation of the Grants Commission. South Australia withdrew from the special grants system as from 1959-60 and Western Australia as from 1968-69, but Tasmania has continued to apply each year. South Australia reapplied for a special grant early this financial year. The background to that application was set out in the second reading speech introducing the States Grants Bill 1970. The method used by the Grants Commission, briefly put, is to calculate grants which will bring the claimant States’ budgetary positions up to those of the States taken as standard, after allowing for differences between the States concerned in financial practice and in efforts to raise revenue and control expenditure. This involves a detailed comparison of the standard and claimant States’ budgetary revenues and expenditures.
From 1959-60 the standard States have been New South Wales and Victoria. The Commission, in recent reports, had contemplated changing to a standard based on the experience of all the non-claimant States as from 1970-71. However, in this year’s report, the Commission states:
In the circumstances of the new financial assistance arrangements the Commission is inclined to the view that a two-State standard may be the more logical and convenient to use, and in recommending the advance grant for 1970-71 it has bad this in mind. However, it considers that it should not make a final decision on the matter at this stage, and it will give further consideration to the budget standard during the course of the hearings later this year and in 1971.
The particular aspect of the new arrangements the Commission bad in mind was the Commonwealth’s decision to make addi tional grants of $2 per head to New South Wales and Victoria and, at the same time, to allow the other States to apply for special grants. Under the previous arrangements, all States that had not been applying for special grants were expected to continue to refrain from doing so. The Commission has not announced any other major changes in principle or method in this year’s report, but the report does reflect the continuing effort by the Commission to refine the bases of its calculations. The recommendations by the Grants Commission for payment of special grants consist of 2 parts. One part is based on an estimate of the claimant State’s financial need in the current financial year, and is treated as an advance payment subject to adjustment 2 years later when the Commission has compared in detail the budget results and standards of effort and of services provided in that year for both the claimant State and the States which it takes as standard. The other part represents the final adjustment to the advance payment made 2 years earlier and is known as the completion payment.
For 1970-71 the Grants Commission has recommended a total special grant to Tasmania of $23,680,000, made up of an advance payment of $22m for 1970-71 and a final adjusting payment of $1,680,000 in respect of 1968-69. The basis of these recommendations is set out in the Commission’s report. As explained in the second reading speech introducing the States Grants Bill 1970, the Government decided, following a request by the Premier of Tasmania, to reduce by $10m the special gram recommended by the Grants Commission for payment to that Slate in 1970-71 and to add the same amount to its financial assistace grant, thereby incorporating it in the base to be used to calculate the State’s financial assistance grant for 1971-72 and subsequent years. This arrangement will not affect the total general revenue grants paid to Tasmania either in 1970-71 or later years. That total will continue to be determined, in effect, by the special grant approved each year on the recommendation of the Grants Commission. Under this arrangement, Tasmania’s special grant for 1970-71 is thus reduced from the amount of $23,680,000 recommended by the Commission to $13,680,000. With the concurrence of the House, I incorporate in Hansard a table which compares the amounts recommended for payment to Tasmania in 1970-71 with those paid in 1968-69 and 1969-70.
South Australia’s application for a special grant was supported, as is the usual practice, by a detailed submission. This was discussed at special hearings of the Commission in August. The basis of that submission was that, since 1959, the State’s relative financial position had deteriorated while its share of the general revenue grants had, for a number of reasons, declined. The State submitted that, as a result, it was now unable to provide services of the same standard as the richer States. The Commission was, of course, able to make only preliminary investigations into South Australia’s application and the recommended advance grant of 35m to South Australia, along with the advance of $12m to Tasmania, will be subject to adjustment in 1972-73 after a detailed examination of the 2 States’ relative financial positions over the next 2 years. Those adjustments could be either positive or negative.
In the second reading speech on the States Grants Bill 1970 it was mentioned that the Government was consulting with the States on the suggestion made by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) at the June Premiers’ Conference that, in addition to its responsibility for recommending annual special grants to claimant States, the Grants Commission might also have the task of investigating and recommending on the distribution of the general revenue grants between all States for purposes of the quinquennia] reviews of the arrangements. The question of the appropriate distribution of general revenue grants between the States is one that is both important and difficult. The Government is pleased to acknowledge the considerable contribution which the Grants Commission continues to make. The recommendations of the Grants Commission have been adopted by Parliament each year since the Commission’s inception and the Government considers that they should again be accepted on this occasion. Accordingly, I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr N. H. Bowen, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to appropriate additional grants to met the Commonwealth’s contribution to the costs of the new levels of academic salaries in universities that the Government agreed to support from 1st January 1970, in accordance with recommendations of Mr Justice Eggleston. The governing bodies of universities are responsible for determining the actual levels of remuneration of their staff. This Bill provides that the Commonwealth will contribute towards new salaries for the senior academic staff up to the following levels:
The Bin includes, within the funds to be appropriated, amounts to met the Commonwealth’s contribution towards new salaries for junior academic staff and certain university officers in medical schools. These amounts are also in line with the recommendations of Mr Justice Eggleston. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 1) 1970-71 In Committee
Consideration resumed from 21 October (vide page 2600).
Proposed expenditure, $83,900,000.
– In discussing the estimates of the Department of Shipping and Transport I should like, first, to ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) what was the cost to the Commonwealth of the report by MacDonald, Wagner and Priddle. He will be aware that the Commonwealth Government and the Tasmanian Government undertook this survey on a $1 for $1 basis up to a cost of $100,000. I merely seek details of costs now. I have no time to engage in a detailed criticism of the report because of the time factor. I am pleased that the Peko-Wallsend group brought in Maunsell and Partners who recommended Grassy as the port for King Island. I know that the Minister is interested in this matter because he visited King Island to inspect the possible sites. I inspected the work during last weekend and I am sure that the Minister will be happy to know that the access roads from the mine complex to the sea shore have been completed and that from this point the breakwater, which will extend about 6,600 feet from the shore to Grassy Island, is half completed. Overburden is being dumped into 50 feet of water but the work will soon be out of this depth and into the shallower water leading to the island. The company has spent well in excess of $500,000 on trucks and earth moving equipment and up to date 670,000 tons of overburden have been used on the breakwater alone. This will make an ideal allweather port and I can only hope that the Tasmanian Government is aware of the fact that the introduction of the triangular service linking Stanley, King Island and Melbourne will be a tremendous boon to both the far north west of Tasmania and to King Island. On behalf of the people in these areas I trust that the Tasmanian Government will take over the installations at Grassy and give approval for Stanley to proceed with its port facilities to take the new roll on, roll off vessel which is presently under construction at Cairns in north Queensland for R. H. Houfe & Co.
I turn now to consideration of the Australian National Line and the 12i per cent freight increase imposed on the Tasmanian trade since 1st August this year. I am very proud of the Australian National Line and of the work it has done in providing ferry services to Tasmania over the years, but I want the Minister to be quite certain that as a Tasmanian 1 will continue to press for the figures for the Tasmanian services to be separated in the financial accounts. I have never known Tasmania people - from all walks of life and of varying political opinions - to be so united as they were in the outcry at and protest against the recent I2i per cent increase in freight rates. They will never be satisfied until a breakup of the loss of $210,612 on the coastal trade, as shown in the annual report of the Australian National Line recently tabled in this House, clearly indicates how much of this is due to losses on the Darwin run, on the run to north Queensland or on the Tasmanian run.
Tasmania maintains that it is deserving of special consideration as a full partner of the Commonwealth because the sea link is our only link with the mainland, especially also when it is realised that the Commonwealth has given grants of over $200m for beef roads and rail standardisation to assist transport between the mainland States. I ask the Minister - I would like to have the answer in this debate - whether he has yet reached a decision on the request of the Tasmanian port authorities to separate the port charges from the sea leg charges for services operated across Bass Strait. The Minister will be aware that the request was made following his suggestion that the sea freight rate had risen partly because of increased wharf charges. In reply to a question on 19th August, the Minister said, amongst other things:
In only the past few years increases in wharfage dues levied by port authorities on both sides of Bass Strait which mean an additional 13c per 40 cubic feet have been absorbed by the ANL.
In fairness to the Tasmanian port authorities, I must point out that there has been a reduction of $0,225 in the charges levied at the 3 Bass Strait ports of Devonport, Burnie and Launceston. When the freight rate, which combines the wharf charges and the sea leg charges, was set in 1961 by the ANL, for Devonport the wharfage charges a ton then were: Import, $1.68; export $1. These were reduced in 1966 to the following amounts: Import, $1.50; export, 60c. In 1968 export wharfage charges were increased by 15c to bring them into line with Burnie. So now the charges a ton at Devonport are: Import, $1.50; export 75c. So we have an overall reduction of 18c a ton in import charges and 25c a ton in export charges. Since 1961 wharfage charges in Launceston have been reduced by 5 per cent and have been increased in Burnie by 5 per cent. All this means a reduction of $0,225 for the 3 ports. 1 ask the Minister whether it is a fact that the ANL has been absorbing, and thus giving a subsidy of, the 32c a ton which was imposed in 1968 as an export wharfage charge by the Melbourne Harbour Trust. If this is correct, this subsidy must be a factor contributing to the losses incurred by the ANL on the trade. In his reply of 19th August, the Minister went on to say that there is also the problem that the wharfage dues levied by the Tasmanian ports are substantially higher than those levied by the mainland ports. The Tasmanian port authorities point out that the Melbourne Harbour Trust does not have to provide anywhere near the services that are provided in Tasmania, and so its capital and operating costs could be substantially lower.
The Tasmanian port authorities act in all things maritime and so cannot be compared, with Melbourne, other capital cities and the majority of outer ports in the other States, which in the main do not have to provide pilots, tugs, navigation and survey services, as these are provided by instrumentalities other than the port authority. In his telegram to me on 4th August, the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) set out the reasons why the Government considered the increase of 121 per cent in what he termed the wharf to wharf component is necessary. But I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport whether this increase covers not only the wharf to wharf or sea leg component but also the wharfage charges and whether the increased amount obtained from this latter segment will be returned to the port authorities or retained by the ANL. To illus trate this point, I would like to give the freight rates before and after the rise. With the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate in Hansard some figures that have been drawn up by a competent marine authority.
These figures are calculated on a standard unit of 114.5 square feet. Prior to the freight rate increase, freight at 90c a square foot amounted to $103. From that is taken the wharfage charged for Melbourne and Burnie, because the sea leg charges and the wharfage charges make up the complete freight charge. When we subtract these amounts we are left with a total amount of $25.73. The increased freight rate should be $86.93. Since the freight increase, freight on the standard unit has gone from $103 to $115. Wharfage remains the same. Wharfage has not increased; only the sea leg charge has increased. The wharfage remains at $25.73. But the new freight is $89.27. So there is a difference of $2.34. lt appears that the I2i per cent is levied not only on the sea leg component but also on the wharfage. I repeat what I said a moment ago. I wonder whether these increases are being handed back to the port authorities or absorbed by the ANL. Already we have seen the effects of these freight rate increases in increased prices in groceries in our towns. It means an increase in the cost of living. I have discussed with the Minister the fact that we are in fierce competition with mainland growers of canning peas. The State Government gave a $200,000 subsidy to the green pea industry, but the value of this has been wiped out now because we have this 121 per cent increase in freight rates to put up with. It means an impost of $200,000 extra on our timber, and this is serious because we are a timber exporting State and already we have to face competition from cheap timber imported from overseas countries.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– In speaking to the estimates for the Department of Shipping and Transport, I would like to look mainly at freight costs and more particularly at freight costs as they affect the total cost of production of the primary producers of this country. I will not attempt to look at the position of the manufacturing industries and the effect of freight costs on their costs of production, considerable though they may be. But because I believe that freight charges play such a part in the ever-increasing problems faced by primary producers - these primary producers already being affected by slackening world demand, over-production in some cases, inflated home prices for goods and services, and always subject to the vagaries of climate - in the time available I wish to examine freight cost effects on this at present disadvantaged sector of our community more closely. lt is hardly necessary to point out that, despite our mineral boom and the growth of the manufacturing sector of the economy, approximately half of our total export income is still derived from the sale overseas of our primary produce, lt also bears repeating that the wool industry still contributes over $700m annually to the economy. It seems a strange paradox that many of the people who contribute so much to national wellbeing should at the moment not be sharing that wellbeing. One of the factors contributing greatly to the primary producer’s progressive loss of parity with other self-employed sectors ot the community is the effect of costs. These costs in many cases are forced on the primary producer from souces over which he has little control. Such things as wages and the prices of manufactured articles which he must use if he is to continue in production come to mind. An important area of concern over which he has little or no control are freight costs.
It is very difficult to assess the extent of freight costs on total agricultural costs because of the lack of authoritative data relating to production costs of the various agricultural commodities. However, if we look at some of our main agricultural products, we can see a startling picture emerging. Let us look firstly at wool. The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) speaking earlier this year said:
There can be no doubt of the critical significance of external transport costs to the wool industry.
These are of the order of SI 50m a year or about $25 to $30 per bale, according to destination.
He said also:
Conventional costs associated with the handling and transport of wool overseas represent not less than 20 per cent of the averaged realised price for wool.
Dr John Skinner, Manager of the International Wool Secretariat’s Wool Handling Services Department, in January of this year quoted a similar figure to that of the Minister when he assessed the average cost of handling and transporting a bale of wool from the farm in Australia to the overseas mill in the United Kingdom or northern Europe at about $28 a bale. Both Dr Skinner and the Minister made their assessments before the new wool shipping freight charges were announced. The effect of these is, of course, to accentuate the problem.
But there are several interesting aspects of the statement. Dr Skinner looked at the various stages in the wool journey and assessed the position for a single bale of wool as follows: Approximately $6 from farm to broker’s door, approximately $7 in the store, including the broker’s commission and the buyer’s commission, approximately $4.50 from broker’s store into ship, approximately $9 for delivery by ship to overseas port, and approximately $1.50 from the ship to the United Kingdom mill. This shows that a significant proportion of the total handling and transport costs occur on land, and the major part is at the Australian end. Add to this the fact that shipping costs have risen, and include the fact that for insurance purposes wool tops in containers are rated as deck cargo and are therefore at higher than ordinary rates. At the same time the average price of wool has fallen, to an extremely low level at the moment, and the proportion of freight costs to average realised price now rises to around 30 per cent or above. However, this is not the end of the story because not only does the producer have to pay handling and freight costs on his produce, but also he has to pay handling and freight costs on items such as drenches, dips, machinery parts and a host of other production factors necessary for him to produce his goods. If these costs are added into the total, handling and transport costs - both coming and going, as it were - assume even more significance.
The position is similar for other rural products. With respect to wheat, for instance, the transport costs expressed as a percentage of gross value of production in 1966-67 were assessed at an average of 11.1 per cent over all States. The figure would obviously vary within and between States but again a significant percentage of total costs are consumed in freight charges. The figures that I have just mentioned do not take into account farm to silo freight costs. 1 have not been able to obtain transport costs for other products but if we look at marketing costs - which include freight, cost of containers, commission and other charges involved in marketing - figures compiled from the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics publications, Value of Production Bulletin and Primary Industries Bulletin show not only fluctuations from season to season but also a general upward trend. I realise, of course, that freight rates are not controlled by the Commonwealth Government, except those of Commonwealth Railways and the Australian National Shipping Line, whilst the State governments control the main domestic carriers of Australian primary produce, the State railways.
The activities of individual road transport operators are also of great importance. To illustrate this point, and once again referring to wool, we find the situation occurring where a road transport quote for a bale of wool from Cowra to Sydney, which is a distance of just over 200 miles, is $3.78. This amount includes $1.43 for road tax. Rail rates from Cowra to Sydney are also $3.78 a bale but it costs an extra 50c a bale to get the wool to the railhead. In other words, the total charge is $4.28 a bale. Poignancy is given to these figures when one finds that the quote for each bale of wool transported to Melbourne from Cowra by road, which is a distance of about 450 miles, is $2.50, or roughly half as much for twice the distance. This is not an unusual case. The cost per bale by rail from Binalong to Sydney, which is again around 200 miles, is $4.18 plus 50c for cartage to the railhead. This makes a total of 84.68. The quote per bale for road haulage from Binalong to Melbourne, which is about 360 miles, is $2.68.
I note also that the road maintenance tax collected in New South Wales in 1968 totalled $12.6m. It cost $1.2m to collect this tax. The State co-ordination tax in New South Wales in 1965 brought in $4.4m but to collect this tax, cost SI. 4m which is roughly 30 per cent of the total tax collected. It is obvious that in a country as large as Australia, with the sparse population density in country areas, worthwhile and sustained attention must be given to lowering the present freight costs it primary producers are to survive. For this reason ( am particularly pleased that the Bureau of Transport Economics has been established. The main functions of this organisation are outlined as being to study and report on the cost of transport operations in Australia, to suggest measures which will reduce transport costs and to develop proposals for providing a reliable, safe, fast national transport system for primary producers, manufacturers, exporters, workers and passengers. I am glad to note that emphasis is placed on Commonwealth-State co-operation. It seems to me that it would be extremely regrettable if the inquiry, research, recommendations and their implementation were in any way hindered by parochialism or narrow-minded thinking. Not only must this important work be supported and expedited; its success is essential and would provide an example of co-operative federalism in its best form.
– On behalf of the Opposition I move:
That the proposed expenditure be reduced by $1 as a direction to the Government to negotiate with the Australian North Bound Conference and the Australian and New Zealand South Bound Conference for half the trade to be carried in Australian ships.
In speaking to the amendment there are a number of matters with which I want to deal. Firstly, I want to refer to the annual report of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission. I want to deal with this matter briefly because I have not a lot of time at my disposal. I want to quote what Sir John Williams, the Chairman of the Commission, said. This appears on page 9 of the report: . I record our appreciation of the cooperation given to us by the Maritime Unions, in our efforts to establish an Australian, foreign-going merchant marine.
I want honourable members to compare that statement with the decision of the Government, led on this matter by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Snedden) who has countermanded and overruled an agreement negotiated between the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission, or the Australian National Line, and the Australian Waterside Workers Federation which contained provision for a 35 hour week. This is the way in which this Government appreciates co-operation and assistance by the trade union movement. The moment that the union members start to get a share of the proceeds brought about by improved technology and other improvements associated with the industry, what is the result? The Government believes that this is a one-way trade, that everything has to go one way. It is obvious from the statement that 1 have read which was made by Sir John Williams that there has been maximum co-operation between union and management. 1 leave it at that. I think that the facts speak for themselves. J believe that the statement made by Sir John speaks for itself and the statement made by the Minister for Labour and National Service damns the Government. 1 now want to speak not so much about what is in the report but what is not in the report. I am concerned with a number of matters that are not contained in this report. I would like to know What the Government is doing about bringing shipping and transport under one heading. We have the ridiculous state of affairs at present in which the Department of Trade and Industry controls shipping and lays down policy as far as snipping is concerned. We also have the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) with some limited say on shipping and transport matters. The result is that we have divided control in this most important part of the national transport system. We have divided control and divided policies. It is obvious that the cellular container ship policy has been determined by the Department of Trade and Industry and that this policy has not been worn under any circumstances by the Department of Shipping and Transport. It is obvious from the comments of Sir John Williams which are in the annual report of the Commission that the Australian National Line does not agree with one iota of the policies laid down by the Department of Trade and Industry. We have a conflict between the 2 Ministers. Last night when the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) spoke on the Estimates of the Department of Shipping and Transport the Minister for Trade and Industry was not prepared even to allow his Party colleague to defend him. The Minister for Trade came into this chamber last night after 11 o’clock to defend himself against the attack made on him by the Leader of the Opposition. It is obvious that there is a basic division in policy today between the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Shipping and Transport; there is even a basic division within the Australian Country Party itself, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Industry not being prepared to rely on the Minister for Shipping and Transport to defend him.
It is a well known fact in shipping circles today that the Australian National Line did not recommend the cellular container ship method for the AustralianEuropean conference lines. 1 defy honourable members to look through the report of the Commission and to find anything which would lead one to believe that Sir John Williams is in accord with a policy which advocated cellular container ships on the Australian-United Kingdom-Europe run. The whole of this report is centred around vehicular deck type ships - the rollon roll-off type of ship which has been introduced on the Australia-Japan run. It is obvious that this is the type of ship which the Australian National Line has introduced on to the Australian coast and which it has developed further for the overseas trade. Incidentally, as 1 said earlier, the decision to go into the United Kingdom-Europe trade with a cellular ship was a decision of the Department of Trade and Industry. The decision to go into the Australia-Japan run was a decision of the ANL as, I believe, was the decision to go into the west coast of America trade. In each of these cases we have the vehicle deck type ship being used.
One of the things that concerns me is the paltry allocation of quota to the Australian National Line. To quote from the report, Japanese owners on the southbound conference have received 53.935 per cent, cross-traders received 28.905 per cent and Australian owners received 17.16 per cent of the trade. On the northbound run Japanese owners received 43.35 per cent of the trade, cross-traders 33.35 per cent and Australian owners 23.3 per cent. The Australian owners are the Flinders Shipping Co. Ltd and the Australian National Line. One thing which concerns me is that this report contains insufficient information about what the overcarriage of freight will cost the Australian National Line. I want to say very positively that the Government has deliberately withheld the real facts from this report. 1 want to quote’ an article appearing in the ‘South China Mail’ of Saturday 25 July 1970 which states:
Flinders Shipping Co. Ltd and the Australian National Line are faced wilh the threat that they must pay back to the 2 shipping conferences operating between Australia and Japan and the Far East a substantial proportion of freight revenue.
ANL’s payback will amount to well over $A 1m and will adversely affect the results of the Line in this pioneering shipping operation.
ANL has to pay back the money because it has carried more cargo than its share of the freight pools, operated by the 2 conferences. 1 do not have time to go through the whole of the article, but the facts are there. If this newspaper was in possession of this information on 25th July 1970 why is there not something contained in this report to indicate to the Parliament just how much the ANL will have to repay to the conference lines, back into the pool, for this overcarriage of freight that is reported by the Chairman of the Commission. This is one of the things which is not contained in this report. This Parliament has not been advised of all the things that are happening and I call on the Minister to give us the unadulterated facts when he replies in this debate as he will have the opportunity to do later today. These are the things which should not be withheld from Parliament. These are the things we should be given the maximum information about right from the time that the problem first appears. The Government has been too soft on the conventions to accept this paltry allocation of 17.16 per cent of southbound trade and 23.3 per cent of northbound trade. That is not good enough. As far as this country is concerned we should be demanding, as is laid down in the amendment I have moved, 50 per cent of the trade between Australia and overseas countries.
We should be expanding our interest in the overseas trade. We should not be at the mercy of overseas shipping lines. That is, of course, what the Minister said to the Country Party conference in Griffith in June of this year - that the increase in freights is not justified. Is this a conflict between the Minister and his Country Party leader, Mr McEwen. I will leave that to the Minister to answer because it is obvious to me that there is conflict and dispute in the Country Party on this question of freight rates. I ask the Minister to give us an answer to these matters I have referred to. We are satisfied that there is a case to be answered. What I want to know from the Government is this: What action has been taken by the Government to conduct a cost-benefit analysis into the operation of cellular container ships as compared with the roll-on roll-off type of ships. Which is the best one to operate in the best interests of this country, not in the interests of the manufacturers of the United Kingdom, the United States or any other country? We should be operating ships in the best interests of this country. 1 ask the Minister to give me that information. The Government has been operating these ships for over 12 months now. What is the comparison between the economics of the Australian ‘Endeavour’ as against the Australian ‘Enterprise’? These are the answers the Minister has to come up with. If we had had the PAD Shipping Australia Pty Ltd ship in operation this comparison could have been extended to the 3 types of ship. I think the Government should tell the Parliament what it is doing in this field and what the real position is because whilst we have a sketchy, brief outline of what is happening with these 2 ships it is obvious that we have not had all the facts we are entitled to.
Hie CHAIRMAN (Mr Lucock)- Order! The honourable member’s time has expired, time has expired.
– The Australian Government’s decision to enter the international shipping field had two main objectives. The first was to carry some at least of Australia’s exports in Australian ships and the second was to gain access to details of the financial arrangements and costs of the shipping conferences. I am sure the great majority of Australians applauds the objectives and motives of the Government but I feel it is fair to ask, following the publication of the annual report of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission, whether the Australian vessels are returning the maximum benefit to Australian exporters. It is clear from the report that the Australian National Line vessel on the Australia-Japan run is operating extremely well and efficiently. It is very important to remember that this is a multi-purpose ship of the vehicle deck type, and I shall return to this subject later. This ship is operating so profitably in fact that it has gained a greater share than its agreed share of the traffic. However, it is the Australia-United Kingdom-Europe trade to which I intend specifically to refer. There are several points which have to be kept in mind. The first is that according to the Commonwealth Statistician’s publication entitled ‘Overseas Shipping Cargo, June 1969’ the total cargo discharged in Australia from Europe by liner service was 2,297,426 tons manifest. The total cargo loaded in Australia for discharge in Europe by liner service was 1,663,713 tons manifest. The unused freight capacity by liner service out of Australia to Europe was about 634,000 tons manifest or 27.6 per cent. Naturally, if ships arrive in Australia not fully loaded the unused capacity out of Australia will be greater still.
We come now to the most important statistic. If wool were carried by other than liner service to Europe the surplus capacity on the nin would rise to about 1 million tons manifest or approximately 43.5 per cent of the apparent total available cargo capacity out of Austrlia. This brings me to my second main point which is directly related to the Australian investment in pure container ships on the UKEurope run. We have to consider the nature of Australian exports to Europe. First, we have the bulk cargoes such as wheat and mineral ores which are not suitable to container shipping. Secondly, we have general cargo, much of which is highly suited to container shipping but is quite insufficient to fill the available container capacity. Thirdly, we have wool which is by far the largest single export cargo from Australia. An inescapable fact is that unless wool is put into containers many containers will go to Europe empty because there is not sufficient general cargo to fill them. While there is no doubt that containers are a highly efficient method of shipping many types of cargo this does not automatically make them the most efficient method of shipping all types of cargo, and in particular there is considerable doubt that containers are the best way of shipping wool. After all, wool is already in a serviceable container and the unit load or multipurpose type of ship such as the Australian Enterprise’ on the Australia-Japan run, to which I referred earlier, seems to be a more flexible and suitable way of shipping wool. I refer to the report of the Senate Select Committee on the Container Method of Handling Cargoes. In paragraph 83 it states:
The clear conclusion in any consideration of this element of Australia’s export trade is that the container operations will have to carry wool to keep their operations economically viable. The absence of wool for the northbound voyages would lead to a great over-tonnage on that section of the UK-Australia-UK round voyage with large numbers of empty containers.
I come now to paragraph 84 which states:
The possible effects of such a situation on the tariff rates as between southbound and northbound freights are obvious, and some close supervision of this aspect of Australia’s export trade will have to be enforced. Any tendency to subsidise UK exports, at the expense of those from Australia, will require immediate remedial activity by both shippers and (where practicable) Government authorities.
These comments lead on to Conclusion No. 13 of the report which states:
There has been an element of haste in introducing the container system to Australia without sufficient time for adequate consultation between the many interests involved.
This in turn leads to Recommendation No. 4 which reads:
Do these words apply to our investment in the United Kingdom-Europe conference? If they do, is the wool industry being asked to foot the bill? With the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate in Hansard a table prepared by the library research service showing the respective freight rates for various cargoes from Australia to Europe.
A study of this table reveals some quite extraordinary facts. For example, the freight rate for carcass mutton is 25 per cent cheaper than the freight rate for carcass lamb, lt is considerably cheaper to ship cartons of refrigerated meat at 3.81c a lb, butter at 2.94c a lb or cheese at 2.5c a lb than it is to ship wool at 4.427c a lb. The difference in the specific gravities of the products cannot explain these discrepancies, since some of these rates apply to refrigerated cargo which, of course, is much more expensive to handle than nonrefrigerated cargo such as wool. I ask: How long will it be before we find a resourceful wool grower - perhaps even that well known character. Fred the Farmer - who realises that he could save a great deal of money by disguising his product as meat or butter and sending it to Europe in an immensely expensive refrigerated container?
Regrettably, it will probably be some time, because, as appears in Hansard at page 1588, on 24th September this year the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) pointed out:
It is unquestionably the right of the people who own the wool that is being shipped to make a decision on what freight they are prepared to pay.
This highlights the essential weakness of the wool grower in negotiating on freight rates. If he sells his wool at auction in Australia, f.o.b.. the ownership of the wool passes to the buyer on the fall of the hammer. The grower loses control of his own product and, as the Minister has pointed out. cannot negotiate directly on his own behalf. Later on at page 1588 of Hansard the Minister for Trade and Industry pointed out that the Government could not refer the matter of freight rates to the Restrictive Trade Practices Tribunal if the ship owner authorities were providing ‘an adequate, efficient and economic service’. While the ship owners may well be providing an adequate, efficient and economic service for United Kingdom and European exporters and for some Australian exporters, I suggest that the figures I have quoted above cast some doubt on whether the same can be said for wool.
Therefore, I conclude by making 2 suggestions: The first is that, in my opinion, it is very important that the proposed Australian Wool Commission should, in its own right, have power to negotiate on freight rates, not merely when requested to do so by the Minister. We should move towards c.i.f. shipping of wool, because in the words of the Minister, ‘it is unquestionably the right of the people who own the wool that is being shipped to make a decision on what freight they are prepared to pay*. Under the present f.o.b. system the grower is no longer the “owner of his product at the time of shipping. Under a c.i.f. system the grower would still retain control of his product at this vital stage of the marketing process. My final suggestion - or plea - is that the Government keep under close and constant review the whole question of its shipping operations, including the costs, returns and suitability of the different types of shipping it operates.
If it becomes clear that we are not getting the best possible return from our investment because some of the ships are not ideally suited to the trade in which they are engaged or because the terms on which we entered the various shipping conference are not resulting in the benefits to which Australia is justly entitled, then for goodness sake do not let us just be satisfied to perpetuate an existing situation merely because certain investment decisions have been taken.
In the words of Sir John Williams in the annual report of the Commission, the shipping industry is going through ‘a time of vast technological change’. It is normal, sound business practice to revise the various forms, terms and level of investment in any enterprise. In the interests of the Australian economy, our taxpayers, and particularly our exporters, let us do everything possible to ensure that we achieve the very laudable objectives which lead us to enter the field of international shipping.
– The Department of Shipping and Transport ostensibly directs transport policy in this country. In actual fact there are very severe restrictions on the role of the Department in this policy area. There are several departments where the administrative arrangements are allotted in an extremely haphazard and illogical way. I do not want to go into issues already covered by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) who is the Labor Party’s spokesman for shipping and transport. What I want to have a look at are some of the implications of the recent report from the Australian National Line tabled in the House earlier this week.
The report is a very interesting one. It contains many areas of criticism of Government policy, some overt and some implied. At the start of his review the Chairman of the ANL, Sir John Williams, re-states the theme he has outlined in previous reports - that the line is required to operate under very rigid restrictions. The Australian Coastal Shipping Commission Act imposes responsibilities on the line which are difficult to reconcile. I refer to section 18 of the Act. This requires the Commission to operate its services in such a way as to secure revenue to meet all its spending properly chargeable to revenue. Further, it has to operate in such a way as to pay a reasonable dividend to the Commonwealth. Subject to these provisos the Commission is charged to conduct its shipping services as efficiently as possible and to make these services available at the lowest possible rates.
Sir John Williams makes the obvious point that it is impossible to reconcile these objectives in the day-to-day administration of the Line. These difficulties are intensified when the Line has to bear the heavy costs of entry to overseas trade. Under these strains something has to be sacrificed. In 1969-70 the dividend payable to the Commonwealth has been waived. In the previous year it amounted to $1,028,791, a payment which the Chairman describes as ‘a sufficiently poor result’. By comparison with previous years this dividend had certainly shrunk away. Now it has disappeared altogether and an overall loss of $ 1.43m has been incurred. This is composed of losses of $1,964,000 from overseas trading and some $210,000 from coastal operations. Offsetting these losses to some extent is a sum of $737,196 for non-operating income and surplus on sale of assets.
The decision to re-enter overseas trade has produced heavy losses. This raises the question of whether the Line should bear from revenue the burden of the overseas ventures. If these costs had been met by the Commonwealth the ANL would have made a profit of around $527,000. This would still have been much below the previous year’s dividend payment, but in the light of the ANL’s considerable reserves it is fairly satisfactory. Instead a freight increase of 12.5 per cent has been imposed.
Sir John Williams refers to criticism of these rises, in particular from Tasmania. According to Sir John, the basis of this criticism is that because Tasmania is an island State sea transport to and from the mainland should be subsidised. After bringing this issue up, the ANL chairman dismisses it as beyond his province. He turns it over to the Government. Theoretically, Sir John is correct in this approach. Subsidies are political decisions. However, he should have approached the peculiar problems of Tasmania in a much more constructive and tolerant way. It is no use dismissing this problem as a mere political decision on whether or not to grant a Commonwealth subsidy.
The ANL does have a debt to Tasmania and it is a debt which the Chairman of the Australian National Line should have acknowledged. It is difficult to put forward precise arguments in this area because the information on revenue and profits just is not available. The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) has been rather vague and unsatisfactory in his statements on this issue. He has denied that the Tasmanian operations of the Line have in the past subsidised less profitable operations elsewhere on the coast. But he has not denied that until 1968 the Tasmanian operations of the Line have been profitable.
As I understand the Minister he has said in public statements in Tasmania that in the past 2 or 3 years the Tasmanian operations have not been profitable. It must be recognised that the passenger traffic to Tasmania has not been profitable; the freight operations have.
Freight carriage has subsidised the passenger operations; there are strong grounds for believing that freight operations to Tasmania have been profitable enough to meet shortfalls on other trades. The Minister has claimed it is not possible to break down the profitability of the component parts of the coastal trade, showing a profit or a loss for the North Queensland trade or the bulk cargo or the Tasmanian trade. It is true that there are accounting difficulties in such a task. However, in the 1968-69 report, the Chairman referred to losses of $740,000 on the Darwin trade. Despite the difficulties of apportioning costs and revenues on the coastal trade, it could be determined that the Darwin trade lost $740,000 in 1968-69. There is no estimate of losses for the Darwin trade in the 1969-70 report but again the Chairman refers to heavy losses in that sector. I refuse to believe that the ANL is not able to break down with a fair degree of precision, the profitability of its coastal operations. If it can be done for the Darwin trade why can it not be done for the Tasmanian trade?
The overall loss on the coastal trade was $210,612; let us assume the losses of the Darwin trade were at least $740,000. Obviously some sectors of the coastal trade are profitable; otherwise losses for 1969-70 would have been much higher than $210,612. It may be that these offsets came from the North Queensland trade or the bulk carrier trade or some other coastal trade. These offsetting profits could also have come from the Tasmanian trade. The reticence of the Government on this matter can only be understood on the assumption that Tasmanian freight carriage has been profitable over the years. The Minister has denied Tasmanian freight operations are subsidising operations elsewhere; Tasmanian shippers and merchants have claimed that Tasmanian operations are in effect providing such a subsidy. Without the evidence of costs and revenues it is not possible to establish the truth of these conflicting claims. What is certain is that Tasmanians feel their freight rates are making an undue contribution to the re-entry of the ANL to the overseas trade and to unprofitable trading elsewhere on the coast. In this most unsatisfactory situation there is every prospect of further freight increases.
The 12.5 per cent increase will be reflected in the ANL accounts for 1970-71. Based on the latest year’s revenue figures, this would bring in extra revenue of about $5.7m. Further losses can be expected from the overseas trade and sections of the coastal trade, there will be more cost increase. This will bring renewed pressures for freight increases, probably in the 10 per cent to 20 per cent range. Such increases would have a dreadful impact on the whole internal cost structure of Tasmania. This is a matter of national transport policy because Tasmania is completely dependent on shipping for its role in the national economy. It cannot be dismissed as easily as Sir John Williams dismisses it as a matter of the Government granting or withholding subsidy. What is needed is an assessment of all the operations of the line with a complete breakdown of revenues and costs. I think such an analysis would disclose the contribution of Tasmania to the ANL’s profitability in the past 10 years. It would also reinforce Tasmania’s case for more sympathetic treatment over freight rate increases.
Tasmania is also confronted with difficulties in linking to the container shipping network. At the moment the only way of getting containers from Tasmania to the container port in Melbourne is in unused cargo space on conventional shipping. If ANL vessels or other conventional shipping vessels have excess space they can take containers from Tasmania to Melbourne; if their space is taken by conventional cargo, containers have to wait. This hardly constitutes a feeder service for Tasmania on the lines repeatedly promised by the Minister for Trade and Industry and the Minister for Shipping and Transport. There are also serious problems for Tasmania in the future of the trade with Japan. The North Bound Shipping Conference has not provided a direct service from Tasmania to Japan since September. While there has been an agreement on uniform freight rates and their application to feeder services with the Australia to Europe conference, there has been no agreement on the Australia to Japan trade. This means that shippers from Tasmania to Japan have to pay the costs of shipment to Melbourne; they are sustaining their own feeder service. Obviously Tasmanian exports cannot be competitive under such a system. I have tried to indicate some of the main problem areas in shipping policy with particular emphasis on Tasmania which is completely dependent on sea transport. The full implications of policy decisions made by the Government in the past 3 years are only just beginning to emerge.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– In rising to speak on the appropriation for the Department of Shipping and Transport I cannot but say how pleased I am that the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair), his Department and the the Government have decided to continue with the cost study of the Tarcoola to Alice Springs standard gauge railway line. This project has to be approved by the South Australian Government, but it has been approved in principle by the Commonwealth. This is a mighty step towards opening up the north of Australia.
On the subject of railway lines, the upgrading of the Larrimah to Pine Creek section of the north Australian line is to be commended also. In view of this breakthrough of transport in the north, and speaking again on the subject of railway lines, I do ask the Government to study the economics of continuing the railway line into the hinterland, towards Tennant Creek or Macarthur River-Mount Isa. But I do realise that the main consideration is the overall cost of getting freight from capital city to capital city or from town to town. I realise that, because of the economics of (Ms industry, consideration of road and rail transport must arise. in- luce transport is the key to the future of the north of Australia. Under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement the Government is committed to spend $ 1,252m for the States in the next 5 years on roads throughout Australia. Mention is made in the latest report of the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads of a trunk road system between capital cities. Under this heading would fall part of the road from Alice Springs to Port Augusta, the South Australian section of this being unsealed. This road, I might point out, is the shortest route from south to north in this part of Australia. Also, this could be a very urgently needed defence link. I do not overlook also the ever increasing run of tourists and road travellers who would be just waiting to flock up such a bitumen road.
