23rd Parliament · 1st Session
The Senate met at 11 a.m.
The CLERK. - I have received advice that the President (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) is unable to attend the sittings of the Senate to-day. In accordance with Standing Order No. 29, the Chairman of Committees will take the chair as Deputy President.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid) thereupon took the chair, and read prayers.
– Has the Minister representing the Attorney-General noted the comment in to-day’s Sydney press to the effect that a company named International Vending Machines Proprietary Limited had published documents described as audited financial statements of six associated companies in the group, but that nowhere did these accounts bear an auditor’s certificate? As this company is engaged in attracting large sums of investment money from Australian investors, I ask whether the publication of documents described as “ audited “ financial statements, without an accompanying auditor’s certificate, infringes any law of the Commonwealth. If it does, what action is proposed to be taken to protect Australian investors?
– I did see a report in a newspaper to the effect given to the Senate by the honorable senator that a company of this name - I make it clear that I know nothing whatever about the company, either good or bad - had published what were described as audited accounts, without having an auditor’s certificate attached to them. I should like to say that it was a newspaper report that stated the company had done that. Whether the newspaper report was true or false, I do not know. If the report was true, and if the company has published documents described as audited accounts without attaching an auditor’s certificate, I do not know whether it has infringed . Commonwealth law. I shall bring the matter to the Attorney-General’s attention and ask for an answer on that point. I should say, however, that if a law had been infringed it would be a State company law rather than a Commonwealth law, because to my knowledge there is no Commonwealth company law extending to New South Wales or, if this company is operating in New South Wales and Victoria, extending to either New South Wales or Victoria. If, on the other hand, there is a Commonwealth law, which I very much doubt, and it has been infringed, I should say the answer to the last part of the honorable senator’s question would clearly be that action could be taken in the way it is taken against anybody else who infringes the law.
– I direct a few questions to the Minister for the Navy. I must admit that I am rather diffident about asking them, after having listened to the extraordinary statement made by the Minister for Repatriation yesterday. Why should it not be possible for a nuclear missile to be dropped on a target in Australia, which is 1 3,000 miles from Europe, when rockets can be fired to the moon? If such a feat is possible, or likely to be possible in the near future, will not such an accomplishment have a decided effect on our defence set-up? Will the Minister make a considered statement showing how modern developments have caused a new alinement of our naval forces and the need for modern strategical methods in naval warfare? How is Australia facing up to the situation?
– In answer to the first part of the honorable senator’s question, I do not think that the Minister for Repatriation said at any stage yesterday that it was not possible-
– He said it. It was a statement in regard to the possibility of global warfare.
– I understood that your question - and I think “ Hansard “ will show I was right - was: Why should the Minister say it was not possible for nuclear bombs to be dropped on an Australian city? If that is the question - and it was, as I heard it - I want to make it clear that the Minister did not say it was not possible, but it was assessed that it Was extremely unlikely, except in the case of global war, that nuclear weapons would be dropped anywhere, and that in the event of global war it was unlikely that a primary target for such weapons would be Australia. 1 think that was the gist of the Minister’s statement yesterday.
In answer to the second part of the question, the problematical part - what President Roosevelt used to call an “ iffy “ question - J would say that if such a bomb were dropped on a city in Australia it would quite definitely affect our defence and other set-ups. The effect of such an attack is quite well known. As to making the considered statement asked for, I will keep that suggestion in mind and I think that perhaps during the Estimates debate, or perhaps not then, but in the debate on the composition of the . forces when they are announced, something of the kind could well be done, and I will endeavour to do it.
– My question, without notice, is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Has he seen the recent announcement in a leading daily newspaper to the effect that a young Paris financier - jimmy Goldsmith - is winning his battle to slash the cost of expensive drugs in Britain and is making for himself a tidy profit at the same time? Established firms arc deeply resentful of his price-cutting and opposition interests cast serious doubts on the quality of the products offered. Rigorous analysis, however, has established that this criticism is unfounded, and he has been successful in landing important contracts from the British Ministry of Health. As an illustration of the effects of Goldsmith’s competition, I mention that the prices of cortisone and of hormone tablets are quoted as having fallen rapidly from about £60 per thousand to £9 per thousand since Mr. Goldsmith’s entry into the market. I ask the Minister: ls he aware of these rapidly falling prices on the British market? If he is not aware of them, will he have inquiries made as to the correctness of the report and whether Australia is benefiting or could benefit by the lower prices offered? Would it be possible, or advisable, for the Commonwealth to manufacture these drugs under licence, or under the supervision and control of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization?
– The matter that the honorable senator has raised is one of some importance. I can only say that I will submit it to the Minister for Health and ask him to furnish a considered reply.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Customs and Excise a question without notice. Does the Department of Customs and Excise play any part in policing the ultimate disposal of narcotic drugs after - 1 emphasize “ after “ - they have been imported into Australia? What other Commonwealth departments play a part in ensuring that such drugs are legitimately disposed of? How does Australia co-operate with the United Nations Organization, which seeks effective international control of narcotic drugs injurious to health?
– In answer to the first part of the question, I express the opinion that once the drugs have entered Australia they have passed beyond the jurisdiction of the Department of Customs and Excise. I ask the honorable senator to place on the notice-paper the second part of the question relating to other departments that are interested in policing the ultimate disposal of the drugs. I will then obtain the information for him. I do know that the Department of Customs and Excise co-operates very closely at all times with the international body. If the honorable senator will place the third part of his question, also, on the notice-paper, I shall obtain a complete answer for him.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise. By way of preface I mention that the customs reception point at Fremantle for overseas vessels is, to say the least, somewhat antiquated and does not bear comparison with the customs reception points at most modern ports. I stress the importance of giving a good first impression of Australia to overseas visitors, including migrants. Could the Minister inform me whether the responsible authorities are contemplating the construction at Fremantle of an up-to-date reception point for overseas visitors?
– The responsible authority would, be the Fremantle Harbour Trust, 1 believe. 1 firmly agree with the honorable senator that it is necessary to make a good first impression on people coming into the Commonwealth by providing the best of facilities for handling their baggage. I believe that steps are being taken to erect a new building for this purpose at Fremantle. If the honorable senator will be good: enough to put his question on notice, I shall obtain the latest information for him.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for the Army aware that during the course of the recent manoeuvres by Citizen Military Forces trainees based on Puckapunyal - which, I understand, concluded at the week-end - station 3BO Bendigo and, I have been reliably informed, station 3CV Maryborough, broadcast as a news item that considerable dissatisfaction existed amongst the troops owing to the insufficiency of the commissariat arrangements? As both the radio stations I have mentioned have considerable numbers pf listeners in the area in which the troops reside, the broadcast caused considerable public comment. Will the Minister ask his colleague to make investigations to ascertain the correctness or otherwise of the allegations that were made, and, if they were well founded, to take the necessary steps to see that such a state of affairs does not occur again, and so obviate the feeling that all is not well with these young fellows?
– I thank the honorable senator for raising this matter. I shall bring it to the notice of the Minister for the Army and obtain a reply.
Senator- SCOTT. - I preface my question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, by stating that I noticed a press statement to the effect that the output of the tobaccogrowing industry in Australia has increased by almost 100 per cent, over the last two or three years, and that at the recent sales the total amount received for Australiangrown tobacco had increased to approximately £7,500,000. I ask the Minister whether this is a result pf the Government’s policy of insisting that before a rebate of duty can be. given on imported tobacco which has, been used in the manufacture of cigarette tobacco and cigarettes, a certain quantity of Australian tobacco must be used with it. Can the Minister tell me the percentage of Australian tobacco that the Government insists shall be used before a rebate of duty can be claimed on imported tobacco?
– The honorable senator is completely right in stating that the production of tobacco in Australia has risen quite dramatically over the last few years. In particular, it has risen dramatically in Victoria. The Murray valley is becoming a very great tobacco-growing district. This is especially so round Wangaratta and Gunbower, an area which produces some of the best tobacco leaf in Australia.
The improvement in the quality and the increase in the quantity pf Australian tobacco leaf have been due, in part, to the introduction o.f new strains, of tobacco, to greater efficiency in the growing of the plant and combating diseases which have attacked it, and to the market provided by local cigarette manufacturers for Australian tobacco. As the honorable senator has indicated, this market is encouraged by, and has expanded, as a result of this Government’s policy. The Government has said, in effect, that provided a certain quantity of Australian tobacco leaf is used in cigarettes, arrangements will be made for some rebate of duty on the imported component. I have not in mind the figures relating to those proportions, but I shall communicate them “to the honorable senator by letter rather than ask him to put the question on the notice-paper.
– I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister whether it is a fact that, in the Murray committers report, reference was made to the reconstitution of the Canberra University College and its possible affiliation with the Australian National University. Will the Minister give us some information about the method of consideration which has been given to that problem since that date? Will he inform the Senate as to the current consideration being given to the problem, whether it is by Cabinet, a committee of
Cabinet, or one Minister? Can he give the Senate any indication as to when a decision on this matter might be made known to Parliament? Finally, will that decision be the subject of legislation?
– I shall refer the honorable senator’s question to the Prime Minister.
– I ask the Minister for the Navy whether it is a fact that Indonesia has recently acquired two submarines. If it is a fact, can he say whether these submarines are modern? Is it possible successfully to arm submarines that are not modern with the Polaris or other nuclear weapon? If Indonesia can acquire submarines, which are a most important means of defence, why cannot Australia do so?
– I have seen reports that Indonesia has obtained submarines. I am not quite clear in my mind as to what the honorable senator means by “ modern “. There are modern conventional submarines and what I suppose could be called ultramodern atomic submarines.
– I was referring to conventional submarines.
– I thought the honorable senator meant conventional submarines. I would not like to say that a conventional submarine could not, at some time in the future, be made capable of firing a Polaris weapon, but it would be a very long time in the future. The submarine in which a Polaris weapon is normally fitted is of the most modern, atomically driven, type - designed to carry that particular weapon, and not others. The physical requirements - as to vertical height and so on - demanded by the firing tubes needed for a battery of such weapons would, I believe, make their fitting in a conventional submarine impracticable, but as to future possibilities no one can speak with certainty.
– As we are in the mood for asking questions, and have a Minister who does his best to answer them - which I very much appreciate - I wish to ask the Minister for the Navy how many vessels capable of service are now out of commission. How are officers and ratings affected when such vessels are put out of commission? What positions are found for displaced personnel when vessels are put out of commission temporarily?
– The naval vessels in reserve at the moment would be made up of eight River class frigates, one cruiser, one ex-aircraft carrier, one Q class destroyer, one Tribal class destroyer and certain other small craft such as tugs - with which the honorable senator is not concerned. When a vessel is placed in reserve, crew members who have not completed their sea-going time are immediately assigned to another vessel. A modern ship is not placed in reserve until a new vessel has been commissioned to replace it. Since the honorable senator has raised this question, I should like to say that any modern navy should have, and is glad to have, some modern ships in operational reserve; that is to say, not sailing the seas. Such ships can be brought forward very quickly. There are large, trained naval reserves, as all who leave the Navy go on the reserve and are liable to call up for overseas service. Consequently, it is possible very quickly to marry a crew from reserve with a ship in the reserve, and get the vessel into operation. Keeping a good, modern ship in reserve, capable of being used in that way, is a better business proposition than keeping all good ships sailing all the time. It leaves more money for the purchase of equipment for the ships in commission.
“PRINCESS OF TASMANIA”.
– My question of the Minister for Shipping and Transport refers to the decision made, I believe, by the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission, in respect of the men. employed to direct vehicles aboard the “ Princess of Tasmania “. Was the decision to employ members of the Waterside Workers Federation, as against members of the Transport Workers Union, made by the commission? Would the Minister comment, giving information as to the reasons for that decision? Secondly, I ask him whether it was the decision of the commission to grant to those personnel a marginal payment of approximately £6 a week. Was that decision completely independent of any arbitral process, and how does it compare with payments for similar work in similar occupations?
– The decision in connexion with the employment of terminal hands was made by the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission. Before the decision was taken, a great deal of thought was given to the nature of the employment of the men concerned. I do not have to repeat that this is a new ship, introducing new ideas and new techniques. The decision to employ members of the Waterside Workers Federation, rather than members of the Transport Workers Union, was arrived at because the duties to be performed more closely approximated those of waterside workers than those of members of the Transport Workers Union. I might say that the matter also was discussed between the executives of the two unions concerned and that agreement was reached between those unions that, in this case, the more appropriate employees were members of the Waterside Workers Federation.
