23rd Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 1 1 a.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to ask a question of the Minister for National Development. When the membership of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission was enlarged from three to five last year, was any consideration given to the appointment of at least one full-time commissioner? If not, in view of the increasing importance of nuclear energy to Australia, industrially, medically and for defence, will the Minister give consideration to such a full-time appointment?
– When the commission was enlarged, a full-time commissioner was appointed. The Government not only increased the size of the commission, but appointed Mr. McKnight, who had bean previously the secretary of the Department of the Army, as an executive commissioner, because it was found necessary to have somebody constantly employed as a commissioner to deal with the problems that arose.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade. It is based upon a statement made in a speech delivered at Bega on 9th March by the First Secretary and Economic Officer of the American Embassy at Canberra. lie alleged that the Australian farmer had earned at least 33 per cent, more for every bushel of wheat that he had sold since 1952 by reason of the American pricesupport and stock-piling policy in relation to farm produce. Will the Minister give the Senate the Government’s assessment of the position, particularly in the light of the discussions that took place in the United States during the recent visit of the Minister for Trade?
– Senator Wright will have noticed, as T did, that Mr. McEwen, on his return, said that he had had satisfactory discussions in America on the
American surplus disposals policy. To pinpoint the position of wheat and state it in precise terms, as asked by the senator, is, I am sorry to say, beyond my capacity now. If the honorable senator will put his question on the notice-paper, I shall obtain, I hope, a satisfactory answer for him.
– I direct a question either to you, Mr. President, or to the Leader of the Government. It refers to the Commonwealth coat-of-arms. Is there any statutory or other body charged with the control of heraldry, crests, badges and coatsofarms in Australia? What is the official blazon of the Commonwealth coat-of-arms and what documentary references are available on such blazon? Is it a fact that the Commonwealth coat-of-arms appearing around this building normally shows an emu and a kangaroo larger than the shield which they support? As they are merely supporters, is this not a bad heraldic device? Has any committee of the Senate ever been set up with terms of reference covering the Commonwealth coat-of-arms and related matters? If so, has it made any report? What is the official description of the Commonwealth flag? Is there any connexion between the seven-pointed star on the Commonwealth coat-of-arms and the star on the flag? Has the city of Canberra a coatofarms of its own?
- Mr. President, I am quite certain that you would be better able to answer the question than I am. I can only say that a specialized knowledge, which I am sorry I do not possess, is needed to answer it. Therefore, if the honorable senator places his question on the noticepaper, I shall get him the proper answer.
– I preface my question, which is addressed to the Minister for National Development, by stating that provision was made in the last Budget for the expenditure by the Government of almost £1,000,000 to aid the search for oil. That was followed some months later by a statement by the Prime Minister in his policy speech that a further £1,000,000, or some such sum, would be made available by the
Government to assist the search for oil in Australia or its Territories. 1 ask the Minister whether the Government has decided how the additional money is to be spent. Can he inform the Senate whether the search for oil in Australia is being intensified or is declining?
– The manner in which the extra £1,000,000 a year will be spent is of the very greatest importance indeed. There has been no delay in dealing with the matter. The Department of National Development has clarified its ideas. It has consulted people from overseas and people engaged in the search for oil in Australia. The honorable senator no doubt will be pleased to know that it has taken a good deal of notice of what the Government members mining committee has suggested from time to time. 1 have had the matter before Cabinet. I have had discussions in Cabinet and have had my sailing instructions - if that is the appropriate term - cleared for me. I am not willing to make a statement at the present moment about what we propose to do, because I want to get further advice and further information. J. may be a little prejudiced, but I do not know of anything more important for us in Australia than to spend this extra £1,000,000 to the best possible advantage. Therefore, I propose to take my time. It may be a few weeks before I make any statement, because I want to be quite certain that what we are doing is in accordance with the best advice available and is the best that can be done
With regard to the general progress of the search for oil in this country, I can only give the general answer that, no matter how much added interest there may be, my attitude will always be that, until such time as we find oil, that interest will not be sufficient. There was a sharp increase of expenditure on the search for oil after the strike at Rough Range. My recollection is that expenditure then went up by about £1,000,000 a year. There was a decline when the Rough Range find was not confirmed, and expenditure fell to about £6,000,000 a year. I am pleased to be able to say that in this current year the indications are that interest has been renewed and that expenditure may run to the order of £6,000,000 or £7,000,000.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Has he been impressed, during the last few weeks, by the statements that have been made by both Government and Opposition supporters regarding the very serious deterioration of the value of the Australian £1? Will the Minister give the Senate an assurance that an immediate examination will be made of the amounts paid to age, invalid and widow pensioners, and those entitled to child endowment, maternity allowance and other social service benefits, with the object of increasing those payments to compensate for the deterioration in the value of the £1?
– I s-hall be pleased to refer the question asked by the honorable senator to my colleague, the Treasurer. I have no doubt that he will say that an examination of all these matters, since they are budgetary matters, will be made at the time of preparation of the Budget. 1 take the opportunity to say that 1 also have no doubt that the Government’s decision in respect of variations of the social service benefits referred to will be made after the most careful consideration. This Government has always taken both the most sympathetic and the most realistic view of what could be done “o assist those in the community who most needed help.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for National Development, is complementary to that asked by Senator Wright a few minutes ago. It relates to the visit to America of Mr. John McEwen, the Minister for Trade. I desire to know whether, in America, the Minister discussed the matter of the future marketing of our base metals there. If so, can the Minister for National Development inform us of the nature of those discussions? If that matter was not discussed, can the Minister inform the Senate of the present situation, having regard to the difficulties that we experienced last year in the marketing of our base metals? I refer, of course, to lead, zinc and copper.
– Mr. McEwen returned to Canberra only yesterday and I have not yet had an opportunity to talk with him. 1 know no more about the discussions he had than appeared in the newspaper report of the comment he made on his return, when he said that his discussions had left him a little more optimistic regarding the possibility of increasing our markets overseas for base metals. I think that an expression of opinion as to the trend of events overseas on this important matter is a little too much to expect in answer to a question without notice. The United States Administration last year introduced its new policy of restricting imports of base metals, and present indications are that that policy has not yielded the result expected. The information we have is that the American Administration is considering variations of the existing arrangements. I should not like to go further than that. Because of the importance of the matter, I think it would be unwise to rely on my recollection.
– In directing a question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, I refer to a report broadcast in the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s news service this morning. Is it a fact that the Prime Minister of India. Mr. Nehru, has asked the authorities in red China to withdraw from circulation maps produced in red China which claim approximately 30,000 square miles of north Indian territory as Chinese territory? ls it also a fact that these Chinese authorities have refused to withdraw the offending maps? If the Communists are being so blatant in exposing their terms for the eventual absorption of India by China, should not Australia be increasing its efforts to send financial and technical aid to India to assist that country to ensure against possible invasion, before it is too late, and maybe before it is too late for Australia to escape a similar fate?
– I did hear the news item and I did read some press comment on it. but this is a matter on which I confess 1 am not expert. I was intrigued by the answer given by the Communist Administration that the maps concerned had been prepared by the previous Chinese government. That seemed to me to be a flimsy pretence to keep the existing maps in circulation.
– I desire to address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade. Will he inform the Senate whether the attention of his colleague has been directed to a statement by Dr. Hans Muchlenfeld, Ambassador for West Germany, that trade would increase if Australian products were better publicized? Will the Minister take appropriate action to ensure that this position, which is so important to Australia’s export income, is corrected?
– [ am sorry that I did not see the statement to which Senator Wedgwood refers. I know that the publicity arrangements for the sale of our products overseas, and the marketing arrangements for the sale of those products, are constantly under the care and consideration of Mr. McEwen and his department. I know that the department is supporting a quite appreciable trade publicity campaign in the United Kingdom and continental countries. I shall have pleasure in bringing the honorable senator’s question to Mr. McEwen’s notice.
– The question that I wish to direct to the Minister for Civil Aviation relates to the recent statement made in Western Australia to the effect that a new airfield and aerodrome facilities are to be established at Jandakot, which is some miles south of the city of Perth. It will require the taking up or resumption of some 12,000 acres of land. I understand that when this airfield is built, the present airfield at Maylands will be closed. Will the Minister inform me of the cost of the proposed resumption, and state the reason for the decision to close the present airfield when the new airfield is built?
– The honorable senator will doubtless remember that the Maylands aerodrome is built on the banks of the Swan River on reclaimed land. It was constructed 30 years ago and was designed to cater for the very initial stages of civil aviation. As the years went by. the aerodrome was found to be quite inadequate to provide the services necessary for interstate and, later, international operations, and a new airport was established at Guildford to cater for that type of operation.
Maylands was retained as the home - the quite historical head-quarters - of the Western Australia Aero Club, a club which has made a remarkable contribution, both in personnel and performance, to the advance of civil aviation in Western Australia. From that aerodrome light aircraft activity, such as agricultural sprayers and charter planes, has also been conducted. Conditions have altered very considerably. The changes that have taken place in the city, and the increasing inconvenience and expense of maintaining in a suitable condition what was a mud flat 30 years ago, have led to the necessity to find another site. That site has been found at Jandakot - at Bibra Lake, as the honorable senator has said. Meanwhile most of the activities that were previously carried on at Maylands have been transferred to Guildford until the new airport is established at Bibra Lake where the light aircraft and aero club operations will be carried on.
As to the cost of the acquisitions necessary to establish the new airport, I do not retain the estimated figures in my mind, but 1 shall have inquiries made and inform the honorable senator at a later date.
– I preface my question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport by stating that I have received representations from the Burnie council regarding the operation of the “ Taroona “. Has any decision yet been made as to whether that vessel will continue to operate after the “ Princess of Tasmania “ goes into service? Will the Minister inform the Senate whether a decision has been taken to enable the vessel to continue to call at the port of Burnie?
– This matter was raised some time ago - I think by Senator Marriott - and I then gave consideration to the request. I am afraid that the Government cannot consider allowing the “Taroona” to continue operating. The vessel goes out of class towards the end of this year. To maintain her in operation would cost a very considerable amount. From memory, the last survey cost something over £200,000, and was necessarily borne by the Commonwealth Government. I understand also that the owners of the “ Taroona “ desire to have their ship released as early as possible so that they might effect a sale more favorable to themselves than would otherwise be the case by virtue of the fact that the earlier the ship is delivered to them the more time she will have in class. For those reasons, it is not proposed to retain the “ Taroona “ in service beyond the date on which the “ Princess of Tasmania “ is commissioned.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, and in doing so invite his attention to a statement which appears in to-day’s issue of the “ Australian Financial Review under the heading “ Australia Forgoes a 64 Nation Move on United States Markets “. The article reads -
Sixty four nations, all anxious to grab a little of the lucrative United Stales market and to step up trade among themselves, are moving their stands into the New York Coliseum for the third annual United States World Trade Fair. But Australia is nowhere in sight . . . Zanzibar is there with its cloves, Kashmir has taken space lo boost its carpets, Lebanon has a nice wine display and other comparatively small exporting countries like Mozambique, Ghana, Luxemburg and Guatemala all have handsome displays. Australia is not represented anywhere although the New York Fair authorities have invited Australia to participate and the Fair is known to Australian businessmen and trade officials in Canberra.
As the Minister for Trade has returned recently from the United States, will the Leader of the Government discuss with him the inferences to be drawn from the article to which I have referred?
– I have not had the benefit of reading the article to which the honorable senator refers, but I have not any doubt at all that Mr. McEwen, and the officers of the Department of Trade would have given very serious consideration to whether Australia should be represented at a trade fair in such an important place as New York. It is not to be thought that, if we are not represented, there are not very good reasons indeed for it. I do nol think it is an over-statement to say that, quite apart from the financial appropriations that we make for them, these trade fairs constantly preoccupy the officers of the Department of Trade in considering how to get the best results from the men and resources that we have available. It is always a matter for deep consideration as to which of these fairs we shall take part in and which of them we shall not.
Although 1 have no information about the circumstances of this matter, I have not the slightest reservation about giving Senator Laught the assurance that the decision as to whether or not we take part in the New York Fair was made as a result of very careful consideration.
– 1 preface a question to the Minister for National Development by stating that in previous years, with the exception of last year, conducted tours of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric scheme were organized by the Minister to give members of parliament the opportunity of inspecting the scheme. Will the Minister be prepared, during the coming Budget session, to arrange for those members of parliament who may be interested in the scheme to be given the opportunity to inspect the latest developments there? J ask the Minister also to explain how it is that in the last year extra money had to be made available for the scheme. Last year, the vote of £18,000,000 was increased by between £4,000,000 and £5,000,000. Further, what rale do we charge the authorities in New South Wales and Victoria for the electricity we are generating at the Snowy Mountains scheme?
– I hesitate to give an assurance about arranging further tours of the scheme by members of parliament. My recollection is that the last time I made such arrangements not a great number of members availed themselves of the ‘opportunity. The reason became apparent when I started to make inquiries as to why the invitations had not been accepted. I found that there is such an interest in the scheme amongst members that a number of them make their own arrangements to go to the Snowy Mountains and take their friends with them. The indications seemed to be that they preferred to do it that way.
There will, I hope, be an opportunity for members to go to the Snowy Mountains at the end of October, by which time I hope that the TI power station will be ready to be opened officially. I remind Senator Scott that between 50.000 and 60,000 people visit the scheme yearly, and it is becoming quite an administrative problem for the authorities to make arrangements for the tourists. I hasten to say, however, that a charge is made for the services rendered and accommodation provided, and that the tourist trade is not conducted at a loss to the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority.
The reason for the provision of the extra money is a simple one. Here 1 must say that I am greatly appreciative of the way in which the Government provided that money. What happened was that we let three contracts, and the three contractors, because of the preliminary work done by the authority, and because of the experience those contractors had gained, made progress to an extent that nobody contemplated was likely to be achieved at the time the contracts were let. We were in the position that we could have these works completed appreciably ahead of the original programme if the money were made available, and the Government did make the money available.
I hesitate to reply to the honorable senator’s question about electricity charges. It is a rather complicated matter. The Snowy Mountains Agreement contains a formula whereunder the whole of the costs of the scheme are recovered. Those costs are taken into consideration in assessing power charges. I would only make the brief observation that all the criticism suggesting that Snowy power was going to be expensive has now stopped, and the technical officers concerned, the people who are buying it, are now quite happy that they are getting good power cheaply.
– I should like to ask the Minister for National Development what method is used in disposing of moneys received from the sale of power, and from other revenue derived as a result of the power from the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric scheme now coming into use. Is the money received by the Treasury and paid into Consolidated Revenue, or is it set aside in some way so as to recoup expenditure upon the scheme? In short, can the Minister tell me what happens to the revenue now being earned from power and services?
– I shall try to answer the honorable senator in simple terms. The Commonwealth advances the money to the authority at a certain interest rate. The authority is charged with the responsibility of computing the price of power upon a basis which covers all costs of construction and its liability to repay the Commonwealth. Guthega is now in operation and, from memory, the revenue from it is about £700,000 per annum. Those moneys are paid to the Treasury in repayment of the advances made by the Commonwealth.
– It recoups advances from the Treasury, but is it kept in a separate account?
– A separate account would have to be kept in order to ensure that Commonwealth advances were repaid, but there is no revolving fund as such.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Trade say whether it is the intention of his colleague to take an early opportunity to make a considered statement to the Parliament on the result of his negotiations with the United States of America? If so, will he arrange for a similar statement to be made concurrently in the Senate?
