23rd Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I direct to the Minister for National Development a question that I preface by pointing out that some three or four years ago I asked the Minister whether people engaged in opencut mining would restore the country to something like its original condition. The Minister assured me that that would be done. 1 now ask him whether, in areas around Swansea and Minmi, where open-cut mining has taken place, great banks of earth have been left in such a condition as to destroy the landscape completely. Will the Minister make some investigation and ensure that something is done to restore the country to its original condition?
– I am quite clear in my recollection that all contracts entered into by the Joint Coal Board with open-cut mining contractors contained provisions that the landscape had to be restored after the contracts were completed. Indeed, I am quite clear that financial provision was made from the proceeds of the contracts for a fund to enable the work to be carried out. That work has been and still is being carried out. Very big earth works are involved in some instances. Senator Arnold mentioned Swansea and Minmi. My difficulty is that I do not remember the making of Joint Coal Board contracts in relation to those areas. It rather suggests to me that these operations are some private venture, as distinct from operations of the Joint Coal Board. Therefore, I should be obliged if the honorable senator would put the question on notice so that I may get the facts in relation to those areas.
– I direct a question to the Minister for National Development. Is it a fact that the gross population that Australia can ultimately have will be limited bv the availability of adequate water supplies? Is it a fact that responsible people estimate that Australia’s maximum population will be between 20,000,000 and 30,000,000 people? In view of the rapid growth in population in Australia at present, has the Government sought the view of the State Governments, on the desirability of calling a meeting of Commonwealth and State authorities toconsider the establishment on a permanent basis of an interstate conference on underground water? Has such a meeting been held? If it has been held, can the Minister advise the Senate how it is proceeding?
– It seems to be generally accepted that the ultimate extent of Australia’s population will be limited by water supplies, but there is a wide field of argument as to what is Australia’s eventual population potential. At the moment, the figure of 30,000,000 is commanding some popular support. I would not subscribe te* it, because I do not think that we can really make estimates or think clearly upon that subject until we get to the next stage of desalination of water. If we could evolve a satisfactory process it would completely recast our thinking. The underground water supplies contained in the artesian basins of Australia are of profound importance in their effect. At a recent conference of officers it was decided to renew the artesian water basin organization, co’ listing of representatives of the Commonwealth and the States, which had not met for some years. That conference, consisting of technical officers, met a couple of months ago when it evolved a formula for co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States with the view, first, of ascertaining the extent of our artesian water reserves, and, secondly, of devising ways in which they could be used to the best advantage. That conference of technical officers recommended to the several governments that this organization should continue on a permanent basis. The governments concerned have been communicated with, and those that have replied have agreed to the continuation of the organization, but so far replies have not been received from all governments.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs say whether it is a fact that Australia’s delegate at a meeting of the United
Nations abstained from voting on a motion criticizing the South African policy of racial discrimination among its own people, and, if so, was he acting on instructions from the Australian Government? If the answer to those questions is in the affirmative, is it not likely that Australian action will be interpreted in many countries as tacit support for South Africa’s savage and unchristian policy of suppression and discrimination against the majority of its own citizens, whose only crime is that God created them with skins which are black?
– I can only answer the honorable senator’s questions by saying that all I know of this matter has been gained from newspaper reports, and that, in turn, my inference is based on those reports. In the circumstances, should my answer prove to be incorrect, I claim the privilege to correct it to-morrow. On that understanding, I answer his questions by saying that Australia’s delegate did abstain from voting on this issue and, that in so doing he would be acting under instructions from the Australian Government, through its Minister. As to the last part of the honorable senator’s question, I can only say that I cannot conceive of circumstances in which there could be placed upon Australia’s action the interpretation suggested by the honorable senator. In my opinion, the only interpretation that reasonably could be placed upon it would be a desire on the part of Australia not to interfere with the domestic arrangements of another country, the United Nations being primarily constituted to deal with international affairs, rather than internal affairs.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry inform the Senate whether the three-man mission that visited West Africa during August and September of this year with a view to arranging sales of Australian flour was successful or otherwise?
– I have not received any information as to the results achieved by that mission, but will ask my colleague for any information he can supply regarding it, and convey it to the honorable senator.
– I ask the Minister representing the Attorney-General to direct the attention of his colleague to an article in the Italian newspaper “ La Fiamma in which the following statement appeared under the signature of the editor: -
Naturally the congress will be closely watched by the Australian secret service. The Italians attending must therefore know to what risks they expose themselves.
Does not the Minister agree that this type of intimidation is unworthy of, and out of place in, a democracy? Does he not strongly disapprove of intimidation of this kind, which is a concealed attempt to prevent new Australians from exercising their full democratic rights?
– I do not see any need for me to bring that statement to the attention of the Attorney-General. If the honorable senator wishes it to go to the Attorney-General, he is perfectly at liberty to take it to him. Speaking for myself, I have not read the newspaper, but it does not appear to me from the extract that any particular intimidation is offered, and certainly not any more than the sort of intimidation I have heard so often when anybody who takes a stand against this congress is immediately smeared as being a Mccarthyite.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade. It concerns a recent statement issued by the Minister for Trade regarding the Government’s decision to open further trade commissioner posts next year at Accra in Ghana and Nairobi in British East Africa. In view of Western Australia’s advantageous position in relation to these markets, and the availability in the State of the commodities mentioned in the statement, namely, wheat, wool, barley, tallow, timber, and many types of machinery, will the Minister do all in his power to ensure that Western Australian producers are given the opportunity to supply these new markets? May I say that the good quality of Western Australian products and the shorter sea routes would create a dual mutual advantage.
– Senator DrakeBrockman mentioned to me that he intended to ask such a question, and since it is based on a statement by the Minister for Trade, 1 thought it better to obtain a reply from Mr. McEwen instead of my saying something that might be inconclusive. Mr. McEwen has asked me to give the following answer: -
As the honorable senator knows, 1 am well aware of the wide range of primary and secondary products available for export from the State of Western Australia. I am also glad to state that the manufacturers and exporters of that State are becoming more and more aware of the need for Australia to increase her exports. The honorable senator will recall that a representative of the West Australian Chamber of Manufactures accompanied the recent trade mission, organized by the Department of Trade, to the territories of Central and East Africa, which reported that there were many opportunities for Australian products, both primary and secondary, in these areas.
The services of Australian trade commissioners stationed overseas are available to all firms interested in exporting, regardless of the State they represent or the size of the firm. However, I can assure the honorable senator that the trade commissioners designate for Nairobi and Ghana will spend some time in the State of West Australia contacting interested exporters before their departure. The honorable senator might like to know that it is the policy of the Department of Trade to make trade commissioners available to exporters in all States before departure for an overseas post and also on their return from a post.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I think he may know something of the position, since the question deals with trade. Some eighteen months ago, a trade ship visited Asian ports. Because I know that Senator Spooner was interested in that venture, I now ask him whether it resulted in increased trade, apart from additional coal orders.
– It is always difficult to pinpoint the results of a trade mission or, indeed, of a general advertising campaign. So far as the coal mining industry is concerned, I think there is general agreement that the mission did a very useful job. We have certainly obtained very substantial orders for coal from Japan. It is very difficult to prove whether those orders came specifically as a result of the representations made during the course of the mission but, generally speaking, I think it is fair to say that there is a good deal of approbation of the mission in the coal-mining industry. Beyond that, I cannot say. My own impression, gained merely by moving about Sydney, is that exporters generally think that the mission was a good idea and that the results have justified the sending of the ship. I have heard it suggested in some quarters that the experiment should be repeated.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport, concerns the standardization of certain railway lines in South Australia. Can the Minister tell me the difference between the estimated cost of the work desired by Sir Thomas Playford for the standardization of the Peterborough division and the cost of the works proposed by the Commonwealth at this stage?
– The question asked by the honorable senator is a very difficult one to answer. Indeed, I believe it is unanswerable until agreement has been reached on the actual route to be taken and the diversions to be made. The difficulty arises, of course, from the fact that not only does the cost of construction vary with the route which is taken and the gradients which are involved, but, more importantly, so also does the rolling-stock which is required. The gradients naturally affect the time-tabling of the trains. That, in turn, affects the utilization both of the locomotives and of the rolling-stock - which, of course, is a very big factor in the proposals that are being considered. Until we can get some further clarification of those points, it will not be possible to give anything other than the roughest and most useless estimate of the cost. I will, however, keep the question in mind, and if any further information on the matter comes to hand I will pass it on to the honorable senator.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. Can he tell me whether regular and strict inspections are made of ships on which migrants are brought to Australia? The reason for my asking this question is that first-hand information which 1 have gained shows that the living conditions on some ships bringing migrants to Australia - particularly some foreign ships - are appalling, and I believe that thousands of migrants have been brought to this country in ships in which proper regard has not been had for the safety of the passengers.
– I understand that the Department of Immigration keeps a very strict watch on ships bringing migrants to Australia, particularly in relation to the aspect of safety. However, I think that my colleague, the Minister for Shipping and Transport, would know more about that matter than I do. If I can obtain any further information for the honorable senator, I shall do so.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate concerning a statement that was made by the Prime Minister in the middle of last month to the effect that, during November, he would make an announcement regarding the future shape and scope of our national defences. Is the Minister in a position to say when the Prime Minister will make his statement? Can he indicate that it will be made to the Parliament, and that we will have an opportunity to debate it before the recess?
– I am sorry, but I cannot answer for the Prime Minister. I think it is fair to say to the Leader of the Opposition that I know that the Prime Minister is working actively upon the matter. I know that he hopes to be able to bring various matters that are before the Government to a conclusion before departing for overseas at the end of this month. I do not think I can say any more than that. Decisions that have not yet been made will have a bearing on whether the statement can be made.
– I, also, wish to direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. It concerns a report in to-day’s “ Sydney Morning Herald “ - which the Minister may have read - of a speech made by Mr. I. N.
Rao, a delegate of India on the United Nations Trusteeship Council, in which he alleged neglect by Australia in the development of New Guinea. I ask the Minister: Has he read the article? Can he say whether this attack was, in fact, made? If it was made, as stated in the press report, will the Minister take steps to see that a very strong denial is made of the Indian delegate’s gross misrepresentation of the position to the United Nations Trusteeship Council?
– I did read with some regret the statement to which Senator Vincent refers. I think that, as Australians, we have cause for pride in what we have done for the development of New Guinea and in what we have done to assist, help and develop the standards of the people who live there.
As to what action should be taken, I regarded the statement, as I read it, as being a view expressed in a debate on the floor of the United Nations. Knowing the composition of the Australian representation, I should think that our delegates would have answered it effectively at the time it was made. Apparently the views of our delegates have not been reported to the extent to which the views of the other delegates were reported. I think I can do no more than say that I have no doubt that my colleagues, the Minister for External Affairs and the Minister for Territories, will be viewing this matter as it should be viewed.
– I preface a question to the Minister for Repatriation by saying that his reservoir of compassion seems to be self-replenishing and we know the great sympathy he has extended to limbless exservicemen. I ask the Minister whether he will ask the Government to consider extending to ex-servicemen who have lost an arm the same concessions with respect to the remission of sales tax on the purchase of a motor car as are enjoyed by an exserviceman who has lost a leg.
– This is a matter which has been brought to the notice of the Senate on a number of occasions. The Treasurer has gone very carefully into the effect on the driver of a motor car of the loss of a leg as compared with the effect of the loss of an arm. It is thought that, generally speaking, the man who has lost an arm is not as severely incapacitated as one who has lost a leg above the knee. After giving the matter very careful consideration, the Treasurer has not been able to accede to the request to extend to the ex-serviceman who has lost an arm the same sales tax concessions as are granted to an ex-serviceman who has lost a leg above the knee.
– Is the Minister for National Development aware that Commonwealth Aluminium Corporation Proprietary Limited, which is jointly owned by Consolidated Zinc - an Australian company - and British Aluminium Company Limited, at present winning bauxite in Australia, is looking to New Zealand for a place to carry on alumina smelting emanating from Australian bauxite? Is the Minister also aware that this company may spend £60,000,000 sterling in New Zealand thus denying to Australia the smelting process of one of our own important mineral products? Will the Government investigate the potential of the Australian industry to do this smelting here? Is there not coal in Australia, or water power in Australia or its Territories - particularly in New Guinea - that could be used in this smelting operation?
– I have read the newspaper reports to which Senator Laught probably refers. I have not had any information upon the matter other than that which I read in the newspapers. Of course, it is the desire of Australia to ensure that the aluminium industry is created in Australia based upon our great deposits of bauxite. I think I go a long way towards removing the apprehensions that Senator Laught expressed by implication in his question by saying that the terms and conditions upon which the bauxite deposits in Queensland shall be developed are set out in legislation passed by the Parliament of that State. That legislation contains provisions aimed at encouraging the erection of a smelter in Australia. With respect to the deposits under the control of the Commonwealth, I point out that the Commonwealth has not parted with its mining rights in full, but reserves the right to defer making a final decision until it sees what proposals are brought forward by the companies concerned with the development of the deposits and the development of the industry in Australia.
– I should like to ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade a question about the recent admission of Poland to the international trade organization commonly known as Gatt. In view of the fact that Poland is a Communist dictatorship which trades exclusively on a government-to-government basis, and whose tariff laws are therefore in no way comparable with those of western democratic countries, can the Minister explain how a country such as Poland can be included within the framework of the international organization known as Gatt which was designed for mutual assistance as between countries which have conventional tariff laws?
– We all know a great deal more about Poland since Senator Vincent’s trip there, having seen the photographs which he brought back. Following discussions we have had about trading relations between the members of Gatt - the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade - and Poland, I have had an opportunity to make some inquiries into the position. It is difficult to try to express the position in simple terms because, as the question indicates, it is a matter of contrasting like with unlike. On one side you have a country that depends for its trading on state activities, and on the other side you have Gatt which was created by governments to regulate what you might call private trading transactions through tariff and other financial arrangements. I do not see the picture clearly, but the information I have obtained is that Poland has not been admitted as a member of Gatt. Apparently it was found too difficult to reconcile the two forms of trading, and what has been done is that members of Gatt have evolved some formula - some basis of association or arrangement between themselves and Poland - as to the terms under which the members of Gatt will endeavour to create trading facilities with Poland. An attempt is being made to reconcile what to us seems to be irreconcilable. As in the case of many other international agreements you make a start on traditional lines and evolve something that may work out in practice.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. It stems from a question asked by me on notice concerning the Hospitals Contribution Fund of New South Wales, and the reply given in the Senate yesterday - which I consider was misleading insofar as it referred to paragraph 5 of my question. I now ask the Minister whether he will obtain from the Hospitals Contribution Fund of New South Wales a categorical statement that all contributors over the age of 65 years who have been transferred to the special account section from the higher rate section have, in fact, been informed that their benefits will be reduced, and that their contributions have been adjusted accordingly.
– I will.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade whether the aluminium industry at Bell Bay is protected in the matter of supplies of bauxite from Australian sources.
– That is not an easy question to answer, but I shall attempt to answer it in general terms. My recollection is that the Government has released the bauxite deposits in the Northern Territory for the purposes of further exploration and development, and that one of the terms of the arrangement is that whoever develops them shall protect the bauxite requirements of Bell Bay. The same arrangement has been made in regard to the Weipa deposits. In this way, the Commonwealth Government has ensured the stability of Bell Bay and has protected the industry’s sources of supply.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
What amounts were owing and repayable to the Commonwealth Government, including National Debt Commission, at 30th June, 1959, by the
Commonwealth, the States, and others, in relation, respectively to - (a) Moneys advanced from Consolidated Revenue Fund; (b) Moneys transferred from Consolidated Revenue Fund to Trust Funds; (c) Interest and redemption repayments on advances from (b); and (d) Loan raisings?
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice - 1.Is it a fact that radio valves and transistors are now manufactured in Australia?
– The Treasurer )has provided the following answers: -
– by leave - I wish to repeat a statement made in another place yesterday by the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen). 1 want to place it in the record of the Senate because a few questions have been asked on the matter during our proceedings. The statement reads -
Shipping discussions were recently concluded in Sydney which dealt with freight arrangements in the Australia-United Kingdom-Continent Shipping Conference. The commodities affected were wool, refrigerated cargoes, fresh fruit, and “ general “ - that is, packaged - cargoes. Bulk cargoes, for example, wheat, other grains, sugar and ores and concentrates, were not affected by these negotiations.
There were two major results of these negotiations. First, the so-called “ formula “ arrangement in this trade was revised; and secondly, it was agreed that there would be no variation in freight rates before September-October, 1960, when these freight rates are again due for review. The “ formula “ provides for the shipowners in this trade to receive a return sufficient to cover their costs and to provide an agreed return on their invested capital.
The original formula, negotiated in 1956, provided for a 12 per cent, return to owners on a capital figure calculated on the original cost of each ship as written down over a 25-year period. The rate of return has now been reduced to 10 per cent, per annum, with special arrangements to reduce the charge on freight rates at a time, such as the present, when, by reason of the postwar replacement programmes, the vessels engaged in the trade are particularly young. The revised formula accordingly provides for the basic rate of 10 per cent, to be applied to a figure determined by adopting what would be the writtendown value of each ship after twelve and one-half years’ use. A lower rate of return, namely, 6 per cent, per annum, is then applied to the amount by which the actual capital employed, computed by reference to the actual cost and age of each ship, exceeds the figure to which the basic rate of 10 per cent, has been applied.
The other details of the formula - for example, the depreciation provision allowed to owners when their costs are being determined - have not been made public, but, of course, they are known to the Australian interests which have been negotiating.
In his statement about the outcome of the negotiations, the Chairman of the Federal Exporters Oversea Transport Committee has mentioned that it has been calculated that, on the new formula, a freight rate increase of about 6 per cent., as compared with an increase of about 12 per cent. ‘under the old formula, would have been warranted. However, as indicated above, it has been agreed that there shall be no variation in freight rates before September-October, 1960. The new formula will be applied in the two-year period 1960-61 and 1961-62. Its terms will then be reviewed in the light of the circumstances ruling in 1962. Shipowners, in return, continue to provide a guaranteed service to shippers.
The entire negotiations were held under the auspices of the Australian Oversea Transport Association. The Federal Exporters Oversea Transport Committee, a body of 26 representatives of major producing and exporting bodies, conducted the negotiations on behalf of Australian interests. The chairman of this committee has staled that ,the agreement represents, on the whole, ?. reasonable basis from the point of view of both shipping companies and shipper interests. Successive governments since 1929 have recognized that the determination of rates of freight in the United Kingdom-Continent conference should be left, within the framework of the Australian Oversea Transport Association, to the parties directly concerned - namely, the producer-shipper interests and the shipowners. In 1953 and 1955, when the negotiations became deadlocked, the Government agreed to fulfil the role of a factfinding mediator. In 1957, the Federal Exporters Oversea Transport Committee was re-organized in order to widen its representation and give a better voice to producer interests. The Government’s assistance was sought in connexion with that re-organization, and was given.
To that statement, I add that in another place yesterday, my colleague, the Minister for Trade, made a categorical statement that the freight. on fresh apples and pears will not be increased for the coming season. I add that because of Senator Wright’s question on the matter yesterday.
– by leave - I wish to make a short statement to correct an answer that I gave on behalf of the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton). The “ Hansard “ record of the proceedings of the Senate on 28th October, 1959, at page 1257 shows that, in answer to a question by Senator Tangney in relation to research officers of the Department of Social Services, I said -
By way of interjection, Senator Tangney asked -
Do they do any original research themselves?
Off the cuff, 1 said, “ No. “. The answer should have been, “ Yes “. The Minister for Social Services asked me to make this correction.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till tomorrow at 10.30 a.m.
.- I move-
That Standing Order No. 68 be suspended until the end of the session, to enable new business to be commenced after 10.30 p.m.
I do not want to speak at any length in support of the motion. I wish to state merely that we are coming to the closing days of the session. It is of great convenience and assists the orderly deliberations of the Senate, to be in the position at 10.30 p.m., if the Senate so desires, of being able to put new bills on the business paper and proceed to the second-reading stage, and commence the debate on additional bills. It is the usual motion moved at this time each session.
– The Leader of the Government in this chamber is right in saying that the introduction of this motion means that we are coming to the closing days of the session. The motion is one of the harbingers of that annual event. We must see it against the background of other things that have happened, even during this week. I see this motion as the fifth step in a series of actions that tend to abrogate completely the authority of this Parliament. First, the number of days of sitting has been extended from three to four days. There has been no complaint from the Opposition against that. We on this side regard it as a reasonable step when the business of the Senate justifies such a course. Secondly, the sittings have been extended until midnight. Thirdly, we are sitting earlier than usual this morning, and I understand that that procedure will be followed on two mornings of each week, Thursday and Friday. My fourth point is that yesterday a very severe restriction was placed on honorable senators when a motion for the introduction of the guillotine was introduced. That motion was criticized trenchantly by honorable senators. The motion now before the chamber for the introduction of new business after 10.30 o’clock at night is the fifth step in this process.
The Senate should look at this motion against the background of the business still to come before the chamber. At the moment, there are twelve bills on the Senate notice-paper. There are six bills in another place that eventually will be transmitted to the Senate, and Senator Paltridge has given notice of his intention to introduce a new bill to-morrow. There are sixteen further bills to be introduced into another place according to information supplied by the Government. In all, that means a total of 35 bills to be dealt with in this Parliament before we go into recess. The story in the lobbies - and these stories generally prove to be right - is that the Government has in mind concluding this session towards the end of November; in other words there is to be another fortnight’s sittings after this week. This chamber has yet to complete its consideration of the Appropriation Bill and the Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill. There are 33 other bills all requiring attention, and at least sixteen of them have not yet reached the Senate and consequently have not been seen by honorable senators. We cannot judge their importance until we see them.
I put it to the Senate that this procedure shows that the Government has completely mismanaged the business of this session when, with only about a fortnight to go, all these bills have yet to be dealt with. It would appear that towards the end of this month the Senate is to be coerced into disposing of the whole of that legislation in a limited time. The motion now before the chair is one to compel senators to deal with new business which may be introduced after 10.30 o’clock at night. I speak from some fifteen years’ experience as a member of the Senate when I say that any senator, even a private senator, who does his job conscientiously can be fully and usefully employed from early morning to late at night dealing with party and other matters and engaging in research regarding matters that are to come before the Senate. Ministers have a much more onerous task. Leaders of Opposition parties also have onerous responsibilities which occupy all their time. Speaking for myself, I say that my normal day extends from early morning on one day until early morning on the next day. lt is intolerable that we should be asked to take up new business after 10.30 p.m. and be placed in the position of having to carry on the debate through the night should the Government so determine. In these circumstances, it is inevitable that the irascibility that is latent in all of us should tend to come to the surface. That does not make for proper consideration of the matters to be dealt with, or for good debating. Working under such conditions is injurious to the health of honorable senators, no matter how young or virile they may be. It is not proper that we should sit here into the small hours of the morning. Legislation dealt with under such conditions cannot be given proper consideration.
Any person who looks back over the last year or two will recognize that parliamentary life imposes a severe strain on members. Before the Senate assembled for this session there had been casualties among members, due to the strain of public life, and since July two prominent officers of the Senate, one on the Government side, and one on the Opposition side of the chamber have been incapacitated. I trust I shall be pardoned, Mr. President, if at this stage I pay a tribute to them both for their unremitting attention to their work. I refer to Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin, the Government Whip, and to our very highly regarded and respected old friend Senator O’Flaherty, the Opposition Whip. I take this opportunity to extend to both of them my very best wishes for their speedy recovery. There can be no doubt that their indisposition has been caused to an appreciable degree by the onerous nature of their duties. Of that I am certain.
Now we come to a situation in which, in a mad fortnight’s rush, additional strain is to be imposed on every one in this Senate, to the detriment not only of the Senate itself but of the parliamentary institution as a whole. I put it to honorable senators that legislating under these conditions shows a real contempt of the Parliament. The five happenings that have occurred during this week, to which I have referred, amount to abuse of the Parliament as well as undue abuse of senators themselves.
A similar motion comes before the Senate every year, and consequently strain is imposed on senators every year, but on this occasion things have got beyond what may be termed a fair thing. Apart altogether from the effect upon us as individuals, the quality of our work unquestionably suffers, and there is the further fact that the Senate itself is brought into disrepute. We had the spectacle yesterday of honorable senators rising in their places and wishing to speak on important matters covered by the Appropriation Bill to which the guillotine had been applied. There could not be a proper debate under such intolerable conditions. It is no answer to say that this action takes place every year, or that ten years ago a Labour government did the same thing. It may be said by some that a Labour government did so act, but I do not recall that such a strain was imposed on the members of the Parliament under the government that was in office ten years ago as this Government has imposed during its term of office. I hope, therefore, that the Minister will withdraw this motion. As I have said, our work has already been speeded up and is now to cover four days a week, and, in addition, we meet earlier and sit until midnight. Surely the Government should be satisfied with that, without introducing new business after 10.30 o’clock at night. The carrying of this motion could mean that the Senate would be asked to sit into the small hours of the morning. On behalf of all honorable senators on this side of the chamber I record the most emphatic protest against this motion and the additional strain which it will impose upon honorable senators, and the wellearned disrepute into which it will bring the Senate.
.- I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Spooner) whether he will give an assurance that we shall not be asked to sit after 1 o’clock in the morning.
– While this is an annual occurrence and has almost come to be accepted on the principle that constant dripping may wear away a stone, I want to record my protest against this kind of direction that we get each year. We have sat for almost a record time during this sessional period. Earlier, we had a week off because the Government could not arrange its business in such a way for the Senate to deal with legislation at that time. There have been occasions during the sessional period when the Opposition has been asked to try to keep debates going for a little longer in order to keep the Senate sitting.
It would appear, Sir, that a government that was conducting its business in an orderly way would know at least half-way through a session of the parliament, what legislation it wished to have dealt with. If the Government has urgent legislation to bring before the Senate, surely it is possible to prepare that legislation in the weeks or months before the session begins, so that proper discussion may follow when the legislation comes before the Senate. In recent years, we have wasted days on legislation which could have passed through the Senate in only half the time spent in discussing it. Although that has happened, in the last week or so of the session we frequently have seen new legislation brought into the Senate in the early hours of the morning and pushed through in a very short space of time.
I can visualize what will happen on this occasion. A string of bills will be introduced in the last week or the last fortnight of the sessional period. Some of those bills may be quite important, but whether they are important or not, they all should be discussed and examined. Bills will be brought before us for discussion at 1 o’clock or 2 o’clock in the morning, when everybody is tired, fed-up and wanting to go home, and so the quality of the work of the Senate must suffer.
– It is legislation by exhaustion.
– Yes. As the Leader of the Government (Senator Spooner) has rightly said, this procedure is not new. It has been the practice for a number of years. But the fact that it is not new does not in any way mean that the Senate ought not to give proper consideration to legislation that the Government wishes to have enacted.
While I appreciate the difficulties of the Leader of the Government in trying to get through the Senate as quickly as possible, during the dying hours of a sessional period, the legislation that the Government introduces, I put it to him that it is not fair to do so. I think that the Government could so regulate its legislative programme that proper consideration could be given to it. There should be no need to compel us to sit for extraordinarily long hours to try to examine the legislation that the Government wishes to have passed. On this occasion, of course, I feel that the Minister has drifted into a position where he has no alternative but to force through the Senate, at all kinds of odd hours, the legislation that his Government wants him to put through. But I ask the Minister and the Government to keep in mind, in future sessions of the Parliament, the need to order the legislative programme so that bills will be available for discussion from the time that we come to Canberra, thus obviating the need for us to sit here all night in order to pass the bills that the Government introduces. That should be done in fairness to members both of the Senate and of another place.
– in reply - I am not willing to give any undertaking such as that requested by Senator Wright. The approach of the Government parties to the business of this session - with which, I hope, the Opposition will agree - is that we aim to avoid late sittings. What we are aiming to do is to rise at half-past ten on Tuesday night, that being the day on which most senators travel to Canberra, to sit till midnight on Wednesday and Thursday nights, and to sit on Friday. I think I express the general view of honorable senators on the Government side when I say that if the programme cannot be dealt with on that basis they would be willing to come back for a further period after the House of Representatives rose.
I have been here for ten years, Mr. President, and I have found that there is only one way in which to approach this problem. I have never experienced a session of the Parliament in which, during the closing week or fortnight, it was possible to make arrangements that were satisfactory to all. Always, because of the great importance of Government legislation, the Government and Ministers are asked to bring down legislation that was not previously contemplated, and in addition, in both Houses of the Parliament, debates sometimes take more time than was originally envisaged. Always, in the closing days of a Parliamentary session, we encounter difficulties that we had not thought we were going to encounter.
– Why do you not sit on Mondays and cutout this practiceof sitting till 12 o’clock or 1 o’clock?
– That is a matter for agreement between the parties. As I have said, my experience here has indicated that we should not enter into commitments as to whatshould be done, but gauge the feeling of the Senate in thelast week or soofa session andtry to ascertain what honorable senators generally regard asbeing the most appropriate course to take in the circumstances that then exist.
Question put -
That ‘Standing Order No. 68 be suspended until theendofthe session, to enablenew business to be commenced after 10.30p.m.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority . . 10
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henty) read a first time.
. -I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to amend the Rayon Yarn Bounty Act 1954-1959 to extend the operation of the bounty to sales of continuous filament acetate rayon yarn up to 30th June, 1952. The original act followed a recommendation of the Tariff Board and authorized payments of bounty on rayon yarn produced and sold for delivery in Australia in the three years from 1st “November, 1954, to 31st October, 1957. The rate of bounty was prescribed as 6d. per ‘lb. of yarn with a maximum amount payablein any one year of £100,000. A profit limitation was also provided of 10 per cent, per annum on the capital employed in the production and sale of the rayon yarn.
Followingon a further report by the TariffBoard on the industry in November, 1955, the act was amended to extend the operation of the bounty to sales of rayon yarn upto 30th June, 1959. At this time provision was also made, in the Cellulose Acetate Flake Bounty Act 1956, for the payment of bounty of l0d. per lb. on cellulose acetate flake produced in Australia for use in the manufacture of cellulose acetate rayon yarn. The maximum amount of such bounty that can be paid is £142,000 per annum. la May last, the Rayon Yarn Bounty Act was amended, pending consideration of a further Tariff Board report, to permit of the extension of the bounty, by proclamation, to cover sales of rayon yarn up to 31st December, 1959. The relative proclamation has been gazetted. The Tariff Board report on artificial silk yarns, other than staple fibre yarns, of 4th May, 1959, was tabled earlier this session. It was announced at that time that the Government had accepted the board’s recommendation for the extention of the rayon yarn bounty to sales of yarn up to 30th June, 1962.
Courtaulds (Australia) Ltd. has been the only applicant for bounty. The company manufactures the yarn at Tomago in New South Wales from cellulose acetate flake produced by Colonial Sugar Refining Chemicals Pty. Ltd., also in New South Wales. Courtaulds (Australia) Ltd. has been eligible for bounty payments in respect of yarn sold during the year ended 31st October, 1955, of £39,159; during the year ended 31st October, 1956, of £56,364; during the year ended 31st October, 1957, of £73,929; during the year ended 31st October, 1958, of £63,895; and during the nine months ended 31st July, 1959, of £54,552.
Bounty payments have been made to Colonial Sugar Refining Chemicals Pty. Ltd. on sales of cellulose acetate flake to Courtaulds (Australia) Ltd. in the year ended 30th June, 1956, of £99,489; in the year ended 30th June, 1957, of £113,258; in the year ended 30th June, 1958, of £100,981; and in the year ended 30th June, 1959, of £124,286.
The question of further assistance to the industry will be again examined by the Tariff Board before the expiry of the “bounty. I commend the bill to honorable senators. It merely extends the period of bounty without any change in the rate of bounty of 6d. per lb. of yarn sold, or in the provisions relating to payment.