This decision applies specifically and exclusively to the “ Princess of Tasmania “. It does not extend and will not extend to employment on any other ferry ship that may in the future be introduced into the coastal trade on any run. The decision applies particularly to this ship and was arrived at only after a quite considerable study of the nature of the work to be done. Incidentally, I should say that the formal agreement for employment was made, not with the commission, but with the commission’s agent, Tasmanian Steamers Proprietary Limited - I speak from memory - which is the agent for this vessel. As to the margin, my understanding is that the normal margin applies. The rather larger than usual gross payment that is made to the men employed arises from the fact that overtime is involved because of the schedule arrangements for the ship at both ends of its run.
– I wish to ask my good friend the Minister for Customs and Excise a question. Honorable senators will remember that, some time ago, I brought to the notice of the Senate a case concerning the unjust seizure by the Department of Customs and Excise of a valuable motor car, as a result of which a man named McCallum lost his motor vehicle. Certain procedures are being followed at present, and I hope that the matter will be settled. It was admitted by all who studied that case that a grave injustice had been done and that possibly unjust methods also were being adopted in the case of other unfortunate people. I now ask the Minister whether his department has taken further action to avoid future injustice in this matter of the seizure of motor vehicles.
– I made a clear statement in this chamber of the procedures adopted by the Department of Customs and Excise in matters of this kind. There has been no alteration whatsoever since then.
” PRINCESS OF TASMANIA “.
– I address a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. By way of preface, I point out that the new service provided by the “ Princess of Tasmania” across the Bass Strait, although successful, has encountered some teething troubles, as was only to be expected. One problem is that passengers using the seattype of sleeping accommodation have complained that it is difficult for them to go to sleep because of the noise made by other passengers whose desire to give expression to the exuberance of their spirits is greater than their desire for sleep. Has the Minister been advised of the numerous complaints that have been made about this noise nuisance? Are the authorities working on a plan for its elimination? In view of this unexpected difficulty, would it be possible to change from the present overnight schedule to a day-time schedule?
– I shall answer the last part of the honorable senator’s question first. It would not be possible to change to a day-time schedule. The construction of the vessel was based on the economics associated with night running. As the honorable senator is aware, provision was made for overnight accommodation following the decision in favour of a night schedule.
As to the other part of the honorable senator’s question, I have to say that it has not been brought to my notice that, as he now suggests, there have been general complaints about the noise caused by, as he described it, the exuberance of some passengers - no doubt due to the prospect of a holiday in Tasmania - keeping passengers sitting in the lounge awake. I was rather disturbed to hear of a recent incident concerning a body of passengers - I understand members of a football team - who rather kicked over the traces in the early hours of one morning. I have asked the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission to tell me all about it. The commission realizes that unruly or disorderly conduct must be eliminated, and it will certainly take steps to see that that is done.
– I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport: What percentage of subsidy is allowed to shipbuilding companies in Australia? Has it been increased lately? What are the depreciation allowances for shipping, companies operating in Australia?
– The shipbuilding subsidy runs to a maximum of 33 i per cent. It has remained at that figure since 1955, when the Government adopted a Tariff Board report on the subject. As the honorable senator is aware, this industry was recently before the Tariff Board,, whose report will soon be considered by the Government. I am not aware of the entire contents of the report, it having, as is the custom, been first submitted to the Minister for Trade. Depreciation allowances to ship-owners are the normal industrial depreciation allowances. There is no special allowance to them.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Trade aware that housewives in Sydney, and probably elsewhere in New South Wales are threatened with a shortage of ham and pork for the Christmas season? I know that that is the situation in my suburb and that the housewives are very concerned about it. Has the Government any plans for ensuring that the expected shortage will not occur at Christmas time?
– I saw a newspaper reference - but only a newspaper reference - in recent times, to an expected shortage of ham and pork at Christmas, but immediately afterwards I noticed that one of the leaders of the trade stated that the shortage that had existed had come to an end and that an adequate supply of ham and pork would be available at Christmas. This is certainly not a matter for the Minister for Trade.. Indeed, I do not know what Commonwealth ministry might be interested. I shall have a word with the Minister for Primary Industry, who would at least have the information, and let the honorable senator know anything that I ascertain.
– I direct a question to you, Mr. Deputy President. We on this side find it very difficult to hear what is being said in the southern corner of the chamber, but I understand that honorable senators in that corner can hear the slightest whisper from this corner. I suggest, seriously, that something is wrong with the sound reinforcement or amplifying arrangements in that corner of the chamber,, and I ask whether something, can be done to remedy the defect, because all of us in this position complain that we cannot hear.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- I am not aware whether there is some defect in the speakers, but I shall have the matter referred to the Joint House Committee so that the system may be tested, in order that the honorable senator will not be deprived of the knowledge that comes from the other side of the chamber.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has furnished the following answers: - 1 and 3. Commonwealth net taxation collections for the years 1957-58 and 1958-59 were as follows: -
These figures include wool tax, stevedoring industry charge, and export charges on various primary products - the proceeds of which are transferred to trust funds and used for purposes of the industries concerned. Refunds of diesel fuel tax have been deducted. 2 and 4. Information’ concerning State net taxation collections for the year 1958-59 is not yet available. The following figures relate to the year1957-58:-
These figures include the proceeds of taxes - such as motor taxes - which are paid to special funds.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied Senator Spooner with the following information which he received from the Presiding Officers: -
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
With reference to the fact that the federal conference of the Taxpayers’ Association, held in May, 1959, urged that the minimum taxable income level be raised from £104 to £260, has the Treasurer considered that resolution in the context of the last report of the Commissioner of Taxation, which showed that 164,808 taxpayers were within the £105-£200 income bracket and the average tax yield was 25s.11d., and that the average cost of income tax returns from salaries was 16s.11d. per assessment?
– The Treasurer has furnished me with the following reply: -
The. proposal advanced by the federal conference of the Taxpayers’ Association was, in common with a11 other proposals for amendment of the income tax law, considered during the preparation of the 1959-60 Budget.
The particular resolution referred to by the honorable senator, urging that the minimum taxable income be raised from £104 to £260, involves a number of aspects of government policy. It should not be assumed that adoption of the proposal would involve a revenue loss of only the tax now paid by taxpayers with actual incomes of less than £260. Many taxpayers have an actual income considerably in excess of this amount but a taxable income of less than £260. In fact, over 300,000 taxpayers would be exempted from income tax under the proposal. In addition, the revenue now received from all taxpayers with taxable incomesin excess of £260 could be diminished substantially and would be in respect of those slightly in excess of £260 as it would be necessary to ensure that the tax paid by these taxpayers was not. excessive having regard to the amount of their taxable income in excess of the new exemption level.
It is relevant to bear in mind that the present levy on incomes in Australia is a combined levy of income tax and social services contribution. In some other countries notably United Kingdom and New Zealand, a separate levy for social services purposes is imposed and these separate levies fall on very much lower annual incomes than does the Australian income tax and social services contribution.
Since the average cost of assessing the returns of salary and wage earners in 1956-57 was 16s.11d. per assessment, it may be readily deduced that the cost of assessing returns with incomes immediately in excess of the exemption point is considerably lower than 16s.11d. per assessment. Consequently, it would be illusory to imply that savings in administration costs equal to the average cost per assessment would accrue as a result of raising the exemption level. Furthermore it would still be necessary to assess a large proportion of the returns of taxpayers who would become exempt under the proposal so as to calculate the refund of tax instalments to which they might be entitled.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
Is the reference in the speech of the Treasurer to “ providing something by way of return on the additional capital “ for use by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, as provided for in the Estimates, in the way of a surplus of £10,000,000 or £11,000,000 of receipts over expenditure, a reference to an intention to provide for interest on capital notionally contributed to the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, as referred to in the Public Accounts Committee’s report, or is there any substance in the suggestion recently made that that surplus is intended only to offset future capital requirements of the department, for which provision will be made from Consolidated Revenue?
– The Treasurer has provided the following answer: -
At least over a period of years the earnings of the Post Office should be sufficient to cover overall costs, including a reasonable return on the capital invested.
The surplus of £10,000,000 or £11,000,000 to which the honorable senator refers, represents the excess of cash estimated to be received by the Post Office in 1959-60 over estimated expenditures to be charged to the ordinary votes of the Post Office.
Assistance to Migrants
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
In view of the plight of those affected by the “ Skaubryn “ disaster last year, which resulted in migrants on their way to Australia losing all their possessions and barely escaping with their lives, will the Treasurer grant taxation exemptions for a period of three years to those involved who had to begin their lives in this country under great difficulties, although such exemption Would only partly compensate them for their sufferings?
– The Treasurer has provided the following answer: -
The hardships of those who suffered in what has become known as the “ Skaubryn “ disaster undoubtedly evoke in every one strong feelings of sympathy. So far as the Commonwealth Government is concerned, this sympathy has already been manifested in assistance extended to the victims. Other public bodies have also helped generously.
An exemption from income tax would not, however, bear any relationship to the losses suffered, nor would it provide assistance where it might be most needed. Freedom from income tax confers major benefits to those with larger incomes while little or no relief is afforded to persons in lower income ranges. An income tax exemption is, accordingly, not considered to be an appropriate channel through which to assist victims of the disaster.
– I lay on the table of the Senate the following paper: -
The recommendations contained in the report will be adopted by the Government and the enabling legislation will be introduced shortly. Copies of the report are available to honorable senators.
In committee: Consideration resumed from 21st October (vide page 1124).
– Last night, I indicated that it would be permissible for honorable senators to discuss any of the items in the Estimates that are dealt with by the Minister for Shipping and Transport and Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge). That procedure is now considered to be inappropriate. Until such time as the committee determines otherwise, we shall deal with the proposed votes, department by department. We shall now proceed with the consideration of the proposed vote of £12,140,000 for the Department of Civil Aviation.
Department of Civil Aviation.
Proposed Vote, £12,140,000.
– When our consideration of this proposed vote was interrupted last night, I was canvassing the matter of increased air freights in relation to Western Australia and Tasmania, particularly the former. I think that the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) will agree with my contention that a considerable problem faces Western Australia, which is situated such a long distance from the markets in the eastern States. I should like the Minister to inform me whether any statistical information in relation to the economies of air travel was available to him when the matter of the recent increase of air fares was under consideration. I believe - and my view is shared by others - that a flight of 2,000 or 2,200 miles is made more economically from the point of view of cost per mile than journeys during which the aircraft lands fairly frequently to set down and to take up passengers. I should be interested to know from the Minister whether, on the basis of economics, a revision of long distance air fares - as distinct from short distance air fares - can be made.
It is reasonable to assume that it costs more than the normal cost of operation when airborne to get aloft the new types of aircraft that have recently been placed in service between Western Australia and the eastern States. Consequently, the cost of a long air journey in which the aircraft takes off only once or twice should be less than if the aircraft has to land and to take off a number of times in that distance. I should think that, taking into consideration also the cost of meals, &c, provided to passengers, the cost per mile on short hops, such as between Melbourne and Sydney or Melbourne and Canberra, would be greater than the cost per mile when there is a considerable distance between landings. I should be interested to hear what is the cost per air mile on the east-west trip, and I should be glad if the Minister could give consideration to a reassessment of fares payable for long distance flights, particularly those for interstate travel.
– I should like to make a few brief observations on the development of governmental control of the airways industry, in order to bring this matter into focus. This is not only the most curious form of control of which one could conceive; it is also intensely challenging from the point of view of public economy and political principles. I hope that there will be an early reexamination of the matter on that basis. I should like the Minister to inform me during this debate whether any examination has been made of the economics of the dual structure in the industry, as the matter ot economics is, I hope, still a factor of interest to the Government. I remind the committee that it was in 1946 or thereabouts that the government of the day announced a policy of a government monopoly of interstate airlines in the country. That policy was effective in the sense that it led to the creation of the government airline, but in another sense it failed, in that it would have been a contravention of section 92 of the Constitution to expropriate the private airline. So the matter went on until 1952. A desperate effort was being made to maintain the private airline in the face of what I think could be fairly described as intensive government discrimination against it, and then we sought to rationalize the position by means of the Civil Aviation Agreement Act of 1952. That statute gave the endorsement of the Parliament to an agreement made, not between the commission and the private airline, but between the Commonwealth Government and the private airline.
One of the expressed purposes of that agreement was to ensure the continued existence of the private company. The Commonwealth was authorized to give guarantees for the purpose of the company’s purchase of aircraft, and there was also a compromise arrangement with regard to ah route charges. In addition, a very unusual undertaking was given, to the effect that from July, 1952, onwards the air route charges imposed on the company by the Commonwealth would not exceed one-half of the previous charges. Clause 4 (5.) of the agreement provided -
Nothing in this clause shall prevent the Commonwealth from imposing air route charges by whatever legislative means and on whatever basis of calculation it thinks fit … .
