23rd Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. ‘Sir Alister McMulIin) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the Treasurer the following question: Will he consider amending the income tax legislation so as to allow the residents of north Queensland whose homes were destroyed or damaged in the recent cyclone to claim the total cost of replacing or repairing them as a deduction for income tax purposes?
– My understanding of the type of assistance that is usually extended to States, or to the residents of States, arising from disaster of this nature is that it takes the form of a grant, either to the State government direct, or to the State government to distribute to affected persons. I am not aware that provision could be made to allow a tax deduction such as the honorable senator’s question suggests. However, I shall take up the matter with the Treasurer and get his considered opinion.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Trade seen the statement made in Western Australia by Sir John Teasdale, Chairman of the Australian Wheat Board, and reported in to-day’s Sydney “ Telegraph “, to the effect that America is selling wheat on terms with which Australia could not compete, and that some of our traditional wheat and flour markets were thereby being lost? Will he make a full and comprehensive statement to the Senate, after conferring with the Minister for Trade, giving particular reference to what safeguards against such an eventuality have been provided in the recent International Wheat Agreement negotiated in Geneva?
– I can only say, in reply to the honorable senator’s question, that events have pressed pretty heavily on me this morning. I did see the report in the “ Daily Telegraph “ of the statement by Sir John Teasdale, but I did not have time to consider it and to evaluate it properly. My immediate reaction to it was that circumstances in the wheat world must have changed very materially since the conclusion of the conference on the International Wheat Agreement. In view of the importance of the matter, and Senator Laught’s interest in it, I shall have a talk with Mr. McEwen to see whether it is practicable to make a general statement on the wheat position to the Senate.
– 1 would like to ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior a few questions without notice. A receipt that I received recently from the Hotel Kurrajong has stamped on it the words “ Commonwealth Hostels Limited “. When did this organization take over the management of the Hotel Kurrajong? Is it a private company? I have obtained, some information about this matter from various people, but I should like the Minister to explain the set-up to us. Is there any truth in the rumour that the Government is about to lease to a private concern the bar and refreshment rooms in Parliament House, and possibly the rooms occupied by honorable members?
– In answer to the first portion of the honorable senator’s question as to when the Hotel Kurrajong was taken over by Commonwealth Hostels Limited, from memory the date was 1st January, 19.59. Many discussions took place and a .great deal of publicity was given to the proposal that the company should take over control of the hotel from the Department of the Interior. As far as I can gather, Commonwealth Hostels Limited is a quasi-government organization working in conjunction with the Department of Labour and National Service. I am unable to give the honorable senator any information as to the precise set-up at the moment, but if he will place his -question on the notice-paper I shall obtain a comprehensive report from the department concerned and let him know the details.
– I direct my question to the Minister for National Development following the question I asked him yesterday regarding the geological surveys and drilling operations being conducted by the Bureau of Mineral Resources. Can the Minister inform me whether any recent surveys have been made, and whether any surveys are to be made of mineral resources in South Australia?
– I have some information on this matter. I remind the honorable senator that an airborne magnetic and radiometric survey was made last year, aimed at locating uranium deposits, iron ore deposits and the magnetic rocks which assist the geological surveys. That survey in the Tallaringa-Coober Pedy area covered 7,000 square miles. The results have not yet been collated and, therefore, are not available. The Bureau of Mineral Resources is about to commence a further survey of approximately 9.000 square miles in the northern Eyre Peninsula, which will take about six weeks to complete. The base of the survey will be located at Ceduna. This operation is part of the overall plan of the bureau to carry out surveys by air with the modern scientific instruments and methods that are available to it.
– Can the Minister for National Development inform me whether the Rio Tinto company has mining rights in the Savage River area of western Tasmania? Is information available as to the extent and grade of the iron ore deposits? When is it expected that the company will be able to decide on the commercial practicability of this field?
– I have some information about that matter. The honorable senator was good enough to tell me he proposed to ask the question and, as this is a matter of considerable interest in Tasmania, I got some information from my department.
This information follows recent conferences between the Rio Tinto Mining Company and officers of the department concerning this Savage River iron ore deposit, which could make a very significant contribution indeed to Australian natural resources. Present indications are that the deposit may be of the order of 200,000.000 tons. The significance of that can be measured by the fact that the consumption of iron ore in Australia at present runs at the rate of about 4,000,000 tons a year. The additional reserve of 200,000,000 tons is of importance to Australia, and certainly of tremendous importance to Tasmania.
But, as is the case with all these mineral discoveries, we have to make haste slowly. It would be unwise to assume that we have there an asset readily available for use. A great deal of work has yet to be done in drilling, testing and establishing what is at present only a preliminary estimate of the size of the deposit. What is perhaps more important still, after the drilling has been completed, a great deal of work has to be done in testing the quality of the ore in the deposit to ascertain whether that ore can be used or whether it has to be beneficiated and improved to a higher standard to justify its being used.
If the ore has to be beneficiated, then there has to be an economic survey of the cost of doing that, and of how the final cost will compare with that of other highgrade ores. I suppose that from the point of view of Tasmanians, the important thing is the economic survey to decide whether the cost of beneficiating would justify the development of the ore body, and whether that beneficiation should take place in Tasmania or whether the ore should be shipped to the mainland. If events turn out well, then this is a very important addition indeed to our mineral resources in Tasmania.
But I must warn the Senate that, as yet, this is really only something in the nature of preliminary information. It may take as long as five years for all the survey tests and economic surveys to be carried out before a final opinion can be reached. I conclude on the note that when we think of this and the tremendous amount of capital and work involved in testing the deposit, we appreciate how we should encourage big overseas mining companies to come to Australia to do this work, not only because of the capital resources they would bring with them but also because of their technical knowledge and know-how which we need in order properly to evaluate the possibilities of a discovery like this.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior any knowledge as to whether Commonwealth Hostels Limited proposes to seek a liquor licence for the Hotel Kurrajong? Will he use his best endeavours to oppose such an attempt if it should be made?
– I know of no attempt as yet to obtain a liquor licence for the Hotel Kurrajong. The hotel had a liquor licence at one time for a short period but has not had one for a good many years. This matter comes under the control of the Department of the Interior andI shall obtain the information for the honorable senator although I feel sure that as yet no attempt has been made to obtain a licence.
– The line of thought behind my question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, is that, for a long time now - I pass no criticism on that - the secondary industries of this country have been built up under protection - first, from a tariff, then from a Government-fixed exchange rate, then from the basic wage, and now from an import licensing system. 1 ask the Minister whether any assessment has been made of the extent to which the industrial growth of the last six years is dependent for its continuance upon import licensing and the wall of protection that that gives. Secondly,I ask the Minister if, in the assessment of the Government, industry is dependent upon import licensing to any material degree, and whether consideration has been given to a balancing protection for the agricultural industries, which must market on foreign terms.
– The honorable senator flatters me by suggesting thatI can answer that question without notice. The extent to which import licensing has given protection to secondary industries is, of course, a matter which occupies the minds of a number of people. I know that studies, or exercises, have been undertaken in the Department of Trade to evaluate the results of import licensing. I wouldhesitate to express offhand any comments upon the result of those studies. I would only add the further thought that, so far as import licensing itself is concerned, it is now generally accepted that about 80 per cent of imports take the form of either plant and machinery or raw materials for the use of secondary industry. As to the second barrel of the question, the proposal that there should be a balancing protection for agricultural industries, I must beg leave to ask that both parts be put on the notice-paper.
– I address my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. Recently, a number of letters appeared in the Brisbane press from people in the Old Country who wish to come to Australia. I also have received letters in a similar vein. Accusations have been made against Australia House that difficulties are placed in the way of these migrants,some of whom have been waiting for several years to come here. Will the Minister ascertain whether there is any truth in the accusations published in the press concerning petty actions, by officials at Australia House, designed to prevent British migrants from coming to Australia?
– The question asked by the honorable senator is one I cannot answer offhand, but I can say that Australia has been very well served by the Department of Immigration and its Ministers over the last decade or so. The immigration scheme has been a great success, but in any great undertaking you will always get some complaints. Whether these complaints will stand up to the test of truth, I am unable to say at the present time. I shall place the matter before the Minister for Immigration, and I know that when he receives the request he will deal with it in the expeditious and proper manner with which he has dealt with all requests in the past.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister a question. In view of the repeated statements made by the Premier of New South Wales to the effect that he cannot get sufficient money from the Commonwealth Government, will the Minister inform the Senate, first, whether it is within the competence of the States to resume their taxing powers; secondly, whether such a suggestion has been put to the States by the Commonwealth Government; and, thirdly, whether it is a fact that the New South Wales
Government has received amounts far in excess of any received by former State Labour, governments?
– The honorable senator has asked about the vexed question of Commonwealth-State financial arrangements. I was present at a part of the Premiers’ conference held quite recently. I understand’ that later to-day a transcript of the proceedings of that conference will be made available to honorable members in another place and to honorable senators. It sets out the exact wording of the discussions that took place at that conference. It is true that the Commonwealth on this occasion, as on previous occasions, invited the States to put forward a series of proposals whereby their taxing rights could Be returned to them. As one who sat observing the proceedings, I saw very few signs of enthusiasm on the part of the State Premiers to assume that responsibility again.
Another part of the honorable senator’s question dealt with adequacy or otherwise of the volume of the finance that has been made available by the Commonwealth to the States. In answering that question 1 think I am entitled to look at the extent of the responsibilities that the Commonwealth has undertaken in raising money by taxation to provide the requirements of the States. The Commonwealth has made available to the States amounts substantially in excess of those to which- they are legally entitled. The exact figures do not come to my recollection, but each year the Commonwealth makes available to the States large sums of money over and above those to which they are legally entitled. Each year the Commonwealth raises money by taxation in order to support the works programmes of the States.. As a Commonwealth Minister, I take the view that the Commonwealth has dealt handsomely with the States in the financial appropriations it has made for them. As far as New South Wales is concerned it is apparent to any resident of that State that the fault lies in the inefficient methods which the State government has applied in utilizing the moneys that have been provided for it.
– I address a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate relating to the conference of the
Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East at present being held at Broadbeach, in Queensland. Can the Minister inform the Senate whether any of the Asian delegates will be brought further south than Queensland to meet the people of Australia and. perhaps be given an opportunity to meet members of the Parliament, in order to discuss at first hand the problems of their countries so that we may get ideas from them as to what they expect of Australia by way of offering further aid? If attempts are being made to bring them south, will the Minister see that they are brought as far as South Australia and Western Australia? There is far too strong a tendency to bring people to Melbourne and Sydney and not to bring them further to those other very attractive States.
– I subscribe to the last statement - that is, that South Australia and1 Western Australia are very attractive States. As to the general arrangements for the conference, I understand that the pattern of all international conferences is being followed - that arrangements have been made only relating to the conference itself, that the delegates have come from overseas, and that it is open to them if they so desire to make any other arrangements. I am not aware of any arrangements having been’ made to bring them to other States. If I am correct in that respect, it may be a little late in the day to try to make further arrangements, but I shall see whether an effort can be made to bring the honorable senator’s suggestion to the notice of my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior. I support Senator Kennelly in his desire not to have liquor served at the Hotel Kurrajong. I am not a wowser; I take liquor occasionally medicinally and for the good of my soul, but 1 would not like to see the establishment turned- into an hotel of that kind. I ask the Minister whether he will submit to the Minister for the Interior a request that arrangements for the running of the hotel be modernized so that guests may be supplied with a cup of tea or a light supper after dinner at night. At the present time, one cannot get refreshments of any kindat that time. Will the honorable senator ask the Minister for the Interior to bring the request to the notice of Commonwealth Hostels Limited?
– I shall be only too pleased to bring the honorable senator’s request to the notice of the Minister for the Interior.
– I preface my question, which is addressed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport, by stating that this year the price of fruit overseas has dropped so drastically that fruit shippers are able to pay only about 75 per cent of the amount that they paid last year for fruit shipped overseas. I ask the Minister whether, within the last twelve months, there has been any increase of freight rates between Australia and Europe and, if there has been, to what extent.
– Overseas shipping does not come within my administration. It is a matter for the Minister for Trade, to whom 1 shall refer the honorable senator’s question.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Army whether it is a fact that tenders were let recently, totalling some £158,000, for the supply of footwear to the Army. Were manufacturers in Tasmania given the opportunity to tender? If not, how were tenders called?
– Tenders werecalled by public announcement. I understand that there was very keen competition between factories throughout Australia and that contracts to supply the boots were shared between factories an four States. I was interested to note that a factory in Hobart had received a portion of the order, and I wish to congratulate that factory on being able to stand up to the keen competition. It is pleasing to know that that Tasmanian factory is as keenly competitive as are factories in the mainland States.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade has furnished the following replies, after consultation with his colleague, the Minister for Primary Industry -
Rollo Hawkes and the quotation agrees with the published version of that statement.