– I have not had a chance yet to speak to the Minister, so I do not know whether he contemplates making a statement upon the result of his negotiations overseas. I am sure that if he does a similar statement will also be made in the Senate.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The following answers have been supplied: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
Can the Minister give the Senate any information regarding the proposed changes in the pattern of taxation in New Guinea?
Minister for Territories has now furnished the following reply: -
Bills were introduced into the Legislative Council for the Territory of Papua and New Guinea on 20th April, to impose taxation on incomes of individuals at a level about half the rates operating in the Commonwealth and on incomes of companies at 4s. in the £1. It is proposed to allow concessional deductions to individuals far higher than those allowed to residents in most of Australia and somewhat higher than those allowed to residents in Zone A, that is in the remote underdeveloped parts of Australia. In the June session of the Legislative Council it is proposed to introduce legislation which will abolish export duties and bring about a significant reduction in import duties.
asked the Minis4er representing the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
In view of the resistance shown by native girls in New Guinea towards primary technical education, will the Minister consider appointing a senior female welfare officer to encourage and assist girls and women to undertake educational studies?
Minister for Territories has now furnished the following reply: -
The impediments to bringing education to girls exist in native custom and native social organization rather than in any “ resistance “ by individual girls. These impediments vary greatly from place to place and in some localities the people are eager for girls as well as boys to go to school. For some years a highly qualified woman officer of the Department of Education has had the fulltime responsibility of developing female education. A central committee, with representatives of the Administration, missions, and the people has been established to deal specifically with the problems involved in the disparity between the progress achieved by men and women and to try to ensure that in future they progress side by side. Sub-committees have been established in all districts, the district commissioner being in each case a member. One full-time woman officer has been appointed and it is intended that further officers should be appointed to co-ordinate the plans and recommendations of the various committees.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Will the Postmaster-General give an assurance that before any country television licences are granted Parliament will be given an opportunity to discuss the Government’s proposals on the matter?
Postmaster-General has supplied the following answer: -
The Broadcasting and Television Act 1942-1956 prescribed the procedure to be followed in connexion wilh the grant of licences for commercial television stations and this procedure will be strictly followed by the Government as on past occasions.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Postmaster-General has supplied the following answer: -
Can the years spent by a migrant in a Commonwealth country such as New Zealand be counted as portion of the five-year period necessary for residence in Australia prior to naturalization?
– The Minister for Immigration has supplied the following answer: -
The Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948-1955 required an applicant for naturalization to have resided in Australia or New Guinea for a period of one year immediately preceding the grant of a certificate of naturalization; and to have resided in Australia or New Guinea for an additional period of four years during the preceding eight years. The Minister is empowered to accept up to four years’ residence in another British Commonwealth country, as equivalent to residence in Australia, in such cases as he thinks fit.
It has been the policy that such ministerial discretion should be exercised only in cases where - (a) the applicant served, during World War II., in British forces or in forces under British command; or (b) where delay in granting naturalization would be detrimental to the interests of an applicant who has demonstrated that his, or her, general personal attributes are such as to make it clear that he or she is well qualified to become an Australian citizen.
Debate resumed from 16th April (vide page 843), on motion by Senator Sir Walter Cooper -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Senator Benn had moved by way of amendment -
Leave out all words after “ That “, insert “ the bill be referred to a select committee of members of the Senate for investigation and report on constitutional reform of the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory so as to provide a greater measure of self-determination by the people of the Territory “.
– I rise to support the bill. The Opposition has moved an amendment which proposes that the bill be referred to a select committee. I want to make it perfectly clear that I do not support the Opposition’s amendment. Dealing, first, with the amendment, I should say that the act of referring this problem, which is very real to the people of the Northern Territory, to a select committee would only serve to accentuate the very objections that have been advanced by the territorians in relation to a bigger say in the government of the Territory.
The purposes of this bill are threefold. As some time has elapsed since we last discussed the measure, I think I should restate those purposes. First, the bill proposes a strengthening of the Legislative Council and changes in its structure and membership designed to make it more widely representative of the Northern Territory community and to end the official majority. When I refer to the official majority, I mean the majority of appointed representatives as distinct from those who are elected. Secondly, procedural changes are proposed in respect of assent to legislation and the allowance or disallowance of ordinances of the Council. Thirdly, it is proposed to associate the elected members of the Council more closely with the Executive by forming an Administrator’s Council to which shall be appointed nonofficial members who will assist and advise the Administrator in the performance of executive acts.
I think we should examine any proposal for a wider form of self-government in the light of the problems of the Territory itself. We must realize that we are dealing with an area of approximately 500,000 square miles. I think the precise area is 523,000 square miles. The Territory is sparsely populated; it has a population of approximately 20,000 citizens and 16,000 fullblooded aborigines.
– How many live in Darwin?
– 1 understand that aproximately half of the citizens live in the Darwin area. A big percentage of the population consists of public servants whose stay in the Territory is to some degree transitory. They do a tour of duty and then leave. So we have a very small population in a vast, sparsely developed area.
We must also take cognizance of the fact that the Territory, for the most part, is in the torrid zone. Only a very small strip extending over two and a half degrees of latitude lies south of the Tropic of Capricorn. There are two seasons in the year - the wet season from November to April, and the dry season from May to October. Honorable senators who have served in the tropics know just what it means to live in that zone with a wet season and a dry season. All these things add up to make living conditions very rigorous. Certainly, residents of the Territory do not enjoy the charm of living conditions that we in the southern part of this great Australia of ours enjoy.
In assessing the background of conditions in the Territory, we must also look at the question of production. I think it is fair to say that, despite considerable progress during the life of this Government and the assistance that has been given, particularly to the mining industry - I have in mind the activities of the Bureau of Mineral Resources - production in the Territory, having regard to its size, is very low indeed. Apart from mining, there is the agricultural industry, which is interested in the growing of rice, peanuts, tobacco, cotton and grain. Of course, the pastoral industry is a story in itself. We all know the story about Vesteys - a story which dates back to the beginning of the century. We know of the huge losses that that organization has sustained in the Territory. However, to-day we can speak of a pastoral industry which exports annually beef to the value of approximately £3,000,000. We all know the great impetus that this Government has given to the mining industry, particularly in the production of copper and, with the more recent and more dramatic development of Rum Jungle, uranium.
– The honorable senator has told us the value of the pastoral industry. Can he tell us the value of the mining industry?
– I am sorry that 1 have not that information. The final point that we must consider in any thumbnail sketch of the problems associated with the Territory is the defence problem. We in our lifetime have observed that the Northern Territory is Australia’s front door to Asia. The experience of the last war has caused us to realize just how vulnerable Australia is because of the geographical relationship of the Northern Territory and Asia. The proximity of the Territory to Indonesia and South-East Asia is only too apparent.
We must have regard to what has happened in Indonesia in recent times. The possibility of Indonesia going into the Communist bloc must be appreciated against the background fact that only the Arafura Sea lies between the Australian continent and Indonesia. We know it has been the policy of the free world to try to keep Indonesia out of the Communist bloc. “We all hope and pray that those efforts will be successful, but we must not close our minds against the possibility that they will not succeed. So, the Northern Territory is of special defence significance and importance to Australia. lt is with this background that we are now confronted with the problem of giving greater self-government to the Territory. How far can we go? At what point does the natural desire and understandable advocacy of the territorians for self-government cut across the overall welfare of the Australian people and the Australian continent? It should be remembered that the Legislative Council, which was set up after the last war, gave a certain degree of local autonomy. But it is because of the limited power of the Council and the power of veto possessed by this Parliament that the territorians have felt themselves to be in the nature of second-class Australians from the viewpoint of being able to take part in the control of that area.
We say that, broadly speaking, every Australian has the right to vote, yet we find that the people of the Northern Territory have only a limited vote. Throughout the years, there have been constant protests ft om the Territory about the control exercised over the Council by both the Administrator and the nominated members. This dissatisfaction culminated last year in the resignation of the elected members. No doubt that was responsible, in some measure, for the Government making a further close examination of the problem, and that unrest may be regarded as partly the genesis of this bill.
Briefly, the bill before us provides for a reduction from seven to six in the number cf nominated official members of the Council, excluding the Administrator, who is the President of the Council; an increase in the number of elected members from six to eight; and for three of a new category of non-official nominated members. The total membership of the proposed new Council will be seventeen members on the floor of the Council, with the Administrator as President. Of the seventeen members on the floor of the Council, six will be official members and eleven non-official. Of the eleven nonofficial members, eight will be elected by franchise of the people and three will be nominated. Thus, it will be seen that, whereas at present it is possible for the Administrator to ensure the passage of legislation by the support of the seven official members, in the future it will be necessary for him to obtain the support of some of the non-official members for legislation which the Administration advocates. That is an advance. In fact, I consider that it is about as far as the Government reasonably could go at the present time.
In the interests of the whole of Australia, there is need to hasten slowly in solving this vexed problem of the government of the Northern Territory. It should, of course, be remembered that in addition to the Council there is a local government authority. When I was in Darwin with the Public Works Committee last year, I had the pleasure of being presented to the Mayor of Darwin. As I had had some experience in local government matters, I took the opportunity to have quite a long talk to him, and I was able to glean the information that the municipal authority in
Darwin was dealing with many important and complicated matters, which gave it a sense of responsibility and autonomy.
I believe that we have to relate this extention of governmental power to the problems of the Territory, but having said that, 1 want to say also that I do not think that the problems of the Territory will be solved to any great degree by means of legislation of this kind. We have to do some very important and dramatic things in regard to the development of the Territory. As a matter of national urgency, we really have to look at the possibilities. As I. stated at the outset of my remarks, the population of the Territory is very small. We must do something in regard to migration to the Territory. Australia is conducting the greatest migration programme in its history. We speak in terms of bringing to this country 1 1 5,000 migrants each year, and we celebrate the fact that in the post-war years we have brought here approximately 1,000,000 migrants. In those circumstances, it is paradoxical that, in the Northern Territory, which comprises one-sixth of the continent of Australia, there is a population of only 20,000 people.
– How many migrants have gone there?
– Practically none of those people would be migrants.
– There would be transient migrants.
– Yes, there would be transients. Although we say, on a national level, that we must populate or perish, it is odd that in the most vulnerable part of Australia, the great front door opening on to Asia, practically nothing is being done to increase the population by mass migration.
– The northern part of Western Australia is in exactly the same position.
– That is so. We must do something urgently in regard to a selective migration scheme for the Territory. Such a scheme would need to be tied, of course, to land settlement schemes and so on.
In this respect, I cannot help but point to the analogy between the need for development of the Northern Territory and a similar need in Israel.
– The honorable senator is not going back to biblical times, i hope.
– No. I do not think that I need to go further back than tothe Balfour Declaration. I remind the Senate that, after the last war, a home in Palestine was found for the Jews. In Israel, as it is now generally known, we have a country that is not unlike the Northern Territory in that there is the problem of lack of water, except underground, poorquality soil, except in areas close to the rivers, and a pressing need for development of transport and other services. It is interesting to note that in 1949, 239,000 new settlers - Jews, of course - went toIsrael. In 1950, there were 169,000 and in 1951, 185,000. I know that some people will say that we have not the money that world Jewry has to apply on such a large scale. The Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper), who introduced this bill, stated in his second-reading speech that we spend £12,000,000 annually from Consolidated Revenue on the Northern Territory. That fact does not impress me greatly, because although that rate of expenditure is a vast improvement on that of our predecessors, it is not significant in relation to the problem that we face. To-day, during question time, questions were asked in regard to theSnowy Mountains scheme. We shall spend on the Snowy scheme this year - 1 am not critical of it, but mention the matter only for purposes of comparison - something like £21,000,000.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that investment in the Northern Territory is not a certain investment?
– 1 consider that investment in the Northern Territory is actually a life-or-death investment. If we do not develop the Northern Territory we shall lose it, and thereby prejudice our children’s future and the future of this nation. I am not impressed with the fact that we are spending £12,000,000 on the Northern Territory when I think of the amount of expenditure on the Snowy scheme, a magnificent scheme, on which we will spend about £21,000,000 this year. We have already spent on that scheme in capital investment since I have been a member of the Senate - which is only about five or six years - something like £100,000,000.
We must do something dramatic in order to help to solve the problem of the Northern Territory. Whilst this legislation is good, it will not solve the problem as we want it to be solved. We must look at the question of land settlement, and sooner or later we will be confronted with the necessity for closer settlement in the Territory. I have not had time to examine in detail the implications of land tenure in the Territory, but I know that certain problems exist in relation to it. There is a diversity of rainfall in the Territory which fluctuates, I believe, from 50 inches a year down to something like 2 inches. Nevertheless, we have available to us the experience of other parts of the world and we should be able to cope with this situation. Water, of course, is fundamental to expansion, and we are fortunate that there is water underground in the Northern Territory. We should be able to utilize that water to the greatest advantage. We must consider the problem of land settlement and, if necessary, do something about the tenure of vast holdings in the Territory. In some instances, there are leaseholds over millions of acres of land.
– Is not security of tenure regarded as one of the main factors in the development of the Territory?
– Yes, but do not misunderstand me. The point I am making is that we just cannot move people into the Territory without considering closer settlement on some of the colossal holdings there. In saying that we must have a look at the question of land tenure, I mean that we should consider just prices and equity in any closer settlement scheme that may be envisaged. That is an absolute “ must “. I have said that productivity in the Territory fluctuates, and I cannot help thinking of the success in cultivation that has been accomplished by the Australian Mutual Provident Society in South Australia. The circumstances of the venture are well known to the South Australian senators. As honorable senators who have seen this project know, on one side of a road there is fertile land suitable for grazing purposes whilst on the other side of it there is only sand.
– The improvement has been effected by trace elements and water.
– Are the holdings there being profitably run?
– -As far as 1 know. It is a success story. Doubtless the South Australian senators could answer Senator Wright’s inquiry more accurately than I can, but I do know that on the last occasion I was there it was a complete success story. It was a story of a society with capital taking up a vast tract of desert and converting it into areas suitable for grazing purposes. As Senator Laught reminds me, it was originally a part of the Ninety Mile Desert. So I say that we have to do something with regard to land tenure in the Northern Territory, having regard to the point raised by Senator Wright thai security of tenure is necessary in order to encourage the development of the Territory. We have to consider this matter in the light of closer settlement and the absorption of immigrants.
Darwin is isolated, and the cost factor operates severely against its expansion. I believe that it would be worth while to allow Darwin to operate as a free port for a trial period. I have visited a number of free ports of the world where dramatic results have been achieved. We have only to look at Hong Kong, Singapore up to a short time ago, and even Rabaul, which was almost a free port. I urge the Government to consider this suggestion because there is no doubt that the cost factor is important to Darwin in view of its isolation. If Darwin were made a free port, the Territory would be revitalized. Furthermore, I think that the long distance that Darwin is from the eastern part of the Commonwealth would serve as a protection against the activities of people who may have bright ideas to capitalize through the centre on the free port advantages.