Debate (on motion by Senator Arnold) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henty) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The bill does not have any major effect on policy, but is mainly a machinery measure which, I feel sure, will meet with the full approval of the Senate. The bill is designed to do six things. I shall explain briefly its six objectives.
The first objective is to provide for recognition of citizens of the State of Singapore as British subjects, under Australian nationality law. Clause 3, therefore, adds that country to the list of other British countries set out in section 7 of the parent act, whose citizens are recognized as British subjects. Singapore, as the Senate will be well aware, is no longer a British colony but has achieved the status of a separate member of the British Commonwealth of Nations. The United Kingdom Government has already enacted legislation to include the new State in the list of Commonwealth countries whose citizens are British subjects under the law of the United Kingdom. The enactment of corresponding legislation by each member nation of the British Commonwealth is expected to follow in accordance with the practice whereby each country of the Commonwealth recognizes the citizens of the other members as having the common national status of British subjects.
In Australia, we have in fact already accorded such recognition to Singapore citizens. In order to do so with the least possible delay, a regulation was made under the Nationality and Citizenship Act declaring the State of Singapore to be a country to which section 7 of the act applies. Clause 3 of the bill proposes that the new State shall be named in the act itself, as are all other Commonwealth nations. The regulation made earlier for the sake of swift recognition will be repealed upon the enactment of clause 3.
The next objective of the bill is to remove a restriction upon the right of certain Australians abroad to have the births of their children registered at Australian consulates, and so enable the children to become Australian citizens by descent. At the present time, section 1 1 (2.) of the principal act prohibits the registration of a child’s birth when all the following circumstances exist: -
This provision is now regarded as unsatisfactory, for two reasons. The first reason is that it is often extremely difficult to say whether or not the Australian father is ordinarily resident in Australia. Often cases arise in which Australians have for some years been working in British Commonwealth countries - for example, in Malaya and Singapore - without actually maintaining a home here, but also without abandoning all intention of returning here when their employment ends. In such cases, it becomes impossible to decide with certainty, and with assured justice to the parties, whether the father is “ ordinarily resident in Australia”, and our consulates are continually being faced with such insoluble questions. The second cause for dissatisfaction with section 1 1 (2.) of the act is that it creates anomalies, arising from the fact that Australians settled in foreign countries can readily secure Australian citizenship for their children born in those countries, whereas if they have children born to them in a British country, the children may be debarred for registration. It is not always adequate consolation to the parents, in the latter case, that their children have become citizens of another Commonwealth country, and British subjects.
The original objective of section 1 1 (2.) was to reduce the number of cases of “ dual citizenship “ - that is, of cases where a person becomes a citizen of more than one country of the British Commonwealth. It remains true that the creation of too many cases of dual citizenship would negate the advantages of having a separate citizenship for each Commonwealth country; but it is also true that we cannot reasonably avoid having substantial numbers of such cases and that the repeal of section 11 (2.) will not add very significantly to those numbers. The conclusion has therefore been reached that the disadvantages of this subsection of the act outweigh its advantages. Clause 4 therefore proposes to repeal section 1 1 (2.) of the principal act so that all Australians, whether resident in British or in foreign countries, may register the births of their children at our consulates and so secure Australian citizenship for them.
The bill’s third objective is the further simplification of the naturalization process by the elimination of the requirement, in section 15 (5.) of the principal act, that as a general rule a certificate of naturalization shall not be granted - irrespective of the length of the applicant’s residence in Australia - until six months after the date of application for the certificate. The effect of this provision of the act has been that a great many applications have had to be held in suspense for many weeks following the completion of the department’s inquiries and other action. The twin objectives of section 1 5 (5.) were to discourage the “ opportunist “ attitude to citizenship and to give ample time to check the applicant’s suitability for citizenship. It is now considered that these objectives can be met without specific legislative provision. The Minister is empowered by the act to grant or withhold naturalization. By use of this power, without section 15 (5.) it can be ensured that the “ opportunist “ attitude is discouraged when it is evident and that naturalization is not granted before inquiries are completed. The repeal of section 15(5.) will make it possible, as a rule, for certificates of naturalization to be granted within a very few weeks after the applications are received. Accordingly clause 5 proposes the repeal of that subsection of the principal act.
The next proposal is to abolish the practice of keeping duplicate copies of all certificates of registration and naturalization. In the course of a full examination of the department’s organization and methods, attention was drawn to the very considerable clerical effort and storage space involved in the long-established practice of keeping duplicates of all certificates of registration and naturalization issued. A consequence of our large-scale immigration to Australia has been that such certificates are being issued at a rate approaching 50,000 every year - a very marked contrast to the few hundreds being issued annually when the practice of keeping duplicates was instituted. It is of course essential that there should be a most careful and complete record kept of each certificate issued but this can much more cheaply, and just as effectively, be done by the keeping of small cards, setting out the essential particulars, than by keeping very large duplicates.
Section 42 (a) of the principal act however at present places a statutory obligation upon the Minister to see that duplicates are kept. Section 46 (3.) moreover stipulates that the method of proving a certificate in legal proceedings shall be by producing an officially certified copy of the certificate - and as long as this remains the law the Department of Immigration will continue to receive requests for certified copies, which can only be issued if duplicates are made of all certificates at the time of issue. And finally, section 47 (2.) also refers to the notation of the duplicate certificates when originals are amended. If the cumbersome: practice of keeping duplicates is to be dropped, as it obviously should, then these three provisions of the principal act all require to be repealed.
Clause 6 (a) of the bill in effect repeals paragraph (a), of section 42. Clause 8 repeals section 46 (3.). Clause 9 proposes the insertion of a new section, 46a, subsection 4 of which suggests a new manner of proof of certificates of registration and. naturalization - that is, when someone needs evidence of his own or another person’s naturalization he would obtain from the department “ an evidentiary certificate “, not purporting to be a copy of the original certificate, but compiled from small cards to be kept by the department and supplying all the information necessary. Clause 10 in. effect deletes from section 47 (2.) the reference to notations on copies of certificates.,
Fifthly, it is proposed to abolish the’ public’s- right of direct access to departmental records of certificates issued. Ever since the first Commonwealth act relating to naturalization was passed, in 1903, it has been a provision of the law that the Minis ter “ shall permit any person, at all reasonable times to inspect the indexes “ of persons naturalized; and such a provision still exists in section 42 (c) of the Nationality and Citizenship Act. The continuance of this provision is considered undesirable on two grounds. The first is the danger that the indexes might be used for wrong purposes; for example, new settlers might well be concerned if information as to their whereabouts could readily be obtained direct from the department’s records by agents of the government of their homelands. The second consideration is that the records must be kept in proper order and this would be impossible if members of the public could handle the indexes at will. Clause 6 (a) of the bill therefore proposes to repeal, the objectionable part of section 42 (c) of the principal act..
It is however considered that in abolishing the right of direct access, there should be substituted a right for any one to secure an evidentiary certificate relating to any person’s acquisition of Australian citizenship, stating names, dates of acquisition, and former’ nationalities - but not addresses or other information of which wrongful use could be made. Further, it is felt that quite comprehensive information should be made available, as a matter of right, if the person seeking it is the person’ who was naturalized or if the information is needed for legal proceedings. AH’ of these effects are sought by clause 9 of the bill which proposes to’ insert a new section 46a in the principal act.
The last objective of. the bill is to amend, the provision, in section 42 (d) of the principal act, as. to the nature of the annual statistical return which the Minister is required to furnish to Parliament, relating, to the. grant of certificates of registration or naturalization. There can be no doubt that this return should relate to the number of persons who have, in fact acquired Australian citizenship. But as the act stands, the Minister- has to furnish: a return, of certificates which have been granted Certificates of naturalization do not confer citizenship upon, grantees who are over sixteen years1 of age unless and until they subsequently take- the oath of allegiance; and quite often certificates are granted’ which do not become effective because thegrantees fail, for one reason or another; to take the oath. Clause 6 (b) accordingly proposes that the return should indicate, not the number of certificates granted, but the number of persons who have become Australian citizens during the year.
It will be evident that the bill contemplates no real policy changes or other controversial matters. I commend it to the Senate as a measure which, though not of great general import, makes necessary changes in the principal act.
Debate (on motion by Senator Arnold) adjourned.
In committee: Consideration resumed from 11th November (vide page 1399).
Department of the Interior.
Proposed Vote, £5,115,000.
Miscellaneous Services - Department of the Interior.
Proposed Vote, £138,300.
Proposed Vote, £300,000.
War and Repatriation Services - Miscellaneous - Department of the Interior.
Proposed Vote, £287,000.
Australian War Memorial.
Proposed Vote, £94,300. (Ordered to be considered together.)
– I refer to Division No. 632, item 5, which relates to the grant to the Australian National Travel Association. The amount appropriated last year was £102,171. The amount proposed for this year is £100,000. I do not know the reason for this small difference. Even though the proposed amount might seem to the Government to be generous compared with the amount provided for this purpose before the war, it would seem that the present proposal is only keeping pace with increased costs. I hold the view that even before the war the amount granted by this Government for advertising Australia overseas was not nearly enough. Since then, the tourist industry has grown tremendously and I submit that to grant to the Australian National Travel Association a sum which is really only in conformity with what was granted before the war does not do Australia justice.
Great Britain spends approximately £1,000,000 a year in advertising what she has to offer in the way of tourist attractions. Although Australia may not be as densely populated as Great Britain, the cost of advertising would be about the same. I feel that if it is desired to make a real impact upon the minds of people overseas we should make a much bigger grant than the £100,000 now proposed. I ask the Minister to give the matter further consideration.
As an example which might guide him in his deliberations, I point out that Australia spends £380,000 in Great Britain and some £200,000 in other countries - a total of £580,000 - on advertising for the purpose of promoting overseas trade. That is for the purpose of selling our products, both primary and manufactured. The selling of the tourist attractions of this country can be likened to the selling of our products. During the term of the Chifley Government a conference of State and Federal Government officers was held and it was decided that the tourist business was an industry, and that, in effect, tourist attractions are products just the same as any manufactured product. Sir Earle Page once said that when you sell your scenery, it is the only product which you retain afterwards.
I ask the Minister whether consideration cannot be given to making available a much larger grant in order properly to publicise this country abroad. When our High Commissioner in Great Britain, Sir Eric Harrison, returned to Australia recently, he mentioned the case of a businessman who was absolutely ignorant of things Australian. We have also had instances of other businessmen coming back from overseas who have deplored the lack of knowledge of Australia abroad. If an amount of £580,000 is being spent in trade publicity to make it possible for us to sell more of our goods overseas, surely £100,000 is a very small amount to spend on publicity to encourage travel to Australia. I know that it is quite possible that the Government will say that it is up to the people in the tourist industry to play their part. They are, of course, matching on a. £l-for-£l basis £50,000 of the Government’s appropriation. The Government must realize that the development of the tourist industry will help to restore our overseas balances, because Australian tourists spend more money abroad than travellers spend in Australia. Income from the tourist industry is taxable and the more profitable the industry the greater is the return to revenue.
I therefore ask the Minister why only £100,000 is to be appropriated this year for tourist activities. I also ask the Minister whether he will give consideration to a much greater increase in the appropriation for this particular item because of the necessity for much wider publicity of Australia in overseas countries, and because of the high cost of making the name of a country known outside its own borders.
– I wish to refer to the proposed vote for the Australian National Travel Association, and to support the remarks of Senator Wood who stressed the need to provide additional moneys for that association. I congratulate the honorable senator from Queensland for displaying such a broad view in his desire to encourage overseas tourists to Australia. He mentioned that on trade publicity, which is under the charge of another Minister, we were spending an amount of £380,000 a year in Great Britain and in other countries an amount of £200,000 a year. I understand that the amount to be spent in the United Kingdom this year has been reduced by approximately £10,000, but that the amount to be spent in other countries has been increased by more than £53,000.
As the honorable senator mentioned, the bringing of tourists to this country is in the nature of extra trade for Australia because the people who come here bring money with them and leave it in Australia when they return. I should like to know whether any of this extra money to be spent in countries outside Australia is being used to publicize tourism. I feel very deeply on this subject because Australia’s trade balance in respect of tourism was down about £20,000,000 last financial year. In other words, the money provided for tourists going out of Australia was in the vicinity of £28,000,000 whereas we collected from people coming to Australia only the small sum of £8,000,000. Australia cannot, afford to allow this discrepancy to continue.
Apart from what the States are doing in this field the only organization we have to publicize Australia abroad is the Australian National Travel Association. The amount of money Australia is spending on tourist publicity, compared with what even New Zealand is spending, is infinitesimal. New Zealand is spending two or three times the amount that we are spending overseas on tourism. I believe that it is vital in the interests of Australia that the Commonwealth should get the States to come together with a view to encouraging them to form one central body to advertise Australia abroad. We notice that a Premier who goes to England, Europe or America, announces on his return that he has publicized his own particular State. I believe that we should sell Australia as Australia and not as a number of States. It is not possible for a Premier to sell his own particular State. I have noticed that even” some local authorities and municipalities have sent their secretaries abroad.
– They sell one against the other.
– Yes. They try to encourage tourists to come to their own particular municipalities. How ridiculous can the position become! If you go to Europe and mention Tasmania or Queensland, you will find that no one has ever heard of those States. If you mention Western Australia, probably a few people will have heard of it. However, if you mention Australia they know what you are talking about. When we advertise Australia we should advertise it as one nation and not just one part of it.
There has been a terrific increase in the number of people travelling to the South Pacific area. It needs only a little extra publicity to encourage people from America and Europe to come to Australia. The amount of money that is being appropriated is not sufficient to cover the publicity that is necessary to attract these people to Australia. I, like Senator Wood, should like to see more money made available, and I should like this Parliament to pay a lot more attention to this subject. One thing that this Parliament can do is to combine the efforts of the States and encourage them to bring tourists to this country.
– Are the States represented on the Australian National Travel Association?
– Yes, but the amount of money that they contribute to the association is very small indeed.- Two or three years ago the Commonwealth was contributing between £30,000 and £40,000 per annum, but the States were contributing, in all, only about £1,000 per annum. The Commonwealth has now increased its grant to £50,000, plus another £50,000 on a £l-for-£l basis.
– That means that the organization can get £150,000 per annum.
-Yes. I believe it to be the responsibility of every member of the Parliament to consider seriously how the Parliament can best encourage more tourists to come to Australia. The subject is vital to us as a nation. Twenty million pounds a year is a lot of money, but that is what wc are losing each year. If £150,000 were spent upon advertising abroad, the deficit would be substantially reduced. Once people began to come to Australia in larger numbers, they would, if they had enjoyed proper facilities, go back home and tell their friends to come here, too. Then, instead of losing £20,000,000 every year, we should have, perhaps, a credit balance of £20,000,000 each year.
I should like to conclude by emphasizing, yet again, the need for every member ot the Parliament to give this matter a lot of thought, so that, as a Parliament, we shall be able to do more to encourage tourists to visit Australia.
.- I refer to Division No. 232, which relates to the Electoral Branch of the Department of the Interior, and I wish to discuss the Commonwealth Electoral Act and its administration. I am sure that the Minister will recall my asking, in a question addressed to him on 12th March, 1959, concerning the high proportion of informal votes at the last elections, whether it was time to get away from a completely preferential voting system and to adopt an optional preference system, and whether there should be a different approach to the administration of the Electoral Act, as well as changes in the act itself. The Minister promised thai what I had said would be taken into consideration, and that if any amendments were proposed, they would be put before the Parliament. I had asked that if any amending legislation was prepared, people with experience in the various political parties should have a chance of expressing their views on it before it was placed formally before the Parliament.
One of the matters that is exercising my mind is the very peculiar attitude that is adopted to the qualifications of candidates. First, the requirements vary as between the States and the Commonwealth. There is the rather ridiculous position that although in some State elections a person with a criminal record cannot nominate, in a Federal election he can. In other words, such a person is apparently considered undesirable as a member of a State parliament, but he is eligible to sit in the Federal Parliament. It should not be hard to reach uniformity in that matter. After all, the departmental officers who would make the necessary recommendations would be highly skilled persons.
The other matter to which I wish to refer relates specifically to Federal elections. Most of us know that there are certain things which disqualify a person from nominating as a candidate. In most countries, bankruptcy is a ground for disqualification. However, there is nothing to prevent a candidate from submitting a nomination, knowing full well that if he is elected he cannot take his seat in the Parliament. He can put the Electoral Branch to the expense of presenting him to the people, though, if he is successful, another election has to be held. Surely there is a prima facie case for requiring a statutory declaration as to eligibility from any candidate, with an appropriate legal penalty if an offence is committed.
In one electorate, during the last elections, a man who nominated was told that his nomination was out of order. I may add that he was not a bankrupt. As was his right, he lodged an appeal within 24 hours, but a decision was not given until almost the eve of the election. Then he was told that he could stand, but was warned that any success would probably be open to challenge. What sort of a law is it that leaves such matters up in the air, and places a responsibility - by inference anyway - upon an opposing candidate to appeal if a doubtful nominee is successful at an election? The candidate is able to say to himself, “ If I win, everything will be all right, and if I lose I can appeal against this fellow’s nomination”.
Such matters as that scream out for attention and action. I do not think that there would be much controversy if they were remedied. If you would not be allowed to sit in the Parliament, surely you should not be allowed to stand for election. Surely the responsibility should be thrown on the candidate, at the time when he applies for nomination.
T should like the Minister to say whether anything is moving in the department in the direction of overhauling the Electoral Act, or of rejecting full preferential voting in favour of the optional preference system. It is unsatisfactory to have narrow decisions when the vote that could reverse the decision is lying in the informal box. If any committee is appointed to consider these questions, I ask that members of the public be given an opportunity to put their views before it.
– We have been told that the residents of Canberra are the most intelligent block of voters in the country - that there are more Bachelors of Arts and Masters of Arts here proportionately than anywhere else in Australia. Why then, are these people not given a vote in the election of the Senate? It does not seem to me to be democratic to exclude our most intelligent block of people. The Government has built up this great administrative area and has brought to it the so-called cream of the intelligentsia in Australia. I do not agree, of course* that they are necessarily the most intelligent group in the Commonwealth, but [ cannot help wondering why they should be denied the privilege of voting in elections for the Senate.
The Government should spend a little more upon bringing election methods in this country up to date. I have raised this matter in the Senate on other occasions. I do not think that under the present system, democracy is working out as we intend that it should. I should like to refer again to this matter, as I think that what I want to- say needs saying.. In the average electorate of New South Wales or of any other State, where there are 40,000 voters-
The CHAIRMAN (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid). - Order! The time allotted for the consideration of the proposed votes has expired.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Australian Capital Territory.
Proposed Vote, £4,191,000.
Department of Territories.
Proposed Vote, £310,000.
Proposed Vote, £5,881,000.
Proposed Vote, £32,000.
Papua and New Guinea.
Proposed Vote, £13,142,000.
Cocos (Keeling) Islands.
Proposed Vote, £36,000. (Ordered to be considered together.)
– I refer to Division No. 766, General Services, Australian Capital Territory, sub-division 3, item 11, which relates to the recoupment of the State of New South Wales for payments under the Child Welfare Act and in maintenance of juvenile offenders and mental patients in State institutions. I wish to deal in particular with the first section, which relates to juvenile offenders. While we hear so much of the advantages that exist in Canberra, the high standard of educational institutions, and the fact that most parents are in receipt of fairly good incomes compared with those in State capital cities, it does strike me that something is wrong when we find that a substantial portion of the sum of £28,000 has to be spent on the maintenance of juvenile offenders.
Throughout the world to-day, a great deal is said about problems of juvenile delinquency. I should like to see the Government do something about this problem, which is not confined to any one State or to this Territory. I suggest that it should establish some kind of committee, perhaps one from this Senate composed of senators from both sides and of both sexes, in order to investigate the problem. In the meantime, I should like to know whether there is nol some way in which the Australian Capital Territory itself could provide a home or some kind of training for so-called juvenile delinquents, instead of having to send them to New South Wales. In my dealings with juvenile delinquents, which extend over a number of years, I have found that if these children are taken completely out of their environment to a new milieu, it sometimes tends to make them worse. There should be some kind of supervision here, in their home city, where they would not lose touch with their families completely. I do not think that many families are completely undesirable for their children. There would be merely an odd one or two. Judging from the remarks of one magistrate, apparently there is a problem here. It may be only small, in which case we do not want it to get any bigger. I should like to see something done in Canberra to deal with juvenile delinquents without having recourse to sending them to New South Wales institutions.
I refer now to the item which relates to the care of aboriginals at Jervis Bay settlement. I should like to know whether the amount proposed to be appropriated will be affected in any way by the recent amendment to the social services legislation to enable the making of social service payments to certain aboriginals. I should like to know how many aboriginals there are at Jervis Bay settlement for whom these payments will be made.
I refer now to the item, which relates to local government registration. I thought that local government was something that Canberra did not have. It is intensely desirable that there should be a form of local government here, and not merely an advisory council. I suppose it is for the Advisory Council that the proposed payment is to be made. The people of the Australian Capital Territory should have full rights of citizenship, including responsibility for their own civic affairs, such as is possessed by citizens in all other cities, towns and hamlets throughout Australia.
– I refer to Division No. 751, General Services, Northern Territory, and in particular to sub-division 4, item 10, assistance to and development of mining industry. I notice that in 1958-59 an amount of £18,000 was provided for this purpose, of which only £1,517 was spent.
I should like to know what form the assistance takes, and whether it is used to help a prospector, who finds a mineral deposit and wishes to conduct mining operations, with the installation of plant and equipment. Is he given financial assistance by the Northern Territory Administration or by the Bureau of Mineral Resources?
I believe that assistance to the small prospector is very important, particularly taking into consideration the support and assistance that are given in other countries to people wishing to conduct mining operations after a mineral deposit is found.
– It is given here to some mining companies, if they are big enough.
– That is so, although I do not agree with the words, “ if they are big enough “. As honorable senators know, State mines departments do make money available to prospectors or the owners of leases for the installation of plant and equipment to conduct mining operations, but because of financial disabilities the States cannot find as much money as is sometimes needed. I find that in America and Canada, the mines departments or their counterparts make available, subject to the approval of a Minister, up to 90 per cent, of the money needed by a mine-owner to equip a mine.
– For what sort of mining?
– Mining for any of the base metals - lead, copper and zinc. Upon studying the mining acts of those countries, I find that much more assistance is given there than is given in Australia. I suppose that that is largely because of the set-up of the Australian States, which have not the finance available. Mining is a very important industry to Australia. We produce over £200,000,000 worth of minerals a year. If further moneys were made available to prospectors and mine-owners who wished to develop old mines that are not completely explored, or to equip new mines, the mineral production of this country would considerably increase. I ask the Minister: What form does this assistance take in the Northern Territory? I am interested in that matter because the Northern Territory is remote from, the States. I am amazed to find that although £18,000 was made available in 1958-59, expenditure was only £1,517.
.- I wish to refer to the proposed vote for the Department of Territories and to deal particularly with the Northern Territory. During the last four or five years it has been my good fortune to travel to the Northern Territory on several occasions as a member of the Public Works Committee. I have been able to watch the development of the Territory. Because of its remoteness, members of this Parliament, and others who are comfortably situated in the southern States, are sometimes not fully appreciative of the tremendous problem that faces us in the Northern Territory, nor do they appreciate to the full the wonderful work that ii being done there, despite the fact that the administration is more or less operating on a shoe-string budget.
During the period of which I have spoken, I have seen the completion of new wharf accommodation at Darwin, and I have seen the establishment of regular shipping schedules so that the people of Darwin and the hinterland may be able to order their supplies and expect them to arrive in good condition and within a reasonable period. I have also seen the construction of a new Legislative Council building and establishments for the central administration. I have seen tremendous development in the housing programme.
Along with this development, there exists a great need for a central plan for Darwin to be quickly evolved. An investigation was made by Dr. Langer, and as a result, we have a general conception of what the shape of the central part of Darwin should be, but because of the expanding population of the city, I believe that there is a great need for a definite plan. I invite the attention of the committee to the housing problem in the Northern Territory. As the administration grows, the housing needs of departmental officers and other employees also grow. An important factor is that those who are not employed in the Public Service have exactly the same housing need as have the public servants. Yet, little provision is made for the ordinary citizen of Darwin, who is not a public servant, to obtain accommodation. I personally have found that this has a very disturbing influence.
The problem that faces the Northern Territory, of course, is the problem that faces all pioneering and frontier areas, lt involves the need for the people there to put down their roots and to form permanent associations with the place. It has been said, sometimes jokingly but more often seriously, that people in Darwin never unpack their suitcases; that they just go there temporarily. I must say that until the last five or six years there was very little in Darwin to make people feel any sense of permanency. But with the proposals to improve schooling facilities, and with the general development of the place, I believe that the tendency for people to feel permanent there will grow. It should be the policy of the Government to try to find out how to cultivate a sense of civic responsibility in the residents of Darwin, so that people will be prepared to go there, to bring up their children and to form the succession on which every well-established and vigorous community is based.
The Government should examine the root causes of the basic discontent of people in the Territory. I should say that one of the most important factors is the lack of housing for craftsmen, tradesmen, technicians and other people, who are, perhaps, employees of contractors and who have been attracted to Darwin by many of its features. After all, although the climate of the north has wide variations, some people enjoy it. They feel free and easy in it. They feel that they are not weighed down by the heavy clothing that we have to wear in the southern States. There is in the north a spirit, an Australian quality, that is very pleasant. The further north you go, Mr. Chairman, the greater is the spirit of fellowship and brotherhood. You find the best of what is known as “ Australianism “ amongst the Queenslanders and Territorians.
– What about as you go south?
– I had the good fortune to be born in the south. To be serious, Mr. Chairman, I think we all should apply ourselves to the problem of finding ways to introduce a sense of permanency in the minds of people in the Northern Territory. The members of the Administration are aware of the importance of this need, but of course they have to balance their budget. They have to work in accordance with the appropriations that are made available to them. I have seen a tendency, all along the line, for them to say, “This problem is a very great one. We will have to skimp here to be able to provide something there.” All the time, they arc more or less having to adopt makeshift arrangements, rather than being able to establish permanent situations. It has been my experience through life that often there is nothing so permanent as something that is done temporarily.
I should like to pay a tribute to the great work that is being done by the Animal Industry Branch in its research into a matter that I believe concerns a basic need of the Territory. It has obtained some very fine results from its experiments, and I feel certain that when its findings are applied to primary industry generally in the Territory, this will encourage a feeling of permanency by the residents.
While 1 was in the Northern Territory, 1 had the good fortune to visit the ricegrowing area. I travelled along with one of the headers in order to have a look at the irrigation system. I am very proud to know that the citizens of the Northern Territory have developed this tremendously important project, and it gave me great pleasure to see the beautiful, golden-coloured grain being harvested by Australian-built headers, operated by experienced Australians. I understand that about ten of them have been given an opportunity to undertake share farming in the area. This, also, will increase their feeling of permanency.
While I was speaking to some of the young men who are working in the Northern Territory, they told me that they would like to have their families there with them. One told me that his wife was a school teacher, and consequently he knew the value of education, but he went on to say that, due to the overcrowding in the schools in Darwin, he and his wife felt that they might not be able to provide their children, if they came to Darwin, with the educational opportunities that they should have. There is a great need for more money to be made available for education in the Northern Territory. I emphasize that the provision of educational facilities there is as important as the provision of housing.
As a result of experiments that have been conducted by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in agriculture, there are now good prospects for the production, on a sound economic basis, of peanuts, lucerne, grain sorghum, and other primary products, so establishing the basis of a sound economy in the Northern Territory.
I should like to direct the attention of the Minister to the necessity to ensure that the road from Alice Springs to Darwin is maintained adequately. As we know, that road was built quickly. It is one of the few good things which came out of the horrors of the last war. The necessity to construct the road became apparent during the emergency of the war, and it is now a very great asset to Australia. As with other matters in the Northern Territory, in this instance finance is the bugbear. Due to the fact that only makeshift repairs to the road have been effected, considerable portions of it are now deteriorating. It would be a tremendous pity if this important lifeline were allowed to deteriorate any further. I would not like to hazard a guess as to whether ultimately the railway line from Townsville to Mr Isa, which is to be re-constructed, will be extended to Darwin. The value of Darwin as a port is increasing. Large quantities of metals and ores are transported over the northsouth road from Tennant Creek to Darwin, and this, together with the fact that road trains conveying cattle also use the road, emphasizes the need for it to be properly maintained. It may even become necessary to re-lay sections of it. I urge the Government to give close attention to this matter in order to prevent transport costs in the Northern Territory from rising, which would hinder the further development of the Territory.
I should like to revert to the aspect of populating the Northern Territory that I previously mentioned. I feel that the development of closer contacts between the residents of the Northern Territory and those of Canberra and other southern parts of Australia would have an important bearing on people deciding to remain permanently in the Northern Territory. I believe that many residents of the Territory suffer from a feeling of isolation.
Many of them do not agree with the constitution of the Northern Territory Legislative Council. As the majority of the members of the council are nominated by the Administration, the fate of many matters dealt with by the council is a foregone conclusion before they go to a vote.
– Just as in this chamber.
– That is so. They feel that, no matter how high their sights are set, and how far away their horizons, the matters are predetermined. Recently, the Australian Capital Territory Representation Act was amended to provide that the member for the Australian Capital Territory may vote on a few additional matters concerning the Territory he represents. I feel that there should be a concerted effort made to persuade the Government to give to the member for the Northern Territory full voting rights. That would give a fillip to him.
– And to the people he represents.
– Yes, they feel that as their member’s voting power is so circumscribed and limited they are not regarded as being equal to people in the rest of Australia. I say that, in all respects, they are equal. They are good citizens and they are contributing fully to the development of this country. They are doing a good job of work.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
[12.41]. - I should like, first, to deal with Senator Scott’s inquiry concerning mining development. The Northern Territory Mining Development Ordinance provides for repayable advances to be made to miners engaged on developmental mining, and to prospectors. In addition, subsidies are granted to miners in respect of developmental ore crushings and for the purpose of assisting miners in the cartage of such ore to the batteries. These subsidies are payable on a sliding scale basis, depending on the value of the ore and the distance of cartage. The proposed vote of £12,000 includes provision for £7,000 for advances in connexion with mining generally, £3,500 for the purchase of explosives, and £1,500 for sub sidies on ore cartage. I may say that the expenditure from the vote for the last financial year was only £1,517, but it is estimated that in this financial year 8,000 tons of tailings will be purchased and treated. That is the reason for the additional provision now being made.
asked to be furnished with particulars in relation to the proposed vote of £28,000 to recoup the State of New South Wales for payments made under the Child Welfare Act of 1923. I inform her that the payment is made under an agreement with the State to provide for the maintenance of citizens of the Australian Capital Territory who are in mental hospitals and institutions in New South Wales under the control of the Child Welfare Department of that State. Provision is made in this proposed vote to defray the expenses of child welfare officers stationed in Canberra. I might add that, as Canberra goes ahead, appropriate accommodation will be provided here.
With respect to the proposed vote of £3,797 for local government registrations, under Division No. 766, 1 inform the honorable senator that this is the estimated amount of expenditure associated with motor registration and dog registration, including the printing of forms, transportation of inspectors, &c, and the purchase of number plates.
The honorable senator referred also to the care of aboriginals at the Jervis Bay settlement. At present, there are approximately 130 aboriginals being cared for at this settlement. The amount of £5,500 is needed to recoup the State of New South Wales for its expenditure in connexion with the settlement. I think that the aboriginals at the Jervis Bay settlement will be entitled, under the social services legislation recently passed, equally with aboriginals in other parts of the Commonwealth, to receive social service benefits.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
Proposed votes agreed to.
– The next group includes the proposed votes for the Department of Works, the Postmaster-General’s Department and Broadcasting and Television Services. We shall take first the proposed vote for the Department of Works.
Department of Works.
Proposed Vote, £3,915,000.