I turn now to freight charges on cargoes into the port of Darwin. When he was in Darwin on the occasion of the maiden voyage of the ‘Darwin Trader’, the Minister for Shipping and Transport said that he and/or his officers would return when the Darwin Trader* had made 2 or 3 trips so that they would be able to look into the freight charges after the operation had settled down to some extent. I know that on its first 2 trips the ‘Darwin Trader’ was delayed by industrial strife for days on end. It is reported that, on the last trip to Darwin of the ‘Darwin Trader’, the ship was turned around without undue delay. This is a step in the right direction. I gather that some of the Minister’s officers have been to Darwin. I suggest that this would be an appropriate time to come to Darwin and to discuss the matter with the businessmen there. When the Minister was last in Darwin, we had discussions on this matter with very many of them.
I will deal now with the waterfront itself. The Joint Parliamentary Committee on Public Works has just returned from evaluating the proposed port development plans estimated to cost $19m. Darwin can be the trade hub of the southern end of the Indonesian archipelago. It has the position. It has sufficient water. It will have bulk loading facilities, land backed cargo berths and small ship wharves. The port of Darwin is 1,000 miles closer to the Indonesian archipelago than any other comparable port. It has available the men who can do the work and who can make Darwin the most important port in this area. The port has for a long time been tied up with go-slow and work to regulation tactics. On this subject a Darwin shipper said:
The present go slow-work to regulation tactics of the Darwin waterside workers is crippling the Port of Darwin and could kill the present 00on in most industries in the Northern Territory. Already much damage has been done in the Port and to the trade, and once again ship owners who were just beginning to come back in, have resolved never to risk calling at Darwin again.
He went on to say:
We do want the waterside worker to earn a good wage and a fair wage, but there has to be some correlation between wages and production. We just cannot continue to pay more and more for less and less.
If I may I will read briefly from a letter by the Chairman of the Port Authority, Captain Milner, who said:
There is no doubt in my mind that the basic cause of the present crippling strife should be sought in the leadership of the watersiders section of the NAWU. If this were not so why should such a body of men act so consistently against both their own interests and those of the community they serve?
He went on to say:
Who are their leaders? Generally they have a tradition of electing members of the puny Australian Communist Party which the voting public has rejected at election after election. This party in turn has a tradition of fostering disruption in the industrial field.
That is what 2 businessmen in Darwin had to say about the work force. We have witnessed the unfortunate maiden voyage and second voyage of the ‘Darwin Trader’. She was specially built to speed freight to Darwin and the Northern Territory and to lower costs. The waterside workers now receive what they had originally asked for - a differential of $10.50 on top of their normal wage and air fares to the south every 2 years. Now that these demands have been met, a new ship costing approximately $10m specially built for the trade and the work put in hand for further port developments, I urge waterside workers to do as Captain Milner suggests and get stuck into the job and turn the ships around. This is the only way in which the port of Darwin can be developed as it should. 1 urge the Minister and the Australian Transport Advisory Council to give earnest consideration before any introduction of 13-ton bogie axle loading on Northern Territory roads. The use of slow moving heavy transport is, in my opinion, the way to move loads more economically across the roads system in the Northern Territory instead of building a light road and having fast moving light transport rushing up and down the roads in an endeavour to carry the loads doubling the number of trips made between rail heads. I urge the ATAC to take heed of what I have to say about the 16-ton bogie axle. If this loading is reduced the cost of freight will go up very markedly because the transport operators will have to re-equip their fleets of trucks and turn around their fleets far more often than they do now. In my opinion trucks with a bogie axle loading lower than 16 tons will do more damage to the roads by travelling speedily over them than do the slow moving heavy transports which make fewer trips than the lighter vehicles.
– In speaking to the estimates for the Department of Shipping and Transport I acknowledge the reply which I received from the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) in connection with the Maunsell report and the objections of the South Australian Railways Commissioner to certain facets of that report. A few weeks ago 1 asked the Minister a question on this matter and in his reply he appeared to blame the newly elected South Austraiian Labor Government for the delay that. had taken place, but my information is that after the Maunsell report came out it was examined by Mr Fitch, the South Australian Railways Commissioner. Mr Fitch had certain criticisms of the report. 1 understand that his criticisms or comments were not passed on by the former government. When the Labor Government took over in South Australia it examined Mr Fitch’s proposals and passed them on to the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) with a request for a reconsideration of the proposals.
Perhaps 1 could mention % few of the objections that he raised. Although Mr Fitch did not tear the Maunsell report to pieces he did feel that there were some aspects of it which could be improved. He felt that the Maunsell plan would not provide a direct standard gauge connection to the bulk of South Australian industry, lt would involve the retention of a great deal of freight transfer while necessitating a longer haul to Port Pirie, Broken Hill and destinations in other States. It would result in the retention of the narrow gauge lines to Wilmington and Quorn, together with triple gauge yards at Gladstone and Peterborough. It would also introduce a dual gauge yard at Snowtown. Maunsell’s estimates do not allow for development of commercial activities at Islington.
I feel that these criticisms are sufficient to justify another look at the proposals because Mr Fitch did submit 2 alternative proposals which, if accepted or if something could be worked out, would give a better service to industrial areas in South Australia, and this is something that the Maunsell plant would not provide. I would certainly hope that in discussions between the South Australian Government and the Commonwealth Government some satisfactory arrangements will be achieved so that Adelaide gets its standard gauge line and a line which will give the maximum amount of service to South Australian industry.
I would like to pass on to another matter which concerns my electorate. I refer to proposals that we on this side have fully supported. I refer to the building of the railway line to Whyalla and the allocation of $230,000 for a survey from Tarcoola to Alice Springs, which was mentioned by the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder). We on this side hope that these projects are brought to fruition within the next few years.
On numerous occasions the question of sealing the Eyre Highway has been raised in this Parliament by honourable members from South Australia and Western Australia. This roadway, as all honourable members will be aware, has 300 miles of unsealed surface. When this matter has been raised with the Minister he has stated that South Australia receives so much for its roads and that this highway is within the State’s jurisdiction and that the State sets the priorities. I think we would acknowledge this but at the same time we must realise that, in considering the allocation to South Australia for roads, for South Australia to put all its eggs in the one basket is not being reasonable. In my electorate, through which this unsealed section of the Eyre Highway passes, there is also the road known as the Flinders Highway, which extends to Port Lincoln to link up with the Eyre Highway at Ceduna. There is also the north-south road, mentioned by the honourable member for the Northern Territory, which services the Woomera rocket range. Along all these roads major projects are being undertaken. On the Woomera road another 39 miles of track will be sealed. On the Flinders highway and on the Eyre Highway further work is being undertaken.
The State Government is doing work on a section of the Eyre Highway from Ceduna to Penong, a distance of 45 miles, but under present arrangements this project will take approximately 2 years to complete, lt appears as though the work is being undertaken in a piecemeal fashion. I suggest that the Government should look at this project and make a special grant to assist in the completion of the road. Mr Don Dunstan, the South Australian Premier, raised this matter when he was speaking during the weekend at a dinner in Whyalla which was sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce. He referred to the question of tourism and so forth. He stated that he would be prepared to meet one-third of the cost of completing this road if the Commonwealth would come to the party and meet the other two-thirds of the cost. 1 believe that this is too big a job for one State to handle on its own. 1 suggest that the Commonwealth should come to the party. It should have discussions with the South Australian Premier to see whether some arrangement can be made so that this highway can be sealed. Figures relating to the use of this highway indicate that approximately 133 vehicles travel over this road each day, and that a fair proportion of these vehicles is heavy transport. The figures also indicate that the number of vehicles travelling over this road is increasing by approximately 21 per cent per annum, which means that the amount of traffic is doubling every 3i to 4 years. lt is significant to note that 83 per cent of the vehicles travelling over this road come from beyond the State of South Australia. Probably they come from the eastern States and are moving westward to other points. 1 believe that because of this fact it is a little hard to place the whole burden for sealing this road upon one State. I believe that there is a need for the Commonwealth to come to the party and to provide some assistance.
As I have a couples of minutes left perhaps 1 should mention one other matter. I refer to the question of shipyards in Australia. We know that our biggest shipyard is at Whyalla. At the present time this shipyard is building the ‘Amanda Miller’, which is a ship of 62,000 tons. Those people who had an opportunity to look at the ‘Amanda Miller’ after the fire in the shipyard realised that because of lack of width of the slipway the fire fighting appliances could not be taken down to get to the seat of the fire, ft is obvious that a fairly large ship was being built in an area which was too small to accommodate it. 1 understand that the only docking facilities in Australia which are capable of handling a 62,000 ton ship are possibly the Cairncross dock in Brisbane, which is capable of taking ships up to 60,000 tons, and the Captain Cook naval dockyard in Sydney, which I think is capable of taking ships up to 100,000 tons. It is obvious that if we are going to move into the field of building bigger ships we will certainly have to provide larger slipways.
I know that some time ago there was talk that the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd had approached the Federal Government for a loan which was to be used to extend the company’s slipways so that bigger ships could be built there. If we reach the stage where we want to build bigger ships - 80,000-tonners and so forth - we will find ourselves in the position where we will not have adequate docking facilities. Later when the Minister is replying to this debate I should like him to comment on the Government’s plans regarding the building of further dockyards, if we are to take ships bigger than the ‘Amanda Miller’. Also, I should like to know the Government’s plans regarding the siting of future dockyards. If there is any plan to build new dry docks, to my way of thinking the obvious place in which to locate one would be Whyalla because it has the largest ship building yards in Australia. It has trained engineering staff, skilled tradesmen and so on. It is also in a sheltered position. From a defence point of view, it is away from the main waterways. I believe that if we reach the stage where a new dockyard is to be built, Whyalla would be the logical place in which to build it.
– I intend to speak principally about overseas shipping, but I have to admit immediately that I know very little about the subject - certainly not enough to speak critically or eloquently, although I have noticed often that ignorance does not inhibit eloquence in this place. But I am anxious about the overseas shipping position, particularly as it affects wool. I should like to congratulate the honourable member for Corangamite (Mr Street) who has made a typically thoughtful, constructive speech on this subject. He concentrated on wool. I intend to concentrate on the method of shipping wool and other cargoes, but particularly wool.
As wool growers we used to carry Australia on our backs. I should like everybody to know - and I am certain that the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) would be acutely aware of this - that Australia has just about ridden us into the ground. As wool growers we have to take a much more critical view of our method of shipping. I will not be critical. I will just ask a series of simple questions, and I should hope that towards the end of this debate the Minister will be able to answer some of these questions. The first thing 1 want to know is: Why must we carry wool under the Conference system? The honourable member for Corangamite made a plea for consideration of the c.i.f. method of shipping. In the past the plea was for regularity and predictability of a shipping programme. That was important, and I guess it is still fairly important.
I know it has been stated - I am certain it is true, and the honourable member for Corangamite has brought it out again - that wool absorbed a lot of the excess costs incurred in shipping other Australian rural products, and it still does. But what I want to know now is: In our reduced circumstances, why do we have to continue the present Conference method of shipping our wool? Is it worth it? I do not know whether it is. 1 know that in the past it was thought to be worth it, but I am beginning to question whether it is worth it now. It is very difficult to get answers to these technical questions, and 1 would understand it if the Minister finds it difficult to provide figures in his answer. But one thing that is worrying the Australian wool grower to a great extent is: Why do we persist with the present Conference method of shipping?
The second question is: If we continue the Conference method, why can we not make the trade practices legislation effective against restrictive practices that are inherent in the Conference system? On page 9 of the report of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission Sir John Williams has made this point crystal clear. I should like to pay a sincere, if passing, tribute to Sir John Williams, who is a remarkable person. 1 think that he is one of Australia’s greatest sons, and I listen with a great deal of respect to what he has to say. I will not refer to what he said about Conferences because it has been quoted several times in this debate. There certainly do appear to be practices in the Conference system which appear to me to be against the public interest.
The second question then I should like the Minister to answer is: Why can we not put enough teeth into the trade practices legislation so that it can at least nip at the heels of the Conference system and get it into line? It is not good enough to say that you cannot work the Conference system without restriction. Indeed, the Americans have demonstrated this.
The third question is: In all the discussion about the container system in the last few days, why has not a comparison been made between the container method of shipping and the roll-on roll-off method or indeed the unit load method? No-one has raised that point. No-one has argued that in the long term container shipping is better than conventional shipping. But what is becoming to me at least a worrying question is why we are not comparing the rollon roll-off or unit load system with the container system. When Sir John Williams was comparing the roll-on roll-off method with the cellular or container system he said:
As ii has turned out, the ‘roll-on roll-ofT system backed by efficient shore facilities has by common consent been able to give better service and faster delivery to its clients.
He was comparing it with the container system. None of us is arguing about whether containers are better in the long term than conventional shipping. A lot of us are very concerned, though, to know why there has not been any more discussion about a comparison between containers and the roll-on roll-off system.
The fourth question 1 ask is: Why have we gone into the United Kingdom trade with only a container vessel? The honourable member for Corangamite has brought out with crystal clarity the particular problem of containerising wool. Obviously wool is in its own container. It always seems to me to be wasteful to jam it into another container. Why did we go into the UK trade with only a cellular vessel? The argument for going in was that we would have a window on shipping costs. It seems a queer kind of window if one sees only one section of the trade. The problem is that the window gets fugged up a bit when one realises that the Australian National Line vessel is not responsible for marshalling its cargo, nor is it responsible for the operation of the terminal. This window, which is the justification for having this present ship, I can understand, but I would like to see through it a bit more clearly. I would like to be able to compare the costs of the other methods of shipping with those of the container system. It is impossible for me as a wool grower to believe that it pays to jam wool which is already in its own jute container into a steel container.
These are matters about which I am not being critical; I would like the Minister to realise this. It is just that there is a feeling of anxiety among wool growers in particular. I think it would help us all if the Minister could answer these questions if he can. I am not suggesting that he could answer all the questions in time. I know he could in time. But whether he can answer the questions raised in this debate off the cuff I do not know. I repeat that there is an overwhelming uneasiness in the wool growing sector of the community. Whether it is just wisdom that comes with hindsight I do not know. It is easy to be wise after the event and so I am not being critical. T just want reassurance from the Minister that he is certain that the present methods adopted by the Government to get this window into the shipping system is the right method to examine our costs and challenge the continuous rise in freight charges.
– The Tasmanian mainland trade has been the Australian National Line’s most profitable segment. It is now to be slugged with a 124 per cent increase in freights at one go. Tasmanian industrialists and primary producers, manufacturers and consumers are being asked to rescue the ANL from its losses last year. We regard this as unjust and detrimental. The ANL is a commission, the very structure of which is in direct conflict with the economic philosophy of a Liberal-Country Party Government. This Government is the fanatic supporter of private enterprise but in 1956 it was forced by pressure from this side of the House and shippers throughout Tasmania and other States to create a Governmentowned shipping enterprise. This is anathema to its philosophy. Its heart is not in public enterprise. This has been obvious since 1950 when the Government of the day knocked out the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Ltd, the Australian Whaling Commission and other Government enterprises. The Government has no real heart for the ANL either and I believe this lack of concern has been detrimental to the operations of the Line. It has had restrictions placed on its services and operations as a direct result of Government economic philosophy.
Recently the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Snedden) delivered another tremendous blow at ANL by refusing to grant a 35 hour week to the specialist waterside workers working on ANL ships. This has become and will be in the future a disastrous thing for the economics of ANL. The Line has had no industrial trouble for 14 years through the special arrangements between it and the Waterside Workers Union, and now a fumbling interfering Minister is going to cause them great concern. What will be the effects of a 12£ per cent rise on Tasmania’s economy? First, there will be discouragement of new industries. The increased freight will outweigh the gain to Tasmania’s industrialists of the electric power rebate which they get. Secondly, it will move Tasmania’s industries outside competition. In other words, the costs of freight will nullify the ability and capacity of our industries to compete with their rivals on the mainland. Thirdly, it will reduce still further the returns to our Tasmanian exporters, many of whom are the hard hit primary producers. Fourthly, it will put Tasmania m an economic backwater, reducing employment and creating a depressed State.
What is the most effective way to strangle a country’s economy? It is by cutting off or reducing its trade. During World War II Germany knew it could not destroy Britain by massive bombing, but knew it could bring Britain to her knees if German submarines could destroy the ships bringing into Britain desperately needed imports, raw materials and food. We are grateful Germany failed. Trade is the lifeblood, the very jugular vein of any country. Tasmania is an island State. The whole of her economy is geared to shipping. Ninety-eight per cent of her trade and transport is done by shipping alone, unlike the mainland States with their rail and road transport systems. If we lift freight rates now by 12t per cent or if we reduce shipping activity we immediately hit the jugular vein of our economic life. When we consider that ANL lifts 75 per cent to 80 per cent of Tasmania’s mainland exports and imports, its sheer dependence on the ANL for its economic existence is vividly illustrated.
We appreciate the shipping service to Tasmania provided by ANL. It has revolutionised transport and modernised it, but as far as our State is concerned we are not in favour of a 124 per cent increase at one go in our freight charges. This is a catastrophic blow to our economy at one point of time. Tasmanian shippers would not have complained about a 5 per cent increase with a further review in 2 years time, for instance. Industrialists over there are staggered. Hear them in interviews on television. Farmers are discouraged and bewildered by the savage increase in freight rates. More and more this will dampen our production, kill incentives and impoverish whole segments of primary and secondary industry. It is a major and massive setback to our economy and will be felt within the next 6 months. Tasmania exports to the mainland, among other things, potatoes, peas - which comprise 60 per cent of Australia’s production - meat, apples and pears, dairy products, wool, chocolates, hops, cement, paper, timber - which is already facing vicious competition from low cost countries to our north - minerals and chemicals.
What does the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission Act say about costs? Section 17 provides that if the Commission operates at a loss it is entitled to be reimbursed by the Commonwealth to the extent of the loss it incurs in maintaining and operating a shipping service in accordance with a direction given by the Minister or to the extent of a loss which results from the whole of the operations of the Commission, whichever is the less. But so far it has not cost the Government lc. I have a list of figures which I have extracted from the report of the Australian National Line for 1968-69. This indicates that the profits of the Australian National Line, after tax has been paid, total for the 12 years since 1957-58 an amount of $29.2m, or an average profit of $2.4ra until this year when, for several reasons, it incurred a loss of SI. 4m. In the last 13 years the Line has had a total credit balance of $27. 8m. Section 18 of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission Act states:
I firmly believe that the Tasmanian Government, on the basts of this provision, should have sued the Commonwealth Government to obtain shipping freight justice for Tasmania. The Commission is not forced to operate at a profit year by year. We know that the Australian National Line is losing heavily on the Darwin section of its trade but is making a profit on the Tasmanian section. What would a court regard as a reasonable return on capital, or the lowest possible rates of charges? During the last year the Commission spent enormous sums of money so it is no wonder that it had a loss. According to its latest report expenditure on plant and equipment increased from S2.5m in 1969 to $10.5m in 1970- an increase of $8m in one item. No wonder the Commission incurred a loss, but this expenditure was important to ensure the Commission’s continuation. In these circumstances it is not disastrous that it should show a loss in this last 12 months.
In respect of possible alternatives, I want to quote what Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Earle, the Secretary-General of the International Cargo Handling Co-ordination Association said in Hobart on Monday, 19th October 1970. He said that shipping charges would continue to rise. Also he said:
While the ANL ami the Union Steam Ship Co. operate in conference and wages continue to spiral I cannot see any alternative to rising freights. The only possibility would be for a non-conference operator to enter the trade with under-cut rates and this alternative seems slim.
If there were a Federal Labor government at the moment, it would be sending the Australian National Line’s overseas vessels out as separate entities operating under their own control and not linked as serfs to the conference line with competitive overseas freight rates. I believe that a Federal shipping subsidy is necessary to offset the freight increases in Tasmania and to give Tasmania economic justice with the mainland States which have road and rail transport alternatives.
The Commonwealth Government has spent millions on beef roads in the north and on standardisation of rail transport on the mainland. These payments have all been subsidies. What is wrong with a subsidy on shipping freight rates to Tasmania if the Government is prepared to spend the millions it has spent in the north of Australia and on rail standardisation? We want also our own separate booking offices throughout Australia and not the present ridiculous setup where customers have to go to private or rival shipping companies to book cargoes on the Australian National Line.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Luchetti) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
- Mr Deputy Chairman, 3.2 per cent of the total funds provided under Appropriation Bill (No. 1) are earmarked for this field of operation. If we have regard to Appropriation Bill (No. 2) we see that 3.5 per cent is involved, so it would not appear to be one of the greatest areas of expenditure in our total budgetary situation. Nevertheless wo should bear in mind that a great deal more of the gross national product is spent in this field than would appear from those small percentages because when we add automobiles and private expenditure in that area we have, in fact, a very much more substantial portion of our total national expenditure.
Transport is one of the more important instruments or tools of government policy, or at least it could be. One of the most rapidly developing facets of modern economy has been the field of transport. It is one without which production cannot be reasonably distributed either within an area, a region, a country or between countries.
In Australia, on the whole, transport has followed settlement and the establishment of economic activity patterns. Roads and railways have been built to upgrade the use of established rural economies. Urban transport has grown up to serve existing residential subdivisions and their associated commercial and industrial areas. It is possible to promote or impede rural industries, selectively as to type or area, by expenditure on transport links - for example, beef roads in the Northern Territory. But, perhaps more importantly, it is possible to influence the form and direction of urban growth through transport policy. There are many alternatives to identifying traffic jams and joining them with free” ways. I believe there is an imperative case for thorough prediction of the effects of transport route construction in urban areas - not least because traffic generates almost immediately to fill the routeway capacity provided. Every honourable member will be aware of that. 1 turn from that more general area, which 1 believe is as important as 1 said it is, to the question of the effect of this budgetary area on Tasmania. We have already heard something this afternoon from my great humanitarian friends opposite and it would be unfortunate if overstatement in this field were allowed to blur the very real case that can be made for Tasmania’s special consideration in the field of shipping and transport. As 1 understand it there are two major principles of freight rating. One is that known as the cost of the service and the second is what the traffic will bear. There is a very widespread suspicion in Tasmania that the latter principle is used to the detriment of Tasmania by the Australian National Line to offset losses elsewhere. The honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie), who preceded me, has made just such a statement, and I think it is true to say that it is, in fact, a widely held view. At the same time it should be said that the Chairman of the Australian National Line, in his recently published report, indicated that he is very much aware of the standing of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission in this field. He states, on page 6 of his report, that the policy of holding down freight rates at an uneconomic level has resulted in the Austraiian Coastal Shipping Commission, for the first time in history, incurring a loss. So, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) took note, he is aware of the problem. But the problem is not entirely his. He states further that the sea freight across Bass Strait, after allowing for the 12) per cent increase which has been referred to already, is still lower than it was 13 years ago. That is something which is happily forgotten as a rule by the critics of the increase and it is a pity because, as T suggested earlier, I believe this is an unbalanced view of the situation and tends to work against sympathy for a just cause. Nevertheless one must say, whether justified or not, and whether the timing was justified or not, that freight rises of this kind are quite obviously imposing a burden on the recipients.
The Chairman of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission is also aware of the subsidy argument and he says, quite bluntly, that the matter of subsidies is one for government. The duty of the Commission, as he sees it, is to charge the lowest freight rates consistent with making a reasonable return on its capital. That would appear to be in line with generally recognised business procedure.
Nevertheless Tasmania, as an island State, as has again been readily discerned - it is self-evident that any island community which is not totally self-sufficient or introverted has to do this - must rely heavily on its lines of communication. As the connections interstate for all bulk goods, and many others for that matter, can be by ship only, there is a case to be made out - I believe I should make it - for ensuring consistency of service comparable with the sort of consistency which can be afforded by road and rail in the mainland States. If it is the only answer to this problem of operation along profitable lines - I do not mean in the sense of making great profits but in a going concern sense - it seems to me that the question of subsidy must be seriously considered. This is a matter on which 1 have spoken to the Minister for Shipping and Transport privately, and I would like now more publicly to suggest that that matter is worthy of further consideration. It is a fairly direct comparison with, say, the provision of $50m worth of Commonwealth involvement in the Mount Isa railway, if I remember my figure right, to give one example of many which could be used.
We have of course hope in Tasmania that the variations in the pattern of development of container shipping may produce something of considerable consequence for the island. That is to say, if a deep water port in the estuary of the Huon River were able to be used as a major container port for distribution therefrom to other ports in Australia, it would be a very great boon indeed. Many years ago it was thought that the deep water ports, the drowned estuaries, of southern Tasmania, notably at that time Hobart, might come into vogue for that sort of reason. The recent developments in the container shipping area tend to suggest otherwise, that the big volume ports such as Sydney and Melbourne, and perhaps over in the west because of its greater distance away, may be favoured as distribution points for the whole country for container shipping. I suggest that the possibility of the Huon area or perhaps Hobart being a distribution point is one very great consequence for reasons of industrial possibilities, apart from the transport matter itself, as far as Tasmania as a whole is concerned.
I might, nearly in conclusion, just mention a fairly recent independent comment that was made in relation to Tasmanian shipping traffic. Tasmanian traffic has of course a very important place in the activities of the Port of Melbourne. It easily leads in the carriage of exports from the Port of Melbourne and it is second only to the bulk traffic of New South Wales in Melbourne’s imports. The composition of Tasmania’s goods exchange with Melbourne has been described as reflecting ‘the influence of its insular position and especially the absence of rail and road com.petion for water borne traffic which has drastically reduced coastwise general cargo movements between Melbourne and the major ports of the mainland’.
Whilst that statement is a few years old, I would draw it to the Minister’s attention. That is to say, while I am talking mainly from the point of view of Tasmania’s benefit or otherwise in this matter, I point out that the shipping traffic provided by Tasmania is a very important facet of the total coastwise shipping operations in Australia, and not only is the health of Tasmania involved but the health of economic activity in the Port of Melbourne is involved, and its hinterland of Victoria is consequently affected. There are other factors involved. The possibility of rationalisation among Tasmanian ports is something which should be considered to show responsibility, as it were, at both ends. I finally underline my plea for consideration of a just cause which I do not believe should be denied through over-statement in other quarters.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Luchetti) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– 1 preface my remarks in this debate by saying that on a previous occasion during the first sessional period of this Parliament, in a debate on the wool industry, I spent some time talking about what was occurring in the transport field, mainly in shipping. On that occasion I said - I see no reason why I should not repeat it - that shipowners commenced operations in this country some hundreds of years ago as virtually pirates and that they remained pirates against the woolgrowers and the people generally. I say that the Government of the day in 1963, in accepting recommendations from Sir Alan Westerman, has tied itself to a system which is costly and, in many respects, unnecessary.
Before proceeding further with that matter, in view of the fact that we have the report of the Australian National Line before us at the moment - it has been the subject of many of the contributions in the debate - .1 want to say that the ANL has more than its share of difficulties in the shipping industry because agency fees have gone up from practically nothing in the last financial year to in excess of 334-m. I merely mention that figure to indicate the effect upon the ANL because it do:s not have its own agencies and stevedoring companies in the various ports, and as a result is at the mercy of the pirates, the stevedoring companies and the establishments within the industry. Because of the statement that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Snedden) made in this place yesterday, I want to quote briefly from the annual report of the Australian National Line, lt states:
Before leaving the subject of the overseas Liner’ trades, the Commission, the Management and I record our appreciation of the co-operation given to us by the Maritime Union.’), in our efforts to establish an Australian, foreign-going merchant marine. As I have inferred, in the Japanese trade particularly, the maintenance of a fast lime-table service is our only real weapon in the struggle for survival, and if that weapon becomes blunted through the Australian flag ships being held up, the end will be in sight, and as far as I recollect, for largely the same reasons as brought the Commonwealth Line to the ground 40 years ago.
Yesterday the Minister for Labour and National Service said something about the 35-hour week, but that did not concern me so much. What the Minister conveyed to the House yesterday is that he had sabotaged an agreement that was about to be put into effect which would have greatly assisted the Australian National Line by intervening. In the dying stages of the last sessional period the Minister for Labour and National Service put before the Parliament a proposal to continue the stevedoring industry conferences. In his second reading speech on the Stevedoring Industry (Temporary Provisions) Bill he stated:
As I have said, there is a need now to plan for the permanent arrangements which will operate ultimately in the industry. Although the vast majority of waterside workers are not employed permanently, the fact remains that in a large number of small ports 20 per cent are still casually employed and there is a need for schemes for regular employment to be devised for them. The Governments policy in relation to the stevedoring industry is that there should be a continuing effort to make the employment relationships in the industry as near as possible to those in industry generally. This can be done only if there is co-operation from all parties in the industry. The obvious body to undertake the necessary investigations and to advise me on the future of the industry is the National Stevedoring Industry Conference. Furthermore, whatever the final structure of the industry, I believe it to be essential . . .
He bombed that second reading speech in this chamber yesterday. Let me deal with the concept of containerisation shipping. There is no need to containerise wool, as I have said in this place before. There has been a reference in this place in the last few days to a closed shop agreement with the unions. The managing director of Freeland of the United States, the biggest container ship operator in the world, with 46 vessels at the end of 1969, called for a world-wide conference of container ship operators and owners to be formed in order to prevent competition and to set freight rates. He obviously sees overtonnaging of trade routes by container shipping and, as is already true of the Atlantic, he sees a need for a closed shop for their protection. In the latter half of 1969 8 container ship operators announced plans to form a container operators trader conference for the North Atlantic trade. The line for American export is the Brandeis Line and there are many others. The fact is that the closed shipping agreement is operating today so far as containerised vessels are concerned to the extent that the country is being held to ransom. The Australian wool grower is the person who is suffering today. He ought to be receiving a greater return for his product. But this is not the case because of the puritanical way in which he is dealt with by the ship owners under the freight system. One would have thought that the Australian National Line by buying into the overseas trade would have been in a better position to bargain to have a greater voice in regard to the amount of money that was expended by the Government at that time. This has not been so and the situation is deplorable. Wool growers are now more than concerned about this matter.
I am very pleased to see this subject being debated and that some honourable members opposite now at last see the error of the ways of earlier governments. At least some wool growers have been prodded into some sort of action. The following report was printed in the ‘Australian’:
The Australian Wool Board will carry out major studies on contract shipping services for wool using chartered ships. The Chairman of the Australian Wool Board, Sir William Gunn, told a Press conference in Canberra yesterday that the wool industry was not able to continue to carry the burden of high overseas freight rates.
Sir William Gunn went on to say:
When containers were first introduced we were told that freight rates would not increase but this does not seem to be the case now. You will recall that the original concept of containerisation was in fact that there would be no charge for feeder services.
I want to come back to the Australian National Line. Australian National Line vessels will be going into ports around the Australian coast. They will possibly go into the port of Adelaide. A few weeks ago I checked on the situation at this port. The position is that ANL vessels will be ‘ prevented from feeding their own vessels which are on the overseas line and are out of the ports of Melbourne or Sydney. This is because of the consortia arrangement of road and rail transport. In other words, ANL ships will come from the eastern States ports into Adelaide with cargo and there is every possibility that they will go back to the eastern States empty and will not be permitted under the consortia agreement to backload from Adelaide into Melbourne and possibly Sydney containerised cargo which is destined for overseas trade on their own vessels. This is a shocking state of affairs. I would like to hear the Minister’s comments on this.
The fact is that the British shipping interests have always enjoyed special advantages from the United Kingdom Government because shipping has always been a major earner from invisible exports. The money which comes into Britain for freights and maritime insurance in foreign currency is a real inducement to government assistance. Defence has also been a strong motive force in shipping. A recent British committee under the chairmanship of Lord Rothdale which inquired into shipping listed the effect on the balance of payments of the invisible export, shipping, as one of the main considerations. Therefore here is another aspect in which some breakthrough has to be made. The type of treatment that we have been subjected to almost since the colony started to produce agricultural products for export has led us to a situation which because of the passage of time, it is very difficult to break. However, surely the problem is not insurmountable. Much larger container ships will operate in the future. I believe that there is some hope provided the grower organisations - the Australian Wool Board is quite happy - show sufficient courage and initiative in an endeavour to break through those problems. They can use bulk ships, of course, as one manner of loading wool. There is no necessity to containerise wool. The cost of shifting containers from 1 point to another has risen considerably and at the moment it stands at about $29 a time. Why should the wool grower have to bear this cost when there is no necessity to package his article and put it in a container as the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly) indicated a short time ago.
I regret that my speech is limited to 10 minutes - as I have regretted this on other occasions - because I would like further time in which to talk about this very important and most serious question. I should have liked to have elaborated it further.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
(4.20)-In the few minutes that are available to me I am afraid I cannot cover all the points that have been raised. However, I would like to deal with a few of them. Firstly, I would like to emphasise that as I understand the significance of transport in any economy, be it in Australia or anywhere else, it is paramount that transport should be a means towards achieving the movement of goods and people as quickly and as economically as possible. To that end I do not see any particular significance in whether goods are moved by one form of transport or another. In the Australian circumstances, for example, the State of Tasmania has a capacity to move goods across the Bass Strait only by sea and obviously the maritime trade is more important to this State than to States with alternative forms of transport. For example, in the movement of goods to centralised container ports there is a capacity to move goods by road, rail or sea. I do not see that there is anything sacrosanct about the fact that Australian National Line cargoes should necessarily be carried in Australian National Line ships. What this Government is concerned about, and what I believe this Parliament should be concerned about, is how much it will cost Australian exporters to move those goods and how much it will cost the Australian consumers whose goods are being transported the on-freight cost of which is added to the cost which the consumers pay over the shop counter.
It is for that reason that when the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster) refers to the significance of the Australian National Line not being able to carry its own cargo, he needs to realise that the cost of moving those cargoes is more important than the form of transport. Of course, in international trade, it is important that one should be able to determine the forms of shipping most suited to Australian trades. It is true that the Government has taken a decision not only to enter cellular container trades but to enter ro-ro trades. In the west-coast of North America trade we will have a Pacific Australia direct ship which will be somewhat of a combination vessel. We will also have another type of combination vessel on the east coast of North America-Australia trade.
I want to answer a number of specific questions that were raised by the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly) because they seem to me to be basic to the discussion that we now have before us. Firstly, in regard to conference operations, I think it needs to be recognised that the Australian National Line has not been a substantial overseas operator in recent years. The line, if it is to operate, does not want to carry goods only from Australia, lt must carry goods in both directions. If it is to contain cost movements and operate competitively it must have arrangments with overseas partners. It is for that reason that in the Japanese trade the Australian National Line made a decision to operate in what is known as the ‘eastern searoad service’. The line operates a joint service within the conference that operates between Japan and Australia. Much of the argument that was presented by Sir John Williams, the chairman of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission, which I understand is behind the amendment moved by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) is, of course, already the objective of the Government. That is to say, the Government wants to secure for the Australian National Line and other Australian operators - not particularly the Australian National Line - a satisfactory percentage of trade. Both my predecessor and I have said on repreated occasions in Japan, to Japanese Ministers and to members of the Japan-Australia conference, and here in the Parliament that we believe that in this trade and in other trades Australian flag-traders should be entitled to up to 50 per cent of the trade. However, because of the nature of the operation of most of these trades we do not expect that Australian operators would immediately be able to carry that percentage. Indeed, in many trades one would doubt whether Australian operators would ever want to carry this percentage. The argument that Sir John presented is, of course, of tremendous significance to Australia’s viable operation in the Japanese trade.
But why the conference? The conference provides a comprehensive service to all Australian ports. It does not only provide a service that suits the convenience of ship owners. The conference provides a service which is necessarily related within the requirements of the Restrictive Trade Practices Act to being an adequate and efficient service. This is essential if one is to cater for the very diverse needs of the Australian exporting interests. At this time I am doubtful and the Government is doubtful whether there would be an adequate, efficient, economic service outside the conference, with the ebb and flow of the volume of shipping, and with the very marked tendency for ship owners to act, as perhaps many would, only to the more profitable ports if they were given the opportunity to do so. We doubt whether it would be a satisfactory, adequate, efficient and economic service outside the Conference system.
Honourable members opposite have asked why the Restrictive Trade Practices Act is not applied. The Restrictive Trade Practices Act, as the Minister for Trade and Industry and I have explained in the Parliament, has certain criteria for application. Its criteria relate, first of all, to the establishment of whether there is an adequate, efficient and economic service and it has not been established, nor do I believe it can be established, that there is not such a service as far as the United KingdomAustralia run is concerned. Secondly, it is necessary to see whether in economic terms there is justification for a requested freight rate and, of course, in order to determine this there is a necessary level of participation by a registered shipper bodyin negotiations with the ship owners and a revealing of the statistics of the costing of the operation by the ship owners to the shipper body.
In the instance of the recent increase in the United Kingdom-Australia trade there was consultation. There was a revelation of the arithmetic and in economic terms there is no doubt that there would have been little justification for an inquiry within the Restrictive Trade Practices Act. The arithmetic that the Minister for Trade and Industry presented last night shows that over the course of the years since 1966 there has been an assessed overall increase of only 4i per cent in the United KingdomAustralia Conference freight rate. If we look at the other freight rates and we see the extent to which freights have been imposed in the south bound trades and in trades from other countries across the world we will see that in those trades - for example from New Zealand to United Kingdom-Europe and in the United States to New Zealand trade - there has been a far greater increase than there has been in this system where we have a closed conference and where the Restrictive Trade Practices Act can be applied. I think the very fact that there was a 10 per cent levy on south bound trade because of Tilbury indicates that where there was no restrictive Trade Practices Act there was a capacity in the ship owner to apply it but in the north bound trade no such increase was applied. The 12½ per cent increase applied to south bound trades recently was translated in the north bound trades only into this 4 per cent increase for wool, 5 per cent for fruit and 10 per cent for general cargo. So in other words we have been far better served because we have had the protection of the Restrictive Trade Practices Act than have the south bound shippers who do not have that protection, and than operators in other trades where there is no restriction either of a Conference or a Restrictive Trade Practices Act.