We should encourage more vigorous and active tourist activities in the Northern Territory. When I was in Darwin last year I saw little evidence of tourist activity. As a sideline, a local dentist and his wife were trying desperately to help tourists, but I must confess that I did not see much evidence of their being assisted by the Administration. We tend to think of the Northern Territory in terms of Darwin. It must not be forgotten that Alice Springs is a vital centre in the Territory. Alice Springs has certain attractions from the point of view of tourism, such as its association with the late Dr. Flynn and the Royal Flying Doctor Service; the accessibility of Ayers Rock by road; its association with old-timers; the aboriginal tribes; and the artistry of Albert Namatjira. As far as 1 can see, these factors have not been properly capitalized or exploited. Tourism in the Northern Territory has not received from the Parliament or from the Northern Territory Administration, the careful examination and consideration that it warrants. 1 advert now to the problem of national development. As I have said before, it is later than we think, and if we are to hold the Northern Territory we shall have to populate it. In order to attract people to the Northern Territory we must develop it, and development does not come easily. It does not excite me very much to know that it is proposed to spend only about £12,000,000 a year on the Northern Territory, which comprises about 560,000 square miles. I feel bound to remind honorable senators, however, that when we came to office only about £1,000,000 a year was being spent on the development of the Northern Territory.
– An expenditure of £1,000,000 then would be the equivalent of an expenditure of about £4,000,000 or £5.000,000 to-day.
– That is so, but I do not think that enough money is being spent on the development of the Northern Territory. If it were necessary for taxation to be increased in order to enable greater provision to be made to develop the Northern Territory as it should be developed, I think that it would be far more logical to do that than to neglect to develop the Territory adequately. The Territory is rich in mineral wealth as yet hardly tapped - gold, copper and uranium. From the surveys that have been made, possibly oil also will be found in the area. The Territory has a vast potential for development, and could carry an immense population. Its rainfall and terrain are suitable for agricultural development, provided that trace elements and fertilizers are used. The Northern Territory is Australia’s heritage and we should do our utmost to retain it; if we soon do not do something to develop it, we shall lose it. We cannot continue trickling money into the Territory to assist its development - a territory covering onesixth of our continent and carrying a population of some 20,000 people - and expect to hold it with the vast populations of the Asian countries at our front door.
– The honorable senator’s remarks regarding the Northern Territory apply also to the north-west of Western Australia.
– That is so. F thank the honorable senator for his interjection. My remarks regarding the Northern Territory apply with equal force tothe north-west of Western Australia. This Government has made some approach to the problem of developing the Northern Territory by granting tax concessions topeople living north of the Tropic of Capricorn in an effort to encourage them to settle there. The Government also proposes to spend additional money in the area. However, those matters are insignificant when compared to the problems confronting the Territory to which I have referred.
– Has the honorable senator any knowledge of the taxation policy as applied to persons in the Northern Territory?
– I know only that persons living north of the Tropic of” Capricorn pay income tax at a concessional rate. I think the concession is in the nature of a zone allowance. But that in itself will not solve the problem. The measure before us seeks to give additional legislative power to the Northern Territory. That is all to the good. However, the Opposition has proposed an amendment seeking to refer the bill to a select committee. Such a reference will not be of any great assistance because the people in the Territory always have been aggrieved at the fact that they are being administered by remote control. We must ensure the passage of this legislation and then watch its operation carefully and, in the not too distant future, again amend the legislation to move the Northern Territory further along the path to selfgovernment. At the same time, we must make rapid strides to develop the Territory. Undoubtedly, Australian citizens are perfectly capable of carrying out the functions of self-government, and we should develop the Territory so that the people living there will have the incentive to remain and direct their energies towards making use of the vast potential, of the area. We in this place bear a very heavy responsibility in that regard.
– The measure before us seeks to improve the system of administration that has been in existence in the Northern Territory for some time. People have said with some assurance that we progress slowly but surely. So far as the Northern Territory is concerned, we may omit the word “ surely “. The northern portion of Australia is the only part of this country that has retrogressed since settlement first began in the area. It is less productive now than it was a few decades ago before the first world war. That has happened, not because the Territory has not a vast potential for mineral and pastoral pursuits, but because the land has never been husbanded or farmed in the correct way. All departments of agriculture in Australia have acknowledged the fact that the area has been robbed of its natural resources. Its pastures have been eaten out. Big firms which have become interested in the Territory from time to time have decided that pastoral pursuits can be carried out in the area quite profitably provided, of course, that ready access to world markets is available for their products. Exports of meat from the Northern Territory have increased recently. But it is absolutely shameful to see the way in which the pastures have been eaten out. The lush feed and good fodder that were there in abundance at one time have gone, and it is most unlikely that they will return unless some action is taken to assist germination of the fodder seed by means of fertilizer and trace elements.
– Who is responsible for that state of affairs?
– The big land-holders, in the main.
– Why would they adopt that policy? Surely it is a short-sighted, impoverished policy?
– It is certainly a shortsighted, impoverished policy. When the big meat combines found that the fodder was being eaten and was not growing again they lost interest. They were prepared to sacrifice the £1,000,000 that they had invested in the Territory and obtain their supplies from the Argentine.
– Has drought had any effect on the position?
– It has.
– Was there not a great deal of industrial disturbance at the meat works? Were they not shut down?
– The meat works did not have a particularly great deal of industrial disturbance - no more than any other meat works in Australia. But that is only begging the question. We are not dealing, now with petty issues; we are dealing with the national development of our country. The settlers in the area found that despite the fact that they had erected windmills and built dams, they had no water in times of drought, or semi-drought, and so theTerritory became denuded of fodder. Officers of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, with officers of the Department of Agriculturein. Western Australia, have visited the area and have done excellent work, but they have ns authority to tell the landholdersto take certain action to overcome their difficulties. They have set up experimental stations in the area and have sown seed and approved- fodders in a draught-board pattern across vast areas of land. Their plan is that when the fodder grows it will be sufficient to overcome the soil erosionthat is so bad and, at the same time, assist in. holding seed that: in the past has blown away into the desert.
The whole situation is shameful. Thearea presents a picture of exploitation, although probably not intentional exploitation. The problem confronting the Northern Territory is not a matter of development as one may consider thedevelopment project of the Australian Mutual Provident Society in South Australia. It is an entirely different proposition. Seasonal conditions are most unsatisfactory. During some months of the year the land is. flooded, but roads and bridges to meet suchemergencies have not been constructed. In the southern States, roads and bridges areaccepted as commonplace because they canbe maintained without much trouble in areas that have a reasonable rainfall.
It calls for a big mind and big development. Numerous commissions have investigated Kvdl is required in the Territory, but very little, if any, action has been taken following their recommendations. The Governor of the Commonwealth Bank, Dr. Coombs, headed such a commission in 1949. In its comprehensive report, that commission recommended such things as improved transport facilities, more roads, improved roads, better fuel supplies, the provision of adequate power and water supplies, better living conditions for the people and adequate facilities for education. But nothing was done. That commissioner’s report was tabled, but I am not sure that it was ever printed.
This bill is simply the result of further agitation and dissatisfaction in the Northern Territory about administration and representation. It has been introduced simply because the Government feels now that it has to do something in an attempt to quieten the people there. I submit that it is essential that we appoint another committee to inquire into ways and means of developing that area. It could inquire into such things as the rehabilitation of pastures and the development of other industries. Hitherto, development has been retarded by lack of government activity from time to time, and, when I speak of government activity I do not refer to any one particular government. Such minerals as manganese and tungsten have been developed to a certain stage and then, because of import restrictions or a limited demand by Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, together with lack of transport facilities, the projects have been forced to close down. The same thing has happened in connexion with the pastoral and beef industries. There is one marvellous undertaking now. It is the blue asbestos industry which had a terrific fight in the first place to overcome government prejudice but which now brings millions of pounds in revenue to Australia. That is merely an isolated case of successful industry in the north. Other industries such as cattle-raising and mining could develop with equal success if given the required encouragement.
The Government has promised certain things such as relief from taxation in the area and has made some attempt to give relief by way of zone allowances and other concessions, but nothing calculated to develop the Territory in the way which that part of Australia should be developed has been attempted.
There is some merit in the amendment circulated by Senator Laught because, invariably, the regulations and ordinances submitted by the Regulations and Ordinances Committee, and by the Northern Territory Administration, come to our notice too late for us to do anything about them. It has been suggested that one reason for the delay is lack of facilities to prepare them. That is not a valid reason, lt has been suggested that it has been impossible to have them printed in time because the Government Printer is overloaded with work when Parliament is in session. The Government Printer might be overloaded with work at that time, but in a nation the size of Australia it should not be impossible, in a case such as this where regulations and ordinances are so important to the welfare of the Territory, to have a printing establishment in the Northern Territory to carry out the necessary printing work instead of having to wait for months while the Government Printing Office prints “ Hansard “.
– Private enterprise could print the regulations and ordinances.
– That is so. I am not suggesting any particular method, but it should be possible for the Government Printing Office to have a branch establishment there so that the regulations and ordinances could be brought before us in printed form without undue delay.
– Would you suggest that such an establishment be at Alice Springs or Darwin?
– I do not mind where they are printed so long as they are printed without undue delay. The conditions under which these regulations and ordinances from the Northern Territory are to be prepared were laid down in the days when transport was difficult, when we had to rely on an infrequent shipping service. To-day we have modern fast transport and there is no reason at all why these regulations and ordinances should not be before us much more speedily. I strongly support the amendment.
I also plead with the Government to set up, either now or at an early date, a select committee with wide powers to examine the economics of the Northern Territory and to report upon such things as administration, land holdings and so on. When speaking of land holdings, I refer not to tenure but to the best means of developing the area. For instance, landholdings now are far too large. It should be possible to insist that any one taking up land shall husband the area properly because in actual fact that land-holder is merely holding the area in trust for the nation. If he does not carry out a certain amount of development on his own initiative, we should compel him to do so. Some of these holdings extend over hundreds of thousands of acres and the amount of country developed is no more than 20 per cent. The other 80 per cent, is left completely undeveloped. 1 suggest that the holdings might be cut into smaller areas in order to concentrate development. Further, there should be some system of financing and encouraging people who are capable and willing to develop the Territory. At the moment it is impossible for a young man, no matter how capable he may be. to establish himself. I know of one young agricultural officer who wanted to work in the Northern Territory, but when he discovered the capital outlay required to enable him to get even a small holding for development, he was discouraged from going there. If we are really sincere in our desire to develop the northern part of Australia, we shall have to do something more than merely talk piously in Parliament, and leaving the area to develop in the slow, antiquated and unintelligent way in which it has been going in this bulwark of civilization in the southern hemisphere. We must do something to give all possible assistance and adequate finance to those people who are prepared to pioneer and develop that part of Australia which is so valuable and of such great importance to the nation.
– This is a bill about which we could talk at great length, as some honorable senators have done. From time to time, certain aspects of Northern Territory life are brought to our notice when legislation is under discussion. On this occasion, the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Sir Walter Cooper), who moved the second reading of the bill, has stated that this is a dependent area with dependent people and that it is not only a shame on the community, but it is to the shame of the nation that it has been allowed to remain in such a condition for so long. If the Government really feels that it is a shame on the nation that certain conditions have been allowed to prevail for so long, one would expect it now to be taking more definite action over a much wider field. 1 would think that one of the first things to be done to help establish the Northern Territory would be to give the federal member full voting rights. To some honorable senators that may not seem to be important, but to me it is one of the first things needing attention. The Northern Territory should be given its proper status in the parliamentary life of Australia. I suppose that the argument against that is that the numbers in the Territory do not compare with those in other great electorates, but I consider that the Territory should be assessed not by its numbers, but rather by its importance to Australia. Would any one argue, for example, that the member for West Sydney (Mr. Minogue), the member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), or the member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Stokes) had a more important part to play in the Parliament than the member for the Northern Territory?
We have to realize that the great size, the great diversity of activity, and the great problems of the Territory - most of all, the national importance of its development - demand that its representative should have a status equal to that of other federal members. Of course, the Government cannot help its attitude in these matters. It is natural for the Government to bear in mind that a Labour member represents the area, as is the case in respect of the Australian Capital Territory. The Government is, of course, most reluctant to give full voting rights to such a member. In our day, as a government, we approached the matter in the same way. We felt that we could not justify full voting rights being given such members. Personally, I could never agree with that, but it was the policy of our government in those days.
As the years have passed the present Government has admitted that the undeveloped state of the Northern Territory is a disgrace to the nation. We have surely reached the stage when we should approach this matter with a much broader outlook. That being so, one of the first things to do is to give the federal member for the Northern Territory full voting rights so that he can enter all discussions in the Parliament and thus, almost certainly, be able to represent the area more efficiently than is possible at present.
Too much happens in that part of the world that is not done at the instigation of the local authorities. I do not know how that situation is to be overcome. In the last twelve or eighteen months I have seen great opportunities for development wasted purely as a result of foolish and illconsidered government action. One feels that there should be a much closer watch on that area, that more responsibility should be given to the local people so that they can be sure in their own minds that what is being done is best for the Territory. I have in mind the extraordinary action of the Federal Government in giving prospecting rights for bauxite in the Gove area to a company which is already fully occupied. At the Methodist Mission at Yirrkala, near Gove, there are extensive deposits of bauxite. The Government gave the exploration rights to the people who were already in the process of developing Weipa on the Cape York Peninsula. When Weipa was discovered we learned that it was one of the greatest bauxite deposits in the world. Some of the earlier reports were so sanguine as to suggest that .there was more bauxite there than in all the other known deposits of the world. It was indeed a tremendous find, and arrangements were made with the Queensland Government to draw up an agreement under which the Zinc Corporation Limited and the British Aluminium Company Limited would exploit the Weipa deposit on the terms laid down. Tremendous sums are involved - millions, and perhaps hun.dreds of millions in the years to come.
Some one in Canberra - the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) perhaps - acted hastily and gave the exploration rights at Gove and Yirrkala to the people who were already developing Weipa. It -is rather obvious that those people will have their hands quite full, and that all they will do is hold the exploitation of Yirrkala in ^abeyance, so that no one else will develop it while they develop Weipa. It is only common sense to realize that in such a situation a new organization - and there were many of standing, both international and local, who sought rights to explore the area - should be given an opportunity to participate. There were many companies of great experience that had the background to undertake the work. The Minister suggested himself that one of the fundamental weaknesses of the position in the Northern Territory was that we must get outside interests to take part; that we did not want always to have the Northern Territory draining away the resources of the Commonwealth. The Minister said that, as far as possible, outside investment in the Territory should be encouraged; that in this way it might quickly be brought to a self-supporting level. Here was an outstanding opportunity to do what the Minister advocated, yet the development of Yirrkala was entrusted to a company already surfeited, to the point of indigestion, with .opportunity -aX Weipa. The deposit at Gove is extraordinarily rich. Its exploitation could well have been -given to a new company which would have brought sub.stantial overseas investment into .the Territory, where it is needed.
– Where is .this new deposit? -Senator ARMSTRONG.– It is at Gove, or Yirrkala, -on the Gulf of Carpentaria, opposite Weipa - at the other end of the great promontory at one end of which is Port Essington. There is -so much of fascinating interest going on in the Territory that one could have a ‘full-scale debate upon it. In the words of the Minister, there has been great growth. The money spent on it has increased sevenfold and production has increased fourfold. All this is happening in a territory which, in the interests of Australia - as ‘Senator Anderson ‘has said - must be developed to the stage where it no longer is like an apple ready to be plucked by some one anxious to .move from ,parts of Asia to parts of Australia. I ,do not think that we can .stress too greatly the importance to us of this part of our country. ‘We must make sure that we give it its due status.
