House of Representatives
25 February 1971

27th Parliament · 2nd Session

Mr SPEAKER (Hon. Sir William Aston) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.

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Minister for Social Services · MACKELLAR, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– 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 residents of the Commonwealth of Australia respectfully sheweth:

The red kangaroo and many other marsupials, through shooting for commercial purposes, have been reduced to a numerical level where their survival is in jeopardy.

None of the Australian States have sufficient wardens to detect and apprehend people breaking the laws in existence in each state, and in such a vast country only uniform laws and a’ complete cessation of commercialisation can ensure the survival of our National Emblem.

It is an indisputable fact that no natural resource can withstand hunting on such a concentrated scale, unless some provision is made for its future.

We, your petitioners, therefore humbly pray that:

The export of all kangaroo products be banned immediately, and the Commonwealth Government make a serious appraisal of its responsibility in the matter to ensure the survival of the kangaroo.

And, your petitioners, as in duty bound will ever pray.

Petition received and read.

Social Services


– 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 Victoria respectfully showeth.

That due to the higher living cost, persons on social service pensions are finding it extremely difficult to live in even the most frugal way.

We therefore call upon the Commonwealth Government to increase the base pension rate to 30 per cent of the average weekly male earnings for all States, as ascertained by the Commonwealth Statistician, plus supplementary assistance and allowances in accordance with Australian Council of Trade Union’s policy and adopted as the policy of the Australian Commonwealth Pensioners Federation, and by doing so give a reasonably moderate pension.

Your Petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to bring about the wishes expressed in our Petition: So that our citizens receiving the social service pensions may live their lives in dignity.

And your Petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.

Petition received and read.

Perth Airport


– 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 residents of the State of Western Australia respectfully sheweth:

That the present site of the Perth airport is unsuitable because of -

the morning fogs;

its proximity to the Darling Ranges;

its lack of planning, prior to construction;

the loss to the local authority in rates and loss to the community in acreage of development area and assets;

the restriction placed on the development of surrounding shires due to existing flight paths and proposed flight paths; and

the adjacent areas to the airport are suffering loss of value due to their unsuitability for high density development.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that action be taken to remove Perth airport from its present site to the site planned by Professor Stephenson’s overall plan for the City of Perth, that is at Lake Gnangarra.

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 the members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled, The humble petition of the citizens of the Commonwealth respectfully sheweth:

The red kangaroo and many other marsupials, through shooting for commerical purposes, have been reduced to a numerical level where their survival is in jeopardy.

None of the Australian States have sufficient wardens to detect and apprehend people breaking the laws in existence in each State, and in such a vast country only uniform laws and a complete cessation of commercialisation can ensure the survival of our national emblem.

It is an indisputable fact that no natural resource can withstand hunting on such a concentrated scale unless some provision is made for its future.

We, your petitioners, therefore humbly pray that:

The export of all kangaroo products be banned immediately and the Commonwealth Government make a serious appraisal of its responsibility in the matter to ensure the survival of the kangaroo.

That pressure be brought to bear on the Queensland Government to declare a closure of season each year to permit population recovery.

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 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 reserves in the South West Land Division of Western Australia over the next three years.

That town housing must be provided for all Aboriginal families where 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 m Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully sheweth:

That the Australian Education Council’s report on the needs of State education services has established serious deficiencies in education.

That these can be summarised as lack of classroom accommodation, desperate teacher shortage, oversized clases and inadequate teaching aids.

That the additional sum of one thousand million dollars is required over the next five years by the States for these needs.

That without massive additional Federal finance the State school system will disintegrate.

That the provisions of the Handicapped Children’s Assistance Act 1970 should be amended to include all the country’s physically and mentally handicapped children.

Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to -

Ensure that emergency finance from the Commonwealth will be given to the States for their public education services which provide schooling for seventy-eight per cent of Australia’s children. 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 citizens of the Commonwealth respectfully sheweth:

Whereas -

  1. the Commonwealth Parliament has acted to remove some inadequacies in the Australian education system.

Cb) a major inadequacy at present in Australian education is the lack of equal education opportunity for all.

  1. 200,000 students from universities, colleges of advanced education and other tertiary Institutions and their parents, suffer severe penalty from inadequacies in the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936-1968.
  2. Australia cannot afford to hinder the education of these 200,000 Australians.

Your petitioners request that your honourable House make legal provision for -

  1. The allowance of personal education expenses as a deduction from income for tax purposes.
  2. Removal of the present age limit in respect of the deduction for education expenses and the maintenance allowance for students.
  3. Increase in the amount of deduction allowable for tertiary education expenses.
  4. Increase in the maintenance allowance for students.
  5. Exemption of non-bonded scholarships, for part-time students from income tax.

And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.

Petition received and read.

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– Is the Minister for the Army aware of current concern over pollution of the River Murray? Is pollution increased in any way by the Army camp at Bonegilla? Are the waste disposal arrangements at the camp adequate? Will he consider offering Army assistance to those authorities responsible for restoring the river to an acceptable level of purity?

Minister Assisting the Prime Minister · KOOYONG, VICTORIA · LP

– The honourable member will be aware of my interest in this area. He will be aware also of the community’s interest which is not new. As this nation has grown and developed so the population has become more aware of the degradation of the environment by pollution. It is not just a State problem or a national problem; in fact it is a global problem.

Mr Uren:

– My question was about the Murray River.


– I will refer to the Murray River in a moment. The Prime Minister announced at the last Senate elections our policy in regard to pollution. It is not just a hollow slogan or a fashionable theme. We are making constructive moves. The Army has taken action in regard to the pollution of the Goulburn River by silt. We were able to re-sow land adjacent to the river. I have taken note of what the honourable member has said and I will investigate it as far as possible. The Army plans to incorporate anti-pollution devices in new works programmes. I will do what I can in regard to the suggestion raised because we have a genuine interest in this matter. The Army has a practice of cleaning up areas where it has been operating.

Mr Uren:

– The Army fouled it up.


– No, the Army has not fouled it up. This may in fact be a contributory factor but no more than that.

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– My question is directed to the Minister for Education and Science. In view of the Government’s decision to curb government spending to help ease inflation, can the Minister inform me how this decision will affect the proposed establishment of the Australian Institute of Marine Science at Townsville?

Mr N H Bowen:

– The recent cuts in government spending so far as they are under the control of my Department have not affected the Interim Council which is to advise us on the establishment of a marine institute in Townsville. This Interim Council has been very active for over a year now with meetings and inspections and the chairman has undertaken an overseas tour.

The Council met Friday for what probably will be its final meeting and I would expect to get the report from it next month. What the position will be when that report is considered and steps are taken to establish the permanent Council remains to be seen. There is no suggestion that the target will be reduced, but the rate of expenditure will be a Budget matter.

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– I ask the Prime Minister whether he has studied the fourteenth annual report of the President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission? If so, I ask him whether he noticed this passage:

Members of the Commission decide matters before them on the arguments and material presented in the Commission’s court rooms and not otherwise. This is the position whether or not the speakers are prime ministers, ministers, opposition leaders, presidents of the ACTU or of organised employers, or so on.

In view of the soft rebuke of the President will the Prime Minister direct his Ministers to stop blatantly using their positions to influence the Commission in favour of employers, and will he apply this instruction also to himself?

Prime Minister · HIGGINS, VICTORIA · LP

– I have not yet had time to study the remarks made in the report by Sir Richard Kirby but I have had a chance to look at them cursorily and I would be glad to comment on them now in response to the question. But before I do I would point out that the Conciliation and Arbitration Act requires that in the hearing or determining of an industrial dispute or in any other proceedings before the Commission ‘the Commission shall act according to equity, good conscience and the substantial merits of the case without regard to technicalities and legal forms’. I wish to make it clear that this is, of course, what the Arbitration Commission is required to do and also to make it clear that I and members of my Government will continue to make public announcements on matters which we believe to be of critical importance to the economy, which is a far different thing from making destructive comments. This body is one which through its judgments can give an immense impetus to inflation in this country or can assist in containing inflation. It can damage private businesses.

It can virtually wreck State budgets and it can to a quite considerable degree negate a government’s attempt to manage the economy. In these circumstances, Mr Speaker, it is sobering to read that the approach of such a body appears to be so strictly legalistic. We are told that the court can take notice only of evidence which is presented before it in the court.

Mr Whitlam:

– Or arguments.


– Or arguments- apparently it can only take notice of evidence or arguments presented to it in the Commission. It apparently rejects the concept that it can form its own opinion as to what is in the national interest on the basis of what is commonly known. It also appears to reject any concept that it can itself call evidence or argument before the Commission if it wants its mind to be more instructed than by the evidence or arguments put before it. It is sobering also to read that Sir Richard Kirby apparently rejects the concept that wage increases should be kept in some kind of equilibrium with increases in productivity, and also says that he has not the slightest idea of how he can go about doing this. I hope that thinking Australians will ponder these approaches to such great national problems and make up their own minds as to whether this approach which seems to pay no regard whatever to the economic effects of determinations on the country is an approach which is or is not responsible and is an approach which is or is not required in the modern context of the economy.

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– My question is directed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Is the Australian Government aware that the Governments of Japan, Indonesia and Malaysia have appealed to the United Kingdom and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, which are co-chairmen of the 1962 Geneva Conference on Laos, to take some action to restore peace in Laos? What is the Government’s attitude towards these appeals and towards the 1962 settlement in Laos?

Minister for Foreign Affairs · LOWE, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– The Australian Government has made its intention clear, not only with regard to Laos but also to each of the 4 States in the Indo-Chinese pen insula. We want each of these States to have the right of self-determination and their people to have the right to determine their own future. For that reason we strongly supported the 1962 Accords and we took action at Djakarta, in association with Asian countries and New Zealand, to try to obtain a negotiated settlement in Cambodia. We warmly welcomed the recent statement of President Nixon in which he expressed the attitude of the United States of America and the anxiety of his Government to come to a negotiated settlement in Cambodia involving the withdrawal of all forces including those of the North Vietnamese Army. Recently, as the honourable gentleman stated, the Japanese have taken the initiative, together with Indonesia and Malaysia, and have appealed to the co-chairmen - that is, Britain and the USSR - and to the 3 member countries of the International Control Commission, namely, India, Poland and Canada, to call a conference in order to achieve the neutrality and independence of Laos. What is of particular importance is that it has been requested that all foreign troops should be withdrawn. The Australian Government warmly applauds this and is glad that Asian nations have taken the initiative.

It is regrettable that the Foreign Office of the USSR in Moscow peremptorily has refused to participate in any discussion and has used the usual USSR polemic of blaming others for the continuance of operations in this region. What is clear beyond any doubt is that there have been no successes anywhere in an attempt to achieve a negotiated settlement, mainly because the Communist powers wish to achieve their purposes by violence and resort to arms. It is a pity that they will not listen on this occasion, but that does not mean that we and the other free countries will not continue with the maximum efforts to obtain a peaceful solution to this problem.

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– The Prime Minister will remember that at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference in Singapore last month he agreed that Australia would participate in the study group on the question of the sale of arms to South Africa. That study group consists of the representatives of Australia, Britain,

Canada, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Malaysia and Nigeria. The Conference instructed this group to consider the question further and to report to the Heads of Government through the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth as soon as possible. I ask: When will the group meet? Did the Australian Government know in advance of the decision announced by the British Foreign Secretary in the House of Commons on Tuesday and simultaneously by the South African Minister for Defence concerning the sale of arms to South Africa in defiance of the United Nations embargo on such sales? Will he or the Minister for Foreign Affairs make a statement to the House about the position of the Australian Government and its participation in the study group set up in Singapore?


– Before proceeding to the 3 questions which were asked, I should like to comment on the statement made by the Leader of the Opposition that this committee was set up, to quote his own words, ‘to consider the question further’, that is, the question of the sale of arms by Britain to South Africa. Everybody should be quite clear that this committee was not set up to consider the question of the sale of arms to South Africa by Britain. It was not set up for that purpose and I think that should be made clear, because from the way the Leader of the Opposition spoke one could easily think that he was saying this. In fact, the committee was set up to study the sea routes and possible threats to sea routes in the Indian Ocean. At the time that it was set up the British Prime Minister made it abundantly and unequivocally clear that the setting up of this committee was quite satisfactory to him but that he would be in no way inhibited as to the timing of any action he thought he should take in British interests. There was nobody who could have left that conference under any misapprehension as to this.

When will the group meet, I was asked. At the moment discussion is going on through the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth as to where and when it will meet. But it appears it will be meeting in London, or that the venue should be London, and initially we at least believe it should be at High Commissioner level. Did we know in advance of a specific announcement by the

Foreign Secretary in the House of Commons? No, we did not, nor was there any need whatever that we should since it had been made so unequivocally clear to us and to others that Britain was retaining the right to fulfil what she regards as her legal obligations and to take any other action in this matter which she believed to be in her interests. Will we make a statement on the matter? I believe there is no need to make a statement on our position. We agreed to join with a committee, knowing as all other members of the committee knew, the attitude of the British Prime Minister. We are prepared to continue sitting on that committee should all the other members still wish it to go ahead and we retain the same position we have had all through, that this is a matter for Britain’s decision in her own interests and what she considers to be her defence and the defence of the Indian Ocean.

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– I address my question to the Minister for National Development. I refer to the proposal to refine Mereenie crude in the Alice Springs area. Can the Minister advise whether the Government has considered the plan and if so what is the current position regarding this valuable decentralising and freight saving proposition?

Minister for National Development · DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND · LP

– It is a fact that following some exploration work by the Exoil, Magellan and other companies some deposits were discovered near Mereenie. I might add that subsequent to that there have been some indications of gas deposits at Palm Valley, a short distance away from that area. At present a feasibility study is being undertaken by the companies following discussions and negotiations with my Department as to the possibility of the provision of a small refinery at Alice Springs. Included in this feasibility study will naturally be the situation regarding the marketing of the products in the area of Alice Springs and Tennant Creek. The provision of such a refinery would be dependent upon a decision being made by the Government on the marketing arrangements as this is tied up with the Commonwealth subsidy in relation to the pricing situation. However, as I said before, this discovery is not an extremely large one but it is a valuable one. The question of further consideration after the feasibility study has been concluded will be dealt with at that time. I do not doubt that as soon as the companies have concluded their study they will again approach my Department and continue the negotiations.

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– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Is he aware that large numbers of people are being dismissed and laid off in Canberra as a result of the Government’s decision to limit and restrict public spending in Canberra? Is he aware that in one industry alone building contractors have laid off more than 100 men and that many of these men are breadwinners and that their families are without income or support? Is he also aware that many contractors are now without work and that this is causing financial hardship because they are unable to meet financial commitments on their equipment? Is he aware that the retrenchments in the Public Service have caused many young people to be laid off and have their permanency examinations postponed indefinitely and their future careers prejudiced? Did he intend these things to happen and will he tell the people of Canberra who are affected how long they are likely to be out of work and so threatened?


– I would not say that I was actively aware or indeed would agree that the first statements made by the honourable member were true but I am aware that the labour situation in Australia is such that any employable person has no need to be out of employment, since at the moment there are so many jobs offering throughout the State.

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– My question is addressed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. In view of recent newspaper reports indicating that the military operation conducted by South Vietnamese forces in Laos is largely unsuccessful, can the Minister inform the House as to the present assessment of that operation? Can he also inform the House with respect to reports of increased road building activity by the Chinese and the North Vietnamese in Laos and indicate whether those activities are regarded by non-Communist countries in Indo-China as constituting a direct threat to their security and further evidence of Comunist aggressive intent and practice?


– I will deal with the hard facts. The operations by the South Vietnamese, supported by the United States Air Force, into the Tchepone area of middle Laos have one purpose. That is to destroy caches of arms and ammunition, to destroy as much as possible of the pipelines that exist and also to disrupt the Ho Chi Minh trails to the maximum extent possible during the residue of the dry season. They are the objectives. As soon as they have been achieved or as soon as the wet season commences the forces will be withdrawn.

Mr Morrison:

– You said that about Cambodia.


– Wait a moment for Cambodia. You will get the lot but you have to be patient. As to the operations themselves, the South Vietnamese forces have proceeded as far as 5 kilometres south west of Tchepone and to that extent their operations have been successful. There has been substantial loss of lives particularly in a Ranger outpost where a group of helicopter pads had been established. The losses of helicopters have been substantial but all of them can be replaced.