– As you know, Mr. Chairman, we were not consulted on these matters. During the morning, I learned that many honorable senators are desirous of speaking to the proposed votes for the Postmaster-General’s Department and Broadcasting and Television Services. I feel that they are prepared to sacrifice some of their time on the proposed vote for the Department of Works to enable them to devote as much time as possible to a discussion of the proposed votes for the Postmaster-General’s Department and for Broadcasting and Television Services.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed Vote, £105,066,000.
Broadcasting and Television Services.
Proposed Vote, £9,626,000. (Ordered to be considered together.)
Senator BRANSON (Western Australia) L2.17]. - I refer to Division No. 733, subdivision 2, item 1 and wish to speak to phase four of the television programmes as it applies to Western Australia. There are many people in Western Australia who will not be viewing television until 1962, and I urge the Government to give consideration to the installation of Adler transmitter equipment for the benefit of some country areas in that State.
I emphasize that the Adler translator is not an originating television broadcasting unit; it is merely a relay unit. As I feel that there has been some quite confused thinking about these units, I shall describe them. They are of two sizes - of 10 and 150 watt capacity. They are television rebroadcasting stations which re-transmit the programmes of originating stations to any isolated area or one which may be deprived of direct reception by reason of distance or terrain barrier.
One important factor is that an operator is not required to man the installation as the carrier wave of the main station operates the transmitter, automatically switching it on and off. Under ideal line-of-sight conditions where there are no natural obstructions, the 10-watt unit can transmit for a distance of up to 75 miles. I went to the trouble of finding out from America the cost of these units landed at Fremantle. The figures 1 obtained include the cost of the aerial, packing charges and estimated cartage, ocean freights, insurance and forwarders’ fees. The small 10-watt unit with a capacity to relay up to approximately 75 miles would cost only £2,100 landed at Fremantle. The larger 150-watt unit which gives a coverage in excess of 100 miles would cost only £8,000 landed in Fremantle. Such a unit could be used to beam a given area, or to cover a full 360 degree circle.
Another interesting factor is that these units give a very high quality picture in colour or in black and white. One is in use at Cave Mountain in America, That installation picks up the programme broadcast from Salt Lake City, approximately 170 miles away and serves the town of Ely. The installation at Cave Mountain also transmits that programme to another Adler translator in Nevada, 78 miles away which re-transmits it to other centres. It is interesting to note that in Arizona, California and Nevada there are over 70 of these units in operation, and over 200 are used throughout the world. i
I do not think there is a general appreciation of just how cheap these units are despite their effectiveness. For instance, to replace the whole of the tubes in the smaller 10-watt translator, which gives a coverage up to 75 miles, would cost approximately 100 American dollars or about £50 Australian. To give the Senate some idea of the size of these units, I point out that the larger unit which gives coverage up to 100 miles is only 22 inches wide, 84 inches high, and 20 inches deep and weighs only 400 lb. The smaller unit with a maximum capacity of 75 miles is only 22 inches wide, 42 inches high and 17 inches deep and weighs only 250 lb. I believe that they are so constructed as to be completely weatherproof, and they do not require an attendant.
The American Federal Communications Commission, which, I believe is similar to our Australian Broadcasting Commission, called for a report from the Television Allocations Study Group on these units. Part of that report reads -
Television signals were reported as being picked up and retransmitted from stations varying from 43 to 220 miles distant, the average distance being 110 miles. In general, service was reported to be good, with only minor difficulties in operation being experienced. Translators appear to be effective in providing television service in areas remote from regular broadcasting stations. They also appear to be effective in providing service in areas of low signal strength within the “ normal “ service areas of television stations.
In Western Australia there is one station situated at Bickly Hill, which I believe is the site chosen for the erection of any further masts. There is one physical feature at York which blankets an area a» far distant as Kalgoorlie. I refer to Mount Bakewell. Because of this barrier, the people of that area are doomed to be without television until such time as stations are erected on the other side of the Darling Range. With all the force at my command, I urge the Minister to use whatever influence he has to persuade the Postmaster-General to consider installing one of these very inexpensive units at Mount Bakewell, York, as a trial unit with a view to ascertaining how effectively they will work in Australia.
If the Government could not see its way clear to installing an £8,000 unit, perhaps it would consider installing a £2,000 unit at this spot as an experiment to ascertain whether it is possible to give television facilities to those very worthy people in a great part of the country area of Western Australia who at present are faced with the possibility of being without television until some time in 1962.
– I desire to say a few words about the content of television programmes and the type of programmes that are being shown in Australia at the present time. In order to do so, I shall quote from the report of the Advisory Committee on Children’s Television Programmes of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. It discloses that in Melbourne during the whole of 1957-58 two commercial television companies showed programmes consisting of 63 per cent, and 50 per cent, of Australian materials. Two years later, the Australian content of the programme of one station had fallen from 63 per cent, to 41 per cent, and that of the other station had fallen from 50 per cent, to 35 per cent.
As to the type of films which our young children are watching, the committee said -
In one week in Melbourne, during the 47£ hours between 4.15 till 11 p.m., there was a total of 41) hours of crime films on the three channels - 22i on one commercial channel, 16 on the other and 3 on the national. Between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. there is an average of only 4) hours during the week when no crime film is being shown on any channel.
I bring this matter up because I feel that what 1 have just quoted is evidence of what has been going on for a number of years now. First of all we had the wireless, or the radio as it is now called. Then we had a succession of new publications of pictures and our children were taught to look at pictures rather than to read books. Following on that we had digests, and we even had digests of digests, cutting us right down in our reading. In the case of younger children who are cultivating an interest in literature, the danger of these publications is that they do away with the beauty of the prose that is included in many of our English works.
The books the children used to read when I was ten, eleven or twelve, or in my early teens, seem to have disappeared from the market altogether and in their place is this flood of comics and cheap literature. This is to be followed now in Australia, if we do not watch the situation very carefully, by a succession of television programmes of crime, murder, rape and all the rest of the things that we do not want young eyes to look at at all.
The figures I have quoted say more than I can possibly say. I ask the Australian Broadcasting Control Board to have another look at this situation to see whether it can stop what is going on at the present time. Our children and young people have a great heritage in our English literature. They will lose this heritage if they spend their evenings looking at these wretched, cheap, tawdry American films which pass for entertainment. I ask the Minister to take this matter up with his colleague the Postmaster-General to see whether something can be done in view of the figures which I have quoted from the very authority that is supposed to deal with this matter.
– I refer to Division No. 716 dealing with the Postmaster-General’s Department in Western Australia. I agree wholeheartedly with the submissions made by Senator Branson with regard to television in Western Australia but I think it is even more important that there should be an extension first of all of the ordinary radio facilities to the outback areas of the far north-west of the State, which at the present time have very limited radio facilities. The residents of those areas listen mainly to Radio Australia which often broadcasts in foreign languages. I should like to pay a great tribute to the aerial services of the west as they apply to the Flying Doctor and other services. The radio is of paramount importance in connexion with these services and has brought security to the residents of outback areas.
I should not like to be a party to denying the extension of television to anybody, but I think that before television is extended to areas which are already saturated with radio facilities, radio facilities should bc taken to the north-western and other isolated parts of our State.
Until quite recently there was in existence a very good little publication called the “ A.B.C. Weekly “. Members received copies of that publication through the courtesy of the commission. It contained not only television and radio programmes but also very good reading matter about some of the entertainment provided by radio. It contained also book reviews and descriptions of programmes which we did not see in Western Australia but were able to read about in the “A.B.C. Weekly”. Because the publication was not making a profit it has gone out of existence, and I understand that radio programmes can now be found in some other publication. In view of the value of the “ A.B.C. Weekly “ I ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral whether something could be done to restore this publication.
The next point with which I wish to deal is the big increases of postage introduced by the Postmaster-General’s Department. These increases make it particularly difficult for country people who have to rely so much on postal services. Not only has the cost of their ordinary mail facilities been increased but the cost of their most essential telephone requirements has also been increased by the recent legislation. I understand that the PostmasterGeneral’s Department comes under the heading of a business undertaking. We know that an ordinary business undertaking is expected to make a profit. That is all right, but when a government conducts a business undertaking the idea is not only to make a profit but also to give a public service. That, I maintain, is the main reason why any government enters into a business undertaking. Surely there is no greater business undertaking than that of keeping open the channels of communication between one portion of the world and another and the ordinary channels of communication between the citizens of the various parts of the world. So important is this channel of communication that the Government has rightly made its conduct one of its chief functions. To try to make the people who are using the Post Office and the telephones pay for the capital buildings of the undertaking is, I think, a very retrograde step.
As I have said quite often, I think some of recent legislation will defeat its own purpose because of the resistance that will be put up to having new telephones installed, to paying the increased postal charges, and to the terrific cost of sending a telegram. I think it would be interesting in a few months’ time if the PostmasterGeneral were to produce some statistics on this matter, comparing a set period with the same period of last year. They would show whether customer resistance has been as great as we are led to believe it to be at the present time, and they would show whether the department is losing rather than gaining as a result of the very severe increases. I desire now to mention another small improvement which should not be beyond the capacity of the Postmaster-General’s Department. I refer to the necessity to give a better mail service to people living in suburban areas. This morning’s “ Canberra Times “ contains a resume of the postal services available under the new scheme to residents of the Australian Capital Territory. It gives time-tables showing when mails are cleared and when letters will reach their destination. Similar useful information could be supplied for the benefit of people living in other parts of Australia. Such publicity could be given in newspapers or other publications in circulation in the several States. In this Senate we are supposed to be champions of decentralization, and therefore we must have regard to the requirements not only of the capital cities and suburban areas, but also of country areas. These newer and quicker methods of distributing mail which are supposed to be in operation do not mean much to country dwellers because of the inconvenient times at which mail boxes are sometimes cleared. I live in a suburb about 5 miles from the centre of the capital city of Perth. Letters posted locally after 11 o’clock on Saturday mornings are not despatched from the General Post Office at Perth for interstate destinations until the following Monday, and do not reach their destinations until Tuesday morning or Tuesday afternoon, even when addressed to other capital cities. I do not know -when such letters are delivered in country areas in other States. Honorable senators “will see that there is no time saved at all by letters being despatched in this way. I have repeatedly asked that there should be some way to keep suburban letter boxes open for clearing after the ordinary closing hours for business on Saturdays. It would be of advantage if the boxes were cleared after mid-day on Saturdays, or on Sundays, in time to catch the Sunday night plane from Perth. I think that could be done without a great deal of re-arrangement of schedules and without much expense.
As other honorable senators wish to speak, I shall not say more on this subject now. Hitherto, we have had an excellent postal service. Even now, there is not a great deal of criticism of the services rendered by the Postal Department; the criticism is mainly directed to the high charges, especially high telephone charges. The new rates will put telephones out of the reach of many people. I should like to see concessions granted to blind persons, paraplegics and invalid pensioners. I do not regard a telephone as a luxury in such cases. In a home where there is a permanent invalid or a blind person, a telephone is a necessity. We have been told that these new charges will result in more revenue to the department, and, therefore, I suggest that some of the extra money should be utilized to grant concessions to needy people such as I have mentioned, including both war pensioners and civil pensioners.
– I desire to direct attention to some items in ‘connexion with the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. First, I wish to congratulate the department on what I may call the first work-out of its positive policy, namely, its decision to carry all letters by air. The present position is that for 5d. a letter will receive express treatment. Like Senator Tangney, I was interested to see information about the despatch of letters from Canberra to other capital cities and from those capitals to Canberra. It is worthwhile to invite the attention of honorable senators to this rather remarkable transformation in connexion with communications throughout Australia. I shall speak mainly of the capital city of Adelaide because I know it best, and because I do not want to take up time unnecessarily by referring to other capital cities. Under the new arrangement, letters posted in Canberra at 8 o’clock in the morning reach the Adelaide airport at 1.3S p.m. on the same day. Letters posted at 4 p.m. reach Adelaide at 8.40 p.m., whilst those posted as late as 7.15 p.m. in Canberra are received in Adelaide at 8.55 o’clock the following morning, although routed via Sydney. Conversely, letters leaving the Adelaide G.P.O. early in the morning, including letters posted in the suburbs up to midnight, reach Canberra by 12 o’clock noon, and postal matter leaving Adelaide up to 1 p.m. reaches Canberra by 9 p.m. As I have said, that is a remarkable transformation in connexion with communications in Australia. It is all the more remarkable that such service can be rendered for a minimum fee of 5d. I think the Government is to be heartily congratulated on such a result, and I look forward with great anticipation to the next phase of the positive improvement policy in connexion with our postal services. I understand that that phase will come into operation in about March or April of next year. I refer to the telephone unit fee proposal under which people will be able to speak from one zone to another by paying a unit call fee. This new arrangement will enable telephone conversations between country places from 20 to 40 miles apart to be conducted for the unit call fee, whereas at the present time in most cases such conversations involve the making of trunk line calls based on a time limit of three minutes. We saw the first stage of this programme successfully launched on 1st November, and I repeat that I now look forward with great anticipation to .the second stage. This great improvement will, I feel sure, offset some of the disappointment we all felt when certain other charges were raised.
I now wish to offer some comments on the form in which legislation dealing with postal matters is presented to the Senate each year. In doing so, 1 cannot do better than refer to the way in which that legislation has been presented to us this year. You, Mr. Chairman, will, I am sure, pardon me if I make some reference to the attitude of the Chair which I shall do only by way of illustration to prove the point that I hope to make. In the Budget speech, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) explained that the new proposal concerning the Postmaster-General’s Department would mean an increase of revenue amounting to about £17,000,000. However, when the legislation authorizing the new charges was before the Senate, the Minister representing the Postmaster-General made a secondreading speech in which he dealt with a small bill of only three clauses and one small schedule and then continued to say a great deal about a memorandum dealing with regulations and covering 20 to 30 pages. Strictly, his speech should have referred only to the bill before the Senate. I hold the bill in my hand. It is only a small piece of paper, and is not the subject of the detailed speech delivered by the Minister. That speech dealt mainly with regulations. I admit that the Minister followed that course in a desire to be fair to the Senate, and I have no doubt that the occupant of the Chair at the time, in the same spirit, allowed him to continue. One can get well away from the provisions of the Standing Orders by presenting one’s legislation in such a manner.
The Government should consider introducing its budget for the post office in the form of an adequate measure, which would have to be passed by the two Houses after open debate. This year, it is a one-page act, but I have in front of me many pages of regulations which were quietly laid on the table of the Senate. But for the efforts and the interest of some of us, they would probably never be looked at by honorable senators, or by any one acting on their behalf. This kind of thing has been going on since 1902. One sees that the measure which we have just passed bears the dates 1902-1959. There could well have been 20 or 30 amendments of a word here and a word there, but literally hundreds and hundreds of regulations have been brought down. Such regulations, in fact, give effect to the Budget proposals. I think it was Senator Wright who said that the act covered the raising of only about £5,000,000 of extra revenue, but that the regulations - though they had. not been debated in the Senate - covered the expenditure of about £12,000,000.
I fervently urge the Minister representing the Postmaster-General to see that such legislation is submitted properly. The President would be justified in preventing the Minister, during his second-reading speech, from referring to regulations. The Minister would not be able to show him any reference to those regulations in the measure before the House. We are entitled to debate only the matters that have been raised by the Minister at the secondreading stage. Similarly, the Chairman of Committees could stifle debate on a matter involving the raising of some £12,000,000 or £13,000,000 merely by asking honorable senators to point to it in the bill. I feel that I must speak strongly to the department, through the Minister, on this point.
I congratulate the Government upon the calibre of the men who have been appointed to the committee which is to look into the way in which the accounts of the Postal Department are presented. One of the committee’s earliest tasks should be the making of recommendations to the Government on the way in which postal changes should be put before the Parliament. What is the good of our coming here for the ostensible purpose of debating increases in postal charges, when those increases are not put before the Senate in the way required by the Standing Orders? I ask the Minister to give me an answer to the question that I have raised, and to take it up with his colleague, the PostmasterGeneral, to see whether something can be put in hand at once to ensure that in future proposals for postal changes will be put before us in better shape.
.- I wish to refer to Part Hi.- Broadcasting and Television Services, and also to Part V. of the Budget Papers- Miscellaneous and Statistical, on the subject of the temporary and casual employees of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. On 20th
October, I put on notice a question seeking information on a series of matters. Those queries have not been answered, and I say that the answers have been deliberately withheld by the Australian Broadcasting Commission so that it could continue to deny the truth, and lie to the Government. One learns from Part V. of the Budget Papers that in 1958-1959 salaries and allowances in connexion with sound broadcasting activities amounted to £217,000. For 1959-60 the estimated expenditure is £230,000. The expenditure upon temporary and casual employees is to be reduced by some £300- - from £3,676 last year to £3,300 this year. I see a number of the officers of the Australian Broadcasting Commission sitting in the chamber. Does Mr. Gifford know that Mr. Butrose is a contract employee - a publicity officer at £2,000 a year?
– There are also other contract employees. They are acting in a casual capacity - a contract capacity. The Commission has caused this Government to lay a paper on this table that it knows does not contain correct information. Why was the information that I sought withheld? I asked for it on 20th October. True, Parliament got up for one week, but the Commission did not, and it had time to prepare an answer. T challenge the Australian Broadcasting Commission and its officers to show why this matter is not stated in a proper way. If you look through this document, you can find out how much the Director-General of Posts and Telegraphs receives by way of emolument. You can ascertain the salary of the secretary of the Department of Trade - and of every other department - but it is a different matter when you come to the Australian Broadcasting Commission. What wages does Mr. Moses receive? What wages will Mr. Duckmanton receive as Assistant General Manager? What wages will Dr. Barry receive as Assistant General Manager? What wages will Mr. Finlay receive as Assistant General Manager? When I get an answer to my question I shall certainly come back to the Senate - whether it be next week or the week after - to deal with the matter in a very different form.
– Let us not have so much dirty linen.
– I do not have to crawl, as you do. I can get along all right on my own. You have crawled for so long to the Australian Broadcasting Commission that we do not want to see any more of it. I put it to honorable senators that, for what the Commission has done here, and for its denial of information to which the Senate is entitled, it should be criticized in the strongest possible way. That is all I can say about the matter, because 1 have not the information that I expected to have to-day, having put the question on the notice-paper on 20th October.
– I should like to obtain some information from the Minister in connexion with Division No. 751, sub-division 4, item 3, which relates to the proposed provision for preschool centres in the Northern Territory. In 1958-59, an amount of £16,847 was appropriated.
– Order! Consideration of the vote for the Northern Territory has been completed.
– I refer to the line “ Less amount estimated to remain unexpended “ which appears a number of times in the estimates of the Postmaster-General’s Department. In the Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales the total proposed appropriation is £30,104,777, of which it is estimated that £7,942,777, or approximately 25 per cent., will remain unexpended. Similarly, in Victoria £8,202,842 of a total of £23,413,142, or about 33 per cent., is estimated to remain unexpended. Tn Queensland it is £1,765,496 of a total of £11,071,496, or about 15 per cent. In South Australia it is £1,638,491 of a total of £7,257,491, which is a little under 25 per cent. In Western Australia it is £1,740,390 of a total of £6,015,390, which is about 28 per cent. In Tasmania it is £1,055,602 of a total of £3,190,102, which is about 33 per cent. In the Northern Territory it is £51,991, of a total of £216,691. In the Central Office it is £415,856 of a total of £1,928,856, which is roughly 22i per cent. Thus, a total amount of £22,813,445 is estimated to remain unexpended. I hope that the Minister will give some explanation of this.
Senator COOKE (Western Australia) £2.58]. - I refer to the proposed vote for the Postmaster-General’s Department, and I wish to follow up the point made by Senator Mattner in relation to portions of votes remaining unexpended and the reasons why those amounts should remain unexpended. I have raised before the matter of the disparity between the estimates and expenditure of the department in various States. The department is rather prone to underestimate the cost of the installations and general maintenance to which the less developed areas of Western Australia are entitled. A good deal of development is taking place in Western Australia over a wide area. I ask the Minister to inform the committee whether the estimates submitted by the department in Western Australia have been pruned before the figures are finally put before the Parliament. Has there been a pruning of the estimated expenditure on projects that should have been in hand long ago and are still being requested? For quite some considerable time matters have been brought to the notice of the PostmasterGeneral and we have been promised that something will be done. Nothing has been done. Of course, the time available for us on this occasion to discuss these matters that have been raised ad infinitum over many years has been curtailed.
I direct the attention of the committee and of the department to the very poor radio reception in certain sections of Western Australia, north of Geraldton, and around Kalgoorlie. There is a fairly bad area for reception near Moora. This is not a new matter. It has been raised and discussed a number of times. The Australian Broadcasting Commission says that it can do nothing about it until the matter is examined by the Postmaster-General’s Department. There has been a promise that something would be done. The latest information, I understand, is that an engineer’s report has been obtained. In some places there is a total black-out of reception. In other places, there is limited and poor reception from the stations that are available on the dial. Western Australia has been rather badly neglected in relation to television, and some exception should be made in relation to wireless reception in these areas. The position is well known to the department and to the commission. In Budget debate after Budget debate, promises have been made that the position would be corrected.
I want to make a point in relation to television. Almost a month ago I sought an answer to a question without notice in relation to the possibility of issuing television licences to stations in country areas of Western Australia. I was asked to put the question on the notice-paper, but before I had done so Senator Branson raised and discussed very fully in debate the position of numerous districts in Western Australia in relation to television. As far as I know, the matter was noted by the Minister and the department, but the Senate has heard nothing more about it up to the present time. I am quite sure that neither Senator Branson nor I would have raised the matter in that way if we, as representatives, had not regarded the matter as one of urgency. It appears that we, in this Senate, may submit matters of urgency, but to the department or the Minister they are matters of indifference. The Senate is entitled to have some statement in relation to submissions made by honorable senators on either side of the chamber.
I should like to bring another point to the notice of the Minister. From time to time we have reason to submit to the administration matters of local inconvenience concerning services that are not satisfactory to the public. At one time, these submissions were fairly reasonably dealt with. We received a reasonable explanation why a service that was acknowledged to be bad could not be improved. In the main, we got some sort of satisfactory reply. Something was done about it. Of quite recent times I have received submissions from, members of the Western Australian Parliament in relation to the distribution of mails at Esperance. A member of the Legislative Council forwarded me a letter covering a circular from the Esperance chamber of commerce. It set out fully the difficulty they experience concerning the arrival of mail and the sorting of mail addressed to people living in the hinterland of Esperance. There is a greater population in the hinterland than in the town. It referred to the people of those areas having to come in to the town again to collect their mail from their boxes. I received a cryptic reply from the Postal Department. It was -
Your representations of 15th July, on behalf of the Esperance Chamber of Commerce regarding the delivery of mail on Saturday afternoons, have been received. The matter is being examined and I will advise you further when a firm decision is reached.
Apparently a decision was reached in a pretty short time, because I received the following letter from the Postal Department, dated 24th July: -
Further to my acknowledgment of your representations of the 15th July, 1959, regarding the delivery of mail on Saturday afternoons at Esperance, the matter has been further examined and sympathetic consideration given to the request. However, I regret I am unable to alter the decision previously given that mails cannot be sorted until Sunday morning.
I do not know what is the difficulty about sorting mails before Sunday morning. If, by a mail sorter working overtime, the people in the area can be saved a special trip into town of 10, 20 or 30 miles in order to get their mail, why should not that be done? No real explanation has been forthcoming from the department as to why the mail cannot be sorted earlier. Some people may regard this as being a relatively small matter, over which the people of Esperance have become stirred up, but if the best interests of the public would be served by paying a mail sorter to work overtime to sort the mail, that should be done. I think this matter should be looked into. I think that on occasions there is a difference of opinion between the officials of the Post Office and the public on what constitutes good service.
– Did I understand you to say that the mail is received on Saturdays but not sorted until Sundays?
– The mail does not arrive until Saturday afternoon, and the Postal Department says that it cannot be sorted until Sunday morning. I submit that it is unfair to expect people from the hinterland to have to make another trip to town, which possibly they cannot do until the following Wednesday or Thursday, in order to collect mail which arrived in the town on the previous Saturday.
I come now to a matter concerning the broadcasting and television services. In Western Australia, a broadcasting advisory panel has been instituted. I was invited to attend a meeting of the panel, which I did.
I sincerely trust that my experience on thai occasion will not be repeated in the future. 1 am referring to the activities of the panel, which is quite a good body. Its chairman is a university professor. But I think that this panel should be asked to perform more useful service than has been the case to date. It seems to me that the panel is asked only to consider armchair chats, book reviews and a list of questions furnished to it by Sir Richard Boyer. I think that matters of local interest that are the subject of representations to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board should be referred to the panel for consideration. 1 make it clear that I am quite willing to serve on this panel if it is given useful work to perform. I suggest that the panel should be given more worthy work to do than the culling of items from programmes. I think that the charter, as it were, of the advisory panel, should be widened to embrace a far more valuable field of service than it now performs. As an appreciation of the worth of the persons who are prepared to serve on the panel, I think that greater recognition should be given to it. It seems to me that the Broadcasting Control Board takes no more notice of this advisory committee than it takes of the Parliament. 1 have been battling along in this chamber raising questions from time to time over the last decade concerning poor radio reception in Western Australia. It has been acknowledged by the Postmaster-General that the reception there is poor, and this fact has also been acknowledged by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. An engineer has been sent at last to investigate the matter. I should like to know whether he is an employee of the postal department, or an independent engineer. I should like to be informed whether his report will be made available, as an act ot courtesy, to those who have raised this matter from time to time, and whether it substantiates what we have been saying on the matter for the last ten years. If it does, I hope that some notice will be taken of it, and that decent radio services will be provided to the people living in the area that I have mentioned.
[3.12]. - Senator Branson has said that he considers that people living, in certain parts of Western
Australia will not be able to receive the benefit of television, and he has suggested that a booster relay transmitter, which we refer to as “ Adler “, be installed experimentally at Mount Bakewell, at York. As honorable senators are aware, the third phase of television in this country - its extension to country centres - is now receiving attention. At the moment, the applications that have been received for television station licences are before the board, which is conducting a public hearing.
– Not in Western Australia.
– No, the proceedings are being conducted in Melbourne. I understand that applications for licences to conduct television services in Canberra are at present being heard. In due course, attention will be paid to the requirements of Western Australia.
– But not until 1962.
– That is so. The first phase was the introduction of television in Sydney and Melbourne. The second phase was the extension of television to the other capital cities of Australia, and the third phase concerns the extension of television services to country areas.
– My submission was in relation to a relaying station, not an originating station.
-I inform Senator Branson that the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and the PostmasterGeneral have all these matters in hand. As he will appreciate, all aspects of the matter cannot be attended to at once. We are now pushing on with the third phase, that is, the extension of television services to the Australian Capital Territory and various country centres. The Australian Broadcasting Control Board, I understand, is considering the provision of a booster or other mechanical device for the purpose of improving reception.
Senators Branson, Tangney and Cooke referred to the need for better broadcasting facilities in Western Australia. It is true that good radio reception is not obtainable in some parts of Western Australia, but this matter also is being looked into. The Postmaster-General is very sympathetic to requests for improvement of radio reception in that State. The Australian Broadcasting Control Board, which is responsible for planning the broadcasting services, only last year sent an engineer to investigate reception in country areas of Western Australia. Proposals arising from the engineer’s report are still under consideration. One thing that has already been done, arising out of the officer’s visit, is that certain changes have been made in the frequencies of the high frequency stations in Perth, with a view to improving reception in the north-west of the State. Reports that have been received indicate that these changes have been beneficial. I understand that the power of stations 6WA and 6WF has been increased to 50,000 watts. The fact that television is being developed in the various States of the Commonwealth does not mean that broadcasting will be neglected. On the contrary, broadcasting will proceed as though television had not been introduced. The power of the short-wave station in Perth is currently being increased from 10 kilowatts to 50 kilowatts. This will substantially improve radio reception in outback areas. I admit that it is somewhat irritating for the people of Western Australia to have to wau for television, but I am sure that as soon as the department has proceeded substantially along the way with the job in hand, it will be able to devote money and equipment to the needs of Western Australia.
Senator Kendall referred to the preponderance of western-type television programmes, and to programmes of an undesirable kind. Only a short time ago, I saw the result of a gallup poll which indicated that western films were right on top so far as popularity with people of all ages was concerned. I have been informed that the detailed composition of programmes is a matter for the television licensees. The board has determined appropriate programme standards to ensure compliance with accepted standards of propriety and good taste, and also to ensure that during certain times programmes are suitable for children and also for family viewing. Films are subject to censorship by the Commonwealth Film Censor, in accordance with the prescribed standards. Provided tha: programmes comply with these standards, licensees may themselves determine the programmes that they will transmit. If they transmit unsatisfactory programmes, they will lose their audience. It is therefore in the interests of the stations to transmit good programmes.
asked about the salaries and allowances of certain officers of the Postmaster-General’s Department. I have been informed that the schedule of salaries and allowances, as shown in the Postal Department estimates, represents a summary of the estimated expenditure necessary to meet the cost of staffing the permanent positions in the Post Office for a full year. The schedule also covers payments to officers on the unattached list, allowances of various kinds, salaries of officers on retirement leave and, for 1959-60, provision for an extra pay day. For several reasons, the number ot permanent employees is less than the number of positions in the approved permanent establishment of the department. The amount estimated to remain unexpended reflects the extent to which the permanent staff employed might be expected to fall short of the approved establishment during the year. I think that that also answers Senator Cooke’s inquiry. The number of permanent positions and the estimated number of permanent staff to be employed are computed for each of the States on the basis of staff records, salaries, allowances, and so on.
Senator Laught referred to the method of presentation of the estimates for the Postmaster-General’s Department. I carefully noted what the honorable senator said, and I shall bring the matter to Ihe attention of the Postmaster-General. Naturally, I cannot give an assurance that anything will be done to alter the position, because that is a matter for my colleague, but I shall see that he knows about it.
Senator Tangney mentioned the increase of postal charges. May I say that although certain charges have been increased the services have been improved at the same time. The fact that letters may be carried by air for 5d. all over Australia is of wonderful benefit not only to the commercial world but to Australians generally. People who live in States such as Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland will derive great benefit through their mail being carried by air. People in country areas will also benefit considerably from the extension of the areas in which telephone calls may be made on a unit fee basis. Certainly, nobody likes increased charges, but if a good service is provided, the increases are worth while.
asked about a question that, he said, had been on the notice-paper for some time. From memory, I think three questions of a like nature have already been answered. However, I shall see to it that an answer is given soon to the question on the notice-paper.
– Order! Before calling upon Senator Sandford, I ask honorable senators to relate their remarks to the matter under consideration and to refrain from making second-reading speeches.
– My remarks will be brief, and they will be related to the matter under discussion. I agree entirely with Senator Kendall’s remarks in deprecating the kind of programmes being broadcast, by television stations in particular. I do not think the Minister’s answer to Senator Kendall was satisfactory. Every one must know that in the main the programmes being viewed by young, impressionable children are made up almost entirely of films depicting a great deal of shooting and the commission of crimes of all descriptions. These programmes can have no other effect than more or less to glorify war and justify crime. That is to be deprecated, especially at a time when the whole world is exploring every avenue of promoting co-existence or peaceful disarmament, or the formulation of some device for ensuring permanent peace. I repeat that the programmes being viewed by impressionable children at the moment can have no other effect than to justify crime and the taking of human life.
I have stated previously in other places that almost the entire television programmes for the entertainment of children are made up of shooting films. We all have seen how the killing of the baddies by the goodies is applauded by the children, but it must be realized that those who to some appear to be the goodies are looked upon as the baddies by others. The Minister has stated that the authorities charged with supervising programmes have ruled that the programmes about which I complain can be justified. By whom are they justified7 This is a matter of very great importance and should be given every consideration by those who plan the programmes that shall be viewed by not only young children but also teenagers. The films about which I complain cannot have other than a bad effect on these impressionable minds. I impress upon the Minister the urgent need for reviewing the planning of programmes, especially those which are to be submitted almost exclusively for the entertainment of children, lt is high time that a better type of programme was planned for children in particular, especially as the whole world is seeking to outlaw not only all types of warfare but crime of every description.