I am fearful of one development that may be detrimental to the area. Darwin is regarded as the back door to .Australia - the first setting down point for the aircraft of the world. I am afraid lest the -advent of straight jets, with their .tremendous range and scant need to refuel, might produce a situation in which aircraft will bypass Darwin. Already K.L.M. is flying from Biak, in New Guinea, straight through to the capitals of Australia. I am fearful lest the day will come when aircraft will fly direct from Manila to Sydney, or from Singapore to Sydney, without stopping at Darwin. After all, it is just under 4,000 miles from Singapore to Sydney. The fact that Darwin is a great air terminal is very important to that city and I am fearful lest, in days to come, it might lose its significance in that respect. It may not be until the day after to-morrow, but we know that in local aircraft development the day after to-morrow comes very quickly; that in many cases it is here long before we are ready for it. I do not expect the Minister to go away and re-write the bill, but I hope he will give some thought to the matters which I have put to him and I hope that they will prove helpful.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
[2.15]. - I understand that a statement is to be made on international affairs, and accordingly I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave - The statement I am about to make is in identical terms with a statement to be made this afternoon in the House of Representatives by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey). The prepared statement reads as follows: -
In March and early April I had a series ot assignments that were concerned, in one way or another, with Australia’s relationship with the countries of Asia. These were the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East conference in Queensland, an official visit to Japan and Korea, and the annual Seato conference in New Zealand. It may be of interest to honorable members if I were to say something of these various tasks. In March, at Broadbeach in Queensland, I attended a ten-day meeting of Ecafe. As leader of the Australian delegation I had the honour to be elected chairman of the conference, and my colleague the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) was the spokesman for Australia on most occasions. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Trade (Mr. Swartz) was also a member of the Australian delegation.
Seventeen Asian countries were represented at this Ecafe conference and seven non-Asian countries. In addition ten other countries sent observers. Eight United Nations specialized agencies and fifteen non-governmental organizations were also represented. Including 27 members of the Ecafe secretariat, the total numbers attending were 220. These Ecafe meetings are very useful. They deal with a great many practical problems of human welfare - with more food, better clothing, better basic economic services and many other things of direct and immediate importance to millions of Asian people. Typical subjects that are dealt with by Ecafe are, population pressure, food production, telecommunications, hydro-electric development, industrialization, regional trade, low-cost housing, road building, statistics, census taking, and the like.
The commission deals with these problems in a well-organized, businesslike way. It has a permanent secretariat in Bangkok consisting of a considerable number of experts drawn from most Asian countries and from some western countries. The secretariat produces a number of surveys and reports, many of which are of outstanding quality. These reports are then discussed and developed by expert committees and working parties comprising representatives from many countries. Australia frequently provides specialists with expert knowledge in particular fields of work. These expert committees frame recommendations or conclusions to be passed to member governments of Ecafe and to the Ecafe organization itself. This whole process results in a valuable contribution to the information available to the Asian member governments in solving the problems of the region.
The recent fifteenth session was an example of the practical way in which Ecafe goes about its business. The session began with discussion of a most valuable and comprehensive survey of economic conditions in Asia and the Far East - a survey which reflects the good and the bad - the progress and the continuing problems. The magnitude of these economic problems in Asia is obvious but there is something inspiring in the active way in which they are being tackled - by the Asian governments themselves, by international programmes like the Colombo Plan and by the United Nations agencies.
One of the issues of particular importance which concerned this last annual session of Ecafe was the population problem. This is not a problem which concerns all Asian countries equally. The Thai representative made this point clearly. But certain countries face a tremendous and progressive problem arising from the contest between population pressure and food production. The Ecafe report on population pressure recognized that resettlement was not a solution. By resettlement is meant the transfer of population from one part of a country to another. The problem might be solved by reduction of the birth rate. Japan is one country in the Asian area where a stabilization of papulation is in prospect through measures that have been taken. But measures of this kind are for each country itself to decide in the light of its own ethical cultural and other traditions. Even if the birth rate were to be substantially reduced for the future, the problem of population pressure would remain for a considerable time ahead. In the meantime - and this was the line taken by the Australian delegation - an effort must be made to allow the great and growing human potential of the region to be more effectively utilized. This can be done only through the provision of capital equipment and technical training. The Australian Government is already providing aid of this kind, especially through the Colombo Plan.
Ecafe is a co-operative institution. Practically all the countries of Asia and the Far East were represented at this fifteenth session of Ecafe - and so were many of the countries of the west. These western countries, including Australia and New Zealand, sent strong delegations and most of them made practical gestures of assistance to the Asian countries. These non-Asian governments - including Australia - have an essential role to play in the commission’s work. They do not seek to intrude in Asian affairs but they do seek to offer assistance where it is needed, and requested, by Asian governments. In most cases, they have had experience of the sort of economic and technical problems which now confront the Asian countries. On the expert committees and working parties, they can therefore provide valuable guidance to Asian countries. More than that, Asia and the Far East is not a closed selfsufficient region. There are problems of trade and investment which can be solved only on a world-wide basis. It is important therefore that great powers like the United States and the United Kingdom and smaller countries like ourselves should be represented on the commission and should take an active part in its work.
There is also a good deal of co-operation within the region itself. This has been demonstrated, for example, by the intra-regional trade talks which have given the Asian countries an opportunity to see how far. among themselves, they may achieve greater stability in their foreign trade and overseas earnings. There are dangers in this, of course. We do not want a closed Asian trading bloc - nor, I believe, do the Asians themselves. A system of multilateral trade is one which will bring most benefit to Asian countries, to Australia, and to all countries of the free world. The Australian delegation made this clear at Broadbeach. But other regions are forming their own economic groupings. The European Economic Community contains some dangers for Asian countries which they were quick to point out. The Australian Government has supported the movement towards integration in Europe for a variety of sound reasons. But a responsibility rests on the countries of western Europe, as well as on those outside, to ensure that arrangements are not made which promote regional interests at the expense of world trade and world economic co-operation.
As well as co-operation among countries of the region as a whole, co-operation on practical problems among smaller groups of countries within the Ecafe region is developing in a very satisfactory way. In this regard I speak particularly of the Mekong Valley project. The Mekong is one of the world’s great rivers. At present it is almost completely untamed and very largely unused. The project for its development affects four countries - Thailand, Cambodia, Viet Nam and Laos - for whom it provides a unique opportunity for joint effort and intimate collaboration in what can properly be called a majestic undertaking. The Mekong Valley scheme is a multipurpose project which will seek to deal with navigation, flood control, water conservation, irrigation, and power generation. It will benefit 17,000,000 people living along the Mekong Valley. A comprehensive report on the project was completed last year by a United Nations survey mission headed by the American engineer, General R. A. Wheeler. This report said that, with the development contemplated, “ this river could easily rank with South-East Asia’s greatest natural resources. Wise conservation and utilization of its waters will contribute more towards improving human welfare in this area than any other single undertaking.”
The scheme when completed will rival in magnitude the world’s greatest river development schemes such as the Tennessee Valley Authority scheme in the United States. The total cost of the scheme will be very large. So far the project is still in the stage of investigation involving expenditure of about 9,000,000 dollars. These investigations will take about five years to complete. A number of countries have already pledged support. The United States, Canada, France, New Zealand and the United Kingdom have all pledged varying amounts of aid. At this last Ecafe session, Australia pledged aid up to an amount of £A. 100,000 to be made available in the form of training, expert advice or equipment.
That leads me to the point that there is a large identity of interest between Australia and the Asian countries. We are a developing country, too, with a great need for capital - although we have advanced a good deal beyond most of the Asian countries and, especially in the field of technical aid, we have a good deal to offer them Further, as an exporter of primary commodities and as a world trader, we have a vital interest, along with Asian countries, in greater stability of commodity prices and in access to markets. We want to see arrangements which will expand world trade, not diminish it. We, too, are concerned that the European Common Market does not become a closed market. That is the economic side. On the humanitarian and political side, we are vitally concerned, along with Asian countries, in extending human welfare in Asia. We believe that that is the basis on which political stability can be built. Ecafe cannot do the whole job, but we believe it can make a useful contribution.
This year the Seato council met in Wellington, New Zealand. The work of the past year was reviewed and plans made for the year ahead. Seato is now over four years old and has advanced well beyond its teething problems.
Seato is concerned with a wide range of issues - military, political, economic and social. But when all is said and done, the principal reason for the existence of Seato is military security. Seato is a deterrent against aggression, a collective security treaty backed by the pledge of the strongest single nation in the world - the United States of America - that in the event of an attack on any member from Communist sources, each of the other members will rally to its assistance. This is a most valuable asset for every country in SouthEast Asia, not least for some that are not members of Seato.
The military arm of Seato keeps at work throughout the year. At the Seato head-quarters in Bangkok each country has military planners who jointly study possible situations that would be caused by an act of Communist aggression and consider measures to meet them. The activities of the military planners during the past year, and also the recommendations of their seniors, the Seato military advisers, were examined by the Seato council in Wellington. Most of this work is highly secret and the House will not expect me to go into detail. But some Seato work in the military sphere is public knowledge, notably Seato military exercises. These exercises are designed to give experience in active co-operation between forces of Seato countries. There is in fact one exercise, “ Sca Demon “, under way at present in the waters between Singapore and Manila, organized by the Royal Australian Navy. Naval vessels of the United Kingdom, United States, France and New Zealand are also participating, with observers from the three Asian Seato partners.
But the most immediate threat in the area to-day is not a military one. The very existence of Seato, and the military co-operation being developed through Seato demonstrate to any potential aggressor that aggression will be resisted effectively and collectively. This situation assumes that national and collective defences will be maintained. Our defences are the shield behind which peaceful economic development can occur.
But the Communist threat persists, and in its most malignant form it confronts us in the shape of subversion. Tn the final Seato conference com.muniqué it was said - “ Despite the continuing possibility of open aggression, the principal threat to the security and independence of the Treaty Area is now being presented in more indirect forms. These call for imaginative and varied counter measures.”
Concrete measures to combat subversion were discussed at Wellington, including ways of expanding co-operation and of increasing public awareness of the varied nature of the Communist subversive threat. Here again I cannot be specific because of (he secret nature of this work, but the House will know from earlier statements which I have made the urgency and priority which the Australian Government attaches to anti-subversion activities.
In promoting the security and welfare of the Seato region, member governments have to look beyond the tasks of combating military aggression and Communist subversion. They have to tackle problems of raising production and living standards and coping with economic fluctuations. What I said earlier about Ecafe and its activities has relation to these problems. Seato, too, has a role to play here. Seato is a forum where eight governments can review and discuss frankly at a high political level economic problems of the region and their implications, not only in the economic sphere, but also in military and political spheres in the widest sense.
The question still remains of what role Seato should play in taking action in the economic field, as distinct from providing an opportunity for discussion and examination of economic problems. Here the plain fact of the matter is that in many cases - probably in most cases - action can be taken most effectively in wider forums than Seato - under the Colombo Plan and in Ecafe, for example. Many of the major economic problems of the region involve other countries as well as Seato members, and the most profitable approach on the economic side appears to lie in using other existing channels and organizations, as I have said, such as Ecafe and the Colombo Plan. The function of Seato here is to give a lead - to provide some stimulus - to promote understanding and awareness of what is needed. The effectiveness of Seato is net to be judged solely by what is carried out through Seato machinery.
There is, in addition, quite a lot that can and should be done in ways directly associated with Seato. As honorable members will know, the Australian Government has had a programme of Seato defence support. Under this programme, first instituted in 1956, the Australian Government has undertaken commitments up to a total of £3,000.000. This programme is put into effect by the Minister for External Affairs and the Minister for Defence, using the staff and experts of our two departments, and with the assistance on occasion of some other departments. The Australian defence support programme does not provide weapons; it is in the main designed to provide economic assistance that will help the Asian members of Seato to discharge their defence responsibilities. As such, the Australian programme is a contribution to the defence of the Asian Seato partners in this collective defence arrangement. It is also indirectly a contribution to the economic betterment of member countries. Let me give some examples of what is actually being done.
During 1958 Australia provided the Philippines navy with four large coastal patrol boats, for use, amongst other things, in anti-smuggling activities.
We have provided Thailand and the Philippines with a range of equipment which is not in itself warlike equipment but which is useful for their fighting services. We have provided Pakistan with military telecommunications equipment. In Thailand and Pakistan we are doing something to alleviate shortages of skilled labour in their fighting services, by helping to institute technical training programmes, providing equipment and training aids, supplying some instructors and also some facilities in Australia, and in other ways. Training of some labour in one of the dockyards is an example.
We have provided training facilities in Australia for many servicemen from the Asian Seato partner countries. We have also provided for visits to Australia by officers of the armed forces of those countries. They see here some of our activities in which they are interested, and our own Australian officers may become acquainted with their opposite numbers in Seato countries.
These are some examples of the Australian defence support programme, the value of which was recognized at Wellington by other Seato members. Other forms nf assistance are being given by some other countries, most notably by the United States, which is doing a very great deal indeed. New Zealand, for example, is helping in the field of skilled labour, including training in New Zealand in naval dockyards.
At Wellington, the United States put forward a project to combat cholera, which has been a great scourge in Asia and is still an important health problem despite the considerable counter measures which have been taken. The Americans are prepared to contribute a very considerable sum of money for the humanitarian purpose of establishing a cholera research project into the causes of cholera. It will be carried out on a regional basis and under a Seato label, and the co-operation of qualified persons and institutions from Seato member and non-member countries will be sought. This is a good example of regional assistance for a non-military project. Australia will be ready to make a contribution to this project, the nature depending on the form which ihe project takes after it has been elaborated.
These are just some examples of what can be regarded as practical steps by Australia and others to discharge our wider obligations under Seato. Seato is progressively building up habits of co-operation among its members, who look naturally to one another as associates.
One new feature ot the Seato Wellington meetings was this: We held, in addition to our normal closed meetings, a special restricted session in which each Minister was accompanied only by two others - his principal civil and military advisers. No record of the meeting was taken. These arrangements encouraged a full and frank discussion on any question relevant to the Seato Council region. As a result, there was achieved a frankness and intimacy which has never before been achieved at a Seato Council meeting, and which all Ministers agreed should be aimed at in future meetings.
In the Seato region the principal potential threat comes, as honorable members know, from Communist China, abetted by Communist movements in some other countries. During the past year there has been a considerable increase in the economic strength of Communist China, and further increases will occur in the years to come.
I wish I could report to the House that there was evidence that Communist China was adopting a more reasonable attitude in international affairs, but unfortunately this is not the case. Threat of force was employed in an attempt to gain control of the offshore islands which were, and still are, subjected to bombardment from the mainland. The territorial objective is not the offshore islands. The political and strategic objectives are much wider than this and include getting the Americans out of the Pacific. Now the world has seen the ruthless use of force in the autonomous country of Tibet in order to force a system on the Tibetan Government and people other than that of their own choice. Chinese actions in Tibet are greatly to be condemned and must be very much in the minds of anyone considering the state of present and future possible relations with the authorities in Peking.