Up to 19:57-58, very little raw wool was exported to mainland China from South Africa or Uruguay, but New Zealand recorded exports of 1,000,000 lb. in 1956-57 and over 3,500,000 lb. in 1957-58. Australia’s exports of raw wool rose from over 2,000,000 lb. in 1955-56, valued at £1,000,000, to almost 7,000,000 lb., valued at £3,500,000, in 1957-58.
While some wool tops have gone forward to mainland China from South Africa and Uruguay, the main business has been done by the United Kingdom and Australia. Australia’s exports of wool tops have risen from 3,000,000 lb., valued at £1,700,000, in 1955-56, to over 9,000,000 lb., valued at £5,900,000 in 1957-58. Moreover, in the calendar year 1958, United Kingdom exports of wool tops to mainland China were almost 16,000,000 lb., valued at £8,000,000 in Australian currency.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The following replies have been furnished: - 1 and 2. The number of informal votes cast at the last election was: For the Senate 529,050 or 10.29 per cent, of the total votes recorded, and for the House of Representatives 147,616 or 2.87 per cent, of the total votes. While it is undesirable to have informal votes, it is purely a matter of personal opinion as to what constitutes an alarming number. There is no method of establishing accurately why people vote informally, whether by accident or design, but there is no significant change in the informal Senate vote since 1919, when preferential voting was first introduced. The percentage of informal votes to the number of votes recorded at each Senate election since the introduction of preferential voting in 1919 is as follows: - ‘
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– I now answer the honorable senator in the following terms: -
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– I now answer the honorable senator in the following terms: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The following replies have been furnished: -
– On 19th February, Senator Willesee asked me the following question, without notice -
Can the Minister representing the Minister for Trade advise me whether there will be an Australian pavilion at the international trade fairs to be held at Djakarta during June and July?
The Minister for Trade has advised me that participation in these fairs has been given special consideration by the Government and it was decided not to enter an exhibit. Funds available for overseas exhibitions are limited, and the Government considers that its resources can be used more effectively elsewhere.
Consideration of message received from the House of Representatives requesting the concurrence of the Senate in the appointment of a Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory in the following terms: -
That a joint committee be appointed to -
examine and report on all proposals for modifications or variations of the plan of lay-out of the City of Canberra and its environments published in the “ Commonwealth of Australia Gazette “ on the nineteenth day of November, 1925, as previously modified or varied, which are referred to the committee by the Minisier for the Interior; and
examine and report on such other matters relating to the Australian Capital Territory as may be referred to the committee by the Minister for the Interior.
That the committee consist of two members of the House of Representatives appointed by the Prime Minister two members of the House of Representatives appointed by the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, three senators appointed by the Leader of the Government in the Senate and two senators appointed’ by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate.
That every appointment of a member of the committee be forthwith notified in writing to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
That the members of the committee shall hold office as a Joint Committee until the House of Representatives expires by dissolution or effluxion of time.
That the committee elect as chairman of the committee one of the members appointed by the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
That the chairman of the committee may, from time to time, appoint another member of the committee to be the deputy chairman of the committee and that the member so appointed act as chairman of the committee at any time when the chairman is not present at a meeting of the committee.
That the committee have power to appoint sub-committees consisting of three or more of its members and to refer to such a sub-committee any matter which the committee is empowered to examine.
That the committee have power to sendfor persons, papers and records and to sit during any recess or adjournment of the Parliament and during the sittings of either House of the Parliament.
That the committee have power to consider the minutes of evidence and records of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory appointed in the previous session relatingto any matter on which that committee had not completed its inquiry.
That the committee have leave to report from time to time and that any member of the committee have power to add a protest or dissent to any report.
1) That five members of the committee, including the chairman or deputy chairman, constitute a quorum of the committee, and two members of a sub-eommittee constitute a quorum of the sub-committee.
That in matters of procedure the chairman or deputy chairman presiding at the meeting have a deliberative vote and, in the event of an equality of voting, have a casting vote, and that, in other matters) the chairman or deputy chairman have a deliberative vote only.
That the foregoing provisions of this resolution, so far as they are inconsistent with the Standing Orders, have effect notwithstanding anything contained in the Standing. Orders:
Motion (by Senator Spooner) agreed to - That Standing Order No. 14 be suspended to permit, before the Address-in-Reply is adopted, the appointment of a Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) proposed - (1) That the Senate concurs in the resolution transmitted to the Senate by message No. 5 of the House of Representatives with reference to the appointment of a joint committee to examine and report on certain matters relating to the Australian Capital Territory.
– The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Spooner) has chosen a very fitting occasion on which to present this resolution to the Senate because to-day is Canberra Day and the day on which the National Capital Development Commission has announced a building programme. The committee which it is proposed to appoint has very limited powers. I should like to explain to the Senate, particularly to new senators who may not know its history, that the appointment of the committee is one of the results - by no means the most important result - of the work of the select committee which was appointed in 1954 and which presented its report in 1955. The appointment of that committee was the result of a unanimous decision of the
Senate. That fact is very important because it indicates thaton one occasion at least the: Senate played the part intended for it by the founders of the Constitution.
As chairman of the committee which functioned during the last Parliament, I should like to thank the then Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Neil O’Sullivan) and the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), who gave the warmest support to the proposal to appoint a committee. The committee comprised Senators Benn, Hannaford, Ryan, Tangney, Vincent, Wood’ and myself.I had the honour of being elected chairman. From beginning to end of its task, no party bias was displayed by members of the committee. In the main, we reached unanimous decisions on the evidence presented to us and’, when differences of opinion did arise, they were never on party lines. I can recall only one division being necessary to arrive at a decision on a particular matter. On that occasion the voting was not on party lines. The committee’s report was accepted without any bias whatever. The report is something rather notable in the history of the Senate, first, because of the unanimity of feeling of honorable senators, and secondly, because some of the recommendations made by the committee have been adopted and are now being implemented. Seventy-six recommendations were submitted, but I shall not weary honorable senators by reading them. At the time of presentation, there was some merriment at the enormous size of the report and a number of honorable senators suggested that the report never would be read but would be pigeonholed. However, the Department of the Interior did not have a pigeonhole large enough to hold the report - it broke loose.
I should like to mention a number of recommendations of the committee that have been implemented. First the Griffin plan which had been evaded and, in many ways, treated with contempt, was reinstated with some modifications necessary as a result of the growth of modern traffic. No disgrace can be levelled at the great architect and town planner Griffin because he could not foresee everything in the future. Although the motor car had been invented - doubtless he travelled in one himself - he was justified, when he drew up the plan, in assuming that the speed of city traffic would not grow beyond the level of fifteen miles an hour which, at that time, was a rather generous, estimate. The committee recommended that the plan be modified to meet the needs of the growing and more speedy traffic. That recommendation has been adopted. Secondly, the committee recommended that a very high standard of building be maintained and that an artistic standards committee be set up. That recommendation, in the spirit, is being carried out. Thirdly, the committee recommended that the head offices of all Government departments be transferred to Canberra. Through the energy of. Cabinet and, to my mind, of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), that recommendation is being implemented. Departments are being brought to Canberra and arrangements are being made to house the families of officers employed in those departments.
The Committee praised without stint the work of the Parks and Gardens section of the Department of the Interior. I hope that section will continue to flourish in the future as it has in the past.
– Like the green bay tree.
– That is certainly a very happy simile. The lakes scheme, which has been one of the most controversial matters in the development of Canberra, has received considerable publicity in the press and has been mentioned in the committee’s reports. I shall refer to the scheme at some length so that honorable senators will be aware of the committee’s recommendations. Walter Burley Griffin, sitting in Chicago and having some data, but not enough, had in mind a most ambitious lakes scheme. He planned a farspreading east lake, a far-spreading west lake and three central basins. After hearing expert evidence the committee was doubtful as to whether that ambitious scheme could be implemented, but felt that some portion of the scheme could be carried out. For that reason the committee recommended that the scheme be examined without delay and that a decision be implemented as early as practicable. In any case, the provision of the three central basins was to be regarded as obligatory. Honorable senators will notice from this morning’s “ Canberra Times “ that the National Capital Development Commis sion is going ahead with the plan to provide the three basins, which are to be established without delay. Completion of the remainder of the plan will depend on whether sufficient water will be available during periods, of drought.
– Is the west lake included in the work to be carried out?
– No, it is not. I do not know the present intention regarding the west lake, but the three central basins are to be established. The committee then recommended that a commission be appointed’ to handle the administrative, planning and construction work. That recommendation has been carried out in regard to planning and construction. I have no quarrel’ with that provided that the members of the commission, in whom I have the greatest confidence, are given full power to perform their task without hindrance from any other administrative body. I regard the Commissioner, Mr. Overall, as one of the most able men I have ever met in the field of town planning. Then we recommended that there be sufficient money. That, we found, was the thing which, beyond anything, else, had prevented the development of the capital. It is not a matter of pride for Australia that New Delhi was planned after Canberra and that New Delhi has for many years been a very fine city. Those members of Parliament who have visited it will agree with me on that. I know there are certain conditions that are different, but the main reason for the failure to develop Canberra is that there has never been, a consistent policy, there has never been, until recently, sufficient money supplied and unfortunately at the very time when the building of Canberra would have provided employment - in the ‘30’s - and when, according to the generally accepted monetary theories of to-day, it was the most desirable thing to. do, the whole thing was pretty well suspended. Then, of course, suspension during the war and the setting up of temporary buildings was, 1 suppose, necessary. But we insisted that there should be a regular and sufficient supply of money. This is what we said on page 72 of our report -
The Committee is aware that many of its recommendations will entail increased expenditure of public moneys, and it makes these recommendations fully conscious of this fact. The Committee believes that the people of Australia are only
Capital shall be a city of great beauty and dignity, fit to rank with the other great capitals of the world, and will not begrudge the wise expenditure of their money for this purpose. The only alternative to such additional expenditure is the indefinite continuance of capital half-built, and an administration dispersed between several cities, entailing in themselves a wasteful use of public moneys and a loss of administrative efficiency.
We therefore recommended -
That the Authority be guaranteed, by an appropriate provision in the enabling Act, sufficient finance to permit it to carry out a long-term balanced programme.
There were other recommendations, but I want to say that although this committee was criticized, particularly in the press of the great metropolises - in the press of Sydney and Melbourne especially - as being quite in the air, and not understanding the practical problems, we devoted the greater part of our attention to the securing of finance, and to the securing of finance for housing in particular.
This being a motion in respect of the appointment of a particular committee, T must not devote too much attention to what that original committee did, but we did make one recommendation to which 1 desire to refer now. As a matter of fact, we put it at the beginning of the recommendations, but it was one of the conclusions we arrived at after we had thought out the whole problem. The recommendation was that parliamentary oversight be exercised by a Senate standing committee on the development of Canberra.
We had many reasons for that recommendation. First, we thought that the Senate, representing the States, should have a particular interest in the capital of the Commonwealth because every State has an interest in it and it is not desirable that the capital should be developed solely in the interests of the surrounding country, as some people on the executive side have recommended - that it should become, as it were, one of the greater country towns of New South Wales. That was not desirable. Every State has an interest in it, and every Slate finds money for it. The people might think that there were things in their own particular States of more importance than some particular problem in Canberra. Therefore, we thought the Senate was the proper body for that standing committee.
In America, although the constitution is not quite the same as our constitution, the Senate has been the main body in delivering Washington from the chaos into which it fell for many years after the original plan was drawn up, and in insisting on its proper development as a national capital.
What we got from that was not our recommendation but a compromise. 1 tried, and other members of the committee tried very hard to get the select committee, but the authority was not forthcoming. It was quite impossible, of course, for the Senate to do that on its own. We must have executive support and approval. Finally, a compromise was arrived at by which we have the committee which the Minister proposes to set going this afternoon. That is a joint committee, but special recognition has been given to the Senate in that we have the greater proportion of members. That is unique in respect of select committees, as generally the other House dominates the membership. It is also provided that the chairman of this committee shall be a senator.
I do not wish to exaggerate in any way the power or importance of this committee. It is far less than I think it should be, but I do wish to say that, limited as we are bv the power to report only on matters referred to us by the Minister for the Interior, the committee of which I was a member during the last Parliament did hold an inquiry into a subject which has importance not only to Canberra but to the whole of Australia. I refer to late night shopping and shopping hours in general. The outcome was a triumph, because there were sharp differences of opinion between the Government and Opposition members. We were able to arrive at agreement on all points but one, and that was a point on which I think we would never arrive a’ agreement.