.- I refer to Division No. 711 covering the proposed vote for the central office of the Postmaster-General’s Department. I have one bouquet and one brickbat for the department. First, 1 should like to congratulate the Postmaster-General and the artists and engravers responsible for the splendid new Christmas stamp issued recently. I think at a time when this tortured, frightened world is seeking peace in all directions, the issue of several millions of these artistically and beautifully prepared stamps on our Christmas mail will be an effective reminder of the source from which all peace and goodwill really flows. 1 congratulate the Postmaster-General upon putting out such a thoroughly Christian stamp at this time of the year. I have noticed that Christmas stamps have been issued over the last two or three years and I hope it is intended to be part of the PostmasterGeneral’s programme that these magnificent reminders shall appear about this time every year.
The other matter to which I wish to direct the Minister’s attention is not so pleasant. His department is charged, under the Wireless Telegraphy Act, and under the broadcasting and other legislation covering the transmission of radio messages, with the control and policing of the regulations under which radio amateurs operate. I regret to say that there has been a tendency on the part of the Postmaster-General’s Department to become autocratic in deciding what will and what will not be allowed to genuine radio amateurs in Australia.
A few months ago, in this Senate and in another place, there were many speeches by honorable senators and honorable mem bers protesting against certain autocratic actions whereby the Australian Post Office proposed, at the Geneva Frequency Conference, to cut down the allocations of radio frequencies to our own amateurs unilaterally by, I think, 33 J per cent. Very many members and senators on both sides, expressed their disappointment at this proposal. I have since had directed to me a further example of bureaucracy which I think must be drawn to the attention of the Minister. 1 refer to the case of Wing-Commander Cunningham who holds an amateur radiotransmitting licence in my home city of Melbourne. This gentleman is a leading Australian radio amateur. He is a reputable businessman and has been connected with the affairs of radio and telecommunications for, I think, 25 or 30 years. A few months ago - I think it was April of this year - he was requested by television station HSV7 in Melbourne to give a talk on radio, on the children’s session, and to illustrate it with a demonstration of radio equipment to show how one radio station works with another. Because of this man’s desire to further interest in radio, he concurred, and the session, which occupied half an hour, was televised on the evening of 4th May.
In accordance with the standing departmental regulations which permit an amateur station to be operated from a mobile point, or a point other than that for which it is licensed for a period of 24 hours without notice - there is no need to obtain special permission to move the location of a station for 24 hours or less - this man announced during the telecast that he was transmitting his own call signs as if he were transmitting from his studio to HSV7, and, in fact, he worked with a station in Hawaii. About a week later, the programme was mentioned in the news roundup covering television programmes and, following that publication, he received a telephone call from the officer charged with the administration of these regulations in the city of Melbourne, a man named Pearson, in the Radio Branch of the Postmaster-General’s Department. He was asked whether the newspaper report was correct. He replied that it was. and he was informed that he had seriously infringed the regulations.
I ask the Minister to follow the three short letters that I am about to quote because I know that he, as a stout-hearted democrat, will have no truck with any form of autocracy emanating from his department, or from this department for which he is vicariously liable, or from any other department, for that matter. The first letter is from the superintendent in Melbourne to Mr. Cunningham, lt reads -
It has come to the notice of this department that on the evening of 4th May, 1959, your amateur wireless station operating under the call sign VK3ML took part in a telecast over station H.SV7 during which conversations were conducted with an American amateur station. Use of your station in this manner contravenes conditions under which your licence was issued (vide Regulations 55 and 64, made under the Wireless Telegraphy Act), and the department is therefore obliged to seek written explanation of the circumstances underlining these breaches.
The department would be glad if your reply could reach me within seven days of the above date.
Order! I think the honorable senator is expecting too much latitude when he brings this matter up under the Appropriation Bill.
– I submit this comes under Division No. 711 dealing with general administration. Perhaps I could cut out some of the detail. The letter referred to two regulations, the second one providing that the licensee of an amateur station shall not transmit any form of entertainment.
Greatly upset, the man consulted his solicitor. In order that the Senate may not be worried with the precise legal detatils of the letter, let me say that the solicitor drew attention to the fact that no money had been received for the telecast and that the amateur station had not provided any entertainment. If anybody had provided the entertainment it had been Channel HSV7, which had a licence for the performance. Having received the solicitor’s letter the department replied. This is the type of thing to which I desire, with respect, to direct the Minister’s attention particularly. It is the inference that is to be drawn from a letter like this that I find most repugnant. The reply read -
Receipt is acknowledged with thanks of your letter BKD/EH of 1st June, 1959, concerning the use by Mr. R. H. Cunningham of his Amateur Wireless Station, VK3ML, in a telecast over Station HSV7 on 4th May, 1959.
Further consideration has been given to this matter. The explanation tendered by you on behalf of your client has been taken into account. In the light of the facts at present known to the department it has been decided on this occasion that it will not pursue the case further.
Normally, licensees of Amateur Wireless Stations approach the department before engaging in this kind of activity.
The department encourages to the maximum all fields of radio and television, but you must readily appreciate that it seeks, at the same time, to preserve order for all users.
The letter is signed by the superintendent. The point to which I desire to make reference is that the letter from the department could be summarized as saying, “We know you have not broken the law, but do not do it again unless you ask us “. This letter should have been signed by Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pooh Bah and not by a superintendent of the Postmaster-General’s Department which is supposed to use its discretion in the administration of these fairly complex and highly technical regulations.
But worse than that was when the unfortunate amateur said to the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, “ But, I understand that so and so “ - whose name I shall not mention - “ is going to put on a similar item on the national T.V. channel next week “. This was the substance of the amazing reply, “What we allow on the national channel and what we allow on the commercial channel are two different things “. I ask the Minister whether they are two different things. There is nothing in the relevant regulations to say that they are. There is nothing in the act to say that the department should make fish of one and fowl of another.
The Postmaster-General has already given very courteous assistance in solving a number of these types of problems which have been referred to me. I feel sure that this is a type of thing that perhaps is creeping in in certain sections of his department of which he is not aware. I know that the hero of Salamaua has no truck with petty bureaucracy. I ask the Minister to take appropriate action to ensure that the persecution of genuine radio amateurs by petty bureaucrats shall cease forthwith.
.- I wish to refer to Division Nos. 711 to 729. with reference to the increases that have been made in the charge for the postage of small publications, particularly of the type put out by the religious press and the migrant press. I know that the Government takes credit to itself for having reduced the original amount that it was going to collect. There has been an impression in some quarters, perhaps, that the editors or the publishers of the religious press, the migrant press and the small press generally, are quite satisfied with the action that the Government has taken, but I think it ought to be made clear that they are still completely dissatisfied with the position.
The action that the Government has taken to obtain more revenue by increasing the charges for small publications has already put a number of these publications out of existence, and is threatening to cause serious unemployment in the printing and publishing trade in this country. To show that dissatisfaction persists, I should like to read portion of a letter which I have received from the Rev. D. O’Connor, who is the editor of a well-known publication in his church known as “ The Messenger of the Sacred Heart “. He is associated with editors of publications of other denominations in a united protest against the way in which this money is being raised at the expense of these small publications. The Rev. O’Connor had this to say in his letter -
Only this week we received notice that the Passionist Fathers are ceasing publication of their periodical “ St. Maria “ with the December issue. There must be many more who will not be able to carry on their publications when the force of the new charges reaches them.
The paper which I edit - “ The Messenger of the Sacred Heart “ - with a circulation of just on fifty thousand copies, in the past seventy years has weathered the storms of a bank smash, the depression and two wars without ever reducing its circulation, but this is the biggest blow it has yet had to take.
The religious press of all denominations will be meeting again in Melbourne this month to consider what further steps they may take in this matter.
The points which I want to stress are -
To make a profit out of an essential service is in fact to impose a tax;
While the commercial interests distribute largely through road and rail transport (through Gordon & Gotch, &c), the non-profit making journals (clubs, religious, trade unions, sporting and other associations) distribute mainly by post;
The weight therefore of this tax falls particularly heavily on the non-profit making associations.
In spite of the fact that the Government has made some reduction in the scale it intended to charge, I protest most vigorously once again at what is being done. We live in a country and an age in which we all see the tendency in the printed word towards monopoly control. The smaller publications of the trade unions, the religious bodies, the migrant national associations, clubs and other associations are a very valuable weapon in these days for the preservation of freedom of speech and for the preservation of the different point of view.
I say that the Government, in the action it has taken to raise extra revenue for the Post Office at the expense of these smaller publications, has struck a serious blow at the dissemination of a very important point of view in the community. It is no good the Government saying it has already cut down the amount that it proposed to charge. There is utmost dissatisfaction among the editors of these small publications, some of which are going out of existence. They are affected in getting to their readers the views they want to put forward, and the printing and publishing trade is also affected. The number of these papers will have to be cut down or they will cease to appear. At this particular time the Government is also causing unemployment in the printing and publishing trade because it has lifted the import barriers and we are going to be overwhelmed with a flood of cheap American publications which will put Australian publications right out of existence.
In these circumstances I say that the protest by the editors of the small publications of the trade unions, the religious bodies and others, is quite justified. I feel that the Government’s attitude towards them has been most unfair, and I for one intend to protest most vigorously at the fact that this money is to be raised at the expense of people whose publications form a most valuable contribution to our community.
.- I refer to the Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure, Capital Works and Services, Business Undertakings. The specific item to which I refer is trunk-line services. I am encouraged by the fact that the appropriation for 1959-60 is in excess of last year’s appropriation by £1,500,000, but I seek from the Minister information as to the programme for spending that extra £1,500,000, or the £8,000,000 in all on the subject to which I have referred. True, the department has made great progress in improving services between capital cities. One has only to wait a matter of minutes in most cases and, I am told, it will soon be just a matter of dialling from one capital to the other. That certainly spells progress, but there are bottle-necks in the telephone system which are aggravating and time-wasting for people who are called upon to pay high rentals and increasing charges.
Can the Minister tell me what the department intends to do to remove some of the bottlenecks that occur between rural cities? The major cities of the countryside are well served, but I should like to tell honorable senators, what happens at places like Natimuk, which is fifteen miles from Horsham in Victoria. The residents of that centre can expect to wait anything up to an hour before contacting the main exchange at Horsham. The delay between that centre and the capital city is negligible. Is the department attempting to provide in the rural areas a service such as is provided in the capital cities and the major rural towns?
Has the department any plans for improving the services between rural automatic exchanges and parent exchanges? To-day it is necessary to pay for a trunk line call from the rural automatic exchange to the parent exchange, on a timed basis. I am glad to say that the department has reached the happy decision that it will zone these areas. Timeless calls will then be possible. That is very necessary for people who live in rural areas. There will, I understand, be a unit fee for calls throughout a prescribed area. My main fear is that the failure to provide additional lines between rural automatic exchanges and the parent exchange will produce a service that will not be comparable with what is being given now. For that reason, I ask the Minister whether the department is aware of these things and whether it has plans to meet the situation. The people are paying higher charges and are entitled to a better service.
.- I wish to refer to Part III.- Broadcasting and Television Services. The first point that comes to my mind is the way in which the relevant items are broken up. In Division No. 733 - Sound Broadcasting, I see item 3, “ Subsidy to commercial stations for landline services for news relays, £57,000 “. That means, perhaps, that we pay a subsidy to the commercial stations for providing such a service.
I should like to see a more detailed breakup of the expenditure under the Broadcasting and Television Act, which is referred to under Division No. 732 - Australian Broadcasting Commission. A footnote indicates that details are available in the Budget papers, but I believe that when we are considering expenditure of great magnitude - in this case, £6,786,000 - the details ought to be shown more clearly in the bill itself.
The total expenditure on broadcasting and television services is to be of the order of £9,000,000. What intrigues me is that we have in Australia a commercial set-up whose task it is to entertain the public in these fields and at the same time make a profit for its shareholders, without the aid of any subsidy at all. It seems extraordinary that the commercial stations can meet all their expenditure and capture the bulk of the viewing public, while the Australian Broadcasting Commission can spend so much and capture only a small proportion of viewers. Just how much is spent on programmes I do not know. One wonders whether we are getting a fair return for the money that we are spending upon the provision of these services. I have several children whose ages are in the vicinity of eighteen or nineteen, and I know from experience that the programmes of the commercial stations occupy nine-tenths of their viewing time. The programmes presented by the national stations do not seem to have the same appeal, though we are paying out this large sum of money for them. The first thing that we must consider is whether we are receiving an adequate return. I do not think that programmes being presented by the commission are as good as they ought to be.
– Some of them are outrageous.
– That is so. The commission does not show initiative. When it is not in a position of having to make a profit, surely it can set a high standard of entertainment as well as promoting the cultural activities in which it wants to engage. The commission is provided with adequate money and can compete against commercial stations, but it is not doing this to-day. In my view, the people are paying far too much money for the service received, from the commission. 1 may say that nothing on television irritates me more than to have commercials coming on every three or four minutes to interrupt the programme, but in spite of that irritating feature of commercial programmes, which the A.B.C does not have to contend with the commission’s programmes still cannot compare with those of the commercial stations. A real examination ought to be made of the value we are getting for the money provided for these services.
Another matter intrigues me. I should expect that, having paid five guineas for u viewer’s licence, one would be entitled to some reasonable protection from the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. Yet in my district, which is rather a fringe area, there is considerable interference with reception, which frequently blots out the picture, sometimes for a quarter of an hour or even longer. I understand that it is caused by the use of certain electrical equipment, i obtained some information about it from a local technician of the Postal Department. He said, in effect, that while the department could assist the general viewing public by giving advice to people using power drills and similar equipment, on the fitting of suppressors to stop interference with television entertainment, the department had no power to order such people to refrain from using equipment of this sort that is not fitted with the proper suppressing device. If the Commonwealth is to extract the fairly high sum of five guineas for a television viewer’s licence, licensees ought to have some protection to enable them to receive entertainment through that medium without being subjected to interference by people using some types of electrical equipment. I should like to see some protection afforded, perhaps by legislation, to those people whose entertainment is distorted by interference of this kind.
The other matter that I wish to bring before the Postmaster-General is that in my district between 5,000 and 6.000 people are paying five guineas a year for a television service. Living in a fringe area, frequently they do not get any reception at all. It is not an unusual occurrence to find, on three or four nights a week, that the picture is so poor that it cannot be said that there is reception, and frequently one has to turn off the receiver. I understand that it is possible for the A.B.C. to install a booster aerial at a very low cost - 1 am told it would be not more than £30,000 - to enable reception from the A.B.C. in my district until stations are established locally. If we are to compel people who purchase sets in this area to pay a licence fee, the commission ought to do its best to give them some kind of service, lt seems that there has been such delay on the part of the Government that we may not have television stations in our district for up to twelve months. In those circumstances, I think the Postmaster-General is being totally unfair in demanding a full licence fee while doing nothing at all about supplying the service. Surely if the commission takes the money, it ought to be prepared to look around to find some way of helping people who pay licence fees to enjoy reception. It is clear that a booster service could be provided at a very low cost to serve fringe areas until stations were operating locally. I think Senator Hannan said that there appeared to be two rules, one for the commercial stations, and one for the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
– I put it the other way round.
– It had the same effect. When the honorable senator said that, it occurred to me that that was another advantage that the commission had over the commercial stations. We have to find as much as £9,500,000 to assist the commission, whereas the commercial stations are able to give their service - and, let us face it, it is a better service than the A.B.C. gives - without any assistance from the Commonwealth, and to supply the bulk of the entertainment that the general public wants. I put it to the Postmaster-General that the bulk of the Australian people are not satisfied that they are receiving value for their money in the entertainment and service being provided by the A.B.C. at present. My view is that for the sum of £9,500,000 the people are entitled to a far better service. I ask the Postmaster-General to have a look at this item and see whether it is possible to have some alterations made in order to give a better service to the public.
– I wish to make, as briefly as possible, some reference to this very important and highly contentious question of the quality of our television programmes. It was referred to by Senator Sandford and Senator Kendall, and I think Senator Arnold referred briefly to it. Senator Kendall commenced by repeating what we very often hear in this chamber and elsewhere, namely, that far too many crime and sex programmes are transmitted by the various stations as entertainment, particularly of young people. I think Senator Sandford made a similar remark, and that Senator Arnold was also dissatisfied. It is very easy to be dissatisfied. I am not satisfied, either, but I suggest that the matter is not easy of solution. Senator Kendall suggested that we should have some form of control over that type of programme. It is very easy to suggest a form of control, but it could be most difficult and dangerous to exercise control over our programmes. Where should we start? Should we, for example, condemn and prohibit the story of Oliver Twist, which tells of one of the most blood-curdling murders in literature? It is a very fine crime novel.
– What about “ Julius Caesar “?
– There are some excellent murders in “ Julius Caesar “. What about “ Antony and Cleopatra “? Would honorable senators suggest going back as far as that? That play has plenty of sex and crime in it.
– What about “Red Riding Hood “?
– I would restrict “ Red Riding Hood “ to senators of a certain mental calibre and political colour. Would you go back to the Greek classics, to “ Oedipus Rex “? That is the story of a young man who killed his father in a most blood-curdling manner and married his mother. Where do we start when we talk about control of the nature and quality of programmes? Who in this chamber will say what is a good play for children or for anybody else, and what plays they should not see? That is the attitude, I suggest, that is adopted in certain countries behind the iron curtain. There we have a very finebody of gentlemen who pose as being of the righteous type; they decide which playsand which programmes the people shall see, and which programmes they may not. see, on moral grounds as well as on political grounds.
Some members of this chamber have suggested that we should further control, or appoint some person to control, the type of programmes the people shall see. It is at that point that we get into deep water. I join issue with the people who wish tocontrol further the types of plays and literature that are to be presented to the public. I think that you get the greatest evil of all when somebody is set up as an authority on the morality of the people. That is the worst way to control morality, I suggest. It is not a matter of controlling crime plays; that is not the problem at all. The problem, I suggest, goes much deeper than that, and is far more complex. The truth of the matter is that the problem in our community arises from the public taste. We must be very careful how we control the quality or the nature of the programmes shown to the public. I suggest that the key to a solution of the problem is the encouragement of good quality programmes, rather than the prohibition of bad quality programmes. I think that is the approach to the problem that we should adopt. To prohibit is dangerous. We should, perhaps, encourage good quality programmes - and every one knows what a good quality programme is - but to insist that the public should see only good quality programmes would be very dangerous.
I wish, in this context, to refer to a very fine document that was published in September, 1959, by Mr. Hector Crawford, of Melbourne. It is entitled “Commercial Television Programmes in Australia”, and in it he refers to one aspect of the matter of radio programmes. I suggest that this document might well be read and absorbed by all honorable senators who believe that control is the only way out of this problem. Referring to American programmes telecast by our television stations, he states that the incidence is as high as 98 per cent, of all dramas telecast by commercial stations. The incidence is not quite so high in the national stations, although it is inordinately high there, too. He suggests that 98 per cent, of American films is too high a proportion. I think it is, too. However, it is not a question of prohibiting American films. The matter is not as easy as that. Before proceeding further I should like to quote a few remarks made by Mr. Crawford in this very fine document, concerning the problems that confront us in regard to certain aspects of the quality of programmes. Referring to American programmes, he states -
Do these programmes stimulate among Australians a consciousness of national identity and pride in our nation, and a regard for our own cultural ideas and patterns? Do they typify Australian attitudes and institutions, Australian habits and customs, Australian manners, speech, and dress? Do these programmes help to enrich the life of Australian families? … Dp they enlighten Australians as to their own country’s history? … Do these programmes help Australians to know and understand one another and to bring them to a wider knowledge of those areas of their own country which they may never have the opportunity to visit?
Surely the answer must be that these predominantly American programmes necessarily deal with the American way of life, American institutions, traditions and national heroes, and that continued viewing of these could tend to make our way of life a pale and insipid carbon copy of America’s. 1 think every one will agree with those observations. He goes on to state -
Australia as a nation, cannot accept, in this powerful and persuasive medium, the present flood of another nation’s culture without danger to our national identity.
He then goes on to make this very profound remark -
This does not imply a criticism of the values of American television programmes. They may be eminently suitable for the American audience-
– But not for us.
– No, not for us; there is the rub. He does not lightly say, as do some honorable senators, that we must prohibit them - nothing of the sort! I think he is quite right. There are very obvious reasons why we cannot prohibit them. He goes into this question but time will not permit of my reading his remarks. It is not only a matter of prohibition. I think we are far too prone in this chamber, when we come across a problem, to utter the parrot cry, “Prohibit”. We can no more prohibit the American film than we can the bad Australian film. If we prohibited the bad ones, we would raise a social complex, a social objection to good films or good programmes. I suggest this is not a matter for prohibition. It is a far bigger question than that. It is something that could well be examined by a select committee of this Senate - the matter of how we could improve our culture by encouraging good drama in both commercial and national television shows.
I shall leave the matter there. There is no easy answer to the problem. I feel that a lot can be done. A lot must be done before we can be proud of our programmes. I do not agree with previous speakers who have insisted that the matter is simple - that all that needs to be done is to prohibit bad programmes.
– 1 want to direct the attention of the Minister to something specific. I do not want to moralize and generalize on programme standards. I want to know who is responsible for allowing into this country the “Johnny Staccato” series of crime films that are being shown on television. Last Monday night I had to walk into my lounge room, where my youngsters were looking at a television programme, and cut the programme off. The picture that was being shown depicted details of a new American industry which is exploiting destitute unmarried mothers and the sale of their unborn children. I stood for five minutes and watched the film. I saw a drunken doctor taken into a room where a young mother was about to have her child delivered by this drunken doctor in the pay of American gangsters. In another room was the father, held at the point of a gun, while the gangsters waited to collect the baby.
Senator Vincent was very tolerant about the films that we should allow in and those that we should keep out, but I do not think that there should be any tolerance if people want to bring absolute filth into the lounge rooms of the Australian community. The Government must be responsible for allowing this to go on; otherwise, it would dismiss from their positions the men responsible for it. Is every picture that is shown on television censored? What officers are charged with that responsibility, and what are their standards, if they can allow films of that kind to be shown on television? I am not generalising, but am speaking specifically of the “ Johnny Staccato “ films which are shown for young people. They have a teenager appeal - they are not shown for older people, who are more sophisticated.
It may be said, of course, that the children should not look at such films, but I point out that they are shown at 8 o’clock at night. If the Government has investigators or officers whose job it is to survey this field and to keep a watch on matters of this kind, they are not doing their job. I disagree with Senator Vincent’s contention that we must have tolerance towards the type of film that is shown. We can lay the blame for our Simmondses and our Newcombes, who are holding up the police force in Sydney to-day, on this type of gangster film and others that are shown on television. I shall leave the matter there, merely saying that on last Monday night, at 8 o’clock, the picture that I have referred to was shown for half an hour depicting the latest American crime wave in the blackmarket of unborn babies.
– What was the station?
– I do not want to say, because the condition is so general with the commercial stations. The 8 o’clock spot is probably the highest paying spot on television. An advertisement that was shown near the time for the filming of “ Johnny Staccato “ would perhaps cost twice as much as an advertisement at any other time. But the Government ought not to be worried about considerations of that kind. It should take action. The great danger is that this film is shown for teenagers. If that is a depiction of the American way of life, then the less we have to do with America the better.
– I wish to refer briefly to Division No. 717, in regard to the carriage of mails. First, I congratulate the Government and the department on introducing this new system of carriage of mails by air. It will prove of great benefit to the people of Australia, to my certain knowledge. I think that it is a step in the right direction and, in my humble opinion, is in keeping with the policy of the Government and of the Post Office over the last few years continually to speed up the communications for which the Post Office has almost sole authority and responsibility in Australia.
I wish to make a plea through the Minister to the department to see whether or not something could be done to speed the carriage of mails between Hobart and the industrially important and rapidly developing north-west coast area of Tasmania. At the present time, mails between these two important parts of the State get through in the same time as it took them when I was going to school, too many years ago. I believe that in modern times modern thinking has to be applied to such matters. 1 remind the department that the publisher* of the Hobart “ Mercury “ get their newspapers from Hobart to the north-west coast in time to be delivered when the people there are having their breakfast. I presume that the newspapers are carried by motor vehicle, and I am wondering whether the department could contract with the proprietors of the newspaper to take the evening mail from Hobart so that it would be on the north-west coast at breakfast time. If that could be done, it would be a great boon to the people of the area. Naturally, the “ Mercury “ vehicles have to go back to Hobart, and it might be possible for the mail from the north-west to be taken to Hobart and delivered sooner than it is at present.
– Before I discuss details of the Estimates, I wish to deal very quickly with the serious problem of control of television programmes. I altogether disagree with Senator Vincent, who said that they should not be controlled. As a matter of fact, we already have provision for their control. It is stipulated that programmes of a certain kind may not be televised during certain hours. In other words, the theory is that the children go to bed before “ Johnny Staccato “ comes on, but of course the query arises: Who can put children to bed? That is not a problem for the Postmaster-General, or for the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. It is a problem for parents, and it is one that parents have been unsuccessfully trying to cope with ever since they themselves were children.
– The subject of the film is not a very pleasant one for parents, either.
– That is true. I think that films of that kind should be controlled. 1 do not know whether every television film that comes to Australia is viewed before it is released; I have a feeling that it is, and that some kind of control is thereby exercised. If a film is as bad as the one that Senator Ormonde described, the fact that it is allowed to be shown reflects lack of control. The wholesale combination of western and crime films is something that I cannot agree with.
Senator Vincent spoke about “ Oedipus Rex “, “ Antony and Cleopatra “ and “ Julius Caesar “, and of the crimes involved in them, but, after all, for a thousand years children have been brought up on fairy tales the very essence of Which is violence. I do not know whether honorable senators remember as clearly as I do the story of “ Jack and the Beanstalk ‘’, and of the terrible things that Jack did to the giant. He stole from him, he confused him, and he finally killed him. Little Goldilocks cannot be put forward as the acme of virtue either, because she went to a strange house, stole food and went away with goodies in her basket. In many fairy tales, strangely enough, there is a basis of violence. I think that they are a kind of escapism for children. The children >enjoy those tales. They are not horrified when the poor old giant falls off the beanstalk and is killed, or when the wolf eats the grandmother in “ Little Red Riding Hood “. The child psychology regards such things as normal. We grow physically, but I do not think we grow mentally so very much. When I sit in front of a television set and see a wild western film T find it extremely interesting. It is good escape entertainment for me. It is like reading detective books - you read them in a couple of hours, and an hour afterwards cannot remember what you have read. So it is with television. Although one cannot remember, an hour afterwards, what one has seen, it does provide good escape entertainment at the time and I do not know where the line should be drawn. But certainly it should be drawn at the kind of entertainment to which Senator Ormonde directed attention.
There has been a great deal of criticism of American films, but it must be remembered that the resources of the world are available to the three large television companies in the major cities. They are buy ing American films mostly because the people who have the right to choose the programme they will view have made it obvious that they prefer American films. Television films are made in England and other countries in Europe. The children’s films made in Belgium and Holland are of an extremely high standard, and they are available to these companies. But all these stations are catering for the demands of the public, and they keep a close watch on viewer ratings. They want to be able to tell their sponsors that 68 per cent, of the available viewing public is watching such and such a programme at such and such a time. The fact is that, despite the millions of pounds we are spending on our national stations, those stations cannot command an audience equal to more than from 10 per cent, to 12 per cent, of the viewing public
I am seriously disturbed at the tremendous amount of money being poured into national television stations at the moment, and I have a suggestion to offer which may result in a reduction of that amount. I think the Government should require the Australian Broadcasting Commission to accept advertisements for display by the national stations. I do not say that these advertisements should be spread throughout the whole day, or over the whole period of showing, but I believe that the national stations should accept advertisements for certain periods. If they do that, then no longer will they be able to say, “ Our efforts are cultural and therefore it does not matter if we lose money “. Once they accept, advertisements they will be required to present their accounts properly and we shall be able to examine the accounts in a proper way.
In the big cities such as Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, television is a tremendous money earner. We all saw what happened with the advent of commercial television in the United Kingdom where the interested companies earned millions of pounds. In Australia, however, we are putting millions of pounds down the drain in producing national television programmes which are viewed by only 10 per cent, or 12 per cent, of the viewing public. Those in control of the national television stations excuse their failure to attract larger audiences by saying that they are serving an important section of the community, that they are developing culture and that they are putting on flesh and blood shows. Indeed, they are making those excuses, but it is of no use to put on a show if nobody looks at it. If these stations were forced to accept advertisements we would be able to examine their operations in the same way as we examine those of the Commonwealth Railways and other Commonwealth undertakings, including the Post Office, to see what work is being done and what results are being achieved. I suggest that that is an important point which should be examined carefully. I do not think this huge drain should be allowed to go on year after year. It is safe to say that the present high cost of national television services in the three States will be multiplied as television extends throughout Australia. When we put national stations in the other capital cities and eventually in the country areas, the present heavy loss will be multiplied over and over.
I agree that there should be national television stations, but I do not want to see them overwhelmed by the tremendous losses that are piling up now and the tremendous costs which are catching up with us. Has any one compared the number of people employed by the Australian Broadcasting Commission with the personnel employed by Station ATN or Station TCN? I should say that a national station would employ twice as many people as does TCN. And this for only one-fifth of the business! It is time that we had a look to see who is working for us and whether the work is being done economically. I admit that one or two mistakes are to be expected in the initial stages, but it would appear to me that, with proper supervision by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and the Minister, our present heavy national television burden could be reduced very substantially.
Another matter to. which I wish to refer is the way in which the proposed votes are presented to us. For instance, the estimates of the Postmaster-General’s. Department show various amounts chargeable for broadcasting and television services. For New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory the. total amount is £224*000, and that for Victoria, £260;000. These are by no means small amounts. I should like the Minister to give a breakup of these amounts if it is. possible to do so. I should like him to tell us what these amounts cover and what is received for the money expended.
Senator Sir WALTER COOPER (Queensland - Minister for Repatriation) [4.32].: - - I have listened very carefully to the debate over the last hour or so,, and it would seem to me that, in the main,, those honorable senators who have spoken have referred to television programmes, in particular to those shown to children and adolescents. Let me say at the outset that the Australian Broadcasting Control Board has given very careful consideration to this matter. With the approval of the Minister, it has set up an advisory committee of persons widely experienced in television programmes. That committee has been set up especially for the purpose of examining the kind of films to which reference has been made today. So that both the board and the Minister are taking definite action in this matter.
– Does the Commonwealth Film Censorship Board have anything to do with this?
– Yes. All films imported into Australia are viewed by the Commonwealth Film Censorship Board. Cuts are made in many of them, and I emphasize that all films are viewed right through by the board. Let me quote to honorable senators the standards required of television programmes. Paragraph 16, under the heading “ Programmes Unsuitable for Adolescents “, reads -
Certain types of programmes,, either because of their themes or the method of treatment of the themes, may tend to produce in older children and adolescents a false or distorted view of life. These programmes, which because they deal with certain types of social and domestic problems, same aspect of crime, or other themes which are suitable only for. persons of more mature judgment, should not be televised before 8.30 p.m.
Paragraph 17 deals with films used in television. It reads as follows: -
It. is the responsibility of the Commonwealth Film. Censorship Board’ to examine all films imported into Australia. In consequence of arrangements, made with the Chief Film Censor, all imported films (and such other films and types of films as may be specified from time to time) will, be: classified foc use’ in television in accordance, with the. relevant provisions of these. Standards. The classifications to be applied will be as follows: -
Unrestricted for television. (Symbol G*);
Not suitable for children. (Symbol A’);
Not to be televised before 8.30 p.m. (Symbol ‘AO’);
Not suitable for television.