Let me reinforce the statement that I made initially that it must, nonetheless, be the objective of a government and all persons interested in the movement of cargoes around Australia to ensure that costs to shippers and to consumers are paramount. Our objective in moving into overseas trades is to assess the relative efficiency of different systems. That remains our objective and I believe it must continue to be our objective in the assessing of the relative forms of shipment and our participation in different overseas routes. To give honourable members an idea of the comparison in land cost movements to sea movements it is of interest to note that if we have a look at interstate rates by freight forwarders in Australia since 1967 we find that they have increased by something between 15 and 25 per cent, and if we have a look at intrastate rates in Victoria for freight forwarders we find that they have increased by some 45 per cent over the last 5 years. So it is not sufficient to criticise a closed Conference system because there has been a minimal freight increase without also looking at other forms of transport and recognising that in those other sectors there has equally been a very significant cost movement and that cost movement has been translated into far greater freight increases than have occurred in the maritime sector.
I think it is absolute nonsense for the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) to try to suggest that we in the Government and we in the Australian Country Party are not trying to protect the interests of the wool grower, the Australian consumer or the Australian shipper. We in the Country Party have that as our major objective and I believe that all the Leader of the Opposition is seeking to do is divert the attention of the community away from his own efforts such as his incitement to mutiny, his support for the 35-hour week - all these tendencies towards the disruption of the rule of law and the rule of authority, and all those policies which add to inflationary pressures. It is quite ridiculous for him to make that suggestion in relation to a field where we are acting on a basis of containing costs - not on the basis of adding to them. Rather is that the present trend of the Leader of the Opposition. For these reasons I ask the House to oppose the amendment proposed by the honourable member for Newcastle.
– Order! The time allotted for the consideration of the proposed expenditure has expired.
That the amendment (Mr Charles Jones’s) be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority . . . . 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Department of Works
Proposed expenditure, $68,668,500.
– The estimates for the Department of Works show that there is a significant relationship between the activities of the Department of Works and the Department of Civil Aviation. The civil works programme indicates that over $20m will be spent on Melbourne Airport alone in the coming year so that it will be clear that errors of judgment by the Department of Civil Aviation will obviously be reflected in unnecessary and wasteful expenditure by the Department of Works. In no area of judgment is such waste more likely to arise than in the inappropriate siting of airports. I take this opportunity to raise the question of the siting of Perth Airport in particular. In the West Australian’ of 13th October the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) indicated that the Commonwealth Government has decided that the Perth Airport will remain on its present site. According to his interview, as reported in the ‘West Australian’ of that date, the decision by the Government in this respect is irrevocable.
I want to say 2 things about the decision. In the first place, I regret it. Although I can, admittedly, speak only as a layman I find it inconceivable that no suitable alternative can be found within a reasonable distance of Perth. Part of the problem, of course, is to determine what a reasonable distance is and I suspect in this regard that the Department is not thinking in terms of distance far enough away from Perth because it is not thinking far enough ahead. I know that is easy to do. I remember that not so long ago the area in which I live was known as the Mt Lawley bush. Children used to go for hikes there on Sunday afternoons. That is not a long time ago. It was in the post-war period. Looking back at it I find the fact incredible because I live only 3½or 4 miles from the Perth General Post Office. I remember that a suburb like Gosnells, which is only 10 or 12 miles from the city, was then invariably referred to as ‘the country’. It was in one of the gerrymandered State electorates, naturally with a Country Party member.
If 20 years ago an area as far from the city as Gosnells had been suggested as the site for Perth Airport people would have risen up in horror to say: ‘That is too far’. But now we have to think in terms of 30, 40 and 50 miles from the city. It is true that the Minister for Civil Aviation in the report to which I have already referred said that he had looked into various proposals and alternative sites within 55 miles of the city but he had found none of them suitable. I believe that he meant not that he was unable to find a site which was suitable but that he was unable to find a site which was as suitable as the present site. I think it would be true that it would be hard to duplicate all the advantages of an airport within 5 miles of the city at an airport 55 miles from the city.
Other considerations, however, should be given their proper place. I again turn to the report from which I have already quoted. The Minister said:
The existing airport was not only capable of expansion but ideally located. It is better, in fact, than any other airport in Australia as a vital link in the planned future integration of road, rail, sea and air freight services.
In other words, he was saying that the present site is good for rail services, road services and air freght services, lt may be good for all of those and for many other reasons. On the other hand, it is not good for the people who live around Perth Airport. Unfortunately, this is one aspect on which the Minister did not feel called upon to comment. In spite of what I have said to this stage and in spite of the reservations 1 have on the decision to retain the airport at its present site, 1 suppose that if this decision has been made irrevocably by the Government one has to be practical and accept it on that basis. After all, the Government will possibly be in office for another 2 years, and in a sphere like this every year that passes counts.
In 2 years we will have spent a great deal more money on Perth Airport and we will feel the loss that much more if we decide to vacate it. In 2 years time the areas now suitable for alternative sites will have shrunk with the ordinary expansion of the metropolitan area. To that extent I suppose we are stuck with the decision that the Government has apparently made. That being so, I want to raise a second point, and that is that a major effort should be made now to minimise the difficulties and discomfort to the residents of surrounding areas. It may be true that in the past the air traffic at Perth Airport was not such as to give rise to serious concern about airport noise. The noise problem was certainly not comparable with that at airports in some of the other States. But the noise problem is increasing and it is bound to increase further in quite a dramatic fashion. Only this morning I had supplied to me in response to my earlier question some statistics from the Minister for Civil Aviation. These statistics show that in the 5 years to 1969 total movements of jet aircraft alone in and out of Perth have risen from 2,571 to 6,173 annually, an increase of 240 per cent. Compared with what is going to come, that is nothing. On the projections of the Department as provided to me this morning, the present annual total movements of 6,173 will increase to 27,000 - and this is given as the minimum figure - by 1975. This is a further increase of 430 per cent in the next 5 years. That is one serious matter.
The other serious matter relates to the times of operation of Perth Airport. Frankly, I was astonished to find that over half of all jet movements into and out of
Perth Airport take place in the hours between 1 1 p.m. and 6 a.m. Over 3,200 jet aircraft movements occurred last year during those night hours in which not one movement is allowed in any airport in any other capital city. Flights between these hours are not allowed as a regular course at Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane Airports. Perth has the remarkable distinction of having 3,200 movements annually now. Carrying that figure forward on the basis of the projections of future movements, we can anticipate between 13,000 and 14,000 night aircraft movements annually by 1975. This is intolerable. I do not know how we ever came to be loaded with this remarkable distinction by which night flights are allowed into and out of Perth airport but not in any other capital city airport. I must confess that I do not know the background of the decision that allowed that sort of development. But we must look for some changes now. We cannot sit back and wait until the stage when we have 13,000 night flights into and out of Perth airport and then start to worry whether people’s sleep is being disturbed.
In one respect, the position in Perth concerning remedial action is better than in other capitals. According to the noise exposure forecasts map of the Department of Civil Aviation, the areas of maximum noise around Perth airport are still relatively sparsely settled. Therefore, the Department of Civil Aviation should consider large scale resumption at generous compensation in these areas in the very near future. The cost could largely be met by the re-zoning of acquired residential areas for industrial purposes. Even if the net cost was between $5m to $10m, this would be a small amount compared with the total cost of the airport and the least that the Commonwealth can do to minimise the difficulties to which its plans will inevitably lead.
Finally, I urge the Government to expedite the resumption of open space in Newburn, the re-zoning of which has been frozen already for 10 years and more from re-zoning and development in anticipation of a departmental decision. The ramifications of the airport siting decisions go very far. Perth fortunately is not in the relatively absurd position as are airports in other cities such as Melbourne where one feels one can lean out of the aircraft and knock on a neighbour’s back door. For those who are affected, however, the position is bad enough. The responsibility is on the Government to meet their needs.
– The appropriation this financial year for the Department of Works is $68. 68m. I see that $1 1.25m is set aside in division 584 - Repairs and Maintenance - for Northern Territory services. The sum of $2.25m is appropriated for the Stuart and Barkly Highways for these purposes. Additionally, $ 1.55m is provided for water supplies, roads and stock routes for pastoral purposes. An appropriation of $1.2m is made for roads for transport of beef cattle. I wish to speak on the subject of pastoral roads.
Apart from sealed highways - some of the beef roads are sealed and some of them are not - and several other highways, most of the roads in the Northern Territory are flat graded. This means that a grader just goes through the country, levels off the grass, bushes and trees and, by vehicles driving over them and the general use of them packing the surface down, these roads are established and used for transport purposes. This practice has been going on in the Northern Territory for 50 years. In a number of places, one sees one road, a small creek alongside it and then a bigger creek alongside that. The creeks previously were flat graded roads. I ask the Government under this appropriation head to look at this practice of flat grading roads across the country. In the long run. it is just a waste of effort and it causes a tremendous amount of erosion in some of the sandy country that we have in the Territory. When I went to the Territory first some 30 years ago, I remarked on this practice. I had noticed other roads in other parts of the country, for instance the Riverina, where the roads had been graded into the middle and, because of this procedure, 40 years or 50 years later water still ran off them instead of down them. So, 1 urgently request the Government to look at this practice of flat grading pastoral and second and third level roads in the Northern Territory.
In my contribution to the discussion of these estimates, I wish to compliment the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Public
Works for the sincere and thorough job that it has done in 1970 with respect to the Northern Territory. One sees taking shape now the projects on which it made decisions earlier. Sealed roads are reaching out towards Borroloola in the Gulf of Carpentaria to Kununurra and the recently opened Victoria River Bridge to the west. Decisions on these projects were taken by the Public Works Committee, in many cases consuming time that it could ill afford, with members sleeping in fairly basic conditions - for some parliamentarians - as they did alongside the Victoria River Bridge.
Other projects which the Committee has studied in the past related to schools, dental clinics, office blocks and so on. The Committee has travelled to the Territory again and again this year to study references. Some 8 items have been referred to the Government for approval by the Committee this year to a value of approximately $50m. I believe that members of the Committee have done a sincere and genuine job. It has been a great job for my part of the world. 1 turn to the Department of Works itself. From top to bottom the Works Establishment in the Northern Territory carries out so much of the work performed and supervises sub-contractors. The Department has ils own planners and its own engineering division. Might I commend the Department on the first rate job that its employees do under fairly basic conditions. Many of them live in road camps hundreds of miles from what is normally regarded as civilisation. When it comes to turning in a good job, these men cannot be faulted. I have seen them out on the Barkly Highway in a temperature of 110 degrees in the shade pouring tar on a bitumen road. Despite the intense heat, the job went on just the same. I would not have liked to have been doing it and I have been working in the Territory a long time myself. I commend these men on their work.
I wish to deal with one other item. With the build-up of these very large engineering works in the Northern Territory, the Department of Works has gathered a considerable engineering service itself. On many occasions it employs outside consultant engineers. Some of these engineering firms are being asked to do consultant work in Indonesia, and in other countries to our near north. I ask the Minister and his Department to look into the possibility of some sort of a joint venture being undertaken in the export of consulting engineering services to such places as Indonesia where these services are so urgently required. Some of our consultant firms are already carrying out work hand in hand with the Department of Works. They have been requested to do some jobs in Indonesia. With the experience that the Department has gained in the past and will gain in the future I think that, together with these consultants and the local private engineers, it should assist our friends and neighbours to the near north, such as the Indonesians, in some of their engineering projects.
– My remarks concerning the Commonwealth Department of Works estimates will be of praise on the one hand and of minor criticism on the other. The Department of Works employees in the Northern Territory, led by Mr George Redmond, are doing a wonderful job. All honourable members should be aware of their extensive activities in the Northern Territory. As a member of the Joint Statutory Committee on Public Works I have had to visit the Northern Territory on numerous occasions and have been able to assess the value of the work of employees of the Department of Works. Now I come to some points of criticism. We find that in New South Wales there has been considerable retrenchment of employees of the Department and more is intended. I refer particularly to the Williamtown Royal Australian Air Force base where much consternation is felt because of the retrenchments of Department of Works employees. These have comprised tradesmen, particularly carpenters. These retrenchments do not encourage competent tradesmen to seek employment in the Department of Works because they cannot be assured of continuity of employment. Employees of the Department should feel secure in their employment.
I also believe that the Department should not be retrenching employees but should be carrying out a programme of expansion. If this were done we would find that the employees of the Department would be a body of contented men. They would also be a body of efficient men, even more efficient than they are now. There is an old saying that a contented employee is an efficient employee. We know that at defence establishments there is always a contingent of Department of Works employees, and the volume of work rises and falls from time to time. In these circumstances, and with present planning, it is difficult not to have to retrench from time to time, but I believe that there should be some more wide ranging plan for Department of Works employees so that when jobs are completed on defence establishments, whether they be at Puckapunyal, Williamtown air base, the Singleton Army camp or somewhere else, the employees can be transferred to other work in the regions. They would then never have to fear unemployment. They should be like permanent members of the Services who know that when they finish one job they will still have security and permanency of employment.
I may be asked where else these men could be employed. There are plenty of urgent public works, particularly in the Newcastle region with which I am particularly concerned, that the Commonwealth should undertake but which are too big for local government authorities and even State governments. I might mention, for instance, the Swansea Channel which provides an inlet and outlet for the beautiful waters of Lake Macquarie. For years this channel has been silting up. Protests have come from organised bodies, local government authorities and the State Government. The Swansea Channel could and should be dredged and the banks should be reinforced. What money has been spent on dredging from time to time has been virtually wasted. If the money had been allowed to accumulate and spent on one attack on the problem perhaps the banks of the channel could have been protected for all time by reinforcement and the siltation prevented. There would be no authority more capable of doing this work, in my opinion, than the Commonwealth Department of Works. I believe that special Commonwealth financial assistance should be given towards overcoming this problem of siltation in the Swansea channel. I understand it would cost not more than $400,000.
At one time it was argued that there were not sufficient ratepayers in the Lake Macquarie area to warrant a Commonwealth grant for this purpose. In 1947 the population of Lake Macquarie was only 42.000. Today the population is 130,000. By the turn of the century it is expected to reach 300,000. I hope that the charter of the Department of Works can be expanded so that when a job is completed in a particular area the men employed on it can be transferred to other important public works such as the one I have just referred to. I gathered information only today by telephone that private enterprise is now looking at 2 sites in the Swansea or Central Coast area where it proposes to build breakwaters into the ocean for the purpose of loading coal for export to Japan. These ventures would be adjacent to some beautiful beaches. If these projects are allowed to go forward there will probably be a justifiable outcry from the people in the region similar to that with which the people of the Wollongong area and in the electorate of Hughes have been bombarding the honourable member for that electorate. Similar coal loading projects are planned, we are told, for that area. We know that we must export but we should not allow our public beaches to be ruined just so that some exporters can get what is known as a fast buck. 1 believe the Government should consider expanding the activities of the Department of Works to enable that Department to carry out projects such as I have already suggested. I point out, without being overcritical, that the Commonwealth spends vast sums of money on projects such as the extension of airports to accommodate international aircraft. I refer particularly to the Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport, the Tullamarine Airport and the Avalon Airport which is being extended for the purpose of training urgently needed jumbo jet pilots for Qantas. The Perth airport, I believe, has been extended and improved facilities are being provided at the Wagga defence establishment. Millions of dollars are being spent in these areas. Millions of dollars are about to be spent on the provision of new barracks and amenities for sailors at HMAS ‘Cerberus’. I think that the Commonwealth could spend some money on the project to which I have referred.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– 1 thank my friend the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett) for yielding to me the last li minutes of this debate. All I can say as the Minister in this chamber representing the Minister for Works (Senator Wright), is that the several submissions which have been made by honourable members on the estimates for the Department of Works will be brought to the Minister’s notice.
The only other thing I want to do as the Minister representing the Minister for Works, who has the privilege of tabling the reports of the Public Works Committee in this House, is, on my behalf and on behalf of my colleague in the Senate, the Minister for Works, to pay a tribute to the Public Works Committee of this Parliament. I refer to the Chairman of the Committee, the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly) and to Senators Branson, Dittmer and Prowse and to the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett), the honourable member for Leichhardt (Mr Fulton), the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James), the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson), and the honourable member for Balaclava (Mr Whittorn) who are members of the Committee.
There is no harder working committee appointed by this Parliament than the Public Works Committee. The way in which the members of the Committee go about their research and the industry and enthusiasm they show is, I am sure, a model for all of us. Not only that, but as the Minister who introduces into this House proposals coming from the Committee, I commend the Committee for the way in which it submerges party politics and devotes its work to the good of the causes for which it stands.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Remainder of Bill - by leave - taken as a whole, and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr Chipp) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 18 August (vide page 93), on motion by Mr Bury:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Chipp) read a third time.
– I move:
Mr Speaker, the Customs Tariff Proposals I have just tabled propose amendments to the Customs Tariff 1966-1970. They implement the Government’s acceptance of recommendations by the Tariff Board on the following reports:
Vinyl acetate and cellulose acetate flake - an interim report under the review inquiry on industrial chemicals; and
Gauze, cloth, grill, etc., of copper or copper alloy wire.
As is my custom, 1 have arranged for a copy of this speech to be distributed to honourable members so they can read it with me. A summary of the tariff changes and a glossary of technical terms are also being distributed.
The Tariff Board recommends duties of 50 per cent general tariff and 40 per cent preferential tariff for vinyl acetate. These duties, which represent a reduction of 10 per cent under both the general and the preferential tariff, will come into effect on 1st December 1970. On cellulose acetate flake the Board recommends that the existing duties of 5 per cent general tariff, free preferential tariff, remain unchanged. In addition the Board recommends the rate of bounty payment on the production and sale of cellulose acetate flake for use in the manufacture of cellulose acetate rayon yarn be varied from 5c perlb to 4c per lb, with a maximum payment of $200,000 in any one year. The new rate of bounty will operate from 1st December 1970 to 31st December 1973. A Bill to amend the Cellulose Acetate Flake Bounty Act 1956-1970 will be introduced in due course to give effect to the Government’s decision.
I turn now to the report on gauze, cloth, grill, etc., of copper or copper alloy wire. The Tariff Board recommends duties of 25 per cent general tariff and 15 per cent preferential tariff, except for woven wire having a construction finer than 120 mesh which is to be free of duty from all sources. These rates represent no change on woven wire finer than 120 mesh but an increase in duty of 17½ per cent general tariff and 15 per cent preferential tariff on woven wire for paper-making machines. On other gauze, cloth and grill of copper or copper alloy wire there is a reduction in tariff protection of up to 35 per cent general tariff and 12½ per cent preferential tariff.
The Proposals also allow for accelerated duty phase-out on certain products imported from New Zealand as agreed to by the Australian and New Zealand Governments. These products, previously included in Schedule A to the New ZealandAustralia Free Trade Agreement will now be admitted free of duty from New Zealand. Also included are adjustments of duty rates on synthetic manufacturing perfumes and on waxy crudes for use as feedstock in the petroleum industry. This restores the basic position in relation to these goods at 30th June 1965. I commend the proposals.
Debate (on motion by Dr 3. F. Cairns) adjourned.
Reports on Items
– Mr Speaker, I present the following reports by the Tariff Board:
Vinyl acetate; cellulose acetate flake - an interim report under the review inquiry on industrial chemicals;
Gauze, cloth, grill, etc., of copper or copper alloy wire.
Ordered that the reports be printed.
– I move:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent a motion being moved by the honourable member for Dawson requiring this period of sittings of the House to be continued until the Government’s wool legislation has been introduced and dealt with by both Houses.
Mr Speaker, in view of your previous ruling I will confine my remarks to why I believe there should be a suspension of standing orders. In the first instance-
– Have you given the Leader of the House notice of this?
– Should 1?
– Out of sheer courtesy.
– On this suspension of Standing Orders - no.
-I would have thought courtesy would have demanded that.
– To enable honourable members opposite to organise opposition? This is a very serious matter. The reasons for the motion to suspend Standing Orders are basically these: In this morning’s paper the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia (Mr McEwen) made a statement that the fall in wool prices to their lowest level since 1946 was a national disaster. I repeat, this was stated by the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, the Leader of the Australian Country Party. For the Deputy Prime Minister of Australiato state that we have a national disaster on our hands is, I believe, something of the most serious nature that this Parliament should deal with. During this week there have been several questions asked of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) and the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) relating to proposed wool leigslation to be considered before this Parliament rises. It was not until today that we learned officially from the Leader of the House, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Snedden) that it was the hope - I think that was the word used - of the Government to rise at the end of next week. Up to this point of time-
– If I may interrupt you, I went on to say that we will continue sitting in the following week if the essential legislation has not been passed.
– This has not been introduced yet.
– I am pointing out what I did say. We would go on.
– This is true. I accept that. The Minister did say that if essential legislation were not passed we would continue to sit. There are 2 points in support of the motion for the suspension of Standing Orders. In reply to a question asked by the honourable member for Canning (Mr Hallett) of the Minister for Primary Industry the Minister said: 1 want to give an assurance to honourable members and to the wool industry that every possible effort is being made by the Government to see that this legislation is introduced this session.
The Opposition believes that this is not good enough. We do not want any hopes or wishes; we want a definite undertaking and a definite assurance by this Government that before this Parliament gets up, whether it be the end of next week or the following week, the wool legislation to deal with this national disaster - which is what the Deputy Prime Minister says it is and we believe it is - will be considered by this House and the Senate and dealt with. We are not going to agree to any half baked type of Government proposal that the Parliament will get up next week and we might at some future date come back. Before this House gets up the wool legislation, which deals with a problem that in the words of the Deputy Prime Minister is a national disaster, should be introduced and dealt with in the House of Representatives, sent to the Senate, and dealt with in the Senate. I do not think it is too much to ask that this be done. When the Prime Minister was subsequently questioned by the honourable member for Wimmera (Mr King), again to the embarrassment. I would say, of this Parliament there was still no definite assurance that this would take place. The Prime Minister said:
The preparation and introduction of this legislation falls entirely within the responsibility of my colleague the Minister for Primary Industry who, 1 am sure, is doing his best to see that the rural community gets the benefits which are proposed in this legislation. All 1 can say in reply to the honourable member who asked the question is that I will take the question under consideration.
Here we have on our books a national disaster in an $800m export industry which provides 20 per cent or more of Australia’s export income. Yet this is the type of innocuous answer we are getting. We cannot get a definite assurance. In fairness to the Government, I would say that I have been advised that there is a possibility of some temporary draft Bill being completed this weekend, a copy of which will be air expressed to me in north Queensland. This might occur but there is no guarantee it will. I would assume this legislation would have to be considered some time next week and the hope of the Government would be to get it through this House, through the Senate and back again if there are any amendments.
I can assure the Minister for Primary Industry and the House that the Opposition will do everything possible to facilitate this legislation through the Parliament. There is no question about that. This does not mean that we will not move amendments but as far as accelerating this legislation through the Parliament is concerned I can give an assurance that we will do it. What we want however, is an unqualified assurance that before this Parliament gets up, whether it be next week, the week after or whenever it is, the wool legislation will be cleaned up in the Parliament. It is completely unsatisfactory for the Parliament to get up at the end of next week without this matter being finalised. After all. the Australian Wool Industry’ Conference recommendation which was made in April has beer, considered by the Australian Wool Advisory Committee. It has been considered by the Australian Wool Board and it has been considered by the Government. It has been back to the Australian Wool Industry Conference and been returned to the Government and we have had a Press statement from the Minister for Primary Industry. All I ask the Minister to do is to give us an assurance that before this Parliament gets up the wool legislation will have been introduced and dealt with in both Houses.
– In seconding this motion I would point out that the urgency of the matter has surely already been admitted by the Government and particularly by the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen) only yesterday when he used the term ‘national disaster’. It has been covered perhaps from the national angle. I want to say that as far as the individual is concerned it is a great personal disaster and one which will just not wait for many months for the legislation to go through what might be called the ‘usual channels’. Even at this time on the way to Canberra and Sydney are fami lies who face dispossession and ruin, who face the end of their life’s hopes and. of course, savings. This is a situation which will be multiplied many times if measures are to be postponed for months on end. People have reached the end of their tether. It has been suggested that they can go to the last court of appeal to get money to carry on, that is, the Rural Reconstruction Board which operates only in New South Wales. That Board has run out of money. This State agency which is supposed to be caring for these people has nothing left. The Chairman of the Board said: ‘I have no money. I cannot deal with them any more’. These people are now forming a queue in the hope that the Board can get some money to save the situation for them and their families.
It is no longer just a matter of talking about what have been called by some people though certainly not by rae ‘marginal producers’ - the people who they say must go, the people who will inevitably disappear. It is not just that matter at all. In fact, the other day there came to my notice the position of a man who 12 months ago had a $250,000 capital investment which was readily negotiable as an asset. Now he has no actual asset, because nobody will buy it. He has no income and nowhere to go. So this is not merely a sectional matter affecting a few poor people who, some people say, have to go anyway: This is an attack on an entire industry’- I say ‘an attack’ because I am not altogether convinced that this is a situation which has been allowed to develop without some thought to the consequences. It may be the view that this industry should be destroyed very largely as an individual industry at present.
The Government has said - and it is on this particular point that we are taking the Government at its word - that it intends to take some action. It intends to try to stop this crisis deepening. What we say, and what the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) said in moving the motion, is that we will accept the Government’s word that it has this intention, that it will take action, that the time for tea and sympathy is ended, that the words and the talk are over and that we will see some action. Whether we will agree with the action is another matter but certainly we support the intention to take action. What we are saying now is that surely the Parliament cannot just disperse in the 4 winds of Australia without anything being resolved and without anything firm being done. The honourable member for Dawson said that it had been indicated to him that possibly there would be a draft Bill - a skeleton Bill - put in the post and sent to him in north Queensland. That might happen; it might not. We might all be sent away - all dispersed - and nothing done. We may not even meet again this year when we do rise and it may be the end of the sittings for 1970. Of course, we all know the Government’s form: It will not want to come back within cooee of New Years Day, so if we get up and do not return in 1970 we will not take action until a number of months have passed, and in every week that passes there will be more bankruptcies and in every month that passes there will be a deepening of the crisis. This is our concern.
What the Opposition has said, very simply, in the motion is that this is an opportunity for the Government to show that it is really sincere about wanting to take action now. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) says: ‘I will do everything possible’. What we are proposing now is to give him the opportunity to say: ‘Yes, I was sincere in what I was saying. My words meant something. We will do something. We will accept what the Opposition is putting to us at present’. Our proposal is put forward as a measure of help and a measure of assistance very sincerely on behalf of the people who are in the trough of a real depression now.
– Of course the Government cannot accept the motion. Upon analysis of the motion we find that it is misconceived. It is quite badly misconceived to say, as the motion does, that the period of sittings of the House be continued until the Government’s wool legislation has been introduced and dealt with by both Houses. It is a complete misconception to think that we, in this House, control the other chamber, the Senate. For us to say that this House will sit until the Senate has dealt with the legislation overlooks the fact that we may very well be sitting here unable to control the situation. The Senate is a chamber with its own numbers and its own control of its procedures, lt would be subjecting this House to an indignity, which the House could not possibly accept, to say that we shall sit here until the Senate deals with the legislation. The honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) said something in terms quite different from those of his motion. He said that we must continue to sit here until the legislation is passed in both Houses. That, of course, is an even more extreme and, with respect, untenable proposition. What the honourable gentleman seems to want, and he emphasised this towards the end of what he was saying, is an assurance from the Government that the Bill will be introduced and dealt with in both Houses. I can give him an assurance that the Government will do all in its power to introduce the Bill and have it dealt with in both Houses.
– And passed.
– Yes, and passed. I can give him that assurance. We will do all we can to have the Bill introduced into this House, considered by this House and passed by this House. Likewise we will do all we can to have it introduced into the Senate, considered by the Senate and passed by the Senate, for that has always been our intention. But the honourable gentleman seems to believe that once the Government determines a policy it is a simple matter to have a Bill prepared for the Parliament. We are presently concerned with a most important and significant policy. It is a policy which comes out of the co-operation between my colleague, the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony), with his tremendous attention to detail and his tremendous concern for the interests of the industry, and those who are learned in the industry - Sir John Crawford, the various associations and organisations. He has put his capacity, together with the capacity of those in the industry, into analysing all the suggestions, analysing the needs and analysing what he believes to be a constructive approach to a very serious problem, then going to Cabinet which put in a tremendous amount of time considering the proposal.
Once a policy decision has been reached it has to be translated into legislation. If the honourable gentleman feels that one can say to the Parliamentary Counsel: Please have a Bill ready by tomorrow morning’ he is under a very serious misconception. While some honourable members may labour under this misconception the honourable gentleman most assuredly cannot. Because of his history as a member of the Commonwealth Public Service - if I remember it, with a policy responsibility in a Department of State of the Commonwealth- he knows what is involved in drawing up legislation. It is a most exacting task. It imposes on the Parliamentary Counsel the most exacting intellectual requirements to put down on a piece of paper something which is going to establish rights, to establish policy and something which will, it is the Government’s belief, make a tremendous contribution to the present difficulties of this industry. The honourable gentleman who now moves for the suspension of Standing Orders in this misconceived way has been remarkably silent on the matter for a considerable time. It seems that when the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) asked a question yesterday he highlighted this matter. The honourable member for Wimmera (Mr King) asked a question, and received publicity for his concern. The question was answered by the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen) and it crystallised the position. My colleague, the Minister for Primary Industry, likewise has been stating emphatically his intention.
Today, on the authorisation of my colleague, the Minister for Primary Industry, the honourable member for Dawson was. told that if it were humanly possible a copy of the Bill or its most advanced draft would be made available to him so that he would have the weekend to consider it. The only stricture on his receiving a copy was that he was to regard it as a confidential document. He was also asked to realise that, as a result of revision, it might be necessary to make changes before arriving at the final text. The honourable member for Dawson received this information this afternoon. If anybody could be assured of the intention of the Government, as expressed by the Minister for Primary Industry, it is the honourable member for Dawson. Within about an hour the honourable member for Dawson conceived the idea to come into the chamber and move this motion. It could not have been politically motivated, I am quite sure of that, because the honourable member for Dawson has left the political arena, because of an anxiety to do something for this industry, to my colleague, the Minister for Primary Industry, and the rest of the members of the Government.
It is too late in the day for the honourable member for Dawson to come into the chamber like Cervantes’ Don Quixote on a rather rickety horse and with a rather bent stave. He has tilted this windmill, this windmill being a motion for the suspension of Standing Orders. The motion is misconceived, as I said, and therefore cannot be possibly carried. In the course of his speech he said that what he wants is an assurance, and he has been given that assurance in categorical language. The assurance is that the Government will do all in its power not merely to introduce the Bill, not merely to have the Bill considered by this House, but to have it passed by this House. I repeat those same words in relation to the Senate. The Government has demonstrated its intent. I expect that an advanced draft of the Bill will be available tomorrow.
The information that was conveyed to the honourable member for Dawson was conveyed to him privately. Now, because of what he has done, I depart from the normal practice in matters like this of saying in a confidential way to the honourable member for Dawson or whatever shadow minister may be involved: ‘Look, Rex, it will be available to you.’ Now I say it publicly because it has to be said publicly because it is evidence of what is the intention of the Government. The honourable gentleman, knowing what was conveyed to him, has moved this motion, and towards the end of his speech he made the halfhearted statement that a copy of the Bill may be put in the post. The honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) glossed the story a bit and said that it may be put in an envelope and may or may not arrive, and so on.
– Will the Minister guarantee that I will get it tomorrow?
– I cannot give the honourable member a guarantee that he will get it tomorrow. 1 can give him an assurance that it will be given to him as soon as possible.
– In a month’s time.
– Really, so misconceived is the motion; so misconceived is the interjection ‘In a month’s time’. My colleagues have been making abundantly clear how urgent this matter is. They have been emphasising that. The honourable gentleman has been making no attempt up to this moment to emphasise how important it is. The one contribution the honourable gentleman made was When he gave an assurance that the Opposition would facilitate the passage of the Bill. We accept that assurance. It is rather in contrast to what was said this morning in relation to the business of the House. We hope that the assurance the honourable gentleman has given will be honoured not merely by the honourable gentleman but by the entire Labor Party.
– Up to this moment we have received no assurance from the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Snedden) that a Bill setting up a wool commission will be introduced in the foreseeable future, and all his theatricals just now will not wipe away that fact. If this motion to suspend standing orders has done nothing else it has at least got the Minister on his feet.
– It has flushed him out.
– That is right. It has got him on his feet, and he has given an assurance that this Bill will probably be introduced next week so that it can be debated next week. This is something we want to know. Everybody interested in rural industries wants to know this. All the wool growers want to know this. It would be inconceivable to think that the Parliament would go into recess at the end of next week without this Bill having been introduced. We know that it is an intricate measure. We know that it presents a lot of drafting problems, but I am sure that if the Government and the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) were dinkum the Minister would put on extra drafting staff to make absolutely sure that this Bill would be ready to be debated this session before we rise tomorrow week.
It is no use the Minister for Labour and National Service trying to make out that the motion moved by the Opposition is ill conceived. It is nothing of the sort. It has caused the Minister to make a definite statement to this Parliament and to everybody that he is on the job getting this Bill ready for presentation to the House. And we will be on the job to facilitate its passing. It will not be opposed, as far as I understand, by this side of the House, even though we may be critical of features of it or say that it should have a lot more teeth than it has. I firmly believe it is a halfbaked measure at best and it is not the measure that was desired by Sir John Crawford when he made his recommendations to the Government.
The Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen), as the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) and the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) have said, only yesterday made the statement that the wool industry slump is a national disaster. Every cent less that we get for a lb of our wool means $20m less in the pockets of the wool growers, lt is a mighty industry and everybody is concerned about it. This Bill has to be passed this session. We are prepared to come back the week after next to deal with it, and we will come back after the elections if necessary.
The Minister for Trade and Industry should not try to make out that we are insincere in our intentions towards the wool industry, because we are not. We have a rural committee which has spent hours and hours working on a solution to the problems of this industry. We are conscious of the problems.
This motion to suspend standing orders has had the effect of gaining an assurance from the Leader of the House, who I know is having a difficult time because this is an intricate Bill. He does not want to introduce a Bill that is only half prepared. He must bring down a fully drafted Bill that is ready to be debated, sent to another chamber and then put into operation. So he does not have an easy task. He is dealing with a new measure. A new commission is to be set up to establish a wool marketing authority. But honourable members on this side of the House want to see this legislation passed next week at the latest. As I said before we are prepared to co-operate to the maximum to make sure that this measure is passed as soon as is absolutely possible.
– I am sure that the Opposition in moving that Standing Orders be suspended until legislation has been introduced to set up the Australian Wool Commission is raising a political facade. The Opposition has taken this course to cover its own political deficiencies. It is trying to conceal from the wool growers of Australia that it has not been very concerned or very active in proposing a wool marketing plan. Two things that took place this week have stirred the Opposition into some form of action. Firstly, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) spoke to the Australian Farmers Federation about the very serious position of the Australian wool industry. What the right honourable gentleman said has been widely reported across the nation today. The other matter was a question asked last Tuesday by the honourable member for Wimmera (Mr King). The honourable member asked the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) whether he would see that this legislation was passed by Parliament this year and if need be would he recall Parliament after the Senate election to see that the legislation was put through so that a flexible reserve price scheme could be operating for the next selling season beginning in January. This statement also received wide coverage across Australia.
We have heard little comment from the Australian Labor Party about how it would handle the situation or about what its attitude is to the wool marketing proposal of the industry. It was with some pleasure that I heard the shadow Minister for Primary Industry, the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson), say today that he would help to facilitate the passage through the Parliament of legislation which this Government accepts is vital and urgent. Every possible step has been taken over the last 2 or 3 months to introduce this legislation in Parliament. One noted man, Sir John Crawford, was appointed to draw up a wool marketing scheme. It was decided that one man should undertake this task because this was the quickest way of doing it. A larger committee would have taken some considerable time. That distinguished gentleman did a remarkable job in writing up his proposals in a matter of a couple of weeks. His excellent report has been well received and highly commended by the industry. The Government dealt with and made a decision on this report within a week of receiving it. Within a week of the Government making this decision one of our major industry organisations had considered it; within 8 days the other major industry organisation had also considered it; and within 9 days the Australian Wool Industry Conference had considered it. All organisations accepted the report. With the exception of the Australian Wool Industry Conference, of which 3 members reserved their opinion on matters that were not of great substance, all the organisations unanimously accepted the report.
The Australian Wool Industry Conference met and made its decision only last week. In the course of that week every effort has been made to prepare instructions to the Parliamentary Counsel to help him draw up what is a rather complicated and lengthy piece of legislation. The objective of the Government, of course, is to implement legislation dealing with the entire operations of the Wool Marketing Commission. When it appeared obvious that this was a most difficult and onerous task to place before the Parliamentary Counsel I suggested that maybe some skeleton legislation could be drawn up to enable a provisional commission to operate and in turn to permit a reserve price scheme to be introduced. To enable the Counsel to know exactly what the requirements were and to see whether these requirements had the support of the States we also had a meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council on Monday of this week. I have never known of such a rapid series of events leading to legislation coming into this House. The Parliamentary Counsel has spent a considerable amount of time, working until the late hours of the night and doing everything possible to enable this legislation to be presented. The Parliamentary Counsel has a great responsibility to see that this legislation is drawn up with precision, that it has legal standing and (hat it cannot be contested in a way which would frustrate the operations of the Commission. There are people with interests who might want to frustrate the operation of the Commission. Therefore, we have to be sure that it is legally sound. I have said in answer to a question in this
House that it is my intention to do everything possible to see that this legislation is introduced. 1 believe that it will be introduced. However, this will result only from a tremendous amount of effort by a lot of people.
The Opposition has moved a motion at this late hour to try to capitalise through what is virtually a triviality. The Opposition wants to extend the period that the Parliament is to sit. I believe this is really unnecessary because if it is possible this legislation will be introduced. I believe that the legislation will come in and I give the House the assurance that everything is being done to achieve this end. The honourable member for Dawson was advised this afternoon that a copy of the legislation will most probably be sent to him tomorrow night. No doubt, having received this advice, the honourable member believed that this was his last chance to get on the band wagon and that he had better move for the suspension of Standing Orders at least to show that the Labor Party has some interest in the Australian Wool Commission.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) put:
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. Sir William Aston)
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the motion (Dr Patterson’s) be agreed to.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. Sir William Aston)
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
Sitting suspended from 6.3 to 8 p.m.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Sales Tax Bills (1 to 9) 1970
Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Bill 1970.