I was in Japan for the last week in March, and then for three days in Korea. It was my purpose, at their kind invitation, to make contact with the Japanese and the Korean Governments, not to negotiate any specific agreements. In Japan I was able to have talks with the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, the Minister for Education, the President and members of the Science Council of Japan, the Minister in charge of the Science and Technics Agency, the equivalent of our Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, and many others.
My talks with the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister were most valuable to me. We discussed matters relating to direct AustralianJapanese relations, and also talked frankly and at length on a range of wider international questions of interest to both our countries. We considered possibilities of greater co-operation in the United Nations and elsewhere. I look forward to continued consultations and co-operation between our two governments on international developments which affect the two countries.
As honorable members will know, the Australian Government has been laying great emphasis upon the need for greater international co-operation in the field of science. At the last session of the United Nations General Assembly 1 introduced a resolution, which was subsequently adopted unanimously, which was designed to promote international scientific co-operation. With this in mind, I took with me to Japan the Research Secretary (Physical Sciences) of C.S.I.R.O. in order to explore whether we could increase co-operation between Australia and Japan in the field of science. This step by a visiting Minister - which was an unusual step - appeared to be welcomed in Japan and enabled me to extend the range of my contacts and discussions considerably. I was satisfied that there is undoubtedly scope for programmes of co-operation between Australia and Japan in the scientific field. In a number of fields of pure research the Japanese are outstanding. In applied research, too, Japan is reaping the benefits of modern large-scale research programmes in such industries as telecommunications, television, photography, plastics, and scientific instruments. The rapid transference of research results from the laboratory to industry is a problem which is of the greatest importance to Australia, and Japanese experience in this field can be very helpful to us. They seem to have significantly reduced the timelag between scientific achievement and its practical application in industry. Japanese industry is definitely research-minded.
Let me say something of Japan’s industrial and economic progress. In the last six or seven years industrial production has doubled. Production of machinery and chemicals has more than doubled in that period. Shipbuilding in Japan has almost equalled the combined total of those great shipbuilding nations, the United Kingdom and Western Germany. There has been significant growth in the supporting industries, such as electrical power, and marked advances have been made in the manufacture of technologically advanced products and electrical equipment of all kinds. T do not want to occupy the time of the House with a recital of figures but, accustomed as we are to incessant propaganda about the achievements of Communist China, it is interesting to note that in 1957, Japan’s output of coal was about half that of Communist China; Japan’s production of steel was twice as large as that of Communist China, and her production of electrical power four times as large. Japan, indeed, is one of the great industrial nations of the world and has the essential requirements for great industrial strength in the modern world, by reason of her industrial capacity, a very skilled and hard-working labour force, and a large population. A most impressive fact is that Japan’s industrial strength has been built up by domestic Japanese capital, domestic management, and technicians. There has been no direct United States economic aid for a number of years.
Thanks basically to a generous and far-sighted peace treaty, Japan has been able to emerge as an independent nation pursuing constructive policies in the United Nations and in other international organizations. I was encouraged by the appreciation among Japanese leaders that the interests of their country lay with the democratic world. This is by no means confined to the defence and security protection afforded by the United States-Japanese mutual security treaty which is now being re-negotiated.
But if Japan is to survive as a viable economic entity, she must look first and foremost to her international trading relations. Japan cannot mainlain employment and social and political stability without a substantial volume of export trade. Japan’s dependence on foreign trade is well understood by her Communist neighbours, for whom Japan would represent a prize of the greatest significance. Communist China has deliberately cut off all trade relations with Japan in the hope that, by exploiting the traditional Japanese interest in the Chinese market, she can force a reorientation in Japan’s external policies. This campaign by Communist China was in full swing while I was in Japan and, of course, created much public attention. Confronted with these Communist tactics, it becomes more important than ever for the countries of the free world to continue demonstrating their willingness to give Japan reasonable opportunities to sell her products in their markets and have access to raw materials. There is an awareness among Japanese leaders and business people that Japan’s interests as a trading and shipping nation place her among the community of nations practising multilateral trade policies. I was happy to hear from Japanese commercial and business leaders that the present trade agreement between Australia and Japan was working well from their point of view as well as from ours; indeed, I believe that the trade agreement has been the vehicle for the promotion of goodwill and understanding between the two countries.
In Korea I met the President, Dr. Syngman Rhee, the Foreign Minister, the Defence Minister, the United Nations Commander, and others.
Australia has been represented in Korea since 1947 by Australian diplomatic officers serving on the United Nations Commissions. When war broke out we were second in time only to the United : States in having forces in action. Australian contribution of economic aid to Korea - almost £2,000,000 - was the fourth largest amongst contributing countries. In these and other ways Australia has been associated with the Republic of Korea since its inception. I was received with great warmth and appreciation for the help we have been able to give, and for the bonds built between Australians and Koreans during the fighting.
Any visitor cannot fail to be impressed with the general atmosphere of sturdiness and vitality among the Korean people. Although their country is divided and on the edge of the Communist world the Korean people are not dispirited nor apathetic. They are actively engaged in modernizing their country and in strengthening their social, economic and political structure. Elections have been held at regular intervals for the Presidency and for Parliament ever since the Republic of Korea came into existence in 1948.
The devastation caused by the war has been overcome and the emphasis is now on programmes to strengthen the economy with the assistance of United States economic aid. This economic assistance is the more necessary by reason of the huge defence burden undertaken by the Republic of Korea. Confronted by the Communist regime in North Korea and by Chinese armies across the Yalu River, the Koreans are maintaining armed forces of 630,000 men. Their well-trained army of eighteen divisions in the field and ten in reserve is one of the largest in the world.
The United States retains two divisions in the field in Korea. Including the cost of its own forces, the United States is contributing something like one billion dollars a year for the economic and military support of the Republic. This represents by far the largest single-aid programme undertaken by the United States in Asia. I may say that Turkey still maintains a strong infantry brigade group in South Korea.
I was very glad to visit Korea again. Australia has deep and continuing interests in Korea which can be regarded as the northern anchor to the defensive island chain off the eastern mainland of Asia. We have important political interests there. I was glad to be able to assure President Syngman Rhee and the Korean people of Australia’s continuing moral and political support for the United Nations’ position in Korea.
Finally, in giving an account of my visit to Japan and Korea, I must mention the unfortunate state of relations between these two countries. This has deep historical roots. The two countries, however, have been carrying out direct negotiation for some time in an effort to bring about an improvement. Both sides explained their viewpoints to me. I was encouraged to feel that, while the matters at issue between them are considerable, both sides realize that they are situated side by side as the only anti-Communist countries in the region - and that there is a great need to compose their differences.
Some of the things that stand out in my mind as a result of the ground that I have covered recently are the resurgence of Japan, the importance of American military strength as a stabilizing factor in the East, and the fact that Australia’s name stands high in the countries that I visited.
This brief survey of the recent conferences of Ecafe and of Seato, and this report on my visit to Japan and Korea, give a picture of a range of problems confronting South-East and East Asia at the present time. Asia is of vital importance to Australia, and our policies must always take account of it. Policies will sometimes differ, but, fortunately, in most matters, Australia’s interests are either identical with those of our Asian neighbours, or at least do not conflict with them. We can take good heart from that.
I lay on the table the following paper: -
Foreign Affairs - Asia - Statement by the Minister for External Affairs, dated 23rd April, 1959- and move -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Debate resumed (vide page 1017).
[2.53]. - I urge the Senate to reject Senator Benn’s amendment. A great deal of investigation took place concerning affairs in the Northern Territory before the measure that is now claiming our attention - one that effects constitutional reform of the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory - was drafted. The bill does not go as far as the members of the council desire; nevertheless, it goes a long way towards meeting their wishes. It has been considered fully by both the Government and the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory. 1 should like to let Senator Benn know that the subject of constitutional reform in the Northern Territory was considered by a select committee of the Legislative Council in the Territory. That committee’s report was the starting point of the examination of the matter that culminated in the legislation we are now discussing. It will be recalled that the select committee’s report was debated in this Parliament in April and May of last year. A conference of the members of the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory and representatives of the Government then took place. The report of the conference was circulated to all members and discussed by Cabinet. As a result, the legislation now before us has been introduced.
If the proposed amendment is accepted, the bill will have to be withdrawn and a select committee appointed. Probably twelve or eighteen months will then elapse before any improvement in the position in the Northern Territory will be effected. The Government does not wish to accept the proposed amendment and, therefore, I ask the Senate to reject it.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
.- I wish to refer to clause 8 which reads -
Section four of the Principal Act is amended by omitting sub-section (2.) and inserting in ils stead the following sub-sections: - “(2.) The Legislative Council shall consist of -
six official members;
three non-official members; and
eight elected members.
I move -
Leave out proposed sub-section (2.), insert - (2.) The Legislative Council shall consist of-
twelve official members; and
twelve elected members, one of whom shall be elected Speaker.”.
My amendment seeks to vary the composition of the Legislative Council. We do not object to the inclusion of the Administrator in the Council. In the terms of the act relating to his appointment, the Administrator is responsible for the administration of the Northern Territory and, during the last nine or ten years, the Territory has been blessed with capable administrators. The present occupant of the position is an officer of the Public Service, a man who is most conscientious in the discharge of his duties. However, the bill proposes the appointment of six official members to the Council. They too will be officers of the Public Service, heads of the branches of the governmental structure set up to assist the Administrator in carrying out his duties in the Northern Territory. For practical purposes, when sitting in the Council they will be Ministers administering the various sections of the organization. The bill also proposes the appointment to the Council of three non-official members who will not be drawn from the Public Service but who will be private individuals residing, I assume, in Darwin or in the vicinity of Darwin. The appointment of those persons is contrary to our conception of democratic government. We are accustomed to electing our own representatives. I realize that the Northern Territory is controlled by the Legislative Council and that the best must be done in the circumstances. But the Administrator must accept instructions from Canberra, so that any instructions must continue down the line from Canberra to the Administrator, to the six official members of the Council and then to the three non-official members who, no doubt, will be on side with the Government and will offer no opposition to the Government’s attitude towards the administration of the Territory.
If my amendment is not accepted, the proportion of appointed members to elected members will be ten to eight. Such representation is not in accordance with the ideals of the party of which I am a member and, for that reason, the bill does not meet with our approval. However, if the Legislative Council comprised 24 members - twelve appointed and twelve elected - we should have a council which would function more in the interests of the citizens of the Territory and of the Territory itself than the body proposed in the bill. My party believes in governmental reforms. A year or two ago the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) introduced a measure relating to the Legislative Council for Papua and New Guinea. One of the aims of that legislation was to provide representation for the natives of New Guinea, with the objective in mind of some day allowing them to form their own government. That may be accomplished, probably, at the end of the next century; nevertheless it was a starting point in the process of allowing natives to become members of the Legislative Council and to learn something of the methods of government. The Opposition feels that if my proposal is accepted the people of the Northern Territory will be able to ventilate their grievances more easily and to take a greater part, in the government of the Territory. I commend the amendment to the Senate.
Senator Sir WALTER COOPER (Queensland - Minister for Repatriation) [3.6]. - 1 have only just received a copy of the honorable senator’s proposed amendment. It is a pity that it was not circulated earlier. If it had been, we could have considered it, but I can see from the copy I have that a similar proposal was moved in and rejected by the House of Representatives. I think it was rightly rejected in that place.
Senator Benn has stated, when speaking to the motion for the second reading of the bill and in proposing his amendment, that the proposed count as set out in the bill will be ten official members to eight elected or non-official members. He does not seem to realize that the three nonofficial members will be selected from people who have interests in the Northern Territory. He has suggested that probably they will come from Darwin. I cannot say exactly from where they will come, but they will certainly represent the interests of the people of the Territory.
To ensure that these non-official members will not be controlled in any way by the Government and that they are not selected for the purpose of assisting the Government, I shall move certain amendments in order to make it clear that the Governor-General will not have power either to discharge these non-official members or to interfere with their rights. They are to be perfectly free of all controls. One of my proposed amendments seeks to delete the power of the Governor-General to remove a non-official member from office at any time. We want to make absolutely sure that the non-official members shall have complete freedom to vote as they think best.
We believe that far greater benefit will accrue to the people of the Northern Territory if the interests of that Territory - and they are vast interests - are represented by three non-official members than if the Legislative Council were comprised of twelve elected and twelve official members. I do not know whether the honorable senator has examined what it would mean to have twelve elected representatives. I point out to him that of the 8,000 voters on the roll in the Northern Territory 6,000 reside in Darwin .and Alice Springs. Darwin has two members in respect of an enrolment of 4,462 people. Tennant Creek has 440 voters. With two members in the
Legislative Council that town would have one representative for 220 electors. Alice Springs has 1,516 electors. That number would require more than one representative. Again, the electors in Stewart number 481. There are 1,121 in Batchelor, so two representatives would be necessary for that part. It will be seen, therefore, that by far the greater majority of members would represent places in and around Darwin and Alice Springs. Those members would virlually represent towns whereas the three non-official members will represent, not merely town electorates, but the whole of the Northern Territory.
Similar provisions were included in the legislation relating to New Guinea, where the system of non-official members has been quite successful. Those three nonofficial members have voted against Government legislation at various times. I am quite certain that the three non-official members proposed for the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory will do their duty in the way in which they think best, and the Government certainly will not be able to exercise any control over them whatsoever.
Senator Sir WALTER COOPER (Queensland - Minister for Repatriation) [3.12]. - Clause 8 seeks to amend section four of the principal act by inserting the following sub-section - (2b.) A member of the Legislative Council referred to in paragraph (c) of sub-section (2.) of this section -
I move -
Leave out paragraphs (a), (b) and (c), insert - “ (a) shall be appointed by the Governor-
General on the nomination of the Administrator; and
I commend the amendment to the committee.
Amendment agreed to.
Senator Sir WALTER COOPER (Queensland - Minister for Repatriation) [3.13]. - I wish now to refer to clause 12, which reads -
Section four ka of the Principal Act is amended by omitting sub-sections (3.) and (4.) and inserting in their stead the following sub-section: - “ (4.) An elected member or non-official member of the Legislative Council who is a party to, or has a direct or indirect interest in, a contract made by or on behalf of the Commonwealth under which goods or services are to be supplied to the Commonwealth shall not take part in a discussion of a matter, or vote on a question, in the Legislative Council where the matter or question relates directly or indirectly to that contract.”.
I move -
Leave out the clause, insert the following clause: - “ 12. Section four ka of the Principal Act is repealed and the following section inserted in its stead: - 4ka.(1.) A person is not qualified to be a candidate for election as a member of the Legislative Council if, at the date of nomination -
After clause 15, insert the following new clause: - “ 15a. Section four qa of the Principal Act is repealed and the following section inserted in its stead: - 4qa. Where a person who has, whether before or after the commencement of this section, purported to sit or vote as a member of the Legislative Council at a meeting of the Legislative Council or of a Committee of the Legislative Council -
Amendments agreed to.
– Clause 16 reads, in part -
Sections four v to four z (inclusive) of the Principal Act are repealed and the following sections inserted in their stead: - “4z. - (1.) The Minister shall cause each Ordinance assented to by the Governor-General or the Administrator, or from which the GovernorGeneral or the Administrator has withheld assent, to be laid before each House of the Parliament as soon as possible after the date of assent, or after the date on which assent was withheld, as the case may be. “ (2.) Where the Governor-General or the Administrator withholds assent from an Ordinance, or the Governor-General disallows an Ordinance in whole or in part, the Minister shall, as soon as possible, cause a statement of the reasons for withholding assent, or for disallowance, as the case may be, to be laid before each House of the Parliament.”.