I thought at the beginning that we could never get any agreement from some members to any kind of late night shopping. We did secure that agreement. The only difference of opinion in the end was that whereas the feeling of the Government members, on the evidence presented, particularly by the consumers - there was, of course evidence on the other side to support the minority view - was that there should be both one late shopping night and Saturday morning shopping. The minority report said that if there was to be late night shopping the Saturday morning shopping should be abolished. That, of course, was an honest difference of opinion, and I think that the inquiry was conducted throughout with great impartiality and we all learned a great deal from it.
What 1 want to say, finally, is that this is a matter of importance to Australia. It is also a matter of great importance to the Senate. We wanted the Senate committee to be, as it were, the watchdog on the capital. This small committee cannot be that, but it can be, shall 1 say, mostly the eyes and ears of the Senate, which still has very considerable powers in this matter, because any change of the plan must be gazetted and it must lie on the table, and it is competent at a particular time for any member of the Senate to object to it. lt is of great value to the exercise of that power by the Senate that there should be a committee whose members are very well informed on what is happening in Canberra. 1 have the greatest confidence in the attitude that the Government is displaying at the present time. 1 have the greatest confidence in the Minister, and in the commission and it will certainly not be, I think, the object of any member of this Senate to obstruct their work or to introduce unnecessary delays. We would rather regard this reserve power, of being able to stop what they are doing, simply as a lever by which we may encourage and help them. I think every member of the Senate should feel some great degree of satisfaction.
One of the greatest things to overcome in the world is inertia. Another hard thing to overcome is ridicule and cynicism, but that has been the lot of everybody who wished to push forward the development of this city. When I was thinking over this speech, these lines from Tennyson came to my mind -
The seed, the little seed they laughed at in the dark,
Has risen and cleft the soil and grown a bulk of spanless girth.
It is growing. This is becoming a city of which we all may be proud. Minor errors are occurring at the present time but we have now the will and the energy, and I hope that all the members of this committee, and all members of the Senate, will join in encouraging, aiding, and occasionally criticizing, those who are undertaking this great task.
– In supporting the motion that this committee be re-formed I should like first to congratulate Senator Mccallum, who was a little modest in his approach to the committee. The original committee was really his brain child. He has given credit to everyone who had anything to do with the committee and its work, but he has refrained from giving the greater part of the credit to himself, as he really should have done.
I am sure that every honorable senator was surprised and pleased this morning to read the leading article in the “ Canberra Times “ and also the supplement on the development of Canberra, especially on this day, which is so important in the history of the Commonwealth - not merely Canberra alone.
One of the great tasks confronting the committee is dispelling the belief abroad that Canberra is something which concerns only the people who live here, or those who come here to attend parliamentary sessions. It is, after all, the national capital. It belongs to all the people of Australia. Therefore I feel that, from to-day, wo should try to spread the idea that Canberra is the nation’s capital. That fact should’ be more widely appreciated, in the schools especially.
I should like to see Canberra Day celebrated in, schools throughout Australia. Australia Day falls in January when, usually, the schools are on vacation. The majority of adults regard it as merely another long week-end. As a result, the historic significance of the occasion is, to a great degree, lost. Over the last few years attempts have been made to restore it. but they have not been altogether successful. We have now a fresh opportunity, particularly amongst the schoolchildren of Australia. If appreciation begins with them i; will grow with their adult consciousness. The schools are in session at this time of the year and I do not think that it would cost a great deal to have suitable literature printed for distribution on Canberra Day. Tt would not be intended merely for schools in Canberra, for Canberra children know all about the subject. It would find its way into schools throughout Australia, and the full significance of Canberra as the nation’s capital would be fully appreciated by all.
As for the original committee, I think a great deal of credit must go to Mr. Bullock, the secretary, for the excellent report that was presented to the Senate. Mr. Bullock, one of the officers of this chamber, was tireless, and the effort that he put into the committee’s work vastly exceeded that of any member except perhaps the chairman. The report was really a wonderful tribute to his energy and skill, emerging as it did from our lengthy, rambling discourses and ponderings.
I was not a member of the committee which this Parliament set up last year. I was absent because of illness, but I have heard from members of the committee that they felt somewhat frustrated in their approach. They came on to the committee full of enthusiasm. The original committee had approached the job with similar enthusiasm and had obtained a great deal of support. Every one had been keen and a report had been presented to Parliament in what must have been record time. For once it was acted upon in record time and did not find its way into the archives to become a museum piece. It was acted upon more quickly and more efficiently than many reports on similar subjects that had been presented to the Parliament. The committee which was envisaged in the report was set up. I repeat, I have had discussions with some of its members. I do not want it to be thought that I am being critical oi something of which I know nothing. It was suggested to me that the committee had been called upon to discuss only one question and that that was the end of the whole business; that it was therefore but a token committee.
Despite what Senator McCallum has said, I doubt whether the committee had any right to interfere in what was, after all, an industrial matter. 1 refer to the introduction of new closing hours for shops. I feel that there is some doubt whether the committee should have undertaken such an inquiry. I think that there are other things that the committee could undertake which would not be so controversial and would not infringe upon industrial tribunals which ordinarily fix hours and conditions of employment.
– What about the rights of the people of Canberra?
– I do not deny that such rights exist. The matter could have been discussed generally. It was the only thing that the committee did last year. I repeat, I am speaking only from hearsay, but I feel that the making of decisions upon the rights of citizens in regard to amenities such as night shopping could be extended dangerously into the States, where industrial conditions are the outcome of negotiations in the arbitration courts and elsewhere. 1 am unhappy, not so much about the decision, but about the fact that this was the only question exercising the minds of the committee last year. There is so much else that must be done.
The supplement in this morning’s “ Canberra Times “ could well be reprinted and made a handbook as part of the tourist activity which I mentioned yesterday. 1 think that it is a very fine supplement indeed. I would like to congratulate the newspaper upon bringing it out. There are other things that the committee must face up to this year. It should not have to wait for things to be referred to it by the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth). When that happens it becomes a question of how interested the Minister is in the development of Canberra and the work of this committee. It is no good setting up a body that will be only a token body - merely to satisfy the wish of a Senate that a committee should be formed. If Senator McCallum is again the chairman of the proposed committee I am sure that he will see that it becomes a more potent force in the development of our capital. The committee could well meet without having to be called upon by the Minister to do so - even for general discussions, without having before it any specific problem.
It is rather tragic to recall that an idea which Senator Robertson expressed some years ago did not bear fruit. She had the excellent idea that a memorial to pioneer women should be erected in Canberra. The idea appealed to quite a number of people. Every one felt that such a monument would be a tribute to our pioneer women. It was left to a committee of women to try to do something about it in the National Capital. Unfortunately, though interest was aroused among various organizations, there was no financial backing and the project had to be postponed. 1 do not suggest that it has been abandoned, because that is not the case. 1 should like the Senate committee to investigate that matter so that it may become a reality when Canberra’s Golden Jubilee occurs in 1963 - only four more years away. One of the activities of that year could be the opening of such a memorial. We have become very anniversary conscious, lt is a good thing in a young nation that that should be so. We like to pay tribute to men and women who have done something worth while for this nation. The proposed memorial would be a tribute to the vast numbers of pioneer women who went out into the back-blocks and helped to develop the country long before there w,ere modern amenities such as we have now grown accustomed to in even the far-flung areas. It would be a tribute to our pioneer women in the arts, science, education and so on. I feel that it would be a very gracious gesture on the part of the committee to help with the fulfilment of this worth-while object, which was initiated in the Senate by my colleague from Western Australia, Senator Robertson.
Ideas also have been put to the Senate by my colleague in relation to another matter. All of us who come from Western Australia are rather distressed at the fate that has befallen one of the outstanding sons of Western Australia - Lord Forrest. His portrait has been consigned to the basement, and visitors do not know who the portrait represents. There is a great need for a national art gallery and museum where the art treasures that we have in Canberra, which are virtually irreplaceable, could be decently housed. In. the basement of Parliament House at the present time are all kinds of works of art and all kinds of relics of the past which are very valuable. People are coming to Canberra in their thousands; they like to make a kind of pilgrimage to this city at least once in their lifetimes. When they are told that they can see these things in the basement, it reminds them of a bargain basement in a chain store. They do not realize that it is the ground floor of Parliament House. All these things are so scattered. If they were lost, or if anything were to happen to them, they could never be replaced. I hope that the commission will speed up its plans for the creation of a national gallery were these art treasures and relics of the past could be decently housed, and I hope that the building will be something worthy of this country.
A diversity of opinion exists as to the type of architecture that is suitable for Canberra. The whole conception of this Senate committee sprung from the erection of an unsightly building opposite the Hotel Kurrajong. We can be thankful that that unsightly building did arise overnight, because, in spite of its utility, it roused Senator McCallum’s indignation and a committee was formed while he was still hot under the collar. Some of us are hot under the collar in regard to other buildings. We do not want Canberra to become an experimental station for modern architectural monstrosities, as I feel in some cases it has been. When we go through the older cities of the world we see beautiful buildings that have stood ihe test of time, but one wonders whether some of the things that are being erected in Canberra to-day will stand the test of a few hard winters, let alone the test of centuries. While it is necessary to have our public buildings erected as soon as we can, we should insist that haste is not the essence of the contract. We want the buildings to be worthy of the idea of an Australian national capital.
I did not intend to speak on this matter when I came into the chamber. I had nothing specifially prepared, but I felt I could not let the occasion pass without expressing my personal opinion. I trust that when this committee is formed, it will be able to do as good a job as did its predecessor. I hope that the Minister will become aware of its existence and invite its participation in a much more practical way in the development of our national capital. I am very pleased that this matter has come up for consideration on Canberra Day. I hope the Minister will take cognizance of my suggestion that Canberra Day should be celebrated in the schools - I think it is equally as important as Arbor day - and that 12th March will become a date in Australian history of which we shall never be ashamed.
.- The motion before the Senate naturally brings to mind the national capital. Canberra. I have been thinking about the functions of the committee and also about the building of this capital. As the chairman of the previous committee, Senator McCallum pointed out that the committee arose as the result of the Senate select committee which dealt with the planning and development of Canberra. I feel personally that the functions of the present committee are not nearly so wide as the Senate select committee envisaged. The subject which has already been referred to the joint committee was possibly not the type of subject that the select committee envisaged should be submitted to it. As Senator Tangney pointed out, the matter of shopping hours in Canberra was referred to the committee. She said that she felt the committee was delving into industrial matters in dealing with that subject. However, this Parliament is the overriding authority in regard to both the planning and the conduct of this city - it should be if it is not - and under those circumstances I suppose it was probably reasonable and fair that the Minister should refer this question to the committee for its consideration.
The committee did not have any power to act. but had the power to make recommendations. It gave an opportunity to every one in Canberra to put his or her views about shopping requirements and the needs of the people. As a result, a large number of people gave evidence and the committee made its findings in accordance with the evidence put before it. Senator Tangney appears to have taken umbrage at the committee dealing with a matter that might come within the jurisdiction of the industrial courts. I point out that a government of her own political persuasion in New South Wales some years ago intruded into an industrial matter that comes within the jurisdiction of the courts, when it brought in the 40-hour week. In recent times a Labour government in New South Wales has entered the industrial field again by introducing three weeks’ annual leave, equal pay for the sexes, and so on. By seeking to draw a line of demarcation in this particular case, the honorable senator was a bit inconsistent with the policy of her own party.
However, so far as this committee is concerned, it could have very important responsibilities passed over to it. I feel that it should be more or less the watchdog of the development of Canberra. As a result, it could play a very important part in the development of this city. It should not adopt the attitude that Canberra should get everything, but it should see that Canberra get the things it is entitled to, at the right tempo or speed. I know there is a tendency here, where probably a little bit of service is laid on by the various departments, for parliamentarians to flap a little, feel important, and acquiesce in this and that. I think the development of Canberra is important. I agree with Senator Tangney when she speaks about special features in this city, but rather than have too much speed, let us take time to think over these matters and have buildings erected properly. I have heard people talking about putting up a new Parliament House in a couple of years. That suggestion has come from responsible quarters. Any one who knows anything about the planning and erection of a building such as Parliament House would never, in his wildest dreams, imagine that the right type of building could be put up within that time. Parliament House should not only serve the Parliament’s functional requirements, but it should also be an architectural feature. When it is built, it should be something of which the Australian people can be proud and something which will be an outstanding feature in our National Capital. You would not ask a department to design your Parliament House. Surely its design should be of such importance as to call for a competition, with entries submitted by the best architects that can be found. That is just an example to show that we should have the right speed in the development of Canberra, particularly in relation to some of its outstanding features.