– I have received advice from the Prime Minister that he has appointed Mr Robinson to be a member of the Select Committee on Pharmaceutical Benefits to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Mr Lucock.
Debate resumed from 15 October (vide page 2223), on motion by Mr Wentworth: That the Bill be now read a second time. Mr CROSS (Brisbane) (8.1)- The Australian Labor Party welcomes this Bill as being a step forward, in that it involves increased Commonwealth expenditure in the important field of Aboriginal advancement, but it feels that the legislation does not go far enough. Accordingly, on behalf of the Opposition, J move the following amendment:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof:
Whilst not declining to give the Bill a second reading, this House believes that it should state a total programme required to meet the needs of the Aboriginal people and provide now a larger amount of money towards meeting that programme and a better allocation of funds between existing needs; and that the Commonwealth request the States of Queensland and Western Australia to take immediate action to abolish all discriminatory legislation in both States.
The Bill before us provides for grants to the States of $7m in the current financial year, including $4,800,000 reserved for the purpose of housing. This compares with $3,650,000 provided in 1968-69 and $5,410,000 provided in 1969-70. So we show a steady progression in the amount of money being advanced to the States under this legislation. The Government is taking some pride in its achievements in this field. I hope that Government speakers will take the opportunity of explaining in a way in which it has not quite been explained to us just what the functions of this Bill are compared with the role of the States using their own financial resources.
It seems to me that what the Commonwealth has endeavoured to do - of course this is the logical procedure - is to spend money in areas not at present covered by any programme provided by the States. I hope that this will mean that the Commonwealth will require the States not only to continue to spend the same amount of money that they already spend on matters affecting Aboriginals but also to continue to make the sort of increase in finance that the Commonwealth is making. While the Government and the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Wentworth) have compared the expenditure with that of previous years, as I did a few minutes ago, the Government feels it has an achievement in the increasing of the amount of expenditure, the Labor Party takes the view that we are now arriving at the time when the Commonwealth should make a survey of the total needs of the Aboriginal people in terms of expenditure, trained personnel and land requirements so that the Commonwealth can spell out the total programme and also the targets in order to achieve this total programme within a reasonable time. My colleagues on this side of the Parliament and I will endeavour to indicate some of the needs as we see them and explore some of the needs in the rather difficult situation in which we operate in this field because so little accurate statistical information is available about the Aboriginal people of Australia.
One of the important events in the lives of the Aboriginal people will be next year’s census, because for the first time the Commonwealth will have the constitutional power to count the Aboriginal people of Australia. I feel sure that as a result of the counting of the Aboriginals we will be able to make a better assessment than was possible in the past of their needs in housing, health, education and employment. Whatever 1 say tonight operates against the background that the information we have is quite deficient. I intend to deal with 2 particular functions or activities. These are housing and education, more particularly pre-school education. The point I would first like to make is that Aboriginal housing depends on government expenditure. I think it is very proper that the Minister should have allotted for housing the major portion of the finance made available in this Bill to the States. lt is not as well recognised as it might be that the ordinary avenues of housing finance are not open to the Aboriginal people of this country. Most of us, if we wish to buy a house, go along to the bank, establish that we are in regular employment and put up somewhere between 10 per cent and 35 per cent of the cost of the house. Then through the bank, or perhaps a housing society, insurance company or one of the housing commissions, we are facilitated in purchasing a piece of ground and erecting a house. But these avenues are not open to most of the Aboriginal and island people of this nation because of their employment situation, their lack of capital and in any event the fact that over long periods bank managers have learnt to look somewhat askance at an Aboriginal when he asks for a substantial amount of money sufficient to build a house. I am not saying that these things are proper, but I feel that this is the situation that exists, lt means that if the needs of Aboriginal housing are to be made up, substantial government involvement is necessary. 1 would like to make some assessment of the problem. I mentioned earlier that we had substantial problems in respect of the statistical information so far available. In the 1966 census the Aboriginal population was calculated at 80,207, being people of more than 50 per cent Aboriginal origin. It is estimated that there are about 150,000 people of Aboriginal or island descent who identify as Aboriginals. I think that this is a very much closer figure. Dr F. Lancaster Jones estimates that this population will more than double in the next 20 years. At present more than 51 per cent of part Aboriginals are under 15 years of age and 75 per cent of part Aboriginals are under 30 years of age. With 7 people per family and a population increase of 8,000 a year we need 1,100 homes annually to keep up with the growth of the Aboriginal population. That is without endeavouring to rehouse any of the Aboriginal population which is at present housed.
This Bill provides $4,800,000, which will build approximately 480 houses. That means that we are actually going backwards, even with the increased allocation in this legislation, by 620 houses per annum. We should provide $llm a year in finance through the scheme to ensure that the increase in the Aboriginal population is adequately housed. Quite apart from housing the increased population there is the problem of making up the deficiencies in the present housing - if one can refer to it in many cases as housing - of the Aboriginal population. A survey by Ian McKay in ‘Architecture in Australia’ in June 1968 indicated that 80 per cent of the Aboriginals in metropolitan Sydney needed rehousing. Out of 5,015 Aboriginals living on reserves and Aboriginal stations in New South Wales 2,659 needed rehousing. He expressed a view with which the Opposition would agree, that all Aboriginals in riverbank settlements need rehousing.
This means that the Government is confronted with a problem which is quite enormous. This is a problem which is certainly worth solving. It is not only something that we ought to do because we feel that the standard of living of the Aboriginal population should be raised to the same level as that of the broader Australian community. I think that it is something which we owe to the Aboriginal people of this continent as compensation for the loss of their land rights. After all, we who speak in this Parliament represent a people who, approximately 200 years ago, commenced to dispossess the Aboriginal people from the lands that they previously occupied in this continent. 1 would make the comment, Mr Speaker, that I am operating on the background of deficient statistical information. At the moment, to re-house the present Aboriginal population, approximately 17,200 houses would be required. This re-housing programme would involve the expenditure of not less than $172m, and probably more if we take into account the purchase price of land. If we were spending $16m per annum for this purpose as compared with $4,800,000 which is the expenditure appropriated by the legislation, this would mean that it would take us 35 years to re-house the Aboriginal population at the present rate of expenditure and to cater for the increase in population that would take place over the period.
Obviously, the money provided in the present legislation is not enough, even if it compares very well with the previous record, indeed, the Commonwealth has had this responsibility for a short time only. The task ahead of us is to ensure not in the Never Never but in our own lifetimes and possibly within the next decade that all the Aboriginal people of this country will be housed properly. So, the Opposition is asking the Government to amend this legislation by withdrawing the Bill and bringing down a proposal in which a more realistic amount for housing of Aboriginals is provided.
One might say that what is proposed in this legislation treats the Aboriginals with great consideration. But let us examine what the Australian Government does for the broad Australian community in the field of housing. Taking the present financial year, 1970-71, we find that advances to the States under the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement total $142,550,000. The War Service Homes Division receives $60m. The homes savings grant scheme has an appropriation of $14,200,000. The amount appropriated under the States grants legislation with respect to aged pensioners dwellings is $5,700,000. An amount of $830,000 is appropriated for transitory flats for migrants. The total Government contribution to housing is $223,280,000. 1 think honourable members will agree that that is no mean figure. It does not take into account the money made available by the Commonwealth for special schemes operating in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory for the people of those Territories including the public servants and, in the case of the Northern Territory, including the Aboriginal population there.
The Commonwealth Year Book - these are the latest figures that I was able to find - does indicate that the gross fixed capital expenditure on dwellings in 1968-69 in this country was $ 1, 365m. The number of new houses completed in 1967-68 was 85,756. The number of new flats completed in the same year was 34,414. That makes a total of 120,170 dwellings. The sum total of all of these statistics indicates first what a massive housing programme the Australian community is involved in and what a substantial contribution Government expenditure makes to that programme. This is recognised when I point out that that expenditure is $223,280,000 and is to be compared with the amount of $4,800,000 which is provided in this legislation for Aboriginal housing.
Might 1 make another comparison? It is one of the facts of life that most people in the Australian community live in reasonably decent houses. Many people may wish that they lived in larger nouses, bad a large piece of ground or resided in a more affluent suburb or a suburb that was not so much affected by traffic, smog or whatever might be the local disability. But the situation in the average Australian community is entirely different from the situation in the Aboriginal community where the vast majority of Aboriginal people live in substandard accommodation.
I wish to quote from the paper to which I have referred already by Mr Ian McKay, Chairman of the Housing Committee of the New South Wales Chapter of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects. He quoted from a survey by Professor C. D.
Rowley who, dealing with the housing of Aboriginals, stated:
Almost twice as many persons per dwelling and 3 times the number of persons per room, as other Australian, irrespective of size and construction of dwellings and rooms.
Professor Rowley stated further:
Between 25 per cent and 33 per cent of nonmetropolitan Aboriginal families face health risks from the lack of drainage, plumbing, water and other services.
Only 48.6 per cent of houses had seperate laundries; only 46.0 per cent of houses had kitchens; only 11.5 per cent of houses had electric, gas or oil stoves; only 57.0 per cent of houses had electricity.
I quote further from an article by Mr Graham Williams who, writing in the Australian’ about the fringe dwellings environment, said:
The shanty towns everywhere are deplorable. Most of these crude tin huts house families of 8 and 10 who sleep 2 and 3 in a single bed. The huts have no water, no refrigeration, no stoves and no baths. Many would scarcely serve as small backyard fowlsheds … the Government reserves and stations are little better. Situated well out of town, many, like the Wilcannia reserve, are ghettoes. Many have water only to the backyard tap, most have no sinks or stoves. Many have no electricity. . . .
Mr McKay suggests, in a very thoughtful paper which I recommend to the consideration of all honourable members, a massive programme in housing. He says this:
If the policy of the integration of Aboriginals into the white society is to be realistically tackled, genuine and imaginative effort is urgently needed.
Housing can contribute to the process of integration. Before housing is attempted, thorough investigation and research is needed. A properly constituted research group should be set up to find the following information as soon as possible:
Mr McKay refers to New South Wales but we think it should be Australia-wide and would substitute Australia for New South Wales:
Aboriginals must be involved In determining policy regarding their future and especially in matters relating to housing.
The whole problem of land ownership by Aboriginals requires re-investigation.
He further states:
A system of rental-rebate geared to employment should be instituted to assist Aboriginals to acquire their own houses.
He suggests further:
Anti-discriminatory legislation is not needed if the Government eradicates its present discriminatory policies.
So, it is obvious that we are confronted with a massive problem regarding housing. For this, in the current financial year, the Commonwealth is providing $4,800,000. I would suggest that a figure closer to the appropriation for war service homes would be a much more realistic figure to be applied to Aboriginal housing. The sum of $60m is appropriated this financial year for the War Service Homes Division.
Let us look at what the cost of re-housing our Aboriginal population would be. As far as T can see, to re-house the present Aboriginal population approximately 17,200 houses would be required involving an expenditure of $172m and probably more. I made the point earlier that this would require 35 years for completion at the present light rate of expenditure. I recognise that the Government has not all the relevant information at the moment. But, after next year’s census, it should have all the basic information on which to set a target and I put it to the Government that this is what it ought to do. I believe that the Government should say to itself and to the people of Australia: ‘Well, let us solve the problem of re-housing the Aboriginal people of this country in 10 years’.
It is no use for the Government to say to the young Aboriginal people who are in the 15 year age group today - they comprise 50 per cent of the Aboriginal population: ‘Well, by age 50, you can be assured that all of you will be in decent housing*. I put this question to the Minister for Social Services, who is Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs: What would have been the situation on the return of our servicemen after the conclusion of the Second World War if the Government had in effect said to these people: ‘Look, we cannot give anybody a war service home in the next 5 years or 10 years but we will certainly do it within 35 years’? That is what this Government and the State governments are saying to the Aboriginal people of Australia at the present time. Surely the challenge is there, lt is possible to have all the information collated. I would like to pay a tribute to the Office of Aboriginal Affairs and the capable officers that the Minister has gathered around himself. I am certain that within that Office the information exists on which the Minister, if he can persuade his colleagues, could develop much more imaginative programmes than are set out in this Bill.
The next point 1 would like to make is that the Minister expressed concern about the Aborigines Aged Persons Homes Trust and I think that . we on this side of the House share that concern. Perhaps we have all been a little unrealistic because when we come to think about it and realise that Aboriginal housing does depend on Government expenditure right across the field in other regards then it would seem that the Commonwealth Government cannot wait to be put into a position to subsidise investment from the community, because sadly enough it looks as though, although the need is very great, the community is not prepared to invest in Aboriginal housing. 1 would express the hope not only that the Commonwealth Government would involve itself by making grants which are not subsidies in this field, but also that the Commonwealth would ensure the aged persons’ homes are involved in some sort of community arrangement. I could think of nothing sadder than building aged persons’ homes for Aboriginals in the suburbs in most of our larger cities where in their old age these aged Aboriginal people would be isolated from people of their own racial background.
In the fairly short time that is available to me I would like to deal with the important matter of pre-school education. I feel that this is another area that commends itself to major Commonwealth investment. I have had some very hard things to say about the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) in recent times, about his attitude to land policies in the Northern Terrtiory, but it is a fact, as is shown in the document which he distributed to us for Budget discussions, that 70 per cent of the Aboriginals in the Northern Territory are receiving a pre-school education. I noted in an answer by a Mr Dexter quoting from, I think, Mr Martin to a Senate Estimates Committee, that he felt that 10 per cent of young Aboriginal children tn the broad community were receiving a pre-school education. But 1 would be very surprised if this was the case in Queensland, the State which I know best. It is a fact that improvements have been made but only one trained pre-school teacher is operating in a preschool on a Queensland Government settlement and that is at Yarrabah. This lass has been there only this year. In some of the other settlements in Queensland there are kindergartens but they are staffed by girls who have been trained under the kindergarten system and they are not accepted as being pre-school teachers trained in the proper sense. 1 know that the Minister is cOnscious of this need but I feel that it is a major area of need because together with housing and giving people a decent environment preschool education for young people is very important. Perhaps the Commonwealth could provide the finance for classrooms, for additional classrooms where they are needed in existing State schools in these areas; to provide the trained teachers; to provide scholarships at the kindergarten teachers’ colleges, many of which have been substantially assisted by Commonwealth capital grants, in order that young people may be available to teach not only in the Aboriginal settlements but also in the fringe dwelling environments. I refer lo those areas where there are children who need a pre-school education and are on the outskirts of country towns in most of our States but who do not receive a pre-school education today. lt is a sad fact of life about pre-school education in Australia that kindergartens are situated in the suburbs where the most affluent people live, and the culturally deprived children are exactly those children - I am referring not only to Aboriginals - who have the least opportunity of receiving a pre-school education. I believe that this is a major field for Commonwealth involvement, and we on this side of the House commend it to the Minister for his attention. Another matter which I would not say is quite as important but is certainly quite important is the problem of adult education. We do have this problem. The programmes which have already been put forward by the Minister in the employment training schemes have been very worth while but we do have the problem that many Aboriginal people are unskilled. We have the young people growing up in the homes in which they are culturally deprived because they do not have books or magazines or television sets - if we can call television an avenue of education and sometimes I have some doubts about this, but it is a source of information - available to them. Some programmes of adult education would also be very important. 1 mentioned the problems of fringe dwellers. This is an area into which we have not yet extended our activities as well as we might have extended them. Most of the programmes that this Government has sponsored - 1 am not referring to research into nutrition and the like because that is going on everywhere including the fringe dwelling environments - have been to provide scholarships for children who go on to secondary schools. We provide scholarships for Aboriginals who intend to go to universities. These things are all very good, but there is a tremendous problem in Australia facing the Aboriginal fringe dwellers who live in what Kath Walker referred to as the garbage tips of the white society. A study of fringe dwelling communities indicates that many of these people do not identify with the community, that the children, because of malnutrition, get along to school at 7 instead of S and that the people normally responsible, perhaps the head teacher or the policeman, for ensuring that the children attend school do not take as much interest. Because Aboriginal children are small perhaps these people think that they are 3 or 4 years old when they are actually 5, 6 or 7.
It seems to me that there is a particular area of need for Aboriginals living in fringe dwelling environments. The Commonwealth could well look into a scheme of financing through State Governments and local authorities, community centres around which a number of programmes could be built up. I refer to such things as creative play centres, pre-school education, maternal and child welfare programmes with a trained nurse in charge, and youth clubs. Young Aboriginal boys and girls tend not to join the youth organisations that our own children join. Having made contact and having developed a community identity other programmes could be embarked upon.
These could include counselling in important fields such as employment, and getting the right sort of jobs after secondary education and explaining to these young people the opportunities that are open to them.
In conclusion 1 want to refer to that part of the amendment which I have moved on behalf of the Australian Labor Party which seeks the removal of all discriminatory legislation. We said we would like the Commonwealth to request the States to remove discriminatory legislation immediately. We understand that this has already been done. We look forward to the Minister informing us what progress has been and is being made. Now that the Commonwealth has become involved and with the improvements that have been achieved in this field surely now is the time to remove - if it is not possible now then at some time in the near future - all of the discriminatory legislation which exists, and we have already spelt this out as far as the States of Queensland and Western Australia are concerned.
I would like to make the point to the Minister that we have given him credit all along the line for his interest in the Aboriginal people. We are not criticising the programmes that have been developed. We recognise that it is a case of listening to what the Aboriginal people say and gradually expanding programmes into the areas of need as they seem to be developing. We have recognised that in all of these things the Minister’s attitudes are very much what we would hope them to be. What we are saying is that the financial support that he is receiving from the Government to carry out this work is not enough. We believe that it is not enough to congratulate ourselves by saying that we are doing more than we did last year or the year before. We believe that the time has come - and this will be particularly so after the next year’s census - when in all these fields we should be setting targets and saying in this House and in the Australian community: ‘We are going to give every Aboriginal in Australia the opportunity to get a decent education and every Aboriginal child will be given the opportunity of pre-school education to overcome the problems of cultural deprivation.’ We should be prepared to say that within 10 years every Aboriginal family should be housed in a decent house. If we set targets of this kind, if we put forward imaginative programmes, then I think that the Commonwealth will be carrying out in the spirit and to the letter what were the clear intentions of the vast majority of the Australian people when they voted in such a resounding way as they did in 1967 to remove those discriminatory sections of the Australian Constitution.
-Is the amendment seconded?
– 1 second the amendment. Although the amount of money proposed to be distributed amongst the States this year under the States Grants (Aboriginal Advancement) Bill 1970 has been increased slightly beyond that of last year and the year before, it is quite evident that the legislation falls far short of what is actually required if we wish to achieve over a reasonable period of time what should be our eventual target. The purpose of the legislation, according to what the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Wentworth) said in 1968, was to make available better housing, education and health facilities for Aboriginals immediately. The words ‘better’ and ‘immediately’, as they were used by the Minister, suggest that the purpose of the States Grants (Aboriginal Advancement) Act and the intention of the Government could be satisfied providing some improvements, no matter how insignificant, were carried out quickly so that public criticism would be satisfied - even though Aboriginal needs are neglected.
Naturally, I sincerely hope that this was not the extent of the Government’s interest or intentions because, as I see it, our end target must be the elevation of the living standards, educational standards, employment standards, social standards and so on of the Aboriginal community to those which the people of Australia generally enjoy. There must be grave doubts that the Government has that objective in view because surely if it had it would be displaying a much more active interest by providing a great deal more money and also giving a great deal more attention to how the money is allocated. Further still, we would not find, as we have found for the last couple of years, that a substantial amount of the money provided for Aboriginal welfare remains unspent. For instance, the Treasurer (Mr Bury) informed us in his Budget Speech earlier this year that the best part of Sim remained in the Aboriginal Advancement Trust Fund. It is certainly a remarkable situation that money allocated to Aboriginal welfare should remain unspent when so much is required to achieve the purpose for which the money was appropriated. It can only mean that the matter is not receiving the attention it warrants, that it is not being treated with the urgency it deserves, or otherwise that the Government is not nearly as keen to assist Aboriginals as it would like us to believe.
I draw attention, as did the honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Cross), to that part of the Minister’s speech in which he was critical of people for their failure to raise money for the purpose of building homes for aged Aboriginals. I take the point that surely it would be a more positive and humane approach if the Government itself were to provide sufficient money to build some homes for aged Aboriginals, for the very simple reason that the people who are suffering from the lack of such homes are not the people whom the Minister was so pleased to criticise, but the Aboriginals themselves. I cannot see how the target to which I have referred - if that is to be our target - can be achieved unless the Commonwealth Government either takes over the whole field of assistance, both financial and physical, or, if the physical side is to be left to the States, sets out very clearly and positively the amount of money which will be definitely made available to the States each year to carry out a long term project.
I fail to see how any State government can properly formulate and carry out any worthwhile programme of Aboriginal advancement unless it can be quite certain that it will receive a Commonwealth grant each year and also know what the extent of the grant will be. At present the States have no such guarantee, and indeed they have no idea whether they will receive any moneys at all next year. I also suggest that we will be hindered and delayed in reaching our target if the method of distribution to the States is continued. In 1968 the Minister told us that distribuiton was measured on the Aboriginal population of each State. 1 suggest that we would reach our objective more quickly and positively if we measured the distribution of moneys against the. requirements of Aboriginals in each State. For instance, in Victoria last year only 1 per cent of the total amount available was used for health purposes and 1 per cent for employment purposes. So it would seem obvious that in that State, in those two fields, the needs of Aboriginals are minor. But such would not be the case in other States. For instance, Queensland spent 19 per cent of its allocation for health purposes. So in those circumstances it seems to me that population is not the proper measuring stick. 1 do not know whether the proposed allocations of the grants into the different fields of housing, education, etc, as set out in the table which was incorporated in Hansard by the Minister, were proposed by the Commonwealth Government or the State governments or somebody else. Unfortunately, the Minister did not bother to tell us. But irrespective of who was responsible or where they came from, I am sorry to see such small amounts set aside for health purposes. I notice, for instance, that only 6 per cent, in round figures, is allocated to hearth in Western Australia. It seems to me that the subject of health has been placed on a low rung of the ladder when it should be placed on the top rung. 1 want to take some time to explain why I see it that way. In the first instance, if we expect to reach the objective that I mentioned earlier, we have to realise that there are several different sections of Aboriginals. There are full blood Aboriginals and there are those who are less than full blood. There are those who live in the cities or suburbs and those who live in the country. Then there is the other section of Aboriginals who are commonly referred to as bush natives. There is a great difference between these various Aboriginals. Then, of course, there are those Aboriginals who need no further help because due to their own efforts and persistence they are now in all respects, other than colour, exactly the same as any ordinary white person. But at the other extreme there are those Aboriginals who are living in the most primitive manner and in the most primitive conditions.
Each of these sections, which require the expenditure of welfare moneys on them in some way or another, will have to be dealt with differently. Some sections will react quickly, some will react slowly, some will hardly react and some will not react at all. Therefore, we have to recognise that it is a long term project which will require a lot of finance to get it under way in the first place and then to keep it moving at a reasonably fast pace. Because it is a long term project and because of its perplexities and complications, we will have to determine the priorities in. order to achieve real positive results - not just quick or isolated results which I believe will come anyhow in the normal course of events, but results which will bring the greatest benefit or the greatest advantage to the advancement of the younger Aboriginal community generally. I say this because. T. believe that it is from the younger generation and the coming generation that we will gain some positive advancement. We will certainly gain very little advancement from the current adult population.
I am of the opinion that the field of health requires the most substantial and concentrated effort to achieve positive results in the future. Of course health includes hygiene. While health and hygiene to my mind are first in importance, I appreciate that this does not necessarily mean that they should receive the greatest amount of money. Ner does it mean that they should be treated in isolation and to the exclusion of other important matters such as housing, employment and education. But it does mean that the health programme should never be watered down or stopped due to lack of funds.
I was dismayed to find that the Government proposes that only $697,000 will be provided for health matters for the whole of the States, more than half of which will go to Queensland. So the rest of the Stales will receive only $343,000 between them for such important work. I am most disturbed to see that for Western Australia, where there are serious health problems amongst the Aboriginals, particularly in the north to which I will refer later, only $105,000 has been allocated. This is a slightly lower percentage of the total amount than was allocated last year. If I am correct in saying that the greatest progress will come from the young people, we must do all that is possible to ensure their healthy entry into the world and their healthy state from then onwards. At present far too many Aboriginals are dying at a very early age and so there is a tremendous amount of work to be carried out in the field of medical and hospital attention. The Australian Inland Mission and other missions are doing a tremendous job in this field, but their resources are not sufficient to do what is required. A substantial amount of money will have to be provided over several years if we are to reach the target we should be endeavouring to reach.
From the information I have gained from the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) it appears that in the Northern Territory the mortality rate of Aboriginal infants is approximately 75 per 1,000 live births in the north and as high as 112 per 1,000 in the south. In Queensland the mortality rate is calculated to be more than 100 per 1,000 in some areas and in Western Australia it is estimated that some 20 per cent of infant deaths can be attributed to the Aboriginal population. We are well aware that there are many deaths in many areas, in Western Australia at least, of which we have no knowledge. The main causes of death are listed as prematurity, gastroenteritis, chest infections, malnutrition and dehydration, all of which I understand are readily curable if caught in time and given correct treatment. I recently read an article in the Australian Medical Journal which said that certain Surveys and research carried out had suggested that Aboriginal infants do not have the same degree of immunity, including inherited immunity, to foreign types of infection with which white infants are blessed. The report went on to say that a study of 2,250 children on 6 Aboriginal settlements showed growth retardation affecting up to 50 per cent of children aged between 6 months and 3 years. Severe retardation occurred in 16 per cent of this age group and was accompanied by anaemia and infection. From 30 per cent to 60 per cent of children with growth retardation had chronic respiratory or ear infections. I note that the figure given for the mortality rate is a little higher than that given to me by the Minister for Health’ and the comment is made that it is very high’ by world standards.
I have quoted those figures simply because they make it quite obvious that if we want to cut down the morality rate and give those children who do live but suffer retardation and infections a chance to make reasonable advancements there must be a tremendous amount of work done in that field. It is obvious that there is much to be done so that the children may be born with a good chance of living. Therefore, pre-natal as well as post-natal care must be given, living conditions generally must be improved and nutritious foods must be readily available. It is not an easy problem to deal with and it is certainly one that can never be dealt with on a hit and miss approach which would result from insufficient finance to continue research and treatment and build-up of staff. This can happen unless we have some long term project of finance for the States or until the Commonwealth takes over the responsibility.
The majority of the main causes of the illnesses I have referred to are preventable or curable but there is one disease in the north which is not easily dealt with and that is the dreaded disease of leprosy. From information I have gathered on this matter I understand that poor living conditions act against any efforts to eradicate it. In my opinion it is the duty of the Commonwealth Government to take a much more positive and active part towards putting competent doctors with a special knowledge of leprosy in the areas concerned and also to ensure that the conditions under which the Aboriginals are living are raised not just to a reasonable standard but to a standard at which no adverse effect will operate against the efforts of doctors and others to eradicate the disease. I know that moneys other than from the Aborinal Advancement Fund go into this field but it is quite obvious that nowhere near enough is being done and that much more money is required. According to figures available from the Departments of Health and Native Welfare in Western Australia, about 13 per cent of the- fullblood Aboriginals in the Kimberleys now have or have had leprosy and, according to Dr Davidson of the Health Commission, it is never claimed that they are cured. He is reported as saying:
We say they are free from bacteria or free from infection. This might be after 2 years at the leprosarium or 4 years or it might be never.
So we can say there are now approximately 700 full-blood Aboriginals in the Kimberley area of Australia alone who either now have or have had leprosy and are subject to reinfection or recurrence.
There is another point I wish to bring forward which shows that in substantially improving the living conditions of the Aboriginal it is not only in the field of housing and hygiene. where positive action must be taken. It is also important to ensure that the children in particular receive adequate food and a balanced diet which will provide them with the necessary vitamins substantially to improve their health, their physical condition and their resistance to infection. I suggest that what Mr Davidson has said makes this very clear. He is reported as saying:
Aboriginals, especially children, are far more susceptible to leprosy than white races; we expect to find the disease amongst the children.
Now he does not suggest that the children are born with the disease; he simply says they are more susceptible, which surely means that they contract it through contact with another person, such as the mother. Due to their poor living conditions their resistance would be low but more particularly, once having contracted leprosy, their resistance to secondary infection would be lower still. This is where the danger of succumbing lies, lt is claimed that leprosy itself is rarely fatal but that deaths are usually due to other infections which overwhelm the patient in his weakened condition. Leprosy usually attacks the extremities of the body - the fingers, the feet - and even though the patient reaches the stage where he loses fingers and toes this will not normally cause death. Death occurs from secondary conditions such as tuberculosis, intestinal infection and kidney disease.
So it must be obvious that unless the physical condition of the children is very substantially improved they will remain not only susceptible to leprosy but very susceptible to many other serious diseases and therefore could never reach the stage which we believe they should have the opportunity to. reach. It is also obvious that if we want to eradicate leprosy in Australia it is not just sufficient to treat those who have it or have had it or seek put those who may have it and transfer them to institutions. It is absolutely neces sary that we do everything we possibly can to prevent it being contracted and to prevent secondary infection occurring. This means a very substantial improvement both in general health and general living conditions must be obtained. This will not be gained unless the Government is prepared to make sufficient funds available over a number of years.
Naturally, therefore, I see living conditions, which includes housing, as the second most important feature. Speaking of housing, I point out that it is estimated that at least $10m is required in Western Australia for the purpose of providing needed housing. So the $1m odd that the Government is to provide under the Bill we are now debating will not go very far and will not make any real impact over many years as the population increases. Unfortunately it seems that the money that is available is being spent where it will attract most public attention. 1 was disgusted to learn from the figures given by the Minister that in Western Australia, apart from 4 in Port Hedland, not one house for Aboriginals was built last year from Commonwealth grants north of Geraldton and not one was built east of Merredin. This is one of the things that makes one wonder whether public opinion or political potential is more of a determining factor in where the money should be spent than the need to satisfy the needs of the Aboriginals.
Next on my list of importance is employment. I place employment one step ahead of education simply because, unless you ensure . that sufficient avenues of employment are readily available by the time education is completed not only will the value of the education be largely lost but also - and this is very important to guard against - we will almost certainly find that the person having been educated, and who quite naturally and justifiably is expecting to be absorbed into employment, will, if employment is not available, become frustrated and bitter. This will spread right through the Aboriginal community and will have a very serious and adverse effect on future efforts. If the younger children see others leave school and still find no work or at best only the same sort of work and at the same wage as those who have no education, they will naturally see no value in education and lose interest. So the subject of employment is a very important one and does require the expenditure of a substantial amount of finance if we are to achieve any worthwhile results. I was surprised and dismayed to find that last year no part of the grant made to Western Australia was spent to provide employment. An amount of $255,000 was set aside for a training centre in Port Hedland but this was transferred to housing and apparently for housing other than in the north and north west, which is rather disturbing and requires some explanation. In conclusion I suggest that what I have said supports my contention that much more money is required, that much more should be spent on health, that distribution of funds should be on the basis of the requirements of the Aboriginals rather than population and that the Bill before us is quite inadequate, I support the amendment.
– I am the third Opposition speaker in succession in this debate on what should be one of the most important social enterprises upon which this House is engaged. It has become the habit, unfortunately, to be too congratulatory towards the Ministerin.Charge of Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Wentworth) for the way in which he approaches his task. I recognise some of the honourable gentleman’s difficulties. I realise that in a society such as ours and operating in a political party such as his there are difficulties which it is not so easy to overcome. I am afraid that although on occasion he has bent his great talents in the general direction of the advancement of Aboriginals, the fact that he is also Minister for Social Services - in itself an awe-inspiring, compelling and absolutely overwhelming task - he is unable to devote himself exclusively to this particular subject. Occasionally he does descend to generalities and refer to some people as dogooders. I suppose that the problem he really faces is that he is crippled by the doctrines of his governmental parties. To them State rights are more important than the advancement of Aboriginal people. He finds, with the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon), that the most important thing, in his opinion, about any subject is probably the protection of property rights. Also he belongs to a very conservative political group as regards most social and political exercises and therefore we make very little advance in the material welfare of the Aboriginal people of Australia.
I think that my colleague, the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard), did a fine job this evening in placing before the House the difficulties that he sees in this particular field - the lack of advancement. He represents one of the largest areas of Australia in which there are large numbers of Aboriginal people who need the application of all the talents, wealth and influence of this country to the task of advancing them in the community. None of us on this side is particularly obsessed with doctrines of assimilation, integration or anything else. We believe that there is no single word to describe what we want to do for these people. Generally, we want them to do things for themselves and we want to create the climate, supply the resources, and develop an atmosphere in which they can help themselves. While we continue with the piecemeal approach that we have - that is, farming out the responsibility to organisations which belong to the States - and while we avoid our own personal, parliamentary and political responsibility there will not be any great advance. We should apply all the great experience that the Commonwealth has at its disposal as a social organisation. It has experienced officers in the Department of Social Services and in the Repatriation Department. The Government knows, or should know, that it has the expertise to handle personal problems, whether they are racial, such as some Aboriginal problems are social disadvantages, with which Aboriginals are afflicted, or economic disabilities, with which they are also afflicted. We should have the expertise and we do have the administrative competence to assist the 100,000 or so Aboriginals of Australia to equality with other Australians.
Australia is the wealthiest country in the world in potential. It is one of the wealthiest in terms of gross national product per capita, and yet here we are discussing the allocation of some $7m. We believe that this amount is totally inadequate. We believe that we must set targets for the whole area of Aboriginal advancement, and get on with the job. I am minded to read to the House the directions given to
Governor Phillip in 1788 when he came to Australia and set foot on these shores. They read:
You are to endeavour by every possible means to open an intercourse with the natives, and to conciliate their affections, enjoining all our subjects to live in amity and kindness with them. And if any of our subjects shall wantonly destroy them or give them any unnecessary interruption in the exercise of their several occupations, it is our will and pleasure that you do cause such offenders to be brought to punishment according to the degree of the offence. You will endeavour to procure an account of the numbers inhabiting the neighbourhood …
Nearly 2 centuries later my friend, the honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Cross), has pointed to the inadequacy of statistics. Nearly 2 centuries later the Opposition has to place before the House the necessity of removing discriminatory legislation. It is time we really set out on the objectives of conciliating their affections and advancing them into the community in the way in which George III - no notable revolutionary - directed Phillip back in 1788.
The Opposition believes that there should be targets covering the whole field of Aboriginal advancement. We should set about constructing houses for them. We should ascertain how many it is proposed to build and set a target which we can reach. The same applies with respect to education, health, social status, economic status and the abolition of discriminatory legislation. Some 13 years ago the compaign to advance the Aboriginal people of Australia by legislative change was launched in this House. In May 1957 petitions were lodged in the Parliament which were directed towards changing the Constitution to place the responsibility for the advancement of Aboriginals in this Parliament. In May 1967 the people of Australia voted by referendum on that question. It was 10 years later, and the people said emphatically: ‘Get on with the job’. Almost every polling booth in Australia voted yes. In Victoria the vote was more than 90 per cent for yes.
We have had select committees on voting rights and a select committee on the grievances of the people of Yirrkala. Most of the State parliaments have had select committees or special inquiries. We have changed all the relevant laws, but how far have we progressed in lifting the material status of Aboriginal people? The Aboriginal people of Australia arc among the most miserably housed in the world, and this is in a particularly affluent society. In education, how many of them have reached university in this last year or two? Perhaps this year at the higher secondary or tertiary level it is 9 out of the 100,000 Aboriginal people in Australia. I am not sure how many are actually at university this year. 1 think it was 5 or 6 last year and I have an idea that it is about 9 now. For the rest of the community the ratio is about I in 100. With the Aboriginal people it is about 1 in 5,000 to 7,000. There is no time for complacency. In health, infant mortality in Aboriginal people is amongst the highest in the world.
In respect of social disabilities we need only to look at the difficulties they have in reaching the higher echelons of the Public Service. How many of them are employed in the higher levels of the Public Service? I must say this on behalf of the Minister, of whom on occasions I am fairly critical, but on other occasions. I am prepared to give justice where it is due, that one of the first steps he took was to bring Aboriginal people into his Department and give them responsible and effective positions. I hope they are given effective tasks in those positions, but at least he took the step of getting them into positions where they could work on behalf of their own people.
As for economic status, how many of our Aboriginal people after all these years are able to stand on their own feet and lead lives such as the rest of the community lead? We believe there should be targets which are achievable and we believe that we should set out to achieve them. The honourable member for Brisbane referred to the need for pre-school education. Of course, in recent years there has been a change in the whole educational concept. One can see that this is affecting not only the Aboriginal people but the general community. In fact, pre-school education and the kind of schooling that one gets in the lower primary school are important for the whole of one’s school life. In the past perhaps the whole community has neglected pre-school education as part of the field of education. In very few areas of Australia is total pre-school education available. Canberra is one of the more fortunate areas. If there is any task we should perform, we should set out to give an absolute coverage to the Aboriginal children of Australia in the pre-school area. This is vitally important. It is not only part of education but part of social development. It is the way in which they will set out upon the road.
None of us is setting a target, one eight say, to develop the kind of person we want. This is perhaps for the Aboriginal people to develop for themselves, lt is of no good denying that they live in a community in which they are totally overwhelmed, that they have to fit into the kind of community to which we belong. But how much do we really know about the education of the Aboriginal people, whose social and economic climate is different, who live in a kind of house different from ours, and who have inherited characterisitcs about which we know so little? A lot more special research has to be done into the education of Aboriginals. What do we know about it? In the last few years a good deal of money has been spent and a good deal of intellectual effort has been displayed in this field. How much of it is flowing back into the Commonwealth departments? How much of it is then being applied in legislation such as that before us? Very little indeed.
What is the position of the secondary school Aboriginal children? It is almost impossible for the child who lives in bad housing to cope with secondary education. Literally thousands of Australian people who happen to be Aboriginals are living in huts or shanties, and it is impossible for the children in these places to carry on with ordinary school work. I gather that in Victoria some kind of attack has been made on this problem, and I think it has been fairly effective. But this is such a minute problem in Victoria. The 3,000 or 4,000 Aboriginal children are only a handful of those children at this level of education, and there are 3 million or 4 million people in a wealthy community who support such a programme. I cannot say at this stage whether it has been absolutely successful or only partially successful. It certainly has not been a failure.