There has been destruction of large quantities of arms and ammunition and the North Vietnamese are estimated to have lost over 600 troops killed in action. The number of South Vietnamese killed in action is not one-third of the losses that have actually been inflicted upon the North Vietnamese Army. As I have said, the losses in other respects by the NVA are substantial. It is correct to say that the best opinion we can get-

Mr Morrison:

– Who is winning?


– The South Vietnamese.


-Order! The honourable member for St George will cease interjecting.


– I realise that you are insisting on Standing Orders being complied with, Mr Speaker, but I always like the honourable member’s interjections because they are always so intemperate and unwise.

Mr Uren:

– Billy, I love myself, I love myself, I do, I do.


– So do you but I have not had the same liking for as long as you have.


-Order! I remind all honourable members and ‘the Minister that any comments that are made in this House should be made to the Chair.

Mr Hayden:

– How can Narcissus have Foreign Affairs?


– If the honourable member for Oxley continues to interject I will deal with him.


– In summary, if I may put it in this way, the losses of the South Vietnamese are well within the tolerances fixed by the South Vietnamese Command at the time the operations were commenced. In other words, there had to be losses but those losses do not exceed the estimates of probable losses which were originally made. I want to emphasise that the real testing time will occur, the military authorities believe, within the next 10 to 14 days. North Vietnamese forces are on both sides of the ARVN forces proceeding west of Tchepone. It is the ardent belief of every member on this side of the House - I cannot speak for those on the other side or certainly a large number of them - that if we want peace and if we want to prevent the Communists from dominating the Indo-Chinese peninsular with all the impact that that can have on the rest of South East Asia, that this operation by the South Vietnamese will be successful and will be another contribution towards peace in this area. I hope it will be.

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– In the absence of the Minister for Shipping and Transport I wish to direct a question to the Minister for Trade and Industry. Is the Minister aware that the Australian Apple and Pear Board booked space on the conference lines for 7 million cases of Australian export apples and pears for this season with freight fixed at $2.24 a case? Is the Minister also aware that the Board applied for space for 500,000 extra cases which will cost the grower $1 extra a case on top of the $2.24 a case, thus giving the shipping line another $500,000? As this extra freight is a gunattheirheads exercise and uneconomic to the growers, will the Minister negotiate with Israeli or Japanese shipping lines, or any other non-conference shipping line, to lift this extra 500,000 cases which will rot if not lifted? I may say that the honourable member for Franklin supports me in making this request.

Deputy Prime Minister · RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– The facts are as the honourable member stated. The arrangement with the Australian and United Kingdom Conference Line was to move 7 million cases of apples over a three-year period, and now with the bumper crop this year there will be 500,000 cases in excess of the amount arranged for. The Conference Line has agreed to charter additional shipping at a cost of an extra $1 a case. The Apple and Pear Board, however, has rejected this offer and is making inquiries to find out what other shipping can be made available. It is not satisfied with the additional price that is being requested by the Conference Line.

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– My question is addressed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Does the Minister agree with the doubts expressed by the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission about the practicability of keeping wage increases within the bounds of productivity in a full employment economy?

Minister for Labour and National Service · BRUCE, VICTORIA · LP

– I would think that all economists would accept the proposition that a wage policy geared to productivity must achieve a less inflationary economic atmosphere than otherwise. I have no doubt that the problem the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission was referring to was the fact that in a productivity-geared wage policy there are two other factors. One is other award payments for all manner of things apart from national wage cases, and the other, of course, is over award payments over which the Commission does not have control. One of the very real factors which has emerged in the economy over the last 3 or 4 years is the increasing proportion of total wages which come from overaward payments. Last year, when average wage increases were about 8 per cent, some 40 per cent of this increase was achieved through over award payments right outside the Commission’s jurisdiction and this, of course, had very little regard to productivity. I think this is the sort of thing that the President was referring to. The difficulty that is manifest is that unions and union leaders are using their industrial power to force these over award payments in order to receive money increases, forgetting altogether that the money increase turns out to be an illusory increase for it is only a money increase and does not constitute a real increase in purchasing power.

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– I ask the Treasurer a question. Within the operations of the financial arrangements between the Commonwealth and the States is the Commonwealth responsible for what might broadly be described as debt management? Is the practice of rebate washing a highly organised and substantially profitable affair at public expense, which distorts the proper working of the remnants of what might be called a bond market? In the statement issued by the Treasurer yesterday on recent loan operations why did he seek to pass some of the consequences of debt mismanagement to the States?


– I regret not being able to accept all of the interpretations placed on the situation by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports. The practice of rebate washing arose from the fact that until recently a 10 per cent income tax rebate was available in respect of all interest paid on Commonwealth bonds. My predecessor took the initiative of changing what was a rather archaic system, and the rebate no longer applies. But many bonds still outstanding in the market are subject to the 10 per cent rebate. No doubt the honourable member’s question has been prompted by an article in this morning’s Financial Review’, the contents of which scarcely justify the headlines on the article.

The main organisations concerned in this activity at the moment are finance companies, which normally operate in the unofficial money market and purchase bonds, particularly from those who can gain no advantage through holding rebatable bonds. Insurance companies, superannuation funds and other organisations hold a large volume of bonds and they can gain no advantage from the interest concession on those bonds because they are taxed on a different basis. There is little evidence to suggest that dealers in the official money market indulge in this practice, but it pays finance companies to do so. They have a margin which enables them to purchase a bond before the last payment of dividend and gain a small profit. We estimate that the profit so gained is about SO per cent of the $5,000 per $lm worth of bonds referred to in the article. As I have said, provision was made for the 10 per cent rebate and subsequently that concession was withdrawn. That some profit may still be made in this way on bonds outstanding is a fact of life of which any citizen may take advantage.

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– I ask the Prime Minister a question about the establishment some time ago of an interdepartmental committee to study decentralisation. Has the committee completed its work and reported to the Government? If so, will a statement be made of the result of the committee’s investigation? Having regard to the importance of decentralisation when considering the curtailment of government spending will the Government do everything possible to ensure that special attention is paid to decentralisation so as to avoid as far as possible adverse effects on country areas already hard hit by economic difficulties confronting rural industry?


– No report from this Committee has at any rate come to me. On the other matters raised by the honourable member, he will no doubt know that there can be very many different approaches as to what is proper decentralisation and what is not.

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– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service: Why did he wait until yesterday to table the report which Sir Richard Kirby gave him almost 10 weeks ago? In particular, why did he wait to table this report until after he had made the statement on productivity the previous night? Lastly, I ask the Minister in his capacity of Leader of the House: How soon will he give an opportunity for the House to debate the matter of Sir Richard Kirby’s 10-week old report, which he tabled yesterday, and his own ministerial statement which he made the night before?


– The Leader of the Opposition feels that he has cause for suspicion. He has none at all.

Mr Charles Jones:

– He has pretty circumstantial evidence.


– It is not circumstantial. This is where the honourable gentleman has jumped to a wrong conclusion. I received a letter from the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission some little while ago. With that letter he forwarded to me a copy of the report he intended to make. He informed me that as soon as it was possible he would have the paper printed in a way in which it could be presented to the House. I forget now how many copies are required for distribution, but a number of copies are required. I then heard no more of the matter until yesterday morning when a copy of the report was on my table with a note on it saying: ‘Arrangements have been made for this to be tabled today’. I picked the report up off my table, brought it into the Parliament and tabled it yesterday. That was the way in which it. occurred. If the honourable gentleman feels that there is any circumstance that he finds unreal, I invite him to inquire from the President of the Commission and I invite him to inquire from a Mr O’Regan who is the departmental officer in Canberra. I will ask the department officer to answer his questions. I am sure that Sir Richard Kirby would be willing to do so, also.

Mr Whitlam:

– When will the debate be held?


– So far as the debate is concerned, I see much more significance in debating the productivity statement which I made because the report of the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission deals with the year up to 13 August 1970. Therefore, it relates to events at a totally different period from that which is attracting attention today. However, the report is dated 11 December. The productivity report and the statement can be debated as the matter of arrangement with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. As far as the report of the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission is concerned, I will confer with the Prime Minister as to a date when that can be debated.

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-Order! No point of order may be taken on this subject. For the information of the honourable gentleman, I indicate that that resolution does not apply.

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Ministerial Statement

AttorneyGeneral · Berowra · LP

– by leave - Mr Speaker, the question whether a general reprint of Commonwealth Acts should be undertaken has been considered by my predecessors from time to time and more recently by myself. I have now decided not to undertake a general bound reprint of Acts at the present time but rather to concentrate the available resources of the Office of Parliamentary Counsel on the production of reprints of legislation in pamphlet form. The reprints will incorporate all amendments to the date of publication. Reasonably up to date reprints of most significant Acts in common use - approximately 150 in number - are available in pamphlet form. If a complete set of reprints of Acts is maintained in alphabetical order, there is little occasion to refer to the 1901-1950 bound reprint or to subsequent annual volumes. During 1970, 37 Acts were reprinted in pamphlet form. I hope that this number can be increased this year and in later years.

Adequate stocks of the existing 1901-1950 reprint of Acts are now available, although shortages did exist while unbound copies of that reprint were being bound. Some of the annual volumes of Acts published since 1950 are in short supply. It is proposed to reprint sufficient numbers of the volumes since 1950 that are out of print or in short supply to enable complete sets of the 1901-1950 reprint and annual volumes since 1950 to be available for the next few years.

Adequate stocks of the 1901-1956 reprint of Commonwealth Statutory Rules also are available. It is likewise planned to reprint the annual volumes since 1956 that are in short supply.

To assist consideration of the question of a new reprint of Acts, the views on the form of a new reprint, if one were to be undertaken, were sought from the Law Council of Australia and its constituent bodies and from law publishers. The system of publishing reprints in pamphlet form incorporating all amendments to the date of publication of the reprint appears to be favoured by the majority of law societies. Suggestions for different forms of permanently bound reprints were put forward by the law publishers. A necessary precursor of a reprint is the drafting and enactment of a Statute Law Revision Bill, which reduces considerably the overall size of a reprint by repealing Acts and portions of Acts the operation of which is exhausted. Such a Bill also incorporates necessary amendments of a non-contentious nature.

Having regard to other drafting tasks of a more urgent nature, it has not been and is not likely soon to be practicable to undertake the drafting of such a Bill. In any event economic circumstances render it undesirable to incur the expense of commencing any new undertaking that can reasonably be deferred. Accordingly it has been decided to concentrate for the present on the publication of pamphlet reprints together, of course, with the regular annual volumes of Acts and Statutory Rules. This course would seem best to meet the immediate needs of the legal profession and other users, but it does not rule out the possibility of general reprints being undertaken in the future.

The question of the best form to be adopted for a general reprint is not easy to resolve. A reprint in bound form becomes progressively more out of date and cumbersome as each year passes, and many Acts in such a reprint are amended even before the reprint becomes available. An advantage of a separate pamphlet system is that an Act that is extensively amended may be reprinted with the amendments incorporated and then issued in lieu of the existing reprint. An example of this advantage is provided by the Income Tax Assessment Act, which is reprinted every year as amended.

In an endeavour to achieve speedier production of the annual volumes of Acts and Statutory Rules, the form of the volumes has been altered to reduce their size. The comprehensive table associated with the annual volume of Acts have been recast and will be published as a separate pamphlet that will be replaced annually by a later tables pamphlet. This arrangement will prevent extensive tables that are superseded being retained permanently in bound annual volumes, and should permit the bound volume containing the text of the Acts passed each year to become available more quickly. I shall inform the Parliament if altered circumstances enable the course of action that I have just outlined to be changed.

Leader of the Opposition · Werriwa

– by leave - Mr Speaker, I am disappointed at the announcement by the Attorney-General (Mr Hughes) that there is yet again to be a deferment in the consolidation of the Commonwealth statutes. The last consolidation was in 1950, and the one before that 15 years earlier. In December 1965 the Attorney-General before last made a statement on the postponement of a consolidation which would then have been due, if one accepts that there should be such consolidations every 15 years. He stated: . . the project of a complete reprint of the Acts has not been abandoned and I hope to introduce next year . . . a . . . Statute Law Revision Bill.

The Bill was introduced. The way was made easier to publish a consolidation. The stumbling block in 1965 was the imminence of the decimalisation of our currency. I would very much doubt the economy of reprinting now some of the annual volumes which are in short supply. Nevertheless, the Attorney-General has announced that there will be an expedited and enlarged programme of reprinting Acts in common use.

I want to illustrate the difficulty that honourable members have in dealing with legislation before the House. Let me point out the number of separate Acts that we have had to look up, last week and this week, in respect of matters on the current notice paper.

Last week we passed the Broadcasting and Television Bill. The principal Act has been consolidated up to 1965. There are 4 subsequent Acts. Last week we passed the

Sugar Agreement Bill. There are 2 existing Acts which have not been consolidated. Last week we passed the Australian National University Bill. The principal Act has been consolidated up to 1960. There are 3 subsequent Acts. Looking at today’s notice paper honourable members will see that there are 2 Bills in my name - the Adulthood Bill and the Territory Senators Bill. They seek to amend the Commonwealth Electoral Act. That Act has been consolidated up to 1962. There are 3 subsequent Acts. Next there is on the notice paper the Cellulose Acetate Flake Bounty Bill. There are 1 1 existing Acts. They have never been consolidated. The next Bill on the notice paper is the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court Bill. The principal Act has been consolidated up to 1959. There are 6 subsequent Acts. The Customs Bill has been consolidated up to 1965. There are 2 subsequent Acts. The Naval Defence Bill has been consolidated up to 1964. There is one subsequent Act. Finally, the Superannuation Bill has been consolidated up to 1963 and there are 3 subsequent Acts.

It will be appreciated that it has been impossible, and as far as we can see it will be impossible, for members of this Parliament to consider legislation without referring to as many as 11 separate pieces of legislation. If it is difficult enough for us in this place to do so, yet we have only to go down to the Papers Office to get the Acts. Let us spare a thought for our fellow citizens. It is an appalling situation where citizens cannot readily obtain the laws which they must obey. It may be that lawyers profit from this process, although I have known even lawyers to be exasperated by the complexity of our publications in this respect. Private enterprise has done what it can. The Law Book Company publishes each year a permanent supplement to the 1950 consolidation. The supplement becomes more and more bulky and it gets more and more out of date. Again and again as one looks at the supplement one finds the annotation:

The Act has been reprinted in pamphlet form. It has been amended since the date of reprint.

We very frequently find - I find this myself when I have to deal with Bills - that when an amendment comes back from the Senate we are expected to deal with it immediately. One has to try to wade through the very complex legislation which it is amending and which has not been consolidated. Frankly, it is not good enough to say that 150 reprints of Acts are in common use. I have cited about a dozen Acts which are not in reprint form but which we are now amending, and it will be noticed that they go back as far as 1959, that Act being the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court Act. No-one would doubt that in the place where we meet this Act is referred to more and more often. Nor is it good enough for the Attorney-General to say that 37 Acts were reprinted last year. Last year the Parliament passed 127 Bills; 72 of them amended existing Acts. In 1969 the Parliament passed 102 Bills; 53 of them amended existing Acts. In 1968 the Parliament passed 157 Bills; 107 of .them amended existing Acts. We should have a consolidation, but if we have to make do with reprints, quite clearly we will have to make them much more up to date than 1959. We will have to make them in respect of Acts which have been since amended much less than 11 times. We will have to produce them at least 3 times the rate which applied last year.

page 645




– I move:

That a National Water Conservation and Constructing Authority, embracing the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority, be established by the Commonwealth to carry out in association with State Governments, the systematic development of soundly based water storage projects in the major river systems serving those established and proven areas which are periodically devastated by recurring droughts.

In Australia sound planning for the development, utilisation and conservation of natural resources should be a fundamental objective of all political parties. Despite its 21 years of power, the Liberal-Country Party Government has refused to recognise that national investment in natural resources is an essential requirement for the efficient use of those natural resources. Water resources are recognised as one of the nation’s most valued assets. Water is the only major physical natural resource which has not fallen under the control in some way or other of foreign ownership. In the field of water conservation the Government has exhibited all the earmarks of a hillbilly administration, preferring apparently to allocate taxpayers funds for water projects on the basis of ad hoc and unco-ordinated decisions heavily influenced by political expedience. There is still no national plan for the progressive development of water resources based on normal and acceptable criteria and priorities. The present method whereby the State governments submit to the Commonwealth their pet water conservation projects, with State priorities often determined in a manner which frequently has no comparative economic evaluation standards to support those priority ratings, is certainly contrary to all accepted principles of the efficient allocation of national funds.