I move -
In proposed section 4z (1.), after “possible”, insert “, but in any case within fifteen sitting days of that House,”.
In proposed section 4z (2.), leave out all words after “ shall “, insert “ cause a statement of the reasons for withholding assent, or for disallow- ‘ ance, as the case may be, to be laid before each House of the Parliament as soon as possible, but in any case within fifteen sitting days of that House, after the date on which assent was withheld or the Ordinance was disallowed, as the case may be.’.”.
I ask the committee to approve these amendments because they are of fundamental importance - to this Senate especially, to this Parliament, and to the Constitution of the Northern Territory. I invite the attention of honorable senators to the memorandum which the Minister has been good enough to circulate with the bill. Page 14 of that memorandum sets out existing section 4z, and also proposed new section 4z. 1 criticize the amended provision because I consider it inadequate. If one goes to section 4z. one finds the following: -
Every Ordinance assented to by the Administrator or by the Governor-General shall, as soon as may be after being assented to, be laid before each House of the Parliament. 1 direct the attention of honorable senators to the words “ as soon as may be.” Those words absolutely reek of the old tempo of the Northern Territory. It is the tempo of the sailing ship days - as soon as may be, after being assented to by the Administrator in the Northern Territory, or by the Governor-General down here, the ordinance is to be laid before each House. Let us examine now what the Minister proposes to put in the place of that provision, remembering of course that by this new set of amendments of the constitution of the Northern Territory certain procedures have been added relating to ordinances that have been disallowed. The general intention of the legislation is, of course, that ordinances which have been passed, as well as ordinances which have been referred to the Governor-General and ordinances which have been disallowed, shall come before this Parliament. I consider that the time-table for so doing laid down in the amendments that have been adopted by this Parliament is not adequate. The old phrase, “ as soon as may be after being assented to “ has been put in another way which means precisely the same thing - “ as soon as possible after the day of assent.” I submit that the terms “ as soon as may be “ and “ as soon as possible “ are not adequate in relation to important constitutional matters. I consider that a timetable should be laid down so that the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck), the Administrator, or whoever may be responsible, will be obliged to do certain things at the will of this Parliament within certain times. 1 invite the attention of the Senate to section 48 of the Acts Interpretation Act which, the Senate will recall, requires the Ministers of State to lay before each House of Parliament within fifteen sitting days of that House after the making of regulations, all such regulations. In other words, regulations must be laid on the table of the Senate, and on the table of the House of Representatives, within fifteen sitting days. In those circumstances the Executive cannot get away indefinitely with the promulgation of regulations before this Parliament has had an opportunity to deal with them.
– What is the effect of non-compliance with that requirement?
– First, action by this Parliament and, secondly, the regulations would not have the effect of law. Honorable senators will see, therefore, that the legislation before the Parliament does not adequately cope with the distinct problem which has arisen.
It is my privilege to be a member of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee of this Senate. As honorable senators will realize, that committee, pursuant to Standing Order No. 36a, is charged with a certain responsibility, as follows: - (4.) All Regulations and Ordinances laid on the table of the Senate shall stand referred to such Committee for consideration and, if necessary, report thereon. Any action necessary, arising from a report of the Committee, shall be taken on motion after notice
Therefore, if the measure relating to the Northern Territory does not provide definitely when certain ordinances are to be laid before the Senate the Regulations and Ordinances Committee will not know where it stands. Consequently, I feel that it is the duty of the Senate to put into the legislation, in definite terms, a requirement relating to the tabling of ordinances from the Northern Territory and notification of, as it were, the vetoing of ordinances by the Administrator and by the GovernorGeneral. It is that which prompts me to move the amendment.
So that honorable senators will not think I am just talking in a vacuum or discussing only a theoretical matter, I think it my duty to let the Senate know what has been happening. I speak from my experience as a member of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee, working under section 4 z of the Northern Territory Administration Act, which requires an ordinance to be laid on the table of the Senate as soon as it can be. I quoted one instance in my speech on the motion for the second reading. An ordinance was passed by the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory amending the Lottery and Gaming Ordinance. It was assented to on 12th May, 1958, by the Administrator of the Northern Territory but was not laid on the table of the Senate until 17th February, 1959 - over nine calendar months after the ordinance was assented to. From my own reading of the newspapers round about the time the ordinance passed through the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory, I understood that it was in fact a “ hot number “ up there. Nevertheless, the Regulations and Ordinances Committee was not able to give consideration to the matter officially for approximately nine months. I agree that the Senate was not sitting for part of October, November, December and January, but it was sitting for part of May, August, September and part of October. There was plenty of opportunity for laying that ordinance on the table of the Senate.
I think I ought to illustrate the other point involved, namely, the case where an ordinance is referred to the GovernorGeneral by the Administrator of the Northern Territory. I have in my hand an ordinance to amend the Wards Employment Ordinance of 1957- No. 9 of 1958. That was reserved on 12th May, 1958. Under the Northern Territory legislation it had to be reserved, of course, for the GovernorGeneral. It was assented to here in Canberra on 18th June, 1958, but was not laid on the table of the Senate until 17th February, 1959. The ordinance was actually down here in Canberra in June, 1958.
Honorable senators will appreciate that it is most desirable to prompt, in the first case, officers of the Northern Territory Administration, who would have handled the first matter 1 mentioned, or, in the second place, officers of the Department of Territories, who would have handled the second case in relation to its assent down here. Both sets of officers should have a time limit set within which they must have ready for laying on the table of the Senate any ordinances and regulations.
This is an important matter because, after all, the people of the Northern Territory do not enjoy responsible government, and are not going to get responsible government for some time. They should be assured that the National Parliament, and especially the Regulations and Ordinances Committee of this Senate, will attend promptly to all matters that come before the Parliament, whether it is the work of the Administrator of the Territory that has to be looked at or whether it is a reservation for the Governor-General that has to be looked at. It is most important that regulations made under these ordinances are brought quickly under the notice of the committee. Honorable senators will remember that under the Acts Interpretation Act regulations made under existing laws must come before the committee within fifteen sitting days. It is quite incongruous if the ordinances which really beget such regulations do not come before us at least within the same time.
I submit, therefore, that the case for this amendment is unanswerable. I am very grateful to the Minister for Territories for the courtesy he extended to me when I explained this point to him, and for the speed with which his officers and the officers of the parliamentary draftsman assisted me in drafting the amendment. I do not think 1 can say anything more, other than to mention that the Northern Territory is rather a sensitive constitutional spot in Australia at the present time. It is the duty of the Senate to see that the Territory has no reasonable grounds for complaint about anything that is done by this Parliament in relation to its constitutional aspirations. We, of course, remember the occasion, when, unfortunately, the elected members of the Legislative Council walked out of the Council and resigned. It is these pin pricking things that may, in the hot tropical climate of the Territory, prompt such conduct more than anything else. If the Senate does the right thing to-day, the cause of at least one of the pin-pricks will be removed.
– As a member of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee, I fully concur with the reasons that Senator Laught has given in moving this amendment, and 1 wish to give some additional reasons of my own. The people of the Northern Territory are apt to feel that they belong to a tribe of forgotten people. We should do all we can to let them know that that is not so. After all, they are playing a very big part in the development of this country and we owe them a debt of gratitude for putting up with the hardships that they have to endure.
The delays that have been mentioned by Senator Laught might have been unduly long, but we recognize that there are factors which cause delays and which are rather hard to overcome. For instance, I understand that the printing of the ordinances and regulations is done in Canberra. Consequently, any ordinances or regulations coming down from the Territory have to take their turn with other documents requiring to be printed. That, of course, causes a delay in some cases. I feel that if we specify a definite time, it will be beneficial to us and also will show the people of the Northern Territory that we have not forgotten them. It will let them know that we recognize that the ordinances and regulations that are put into operation up there are important to them, and that we should deal with those ordinances and regulations with as much expedition as possible. It is for those reasons, in addition to the reasons advanced by Senator Laught, that I support the amendment.
Senator Sir WALTER COOPER (Queensland - Minister for Repatriation) [3.35]. - I have been informed that the delay in the tabling of the ordinances referred to by Senator Laught was due almost entirely to delay in the availability of printed copies of the ordinances. In both the cases referred to by the honorable senator, printed copies of the ordinance .did not become available until after the Senate rose on 2nd October last for the general election. The printing of ordinances is not a matter for the Department of Territories in Canberra but is arranged directly between the Administration in Darwin and the Government Printer here. In the case of the lottery and gaming ordinance, most of the delay occurred between the despatch of proofs to Darwin by air mail by the Government Printer and the return of the corrected proofs. In fact, that was more or less the cause of the delay in both cases.
The honorable senator was good enough to discuss this matter wtih the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck). I am pleased to be able to say that the Minister and the Government are quite willing to accept the amendments. Existing procedures in the Territory will now have to be examined in the light of the acceptance of the amendments. I should like to record the fact that the delay was not caused by any action of the Department of Territories in Canberra. Now that provision is to be made in the legislation for the tabling of an ordinance within fifteen sitting days, that time will have to be adhered to.
– I should like to thank the Minister for his reply, which has been very frank, in regard to one matter which should not present a difficulty to a Commonwealth Government which boasts of a Budget of £1,400,000,000 a year. I believe that the frankness of the Department of Territories, as displayed in the reply of the Minister, reveals a state of affairs that requires the attention of the Northern Territory Administration, the Treasury, and other powersthatbe. I refer to the need for an adequate printing service tor the Territory. May I suggest, Sir, that if printing difficulties are the cause of a delay of six, seven or nine months, private enterprise could be given a go. The law is, of course, that regulations have to be tabled within fifteen sitting days. I plead with the Minister in charge of the bill to convey to the Minister for Territories and the other powers-that-be the suggestion I have made. The Northern Territory will never be a great Australian territory if printing difficulties are allowed to stand in the way.
Amendments agreed to.
Bill, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 21st April (vide page 898). on motion by Senator Sir Walter Cooper -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The purpose of this bill is to give certain voting rights to the member for the Northern Territory in the House of Representatives. I think the present voting rights of the member for the Northern Territory are well known to honorable senators. Those rights were established back in 1922 and they have not been varied since, notwithstanding the fact that in the intervening period there has been considerable development throughout the Territory and an increase of the European population.
It is important that full representation be given to the Northern Territory for certain reasons, one being that the citizens of the Territory are entitled to full citizenship rights. It has been stated this afternoon during the debate on another bill that the people of the Northern Territory are engaged in a pioneering crusade and are endeavouring to make the Territory a suitable area for settlement. Having regard to the fact that the Northern Territory is the nearest inhabited part of Australia to the South-East Asian countries, its importance increases daily, lt is strange that in 1959, after so many small countries have been granted self-determination, the Northern Territory, a huge tract of land exceeding 500,000 square miles in area, should not have a representative with full voting rights in the National Parliament. It is very difficult to understand why that should be so. Perhaps there are constitutional difficulties which prevent the member for the Northern Territory being granted full voting rights, or perhaps there are difficulties which can be overcome by the Parliament.
I point out, Mr. Deputy President, that for many years the principle has been observed that where people are taxed they are entitled to representation in the body which levies the tax. That principle has been followed in Australia throughout our governmental spheres. It has been followed in the parliaments and in the various municipal councils which levy rates. It is very rarely indeed that we hear people complain about the rates they have to pay to shire and municipal councils. But in the Commonwealth sphere, people who are seeking to make a livelihood in the Northern Territory are without full representation in the National Parliament. Those people are required to pay income tax at the same rates as are the people of the States. They are also required to pay sales tax. When we think for a moment of the way in which sales tax is levied, we shall appreciate how disadvantageous it is for the people of the Northern Territory to reside in that area, because sales tax is levied on the landed cost of goods at Darwin.
I come now to the matter of parliamentary representation. We have many migrants coming here from various countries overseas who reside in Australia for a certain period and then qualify to become Australian citizens if they wish. They are granted full voting rights if they do so. The people of the Northern Territory wonder why they are not given full citizenship rights so that they might have in this Parliament a member with full voting powers. We have dealt to-day with the Legislative Council, and we now have a very good idea of how that Council will operate in the future. When this legislation is enacted, the Council may be considerably improved, but no matter how well it functions, improvement of the Council is only a compensation for failure to give full representation in this Parliament, the major Parliament of the Commonwealth.
Laws that are passed here operate in the Northern Territory. I indicated last week the nature of some of those laws, and 1 also indicated who was responsible for their administration. From time to time, we have before this Parliament matters which concern the people of the Northern Territory, both directly and indirectly, in the same way that they concern the people of the various States. To have in the House of Representatives, representing the good people of the Northern Territory, a member without full voting rights is tantamount to having in this chamber a senator who is both deaf and dumb. The people of a democracy expect something better than that. Is it any wonder that there have been demonstrations in the Northern Territory over the years? Last year, there was a demonstration about the Legislative Council. The councillors sought a reform. Conferences were held, and the result is the legislation that we are now considering.
There is still agitation in the Territory for the representative in the National Parliament to be granted full voting powers. Of course, that is something that could be done. It is not impossible for the Government to grant such powers. I know that those who wish to justify the present situation will point out that in the Territory there are on’./ 8.000 electors. When we are considering that aspect we should also consider the area of the Territory. Those 8.000 electors live in an area of 500,000 square miles. Surely, in those circumstances, the people of the Territory are entitled to be represented in this Parliament by a member with full voting powers. The Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper) explained this afternoon that approximately half of the electors of the Territory reside in or near Darwin and that the remainder are dispersed throughout the Territory. It is interesting to note that, in 1911, the Territorians had greater representation in the Parliament of the day than they have now. When the Northern Territory was a part of South Australia, it had three representatives in the Legislative Assembly of South Australia, in addition to one representative in the Legislative Council. The probability is that, if the Northern Territory were now a part of South Australia, the 4,000 electors who live in Darwin would elect one representative to the South Australian Parliament and the remaining 4,000 electors, dispersed through the Territory, would elect at least three members. That would be the position, if the information that has been supplied to me by members of the Liberal Party, concerning the way in which the electorates of South Australia have been gerrymandered, is correct.
Every government must cultivate the goodwill of the people. One of the ways in which a government may do that is simply to allow the people to be represented in the Parliament. The residents of the Northern Territory must not be made to feel that they are aloof from the other people of the Commonwealth. If the Government wishes to cultivate goodwill in the Northern Territory, it should start by allowing the people of the Territory to be fully represented in this Parliament. We have before the chamber at the moment, Mr. Deputy President, a proposal to allow the representative of the Northern Territory in the House of Representatives to vote on matters which solely concern the Territory. I have made an examination of all the legislation that has been passed by this Parliament during the last ten years and I have found that, if that test were applied, on only seven occasions would the member for the Northern Territory have voted in the House of Representatives. I suggest that that is a topsy-turvy method of giving political representation to people who are doing meritorious pioneering work in one of the outposts of the Commonwealth. After all, it is a simple thing for which they ask.