I think that things should come in their proper order according to the urgency of the need, and that those of us who come from outside the Australian Capital Territory should fit in the development of Canberra with the requirements of and the demands for development within our own States. Although I was a member of the Select committee on Canberra, I am not prepared to give everything to the National Capital when people in the States urgently require basic services and cannot get them because of a shortage of loan funds. We must have a proper relationship between the requirements of this area and those of our own areas.
As a member of the Senate Select Committee on Canberra, I submitted an independent report because I did not agree with the majority of the decisions of the committee. I have had considerable experience in local government and the views I put forth were in conformity with that experience. Some members of the Parliament have developed a glamour view of the National Capital but we must remember that, whilst special functional buildings must be provided and other special requirements must be satisfied, basically the building of this city is the same as that of any other city o:- town. Roads, footpaths, drainage, housing, amenities, sewerage and water are needed by every community. The same remark applies to parks, playgrounds and recreation features. We must adopt a common-sense approach to these things. I believe th u if we do, in the long run we will do a bet er job and will keep the development of this area and the proper requirements of other areas in correct proportion. I do not see the need to push along the development of Canberra at the expense of other places. As I said, I have served in local government for many years in the City of Mackay in north Queensland.
Let me direct attention to what I read in the Melbourne press yesterday and in the “ Canberra Times “ to-day. No one is keener than 1 am about building up the aesthetic features of the National Capital or of any other city. I am a great believer in the fact that environment plays a very great part in the lives of people and that the more attractive surroundings are the more they will benefit people. Attractive surroundings improve people’s outlook and tend to make them happier and contented. I do npt think any one can say that, as Canberra is at the moment, people who live here could be discontented.
T am facing up to the fact and am saying what T think. I know that the public administrators or public servants of Canberra naturally push their own wheelbarrow. They are closer to the ears of Ministers and of the Parliament, and consequently they get a lot more than do people in other parts of Australia. It must be remembered that the people of Australia in general pay for whatever is established in Canberra. Although, as I said, I am keen about the aesthetic aspect of the develop ment of this city, I am just as keen about the aesthetic development of the cities and towns and rural centres in the various States. Such development plays the same part in the lives of the people of those areas as it does in the lives of the people of Canberra.
When I read about the short-range policy for Canberra, I really wonder whether the men who sit in this city and the people who push the wheelbarrow for Canberra realize how it must seem to people who cannot get their basic needs. I read in the Melbourne “ Age “ yesterday and in the “ Canberra Times “ to-day that the National Capital Development Commission proposes to submit to Cabinet a five-year plan, and further proposals for a long-range plan. Included in the five-year plan is a scheme for artificial lakes for the city. Let me say right now that I am keen about the preservation of the lakes1 scheme in the plan for Canberra, because it is one basic feature that should be included in any such plan.
– The honorable senator stands for the inclusion of the west lake?
– I stand for the inclusion of it, and I stand firmly for the development of the lakes scheme. But I must recognize the fact that for several years we have been passing through a very stringent time in relation to the provision of loan funds. I am not one of those people who continually say, “ This is not the right time “. But we know that, because loans have fallen due and so forth, there has been a tightness of money for work in other places. Municipal authorities in other centres have not been able to get loan money to provide basic services such as sewerage and water supplies.
When I was the mayor of Mackay, the council devised a scheme to give the city a better water supply. In the dry period of every year there are water restrictions. That kind of thing happens in towns and cities throughout Australia. What will the people in those centres think about the expenditure of £2,200,000 on the provision of lakes, with their recreation, boating and fishing facilities1? The fact that those people can read reports of such expenditure when they cannot get a good water supply does not do us justice. It shows that the men who are at the top in the planning field and the public servants of Canberra are pushing their own case to the detriment of everybody else.
– Those officials may not always be here; they are planning for the future.
– Of course, they may not; but 1 cannot, see the wisdom of spending £2,200,000 for the provision of lakes when there is such a. shortage of loan funds. Every local government authority is restricted. These bodies cannot get the funds they want. I am astonished at Senator Tangney offering resistance to such a suggestion. The supply of water is important for everybody. Surely such things should come first. Is not the provision of sewerage systems important? As to the provision of recreation features in Canberra,, this city already has an admirable swimming pool. I believe that if we decide to build anything, we should build’ something of the highest standard. I repeat that Canberra, has a pool, but for twenty years Mackay has been fighting to get a swimming pool. Do honorable senators know the way in which the people of that city are attempting to get it? At weekends, 200 or 300 persons are going out and collecting donations from the people. The people themselves are providing the money. Every year the project is submitted to the State Government and the Premiers’ conference but is deleted from the works programme.
– Why does not the council strike a special rate for a year or two?
– I am amazed that Senator O’Byrne should ask such a question. To raise about £70,000 or £80,000 in one year when the total general rate probably would not amount to anything like that sum would be a terrific burden on the people. A similar difficulty is being experienced by the city of Rockhampton, 200 miles further south. For some years, the Mayor of Rockhampton has been organizing for the provision of a better swimming pool. As has happened in Mackay, for years collectors have been going from door to door and asking people for subscriptions. Week by week the employees of Rockhampton have been contributing from their pay envelopes for a new swimming pool.
– Every town and city ia the tropical1 areas of the north should have a swimming pool. A pool ought to be basic.
– That is what I am getting at, but we find that in Canberra it is proposed that £2,200,000 should be provided for the lakes scheme.
– Would you get any of that £2,200,000 for a water supply in Mackay if it were not spent here?
– The point is: that the Federal Government is the authority which collects the money from the taxpayer of Australia. Local government bodies have to’ go to the State governments. The Premiers come here cap in- hand, and they are told by the Federal Government, “ Take it or leave it. That is what you will get.”
– Local government bodies can raise their own loans.
– They have to gp to the Loan Council in order to find out what loans may be raised. Because of the present set-up, local governing bodies have the hardest fight of all to raise loans. The Loan Council specifies the way in which their loans are to be repaid, which places them at a disadvantage. No form of government is closer to the people, or does more for the everyday life of the people, than local government.
Whilst I agree that we should build this national capital to the best standards and as quickly as possible, I am not one of those who believe that we should do so at the expense of other Australians. I make no bones about saying that. I think that parliamentarians who come here and show that they think otherwise indicate that they are forgetting the people in the States from which they come. A swimming pool, of course, is a desirable amenity, but things like a sewerage service and a supply of water for the people to drink and to wash with are essential matters. I certainly think that the people of Australia would resent very much elaborate expenditure of this kind, when they themselves cannot obtain the essential services they need. I know that the time will come when there will be no stringency in regard to loan moneys. When that time comes, it will be possible to do these things that I have been speaking about, but at the present time I think that to do them would be most inconsistent. 1 say to honorable senators who know something about the affairs of the States from which they come, and of the problems that exist there, that they should keep a very close watch on this set-up and this National Capital Development Commission. Of Course, the commission will want all sorts of things for Canberra, because its members live in Canberra. Make no mistake, the people of Canberra look after themselves by means of the pressure that they put on the Government. A Minister of the Chifley Government - I am not going to mention names - once told me that the pressure exerted by Canberra people to obtain amenities for Canberra was very strong indeed, but that when it came to the provision of amenities for the States, there was always resistance.
– The people of Canberra are not entitled to anything more than what is necessary to bring their conditions to the level of those in the States of the Commonwealth.
– What Senator Maher says is exactly correct, and that is the point that I am trying to make. Having made that point clear, the Government and the Parliament will know where I stand on this matter, i shall always raise my voice at times like this, when stringency exists in regard to loan funds, and 1 shall speak accordingly.
I have been associated with town planning for a lifetime. I think it can be said that the council of my own city of Mackay, during my first term as mayor, introduced the first town plan prepared by a municipality in Australia. Over the years, I have given constant attention to this subject. Planning is essential to the proper development of any city or community. The Canberra town plan was very seriously considered by the select committee of which I was a member. I submitted an independent report, because I did not believe in the recommendations that were made by the committee in general. I think that we always have to be alive to changes in the social life, conditions and requirements of the people. A plan that was good a number of years ago may not be so good to-day, and it should be changed if it is necessary to do so. Any one who studies the present town plan of Canberra must admit that there are weaknesses in it which probably were not envisaged at the time that it was drawn up. It is well known that traffic problems have increased greatly since then, for instance. Burley Griffin did not envisage the great increase in motor traffic between then and now. We know, too, that a plan drawn up in those days would not have taken account of the terrific growth of air transportation that we have seen in recent years.
So far as the town plan of Canberra is concerned, I think there are at least two basic weaknesses. One of them is that the lay-out of the city makes it difficult to find one’s way about. Common-sense people cannot find their way about Canberra when they first come here unless they use a map.
– A lot of people cannot find their way about after they have been here for twenty years.
– That is right. No town plan should be so complex that people cannot find their way about. If people are to come to this National Capital as visitors, they should be able to find their way about the city, even if they have only a reasonable degree of intelligence.
– But whatever you did, you could not make it any better in that respect.
– It could be altered. ‘ The second weakness, Mr. President, is what is called the triangle was conceived on too grand a scale. It is true that plenty of room must be allowed for the development of a national capital, but that can be carried to extremes. My belief is that Canberra has too large a vacuum in the centre. This results in costly transportation services and forces the people to live too far from their work.
– But you cannot alter that now.
– Yes, you can.
– Would the honorable senator tell us how it can be done?
– By proper planning. As I have said, this large vacuum forces the people to live too far from their work, and it also results in costly administration. What Canberra really needs to-day is a revised town plan.
– The Canberra Committee was appointed to revise it.
– Yes. That is the grandiose, or magnificent, way that Canberra goes about doing a job that is really the same as a local government job. A municipality or city in another part of Australia would appoint a town planner to revise the town plan and prepare an amended plan. That amended plan would go before the council, which would consider it.
– That is what Sir William Holford did, is it not?
– I will deal with that in a minute. The council would consider the amended plan, and if it were approved it would go to the State government for gazettal. But what did this Government, or this Parliament, do? It brought a town planner from Great Britain to make a report on the town plan.
– A good man, too.
– If you look into some of his suggestions, such as that for a royal villa, a new site for Parliament House and for the triangle, you will see that they would create more problems for the system instead of solving problems. He was brought out here at great expense to report on the town plan. No municipal council would be so weak in the mind as to do a thing like that. A council would bring out such a man to amend the town plan. We have had Sir William Holford out here and we still have not got an amended town plan.
What 1 want to know is: Who is going to amend the plan? Who is going to bring out a new town plan for Canberra? Will it be the commissioners who have been appointed, or, because this is the national capital, which so many people believe should be built to first-class standards, are we to have a top-line, world-class town planner to do it? Alternatively are we going to ask our staff to do it? If this place is to be what some people say it should be, let us get the best brains that we can obtain to develop the town plan, just as if we were building a new Parliament House we would obtain the best architectural brains for the job. With those words of caution and also of criticism, Mr. President, I conclude.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
.- The proposal to re-appoint the Australian Capital Territory Joint Committee should be given a wide airing by the Senate. I was most interested to hear Senator McCallum’s remarks in support of the re-appointment of the committee, and I must say that, in my opinion, he has the right inspiration and is the right man to be a member of such a committee. But unfortunately, Mr. President, during the early life of this committee, the dead hand of frustration, as it were, was placed on its activities, and unless the Senate sees to it that the committee is given more teeth it will go the way that many other committees of this Parliament have gone.
The ideal of a national capital is one that should stir the heart of every person in Australia. There is no finer concept than that this young and growing Commonwealth should have a national capital of which we all can be proud, a capital that incorporates the width of outlook, and the lofty ideals of a young nation in this part of the world. The concept itself could quite easily set an example for countries in the South-East Asian area which we hope will eventually adopt parliamentary government. Our national capital would be an example to them if the ideal were seen in its right perspective and translated into action.
I am very disappointed indeed to know that the only work that has been referred to this committee since its inception concerned a most controversial subject. When, on 8th November, 1956, Mr. Fairhall, who was then the Minister for the Interior, proposed the motion in the House of Representatives for the appointment of the committee, he stated that its purposes would be to -
During the course of his remarks, he made no mention whatever of domestic affairs such as an inquiry into the shopping hours. I believe that the fact that the only work that has been referred to this committee since its appointment was an inquiry into the shopping hours is a gratuitous insult to a committee that was formed for such noble purposes. In the first place, it has been claimed that the committee’s report was unanimous. In view of the purposes for which the committee was formed, I agree that it should have been unanimous, but on this report - the only report furnished by the committee - members of the committee were divided. Every member from the Opposition side opposed the findings of the committee, while Government members supported them.
– There was unanimity on many matters.
– A dissent from the report concerning Saturday morning trading states -
Believing in a 40-hour week, worked in five days, we dissent from the decision of the Committee retaining Saturday morning shopping. It is our view that the requirements of the public would be adequately met with the hours provided for shopping to 6 p.m. on Mondays to Fridays.