We will not get anywhere until we can apply some equality to the treatment of the Aboriginal people throughout Australia. The same applies in the tertiary field.
The honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Cross) and the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard), who preceded me in the debate, brought before the House the position of Aboriginal housing in Australia. The honourable member for Brisbane laid out, I think in a compelling way, the necessity to set up a target. It is true that housing is one of the easiest areas in which to set up a target. It is one of the easiest areas in which to see progress. It is one of the easiest areas in which we can spend large sums of money and perhaps see not a great deal of result. My other colleagues, such as the honourable member for Grey (Mr Wallis) and the honourable member for Darling (Mr Fitzpatrick), who of course represents large numbers of Aboriginal people, can tell the House of the difficulties that have arisen from isolating Aboriginal communities from the rest of the community.
During the summer recess a number of us visited areas in the Darling electorate. I pay a compliment to the honourable member for Darling for the interest he showed upon his election to this House and the gracious way in which he was able to have us received in communities in at least some of which one is not popular if one has been interested in the Aboriginal people. In places where the Aboriginals have been placed on the edge of the town in a block of houses on their own, almost invariably the housing has gradually decayed and the family life has sunk to the lowest level. When they have been moved into houses established in the general community they have adapted themselves to the standards of the rest of the community. It is true that we know very little about the problems that face an Aboriginal person moving into a modern living machine such as a house.
These people need a great deal of personal assistance, but it has to be given with a minimum of obtrusiveness. We have to assist the Aboriginal families in such a way that they do not think they are being pushed around. From my small experience in this area I know how delicate the operation is. It is not a very easy one to perform. But the community surely has at its disposal the expertise to handle it. I believe that one of the operations the Commonwealth can undertake is to set out on a housing programme for the nation. I can think of no reason why the Aboriginal in the remotest part of Australia should not have the same effort spent on his advancement as that spent on the advancement of the person who happens to live in the heart of Melbourne, Canberra or any city of that nature. It is true that we will have different kinds of houses throughout Australia. It may well be true - indeed it probably is - that a number of Aboriginals do not want to live in the kind of houses we live in. One can visit the Yirrkala mission, as I suppose one should still refer to it, in the Northern Territory and compare the kind of housing there with the kind of housing that has been erected for the mining community. How can we tolerate this kind of discrimination? It is not direct discrimination in that nobody is doing it on purpose. On the one band extraordinary wealth is being poured into one community and in the other it is coming forward in the most humble way possible.
– Separated by a wire fence.
– Yes, separated by a wire fence. How can we tolerate this? How can we let that go on? This is part of the challenge that this Government has not faced. The honourable member for Brisbane has suggested that we should at least have a 10-year housing plan, set a reasonable target each. year, and put aside for the Aboriginal people and their housing the amount of money that we are prepared to put aside for war service homes. Is this too much to ask? We do not believe it is.
I turn to the field of health. Some communities which as long ago as 40 years introduced such systems as the bush nursing system have reduced the infant mortality to the incredibly low figure, compared to the rest of the world, of 20 or 21 per thousand. The number is now down to 17 or 18 per thousand. How can we tolerate an Aboriginal infant mortality rate which is sometimes running at more than 10 per cent?
In our visit to the Darling electorate, one of the things that impressed us was the work being done in this field. Let me pay a tribute to Dr Kalokerinos, the medical practitioner in Collarenebri, for the work be has done, some of which has been accepted. I think the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Wentworth) has paid proper respect to his work. I do not know how far it has gone through the rather conservative channels with which one has to compete in the medical fraternity. The great importance of early care and the absolute importance of early nutrition were impressed upon us. All researches in recent times indicate that as a person is fed over the first few years so he will blossom as a human being.
What made the greatest impression on my mind was the plight of a baby in the hospital at Bourke. He was born into some of the best conditions in the world and all the best facilities were available to him. But when he was to leave the hospital and go to live on the edge of the town he would probably go to the worst conditions possible. We cannot tolerate that. So we believe that it will only be when the Commonwealth is prepared to approach this problem in a personal way that every Aboriginal family in Australia will have available to it the kind of personal services that are available to, say, repatriation beneficiaries. There are a lot of deficiencies in the repatriation system. In some ways it is unduly bureaucratic. It is too legalistic. Some of this flows from the fact that people have to prove their rights. Aboriginals should not need to prove their rights.
We should be able to set up some system under which the agencies of the Commonwealth or the State are directed in such a way that every Aboriginal family is able to take advantage of it. We should have rehabilitation training schemes. We should be able to look into the question of employment. We should be able to do something for every individual, the same as we do for the rest of the community. It is of no good saying we cannot do that. This is a community that is accustomed to having individual records, individual care and, for that matter, individual pursuit if it comes to the income tax man. So there is no difficulty.
I do not believe there will be any real solution to the economic or social status of the Aboriginal people of Australia until we accept the salient fact that somewhere in Australia we have to establish an unalienable land rights system. This will not be easy. Some of it would be easy. I believe it would have been easy to have kept Arnhem Land inviolate. I believe it would have been easy to give the Gurindji people some rights to the land they presently Inhabit. I cannot see any difficulty m taking the necessary land from the Vestey interests. I do not want to expropriate the Vestey interests, but there is enough land there. If we want to extend an aerodrome we have no hesitation at all in taking the land, bouse and everything else of any other person in the community. But for some reason or other the Vestey interest is sacrosanct. In this instance, although I have not been there, my colleagues and a large number of other people who work with me in this field have. This is a vital psychological and emotional factor. The best description I have heard was given by the missionary at Yirrkala when a select committee of this Parliament went there some 7 years ago. I think his name was the Reverend Edgar Wells. He said:
It is more than proprietorship; it is more than the right to hunt; the Aboriginal person gets spiritual refreshment from the land.
We will not get anywhere until we have adopted the principle that the Aboriginal people of Australia are as entitled to their place on this land as the Indians of North America and the Maoris of New Zealand are entitled to their land. Therefore, I believe that the land question is fundamental to the whole issue. But nothing will happen until we accept full responsibility. We could easily develop an administrative system which is not centralist but is co-operative.
There is a tremendous area of effort and dedication and goodwill throughout the community. My experience of 15 years of the Commonwealth Government and watching it at close quarters - disapproving of most of its politics but respecting the administrative capacity and competence of the country - is that it is only when we turn all these skills to this problem and put aside enough financial resources that we will bring forward the material advancement of the Aboriginal people of Australia in the way in which we have been able to advance most, but not all, of their legal rights over the last 10 or 12 years.
– I rise to support strongly the amendment moved on behalf of the Opposition and particularly in its application to the concept of total planning at both Federal and State levels. In particular I want to stress the State aspect. I might mention in passing that the electorate of Riverina possesses some of the most outstanding examples of successful Aboriginal citizenship as well as some of the nation’s most intractable Aboriginal problems. But in regard to the examples of successful citizenship, I think I should mention, perhaps with some pride, that a national champion has emerged from one of the families in the Riverina area. I would like to pay a small tribute to that champion, Miss Evonne Goolagong, who is a young Australian of great distinction and who has represented her nation at home and abroad. When I say her nation I mean our nation - the nation to which all of us belong. As she once said in a very fine moment: ‘I like to think of myself as a representative of the nation, as an Australian, and not simply as part of the nation*. I believe that her words might be a guiding inspiration to us in our efforts to tackle the problem that is before us in the Parliament tonight.
I rise particularly in this debate on the States Grants (Aboriginal Advancement) Bill to seek some assurance from the Minister for Social Services and MinisterinCharge of Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Wentworth) that we do not in fact vote more money to the States and find that the States are doing effectively less. T know that this is a serious charge to make or to imply, and I am implying it, but I want to spell out what has occurred in New South Wales and tell the House of my own involvement in this matter so that my implication may be understood. As a member of the Legislative Assembly of the New South Parliament I voted - it was a pretty unanimous decision - to establish an all party committee to explore the problems, hopes and aspirations of Aboriginals. The Committee was also formed to see what we might do to better our services to that section of the Australian community. The all party committee. 1 might say, did a splendid job. The members of the committee drawn from the Parliament and the officers of the committee proved to be dedicated and interested. As I have said, they did a splendid job. The committee brought down its report in the Legislative Assembly. The report, which received general commendation, was stimulating and it gave rise to useful debate in the Parliament of New South Wales. It gave rise to a series of very useful recommendations.
One of the basic recommendations was that the Aborigines Welfare Board should be abolished. The inquiries and investigations of the committee indicated that the Aborigines Welfare Board in New South Wales had not fulfilled its function and had not done the job that it was hoped it would do. It had not done the job that in fact it had been established to do. Therefore, it was recommended that the Board should be abolished. It was coincidental that at about the time the report of this all party joint committee was presented to the Parliament the Aborigines Welfare Board embarked on some improvement projects - and I am speaking from only personal experience here– at least in one quarter of New South Wales. After a very long period in which nothing very much had been done the Board established an office at Griffith to administer this quarter of New South Wales. The Board staffed the office with excellent officers. Those officers were particularly outstanding and dedicated men. They then began to move out from that office to the various communities scattered throughout the Riverina and the other sections of the south west quarter of the State. They were able to encourage and influence in many valuable projects. Those officers gave much personal encouragement and assistance to Aboriginals. I was delighted to see this progress; I was very pleased about the operations which had been initiated.
But, of course, there came the time when the Parliament of New South Wales in its wisdom implemented the report of the select committee and said that the Aborigines Welfare Board, should be dissolved and its functions taken over by the various departments of State that were charged with the care and responsibility and welfare of the rest of the community. It was felt that this would be the best possible thing to do. Therefore, in due course it was decided by the Government of New South Wales that the Aborigines Welfare Board would cease its operations and would be in fact dissolved. I accepted the recommendation of the Board because this decision was made by the Parliament in good- faith in the belief that more would be done in the field of welfare and in the sphere of social advancement. On the occasion that the report of the committee was being debated 1 sought from Mr Eric Willis, the ChiefSecretary of -New South Wales, a specific undertaking that the office which had been established in Griffith to service that quarter of the State, including the south-west, would not be closed and that the officers would not be dispersed. I put this clearly and definitely because of the good work that was being done’ and because of the hope that further good work would be put in train. I put my request forward very sincerely. I received from the ChiefSecretary a firm and unequivocal assurance that the office would not be closed, that the officers would not be dispersed and that the various projects would be continued. 1 might say that as I speak tonight the office has been closed for many months, the officers have been dispersed and of course, many projects have languished as a result. This is not acceptable to me and it is not acceptable to the many people on both sides of the chamber who are concerned in Aboriginal advancement.
At Griffith we had a facility which was working for the first time. We had a useful facility which was working from headquarters in Griffith but this is now closed. The specialist officers have gone and they have not been replaced. The whole burden of work in this quarter of the State has now been given to an officer of the Child Welfare and Social Welfare Department who has already been called upon to cover a tremendous area and to tackle very many complex problems. He has neither the time nor the specialist training to apply himself to Aboriginal problems. So in 1970 we have less being done than was being done 2 years ago. This leads me to rise on this occasion specifically to support the amendment because I want to be clear in my mind that the money which will be voted and dispersed to the States will lead to more being done and not less. I have been deceived once. I do not want to be deceived twice. So I would ask the Minister, who I am delighted to see is again at the table, whether he will apply himself to my query? I raise this matter with full sincerity in the hope that we can in fact restore the facility that we had, restore programmes which have been dropped and that in fact this amount of money which the Federal Parliament is tonight being called upon to vote will in fact go to a better programme. We should ensure that it will not go to abstract administration, be syphoned off and fall’ through the cracks in the State floors so that the Aboriginals would in fact receive less. This is the point I raise with great sincerity.
– I wish to join previous Opposition speakers in supporting the amendment moved by the honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Cross). In doing so 1 want to refer mainly to conditions in Western Australia, especially as they affect my own area but I also wish to cite as supporting evidence some New South Wales experience. As the basis of my speech I quote the petition which I presented in this House this morning as the first of a series that will be presented dealing with the question of Aboriginal welfare and housing in the south west land division of Western Australia. The petition begins with the paragraph: . . that there is a crisis in Aboriginal welfare in the south west land division of Western Australia resulting from a population explosion, poor housing and hygiene and unemployment and unemployability.
As previous speakers have said, these things are very closely related. The conditions under which Aboriginals live are due to their housing. The housing in which they live is due to the conditions under which their parents lived and the education which their parents received. The education which their parents received was related largely to the employment or the lack of employment that their fathers had and their need to move about the countryside. If they did not move about the countryside they lived in abject poverty, in those days relying almost solely upon rations alone without even social services to support them. Therefore the problem has been one that has been selfperpetuating. It is one that has been complex and until very recent years nothing of a serious nature has been done to try and rectify it.
Because the problem is still of a complex nature today I think that there is a need to provide more than just housing. There is a need to provide bousing where there is employment available to the men. There will be a need for understanding and patience on the part of employers in taking the men into employment. There will need to be decent housing provided of a standard that they can maintain and care for, housing for which they must be asked to pay rent and, if possible, be allowed to purchase at a very low rental even if it means some sort of reduction in the price or complete relief from having to pay interest. But at least they should be given the dignity of being able to buy or pay off their own home. This would help to give them more incentive to remain in employment, to give their children something better to come home to, to give them the opportunity to come home to families of which the father is in employment and is able to feed them well and therefore make them healthier, stronger and more resistant to disease.
Some cruel judgments have been made of the Aboriginals in Western Australia - and 1 suppose this goes for the eastern States as well. It is said that they will not hold down a job. 1 know some of the conditions under which they have been employed and some of the tricks put over them by white employers and 1 do not wonder that they have not held down jobs. I also know the conditions under which they have had to live at home. On some of the reserves in Western Australia these conditions are almost beyond imagination and they are provided mainly by the Western Australian Government In fact, I have figures here that show that the Western Australian Government up until recently has been spending from $200,000 or $250,000 up to $700,000 a year on reserves. The houses are unlined, the design is of a monotonous nature and they are all built on a single style. There are communal ablution blocks, if one can call them that, which are unimaginative in style and lacking completely in hot water facilities unless there is a copper out in the open. Of course, this means that if there is wet weather they cannot have hot baths. It means that to have a hot bath they have to use a bucket or an iron tub because no baths are provided. Only shower facilities are provided, and without hot water they have to have a cold shower, which is pretty dreadful in the inland of Western Australia in winter time. We find children at school complaining about the smell of the Aboriginals but I wonder how many of them would go to school in any different condition if they lived under the same conditions? 1 believe that if the problem is to be attacked realistically it has to be attacked at all levels. Provision must be made to train the women who have not lived in a home before so they will know how to act as a wife and housekeeper and how to look after the home. Encouragement must be given to the men to remain in . employment and settle in places where employment is available and to which they want to go. We have to allow them the dignity of making their own decisions and their own choices. Then we have to see that they are enabled to pay rent at a level they can afford, that they are shown the basic requirements of hygiene and nutrition so that their children may have an opportunty of taking their rightful place within the schools and later within society. With the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate in Hansard a table which I have received from the State Minister for Native Welfare showing the amounts that have been received from the Commonwealth and the amounts that have been spent by the State on Aboriginal housing from 1955-56 to the present time. It reads:
These figures show where the money has been spent on Aboriginal housing by the Western Australian Government and the amounts that have been spent on reserves. These reserves should have been phased out long before this. They are a disgrace to the nation. It is a disgrace that governments should be spending money on building the types of houses that are being built and requiring human beings to live under the conditions that these people are being required to live under.
The second point made in the petition to which I referred is that there is a need to phase out native reserves in the southwest land division of Western Australia over the next 3 years and I think that that is the right idea. I believe that it is necessary and desirable. Here I want to talk about the places in Western Australia and New South Wales to which I said I would refer. In Western Australia we have rather large reserves on the edges of towns. The people are demoralised. It is hard to get them to send their children to school regularly and it is hard to get them to remain in employment. They are more inclined than the average Aboriginal to turn to drink and other vices and they generally behave in the way that most people think is the norm for Aboriginals. But I believe that it is the norm for any people living under similar conditions, no matter what their nation of origin. It is a characteristic of people living in poverty.
I believe that this can be illustrated by making a comparison with other towns where there are no reserves, where the men are in employment and, interestingly enough, remain in employment in the one job, and where they have been given the opportunity of paying rent and living in a housing commission home as is the case in my home town of Bunbury, Western Australia. If there is an Aboriginal problem at all there it is very, very minute. The Aboriginals give the police very little trouble. The men remain in employment and the children attend school. They have little trouble with disease. Their homes are tidy and well kept. They set an example for their own people and for many of the other citizens of the town. This is in contrast to those other places I have mentioned where there are reserves and where people do not have the same opportunities to take up employment and to live in decent housing.
Interestingly enough, this compares with the experience of places in New South Wales. One town, for instance, which I will not name, has had a reserve built on its outskirts. The people were settled there in unit type houses, all of a type and ail of a colour. Some of those who were moved into, these places became discontented and did not wish to live under those conditions. They moved away and took up what we believe to be sub-standard white homes. They moved into these homes. They improved them. The men found employment and remained in employment. They paid whatever rent they were required to pay. The Housing Commission noticed what they were doing and made available to them Housing Commission homes in the town. These people have moved into them. They have started gardens around them. They have improved the houses and looked after them. They have paid the rent and have remained in employment. These are some of the people who, because they wanted to make their own decisions as lo where they should live and how they should live, left the reserve. They are of the same people that are on the reserve, yet they behave in a different manner. They have a different tone about their life. They are, to all intents and purposes, different individuals because they live under different conditions.
Because examples can be taken across the nation from two vastly different places we see this as a socioligical problem rather than a problem of innate race. Therefore I believe there is need to phase out reserves within the next 3 years. The third point is that town housing must be provided for all Aboriginal families where the breadwinner has permanent employment or an age or invalid pension entitlement. 1 believe I have covered that. The next point is that such housing must be supported by the appointment of permanent homemaker assistance in the ratio of 1 homemaker to every 8 houses or part thereof. The homemaker referred to is preferably to be a person of Aboriginal or part Aboriginal race so that she can move easily amongst the people, be there to give advice and assistance wherever possible, guide them in the. care and upkeep of their homes and in the care of their children and be to them their own clinic sister and home adviser. There is such a person operating in Bunbury. I believe she contributes much to the development and the improvement in conditions that are taking place there. She helps these people face their problems. She may be a partly trained social worker. At least she does that sort of work to the best of of her ability and makes an important contribution. I believe that this sort of assistance to help people who do not have a proper home background to move into the situation and develop decent homes is a necessity. The Government may have to take the responsibility in this field to see that such assistance is provided.
The next point is that incentives of housing, homemaker services and training facilities must be created in centres of potential employment for those who are currently unemployed and unemployable. I believe that the reason for that also is selfevident. We must find places for Aboriginals where they have the opportunity of finding suitable employment. All the decisions made in regard to the future for Aboriginals must take these points into consideration. Insufficient State or Federal assistance has been made available to meet these requirements. Therefore the need of the Federal and State Governments to do all they can to see that this is no longer so, to see that this problem is not one that goes on from generation to generation as it has done in the past but is one that is met within our own generation; and instead of being a selfgenerating deteriorating circumstance becomes a self-generating one of betterment and improvement until these people take an equal place in society, as they are capable of doing, as has been demonstrated in too few cases because of the little that has been done to provide the conditions under which such could be the case.
Lastly, adequate finance to meet these requirements can be provided only by the Commonwealth Government. I think this is only too obvious and it is also unfortunately true that perhaps there is more concern within the Commonwealth - little as there is - than in the States. It is going to take the Commonwealth to stir the States into action, or to take complete responsibility itself if necessary’, within a short period of time to see that this problem is met square on and that we act realising that these people are human beings who will react as human beings, given the opportunity, and therefore take their rightful place within our community. I support the amendment.
– I refer to the Bill to point out the amount of money that is being made available. I have not heard it said by any member of the Opposition who has spoken. The Bill provides:
There is payable, during the year that commenced on the first day of July, 1970, to each State, for the purpose of financial assistance in connexion with the welfare and advancement (including housing), of the Aboriginal people of Australia living in that State, amounts not exceeding in the whole the amount specified in the First Schedule to this Act opposite to the name of that State.
I look to find out how much money this is and I find in the First Schedule that the amount is $7m. That is a lot of money. I must compliment the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Wentworth) on the work that he has put in. I compliment him not only for the sympathy he has for the Aboriginal people but also for the practical application of the feelings he has and for bringing before Cabinet what he thinks is necessary and getting such a magnificent sum as is payable this year.
The Second. Schedule is for housing only. It provides for $4,800,000, which is included in the $7m. That sum should go a long way to assist in the housing of Aboriginals throughout Australia. Queensland is to receive the most money because most of the Aboriginals live in that State. The amount for Victoria - leaving out Tasmania because it hardly comes into the picture at all - is the smallest. Victoria is to receive $367,000 whereas Queensland, the major State, is to receive $2,538,000. After the amount of $4,800,000 is used for housing, as specified in the Bill, the balance is to be used for other welfare or advancement of the Aboriginal people. This means all sorts of things such as education and projects, or anything at all which, according to the Bill, would be for the advancement of the Aboriginal race.
It has been said that some of the States may not spend such money in the way envisaged by the Minister and so are not up to the standard that he would desire But it is pointed out in the Bill - I was anxious to see this - that:
If the Minister informs the Treasurer of thai State that he is satisfied that the State has failed, in respect of an amount paid to the State under this Act, to fulfil the conditions referred to in the last proceeding paragraph, the State will repay that amount to the Commonwealth.
The preceding clause provides that the money is to be spent for housing and for the advancement of the Aboriginals, and if it is not spent in the way that it should be and if a State fails to take into consideration all those things that should be at the forefront of such legislation, then it will repay the relevant amount to the Commonwealth. I am not suggesting for one moment that this is likely to be put into force at all, because after all, although there was some mention made in the debate tonight of the States not spending the money in the correct way, from what I cao find out and see and hear, generally speaking the State governments are seized with the need to help the Aboriginals. With the Government making such a magnificent contribution towards this, surely the State Ministers who handle these matters will sea that the money is spent correctly. I have not had a great deal of experience with Aboriginals. But, as a young man, I lived in the western district of Victoria. At a place called Condah, there was an Aboriginal station. It was a mission station. I remember a man named Captain Crawford. He was in charge of it. The Aboriginals in those days, many years ago, were a very happy lot. I do not think that the station exists now. Some of the Aboriginals from around that area became farmers. They operated small farms and others entered into employment. Many are still living there.
The names of the ones whom I knew in the past are still to be heard in the district. Most of those Aboriginals are doing well and respected. In fact, in that very place there was the son of a chief, a man named Angas King. He was a man who umpired football matches. He umpired cricket matches also. He was a man who was highly respected. T have read of his life. I remember seeing him on one occasion. I think that he was as highly respected as any white man in that district. He was a man of great outstanding character. No doubt, he did much to mould the general character of many of those with whom he came in contact.
I am very happy to support this Bill. I shall not speak in detail about it because I am not criticising it. It is a Government
Bill. 1 support the Government and I congratulate the Minister. I believe that the Government is acting in a way that will be pleasing not only to the Aboriginals but also to the people of Australia.
– The House is debating the States Grants (Aboriginal Advancement) Bill 1970. 1 am not quite the sixth successive Labor speaker in this debate, but six Labor speakers have shown interest in this debate about the problems of the Australian Aboriginal people. It is true, as the preceding speaker, the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) said, that this Bill involves an expenditure of $7m. Of that amount, $4. 8m is provided for housing. The way to regard this is that $2.2m is left for expenditure throughout the 6 States for all the other purposes under the headings of welfare and difficulties.
I suppose that anyone with the slightest knowledge of the tremendous range of difficulties that prevail in this field would concede readily that this amount is grossly inadequate, lt has been pointed out by the honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Cross) and other speakers who preceded me that under many headings and many areas of problem there will be a more serious situation after this money has been spent than before it was expended. After all, the amount that is being allocated for housing is not that great when we consider it in terms of need. This is the point that the honourable member for Brisbane made: There will be more Aboriginal people needing housing when we have spent this money than there were before we commenced to spend it. If 400 homes at a cost of $10,000 each are built and if we take into account the cost of land and PC items, we have a total of $4.8m approximately. We need for Aboriginal people a great many more houses than 400. Do not let us get too carried away with the benevolence of the Government about this matter.
In the referendum on 27th May 1967, the Australian people gave a resounding imprimatur to the Commonwealth to attend to the long neglected problems concerning Australia’s Aboriginal people. This was done by removing the discriminatory provision from section 51 of the Commonwealth Constitution to enable Aboriginal people to be counted in the census and, more importantly, so that the Commonwealth could make laws for Aboriginals. For that matter, the Commonwealth has enjoyed for many years the prerogative in this respect regarding Aboriginal affairs in the Northern Territory. But, notwithstanding its undoubted authority and the magnitude of the problem concerning Aboriginals Commonwealth indifference has put Australia on trial in the eyes of the world.
It so happens that this week we Wil be celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations. We will do so officially on Saturday next, 24th October. We have had a quarter of a century of United Nations activities. I suppose that there are many people in Australia who are concerned that Australia has been indicted in the United Nations in recent weeks by Aboriginal people. In blatant breach of the United Nations declaration and of the International Labour Organisation conventions, the indigenous people of this country have been deprived of their land and any administrative rights over their reserves. It would have been a very significant event during this twenty-fifth anniversary period if the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Wentworth) and if the Government had used some imagination. If they have no humanitarian motivation about this matter, they could have thought of it from the standpoint of the favourable public response to the announce.ent of a symbolic gesture and had said, for example: ‘Yes, we will return to the Gurindji people some of their land, that is, some of the land that Vesteys has taken away from them’. Why do we lack this kind of imagination? Why did we miss this splendid opportunity when we have denied so much to these people about whom we all speak so proudly. I have had a note passed to me about the wonderful achievements of Eric Simms yesterday in the World Cup series. We have heard of Namatjira and many other famous Australian Aboriginals. But when it comes to an opportunity to do something practical we find that this Government is dragging the chain, very very badly.
Not very long ago, the State Ministers who are concerned with Aboriginal affairs met. In fact, it was in March of this year. They outlined a number of things for which they need finance. They called for the repeal of what they said was apparently discriminatory legislation. These are not Labor Ministers. These are the Liberal Ministers of the States who prevailed at March of this year. They contended that there was adverse discriminatory legislation concerning Aboriginals and this is what the amendment moved by the Opposition deals with. That is why we expect that some people of conscience from the other side of the House who have been disinterested enough not to join in this debate may be tempted to come over here and to vote with us to uphold the contentions of their own Liberal State Ministers so that this discriminatory legislation might be got rid of. The Liberal Ministers asked for it and we are moving to that effect tonight. We are giving honourable members opposite a chance to fulfil the aspirations of Liberal State Ministers.
The State Ministers asked also for further workshops. Apparently this is the technique by which Aboriginal leadership is encouraged. Apparently the State Ministers felt that insufficient funds were being made available or expended in this area. They contended that substantial expansion was needed in present housing and flat construction rates to meet the housing requirements of Aboriginals. At least this Bill contains some gesture in that direction. The State Ministers referred to education. They said that Aboriginal people were permanently handicapped by lack of opportunity in the pre-school ages. The honourable member for Brisbane, in moving his amendment, has emphasised that particular aspect as well, to fulfil the desires of the Liberal State Ministers.
They mentioned the difficulties which Aboriginal people were experiencing in obtaining employment. They said that Aboriginal people were hindered because of lack of accommodation and that urban hostels were needed. I readily concede thai I have been involved personally in a matter in which the Minister has taken a personal interest for the provision of funds for Aboriginal hostel accommodation. But let us all be very frank: This is insufficient and so much more needs to be done so that young boys and girls with potential who reside in areas where no job opportunities are available can be given the chance to come down to places where their secondary, technical and tertiary education needs can be accommodated. These are matters which give us concern and which cause us to speak fervently about the indigenous people of this land.
For many people, the ‘lucky country’ is a pious platitude. For the original Australians, luck ran out when Captain Cook rounded Cape Solander and entered Botany Bay 200 years ago. The Institute of Public Affairs recently said:
The poverty and ill health of too many Aboriginals is a blot on Australian society.
In Central Australia, the registered infant mortality rate is 21 for 100 live births. This rate is among the highest in the world. The mortality rate is 20 times higher than the rate for comparable European populations. One in every 6 Aboriginal children in the Northern Territory dies before it reaches the age of 4 years. The incidence of leprosy, yaws, tuberculosis, hookworm and scurvy is high. It has been contended that Aboriginal children lack vitamin C. My colleague, the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) has referred to the dedicated work undertaken by Dr Kalokerinos of Collarenabri in his identification of the vitamin C deficiencies and of the need to meet this with particular treatment involving ascorbic acid. Yet, there has been some reluctance, some pettifogging, in the approach on the part of the Government to this matter. The Government does not realise that the Collarenabri cemetery is dotted with little white crosses to which Aboriginal mothers go every weekend in mourning for young children who need not have died if there had been elements of compassion in this country over the last 200 years. Surely the time has come for us to realise that something has to be done in this regard.
We think of the discrimination that prevails in the Australian countryside. Many Aboriginal communities are denied the benefits of any communications at all. Some lack full time medical services. Most of these communities are without adequate expenditure on schools. Certainly there is nothing in the nature of sewerage and garbage services, nothing like electricity or gas, and nothing like running water. No thought is ever given to anything aesthetic such as a park, footpaths, roads, kerbing and guttering, and of course inadequate housing is the order of the day. We are told that 20,000 Aboriginal families need decent housing. In that context we can see that we are still just tinkering with this mammoth problem.
The area north of a line from Cairns to Carnarvon totals 500,000 square miles in which 50 per cent of the population are Aboriginals. These are the people who do not own land. While mining rights have transcended human rights we are extracting mineral resources and disregarding the human resources that are available. At Yirrkala the sacred grounds which I visited with my colleagues quite recently have been vandalised in the name of progress and vested interests as though we have no concern for the Aboriginal people and no pride in our own national history. At Weipa 140 square miles of land has been removed from the Aboriginal reserve for Comalco Industries. We also visited quite recently the Nabalco enterprise at Gove. I can recall that Dr Coombes who heads the Commonwealth Office of Aboriginal Affairs, expressed his concern that that company was going ahead with its $303 m project without the Aboriginal people being consulted in any shape or form.
We are told that over the years the Northern Territory Administration has spent $50m in piecemeal programmes which have failed to produce any significant groups of indigenes which are selfsustaining economic units. No social action groups or political organisations are permitted in this part of Australia. How can we help this self-motivating, self-generating programme about which some of my colleagues have spoken and in which Aboriginals can be involved in democratic processes in efforts to advance their own affairs? The Northern Territory work force has multiplied by 400 per cent since the Second World War but Aboriginal employment has fallen. Sister Keller, M.B.E., in commenting on Aboriginal employment said:
Men once proud - now sit idle or drag rakes over yards which do not need raking because it was said they could not be given food without earning it.
So we undermine whatever self-respect these proud people ever had.
I understand that if I curtail my remarks one of my colleagues will have the oppor tunity of entering this debate. I would now like to say a few words about land rights. In 1834 Sir Thomas Buxton, chairman of the Aborigines Committee of the British House of Commons said:
In order to do justice we must admit first that the natives have the right to their own lands.
In 1963, 129 years later, a select committee that went to Yirrkala had this to say:
Your Committee believes that a direct monetary compensation should be paid for any loss of traditional occupancy, even though these rights are not legally expressed.
Then in 1967 a committee of the Northern Territory Legislative Council made similar comments indicating that in its view these Aboriginal people have a right to the land which, from time immemorial, they have considered to be theirs. The land rights claim is specific. It is not characterised by ambiguities. It does not cover everyone’s land; It does not aspire to take in Parliament House, Martin Place or the Melbourne Cricket Ground. It has a relationship to the sacred grounds and the traditionally used and occupied grounds such as the grounds which are subject to claims by the people at Wattie Creek and Wave Hill.
I want to conclude my remarks by saying that there is discriminatory legislation in this country. I could mention quite a long list but I will refer only to some of the legislation. There is the Migration Act 1958-1968; the Navigation Act 1912-1968; in Queensland the Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders’ Affairs Acts 1965-67; the Vagrants, Gaming and Others Offences Acts 1931-1967; in Western Australia the Licensing Act 1911-1968; the Native Welfare Act 1963; the Native (Citizenship Rights) Act 1944-1964. They are further indications of the fact that we have allowed the Aboriginal people to be treated in an off-handed and indifferent way which has undermined their pride. I believe that in consideration of these matters to which I have referred and others referred to by my colleagues, such as the deficiencies in educational opportunities and the shortcomings as far as health and housing are concerned, it is not good enough to make this limited amount of money available. We should support the. amendment moved by the Opposition in order that we can advance the Aboriginal people in a way which I believe is the aspiration of every Australian.
– First of all 1 would like to support the amendment moved by the honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Cross). I think that all honourable members on this side of the House, and I am sure quite a few honourable members on the other side, would agree that there is a need for a much more comprehensive programme for the welfare and housing of Aboriginals. The only way in which this can be done is to find out what the needs are and to work out some programme over a period so that it will not be done year by year as appears to be the case now; The honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) said that earlier this year a team of us went on a trip to the northern parts of New South Wales. Whilst we were there we had a look at some of the settlements along the banks of the Barwon River. I am sure that all of us in that team came away rather appalled at what we had seen. We knew that these fringe settlements were there but I did not expect them to be nearly as bad as they actually were. We found that the fringe dwellers were usually on the other side of the river from the main parts of the towns, with only one water pipe to serve a group of 30 or 40 shacks occupied by people.
We had a discussion with a Presbyterian Minister at Walgett. He has a very keen and genuine interest in the problems which face Aboriginals. He informed us that according to a survey which he had conducted 75 houses would be required in Walgett to solve the problem of Aboriginal housing. The figures which the Minister in Charge of Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Wentworth) gave show that in Walgett there were 5 houses. The Presbyterian Minister said that from his survey Walgett would need 75 houses but as of last year there were 5 houses. This discrepancy emphasises the need to determine what the actual needs are. We should have a crash programme. It should not be a long range programme but a wide-ranging programme to find out what the needs are and we should get on with the job of overcoming the deficiencies.
I will now refer to my own electorate of Grey in which I suppose two-thirds of the Aboriginals of South Australia reside. In the town I come from, Port Augusta, there Is probably a larger concentration of Aboriginals than in any other white community.
The Aboriginal population varies between 450 and 550. During the last few years, the Dunstan Labor Government made a lot of the improvements, which have been added to. We have seen tremendous improvement in the conditions of the reserve situated just outside of Port Augusta. Those people who saw that reserve 6 or 7 years ago saw a complete shanty town and people living in dwellings made out of flattened kerosene tins, hesian and so on. At least some progress has been made but we are still a long way from achieving the best possible result. One of the conditions is that after Aboriginals have been on the reserve for a certain period and the Reserve Council feels that they are ready to come into the. white society and can look after a home, they move into the town as houses become available. But. unfortunately housing presents a bit of a problem because the Housing Trust does not seem to be able to provide many houses for Aboriginals. So the people who are concerned with welfare matters at the reserve are faced continually with the problem of finding sufficient housing for Aboriginals.
I have checked and I have found that the Commonwealth has financed the construction of 5 houses in Port Augusta. If we go through the figures which are included in the Minister’s second reading speech we find that out of 22 houses for Aboriginals which the Commonwealth financed in South Australia last year none was provided in Port Augusta. Port Augusta would have as big a housing problem as any other city in the State, but no Commonwealth houses were provided for Aboriginals in Port Augusta last year.
There are many other matters about which one could speak. Perhaps I should move on to the education of Aboriginal children. I think the Minister would agree that often he has received a lot of pleasure when he has seen one of his projects succeed and that Aboriginals have been able to raise their standards of living a little higher. When I come up against someone who is Jim Crow minded and has antiAboriginal feelings my reply is: T suggest that you go up and have a look at the children coming out of the high school. If you had watched the children coming out of the high school a few years ago you would not have seen any Aboriginal children, but the last time I checked I think there were 52 Aboriginal children attending the high school.’ Those Aboriginal children mix with white children. They are dressed in school uniforms and I think that they are a credit to their parents.
But we strike another problem once these Aboriginal children reach a certain standard of education. Perhaps they reach the intermediate standard. Once they leave high school there is a gap before they can obtain employment because there is not a great deal of employment in Port Augusta for unskilled adolescents of between 15 and 20 years of age. This creates a grave problem. If we cannot provide these young people with employment and if they have nothing to do, grave social problems arise. With the appointment of two ‘ vocational guidance officers who will be stationed in Port Augusta to look after that particular area of South Australia, we hope that something will be done to solve this unemployment problem. Unless we can provide employment for these youngsters, we will not properly solve the other problems that face them. We are concerned about 4 matters - housing, health, education and employment. Unless we can do something in ‘ all 4 areas, we will not fully solve the problems which are facing Aborignals.
I return to the question of housing. I refer to a telegram which I received today from the Secretary of the Davenport Reserve Aboriginal Council. This Council administers the routine matters on the Aboriginal reserve. As I have mentioned, there are 5 Commonwealth financed houses in Port Augusta. Apparently they cost between $10,000 and $15,000 each to build. The average rental for a person in normal employment is between $11 and $13 a week. Usually work is available for the Aboriginals in the Commonwealth Railways and in other industries in the town, but usually it is work for which lower rates of wages are paid. Quite a number of Aboriginals work in foundries, in fettling gangs and so forth, but usually these are lowly paid jobs. So the amount of rent which an Aboriginal is required to pay for his house usually is beyond his means. I understand that adjustments are made in cases where Aboriginals are in bad circumstances.
As I said, the Secretary of the Davenport Reserve Aboriginal Council sent me a telegram today. Perhaps I should read it, because it indicates the way in which Aboriginals on the reserve are thinking. The telegram is addressed to me at Parliament House, and it reads:
Council instructs me to respectively request you to lay before Parliament the following with reference to the housing of Aboriginal families. That a home ownership scheme be devised to allow Aboriginal people to purchase homes on a low deposit moderate repayment and low interest basis in areas of full employment. Council considers this will fulfill a long felt want develop a pride of ownership and in so doing reduce the heavy overhead administration repair and maintenance costs and allow the initial vote to be self recouping to sustain continuing home purchase programme. Addition request that urgent consideration be given to the design of suitable transitional housing for average 100 monthly unemployed Aboriginals at Port Augusta.