To illustrate this haphazard approach to development let us take, for example, the 3 major irrigation schemes approved by the Commonwealth in the northern parts of Australia, namely, the Ord, the Nogoa - the Fairbairn project - and Burnett projects. They were approved by the Federal Government in that order. I make it quite clear so that there will be no misconception, that I wholeheartedly support and will continue to support each of those 3 projects. The total cost of the development of those projects will be about $200m. But the point I am making is that each project was considered in isolation by the Government. No attempt was made to compare national investment in the Ord River project with national investment in any other water conservation project. In fact, the history of the Ord River project shows that most of a grant of £5m to Western Australia was allocated to stage 1 of this project. This allocation was not based, even in a remote way, on any economic evaluation of the project.

If national planning based on sound principles of evaluation had been implemented by the Government, competent resource surveys by Commonwealth authorities would have been available to allow the Government to choose between alternatives in order to secure the best projects accepted within national criteria of net export income and regional development. At the same time a flexible plan of national development could have been formulated which would have allowed efficient planning to proceed in marked constrast to the present inefficient and haphazard methods employed.

The principle of national planning of water resources and the determination of priorities is well illustrated by the beef roads project. Hundreds of beef roads systems were thoroughly examined and priorities were formulated on the basis of the comparative benefit-cost criterion, and this advice was given to the Government. I accept the fact that it was the Government’s prerogative then to make its decisions based not only on economics but also on non-economic or qualitative terms. There is no argument about that. But at least the Government had a plan which would give, for the money invested, the best return to the nation. This is not available in water resource development. Certainly, if it is available, nobody seems to know anything about it. The orderly formulation of a national water resources programme requires that evaluation should commence with the measurement of direct benefits and costs but should be supplemented with standard procedures for taking account of secondary benefits and costs.

The urgent need for a comprehensive national planning approach to multiple purpose water conservation is illustrated in the Government’s approach to the development of the Burdekin River basin. Approximately 8 years ago the Queensland Government submitted the Broken River project located in the Burdekin basin as a priority scheme for Commonwealth financial assistance. There was no supporting evidence in terms of economics to justify the priority rating. The Commonwealth has now completed an appraisal of this project, but again in isolation. There has been no attempt to examine the development of the Burdekin basin as a whole within the framework of an overall plan of economic and planned development in order that federal funds will be invested in the most efficient way. The correct approach is for a competent evaluation team to plan the development of water resources in the Burdekin River basin as a whole instead of having a patchwork of unco-ordinated plans. In this way the many project alternatives can be evaluated within the criteria laid down by the Government with the object of the nation reaping the maximum benefit from the funds invested.

I find it deplorable that the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) approves of this slapdash way of developing national resources, particularly in river basins. There are some arguments for the Ord because that was the major scheme in that river basin, but there is no excuse for this piecemeal approach to such rivers as the great Fitzroy, the Burdekin and parts of the Darling. Years ago the United States Government laid down certain principles and these principles underlie the United States Government’s action on water conservation. One of these basic principles is that Congress will direct the responsible agencies to submit proposals for water resources development to Congress only in the form of basin programmes which deal with entire basins as units and which take into account all relevant purposes in water and land development. This multi-purpose basin approach should apply to the whole process by which water resources projects move from the survey to the authorisation and appropriation stages. It enables Congress and the people concerned to have a clear picture of the entire development programme and its relationship to the economic and social development of the regions and the nation. That is sound evaluation of development and economic principles.

At the present time in Queensland the Liberal Minister, for Justice, Dr Delamothe. repeatedly promises the people in his electorate that the Broken River project has the highest priority in Northern Queensland and will be supported by the Commonwealth. The people are being led to believe that it is only a matter of time before this project is approved by the Commonwealth. I support the project. I believe it is a good project, but I represent the same area as Dr Delamothe and, although I do support this project, just as 1 supported the others, 1 believe this isolated ad hoc approach to the development of the giant Burdekin basin denes every acceptable evaluation principle laid down through sheer experience in the evaluation of basin development. As one trained in development economics I deplore this present patchwork system.

We have already seen one example of the wastage of Federal funds, with respect to Chowilla. Whether this was a mistake or not is incidental. The fact is that that money up to the present time has been wasted and if proper planning had been implemented it is highly possible that this would not have occurred. It is essential that a national water conservation and constructing authority be established to carry out in association with State Governments the systematic planning and development of soundly based water storage projects in the major river systems with the criteria of justification laid down by the Commonwealth, not the States, because what is involved is national planning and national criteria, and this is quite distinct from regional criteria or regional development. The two great undeveloped basins of the Burdekin and Fitzroy rivers in Queensland and the partially developed MurrayDarling complex in the south are the three priority areas in Australia for large seals and small scale multiple water conservation development on a river basin or national approach.

The Labor Party believes that the remnants of the once world famous Snowy Mountains Authority should be welded into a national planning and development authority to ensure the efficient use of Federal funds. This authority would work in close conjunction with established and well thought of Federal agencies such as the Bureau of Mineral Resources, the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Organisation and the technical divisions of the Department of National Development, all agencies skilled in various fields. The overall objective would be to prepare a thoroughly evaluated development plan for the major river basins in the proven and established areas and particularly in those areas devastated by recurring drought.

The Snowy Mountains Authority has achieved a world renowned reputation in the field of civil engineering with respect to planning, design and construction. It has developed special skills which have been acclaimed throughout the world in the design and construction of water conservation and conveyance works, including large dams, inter-mountain and trans-mountain tunnels, steel pipelines and aquaducts, as well as constructing townships. Labor recognises the intense State jealousies over the Snowy Mountains Authority. It appals me to read of and hear State authorities condemning and criticising the work of the Snowy Authority and always saying that they could do the work just as well, if not better. Every State Commissioner understandably wants to be the king within his own domain. Even in the Commonwealth sphere the Department of Works considers it is just as competent as the Snowy Mountains Authority. If a Federal Labor Government is to be expected to provide large amounts of Federal funds for water resources development throughout Australia the Opposition firmly believes that a national water resources organisation to construct, to co-ordinate, to work in with the State Governments, to have uniform criteria with all the States and local government authorities on a national basis would be in the best interests of Australia. This is not to be interpreted in any way as a move to weaken State authorities. Rather is it the reverse. It would strengthen them because the Commonwealth and States would be working in co-operation in a partnership,

I find that the shocking decision of the Gorton Government not to allow the Snowy Mountains Authority to carry out any construction works in Australia, not even in the Australian Capital Territory or the Northern Territory, is a decision which must rank as one of the worst political decisions ever made by any Federal Government since federation. This decision is seen to be even worse when it is realised that this great organisation is able to construct in foreign countries for foreign Governments while it cannot construct within our own nation. If it is possible to salvage the remnants of the Snowy Mountains Authority a Labor Government would rebuild this once proud organisation so that it could be phased gradually into the major long term task of national planning and national construction in the three areas which are considered to have the highest priority from a Federal point of view, that is, the Burdekin and Fitzroy basins - two giant basins - and, of course, the Murray-Darling complex.

I hope that the Minister when he replies will throw more light on the points I have been making because I make these points seriously. I think we must have national planning for the efficient use of resources. In America it was not until the Tennesee Valley Authority was created that there was any concentrated battery of research facilities for the special purposes of determining the efficient economical potential of a whole river basin as distinct from uncoordinated and ad hoc decisions which had prevailed up to that point of time and which is what is happening in Australia. Never before in America was an agency so fully equipped to carry out this efficient fully co-ordinated work. I do not think anybody would argue that the Tennessee Valley Authority and other similar Federal authorities have done a magnificent job, in co-operation with the States, but it has always been on a national basis with uniform national criteria applying. I believe if this approach could be adopted in Australia we would see a national water authority established which would be of tremendous and vital importance to the future planning and welfare of this nation.

To recapitulate, let me say that the lack of any semblance of a national plan for the continuous development of Australian water resources has cost the Australian taxpayer millions of dollars in inefficient decisions made by this Government. Some honourable members may say that is not true, but nobody can argue that the money that has gone down the drain in the Chowilla project is not a waste of Federal or taxpayers’ money. We do not know whether the money spent on the Ord River, on the Nogoa River and on the Burnett River in northern Australia and other projects in New South Wales and Victoria represent the best utilisation of Federal funds in terms of national benefits, because those projects have been treated in isolation. I repeat that I believe they are al) good projects and will prove themselves because I know, as well as the previous Minister for National Development knows, the tremendous opposition engendered throughout Australia against the Ord River scheme, and against all irrigation projects for that matter. Most of this opposition is based on false premises of laissez faire economics. As I have pointed out many times to the critics, if they used the same criteria for secondary industry as they want to use for irrigation I doubt whether we would have one secondary industry in Australia today. Certainly, there would be no steel or motor car industries and no secondary industry of major importance. We would be reduced to a nation producing wool, wheat, beef, grains and sugar to supply local demands.

This is the type of criteria which cannot be treated in isolation. It has to be treated nationally and that is why I stress that we need a national approach. 1 have concentrated on the northern areas because my colleague, the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby), will speak principally on the MurrumbidgeeMurrayDarling complex. I want to hear from the Minister for National Development what has happened to the Burdekin River assessment because 3 years ago the Federal Government promised a comprehensive reappraisal of the Burdekin River project. The Queensland Premier, acting on advice from the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and the previous Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn), also promised it. But, what has happened to it? Surely, when a promise is made to the people by a government that promise should be honoured. There may be some delays, but this has been a 3-year delay. It is no good the Government saying that it is studying maps and other information and trying to integrate the Greenvale area with something else. If it is done properly it is done by an evaluation team, skilled in the various disciplines, which -an go into an area, get the cooperation of local and State authorities and do a proper evaluation such as was done on the Ord, the Fairbairn Dam project and the Burnett. This has not yet been done.

This deliberate discrimination against the Burdekin River scheme is one example of the mounting charges of bias and inefficiency that are being levelled against the Government. The practice of selecting patchwork pieces of a major river basin on some hit and miss criteria without any overall evaluation plan for that entire basin is dangerous economically. This sort of practice in other countries has resulted in wastage of funds. It has caused wastage of funds in Australia and will continue to have that result unless there is some concrete plan for that particular river basin. 1 am not suggesting that we should have a plan for the whole of Australia, but that we should not be looking at a river basin on a hotch potch, unco-ordinated and ad hoc basis. It must be planned properly in the best interests of national development. I have repeatedly suggested that the Broken River project is acceptable. I think that Dr Delamothe is right in his objections: This is not the way to develop economically.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired. Is the motion seconded.

Mr Grassby:

– I second the motion and reserve my right to speak.

Minister for National Development · Darling Downs · LP

– The honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) certainly has a special interest in the Burdekin Basin and referred to it at length today as he has done on a few occasions in the past. I indicated to him on the last occasion when he raised this matter that a study is being undertaken of the Broken River area, which is primarily the responsibility of the Queensland Government, but the Commonwealth Government is providing some assistance to the State. This is part of an overall study of the whole area, lt is not for the Commonwealth Government to take the initiative, but we are co-operating to the best of our ability. When any further information is available as a result of the intensive study that is being undertaken, the honourable member for Dawson will certainly be kept informed. It is interesting to look back at history. In the Hansard reports of 4th May 1967 and 4th April 1968 one can see that similar motions were moved by the honourable member for Dawson and somewhat similar speeches were made by him. Of course, on both of those occasions, the Parliament did not accept the proposals that he put forward. By referring in detail today to a number of matters I want merely to indicate why in substance the basis of his proposal is still not acceptable to the Government. However, he made some points concerning co-ordination from a national point of view in which we have a special interest and in which we are taking an active part at the moment. Not only is the Government aware of the importance of water as a basic factor in the growth of Australia, but also it has been doing, is doing and will continue to do something about it. The honourable member for Dawson spoke about systematic development and the need for association with the States. For many years both of these factors have been a feature of the role of the Commonwealth Government in the development of Australia’s water resources. Let me outline briefly for the benefit of the House such of our policy and action as would make the honourable member’s motion substantially meaningless.

Under the Constitution the measurement, assessment, conservation, development and control of surface and underground water resources within the States are the responsibility of the individual State governments. The water conservation programmes being undertaken by the States are ample testimony that they recognise the need to develop and make available as much water as possible for use in rural areas and in towns and cities. The Commonwealth, for its part, has evolved and is continuing to evolve a pattern of co-operation with the States in this vital field of water conservation and development. In addition, the Commonwealth has provided direct assistance where specific projects of value are beyond the financial or technical resources of individual States, especially where it is considered that their development is in the national interest.

The Commonwealth’s increasingly active role falls under the following headings: Firstly, the work of Commonwealth departments and agencies in data collection, analysis and dissemination; the provision of technical, scientific and consultant services and hydrologic and engineering research: Secondly, in special agreements with the States in specific instances of water conservation and development, such as the Snowy Mountains scheme and the River Murray Commission: Thirdly, financial assistance for selected works, such as the Ord River scheme, the Blowering Dam, the Fairbairn Dam at Emerald, the BundabergKolan water scheme and the proposed border rivers scheme: Fourthly, the work of the Australian Water Reseources Council; and, lastly, the National Water Resources Development Programme. These are all the bases for co-operation and coordination between the Commonwealth Government and the individual States.

It is obvious that Commonwealth departments and agencies have undertaken to cover a wide field of basic investigation into water resources. In many cases, the work is done in close collaboration with the States, often with supplementary work being undertaken by the States themselves. However, a great deal of original investigation is undertaken by the Commonwealth, fol lowing lines of general interest to all States and, where appropriate, the specific interests of one or more States.

The Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology is involved in a massive programme of collection, processing and analysis of rainfall, evaporation and other climatological data. Its water forecasting service has been steadily expanded and made more comprehensive. The Bureau also provides flood forecasting services of great value in areas subject to sudden variations in stream levels. In addition to these important information services, the Bureau conducts extensive research into the problem associated with climate and water resources in general. I mention these things in some detail because I feel it would be a great pity if too much credence was given to statements by the honourable member which would detract from the value of the co-ordinating assistance given by the Commonwealth to the States.

However, I go even further. When we look at the part that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industry Research Organisation has played, and is playing, through extensive research into a wide range of topics associated with water, we will appreciate that this is another very active field indeed. This work of the CSIRO includes processes involved in the various stages of the hydrological cycle; instrumentation, including the development of equipment for the automatic recording and processing of hydrologic data; the relationship between soil moisture and plant growth; irrigation practice; water modification: the reduction of evaporation, and finally desalination processes.

The Land Research Division of the CSIRO provides regional reports on land resources, and these, of course, have proved of great value to State planning authorities. Research stations operated by the CSIRO conduct studies of direct significance to the investigation and planning of irrigation development. Then, of course, there is the work of one of the most expert teams ever assembled in this country. I refer - although it was denigrated to some degree by the honourable member for Dawson - to the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation which, as you know, was established last year and will continue to make use of the engineering skills and expertise built up by the

Snowy Mountains Authority during the construction of the Snowy Mountains Scheme. This Corporation is currently making feasibility studies, providing technical and scientific services and other consultant facilities, on a commercial basis, to the States and other bodies, both inside and outside Australia, in their assessment and development of water resources. To date we have the work of the Bureau of Meteorology, the work of the CSIRO and of the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation, we have the assistance in the field of finance and we have the basic working arrangements with the various States. Together these practical policies and activities do in fact constitute the national co-ordination which the honourable member seeks.

But this is by no means the full story in this field. My own Department of National Development provides topographic, geologic and water resources maps which are vitally important, specialist services in geophysics for studies of underground water and also in engineering geology, and also the secretariat for the Australian Water Resources Council, which, as the House knows, comprises Ministers in charge of water use and storage in all States. The Bureau of Mineral Resources of the Department of National Development takes into consideration, in its national programme of geological mapping, the likely occurrence and availability of underground water in relation to geological structure. In addition, the Bureau has over the last decade provided considerable assistance to the States by making available geophysical services for use in exploration for underground water and in engineering studies in connection with proposed dam construction. The Commonwealth also provides other indirect assistance for water resources development. One of the most important of these is the allowance of the cost of farm water development as an income tax deduction. This can amount to a substantial rebate where the works are carried out in high income years.