That was to cover higher costs and other matters. That clearly indicated that the agreement was intended to bind the Commonwealth to exercise its legislative powers only within certain limits. It was, I submit, a most novel and a most curious agreement. I have adverted to it on previous occasions, and I trust that eventually I shall make such an impression that an examination of the agreement will be made from the point of view of the propriety of a Parliament restricting the extent to which it will exercise its legislative capacity to impose charges.
I should like to be informed by those who advise the Government whether a precedent for such an agreement can be found in any other British country. Has the British
Government or any other Dominion Government entered into an agreement with any individual taxpayer or any combination of taxpayers not to exercise its legislative powers except within certain limits?
May 1 remind the Senate also that there are contained in the agreement provisions which assure that the company shall have a share of the airmail traffic and that the rates payable to the company for the carriage of that mail shall be the same as the rates paid to the commission. I focus attention on those provisions, because it is strange that they should be included in an agreement the purpose of which is to foster those advantageous elements that come from competition. If the rates payable to both companies must be the same, that seems to me to obliterate competition.
Clause 6 of the agreement assures to the company a division of government business, as it is called. The provisions of clause 7, dealing with the rationalization of air services, have been, I think I am correct in saying, if not superseded, at any rate largely displaced by the provisions of the Airlines “Equipment Act of 1958.
– Mere by the 1957 agreement than by the Airlines Equipment Act of 195$.
– J am obliged .to the Minister. I have both documents here, and if the Senate will bear with me I shall bring the substantial provisions of both of them to its attention. In clause 10 of the agreement of 1952 lt is provided -
The Commonwealth will not exercise any of hs powers under or by virtue of an Act, including -a power to make regulations, so as to discriminate against the company.
That is an undertaking of the same nature as that to which I have adverted in relation to air charges. The Commonwealth there binds itself not to introduce into any statute a provision that would discriminate between the company and the commission. The second part of the same clause provides -
The Commonwealth ‘will during continuance of this agreement accord to the -company substantially equal treatment with the commission in relation -to -the grant of import licences and the allocation of airport facilities.
I can well understand that a unique problem develops when you are confronted with complete nationalization and when you have to mould & system of free enterprise in a country where section 92 operates. However, I believe that the improvisation - .after continued reflection on the nature of this statute, I think it expresses nothing , better than that - of the 1952 agreement now demands to be re-examined in the light of our experience. In 1952 the Australian National Airlines Commission was apparently brought to the trough and on that occasion actually drank, because it is now, together with the Commonwealth and the company, a party to this tripartite agreement.
– The honorable senator will no doubt recall the background.
– 1 am happy to be reminded by the Minister that were a few prodding suggestions from myself. The Minister is concerned to know why the commission was not a party to the agreement of 1:952. That agreement, conceived to prevent any invalidation of the legislation on the grounds of contravention of section 92 of the Constitution, did not then become an agreement between the commission and the company. In 1.957 we had a draft .agreement as a schedule to the bill. -Rather unusually, it was undated and no signatures appeared on .it. However, I have full faith that the agreement has actually been signed, sealed and delivered and that the commission has taken its draft In the terms of this agreement there is reference to an ‘extension of rationalization, the establishment of a rationalization committee and a provision that Ansett Transport Industries Limited will do everything required by the agreement, and there it seems to me to end. So it does displace the former ex-judicial chairman by a rationalization committee which performs what seems to me to be the same functions as those performed by the chairman under the 1952 agreement.
– It interposes that committee between the chairman and the operators.
– I am obliged to the Minister for that information. I come now to the Airlines Equipment Act. It is this statute which puts a considerable edge on my interest in the development of legislation in this decade. I refer in particular to that part of the statute headed, “Part IV. - Rationalization of Aircraft Fleets “.
In that statute, we find a dizzy formula, expressed in algebraic form, showing the intricacy of the matter from the point of view of actual consequences. But in reality, the principle of this statute is not complex.
This statute applies the theme of the 1952 agreement that it is the policy to allow two, but not more than two, major airline undertakings to have business in Australia. I can understand that the practical exigencies of government might require that, but it seems to me peculiarly incongruous, and in complete disconformity with the idea of free enterprise purpose, buttressed by a constitutional guarantee of freedom of interstate trade. I find that we support that constitution, but not by expropriating the property of either undertaking and paying, under the terms of the constitution, compensation on just terms in return. The agreement provides, as a condition to the granting of finance to the company, that the company shall comply with the obligations as set out, and that those obligations are defined in section 13 as-
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.-I understand that it is proposed to install carparking meters at the principal airports in the Commonwealth. If the purpose of the proposal is to regulate the flow of vehicular traffic to and from the airports, I have no objection to it at all. I understand that it is proposed to install these meters first at Essendon, Mascot and Brisbane. If the officers of the Department of Civil Aviation have investigated the matter thoroughly before recommending to the Minister that car-parking meters be installed at those three airports, I do not quarrel at all with the recommendation, or with the principle involved. But I should like the Minister to keep in mind the fact that children residing in those three cities are just as interested in airport operations on Sunday afternoons and public holidays as are the members of the flying public.
It would not cost the department very much to introduce a system of car-parking meters, and I see no reason why it should not do so because I am aware that man people park their cars at airports, and in the vicinity of airports, and leave them there for very long periods to the disadvant age of those members of the public who go there and remain for only brief periods. But, as I say, children do receive some entertainment from visiting airports for an hour or so on Sunday afternoons and holidays and, if the department, in its wisdom decides to install parking meters, I ask. the Minister to make an hour or two available free for all vehicular traffic visiting airports on Sunday afternoons and public holidays.
Another matter with which I wish to deal is the proposal to charge a fare for the: transport of airlines passengers from citydepots to airports. It is thought in many quarters that a new charge is to be imposed. I rise to contradict that impression. The; charge has always been made, butit has never been paid separately from the air fare. When flying was first introduced; into Australia the transport of passengers from city depots to airports was considered and the cost of that service was, taken into account when the fares for air travel were fixed. That is obvious to everyone who has any knowledge of conducting such an, undertaking as an airline.
We know that to give this service buses have to be provided. A bus costs in the neighbourhood of £4,000 or £5,000 to-day. Further, insurance has to be paid on the passengers while they are being transported from the city to the airport. In addition, the driver’s wages must be paid. Further, the transport service may be provided for at least 20 out of the 24 hours of the day. Such a cost must be, and was, considered right from the inception of the transport of passengers by air in the Commonwealth.
To argue otherwise would be to suggest that the whole business operations of TransAustralia Airlines and Ansett-A.N.A. have been based upon inconclusive costs, that ordinary costs were not taken into account when the fixation of fares was considered. Now, if it is proposed to make a separate charge for the transport of passengers from city depots to airports, the effect will be to add to a charge that is already included in the overall fare. That appears to me to be unfair - to be another way of increasing passenger fares. One expressed justification for the proposal is that in other countries free transport to the airport is not provided. I know from my own knowledge that that is true. One has to find one’s own way to the airport. However, in Australia the custom of providing free transport has grown up, and it would be a shame to change the procedure at this stage.
Air travel has become very popular in recent years. One has only to sit at the Mascot air terminal for an hour or two and hear passengers being called to board aircraft for various localities to realize that fact. It stirs the imagination to hear passengers being called for such places as Darwin, Mount Isa and Alice Springs. A few years ago we regarded those centres as belonging to Australia’s great outback. There is now no place in the Commonwealth which can be so regarded. I make that statement as a representative of Queensland. Our State is blessed with very good air services, which take passengers to the most remote areas. They are efficiently conducted and give satisfaction to all.
I repeat: The proposed transport charge of 5s. is paltry. I should have preferred the additional cost to be absorbed in the air fare - as it has been hitherto. There is no reason why we should fall into line with other countries in all these matters. If, as is claimed, Australia is the only country where free transport to the airport is provided, we should be proud of that fact and allow the custom to continue.
.- I rise to speak now because lack of time prevented my concluding what I had to say earlier. I was attempting to bring into focus the legislation of a period. I should like the Minister to consider the extraordinary nature, as I see it, of sections 12 and 13 of the Airlines Equipment Act 1958, taken in conjunction with section 10, whereunder it becomes obligatory upon the commission and the company to submit to a notice received from the Minister. Under the act, the Minister is to make an estimate of the total traffic, to determine the maximum aircraft capacity relative to that traffic, and then to notify it to the commission and to the company. In the notice, he is to specify the proportion of the determined aircraft capacity that is related to traffic on the competitive routes. Neither the company nor the commission may exceed that capacity. Where such a notice has been given, the airline may not perform service in excess of the aircraft capacity specified. That is to say, each organization, upon notice from the Minister, becomes obliged to limit services on the particular route in accordance with the times and frequency specified.
Again, where aircraft are used in excess of the number required to give those services, the commission and the company become subject to a direction by the Minister to dispose of so much of their fleets as may be excessive. Further, they may not purchase, lease or otherwise obtain or use any aircraft, unless the Minister has certified in writing that he has a certain opinion. Finally, an obligation rests upon them to furnish to the Minister such information in respect of traffic as the Minister requires.
Let us take the last matter first. The Minister has a peculiar responsibility in relation to the sound dispersal of public money voted for the Australian National Airlines Commission. In that capacity he is a business director, or super-director. The Government having engaged in this business undertaking, he acquires responsibilities for the economic development of the undertaking as well as for the provision of service in the public interest. Yet, in a free enterprise country such as ours, a private competitor is to be obliged to give to the Minister - the person with the chief responsibility for guiding the government airline - all the information that he seeks as to traffic! For the Government to have the right to extract that information from a private business undertaking is something to be permitted only in connexion with income or customs taxes - for the purpose of protecting the revenue.
One can see the abuse which could be made of this system - in hands of lesser integrity. Any private operator could be required to divulge information as to his operations. Moreover, he could be required not to purchase equipment, or dispose of equipment, or to limit his operations on certain traffic routes. Need we remind ourselves that Hitler grew in power by subverting parliamentary institutions solely because of the use of ministerial orders anc! directions which was permitted under the German constitution? Nothing more need be said to indicate the enormity of this principle as a principle of government. I know that it has been discussed on previous occasions but my experience of parliamentary processes leads me to believe that no apology need be offered for repetition.
Let me illustrate the attitude that has developed by reminding honorable senators that recently we heard Senator O’Byrne referring to the balance sheet of AnsettA.N.A. and demanding that the Minister should examine the economics of that enterprise, as if it were - as in fact, -in a camouflaged way, it is - another branch of the Minister’s department. I say these things not in disparagement of the efforts that are being made to construct this industry in conformity with the political events of the last decade, but because I believe that the structure that is being erected can have no basis of permanence, especially in the event of the election of a government with a policy which is adverse to private competition. This is a structure that cannot possibly be justified by political principles. From a practical point of view, having regard to the alternation of governments that is necessary in a democracy, we see a relationship between government and private business that has no hope of permanence. In fact, I think it has all the elements to destroy the system which we on this side of the chamber espouse.
When we hear Senator O’Byrne seriously demand that, because of the public interest, the activities of Ansett-A.N.A. should be directed by the Government and its economies made to conform to the outlook of the Treasury of the day, I think we have a serious pointer to the extent to which private business can be regarded as the subject of government control. We heard Senator O’Byrne refer to a suggestion made in the course of last year’s annual report by Mr. Ansett, to the effect that T.A.A. should be offered to the public so as to become in fact a genuine public company in which members of the public could subscribe capital. Whether or not that suggestion has any merit, I do not know, but it obviously should be considered in the complete re-examination of this problem.
I have spoken as I have, Mr. Temporary Chairman, because I think it is imperative that we should not acquiesce in the continuance of a system which is lopsided and which, in my view, does not in its basic elements conform to the principles of free enterprise which should operate in respect of the interstate airways business in Australia as in other businesses.
– Will the Minister, in his reply, devote a few minutes to expressing the view of the Government on the decision of Ansett-A.N.A. to institute a second-class or excursion form of air travel? I ask this question in, I think, the public interest. I have in mind what has happened in other parts of the world in relation to air travel, and I think that the people of Australia may be a little concerned about whether a second-class air travel system may not also mean second-class maintenance and secondclass safety. If the Minister could assure the public that that will not be the case, such an assurance would be worth while.
– 1 should like the Minister to state why the department prevented TransAustralia Airlines from buying Caravelles. The Minister has already given me a private statement on this matter, but I am not completely satisfied with it. Briefly, there are three reasons why I think the decision was wrong. First, T.A.A. wanted to buy Caravelles. I am not an expert in this field, but I think that the T.A.A. experts are quite as good as those of the department. Secondly, from everything I have learnt, the Caravelle is a magnificent aeroplane for the particular task that it has to do, although not for all purposes. I understand that the case for T.A.A. was that, for the particular task required of it, the Caravelle would be very good. Thirdly, France is still one of our best customers for wool, and I think we should reciprocate by buying from France not merely women’s fashions and things that we regard as trivial, but some of that country’s solid products. The Caravelle is one of them.