Honourable members can see from that telegram that we have an unemployment problem. As I say, there are 4 matters to be considered - health, education, housing and employment. I certainly hope that the amendment is carried because I think that unless we allocate the necessary money we will not be able to solve the problems. We are doing it only bit by bit. Possibly next year an additional Sim will be provided to help towards the advancement of Aboriginals. But we are not yet overcoming the problem.
– I do not want to delay the House for too long, but I am moved to speak on the States Grants (Aboriginal Advancement) Bill for a number of reasons. First of all, I have in my electorate a number of Aboriginal people with whom I have been in fairly close contact. Secondly, I believe that there has been a good deal of damaging criticism of what is being done to help Aboriginals and very little appreciation of the value of the work that is being done. No-one would deny that much more has to be done. But anyone who has worked among these people, in my area at any rate, will realise the great strides that have been made. I pay a tribute to the people who have been associated with this work.
I know that the Queensland Minister who is responsible for Aboriginal affairs, the Hon. N. T. E. Hewitt, is very much concerned about this matter. He has discussed with me the way in which the State and the Commonwealth could best cooperate to the advantage of these people. At the moment he is waiting for me to make some arrangement whereby we can visit some of the areas and discuss with the Aboriginal people themselves some of the problems which they face. I pay a tribute to the local welfare committees in these areas. The people on these committees have devoted themselves unselfishly to Improving the conditions under which Aboriginals live.
We realise that there is a need to provide housing for Aboriginals, and this Bill does move in that direction. It is easy to say that we are not going far enough or fast enough. It would not matter at what rate we went; the Opposition still would say that we were not doing enough. It would not matter how much . money was being spent; the Opposition would want more money spent. However, this Bill introduces measures which will be of very great benefit to Aboriginal people. They will help the progress and development of Aboriginal people; they will help also in providing housing and Aboriginal welfare.
I point out to those who say that not enough is being done - I agree that not enough is being done - that there are many fields in which the finance which is available to the Government does not allow enough to be done. But the States have some responsibility in this field, and the money provided under this Bill will be added to that which the States are providing for this work. Money alone will not solve the problems facing Aboriginals. In addition to the need for finance, an educational system is required. I have met and talked with liaison officers, and I know the problems which they face. Those who understand this matter know how difficult a problem this is.
I find that some of these Aboriginal people are ready and prepared to accept responsibilities if they come to live within a certain community. But others have told me that at this stage they are not ready or prepared to accept those responsibilities. So they will have to be trained or educated to accept, these responsibilities, to understand what is required of them if they are to succeed. I want to point to another field in which achievements have been made. I refer to some of the settlements on the outskirts of some of the towns which in the last year or two have disappeared completely as a result of work done by the State and Federal governments in cooperation with the local authorities in these areas. Those people who have moved out of those fringe areas and shanty dwellings are now a credit to the town itself and they have good jobs. This has been done because they have been encouraged to do it. Some have not been happy about it. Some of the shanties have been bulldozed by local authorites who have come in for any amount of criticism for doing it even though they have provided dwellings because some of the people have come back and found there were no more shanties and they were disappointed about it. It is a very difficult problem and it is one that is not easily handled. The person who knows the most about it and who has been mixed up with it most will find it is very real.
I pay tribute to those people who have spoken on this matter and who have the problem at heart and are trying to do something about it. But there is no one in this House who is more dedicated to this work than the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth). He has been criticised because he has not done everything. He has taken a tremendous interest in this problem and he has a great knowledge of the subject. He has instigated moves which are proving of benefit to our Aboriginal population and he will continue to do that. I could mention the director for Aboriginal Affairs in Queensland, Mr Pat Kiloran with whom I have discussed this problem on a number of occasions. While I say the problem is there and it has to be resolved and work has to be done, it is not something that can be solved overnight. It is not something that can be done with money alone. The measures that will have to be used will require people who are endeavouring to encourage our Aboriginals to lift their standard of living and will require people who have a specialised knowledge of this subject. Such people are not easy to find. Liaison officers are already doing a very good job in this field and they deserve all the encouragement they can get. What I look forward to is the close co-operation of the 3 arms of government - Federal, State and local - in this field. I know when we are tackling a problem of this kind we find very many difficulties. I have paid plenty of tributes tonight because 1 believe there has been too much criticism and breaking down of the efforts that are being made.
I would like to talk about the local tribal council at Cunnamulla where a lot of criticism has been levelled about what has happened. There is a local tribal council there which has people handling particular aspects. There is a finance coordinator, someone specially allotted to deal with housing, someone for education, someone for health, someone for legal aid and someone for employment. This is their own tribal council and is the sort of thing that will do a lot of good. This can be advanced into our Aboriginal population - I feel it cannot go very quickly but still it is going - and these people deserve a pat on the back for the efforts they along with the welfare committees in these places are making.
There was some talk of employment. Let me pay a tribute to the Parroo Shire Council at Cunnamulla which proportionately employs a high percentage of Aboriginals in its work force. It has suffered a lot of criticism but at the same time it is trying to do what it can, and most people engaged in this work are. I accept the fact that not enough is being done but do not decry the work that is being done because great strides have been made. I pay tribute to the Minister and the Government for what they are trying to do. I trust this will be encouraged by close co-operation, by recognition of the progress that is being made and by trying to improve, on that progress to develop those factors which are providing so much benefit to the Aboriginal population throughout Australia.
– I was pleased to see the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett) get up to speak because until he rose we had heard only from our esteemed friend the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull). I was surprised to see him rise, knowing the Country Party as I do, and talk on Aboriginal affairs. He has no right to do this because he is not an Aboriginal. Whenever we of the Labor Party talk on rural matters we are told to sit down because we are not farmers. Why did he get up and talk on Aboriginal affairs; he is not an Aboriginal?
– He represents them, that is why.
– He misrepresents them, just as you do. We have had a disgraceful performance from the Government tonight We know we can always get the honourable member for Mallee up when we say no-one from the Government side has spoken. He got up just to make sure there was a name from that side of the House. The only man who spoke with any sincerity was the honourable member for Maranoa, who has a genuine interest in the subject. Until then there had been the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson), the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard) the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant), the honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Cross), the honourable member for Grey (Mr Wallis) and the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby). Then we saw the honourable member for Mallee get up just to make sure the Government had its name on the sheet.
Let us get back to a few fundamentals on this subject of Aboriginals. Tonight most of my colleagues have covered the subject so well that I do not intend to go over it as I have done in previous speeches in this Parliament. My colleagues have talked this evening about why Aboriginals are such a depressed minority. They have asked the Government what it is going to do about it. We know from previous speakers - and it has been said so often in this House - that the problem starts primarily from the day the Aboriginals are born. Children up to 6 months or until they are no longer breast fed are fairly equal with their white contemporaries. It is after that stage when they are living under such shocking housing conditions that their health starts to deteriorate because of their continual reinfection. If they happen to survive to the age of 4, which is the danger period, they have been sick so often that they are not only physically retarded but also mentally retarded. If they manage to survive through early childhood they come up against all sorts of problems such as social deprivation at the age of puberty. So we have this continual evolutionary process which is unfortunately creating a situation where by the time Aboriginal children are 15 or 16 years of age they are so fat behind their white contemporaries that they have no possible hope of catching up.
The honourable member for Kalgoorlie mentioned the question of the definition of an Aboriginal. He gave a very good description when he said there is too much generalisation when we talk about Aboriginals. We hear this so often from , people who talk about the Aboriginal. We know quite well there is not just one type of Aboriginal for there is the city dweller - the Aboriginal who comes perhaps from Victoria. These are people like Lionel Rose and Eric Simms from .Sydney, who are part Aboriginals. We cannot possibly talk about them in the same way as we can about the bush dwellers, the fringe dwellers, the Arnhem Land dwellers or however many groups we like to divide them into. There are distinct groups with distinct social problems. It is a misnomer to talk about an Aboriginal. I am sure the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) understands this problem well. I will not go over all the problems of housing. I think it has been said by every speaker tonight that the housing situation is the one that will be the rock upon which we will build the answer to the Aboriginal problem. Until we have them off these filthy revolting rubbish tips and out of these disgusting shanty towns, we have no hope of making any progress. We have to find a means of providing them with a way of surviving in our competitive capitalist society. This is what concerns me.
I want to mention a few things about the trip some honourable members had through the Northern Territory during the recess. I was impressed with some things and I will compliment the Minister on them. But I will not compliment him on the fact that he is always running around calling anyone who does not agree with him a Communist. This is the one thing that stops the Minister getting the complete respect to which he is entitled. We have all said many times in this House that he has a very far reaching knowledge of the problem. We have complimented him but if we criticise him we are Communists, do-gooders, stirrers or something like that. I object very strongly to those sort of terms being levelled at anybody who criticises the Government. It is a pity he spoils his reputation in this regard. Having said those nasty things about him I want to compliment him on what I saw at Alice Springs on my way to join a committee. With my family I drove to Jay Creek outside the Standley Chasm which is a famous tourist resort and saw there some appalling living conditions. I was quite shocked. My wife fortunately had not witnessed anything of this nature before. I had seen it on previous trips. There were children with torn singlets, filthy, dirty, matted hair, eyes covered with pus, running around almost naked. On a river bank I saw 2 pieces of corrugated iron making up what was a house.
However, I did see some things that gave me some pleasure. I noted that the Aboriginals had formed a co-operative progress association at Jay Creek. At the entrance to Standley Chasm they have built, with the help of money provided by the Aboriginal Enterprises Fund, a first class, kiosk which provides food, including sandwiches, steaks and all manner of amenities for the thousands of tourists who visit Jay Creek or Standley Chasm. This is providing employment for Aboriginals. The kiosk also’ contains a wide range of native artefacts which are for sale. About 4 or 5 Aboriginals are employed - 3 or 4 girls who are beautifully dressed and groomed and a chef. Some 8 or 10 Aboriginals are employed in another enterprise near the kiosk. This is a trail ride enterprise which takes tourists on rides throughout the area. I understand that also they have a cattle co-operative with 100-odd head of cattle. I regard this as a first-class enterprise which the Aboriginals have established with some help from a European gentleman named, I think Herb Adams, who has been appointed by the progress association to help them run the business and to teach them saddlery and a few other skills. I understand that they are making great progress and that they are managing to function as a viable business. The sort of activity that is proceeding at lay Creek is a means by which the Aboriginals will, in some respects, be helped to establish themselves economically. However, at Jay Creek something should be done quickly to provide decent housing, because the present housing conditions are absolutely appalling.
On this trip we visited 2 or 3 other places. I want, particularly to mention Groote Eylandt because if ever I saw a set of conditions where Aboriginals are thriving it was at Groote Eylandt. The Opposition has not been noted for the compliments it pays the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd, but I think this company deserves to be congratulated for the modern, progressive and enlightened approach that it has taken towards the Aboriginals on Groote Eylandt; not all of it, perhaps, because of its great humanitarianism. The point is that what we saw was extremely good. I think this has much to do with the fact that the Rev. Taylor foresaw the great manganese deposits that existed on Groote Eylandt and took out .a lease on the resources for the Aboriginals, and instead of the usual situation where 2 royalties are paid, one to the Government and one to the combined Aboriginal Trust Fund in the Northern Territory, a third royalty is being paid to the Aboriginals on Groote Eylandt. This means that the local community of about 900 Aboriginals is receiving some $150,000 annually at present. I understand that they expect to receive about $200,000 by next year or the year after. By this means they are receiving some direct compensation for the activities that are going on right in their neck of the woods.
As a general rule 1 believe in the philosophy that certain groups of Aboriginals should not be wealthy because they happen to have mining resources on their particular plots of land. I agree with the former Minister for the Interior (Mr Anthony) who advocated the policy that the money from royalties should go into a general fund. However, in the peculiar circumstances that exist with these resources, 1 believe that, the idea of the third royalty being paid because of the leasing conditions at Groote Eylandt should be applied throughout the whole area. There is a similar situation at Gove, but the third royalty is not being paid because the lease was not taken up on behalf of the Aboriginals. I imagine that the same situation will occur at Oenpelli where a uranium deposit has been located. I would advocate, and I hope that when the Labor Party becomes the government in 1972 it will do this - the introduction of a system whereby a third royalty is paid wherever a big mineral find is made on an Aboriginal reserve or wherever Aboriginals are ensconced so that they can see some direct benefit from those vast enterprises that dislocate their lives.
Other benefits accrue’ from such enterprises. I must compliment the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd. for its attempt to employ as many Aboriginals as possible in its enterprise. On Groote Eylandt some 28 are working for the company, and doing extremely well. This may sound to be a small proportion of the 900 local Aboriginals but when one realises that 500 of them are children, 200 are women and about a further 100 are too old to work or otherwise incapable of working, it leaves only about 100 males of whom one-third are being trained by the company. This is a commendable effort. The attitude has been adopted that wherever the interests of the Aboriginals and the Europeans conflict, the Europeans must give way. We heard of incidents between Aboriginal women and European women. Whenever these occurred the company had the good sense to sack the Europeans, get them off the island and out of the area. This is what we were told. I might mention that we sat around talking to the Groote Eylandt Aboriginals for some time. Eventually we asked them whether they had any complaints and it took almost half an hour before we heard a complaint. I had to lean forward to hear what the Aboriginal man said. He said that there was too much taxation. This is a complaint that is not restricted to the Aboriginals on Groote Eylandt.
I should like to see a special attempt being made to ensure that royalties are paid to Aboriginals where a mining enterprise dislocates their traditional cultural and tribal way of life. I hope that in the near future - and when we become the government - we will take up the point that the honourable member for Grey (Mr Wallis) mentioned about racial discrimination. I should like to see racial discrimination illegal in Australia. I should like to see it outlawed. I should like the Parliament to examine some of the legislation which has been introduced in the United Kingdom for the Race Relations Board. I should like also to examine what has happened in Canada with respect to hate literature, but I think this is something that must be considered in the future.
I conclude on this note: I know that the Government wants to move on to other business, but on the question of land rights I am most critical of the Government. I think that the Government is reacting to situations and is not acting. We saw wherever we went - at Gove, Groote Eylandt and at Wave Hill particularly - much activity. I believe there was a good reason for this. Apart from the attitude of the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd, on which I have already commented, I believe that the Government and the companies were sensitive to public opinion because all of these areas had been in the public media - on television and in the Press - and had been given much publicity; therefore there was activity. I was absolutely shocked to see the amount of money that was being spent at Wave Hill and not being spent at places like Jay Creek or areas we saw earlier this year.
If ever I saw a reason for the students who have been criticised for stirring to get out and do some more stirring it is this Government’s reaction to pressures from the public media. Right throughout our trip we were constantly aware of the sensitivy of the companies to criticism. The criticism had come about only because the Press, the television media and the students had sought to demonstrate and highlight these inefficiencies. I was getting to the stage where I felt that demonstrations were losing their impact, but after seeing this attitude of the Government I can only say that, if that is the way the Government reacts, these people should demonstrate in a lot more places. I understand that the same thing is happening at Roper River. The Aboriginals there went on strike. A protest occurred. What happened? The Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) flew up there, and things are now to start happening at Roper River. All I can say to the students is: ‘Get out and get the names of a lot more of these places. Get the names of a hundred different places and get them in the headlines’. If they do they will get the Government to do something about them.
- Mr Deputy Speaker-
– Oh. no.
– I do not make any apology for wanting to speak on this States Grants (Aboriginal Advancement) Bill. In the first place I will refer to some of the comments of the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Wentworth) on my speech earlier this week when I waa speaking to the appropriation for the office of Aboriginal Affairs. I am in complete agreement with the Minister in his policy as he outlined it. To condemn a policy of separate development, which was what I did, is not to insist that all Aboriginals are to be forced into white society and the European way of life. I think the Minister was being a little bit unfair when he attributed such objectives to me. I wholeheartedly agree that the Aboriginals must be given complete freedom of choice. For white Australians to say to the Aboriginals: ‘You must adopt our way of life; you must come and join us’ would be unforgivable arrogance. This would imply that there is something about our way of civilisation which is superior to that of the Aboriginals. Such a suggestion would be intolerable. However, for those Aboriginals who wish to adopt the European way of life we must offer complete integration and complete equality.
The charge I levelled against the Queensland Government arises from my understanding that a policy of separate but equal development at Weipa was to be enforced. This matter was carefully avoided by the Minister when he spoke yesterday. I hope he has made inquiries into the matter and I would be pleased if he could provide further information on it to the Parliament. The Minister alleged that he could not interfere with the activities of the Queensland Government because he and his Government believed in the rights of the States. I have already said in this House before that the rights of State governments - in fact the rights of any government - are secondary. What matter are the rights of people. For that matter the Commonwealth Government did not worry about the rights of the States when it tried to legislate earlier this year on off-shore minerals. I do not think it should worry about the rights of State governments. State governments do not have rights; Commonwealth Governments do not have rights. Governments only have responsibilities. It is only people who have rights. I think the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government is to safeguard the human rights of the Aboriginal people.
I support the amendment. We want not just a greater amount of aid for Aboriginals. It is not a quantitative criticism that we are making of the Government; the criticism is a qualitative one. We say that we must try to achieve a target. We are trying to achieve complete freedom, equality and integration for all those Aboriginals who want it. We are not asking for a bit here and a bit there, which is what this legislation sets out to do. I do not want to make light of what the Government has done, but I feel we must raise our sights and make a positive target.
I would like to say something about the fundamental meaning of land to the Aboriginal people. I think this is particularly relevant at the moment because I note that the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen) referred to what will happen at Roper River. Perhaps I am a bit out of date, but my understanding is that the last thing the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) said about Roper River was that the Aboriginal people there would be given title to the land provided they paid for it like everybody else. I could not agree with this attitude, lt seems rather extraordinary to me. We can just imagine ourselves being in the position of an Aboriginal in such a circumstance and being told that the white man will let us have back the land originally taken from us without compensation providing we can produce the white man’s currency. This is the same old attitudethat the Western Christian ethos is sancrosanct and all other cultures must defer to it.
After the right to live, the most fundamental right and the most fundamental need of the Aboriginal people is land. As the Yirrkala Aboriginals in Arnhem Land stated in their current claim in their dispute with the Commonwealth and Nabalco Pty Ltd, their connection with the land is timeless and inextinguishable. If any part of Aboriginal land is to be excised, it should be the standard practice to weigh the benefits to the white man against the disadvantages to the Aboriginals. Whether this every done I do not know. But 1 am certain that the importance of land to Aboriginal culture is not taken into account adequately. The concept of land to the tribal Aboriginals is, or was, very different from our own. I would like to quote briefly from a lecture given by Professor Stanner in the 1968 Boyer lectures. He said:
No English words are good enough to give a sense of links between an Aboriginal group and its homeland.
He said also:
Our word ‘land’ is too spare and meagre. We can now scarcely use it except wilh economic overtones unless we happen to be poets. The Aboriginal would speak of ‘earth’ and use the word in a richly symbolic way to mean his shoulder’ or bis ‘side’. 1 have seen an Aboriginal embrace the earth he walked on. To put our words home’ and ‘land’ together into ‘homeland’ is a little better but not much. A different tradition leaves us tongueless and earless towards this other world of meaning and significance. When we took what we call ‘land’ we took what to them meant hearth, home, the source and locus of life, and everlastingness of spirit. At the same time it left each local band bereft of an essential constant that made their plan and code of living intelligble. Particular pieces of territory, each a homeland, formed part of a set of constants without which no affiliation of any person to any other person, no link in the whole network of relationships, no part of the complex structure of social groups any longer had all its co-ordinates. What 1 describe as ‘homelessness’, then, means that the Aborigines faced a kind of vertigo in living.
With a few exceptions, therefore, loss of land to the Aboriginal means loss of his traditional way of life, loss of the traditional ties with the past, which are essential to the whole Aboriginal culture.
An examination of Aboriginal mythology shows it to be intimately bound up with all the environment of the Aboriginals - the hills, the waterfalls, the fish. Many of these have human form in Aboriginal mythology. Even certain stones have a sacred connotation. The Aboriginal culture, with its connection with the past, provides a great contrast with the European society. The more affluent white person, to use the popular parlance of sociologists, is future orientated; that is to say, he directs his activities to future comfort and security. He stays at school longer; he improves his educational status in the interests of peronal security; he may take out life assurance; he saves his money to secure his family, and so on. The under-privileged white man who is living in poverty is orientated more towards the present. Coming from a poor environment, he lacks the expectation and incentives to give much thought to the future. He leaves school earlier and saves less. On the other hand, the tribal Aboriginal is neither of these. He is orientated towards the past. The centre of Aboriginal culture is the past - and the past is inextricably associated with the land. It is not surprising, therefore, that loss of land has placed many Aboriginal people into a limbo and into a situation becoming, as Dr Coombs has said, a depressed rabble of fringe dwellers. Nothing - is more fundamental than land rights. But for those dispossessed either voluntarily or involuntarily from the land-
-Order! I have allowed the honourable member a fair amount of latitude in this debate. This Bill deals mainly with housing. Whilst land is extremely important, as are matters of health, I do not think the honourable member is in order in dealing specifically with land rights. Therefore, I ask him to come back to the contents of the Bill.
– With respect, I submit that it is of most fundamental importance. However, I have said what I wanted to say on this.
-It is important- do not get me wrong. But I think the honourable member is straying a little from the Bill.
– On a point of order. The first Schedule of the Bill is headed: ‘Maximum Financial Assistance for Welfare and Advancement (Including Housing). That is in the Schedule and no-one can deny that welfare of the Aboriginal does not include land rights.
-I agree, but I think a full debate on land rights is not the question before the Chair.
– Thank you, Mr Speaker. I would now like to wind up my remarks. I cannot help saying that my temperature is slowly rising because of the sneering remarks being made by members of the Country Party, the so-called representatives of all Australians. I think their remarks are extremely misplaced.
Previous speakers have mentioned employment. Our target must not be to provide just jobs. We should be aiming at having Aboriginals take their places in the professions, in executive jobs and in the skilled trades as well as other occupations. I am sorry that the Government has not shown a little more interest in the debate tonight. I do not want to make party polltics out of such an important matter. I hope that all Australians, old and new, black and white, will play their part in providing equal freedom and equal living standards for everyone, regardless of colour. Previous generations solved the problem of racial conflict in Australia by trying physically to exterminate the Aboriginals. This imbalance in numbers is now correcting itself because of a relatively high birth rate in the Aboriginal population. We must all strive to avoid racial conflict. Whilst there are such examples of inequality and discrimination the seeds of conflict are there. But even apart from the selfish interest surely we must do unto all others as we would have them do unto us. Only if we do this can Australians regard themselves with respect. I can think of no more important matter for the future of this country. I support the amendment but I wish the Minister well in this struggle against vested interests.
– I wish briefly to enter the debate. Firstly, I wish to commend the Minister for Social Services and MinisterinCharge of Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Wentworth) or his Department on calling a conference at Townsville of 60 Aboriginal representatives throughout Queensland. Some very constructive proposals were put up for ameliorating the problems of Aboriginals. Briefly, the conference proposed the setting up of an elected body representing Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders on a regional basis to take over the administration of their affairs, their welfare and also the disposal of government finance. If this is done I think most members of the Opposition will be very satisfied. If these suggestions are carried out we will be very satisfied that the Commonwealth is carrying out its mandate to look after Aboriginals and not leave things as they are at present in the hands of a most repressive and feudalistic system which exists under present Queensland law. In fact, I think this goes back before feudalism. Aboriginals in government settlements live in what could be called virtually a system of slavery.
Not only are Aboriginals suffering under the disability of a lack of appreciation by Europeans of their native culture and their intense feeling for their tribal lands and areas but also from the impact of a particularly vicious kind of capitalism which is exemplified by the Vestey company, which has been well described in a little booklet on the subject. This booklet, which was published recently under the auspices of Abschol describes conditions in the Northern Territory. I think it is high dme the Minister had support from the Cabinet and from this party to assert that the values that are important to Australians are not those represented by Vestey’s which is getting land for a few cents a square mile, but the interest of human welfare. All the human soul and human aspiration is being killed by this sort of inhuman exploitation not .only pf the land but of the Aboriginal people who- are attached to the land and who feel that they are part of it. 1 have not heard anything particularly derogatory about Aboriginals from members of the Australian Country Party in any of the debates, but I have heard some very condescending remarks made by fairly well .off graziers who have used Aboriginals on their properties. They have assured rae in lofty fashion that 1 know nothing about this subject because I have not lived with Aboriginals. I have quoted to them what has been told to me by schoolteachers in my area who have pointed out that Aboriginals do about as well as white children in their classes. In fact, a teacher told me that one Aboriginal was top of his class. I said: ‘What will happen to that lad when he leaves school?’ The schoolteacher said that he would become a fettler or a drover. I said: ‘If he is top of your class, is he not university material and why will he not go to a university’? The teacher said: Well, they seem to lose interest when they get to about school leaving age, which is about 14 or 15 years’.
Why do they lose interest? Do they lose interest because suddenly some biological change occurs under a black skin that does not occur under a white one? This is not so. But a lot of people who exploit these depressed people seem to have the impression that there is something biologically different and that Aboriginals cannot adapt and cannot use the white man’s culture and the sort of values that are used by white men to progress and improve themselves and succeed in a white man’s culture. But this has been disproved by the adoption of Aboriginal babies in infancy by white families which treat them as their own. In fact, the first Aboriginal graduate who was a Bachelor of Arts was brought up under these conditions 20 years ago. There was no special thing that made him different from other Aboriginals except the fact that he lost his natural parents and was adopted by white parents who had the means and the inclination to treat him as their own. This gives the lie to all of those grazing families who have told me that there is a difference and who have said that you cannot get rid of the call of the wild.
One of these families quotes the case of a girl to whom they said they gave the same advantages as they gave to their own daughter. She went to the same school and the same Sunday school. They gave her the same training in how’ she should behave and how to keep herself clean. They taught her manners and how to help around the house. But she went walkabout when she reached her teens. At the age of 16 they found her with one baby and pregnant with another sitting in the dirt with a derelict Aboriginal with flies crawling over them. But she was happy. No-one can tell me that she got the acceptance, the affection and the security in that white household that she received from that man sitting with her in the dust by his humpy. If she had received it she would never have deserted that household. She was supposed to have been treated exactly the same as their daughter was. The only difference, of course, was that she was not their daughter and was not treated as their daughter. She was treated as an assistant, a maid servant, a servant who had to be grateful for the opportunity which was given to her. But she would never be accepted as one of their family in the sense of marrying into the sort of community in which their daughter moved. This was never even thought of. She was not thought of as a human being but as an appendage of humanity who should be grateful to be recognised as an appendage. Fortunately, I believe it is no longer the view of members of the Government that this is right and just, but unfortunately . they have not followed up their enlightened view of Aboriginals as human beings with potential equal to that of white people, by giving them equal opportunity and that is the whole point of our amendment.
– Honourable members have evinced great interest in this question, and I know that this interest has been shown both inside and outside the House. These are human problems. The honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham) referred to them as such. Not only are they human problems, they are tangled human problems, and I, for one, do not feel that we do right by our Aboriginal people by breaking up their family units. I believe we have to treat them as family units. I appreciate what has been said, for example, about the policy of enabling groups of Aboriginals to get together and find some kind of cohesion and common policy. I am glad that the honourable member for Kingston (Dr Gun) and myself are thinking in terms more parallel than perhaps 1 had considered we were earlier this week, but I do point out to him two things. Firstly, in the Roper River and other reserves Aboriginals will not buy land. They will be allocated land without payment. Secondly, I did not say that we would exercise no authority over the States. What I did say was that I thought that the proposal that we should exercise authority by refusing export licences in certain circumstances - I think the honourable member for Kingston made that proposal - would not commend itself to the States and certainly did not commend itself to me.
Let me say that we are looking at this Bill in the context of having increased by nearly 50 per cent the allocations to the States this year over last year. It is a big increase and it is bigger when we look at it in the context that this has been a Budget designed to check inflation and which has been restrained in so many directions. The States have approved the programmes in general terms, whether they be for housing or other things, and if honourable members will look at the second reading speech they will find attached to it in detail an account of the way in which the money was spent last year. It is not possible to give the same details for the expenditure in this financial year because in some respects the details have not been worked out. But they will be worked out between the States and my office as the year progresses and honourable members can be assured that the expenditure will be made in conformity with our general plan. In relation to that amount of money available we do have this general overall plan. The distribution of this money is not as random as some honourable members on the other side of the House would have had us think.
I think the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) raised the question of expenditure in the Murray Valley. I think he will find, when he looks more closely at this matter, that there has been an increase in expenditure on Aboriginals in the Murray Valley area. I will see that that matter is looked up and that he receives details of it in the next few days. There has been, of course, a conflict of views to some extent in what has been said here today, at least by implication. The honourable member for Forrest (Mr Kirwan), for example, was in favour of getting rid of reserves. The honourable member for Riverina, if I took his remarks aright, was rather put out because reserves had been closed down. There is this conflict, as there must always be in this kind of tangled situation. But, because there is conflict, it does not mean that people necessarily are being stupid or anything of that character; it means that this is a complex problem and that the approach to it, even by members of the same party, is not always clear and definite.
Two other matters have been raised. I will not keep the House long; I will just refer to them in passing. The first is in regard to the numbers of Aboriginals. It is true that the census that will take place next year will give us some better information on this matter. But, unfortunately, it will not be possible to rely entirely on the census information because the answers are no better than the way in which they are written. People do not always describe themselves as Aboriginal or nonAboriginal. It is up to them to decide how to describe themselves. We define an Aboriginal as somebody who is wholly or partly of Aboriginal blood, who himself claims to be an Aboriginal and who is accepted as such in the community with which he is associated. I believe that this is the best definition we can get. But the operative section is ‘claims to be an Aboriginal’.
We cannot rely entirely on the census figures. But I believe - perhaps this is a technical matter - that when we look at the age structure in any given sample we will be able to obtain from it a better idea of what is the rate of increase and the doubling time of our Aboriginal population. This is a matter of some mathematical complexity, but I believe that it will be the best instrument of analysis and that it will be better and will give us a more accurate result than any census enumeration. So, we will be looking at the census information and relying on it to some extent; but I do not think it will be possible to accept it in toto and unequivocally.
The next matter is in regard to housing. This is the final matter on which I will speak. The amount of$4. 8m that is included in this Bill is by no means the total that is being spent this year on Aboriginal housing. For example, the States, from their own funds, are spending in their own areas, I think, rather more than we are. It is a large sum which is being spent from State funds and to which the Federal funds provide a supplement. Then, in the Northern Territory money is being spent on Aboriginal housing both through my own Office and through the normal vote of the Department of the Interior, the latter being a larger sum. Then there is the amount that is coming into hostels from votes that we are making under other heads. Of course, there is a certain amount of housing from our capital fund.
There is also the question of ordinary finance for Aboriginal housing. I am glad to say that there is a good deal more of this than would be implied by the kinds of things that have been said in the House tonight. So, taking it all in all, what will be spent this year on Aboriginal housing will be vastly more than the amount of $1.1 m which I think the honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Cross) suggested was some kind of first part. I would like to say that I am grateful for his constructive approach to this whole question. I can assure him that his figure of $11m will be exceeded substantially this year. There are many other points that 1 would like to have raised, but.I am not. going to take up any more of the time of the House at this hour..
– 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.
-I require that the question be put forthwith.
Question resolved in the negative.
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr Cross’s amendment) stand part ofthe question.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. Sir William ‘ Aston)
Majority . . . . 9
Original question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved fortwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Wentworth) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 15 October (vide page 2225), on motion by Mr Sinclair:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill was introduced to make provision for, and in relation to, preventing and dealing with the effects of pollution by oil off the Australian coast, Australian coastal waters and Australian reefs. It was introduced to correct some of the inadequacies and some of the things left out of a similar Bill hurriedly introduced on 18th March when there was an unfortunate incident in the Torres Stait. The Oceanic Grandeur’ went aground and commenced to discbarge oil onto the sea. The Government at that time had to act hurriedly and, with the co-operation of the Opposition, a Bill was put through this House in a matter of a couple of hours and through the Senate in a similar period. The Opposition in this Hoiuse asked that another Bill be introduced within 6 months. The Government agreed to permit us to introduce an amending Bill within 6 months and to grant a vote on it. The Senate, on the other hand, gave that legislation a life of 6 months and this expired on 18th September. This Bill seeks to reintroduce the provisions of the earlier Bill together with a number of corrections or additions as the result of the experience gained on the occasion of the grounding of the ‘Oceanic Grandeur*.
Once again, the Opposition supports the proposal. We believe that for too long the Australian coastline has been unprotected by the necessary legislation to ensure that, if a tanker should go aground, be involved in a collision or have some sort of accident which would result in a spillage of oil into the sea, inadequate legislation was available to cope with it. It was. obvious to us on this side of the House as it was obvious to everyone else that inadequate precautions had been taken and inadequate provisions made to ensure that no lasting damage would be clone.
As far as the constitutional powers or rights of the Commonwealth to act in such cases is concerned, I say that no doubt exists because nearly all shipping in Australian waters is engaged in trade and commerce with other countries and among the States and therefore can be made subject to Commonwealth laws. The Commonwealth has been most dilatory and diffident in enacting such laws. Little doubt exists that both under the trade and commerce powers and the external affairs powers in the Commonwealth Constitution the Commonwealth itself could have implemented the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution of the Sea by Oil of 1954. The Menzies Government, however, took the attitude that complementary State legislation was required. The Commonwealth itself did not pass the Act until 1960. The States, with South Australia bringing up the rear, took 2 more years to pass their Acts and, accordingly, Australia did not gain the benefits of the Convention until 29th November 1962.
On 11th April of that year amendments to the 1954 Convention were adopted by a conference of contracting governments. The Commonwealth still took the view that complementary State legislation was required. The Commonwealth passed the amending Act in 1965. Western Australia did so in 1964 and Queensland in 1967. The other States still have to act. Thus, Australia, after 8 years, is denied the benefits of the amendments. So one can see that as far as the Constitutional powers of the Commonwealth are concerned no doubt whatever exists that the Commonwealth has the power to act in this way. We support the Bill because we believe, as I said a moment ago, it will give all neccessary coverage to ensure and to protect the Australian coastline.
One of the things which does concern me following the passage of the legislation iri March of this year and the unfortunate incident of the ‘Torrey Canyon’ is a report which was tabled in the Queensland Parliament on 23rd July this year. The report tabled in that Parliament dealt with the grounding of the oil tanker ‘Oceanic Grandeur’ in the Torres Strait in March last. The report criticises both the Commonwealth Government and the owners of the tanker. Might I interpose for a moment that I have to rely on a Press report of this report because, when the official report was tabled in the Queensland Parliament, apparently the one and only copy was taken away, given to the Government Printer and, try as I may. I have been unable to obtain a copy of the original statement. Therefore, 1 must rely on a Press report of it. 1 have discussed this Press report with members of the Queensland Parliament who assure me that the Press report by the ‘Australian’ of 24th July 1970 is a factual report.
This report states:
The director of the State Department of Harbours and Marine, Mr A. J. Peel, said the general responsibility for overall planning to deal with offshore oil spills must rest with the Commonwealth.
Mr Peel said the Commonwealth had vacillated over decisions on who would control clean up operations and the tanker’s owners had shown scant regard’ for the coastal State of Queensland in its delays in transferring oil to another ship.
He said conferences convened by the Commonwealth with the States on oil pollution had been unduly protracted and the States should request that they be speeded up.
I do not propose to read all of the report because it deals with some of the facts about the incident - how much oil was spilt and all the rest of it, and how it took 24 days and 4i hours to relieve the tanker of its cargo of oil from the time when the ‘Leslie J. Thompson’ first went alongside. The other point which I believe is of importance in that Press report is this:
Mr Peel said it was essential that authority to take all necessary steps to deal with an oil spill should be clear cut.
There should be no repetition ot an instance where the Commonwealth, after agreeing that the State’s Harbours and Marine Department coordinate all arrangements to deal with the spill, queried certain advice from the Department and rejected it 6 hours later.
In a moment or two I will deal with that statement. One of the other important matters in the report to which f draw attention is that the detergents used on the spill had no effect on oil which had been on the water for more than 6 hours. To me, these are some of the important features of Mr Peel’s report to the Queensland Parliament. The thing that amused me was the way in which the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) on the same day hastily raced into print and said:
The Commonwealth was well advanced in the preparation of a disaster plan to cover State and Commonwealth action in any incidents involving spillage of oil into the sea around the Australian coastline.
The disaster plan would be circulated in draft to all State governments within the next fortnight.
Conferences to discuss the plan would be held as soon as possible thereafter.
The plan would be put into operation in the event of another incident like that of the oil tanker ‘Oceanic Grandeur’ which grounded on a previously uncharted rock in the Torres Strait on 3rd March 1970.
He gave a little detail of how many gallons of oil were spilled, etc., and continued:
One weakness revealed by the incident was that neither the Government of Queensland nor the Commonwealth had the power to ensure that oil in the tanker was removed as expeditiously as possible.
We hope that the legislation will give to the Commonwealth the power to ensure that oil in a tanker is removed as expeditiously as possible and that when a ship runs aground, is involved in a collision or is in some accident which places it in danger the necessary precautions can be taken. We hope that the necessary legislative power will be available to ensure that the owners, through their agents - either the shipping agents or the ship’s master - carry out the direction of the Department of Shipping and Transport. I hope that we do not have to have further legislation introduced to ensure that this is carried out. On that occasion the Minister said:
There had been a great deal of essential cooperation between the Queensland and the Commonwealth Governments is the ‘Oceanic Grandeur’ incident.
While the Minister may have been quite satisfied with the co-operation, it is fairly obvious that the people on the other side of the fence, namely, the Queensland Government and the Queensland Department of Harbours and Marine, were not oversatisfied with the co-operation extended by the Commonwealth Department of Shipping and Transport.
Once again we saw the Government run for cover when the Minister said that he was not sure whether the Queensland Government or one of its officials took that view. The Minister had the statement prepared. At least he had some responsibility for the contents of it. If he had not agreed with the statement, I do not think he would have released it. In the latter part of his statement of 24th July the Minister said:
It was deplorable at this stage that in order to make a querulous complaint and join in the game of kicking the Commonwealth the Queensland authorities had chosen to play down the high level of co-operation that had been achieved.