I mentioned the Australian Water Resources Council just in passing but I should examine it more fully - indeed, if I had the time, perhaps at some length - in terms of the honourable member’s motion seeding what I believe, in view of what I have said and of the other things we have in mind in relation to future development, would be a body which would be superimposed unnecessarily. In 1962 the Commonwealth Government took the initiative to promote co-operation in the assessment of Australia’s water resources. As a result, all Australian Governments agreed to establish the Australian Water Resources Council, the primary objective of which is the provision of a continuing, comprehensive assessment of our water resources and the extension of measurement and research so that future planning can be conducted on a sound, scientific basis.

The Council’s functions cover a very wide field and in practically all there has been very good progress. A number of permanent committees and ad hoc advisory panels gather and filter expert information to help deal with the major issues affecting the assessment and use of water. The more important subjects under consideration - and I believe they are, in the main, the very things the honourable member is seeking - are accelerated water resources measurement, and I do not think anyone would deny the priority that should be given to this; the administration and management of water resources, including quality; and, thirdly, money for research and a research programme.

The first official assessment of Australia’s water resources has already been made and published. This provided positive information previously not available and also directed attention to areas where data collection needed improving. Following a recommendation by the Water Resources Council, the Commonwealth and the States have launched an accelerated programme of surface and underground water investigations. This is well known to the House. It is planned to double the number of stream gauging stations to more than 2,800 by 1974. Besides implementing its own accelerated programmes in the Northern Territory, the Commonwealth has assisted the States programmes by making grants totalling about $2. 5m over the 3 years to 1966-67, $4.5m over the 3 years to 1969- 70, and it proposes to give up to $8.2m in the 3 years up to 1972-73.

I conclude on the note that in this field, by the work of national water development which has been implemented and extended for a further period by this Government, by the co-ordinating authorities that I have mentioned and by other matters which will be up for consideration by the Government in the near future, the proposal of the honourable member for Dawson can be fully met now and in the future.

Dr Patterson:

– I wish to make a personal explanation, Mr Deputy Speaker. 1 claim to have been misrepresented and I wish to put the record straight. I do not think the Minister could have heard me correctly if he drew the conclusion that 1 denigrated the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation. The remarks I directed at the Snowy Mountains Authority were ones of praise and certainly not of denigration.


– I rise to second and strongly support the motion moved by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson), that a national water resources and constructing authority, embracing the Snowy Mountains Authority, be established by the Commonwealth to carry out works of great national importance. This is a most important motion and I would have hoped that the House would have been crowded and that this Parliament would have been enthusiastic in applying itself to this basic matter of national development. It is rather a tragedy that in 1971 the nation seems to be turning its back on its own development. The lack of interest shown in the motion this morning is an illustration of this. If we are not up to developing our own nation, there are many other nations that will be quite happy to do it for us, but they will buy it in the process and therefore control it.

This important motion now before the House seeks to update Australia so that it will catch up at least with the United States of America which more than 70 years ago enacted national water legislation. The 3 great fundamental needs for development in this country are, firstly, national water legislation that must come about in this Parliament; secondly, the establishment of a national authority such as is envisaged in this motion; and thirdly, the drawing up of a national water plan, so that the kind of fragmented approach to development which we have seen in the past will no longer apply. The sort of situation I want to refer to, particularly in my opening remarks, is that which has occurred in the MurrayMurrumbidgee area. This should not occur in the future. The situation is that those 2 great rivers both have significant irrigation settlements and both have a great capacity for development and further development. Yet at the moment there is a distortion in the relationship between the 2 rivers because the industries, settlements and people along the Murray, and I particularly refer to my own electorate, are on the edge of disaster in that they are operating on water allocations which are based on the fiction that the Chowilla Dam has already been completed. In other words, the whole of their ration, the whole of their inadequate allocation, is based today on a dam that does not exist - a dam on which we spent $6m.

That dam is further away from construction at the present time than it was when the legislation first came before this House. The proposal now is to build the Dartmouth Dam. I do not want to go into all the background at this stage. No purpose would be served in doing that. At the moment we have an offer, which is a generous compromise, by the Premier of South Australia to end this deadlock. I appeal to the Minister to accept the offer of the compromise which has been made and to break the deadlock. The Minister said 2 or 3 days ago that the. ball was in the court of the Premier of South Australia. That is no longer so, because the Premier said: ‘I will appropriate the money. I will go ahead with Dartmouth. All I ask is recognition of my right’ - and after all he is the Premier of a sovereign State - ‘to apply myself to a dam in my own area, namely Chowilla, in the future.’ Surely this is reasonable. 1 ask the Minister to accept that compromise.

I might say that the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) who is seeking to interject does little service to the River Murray valley in his persistence in trying to divide people. I ask him to forget for once petty politics and apply himself, at least on behalf of the people he is supposed to represent, to having this compromise accepted so that we can get on with the job and end the present deadlock.

Mr Giles:

– Chowilla is in your electorate.


– I have made my point quite plain. I reiterate my appeal to all honourable members. I hope that this compromise will be accepted. The distortions I referred to between the Murray River and the Murrumbidgee River are caused by this situation of some desperation in the south. The Southern Districts Irrigation Council has been concerned to see an end to the squabbling and haggling and it is very pleased that we have reached the stage of the possibility of compromising action. I wanted to say that on their behalf today and I hope that everybody comes to the party on that basis.

Probably the worst single domestic decision of an Australian government was the Government’s decision to demolish the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority and for that it will forever be damned. What is tragic is the consequence that that decision has had. I suppose that at the present time across the world in Asia, the United States, the Middle East and throughout Europe there are thousands of engineers who are doing a job servicing the needs of other people in other countries when this country needs them. Those people have been scattered and the Authority itself has broken up and in its place we have only a limited instrument. There is an urgent need for a national authority on water conservation. If the experience of any other country in arid zones of the world means anything we are lagging by 70 years. The dispersal of our skills across the world is, I. think, a tragedy for Australia. Of course we have the little people in our nation who say that we cannot possibly develop it. that we do not have the outlets, the need or even the will. If we do not have the will to develop this continent let us finish the humbug, put the country on the market and sell it and let us share the profits.

In relation to irrigation I am pleased that the Minister mentioned the Division of Irrigation Research of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation with which I was associated for a very long time. The Division of Irrigation Research brings several disciplines together in research and in engineering and also a team, which we have had from time to time, skilled in economics. It is an unusual team but at least it has come up with some constructive answers to some of the problems of national development that have worried us. I commend to those who have an interest in national development a study of the papers and findings of those in that Division. It could give them a refreshing outlook on some of the problems of development which we face at the present time.

One of the paradoxes for which Australia is becoming notorious is that in a continent in which drought is endemic we have a debate which questions whether we have too much water conservation. 1 suppose that this sort of doubt has led to the suspension of even the proper investigation of the great dry of the Darling River. There was the concept of a Darling authority and a Darling basin development which was the most exciting development project in southern Australia. At that time the Deputy Prime Minister, who has now left us and gone to his reward, said that he was interested in supporting it and at another stage the Premier of New South Wales and the Premier of Queensland indicated they were also interested but before any finality could be reached 1 left and the other 2 gave up. I do not know why, but the great vision was set to one side. My complaint is that it was not even investigated. The closest we came to any sort of investigation was a series of pontifical pronouncements by the Minister for Conservation in New South Wales who relied on data at least 30 years old. He said: ‘No, we could not undertake some of these works, lt is just not possible’. That is poor and inadequate. We need to investigate in a proper and validly technical way the development jobs remaining to be tackled in this nation.

I return to the approach to irrigation. The Treasurer (Mr Bury) has been referring in this Parliament to the shortage of land when we have a largely unoccupied continent. We now have a new rash of critics who are frightened that we have too many people when we have reached probably one-sixteenth of our potential. One of the greatest myths which we should tackle now is the myth of national expenditure on irrigation. An examination of completed irrigation projects in every State since the nation came together in 1901 indicates that our total public investment is less than S400m. That means we have been spending on a national level at a rate of less than $6m a year. We spend more each year in importing Scotch whisky. We should demolish the myth that this nation has made a major investment in irrigation. Tt has not. Yet casual critics of conservation have been calling for a moratorium on dam construction when they do not know what they are saying. The total expenditure on new water projects now under construction in Australia amounts to $729m. Of that amount $432m was primarily for urban water supply and the remaining $297m was for projects such as flow control, salinity control, and some existing town water supplies but only a minority proportion for purely irrigation purposes.

It could be assumed that critics of irrigation over the years have been successful in limiting the national investment in irrigation because there has been so little of it. What return does the nation receive from irrigation? First of all, assured food supplies. Australia irrigates about 3 million acres or about 0.1 per cent of the land mass of Australia and from this small area of the continent has come in most years of the past 2 decades a quarter of our gross agricultural production. For example, 30 per cent of our fruit and vegetables come from areas under irrigation. Irrigation production has been the linchpin of price stability in the cities. A Treasury White Paper published last July indicated that the most stable factor in a situation of rising costs was foodstuffs, that is, foodstuffs which are fresh and unprocessed. In addition, during the worst years of drought in the nation’s history the cities continued to receive and enjoy constant supplies of good quality food at comparatively stable prices. All this was made possible to a great degree by irrigation. For example, half of all the foodstuffs moving into Sydney originate in irrigation areas.

In a country where drought is endemic it would be playing Russian roulette with the food supplies of a nation to leave them to the vagaries of natural rainfall. Irrigation has made a major contribution to the gross national product. Irrigation industries have been responsible for feeding into the gross national product for some time more than $ 1,000m annually. Of course, the secondary benefits which are so much discussed have been many. Irrigation has also pointed the way to urgently needed improvements in efficiency in production by showing what can be done, for example, in animal production with the help of irrigation. This is supplementary irrigation. I would stress, of course, that the references to irrigation are not limited to defined government areas or in fact to irrigation districts but to all of the purposes for which we need to use irrigation. 1 refer to defined areas, districts, supplementary irrigation, irrigation from bores and the public and private sectors.

We have had some magnificent examples of how irrigation helps to achieve balanced development. I might say that in my own area the Murrumbidge Irrigation Area acts as a great food bowl for our cities. In fact, 1,500 tons of food can move out of the MIA each day, providing ilb of food per day per head for the entire population of Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong. This is no mean contribution to the stability of life in the cities. The other point that I wanted to make relates to the application of cost benefit analyses to the various projects which come before this Parliament from time to time. A national water authority would be properly geared in the economic sector to deal with these matters because there is no reason not to have the fullest and most searching economic analysis of every major project that comes before the House. We have never had it in this Parliament but we should have it in the future and the national water authority which I and the honourable member for Dawson support would help to bring it about. I appeal for at least consideration of it by all members of the House of Representatives today.


– Nobody in this House or in Australia would, I think, argue against the importance of water conservation and water storage generally. Water is the basis of life itself. It is the basis of all industry, both primary and secondary, and obviously a country has to develop its water resources if it is to survive. But the way this is done is quite a different question having regard to a number of things such as the size of the country, its Constitution and who in fact has the right to do certain things. This is what this motion is really all about. The motion states amongst other things: . . by establishing by the Commonwealth. . . .

Quite obviously this would not be possible under the Constitution. The motion goes on:

  1. . to carry out in association with the States. . . .

As I read this it means that the Commonwealth is to establish a certain authority regardless of what the States may think. I would argue strongly against such a proposal as the States have certain rights and they are certainly much closer to the problems associated with the development of this country than is the Commonwealth and they must be taken into consideration. In my opinion the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) did not deal with this motion at all. He seemed to be more interested in his own electorate and in something to do with the Dartmouth and Chowilla dams so there is little of his contribution which needs to be answered. But I think the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) - I do not think I am misquoting him - and also the honourable member for Riverina did mention that our engineers - I think they were referring to the engineers associated with the Snowy Mountains Authority - were engaged in various projects overseas. If I heard them correctly they suggested that these engineers would be better employed in Australia.

Let us look at this firstly on an international basis. Australia is a very lucky country. One has only to travel a little in other parts of the world to appreciate this. If one has been to some of the projects on which Australian engineers are working in various parts of the world and seen the job of work they are doing together with many engineers from many other countries I do not think anybody would begrudge the work they are doing. When one considers the circumstances under which the people of these countries live with absolutely none of the amenities that Australian people are used to in every-day life, one must admit that these engineers are doing a tremendous job and it is reasonable that these engineers, operating under the auspices of the Australian Government and other governments, should in fact be doing this work. From what I have seen I do not begrudge for one moment any assistance in upgrading the standard of living of these people. But this question of how we develop our water resources is a very important one. It is fairly obvious in looking at the overall pattern that our main water supply is in the northern section; right across the top as we call it. Most of the speeches that have been made up to this point in the debate have dealt mainly with projects that could be or have been carried out on the eastern side of the continent but I think it is obvious that if Australia is to be developed correctly and as we would like to see it developed water will have to be taken from the north and utilised in the south. I do not suggest that we should take all of it, but there is far too much in the north anyway.

As I see it this question is of paramount importance to my own State of Western Australia where there is obviously a shortage of water in the south and more will have to come from the north. The question that then arises is from where in the north? This is an important point as far as the State is concerned. I would like to use an example which we have seen in the south because it was one of the earliest schemes in the Commonwealth. It was known as the Kalgoorlie scheme. Through this scheme, which was designed by that great engineer, C. Y. O’Connor, water was taken from the coastal area 300 miles inland to Kalgoorlie. In those days, of course, any chap who said that this could be done was regarded as quite crazy and this is the way the Press and everyone else at that time regarded him. But when one looks at this project and the results it has achieved one should remember the economists who say that schemes of this sort are right or not right. A few years ago everybody was suggesting that the goldfields would die, the population would disappear and the scheme would be of no value, yet we have the situation today where, with the boom in nickel and other minerals, an extension of this scheme will be required. So great foresight was shown in 1901 when moves in this direction first started.


– Order! lt being 2 hours after the time set down for the meeting of the House, the debate on the motion is interrupted.

Motion (by Mr Swartz) agreed to:

That the time for discussion of the notice be extended to 12.45 p.m.


- Mr Deputy Speaker, I was indicating to the House, before the time for this debate was extended, the importance of some projects some 70 years after they were instituted by a knowledgeable engineer in opposition to the views of so called knowledgeable economists or other persons writing in the Press. These are the important facts. These projects must be established to maintain faith in the development within this nation. These are important projects indeed. I mention the importance of and the difficulty in getting all the States together, as is suggested by this motion, to reach agreement. The construction of the Snowy Mountains project warranted the Commonwealth and the States being involved in an agreement to do that job. When the job was finished, that was the end of it.

The Dartmouth and Chowilla Dams have been mentioned on several occasions here today. The episodes that have taken place in the House in recent times make us realise just how difficult it is for the States to obtain agreement on these 2 projects. J understand that one State still has not agreed to the construction of the Dartmouth Dam. This, indicates the tremendous problems that arise when we try to take away from the individual States thenrights. The Commonwealth has a job to do - this is evident - but certainly the Commonwealth cannot take the initiative and do the job for the States, which is what this motion suggests.

Although the 2 speakers from the Opposition mentioned the Ord River scheme on one or two occasions, they dealt mainly with projects on the eastern side of Australia. If a Commonwealth authority of the nature suggested by the honourable member for Dawson were established, it would follow the pattern of a number of other authorities. It would be eastern power based, if I can use that phrase.

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation has been mentioned. I have point out in this House before - this is nothing new - that the headquarters of the CSIRO are based within one third of the Commonwealth, that is, on the eastern side of Australia. This is correct. Honourable members may check it if they like. I have been trying to get some recognition of the need for the establishment of a CSIRO centre in the west. This is the problem. If honourable members look at the distribution of drought relief moneys, they will find that whereas approximately $10Om has been spent in the eastern States, not $1 has been spent in the west. I would say that in relation to drought relief that if 1 per cent or 2 per cent of the total funds which have been made available to the other States of Australia were made available to Western

Australia, the heartbreak, the difficult social problems and the economic problems facing farmers today would not be occurring.

It is of concern to me that any national project usually is based on the eastern side of Australia to the advantage of that area of the country although the west of Australia is just as important as its eastern side. If the project mentioned in the motion of the honourable member for Dawson were instituted I have no doubt whatever that it would follow the same lines. I feel that a major policy decision that Australians must make is whether the States themselves and the local authorities themselves will be able to continue to do the job of work that they constitutionally are entitled to do or whether this responsibility will be based with a central government such as the Commonwealth Government.