However we accept the clear indication that the public desires Friday night shopping to continue and we accept the majority decision of the Committee to retain one night for optional late trading, provided that penalty rates of double time are paid to employees required to work after 6 p.m. on that day.
J. POKE. W. C. COUTTS. J. V. RYAN. J. R. FRASER.
– That is the whole point.
– For the Minister to refer , a controversial industrial matter to the committee, and for the committee to call witnesses, to send for papers, and to use the authority of a parliamentary committee for this purpose was, to say the least, going beyond the bounds of the spirit of the committee itself. There is much to be done in Canberra and, instead of the committee having been called on to present a report on one subject quite outside its ambit, it should be complaining of overwork.
When this committee is re-.appointed, I believe that the report of the National Capital Development Commission on the five-year plan for Canberra should be the first matter referred to it. I note that this committee can deal only with matters referred to it by the Minister; it cannot exercise its own initiative. 1 believe that it should be mandatory for an extra-parliamentary body of such national importance to submit its reports to this parliamentary committee. As I have said, this committee lacks teeth to enable it to take the initiative in obtaining and submitting to the Parliament for its approval reports and proposals concerning the expenditure of public money. Therefore, I think that the committee has a dead hand resting on it from the outset. It should have authority and power to initiate its own activities. It is restricted to the whims of the Minister. In this respect it is unlike the Public Accounts Committee, which does a great service to the community. It is the watchdog of the expenditure of public money. Unless the reappointed committee is given power to initiate its own activities it may degenerate into a rubber stamp, as it were, to set the seal on official decisions. Occasionally work may be referred to it as a sop in order to prevent its members from complaining too loudly. I hope, therefore, that those who will be members of the committee will take notice of what I have said, becauseI have spoken in the light of my own experience of committees. Those members should take care to see that such an important committee is accorded its cortect status in the Parliament.
I wish to refer now to the matter of the administration of some of the public utilities of Canberra, which was raised in this chamber this morning. I have had the good fortune to be a member of this Parliament since 1947, having been elected in 1946. Since the first day I arrived in Canberra in 1946, I have had the same bedroom at the Hotel Kurrajong. During that period the room has not been altered in any respect, except that an extra bed has been placed in it - it is a single room - to cope with any rush period. However,I do not expect any one to occupy that bed while I am using the room. I do not have a bed lamp, and the globe in the old-fashioned china lamp on the ceiling is of a very low candle-power!
– Does the honorable senator enjoy his morning tea?
– Although I should very much like a cup of tea, 1 do not have one because that service does not exist. Provision could be made quite easily for a cup of early morning tea to be served.
– The honorable senator is expected to make the tea for himself.
– Yes, that is true. In addition, the bubble of the electric jugs in the adjoining rooms is quite disturbing. People like myself, whose morning and night habits are different from the habits of others, do not like to be disturbed by the bubble of water jugs boiling water for people to make their cups of tea. Further, if the “ Canberra Times “ contains some news regarding members of Parliament, it is almost a miracle to obtain a newspaper. Some oversight should be maintained of the administration of these public utilities to see that ordinary civilized urban facilities are available.
– One is not able to purchase even a postage stamp or a packet of cigarettes at the hotel.
– I agree with the honorable senator. Another matter I wish to mention deals with floor coverings. After all, while some of us are quite used to bare boards and linoleum, others are accustomed to carpet on the floor. I am not aware of any reason why the rooms and passageways of this establishment should not be at least equal to those in other hotels where those standards are insisted upon by the licensing courts.
The amount of butter placed on the table is also limited. During the war years a little dob of butter was provided. The war has been over for fourteen years, but the amount of butter is the same as it was during the period of rationing. It is placed on one’s plate whether one uses butter or not. The time has come when some action should be taken to implement a new set of standards at this hotel, not only for the convenience of members of Parliament who come to Canberra from their own comfortable homes, but also for members of the general public who. no doubt, when they see such standards, must say to themselves, “ We have heard a lot about the great National Capital, but the hotels look more like bush pubs “.
Another matter of which I complain is. the practice of placing “No Smoking** notices in the .dining-room.
– A very good idea.
– Some honorable senators may think that it is a good idea,, but others like to have a smoke with their cup of tea after a meal. I am reminded al the old nursery . rhyme about Jack Spratt who could eat no fat and whose wife could’ eat no lean - here the Jack Spratts are in. the minority and the wives look after the “ no smoking “ aspect.
My final complaint refers to the occupancy of rooms in certain parts of the hotel where the noise caused by the flushing of the adjoining toilets is practically unbearable. Surely some authority could take steps to modernize these important facilities. In addition, I understand that in the early days when the hotel was designed the use of shower rooms was not as common asit is to-day, with the result that the bath and shower facilities are of a minimum standard. They should be improved considerably.
The matters I have mentioned concern the National Capital and its prestige. We have many tourists coming to Canberra, visitors of all types and nationalities, and they are obliged to accept accommodation of the standard that I have mentioned. 1 hope the committee will direct its activities to the important matters that I have raised.
I understand that the National Capital Development Commission proposes to investigate closely the development of Civic Centre and the university area. The original Griffin plan for the university envisaged a site with a beautiful panoramic view of the proposed lakes. By an underhand method, that part of the plan, and many other features of it, were expunged from the statute-book in the early hours of the morning. The person responsible for that change should have qualms of conscience for the rest of his life. The sooner that part of the plan is again incorporated in the scheme, the better it will be for Canberra. The university was designed and placed in its present position because of the panoramic outlook it would have over the lakes. That is part and parcel of the complete Canberra design. The lakes scheme is to be the central, most attractive part of the National Capital. Surrounding , the lakes we will have our other edifices’ which we should make of such, a standard that every Australian will feel justly proud of them, and other countries will look to Canberra as an example of modern and1 forward-thinking architecture and design.
To-day is. Canberra Day. No man who played any part in the development of this National’ Capital is entitled to more credit than King O’Malley, the member for what was at that time the- Tasmanian electorate of Darwin. Due to his foresight, imagination and courage, we have three living monuments to his name; the TransAustralia Railway, the Commonwealth Bank anr! Canberra. In honouring King O’Malley I believe we should incorporate in this city some permanent monument to the work he did for Australia, the country of his adoption. As honorable senators know, O’Malley was not Australian, born. In his early years in Australia many of Australia’s inhabitants came from other parts of the world. I understand that he was born on the Canadian side of the Canada-United States border.
– That has not been proved.
– I appreciate that it is difficult to prove such a “ borderline “ case, but we can take it for granted that King O’Malley was a loss to his native country and a great gain to Australia. He was a rugged man who captured’ the imagination of the rugged Tasmanian miners and pioneers whom he represented in this Parliament with great credit. Therefore, T should like to see the idea of naming some suburb of Canberra after King O’Malley gain momentum. The objection may be raised that already we have a suburb bearing an Irish name. I refer to O’Connor. One never knows: Perhaps some day the name of O’Flaherty or O’Byrne may be honoured in that way. But, for the present, let us settle for the name of a man who made a great contribution to this Commonwealth. Let us show our appreciation of a man who applied himself in an unselfish and broad-minded way to Australia’s development by giving his name to a suburb of Canberra, and thus honour him in perpetuity. While this may not be practicable at the moment, as time goes on and as our population grows and new suburbs are: developed, in this, city, we should; enshrine’ the name of O’Malley as: a part of Canberra.
I commend in principle the proposal tff reform this committee-. The committee should establish- its identity and’ stick to the purpose’ for which it is formed. It should’ maintain its standards’ and not be satisfied to handle minor matters thrown to it suchas shop trading hours. The committeeshould keep in front of it the vision splendid1 of the purpose for which it was formed-.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed1 from 10th March (vide page 292), on motion by Senator Branson -
Thar the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General’ be agreed to:, -
May it- Please YOUR Excellency:
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of- Australia in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank your Excellency foi the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament
Senator WEDGWOOD (Victoria) [2.371. - I rise to support the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. to the Governor-General’s. Speech, and in doing so I congratulate the proposer and seconder of the motion, Senator Branson, and. Senator McKellar, who have recently joined our ranks. We hope that they will have a long and profitable term, here.
This is probably the last occasion on which we shall have the opportunity of replying to a Speech delivered by His Excellency Field Marshal Sir William Slim. During the time Sir William and Lady Slim have been in Australia they have visited most parts of the Commonwealth, particularly the outback, and have endeared them.selves to Australians. They will be greatly missed when they return to England.
I should- like also to join with my colleagues in congratulating Senator Sir Neil O’sullivan and Senator Sir Walter Cooper on the very high honour that has been bestowed upon them by Her Majesty the Queen. We in this Senate rejoice that two men with such outstanding public service to their credit should be so deservedly rewarded. We hope that they will have many years in which to> continue to serve
Australia. I should like to express to Sir Neil my appreciation of his kindness and courtesy to me in the years that he was Leader of the Government in the Senate. I entered this chamber, with many others, in 1949, and, as a new senator, it was a pleasure to deal with a person as courteous as Sir Neil. I am sure that Senator Spooner, who replaces him as Leader of the Government, will receive from Sir Neil the utmost assistance and loyalty. Sir Walter Cooper is a man loved by every one. I have never known any person to say one word against him. I hope that he and Lady Cooper will be spared for many years to enjoy the honour that has been conferred upon him. As a Victorian, naturally I am proud that Senator Gorton has been appointed Minister for the Navy. Senator Maher has said that Senator Gorton is one of the finest debaters in the Parliament. That is true. He is a young man possessing a fine mind and he is not afraid of hard work. I am sure that the future holds great possibilities for him.
I should like to associate myself with the expressions of loyalty that have been made to Her Majesty the Queen. Her visit to Australia is something that ever will be remembered because it afforded many people their first personal contact with a reigning sovereign. That visit was followed by a tour of Australia by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, who captivated our hearts. Now we are to be privileged by yet another visit by a young member of the Royal Family, Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra. We have indeed been fortunate in the last few years to be honoured in this way. During the past few years the Queen and many members of the Royal Family have visited various parts of the world. Those visits have cemented more firmly the bonds of loyalty and affection that bind us to the sovereign. The members of the Royal Family are striving to keep close to the common people, to understand their problems and to experience their joys and sorrows. This is no new concept of royal obligations because in 1853,’ 106 years ago, Prince Albert, the Prince Consort, husband of Queen Victoria, in replying to the toast of the Royal Family said -
In the progress of the Royal Family through life is reflected as it were the progress of the generation to which they belong, and out of the common sympathy felt for them arises an additional bond of union among the people themselves.
To-day, we see a royal progress taking place across the world, proceeding to countries which formerly made up the structure of the British Empire, as it was known in Prince Albert’s day, but which now form the Commonwealth of Nations. The Queen and the Royal Family stand as symbols of unity, a unity of the greatest aggregation of people in the world to-day. For that reason’ the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference to be held in Australia thisyear, to which His Excellency referred in his Speech, will afford a wonderful opportunity for members of the Commonwealth family to meet together, discuss their problems and endeavour to find solutions to those problems.
Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin referred to the conference of the association at Ottawa. I had the great honour of attending the conference at New Delhi in 1957. In common with other members of the Parliament who have had the privilege of representing the Parliament in the councils of other nations, I found the experience most stimulating. His Excellency said that members of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association have been nurtured in the same parliamentary traditions as ourselves, and so I felt privileged to join with delegates in discussions on matters that affected all of our member countries.
I should like also to pay a tribute to Senator Sir Alister McMullin, our President, who attended the preliminary discussions of the conference at Barbados at the end of last year. We owe a great deal of gratitude to Sir Alister and to the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), who have done everything possible to foster the interests of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and to make it truly representative of Commonwealth unity. I had intended to say something about the New Delhi conference, but another matter has come to my notice and therefore, I shall refer to it only briefly. Senator Robertson referred to the Ecafe conference that is being held in Queensland now. She read part of the speech delivered by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) in which he called for a greater realization of the problems of Asia. Those of us who have been in Asia appreciate that those problems are gigantic, but I am convinced that the under-developed territories of the world will need far greater assistance than they are getting if they are to build their economies and keep themselves out of the Communist bloc. That was the conviction I gained whilst travelling through Asia.
I believe that Ecafe and the conference that will be held at the end of the year will present challenges to the Australian people because we will have to reorientate our thinking about Asia. From time to time, we are reminded of our geographical position with relation to Asia and, although we in this Parliament may recognize this, it is also our duty to see that the Australian people as a whole are conscious of the changes that have taken place there, especially over the last few years.