Programmes classified as “Not suitable for children” (‘A’) are those which do not comply with the special standards for Family and Children’s Programmes, and must not be televised during periods to which those standards apply. Programmes classified as “Not to be televised before 8.30 p.m.” (‘AO’) are those to which reference is made in paragraph 16.
I quite agree with Senator Armstrong that parents will be responsible to ensure that their children, or those who are not meant to see these programmes, are not allowed to stay up after 8.30 p.m.
It might be as well to mention that the last report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board disclosed that the Chief Film Censor reported that during the year ended 30th June, 1959, 9,671 television films were cleared through censorship. This is equivalent to a continuous screening time of 4,316 hours; that is 83 hours’ screening time per week. The Chief Film Censor went on to say -
Many cuts were made in the knowledge that stations preferred certain of their film series to be granted a certificate permitting them to be televised during the period reserved for family and children’s programmes rather than accept them intact but classified as not suitable for children. Three appeals against classifications also were lodged and two were upheld.
The honorable senator will realize that the Australian Broadcasting Control Board considers that imported films should be the best type that it is possible to get.
asked specifically about telephones in country areas. Quite a lot could be said about that subject, but I do not intend at the present time to go into the matter. All the information is contained in the booklet, “Progress and Policy of the Postmaster-General’s Department”. On pages fifteen and sixteen the honorable senator will find a full report of what is to be done. The booklet sets out the policy of the Postmaster-General’s Department over a number of years, and especially does it mention the extension of local service areas. That was one of the things mentioned by Senator Wade. I shall see that he gets a copy of this booklet so that he can have a look through it himself.
Senator Arnold referred to children seeing television programmes. I have already dealt with that subject. He also mentioned the cost of broadcasting and television services. It is something like £9,000,000 but I point out that on the credit side the board collects in fees something in the vicinity of £10,000,000, and in that way quite a reasonable profit is made.
-Is that the amount collected in licence-fees?
– Everything. That is the amount collected in licence-fees for television and broadcasting stations, regional stations, Radio Australia. It includes all the money that comes in to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. This year, it is estimated, the amount will be £10,000,000. If these fees were not collected about £9,500,000 would have to be provided from Consolidated Revenue. The position is that a profit is being shown.
Senator Marriott spoke about the delivery of mails in Tasmania. The transition to the system whereby all letters are carried by air came into operation on 1 st November. I take it that Tasmania will enjoy the same advantages as the mainland, and that letters posted in Hobart to be delivered in Launceston will be transported by air instead of going by train as was previously the case. The people on the north coast will get the benefit of the changeover from ordinary transport to transport by air.
I shall bring to the notice of the Minister the matters mentioned by Senator Hannan in regard to amateur radio operators. I will also bring to the notice of the Minister the congratulations which he offered to the departments for bringing out a Christmas stamp.
I think it is only fair to let honorable senators know what the Australian Broadcasting Commission is doing about live programmes. I have a note here to the effect that of the total time occupied by programmes at present being televised, approximately 55 per cent, is devoted to live productions. These productions include news, drama, variety, educational telecasts to schools, discussions and interviews, and religious and sporting items. Since the establishment of national television the Australian Broadcasting Commission has produced in Sydney and Melbourne 82 plays and operas, including some plays written by
Australian authors. Over 900 engagements have been given to Australian artists to take part in drama productions alone, in addition :to a large number of musicians and singers. I think that in the short space of time since television was introduced the commission has done very well in devoting 55 per cent, -of its time to productions by live artists.
– This will be the shortest speech I have ever made. It is one thing to have a standard; it is a different thing to implement that standard.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid). - Order! The time allowed for the consideration of the proposed votes has expired.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Proposed Vote, £1,204,000.
Prime Minister’s Department.
Proposed Vote, £3,228,000.
Miscellaneous Services - Prime Minister’s Department
Proposed Vote, £4,608,400.
War and Repatriation Services - Reconstruction and Rehabilitation.
Proposed Vote, £2,459,000. (Ordered to be considered together.)
– I “have some comments to make concerning Division No. 126 covering the High Commissioner’s office in the United Kingdom. The estimated expenditure for this financial year is £868,500. The expenditure for 1958-59 was £832,377. Honorable senators will see that it is proposed to expend this year a little over £36,000 more than was expended last year. The people of Queensland at least feel that they are not getting from this office the service for which they are paying. We are building up in London a kingdom around the office of the High Commissioner. As I proceed I shall point out to the Minister why some positive action should be taken almost immediately to have things in connexion with this office put on a proper footing.
A further study of the provision for this
Office shows that the estimated expenditure for temporary and casual employees for this financial year is £260,000. Last year the appropriation was £253,338. Payments to temporary and casual employees engaged in that office will be about £6,000 more than last year and that amount will have to be provided by the taxpayers of Australia. I should like the Minister to tell me what class of work is performed by these temporary and casual employees.
Some other items under this division also call for an explanation. The sum of £25,000 is set down for extra duty pay. I should like to know whether the person who makes the morning tea is entitled to receive extra duty pay when required to do some extra duty.
– To what item is the honorable senator referring?
– I am referring to Division No. 126 - High Commissioner’s Office - United Kingdom, item 3. The item appears on page 12, and further particulars regarding salaries and allowances appear on page 150, where the number of officers engaged in the High Commissioner’s Office in London is also given.
I do not know whether the Australian Government owns Australia House, London, but the possibility is that it does. For the maintenance of Australia House the sum of £79,500 is provided this year. A study of the Estimates reveals that the regular expenditure on maintenance of the building is about £70,000 a year. What kind of a building is it that requires that sum of money to be spent on its maintenance annually? The estimated expenditure for 1959-60 is about £7,200 more than was expended last year. Many people speak of our High Commissioner’s Office in the United Kingdom as if it were an office doing its job efficiently. I should like to know how many employees are engaged there. According to the information placed before us the officers employed total 357. Does that number include the temporary and casual employees to whom I referred just now, or are they in addition to the 357 officers?
It is open to me to make a suggestion to the Minister, and accordingly I suggest that an immediate inspection be made of the High Commissioner’s office in London to see whether every officer there is pulling his weight and doing the job for which he is paid. I make the further suggestion that no one from the Public Service Board be sent to London to undertake the examination. 1 do so for various reasons. Should officers from the board go to London they are more or less the guests of the High Commissioner from the time they enter his office. What is needed is that a private efficiency agency should send its representatives over there to make a thorough examination right throughout Australia House, to ascertain what work is being done and whether the Australian public is getting full value for the money spent.
So far as the Commonwealth as a whole is concerned, we have a situation in Which, in addition to persons representing the Commonwealth Government, there are the Agents-General of the six States each occupying separate premises and doing at least some work. There now existsa certain amount of co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States and there is also a form of taxation known as uniform taxation, and therefore I ask whether it is possible to arrange that the High Commissioner shall carry out all the work that is required to be done in the United Kingdom on behalf of both the Commonwealth and the States. No one can convince me that the States are entitled to have six Agents-General in the United Kingdom at the present time. I know that the Commonwealth Government has no authority to investigate the classes of work that the Agents-General of the States are doing, but I suggest that at various conferences between governments, and at meetings of the Australian Loan Council, the Commonwealth Treasurer would be entitled to ask questions about the nature of the work performed by the Agents-General of the States.
There is another point upon which I should like some information from the Minister. On page 150 there is a line, “ Amount estimated to remain unexpended, £90,095 “. That is a fairly considerable sum. I want to know how in the name of goodness we can deal intelligently with estimates prepared on such a basis. First, we are told that the High Commissioner’s office in the United Kingdom will cost so much, and then there is the line about an amount estimated to remain unexpended. I am sure that the Minister representing the Prime Minister would not tolerate such a practice in a business of his own, or in a department under his direct control. However, no doubt we shall approve of the appropriation within the next few minutes or so. I ask the Minister to arrange for a thorough examination to be made of the High Commissioner’s office forthwith, so that the public may find out whether it is getting value for its money. I ask, further, that when the examination has been completed, the report be submitted to this Parliament.
.- While the proposed vote for the Parliament is before us I wish to refer to the Commonwealth Actuary’s report upon the Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Fund. I remind the committee that on an earlier occasion the Commonwealth Actuary found that the fund was sufficient to meet the benefits then specified. This report follows the passage of the Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Act 1959. As the Actuary reminds us, that act made the following changes in the scheme: -
The Actuary reports, in relation to existing members at 1st March, 1959, that the fund will be able to pay, upon the future retirement or death of the existing member, 22 per cent, of the cost of the additional pension of £6 per week. After analysing the matter further with reference to future members, he states -
It will be seen from the above table that the provision inserted in the act in 1948, for the
Commonwealth to pay 60 per cent, of pension benefits, cannot now be taken as the basis upon which the scheme is financed.
He concludes as follows: -
If, instead of the varying percentages in paragraph 13, the same proportion of the cost of pensions is to be met by both existing and future members, the appropriate overall proportion of future pensions to be met by the fund should be taken as 30 per cent. This should result in some surpluses accruing to the fund in future, from new members’ contributions, which will be available for benefits to members.
I take leave to remind the leader of the Government, who is in charge of these estimates, that when this matter was the subject of debate on an earlier occasion I offered the opinion that the amount of the benefit which members’ contributions would finance would be two-sevenths, or about 28 per cent. The Actuary reports that they will finance 30 per cent. We should be given some indication of the consideration that has been given to this report because, on the previous occasion, there were various remarks about presumptuousness and nonsense, which served to indicate that the Government did not anticipate that the amending legislation would have the effect of reducing the proportion of the benefit represented by contributions to the fund from the 1948 basis of 40 per cent, to the figure now revealed, 30 per cent., or, as I suggested by way of an anticipatory opinion, 28 per cent. An indication should be given at the very earliest date of the viewpoint of the Government on this matter.
– I refer to the estimates of expenditure by the parliamentary departments. Last year, Senate expenditure amounted to £71,075, and this year it is expected to be £65,200. Last year we appropriated £77,000 for the purpose, although we spent only £71,000 of that amount. We are now budgeting for an expenditure of only £65,000. . I could perhaps understand that reduction if it were in keeping with the movements in other departments, but one finds that the Senate is alone in its downward course. For instance, last year the House of Representatives spent £89,000, of an appropriation of £94,000, but for this year its expenditure is estimated at £162,000 - almost 100 per cent. more. The Joint House Department, which is concerned with the running of the whole establishment, spent last year £169,000, and expects to spend this year £183,000.
Those are most interesting comparisons. I should like the Minister to explain why the appropriation for the Senate is down by £6,000 while that for the House of Representatives is up by £73,000, and that for the Joint House Department is up by £14,000. The inflationary trend, which the Government has not succeeded in checking, leads us to expect increasing expenditures year by year. Therefore, it is interesting to see that the Senate, which has been so much maligned, is, in the opinion of those who run it, likely to need less funds this year than last. I should be glad to learn why that is so.
– I wish to refer to Division No. 128 - Office of Education, in the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department. I have said on many occasions in past years, and I repeat it now, that I believe that the Commonwealth Office of Education is of less value than it was in the past. It may have a certain amount of work to do in regard to the rehabilitation of our ex-servicemen but I fail completely to understand why expenditure upon it remains at the present level. Indeed, I find from a careful study of the list of people employed in the Commonwealth Office of Education, that while there are fewer education officers, there are more clerks and typists employed than formerly. I should like the Minister to give some explanation of this. I think there is no reason why the office should continue. I suspect that it is an imposition upon the States, whose responsibility it is to deal with education. It may be usurping the work of the States. If it does nothing in relation to the rehabilitation and education of ex-servicemen, I cannot understand what it can be doing. As I have said, although the number of higher ranking officers has been reduced, the number in the lower ranks, including clerks and typists, has been increased. Can the Minister give any explanation of the functions performed by this office that justify this expenditure?
– I refer to Division No. 622, item 39, Bush-fire Relief - South Australia. An appropriation of £36,000 is proposed. Last year no appropriation was made for this purpose and, of course, no money was expended. As we have so many devastating bushfires throughout Australia, 1 should like to know why South Australia is to receive this money. In 1958 a fire went through the south-west area of Western Australia, killing thousands of sheep and hundreds of cattle, and destroying the homes of some farmers and many miles of fencing. I believe an approach was made to the Commonwealth for assistance. Many farmers lost everything they possessed. Neighbours lent a hand, giving clothing and food, and fodder for the stock that survived. 1 understand that that was the only assistance that those people received.
I do not think that anywhere in Australia there could be worsh bushfires than those that occur - infrequently, of course - in the south-west of Western Australia. Apparently the fire brigades are doing more and more to try to control them, but when a fire gets out of hand, 50 or 100 square miles of country may be burned. Certainly it is not destroyed in strips; on a midsummer day, when there is a hot wind, the fires get out of control. I understand that in the instance to which I have referred an approach was made to the State Government for assistance, and also to the Commonwealth, but that assistance was not forthcoming. Why does the Commonwealth give assistance to one State, when others are precluded?
– With the consent of the committee, I shall try to deal with the requests for information that have been made up to this stage. I propose to cover the ground briefly and quickly.
Senator Benn was critical of Australia House. I think the general reply is that as Australia House is at the heart qf the Commonwealth and Commonwealth activities are increasing, we must face the situation that more work will be placed on Australia House. When international trade and other agreements are being negotiated, it becomes necessary to have more Australian departmental officers in London than- was previously the case. The answer to the honorable senator’s question, “ What is extra duty pay?”, is that this is the technical term for overtime. There is need for a good deal of overtime, more particularly by immigration officers who have to meet ships at varying times.
He asked whether casual employees were additional. The answer is “ Yes “. Whereas the salaries of permanent employees total £325,000, the salaries of temporary and casual employees total £260,000, it being part of a settled policy to develop the staff by the employment of people living in London. In reply to the suggestion that a private efficiency organization should be sent there to make inquiries, I say that that would need a good deal of thought, remembering that, after all, the Australia House organization is part of the Commonwealth Public Service.
Senator Pearson queried the work of the Commonwealth Office of Education. The major activities of the office include advice and assistance to Commonwealth departments and instrumentalities on education matters; the arranging of programmes and teaching material for the education of adult migrants; external relations in education, including the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization; the provision of information about education; planning and/or administration of certain training schemes, for example, the Commonwealth scholarship scheme; and the training of students under the Colombo Plan and similar schemes, particularly at universities.
Senator Scott raised points about bushfires. I remind him that the settled Commonwealth policy is to deal with each disaster ad hoc. If a bushfire is of great magnitude, the Commonwealth joins with the State on a £1 for £1 basis in relieving distress. This year £36,000 is to be expended on the relief of hardship and distress caused by the South Australian bushfire.
asked questions about the Senate. I could give the information in detail, but the main point is that last year we incurred the expense of the Inter-Parliamentary Union trip to Warsaw, which is not recurring this year.
That covers all of the queries, except that of Senator Wright, with which I shall deal before a quarter to six. It is not an easy question and it comes unexpectedly. I have notes for a reply, and in the meantime I shall try to get a grip of them.
.- There are two other matters of a specific nature which 1 wish to raise. With reference to the proposed votes for the Parliament 1 remind the committee that the Auditor-General referred in his supplementary report to the parliamentary refreshment rooms and the overall loss of £33,168, compared with £33,426 in the previous year. This is the expression of which I ask the Minister to give me some explanation -
However, as expenditure totalling £32,665 on salaries and wages for provision of meals was excluded, with Treasury approval, from the operating expenses, the net loss disclosed in the Profit and Loss Account was £503. . . .
What is the justification for excluding from this profit and loss account an operating expenditure of £32,665? On what basis does the Treasury give approval to the disclosure of a loss of only £503, when the Auditor-General reports that the overall loss was £33,168?
The other matter to which I want to refer concerns Division No. 106 - Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works. I notice that an appropriation of £4,010 is sought for this financial year, as against expenditure in the last financial year of £4,741. So that the constituent elements of the proposed vote will not be misunderstood, I mention that, according to the schedule of salaries and allowances, £2,350 of that sum is needed to pay the salaries of the secretary of the committee and his assistant.
I remind the Minister of the gratification we experienced on hearing his recent announcement that the Public Works Committee is to be strengthened. The act is to be amended to make it mandatory for the Minister for Works to refer to the committee all public works proposals involving an expenditure of more than £250,000. I think that that limit will bear some reconsideration after we have had a little experience of the new scheme, but it would seem to me to be obvious that the work of this committee will expand. If it does not expand, it seems to me that no benefit will be derived by the Parliament from the altered policy. I hope that the fact that the proposed vote has been set at this low figure is not an indication that the new policy will not be put into operation before 30th June next. I suppose there are flexible means whereby a vote of this sort can be exceeded if the expenditure of the committee requires more money than was appropriated, but I have raised the matter in order to obtain some specific information in regard to it from the Minister.
– Following the reply that the Minister furnished to the question I asked in relation to Division No. 622, item 39 - Bush fire relief, I should like to be informed whether, when the Commonwealth Government decides to make money available for the relief of hardship suffered by particular settlers, the payment is made directly by the Commonwealth or through the State Government concerned on a £1 for £1 basis. Does the Commonwealth act on its own, or does it require the State to make some payment?
– It is always done in association with the States.
– I refer to Division No. 126 - High Commissioner’s Office - United Kingdom, for which the proposed vote is £868,500. At the outset, I should like to pay a tribute to the work that is being carried out by Sir Eric Harrison, the Australian High Commissioner in the United Kingdom. It was my privilege to visit Australia House in London last year on my way to attend a parliamentary conference. The courteous attention that I received from Sir Eric Harrison and his staff was adequate and most helpful. However, I feel that the High Commissioner’s organization is working at a disadvantage and we are not getting the benefit we should from the money expended there due to the positioning and structure of Australia House itself.
I briefly describe Australia House by saying the building is a stone structure of the Edwardian style or even an earlier style. It was built at a time when outward show was deemed to be of more importance than internal convenience. I feel, Sir, that to a degree the money that is appropriated by this Parliament for the High Commissioner’s office in the United Kingdom is wasted because of the inadequacy of the building, although it is a stone building, of impressive design, and is situated on what is almost an island block in the heart of London. An attempt is made to advertise Australia by displays in the windows of the building, but they are so high from the ground and set so far back in the massive stone structure that no good effect is achieved. I am sure that both the High Commissioner and his staff are eager to advertise Australia in order to attract migrants to this country, but they are disadvantaged by the structure of the building.
By contrast, the offices of Qantas Empire Airways Ltd. in New York are situated in a tiny building which has only a very small frontage to Fifth-avenue, but it is attractively constructed and has large windows. The lovely wall colours and the pleasing displays in the windows attract the attention of passers by. When I was in New York, it was not uncommon for me to see 20, 30 or even 40 people standing looking at Australian advertisements in the windows of this small building in the heart of New York. My experience in London was that hundreds and hundreds of people passed by the big stone structure, Australia House, without looking at the windows.
I think that the Government should give consideration to whether the amount of money being provided each year for Australia House would achieve far more good for Australia if it were spent within a structure appropriate to the current period. The present building may have been all right in 1910, when, I believe, it was constructed, but I think that it is completely inadequate now to represent Australia as it does, in the heart of the British world. I feel that both the High Commissioner and his staff could do a far better job for Australia if Australia House were reconstructed so as to provide scope for the implementation of modern publicity ideas. I point out that an ever-increasing number of people - tourists, and prospective migrants - resort to Australia House.
.- I wish to refer to the proposed vote for the Prime Minister’s Department, in respect of an item which is growing into such proportions that it requires some little comment. I refer to the Public Service Board. I note that last year the board was modest enough to make do on an appropriation of £661,250, but this year it is eager to absorb £721,900, or, in the rough-and-ready way in which one is apt to compute these things, about three- quarters of a million pounds. That is the proposed vote for the Public Service Board, the coping stone of the Public Service.
On looking at the annual report of the board 1 am gratified to find that, as at 30th June, 1958, 160,739 people were employed under the Public Service Act, compared with 158,153 at 30th June, 1957, representing an increase during the year of 2,586 persons, of whom 1,811 were employed in the Post Office. I am pleased to find that for the year ended 30th June, 1950, the number of personnel was 156,843, so that the number of bodies within the Public Service has not grown to any alarming extent during those ten years. But when we look at the cost of salaries and payments related to salaries, we find that in the year 1950, expenditure on salaries was £74,724,256, whereas in 1957-58, the expenditure was £159,631,000. So, while the number of employees remained fairly static, expenditure increased from about £75,000,000 to about £160,000,000. Between 1956-57 and 1957- 58, the increase was £8,395,000.
That large increase is not wholly the responsibility of the Public Service Board. Insofar as salary adjustments have taken place so as to make payments, in an inflationary economy, of the same value as those made in 1950, not a great deal of responsibility can be attributed specifically to the Public Service Board, but when we see expenditure on the executive management of the Public Service grow to almost £750,000 a year, I think it is time to be alarmed. I say that, Mr. Chairman, notwithstanding the somewhat impressive case that the board makes for itself in chapter III. of its thirtyfourth report to the Parliament, in which it describes for our benefit the activities of the Organization and Methods Section. The report states that we are not to regard the work of the Organization and Methods Section as anything of a mystery, but as that of a body of officers who carry out their duties in the Interests of economy.
So that the position will appear without imbalance, the board refers specifically to various departments and comments on the work that the section has done. For instance, it states that an annual saving has resulted from the introduction of uniformity in assessment forms and those terrifying bundles of income tax assessment papers that taxpayers are in the habit of receiving every year. Those were simplified, and the board claims that the saving achieved in that one respect was £19,000. The report states -
The development of methods by the Taxation Branch for simultaneous preparation of notices, cheques and registers also produced marked economies, and it has been estimated that approximately 1,000 additional staff costing approximately £1,000,000 per annum would have been necessary under the old methods.
Under the heading “Department of Works “ it is claimed that organization and procedures were improved and processes simplified, with a consequent reduction in administrative costs of approximately £50,000 a year.
In relation to the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories, reference is made to the avoidance of prospective additional expenditure of about £45,000 a year. The report states that the Department of Labour and National Service was saved £35,000 a year, while the Departm’ent of Social Services was saved £22,000 a year under one heading and £88,000 under another heading. Reference is made to other matters, dealing with. not substantial figures, which I shall not stay to recite. The aggregate of them, however, in relation to the £750,000 that the Public Service Board will cost this year, leaves something to be desired, even on a prima facie statement of the case.
I mention this matter because the board has stated the achievements of the Organization and Methods Section which searches for ways to improve procedures and organization, in some form of consultation with departments. I know that encomiums have been expressed with regard to the grand work which this section of the board has done. I remember a public statement by the Prime Minister some two years ago, in answering criticism from the Graziers Association, when he eulogized the work of the Organization and Methods Section of the board. If I were merely to accept at face value the section of the board’s report to which I have referred, I too would be disposed to think, “ Ah! Here is a virulent, energetic and resourceful group of civil servants. They are indeed the kind of people we want.”
I am not going to detract from that assessment of the officers of the section, Mr. Chairman, except to invite the Minister to consider whether or not it seems an odd approach to the improvement of organization and method to rely on a branch of the central office, the head office, so to speak, rather than to rely on the main impetus towards improvement of organization and method coming from the departmental managers; that is to say, the secretaries of the various departments. I should have thought that a more economical and efficient approach to this matter could have been made by departmental officers with an intimate knowledge of the departments in which they worked. I must say that 1 put forward that suggestion with great temerity, but I believe that it is a matter that might bear consideration, and I invite the Minister’s comment on it.
– As I see it, Senator Wright wants to know whether there is a conflict as to whether organization and method review should be a matter for each individual department, or one for the Public Service as a whole. I think that the subject is too wide to be debated on an occasion such as this. The two conflicting points of view are, first, that an officer within a particular organization knows more of that organization than an outsider and, second, that you get better results if you have an organization composed of officers who have a good general knowledge instead of a specialized knowledge.
The answer to Senator Wright’s inquiry about the Public Works Committee is that the decision to enlarge the functions of the committee had not been announced at the time the Estimates were prepared. No doubt the staff will be reviewed at an early date in the light of .the additional duties.
As to Senator Scott’s question relating to bushfire relief, I point out that this is provided by the Commonwealth and the State concerned on a 50-50 basis. The payment is always made through the State government concerned. The Commonwealth never has contact with individual settlers. In most cases an organization of officials representing both governments is set up.
Senator Laught’s views on Australia House .were interesting, but I remind him that -although he may be critical of Australia .House it is not an easy task to reconstruct an old building such as that. We have kept a more modern touch in other buildings. For instance, we have opened up new offices for trade and immigration in centres outside London. They are modern and attractive.
On the further question of dining-room salaries, the practice of omitting the cost of dining-room salaries and wages from the schedule of salaries and allowances for the Parliamentary Refreshment Rooms has operated since 1951. Wages and salaries of the staff are debited against Division No. 105, sub-division 1 - Joint House Department. The practice was adopted following representations by Mr. President and Mr. Speaker. The dining-room loss is inescapable, having regard to the hours of service, casual rates of pay, and the like. The recoup of the loss could be regarded as a grant in aid, and is voted through . Joint House salaries.
I am sorry I cannot answer the question about parliamentary retiring allowances. That subject is listed on the Senate noticepaper and, knowing that I would have to cross swords with Senator Wright on it, I had some notes prepared on it. I have been endeavouring to get them during the course of this debate, but my secretary cannot put his finger upon them. I think the answer might well be that they are in Sydney and not readily available to me. The Commonwealth Actuary has made his report. He has stated what the actual percentage is, but that matter has not yet been considered by the Government.
– In Division No. 622 - Prime Minister’s Department - there is provision for a contribution of £18,611 to the Commonwealth Economic Committee. I ask the Minister for information as to the functions of the committee. Who are its members, and what does it do? Does it come within the Public Service, or is it a body outside the Public Service?
– First I should like to refer to the maintenance of Ministers’ and members’ rooms, including the salaries of staff: This is provided for in Division No. 1,15. I wish to make particular reference to the provision of rooms in Perth. Until a couple of years ago, we were all scattered about in different buildings. With the exception of one, we are now housed in very poor accommodation in the Commonwealth Bank building. I say that accommodation is poor because the partitions between the rooms are only temporary and it is possible to hear telephone and other conversations taking place in the next room. Again, only some of the rooms have natural lighting.
I understand that in the New Year we are to go into a new building in Perth, but I was amazed to find that even in the new building there will be very little natural lighting in the members’ rooms. This matter should be investigated thoroughly. We have been asked to state where we want our telephones and other facilities in these new rooms, but as yet, the arrangement of the accommodation is only in the blueprint stage. Nothing has been finalized, although we have had a ballot to decide which rooms we shall get. I suggest to the Minister that if we are to carry out our duties properly we should be given adequate facilities to enable us to do so. Good lighting - natural lighting for preference - should not be beyond the bounds of possibility.
I notice that there has been some excellent budgeting in connexion with other services under Division No. 101 - The Senate. I refer in particular to the provision of £13,855 for representation at InterParliamentary Union conferences in 1958-59 and the expenditure in that year of £13,854. I do not know what happened to the other £1, though I could make a few suggestions. There is no provision for such representation in the forthcoming year. I should like to know whether there is to be an InterParliamentary Union conference next year at which this Parliament will be represented. I should also like to know whether time could be allotted for the discussion in this Parliament of such subjects as conferences of the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. Last week we had an excellent conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in Canberra, but I must say that I feel that had that conference been held in London every member of the Senate would have been eager to be present whereas, because it was held in Canberra, very little practical interest in it was shown by honorable senators and honorable members. To me, that was a sad neglect because such a conference is not likely to be held here again during our political life time. It is 30 years since the last conference was held here, and very few of us are optimistic enough to expect to be here in another 30 years’ time. I felt that many of us lost a great opportunity to meet and get to know the delegates to that conference. The important thing is not so much meeting them in the actual conference room but meeting them outside, getting to know them, getting together before the various functions and so on. That so few members of the Federal Parliament took part in the actual conference in Canberra was not very polite to our visitors. If we are to spend as much as £13,800 on representation at these conferences, we should take an interest in them. I do not know whether members of Parliament are interested in the conferences themselves or in the trips that go with them when they are held overseas.
– One of the great things of value to our visitors was the knowledge they acquired in going round the various States before the conference.
– I agree that that is quite a big factor, but I do think that, out of respect to the visitors who come here, it would have been a very nice gesture to our guests if members of this Parliament, especially those of us who have had trips abroad under the aegis of the various conferences, in particular had been present in conferences, had been present in the conference room. It certainly would have been a polite gesture if there had been a bigger representation of federal members present at the conference. I say that, knowing full well the significance of what I am saying.
I come now to the provision of £200 for the conveyance of Members of Parliament and their luggage in Canberra. I should like to know if any great saving has been effected by the withdrawal from members and senators of the advantage of the gold passes which were originally issued to us. Instead of those gold passes, we are given discs which look like the identification discs worn when there is the likelihood of an air raid in time of war. In children’s Christmas stockings there is often a sheriff’s badge made of gold foil which looks very much like the discs issued to us. As a matter of fact, I had to rescue mine from a small nephew who thought that was what it really was. It is of neither use nor ornament. It is not a means of identification. Of what use is it? It was rather nice to have the gold pass as a badge of our office.
– Order! The time allotted for the consideration of the proposed votes has expired.
Proposed votes agreed to
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
Department of External Affairs.
Proposed Vote, £2,582,000.
Miscellaneous Services - Department of External Affairs.
Proposed Vote, £2,012,000.
Economic Assistance to support defence programme of South-East Asia Treaty Organization member countries.
Proposed Vote, £718,000.
International development and relief.
Proposed Vote, £6,259,000. (Ordered to be considered together.)
– At this stage 1 invite the attention of the Leader of the Government (Senator Spooner) in particular to the fact that the committee has had a very long day, having sat from 10.30 o’clock this morning. We are beginning a session now that will be continuous for the next four hours at the expiration of which the debate in committee will be completed. 1 think everybody agrees that it is a strain on those who carry the debate, and in particular a strain on the Minister in charge of the present group of estimates who is not able to leave the chamber during the whole period of four hours. Having regard to everybody’s convenience, I propose that the Minister consider suspending the sitting of the committee at, say 10 o’clock, for a brief period of 20 minutes. I think the committee will find that its work will proceed much more brightly after a break of that nature than without it. 1 do not want to seem to take the business of the committee out of the Minister’s hands, but if the suggestion appeals to him, I shall leave it to him to take some action in the matter. 1 address myself briefly to Division No. 628 - International Development and Relief. I wish to deal with Australia’s expenditure in relation to the items, “ Colombo Plan - Economic Development, £4,100,000 “ and “ Colombo Plan - Technical Assistance, £1,400,000 “. The Colombo Plan is a very excellent thing and its implementation, o! course, is supported by the Opposition. The need for assistance of that type is exceedingly great. Since I listened to the pleas of the representatives from countries of South-East Asia who were members of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association which met in Canberra last week, I do not think that the proposed amounts are very large having regard to the ‘needs of the people in those areas, to the size of our national income, and even to the total amount involved in our Budget, namely, the sum of £1,681,000,000.
When we consider that that amount is spent in one year on our developmental projects and upon running the ordinary annual services of the country, the amount of £5,500,000 does not represent a, high percentage of either of those figures. When one considers the teeming millions in South-East Asia, now led by men - by means of democratic parliaments-who have vast needs to develop their countries as well as to increase the standard of living of their peoples, one would say that an amount such as is proposed is useful, but is not exceedingly significant.
Probably one of the greatest needs of these countries is capital for their development because only by development can they make way for the industries that will provide employment opportunities. Even in India where many more of the inhabitants are trained as technicians - India has many more experts generally than most SouthEast Asian countries - there is a vast unemployment problem. My inquiries lead me to say that a lot of the money that is expended is sending machines, tractors, and machinery of all kinds to India is relatively wasted in certain areas because of the fact that the Indian Government dare not use the machines for fear of putting out of employment thousands upon thousands of their countrymen.