.- The speech made by Senator Wright was very penetrating in a matter which is of great importance to Australia. The interest that is being taken in the welfare of our airlines in general, and in Trans-Australia Airlines particularly, is much wider than I think the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) realizes. There is a widespread feeling that the application of the Airlines Agreement Act 1952 is all the time being waived in favour of Ansett.A.N.A. and to the detriment of T.A.A. As Senator Wright said, the position is lopsided.
If we have a look at the position since 1952, we see that the route charges which were at that time owing by Australian National Airways Pty. Ltd. were reduced by two-thirds. Subsequently, the route charges were reduced by 50 per cent, and frozen for 15 years, thus giving a very fine concession to A.N. A. Then there was a £3,000,000 loan to the company from the Commonwealth Bank, repayable in 15 years. The Government guaranteed loans of up to £4,000,000. lt also bestowed on the company a very fine concession by giving it the carriage of half the air mail. The company was given access to Government business equal to that of T.A.A. Half of toe air tickets for delegates to the Australian Citizenship Convention, which was held in Canberra earlier in the year, were issued by Ansett-A.N.A. and half by T.A.A. That was done whether or not delegates preferred to travel by T.A.A. Through the rationalization of air routes, time-tables, fares and freights on lines on which the two major companies were already in competition, Ansett-A.N.A. was enabled to move into a field that T.A.A. had developed through sheer efficiency and by taking the initiative in purchasing British aircraft which, over the years, had proved their superiority. 1 shall have something to say later about the trend to the purchase of American aircraft.
The Vickers Viscount has captured the imagination of the Australian travelling public and is gaining in popularity throughout the world. Expansion of T.A.A.’s fleet by more or less forcing the organization to purchase Electra aircraft has been an unwise move. Although the Electra is an economical aircraft and has a higher speed than the Viscount, generally speaking f do not think it is the ideal type of aircraft for Australian conditions. We should continue to use the Viscounts until the next phase of aviation development, which will see a more general use of jet aircraft.
When we consider the pioneering work that the British aircraft industry has done we cannot fail to be impressed. We remember the .great misfortune that the industry suffered in regard to the Comet I. aircraft. A great deal of research has been undertaken and infinite pains have been taken ito prove Ho the world that the British are engaged in aircraft manufacture for the good of aviation generally, as well as to make available to air travellers throughout the world the very best in aircraft design. That set them back for a number of years. The whole of the world owes a debt of gratitude to the British aircraft industry for the way it tackled the problem of metal fatigue and evolved aircraft such as the Mark V. Comet and other De Haviland types which will more than hold their own with the products of other countries.
I have already spoken of the initiative of the administrative and the executive sections of T.A.A. in choosing types of aircraft. We have reason to be proud of them because they foresaw, even at the drawing board stage, what the needs of the industry would be. They chose the DC3 and then the Convair, by-passing as far as possible the DC4 and the DC6, which have become obsolete very quickly, and going straight on to the turbo-prop machines. Now they are planning to use jet types. Their achievements are most commendable, and great praise is due to them.
We now find, however, under the rationalization scheme, that different factors are coming in, among them government influence. I have the greatest respect for the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) personally, and for his ability. He has many fine qualities. But I am of the opinion that only really top-grade men in their profession should make decisions in the highly competitive field of air transport. They should be allowed to plan to meet requirements and given freedom of choice. From what we have heard, we know that T.A.A. wanted to purchase Caravelles and Fokker Friendships, the Caravelles as the next step from turbo-prop aircraft, and the Fokker Friendships to serve outback areas. Let me say here that throughout the whole of its operations, T.A.A. has been a pioneer. It has opened up new ground, provided services of the highest standard, and brought isolated parts of Australia into contact with the more settled districts. Yet the T.A.A. executives were refused permission to purchase the Caravelles.
Then there was a sudden change of policy, following an approach to the Prime Minister by Mr. Ansett. I believe that the
Minister for Civil Aviation acted on the advice of highly skilled men who have the ability to visualize the future of air transport, but, for some reason or other, there was a sudden change of policy. AnsettA.N.A. was able to obtain finance to buy Electra aircraft. T.A.A. was told that it could not have Caravelles and that it must use Electras also. We saw how Ansett-A.N.A. was able to obtain Electras months before they became available to T.A.A., and we saw Ansett-A.N.A. moving in with that great advantage. It gave midnight supper parties on its aircraft, and took full advantage of the opportunity to capture the most profitable trade - that between Sydney and Melbourne. Ansett-A.N.A. cut so deeply into T.A.A.’s traffic that T.A.A. became very worried. In fact, some members of the staff said, “ If we cannot compete soon on equal terms, we will have to close up “. I submit that that was most unfair treatment of T.A.A., which all along has faithfully fulfilled its obligations to the Government and the travelling public. All the time we see this bias towards AnsettA.N.A., and against T.A.A.
Under the Airlines Equipment Act, the Government had to put up certain guarantees. It is hard to ascertain to what amount Ansett-A.N.A. has been subsidized or guaranteed, or has received the benefit of loan money, but the amount could be as much as £15,000,000, or even £20,000,000.
– I rise to order, and ask under what heading the honorable -senator is discussing this subject.
– I am referring to the figures shown on page 41 of the bill.
– I am satisfied that Senator O’Byrne is linking his remarks with the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation. He may continue.
– I only desire to know the item the honorable senator was discussing.
– I was referring to the “ Summary of Expenditure “ at the bottom of page 41.
Ansett-A.N.A. has received so many concessions and advantages, that it has become an octopus. We all remember the shameful bludgeoning of Butler Air Transport, when the Ansett organization obtained a majority of its shares. We saw also how Ansett-A.N.A. dealt with Queensland Airlines Limited and Southern Airlines Limited.
The agreement to which reference has already been made stipulates that there shall be two main airlines. One of the greatest pioneers in Australian aviation was Mr. Butler. He wanted to start another independent airline, but he was more or less pushed out into the cold. That is another example of the scales being weighted in favour of Ansett-A.N.A.
– ‘The honorable senator and his colleagues would push all the private banks out into the cold.
– The banks are much more interested in hire-purchase business at 10 and 12 per cent, interest than in developing this country.
There is another example of the way in which the Government has favoured Ansett-A.N.A. T.A.A. went to much expense in developing air services to Alice Springs, Darwin, the Australian Capital Territory and New Guinea. Now AnsettA.N.A. is allowed to compete on those routes, but does so only when it is profitable. Our main purpose should be to see that air services are provided and that they are operated on a proper economic basis, but Ansett-A.N.A. is hungry to get into anything that will be profitable, and it is aided and abetted by Government policy.
Another matter to which I desire to refer also appears on page 41, under the heading “ Administrative “. I refer particularly to Tasman Empire Airways Limited, generally known as T.E.A.L.
Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– by leave - Mr. Deputy President, it is my sad duty to inform the Senate of the passing this morning of Mr. Cahill, the Premier of New South Wales. Many honorable senators will have had a much closer acquaint.ence with the late Premier than I had. My strongest recollection of Mr. Cahill is quite a personal one, formed at a time when, as a youth in New South Wales displaying something of an interest in politics, I occasionally used to visit the Parliament of that State to hear the debates that then occurred. Mr. Cahill at that time represented the constituency in Sydney in which I lived. He was, and remained throughout his entire political life, the chosen representative of the people of tha! area. I believe that never in his political career was he defeated in his own constituency.
In 1925 he first became a member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, and since 1952 he was Premier of the original State of the Commonwealth. He was a Minister since 1941, and from 1949 to 1952, before assuming the highest political office in the State, he was Deputy Premier. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) who is at this time informing the House of Representatives of the passing of Mr. Cahill, will be advising that as a mark of respect flags will be flown at half mast on the day of the late Premier’s funeral.
– by leave - I feel that it was quite proper for the Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Paltridge) to announce the very sad news that he has disclosed to the Senate. We of the Opposition are grievously shocked at the news, because Mr. Cahill’s passing was so tragic in its suddenness and so unexpected. Things that seemed important in the course of the debate before lunch have now altogether lost their significance for everybody on the Opposition side.
Many of us knew the late Premier exceedingly well. He was a friend, as well as a colleague, and, when reviewing his career, one cannot help feeling that here was a life of high and very successful endeavour for his fellow man. As the Minister has indicated, Mr. Cahill’s lifetime was devoted to public service at the highest level. Mr. Cahill had th? honour, privilege. and gratification of attaining the highest political office in his State, and those who have followed events in politics down the last seven years - no matter what their political complexion may be - must pay tribute to his great personal integrity, wisdom and moderation, and acknowledge that the respect in which he was held by all sections of the Australian community amounted to a tribute to a very great man. Mr. Cahill was ideal in many respects. He served well his party, his State, and above all his country. 1 suppose that no man has earned a better and more deserved reputation as a family nian than did the late Premier. He was devoted to his family - I have personal knowledge of that - and one’s deepest sympathy goes out to them in the sudden and tragic bereavement that they have suffered.
It is very difficult at a moment’s notice and under the strain of grief to do justice to the life of a man like Mr. Cahill. On behalf of my colleagues on this side of the chamber, I pay the most genuine tribute possible to his work for his party, for his State and for his country. I feel that he has reached a fitting reward for a life well lived in every capacity and productive of very much good to the community. Mr. Cahill was well known in these portals because of his attendance at Premiers’ Conferences. His honesty, ruggedness and commonsense were attributes that pervaded all Premiers’ Conferences in recent years. We on this side are grateful to the Government for noting the fact of his passing and giving us the opportunity to say these few inadequate words on this tragic occasion.
– by leave - On behalf of the members of the Australian Country Party, I should like to say a few words on the occasion of the tragic death of the Premier of New South Wales. Mr. Cahill served his State meritoriously and well over a great number of years, in the last few years through difficult times in his own party. There is no doubt that he carried the banner of Labour well for very many years, and many will feel great grief at his passing. He had many, many friends of al! shades of political opinion, many of them made in difficult times. To his widow and family, we express our deepest sympathy.
– by leave - On behalf of myself and my party, I extend to the bereaved family of the late Mr. Cahill our deepest sympathy. After a devoted life of public service, Mr. Cahill will be sadly missed by both his friends and his opponents.
– by leave - As a senator from the State of New South Wales, I should like to join with the leaders of all parties in this chamber in expressing sincerest sympathy to Mrs. Cahill and her family in the loss of a devoted husband and father. Mr. Cahill has been associated with public life in New South Wales for well over 30 years. My first long association with him was during the famous Gwydir by-election which was held, I think, in 1937, when Mr. Cahill and I and other members were stationed at Inverell for three weeks. That gave me an opportunity in those days, when he was a very junior member of the State Parliamentary Labour Party, to get to know him very well. He became Minister for Local Government in New South Wales, in which capacity he did an outstanding job. He moved up to become Premier, and as the Premier of New South Wales he earned a reputation for honesty and devotion to duty that I do not think I have seen equalled. Right till the finish - indeed, during this week - he continued the political endeavour that he has maintained during the last 30 years. At no time did he slacken. As he became older this effort took its toll - apparently to a degree that was unknown to his relatives and friends. The climax came this morning, when this great leader died.
Mr. Cahill had an outstanding reputation among the members of every political party in Australia. Never was a finger of doubt pointed at this gentleman during his long career in public life. Indeed, he was the epitome of things that we hold good in a public man. He had his own opinions, and he fought for what he thought was right, always understanding the problems of those who opposed him. On my own behalf, and on behalf of other New South Wales senators who are members of the Australian Labour Party, I extend to Mrs. Cahill and to other members of Mr. Cahill’s family our sincere sympathy in their bereavement.
His death has broken the silken cord of love which, over the years, has bound the members of the Cahill family into such a devoted group.
– by leave - I should like, as a New South Wales senator, to join with the leaders of the various parties in this chamber and, indeed, with all honorable senators, in expressing sympathy to Mrs. Cahill and to the members of her family in the tragic loss that they have sustained. I have known Mr. Cahill for very many years. I well recall that when my father was a member of the New South Wales Parliament, Mr. Cahill was also then a member of that Parliament. I recall my association with Mr. Cahill when subsequently he was Minister for Local Government and I was the mayor of a municipality. Later, I had further association with him when I became a member of the State House.