The situation is a peculiar one. Various problems will have to be solved in the future if the matter is to be dealt with satisfactorily. I point out that the schools in the Northern Territory follow the syllabus that is laid down in South Australia. To do the teaching work. South Australian teachers are engaged. Much the same position exists in the Australian Capital Territory, where we find that the syllabus of the New South Wales Education Department is observed and that New South Wales teachers are encaged to do the teaching. The Northern Territory should be considered as a State, with something to achieve in the future. Tt should be allowed to evolve its own education system, suitable for the purposes of the Territory. This afternoon, in relation to other legislation, I heard honorable senators making statements from which I could only deduce that they had never had the interesting experience of travelling about in the Northern Territory. They spoke about closer settlement in the Northern Territory. My goodness, let us not have closer settlement in the Northern Territory! Why, we have more suitable areas in the Commonwealth which could be devoted to closer settlement. I would, perhaps, if I had control of the department administering land affairs in the Territory, divide Alexandria Downs into two properties and Victoria River Downs into two properties, but I would go no further.
We have heard about the upheaval in 1918 that upset the industrial life of the Northern Territory and prevented progress. I know about the matter to which honorable senators- on the Government side have referred, and the history of the incident. The events do not reflect any credit whatever upon the body which established that industrial concern, because it knew after establishing the premises that it could not make a success of the venture. The works had been established in Darwin, and it was not possible to travel the cattle from the stations in a manner that would allow them to hold their condition so that they could be slaughtered after arrival in Darwin. Furthermore, the firm had no holding areas whatever within several hundred miles of Darwin. It was a huge error on the part of the officers of the company concerned, and the way in which they extricated themselves from their predicament was to cultivate industrial trouble in the works in order to relieve them of their liabilities. At the committee stage, I shall move an amendment.
– I shall not detain the Senate for very long, Mr. Deputy President. I shall strongly support the amendment that has been foreshadowed by Senator Benn. I do not think that there should be any half-privileged or second-class members of Parliament. If we allow an area to elect a member of this Parliament, he should be fully privileged and entitled to full voting rights. I think that no harm would be done if the member for the Northern Territory were given full voting rights. On the contrary, it could be an incentive to greater development in that area in the years to come. I take that view because 1 have a lot of sympathy with the people of the Northern Territory. Because of their small numbers they are denied full representation in the House of Representatives. But, after all, there are just under 500,000 people in this country who have no representation at all in that chamber. I refer to those who support the Australian Democratic Labour Party and those who support the Queensland Labour Party. In numbers, 480,000 electors - nearly one in ten of the people of Australia - vote for those parties, but they have no representation at all in the lower House. Because I feel that that is a blot on the democratic system of this country to-day, I shall vote to remove what is at any rate half a blot or a one-tenth blot in the case of the representation of the Northern Territory.
I shall be very pleased to record a vote to endeavour to obtain full rights in the lower House for the representative of the Northern Territory, because there was an attempt not long ago in this chamber to deny full rights to members of the party to which I belong. The stand was very firmly taken that members of the Democratic Labour Party are not entitled to representation on committees of this Parliament. I objected to that suggestion, and I am pleased to say that the Senate upheld my objection. I believe that members should have equal rights. I will strongly support the amendment that has been foreshadowed and which, if carried, will mean for the member for the Northern Territory equal rights in the House where he sits to-day.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
.- I refer to clause 3, which reads -
Section five of the Northern Territory Representation Act 1922-1949 is amended -
by omitting sub-section (1a.) and inserting in its stead the following sub-sections: - “(1a.) The member representing the Northern Territory may vote -
on any question arising in the House of Representatives, or in the House of Representatives sitting as a Committee of the Whole, on or in connexion with a proposed law that is determined, in accordance with the next succeeding sub-section, to be a proposed law that relates solely to the Northern Territory; and
on any motion for the disallowance of a regulation made under an Ordinance of the Northern Territory and on any amendment of such a motion. “ (1b.) For the purpose of paragraph (a) of the last preceding sub-section, the question whether a proposed law is one that relates solely to the Northern Territory shall be determined -
by a ruling of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, or, in relation to proceedings in the House of Representatives sitting as a Committee of the Whole, by a ruling of the Chairman of Committees of the House of Representatives; or
if objection is taken to the ruling of the Speaker or of the Chairman, by the House of Representatives or the House of Representatives sitting as a Committee of the Whole, as the case may be.”; and
by adding at the end thereof the following sub-section: - “ (5.) In this section -
references to the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall be read as including references to any member of the House of Representatives for the time being acting as Speaker or occupying the Chair as Deputy Speaker; and
references to the Chairman of Committees of the House of Representatives shall be read as including references to any member of the House of Representatives for the time being acting as Temporary Chairman of Committees.”.
In my second-reading speech I announced my intention to propose an amendment in committee. I now move -
Leave out paragraphs (a) and (b), insert - “by omitting sub-sections (1.) and (1a.) and inserting in their stead the following sub-section: - (1.) The member representing the Northern Territory may vote on any question arising in the House of Representatives.’.”.
I have signed the amendment.
[4.2]. - I was pleased to hear Senator Benn acknowledge during the second-reading debate that, under this bill, the member for the Northern Territory will have wider voting rights than he has hitherto enjoyed. Henceforth, he will be able to vote on measures affecting the Northern Territory and also on motions for the disallowance of regulations affecting the Territory. 1 am sure that honorable enators will concede that it would be inequitable to give to a member representing 8,000 electors equality of voting rights with members who represent from 40,000 to 50,000 electors. To do so would vest the member for the Northern Territory with greater voting power than other members. For this reason, the Government is not prepared to accept the amendment.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 16th April (vide page 810), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– This bill relates to customs duties. The schedule to the bill sets out clearly what the measure will do. I shall not deal with the individual items because I do not think that 1 would be justified in taking up the time of the Senate to do so at this juncture. 1 thank the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) for his courtesy in giving me all the information that he thought would help me to a better understanding of the proposals. The Tariff Board considers very thoroughly all matters submitted to it. From time to time over many years the board has reviewed the tariffs imposed on the items covered by the bill. I regard the Tariff Board very highly, and look upon it as something of a judicial body that is not encumbered with a legal mind. The board takes evidence from any section of the community that is interested in tariff proposals affecting particular items. I have no hesitation in saying that any recommendation submitted by the Tariff Board is worthy of acceptance by the Senate.
Although the tariff proposals which we are now considering came into effect in February last, they will not become statute law until the Parliament has had the opportunity to consider and endorse them. Some honorable senators may have a special knowledge of some of the items included in this legislation; other honorable senators may have a special knowledge of others. Undoubtedly, we all are not au fait with all of them. However, we may be sure that the Tariff Board has considered every aspect of these proposals before recommending them to the Parliament. The board is an independent body. We are fortunate indeed in having such an authority to consider matters of vital importance to our economy.
The Minister, in his second-reading speech, has stated very clearly and concisely the proposals contained in the bill and, for that reason, I shall not detain the Senate by referring to any individual items. We. on this side of the chamber, offer no opposition to the bill.
– Although Senator Courtice dealt with many matters in his speech, I did not obtain very much information from it.
– Does the honorable senator wish me to refer to each item individually?
– No, I do not. I have risen to speak to this measure because one item relates to almonds in the shell, kernels, paste and meal - something with which all South Australians are particularly concerned. Honorable senators are aware that the matter of the importation of almonds was investigated and reported upon by the Tariff Board, as a result of which the board recommended an increase in the tariff imposed on their importation. The almond growers of South Australia appreciate the great assistance that the increased tariff will give to their industry.
Senator Pearson, the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) and I have been in close consultation with the almond growers of South Australia as a result of representations made to us by Co-operative
Almond Producers Limited to the effect that the growers were experiencing difficulty in meeting the competition of imported almonds that were not subjected to a high rate of tariff. Almond production is much greater in South Australia than in any other State. Without wishing to be boastful, I can say that the almonds, wine and fruit produced in South Australia are without equal in this country. The almond industry is of considerable importance to that State. For many years the almond blossoms have been a feature attracting many tourists to South Australia.
– The Government is not introducing tariff protection for the trees.
– I am referring not to protection, but to the wonderful almond blossoms that we have each spring. Owing to the great development of Adelaide, many of the areas in which almonds previously were grown have been acquired for home sites. All honorable senators are aware that South Australia is a progressive State. We have embarked on great housing schemes and, as I have said, many of the almond-growing areas have been subdivided and now carry homes instead of trees. We in South Australia do not begrudge homes to the people who require them, so we have moved our almond industry elsewhere. South of Adelaide we have a very fertile tract of country extending to Willunga. That area is given over mainly to wine growing, grazing and, of late, almond production. Willunga has now displaced Marion as the centre of the almond industry. We in South Australia are very proud of the fact that we are able to grow better almonds than any other State can because we are blessed with suitable climatic and soil conditions. South Australia produces about 90 per cent, of Australia’s commercial almond crop, which is very considerable. However, that is only 50 per cent, of our requirements. It is necessary, therefore, to augment our supplies from overseas. One of South Australia’s ambitions is to develop the almond-growing industry to the stage where this country shall not have to make demands upon its foreign exchange by importing almonds. We can groW many commodities here in quantities sufficient to meet our home requirements, and almonds are among them. I assure the Senate that South Australia has the country suitable for increasing our almond-growing capacity tremendously, and I am confident that in the not-too-distant future, provided reasonable prosperity is maintained throughout the industry, almondgrowing will so develop that it will no longer be necessary to import almonds.
It should be realized that almonds are important to our confectionery industry.
– For puddings.
– For puddings and other foodstuffs. The great confectionery industry of Australia requires large quantities of almonds. We can meet only part of that requirement at the present time. I am very glad that the Tariff Board has seen fit to give this industry certain protection. That protection will enable South Australia so to extend almond-growing as to enable the industry to meet the whole of Australia’s requirements and thereby obviate the need to make demands upon our overseas currency reserves.
The report before us is a most interesting one. It would take me at least half an hour to deal with some of the points raised in it because it is so comprehensive. I do not indulge in reading reports unnecessarily, but this is a very good one which covers every aspect of the growing and marketing of almonds. It stresses the importance of giving protection to an industry in South Australia which is of such great value to Australia as a whole. The Tariff Board’s recommendations are most acceptable to the industry.
I congratulate the board for the speed with which it brought down its report. There was very little delay between the time of reference of the question to the board and the bringing down of the report.
– What was the time?
– I am not certain, but I should say it was about three months. I understand there was a little delay at the beginning because certain matters relating to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade had to be considered, but the report was furnished most expeditiously. It says, amongst other things -
The Board examined alternative tariff devices which could be used to provide protection to the local almond growers when the f.o.b. prices of imported almonds declined below a level which would constitute a threat to the industry. In this connexion it finds that assistance should be by way of a duty, the incidence of which increased as the f.o.b. price decreased.
Rates of duty of 5s. 6d. per lb. less 75 per cent. of the f.o.b. value of imported almond kurnels and of 2s. per lb. less 75 per cent. of the f.o.b. value of imported almonds in the shell provide the type of assistance needed against imports from Italy, the principal supplying country. Such rates of duly provide the local grower with the opportunity to sell his products at the required average selling prices referred to previously in this Report.
Those prices were in the vicinity of 8s. 8d. per lb. for almond kernels. The report continues -
In addition, the rates also mean that imports of almond kernels and of almonds unshelled from countries entitled to “ Most-Favoured-Nation “ tariff treatment would be admitted free of duty when the f.o.b. value of the kernels is 7s. 4d. per lb. or greater and the f.o.b. value of the almonds unshelled is 2s. 8d. per lb. or greater.
It will be seen from this report that the protection is on a sliding scale, that it is not absolute, and that the industry will need to be efficient if it is to derive full benefit from the proposal. We know that the prices received by the industry in the past have been very high - in fact unjustifiably high - with the result that there was what I should call unsound development. The adoption of the board’s recommendation should put an end to uneconomic development of the almond-growing industry. It should put the industry on a sound basis and, while the growers are obtaining prices adequate to return them a good living, there is no reason why the industry should not continue to expand in South Australia and in other States to the point at which it is able to meet the whole of Australia’s requirements. We know that almonds are grown in parts of Victoria as well as in the irrigated parts of South Australia, and there is every possibility that this will become a very important industry in years to come. With the protection provided by the measure under consideration, the industry will become stabilized, it will prosper and expand, and the number of growers engaged in it should increase.
I am very happy to support the measure. I do not propose to touch upon the other matters referred to because I am not well informed on them. I have had a close liaison with the almond-growing industry, as have Senator Pearson and the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes), and we are extremely gratified that the Government has seen fit to implement the Tariff Board’s recommendations.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Debate resumed from 16th April (vide page 814), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– This bill is very similar to the bill previously discussed by the Senate but, of course, deals with different items. I am sorry to learn that Senator Hannaford expects me to go into detail on all these matters.
I assure him that I do not wish to refer in derogatory terms to the almond industry, but if I were to deal with the items in this bill I should refer first to the peanut industry. The almond industry is no doubt a very fine industry, but its production is not one-third that of the peanut industry of Queensland.
The bill deals with a number of items which are of importance to the industries of this country, but it is most difficult for us to assess the soundness of the Tariff Board’s recommendations. We simply have not access to the information that is placed before the board. Some one might feel that a certain industry is worth encouraging. The Tariff Board demands that such submissions be proved and their acceptance be shown to be of economic advantage to the country.
It is impossible for us, considering the bill in this Senate to-day, to assess the virtue of the amounts of duty, or the increases and decreases in duty, on particular items. In all these matters a by-law protects the consumer and permits adjustments to be made in customs duty and excise. Almost every one who goes before the Tariff Board feels that he gets a good hearing. Very seldom indeed does one encounter a complaint that a case has not been fully heard. Invariably the evidence is thoroughly sifted and a recommendation made which is in the interests of the nation.
Moreover, in most respects the board is absolutely free of government interference.
– And the board hears evidence in public, does it not?
– lt does, and has the courage to advise the Government when it considers that that is warranted by the circumstances. It might not please the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty), but we could have a long discussion on tariff matters. Perhaps some day we will have such a discussion. I should like to discuss, for instance, the general effect of the Japanese trade treaty. Such matters are important. I feel that the Senate can adopt these bills, which are so clear and concise, with confidence.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Debate resumed from 16th April (vide page 814), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– This bill deals with the subject of Canadian preference, adjusting it in accordance with the alterations in other duties which have been submitted to the Parliament to-day. As the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) has pointed out, there has been an alteration in the description of artificial silk. There are also a few alterations in drafting. The Opposition has no objection to the measure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Debate resumed from 16th April (vide page 814), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition does not oppose the measure. The only difference between this and the preceding bill is that it deals with
New Zealand preference. It does, of course, affect different items, but in reality it merely adjusts New Zealand preference in accordance with general changes in the customs tariff.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Debate resumed from 16th April (vide page 814), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– This measure is similar to the other measures with which the Senate has just dealt and relates to duties on timber and rubber, a question which has been under consideration by the Government and other interested people for some time. The tariff changes in respect of rubber and rubber latex are complementary to the alterations proposed in Customs Tariff Bill (No. 2) 1959.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Debate resumed from 16th April (vide page 815), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– We offer no opposition to this bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I crave the indulgence of the Senate for a short time to mention a matter of considerable importance to the Commonwealth and of great significance to Western Australia, namely, the subsidy payable under the Gold-Mining Industry Assistance Act. That subsidy, as honorable senators are aware, expires on 30th lune, and the question of a renewal, therefore, is now ripe for consideration. I seek the sympathetic support of the Senate and of the Government to my request for an extension of the subsidy now payable under the act.