In one place after another in India the inhabitants labour with their hands with pristine tools constructing airports, aerodromes and the rest. If one asks why they do not use the tractors and machines that have been sent for the purpose, the reply will be, “ Well, if we did, all these people would have no employment and would be unable to eat. We would add vastly to our unemployment problem “. I do not say that that is general, and I believe that the utilization of Colombo Plan aid in India is probably higher than in many other countries, but one must have regard to the fact that that is the situation. It is not very much use handing to these people their independence and giving them forms of democratic government if they are then left in real economic need because every man has a body which must be catered for adequately in the matter of food, clothing and shelter - the three fundamentals. One cannot live on the spirit alone.
I think the greatest contribution we can make to Asia generally, and South-East Asia in particular, is to give the countries capital in the first instance to help them speed up development in order to develop industries capable of absorbing their unemployed. In India alone the population problem is colossal. The population is increasing at the rate of 2,000,000 a year. It is a colossal increase presenting eternal economic problems to the government.
– It is more than that. Does not the population of India increase at the rate of 5,000,000 a year?
– The information that was given to me is that which I have just stated.
– The figure I heard when I was there was 5,000,000.
– Let us agree that either figure would be very significant. The figure of 5,000,000, of course, would be two and a half times the figure that was quoted to me very recently. It raises the figure to enormous proportions. India’s population growth does constitute an eternal problem and there are moral issues involved in its solution. I understand that the Government is aware of what I am saying regarding the non-use in some of these countries of the machinery that has been made available to them. I should like the Minister to say, if he can, what knowledge the Government has of that matter and how extensive it is.
The other thing I should like to say about aid to South-East Asian countries is that probably what is wanted more than experts at the highest level are men of the overseeing type who can train the local inhabitants in the management of machinery, tractors, cars, loaders and that type of thing, and who can teach them not only to operate the machines but to repair them as well. I think men at the overseeing level are needed more urgently at this stage of development than high experts in the government, intellectual and economic fields. I am not saying that such men are not required, but there ought to be also a liberal sprinkling of those who are expert in the lower, practical levels of everyday work.
My other thought is whether, instead of bringing here - with all the advantages that this has had for both sides - South-East Asians for training in various fields, we should establish technical schools in Asia to train people on the spot, dealing with local problems as they occur. I wonder whether the Minister is in a position to say anything to the committee about that suggestion.
My only other thought on this matter of foreign aid concerns the position in Africa. I realize that the United Kingdom carries a terrific burden in helping the peoples of that area, but the impression left with me last week, after meeting delegates from that part of the world, was that there was a need for a plan such as the Colombo Plan there too. Africa sent very worthy representatives to Australia. Many of them made truly magnificent contributions to the thoughts that were expressed at the conference. What we must be concerned to do is to ensure that democracy does not fail people who have but newly gained their independence and freedom. Terrific population problems are always with them. There is a vast need for development and an urgent need to raise living standards. If democracy does not provide, quickly enough, the essentials of food and clothing, those countries may well fall victim to the Communist philosophy that the physical needs of man are crucial and primary, and that things of the spirit, of freedom and democracy, can wait until those needs have been satisfied. Such newly independent peoples may well accept that false philosophy. It would be a tragedy for the world if that happened to any more countries - particularly those which have recently aspired to nationhood. Their outlook is bright. One can see it in their eyes and in their words and one knows it is in their hearts. It would be a great pity if they were denied the physical benefits that should accompany the great mental and spiritual uplift that must have come from the winning of independence and the acceptance of the task of leading their people to a higher destiny. I put those suggestions in the hope that the Minister will take some notice, and, if he is in a position to do so, offer some comment upon them.
– I agree with what the Leader of the Opposition has said about the sittings of the Senate. We sat till midnight last night and shall sit till midnight to-night, after meeting this morning at half-past ten. I think that there would be material advantage in having a short break at ten o’clock, and I have asked the Clerk to advise me of what is necessary to enable that to be done. I might add that a break of 20 minutes between 10 and 11 p.m. would encroach upon the time reserved for considering the estimates of the department with which I am concerned. I do not care to walk away, as it were, from such a matter and, subject to the agreement of the Leader of the Opposition, I propose that we should, upon resuming at 10.20, alter our arrangements so as to permit all the remaining departments to be considered between thai hour and midnight.
– That would be very suitable.
– It would permit me to answer any questions that might be put concerning my department.
– I have been prompted to intervene in this debate following my interjection when Senator McKenna was speaking. I should like to refer to Division No. 627 - Department of External Affairs, especially item 6, “ United Nations representation, £144,300”, and item 15, “Exchange of Visits with South and South-East Asia, £22,500 “. I ask the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs whether consideration could be given to including women in the permanent missions to the United Nations. Australia lags badly behind many other countries in that there has been on those missions no representation of Australian women.
I ask also that consideration be given to allowing some representatives of voluntary organizations to attend the seminars, that are continually being held, in Asia especially, so that the women of this country may have a closer contact with the women of other regions. I know that at times thi Australian Government invites leading Asian women to visit this country, but 1 have in mind such seminars as were held in Bangkok in 1957 and in Colombia in 1959. Another seminar will be held at Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia, in 1961. Qualified representatives of women’s voluntary organizations could well be selected to sit in at those seminars. They would be able to help the women of Asia, and would come back better informed, as have .those of us who have had the very great privilege of visiting the East.. The contacts made would be to the mutual advantage of the peoples of Asia and of Australia.
– I propose to have a word to say about Division No. 628 - International Development and Relief. Most of these items have appeared on the Estimates over a number of years. This year two items appear to be new, inasmuch as nothing was provided for them last year. I refer first to item 8, “World Refugee Year Appeal - contribution, £50,000 “. The whole of the vote is to be expended in the form of a contribution. Item 9 is, “ World Health Organization - Malaria Eradication Programme, £15,000 “, and then there is an unnumbered item, “World Refugee Appeal Committee - Advance (to be recovered) “. Last, year, £10,000 was spent upon that appeal, and it will be recovered this year. Perhaps the Minister will be good enough to explain those items. Why do they appear for the first time this year?
A greater sum has been provided this year for the Colombo Plan than wa$ provided last year. The appropriation is to be very substantial. I certainly have no fault to find with that, but the Minister may be good enough to tell me the reason for the increase, and just how much has been spent in this direction so far. I should also like some advice as to the equipment that is provided for the purpose of aiding economic development. I take it that something has to be done to assist certain - backward countries to develop economically by the provision of roads, water supplies, and power. The Minister will have the information, and I should be pleased if he would enlighten me as to the form of development envisaged by that item.
The second item relates to technical assistance, for which the sum proposed to» be provided this year is £1,400,000. Arm I to assume that that sum is to be provided, for the purpose of ensuring that the young: people who come from certain Asiatic countries are given educational courses at theuniversities of the Commonwealth, or does it mean that they are provided with an insight into public administration and othermatters of that nature?
I have indicated that I have no fault to find with this form of expenditure, and I have said that the amounts provided have become more or less static. No substantial new contributions are being made. Knowing how some countries are faring at present, we must ask ourselves whether we are doing sufficient. This division of the Estimates covers international development and relief and seems to be concerned particularly with the Colombo Plan, but not all of the countries of which we have knowledge that require assistance are included in the Colombo Plan.
We are fully aware of Australia’s production potential and we know that we are capable of rendering assistance to some backward countries. We know that assistance can be given, and that primary production and the production of foodstuffs generally in the Commonwealth do not constitute any problem at all. Australia feels proud when she considers what she has done in the past to assist certain countries, but I think it is the wish of the average Australian to go further in that programme by providing more assistance to other countries. We know that there are in Africa countries that were granted independence only in recent years and are also in need of assistance.- We. say that by making this aid available to certain
Asiatic countries we are cultivating a good relationship with them. I support that. That is quite all right with the Australian Labour Party. But we are in a position to extend those benefits, and the time will arrive when we shall have to enlarge this division and give more, providing aid to other countries in addition.
These provisions are made on expert advice, probably on information collected by officers of the Department of External Affairs who have a very wide knowledge of these matters. 1 am wondering whether in the future we shall be more or less following a beaten path, just making these grants available, although other countries require some form of assistance. One might say that because we are a greater distance from countries outside the Colombo Plan it should not be necessary for us to make any relief available to them. I do not share that opinion, because when we had trouble in 1956 in relation to Suez, we had in Africa very few friends to whom we could turn for assistance. If relief is granted in accordance with the policy of cultivating friendships, rather than of assisting deserving countries, perhaps the time has arrived when we should consider extending our activities to other countries.
I was impressed with a report, purporting to come from Jogjakarta, that I read in an afternoon newspaper. Perhaps it has been brought to the Minister’s notice. It bears the dateline “ Thursday “, so evidently it was made to-day. It reads -
A bitter attack on the White Australia policy was made here yesterday by a Singapore delegate to the Colombo Plan Conference. “There is a stigma in the policy which grates on our people when they are not treated with equality,” he said.
For this reason Singapore would regard aid from Australia in a different light from that given by New Zealand.
The delegate is Dr. Toh Chin Chye, Deputy Premier and leader of the Singapore delegation to the Colombo Plan talks.
– This was not said at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conference?
– No, at the Colombo Plan meeting in Jogjakarta. The report continues -
He was speaking immediately after Singapore’s election as a full member of the Colombo Plan organization on the nomination of Britain and the Federation of Malaya.
I shall not read it all. Aid will not be accepted freely with two hands in this instance. If the Minister has not seen the report, I shall pass it over to him so that he may examine it.
– I have seen it.
– There is no substance in the report.
– It has appeared in the press, and this might be a suitable occasion for the Minister to say something in reply or to deny it outright. However, that will do for the time being.
– I should like to reply at this stage to Senator Benn, because it so happens that Dr. Sheng, who is stated later in that newspaper report to have written to Singapore making a criticism of the white Australia policy, was one of the delegates to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conference. During the course of that conference, with him and two others, I took part in a “ Forum of the Air “ programme. During the course of that programme, he made his criticism of the white Australia policy. I did not let it pass unchallenged, nor did Mr. G. S. Duthie, a member of another place, or the representative of the United Kingdom Parliament who was associated with us in the programme. I. thought that not only did we have the best of the discussion but that also Dr. Sheng was very much mellower in his approach to the matter in subsequent discussions. I would think that the letter he wrote to Singapore was one written early in the conference, not one written as the conference developed. It mentioned, of course, a rather unfortunate incident that occurred in Tasmania, and I think that that rather distorted their view in the early stages. I think that the majority of the delegates had a better opinion of our policy after Mr. Calwell and some others had put the opposite point of view.
I shall reply as quickly as I can to the rest of the points that have been raised during the debate to this stage. I agree with Senator McKenna’s statement that the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference was a stimulating experience. T shall not traverse the general issues, except to make a point which is relevant to the Colombo Plan arrangements. This point, also, was made by Dr. Sheng in the same broadcast, and it was made on a number of occasions subsequently. There was a substantial volume of opinion expressed by delegates representing parliaments in South-East Asia to the effect that they would prefer Colombo Plan aid to be increasingly directed towards sending, technical advisers, educators, doctors and so on to their countries, instead of bringing students from their countries to Australia, and instead of our sending material aid to those countries. I found that to be 4 very interesting point of view. A number of the delegates with whom I discussed the matter said, “ You send plant and equipment to us. Thank you very much. It is appreciated. You bring our students down here; thank you very much indeed. But we have so many things to look to, such an area to cover in so many directions, that we think that the best way you can help us is to send educators “ - using that term in its widest sense - “ to our countries to teach our people, either in schools, in factories, or on the land “.
asked to be informed of the amount of money that we have so far expended under the Colombo Plan., The total amount so far expended is £30,700,000, of which £24,500,000 has been spent on economic development! The types of equipment we send are always the types that are asked for by the country concerned. The choice always rests with the donee country. We have sent all sorts of things, including tractors, buses, radio equipment and medical equipment.
Senator Benn also referred to the World Health Organization and the World Refugee appeal. The latter appears in the Estimates for the first time, because this is the first year of the appeal. The appeal was sponsored by the United Nations. A world-wide effort is being made to raise funds for the relief of refugees and to provide resettlement opportunities for them. It is estimated that there are still 2,000,000 refugees in need of assistance. There is a public appeal for funds, to which the Commonwealth is contributing.
The amount of £15,000 shown for the World Health Organization is the amount of a special contribution that is being made to a world-wide malaria eradication programme.
– How much is being spent in New Guinea?
– I am referring to the overall programme. It is more in the nature of a research programme; it is not being applied only to particular territories. This is aimed directly at helping the undeveloped countries, in many of which malaria is so rife.
In reply to the matter raised by Senator Wedgwood, I inform her that the custom has been for Australian delegations to the General Assembly of the United Nations to contain two members of Parliament. The question whether women members of Parliament shall be included is one for the Parliament itself to decide. The honorable senator referred to a proposal to attach womenfolk to the seminars, particularly the one to be held at Addis Ababa in 1961. I can do no more than say that I will bring the proposal to the notice of my colleague.
– Is it a matter for him?
– I refer to the proposed vote for the Department of External Affairs. I was particularly interested to hear the Minister refer to the valuable contribution that Australia can make to the under-developed countries in the field of education. That brings me to a point I want to emphasize, which is that we are deficient in our knowledge of other languages. I ask the Minister to consider whether it is possible for more attention to be given to our diplomats becoming proficient in the languages of the countries to the north of Australia. I should like him to tell me whether anything is at present being done in this connexion. I believe that the Department of External Affairs is conducting classes in Chinese, which our diplomats may attend. Does the Minister consider that enough is being done in this field?
I was very interested to read in the South Australian “ Hansard “ a report of a speech made in the Legislative Council on 21st July, 1959, by the Honorable Jessie Cooper, who said -
Our diplomatic service is growing. The External Affairs Department says that it would like to have at least one person proficient in the local language on each of its staffs. In South-East Asia our foreign service is growing but, of 176 diplomats, only six can speak, write and read Chinese. Only six are proficient in Japanese. Two are proficient in Bohasa Indonesian, one only in Urdu and Bengali; and none at all yet proficient in Burmese, Siamese, Annamese, Korean, or Tamil.
I make the suggestion, Sir, that the Department of External Affairs be asked to pay particular attention to this matter. There was a very distinguished guest in Australia this week in the person of Tunku Abdul Raman, the Prime Minister of Malaya. In :a statement that he made to the press in Canberra, he said that he would suggest that the Australian universities should establish Chairs of Malayan Languages in order to foster co-operation and goodwill between Australia and South-East Asia. He also stated that he believed that Malay should be taught in Australian schools, in preference to German and Latin. He then made a most interesting contribution to the discussion with the press. He referred to the fact that the Malay language is spoken by more than 100,000,000 people in SouthEast Asia - in Malaya, Indonesia, Borneo, the Philippine Islands and elsewhere. These nations are, of course, Australia’s closest neighbours. The Tunku then made what I thought was a fantastically interesting gesture on behalf of one of our near northern neighbours. He offered, as it were, Colombo Plan assistance in reverse. He said that Malaya planned a small number of scholarships and fellowships for post-graduate study. The Tunku went on to say that university officials were still working out details of the scheme which, he said, would help to repay in ?. small way the great hospitality that Australians had shown Malayan students.
So, we have had this week a suggestion that Malaya would help Australia by sending here, at Malayan expense, people to teach us Asian languages. I wonder whether the Minister for External Affairs would consider adopting the suggestion as an important plank of the department’s policy, that diplomats should learn foreign languages, particularly the Malayan and Mandarin Chinese languages. I understand that Mandarin Chinese is to be the official language of the vast continent of China. If the Department of External Affairs were to take cognizance of the suggestion made by Tunku Abdul Rahman, Australian uni versities might follow that lead and provide adequate teaching facilities, so that Australians might not in future be so palpably ignorant of the languages that are spoken in the countries to our near north.
As one who was fortunate enough last year to visit South America and to travel through Europe, I know how important it is, when meeting people of other countries, to know something of their cultural background and of their language. In those respects, I think that we in Australia are most deficient. We are building up a fine Department of External Affairs, a fine foreign service, as it were, but the weak spot seems to be, as illustrated in the speech made in the Legislative Council of South Australia, to which I have referred, in the inability of our diplomats to speak the languages of the countries to which they are posted. The spur that has been given this week by our distinguished Malayan visitor could well be heeded by the Department of External Affairs, with great value to the nation.
I thank the department for its interest in the matter of our representation in South America. Last year, I was privileged to be in Brazil, where Australia then had a post which was occupied and controlled by Mr. Donald Mackinnon, who then had only the title of Minister. I must say how pleased I was personally to know that during the year he had been elevated to the rank of Ambassador. I think that that was a very good move, because it means that in that vast continent of South America the Australian representative now has enhanced status, and that is very important in his dealings with the friendly people of that part of the world.
– On looking through the estimates, I notice that we have provided money to maintain an Ambassador in Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia, but I cannot find anywhere in the Estimates the provision of funds for diplomatic representation in Taiwan. I know that this matter of Australian representation in Taiwan, or Formosa as we know it. has been raised many times. The Government should explain to the Parliament its reasons for not having established diplomatic relations with that very important part of Asia. Perhaps it is the policy of the Government not to do so. but there must be good reason for that policy, and I believe that the Parliament should know what that reason is.
Mainland China, of course, is under a red regime. We are aware that the greatest threat to Australia to-day is in Communist hordes from China coming down through South-East Asia. That is the danger that we face now and may have to face even more seriously in the not far distant future. A short distance from mainland China there is a virile country, small in size, with a population of 10,000,000 - almost the same as that of Australia^ - well armed, well supplied, and under the sponsorship of the United States of America, which is a very important, factor. That country is an obstacle to the southward progress of Communist China. So, that small country is- safeguarding the shores of Australia. The frontier of Australia is no longer at Darwin. In the Korean war, Australia’s frontier was pushed right up north to the 38th Parallel.
How much longer will it be before th-; Government recognizes the importance of establishing diplomatic relations with Formosa?’ I suppose that Formosa is the greatest listening post, so far as anticommunism is concerned, in the whole of Asia. It is time that we recognized what the people of Formosa are doing for us in Australia. Formosa is our front line. The Americans are sponsoring the people of Formosa because they realize that they must safeguard America’s shores. America’s outer defence line runs through Japan, Formosa, the Philippines and Australia.. If Formosa went, the American outer defence line would have been pierced. The Americans might then withdraw to an inner defence line, and Australia would be left without friends in the Pacific. Therefore, I believe it is time that the Government appreciated- the importance of the position.
Perhaps it is true to say that, earlier, the Government did not want to offend England, since England had recognized red China. We know, however, that the United Kingdom Government is not at the moment very happy about the results of its recognition of the Communist regime in China. The United Kingdom representatives in Peking are treated like poor relations.
However, Great Britain, which has recognized red China, has at least a diplomatic post at Taipei. Admittedly it is not a very important one. Great Britain has not accorded the Taiwan Government full recognition, but it has a degree of diplomatic representation in that country.
It is time that the Australian Government recognized that it made a mistake in failing to establish diplomatic relations with Formosa. Perhaps it is that, because the Government made a mistake in the first place, it does not wish to correct that mistake now, but I believe that the time has come for that to be done. Within the last few days we have had in Australia a visitor from Taiwan by the name of Mr. Koo. I hope that he has had talks with the people who matter in the Government, and I also hope that if such talks have been held they will have worthwhile consequences for the sake of both the Australian people and the free Chinese. In time, Communist China will explode because, all through their history, the Chinese have overcome their conquerors. I think that will happen again, and accordingly we should’ establish at Formosa the basis of democracy so that when the explosion comes, the democratic forces- may move in and take over that tremendous country of China which, I should say, is the greatest country in the world to-day. I hope that when the estimates are presented to us next year we shall see that the Government has provided funds for the opening of an embassy in Formosa.
.- I refer to Division No. 141 - Department of External Affairs - Administrative. At the moment, we are providing £79,300 for the conduct of an embassy at Moscow, but, to my great grief, I see that it is proposed to. provide only £1 3^,400 for the embassy in. the Republic of Ireland. I realize that there are certain procedural difficulties in the way of establishing diplomatic relations with the Republic of Ireland-, but I should like the Minister to explain the present position to the Senate. I feel sure that my good Scottish friends here will agree that we have very strong cultural, social and kinship ties with the Republic of Ireland, whereas, we have absolutely nothing to connect us with Moscow.
I do not often agree with what Senator Cole says, but I do think he is right in what he says about representation in Taiwan. We are prepared to spend £35,400 on a legation in Cambodia, and I do not challenge that expenditure, but surely it is of far greater important to Australia’s safety, security and sense of selfrespect that we should establish proper relations with one of our powerful friends - Taiwan. 1 share Senator Cole’s hope that in the not-too-distant future that happy state of affairs will come about. 1 should like to remind the committee that 1 have referred once or twice already this year in this chamber to the fact that we are spending more money in Moscow than we are in any other embassy in the whole of our diplomatic service, with the exception of the United States of America and France. I, personally, have very great difficulty in understanding why that should be necessary, and I hope that when the Minister replies he will tell us the present position in connexion with the Australian embassy in Ireland and the establishment at Moscow. It would appear from the bill that there are seven Australian diplomats in Moscow.
– Are they still there?
– According to the bill there are seven Australian diplomats in Moscow. I cannot be dogmatic as to that, but I ask the Minister whether that is so and whether he can say how many Russian diplomats there are at present in Australia.
– I should like some general information relating to overseas representation. Recently, I had the great pleasure and privilege of attending an Inter-Parliamentary Union conference in Warsaw, and later of visiting Czechoslovakia. In my opinion, both Poland and Czechoslovakia offer great potentialities for reciprocal trade with Australia. Although Czechoslovakia is represented in Australia, we have no representation in either of those two countries. I should like to know whether the Government intends to extend our representation overseas. I have nothing but the greatest of respect for our representatives in the various countries I visited, and for the British representation in such places as Poland and Czechoslovakia where we have no representation.
I take this opportunity of referring to what are called the casual and temporary employees in our embassies overseas, and 1 think 1 am in order in asking the Minister whether he can give us any information relating to their conditions of employment. I mention the chauffeur at our embassy in Washington as an example. Although he is classed as a temporary or casual employee, he has in fact been employed there for many years. Is there a superannuation or similar scheme for these employees? Have they any security of tenure of their posts? Can the Minister give some indication of the conditions under which they are employed? As the time allotted for the discussion of these proposals has just about expired, I shall say no more. I shall be glad to hear from the Minister anything he can tell us in answer to the questions I have posed.
– Senator Laught raised the question of training in languages. I have some notes on that matter from the Department of External Affairs. As time is running out, and as I appreciate Senator Laught’s interest in this matter, with the concurrence of honorable senators, I incorporate in “ Hansard “ the following information received from the Department of External Affairs: -
The department’s general aim is to have on the staff of each overseas post at least one officer who speaks the main local language used there and. in respect of most European language posts, to have the majority of officers speaking the European language concerned. It has to be accepted that this aim is unlikely to be fulfilled in the foreseeable future because it would require officers who specialize in languages spoken at posts with difficult climates to spend as much as half their careers in those posts. Against this, officers1 training requires that they have experience in three or four major areas of the world. In addition, officers and their families must share the disabilities of service in tropical and difficult posts, irrespective of whether they have language qualifications usable only elsewhere.
In the foreseeable future therefore the practicable objectives are limited to:
ensuring that a substantial number of officers is proficient in French so that a majority of officers stationed at any one time in Paris, Saigon, Phnom Penh and Noumea is proficient and so that in other European posts officers who are not proficient in the national language will have a useful alternative to English;
ensuring that there is a nucleus of officers proficient in Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Indonesian, Arabic, German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese so that at all times there will be at least one proficient language officer at the relevant posts.
In addition a considerable number of other officers have a basic knowledge of these languages. In the case of the Romance languages, this basic knowledge could be developed by intensive study on posting.
In its recruiting policy the department seeks graduates who have had at least one year, preferably more, of language training at university level. In selecting officers for appointment language qualifications are taken into account alongside the other qualifications of character, intelligence and aptitude on which the department insists. In the last four years only four of the applicants selected have had this degree of language training. The department has been obliged to proceed on the assumption that if its other standards of entry are to be preserved language qualifications must be acquired, generally speaking, after officers have entered the department.
The facilities available for language study after entry into the department are:
Financial incentives to language proficiency are determined by the Public Service Board. At present they are:
The main obstacle to the greater use of the available training facilities has been the difficulty of releasing officers from duty at the department and posts. The staffing position allows no margin for secondment of any considerable number of officers. At present two officers are doing a year’s course in Chinese and that is all that can be spared. The annua] recruitment programme is not large enough to enable the department to build up a reserve of officers. Indeed, the rate of expansion at head office and posts has in recent years absorbed all recruits.
In the immediate future the department will make as much use as possible of the facilities available for full-time study in Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian and Arabic, subject always to the need to avoid disruption of the normal work of the head office and posts. For other languages it will still be necessary to rely on officers being willing to learn in their own time, as indeed many do, but the department hopes to arrange for officers at certain posts to undertake intensive full-time study for two to three months at Commonwealth expense at the beginning of their posting. Private study will also be encouraged by the provision of aids such as linguaphone records. The department will also urge the extension of the existing language allowance to a wider group of languages and the increase of the present upper limit on the reimbursement of costs of private tuition at overseas posts.
As to representation in Formosa, Moscow, Dublin, Poland and Czechoslovakia, all 1 can say is that although 1 represent the Minister for External Affairs I do not profess to be sufficiently trained as a diplomat to enable me to answer those questions in a way that will please all concerned. I think the only way to look at the matter is in the broad and, in the broad, it has to be accepted, I think, that over recent years there has been a very marked extension of Australian diplomatic establishments overseas. It is pleasing to hear Senator Sandford and others pay tribute to the high standard of efficiency of the officers we have overseas. It is no easy task to find men with the appropriate qualities to fill these posts. I think we must look at this question on the basis that it is hard to find the men who are required to fulfil the posts connected with all the ramifications of a rapidly growing service.
– That would not be an excuse for not establishing a post on Formosa.
– I do not put Formosa in any different position in that regard. The question of establishing a diplomatic post on Formosa has been looked at from time to time.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid). - Order! The time allotted for consideration of the proposed votes has expired.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Department of Trade.
Proposed Vote, £2,164,000.
Miscellaneous Services - Department of Trade.
Proposed Vote, £663,000. (Ordered to be considered together.)
– I should like some information concerning the administration of the import licensing system in all its ramifications, although in the short time that will be available to the Minister in his reply I cannot expect that he will be able to outline completely how the system works. There are some anomalies to which the Government should give consideration. Recently, when in northern New South Wales, I was approached by a young man who had been apprenticed to a watchmaker and jeweller. His employer had died and his business had been sold, and this young man was starting out on his own in the same line of business. In order to carry on satisfactorily, he needed an import licence. His former employer had had an import licence, but the young man found that he was unable to secure one for himself, and thus he had difficulty in obtaining materials necessary for use in his trade. lt then occurred to me that from time to time people with export licences die, in which event 1 suppose their licences mus go back into a pool. I wonder what happens to those licences. Why is it that no one can receive a new licence, because apparently that is the position? If we are to carry on the ordinary trade of the country there are many occupations in which it is necessary to obtain certain goods from overseas and, therefore, it is not only desirable but even imperative that relief be given to people requiring such goods by granting import licences to them. What is happening in practice is that only those persons who, perhaps many years ago, obtained licences can engage in certain trades on a profitable basis. Young people entering business life who want to carry on in certain occupations find they are unable to secure a licence to import the goods or materials they need. I put it to the Minister that considerable distress has been caused by this kind of administration of the licensing of imports. I feel that the whole subject ought to be reviewed in order that young people who are entering industry in various trades and businesses should not be handicapped through having no opportunity to do what those who were in the industry before them, perhaps for a long time, were able to do because they were granted licences to import goods from overseas. T should like to see the whole system of import licensing discarded, should that be possible. Indeed, I understand that there is a possibility of that being done within the next year or so. In the meantime, I ask the Minister if there is any way in which these deserving people can obtain new licences in order to earn,’ on their businesses by being allowed to import small quantities of goods and materials necessary for their work.
Senator WARDLAW (Tasmania) [9.51. - I notice that the appropriation for the Department of Trade this year is £2,164.000. or about £200,000 more than for 1958-59.
Our trade position is important because trade is the life-blood of the Australian economy. For that reason I am pleased that the vote has been increased, even if only by the sum mentioned. I congratulate the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) on his handling of the Trade Commissioner Service and on the appointments that have been made to it during the ten years that this Government has been in office. During that period our trade representation abroad has been increased to 60 officers. Australia now has trade commissioner agencies in 25 overseas countries and the men appointed to them are a credit to Australia. They have been recruited from all walks of life, particularly from trade and commerce. For the most part, they consist of men of long experience and great efficiency, and, as their ages range from about 35 years to 50 years, most of them, have many years of service ahead of them. These men are doing a particularly good job for Australia. Their duties are onerous. They have to advance Australia’s interests in those countries, and that means that they must possess a knowledge of political and financial matters as well as of the trade policies of countries, which change from time to time with changes of government. Their job is to build up goodwill so that trade negotiations can be carried on between traders in the countries where they are serving and traders in Australia. On them depends very greatly the growth of Australia’s export trade. I believe that within a few years Australia’s exports will probably be 10 per cent, greater than they are now; they are increasing every month. Manufacturing industries are responsible for about 20 per cent, of Australia’s exports. Ten years hence they may represent 35 per cent., or even 40 per cent. Should that result be obtained it would be of great advantage to Australia’s economic position.
It is important that Australia’s trade with Communist countries shall be maintained and, therefore, it is a good thing to keep in touch with those countries. In 1956-57 Australia’s exports to Communist countries were valued at about £34,000,000. In the following year they represented about £35,000,000. Last year they dropped to £31,000,000, but exports are still being maintained at a satisfactory figure. It is interesting to note that our imports from those countries have been much lower.
Over the last three years they have averaged £6,000,000 annually. That means that we are maintaining a very satisfactory balance of trade with such countries as China and Czechoslovakia, and probably Poland also. It is important that that state of affairs be continued. In the interests of Australia the Government has decided on this large expansion of the Trade Commissioner Service which is playing a vital role in the economic development of this country. As I said before, most of these commissioners have been recruited from private enterprise and are doing a magnificent job. Their job is to give exporters every assistance when they ask for it, and they are certainly doing that. Five new important posts have recently been created. Amongst them are Ottawa, Chicago, Accra and Niarobi. We are also investigating the South American market which Senator Laught mentioned after his trip to that continent. I think that in that area is a very large untouched field for the expansion of Australia’s trade. Australia is the eighth trading nation of the world, and it is very important that it should maintain that position.
I am glad to note that the vote has been increased in this present Budget. The allocation for trade promotion in the United Kingdom has been slightly reduced, but it is still a fairly satisfactory amount because over the years we have spent a considerable amount of money in Great Britain on the expansion of our overseas market there. Although the amount has been reduced by £10,000 this year it still remains at the very satisfactory level of £380,000. The amount allocated for trade publicity in countries other than the United Kingdom has been increased by £53,000 to an amount of £200,000. We should benefit tremendously from the amount that is to be spent this year. I do not know in what countries the money is to be spent, but it will probably be in those countries which appear on page 49 of the bill.
It is very interesting to look back at our experience in the English market. We all realize that the British are very tough negotiators. They have given us a tremendous lot of knowledge, and we have gained much experience from trading in those markets. If they have done nothing else they have demonstrated our weaknesses in selling and trade promotion. We have gained that experience and we can now use it to advantage in other countries. I think it is important that over the next ten years we develop a trade pattern. 1 believe that the States and the Commonwealth should co-operate more than they do in matters of overseas trade, and I hope that that co-operation will be manifest during the next few years. I believe that our marketing strength, particularly in Great Britain, has been consolidated as a result of the very competitive market we have experienced there. I repeat it is important that the Commonwealth and the States should co-operate in trade matters for the general advantage of Australia.