Of course, money is of tremendous importance to those countries, as is also technological know-how. I had the opportunity while in Asia of seeing something of the way in which India and Pakistan were devoting their resources to the creation of new industries, the building of huge water conservation schemes and the modernizing of agricultural methods as well as the building of schools, colleges, hospitals and community centres. All this development is imposing a tremendous hurden on countries which have an enormous population with insufficient capital resources to do many of the things they would like to do.
As I said before, when we have the opportunity, at the end of the year, of meeting delegates from the other Commonwealth countries, I hope that we shall be able to see their problems as they see them and that Australia will be able to make some contribution not only to the material strength of the Commonwealth hut also to its moral strength. 1 should like to refer to one matter which, although not mentioned in His Excellency’s Speech, has a bearing on all sections of government. I speak of the report of the committee of inquiry into public service recruitment. I know that the Government has not had time to study that report, and it is quite possible that many honorable senators have not found time to read it, but I take a particular interest in chapter 11 of that document. It deals with the employment of married women, and the marriage bar. It is significant that this committee, under the chairmanship of Sir Richard Boyer - it was an entirely male committee - has made some very pertinent observations and some unequivocal recommendations. For the information of honorable senators who may know very little about the marriage bar, or indeed of the disabilities suffered by women in the Public Service, I point out that the marriage bar is the statutory exclusion of married women from all permanent positions in the Public Service. The relevant provisions of the Public Service Act dealing with this matter are sub-sections (1.) and (2.) of section 49. Section 49, which was inserted in the act in 1922, replaced a similar provision contained in the 1902 act. As honorable senators will appreciate, the Commonwealth Public Service was comparatively small in 1922 and many of the provisions of State acts were written into the Commonwealth act. Sub-section (1.) of section 49 reads -
No married woman shall be eligible for employment either permanently or temporarily in the Commonwealth Public Service unless the board certifies that there are special circumstances which make her employment desirable.
There is also a provision which makes her retirement compulsory if she marries, with, of course, the proviso -
Unless the board certifies there are special circumstances which make her employment desirable.
The committee has this to say about the position in Australia -
Section 49 reads strangely in a country which has adhered to the ILO convention for equal employment rights for men and women.
It goes on to say -
We have also been told that a United Nations Economic and Social Council Report, prepared for the Commission on the Status of Women in 1951, indicated that at that time Australia was one of only 5 countries out of 44 supplying information which had a “ marriage bar “ in their public service legislation. The United Kingdom Civil Service removed the “ marriage bar “ (in both the senses of our section 49) in 1946.
The position is even more ludicrous to-day. In 1951, those countries which had a marriage bar were Luxemburg, South Africa, Northern Ireland, Canada and the Netherlands. Canada removed the marriage bar in 1955, and married women are now permitted to have equal employment opportunities with single women in the Canadian public service. The Netherlands completely removed the ban in 1958. So we find that the women in the Public Service of Australia are suffering from the same disabilities as the women in the public services of Luxemburg, South Africa and Northern Ireland. Australia is the one major country where the bar still exists. The curious thing about it is that there is yet another anomaly and inconsistency, and this the committee has referred to also. It concerns superannuation and applies to women members of the Service. I should like to read what the committee had to say -
The chief inconsistencies are between section 49 of the Public Service Act and section 4C of the Commonwealth Superannuation Act. While the former Act permits the Public Service Board to employ married women or continue them in employment in special circumstances, the latter Act has denied superannuation rights to married women entering the Service since it was passed, and abrogated the rights of all female officers upon their marriage, even if the board decides to continue them in employment.
That seems to me to be remarkably inconsistent, as it did to the committee. The discrimination is carried a step further. Although it is possible for widows and divorcees to obtain employment in the Public Service, perhaps having previously been members and having been forced to retire upon being married, and thus acquire superannuation rights, those superannuation rights do not extend to their children also. Under section 33 (1) of the Superannuation Act, pension rights are conferred on children under 16 of widowed or divorced male officers, but not upon the children of female officers.
– Precisely. If they are already married they are not accepted for permanent positions in the Service. If they marry while they are in the Service, they are compulsorily retired. It is true to say ‘that they may obtain a temporary position but, naturally, the permanent positions in the Public Service are reserved for women who are in the higher grades. It is possible for a highly qualified woman to be forced to leave her permanent position upon marriage, and to be re-engaged later in a lower category, or in a temporary position.
The extraordinary thing about all this is that it continues at a time when our colleges and universities are turning out women with professional qualifications equal to any that are being gained by men. If the Public Service is to attract fully qualified women it must examine these anomalies and rectify them.
The committee was quite positive in its recommendations. It recommended that sub-sections (1) and (2) of section 49 of the Public Service Act should be replaced by a provision making married women eligible for permanent or temporary employment in the Service on such terms, and under such conditions, as may be prescribed. The committee’s recommendation regarding superannuation was that consideration should be given to amending the Superannuation Act to take account of the various points that I have mentioned in relation to section 49 of the Public Service Act. There is a very real need for the Government to consider the provisions of both acts to which I have referred. In a modern world, in which women are being used in all fields of employment, it is foolish to stick to the prejudices of the ‘nineties. Indeed, the committee has gone so far as to say that the present provisions of the Public Service Act are anachronistic. No better term could be chosen to describe that Act.
Lastly, but not by any means least important, I should like to congratulate the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on the reelection, of his Government to office.
– You should also congratulate Senator Scott.
– 1 will congratulate Senator Scott and everyone else who came back with the Prime Minister.. To win five successive elections - six if we count the separate Senate election of 1953,. in which the Prime Minister played such a magnificent part - and to come back with an increased majority, is something of which any leader may well be proud. On. Tuesday night Senator Robertson challenged the Australian Labour party to deny the progress and prosperity that had characterized the administration of the Menzies Government. She encountered very few interjections from’ the Opposition. Senator Tangney, in replying, admitted rather reluctantly that properity was indeed here but claimed, if I remember rightly, that a great deal of it was due to the bountiful seasons that the Almighty had sent us. No one would deny that, but I rather like to remember the proverb of the easterners who, while believing in Allah, also liked ito tether their camels. The Australian people, though fully appreciative of the fact that this country has been blessed with good seasons, are also aware that they have been blessed with good government. Because the policies of the Menzies Government have found such widespread approval, because of confidence in the Prime Minister and his Cabinet, and because the programme laid down for the future has appealed to the imagination and good sense of the Australian public, we now find that the Menzies Administration has been given a mandate for another three years. In public administration there is no substitute for confidence. Internal and external confidence in the Prime Minister and those about him has contributed largely to the prosperity we now enjoy.
In conclusion, I can only say that I hope the matters I have mentioned to-day will receive the consideration of the Government and that the next time I have an opportunity to speak to a motion for the adoption of an Address-in-Reply no marriage bar to women will exist in the Public Service. I support the motion.
– 1 rise to support the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General’s ‘Speech. Together with other honorable senators, I affirm my loyalty to the Crown and to the person of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. I offer sincere congratulations to the mover of the motion, Senator Branson of Western Australia, and to the seconder, Senator McKellar of New South Wales, for their very excellent maiden speeches. They even impressed the Opposition, and that is really something for an honorable senator from this side of the chamber to do. I hope that during their terms here they will continue to do just that. I join with all honorable senators in extending my congratulations to Sir Neil O’sullivan and Sir Walter Cooper on the very high honours bestowed on them by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II., and I acknowledge the very fine service they have given to Queensland and to the Senate during their terms of office.
Congratulations, too, are due to Senator Spooner., the Minister for National Development, on his appointment as Leader of the
Government in the Senate, and to Senator Paltridge, the Minister for Shipping and Transport and the Minister for Civil Aviation, on his appointment as Deputy Leader. I also congratulate Senator Gorton on his elevation to the high office of Minister for tine Navy. I wish them all very happy terms of office.
The Governor-General referred in his Speech to the visit last year of Her Majesty the Queen Mother. He expanded somewhat on the topic and said how appreciative we were of the visit and how impressed we were by her grace and charm whilst she was here. I think we all subscribe to those sentiments. The fact that we are to have a visit from another member of the Royal Family, Princess Alexandra of Kent, proves the value to Australia of these visits. I hope we will have regular visits from members of the Royal Family as the years go by. We have all heard .reports of the success of the tour by the Duke of Edinburgh of India and the nations of South-East Asia. Members of the Royal Family are ambassadors of goodwill and friendship, and I think they pave the way for the negotiations that follow in almost every case in the matter of trade and commerce. The way is made much easier for these negotiations. 1 would say that these visits do a tremendous amount of good.
Members of ohe Opposition contended during .their various speeches that the Speech of the Governor-General contained nothing of very much importance.
– Neither it did.
– That is a matter of opinion. I think it gave a comprehensive survey of the Government’s activities during its term of office, if it did nothing else, particularly in regard to the promotion of good and friendly international relations. It stressed the importance of friendly relations with the South-East Asian nations.
We all know that during its term of office the Government has encountered many difficulties. It has had many urgent problems to solve, and we must admit -that it has dealt with them firmly an il expeditiously. It has certainly carried out the promises made in policy speeches before the various elections. As Senator Wedgwood pointed out, the Government has been returned at the last six elections, this time with an increased majority.
Previous Labour speakers have said nothing to which I should reply. 1 confirm what Senator Wedgwood said about the Government and its various activities. I join in the congratulations that she handed out to the Prime Minister and the other members of the Government on their reelection. The Labour party’s argument that this Government has ruined the loan market because of its allegedly high taxation of the country was, I think, rudely shattered by the tremendous success of the last loan of £25,000,000, which was actually oversubscribed by £35,000,000 - something almost unknown in the history of the country. That is evidence, surely, of the soundness of Australia’s economy and financial position. Stocks and shares are buoyant and business generally is sound and confident.
In a recent statement the Commonwealth Statistician mentioned that the capital raising by companies listed on the stock exchange has been a record over the last six months. The fact that they raised £106,000,000 during that period highlights the strength of our economy and the very high regard in which it is held by investors in Australia. We have been assisted by good seasons and by a very high inflow of cap ta into this country, particularly since the beginning of the financial year. 1 am sure that this rate of inflow will continue, because the outlook is so promising.
The borrowing of capital in 1957-58 was a very great help to our overseas balance of payments position. In that period, we actually raised £136,000,000. That, too, was quite a record. But, generally speaking, the trade outlook is fraught with very many difficulties. I think we all subscribe to the Government’s policy of opening up as many trade agencies as possible so that we can get all the business that is available in countries which are not our regular customers. I think, too, that the Japanese Trade Agreement has been an outstanding success and can be regarded as being a model for further treaties that we may enter into in the future with South-East Asian countries.
I should like to acknowledge the Government’s generosity to Tasmania. No other government since federation has been so generous to the small States, one of which 1 represent. I know the Government has been very generous to Western Aus tralia. We do not want to hold that against the Government, but we think that its generosity should be extended to the various States evenly.
– On the basis of area.
– Not always on the basis of area, or population. We must admit that it was an oversight at the time of federation that Tasmania did not insist on an adequate and permanent shipping link between that State and the mainland in the same way as the Western Australians sought the east-west railway, which we now know as the Trans-Australia Railway. That railway established a permanent link between Western Australia and the eastern States. That oversight on the part of Tasmania is now being recognized, I think, by this Government and it is making a genuine attempt to rectify the position.
Tasmania is about to enjoy the benefit of three new ships. She has had delivery of the first ship, the new wheat vessel, with the result that we have been enabled to get first-grade wheat, which formerly we were not able to obtain. That vessel will be followed by the “ Princess of Tasmania “, an express tourist passenger ship. I will not describe it as being a ferry; it is a little more than that. We have the prospect of that vessel being delivered by August of this year. Then there will be a new cargo ship, which is just about to go on the stocks at Newcastle and which will be delivered in about 1960 or 1961. Those vessels will be worth about £4,000,000, which is a good start. I hope the Government’s generosity will continue. On behalf of Tasmania. I say “ Thank you “ to the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator Paltridge) and to the Government, and express the hope that they will continue the good work now that they have their teeth into our very great and difficult transport problem.
A further two ships of the “ Princess of Tasmania “ class are still required to round off services between the mainland and Tasmania and to overcome completely the State’s transport problems. If those vessels were put in hand immediately, they would be ready for delivery within the next three to five years, which would be quite suitable to Tasmania. Possibly a larger ship would be necessary for the Hobart-mainland or the Hobart-Sydney route, but a vessel like the “ Princess of Tasmania “ would be perfectly suitable for the run from Launceston to the mainland ports. I suggest to the Minister that £5,000,000 of the windfall of £35,000,000 which the Government received from the over-subscription to the recent loan could be allocated for this purpose. A sum of £3,000,000 would be required for the two ships, and the other £2,000,000 could very well be used to extend and improve port facilities at Hobart, Launceston and the north-west coast ports. I hope the Minister will give some attention to the suggestion. Some of the money that was over-subscribed for the recent loan could be sensibly applied in that way. Incidentally, I congratulate the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) upon the success of the loan.