I Will not delay the Senate by discussing the importance of gold to the economy of this country, because I feel that every one is fully seised of the importance of this product to the economy. It will lend emphasis to what I have to say if I refer honorable senators to to-day’s newspapers. In bold headlines on the front pages of the Sydney dailies there is some unpleasant news. One headline reads -
Shocking Cut in Lead Output.
It is followed by the statement -
A savage 33 per cent, has been ordered in production of lead from Mr Isa, one of Australia’s largest mines. The slash in output from Mr Isa mines will operate from June 1.
I mention that rather depressing news because it emphasizes the importance of gold to our economy. Australians and people from overseas have invested enormous sums of money in the production of base metals in Australia, but overnight can come a decision from overseas which can literally wreck the output of base metals in this country.
– In what way is it a decision from overseas?
– The Americans are not buying any large quantities of this metal. The output is affected by the American decision not to import so much lead and zinc.
– It is controlled by the Americans.
– It would not matter whether it was controlled by the Chinese. If we cannot sell our lead, it is not worth our producing it. The markets for our base metals, wool, dairy products and other products will always be in jeopardy because of factors outside Australia, but that situation - I emphasize this point - does not arise with regard to gold. The world will always require our gold. We will never have a situation in which the Americans, in particular, will refuse to buy our gold. They will always want our gold. That, I suggest, makes my comments of special significance to-day.
With all the force at my command, I ask the Government to give consideration, if it is not already doing so, to several things. Firstly, I ask for an extension of the present gold subsidy, and for an increase in the rate at which it is payable. I shall briefly cover that point in a moment. Then I ask for certain additional assistance for the goldmining industry, which I will explain as briefly as possible in the time at my disposal.
At the moment, the subsidy payable is based on costs of production. The formula is set out in the act, and I will not bore the Senate with the details. It can be demonstrated that costs of production in goldmining are rising, as they are in all other industries. The rise in the costs of production in the gold-mining industry has been such that the present maximum subsidy of £2 15s. per oz. is now considered to be too low as a maximum amount. It can be demonstrated that rising costs since 1956, the last time the subsidy was increased, have risen by 3.28 per cent. That percentage increase, in terms of hard cash, represents a need for an increase in the subsidy from £2 15s. to £3 6s. per oz. I ask the Government to give consideration to granting that increase, plus an additional 4s. per oz. to cover further increases in the costs of production which will have occurred by 30th June. By the time the new act becomes operative, increases in costs, on present indications, will warrant a total maximum subsidy of £3 10s. per oz. I ask the Government to give consideration to the re-enactment of the legislation along those lines.
– Up to £3 10s.?
– A maximum of £3 10s. Many mines do not get the maximum. It is a subsidy based on a cost of production formula.
– With a certain maximum?
– Yes. I ask that consideration be given to an equivalent increase of the subsidy for smaller mines. The smaller mines are not considered on the same basis as the larger mines-. The smaller mines get a flat rate subsidy at the present time. 1 ask that consideration be given to granting to the smaller mines a commensurate increase, because their costs of production have increased also. 1 wish to mention briefly other aspects of the industry, lt is important to bear in mind that the present subsidy gives assistance only - I emphasize this - to marginal mines. 1 express my appreciation for the assistance this Government has given to these marginal mines. It has had the effect of maintaining their production and of keeping many thousands of men in employment in Western Australia, lt has also had the effect of encouraging the production of a large quantity of gold, which has been of inestimable value to Western Australia and the Commonwealth generally. The subsidy paid so far has been intended to assist only marginal mines. Some mines are rich, some are not quite so rich, and some are comparatively poor. The stage has been reached when, I suggest, assistance should be given to all mines, and I am going to make three or four suggestions to the Government, on how that assistance could best be given. The reason why I suggest that all mines should get some .assistance now is that, irrespective of how wealthy it is and how much profit it is making, because of ever-increasing costs every mine in Western Australia, and in Australia for that matter, has resorted to what we call selective mining. The operators are taking out the rich portions of ore and are leaving the poorer grades of ore unmined in the stope. The slope is filled in and that gold is lost to posterity and to the nation. The more costs go up, the more do companies mine the richer ore. The life of the mines is correspondingly shortened.
That situation has started to make its presence felt in Western Australia, and the sad consequence is that even what we regard as being our prosperous mines are definitely in jeopardy. The factor that must be taken into consideration is not the profits those mines are making immediately but their future. I suggest, with all the force at my disposal, that if some assistance is not made available to those mines the future of the gold-fields will be in jeopardy.
There are four matters which I believe warrant consideration by the Government. The first and most important matter is one to which 1 have referred before - that is, the provision for all mines of what I have called a development allowance on a tonnage basis. That is to say, a mine should be paid at so much a ton for development over and above the development of a base year. The figure I have suggested can be regarded mathematically as being very reasonable and very valuable - namely, 4s. a ton. 1 suggest that we should take a base year from some three years past, and that a mine which is prepared to increase its development by, say, 10 per cent, should get an additional payment at the rate of, but not exceeding, 4s. a ton. I think that would be a most important and desirable form of .assistance for the Government to give to the industry.
The second point I wish to mention concerns section 12 of the act, which relates to the assessment of capital. I ask the Government, as I have asked it before, to reconsider this section which, as I indicated, deals with the method of assessment of capital. No mine - and I agree with this proposition - is entitled to a subsidy if its profits are at a certain level. That level has been assessed, and has been so stipulated in the act, at 10 per cent, of the capital. My quarrel is not with that but with the method of assessment of the capital. Curious anomalies exist. On the one hand, there are mines that have been established recently and whose capitalization is very high. Their percentage of profit in relation to capital is correspondingly low and they are drawing handsomely from the subsidy. On the other hand, we have a comparatively similar mine which has been established for 50 or 60 years and whose capital has been so written down that its percentage of profit to capital is extremely high. Probably the actual profits of the two mines are the same and their expectant life is the same, but whereas one company is getting a very nice share of the subsidy the other does not qualify.
Section 12 could well be amended. It is not a question, as I have heard it suggested when this matter has been discussed on earlier occasions, of writing up the costs or disturbing the balance sheets of the mine concerned. Nothing like that needs to be done. All I suggest, is that we look at the section. It will probably require discussion by an expert committee, because there are some complicating factors which I have not had time to mention at the moment. I repeat that an anomaly does exist. I ask the Government to consider an investigation of this matter. 1 turn now to a third form of assistance which I have suggested in this chamber before - namely, the giving of assistance for prospecting. Prospecting to-day is a most difficult and expensive operation and is done by experts, mainly by large companies. The days when gold might be discovered in outcrops have gone; but the days have not gone when much gold might be won by employing prospecting methods which require a lot of capital expenditure. In other words, we need money for diamond drilling. I suggest that in specified and approved cases the Commonwealth Government could readily approve a diamond drilling subsidy on a £l-for-£l basis. That would give an incentive to prospecting and exploratory companies to go out and seek fresh fields, because we badly need them.
A second form of assistance for prospecting would be to increase from 500 oz. to 2,000 oz. the maximum production that is accepted from the payment of a subsidy to small mines. I do feel that the maximum of 500 oz., which I understand was fixed somewhat arbitrarily originally, is rather low. A small mine is still a small mine if it produces 2,000 oz. a year. I suggest that this matter needs to be considered urgently. To raise the maximum from 500 oz. to, say, 2,000 oz. would give a small mine which is not now given any consideration something to look forward to in the form of a subsidy.
I come now to my final point. Because of the progressively cooling atmosphere which surrounds this industry, investors have got cold feet, if I may use that term, in regard to the provision of further capital. If this industry is to be saved - and it must be saved - additional capital will be required. Some mines have reached the stage where their plant and equipment are antiquated, but they cannot raise fresh capital. Vast stores of wealth remain to be recovered from those mines. If those mines stop, they will never re-open. It would be quite a good business risk for the Government to give a free-of-interest loan to enable some mines to re-equip. Such action is warranted in one or two cases that I could name. I shall name one; it is the Sons of Gwalia mine, which I think my friend Senator Branson knows very well. In that case, a free-of-interest loan for the re-equipment of the mine would return big dividends and would enable the mine to win much gold, which we could well use overseas to pay our debts. That is the fourth point I wanted to traverse in regard to the need for the Government to consider further assistance to this industry.
I conclude by replying to a question that is usually addressed to me when I talk about the subject of gold. People ask, “Why do you want assistance for a mine that is comparatively rich and is paying a dividend? “ That is a fair enough question, and I propose to devote a couple of minutes to answering it. I know many rich dairyfarmers in Victoria who get a subsidy, but nobody complains about that. If the subsidy was stopped, those rich dairy-farmers would complain very bitterly. But no one suggests that many wealthy farmers who get subsidies should not get them. However, I pass that by as not being a very pertinent argument in support of the suggestion that we should get a subsidy for all mines. I suggest that subsidies are not a unique form of assistance in the field of industry. The plain, blunt truth of the matter is this: If these mines that are producing profits and paying dividends do not get some assistance very soon, they will go out of business altogether. It will then be too late to give assistance.
I think that the timing factor is important in this matter. One should always remember that once a gold mine ceases to make profits and pay dividends it may close overnight. It may be asked, “ Why does not the mining company divert some of its profits to exploration for minerals, to further development, or to reconditioning of plant? “ The answer is that it does those things. What is more, in most cases mining companies do not pay very high dividends in relation to current costs. After all, the owners of a mine are the shareholders.
It would be only fair, I suggest, if the Government were to accept some of the burden of preserving mines for posterity, instead of leaving all the burden to the shareholders. Figuratively speaking, the shareholders, as the owners of a mine could take out all the rich ore, Close the mine, and let the venture go. Instead, they prefer to take some of the lower grade ore and accept lower dividends in order to preserve the mine for posterity and to obtain the maximum production before the mine is worked out. That is a responsible attitude towards mine management. 1 feel that the Government should accept some responsibility for the maintenance and preservation of such national assets.
Those are my remarks about the serious situation that has arisen in Western Australia. 1 make no apology for mentioning the matter at this hour, because I believe that it is important. 1 ask the Government seriously to consider what I have said, and I seek the support and sympathy of the Senate in regard to this matter.
.- Very briefly, I express the wish that the Government will consider the desirability of helping the gold industry. 1 shall not try, in a very short space of time, to traverse the extensive ground that Senator Vincent covered. I merely say that, within the lifetime of most people here, the gold industry was a very significant industry in Victoria, the State which I represent in this Senate. Yet, within a period of about fifteen years, it has declined from the position of a significant industry to one which to-day is of almost trifling importance. I understand from a well-known geologist, that there has been a revival recently of interest in gold-mining in Victoria. Obviously, there is still gold to be found. It is simply a question of whether it is economic to go after the gold. This interest in a possible revival of the goldmining industry in Victoria probably could be helped along a lot if this Government were prepared to consider reasonably the question of further help to the industry.
I have paid a couple of visits recently to Western Australia, which Senator Vincent represents in this chamber, and I have also visited one of the areas which is notable for the production of gold. One must be very impressed indeed with a town such as Kalgoorlie. When we consider that so many activities in that town depend on the maintenance of the gold industry on a sound basis, I think we all must have a good deal of sympathy for the point of view that the honorable senator put forward. I realize that the Government has many aspects to consider in this matter, and I know that some assistance has already been given; but I trust tha. we shall try to maintain the industry in the areas where it is flourishing to-day. In view of our need for gold, we should also consider whether it is possible to stimulate a revival of the industry in areas in which it used to be a significant industry, such as the State of Victoria.
– I wish to be associated with the remarks of my colleague from Western Australia, Senator Vincent, and those of Senator McManus, from Victoria. I believe that this Government has a responsibility to help to keep going areas that rely on the production of gold. If we do not come to light with a subsidy, or some other form of help, towns such as Kalgoorlie, which has a population of more than 20,000 people, eventually will be largely deserted. I do not intend to traverse the ground that was covered by Senator Vincent, or to eulogize each of the points that he made, but I wish to comment on two of them. The first is his reference to a subsidy for drilling operations. In this respect, I think that the industry has a just claim on the Government for assistance. The industry has had no increase in the price of its product since 1935, with the exception of the effect of the devaluation of the £1. In view of continually rising costs, additional assistance will have to be forthcoming from the Government if we are to keep the industry afloat.
I agree with Senator Vincent that drilling operations will have to be carried out for the purpose of discovering large ore bodies, it new mines are to be established and those in existence are to continue to operate. Drilling is a very costly process. It has been stated - and this is the thought of the industry - that in many mines at which operations have cut out, the ore body continues at depth. Recently, in respect of the great Fingal mine in Western Australia, a company was floated to carry out drilling and it was found that there was a continuation of the ore at between 3,000 and 5.000 feet. Drilling is now being done at 1,000 or 1,500 feet away from the place where the ore body was found, and if it is found that the ore body continues for from 3.000 to 5,000 feet, a company may be formed. It would involve a capital expenditure, no doubt, of between £3,000,000 to £5,000.000 to win the gold. The cost of drilling in that case has been very great. By the time it is finished, the cost could be more than £200,000.
In my opinion, the Government could well assist the gold-mining industry along the lines that I have suggested. There is a need for additional capital to be brought into the industry. As Senator Vincent stated, there is not much risk capital available at the present time. Therefore, if a prospector goes out and finds a deposit, it may be to the advantage of Australia for capital to be made available to him, once it is established by the Mines Department that the ore body exists and that there is a fair chance of success. The provision of capital would mean that plant could be installed at the mine to win the gold.
At this stage, Sir, I wish to pay tribute to the former member for Kalgoorlie in this Parliament, Mr. Victor Johnson, who took such a keen interest in the gold-mining industry, in conjunction with Senator Vincent, who lives in Kalgoorlie, during the years he represented that area. We now have as the member for Kalgoorlie, Mr. Browne, a young man who is taking a very keen interest in gold-mining. I know that that is so, because as soon as he came to Canberra he made it known that he wished to join the Government members’ mining committee. He is now the secretary of that committee. He has already brought up the subject of gold-mining and has requested that the committee, during the forthcoming recess, pay a visit to the gold-mining areas of Western Australia, at Kalgoorlie and surrounding districts. About ten or twelve members of that committee, at the request of Mr. Browne, will go to Kalgoorlie to have a look at the gold-mining industry and to discuss the problems that exist in that area on the spot with people who are interested in the matter.
I believe that the increased subsidy and other assistance that has been requested by Senator Vincent must be given to the goldmining industry. I support wholeheartedly the proposition that he has put to this Senate, and I hope that the Government will review the need for the re-enactment of the Gold-Mining Industry Assistance Act, and provide for an increase in the subsidy, as outlined by Senator Vincent, from £2 15s. to £3 10s. per oz., for additional drilling finance by way of an allowance of 4s. a ton of ore treated, for expenditure on development, for a subsidy on a £l-for-£l basis on drilling, and for government loans to bring selected properties into production.
– in reply - As has been observed by the three speakers who have addressed themselves to this subject, the Gold-Mining Industry Assistance Act expires on 30th June next. The Government, therefore, is currently engaged in examining the question. I assure Senator Vincent, Senator McManus. and Senator Scott that their views will be conveyed to the Government during its consideration of this matter.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 5.7 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 23 April 1959, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1959/19590423_senate_23_s14/>.