– 1 express my complete agreement with what Senator Arnold had to say about import licensing. Some years ago, as is well known, it became necessary for Australia to introduce import licensing mainly for the purpose of conserving its overseas trade balance which had fallen rather dangerously. The Government was in the happy position that its action was supported by the Opposition at the time because the Opposition believed that a restriction of imports would be good for employment in Australia. It believed that import licensing would perhaps stimulate Australian manufacturing and provide employment which the trade unions of this country were anxious to foster.
However, after we had experienced import licensing for some years it became obvious that the system possessed many evils. One of the worst evils was that the Government decided to restrict the granting of import licences largely, or almost entirely, to people who had had import licences previously and who were characterized as traditional importers. That had a bad effect. Some of those people who had previously had licences, but did not want to use them, were in the position that they could advertise those licences and sell them for a profit. Such a procedure was entirely contrary to the principle of import licensing. The system also had other bad effects because it meant that if young people with enterprise in the community wished to set up in industry and desired to take advantage of imports from overseas to assist them to set up in industry, they were prevented from doing so simply because they were not characterized as traditional importers.
I and others raised the matter in the Senate and spokesmen for the Government frankly admitted that there were evils in the system of import licensing but they felt it was the best system that could be implemented. However, when some action was taken by the Senate Committee on Regulations and Ordinances, and notably by Senators Wood and Wright, the Government, apparently realizing that there was a strong feeling against import licensing which might lead to something serious being done in the Senate, agreed to set up what it called appeal tribunals. We were all led to understand that those tribunals were to be appeal tribunals in the proper sense of the word. Much of the opposition was headed off because members of the Senate felt that if appeal tribunals were to be set up to which aggrieved persons could go and present a case to be granted an import licence, that seemed to be a pretty fair way of dealing with the situation. However, we soon found that we had been deceived with soft words and that we had been given import licensing appeal tribunals which were not import licensing appeal tribunals.
I had the personal experience of telling a businessman who came to me and said an import licence was necessary for his business, that if he felt he had a good case he should appeal to the import licensing tribunal. He took his case to the tribunal and went to a great deal of trouble to make his appeal. The tribunal told him that it could not uphold his appeal because the policy of the Government was not to uphold appeals in cases where the applicants were not traditional importers. I can understand people wanting to get out of difficulties, but I do not condone for one moment what was done in regard to these appeal tribunals. If the Government intended that the tribunals should not uphold appeals under those circumstances it should have told the Senate, the Parliament and the people that that was its intention.
I regret that we have been deceived in that particular matter. I agree with Senator Arnold that there is need for something to be done and I say to the Government: Why not make the appeal tribunals real appeal tribunals? Surely the Government has chosen men on these tribunals in whom it has confidence. If it has confidence in them why not say to them, “ All right, we believe that import licensing must be kept at a reasonable level, but we will place the system in your hands. If a person has a just claim for an import licence we will leave it in your hands to uphold his appeal.” If the Government does not do that, it is simply deceiving the people. It is putting businessmen to a great deal of trouble to conduct appeals; it could save them that trouble by telling them at the start that they have no hope. I regret the very existence of the system of import licensing. The Government should have attempted to streamline and improve it in some way. I realize that it is easy to adopt a kind of deadline and say, “ Traditional importers only “, but I think that if a committee of businessmen, or of honorable senators, had given it some thought we should have had a better system than the existing one, which has caused so much confusion and resentment in the community.
– There was nothing to prevent honorable senators from forming such a committee.
– I hope that they will do so even at this stage. I believe that they would have done so had not the Government promised to appoint appeal tribunals. They accepted the Government’s decision, but they were grossly deceived.
I hope that the Department of Trade will not allow political considerations to influence its decisions, especially when they concern eastern countries. Some months ago the Canadian Prime Minister, Mr. Deifenbaker, visited Australia. He had just concluded a tour of the East. I was very interested to hear him warn an Australian assemblage that one of the problems which would confront us in the future would be the attempt of the Communist bloc in Asia to use trade for politcial purposes. 1 say that an attempt along those lines has already been made in this country, by red China in particular.
We had recently in this country, in circumstances of remarkable secrecy, a trade delegation from red China. No one could find out anything about it. When it was approached, as trade delegations from other countries are approached, and asked about its intentions and wishes, the answer given was, “ No comment “. I made a statement about it to the press, and later saw a statement by a representative of the Department, of Trade, who, speaking anonymously, said that this delegation was no doubt in Australia in the same way as would be a trade delegation from any other country. I can only say that the officer who made that comment had either a great sense of humour or was especially innocent of Communist practices. No delegation from a Communist country could be regarded as similar to a delegation from a country where a free enterprise system prevailed. Any delegation from red China is a governmentcontrolled body which will make its decisions in accordance with the economic and political policy of its government. The delegation was in this country for a long time and I am sorry that the Government did not warn businessmen of the danger that they might be used for political purposes, as were Japanese businessmen.
A considerable time ago a similar delegation from red China went to Japan and contracted with a large number of business firms to buy goods. Having persuaded many firms to tool up, and prepare to begin trading, the red Chinese announced - just before the Japanese elections - that the continuance of the contracts depended upon the Japanese people electing a government that would be favorably inclined towards their country. When the Japanese people exercised their right to elect a government of the kind that they wanted - one which did not suit Communist China - the contracts were cancelled and the businessmen suffered considerable loss.
The delegation which visited Australia suggested that there were wonderful opportunities for trade with red China, but added that our newspapers and politicians must be influenced so that they would see to it that red China was recognized by Australia. I had no difficulty at all in attributing the sudden anxiety for official recognition of red China, which appeared in a certain section of the press, to pressure from advertisers.
Let us base our diplomatic and trading relationships upon something more than mere profit-seeking. Let us display a little principle as well. I hope that business firms will realize that when they trade with red China they are not trading with an organization which can be sued if it does not carry out its commitments. They are trading with a government which would break off trade relationships at a minute’s notice, putting them to considerable loss, but they would have no remedy. Red China will trade with us whether we have official relations with her or not, provided always that it suits her purpose. Russia does the same thing. Russia traded with Mussolini’s Italy and with Franco’s Spain, as well as with the dictators of South America - without regard for political affiliation - when it was to her economic advantage. Red China will do the same. That country has been buying our wool because it has needed it. Red China will trade with us if that suits her economic and political requirements. She will cease to trade, with us when it does not. To a Communist government trade is, above all else, a political weapon - to be used in the interests of spreading world communism. Trading relationships will be used in an attempt to disrupt and destroy a nation’s economy when it is most likely to do so. I invite honorable senators to ask some Asian countries whether red China has not used trade as a political weapon to promote their defeat and subjection.
Why did the Government of Singapore recently have to take action concerning the banks of that area? It found that a Chinese bank was being used for subversive purposes. Red China will continue to trade with us while it suits her to do so. Let us not be gulled by all these entrancing prospects of millions to be made out of trade with red China and, in the process, accept the political blandishments of people who want us to recognize and support the Communist regime. To the Communists, trade is a political weapon to be used to hasten the day when they will dominate the Eastern countries.
– Red China trades with us now.
– For its own purposes, but I am not prepared to give that country political strings with which to tie us, in return for that trade. I do not think that any good Australian would do that. Let us look at some of the other countries in the world that would be willing to extend their trade with us. It would be possible - if we went into it properly - to expand greatly our trade with South American countries.
Senator VINCENT (Western Australia! [9.29]. - I should like to mention a matter which I raised earlier with Senator Henty. At the time, he referred me to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade. I have a suggestion- to make concerning reports of the Tariff Board which are not approved, either in whole or in part. We occasionally receive word that a certain Tariff Board report has not been adopted, and in those instances it is sometimes - not always - difficult for the interested parties - I include in that category honorable senators as well as the traders or manufacturers concerned - to obtain the reasons why the Government has refused to accept the recommendations of the Tariff Board. Those reasons come to light in due course, perhaps, after a little examination or effort on the part of the parties concerned, but my point is that they are not put to the Senate promptly. I merely ask the Minister whether he would be prepared to place before the Minister for Trade my suggestion that, in cases where Tariff Board reports are not accepted, either in whole or in part, the Government as soon as possible table the reasons for nonacceptance.
Senator McManus took the Minister to Asia. I now want to take him to Great Britain. I wish to make a brief reference to the matter of the marketing of Australian goods in Britain. I refer to Australian consumer goods, such as meat, tinned fruit, wines, butter, and so on. When I was overseas recently, I was, like all Australians, anxious to find out just how our Australian goods were selling in Britain, and I took the opportunity, over a couple of months of actually living as a consumer in Britain, to endeavour to buy Australian goods wherever I could. I understand that most Australians, upon returning from overseas, are highly critical of the manner in which our goods are being marketed in Britain. Let me say right now that, generally speaking, I would not be prepared to go to the extent to which they go in condemning our methods of marketing. I think that in many respects these methods are quite sound.
The quality of our goods, generally speaking - subject to some exceptions that I shall mention in a moment - is first class.
But there is one very important factor that is preventing our goods from being marketed to the best possible extent. Some years ago, perhaps many years ago, many of our goods were not being packed or advertised properly, and undoubtedly their quality was not good. Australia has not yet lived down the reputation gained in those early years when our goods were not of top quality. There is still definitely a buyer resistance in Britain, generally speaking, to many of the goods that Australia sends overseas. I repeatedly heard it said by British people that Australian butter, meat, tinned fruits and jams, were not nearly as good as lines from South Africa, New Zealand, South America and other places. On investigation, I found that in very few instances had people making those remarks been buying Australian goods. They were just repeating, parrot fashion, the reputation we have overseas. I made a point of supplying Australian goods to friends of mine in Great Britain, who expressed surprise that the quality was so high. Many of them had believed reports and rumours that Australian goods were not up to much. 1 emphasize that aspect merely because T feel that Australia’s problem in the marketing of her goods is not so much a matter of quality. I think that, generally speaking, we have the quality. It is not so much a matter of advertising. I think our advertising is quite fair. We still lack a good deal in regard to packaging. Many of our goods are not attractively packed, in comparison with goods of other countries. I refer particularly to jams, fruits and other tinned goods. There we fail very badly. Australian goods were probably the worst packed and least attractive goods of their kind that I saw. Wc have a lot to learn in that respect. 1 believe that the quality of our goods compares quite favourably with that of goods of a comparable price from other parts of the world. We have not taken action to overcome the Englishman’s general bad impression of our goods. That is still in existence and has not been broken down. It is a problem that, I fear, must be faced by our exporters and the Department of Trade before Australian goods will be accepted on their merits.
Having said that, i wish to make a brief reference to one Australian commodity about which 1 was very unhappy. I refer to Australian wine. 1 was in Great Britain for some time and at intervals, I drank a little Australian wine when I could buy it. I shall recount a story that shows the typical attitude of Englishmen towards Australian wine. I was going north in an express train when I asked the attendant in the dining car for a bottle of Australian wine. He said, “ I hope you are not going to drink that stuff, Sir. Nobody likes it. Nobody buys it.” I said, “Well, I want a bottle. Bring it along.” He brought to me wine of a type with which I became very familiar in due course. It was called Emu wine. It was dreadful stuff and was sold at an inordinately high price. It was described in good lettering as Australian wine.
– Was it from Western Australia?
– No, it did not come from Western Australia. I do not know from what State it came. I should like the Minister to inform us, if possible, where this Emu wine comes from. One cannot buy it in Australia, but it is about the only type of Australian wine one can buy in Great Britain. It is true that one can, in certain places in London and elsewhere in England, buy our good quality wine at a very high price. The price is far too high, at least twice the price for which it sells in Australia. But, generally speaking, one cannot buy Australian wine apart from this dreadful Emu brand. I suspect that it is being sold in bulk in England and that it is not all Australian wine. I suspect - I am subject to correction if I am wrong - that it is being in some way tampered with in Great Britain, because it is not wine of fair average quality. It is not wine that would sell in Australia for the lowest possible price. It is very poor stuff and a very bad advertisement for our country. We can produce at a competitive price wine that is, I think, the equivalent of any that is produced in Germany or France. I do not say that we produce the best wine in the world, but people who take an interest in these things admit that our top grade wine is as good as any other wine of equivalent price. The point is that one cannot buy Australian wine of that class in Great Britain, and I invite the Minister to tell us the reason.
– Because we drink it in Australia.
– In that event, we are exporting our worst and drinking our best.
– Should we not drink the best in Australia?
– I join issue with the Minister there. I do not believe that we drink all of our best wine in Australia. I suggest that we have good quality Australian wine available for export. I should like the Minister to assure me that we have exportable wines available for sale in Great Britain. At present, we are doing our country no good by selling this very inferior stuff overseas at a very high price, under a name that does not exist in Australia. I should be glad if the Minister would make some comment on the matter.
– I think that the problems associated with the export of the products of our secondary industries are the most important problems that confront the Government. We are comparatively well off as regards the export of primary products, but the story of Australian wines overseas has always been a sad one. Whether that is because our better wines do not travel well, or because they are blended with inferior wines in London, I do not know. The fact remains that in London a bottle of Australian wine of a reasonable quality ls very expensive. We must remember, of course, that it has travelled half-way wound the world.
– What about the French wines that come out here?
– I can tell the honorable senator that they are not as good here as they are in France.
– It is a matter of taste.
– The French wine that comes out here is mostly champagne. Admittedly, a lot of good European wines come to Australia. Whether it is that our wines have not the body to travel well, or whether those who handle them abroad lack experience in the handling of wine, I do not know, but visitors to this country tell us that the wines we can produce are equal in quality to other good wines produced anywhere in the world. It is a strange thing that one only comes across “ Emu “ wine when abroad. That is the most remarkable thing about it. It was the only Australian wine that I saw in Canada and on the west coast of America. In England, it seems to be the only Australian wine you can obtain unless you go to a high-class restaurant and are prepared to pay from 25s. to 30s. for a bottle of wine which in Australia sells for 7s. or 8s. a bottle.
– Do you know where “ Emu “ wine is made?
– I have been informed that there are no emus used in the making of it.
– Is that why you do not like it?
– As Senator Scott is a connoisseur of wine, he will understand what I mean when I say that it has a feathery taste. I am told that that is why there is such a shortage of feathers in Western Australia, from where this wine is supposed to come! I think that this wine is exported in bulk and blended overseas. It is an export wine. Frankly, I do not think that it enhances the reputation of Australian wines overseas.
As we have substantially increased our exports of wine to the United Kingdom in the last year or two, some of our better wines must now be reaching that country. Of course, we know that imported wine is heavily taxed in England. One has to pay in England 12s. a bottle for European wine that can be bought in France for 7s. a bottle, and 17s. for a bottle of Australian wine that can be bought in Australia for 5s. That raises a problem. 1 am afraid that I have not sufficient spare time to enable me to place my services at the disposal of the Government to help it to solve the problem, so I shall leave it to the Minister.
I should like now to direct my attention to our trade posts overseas. When we established trade posts overseas to try to increase our export markets for primary and secondary production, we were told that we would not be able to sell our secondary products because our cost structure was such that our goods could not compete on overseas markets. I remember asking Mr. Chifley, back in 1946, to state in his policy speech that if Labour were returned to office he would establish a Ministry for Export. I did not have in mind the establishment of a ministry to foster the export of primary products, because for many years primary production had been a function of the then Department of Commerce and Agriculture. 1 think that it was stated in Labour’s policy speech of 1949 that if we were returned to power we would set up a Ministry of Export, whose function* it would be to assist Australian industries to produce goods which they would sell overseas.”
Looking at the list of overseas trade posts that now exist, I feel impelled to congratulate the Government, because obviously our men are being spread through overseas countries. I think this is a good investment. I think money spent on the establishment of overseas trade posts is well spent, even if results in the form of improved trade do not become obvious immediately. The proposed vote for the trade post in the Britsh West Indies is £16,200. That post has been in existence for very many years. I do not know what is happening in the British West Indies, but it is apparent that this post has justified itself in the eyes of the responsible officers in the Department of Trade, who know more about it than I do. We have established a trade post in Ghana, which will cost us approximately £5,300 a year to maintain. This is a relatively small amount, and I think that the investment will produce good results.
On looking through the long list of overseas trade posts, I find that we have not got a representative in South America, where I believe there is an avenue for trade that could be of tremendous importance to Australia. Countries such as the Argentine and Brazil are developed countries. The standard of living enjoyed by large sections of their communities is very high indeed. As we know, they produce large quantities of coffee. We could also obtain sulphur and similar commodities from them. I urge the Government to send a full-scale trade delegation to South America. We have sent trade delegations to Malaya and
Singapore. That is only natural, because our nearest markets are there. We hope to retain and improve those markets. But, relatively speaking, from the trade point of view, South America is untouched. Doubtless one reason for this is that there is a very poor shipping service between Australia and South America.
Our first step should be to send a trade delegation to the Argentine and to Brazil. I suggest that we establish a trade post in each of those countries, as a beginning. The trade post in Ghana is costing us only £5,300 a year to maintain, and the post in Kenya £8,100. I think that if we were prepared to spend from £15,000 to £20,000 a year on each of the posts I have suggested, we would have a very sound investment. That would be a logical development in our endeavours to increase our exports of secondary products. We could sell our agricultural machinery in those countries quite easily. Already we have received inquiries from those countries about our coal.
– And also beef.
– The inquiries about beef have been spasmodic. As I have said, the shipping arrangements between Australia and South America are very poor, but at present charter shipping is offering at a relatively cheap rate, and I believe that we should start an all-out drive to obtain markets for our secondary production in South America. It must be remembered that the more our factories produce, the cheaper becomes the unit cost of production. We all know the old story. The more you make, the cheaper the individual item becomes. Export trade has been used by other countries as a kind of economic support, to help to pay the oncost of industries. The industries want to get their products away. They may not make a large profit in all cases, but exports help to share the overhead of the factories and reduce the overall cost of the products.
I do not know whether an Australian trade delegation has gone to South American countries, nor do I know whether we should spread our efforts over all the countries of South America or concentrate on one or two countries. But from inquiries that I have made, I believe that there is a great opportunity for the sale of the products of Australian secondary industries in that part of the world. I suggest to the Minister that a couple of posts be set up in South America. I think that that would be justified, having regard to the small volume of trade that we do with some of the countries in which we have posts. For instance, I cannot see how we could have much trade with Kenya, or with Thailand. From my superficial knowledge, I do not think we sell a great deal to Thailand. I am not criticizing the fact that we have posts in such countries, because I think that even such relatively cheap representation does some good. I believe that the more posts there are in Asian countries, the better. Our overseas representatives are all, in their way, excellent ambassadors for Australia, and they help us to understand the Asians a little better. In comparing various countries, I ask myself whether we should spend a few thousand pounds to establish posts in countries in which we are not represented. I think there is a terrific prospect for Australian trade with South America.
In passing, I want to refer to Spain. When I was in Spain last year, I saw exhibitions of agricultural equipment from iron curtain countries. I saw such equipment from Czechoslovakia and Poland at a trade fair at Barcelona. I think we know of the traditional attitude of the Spanish to the iron curtain countries, but if the Spaniards are prepared to buy machinery from iron curtain countries, Australia, as an important producer of agricultural equipment, might do well to establish a post at least to explore the possibility of doing business with Spain. As we know, the Spaniards have joined the European Economic Union. They have stabilized the peseta, which was one of the most unstable currencies in the world. It was possible to obtain in London as many as 160 pesetas to the £1, whereas the official rate in Spain was 115. On the Spanish border there were official money-changing houses, controlled on the French side of the border by the French Government, at which one could get, not 40 pesetas to the dollar, but 50. Therefore, there was official trading in pesetas which, of course, was to the great detriment of Spanish trade. Now, Spain has entered the European Economic Union and has stabilized the peseta, and the country has received from the United States of
America grants running into hundreds of millions of dollars. Previously, the Spaniards had very little agricultural machinery, and their primary industry was very primitive, but I understand that the position has now changed greatly. I merely say, in passing, that this is another country in which I should like the Minister to take an interest, because I think there are good’ prospects for the export to Spain of theproducts of our secondary industries.
– I have gained two outstanding impressions of the debate on the estimates for the Department of Trade. The first concerns the number of honorable senators who show an intimate knowledge of various parts of the world, a knowledge that is denied to the rest of us. I congratulate those honorable senators on their capacity to travel. The other impression that I have gained from the debate concerns the absence of requests for information on specific matters affecting the Department of Trade. The notes that I have indicate that the remarks of honorable senators were very largely of a general, informative character and not so much of an interrogatory nature.
– I think the operation of the guillotine brought that about.
– I think that the tenor of the debate was as I have described it. I do not believe that the guillotine influenced the nature of the debate.
– I think it did. If the Minister had been here in the week before last, he would have seen that it did.
– If the honorable senator had been here earlier to-night, I think perhaps he would have a better impression of the debate.
– I have been listening to the debate.
– That may be so. The notes that I have before me provide some interesting information. So far as South America is concerned, the area is at present covered from the trade post in Trinidad. The Department of Trade has, in effect, made a decision to open a trade post in South America and is making a survey to determine where that post should be located.
There has not been a trade mission to South America for many years. I have had some experience of this matter through my contact with an exporter of coal, whom I have seen from time to time and who has made quite successful visits to South America. As I have said, the Department of Trade is making a survey of the South American market, and I think that, in doing so, it has been influenced a good deal by the success which came to one trading company in its endeavours to sell coal in South America. The department contemplates, as a part of the overall programme, sending a trade mission to South America.
On the vexed question of wine, the only information I have is that the Emu Wine Company is an organization which exists in South Australia and the United Kingdom. It does not sell wine on the local market. It exports all its wine. The company is the major exporter of Australian wine. I express no views on the quality of the wine or on the organization itself. I have no knowledge of it. I repeat what I said by way of interjection, as a personal opinion, that I believe Australians are becoming greater wine drinkers. We seem to be becoming more appreciative and more discerning in our taste for wine. I think that that is creating an increasing demand for the higher-class table wines, leaving a smaller proportion available for export.
Senator McManus struck the most unpleasant note in the debate. I remind him that at the time the licensing advisory boards were set up, in response to a request from the Senate, the terms under which they were to operate were most clearly defined by the statement that was then made by the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen). There is no ground, in my view, for criticism of the Minister for Trade, in regard to the constitution of the advisory boards, because their functions were most clearly stated, after a good deal of argument. If I understood Senator McManus correctly, he said that the boards did not inquire into the position if there was a conflict with traditional importers. My information is that that is quite incorrect.
– Order! The time allotted for consideration of the proposed votes has expired.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Sitting suspended from 10 to 10.20 p.m.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) agreed to -
That the remainder of the bill be taken as a whole and that the time allotted for consideration be until 12 o’clock midnight.
Department of National Development.
Proposed Vote, £1,931,000.
Miscellaneous Services - Department of National Development.
Proposed Vote, £1,228.700.
War Service Homes Division.
Proposed Vote, £1,121.000.
Australian Atomic Energy Commission.
Proposed Vote, £2,186.000.
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.
Proposed Vote, £6,772,000.
Miscellaneous Services - Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.
Proposed Vote, £144,000.
Department of Defence.
Proposed Vote, £1,258,000.
Proposed Vote, £310,000.
– Before the debate on this group of proposed votes commences, I remind the Senate that a number of questions were put to the Minister during the discussion of the last two proposed votes and the Minister delayed so long in rising that the time for their consideration had expired before he was able to answer them. I think that is very unfair. We pose questions in all good faith, expecting that the Minister will endeavour to answer them. Even where the guillotine has been applied, it has been customary for the Minister to reply to questions raised during the course of the debate. I had hoped that he would reply to several questions that were asked so that we might have some indication of the views of the departments concerned. I suggest that he might rise more frequently to answer the many questions that will be put to him during the next hour and a half.
– I had the information and was willing to reply, but I did not get the opportunity to do so. I shall reply at half-hourly intervals during the remainder of the debate.
Senator McKELLAR (New South Wales) 110.24]. - My remarks will be directed mainly to the work which the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has done for Australia. I am very glad indeed to see that Division No. 421 makes provision for the continuance of the excellent work this organization has been doing for Australia over the past ten years or so. I think it is ten years now since the name of the organization was changed from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to that which it now bears.
When one appreciates the tremendous scope covered by this research organization, one has little cause to wonder at the excellent results that have accrued to Australia. I do not propose to weary the Senate by detailing the tasks performed by this organization. Briefly, its researches cover soil - there are seven divisions employed on this work - plants, irrigation, animal health and production, and nutrition. There are twelve sections dealing with nutrition. Twenty-two sections are engaged in work connected with sheep, and nine are conducting research into matters affecting cattle. The organization also deals with entomology, wild life, under-developed regions, fisheries and oceanography, and food. Under the heading of food, it deals with general research, physics, food chemistry, microbiology, meat, fish, egg investigations, fresh fruit and vegetable storage, canning and fruit products, frozen fruits and vegetables, dehydrated foods, dairy products and dried vine fruits. The organization also deals with forest products, building, wool textiles, industrial chemistry, mmeragraphy and ore-dressing, fuel, physical metallurgy, tribophysics, the national standards laboratory, meteorology, electrotechnology, radio physics, atmospheric physics, extraterrestrial physics, mathematical statis tics and mathematics, research services, publications, extensions, and liaisons activities.
I think it would be very hard for any one other than a statistician to estimate the actual value of this research organization to Australia over the past fifteen or twenty years. Those of us who have been, deriving a living from the land over the last decade at least know very well how a great asset has been saved to the wool industry in particular by the work of this organization in developing myxomatosis,, which wiped out the rabbit menace in the space of a few short weeks. Only those of us who were living on the land during that period fully appreciate the extent of the work done in that sphere.
It is no exaggeration to say that before the advent of myxomatosis there were some paddocks literally crawling with rabbits. Up to 20,000 or 30,000 counted rabbits had been taken off most properties in> central New South Wales before the introduction of myxomatosis. Because of rabbit infestation, there was no feed in the paddocks, and the stock were in poor condition despite any rain that might have fallen. This was all remedied within a few short weeks as a result of the work done by the C.S.I.R.O. Now. it is possible to travel through New South Wales from the southern border up to Queensland’ without seeing one rabbit.
That is only one aspect of the excellent work done by this organization-. Over the past two or three years, it has also made great strides in rain-making experiments. It is still carrying out those experiments. They have been successful in many areas, but at this stage it is not economical just to go hither and yon attempting to precipitate rain even where ideal conditions exist for such experiments.
The organization did excellent work in grasshopper extermination. I think it is only fair to say that a major grasshopper invasion has been prevented in New South Wales during the past three years, first, because of the knowledge gained by experiments carried out and, secondly, as a result of the organization that has been set up to combat this pest. The C.S.I.R.O. has alsocarried out research into grasses and plants as I mentioned a little while- ago and’ the- work that has been performed has been of inestimable value to our primary industries.
Weed eradication is another one of the organization’s activities which is most valuable. It is still going on. The organization also carries out investigations into diseases in plants such as rust in wheat, and into frost damage and so on. 1 think that it is only fitting that I should take this opportunity as a primary producer to say how much this country owes to this organization, and to express my very grateful appreciation for what it has done for the primary industries of Australia. 1 have no doubt at all that the excellent results that have “been achieved in the past will be continued in the future.
No doubt we were very fortunate indeed to have a man of the calibre of Sir Ian Clunies Ross as head of the organization for some years. It is most unfortunate that we have been deprived of his services. One of the modern investigations of the organization is connected with electronics and I “mentioned earlier the standards laboratory. 1 had the opportunity of having a look over one of those laboratories at the Sydney University a few months ago and it was a real revelation to see the work that is being done there.
Our time is limited, so I will not take up the time of the committee any longer. I again express my appreciation of the excellent job that has been performed by this organization and I wish to say how pleased I am that provision has been made for a continuation of that good work.
.- I should like to ask the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) a few questions relating to the proposed vote for the Bureau of Mineral Resources. My questions are concerned mainly with the development of bauxite deposits in Australia. Many years ago the Australian Aluminium Production Commission was set up in Tasmania to engage in the production of aluminium. At that time the Bureau of Mineral Resources carried out, as far as it was able with its limited resources, a complete survey of Australia to see whether it could find sources of bauxite in order to feed the aluminium industry in Tasmania. Unfortunately, at that time it did not find any large reserves of bauxite. Speaking from memory, 1 think that some traces were found in Tasmania, some in Gippsland and some near Braidwood in New South Wales.
Years went by and now there has been discovered at Weipa in the Cape York Peninsula what has been described as the greatest bauxite reserve in the world. It has been stated by people closely associated with those who discovered the field that there is more bauxite in Weipa than has been uncovered in all the known reserves in the rest of the world. It is a tremendous field of bauxite. The Consolidated Zinc Corporation in combination with the British Aluminium Company of the United Kingdom proposed jointly to develop that site, and have entered into an arrangement with the Queensland Government under which certain things will be done by them.
An extraordinary thing has happened. Despite the fact that there is in Weipa more bauxite than in all the rest of the world put together, the Government decided to give these companies rights over another very extensive bauxite deposit in Gove on the other side of the Gulf of Carpentaria. The field is situated at a mission station at Yirrkala. It was an air strip that was used during the war, but of course nothing was known at that time about the bauxite deposit. The air strip was constructed on this deposit and aircraft landed on red earth which was, in fact, a tremendous reserve of bauxite in this field.
The development of Gove is the next matter to which I shall refer. For some reason or other, the Government instead of giving the rights to other people, has bestowed them on the same organization that has the rights at Weipa. Once more, we see a monopoly in evidence. I contend that the Government should have ensured competition in this business so that we could force one company or the other to develop the deposits. These are tremendous reserves of bauxite, but there is nothing to bring pressure on the organization to spring into action and develop them.
Apart from that, there is another most interesting situation. When Zinc Corporation and British Aluminium made this discovery, British Aluminium was completely a British company. In the interval, it has been taken over by Reynolds Aluminium of America in co-operation with the British
Tube Company. Honorable senators will remember this story of events that occurred about twelve months ago, when this terrific take-over was attempted. The details were published in the financial newspapers at the time. Honorable senators will recall that the Reynolds company made an offer through the British Tube Company to take over the British Aluminium Company. The lastnamed company resisted the attempt, and did not even pass the offer on to its shareholders. Lord Portal - here I am speaking from memory - was the chairman of the British Aluminium Company. He was a member of the Conservative Party during the war years. As chairman of the company, he ignored the take-over offer and, as it were, let the grass grow under hi9 feet. He suddenly realized that he was faced with the situation in which Reynolds Aluminium of America seemed to have all the cards in the pack. He raced round the City of London to obtain other offers. But the story was, as we know now, that the Reynolds company, or the British Tube Company, took over and now completely controls the British Aluminium Company. So the partner of the Zinc Corporation is no longer a British firm; it is an American firm. That is the organization which has the rights in respect of the bauxite deposits at Gove and Weipa.
I want to bring this matter to the notice of the Minister because we see that our aluminium deposits are getting into a few hands. When the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, Dr. Evatt, attacks the Government for encouraging monopolies and cartels, he does not do so idly. We note that interested parties are examining our aluminium production industry at Bell Bay in Tasmania during the last twelve months. These interested parties include a number of experts from the British Aluminium Company which, I emphasize, is British Aluminium only in name and is controlled by the Reynolds Company of America. These interests are now investigating the Australian aluminium industry in Tasmania perhaps with a view to making a proposition to the Government to buy or come in as a partner. In any event, this overseas organization is eager to move into the Australian aluminium industry in Tasmania. And the
American firm, Reynolds, which controls the British Aluminium Company has development rights at Weipa, the biggest source of aluminium in the world. It would be to our interest to give some other organization a chance to develop the deposits at Gove.