As I see lt, the Commonwealth has its job to do. But, in relation to the proposal that we are discussing, we should allow the States and their engineers to do their job. I feel that if the proposal contained in the motion moved by the honourable member for Dawson today were brought into being the functions of the States and the ideas of their engineers would be taken over. It could be argued against that view that there would be cooperation between the various institutions within the States and the Commonwealth. We have been concerned recently about costs within the State and Commonwealth Governments. At this point as I understand it - and I do not think the Minister for National Development would argue with this - we have the necessary machinery within the States. The engineers and others have been quite successful in carrying out work of this type within the States. When they have the resources to do this work, they have been very successful indeed.

The Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority was set up to do a specific job. That is fine. But to set up a Commonwealth authority such as that suggested in the motion would be to duplicate completely the States’ functions. Here again, extra expenditure would he incurred by the Commonwealth and the States to do a job of work which can be done by the engineers and by the machinery that are available in Australia today. I believe that the Commonwealth has to take a great interest in the water resources and the water development projects within Australia. The Commonwealth has the main financial strength to finance these projects, but it has not the power under the Constitution to take over the building or to make the decision as to what shall be done within Australia. Nevertheless it has its part to play. Where possible, decisions should be made by the States themselves. Where rivers flow from one State to another, projects should be coordinated between those States, as happened in the case of the Snowy Mountains Authority. No doubt this is being done. But the establishment of an overall authority by the Commonwealth to do this particular job is not constitutional and in my opinion is not desirable.

Mr FitzPATRICK (Darling) (12.38)- The establishment of a national water conservation and constructing authority, in my opinion, is long overdue. I support the remarks made by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) and the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby). Because of the drastic cut in my speaking time, I will have to leave out very important matters with which I would have liked to deal. It seems to me that water is one of the most important necessary commodities. The quality and quantity of water available involve the life of every man, woman and child in the nation and decide the conditions of health and happiness in which they live in every town and village. The availability of water also decides the beauty of the life of many of these places.

Every form of development that has taken place in this country was in the first instance dependent on water. Regardless of this, from a national point of view - and for that matter from a State point of view - water has been largely taken for granted and instead of harnessing and directing the waters of our great rivers and streams, in many cases we have destroyed and polluted them. Everyone knows that at times we have shown some good form on a stop-go basis and have produced some fine results such as the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme. However, we should have made moves to initiate other national schemes. It seems to me that we should have taken some steps to develop, conserve and protect our inland waters. It is hard to enter a debate on the finer points of water conservation unless one possesses some qualifications to do so. But surely there is enough evidence before us to convince even the dullest that we are making no progress in harnessing, controlling and conserving our water resources. The only way to sum up the present position is to say that droughts are more severe and that floods are just as damaging. Most honourable members in this House have lived through many of these disasters. In my case I have seen more droughts than floods. But both of these disasters make one more conscious of the importance of water.

I want to refer to an opinion which was expressed in the ‘Inverell Times’ as far back as 1 968. lt is as follows: . . the growth of urban areas will mean that much of the water now being stored for agricultural purposes will soon have to be used for domestic purposes. It is very evident thai in the years to come, every means will have to be employed to ensure that no drop of water is wasted and that the bulk of the water used for domestic and industrial purposes is captured, treated and used again. We can also expect that the day will come when an economical process of desalination is developed, thus enabling great volumes of water to be pumped from the 3ea to the inland of countries like Australia.

That indicates the importance of setting up a national water authority. There can be no doubt that in a nation comprised of 70 per cent arid and semi-arid land, where the threat of drought is always present, and in the State of New South Wales where 60 per cent of the area could be classified as being arid or semi-arid land, the need to have up to date information and therefore to be able to harness all the water resources on a national as well as on a State basis is essential. I have attended meetings of the Walgett Water Users Association and the Barwon-Darling Water Users Association, as well as having joined in discussions with representatives from the Darling Basin Authority. There can be no doubt that it is long past the time when plans should be investigated in order to bring the waters from the eastern slopes of the mountains to supplement the inland waters, particularly those of the central and western divisions of New South Wales.

If the Liberal-Country Party Government had set out to destroy the Snowy Mountains Authority it could not have done a better job because the greatest design and construction team ever assembled in the Southern Hemisphere has been reduced to a consultative body. We should salvage what is left of the Authority and with its knowledge and experience make it the nucleus of an Australian water authority, which the Labor Party says should be established. The scheme put forward by the Barwon-Darling Water Users Association should be fully investigated, lt is based on a proposition put forward many years ago by Dr Bradfield, an eminent civil engineer, when he conceived the idea of diverting eastern waters to the west. Mr John W. Campbell, a consulting engineer of South Grafton, has made a close study of this proposition. He has put forward in detail a case for the diversion of the Clarence River waters west by the use of mountain tunnels and pumping. The Walgett Water Users Association claims that the capacity of the Clarence River gorge dam is greater than any other man made dam in the world. Mr Campbell has set out a comparison between the Snowy Mountains Scheme and a Clarence River scheme, and it may be beneficial to quote a little of it. He said:

The Snowy Mountains scheme supplies water to three States whereas the Clarence River waters could be made available for irrigation in four States, viz. Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

With regard to potential, the Clarence Valley would compare with the Snowy-Tumut development where the 2700 ft fall between Tumut Pond Reservoir and the outlet of Blowering Power Station is utilised, lt ls a question of a comprehensive investigation into a dual purpose scheme for both power and irrigation.

He goes on to deal with the various advantages of the Clarence River scheme. Mr Deputy Speaker, in the short time remaining to me I want to say something about underground water. 1 believe that it is in this field that we are really missing out.


– Order! The time allotted for precedence to General Business has expired. The honourable member for Darling will have leave to continue his speech when the debate is resumed. The resumption of the debate will be made, an order of the day under General Business for the next sitting.

Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.

page 658


Bill presented by Mr Sinclair, and read a first time.

Second Reading

Minister for Primary Industry · New England · CP

– I move:

The purpose of this Bill is to provide for the establishment and operation of a joint Commonwealth/ industry research scheme for the Australian dried fruit industry. Funds will be raised by means of a levy on dried fruits and the Commonwealth will provide matching contributions on a dollar for dollar basis to meet expenditure on approved research projects. It is the established policy of the Government to encourage and foster the development of schemes of this nature in which the industry concerned will contribute funds for research into problems affecting the industry. The dried fruits industry will be the eighth primary industry to finance research into its own problems. Similar schemes are already operating successfully for the wool, wheat, meat, dairy products, tobacco, eggs and chicken meat industries.

Dried fruits production is of considerable economic importance to the rural communities where these fruits are grown and exports of dried fruits contribute significantly to our export earnings. In common with other primary industries, dried fruits producers are faced with rising costs, increasing competition in world markets and more stringent standards imposed by importing countries. The industry has recognised that additional research into problems associated with the production, processing and packaging of dried fruits is needed to enable the industry to face these challenges and to maintain stability. In particular the industry has stressed the need for investigations on the processing side. The Australian requested the Government to introduce a legislative research scheme for dried fruits. The Australian Dried Fruits Association is representative of all sectors of the dried fruits industry in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, lt is proposed that the research scheme will embrace dried vine fruits - currants, sultanas and raisins - and dried tree fruits, namely, apricots, pears, peaches, nectarines and prunes. There is a small production of dried apples in Tasmania but it is not proposed to incorporate dried apples in the scheme at this juncture. The proposed research scheme will not apply to the wine and fresh grapes section of the vine fruits industry although, of course, research or production aspects could be of benefit to those sections of the industry.

The Government is willing to participate with the dried fruits industry in a jointly financed research scheme. The appropriate State Ministers have been informed about the proposal and all have endorsed it. The Bill will establish a Dried Fruits Research Trust Account and provides for the appointment of a Dried Fruits Research Committee which will make recommendations concerning expenditure from the Account. The Bill sets out the purposes for which expenditure from the Account may be approved. For a number of years the Commonwealth has joined with the industry in financing individual dried fruits research projects on an ad hoc basis. It is proposed that these research projects be brought within the ambit of the new legislative scheme. The Australian Dried Fruits Association and the Australian Dried Fruits Control Board have on hand funds derived from the industry to finance these projects. It is proposed that when these funds are paid into the Dried Fruits Research Trust Account they will be eligible for matching Commonwealth subventions when expended on approved research. The funds provided by the industry and the Commonwealth will be used only for additional research. Excellent research work is already being undertaken by State Departments of Agriculture and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and it is not the intention to relieve the States or the CSIRO from their responsibilities to continue their normal investigational activities into the problems of the dried fruit industry.

The Research Committee will comprise 4 representatives of the Australian Dried Fruits Association, 2 representatives of packers of dried fruits, 3 representatives of the Australian Agricultural Council and one representative each of CSIRO and the Department of Primary Industry.

Mr Cope:

– What about the honourable member for Mallee?


– Yes, he deserves a place. He is one of those who have always taken a pronounced interest in the dried fruits industry. I am glad that the honourable member for Sydney has mentioned him. The membership of the Research Committee will constitute a majority of industry representatives. This was requested by the industry. It is consistent with the situation in most of the other legislative research committees. Because the Committee will be responsible for recommending research concerning a wide range of dried fruits it is essential that the industry members of the Committee be chosen with care to ensure adequate representation of all sections of the industry. The Australian Dried Fruits Association will exercise this care in nominating its 4 representatives for appointment to the Committee. There is no single organisation of packers of dried fruits but all except 3 or 4 are closely associated with the Australian Dried Fruits Association. The ADFA will arrange in consultation with the various Packers’ Associations for the nomination of 2 packer representatives knowledgeable in dried tree fruits as well dried vine fruits.

The main function of the Research Committee will be to consider proposals for research and to formulate recommendations regarding expenditure on a comprehensive and co-ordinated programme of research for the dried fruits industry for approval by the Minister for Primary Industry. Moneys from the Trust Account are to be used for scientific, economic or technical research of benefit to the dried fruits industry and for such other purposes as are set out in the Bill. These purposes accord with similar provisions in other research legislation. In addition, the Research Committee will recommend on the operative rates of levy on dried fruits to be prescribed from time to time. In making such recommendations the Committee will consult as necessary with the Australian Dried Fruits Association. In bringing forward the proposals that are now incorporated in the legislation before the House the dried fruits industry has demonstrated the same spirit, of self help which is the feature of other joint Commonwealth industry research schemes. I commend the Bill to honourable members.

Debate (on motion by Dr Patterson) adjourned.

page 660


Bill presented by Mr Sinclair, and read a first time.

Second Reading

Minister for Primary Industry · New England · CP

– I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time. The purpose of this Bill is to authorise the imposition of a levy on dried fruits. Amounts equivalent to levy collections will be credited to the Dried Fruits Research Trust Account and be used to finance the dried fruits research scheme which I outlined in my second reading speech on the Dried Fruits Research Bill 1971, which I presented a few minutes ago. The legislation provides that the rate of levy must not exceed $1 a ton of currants, sultanas and raisins and $5 a ton of dried apricots, pears, peaches, nectarines and prunes. The operative rates of levy to be imposed will be prescribed by regulation. The levy will be imposed on the net sweat box weight of all dried fruits of these kinds delivered to packing houses after the commencement of the Act. lt is proposed that the initial operative rate of levy in respect of currants, sultanas and raisins will be SOc a ton. In respect to dried tree fruits operative rates of levy relating broadly to the respective sale value of each kind of fruit will be prescribed.

In establishing the actual rates of levy the recommendations of the Dried Fruits Research Committee are to be sought. Dried fruits are delivered by growers to packing houses for further processing, grading and packing. The Australian Dried Fruits Association has recommended and I have accepted that the levy be payable by the proprietor of the packing house to which dried fruits are delivered. The amount of the levy will be recoverable from growers’ returns. On average levels of production the levy on currants, sultanas and raisins is expected to raise some $45,000 annually from tha industry. Levies on dried tree fruits are expected to yield some $15,000 per annum. These amounts together with matching funds from the Commonwealth should provide approximately Si 20,000 annually to finance research projects of benefit to the dried fruits industry. I commend the Bill to honourable members.

Debate (on motion by Dr Patterson) adjourned.

page 660


Bill presented by Mr Sinclair, and read a first time.

Second Reading

Minister for Primary Industry · New England · CP

– I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time. The purpose of this Bill is to provide the machinery necessary for the collection of the levy on dried fruits imposed by the Dried Fruits Levy Bill 1971. The Bill provides for the Act to become operative on the date of commencement of that Levy Act and its provisions apply to all dried fruits delivered to packing houses in the 1971 season. It is the intention that all dried fruit packing houses, and there are only some 40-odd of them, will be registered with the Department of Primary Industry for the purposes of this legislation. The packing houses are known and each will be written to regarding the requirements of registration. Regulations will be made prescribing the manner of payment of levy, the records to be kept by packers, the form of returns to be provided by packers and such other matters as are conveniently prescribed by regulation to give effect to the Bill.

This Bill should be read as one with the Dried Fruits Levy Bill 1971. In some previous Bills dealing with the collection of levies, certain questions concerning law and justice have arisen in Parliament when the Bills were debates. These questions related to prosecutions and the collection of evidence. The present Bill has been modified compared to similar earlier Bills to take account of the views expressed on these questions. I commend the Bill to honourable members.

Debate (on motion by Dr Patterson) adjourned.

page 660


Bill presented by Mr Sinclair, and read a first time.

Second Reading

Minister for Primary Industry · New England · CP

– I move:

The purpose of this Bill is to provide for the establishment and operation of a joint Commonwealth-industry research scheme for the Australian pig industry. Funds will be raised by means of a levy on all pigs slaughtered for human consumption and the Government will provide a matching contribution, on a dollar for dollar basis to meet expenditure on approved research projects. This new scheme for the pig industry, together with the one proposed earlier for dried fruits research, means that nine industries whose production represents over 70 per cent of the combined worth of rural output are exercising self-help by contribution to research, backed by the Commonwealth Government. The pig industry in Australia is in a period of rapid growth and development. Pig numbers have increased fairly consistently from around 1 million in 1953 to 2.3 million in 1969 and at the same time there has been a trend to larger herd sizes. In the 16 years to 1968-69 pig meat production has almost doubled and for 1969-70 the gross value of pigs slaughtered is estimated to be in excess of $100m.

The pig industry through its Federal organisation, the Australian Commercial Pig Producers Federation, approached the Government and requested the introduction of the research scheme for their industry. The Government has expressed its willingness to participate with the pig industry in a jointly financed research scheme. The Australian Agricultural Council was also informed and has fully endorsed the proposals. The Federation is comprised of 6 State councils. Through the membership of the pig producer and breeder bodies who form these councils, the Federation represents by far the great majority of farmers in this industry. For many years the industry had been at a disadvantage because of the fragmented nature of its organisation. It now has a national voice, the Federation. One of the first actions of the Federation was to seek this research scheme thereby bringing the pig industry into line with the advantages enjoyed by other livestock industries.

The Bill will establish a Pig Research Trust Account and provide for a Pig Research Committee which will make recommendations concerning expenditure from the account. It also sets out the purposes for which money from the account can be used. The Research Committee will be comprised of 6 representatives from the

Australian Commercial Pig Producers Federation, 2 from the Australian Agricultural Council and 1 each representing the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, universities and the Department of Primary Industry. It will be noted that the industry representatives on the Committee constitute a majority. This was requested by the Industry and is consistent with the situation on the research committees that have been set up by legislation for other primary industries. The Committee will, among other duties, have the responsibility for recommending the amount of the industry levy. It will also consider research proposals and make recommendations on a comprehensive programme of research expenditure for the pig industry for approval by the Minister for Primary Industry. This programme would complement the valuable work already being undertaken by State Departments of Agriculture and the universities.

Purposes for which moneys from the account may be expended broadly follow the precedent established for other Commonwealth-industry research schemes. Moneys from the Trust Account would be used for scientific, economic or technical research into the Australian pig industry. The proposed research scheme is a logical extension of the schemes already operating successfully for other rural industries. In the pig industry there are many production and marketing problems to be overcome. These extend through disease control, breeding, nutrition, management and marketing. The industry is fully aware of the problems and recognises that a carefully planned research programme would materially assist in determining solutions. I consider that the industry has shown a responsible attitude in taking the initiative to bring forward the proposals that are now incorporated in the legislation before the House. I commend the Bill to honourable members.

Debate (on motion by Dr Patterson) adjourned.

page 661


Bill presented by Mr Sinclair, and read a first time.

Second Reading

Minister for Primary Industry · New England · CP

– I move: That the Bil] be now read a second time.