I was privileged to be present in December last at the launching by Dame Pattie Menzies of the “ Princess of Tasmania “. From my observations, I would say that this is an ideal ship for the task for which she has been designed. She is a vessel of 6.000 tons, and was designed and built specially for passenger and vehicle transportation. She will be fast, comfortable and safe, which, because of the difficulties of the strait passage, is very important. She is the most up-to-date vessel of her kind in the world. She has accommodation for 334 passengers, 184 of whom will be accommodated in cabins and the other 150 in special aircraft-type chairs which will be available in the three saloons. So the accommodation will be comfortable, and I think quite satisfactory. The cafeteria will be quite a feature of the new ship. It will give an all-night service to passengers in the provision of light refreshments, and will also supply a very substantial breakfast early in the morning so that passengers will not be inconvenienced when leaving the ship when she arrives round about daybreak.
It is proposed that the vessel will leave Melbourne about 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. and will arrive in Tasmania a little after daybreak the next morning, so no time will be lost in the transport of either passengers or vehicles. Another very great improvement will be the Denny Brown stabilizers with which the vessel is to be equipped and which will limit the angle of roll in bad weather. That will banish all fear of dis comfort and sea-sickness. This vessel has been designed and built in Australia, and consists largely of materials and equipment that have been manufactured here. This ship will usher in a new era of transport; I am sure she will be the forerunner of more similar vessels, particularly for Tasmania. She is a credit to the designers, the builders and the workmen who are finishing her. We, in Tasmania, can be justly proud of her; she is a beautiful ship, a magnificent ship.
I should say that she will set a new trend in tourist travel to Tasmania. The construction of this vessel has been the greatest event in the history of transportation to and from the island since air transportation was introduced. The prediction of a reduction of fares and freight rates is welcome, and is largely due to the fact that the ship will take only from 10 to 15 minutes to load and unload her cargo. The only possible fly in the ointment is waterfront trouble. It will be a tragedy if the service is marred by waterfront trouble such as we have had in past years and which has cost Tasmania hundreds of thousands of pounds in loss of business, with consequent irreparable damage to our island trade and commerce.
Another very urgent problem for Tasmania is that of road construction and maintenance. This matter has been receiving attention, and the additional funds that are to be made available to Tasmania for road purposes will be received with approval by the State Government. The proposed roads programme of the Commonwealth Government indicates a much more realistic approach to the problem, particularly as it affects Tasmania. Of course, the benefits to be derived from the additional funds will be shared by all States, and we in Tasmania are very happy about that. Tasmania’s share will be approximately £2,000.000 in the first year, plus an additional £100,000. for which the State probably will qualify under the terms of the matching grant provisions, from the Commonwealth Grants Commission, so that in the proposed fiveyear term Tasmania will have at its disposal for roads purposes £12,500,000. That will enable the State authorities to plan ahead and to make the necessary arrangements for the continued improvement of roads, including widening where necessary.
The additional funds will make it easier for us to have roads which suit our requirements and of which we can be proud. The additional funds available in this financial year will be approximately £350,000, which will be very gladly received and, I hope, wisely spent. I have no doubt that our road difficulties will increase as the vehicular traffic increases when the new Bass Strait ferry begins to operate, but I think that if the available funds are used to the best possible advantage, they will permit the State authorities to do all that is necessary.
At question time in the Senate to-day, Senator Marriott referred to the deposits of iron ore which have been located on the Savage River, near Waratah, on the northwest coast of Tasmania. We are dealing only in rumours at the moment, but it seems fairly conclusive that the deposits amount to about 230,000,000 tons. The site has been bored to a depth of 500 feet, and the ore is assaying 47 per cent., which is a fairly rich ore, because the ore that is being imported into Great Britain, I understand, assays only 45 per cent. It is fairly well established that the presence of 100,000,000 tons of ore, or sufficient to keep production going for a hundred years, justifies the establishment of steel mills worth £20,000,000. If there are more than 200,000,000 tons of ore in these deposits, there is a strong argument for the establishment of steel mills there.
The Rio Tinto company is carrying out the various assays and boring that are necessary, and of course the company will have to decide whether or not the deposits represent a commercial proposition. I was surprised to learn from the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) to-day that it may take five years to prove whether or not it will be a commercial proposition. The Rio Tinto company is spending £500^000 in Tasmania and is one of the biggest mining firms in the world. It has received special- concessions on the west coast of Tasmania, but the deposits to which I have referred are not included in those concessions. The company is doing that work, particularly, for the Government. I hope that the reports that we have received will be. substantiated within a year or two and that it will be possible to establish steel, mills on the west coast or alternatively, to begin exporting the iron ore to the mainland’.
– Who is going to establish the steel mills?
– That is the point. We see no reason why we should not have £20,000,000 for that purpose.
– You could export the raw materials to Victoria.
– Yes, we could do that. We could barge it down the Savage River, or we could take it by rail to Burnie and ship it from there. If the value of this find is substantiated, it will be one of the. most important mineral discoveries in Tasmania in the last 50 years and will be a great national asset.
Another industry that I wish to mention, in concluding my remarks, is the fruit industry. The recent announcement by the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) that Australian apple and pear growers were assured of satisfactory access to markets in northern Europe was welcomed by growers and was most reassuring. We sent a delegation from Tasmania last year to survey the position. Its work was very satisfactory, and we are now seeing the results, of it. Of coarse, there will be increased competition this year, but 1 think that that will be offset considerably by the improved quality of the fruit, which this year is- outstanding. Last year, the apple and pear, trade was worth £7,000,000 to Tasmania. We hope that that happy state of affairs will continue this year, but perhaps that is. drawing rather a long bow.
The improved trends in relation to the Blatters- I have, mentioned, Mr. Acting Deputy President, will provide an impetus for the development of Tasmania. They will be a shot in the- arm, as it were, and the mining, manufacturing, and primary and secondary industries all will benefit. If the iron ore deposits prove to be as- rich as we think they might be and justify the establishment of steel mills, that too will enhance the economic prospects of the State. We have not really started’ to develop our tourist industry, but I have no doubt that we shall do so in the near future. A brighter industrial future for Tasmania seems assured. If lower shipping freight rates’ speed up the turn-round of ships, I think that that, too-, will make a difference to our economy. The importance of efficient handling of cargo cannot be stressed- too highly. I support the motion.
– I rise to support the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General’s Speech. I wish to associate myself with the expressions of loyalty to our Queen and her representative in Australia, a loyalty which helps to keep the British Commonwealth of Nations together. 1 congratulate Senators Branson and McKellar, the mover and seconder respectively of the motion, on the marvellous speeches that they made on their first appearance in the Senate. I distinctly remember coming to the Parliament in 1950, after the Liberal and Australian Country parties had been victorious at the general election, and of having to get up and make a speech in this chamber. I have never forgotten that experience. I think it is safe to say that on each occasion the speeches made by the mover and seconder of the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply have been an improvement on previous speeches. I feel honoured to think that an. honorable senator from Western Australia had the privilege to move the motion on this occasion, and that it was seconded by an honorable senator from New South Wales. It was, I think, a great tribute to both of them. The amount of preparatory work that they did was evident from the splendid material they used in their speeches.
When Senator Sir Neil O’sullivan retired from the position of Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Spooner was elevated to that high position. I offer to him my congratulations. It is indeed an honour of which any one could be proud, and I feel sure that Senator Spooner will receive the full support of all on this side and also, as the Government has the numbers, the co-operation of the Opposition.
Now, Sir, I should like to refer to the elevation of my friend, Senator Paltridge, from Western Australia, to the position of Deputy Leader of the Government. He has had a meteoric rise in the Parliament, as befits a person of his ability, and I am sure that he will attain even greater heights with the passage of time.
I take this opportunity to congratulate the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) on his re-election to that position, which he has always filled so ably. As he has gained the support of those who sit behind him and is trusted by them, I hope that he will remain Leader of the Opposition for many years. I should like, also, to congratulate Senator Kennelly on his re-election as Deputy Leader of the Opposition. My congratulations, also, go to the Government Whip, Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin, and to the Opposition Whip, Senator O’Flaherty, on their reappointment. And last, but by no means least, I congratulate Senator Gorton on his elevation to the ministry.
Before proceeding to the main subject that I wish to discuss, I should like to refer to a remark that was made by Senator Wedgwood during her speech. The honorable senator said that the reason why this Government had won the last six elections is that the people of Australia have confidence in it. Those were some of the truest words 1 have heard spoken in this chamber for a considerable time.
As was mentioned by His Excellency, Australia’s export income declined by £75,000,000 in the six months ended December, 1958, compared with the corresponding six months of 1957. However, there has been such a great inflow of capital from overseas that it has been possible to keep almost all of our people fully employed. This is evidence of the fact that not only the people of Australia, but investors outside Australia, have confidence in this country. Many people outside Australia are eager to invest their capital in this country.
But it grieves me, to a certain extent, that the money coming into Australia is being spent largely on projects in the eastern States, lt is axiomatic that there is less unemployment where money is being spent than where it is not being spent. Up till 1953, Western Australia had an expanding economy. We had a recession in 1952; nevertheless, calculated as a percentage of the population, the number of unemployed in Western Australia was less than in any other State. The reason was that the Western Australian Government did everything possible to encourage capital to that State. Such big projects as the Kwinana oil refinery, steel mills and cement works were going ahead. Some of the projects cost between £1,000,000 and £2,000,000, and, of course, the oil refinery cost £55,000,000. Since 1953, however, no major industries have been established in Western Australia or, at least, none that has cost more than £1,000,000. As a result, Western Australia, which formerly had the best employment figures in the Commonwealth, now has the worst employment figures. It is tragic that in Western Australia to-day so many people are unemployed who could be put to work if capital from overseas could be encouraged to that State. It certainly grieves me to know that money is bypassing Western Australia and going to South Australia, Victoria and Queensland.
– What about the northwest of Western Australia?
– I said that the money that was coming from overseas was bypassing Fremantle, which is our port of entry, and Western Australia, and being spent in South Australia, Victoria and Queensland. This is happening because of the types of government in those three States. Speaking to some residents in the Melbourne metropolitan area this week, I found that they were confident that within the next decade the population of that city will catch up to or even pass that of Sydney. I mention that matter to show the influence that State governments can have on these things. I do not want to be controversial about this matter because elections in New South Wales and Western Australia are so near.
– You should not.
– What I am saying is perfectly true, but I do not think enough people in Western Australia or New South Wales would read what 1 have to say to influence those elections.
The fact is that at this stage in our history Western Australia is stagnant and is being kept alive only by the limited sums made available to it by the Commonwealth. Is it not a tragedy that a State government cannot encourage the investment of overseas capital within its area? I know that Senator Cooke is taking a great interest in what I am saying. I know that he closely watches the interests of his State, as we all do.
– One of the tragedies is that the people who make their money in our State spend it outside the State.
– I do not know anything about that. All I say is that the overseas capital which is coming to Australia at a terrific rate is not being invested in Western Australia and has not been invested in that State since the change of government in 1953. If any honorable senator wishes to contradict that statement, he is at liberty to do so, but if he should do so I ask that he mention one project costing £1,000,000 that has been established in Western Australia since 1953. I do not think there has been one. If there has been, I cannot find it, and I have been looking all over the State for it.
The only way by which a State can hope to develop is by the investment of capital. Representatives of the State must do everything possible to encourage such investment; they should travel overseas, meet the people who are interested, sell the State to them, as it were and so encourage them to invest money on the establishment of industries within that State.
– Is it because there is not a sufficient market for the goods produced?
– There was a sufficient market prior to 1953 to justify the establishment of a cement works at a cost of over £1,000,000, the establishment of a steel industry by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited at a cost of £2,000,000 and the establishment of the refinery at Kwinana at a cost of £55,000,000.
– But the agreements for all those projects were concluded before the Liberal Government came into office. The agreement for the oil refinery was concluded by a Labour government.
– The arrangements were made by a Liberal-Country party government in Western Australia, by the then Minister for Works, Mr. Brand, and the work was completed while a Labour government was in office. The arrangements for the Cockburn Cement Works, for the steel works and for the oil refinery were entered into by a Liberal government in Western Australia before 1953. From then on, there has been a blank in the development of industry.
– What about oil? You got £4,000,000 this year for that.
– At the present time, there is an argument between the Minister for Works in Western Australia and Wapet over the cost of a road. I understand the amount involved is in the vicinity of £20,000 or £30,000 and the Minister for Works wants to charge the oil companies with that cost. Further, honorable senators know as well as I do that very heavy machinery is used for transporting the oil rigs from place to place. The Minister for Works wishes to restrict the tonnage the trucks can carry. The oil companies have had a most difficult task in dissuading him from imposing an extra charge on trucks running on other than government roads. I do not know that the Labour Government has hindered the search for oil in Western Australia, but I do say that the Government has not greatly encouraged it. Certainly the government has done a great deal to hinder the establishment and development of industries in Western Australia.