I merely wish to direct the attention of the Minister to these matters and to emphasize this movement towards monopoly control which should be fought and defeated. It is not in the interests of this nation to have our aluminium industry controlled by one enterprise. I think it is a national tragedy that the steel requirements of this nation of 10,000,000 people are met by only one supplier. We do not want a similar situation to arise with respect to aluminium. Now is the time to ensure that at all stages in the aluminium industry - from mining to the production of ingots and on to fabrication - an adequate number of firms participate. At Weipa, at Gove and Launceston we find the emergence of British Aluminium, now controlled by Reynolds through British Tubes. They are the predominant people in the development.
I cannot understand why the Government, through the Bureau of Mineral Resources, has allowed the same people to control the deposits at both Weipa and Gove. They will not develop both. They have already said that at Weipa they have more bauxite than is to be found in the rest of the world. They cannot, financially or economically, develop both deposits, or find markets for the output from both. Indeed, why should they? If they have one tied up, they need not develop the other. I cannot understand why the Government did not give one of the leases to another organization that was interested in developing the bauxite deposits in that part of the Gulf of Carpentaria.
As most of these arrangements were made with British Aluminium and the Zinc Corporation before the take-over by Reynolds, serious consideration should be given to the position before final negotiations are entered into with these people.
– by leave - I propose to repeat a statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in another place a short time ago. I shall use the exact words of the Prime Minister. The Statement was -
As honorable members know, our present Governor-General, Field Marshal Sir William Slim, will be returning to England towards the end of January next after what we all feel to be a very distinguished term of office in our country. Before he leaves we will have an opportunity of saying to him some of those things that are in our hearts and minds and I will therefore not anticipate them to-night.
The immediate purpose of my intervention is to say that, after communications with Her Majesty, the Queen, orally when I was in London and subsequently in writing, Her Majesty has been graciously pleased on my advice as Australian Prime Minister to name as the new GovernorGeneral of Australia, the Right Honorable William Shepherd Morrison, the retiring Speaker of the House df Commons.
Mr. Morrison has served as Speaker for nine years with capacity and dignity and, as is well known, to the great satisfaction of all political parties. He therefore has had a rich experience in a great office which has called for marked ability and impartiality.
He was born and educated in Scotland. He served- in the First World War in the Royal Field Artillery. In the course of his service, he was awarded the Military Cross; he was wounded and -he -was three times mentioned in dispatches. He practised at the English Bar from 1923. He became one of His Majesty’s Counsel in 1934. He entered the House of Commons where, between 193S and 194S, he had considerable ministerial experience. He visited Australia some years back as a member of the United Kingdom delegation to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, which met in New Zealand and subsequently had meetings in Canberra.
All who know him will agree with me that he is a man of remarkable character and talent, of singular devotion to public duty, and of a personality which will be widely appreciated in Australia. I am, therefore, privileged to be able to inform ‘the House that Her Majesty is this evening announcing his appointment. I should add, without, I hope, impertinence, that Her Majesty is herself most happy about the appointment, which has given her great personal satisfaction.
I should add that Her Majesty has been pleased to raise Mr. Morrison ‘to the peerage under the name and style of Viscount Dunrossil.
– by leave - This news, which should be greeted with .great “happiness, is greeted .by me with .intense disappointment.
It seems to me that this, to us, tremendously important position of Governor-General of Australia has been hawked around Great Britain for some one to accept.
– I rise to a point of order. The Standing Orders provide that nothing disrespectful shall be said concerning the office of representative of Her Majesty.
– There has been no disrespectful reference to the office. Indeed, I have the highest opinion of it.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - The point of order is not upheld.
– I move -
That Senator Armstrong be no longer heard.
– You cannot interrupt the speech.
– The motion is out of order. Senator Armstrong may proceed.
– I do not want to say anything offensive. That is not my intention at all. But it seems to me that there is in the Federal Government an intransigence, a determination that it shall not appoint an Australian to this high post. That is a determination that is obvious in the making of this appointment. Since Federation, two Australians have taken their place as Governor-General of Australia, and they have done so with complete credit .to themselves and great benefit to Australia. I do not know whether it is an inferiority complex that prevents this Government from even looking among the 10,000,000 people who comprise this nation to see whether amongst them there is a man big enough, good enough, and strong enough to do this job. .But the Government will not look, as the Canadian Government and other governments have looked, among its own people to see whether it could confer this tremendous honour upon one of its own people. As I say, it was with intense disappointment that I heard of the making of this appointment. The appointee .is the Speaker, a Conservative member of the House of Commons. We know of the criticisms that have been levelled by this Government at political appointments to offices of this kind. When we were in government, we did not agree with that attitude. We elevated the Premier of New South Wales to the office of G o vernor-G General.
– I rise to order. The remarks of Senator Armstrong are a reflection upon the Queen’s representative, and they are, I submit, completely unparliamentary and disorderly.
– The honorable senator must not canvass the qualifications -of an incoming Governor-General.
– I am not canvassing them. 1 am speaking of his record, detailed by the Leader of the Government, as a member of the House of Commons. I merely state who he is. He is a Conservative member of the House of Commons. I shall not say more than that. I think that speaks for itself. We do not mind that, because we appointed a man who was, at the time of his elevation, an active member of Parliament and Premier of New South Wales. In my opinion, and I think in the opinion of this Government, he did an outstanding job. That is all I say. But when the Labour Government appointed such a man it was attacked on the ground that an atmosphere of political bias surrounded him.
I would say that the new appointee was -obviously an honorable and decent man. His record shows that he has been an outstanding man in war and peace. That is not the point. To Australia he is completely unknown. I hope that his term here is a very happy one indeed. He will continue in the footsteps of a man who, I am sure, has done a very good job for Australia in the office of Governor-General, but had the Government not had this absolute antipathy towards Australians, this intransigence in its approach to the problem, and this opinion that no Australian was good enough for the job, within the last six months there would have emerged a great Australian who could have done the job.
Consideration resumed (vide page 1474).
– I thought that at this stage I might reply to what Senator Armstrong has said about bauxite. He has over-simplified the position, which is easy to do in the circumstances. Some of the factors with which the Government has to contend have, I think, gone out of his recollection since he was the Minister who was, I think, responsible for Bell Bay.
The honorable senator may remember that the Gove deposits were discovered in these circumstances. A company was established to search for bauxite and to ascertain whether there were in New Guinea adequate water resources to develop electric power. The two constituent interests in that company were the Commonwealth Government and the British Aluminium Company. The Government naturally linked with this company, because it was the company with which the previous Labour administration had made an arrangement to give technical advice at Bell Bay. It was natural that when we were looking for natural resources we should link with the company that was associated with Bell Bay. We made arrangements for this prospecting work to be done. Substantial sums of money were spent upon it. When bauxite was discovered at Gove, it would have been extraordinarily difficult-
– It was found at Weipa first.
– Let us take the position step by step. It would have been extraordinarily difficult to allocate those resources to anybody other than the company that had, in truth, done a substantial proportion of the work of exploration. The next development was that the AustralianBritish company that found the Weipa resources had to establish an association with an organization that had interests and knowhow in the aluminium industry. It also went to British Aluminium. We had a moral commitment. After that situation developed, the Reynolds interests came into the picture. In the normal course of events, to have entered into a partnership and then departed from the atmosphere of those partnership arrangements to go in with some other company would have been a transaction open to a great deal of criticism. We took what we thought was the correct course to follow. With regard to Gove there are quite definite arrangements. We know the Gove deposits should be developed if the British Aluminium Company or the new Comalco organization is to continue to hold them.
– Have you tied them down?
– The position is even stronger than that. They have to bring forward an outline of what they propose to do before they get definite mining lease rights.
– What are the rights of the Queensland Government?
– I was coming to that.
– There has been no announcement yet of any agreement at Gove?
– I do not recollect one.
– Would you see if you can make one, because I think it is important?
– The question of whether I am speaking before I should speak in the circumstances is giving me a bit of concern, but I think the Senate is entitled to know that the position is, in my opinion, protected. Whatever rights the British Aluminium Company has are subject to its carrying out a programme to the satisfaction of the Government. A similar situation exists in Queensland. The Queensland Government has brought down legislation, that is there for all to see, providing the terms and conditions under which the Weipa deposits are held, which terms and conditions contain provisos requiring the field to be developed. As to the inquiries made by British Aluminium concerning the Bell Bay plant itself, Senator Armstrong has apparently forgotten the arrangement that was made between the Chifley Government and that company. Amongst other things, it was agreed that an offer would be made to British Aluminium before any other party could be invited to put capital into Bell Bay. We are obliged under the arrangement made by the Labour Government to give the first offer to British Aluminium.
– Are you referring to Reynolds-British Aluminium?
– We have taken legal advice on the matter, and I am assured that British Aluminium remains the same legal entity. We are doing what the Chifley Government would have done; we are honouring the arrangement that was made by that Labour Government.
.- I refer to Division No. 682 - War Service Homes Division - sub-division 2 - item 5, “ Payments to State Government Institutions in respect of War Service Homes - £128,000”. The amount voted last year for this item was £123,500. I should like the Minister to inform me of the State Government institutions that provide homes for the division. I am not clear about the meaning of the item.
I want to ask the Minister a number of other questions relating to war service homes generally, which doubtless he will be able to answer off the cuff. Can he inform me of the total number of outstanding applications for loans from the War Service Homes Division at the present time? What is the period of delay, if any, in South Australia in the provision of loans from the War Service Homes Division for the building of new homes? What is the period of delay, if any, in that State in the provision of loans to purchase existing homes? Will the Minister inform the committee of the overall position in relation to loans for all types of war service homes in Australia?
– I should like the Minister to inform me whether the Government has drawn up any plan to deal with the competition that could occur in the coal industry, and which could do very serious damage to the industry. I remind the Minister that the pre-war coal industry was destroyed to a degree by violent competition between the management of mechanized and unmechanized mines. That competition brought the coal industry to its knees, and it will be recalled that we just managed to struggle through the war period, having hardly enough coal to meet our requirements. In the immediate post-war period, it was necessary for the Joint Coal Board to be established and for the Commonwealth Government to provide millions of pounds in order to rehabilitate the coal industry.
I think the Minister will agree that, from the point of view of production, the coal industry has reached the stage of perfection. It is producing to full capacity. I do not want to take away any credit that is due to this Government, to the previous Labour Government, or, for that matter, to the New South Wales Government for this magnificent achievement in coal production. However, I want to point out that a most dangerous situation has now developed in the industry. This has an important bearing on national development. A mechanized coal industry could collapse as easily as a non-mechanized coal industry could collapse. After all, we are dealing with a commodity that is basic to the generation of power. If the. competition that is now being waged between powerful groups of owners of mechanized mines becomes more severe, there is a chance that the industry will be destroyed.
I have always regarded the coal industry as a national industry, and coal as our first line of defence. The production of coal should not be left to the vagaries of private industry. Quite obviously, the industry has almost reached saturation point in regard to production. Frankly, due to the concentration of power in the hands of certain groups, I cannot foresee anything other than an overall deterioration of the industry. If violent competition is engaged in between powerful groups of owners of highly mechanized mines, the consequential situation will be ten times more difficult to handle than the situation that developed before the war, when there was intense competition between the owners of mechanized and non-mechanized mines.
Already, the president of the coal owners’ association has suggested that the New South Wales Government should get out of the coal industry. The New South Wales Government developed its own group of coal mines in order to ensure supplies of coal for its electricity undertakings, but the president of the coal owners’ association has suggested that these mines should be handed over to private enterprise. I say, of course, that that would be quite wrong. There is a vital difference between the coal industry and other industries. The steel industry, for instance, owns its own group of mines. That industry was not prepared to rely for its supplies of coal on privately owned mines. It took steps to assure a continuous supply of coke and coal. I am sure that nobody objects to the Broken Hill “Proprietary Company Limited and the Hoskins group doing that. I think it is very good business. The New South Wales Government, remembering what happened in past years, decided to operate its own mines.
In my movements in industry I have the major private groups. These groups account for about 70 per cent, of the total production of coal. The community and the smaller industries are dependent for their supplies on the weakest part of the coal industry - the ungrouped mines - and those are the mines that would suffer most if violent competition were allowed to develop between the major groups. In that case, the community would be in the same position with regard to coal supplies - or heading in that direction - as it was some time ago. The position might not become so bad as it was then, because we have learnt from the experience of the past, and I do not think that the Government would allow that position to develop again, but I tell the Minister that I cannot see that the Government has any plans to obviate this violent competition.
In my movements in industry I have found that the wonderful Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization does good work, but I think its activities ought to be extended. I was in a factory about a fortnight ago and was told that, as a result of the activities of the C.S.I.R.O., the company had been shown a new method of production which cut the cost of production by 40 per cent. I naturally asked, “Will that mean that the cost of the products will come down by 40 per cent.? “ I was told that the prices would go up. I understand that that could not happen in Great Britain. That country also has an organization somewhat similar to the C.S.I.R.O. However, the difference is that if the British organization performs a service for industry, industry has to pay a price for that service. I think that that should be the position here, too.
I have in mind another activity in which I think the C.S.I.R.O. could engage, with great benefit to the community. After all, Government enterprises and instrumentalities ought to be engaged in improving the economy of the country. I suggest that there would not be a chemist employed by the C.S.I.R.O. who would not know that when a toothpaste manufacturing firm advertised that its toothpaste contained protec- live chlorophyll it was talking absolute hooey and was making a statement that was completely untrue. The chemists of the C.S.I.R.O. ought to be telling the public, through the Government, that that is phoney advertising. The chemists also know that irium, that other mysterious substance that goes into Colgate toothpaste, and into a few other brands, is merely a flash name for soap. Advertising about irium got the people using dozens of tubes of a particular brand of toothpaste. We sec people wasting their money every week on all sorts of fancy toothpastes.
– But you have to clean your teeth.
– I know that, but you do not need to pay 3s. 6d. for a tube of toothpaste to do it. You can get something much cheaper. The C.S.I.R.O. could help to earn income and further justify its existence if it were to say publicly that certain advertisements were phoney. That is not a revolutionary proposition. It is already done in the United Kingdom.
– And in America.
– Yes. Colgate advertising has been taken off television in Great Britain because of the phoney form of advertising that was being presented. I think that that ought to be the position in this country, too, because the people arc entitled to protection from these vultures that feed on the prosperity we are enjoying to-day.
If we could save the women of Australia £1 a week by improving the quality of their stockings, without interfering with sex appeal, I think we would be doing a good job for Australia. I am informed by officers of the C.S.I.R.O. that one twist of the weave would extend the life of the stocking. There are a dozen and one ways that I know of in which the organization could help the Australian community.
I now wish to say something about a committee that I know is very dear to the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner). I refer to the coal committee. I do not want to be critical of this body that has been appointed to examine coal problems, but T point out that the chairman, a man for whom I have a lot of respect, and who is connected with the Sydney gas company, is the general manager of a major coal-consuming organization which is busily engaged in moving away from the use of coal as fast as it can. 1 do not want to discuss the personnel of the committee, except to say that the chairman is a good man, a great man for the gas company, but the gas company is engaged in switching from coal. That man is the chairman of a committee which has for its purpose the protection of the coal industry. I see a conflict there. I think that the coal industry is entitled to more direct and active support than that.
In America, all the things that go to make power, such as coal, oil and electricity, are regarded as fuel. In that capitalist country they are socialist enough to have an overall plan based on fuel. They know exactly, or as close as it is possible to get to exactness, in this type of economy, how much coal they will need in the next twelve months, how much oil, and so on. I do not think we have anything like that here. I do not think we know what our fuel demands are at any given stage. We know what has been supplied in the past, hut we do not know what future requirements will be. I see a lack of planning in regard to our fuel position. I hope the Minister will tell me what plan the Government has to protect the coal industry and, at the same time, Australia, against the violent competition that I see coming. Does the Government propose to reduce working hours in the coal industry?
The CHAIRMAN (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid). - Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I wish to join other speakers in congratulating the officers of the C.S.I.R.O. on the job they have done for the producers of this country. The praise that has come forward for the organization from overseas scientists is very good to hear. I wish to invite the attention of the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) to a complaint that woolgrowers have, concerning a matter that has become a long-standing bugbear with woollen mills. I refer to jute contamination from woolpacks. There are small, straggly ends of jute on the inside of the woolpacks, and, as a result, when the wool is sent to the mill it is found to be contaminated. The millers have complained over the years that whole pieces of cloth have been ruined through odd jute fibres appearing during spinning. These jute fibres do not take wool dyes and so give a faulty finish to the cloth. They appear as undyed fibres on the surface of the cloth.
Wool-growers, through their organizations, have taken up this matter with the distributors of woolpacks in this country and have been told time and again that nothing can be done unless they can obtain the serial number of the bale, so that the distributors may forward it to the manufacturers in India with a view to obtaining compensation for the faulty packs. Unfortunately, the vast majority of growers in this country buy only ten or, perhaps, thirty wool packs and are unable to obtain the serial number of the bale because a bale contains 50 packs. Therefore, they have no means of supplying the distributors with the serial number of the bale.
The C.S.I.R.O. has been asked to look into the matter and the only suggestion that organization has been able to make is that the growers should take the packs away from the wool baling room, turn them inside out and shake them. It is not practicable to do this during the busy time of shearing. I suggest that the Minister ask the department to consider the possibility of evolving a different method of packing our wool or of devising some way of treating wool packs so that the fibres will not contaminate the wool.
– I wish to refer to Division No. 413 and Division No. 645. The Bureau of Mineral Resources is a most important organization, but the limited amount of work that it has done, good and all as it is, has not been anything like sufficient for the proper development of this country. We are sadly in need of a thorough survey of our mineral resources, for our present statistical record of Australia’s mineral deposits is lamentably poor. I suggest that there is every justification for a combined effort by Western Australia and Commonwealth authorities to ascertain the full extent of iron-ore deposits in that State. It cannot be denied that Western Australia has a great potential asset in its iron-ore deposits. To date, the development of ironore deposits in Australia has been the sole prerogative of Broken Hill Proprietary
Company Limited and this has retarded not only the industrial development of Australia but also the decentralization of the iron and steel industry.
I should like to know from the Minister how much money has been spent in an endeavour to obtain accurate information concerning the extent of iron-ore and other mineral deposits in Australia, particularly in Western Australia, lt is said that ore ot less than 80 per cent, iron content is not worth working. I point out that other countries are only too happy to use ore of much lower grade. Some of them are working ores with only a 25 per cent, iron content. In this country, we would not even know where such low-grade deposits existed; we would not bother to give them a second thought. A thorough survey should be made of all our iron-ore deposits. 1 submit that in all fairness to Western Australia the Commonwealth should release the stranglehold it places on the State by reserving the right to say to Western Australia which iron-ore deposits it may or may not develop for the expansion ot its industries. Admittedly, the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited has established in Western Australia a steel rolling mill, but its output does not by any means meet the requirements of Western Australian industries. Because of the special privileges this company enjoys at the hands of this Government, it is able to manufacture the cheapest steel in the world, but that does not greatly help Australian industries which are often embarrassed because of the shortage of supplies from this organization. If we are to have decentralization of the steel industry, other organizations must be Riven an opportunity to exploit our ironore deposits. So long as this huge combine enjoys its present monopoly industrial development in Australia will be stultified.
The coal industry is frequently discussed in this chamber. Coal is an important national product and I should like to know from the Minister how much money has been spent by the Commonwealth Government on coal research and marketing in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. I emphasize thai Western Australia also has its problems in connection with the coal industry. They arise, not because of the orations of unions, big companies or combines, but because of the difficulty in finding markets.
Large deposits of coal exist in the Collie basin. I understand that it is possible in Western Australia to make briquettes cheaper than they can be made elsewhere and that they have a better calorific value for smelting and other uses by industry than have the products of other centres, but, for economic operation, it is necessary to install a plant capable of producing about 250,000 tons a month. This production can be undertaken economically there, but, because the coal is in Western Australia, and because not much political pressure has been put upon this Government by that State* very little has been done about it. I ask the Minister to tell us how much the Commonwealth has spent on research into coal in Western Australia, and what the Government has done to assist the industry there compared with the generous help it has given the other States. I should also like to know whether there is any prospect of the Commonwealth Government taking a more vigorous interest in Western Australia’s coal problem. I come now to the proposed vote of £65,000 for the Standards Association of Australia and £14,400 for the National Association of Testing Authorities. I have made requests on two previous occasions for an Australian bureau of standards to be established similar to the South African bureau. The Minister has agreed on each occasion that a bureau of standards should be set up in Australia and has stated that the Government is working to that end. This matter is closely related to the activities of the Department of Trade. If we are to manufacture for export goods capable of competing on the world markets, we must establish a bureau of standards in this country. References have been made to Emu wine, our butter and other exports. Very often the standard and quality of good products are interfered with by dilution and blending when they get overseas. Importers in other countries should not be allowed to interfere with the standards of our products. While we continue to allow importers to abuse the standards of Australian goods we will be fighting an uphill battle to gain markets. In Western Australia, rolled oats which were classified and sold as cattle food were sent to the north, but when they arrived they were sold as fit for human consumption. In that case the Government interfered and stopped the export of the oats.
– What was that you said?
– If the honorable senator reads “ Hansard “ to-morrow he will know what I said. As I have been reminded, I have not got much time. On that occasion the exports were stopped and the standard of the product was improved.
A system of standards is necessary for the protection of our trade so that importers in other countries will riot be able to exploit and prostitute our products overseas. I think it is a sign of laxity on the part of the Government and the various departments that something of this nature has not been established before now.
I should like to know just exactly how this grant is being spent and what is being done to ensure that Australian goods are being sold at an approved Al standard. If we do not establish some sort of Australian standard for our exports we will find that there are irresponsible and greedy people who will break down the standard of our products that are sent overseas. The Minister knows what happened in connexion with the Air Beef lift up north. He knows that now the meat is classified from low grade up to first grade. When the meat reaches the English market the importer knows the type of meat he is buying but 1 understand that, even so, some abuses have taken place in England. Australian meat has been wrongly classified when sold to the consumers. I think that we should concentrate on setting up an efficient standards bureau. I should like to hear the Minister comment on whether the Government is prepared to do something along the lines “I have suggested, because I think it is essential to do so.
– 1 desire to refer to Division No. 431 - Australian Atomic Energy Commission - for which £2,186,000 has been allotted this year. Last year the expenditure was £1,525,116. There is not much to be seen on page 80 of the bill, but if we look at the Budget papers for 1959-60 we find on page 142 under the heading “ Miscellaneous and Statistical” table 41 which deals with the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. We learn that the commission has been allowed £76,000 this year for the purchase of ores containing other prescribed substances, and that last year the sum spent on this item was £90,000. I desire to ask the Minister what particular ores the commission is purchasing.
Whilst I am on the subject of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission let me say that I think that we in Australia have done a very good job in the establishment of uranium mines. The commission and the Bureau of Mineral Resources are to be congratulated on the work that they have done in promoting this important Australian industry. Extensive development has taken place in uranium mining in Australia during the last few years and the amount of capital employed in the industry to-day exceeds £20,000,000. Australia is an exporter of uranium oxide. A lot of encouragement has been given to people wishing to invest in uranium mining in Australia. As honorable senators know, a complete holiday from income tax has been granted to those engaged in uranium mining. We know also that the Australian Atomic Energy Commission has arranged for the sale of all uranium oxide produced in Australia until the middle of 1960: Those sales are being made to the Combined Development Agency on which England and America are represented.
Naturally, we want to know what is to happen to this industry after the middle of 1960 when, I understand, it will be difficult to obtain sales of our uranium oxide. As a result of conversations I have had with representatives of mining companies I am advised that the Australian Atomic Energy Commission will allow the companies to send samples of the oxide to friendly nations for examination. However, I understand that the companies are experiencing great difficulty in obtaining the necessary permission to forward the samples. Then, having sent one lot of samples, the companies also find great difficulty in getting the necessary permission to forward additional quantities if they are required. There has been an embargo, and rightly so, on the exportation or sale of uranium oxide to nations which are not well disposed towards us. However, I am informed that certain other nations are taking advantage of that situation. If they can negotiate the sale of even a few tons, the purchaser will in the future-I am referring to the middle 1960’s- naturally go to them, the original suppliers, before entering into contracts with new countries. I would appreciate it if the Minister could tell me whether, after negotiation between the governments, small quantities of uranium oxide can be provided to peaceful nations.
I have no doubt that atomic energy will be the power of the future, but I understand that at present a reactor would cost many millions of pounds to build here. That would be beyond the capacity of a State or of an industry. But other nations are facing the challenge, and I hope that one day this Government will be able to announce that we are going ahead with the building of a reactor here. I understand that the cost of the production of power by the use of a nuclear reactor is a little higher than the cost of producing power from a thermal station, using coal. I am informed that an atomic reactor could produce electricity at a cost of .7d. per unit. That figure takes into account capital cost and running charges. I understand that now, as a result of a more scientific approach to coal, a thermal power station can produce current at something like .4d. per unit.
The nuclear reactor has not been developed to its maximum efficiency. Our research station at Lucas Heights is carrying out experiments to that end. The people there have advised me that at present they are obtaining only about 20 per cent, efficiency but believe that, given time, they will be able to achieve a far greater level of efficiency and would then be able to compete with both coal-burning and hydro-electric stations.
I should be glad if the Minister would give me the information that I seek concerning the purchase of ores containing “ other prescribed substances “. I should like to know what those substances are. 1 know that the Minister is anxious to answer queries that have been raised, so I shall not pursue further two very important topics that I had in mind - the Kimberley Research Station, which is so vital to Western Australia - and the Department of National Development, which is doing such great work for Australia.
– I shall do my best to answer the queries that have been raised. Senator Scott referred to the stockpiling of purchased ores. This year £76,000 is to be spent in that direction, compared with last year’s figure of £90,000. lt will be used to purchase monozite, the thorium content of which will be required in future reactor programmes, and also beryl for future beryllium metal production. This will be of tremendous potential value in future atomic energy programmes.
Senator Scott discussed the future of the uranium mining industry and the sale overseas of uranium. Australia is observing both the letter and the spirit of the charter of the United Nations agency which deals with this and similar subjects. One of its principal objectives is the creation of certain world-wide conditions, to which all nations will subscribe, to ensure that materials are used only in the production of atomic energy for peaceful purposes. This authority has been in the throes of evolving a formula under which there will be a supervision - a watching - of these sales. In other words, it is hoped that when a country which has uranium supplies sells uranium, the sales will be on terms acceptable to this international atomic energy agency. It contemplates watching to ensure that atomic energy is produced for peaceful purposes only. It is still in the initial stages, and at present the arrangement is that samples of limited size only may be sold.
We ought not to forget that there are very few atomic energy power producing plants in operation. The present demand is for samples. That is a genuine demand, and the quantity offered must necessarily be limited. We are examining the conditions in Australia and are permitting comparatively small sales of uranium oxide to certain countries to take place. We have heard that others are not playing the game, but we consider the whole matter to be of such world-wide importance that we are observing, not only the letter but the spirit of the requirements laid down by the international agency. I say in reply to Senator Pearson that the Housing Commission of Western Australia carries out in Western Australia the functions of the War Service Homes Division. Western Australia is the only State in which the division has not a branch of its own, and right from the inception of the scheme it has acted through the Housing Commission. That is the explanation of the payment made to the commission. The number of outstanding appli cations at 30th September, 1959, in South Australia was 1,203, and throughout Australia, 20,433. The waiting periods are: For building, 3 months; for the purchase of new homes, 18 months; for the purchase of old homes, 20 months; and for the discharge of prearranged mortgages, 12 months. Those waiting periods are, of course, the same in each State.
Senator Ormonde dealt with the coal mining industry. He asked what the pattern might be for the future. I do not suggest that Senator Ormonde took a pessimistic view of the future, but there is, of course, a pretty wide divergence of opinion about what might happen. The last annual report of the Joint Coal Board illustrates that it is possible to exaggerate the difficulties that may arise. It states -
The New South Wales coal industry faces big changes in the next ten years.
This confirms what Senator Ormonde said -
Its position at present is one of unprecedented strength; it is technically strong; it is financially strong; it is in a position where it can carry out its obligations to the community with assurance and with efficiency. These are things which it should always be possible to say about the New South Wales coal industry, which is, and is likely indefinitely to remain, the major source of energy for Australia, and to remain the only source of the principal chemical re-agent of the great Australian steel industry.
This, I think, is of great importance -
The outlook for the New South Wales coal industry in the sixties is for rising demand, reduced costs (some reductions will be dramatic) and the development of some new large-scale mines.
I think it is good to look at what might happen in the New South Wales coal mining industry against the background of a good strong industry, and a rising demand for coal, remembering that the consumption of coal has not fallen in recent years. The perplexities that have arisen have been the result of increasing mechanization and increasing efficiency of the industry. I think it will be extraordinarily difficult to present any blue-print for the future. If we are to maintain our position in the coal mining industry, we must ensure that the trend towards increasing efficiency continues. Coal will meet increasing competition from other fuels. I think it is not beyond the wit of the Joint Coal Board and others to ensure that the great changes that I feel certain will occur in the next ten years will bring with them no greater problems than have been faced in recent years.
I was interested in Senator Ormonde’s comments on the Coal Utilization Research Advisory Committee. I do not share his views about the chairman of the committee. 1 think we have been very fortunate indeed to get Mr. Pettingell as chairman. I think he is a big Australian and will bring to the chairmanship of that committee, which is essentially a combination of scientists or technical people and businessmen, the drive and imagination that will enable it to do the task that we are hoping it will do. We must not overlook the fact that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has already done a good deal of work on the efficient use of coal and the economic development of coal resources.
Senator Drake-Brockman talked about wool. I shall read a short comment that may be of interest to him. It is in relation to jute contamination, and reads -
Complaints have been received in Australia from wool textile manufacturers that their wool fabrics often contain jute fibres. These fibres do not absorb dye readily under the conditions used for dyeing wool, and in some mills they are laboriously picked out of the finished fabric with tweezers at considerable cost. The fibres may arise from loose jute strings in the bale, from short lengths of string released when the edges of the bale are cut on the show floor, from windows cut in the bale for inspection purposes, and from loose fibres on the surface of the jute fabric. As a first step to overcome this problem graziers are being asked to remove all loose string from bales before using them, and arrangements have been made for sample packs which have been impregnated with plastic to be supplied for test. These should minimize contamination with surface fibres from the jute fabric.
If that does not answer the honorable senator’s inquiry in the way in which he would like it answered, and if he lets me know, I shall arrange for the C.S.I.R.O. to give him any additional information that it may have available.
Senator Cooke raised some questions about the extent of the prospecting programme of the Bureau of Mineral Resources. In particular, he asked for information as to its allocation amongst the various States. I remind him that basically State Governments have the responsibility for mining and prospecting transactions. The Commonwealth’s organization, the Bureau of Mineral Resources is, as it were, a latter-day development, superimposed upon the State organizations. Indeed, one of the basic principles upon which it operates is that it does not enter into fields of activities without the consent and support of State geological survey authorities. We have not maintained records of the expenditure in the various States in a way that it is readily accessible. It would not be possible within the ambit of a debate such as this to say how much has been spent in this State or that State, and it would be even more difficult to say how much has been spent on iron ore or some other mineral. Speaking from memory, I think that the only classifications available are those in relation to the amounts spent on uranium and on the search for oil.
– I am seeking information in relation to coal.
– The Bureau of Mineral Resources has done very little in relation to coal. As we know, a separate organization - the Joint Coal Board - was established. It is not possible for me to say with precision what amounts have been spent in the various States on various activities.
– Is the Minister able to state the approximate amounts?
– I am sorry thatI am unable to supply that information. If the honorable senator wishes to pursue the point, I shall see what I can find out.
– Order! The time allotted for the consideration of the remainder of the bill has expired.
Friday, 13 November 1959
Proposed votes agreed to.
Remainder of bill agreed to.
Bill reported without requests; report adopted.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a third time.
I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 12.3 a.m. (Friday).
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 12 November 1959, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1959/19591112_senate_23_s16/>.