I think that what the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) said regarding Mr. Cahill was abundantly true. He was a family man and he took a great pride in his family. He was a very devout man. He had his political convictions and he stood up for them relentlessly. Mr. Cahill was always courteous. In the State House when things were at times very tense Mr. Cahill, first as Minister for Local Government and subsequently the Premier, never lost his sense of dignity. As we know, he served as Premier of the mother State for a longer period than any of his predecessors. Looking back at the turbulent history of New South Wales, I think that is a very fine record.
About a week ago, my wife and I attended a function associated with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. Mr. and Mrs. Cahill were there. Mr. Cahill spoke to my wife and me and, indeed, he moved around and spoke to everybody present. He performed his task as the Premier and the host in a very charming way. The State of New South Wales has lost a man who has served it faithfully and well over very many years, and I think that the Labour Party has lost a man whose name will go down in its history as one who fought for the convictions of that Party. I associate myself with the expressions of sympathy that have been made in this chamber this afternoon.
– by leave–I should like to .join in the expressions of .sympathy to Mrs. Cahill. Mr. Cahill was a man .who served his country well in war and in peace. What always impressed me were his sense of duty and his courtesy. I simply express my sympathy -,to his widow and family in the words of Shirley -
Only the actions of the just
Smell sweet and blossom in the dust.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A, D. Reid).- Before asking honorable senators to express their sympathy to Mrs. .Cahill and her family in the traditional manner, I should like to say a few words. I support everything that has been said about the late Premier of New South Wales. I had the privilege pf serving in the New South Wales Parliament for twelve years with Mr. Cahill. He was a man who had .one purpose .in life - the performance of his duty in the way that he felt it should be carried out - and’ he kept in mind his objective of doing good for the community as a whole. Although pur politics differed, I always found that Mr. Cahill was one of the most courteous men one could meet. He treated all alike, irrespective of their political views. I want to say this: The State of New South Wales and the Labour movement have lost a very, very dear friend. From my heart, I extend to his wife and his family my deepest sympathy at his passing.
As a mark of respect to the late Mr. Cahill, I invite honorable senators to stand in their places in silence. (Honorable senators thereupon stood in their places.)
In committee: Consideration resumed (vide page 1 139).
– I feel that I should be wanting if I did not express to the executive officers of the Department of Civil Aviation my congratulations upon their efficient management of the matters entrusted to them. They are held in the highest repute in this country and they have reason to be proud of the exceedingly fine accident-free record of the department in the field of civil aviation in this country. The fact that Trans-Australia Airlines wa” able >to win -the world prize for air safety for a five year period was doubtless due largely .to the efficient supervision of the Department .of ‘Civil Aviation.
One must not look upon this department as a money-making concern. As Senator O’Byrne has indicated, the cost of operating the department is some £12,0.00,000 per year. In addition to that, last year some £10,000,000 was spent on capital works for the department, and this year something like £6,00.0,000 is scheduled to be spent. The direct revenue, apart from the proceeds of the tax on aviation fuel, sales tax, and that type of thing that come to the department is very meagre. I think it amounts to approximately £1,500,000 per annum. In looking at the matter on a mathematical basis, one might argue that the difference represents a subsidy to the air services of Australia.
-That is what the State railway services feel.
– I think that is quite wrong.
– The States, which are responsible for railways, are very keen on that claim.
– They dp claim that, but my view is to the contrary. I consider that the development of our civil aviation facilities is a major contribution to defence. If involves the laying down pf airfields, the training pf pilots and the ready availability pf aircraft and air services for the defence of the country.
– The same applies to our railways and roads.
– Yes, but in this modern age, where speed is required, I suggest that civil aviation facilities are even more important.
Secondly, I think civil aviation makes a major contribution to the development of the country by opening up areas very readily, by providing better communications, and, above all, by helping in the decentralization of activities in Australia. I do not begrudge money that is spent on the development of civil aviation facilities because they are important to national development. .In addition, there is a very desirable social aspect. Air services bring to the people of the outback areas amelioration in the form of quick medical relief, relieving them of worry on that account, and also in the form of some of the amenities of modern civilization, of which otherwise they would be deprived. I have never felt like examining the affairs of the Department of Civil Aviation on a purely accounting basis. The department is serving these major national purposes, and is doing so with great efficiency and success. I felt that before I passed on to the mundane things that are in my mind, it was due to the department that I should say that. 1 am concerned about the recent increases of the fares charged by the Australian airlines. I think it is a pity that that has taken place. I look at the matter against the background that in 1957 an excise duty of 6id. per gallon was imposed on aviation kerosene, putting upon T.A.A. an annual impost of £400,000. I said then in this place that that would lead either to a deficit in airline accounts or to an early rise in fares. The second forecast was the one that proved to be correct. Within two months, freights went up by 10 per cent, and ordinary fares by 5 per cent. Now, within two years, we are faced with further rises of a substantial nature.
I should like to remind the Minister of what was said by the Chairman of the Australian National Airlines Commission, Mr. Warren McDonald, when he returned from abroad last week. He was not talking about the jet age or the fares to be charged in the future, but he was reporting on what he had discovered on his trip around the world. He said that world trends were towards keeping fares down, cutting out frills and bringing air transport within the reach of every one. The fact is that Australia is not in line with world trends in this matter. Surely everybody will agree that it is desirable to keep fares at such a level that air travel, with its speed and comfort, will be available to the bulk of the people. An increase in fares, of course, does not tend to produce that result. An increase took place in 1957, and we are faced with another increase now.
asked the Minister whether he had considered the accounts of T.A.A.’s competitor, Ansett-A.N.A., before approving the recent increase in fares. Tn my view, that is a proper question. The accounts of T.A.A. are available to the public, but those of its main competitor are not. Ansett-A.N.A. is a proprietary limited company, and the public of Australia has no knowledge of its affairs. I take it that the Minister, before he approved of an increase in the fares applicable to the operations of that company, satisfied himself, by an examination of properly certified accounts of the company, that the financial position of the company justified an increase in fares.
– Would you remind us of his authority to approve of the fares charged by Ansett-A.N.A.?
– The rationalization agreement of 1952, amended in 1957, provides that there shall be agreement, and, in the absence of agreement, that there shall be arbitration. Without referring to the act, I cannot direct the honorable senator to the provision, but I do not think the Minister would deny the proposition that the matter comes to him for approval or veto.
– I understood him to say yesterday that it was a matter of agreement between the two organizations. That is why I interjected. I wanted to be clear on the matter.
– My understanding of the agreement is that the companies could not, without reference to the Minister, put the increases into operation. I take it that that is the position. I think the Minister would like to clarify the position.
– I approve of T.A.A.’s variations, which means, in effect, that 1 approve of the variations by the two airlines.
– That is so. The whole spirit of the agreement is that there shall be overall supervision. I was very interested in what Senator Wright had to say, and I was obliged to him for reviewing the agreements in the way that he did. He may recall that in 1957 I pointed out that the Minister, without professing any technical knowledge in relation to this matter, would become a virtual dictator and that the true Czar would be an expert official who was advising him.
I look at it this way: In the extraordinary set-up that operates in the interstate airlines field to-day, we have a disguised form of distorted nationalization. In the final analysis, both airlines are told, at the governmental level, what types of machines they are to fly, what routes they are to follow, what time-tables they are to run to and what fares they are to charge. They are regulated from beginning to end, at a governmental level. Surely that is a form of nationalization, resting on a precarious base constitutionally. The policy underlying it, as the Minister has said, is that there should be only two main airlines in the field. The position is that, with section 92 operating, the Minister could not deny the right of a third, fourth or fifth operator to be licensed. The type of control that may be exercised rests in the control of imports - a refusal to permit a third operator to import aircraft that would be adequate to enable him to compete with the two main airlines.
I agree entirely with Senator Wright’s view that it is a system that is unreal. There is a coercive use of import licensing to ensure the continuance of a policy that is forbidden by section 92 of the Constitution. I think it is poised very precariously. Many of the rationalization agreements might well be subjected to a successful attack in the High Court at the present time. As I have said before in this place, if an authority is appointed which may say to an airline, “You can only run certain flights on alternative days “, that certainly does not sound like compliance with the requirement that trade, commerce and intercourse shall be absolutely free. It may well be regarded by the High Court as over-regulation and therefore invalid. It may be that that will be decided one of these days.
Coming to the immediate increases, the Minister justified them on the ground that, between them, the airlines were committed to another £650,000 a year in additional outgoings by way of basic wage increases, payments to air crews and payments to ground and other staff of the airline companies. One has to acknowledge that that must be done. But there is one offset to that. The Minister disclosed it yesterday in answer to a question asked by Senator Dittmer. I refer to the additional freight that will be available to the airline companies. It will give Ansett-A.N.A. an additional £190,000 a year.
– In revenue.
– Yes, in revenue, and I should imagine that, as under the present set-up, the airmails will be shared equally, or as near to equally as possible.
– Does that accrue out of the increased charges?
– Yes. The Minister was asked about projected increases and he answered that they would represent an additional £190,000 a year to Ansett-A.N.A. I assume, by reason of the division of air mails between the two airlines, that there will be something equivalent in favour of T.A.A. I realize that both operators will have to bear additional operating costs in earning that additional income, but I should imagine that the additional costs would not bear the same proportion to the cost of carrying the current mails. I would expect that the operators, in carrying the additional quantity, would derive a very much higher percentage of profit from the additional revenue than with respect to the current revenue.
At times during the day, one sees very large aeroplanes flying with very few passengers. It could be that the operators could use those facilities for carrying the extra mails without incurring much heavier operating costs. So, in gross - I emphasize “ in gross “ - I should say the additional revenue of £380,000 would offset those additional costs.
I ask the Minister, when replying, to tell us, if he can, how far the Government expects these additional fares to go in providing revenue. Will they make up the other £270,000, the difference between the £380,000 airmail or postal freight charges that the airlines will collect-
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I rise at this stage merely to give the Leader of the Opposition an opportunity to continue his remarks.
– I thank the Minister for his courtesy. T should like to complete this theme and ask him how far these extra charges are expected to meet the balance of increased costs after allowing for a gross additional revenue of £380,000. Is it expected that there will be a margin after that? Can the Minister indicate to the committee how long he expects prices, fares and freights in this industry will remain stationary? What is his anticipation? Does he expect that they will remain static, that they will rise periodically, as they have been doing recently, or is he hoping that they may be reduced?
The whole case for the organization and set-up we have at the moment is that it makes for competition, that competition is healthy, yet, as we review every one of the operations of these particular agreements, we find that the element of competition is lifted out all the time. Take even the freights for mails. That matter has been disposed of on the base that the mails are to be shared equally between the two airlines. If there were to be true competition in that matter, then undoubtedly the Post Office would have called for tenders from those airlines. They would have been allowed to compete. I ask the Minister why that is not done. If there is to be a semblance of competition, why are not the airlines called upon, as all other mail contractors are, to tender? Let them compete instead of just carving the duck up equally between them and determining some freight figure. Even now the proposal is to reduce the freight charge that the airline operators will collect, and that will apply equally in respect of them both.
Look at their aircraft. Back in 1957, they decided to get different types. TransAustralia Airlines decided to get Caravelles and Ansett-A.N.A. decided to buy Electras. The Government, however, decided that both, had to buy Viscounts and, within two months, changed its mind and determined on Electras. Surely there was one element of competition coming into the picture between the two airlines. In buying more modern aircraft, they were competing with each other for the quality of their aircraft. 1 can see an argument in favour of the Electra by reason of the Allison engine and what is happening in the Air Force, and that type of thing, but it is useless for the Minister to put to the committee the argument that competition is being promoted between the two airlines. Tt has been completely negated at every point. I think that is unhealthy: I think that it is wrongly based. I agree with Senator Wright’s analysis in that respect. I am certain it will not be able to continue.
I should like the Minister, when he replies, to indicate whether, in view of the fact that meals will be cut down - some of them will be eliminated - steps will be taken by the Department of Civil Aviation to see that full restaurant facilities will be available at the major airports. I know that the Minister had in contemplation a bill to provide additional facilities, but I ask him whether he recognizes the urgency for providing for those who will need them full meal facilities at the major airports if the full meals that have hitherto been supplied in the air are to be either eliminated or cut down?
– In your view, does a full meal include liquor service?
– I realize we are digressing, and I am happy to go with the Minister. I digress with pleasure and I can give the Minister my answer forthwith. I should say “ Yes “, but I would also argue that those facilities should be under the complete control of the Department of Civil Aviation, the department that is concerned with the all-important factor of air safety. I should have no objection to it if that were done.
– That does not stop me from getting excise from it?