That is a shocking state of affairs. The Queensland authorities left the club and drew the attention of the public to the many shortcomings that existed in the arrangements between the Commonwealth and the State. I think that on that occasion the Queensland Government did a service to Australians by having brought out these facts. This is particularly so when one takes into consideration question No. 1441 asked by the honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Cross) of the Minister for Shipping and Transport about the preparedness of the Department to cope with situations such as the ‘Oceanic Grandeur’ disaster. This question was asked by the honourable member on 21st May 1969:
Perhaps the honourable member for Brisbane is psychic. He was at that stage concerned that something might happen regarding oil spillages. In reply to that part of the honourable member’s question the Minister said:
I ask the Minister, when he replies in this debate, to inform the House what planning was in existence at that time in 1969 and what plans now exist. The matter of planning is one of the things which concerns all honourable members. It is not much use passing legislation to fine people unless we have the organisation necessary to deal with them.
I sought information from the Department as to what action it had taken to prepare for a possible future disaster such as the grounding of the ‘Oceanic Grandeur’ or one of the numerous other accidents which have occurred with vessels overseas. We should bear in mind that in the last 10 years there have been more than 500 accidents in the world involving oil tanker spillages on the sea. It is of no use to say that oil spillages do not happen and that we should just go along in the hope that they will not happen near our coastline, as we have done so often in the past, not only in this field, but in many other fields. We have said in the past that ‘it cannot happen here, it will only happen to the other fellow’. Our view has been that disasters such as the Torrey Canyon’ in England and the oil leak in the Santa Barbara Channel will not occur here. The Oceanic Grandeur’ incident is proof that it can happen here. Information has been conveyed to me from the Department of Shipping and Transport and it has, of course, the approval of the Minister. By way of summary this is what has taken place: Commonwealth and State officials have been working on a national plan to deal with marine oil pollution. Meetings have taken place over a period of1½ years, the last of such meetings being held on 29th-30th September 1970. Good progress has been made in reaching agreement on such important matters as basic responsibility to deal with accidents, control of clean up operations, resources available, communications, transport, technical advice, operational organisations and plans. All of these matters must be settled before a detailed overall planning document can be drawn up.
This is the part which disgusts me. The Department of Shipping and Transport has been aware of the problems of oil spillage on the sea for a long time. We have had numerous international conventions as far back as 1954, from which recommendations had been made to the Government. Accidents involving oil tankers have occurred all over the world. I will repeat what I said a moment ago on this: In the last 10 years there have been over 500 accidents in the world involving oil tankers and yet all that the Department of Shipping and Transport can talk about is that it is in the course of preparing a plan. I am particularly disappointed and annoyed because this information has been available to the Department for some years and it is now only at this stage preparing some sort of a plan. 1 regret that something more positive has not been done about this. Other countries have carried out a considerable amount of research and some countries have experimented with methods of collecting oil off the sea.
I read a very interesting article recently about what the United States Coast Guard is doing in this field. The article dealt with the work which has been put in to try to work out a means of controlling spillage of oil if a ship is involved in an accident. A new airborne equipment to prevent or reduce maritime oil spills around the east coast of America has been developed. It is called ADAPTS- the Air Delivered Anti-Pollution Transfer System. It is a rubber receptacle 135 feet by 35 feet by 8 feet and it holds about 145,000 gallons of oil. It weighs roughly 500 tons. When it is folded it is roughly the size of a car. It can be carried to the scene of an accident by a helicopter, dropped adjacent to the tanker and then towed to it or, if need be, it can be dropped and lowered on to the tanker, but because oil is to be pumped into the receptacle it is obvious that it should only be dumped or dropped alongside the tanker. There is a group of 4 of these rubber receptacles which include 4 pumps. They have been tested in winds of up to 45 miles per hour and with waves 8 to 12 feet in height. From those facts alone it can be seen that other countries are working on the problem. I have seen reports that other countries are working on the basis of machines which scoop up the water and the use of booms to contain the oi). I hope that the Minister can tell us that the Department has these things in hand. I received today a report from the
Department of Shipping and Transport which states:
The question of stockpiling material and equipment at strategic places throughout Australia and the types and quantities of materials and equipment which might be stored at locations are other matters being dealt with. For example, apart from the question of dispersants and detergents, the need to stock pile absorbing material is also being examined as well as such other aspects as spraying equipment (booms, stays, pumps and mixing valves for use on small aircraft, helicopters or boats), suction devices (head, motors and hoses), protection booms (for use in still waters) fire fighting equipment, storage tanks for chemicals (for use on small aircraft or ships) and other special equipment including storage facilities to take oil off marine casualties.
I have discussed the position with an officer of the Department and my understanding is that other than the storing of detergents or other such types of liquids for breaking up the oil when it is on the water, the Department has none of the things which have been mentioned. There are no booms for use in the sea; there is no machine to collect the oil should it be spilt; there is none of the equipment such as I just mentioned which the American Coast Guard has made available and which it can use in the event of an accident such as we had with the ‘Oceanic Grandeur’. I come back to my previous statement. I am disappointed that the Department of Shipping and Transport has not done much more than has been done up to date. This statement goes on:
In addition, discussions are taking place with fisheries experts and marine biologists to ensure that any action to control oil spills will have due regard to effects on marine life.
Another thing which has to be borne in mind is that oft times the detergents which are used to break up the oil do more damage to the marine life, the fish and marine growth than the oil does. In the case of the ‘Torrey Canyon’ and the Santa Barbara oil leaks it was found that marine life suffered very little damage. Whales, seals and fish were found in the vicinity of the oil leaks. After the oil had been cleaned up it was found that they were still in the area and did not appear to have suffered any serious or permanent damage. Due consideration should be given to the fact that whatever detergents are used they should not cause more damage than the oil does. When one talks about the Santa Barbara incident I think an article in the
Australian’ of 25th March 1969 by Jill Sanders is worth reading because we can then transfer our thoughts possibly to Bass Strait, the east coast of New South Wales, some other beaches in Australia or the Great Barrier Reef. I suggest that honourable members read this article and just stop, think for a moment, and transfer their thoughts to one of those places. There are the oil wells in Bass Strait and on Barrow Island off the coast of Western Australia. An oil leak from the wells on Barrow Island might not cause the same damage as would occur if there was an oil leak in Bass Strait or off the east coast near Sydney or Brisbane. The article in the Australian’ reads as follows:
A boom was ready at the harbour and marina entrance to prevent the oil reaching the 700 boats inside and in the afternoon, it was pulled into place, but at 7 p.m. a portion of it broke and the oil slick moved relentlessly into the harbour and enclosed beaches.
Instead of the green and white surf, try to imagine a black, frothing mixture of crude oil and detergent breaking on Bondi beach; or walking along the beach with each step becoming heavier as oil accumulated on your shoes (a sensation probably comparable to walking through a puddle of chewing gum); or going to your favourite rock pool and finding it barren of life; or seeing thousands of sea birds washed up on the beaches either dead or so plastered with oil that they cannot move nor open their wings.
It happened at Santa Barbara.
Let us hope that it does not happen here. But if it does happen here, let us hope that at least the Government is more prepared to deal with it than it was on the occasion of the incident involving the ‘Oceanic Grandeur’. In concluding on that point about the ‘Santa Barbara’ disaster, I mention the fact that it is estimated that approximately 1,400 birds were killed on that occasion.
One of the matters in this legislation which concerns me is the provision for the collection of damages from the ship owner. The Bill provides for damages of up to $12,600,000. This is set out in the concluding portion of the Bill. The amount is worked out on a formula with which I do not quarrel. The only point about it is that under the formula there is no coverage for a ship in excess of 105,000 dead weight tons. So the provision relates to ships up to a maximum of about 100,000 tons. To the best of my knowledge, up to this point of time no tanker in excess of 100,000 tons has come to these shores, and one of the matters about which I should like to have a grizzle in some other debate is the fact that so much of our oil is being brought to Australia from the Middle East and the Far East in very small ships. I believe that the operation is much too uneconomical and that we should be using larger ships. But, as I say, that is a matter for another debate.
The amount of the claim for damages which can be recovered is set out in agreement which was recently negotiated in Brussels at the International Legal Conference of Marine Pollution Damage. The agreement was made on 28th November 1969, but it is not yet operative and it will not become operative until 8 of the 15 countries which have over 1 million tons of tankers registered in them sign the agreement. When it does become operative, at least we will have an opportunity to recover damages under international law. But at the moment damages are recoverable only under an agreement which was entered into by the major tanker owners throughout the world who belong to an organisation called TOVALOP - the Tanker Owners Voluntary Agreement Concerning Liability for Oil Pollution. The agreement covers the major tanker owners thoughout the world today. They include BP Tanker Co. Ltd, Esso Transport Co. Inc., Gulf Oil Corporation, Mobil Oil Corporation, Shell International Petroleum Co. Ltd, Standard Oil Co. of California, and Texaco, Inc.
What I should like to know from the Minister, when he replies, is what happens if a ship or tanker which is not covered by this agreement is damaged off the coast and discharges oil which has to be cleared away or which causes quite a considerable amount of damage to the coast line. What facilities has the Government to recover from the owners of the ship or tanker damages which can be recovered under this Bill. I have in mind the fact that many of the tankers which operate today are owned by what I shall call single ship companies. A company is formed to cover the operations of not more than 1 or 2 ships. An example of what could happen is the ‘Torrey Canyon’ incident. The French and British governments were unable to recover damages from the owners of the Torrey Canyon’ until such time as a sister ship of the ‘Torrey Canyon’ put into Singapore harbour and was impounded by the authorities. But what happens if the company involved operates only one ship? What facilities does the Government have available to it to recover damages if the owners of a ship are not covered by insurance or do not belong to TOVALOP? 1 am led to believe that only about 50 per cent of the tankers in the world are covered by this form of voluntary insurance.
The Government has to take precautions against a tanker which is not fully insured operating in Australian waters. I do not know whether the Government would be prepared to go to the extent of saying to the oil refineries in Australia: ‘Unless you bring your oil to Australia in ships which are covered by TOVALOP we will not permit the ships to use our harbours’. I appreciate that there are certain international laws which would prevent the Government taking this action, but I think it is worth considering whether it would be possible to amend the Act or extend the agreement in some way to enable damages to be recovered from the owners of tankers.
Some tanker owners form single ship companies so that they will be excluded from damages claims. They find that it is better to have such a setup than to have one large company owning all of their ships. I believe that this is one of the tricks which the owners of these ships get up to. We all know about the lack of cooperation by the owner of the ‘Oceanic Grandeur’. He could not be contacted by the Government for days. It tried to serve a notice on him to discharge the oil from the Oceanic Grandeur’. This man had an asset worth some $14m lying on the bottom of the ocean, but he could not be contacted. It is obvious that he deliberately kept out of contact. If an owner is prepared to do that in those circumstances, it is obvious what he will do in the event of a huge disaster involving millions of dollars. I believe that the Government should take all necessary precautions. I hope that a more effective and more positive statement will be forthcoming from the Government in the not too distant future as to the arrangements which have been made to cope with an emergency such as the ‘Oceanic Grandeur’ incident or one of the other disasters which have occured in other countries The Opposition considers that this legislation is a step in the right direction and supports it.
– in reply - I do not want to take up much of the time of the House. However, the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) has raised several issues on which I think I should comment. I would also like to comment on another aspect which has developed since I made my second reading speech.
I wish to inform the House that the Government has taken a decision to sign 2 international conventions dealing with the legal aspects of marine pollution damage which were drawn up in Brussels last year. One convention deals with the action which the Government can take on the high seas to reduce pollution of the country’s coastline in the event of a casualty to a ship. The other convention deals with the civil liability of tanker owners for oil pollution damage suffered by anyone within a signatory country. Some 20 countries have already signed these conventions, subject to later acceptance. Like those countries, Australia proposes to sign subject to acceptance. Before the conventions are finally accepted by Australia it will be necessary for discussions to take place with the respective Australian States and, ultimately, for legislation to be prepared for presentation to the Parliament.
The aspects which the honourable member for Newcastle has raised in relation to this Bill have some bearing on those 2 conventions. For example, he referred to the maximum amount of damages. The maximum amount is specified within one of the conventions. The scale is the same as that which is within the convention. It is a scale which has been determined as a product of discussions between the various ship owners and the various governments participating in the Conference. It is one which is seen to be realistic in relation to the tankers now in operation. The difficulty, of course, in not having a limitation on the amount of damages recoverable, as I mentioned in my second reading speech, is that there is a non-insurable character in the risk on the part of the shipowner and consequently there is an even greater risk that one might not even be able to recover damages. The honourable member for Newcastle has referred to TOVALOP- Tanker Owners Voluntary Scheme Concerning Liability for Oil Pollution - the insurance consortium, which operates amongst tanker owners.
Part of the provisions of the convention is a requirement that all tankers operating on the high seas should be signatories of TOVALOP or a like insurance agreement. Until the stage when the international convention is signed, however, it is not within the capacity of the Australian Government to require action to be taken by tankers on the high seas owned, operated, registered and sailing under flags of countries other than Australia. For that reason it is not practicable for us at this stage to require that all tankers sailing within the vicinity of Australia shall be signatories of TOVALOP. However, there have been considerable extensions included within this Navigation Bill (No. 2) which I believe will cover many of the deficiencies which the honourable member for Newcastle suggested might occur were individual companies to be reflected by the ownership of only one ship. I believe that the circumstances surrounding the actions prescribed within the Act enable us to take satisfactory action and there is also the fact that the convention itself is proceeding towards ratification which, I believe, would substantially assist us. There is one other factor, and that is that at this stage, I am informed, nearly all the tankers sailing round the Australian coast - certainly all those that are in regular trades to and from Australia - are signatories to TOVALOP. There may be one or two exceptions but my recollection is that this is not so.
The honourable member for Newcastle referred to one other matter on which I would like to comment. That was the extent to which there is a disaster plan available. There are very real difficulties in stockpiling adequate facilities to take what one might regard as necessary steps against all sorts of oil pollution. For a start, there are so many different types of oil. Secondly, Australia’s coastline is so extensive and there is a multiplicity of authorities responsible in different sectors of that coastline. The stockpiling of detergents creates difficulties not only in their location but in their access for the purposes of air transportation. There is also the difficulty of stockpiling when there seems to be differences in the character of detergents. This means that if one stockpiled a particular detergent it might not be the type required for a calamity in a particular region. For this reason - not only in Australia but in every other country I am told - there have been some difficulties in determining just what sort of national plan is best to cope with all contingencies. In Australia at this stage we are relying on the lists we have compiled of manufacturers, agents and private companies who in various centres around Australia, particularly in the State capitals, hold quite sub.tantial stocks. Some of these stocks are supplemented by those held by our own Armed Services and these, of course, could be availed of in emergencies.
In the criticism that was levelled against the Commonwealth by the Queensland Director of Harbour and Marine his basic argument was that we were only prepared to fly detergents in at Commonwealth expense when we believed there to be a real emergency. In fact, there was no injurious effect from the oil that escaped from the ‘Oceanic Grandeur’ because this emergency was correctly assessed. The problem with the Queensland Government’s approach was that it expected us to fly in, without regard to the cost, quantities of detergent because it felt that there might be a requirement for it in excess of the stocks which were then being held in the region. It is obvious that in determining the extent to which the Commonwealth Government is prepared to fly in materials and equipment and to use the Royal Australian Air Force, as we were in this instance, regard must be had not only to the emergency situation that exists but to the cost of providing whatever the combating means might be to eliminate the risk of pollution. The Director of the Queensland Department of Harbours and Marine was most critical of the decision that the cost of the emergency did not justify subsequent supplies of detergent. I believe his criticism was unfortunate because at the time he lodged his report with his Minister an extensive series of consultations was proceeding in an endeavour to resolve some of the continuing problems of CommonwealthState relations about whose responsibility it is in certain circumstances to initiate and authorise action with regard to oil pollution. I believe that the position has been fairly satisfactorily resolved now.
The honourable member for Newcastle read out a list of matters which have been under active discussion. While, perhaps, no final plan has been signed, I can assure him that considerable progress has been made in minimising the risk of pollution wherever it might occur in the event of either a collision or some other happening at sea as a result of which a tanker or other vessel might discharge oil into the open ocean. For that reason I commend the legislation and hope it will have a speedy passage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Sinclair) read a third time.
-I seek the indulgence of the House to correct an answer which I gave to the honourable member for Bowman (Mr Keogh) at question time this morning. I gave some rounded off figures for total expenditure on education in Australia and stated the current figure as being over $2,000m per annum. This figure should have been more than $ 1,200m per annum. I regret the error.
Debate resumed from 15 October (vide page 2214), on motion by Mr Chipp:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– 1 might say at the outset that the Opposition protests against the farce of sitting at this hour of the night. At the moment there are 4 members of the Parliament in the chamber.
– There are 5 members now that the honourable member has come in, and there are more staff and members of the Press present than there are members of the Parliament. If this is not a disgrace to- the national Parliament 1 do not know what is. The purpose of the Bill is to amend the Phosphate Fertilisers Bounty Act 1969 to authorise retrospective payment of the increase in bounty applying from 13th August 1969 on those stocks of bountiable fertilisers which were held by re-sellers at that date. This is the purpose of the amendment. The object of the previous legislation, the parent Bill of last year, was to allow the bounty on stocks held at midnight on 12th August 1969 by the manufacturers themselves. It was quite obvious that resellers who held stocks would be penalised because they would be forced to reduce their prices to meet competition by others who had in fact received the benefit of the bounty. Honourable members will recall that several protests were made about this anomaly and the Government has now decided to rectify it A new section will be inserted in the Act for the application of the increased rates of bounty to superphosphate, ammonium phosphate and phosphatic fertiliser mixtures. This will mean that the anomaly affecting resellers will be eliminated.
In Australia over 90 per cent of the phosphatic fertilisers that are used are in the form of a single or standard superphosphate. The position in America is quite different. In that country only 4 per cent of the phosphatic fertilisers are single or standard superphosphates. One may ask for a technical explanation why there is such a big difference between the usages in the 2 countries. Of course, the types of phosphatic fertilisers used are entirely different. In Australia we have concentrated for years on standard superphosphate, but it appears that because of increasing freight rates in this country, shipping freight rates as well as our own domestic land freights, there is a trend towards phosphates of higher analysis or towards more concentrated phosphates.
The single or standard superphosphate of 22 per cent P205 will probably be replaced to an increasing degree by double super and triple super. Double super is approximately 45 per cent P205 and triple super about 50 per cent. This development makes sense when one considers that with aerial agriculture, which is becoming more important in the application of phosphates, double and triple superphosphate can be spread at considerably lower cost than the single or standard superphosphate. In Australia a greater amount of research is now being carried out in the field of polyphosphates. Here again I think we can see some trend towards fertilisers of higher analysis in the future.
You, Mr Deputy Speaker, are probably very conscious of the fact that debate on this Bill is limited since its purpose is merely to rectify an anomaly. I may say in passing, however, that phosphatic fertilisers have made one of the greatest contributions to agricultural development in Australia that we have ever seen. We know that the marriage of superphosphate and subterranean clover has transformed a very large part of southern Australia. We know also that the combination of Townsville lucerne and superphosphate is producing a similar result in the north. One of the disturbing features, however, is the declining sale of superphosphate. This, of course, must be very closely related to the decrease in plantings of wheat. In 1963, 2.8 million tons of superphosphate were sold. This amount increased progressively up to 4.3 million tons in 1967, and it declined to 3.6 million tons in 1969-70. This is something at which the Government must look very closely. Whether it can all be attributed to the decline in wheat one does not know for certain, but there certainly has been a significant reduction in the sales of superphosphate.
I raise a matter that 1 have raised several times before in this Parliament, that is, the superphosphate bounty, which is of direct relevance to this Bill. I have made the point on several occasions that there are grave doubts as to whether the farmers are getting the full benefit of the bounty. The last time that I made this statement the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) was quick to get to his feet and challenge me. He said that the farmers were getting the full benefit because the bounty meant a reduction in the price of superphosphate. No-one could accept that argument. I draw an analogy with a retail shop which sells a refrigerator at a big discount. In order to give a greater discount it increases the initial price. It is the weighted final figure that counts.
Although it is impossible to estimate the figure accurately, one can take it from a comparison of prices that the farmer is not getting the full benefit of the bounty. It is interesting to note that if the present bounty of $12 a ton for superphosphate were applied to the 1963 pre-bounty price, the cost of superphosphate in Victoria would be approximately $5.93 a ton. If we were to spread the bounty over the various parties who are concerned in the production and sale of superphosphate the farmers would get approximately five-twelfths. In other words, for every $12 a ton bounty $5 would go to the farmers.
– Order! I do not want to stop the honourable member from making his speech. But as he pointed out earlier, the Bill before the House is merely for a retrospective payment of bounty. I do not want the debate to develop into a full scale debate in regard to superphosphate fertiliser, the price paid to the farmer, and matters such as that.
– Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I appreciate your guidance. I was only pointing out - this is important because it affects the resellers too - that of this bounty of $12 a ton approximately $5 is estimated to gc to the farmer and $2 to the manufacturer. The British Phosphate Commission would probably receive about $1, and the Nauruans, based on the import parity price, would receive $3 to $4. I think it can be validly argued that although a straight discount is made from the overall price, the farmer does not necessarily benefit. The Opposition believes that the amendment to the Act is needed, as it fills a gap. I would have liked to range wider than 1 have done because the study of phosphate and nitrogen fertilisers is of great value to me, particularly their application to pasture work. But if I were to range wider I am sure that you would pull me up, Mr Deputy Speaker.
Friday. 23 October 1970
Having heard your ruling, Mr Deputy Speaker, 1 will keep very closely to the terms of the Bill. In order to lay the foundation for the point I wish to make I shall quote from the second reading speech of the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp). He said:
As members of the House will recall, this Act increased the rate of bounty on phosphate fertilisers as from 13th August 1969. In the case of standard superphosphate the bounty rose from $8 per ton to $12 per ton. In accordance with section 5 of the principal Act, the new rates were only payable in respect of unsold stocks held by fertiliser manufacturers immediately prior to that date and production on and from that date.
The Minister went on to say that following the announcement of the Government’s decision representations were made requesting that stocks of phosphate fertilisers held by resellers on 13 th August 1969 be eligible for payment at the higher rate of bounty. The Minister said:
Resellers holding stocks had been compelled in this case by competitive pressures to drop the price to the fanner by the full extent of the bounty increase. 1 have quoted that passage as I believe it answers a point made by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson). As a result of that situation, the resellers suffered some financial loss. I have a constituent who handles a lot of superphosphate, but he had very little in stock at 13th August 1969 and therefore did not suffer any great loss. However, when the previous rise in the bounty took place -
On 13th August 1968, which is not so very long ago - he had large stocks on hand and lost considerably. The Minister has said that the phosphate bounty was introduced specifically to reduce the price paid by the user.
The Government considers it unreasonable for resellers to carry the burden of the increase in the bounty on stocks held at the time the rate is changed. The point 1 make is that when the bounty was increased on 13th August 1968 my constituent, suffered a considerable loss, although it was stated by the Minister in respect of stocks held on 13th August 1969 that it was considered unreasonable for resellers to carry the weight of losses incurred through the bounty increase. I am putting to the Minister that in view of this statement about the position of resellers on 13th August 1969, surely the loss incurred by my constituent only a year before is unreasonable. I ask the Minister to consider making the provision of this measure retrospective to 13 th August 1968 when the price of superphosphate was increased.
– This Bill seeks to correct what I consider to be an error made by the Government 12 months ago when it increased the bounty on the production of certain phosphate fertilisers. I commend the Bill and I am pleased to note the final paragraph of the second reading speech of the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) wherein he said:
The Government intends to apply this principle to any future changes in the phosphate fertiliser bounty rates.
He was referring, of course, to the fact that from now on the benefits of any bounty provisions will apply to stocks held in store by produce merchants on the night when the annual Budget was introduced. The Government at last has shown some sanity on this matter. On 27th August last year I pointed out in this House that produce merchants had been penalised 3 times in a period of 6 years - in 1963 when the bounty was first introduced at $6 a ton and many produce merchants were caught with stocks in their store; in 1968 - my friend from Mallee (Mr Turnbull) has referred to a constituent of his who was caught with a considerable amount of superphosphate in his store - when the bounty was increased from $6 to $8 a ton; and again last year when it was increased to $12 a ton. I pointed out in the House during the debate last August the inconsistency of the Government in this matter because when the bounty for nitrogenous fertilisers was introduced the Government gave credit for nitrogenous fertilisers held in store at the time the Budget was introduced, yet it had denied the same concession in regard to stocks of superphosphate held by produce merchants.
I would go along with the honourable member for Mallee. If it was good enough for the Government to more or less compensate produce merchants at the time the Budget was introduced in 1969, surely it would be a simple matter for the Government to look back to 1968 and extend the principle to produce merchants for that year, and also to those who held stocks in 1963. As I have said, I think the Government should be commended for trying to correct mistakes that were made 14 months ago. I agree with the honourable member for Mallee that the Government should go back to 1968 and to 1963 because I know what it means to some produce merchants. Only recently I received a letter thanking certain honourable members for the representations we had made because the person concerned had received a cheque for §400. One might say that this is the cream on the skimmed milk. This concession is important to produce merchants. One can imagine how the books of the particular produce merchant would have been affected had this $400 been taken from him.
The produce merchant to whom I have referred is not in business in a large way. He is one of many produce merchants in my area. By putting this right the Government in effect has paid out $400. There must be many produce merchants throughout the country who could do with this concession which I consider to be a legitimate payment from the Commonwealth. When we last discussed this matter in the House I pointed out that many produce merchants in my area were in a comparatively small way and were unlike produce merchants in other parts of Australia where superphosphate was ordered, and went straight out to the farmer. It was not handled by the produce merchant. In the very rich north west coast farming areas it is important for supplies to be on hand for the benefit of primary producers for the early sowing of canning peas and other cash crops. The farmers in southern Tasmania and on the mainland usually draw their stocks direct from the manufacturer so they are in a far different position.
The merchants could ill afford to carry the $4 increase last year, the third time that they had been caught in 6 years and farmers were concerned in case the merchants decided not to stock the manures during August which is the traditional month for the introduction of the Budget. Had the produce merchants followed this line of action then the farmers themselves would have been seriously inconvenienced. If the produce merchants had said: ‘It is coming around to August which is Budget month and we are not going to be made the guinea pigs by the Government and be caught with stocks of fertilisers in store.
We just will not carry them in August until we find out what is in the Budget,’ one can imagine the chaos, confusion and the inconvenience that would have been caused the primary producers and farmers who were anxious to go to their local produce store and draw on supplies of fertiliser, the attributes of which have been exalted by my colleague the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson). if one is living in a small farming district in the country, unless one has access to a produce merchant it is very difficult, as my colleague the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie) knows only too well, to get supplies from the manufacturing centre which, in the ease of our State, is Hobart. The produce merchants play a very important part in the farm economy of a district. Apart from raising this matter here on 27th August I submitted a detailed case to the then Minister for Customs and Excise on behalf of the Produce Merchants Association which covers merchants between Deloraine and Wynyard. The then Minister for Customs and Excise. Senator Malcolm Scott, advised me of certain things on 9th September 1969. I just want to quote a part of the letter because I could never see the reason for this anomaly and that is why f am pleased to compliment the present Minister for bringing about this change. The advice we received was this:
When deciding to pay increased bounty on phosphate feriliser sold on and from 13th August the Government fully considered the question of including stocks held by distributors for bounty payment at the increased rate. In this regard, it will be appreciated that regardless of the point in time, or point in distribution chosen, disadvantage will occur to some purchasers.
The decision was made that the increased rates would apply only to those sales made by manufacturers on and from 13th August 1969. The Government had in mind the fact that Common-, wealth taxing laws such as sales tax and duties of customs and excise apply as from the commencement of business on die day after the announcement of the change is made. For example, when a sale has taken place, goods which have left the hands of wholesalers are not affected by any change in sales tax.
The same principle has therefore been applied in he c case of the increased bounty on phosphatic fertiliser.
Senator Scott said that in the circumstances he could not apply the increased bounty to the stocks held by the produce merchants. However, this decision has now been reversed by the provisions of the Bill before the House and on behalf of the merchants on the north west coast of Tasmania I must say that I am very pleased to note the change of attitude by the Government and I am delighted to learn that the merchants to whom 1 referred in my speech on the Phosphate Fertilisers Bounty Bill 1969 will now be compensated for stocks held at the date of the introduction of the 1969 Budget, and, what is even more important, that the Government has now adopted the principleto ensure that in future the produce merchants will never again be disadvantaged when bounties on fertilisers are introduced.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Chipp) read a third time.
Debate resumed from15 October (vide page 2213), on motion by Mr Nixon:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill is a machinery measure designed to give to the States greater scope to enable them to establish works for the processing of fish for either domestic consumption or export. Another purpose of the Bill is to provide for the omission of Nauru from the scope of the Fisheries Act following the granting of independence to that country. The Opposition supports the Bill and believes that the principles embodied in it are very sound. I refer particularly to the underlying principle of rationalisation with respect to the secondary side of the fishing industry - the processing or manufacturing side. In northern Australia in particular in recent years one of the problems has been the number of processing works. It is quite clear that there is only a certain amount of fish in a particular area at a given time and that this will vary with the seasons. This has been evident in the Gulf of Carpentaria in recent years. It is clear also that the number of processing works has a direct correlation with the catch available.
In poor seasons, such as are experienced in the ocean, just as droughts are experienced on land, because considerable fixed capital is invested in processing works it is clear that the management of the works will apply pressure to the fishermen in order to get as great as possible a quantity of fish or prawns, or whatever it might be. In such conditions there is always the grave danger of grounds being fished out, of breeding stock being fished out or of catches of undersize fish. As was stated by the Acting Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Nixon) in his second reading speech on this Bill:
The provision of the Bill relating to this aspect of the industry is to be applauded because if there is one thing that we want to avoid it is the depletion of our natural resources. Experience has shown already in some parts of Australia that our natural resources can be depleted. In the Northern Territory the Commonwealth has shown a responsibility by limiting the number of processing works to be established. In addition, it is allowing the Queensland Government to license processing works for domestic and export activities. As a result we can expect a rationalisation in the areas where it is needed. There is no doubt that we still do not know very much about Australian breeding grounds for fish and prawns and that a considerable amount of research is still needed. In northern waters prawns have always been a bit of a mystery because of the way that they move from bed to bed. I know that in areas in my electorate in some years the fishermen get magnificent catches of prawns. They think they find a nice spot and they are right for life if nobody else finds it, but they can come back next year or next season, no-one else having been there, and they will not catch a prawn. These are the sorts of things that puzzle scientists. Why do the prawns move? What is their life cycle?
The same thing is going on in a much bigger way in the larger beds such as those in the Gulf of Carpentaria. The theory that has been enunciated quite frequently by the Aboriginals living on the shores of the Gulf of Carpentaria is that you will never get big catches of banana, king or tiger prawns in the Gulf unless there has been a good wet season. There seems to be a relationship between the amount of mud in siltation and the amount of mud that flows as a fresh from the river into the sea. Whether this is right or wrong, I have not the faintest idea, but this is the type of thing that research will find out. The Aboriginals have put forward the hypothesis, lt is a question of testing it. These are the sorts of things which , will be done in great detail for the benefit of Australia under the legislation relating to research and to the rationalisation of processing works. I assume that most people like mud crabs.
– They are a great delicacy.
– I agree; they are a great delicacy. But there seems to be a diminishing number of mud crabs in some of the favourite haunts which we think are not necessarily being fished out. Here again is a delicacy which should be preserved by proper husbandry. I think that as the Commonwealth extends this interest-
– There is a shortage of females.
– The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) says there is a shortage of females. This one of the things that has to be stopped. Unfortunately, it is a requirement of which a lot of people refuse to take any notice. They catch the jennies and eat them just as they do the male crab. This is against the law, but unfortuntaely it does go on. The o’.her purpose of the Bill makes it more easy to collect the levies which are applicable te the Fishing Industry Research Act of 1969. As I understand this Bill, one of the main objections is that because of the recent judgment in the case of O’sullivan v. Noarlunga Meat Pty Ltd there was some great doubt - probably a valid doubt - as to the right of the Queensland authorities to collect levies on behalf of the Commonwaelth unless there were some legislation supplementary to the Act. As I see it, this measure will stop the gap now and there should be no doubt about the validity of the Stale’s right to collect the levies with respect to research. This will then allow a matching grant to be made available by the Commonwealth for education extension and development. That is all I have to say on the Bill. As I said before, the Opposition supports the motive behind it. We believe it is sound in principle. It is to be noted that the Commonwealth is not going to go into the field of processing except in the Northern Territory. It will allow the States the right to license for domestic and export purposes. At the same time, what the Opposition likes about the Bill is the principle of rationalisation whereby the State can say to a company or companies: ‘No more than two or three processing works in this area until we are satisfied that the ground can permanently support more than that number of processing works.’ There is nothing more detrimental to the fishing areas of the north, in particular, than to have too many fishermen ia one area. This happened in recent years in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Almost every launch in Northern Australia was heading for the Gulf. There were also a few foreign ship.? in the area. There seems to be interest in establishing more and more processing works. This must lead to serious problems. This Bill will give the States the rights to prevent these problems.
There will be general support for this measure to give greater scope to the States to establish processing works. 1 want to submit a suggestion to the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) and to the Government relating to initiative which the Commonwealth can undertake in relation to fishing. My colleague referred to the fact that it is possible for the future of some processing works to be in doubt due to fishing grounds failing. It has been said that Australia’s fisheries research lags so seriously and to such a degree that the Russians have more precise data on the fishing grounds surrounding this continent than we have.
One of the largest and best equipped fishing centres in the world is the Tropical Fish Culture Research Institute at Malacca and it is in danger of closing. This centre has been financed jointly by Malaysia and Britain, which is now withdrawing. It was originally designed to serve Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia. The suggestion I advance, briefly but sincerely, is that the Government take the initiative to discuss with the Malaysian authorities the conversion of the centre into a regional research centre serving Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia and Australia. Malaysia has been asked to take over responsibility for maintaining the Institute but seems reluctant to do so. This year’s funds from Britain and Malaysia are assured but beyond that the future of the centre is completely uncertain. The director, Dr G. A. Prowse, is worried that he is going to lose his research staff. Some of them already have indicated that they may go. It has been suggested also that even if the Institute is kept going it will be on a smaller scale and will not be able to do very much.
I hope - and it is possible - that the Minister and the Government, in conjunction with this welcome step forward with the States, will take the initiative which would enable a useful instrument to be retained for regional purposes. We could have a real interest, not only in respect of our own fishing grounds but also with respect to our responsibilities in the region to join with other neighbours, particularly at this time, and to facilitate their advance in spheres such as this. I advance that suggestion and hope it will be considered by the Minister and the Government.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Anthony) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 19 October (vide page 2393), on motion by Mr Swartz:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill again increases air navigation charges by 10 per cent. This has been the practice of the Government for the past 12 years. I think this is the twelfth increase approved by the Parliament in the last 12 years. I think this House has unanimously supported the increase on every occasion and I think the same course was adopted in the Senate. Last year we did move an amendment. It was not aimed at defeating the provisions of the Bill but at providing extra protection to people living adjacent to airports.
This year, for political reasons, we saw that rump Party in the other place - the Australian Democratic Labor Party - elect to oppose it. The DLP senators moved an amendment at the second reading stage. They then moved an amendment during the Committee stage. It is quite obvious that the only reason why they moved the amendment was that they found out that the Australian Labor Party had decided to remain consistent and to support the increase in the rates. We did so because we believe that air travellers should pay a reasonable price and a reasonable proportion of the costs of providing air services.
The DLP moved this amendment. If we had gone the other way, I am just as confident that the DLP would have voted with the Government. DLP senators were prepared to oppose something which would have represented an increase of some $850,000. Yet, when they had the opportunity to oppose a real impost on the airline industry, they voted with the Government. I am referring here to the increase in excise on fuels which rose by 3c per gallon. This increase represented an additional tax of $4.9m on the airline industry. So, I make these few points in commencing my remarks to draw attention to the way in which these people have manoeuvred. As far as I am concerned, they are inconsistent; they are not fair dinkum. Whenever they can defeat the Government and so bring about an election, they are not prepared to vote against the Government. Whenever they cannot defeat the Government, they are like all paper tigers and they vote against the Government with that knowledge.
As I said earlier, this Bill provides for an increase of 10 per cent in the air navigation charges on domestic operators. The part of the legislation that disappoints me is the fact that the Government has not continued to apply the 10 per cent increase to international aircraft. No doubt this has been brought about because of the report of the Committee comprising the Department of the Treasury, the Department of Civil Aviation and representatives of the airline operators, which was constituted by the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) when he was Minister for Civil Aviation over 12 months ago. Up to this point, the Parliament is not aware of the contents of that report even though it is suggested that the report has been in the hands of the Minister for over 3 months now.
This illustrates one of the unfortunate practices which this Government follows. It appoints committees; those committees report; and then the Minister concerned proceeds to sit on the report until sometime after legislation such as this legislation has been dealt with and disposed of. The same sort of thing has happened year after year with the annual report of the Department of Civil Aviation. Its presentation to the Parliament is delayed until after the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation have been passed by the Parliament. The same thing happens with the Department of Shipping and Transport. For some reason best known to the Government, the day before the Parliament dealt with the estimates of the Department of Shipping and Transport the report by the
Australian Coastal Shipping Commission was tabled in the Parliament. Here we have once again this practice by the Government of withholding deliberately from the Parliament information that is important and imperative for use in debates such as the one with which we are dealing now.
From my point of view, I would love to be able to have the report of the Department of Civil Aviation, to examine it and to see what it contains, what its recommendations are and whether the things which have been said about air navigation charges are correct. I would like to do that before the decision is made on this legislation. But having in mind the figures which we have in our possession which would indicate clearly in our minds that justification exists for the increase on this occasion, we regretfully find ourselves in the position that we are not going to oppose the Bill. We feel that the airline industry is in a position to pay the proposed increases in air navigation charges.
I have some information here which I will seek shortly to incorporate in Hansard. I have not bad the opportunity to ask the Minister for National Development, who is at the table, whether I may incorporate these tables but I assure him that they have been prepared by the Legislative Research Section of the Parliamentary Library. With the concurrence of honourable members, I incorporate in Hansard the following tables:
I thank the Minister. He is most cooperative this evening. I do not know whether it is because I said that 1 would keep my speech down to only 10 or 15 minutes.