The purpose of this Bil! is to authorise the imposition of a levy on all pigs slaughtered for human consumption. The money so raised will be used to finance the scheme for a programme of research for the Australian pig industry which I outlined in my second reading speech on the Pig Research Bill 1971. The legislation provides for a maximum levy of 10c per pig slaughtered. The industry has indicated that it would support an operative rate of levy of 5c per pig slaughtered, but this operative rate, and any subsequent alterations, will be prescribed by regulation after recommendation to the Minister for Primary Industry by the Pig Industry Research Committee.

Levy collections will be payable initially by the proprietor of the abattoir at which pigs are slaughtered and will be recoverable from the owner of the pigs, lt is expected that the levy will raise between $150,000 and $165,000 annually and this together with the matching Commonwealth contribution will provide a sum expected to be over $300,000 a yeal for research purposes. Such an amount should make possible a considerable expansion in the research programme for the pig industry, leading to higher quality products and increased efficiency in the industry. 1 commend the Bill to honourable members.

Debate (on- motion by Dr Patterson) adjourned.

page 662


Bill presented by Mr Sinclair, and read a first time.

Second Reading

Mr Sinclair:
Minister for Primary Industry · New England · CP

(2.33) - I move:

Thai the Bill be now read a second time.

The purpose of this Bill, which is supplementary to the two on which I have just made second reading speeches is to provide the machinery necessary for the collection of the levy imposed by the Pig Slaughter Levy Bill 1971. The effect of the Bill is that the incidence of the levy will fall on the owner of the pig at time of slaughter. Provisions are also incorporated to cater for persons who regularly purchase pigs for slaughter. The Bill provides for the

Act to become operative on the same date as the Pig Slaughter Levy Bill. In earlier legislation relating to similar Bills the Parliament debated certain clauses which called into question matters of ‘law and justice’. These referred to right of access to premises and the time limits to commence prosecutions for offences under the Act. In the Bill now before the House the relevant clauses have been amended to take note of the opinions expressed in the Parliament about legislation of a similar character that applies to some other industries. I commend the Bill to honourable members.

Debate (on motion by Dr Patterson) adjourned.

page 662


Second Reading

Debate resumed from 18 February (vide page 272), on motion by Sir Alan Hulme:

That the Bill be how read a second time.

Melbourne Ports

– This Bill proposes to make some alteration to the financial arrangements of the Overseas Telecommunications Commission. Before I go on to comment on those arrangements 1 would like to draw the attention of the House to some of the things in the accounts of this rather lucrative piece of state enterprise. 1 draw attention to the most recent annual report and balance sheet for the year ended 3 1st March 1970 which discloses that from a gross revenue of approximately $34m the undertaking made a profit of almost $1 Im. In the previous year it had not done very rauch worse than that: on a turnover of $29m the profit was close to St Ora. This undertaking was established in 1946 by a Labor Government and during the 25 years since then it has had advanced to it a sura of approximately Si 7.5m from the Treasury and has in the same period accumulated assets of some 360m. This shows that the profits have been carefully ploughed back into the enterprise and have built it up to a state where nearly $40m worth of profits has gone into the accumulation of assets in this undertaking. In his second reading speech the

Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme) said:

  1. . it is proposed that the Financial relations between the Commission and the Commonwealth be altered to provide:

    1. that the nature of the Commonwealth’s investment in the Commission be varied - from interest-bearing Treasury advances to capital;

As I pointed out, at the date of the last balance sheet advances from the Treasury amounted to $17,544,000. The Minister continued:

  1. that the Commission’s income be subject to income tax;

I take it he means that the Commission’s profit will be subject to income tax. I want to say more about that in a moment. He continued:

  1. that in lien of the interest that has been paid in the past on Treasury advances, a dividend be paid each year on the capital. A commencing rate of 7i per cent is proposed: and
  2. that the Commission’s requirements for new capital investment, additional to retained profits, be provided from the Budget or from authorised borrowings.

I want to say something about each of those provisions. The first seems to be a fine distinction in that what has been advanced from the Treasury will now be regarded as the permanent capital of the undertaking and it will be doubled by transferring another $17. 5m approximately from the general reserves of the undertaking, which aggregate $38,628,000. That seems to be a piece of bookkeeping rather than anything very fundamental.

The second provision - that the Commission’s income be subject to income tax - appears to be letting the left hand of the Government know now what the right hand has been doing. Sometimes these cosy little enterprises get locked away on their own and nobody takes very much notice of them. I must confess that until I came to examine this balance sheet I had not realised how successful the enterprise has been in recent years. Assuming it continues to make a profit in the aggregate of something like Slim - presumably it will be taxed as though h was a company and will pay company tax at the rate of 47±c in every $1 - there will be taken from the revenue of the undertaking something like $9m, which will go into consolidated revenue. Again I suppose the aggregate situation is not very much different. In recent times payments have been made annually to the Treasury of sums representing interest charged on the amounts advanced from the Treasury. For the year ended 31st March 1970 interest on Treasury advances for international telegraph and telephone services was $605,000 whilst in respect of coastal radio services it was $206,000, making a total of $811,000 interest paid to the Treasury on a capital of $17. 5m. This seems to represent an interest rate that year of something less than 5 per cent. This year it is proposed that the interest will be treated as a dividend and it is suggested that the commencing rate shall be 74- per cent, presumably on the total capital and not only on the amount advanced from the Treasury. This will mean that on a capital of $35m, the dividend will be somewhere in the region of $3m.

I am pleased to see the final provision that any new capital invested is still to be subject to ministerial control and must be provided from the Budget or from what are described as authorised borrowings. The point to which I want to draw attention is that under 1 clause in the Bill the Minister is supposed to set the charges as low as possible. It seems to me that if on a gross turnover of approximately $3 3m you make a profit of Slim, the charges are scarcely as low as they could be. That appears to be a margin of something of the order of 33£ per cent on the turnover of the undertaking. Whether there are good and sufficient reasons for charging that rate I do not know. If one looks at the statistics that are contained at the end of the report, and they are quite considerable, the balance between what goes out of Australia and what comes in is surprising. To take 2 examples, in relation to the international telegraph services 61,764000 items emanated from Australia and 67,468,000 came into Australia. In relation to Press telegrams there was again quite a balance, 3,062,000 items going out of Australia and 3,305,000 items coming in. ft seems to me to be one of those situations in which it is a bit difficult to tell where the final cost of these things falls.

Let us assume for arguments sake that the Minister was conducting the overseas telecommunications service on the basis that it was merely charging what the services cost. Where would the advantage of that $llm go? I suggest it is not very easy to find out and that this is the same sort of difficulty facing the Government in some of the measures it is taking at the moment to halt the serious situation it seems to think the nation has fallen into financially. Where is the final cost? Would the cost of newspapers be any less, for arguments sake, if the cost of their telegraph services were reduced by approximately one-third? Would we be merely providing a social service to people who ring each other up internationally?

On the score of international telephone services, in 1970 4,310,000 calls were made from Australia and 4,900,000 came into Australia. How many of these calls were business calls, how many were social or pleasure calls and so on? Of course, we now have international television programmes which have great potentiality. So far this type of service has been a fairly small item. In fact, in 1970 there were only 13,026 paid minutes of television programmes that went from Australia and 2,268 paid minutes of programmes that came to Australia by means of this service. If one adds the awful aggregate of what we now get by way of television programmes each week or each day on our national and commercial channels we can see that the international television programme service is a very small part of what is shown on television in this country. Of course, this service has great potentiality.

On the other hand, it would seem to me that there must be some services that perhaps in a sense are of the non-commercial kind. It may be that the profit that is being made on one side of an undertaking will ultimately cover expansion in other directions. I was gratified around Christmas time to watch on the national channel a documentary programme about the universe and inter-communication that takes place between the moon, the stars and so on. This programme showed how important was the work carried out in Australia. I think this was a great tribute to the Australian scientists and to people who work on such installations as the radio telescope near Parkes. I think we all watched the last journey of man to the moon. However, I do not think it was generally understood that, in the previous journey of man to the moon which almost ended in disaster, if it had not been for the facilities in Australia the journey probably would have been a complete disaster, resulting in the loss of the lives of the people in the space craft.

These transactions are a bit hard to find in the balance sheet. I must say that I am pleased that this kind of undertaking is a public enterprise. I think one of the greatest abominations that we have inflicted upon ourselves has been to allow the resources and talent which are in the television industry to fall so much into commercial hands rather than the hands of a public enterprise. One realises the great potentialities that exist in transmitting programmes around the world. I think it is at least signicant that many of these important devices are held in the form of a public undertaking where at least there can be some degree of public and social responsibility in their conduct rather than the operations being directed merely to making a profit for commercial operators.

Finally I would like to deal briefly with the rather curious device that sometimes creeps into national accounts. 1 refer to the situation that arises when a statutory corporation wants to make a profit and regards its undertaking as comparable to a business undertaking. The corporation goes through the fiction of filing an income tax return with the Commissioner of Taxation. The Commissioner computes a profit and he is paid by the corporation, like everyone else. Part of the funds of the corporation are taken from where they were generated and put into Consolidated Revenue. The same sort of thing is done with Qantas Airways Ltd, Trans- Australia Airlines Ltd and a number of other undertakings. Of course, perhaps unlike honourable members on the Government side, I am not such a believer in the virtue of profits. I think it is a far better test if the undertaking merely covers me costs of its operation and that its efficiency should not be judged by whether it makes a profit. Somehow the Government has tried to put a measuring stick upon the degree of efficiency of the undertaking by setting a sum like 7£ per cent as the minimum dividend it thinks the corporation ought to pay. I might say that this 7i per cent is calculated on a watered basis because only $ 17.5m originally came from the Treasury and the other $17. 5m came out of accumulated profits. But in the future the profit is to be computed not only on the original capital but also on the ploughed back profits. That was the sort of argument we engaged in yesterday when talking about the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd. Apparently this is not done only by private undertakings; the Government is inclined to play some sort of game. I suppose some theorists will argue - and this is one of the debatable points that always arise - that if one is in an industry that is absorbing a fair amount of capital if the total capital in a community is short and the interest rate tends to regulate whether capital goes here rather than there, one can get some sort of false costing if one treats government undertakings of a commercial variety as opposed to some other kind of undertakings in a different way when it comes to the cost of its capital.

Certainly, there can be cases where, in my view, it is justifiable to charge interest on capital that perhaps has come from government sources. We get certain absurdities in comparative costs if we compare - this is the example that comes most readily to mind - the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme, where the majority of capital has come out of the revenue of the Commonwealth, with the Electricity Commission of Victoria, which has had to borrow most of its capital on the public market. It would certainly be absurd to compare the price of electricity from the Snowy Mountains scheme with, for example, electricity generated by the Electricity Commission of Victoria. We have the situation where one undertaking obtains its capital free and the other had to pay 5 per cent, 6 per cent or 7 per cent for its capital. We have some curious distortions in comparative costings. I cannot say that that argument is valid when we have what is really a monopoly service and where noone else provides a similar service. If I want to make an international telephone call there is only one way in which I can do it. This is by way of the Overseas Telecommunications Commission. There is no other comparable service. I think that sometimes these doctrines get curiously mixed together when it comes to the sort of propositions we have. No doubt the Government has been a little alarmed about the rate of return in this industry and therefore it thinks that some of this ought to be returned to the community by way of taxation. I would have thought that the Government would have thought this through a little more deeply and decided that the return to the community might have been of a different kind. The return to the community could have been in the form of lower prices for the services that were performed. However, that is not the choice that has been made.

As I said earlier, the Opposition does not intend to oppose the Bill. 1 have chosen merely to point out one or two of the principles that seem to me to be involved and perhaps have not been thought through. I also wanted to pay a tribute, which I think is deserved, to the services performed by the staff of the Overseas Telecommunications Commission in particular in the international communication service.


– I support the remarks of my friend, the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean), but I do not really understand some of the reasons why we introduce the mystiques of capital enterprise so devotedly into such an operation as overseas telecommunications. The operation, as I see it, is estimable indeed. When it was first proposed, the service was designed to provide for better communications within the British Commonwealth and Empire. Of course, both of these terms are no longer appropriate or acceptable, but the fact that so many nations are subscribing to and co-operating in this field is, I believe, very important.

I have intervened in this debate because I believe we should be able to provide a better communications service for the people of Papua and New Guinea who use this system. I think that the cost of making a call from Port Moresby to the Australian mainland is S3 a minute. I do not know where the cable is located but I presume that various means of communication are used. There is a cable station at Cairns and another at Madang. The distance between Port Moresby and Cairns is only about 500 miles. I believe that a little less than justice is being done to the people of Papua and New Guinea and that the organisation itself is being a little less than fair, considering the tremendous profits it is able to make, in charging $3 a minute for a call from the Territory to the Australian mainland.

I take this opportunity to speak on behalf of the people of Papua and New Guinea. The provision of a. lower charge might require a radical change in the way the costing is done. Presumably, overseas territories are treated as different countries, but I believe that the Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme) should turn his attention to this aspect. But, as an international operation of some magnitude, funded totally by governments, the overseas telecommunications service is a remarkable example of Labor Party policy working effectively and efficiently. If something can be done about the charges, I believe that the organisation will be playing a more effective and important part than it has been doing. The original Act, in its preamble stated:

It does not matter how efficient the service is or how effective it may be if it is too expensive.

PostmasterGeneral · Petrie · LP

– I do not want to delay the House but I should make one or two comments and since the comment of the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) about New Guinea is probably uppermost in the minds of honourable members perhaps I should commence by referring to it. He said that Port Moresby is only 500 miles from Cairns, where there is a telecommunications station. Of course, there is another station at Madang. When a survey was made of the route to New Guinea and South East Asia the Port Moresby area was surveyed. It was discovered that the sea bed, with its shifting sands, was such that it was not a viable proposition to construct the station there. Expert advice was that it should be established at Madang. I appreciate that Madang is not the most populated area of New Guinea, but I assure the honourable member for Wills, and other honourable members, that discussions are proceeding and projects are in hand to have a switching station at Lae in an endeavour to connect the more populated areas of New Guinea. This is an internal matter. It will be readily appreciated that the Overseas Telecommunications Commission has a responsibility only for traffic from Aus tralia outwards. In New Guinea the traffic is from Madang outwards and it is an internal New Guinea communications responsibility to look after, those operations.

The honourable member questioned charges. I think this matter was raised also by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean). We must understand the organisation of overseas telecommunications. This is not an area in which Australia can act unilaterally: It must act in co-operation with other countries. Cooperation was necessary in the installation of submarine cables, in the provision of satellite communications, and, earlier, in the establishment of the radio telegraph system. With other countries, Australia has contributed to the capital cost. In the early days there was an agreement between the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia but as the communications service moved into South East Asia other Commonwealth countries were brought into the partnership. Necessarily there had to be agreement between the partners about what was done. I believe that the enhanced profit to the Australian overseas telecommunications service has come about because of the transit service that we provide between South East Asia and America and South East Asia and the United Kingdom. We get some share of the revenue from those services, although we perform little more than a switching operation.

Mr Crean:

– It is an invisible export.


– It may be, but nevertheless it helps to explain why there is a problem in the charging operations. Perhaps I may be permitted to use another illustration, but I should not like this to be accepted as exact. It may be that between Australia and New Zealand there is a determined rate. Australia could reduce the rate for calls outwards from Australia, but this would upset the New Zealanders because many New Zealanders, wanting to call Australia, would reverse the charges and the New Zealand Government, or the New Zealand overseas telecommunications service, would be without that revenue. This indicates that just as we required cooperation for the setting up of the organisation so we required co-operation on the charges which are made for its use. Australia is in an advantageous position having regard to the transit traffic which travels from Europe or from South East Asia through our terminal in Sydney. Honourable members will appreciate that this is not quite as simple as might have appeared on the surface. Australia does not have complete control.

This is not to say that there have not been some reductions in charges. 1 shall not detail them all but in the telex service - and telex is one of the newer inventions in the communications area - there have been quite substantial reductions in charges. The telex in an automatic operation and originally provision was made for a minimum of 3 minutes. That minimum has been altered to one minute and the charge per minute has been reduced. The same has been done in respect of the telephone service between Australia and New Zealand. The honourable member for Melbourne Ports referred to the use of satellites and he will be interested to know that the original charge for television programmes transmitted by satellite was $1,400 for the first 10 minutes and $50 for each additional minute. Today it is $850 for the first 10 minutes and$40 for each additional minute. Those charges apply to transmission through Intelsat 3. The introduction of the Intelsat 3 satellite, which carries a lot more channels than didIntelsat 2, has given the opportunity for more economic operations in that particular area. I do not know whether the honourable member for Melbourne Ports wants me to comment on what would happen if we did reduce the charges, whether there would be more calls at lower costand whether it would affect television.I think I have made a sufficient explanation for himto appreciate the problems that exist in this area.