– No, I would not interfere with the tax gatherer. I am not suggesting that at all. Since the Minister for Civil Aviation diverts me into that field, I would say, “ Yes, I think it is a modern, civilized - not altogether modern, but civilized - form of living “, and I would acknowledge the lead. I can hear my teetotal friend, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Kennelly), who is sitting behind me, saying, “ Not me “. I respect that outlook, but I have my own in relation to the matter.
One matter which may not be immediately relevant to this discussion, but which might concern the Department of Civil Aviation, is the suggestion that helicopters might be used for services to a number of lighthouses over which the Commonwealth has jurisdiction. At the present time, they are approached by ship. Sometimes access is difficult and perhaps the service irregular and it lias been suggested that the Department of Civil Aviation consider some type of helicopter service that could go on regular trips to outlying places. Many of these lighthouses are situated in remote places. Can the Minister indicate whether anything has been considered in that regard? If not, will he indicate whether he thinks it worth while giving .consideration to it?
– A tremendous amount of stores is carried on the ships. I do not know whether the helicopters could carry them.
– That may well be the answer. However, I should like the Minister to address his mind to it and indicate the view of the department as to its practicability.
– It would be very suitable for the delivery of air mail.
– It would be suitable for many .things. I had in mind, especially, medical emergencies. As our lighthouses are under Commonwealth control, and scattered round the continent, it might be desirable to have a quick means of getting to and from them. I do not know whether the idea has ever been considered. I merely ask whether it has, and whether there are any insuperable difficulties in the way of giving practical effect to it.
Is the Minister in a position to indicate the anticipated additional revenue, to either Ansett-A.N.A., or Trans-Australia Airlines, from the imposition of the 5s. charge for transport to and from airports? Is it intended that T.A.A., for instance, will continue to operate its own buses, or will the service be let to outside contractors?
– I shall take this opportunity of answering as many queries as I have been able to note while the debate has been proceeding. Senator O’Byrne, who spoke first, pointed out that .the report of the Australian National Airlines Commission on the operations of Trans-Australia Airlines had not been tabled. I regret that omission. This is the first year since I have been Minister when that has happened. I agree with the honorable senator that, for the purposes of a debate of this nature, it is desirable to have the report available. The commission has informed me that priming difficulties prevented its getting the report to me in time, and that it cannot now be expected before 5th November.
The honorable senator also referred to the absence from the Appropriation Bill itself of the summary of revenue which appears in the document, “ Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure”. The explanation is simple, in that the document, as the name implies, relates to estimates of receipts and expenditure, and that the bill is one to appropriate moneys. Naturally, therefore, the bill would not contain references to revenue.
The honorable senator referred specifically to the item in the summary of revenue concerning the payment of £195,000 which was in the nature of a dividend, by the Australian National Airlines Commission. When the revenue estimates were prepared it was thought that a dividend equivalent to 4 per cent, on average capital would be paid, but it has since been decided that a larger dividend, of approximately 5 per cent., would be possible. Other aspects of the remarks of Senator O’Byrne, and of Senator McKenna, I hope to take up when I am referring to what was said by Senator Wright.
J should like to thank Senator Cooke for his very generous and, if I may say so, well deserved, tribute to the officers of the Department of Civil Aviation. Generally speaking, they are a most devoted body of men. The interest in civil aviation of many derives from their service with the Royal Australian Air Force during the war. They have carried into the sphere .of civil aviation all the keenness, .energy and drive which made that arm of our fighting forces so magnificent in those days.
Senator Cooke referred to the variation in staff numbers. I am advised that Part VIII. of the Schedule relates only to salaries and allowances for established positions - to permanent staff. There are, of course, temporary employees who are not included in the Schedule. The increase in permanent or established positions numbers 86. Small increases in positions, which have not necessarily been filled, have occurred in several designations, mainly that of technicianintraining, aircraft surveyor, and air traffic controller. The actual increase in staff between June, 1958., and June, ‘1959, was approximately 60, the bulk of whom were technicians-in-training, ‘but -since July last the total staff employed has decreased by approximately 50- -so the -relative numbers have remained very much the same.
asked whether 1 had had he opportunity, .or interest, to look at transport costs on :the .longer hauls - he mentioned Western Australia .especially - compared with those on the shorter hauls of the east coast. I have certainly done so. lt fis a constant and most fascinating exercise which occupies any idle moments that I may have. Without going into details, may *1 just say that while he is quite correct in assuming that the longer hauls would tend to decrease costs per seat, or passenger mile, the smaller load factor obtained on the western route - which counts so much in aerial economics - tends .to increase costs per mile. When the recent increases were made, uniformity was .accepted as being the fairest way of making the change. That decision was reached only after a very thorough analysis of .the situation had been made.
Senator Benn was (.concerned about payment for parking at aerodromes. He had no quarrel with its purpose, insofar as it regulated traffic, but had considerable misgivings as to the .propriety of charging people for -the use of airports for parking. Public expenditure on airports has reached such a scale that the imposition of a parking fee seems to me to be .completely justified. 1 quite realize that :at weekends many people go to airports for : the simple .pleasure and education of seeing aircraft in .action, and of finding out something about air operations. If that is to be regarded as a form of relaxation or entertainment, the imposition of the parking fee charged is surely a low price to pay for such [entertainment.
Let us -compare ‘the position of Australian airports with that -of -airports overseas, where the same conditions apply but where greater numbers of people go to airports for the reasons that people go to them in this country. The airport authorities in other countries make a practice of extracting revenue by every possible means. In many cases, not only is there an entrance fee, but there is also a parking fee, -while other charges are imposed for -entry into “various parts of the terminal. Many forms of revenue raising, in addition to the imposition of entrance fees, are engaged in. A revenue-raising method which is very popular in America, for example, is the playing of records which tell the history of the development of certain aspects of the airport and of aviation -generally.
– Are American airports publicly-owned?
– Not federallyowned, but publicly-owned, in that many of them .are .owned by local authorities, municipalities or States. I think I am right in saying that in America there is only one federally-owned airport and that that is the airport at Washington. I understand that the other airports in the United States are owned either by State authorities or, as is more usual, by local authorities. Because of the attraction which airports offer to people generally and to children particularly, recreation facilities, such as swings for children and picnicking areas for families, have been provided. All those things cost money. While we recognize the interest that .the public displays in aviation, we aim to get back, by a modest charge, some of the costs involved.
Senator Ormonde was interested in the development of an economy-class fare and the possibility that the equipment used for economy-class air travel might -not reach the standards of operational safety that would apply to aircraft on which higher fares were charged. He asked for an assurance that there would be no possibilty of danger or of a down-turn in safety standards. I can certainly give him such an assurance. As I have said in this chamber time and again, every .aircraft that flies in Australia must achieve a. safety standard which is the highest in the world. Senator Ormonde may be assured that if economy travel is provided there will be no such thing as a second-class or an economy-class standard of safety. The standard will be the same as it is at present.
asked me to say something about the decision not to buy Caravelle aircraft. I do so -with some diffidence because this is a subject which has been debated at length over a long period. Also, one of the unfortunate side effects of such debates is that they may be interpreted to indicate a lower standard in respect of one aircraft as against another. Senator
McCallum put his finger right on the nub of the problem when he said that the Caravelle had been described as an aircraft which could do the job. That is the criterion on which an aircraft is chosen. An aircraft is not rejected because it is of inferior quality. That could be so, but in this case it certainly was not so. I do not know of any instance in which it could be said of an aircraft of modern manufacture, “ That is of inferior quality “. The selection of aircraft is a matter of finding a type which best suits the job which has to be done in your airline system.
Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
– I rise merely to give the Minister the opportunity to proceed.
– 1 thank the Leader of the Opposition for his courtesy. I shall be as brief as I can be.
As Senator McCallum pointed out, it would be desirable for Australia to buy, as far as possible, goods of French manufacture. But in civil aviation one has to apply other tests. I think that in the conversation to which the honorable senator referred, I mentioned the fact that the Government, as a matter of policy, had decided that the introduction of pure jet aircraft into the domestic pattern necessarily would be delayed for some years for the simple reason that our aerodromes were not ready to receive them. The position of an airport from which a small number of aircraft operates weekly is completely different from that of an airport which has to cater for arrivals and departures of aircraft which, in the case of many Australian airports to-day, are becoming almost as regular, it seems, as buses arriving at and leaving bus terminals.
The preparation of airports is not concerned exclusively with the construction of run-ways or taxi-ways. In this respect, I refer particularly to the remodelling and the conversion of the hard-stand in front of terminal buildings, and to the conditioning of terminal buildings so that neither the buildings nor the people who use them will be subjected to the nuisances which necessarily go along with jet aircraft, such as heat, blast and that sort of thing. An aspect of jet operations which is important in airport planning is that you cannot line up jet aircraft on a hard-stand as you line up ordinary piston aircraft. Jet aircraft have to be positioned in such a way that the starting of the engines of one jet aircraft will not affect other aircraft in the vicinity. In other words, and to over-simplify the matter, it is a question of angle parking as against horizontal parking, with all the problems that that brings in relation to an airport.
Another factor which the Government considered in regard to this matter was the prevention of a rat race in connexion with aircraft. It has happened all too frequently in other countries, and the economies of the airlines have suffered grievously as a result. If one type of jet aircraft had been introduced, the immediate result would have been the introduction of another type, costing more, and imposing a heavier burden on the economy of the airlines. A third, and possibly the main reason, was the economics of operation and the suitability of the aircraft for the job to be done. After an exhaustive study, during which I admit there were differences of opinion among the experts, the decision was made that, in all the circumstances and for the purposes of this phase of the reequipment programme, the Electra was the most suitable aircraft. If I may say so, the operational experience with the Electra, compared with the operational experience with other aircraft which were considered, indicates that our choice of the Electra was a good one.
The Leader of the Opposition posed a number of questions, the first of which related to fares. I do not think that 1 need add anything to what I said yesterday. There have been increased costs, and I have already referred to some of them. Those costs had to be recovered, and consequently an increase of fares was inescapable. The Leader of the Opposition stated that Mr. Warren McDonald had said that the tendency overseas was towards lower fares. That is true, but the honorable senator did not mention that that tendency was accompanied by a lower standard of service. He knows, for example, that tourist passage is the usual passage in all continental countries. First-class travel, or luxury travel as it is described in most countries, corresponds to the ordinary form of travel in Australia. That standard of service is not used to nearly the same extent in those countries as it is in Australia. We in Australia enjoy, and have enjoyed for years, low fares. If continental countries are moving in the direction of lower fares, it merely means that they are moving towards the level of fares in this country. As I pointed out yesterday, fares in Australia, despite the recent variations, are still lower than in most other countries. Reference has also been made to the restaurant facilities provided for airline travellers in Australia. It is my hope that we shall be able to provide at airports the restaurant and other facilities which the travelling public, as a matter of course, enjoy in most other countries of the world. How quickly that can be done depends entirely upon the attitude of the Parliament towards legislation which I hope will be introduced in the near future. I do not commit myself in this connexion, because certain legal aspects require me to have further and closer consultation with the AttorneyGeneral.
Senator Kendall, by interjection, has already given the answer to the suggestion that helicopters should be used to convey supplies to lighthouses. The bulk and weight of the stores would be such that transfer by helicopter would not be a suitable method. There is an increasing use of helicopters for work of a rescue nature, sometimes involving lighthouse personnel, but I do not think that the transfer of goods by helicopter to lighthouses is a practical proposition.
I am afraid that I cannot give the Leader of the Opposition any estimate of the additional revenue expected to result from the charge of 5s. for passengers travelling between air terminals and city depots. It is estimated that less than 40 per cent, of the persons using aeroplanes travel to and from the airports in buses provided by the airline companies. Moreover, the figures show that that percentage is progressively falling. At this stage I cannot answer the particular question that was directed to me. As to the development of bus services by private enterprise, that is a question to which both of the major operators, in consultation, will direct their attention at a time when it is thought right and expedient to replace the buses, or cease the services which now operate at heavy losses. If I can anticipate an apprehension that I sense in the mind of the Leader of the Opposition I would say that I believe that if this bus service were provided by a private operator, at least one of the parties to the agreement would insist that that operator was not connected with the operation of airways.
Senator Wright referred to the 1952 agreement and to the unusual features it contained. Looking at the agreement now, we must agree that some of its features are unusual. I was a very new member of the Parliament during the period that led up to the 1952 crisis, so I do not know as much about it as do some other people here, but I have always imagined that the provisions are there because of the quite unusual position that, had been created by the events that preceded the agreement. The agreement was concluded in an atmosphere of fear that the private enterprise entity in civil aviation, which had just narrowly escaped nationalization, would subsequently be subjected to a further threat of that kind. The 1952 agreement was designed in that atmosphere, for the purpose of removing that threat as far as it was possible to do so, and of creating in the public mind a psychological reaction against the implementation of the threat of nationalization in the future. As the airlines situation developed, in 1957, we were faced, for other reasons, with a newer crisis that looked like having the same effect as the nationalization threat that preceded the 1952 agreement.
Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
– I rise, if I may, merely to permit the Minister to continue with his speech.
– I thank Senator Wright very much. I am extremely sorry to have taken so long. In 1957, the major private enterprise entity again looked like going out of existence. The policy of this Government ever since 1952 and the political principle that was involved were that there should be maintained a major private enterprise entity in the civil aviation field. The 1957 agreement and, subsequently, the Airlines Equipment Act of last year, which appears to lay on the major private enterprise operator certain very great restrictions, were designed for the purpose of ensuring that that private enterprise operator, who admittedly was placed under control in respect of some aspects of his operations, could take advantage of a government guarantee which assured him of equipment that would give him a chance to compete with the government owned airline. Senator Wright has said that it is opposed to the political principles of the Government parties that such restrictions should be written into legislation.
– .Not merely that they should be expressed, but also that they should be imposed.
– Very well. There is another side of the picture. The private enterprise people had outstanding, under the 1952 agreement, amounts of loans that were carried by the Government. The act to which I have referred gave them further guarantees. They were enjoying very real benefits provided by the Government and, therefore, it was obviously the duty of the Government to see that its investment or its contingent commitment was protected by imposing not on one major operator only but on both major operators, conditions which would prevent them from following policies which could bring disastrous results to the industry. We had watched such developments occur in other countries. It is true enough that at a first glance this legislation appears to impose severe restrictions, but at a second glance it becomes immediately obvious that the other side of the picture is that great benefits flowed to the major private operator.
Senator Wright says that the arrangement will not work and that it cannot last for ever. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) says that it is an unreal situation. I have held this portfolio just long enough to learn not to look into the crystal ball, and I do not intend to do that. This is an industry in which events move quickly and conditions change very quickly. In the 1958 legislation, for example, there was provision for the major private operator to finance the purchase of not only frontline equipment but also his Fokker-
Friendship equipment by government guarantee. He found that in the course of time he did not want to avail himself of the government guarantee in respect of the Fokker-Friendship aircraft. And he also found, as did the government operator, that by virtue of increased aerial traffic in Australia civil aviation overall was in a somewhat better situation than had been foreseen even as recently as when we passed the airlines equipment legislation in 1958..
In the light of those quick changes, 1 would not attempt to forecast what might happen in the future. It is quite possible that the major private operator will, even sooner than he thought possible, get himself out of his obligations under the 1958- act. But let rae also say that it is the declared policy of this Government that there shall me two major airlines in Australia and while this Government remains inoffice there will be two major airlines in Australia, and one of them will be TransAustralia Airlines,, under the control of the Australian National Airlines CommissionThere are good historical reasons for that. Maybe I am rather optimistic when I say that conditions are moving so fast that it is not impossible that in the future there may be some different legislation, but there will always be, while this Government is in office, two airlines.
.- T direct the committee’s attention to an itemthat is very minute in terms of actual money. I refer to Division No. 263, item 6, “ Aerodromes - Development grant, £470,000 “. Under the cognate bill relating to works and services, votes are sought for air routesand airway facilities - whatever they might cover - and for other purposes. If we gofurther to the civil works programme of the Department of the Interior, which givesthe capital works proposals for the year in rather more detail, we see item 2 - “Sydney - Development of apron and engineering services “. The remaining vote asked for is £14,077. The item is mentioned on page 15 of the civil works programme. It is described in exactly the same terms as the item in the Second Schedule of the Appropriation Bill, to which I have directed attention, that is to say, item 6 of Division No. 263 - “Aerodromes - Development grant, £470,000 “. I want to know in what way a development grant is voted for ordinary annual works and services and therefore has a proper place in the Second Schedule. Why is it not a proposed vote for capital works and services, and so included in the Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill 1959-60? The importance of this matter is that one measure can be amended by the Senate but the other we can only agree to or reject. 1 think that we ought to be on the look-out for the intrusion of an item into a bill that we may not amend.
I should like now to call attention to Division No. 262 - maintenance and operation of civil aviation facilities, in which item 1 - “Aerodromes, £2,125,000” - and item 2 - “ Air route and airway facilities, £.1,975,000” are included. They are two items which together account for £4,000,000. We have heard something of the way in which commercial undertakings for which public moneys are provided should be financed. We recently debated the Post and Telegraph Rates Bill 1959, in which we saw a flickering idea that there should be introduced into the financial structure of the Post Office an interest item to cover the servicing of interest contributed, whether from Consolidated Revenue or elsewhere.
Having regard to the fact that included in the proposed vote for the Department of Civil Aviation are the two items that I have mentioned - aerodromes, and air route and airway facilities - I want to know in what way we see that that money, once expended, is serviced by those who use it. Is it expenditure from revenue? I take it that it is. If it is expenditure from revenue, what revenue do we get to cover it? If it is in respect of capital improvements - I assume it is not, since it is included in this bill - has any consideration been .given to the funding of the whole of the capital that has been provided to this (department and getting sufficient revenue from the facilities to service that capital? I do not know whether the Minister has yet taken out the figures that would show the aggregate of capital expended in the development of aerodromes and so forth. My recollection is that when we asked for this information last year, that figure was -not readily to hand. But I remind myself that the State Ministers for Transport speak with the utmost keeness on this subject when they realize the competition that airways under federal control give to the railways under State control. It is a question of seeing that some degree of balance is kept between the two, so that we will have a reasonable basis for public expenditure.
I would not yield to Senator McKenna in my enthusiasm for seeing a strong and increasingly efficient Department of Civil Aviation, developed in the interests of decentralization and defence as he says, but we do not want to duplicate the mistakes of last century and build up terrific organizations which may or may not become displaced in the course of another half century, such as the railways of the States. That is not a good analogy, I know, but it will do to convey what I have in mind, which is simply to ask the Minister whether an examination has been made concerning the servicing of the capital that goes into this department and recouping the expenditure from revenue that is made by the department. I have instanced two items which will account for £4,000,000 this year.
.- I indicated at the conclusion of my previous remarks that I wished to make a few observations concerning Tasman Empire Airways Limited. It is interesting to note that in the Auditor-General’s supplementary report for the year ended 30th June, 1959, under the heading “ Department of Civil Aviation “, the financial position of Qantas Empire Airways Limited and of Tasman Empire Airways Limited are set out. The Auditor-General pointed out that the shares in the latter company are held equally by the New Zealand Government and the Australian Government, and he stated that the accounts of the company for the year ended 31st March, 1958, were audited by a firm of accountants in New Zealand. I am not certain whether this report has come before this chamber or whether we can expect it to be presented to us at some later date. The AuditorGeneral’s report states -
The operating profit for the year was £396,860. In addition, interest from investments in Government Stocks amounted to £3,054 and the net profit on contract engineering work was £29,000. After providing for obsolescence on flight equipment £171,590, provision for doubtful debts £5,000, loss on Norfolk Island Service £991 and interest on loan capital £4,703, the net surplus was £246,630 compared with £235,880 for the previous year.
On looking through the Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure, I cannot find any mention at all of Tasman Empire Airways Limited. I would be most interested to know whether the Department of Civil Aviation is getting its fair share of Commonwealth revenue as a contra item of its expenditure. I have mentioned previously the excellent services that are being provided by this company. Why is not the department able to show in its report and balance sheet the amount that the Commonwealth receives in. dividends from this organization? lt is of interest to note that during the year the loan liability of £450,000 to the State Advances Corporation of New Zealand was repaid. That is an excellent achievement on the part of the organization, and in addition it made a profit of £396,000. I cannot see how that sum is accounted for, and I should like some information from the Minister on the matter.
With regard to the choice of aircraft, the same problem has arisen with T.E.A.L. as arose with both Qantas and T.A.A. A great deal of argument has occurred as to the most suitable aircraft for the trans-Tasman service. I am inclined to think that the Electra will have only a limited period of economic use, because of the advent of jet aircraft. The prop-jet aircraft has certain advantages, particularly the Electra, with its high speed and relatively low operating costs. It is said that the Electra is the most economical aircraft to operate across the Tasman. However, I again speak on behalf of the British aircraft industry. I think we should encourage the use of jet aircraft for this service, and I would prefer us to use the Comet - the De Havilland jet. The Boeing 707 is having a lot of teething troubles. Just as the British aircraft industry had a bitter Gethsemane and suffered setbacks and frustrations in bringing the Comet up to its present standard of reliability, so the American aircraft industry is obviously having teething troubles with its jets.
The chairman of the Australian National Airlines Commission has told us that the future of long-distance air transport lies in the use of jets. There is no shadow of doubt that we are in the jet age. We are recommending the use of Electras wherever possible in preference to the British jet aircraft, but we should look very carefully at the economics of the situation. During the negotiations that culminated in the supplying of Electras, there was some pretty keen competition and some very harsh words were spoken. I understand that the Lockheed people made an offer to Qantas to purchase the old Constellations if Qantas bought Lockheed aircraft. The De Havilland people said that they would guarantee to replace the Comet later with the new DH121. There was fierce competition in the negotiations, but, as we all know, the American organization won the day and T.E.A.L. is equipped with Electras.
I should like to have from the Minister some information about how the profits of T.E.A.L. are used. If they were shown in the accounts of the Department of Civil Aviation, that would help the department to present a more attractive balance between its expenditure and receipts, lt is difficult to state the value of the Department of Civil Aviation, because it is providing so many different services - meteorological and others - that cannot be shown in terms of hard cash in a balance-sheet. A profit of £396,000 has been shown by T.E.A.L. and the Commonwealth is a half shareholder in that organization. T.E.A.L. has also been able to pay back a loan of £450,000 from the State Advances Corporation of New Zealand. That profit should be shown somewhere, and I suggest that it should be shown as a credit in the accounts of the Department of Civil Aviation.
I should like to mention the carriage of airmails. The Post Office has increased the postal charge for a letter to 5d. and is to provide an airmail service for that charge. Previously the airmail charge was 7d. The carriage of airmail to be delivered throughout Australia will be distributed amongst the various airlines, but we have the situation that Western Australia, South Australia and New South Wales have not introduced legislation to allow T.A.A. to operate intra-state. Therefore, AnsettA.N.A. will be in an advantageous position. As all letters are to be carried by air wherever there is an airport or an air service, I suggest that direct representations should be made to the States I have mentioned, asking them to introduce legislation to permit T.A.A. to engage in the intrastate delivery of mails.
Finally, I would urge that it is of great importance that we should give consideration to establishing our own aircraft Industry. We are getting great advantages from the techniques and know-how of other countries, and our airlines are expanding and handling an ever-increasing volume of passenger traffic and mails, but we should be trying in every possible way to get British or other aircraft firms to establish aircraft construction plants, or even assembly plants, in Australia. This would not only create employment for Australian skilled men who are capable of doing this work, but it would bring people here who have the knowledge to train personnel. Then we should have something that we did not have on a previous occasion when an emergency arose - a well-oiled and well-managed organization for aircraft manufacture. I do hope that the Minister will use all his good offices in utilizing his department and the authority that goes with its administration to do everything possible to assist the aircraft industry in Australia.
– I should like to reply to the queries raised by Senator Wright and by Senator O’Byrne. First, I refer to item 6 in Division No. 263, “ Aerodromes - Development grant, £470,000”. Senator Wright, I think, queried this item on the ground that it carried the same description as that which appears in the Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill. The reason is that this item applies to the reimbursement of expenditure undertaken by local authorities which have constructed their own aerodromes on the understanding that they will be acquired ultimately by the Commonwealth. In other words, this money is provided for the maintenance of aerodromes which are not Commonwealth-owned, and therefore, this is not a capital vote.
As to his query relating to the rather vast vote of £1,975,000 in connexion with item 2 in Division No. 262 for air route and airway facilities, one merely has to mention the fact that there are no fewer than 617 aerodromes in Australia which have to be maintained to a greater or lesser extent to indicate the need for what appears to be a large amount of money. I do not want to go through the whole list of expen- diture. It is detailed in the bill. But I point out that, on the labour side, we spent no less than £563,650 on the maintenance of movement areas, runways and taxiways, £288,550 on the operation of fire-fighting services and £146,200 on the maintenance of buildings. Further, such items as cleaning, night watching and caretaking required an expenditure of no less than £119,000.
The cost of materials alone, in connexion with the maintenance of movement areas, runways and taxiways, was £487,000. The maintenance of buildings, and the cost of materials, apart from mechanical or electrical, was £323,000. One can readily see the need for a vote of this size when one notices those items.