– What about the charcoal industry in the south-west?
– I remind the honorable senator that an application has been made for permission to export 1,000,000 tons of Tallering Peak iron ore to Japan. This ore is worth about £6 a ton, so 1,000,000 tons of the ore would be worth about £6.000,000. Converted into steel, it would become worth £60 a ton, or £60,000,000 in total. If that steel were then converted into manufactured articles it would be worth many times that amount. Therefore, permission is being sought to export in its raw state something that could eventually be worth £1,000,000,000. But, in any case, at the present time, supplies of iron ore in Australia are not sufficient to justify the export of any quantity.
I was speaking about the establishment of industries in Western Australia. I pointed out that the Hawke Government has not been able to establish in the State one industry costing more than £1,000,000 since it came into office in 1953. One of the things prohibiting the entry of capital into Western Australia is legislation brought down by the Hawke Government. I refer to the Unfair Trading and Profit Control Act.
– It was intended to cut out profiteering.
– It was apparently designed to stop people from making a profit.
– From making an unfair profit!
– But it does not specify the amount of profit that may be made. One could understand it if the act said that in Western Australia no one could make more than 20 per cent, on his capital, or even 10 per cent. Every one would then know exactly where he stood.
– It is intended to prevent unfair profiteering.
– “ Unfair “ could be 10 per cent. If I go to the racecourse and invest £1 on a horse, I regard it as unfair if I get less than 10 per cent, return on my capital because I have lost the lot. One would think that a responsible government, introducing such a bill, would specify what it believed was unfair. A profit of 5 per cent, could be regarded as unfair, as could 10 per cent, or 20 per cent. Overseas investors look at Western Australia and are told of the Unfair Trading and Profit Control Act. They immediately head for Victoria. On 21st March the Government of Western Australia will be changed, and overseas investors will cease heading for Victoria. If they remain in Western Australia we will get the expansion that the State so urgently needs. As I have often said before, Western Australia has, perhaps, the greatest development potential of any part of Australia.
Senator Branson pointed out that an expenditure of £10 an acre would permit the development of millions of acres of new country, and would increase the sheepcarrying population by some 20,000,000. At to-day’s wool prices that would mean an extra income for Australia of £50,000,000 a year. Those figures give some indication of the opportunities for rural development that at present exist in Western Australia. 1 have spoken about secondary industry and about the way in which it has been curtailed in Western Australia but, the recent slight period of stagnation notwithstanding, industry still has a great future there. Under a different government it will expand in the way that is so necessary.
The Governor-General, in his opening Speech, said -
My Government has decided to double the amount of assistance to be provided to the Western Australian Government for the development of the area of Western Australia north of the twentieth parallel.
I would like to congratulate the Government upon this bold step, because it is the first time since federation that a grant of this nature has been made for the development of the area that has always been known as the Kimberleys. I should add that before the second half of the £5,000,000- the second £2,500,000- was granted for the development of the northwest, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) travelled to the Kimberleys and saw its vast potential. He was the first Prime Minister since federation to visit that area. lt was a very fine thing indeed for a Prime Minister to get into a plane and travel that far away. He visited towns such as Derby and Broome. He was taken to the oil-drilling sites of Western Australian Petroleum Proprietary Limited - Wapet. He inspected them and gave the work his blessing.
– They have not found a bit of oil since.
– To-day’s press reveals that they have indeed found a streak of oil. It is a great credit to the Prime Minister that he was able to find the time to visit these outback portions of Western Australia and see for himself what conditions there were like. An extra £2,500,000 will be made available by the Government to be spent on developmental projects approved by it and put forward by Western Australia. In the Kimberleys there are great stretches of land that are virtually untouched. In the region there are 1,200 persons with the adult franchise. This small population is to be found in an area which is two or three times the size of Victoria, and has a greater rainfall than that State. I flew over the Kimberleys only last week and was reminded of the great scope there for development. I sincerely hope that the State Government will spend the money wisely and on projects that will really assist the development of the area. We know that the first £2,500,000 is to be spent on the establishment of a deep-water port at Black Rocks, the lengthening of the jetty at Wyndham and the construction of a new jetty and deep-water port in the NapierBroome area. This will give access to a completely new region, which was recently thrown open for selection by the State Government.
The problem of running stock and of developing the beef industry in that area is indeed gigantic. The Commonwealth Government has conducted on the Ord River, in conjunction with the State Government, the Kimberley Research Station. For many years the station has experimented to find’ what can be grown in that area. It hasnow reached the stage of knowing that certain crops can be grown successfully. We now know that we can compete with the sugar-cane growers of Queensland, though those growers produce cane under natural conditions. It would be necessary for Western Australia to work out with the Commonwealth, whether sugarcanegrowing would be an economic proposition. It would involve the establishment of a gigantic weir for the harnessing of thewaters of the Ord.
– Some of the sugarcanein Queensland is grown under irrigation.
– I can only say that all the sugar-cane I have seen grown there has been dependent upon rainfall. It is interesting to hear that some of it is grown under irrigation. If that is so, Western Australia will be able to produce sugar in irrigated areas just as satisfactorily as Queensland does. I am interested to hear now that sugar cane growers in Queensland have to rely on irrigation. If that is so, it alters my view completely of the Ord River scheme. 1 now suggest that as sugar cane is grown under irrigation in Queensland, the State government of Western Australia and the Commonwealth Government should get together, build the Ord River dam, conserve water and grow sugar cane in Western Australia. Sugar cane is one of the crops that will grow profusely in the Ord River area. Experiments that have been carried out show that the yield per acre would be equal to, if not greater than, that in any other part of the Commonwealth. I repeat that I always thought that sugar cane in Queensland was largely grown without irrigation.
I do not know whether it would be an economic proposition at this stage in our history to proceed with the Ord River scheme. We would need to go more fully into the matter and decide who would live in the area, how we could encourage people to go there and whether, if a certain crop was grown, that would be an economically sound proposition, able to compete with crops grown in the south-west or southern part of the State and in other countries. I understand that during the last ten or twelve years Australian sugar has been able to compete with sugar grown outside Australia. We have in this country a cotton textile industry. We could grow good cotton in the Ord River area.
– Cotton and rice.
– We could also grow very good rice, and safflower plants for the production of certain types of oil, but whether all those things could be grown on an economic basis, we do not know at this stage. 1 would suggest that the task in the Kimberleys at present is to find out just what can be grown on a dry farming basis. I know that the research station has 400 acres fenced into four paddocks, each containing 100 acres. It has been stocked with 40 head of cattle, which is equal to one beast to ten acres. Those cattle have come off the a-ea in a far better condition than they went on to it. Honorable senators laugh, but they should remember that the Kimberleys embrace an area of about 129.000 square miles and that we have only about 500,000 head of cattle in the area at present. If you divide one of those figures into the other, you see that at the present time in that area we are running only one beast to every 200 acres.
– What is the rainfall?
– lt ranges from fifteen inches in the south to over 50 inches. The average rainfall would be about 25 inches. It falls in the summer months, as you all know.
– What about buffaloes?
– We do not stock buffaloes in the Kimberleys; they are barred. I was talking about dry farming, which could be engaged in. The way to find out just what dry farming will do in the Kimberleys is for the State Government, with the help of the Commonwealth, to set up research farms on several of the stations. In that way we could show the people what can be done by fencing in areas and using rotational grazing methods. Last week I came by air from Wyndham to Perth. I had to sit in the aircraft for eighteen hours, so I had plenty of time to work things out. I would say that the way to proceed is to establish experimental farms within station areas, so that we can find out just what can be done. That would be something like the extension services system we have now, financed by the Commonwealth Government and controlled by the State Departments of Agriculture. I believe that if that were done the increase in stock population would be very great within the next decade or so. Instead of one beast to 2t)0 acres there would be one beast to 50 acres. We would have 2,000,000 cattle, instead of 500,000 as at present.
The Commonwealth Government is very anxious to go ahead with the development of the Kimberleys and has come to the assistance of the State by saying that instead of granting £2,500,000 as a gift to be spent over the next five years at the rate of £500,000 a year, it will now give £5,000,000, as from 1st July, 1958, to be spent at the rate of £1,000,000 a year. I sincerely hope that the State Government will spend money in a way that will get the best out of the Kimberleys - an area which, irrespective of what governments have been in power, has been completely stagnant over the last 50 years. We want to get things moving there now, and if we start off correctly we will achieve good results.
The people within the area think that the correct approach to the problem by the State Government is to establish more and better roads. It is easy to say that we will build roads. The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator Paltridge) is in the chamber now, and he knows, all about this matter, lt is quite easy to say that we will build a road from A to B anywhere in Australia, but it is much harder to do it. When you have built the road, it is hard to maintain it, particularly in a high rainfall area. The recent cyclone swept into a part of the Kimberleys north of the King Leopold Ranges. A deluge of between 15 to 20 inches of rain resulted in the Ord River breaking its banks and flooding over the bitumen road. The water lifted the road and tore the bitumen off for a considerable distance. So much damage was done to the road that the Main Roads Department will be forced to use all the money given to it by the State for road work in the area over the next two years to repair the damage done by that flood. We can say that we will build a road, but the problem does not end there. I am told that experiments have been carried out in the area and it has been found that roads can be built that will withstand flooding. Instead of raising the road six or seven feet above ground level, it is built on ground level so that the water can rush over the top without scouring it out.
I have a lot more to say about the Kimberleys, but I have not time to say it now. Before I resume my seat, I desire to speak on the subject of wool promotion in Australia. I should like to be able to devote to this subject much more time than is available to me, because it is allimportant to Australia. It can safely be said that we in Australia still rely largely upon the income we receive from wool. If the price for wool falls below the cost of production, no matter how clever our financiers or the Government may be we will not be able to stabilize the Australian economy for a considerable period and to keep our people fully employed. We have been able to attain our objective for the last eighteen months or so and I have no doubt that we can do so for another six months, but there must be an end to it. Therefore, we, as a responsible Government, must look at ways and means of increasing the price obtained for wool.
In 1953 we established a wool promotion organization known as the Australian Wool Bureau, which replaced the Australian Wool Board. The function of that organization is to try to increase the sales of wool by increasing publicity. The Australian Wool Bureau consists of seven members, six of whom are wool-growers. The other member is appointed by the Minister for Primary Industry. Those seven people have the full responsibility of spending the money collected by the bureau on wool publicity and the encouragement of the sale of woollen goods both in Australia and overseas. I ask you, Mr. President, whether you could get a worse body of people to sell woollen goods than six wool-growers.
– Is the honorable senator a wool-grower?
– Yes, but I know nothing about selling. I am not casting any reflection on the growers concerned, but I should say that, if you want to publicize an article with a view to selling it, you must get some one other than the person who produced it. We should obtain the best expert available to encourage the sale of wool throughout the world. The membership of the Australian Wool Bureau should be reviewed. I do not think that six wool-growers should be included. I would bring in people from the textile industry and the retail trade, and members of the stock and station firms, to formulate advertising plans so that wool could be advertised to a greater degree and sales increased.
Under the auction system, we have our high periods and our low periods. At the present time, the Australian Wool Bureau has approximately £4,000,000 under its control. The charge per bale is approximately 4s., and I think the wool-growers would be only too willing to have it increased to 6s., 7s. or even 8s. a bale. The Commonwealth Government could find additional revenue, probably on a 50-50 basis, to ensure that adequate funds were available for wool publicity throughout the world.
This is a very serious matter. I had intended to devote much more time to it than I have; indeed, I should like to be able to spend another half hour or so on the subject. The principal opposition to the wool industry comes from the manufacturers of synthetics. In America, those people are spending on publicity 10 dollars for every 1 dollar that is spent on the promotion of wool. So, unless we look at the matter seriously, they must win. We must review the membership of the Australian Wool Bureau with a view to adding other members or to replacing some of the woolgrowers, and must also make an all-out effort to ensure that the wool industry is given added publicity so that the producers can get a fair price for their commodity and still be able to compete with the synthetics industry, and in turn save the Australian economy.
I support the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Presentation of Address-in-Reply.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) agreed to -
That the Address-in-Reply be presented to His Excellency the Governor-General by the President and such honorable senators as may desire to accompany him.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - I shall ascertain when His Excellency the Governor-General will be pleased to receive the Address-in-Reply. When a time has been fixed, I shall acquaint the Senate thereof.
Senate adjourned at 4.22 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 12 March 1959, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1959/19590312_senate_23_s14/>.