Myfinal point is that this is a Government undertaking. We need not have done what is proposed in this Bill. We could have continued on the present basis. We could have paid back to the Treasury a substantial part of the profit or all of the profit if we wanted to do so without worrying about income tax or dividends. It must be appreciated that the Overseas Telecommunications Commission operates in a business area and that what we are doing is reasonably well understood as a comparable accountancy operation within the business community and is not merely a Government department involved in one total payment into and out of the Trea sury. In my view it does not much matter whether the money is kept within the OTC or it is made available to the Treasury. Money which is made by a Government organisation ought to be used for the purposes of the Australian people either through the Government or by indirect payments and that is the basis on which this organisation will continue to operate.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

Third Reading

Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.

Bill (on motion by Sir Alan Hulme) read a third time.

page 667


Second Reading

Debate resumed from 18 February (vide page 274), on motion by Mr Chipp:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Melbourne Ports

– In the absence of a colleague I have been asked to indicate that the Opposition does not intend to oppose the passage of this Bill. It is one of those pieces of legislation that comes regularly before this House for renewal. As the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) said this Bill will amend the Cellulose Acetate Flake Bounty Act 1956-1970, the operation of which was terminated by proclamation on 30th November 1970 and extends bounty payments at the new rates until 31st December 1973. The amount involved is fairly small and as I have already indicated the Opposition supports this measure.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.

Third Reading

Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.

Bill (on motion by Mr Chipp) read a third time.

page 668


Drugs - Vietnam - Water Conservation - Laos - Commonwealth Cars

Motion (by Mr Chipp) proposed:

That the House do now adjourn.


– I wish to refer to the reply by the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) to my assertion that marihuana is a relatively harmless drug. The Minister said, among other things:

I wonder what evidence or authority the honourable gentleman has for his views, other than his own medical degree. 1 presented a submission of 14 foolscap pages to the Senate Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse and in the preparation of my submission 1 read books, research articles and government reports on marihuana. There are several significant scientific reports, usually government sponsored, which in my opinion do not condemn marihuana medically. One of them reviews most of the others, so I shall quote extensively from it.

Yesterday still another report, commissioned by the Government of Canada in 1970, came to my attention. In general it agrees with the medical findings of the British Government report written in 1968. This report, entitled ‘Cannabis’, was prepared by the Hallucinogens Sub-Committee of the Advisory Committee on Drug Dependence. The sub-committee of 12 was chaired by Baroness Wooton, and 6 of its 12 members were specialist physicians and/or psychiatrists. One of the 2 joint secretaries was also a specialist physician and psychiatrist. In paragraph 25 - the paragraphs are numbered and I hope that anyone who is interested will read them - the report describes the effects of smoking pot and says it is harmless. Reports in which death has been attributed to cannabis are very rare and their truth cannot be confirmed. Paragraph 26, discussing the moderate effects, says that they are predominantly psychological with ‘heightened awareness: colours, sounds and social intercourse appear more intense and meaningful’. After this a sense of well-being, tranquility and passive enjoyment of the environment leads to fatigue and sleep. A hangover is not common.

Mr Chipp:

– May I interrupt the honourable member? I did not hear the name of the report from which he is quoting.


– It is the British Government report entitled ‘Cannabis’ published in 1968. The report states that with large doses symptoms of anxiety may be the first effects, but the subject retains a sense of contact with reality. Rarely, usually with heavy oral administration, the disturbance may be more profound. Paragraph 28 states that the above effects are essentially a temporary toxic psychosis which in rare cases gives place to what appears to be a prolonged schizophrenic illness ‘but it is difficult from these reports to assess the exact role of cannabis in these circumstances’.

The Committee agrees with the conclusion reached by the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission appointed by the Government of India in 1893 and the New York Mayor’s Committee on Marihuana of 1944 that the long term consumption of cannabis in moderate doses has no harmful effect. Paragraph 30 states that observers in the Middle and Far East suggest very long term consumption leads to increasing mental and physical deterioration, with occasions of outbursts of violent behaviour. The report reads:

No reliable observations of such a syndrome have been made in the Western World, and from the Eastern reports available to us it is not possible to form a judgment on whether such behaviour is directly attributable to cannabis-taking.

Paragraph 32 states that in other reports of chronic excessive cannabis taking giving yellowing of the skin, tremor, wasting and unsteadiness of gait, it is not possible to tell whether these are due to marihuana or other factors such as malnutrition. The report reads:

There is no evidence that in Western society serious physical dangers are directly associated with the smoking of cannabis.

Paragraph 44 reads:

There was no physical tolerance; and ‘hangovers’, although occasionally severe, were extremely rare.

Paragraph 46 states that the British Ministry of Health reported 82 cases admitted to hospital in 1966 with a diagnosis of drug addiction where cannabis seemed to be involved. Further investigation of 79 of those cases showed that in ‘42 cases the evidence was inconclusive or irrelevant and in the other 37 other drugs might also have been used’.

In discussing the claim that the use of cannabis can lead to opiate addiction the report states in paragraph 50:

In fact most heroin addicts are multiple drugusers and have the emotionally impoverished family back-ground not infrequently found in other delinquent groups, such as high incidence of broken homes, poor school record, police record, unemployment and work-shyness. Cannabis users wilh similar personalities and backgrounds may have a predisposition to heroin, amphetamines, and other illegal drugs, lt is the personality of the user, rather than the properties of the drug, that is likely to cause progression to other drugs.

The report states in paragraph 51 that on the world scale cannabis use does not lead to heroin addiction. In the United Kingdom there is no comprehensive study, but a number of isolated studies have been published Done of which demonstrates significant lines of progression. The report continued:

We have concluded that a risk of progression to heroin from cannabis is nol a reason for retaining control over this drug.

Paragraph 53 of the report states: . . The Indian Hemp Drugs Commission concluded that the connection between hemp drugs and ordinary crime is very slight indeed, but that excessive use did, in some very rare cases, make the consumer violent. . . . The New York Mayor’s Committee reported to similar effect: Many criminals might use the drug, but it was not the determining factor in the commission of major crimes.

Paragraph 54 of the report describes how criminals in some countries base their defence on alleged cannabis intoxication, but many of them combined it with opium, heroin, amphetamines, barbiturates or alcohol and it is impossible to identify which drug, if any, was to blame. The history in these cases almost always comes from the individual himself and he often feels it is in his best interests to lie about it.

Paragraph 55 of the report states:

The most thai emerges from the welter of conflicting statements is that an excessive dose of cannabis may lead to an attack of disturbed consciousness. . . . The extent to which the affected person may commit a violent crime in this state of mind depends much more on his personality than on the amount or preparation of cannabis which he has been taking. The evidence of a link with violent crime is far stronger wilh alcohol than with the smoking of cannabis.

Paragraph 58 continues:

Unlike the ‘hard’ drugs, such as heroin, cannabis does not produce tolerance. . . . Unlike heroin, cannabis does not cause physical dependence and withdrawal effects do not occur when its use is discontinued.

Then in paragraph 67 it is stated:

There is no evidence that this activity (using pot) is causing violent crime or aggressive antisocial behaviour, or is producing in otherwise normal people conditions of dependence or psychosis, requiring medical treatment.

I would now like to quote from the Canadian report which was written last year. On page 246 it states: lt is idle to pretend that cannabis was brought under its present criminal law proscription on the basis of clear and unequivocal scientific evidence of its potential for harm. Although the precise historical reasons for the decision to suppress its use are somewhat obscure, there is no evidence that scientific judgment played a leading role. There did, however, develop an international climate of official opinion, strongly opposed to its use. This opinion was based in part on the experience of certain countries, but it was also strongly influenced by American insistence. . . . The spread of the use of cannabis, particularly among the young, and the effects of the criminal law attempt to suppress it now call for a fresh look at the justification of the law, and, in particular, at the alleged personal and social harm caused by such use.

The report continues:

Since cannabis is clearly not a narcotic we recommend that the control of cannabis be removed from the Narcotic Control Act and placed under the Food and Drugs Act.

Finally, at no time have I advocated the use of the drug by school children. I am a prude, a teetotaller and a puritan on these things and I do not see the need for their use, but what 1 have said is that if young people are to use one of these things - tobacco, alcohol or marihuana - 1 am convinced on the basis of the relative safety of all of them that marihuana is far less harmful than the others. I am not advocating its use, but if people must have recourse to one of these things I think it would be safer for them to use marihuana. I assure the Minister that I have not advocated that it should be used by school children.


– I rise because I am greatly concerned. This morning during question time the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr McMahon) said that the South Vietnamese Army was winning the war in Vietnam. I have expressed doubts for a long time as to whether the Thieu-Ky Government has ever really represented the people of South Vietnam. I have given the House details which show that it is a minority government. It is a sectional government to which I have never given support. I recognise that there are elements of nationalism in the Saigon Government which are worthy of election by the people and I am quite sure that had the Vietnamese been allowed to govern their own affairs they would have shared power in a coalition with other elements, whether they, had been the National Liberation Front, the [Buddhists or other political parties opposed to United States involvement in their country. I understand from information I received this afternoon that for the first time the United States is likely to use tactical nuclear weapons in the northern part of South Vietnam and the southern part of Laos to obliterate the Ho Chi Minh trail. Clear evidence is now being brought forward to show that the area I have described is being systematically and thoroughly cleared of all people.

Certain men in the United States have suggested for years that the people of North Vietnam should be bombed back to the Stone Age. I am fearful that the people who have advocated this will now get the upper hand. The only problem is that the bombing is not calculated to decide who will win the war or who will lose it. I believe the reason for the bombing is a political one linked to the primaries to be conducted to choose the nominee for the Republican Party at the next Presidential election. The real issue is that this terrible action could be committed on man by man. We already know that because of the madness of this war more than l.S million Vietnamese have died. We know that more bombs have been dropped on Vietnam than were dropped on the Axis powers during the whole of the Second World War. The United States says that it did this to end the war. Only recently it invaded Cambodia to end the war. Then it invaded Laos to end the war.

I would now like to mention something which was never broadcast on Australian news services. Only a few days ago the British Broadcasting Corporation announced in its world news service that the whole concept of the Vietnamisation policy is under threat. I heard this report on the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s news service at 7.5 a.m. when the

ABC broadcasts the BBC world news but it was not repeated in the general ABC reports during the day. The BBC stated that in fact it was doubtful whether the Vietnamese could look after their own affairs because their crack regiments such as the Rangers which drove into Laos were being annihilated by the North Vietnamese. It was doubtful whether they could in fact defend themselves. I say these things in great sorrow. War - any type of war - is a bloody stupid affair. War is a stupid affair. Very few of us have seen nuclear war or atomic war. I am one of the few who has seen an atomic bomb exploded. I did not know what it was at the time. As the crow flies, I was 50 miles away from Nagasaki as a prisoner of war in Japan. I will never forget the discolouration of the sky on that day. If the nuclear weapons that are available today had been used then and if I had been in the same place, I would have been annihilated. 1 am not saying that these 2 types of deadly weapons will be used. But the same deadly threat is present. The weapons to which I refer are called tactical nuclear weapons. The Americans will poison the area. They will stop the North Vietnamese penetrating South Vietnam. What the Americans will do is poison the whole of the area of the northern part of South Vietnam with nuclear tactical weapons. If the Americans commit this crime against man, I say that President Nixon and his Republican administration are mad. Every time I rise to talk on this subject I will brand him as a mad man. 1 will so brand any man who sniggers and smiles at the thought of anyone using nuclear weapons, whether they be used to poison the atmosphere or clean out an area where military action is taking place.

Let us recall the mentality of the United States administration. It has this mania, lt had what was called the ‘McNamara Line’. This involved the electrification of certain areas of Vietnam. The purpose of electrification was to stop the North Vietnamese penetrating South Vietnam. The Americans have tried everything to stop the North Vietnamese penetrating this area, but they have not been successful. Even bearing in mind all the sins of this administration, my thought at this moment is that this morning I wished that what the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr McMahon) said was true, that is, that the South Vietnamese Ky-Thieu clique was winning the war. If that was the position, the madness and stupidity strongly in evidence in Vietnam could not occur. If this happened, there would not be the slightest possibility that it would occur. But I am afraid and even fearful that what I have foreshadowed will occur.

I hope that before such a disaster happens - and this is the reason why I am raising this matter today, Mr Speaker - heed will be taken of the plea that I make. In the name of humanity, I ask the Australian Government to speak to its American allies and to oppose such action. Never has the Australian Government openly criticised the action of the Americans. Never has it said anything in opposition to the bombing of North Vietnam. In fact, time and time again, Government members have offered their encouragement even to the bombing of Haiphong harbour. Among those members were some who are at present in the Ministry.

The Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) is sitting at the table. In fairness to him, I point out that he brought fresh thought to his side of the House about the war in Vietnam and South East Asia as a whole. This is on record in the Melbourne ‘Herald’ in which his words appear. There was something refreshing about his reassessment. I am not trying to use this speech as propaganda. I could be wrong; I hope that I am wrong. I ask honourable members to give a bit of thought to what I have said. If honourable members opposite think the way I do, they should speak up. Even though the Minister for Customs and Excise is only a junior Minister, he should speak up if his thoughts agree with mine. We should speak against this Government which has not had the courage to stand up for the people of Vietnam and to try to put an end to this war.


– In the quieter atmosphere in the House this afternoon, 1 wish to submit one or two facts to prove a point about which I have been somewhat worried. I have often said in this House that we need to establish priorities. I believe that the No. 1 priority in this country always should be defence. It is no good having good crops, fine motor cars, excellent housing, congenial living or even a democratic government if we cannot protect those assets. Therefore, no man in his proper senses would deny that defence is our No. 1 priority. What should our No. 2 priority be? As I have said before, our No. 2 priority should always be water conservation. Water conservation increases production and people with lower standards of living who need help can be assisted first directly with the food produced and secondly with the money that is received from the produce that we sell overseas.

This afternoon, 1 wish to refer to the controversy concerning the Dartmouth Dam and the Chowilla Dam. I wish to deal with one or two facts and to refer to Hansard so that I may illustrate what I think has been happening. Initially, the Chowilla Dam was selected by the 4 necessary to the agreement, although it was not ratified. Of course, later there was a reassessment of the position and the experts said that the dam should be built at Dartmouth. To ratify the construction of the Dartmouth Dam, legislation was presented in this House by the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) on 17th March 1970. That is almost 12 months ago. On introducing the Murray Waters Bill 1970 he made many remarks that I have not the time to deal with closely today. But he said in part:

It will suffice at this stage to say that all the time of its authorisation by the four contracting governments, the Chowilla storage was estimated to cost $2Sm. In March 1966 as a result of more detailed design studies prior to the calling of tenders the estimated cost was revised to $43m. When tenders were considered in April 1967 the most favourable tender received resulted in a further upward revision of the cost to $68m. Obviously, an increase of about 250 per cent in the estimated cost over a period of 4 years raised doubts as to whether the early basis for selection of Chowilla as the most favourable development for the next stage was still valid.

Following on from that, the debate was adjourned.

The second reading debate was resumed in the House on 8th April 1970. As Hansard indicates, the debate continued past midnight on 8th April and continued into 9th April. When the debate commenced, the first speaker was the Labor Party shadow Minister for Primary Industry, the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson). The contribution that he made to the debate to which I wish to refer specifically is the amendment that he moved supported by all Opposition members. It appears on page 835 of Hansard of 8th April 1970. It reads:

That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: this House is of opinion that the Bill should not be proceeded with until the Commonwealth has negotiated with the Slates for the establishment of a national water conservation and construction authority, embracing the Snowy Mountains Authority, to carry out a systematic and efficient development of soundly based water storages in the major river basins including the Murray and Darling systems.’

At page 831 of Hansard of the same date he said:

  1. . the Bill sounds the death knell of Chowilla.

Members of the Opposition, chiefly from South Australia, who spoke all said this, but perhaps in other words.

Mr Foster:

– That is not true.