So, too, with the other proposed vote mentioned - Division No. 262, relating to the maintenance and operation of civil aviation facilities. The cost of operation of airways communication and navigation facilities was £724,000 while the cost of operation of air traffic facilities was £521,000. The cost of maintenance of airways communication and navigation facilities was £378,000. I merely pick out these amounts from a long list, for I think they indicate to the chamber the need for the vote we have requested.
asked whether the Government had ever considered capitalizing the total amount of money which has been spent on airports and reducing that capitalization to a business proposition with a view to seeing how far we could get in seeking an equitable return on the investment. The Government has not done so. A number of reasons for that occur to my mind immediately. One is the development factor which would, to a large extent, remove this matter from the field of investment from which one could reasonably expect a return. Another, and probably a more valid reason is that, when providing these facilities, the Department of Civil Aviation cannot be regarded as being in any way a business organization such as Trans-Australia Airlines, railways, the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission, and so on. Last year, apparently, I failed to inform honorable senators of the amount wrapped up in these two items. It is no less than £50,000,000, of which £41,000,000 is for aerodromes and ?9,000,000 for civil aviation facilities. Incidentally, the total revenue is ?91.8,000: This represents, navigation charges and miscellaneous, collections.
Senator O’Byrne wanted to know what had happened to the dividend of Tasman Empire Airways. It is included in the item of revenue called Miscellaneous. In 1958-59 there was included in the total miscellaneous revenue an amount of ?40,507 which- represented a dividend from T.E.A.L. There is no amount included rathe miscellaneous item this year for such a dividend because, when the revenue estimates were prepared, we could not get any indication from T.E.A.L. as to what it will be this year. It is expected to be in the vicinity of ?40,000.
I listened^ with interest to Senator O’Byrne, as I always do when he talks about aircraft and the use of aircraft of British manufacture. I think he referred in. particular to the Comet aircraft. I have made the Government’s position in- this, connexion clear on a number of occasions.. We have a. preference for buying British.. Provided aircraft suitable for the job are available from British sources, we will buy British. On this occasion, however, for a’ number of reasons which I have explained previously, we have not done so. A very important reason was referred to earlier by the Leader of the Opposition and that was the obvious advantage of having a standardized fleet in this area. On the advice of experts, it was decided not to buy Comets. I am painfully aware that whenever two aircraft experts get together to discuss the merits of a particular type of aircraft there is a difference of opinion.
– They are like lawyers.
– My experience with- lawyers- has been rather restricted. My experience with aircraft experts is rather wider than my experience with lawyers, so I shall confine my remarks to my experience with aircraft experts. I merely say that when you get such a difference of opinion the only way in which to arrive at a decision is to take those differing views, together with, the reasons for them, sit down in some quiet spot and analyse them. I confess that in my analyses of the various submissions that come to me the dominant factor in my mind, having regard’ to- the enormous expense involved, always is. which, of the aircraft, having satisfied all technical requirements, gives the better economic return. So long as ! am. Minister that proceeding will be. followed.
– Could the Minister tell us what is the: economic load factor on. the Electra?
– Indeed I can. The- economic load factor of the Electra, m the experience of a number of airlines inthe United States and Australia, is on theaverage 61.2 per cent. In Australia twoairlines currently use Electra aircraft There was, at first, a wide gap between the1 break-even load factors obtained by thoseairlines. It resulted, in the- main, from differences in engineering costs, and- in- theperiod chosen for amortization. In- recent weeks the gap has narrowed greatly because the two airlines, by conferring, have been’ able to obtain a greater measure of standardization in regard to the- factors used inassessing the break-even load factor. I repeat, 61.2 per cent, is the average figure for a- number of operators in the United. States and Australia. The figure of one Australian airline is just greater. That of the other is somewhat less, but the two are coming closer all the time.
– Perhaps we should-, wait until the next sessional period before asking the Minister whether he can tell us,, without employing riddles, what, the load factor is. It- is surely 65 per cent, 72 per cent, or some other figure.
– I am confident, that by the next sittings the two Australian airlines concerned will have closer figures, and that I shall then be able to give the Senate the range. I shall probably be able to say, “ One has this load factor and another has that”, and leave honorablesenators to guess which has the higher.
Senator O’BYRNE (Tasmania) M.81.-1 should like to thank the Minister for the courteous and forthright way in- which he has answered the queries of honorable senators. One matter that I should like to bring to his notice still remains. It does not relate to the pattern of the aircraft industry, or to particular airlines, or, indeed, to rationalization. It concerns the terminal at Canberra, one aspect of which I raised with the Minister some time ago. I must still join issue with; him in his assertion that the- facilities there- are adequate. I think he described them as “most suitable”, and was surprised, that I should have criticized them at all.
The Minister may not have had the same experience as I have had in walking, through the front doors to the passenger lounge. If they opened, inward it would be all right, but they do not. One must hook one’s aim around the door and then run through before it closes, or put down one’s case, open the door, pick up the case again and run through. On the; other side of the door there is the inevitable caterpillar line of people who are travelling at the same time. They all have suit cases. Some are trying to move, theirs further up in order to beat the gun, and. others ase blocking the way talking - as if they have not had enough of it here all the- week - and it is difficult toget very far.
It is not so bad when one arrives at the airport from out of Canberra. One’s cases are then taken to the rear of the terminal on a trolley, but even there something like the rat race to which the Minister referred takes place - with every one rushing through the lounge to collect his baggage. I repeat,, the front doors are not then so objectionable because they open with the flow of traffic, instead of against it. The Minister promised to look at the doors, but nothing: has yet been done about them. I have christened them, “ Paltridge’s folly ‘V and whenever I encounter them I am reminded of his unfulfilled promise.
Another matter is the space available to officers and passengers at the TransAustralia Airlines end of the building. At the other end, the processes of writing out tickets and weighing are carried out in a position which leaves space for people to walk round the room, or out on to the airport At the end where Trans-Australia Airlines operates everything is very cramped. I must say at once that one cannot fault the courteous service given at the little canteen there. Also, the facilities in the centre of the building are good, but there seems to have been a slip-up in the design of the T.A.A. office area. The airline officials work in cramped conditions. The weighing facilities are very tight and, generally speaking, I think that a much better job could have been done all. round.
I hope that this building is only temporary, because– we have overseas visitors arriving at Canberra all. the time. Next week, for instance, parliamentarians will be coming here from all over the world. I do not think that the existing terminal is nearly good, enough for the National Capital. I do- hope: that the: Minister will heed my plea, about the doors, because: they succeed, in- annoying me whenever I use the airport.
– Let. me assure Senator. O’Byrne. that I did. not forget his. request, concerning the doors. I examined them myself,, but I am af raidthat I suffer from being advised by too many experts.. The experts- have assured nae that they are. of the butterfly type: and’ best fitted for keeping to a minimum the inrush, of cold air when people are passing; through them.
I am sorry that the honorable senator finds such cause for complaint’ about the terminal generally. I was aware that we had to do something about it, because we had international visitors coming here from time to time - though I did not have in mind especially the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association meeting next week. I had in; mind, as I have: remarked on previous occasions, that this: was a temporary building. Having regard to our overall expenditure, T did not feel prepared to spend a large sum of money upon it. We did spend about £14,000: on converting what has been described as a. glorified cow-shed into something rather better.
I have noticed, that there is a real measure of congestion only when we are leaving Canberra at the end’ of the week. Normally, the building- copes” quite well with the traffic using it. Having; regard to> certain events of recent vintage, I am sure that Senator O’Byrne would agree with me that the expenditure of money for the exclusive, or almost exclusive, benefit of politicians would not be- well received in a number of quarters.
– I thought that the Minister would answer Senator O’Byrne’s question as to whether the Government would facilitate the granting of permission for Trans-Australia Airlines to- operate intra-state in respect of the States mentioned by the honorable senator.
– Trans-Australia Airlines is permitted to operate in some States. For instance, it is permitted to operate in Queensland and does so very successfully. Senator McKenna will remember quite well that it is now also permitted to operate in Tasmania. It has the exclusive right to operate to Darwin. T.A.A. is not badly treated at all. As I said to Senator Kennelly when he posed the same question to me in a debate during the previous sessional period, the position is being watched and when action is necessary the Government will act.
– I address a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation as one Western Australian to another. On previous occasions I have raised the matter of the day service operated by Trans-Australia Airlines from the west to the eastern States. Can the Minister do something to see that this service is so run that the journey from Perth to Canberra may be made in one day without the necessity for a stop-over at either Melbourne or Sydney, which not only delays and inconveniences passengers travelling to Canberra, but also delays mails to the same degree?
– Yes, I shall ask T.A.A. to have a look at that matter.
Proposed vote agreed to.
– I present the third report of the Printing Committee.
Report - by leave - adopted.
– I have received a message, Mr. Deputy President, to the effect that there is considerable traffic congestion as a result of the recent flood, and that honorable senators may be delayed in travelling to the airport. In the circumstances, and in view of the fact that we have completed our consideration of the proposed vote for the Department of Civil Aviation, I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
.- I am reluctant, in the circumstances, to speak on this occasion, but 1 shall detain the Senate for a much shorter period than I had intended. I have been requested, on behalf of my party, to take exception to a statement that appeared in the Melbourne “ Herald “, in a column entitled “ Labour Speaks “, apparently made by a spokesman for the Australian and New Zealand Congress for International Co-operation and Disarmament to be held in Melbourne from 7th to 14th December next. The statement makes an attack on our party, and the comment is made that while we express views in favour of world peace our only problem is that we are never prepared to do anything about it, and so on.
I want to say that my party does not . recognize that non-participation in this congress represents in any way unwillingness to do anything about peace. Even if there were no Communists associated with this organization we would still, as a party, refuse to associate with it for the very good reason, as I learned in my years of association with the Australian Labour Party, that as a party you do not send delegates to an organization which makes decisions of a political character. This body will make decisions of a political character on foreign policy, and for that reason our party will not be associated with it.
Further, we would not associate with it because of its method of sending out circulars which bear, on the edge, the names of people who have never consented to the use of their names, but who, one finds out later, have merely been asked whether they are prepared to have anything to do with the congress. We had an example of that in yesterday’s ‘’ Sydney Morning Herald “, in which five ladies from New South Wales condemned the use of their names without their permission. We have had other examples of the use of people’s names, notably those of the Reverend Alan Walker and Bertrand Russell. Even the Victorian Board of Adult Education, with which I am connected, is being mentioned, and I can assure the Senate that the board has nothing to do with this congress.
We are further opposed to this body because of its nasty attitude to people who will have nothing to do with it. At Bendigo recently it was stated by the Reverend F. Hartley, one of the leaders of the organization, that people in the A.L.P. who did not go to a meeting he had called must be dingoes. The same statement was made by another representative in Ringwood, Victoria. In that instance, the statement was made that people who did not go along to the meeting were dingoes, McCarthyites and war-mongers.I have had a lot of experience of organizations of this kind, from the days of the League against War and Fascism, in the ‘thirties, which developed into the League against Imperialism. Today, there are peace congresses. I simply say that they all have the one origin. We know what that is. It is of no use for this organization to talk about imperialism. It derives from the World Peace Council, from the Australian Peace Council and the Stockholm Peace Conference, organizations which everybody knows are Communistsponsored. They have been banned by the British Labour Party.
The names of many unions and individuals that will have nothing to do with it and are cold towards it, are being used by this organization. I know something of the position from people in Victoria who are associated with the organization and who were associated with previous peace congresses which were banned before the split in the Labour Party. The chief organiser, Mr. Goldbloom, is under a cloud.
He has been charged by members of the Labour Party in Melbourne, of which he professes to be a member, with being a Communist. Mr. Wiener, the secretary of the new Australian Council of the Australian Labour Party has charged him with being a Communist. He has also been charged with being a Communist by the secretary of the St. Kilda branch of the A.L.P., Miss R. Hanbury. The statement was made in the Melbourne press that the charge had been found not proved. The further statement was made that the people who had charged him alleged that all the evidence was not called, and that the matter was to be referred to the A.L.P. federal executive. In these circumstances, we can understand that if people will have nothing to do with such an organization, they must have good reasons. They should not be called dingoes, fascists and war-mongers because they choose not to be associated with it. I agree with the “ Worker “, the organ of the Australian Workers Union, which describes this peace congress as phoney. I agree also with the Rev. Stevenson of the Church of England who, in a letter to the Melbourne “ Age “, said that he had found that this peace congress in Melbourne was merely the preliminary to a Communist-planned peace congress to embrace the whole of South-East Asia and the Pacific. This congress is a preliminary to others, all of which are designed to serve the Communist foreign policy.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 4.26 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 22 October 1959, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1959/19591022_senate_23_s15/>.