– That has had some influence on me.
– It has had some influence on the Minister. Honourable members on this side of the House believe that the figures show the fairly clear need for the increase in air navigation changes. One sees that in 1969-70 $15,566,000 was received from air navigation charges, $4,875,000 from rentals, business trading rights and so on, and $10,517,000 from aviation fuel tax; while $5,175,000 was spent on runways and taxiways maintenance, $2,692,000 on buildings maintenance, $5,434,000 on maintenance of navigational aids and other communication facilities, $4,229,000 on meteorological services and $18,531,000 on operational services and general expenses. All told, these give a total expenditure for the last 12 months of $77,532,000. In the same period revenue was $30,958,000. That leaves a deficit on those 2 items of $46,574,000. On those figures alone I find it difficult to present an argument that the airline operators should not be compelled to pay the additional 10 per cent that has been applied over the last 12 years. 1 also believe that the international operators likewise are entitled to be charged this additional 10 per cent when one takes into consideration that at present extensive lengthening of the north-south runway at Mascot is being carried out at a cost of about $20m. This is not being extended for the domestic jets, the 727s and the DC9s or the Friendships. These aircraft have no trouble landing on the existing runway. In fact for their requirements probably there was no need to carry out the previous extension to the north-south runway. That runway is being extended for one purpose only and that is to cater for the 747s and also the Concordes if Concordes are introduced on the Australian run. If these large extensions are necessary not only at Sydney but also at Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth, why should not the airline operators pay part of the cost of these extensions? It is for that reason that F am disappointed that the 10 per cent has not been added to the overseas rates.
– It has.
– But the rate is still below what normally would be paid. They are not paying the same rate as the domestic airlines.
– It is in relation to a scale.
– The fact is that they are still paying less per pound of aircraft than the domestic operators pay. I do not consider this to be fair and reasonable. There has been criticism of the amount that the international operators are being charged. I made some inquiries recently of Qantas Airways Ltd to find out the rates which apply. I was given a table which sets out the air navigation charges at a number of international airports as at 20th October 1970. With the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate the table in Hansard.
At Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport for a Boeing 707 - 338 the air navigation charge is $898. At Heathrow, in London, it is $655, and at Tokyo $480. The number of aircraft movements at Sydney is so much less than the number at Heathrow and Tokyo. If an air navigation charge of $655 is justified for London, then I think that a charge of $898 is reasonable for Sydney. I reaffirm what I said a moment ago. The extensions to the runways at KingsfordSmith Airport are being carried out not for use by domestic jets but for use by international jets.
There has been a great deal of weeping and wailing in regard to Boeing 747 aircraft. I understand that when the new aircraft navigation charges become operative the charge for this type of aircraft at Sydney will be $2,270. At present it is $2,065. At Heathrow it is $1,507; at Tokyo $1,104; and at Nandi, $1,134. If 1 were to go through all the airports listed in the table I have supplied it would be seen that the increase in the charge at all airports for Boeing 747s has been one and a half times more than that for Boeing 707s.
At San Francisco the charge is $81 and at New York $84. There is a tremendous difference between the aircraft movements at these two airports and those at KingsfordSmith Airport. A further point to be noted is that the Americans have a different method of financing their airports. The Federal Government in this country makes quite a substantial contribution to the cost of airport facilities, runways and so on. Grants of up to 50 per cent of construction costs are made. If grants of up to 50 per cent of the cost of constructing airports are made, then grants of a like amount should be made towards the cost of the construction of railways, roadways and other transport systems throughout Australia.
I hope that the committee will bring down some recommendation as to how air navigation charges should be broken up. I cannot see any reason why R & R aircraft should not be charged or why VIP aircraft can use civil airport facilities without having an air navigation charge levied. At least this would bring in some revenue. I know it is only a transfer of funds from 1 account to another but it keeps the figures square; the people who are using the airports pay for them. I feel there should be some allocation for defence. Should the demands of national development be taken into account? Should decentralisation be charged with the responsibility of providing airports at places like Port Hedland, Dubbo and other out of the way places. If so I do not feel that the Department of Civil Aviation should carry these responsibilities. The State Department of Decentralisation and Development should be making a contribution towards the cost of construction, maintenance and development of airports.
Possibly the same thing can be said in regard to tourism. It has been argued that tourists bring foreign exchange into Australia. If tourism has any value let us determine what that value is so that it can be credited to the revenue of the Department of Civil Aviation. I do not know whether the Department of Civil Aviation makes any charge on the Department of Customs and Excise for the customs facilities which are provided at airports - they are quite substantial. The same thing can be said in relation to the Department of Immigration and the Department of Health. I would like the Minister to say whether any charge is made for these facilities. Once again it is a transfer from 1 account to another but at least it keeps the record straight as far as each account is concerned. If the Department of Customs and Excise sets up an office in a private establishment it has to pay rent for that accommodation. I think these things have to be looked at. If we are overcharging the airlines - I doubt whether we are - let us find out how much we are overcharging them. Or are the charges fair and equitable? I think by a series of book keeping entries we can probably arrive at a determination of whether the complaints which are being levelled against these increases are fair and reasonable or whether the Government is fair and reasonable in imposing the charges.
In conclusion I would like to make 2 points. I do not often agree with Sir Reginald Ansett but I agree with his complaint about the domestic airline operators being charged with the responsibility of building elaborate terminals like those at Tullamarine Airport when there was no need for them. This airport was built to satisfy the ego of the Victorians. The same remarks apply to the elaborate and lavish airport facilities which were provided in the international terminal at Tullamarine and Sydney. I have not seen anything anywhere in the world as elaborate as the facilities in these 2 airports. A few years ago I visited 27 countries and in that time I did not see anything that came anywhere near the facilities that have been provided in those 2 places. If the international operators want this type of facility I think they should pay for it. The normal users of domestic airlines should not be asked to pay for it. I think what the Government has done in the other provisions in the Bill - which everyone so easily and quickly forgets - is fair and reasonable. I think the charges which are payable by general aviation aircraft are fair and reasonable. We are not opposed to the amendments to the second schedule. We support them as we do the Bill.
– The honourable member referred to an important city in my electorate as being an out of the way place. It is anything but an out of the way place.
– If I have upset the honourable member for Gwydir I regret it. Dubbo is not an out of the way place; it is just off the beaten track.
– I appreciate that the hour is late but from my point of view this would be one of the most important pieces of legislation to come before the Parliament. A fair amount of time is wasted in this House talking about matters which are not relevant to a large number of people. From my point of view air navigation charges and their operation so far as they affect Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport are important matters. Here we see the Government, which is responsible for the taxpayers money, having to introduce a Budget which shows that even after allowing for these increased charges, the Department of Civil Aviation will lose some $54m - not a small amount of money. Yet when 1 look at the report for the Department of Civil Aviation I find that the work done at Sydney (KingsfordSmith) Airport, which is within the electorate that I represent, has in fact resulted in a profit.
The figures show that the cost of providing air navigation facilities in New South Wales is approximately $7m. It can be seen from the figures relating to air navigation charges receipts that the domestic airlines paid $7m in air navigation charges and that the international airlines paid $7.8ni, which is a total income of $15m from air navigation charges. Knowing that the Sydney Airport handles most of the flights it follows on a calculation basis that the Sydney Airport earns a minimum income of $10m for this Government, yet it costs a mere $7m to provide air navigation facilities. So it can be seen that the Government earns an income of $5m from the operations of international airlines and at least $4m from the operations of domestic airlines at Sydney (KingsfordSmith) Airport. Yet the Department of Civil Aviation is running at a loss of $54m on all its operations.
Taking the figures another way, it means that assuming that there could be a loss apportioned to Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport in proportion to the amount of traffic that it handles, that the loss was a fair proportion of $30m, and that the airport handles 100,000 flights, we have the ridiculous situation where the taxpayer is subsidising some of these flights to the extent of $300 per flight. So it leads us to the conclusion that there is something radically wrong with the Government’s management of civil aviation. We must also remember that the local council which is responsible for the area in which Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport is located, receives a mere token payment of rates from the Commonwealth. ‘Hie Commonwealth occupies 1,600 acres of land, but is paying a mere pittance in rates when compared with what it would pay if the rates were assessed in accordance with the valuation of the land.
It is very important, even al this late hour, to suggest that a very keen examination should be made of thu question why the Department of Civil Aviation is losing so much money in administration. The figures indicate that large sums of money are spent in meeting the payment of salaries and administrative costs. Actually, very little is put back into the airports. I notice that $144m has been allocated for expenditure on work of a capital nature. We see again this madness of putting a lot of money into Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport which is small in area. An amount of $83 m has been allocated for that airport, and another $54m has been allocated for Tullamarine Airport in Melbourne. The economics are out of all proportion to what might be termed an appropriate investment.
It follows then that we should be setting up in this Parliament a standing committee to advise the Government on the future location of airports or the unsuitability of present airports. If it is good enough to have a Public Works Committee which can evaluate the worth of works of more than $400,000 and, with the greatest respect to the Committee, bring in reports about the extension of airport runways and everything else, including, I might say, the lifting of the night curfew on the operation of jet aircraft - which I think is a bit outside the province of the Committee - it is much more important in my view to have a standing committee of the Parliament which might investigate the location of airports, with a view to achieving the best economic return for the least capital outlay.
I should like to refer to some of the remarks that have been made in another place about what might be termed inequality. It is interesting to note that the people whom I represent and who live around Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport are subjected to the noise nuisance day and night without any reimbursement whatsoever. Those people are subsidising the airline operators to the extent that their properties are becoming less valuable and they have no rights to compensation. It would be worth while addressing our fathers in the Senate to indicate to them that probably their amendment was out of order, particularly when we realise that the charges which are now being imposed vary as between domestic and international flights. The air navigation charge imposed on an international flight of a Boeing 707 is $897.60 compared with $224.40 for domestic flight. It costs 4 times as much for a Boeing on an international flight as it does for a domestic flight. Obviously this is because of the weight flight factor. With the concurrence of honourable members, I incorporate in Hansard a document setting out the variation in air navigation charges depending upon whether they are for international or domestic flights.
Another point I want to make is that the airport at Mascot is now catering for 735,000 international passenger movements whereas the brand-new airport at Tullamarine is catering for a mere 50,000. The economics of the situation show a lack of consideration for the people of Sydney. Tullamarine is a brand-new airport on 4,000 acres. A lot of capital has been expended on it but it caters for very few international flights. It would be earning very little insofar as air navigation charges for international flights are concerned. Mascot airport is overcrowded, cramped and the noise from it is saturating the whole of the residential neighbourhood, but it is catering for 735,000 passengers. It would be earning a great deal more than Tullamarine from the point of view of charges, but nothing is really being spent on it in the nature of planning.
It follows as a matter of urgency that there should be a second airport for Sydney. The Government has had a report on this subject on its hands for a month or so. Now, according to this morning’s Press, there is going to be another departmental committee set up. Once again this is a tragedy. The Government is running away from a problem which is the greatest political issue in Sydney at present. I refer to the fact that the people who live in the vicinity of the airport in Sydney who have been subjected to so much noise are to be subjected to much more noise because of the increased number of flights. The Government will derive more revenue from the increased number of flights, but these people will not get any compensation for the increased discomfort which they will suffer. A tax is imposed on passengers in Los Angeles to compensate those people who live in the vicinity of the airport for having to insulate their houses against aircraft noise. It could be done here. It is sheer bad management that it is not. Why should the thirty-third most important international airport in the world have to operate on an area of only 1,500 acres while the one in Melbourne has 4,500 acres and the minimum according to international standards is now 8,000 acres. It would be good business for the Commonwealth to do something about the present situation. It need not have a sterile 8,000 acres. It could do a lot from the point of view of earning income.
If a committee were to be set up to advise and assist the Government I believe it would within a very short space of time bring down a recommendation to the effect that there should be no further extension of the capital facilities at Mascot airport. They should be halted now. There should be- an immediate acquisition of a sufficient area of land to plan for a second airport for Sydney. It should be of such an area that a guarantee could be given that it would be free from noise nuisance. It should be of such an area that the land itself could be used on an economic basis. Included within this area should be transport facilities, commercial activity and all the other things which could produce income for the Government. At present, Sydney alone is making a profit and across the nation we are suffering a loss of $54m.
At present there is no plan to do anything for those people of Sydney who are subject to the noise problem except to adopt the back door method of saying to the New South Wales State Planning Authority: ‘Do not allow any more residential development to take place within the city of Sydney.’ The city of Sydney could well be destroyed if this attitude were to be adopted. It would virtually mean that I million people would be prevented from increasing their facilities. Schools and hospitals would not be allowed to develop or bring themselves up to standard. People who have dilapidated homes would be left with them because they would not be allowed to redevelop them. This is a crazy situation. It is all directly attributable to the Department of Civil Aviation. I am not being critical of the Department as such but of the Government for failing to do the same thing for Sydney as it has in fact done for Melbourne.
Apparently it is believed that a solution to the noise problem is to confine development of the area around the airport in Sydney. This will cause the greatest reaction imaginable against the Government, lt will burst upon the Government within the next 6 weeks that this proposal which affects every municipality around the airport is being implemented because the Government has failed in its duty. I repeat that there is one easy solution, and that is to get the members of Parliament who are acquainted with this problem and who can ascertain the position overseas as to what is a comparable site to bring down a recommendation without having interdepartmental committees, the competence of which we do not know. We arc not made aware of the matters these committees take into consideration and we do not even know what is in their report or when it will be made available to this Parliament. This Parliament is treated with complete disdain and is not taken into the confidence of any departmental committee.
We have a select committee on aircraft noise but it is limited to inquiries into noise. It is no use making any other excuse; it is no use talking about finance. This committee can talk only about the extent of noise. One would have thought that the terms of reference had been drawn up by somebody in the Department of Civil Aviation who did not want the committee to talk about the economic efficiency of any international airport. I think it is imperative and urgent that the Government consider immediately the location of a second airport for Sydney on the grounds of economics. It will pay the Government handsome dividends. It can be proved throughout the world that airports can be made to pay.
But it is a lost cause to stand here every 12 months and say that the charges have to go up another 10 per cent. They arc a mere token in relation to the overall cost. The taxpayer is subsidising the airlines to the extent of an immense amount of money. The airlines are not necessarily inefficient, but it is somewhat laughable to think that we spent $27m extending the airstrip into Botany Bay and the largest jet, the Boeing 747, lands on the old strip, which is only 8,000 feet long. There is something radically wrong with our planning. It is incredible to think that the whole of the populace has been built up to believe that the extension of the strip into Botany Bay is essential, yet the biggest aircraft lands on the shorter strip. These are some of the matters that we want to mention at this stage. I support the Bill.
– I rise to draw attention to some aspects that have been raised by people connected with the aircraft industry. The Second Schedule allows for the reclassification of aircraft to the lower classification where the aircraft engages in operations appropriate to the lower classification. An opportunity is seen here foi the part-time operator, the person who wishes to utilise what is fundamentally a private aircraft at only the peak seasons of charter operation.
The people in the industry fear that this Bill is the commencement of acceptance of this glut, of casual operators to the detriment of operators in the light charter industry, particularly those who have established themselves in smaller country centres where they are dependent for their overall stability upon the seasonal peaks of operation. They fear that it is being made more attractive for other operators to compete for a few weeks only and that this could lead to a situation with which they cannot compete. However, they appreciate that this could act in their favour on many occasions. It is their wish that a close watch be kept on this aspect to ensure that it does not lead to disruption of the industry.
However, let us look at the overall effects on Western Australia of the charges to be applied by this Bill. We who feel that we are more dependent than any other State on air transport by reason of remoteness, have to bear an increase of $9 on the first class fare from Perth to Melbourne, increasing that fare from $108 to $117. Not only do we depend on air travel, but in reaching our eastern neighbours and they us, fares computed on the same standards as apply in other States are a major barrier. One would think that some system of fare concession would be arrived at and that remissions of government charges, such a*s those which will be increased by this Bill, would be made to airlines operating into Perth to encourage them to develop air transport at a more reasonable cost and at a more reasonable hour.
This has not happened. We have suffered constant air freight increases, the last being from 30c per lb to 34c per lb from Perth to Melbourne. These navigation and other charges are passed on to the public by way of fares and costs of commodities. We would not object so strongly if the collected fees were directed to our advantage, that is, to pay for the removal of public nuisance No. 1 in Perth, the Perth Airport which is making a fortune for airline operators by being open at night to allow them to operate their fleets at night. If Perth Airport were not open they would not have anywhere else to go.
One suspects that the figures on projected movements for the next 5 years given to the honourable member for Perth (Mr Berinson) by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) may not be absolutely correct. The growth of air freight and the discovery by airlines that, by the removal of seats from passenger aircraft, the aircraft, can be utilised as night freighters to Perth, no doubt has been one of the major contributing factors to the remarkable increase in night flights to 50 per cent of all nights into Perth. Without doubt all future charter flights for passengers will operate at night when the aircraft would otherwise be redundant. An example of this is the number of national service flights at night which are, of course, Government sponsored. The same is obviously the answer for freighters. The Government must legislate against this and introduce a curfew, for what a golden opportunity night flights are for the airline companies. As freight operations increase with increased air freights, the companies, which cannot operate at night elsewhere, can send their aircraft overnight to Perth providing only the minimum possible daylight flights. If they are to suffer constant increases in charges, such as those imposed by the Government in this Bill, this will encourage them to seek a higher return from their equipment with a higher turnaround and use of aircraft.
The Government could help, if it is not prepared to introduce a night curfew as it has been asked to do by public petition and in this Parliament, by offering to operators concessions in charges based on minimising the number of night nights. It could help by directly introducing a night curfew. In the changing and evolving pattern of aircraft one wonders where it will finish. No matter what charges are imposed, and no matter what is spent on the present airport site in Perth, it is only a matter of time before the senseless siting of the airport where it is in the middle of a growing capital city becomes a major catastrophe. It is already planned to extend the present landing strip. The 7,100 foot north east to south west runway is pointed at the heart of Bayswater and Bassendean and its use will completely destroy the peaceful life of those unfortunate people in its path. No doubt the new navigational aids that are required will result in further charges to the companies and will develop a situation in Perth similar to that described in the ‘Doomsday Book’ by Gordon Rattray Taylor where continuous aircraft noise will be a permanent part of the urban and suburban environment throughout most of Britain by 1983. That situation will exist in Perth if governments are allowed to continue blithely on the path they are taking. It is imperative that they realise that cities are for people and for living, not for aircraft.
Surely the warnings that the smoke trails of the 3,000 supersonic jet liners planned for the 1990s will result in the Atlantic and much of North America and Europe being permanently under pollution cloud cover is sufficient to stir our planners in the Department of Civil Aviation to bring forward proper planning for the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton). Why should anyone imagine that the situation in Australia will be different? Now is the time to act before noise pollution, which is now barely tolerable, becomes a nightmare and before Perth becomes like the districts adjacent to London’s Heathrow Airport where houses and property are virtually economically unsaleable and where residents remain indoors behind soundproofed walls and windows even on the finest summer days because of the mind-destroying battery of the jets. .In London people living not only near the airport but also 20 miles and more away suffer from noise pollution. Jets waiting to land stack up over the resi dential areas of London and circle until it is their turn to land. This is happening in many cities of the world. Let the lessons of history prevent it happening in Perth. It is past time when fast transport for a comparatively few members of the population should override the intererests of the majority. Compensation must be paid urgently to landowners who are affected. The Commonwealth Government must accept its responsibility for the soundproofing of institutions and homes presently affected. It must realise that the only real solution is the removal of the airport.
It is logical to hope that the revenue derived from the proposed increased charges will be devoted to examining these matters. If the airlines had to pay for the proposed 10-year expansion plan at Perth and if they had to pay compensation for the nuisance they create, we would not be faced with this nuisance. Not only do we have to put up with the pollution they cause but the taxpayers have to subsidise the airlines through the annual Budget allocation from taxation to the Department of Civil Aviation for the support of airports to the extent of a loss of $54m. Yet we in Western Australia get no concessions to alleviate the situation.
– The honourable member for Swan (Mr Bennett) raised a number of matters which are important to Western Australia. I shall see that they are. drawn to the attention of my colleague in another place, the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton). The points raised have some significance in relation to the development of aviation in that State where the growth rate in the general aviation field, which was referred to earlier by the honourable member, is far greater than that of any other State in Australia. Of course, this is understandable in view of the developments taking place there.
The honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) raised a number of matters also. I just want to refer very briefly to 2 of them. He said that the extension to the main runway at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport was being provided solely for international operators. Whilst it is being brought up to the standard required to provide for the operations of Boeing 747 and also the supersonic aircraft, if they arc introduced in the future, at the same time it will be a great asset in domestic operations because it will allow a tremendously increased usage of the main runway. It will be utilised in alleviating the noise problem. Because of the number of additional flights and flight paths, it can be introduced to divert the domestic aircraft to this runway. So whilst it is being brought up to the standard of major world international airports, it will be used far more extensively for domestic operations and will certainly be a great advantage in that regard.
– We do not want the extension for that purpose only.
– lt was not for that purpose only, but the reference made earlier was that the extension was being carried out to bring the runway up to international standards. It is partly for international use but it will also be used extensively by the domestic operators in order to avoid the use of other runways and thereby avoid the noise problem to a greater extent than is possible at the present time.
– It is adequate for the 727s and DC9s.
– Yes, quite adequate, but it will be used far more extensively for downwind operations. This means that the number of services which can use it will be increased substantially. This is a very big advantage to the domestic operators. The second point that the honourable member raised concerned the allocation of civil aviation operating expenses between the various departments. When introducing this Bill I referred in my second reading speech to a working party which had been set up when I was Minister for Civil Aviation. Its purpose was to study civil aviation costs and revenues. At that time T indicated that the first part of the report had been submitted. This working group is also looking at the allocation of costs between the various departments and authorities concerned.
– That group has been working now for well over 12 months and it still has not produced a report
– Yes. it has submitted the first part of the report. Another part will be given to the Minister at a later date.
But I can assure the honourable member that a tremendous amount of detailed work is involved in this. A lol of information has to be received from international operators in other countries and this has to be collated. As I say, the first part of the report has been submitted to the Minister but the second part is not yet in, but I understand it will not be too long before it is received. The honourable member for Kingsford Smith (Mr Lionel Bowen) referred to the difference between the income earned by facilities operated by the Department of Civil Aviation and the total estimated expenditure in the Budget as a loss. I. suppose it could be classified as a loss in a way because it is not earning directly to make up the total expenditure. But, of course, the expenditure covers the operations and maintenance of the facilities as well as capital expenditure during the year, for minor works and for the full operations and maintenance of all aerodromes, which number about 680. Included in this figure are some under local ownership which are partly financed by the Commonwealth. So this is one of the prices we have to pay for the service being provided.
We should never forget that when we make a comparison of this type wc should consider the facilities provided for other means of transport, such as port facilities for shipping and roads for road transport, and so on. When compared in that way, the costs which are not recovered are quite comparable with and are in fact comparably greater than those in many other fields of transport. But there is a policy of full recovery, which is an International Civil Aviation Organisation principle, which we apply here in Australia, although it is more of an ideal than something that is achievable. Yet the principle is there, and that is one reason why this 10 per cent increase has been applied again this year.
The honourable member for KingsfordSmith spent some time also dealing with the facilities at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport. It is a fact that I set up the interdepartmental committee referred to when I was Minister for Civil Aviation. It has a tremendous job to do as the honourable member surely realises. One of the reasons for an interdepartmental committee was to have an expert assessment at the outset. I understand that the report has now been submitted but a tremendous amount of technical evaluation in relation to the report still - has to be done because a variety of problems have to be covered. This is being done as quickly as possible, but I do not think that it would be within months of being produced as a document that can be considered by the Government. In other words, the final report to be submitted by the Department of Civil Aviation to the Government is many months away yet, but I can assure the honourable member that everything possible is being done to expedite this work. At the same time we must appreciate that this is something which is long term. This requirement is still many years away. This was taken into account when the Committee was established. The terms of reference which the Committee has, of course, fully cover this point, and I do not think there will be any problem as to time or any reservations when the report is ultimately received.
Finally I refer quickly to the reference that was made to one of the east-west runways at Sydney being used for a Boeing 747 landing operation. Of course, this is quite right because the runways at Sydney, as at Tullamarine, have been brought up to the standard necessary for 747 operations. The runways have been strengthened and widened, and the fillets, the taxiways and so forth have been brought up to the full 747 standard. But for maximum all-up operational loads it will be necessary to increase the length of the runway to allow the operation of a 747 on the longest air route in the world, from Australia to areas in the Pacific. So to cope with maximum loading without any restrictions it will be necessary to increase runway length, but it is possible with restrictions for them to use the existing runways as they stand. The Opposition has indicated that it supports this measure, and I appreciate the comments that members of the Opposition have made in regard to it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Swartz) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 14 October (vide page 2001), on motion by Mr Bury:
That the Bill be now read a third time.
– I do not intend to keep the House very long, but I make some protest at the bringing on of legislature like this at this time. We are to spend $10m in this project, and I think it is perfunctory to expect it to be disposed of in less than half an hour as it will be. One of the reasons I do not intend to take the time that I might otherwise take is that one or two of my colleagues want to speak on the motion for the adjournment. Adequate time has not been allowed to them to speak this week and I hope that the Government does not intend to deny them that right this evening. The Bill before us increases Australia’s contribution to the Asian Development Bank. According to the information supplied by the Treasurer (Mr Bury), this Bank has an authorised capital of about $US 1,000m, approximately half of which has been paid up. Australia’s present contribution is $US85m. It is proposed that a further $US 10m be contributed by Australia. The Opposition supports this measure because we believe that only by systematic economic development will some of- the great disparities that exist in the world be removed. The part of the world in which we are situated - Asia - is the area where the disparities are greatest.
I commend to the House the publication Partners in Development’ to which I have referred before. It is a study commissioned by the World Bank. The chairman of the Commission was Mr Lester Pearson, a former Prime Minister of Canada. This document was produced towards the end of last year. It states at page 11:
We live at a time when the ability to transform the world is only limited by faintness of heart or narrowness of vision.
I submit that we still seem to show both faintness of heart and narrowness of vision in dealing with our problems. In order to illustrate the difference that exists between the achievement of the ideal I have quoted and the realities I shall now quote from the most recent report of the World Bank, which was circulated to honourable members only a few days ago. I turn to the section of the report which deals with external debt of the developing countries. Reference is made to the very real difficulties that face this part of the world. At page 50 the report states:
Over the past decade the rate of growth of both debt outstanding and debt service payments has been about twice the rate of growth of export earnings of the developing countries, and almost three times that of their combined gross domestic product.
The report goes on at page 53:
Moreover, the analysis-
That is a reference to an analysis conducted by the Bank - provides a measure of the magnitude of the international effort which would be needed simply to maintain the present level of net resource transfer to the developing countries, much less to increase it as their trade and investment requirements grow over the next decade. In addition, it suggests that the debt service problems facing a number of developing countries are likely to grow more difficult during the next few years if recent trends in capital flows, aid policies and development performance remain unchanged.
The measure before us will at least provide additional capital assistance to the parts of the world that so much need it. The Treasurer was good enough to supply me with a copy of the latest annual report of me Asian Development Bank, lt contains plenty of examples of the good work that the Bank is doing. The Bank was established only in 1966. It has not been in operation for very long but nevertheless in its annual report for 1.969 it stated:
The Bank’s record of performance in the first 3 years clearly reflects its mounting impact on the region. There is a growing appreciation of the fact that the Bank has a substantial and distinctive role to fulfil in the economic development of Asia. The needs, the problems, the objectives - and above all the hopes- of the Asian region may not differ materially in the long term from those elsewhere: but at any given time, the techniques and processes needed may be quite different from those fashioned for use in other areas. Details of some of the projects that have been undertaken by the Bank are contained in the report. I am interested to see recorded in the report the fact that the Bank held its annual meeting in Australia last year and that coincidental with that meeting was a seminar on agricultural research held in Sydney. I am glad to see from the speech of the Treasurer that it is proposed, in addition to capital subscriptions I take it, that Australia should take part in some of the special projects that will be sponsored by the Asian Development Bank in the course of the next couple of years. The Treasurer lists some of the categories in which that assistance will be given. He referred to an agricultural special fund, a multi-purpose special fund, a technical assistance special fund and so on.
I am convinced by what I have had the opportunity to see of co-operation and aid between Australia and some other parts of the world that one of the big problems that still faces us is in the techniques of aid administration. 1 have said this in the House before. Indeed, I said it a week or so ago when spoke during the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conference. I made the point that one of the difficulties we face is the fact that while so many needs exist in various parts of the world, the ability to fulfil those needs exists somewhere else. Those who have the needs are not always brought into proper contact with those who may have the ability to fulfil those needs. These are some of the things which some of the special assistance agencies attached to bodies such as the Asian Development Bank could help to promote. I am a little disappointed that the Treasurer still seems to find virtue in the fact that much of the assistance that Australia gives will return a benefit to us because of the sort of trade that we will supply. He seems to think that because we are supplying aid to these countries it is likely that they will use Australian equipment. I hope that may be the case but I hope also that it is not necessarily implied that it should be the case. I believe in these sort of transactions we should move a little more towards multi-lateral arrangements rather than bi-lateral arrangements.
The Opposition commends the Bill. I am sorry that a greater opportunity is not given to honourable members to debate these matters because I think they are just as fundamental to Australia’s welfare as are questions such as defence. I think that these matters ought to be given much more time for debate than has been given on this occasion.
– In speaking on this Bill I want to emphasise the importance of Australia’s developing and growing ties and trade relations with the Asian region. Before developing this argument I would like to say how pleased I was that the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) indicated his support for this Bill. It is of immense importance to Australia that the Asian Development Bank succeeds in its efforts to help developing countries in Asia to achieve faster rates of economic growth and so raise the living standards through the area in which the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East operates. Economic solidarity must surely lead to political stability in this region which will be of increasing importance to Australia.
The purpose of the Bill is to provide the equivalent of $US10m to the special funds of the Asian Development Bank. It is well to remind the House that Australia is a foundation member of the Asian Development Bank which has a membership of 35 countries, 21 of them in the Asian region and 14 outside it. Australia’s subscription of $US85m to the capital stock of the Bank is exceeded only by those of the United States, Japan and India. In recognition of a need to promote economic development in the general region and the need for additional special loan funds, the Government has agreed to make a further $US10m available to special funds over the next 3 financial years subject, of course, to the approval of the Parliament. The Treasurer (Mr Bury) has indicated that $US9.75m are allocated to the multi-purpose special fund and $US250,000 are to be allocated to the technical assistance special fund. The multi-purpose special funds will be tied to the procurement of goods produced in, or services supplied from, Australia. The technical assistance special fund will be used only to pay for the services of Australian consultants and experts hired by the Bank in connection with its technical assistance.
In the past, consultant engineers and consultants generally from Japan and other countries have had a favoured situation because of their contributions to the special funds. This Japanese provision and access to funds has enabled economic penetration into the recipient countries. The special funds, earmarked for technical assistance. have been popular with both the recipient and contributor countries because, so far as recipient countries are concerned, these funds ‘are available as soft loans or grants. In the case of the contributor countries, employment opportunities are created for consultants and ultimately for its manufacturing and constructing industries after cost benefit analyses have been conducted by these firms in these countries.
I should like to quote from a United Nations publication titled ‘A Guide for Firms and Organisations Desiring to Participate in the Activities of the United Nations Development Programme’ where it points to the fact that the initial pre* investment studies, that is, those studies where consultant skills can be applied, may well lead to a further export of construction skills and the export of heavy engineering, civil and other equipment. The United Nations document quotes, inter alia, that in its programme 31 pre-investment studies carried out at a cost of $38. 5m thus far have led to an investment of $ 1,640m for hydro power works and multi-purpose river basin schemes, forest and mining industries, irrigation, drainage and related reclamation works, water supply, sewerage facilities and roads, railways, ports and channels.
Honourable members will see from that list that Australia does have the ability to provide some of the development that is so necessary in those countries, but Australian firms must be given the same kind of competitive position as have countries such as Japan. It appears that Japan and other countries which have been contributing to the special fund have been able to walk into the Department of Works and select attractive projects knowing that their government will foot the bill to the Indonesian Government from Asian Development Bank funds.
– And through direct aid.
– Yes. This has placed Australian consultants in a much less competitive position. I believe that this Bill will make a valuable contribution to strengthening our association with South East Asian countries. The Indonesian 5-year plan of development should provide an avenue for the outlet of some of the funds provided for in this Bill. Whilst we should not restrict ourselves to Indonesia, it is logical that we give special attention to Indonesia as that is our closest neighbour. Also, I think it is most important that we set out to try to improve our general relationships with Indonesia. A prosperous and friendly Indonesia will provide an enormous market for Australian export industries and I am sure that it will provide a good 2-way trade between both countries in the future. I believe that this Bill will assist in providing the right climate for active participation by Australia in overseas development programmes, enabling an export, not only of goods and services, but also of skills.
– I rise in the first instance to echo the sentiments of the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) that the Parliament should spend far more time than it does on measures such as this which are connected directly with the development of the Australo-Asian region. Surely this is the first region in the world in which we should be interested. It should receive our first call for action and certainly should have the first claim on our attention. I think that our attitude in this matter was summed up rather well in the ‘Financial Review’ just recently. After having disagreed with the leader writer of that publication on so many other occasions, on this occasion I agree with him most enthusiastically. He said:
Now is the time to begin considering how Indonesia’s developing economy and the expanding Australian economy can be more usefully integrated - rather than at some future date when strident domestic pressures on both sides will make rational planning difficult or impossible.
Since I have been in this place I have made this a theme. I was delighted to hear the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt) join me in this plea to the House tonight. In relation to the Asian Development Bank, the annual report for 1969 states:
The Bank’s record of performance in the first three years clearly reflects its mounting impact on the region. There is a growing appreciation of the fact that the Bank has a substantial and distinctive role to fulfil in the economic development of Asia.
While a knowledge of the skills and techniques developed elsewhere is important and essential, the know-how’ of regional development must have an indigenous basis.
This is the point that ] wish to take up. I recommend most strongly that the
Government apply itself to an examination of the techniques of aid, which again were referred to by my distinguished colleague the honourable member for Melbourne Ports. This is a most important matter. We have made some very serious errors in the past, not only in Indonesia but also in the Australo-Asian region. I think it is important to use the expertise which has been developed in the region in expanding our commitment. I should like to add one other thing in relation to this commitment. I do not regard it as terribly impressive. In an answer given to me just the other day the Minister for External Affairs (Mr McMahon) said:
I am informed that at least 12 countries are contributing aid to Indonesia within the context of the Inter-Governmental Group for Indonesia. He was not able to give me figures for the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or for a number of other countries, but he did provide me with sufficient data to indicate that Australia is not really playing by any means the major role with our nearest neighbour. In fact the United States of America - I grant it may be the power base of the Western world - contributes an estimated $202.7m. Japan follows with $126.1m. Then we have the Netherlands with $31m and France at almost $14m. The Federal Republic of Germany contributes $24.5m. Then we come to Australia, whose contribution is $17m. This is our major interest. This is our major involvement. This should be our major interest. This should be our major involvement. I correct myself, because obviously it is not at this time.
I make a plea that we reshape the emphasis of our aid and the emphasis of our thinking in the debates in this House to take into account the things that we need to do in the Australo-Asian region. We have a particular responsibility to our nearest neighbour, not only from our own point of view but because the destiny of Australia is bound up with the part that we play in our own region of the world. If we turn our backs on our own region or if we are inadequate in our performance in it, then we restrict our own destiny; we limit it in the future. I make these comments in relation to the measure which is before us this evening.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Bury) read a third time.
-I present the third report of the Publications Committee. Report - by leave - adopted.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
-I regret the lateness of the hour and I will be as brief as I possibly can. I rise to speak only because I did not finish last night. I wish to bring to the attention of the House the situation which exists due to the ease with which overseas nationals may enter into matrimony in Australia. The incident to which I will refer concerns an American national who allegedly bigamously married a young lady in my electorate. The ceremony was performed in the Perth Registry in September 1969. The American stated by oral declaration - a telegram, presumably from his mother, having been produced - that he was divorced. Subsequently information came to hand that in fact he was still married at the time of the purported marriage. He subsequently left Australia with bis legal family and returned to the United States of America. While he was in Australia his 4 children were under the care of the Child Welfare Department; so government departments had some knowledge of him.
Of course, on discovery of the true situation the young lady immediately took steps to endeavour to establish her legal situation - married or unmarried. She reported the matter to the Commonwealth police. This young lady, who allegedly had been married without the responsible authorities checking to see whether her husband was reasonably free to marry, had to tolerate 6 weeks of his company. She finally left because of cruelty, medical evidence of which is held by her solicitors. However, the point is that since that data an extreme situation, in dissolving a marriage which exists in law but does not exist in fact, has arisen. It would be a comedy if it were not so tragic. Even though it was alleged that the United States Consulate had some evidence that bigamy had been committed, because it was bound to protect a United States national negotiations had been going on since early this year. A solution was found only this week. However, if the information had not been available in Australia, as was the case until this week, the young lady would have had to wait until the statutory time for divorce elapsed and to face then the prospect of going through the form of dissolving something that in fact did not exist, at considerable expense, mental distress and loss of time in which she might remarry, as this young lady wishes to do.
It is all right to say that she could get her information from the United States but this is extremely difficult and again expensive, with no guarantee of results. Therefore it is imperative that steps be taken to ensure a better standard of checking a person’s marriage credentials from overseas and that a better investigation system is evolved by our authorities when matters such as this are reported. It is not good enough to depend on the goodwill of the officials of the country of the national who has been reported. I am thankful in this case for the co-operation of the United States officials but they should not have to cover up and solve the problems raised by the looseness of our system. Even though the matter was reported to all appropriate authorities, including the Registrar, the Commonwealth Police and the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department, the final solution came from the representatives of another country after 10 months of mental anguish to this young lady and her family. I ask the responsible authorities to take steps to ensure the revision of the system which allows this situation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 1.47 a.m. (Friday)
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
Department estimated that it will make in 1970-71 in (a) the metropolitan and (b) the country areas in each State.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 22 October 1970, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1970/19701022_reps_27_hor70/>.