– They were chiefly from South Australia. They said that this was the death knell of Chowilla, that Chowilla would never be and, that it would never come into being at all. At the time J did not realise what was happening. But I do now. What they wanted to do was to get the idea about that if the Dartmouth Dam was approved and was built the Chowilla Dam would never become a reality. The reason for that is now obvious. They wanted to spread throughout South Australia the news that once Dartmouth was built Chowilla would be out. Of course, the campaign was very successful, although the information was completely incorrect, and that has been more or less admitted now.

What happened at the time was that the then Leader of the Opposition in South Australia thought that this was a good way for him to win the election and become Premier. This news was spread throughout the countryside, and Mr Hall, the South Australian Premier at that time, was defeated at the election on the Chowil laDartmouth issue. That was the main basis of the whole argument, and that is the issue on which the then Premier, Mr Hall, was defeated. This information was spread throughout the countryside, although it was completely wrong. Nevertheless, the people in South Australia believed it and they voted accordingly.

I will move quickly over what happened because today is 25th February. We find that just recently there has been a complete change on the part of the Premier of South Australia and he says he will ratify the Dartmouth agreement.

Mr Foster:

Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. The fact of the matter is that there has not been a complete somersault and I understand that there has been a ministerial statement in this House -


– Order! There is no substance in the point of order. The honourable member for Sturt will resume his seat.


– I can understand why the honourable member for Sturt does not want me to continue, but 1 am saying that this is definitely what has happened. This is the truth leading up to the present situation. Now in certain items that have been put out and in certain statements that have been made, the Premier of South Australia has said that he is breaking the deadlock. But there never was a deadlock, except of his own making so far as Chowilla being pushed out altogether was concerned. The truth is that if Dartmouth were built, when the River Murray Commission saw fit to build Chowilla it would be built.

The point I make is that 10 months has been wasted. Honourable members opposite have been saying - one honourable member in particular has been saying this; I will not name him for obvious reasons, but he represents an electorate not more than the width of the river away from the electorate which I represent - that the economy has been in cold storage. The building of the Dartmouth Dam has been in cold storage for 10 months. What has this cost Australia? Then some honourable members opposite say: ‘We want more production.’ What can bring us more production than a greater water supply? That is what we require. The Dartmouth Dam has been held up for all this time. Of course, if it goes on much longer we will not get the dam built at all because in the meantime the cost will skyrocket and, as has been pointed out by way of interjection in this chamber, the Premier of Victoria has said that the cost of the Dartmouth Dam is getting so high now that he is inclined to change his opinion about building it. But I think he will stick to the agreement.

There have been many debates on this subject in this House, and on 19th February - that is only 6 days ago - 1 asked the following question of the Minister for National Development: ls the Minister for National Development aware of the deep concern of residents of the Mallee electorate and those in other electorates bounded by the Murray River at the delay in the commencement of the building of the proposed Dartmouth Dam? Has the Minister used all means available to convince the South Australian Labor Premier and his Government and the Labor Opposition in this House that this waste of time represents a disregard for security, production and national development?

This is one of the worst things I have seen happen since I have been in this Parliament. Honourable members opposite said that Chowilla was cancelled, that it would never be built, just to create the atmosphere in which to put a Labor government into office in South Australia. These things should not be allowed to happen. Many people do not read Hansard but, nevertheless, after I asked this question of the Minister last week, early this week the Premier of South Australia changed his mind and said that he would break the deadlock he had caused by agreeing to ratify.


-Order! The honourable gentleman’s time has expired.


- Mr Speaker, one of the continuing comedies in this place is the political arithmetic of the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull). The Liberal Government in South Australia was defeated because it received only about half as many votes as the Australian Labor Party received, and even the gerrymander which the Liberal Government had been able to organise was not able to overcome that debacle. The fact is that the election in South Australia was like the election in Western Australia where the Labor Party received 49 per cent of the votes, the Liberal Party received 29 per cent and the Australian Country Party received 5 per cent. The Liberal and Country Parties in Western Australia received 34 per cent of the votes as against 49 per cent by the Labor Party, but, bless me, we are struggling to win. How many votes do we have to get in order to beat the political arithmetic of the honourable member for Mallee? Of course, as I have pointed out in this place on many occasions, if a union leader burnt the ballot papers so that somebody could not win or if he sent a ballot box off somewhere so that nobody could vote against him, the Government would put him in gaol. But if he was a Liberal, the Government would knight him and make him Premier of South Australia or Victoria. 1 rose to speak on two issues - one major and one relatively minor. First of all, T want to support my friend the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) and. in particular, to place before the House the facts concerning the continuing problems, hardships and miseries of the people of Laos. This Government has done very little about the matter. When our delegation returned from Laos some 6 months ago, we pointed out that the heeds of the people were simple; all that was wanted were ground sheets, blankets and mosquito nets for 40,000 people. Perhaps they would cost $1 or S2 each, so $200,000 would be required to solve that kind of problem. But now we have another 15,000 to 20,000 refugees on our hands and still nothing is done by the Government. The problem, as 1 see it, stems from the complete international inertia about the problems facing the people of Laos and Cambodia.

My friend the honourable member for Mallee talked about the Chowilla Dam. The Government says that we cannot build it now because we are short of funds. But on the latest estimates $200m a year is being wasted in the war in Vietnam - $42m in defence expenditure, $50m on pay for the troops there, about $75m for all the concealed maintenance along the line and another $10m or $20m on other things. The Vietnam commitment is costing us every year about 2i times the cost of the Chowilla Dam.

But this afternoon I rose to make a point on behalf of some people who cannot speak for themselves. It is really in answer to something which the honourable member for Deakin (Mr Jarman) said last night. In all this nonsense about the economy, and with $200m a year being wasted in Vietnam and all the other things that go on, the honourable member for Deakin picked on Commonwealth public servants and Commonwealth cars. One might say: They are innocent bystanders;, let us deal wilh them.’ It just happened that as I came into this House yesterday morning one of the staff said to me: ‘Why do they kick us?’ Occasionally people at his level - he is one of the attendants in the House - get a Commonwealth car home because it is the employers duty to provide transport for people to get home when public transport stops. All that the honourable member for Deakin can do is to talk about the Commonwealth car pool and the Commonwealth car service. I raise my voice here this afternoon in the hope that nothing is done to prevent people who work in this House and others from receiving the services to which they are entitled, and that the Repatriation Department, which, as I understand it, is the major customer of the Commonwealth car pool, is not interfered with. 1, for my part, consider it the ultimate in hypocrisy and humbug to talk about economies, austerity, inflation or anything else when the major contributing factor is the immoral and futile war in Vietnam.

Minister for Customs and Excise · Hotham · LP

– in reply - The honourable member for Maribyrnong (Dr Cass) has just spoken and accepted my challenge, in answer to a question on 22nd February last, to produce evidence to support his statements at the weekend which I have described as being silly and stupid. I implied that they were dangerous. No doubt the honourable gentleman has had 3 days in which to do his research in this matter, but he did not pay me the courtesy to tell me that he was raising the matter here at this time. 1 was in the House by accident. Therefore, the reply which I now give to him might not be as well considered as one might have expected to be if I had been paid that common courtesy.

Mr Bryant:

– He was answering the newspapers.


– I would not expect the honourable member for Wills to know too much about what I have just said. The honourable member for Maribyrnong quoted extensively from a report to the British Government on cannabis by the Advisory Committee on Drug Dependence. At the outset I am not going to say today that marihuana is definitely harmful. 1 do not say it in public. I am not going to say that it leads to harder or more dangerous drugs. I have never said that. I do not say it. The whole point that I am making is that we do not know. There is so much confusion about the effects of marihuana, so much doubt about its harmfulness and so much conflict in the evidence that only an irresponsible government would legalise it at this stage. The honourable gentleman read several excerpts from this report by the Advisory Committee on Drug Dependence. What he did not read, for some reason, was an extract on page 47 which states:

Observers with long experience concur in the opinion that continued excessive use of cannabis over a period of years leads to moral and social decay; countries from which such reports come are South Africa, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Syria, Turkey, Astrakhan and India. In a few reports, such conclusions are extended to cover chronic use of the drug in only moderate doses but the majority of observers distinguish between heavy dosage and restrained use; restrained use is widely regarded as harmless in its effects, provided the consumer had, from the outset, a healthy mental constitution. In defining healthy mental constitution, circular reasoning is apt to creep in.

There in that very paragraph is, to use an Australian expression, a quid each way if ever I saw it. On the one hand it says conclusively that cannabis is harmful in certain circumstances if taken excessively. The report does not say whether smoking 2 cigarettes a day, one a week or two a week is excessive or not and it does not mention the extent to which a person can become dependent. There is also the qualification that a person has to have a healthy mental constitution, whatever, that means. I do not know what it means and I do not think that any member of this Parliament would know. It is so equivocal that there is enormous doubt even in this equivocal report which was presented to the British Government which, I might say, was never implemented. The honourable gentleman failed to mention that fact.

I have quoted before the Expert Committee of the World Health Organisation which reported in 1969 in unequivocal terms. I read this report to the House the other day and I will not bore it now by reading it again. This Committee, as I said the other day, is not made up of a group of amateurs or a group of do-gooders. It is a group of pharmacologists and scientists taken from many countries. The personnel of that Committee is contained on page 4 of the report. With the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate in Hansard the names of the personnel of the Expert Committee.

Mr H. D. Archibald, Executive Director, Alcohol and Drug Addiction Research Foundation, Toronto, Canada

Dr E. A. Babajan, Head of the Department for the Introduction of New Drugs and Medical Technology, President of the Psychiatric Council, President of the Committee on Narcotics, Ministry of Health of the USSR, Moscow, USSR

Dr P. H. Connell, Director, Drug Dependence Clinical Research and Treatment Unit, The Bethlem Royal Hospital and The Maudsley Hospital, London, England

Dr N. B. Eddy, Consultant on Narcotics, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md., USA (Chairman)

Dr L. Goldberg, ‘Professor of Research on Alcohol and Analgesics, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden (Rapporteur)

Dr M. Granier Doyeux, Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Faculty of Medicine of the Central ‘ University of Venezuela, Caracas, Venezuela (Vice-Chairman)

Dr E. Hosoya, Professor of Pharmacology, School of Medicine, Keio University, Tokyo, Japan

Representatives nf other organisations: United Nations:

Mr V. Kusevic Ph.D., Director, Division of Narcotic Drugs, United Nations, Geneva

Mr O. J. Braenden, Ph.D., Chief of Section, Division of Narcotic Drugs, United Nations, Geneva

The honourable member for Maribyrnong quoted the Indian Hemp Commission’s report and the Mayor of New York’s Committee report. I have read both of these reports. I have not got the information here because I was not given notice, but I can tell the House that these two are conflicting in their conclusions. The whole case that I have put is that the evidence about marihuana is inconclusive. But there is enough evidence to indicate some concern. I quote from the International Narcotic Report of December 1970 as follows:

Dr Lynch, professor at St John’s University in Jamaica, Queens, New York said his studies indicated that the use of marihuana could have very serious consequences’ for human reproduction. The pharmacology professor said his tests tended to corroborate previous experiments which were conducted in the British West Indies and Augusta, Georgia. He said these produced serious malformations in the fetus after injecting pregnant rats, hamsters and rabbits with concentrated doses of pure marihuana resin.

The rats in Dr Lynch’s experiments were placed in a glass-enclosed cage-

He then goes on to explain the experiment. The report continues:

Dr William F. Geber, an associate professor of pharmacology at the Medical College of Georgia, in Augusta, whose experiments with pure marihuana resin have produced serious malformations in animals, cautioned that ‘a rat is not a human being and no conclusions can be drawn’.

That is fair enough. He went on to say:

  1. . that Dr Lynch’s studies with which he was familiar, had ‘added a definite, important link in establishing the dangerous potential harm of marihuana on the developing fetus.’

They would indicate it’s something less than smart’, he added, ‘for pregnant women to smoke marihuana’.

I am not going to say that that is conclusive. I am going to agree entirely that an experiment on a rat, a rabbit or a hamster does not necessarily apply to a human being. But here is palpable evidence that marihuana has caused malformations in foetuses of animals. Now the honourable member for marihuana - he might well finish up with that title in this House - that is, the honourable member for Maribyrnong, is suggesting not only that it be legalised - and that was enough to sting me to a reply - but also that it should be taken by children. He is denying that. With your indulgence, Mr Speaker, I will quote from a newspaper. The honourable member has been quoted identically in 5 newspapers, as I said in the House last Monday. I had hoped that he would have paid me the courtesy of listening to my reply. I give him the chance by interjection to deny the authenticity of the newspaper reports. I cannot vouch for their authenticity, but 5 newspapers have quoted him in identical terms. The ‘sydney Morning Herald’ quotes the honourable member as saying:

Marijuana makes you relaxed, quiet and convivial … J think it may even help to improve human relations. Certainly young people using marijuana tend to use less alcohol, which I think is a good thing. I don’t see why young people using it should be criticised by cigarettesmoking and alcohol-swilling older people.

If that is not advocating that young people should smoke marihuana I have never seen such advocacy.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 3.53 p.m.

page 676


The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:

Therapeutic Goods Act: Regulations (Question No. 2442) Mr Whitlam asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:

When does be now expect to table regulations under the Therapeutic Goods Act 1966 and thereby permit the Act to come into operation (Hansard, 12tb June 1970, page 3595).

Civil Aviation (Carriers Liability) Act: State Laws (Question No. 2465)

Mr Whitlam:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:

What steps have been taken by each State to amend its laws to correspond with the Civil Aviation (Carriers’ Liability) Act 1970.

Mr Swartz:

– The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:

Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia have already passed legislation amending their laws to correspond with the Commonwealth Civil Aviation (Carriers’ Liability) Act 1970.

New South Wales, Tasmania, and South Australia have yet to pass their complementary legislation but 1 should expect that these Stales will do this during 1971.

Aid to Indonesia (Question No. 2570)

Mr Grassby:

asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:

  1. What amount of the $5m Devisa Kredit aid granted to Indonesia this financial year has been used by Indonesia to import Australian goods.
  2. What proportion of these goods consisted of primary products.
  3. Of the Devisa Kredit aid (a) how much has been granted since the inception of this form of aid, (b) how much has been used and (c) what percentages of primary products were involved in each of the years concerned.
Mr McMahon:

– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:

  1. By 15th February 1971, $3,362,500 of the $5m Devisa Kredit made available so far this financial year had been taken up by Indonesian importers to finance purchases of Australian goods. Actual expenditure (as measured by drawings on Letters of Credit opened by Indonesian importers) amounted to $2,742,420 by 10th February 1971, all of it on Australian goods.
  2. 6.8 per cent.
  3. Australia started providing thos type of aid in the 1967-68 financial year.

The share of primary products in the total value of expenditure of Devisa Kredit has declined since 1968-69 because of the transfer in that year of flour (the main primary, product purchased with Devisa Kredit) from Devisa Kredit to the Food Aid Convention of the International Grains Arrangement. The value of flour aid to Indonesia since 1968-69 has been as follows:

In addition to flour, Australia has also provided rice as part of its aid to Indonesia. The details of this aid are as follows:

Strategic Materials: Export to China (Question No. 2336)

Mr Whitlam:

asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:

Has the question of the export of strategic materials to China been referred to Cabinet since his answer to me on 28th October 1970.

Mr McMahon:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

I refer the honourable member to my reply to Question No. 2023. The review by my Department has now been carried out and this matter will be the subject of later consideration by Ministers.

Armed Forces: Non-effective Status (Question No. 1309)

Mr Whitlam:

asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:

  1. Can he provide figures comparable to those provided in the United States President’s Commission on an All Volunteer Armed Force on what the Commission called (pp 40 ff) ‘non-effective status’.
  2. If so, what proportion of total personnel were engaged in such ‘non-effective’ activities in 1960, in 1965 and in the last year for which figures are available.
  3. What expenditure was incurred for salaries and allowances of these personnel in each of those years.
Mr Malcolm Fraser:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

Although the United States President’s Commission on an all-volunteer Armed Force defines broad categories of personnel which it includes in its concept of non-effectiveness in the United States Armed Forces, the elements actually included in the Commission’s figures of 13 per cent and 9 per cent are not identifiable from the report.

The Australian Services do not have a common definition of non-effective strength. In the Navy and Air Force the definitions include common elements such as sickness, certain types of leave, personnel-in-transit and those under arrest. The Navy also includes personnel on promotion courses. In the case of the Army a wider definition- manpower not related to establishment - is used. In addition to the common elements referred to above this includes trainees, officer and staff cadets and aprentices. The comparative figures and costs for common elements of non-effectiveness arc:

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 25 February 1971, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.