23rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I direct to the Minister representing the Minister in Charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization a question with reference to an announcement made yesterday by the Australian Broadcasting Commission of the discovery of a very large fishing ground off the north-west coast of Western Australia. Can the Minister tell the Senate, first, the extent of this new fishing ground; secondly, exactly where it is located, including its distance from the coast; and thirdly, the nature of the fish discovered there? Can the Minister inform us whether it will be possible to preserve this new ground for the fishermen of Western Australia and prevent overseas fishing interests from taking fish from it?
– I did hear the broadcast announcement, but I am not in a position to give the honorable senator the details that he requires. If he will put the question on the notice-paper, I shall refer it to Dr. Donald Cameron, the Minister in Charge of the C.S.I.R.O., and obtain a written answer.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Is an apprentice entitled to a taxation concession in respect of money spent on text books and/or technical equipment required in the course of his technical school training, and in respect of fares additional to normal fares paid when travelling to and from his employment?
– I think it would be better if I asked the Treasurer to supply an answer to the question.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is it a fact that under a stable, conscientious and constructive government the number of cars in Australia has almost trebled, the ratio now being one car to four persons as against one car to twelve persons in 1949, and that the number of telephones has increased, the ratio now being one telephone to five persons, compared with one to ten persons in 1949? If this is so, will the Minister say whether we in Australia are rapidly approaching a standard of living comparable to that in America, which has the highest standard in the world? Has any assessment been made of when Australia can expect to lead the world in living standards?
– I pay tribute to Senator Scott’s political wisdom in asking a question of this kind. It brings very much into relief the great progress that has been made in Australia during the regime of the Menzies Government. I should think that we could fairly claim that Australia now enjoys living standards as high as those of any other country.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. As a large increase in postal revenue has been reported will he give consideration at an early date, or during the preparation of the Budget, to giving relief to small country newspapers, migrants’ newspapers, religious periodicals and trade union journals from the very severe postal charges that were placed upon them as a result of the last Budget?
– The honorable senator is quite right when he suggests that this matter can be dealt with only at Budget time. I shall undertake to put it before the Postmaster-General.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Treasurer a question. Does the Commonwealth Bank make ex-gratia payments in lieu of rates in all cities and towns in which it owns and occupies buildings, or does it make these payments only when and where it desires? How do the payments that are made compare with the value of the rates that would otherwise be paid on the properties occupied?
– My understanding is that in a number of cities, if not in all cities and towns, the Commonwealth Bank makes a payment equivalent to the rates on the property occupied, as an exgratia payment to the local authority. I am not sure that that occurs in every city and town. I shall ask the Treasurer whether it does, and I shall let the honorable senator know the result of my inquiry.
– I ask the Leader of the Government: In order to stimulate production in Australia, and thereby ensure full employment and assist the flow of migrants to Australia, will the Government ensure that a substantial percentage of profits made by overseas investors is re-invested in Australia?
– This is a question of pretty high policy which is not easy to answer offhand. I shall answer it by stating the present policy, which has been in operation for some years. Overseas investors are not given any assurance that their capital can be repatriated or that their dividends can be taken out of Australia; but they are told that there has not been, except in respect of one particular industry, any restrictions on dividend payments. Senator Courtice is suggesting that wc change that policy and ensure that a proportion of profits are re-invested in Australia, to which I give the answer that I think it would be an unwise thing to do because at the present time a substantial proportion of the profits that are earned by overseas capital investment in Australia is already being re-invested in Australia. I cannot give the figures off the cuff; but a very large proportion indeed of the profits that are earned is re-invested. There are some exceptions, but in the main that is what has already happened and it would not be conducive to attracting additional capital to try to set a term to the present arrangements.
– While the Minister for Customs and Excise was on his recent visit to Victoria, did he see the cotton-growing area around Robinvale? Is he aware of the quality of the Victorian cotton crop? As the Victorian growers are having their cotton processed by the Queensland Cotton Board, does that board pay the freight charges incurred, or does the grower lose that amount?
– I regret that I did not see the cotton-growing areas about Robinvale. However, I have read some papers on them recently which lead me to believe that the crop is of excellent quality and that the cotton industry in that area has a great future. The Cotton Board in Queensland pays the freight on cotton seed sent from the farm to the ginnery, and that expenditure is allowable as a deductible expense in the assessment of the cotton bounty. At present, the Victorian crop is very small. I have arranged that while the Victorian cotton-growing industry is developing, Victorian cotton-seed sent to the Queensland Cotton Board will be treated in the same way as seed sent by Queensland growers. The freight from Victoria to the Queensland ginnery will be paid by the board, and the amount will be allowable as a deductible expense in the assessment of the cotton bounty. This arrangement will apply only while the Victorian crop is too small to justify the establishment of a ginnery in Victoria. I have intimated that, when the size of the Victorian crop warrants it, a ginnery must be established in that State.
– I preface my question, which is addressed to the Minister for Civil Aviation, by saying that some time ago the people of Australia were told that concession fares would1 be available on Australian internal airlines as a result of the cross-charter between the two major airlines, and that tourists who wished to travel by air without frills would get cheaper transport. Yesterday, the Minister was asked whether he knew of an approach by Ansett-A.N.A. to TransAustralia Airlines, seeking fare increases, and he said he did know of it. Has he made any inquiries into the matter? If so, can he say whether there is any substance in the report?
– The position is still as it was yesterday. I am not aware of any approach by Ansett-A.N.A. to T.A.A. in the matter of fare increases.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Air and refers to the Government’s announcement that it intends to close the Mallala aerodrome in South Australia. Can he say what the Government intends to do with surplus buildings and other permanent constructions at that aerodrome? Will tenders be invited for their purchase, or how will they be disposed of?
– I have no knowledge of the matter myself, but I shall be pleased to confer with my colleague and let the honorable senator know the position as early as possible.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer, concerning the committee on taxation. Can he give us any information about when the committee proposes to visit Tasmania? Can he tell us whether the committee will adopt the course of hearing worth-while submissions from interested taxpayers on the question whether amendments should be made to the taxation laws?
– I cannot tell the honorable senator what the committee will do. I shall ask my colleague, Mr. Harold Holt, to supply me with an answer to the question.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior. Is the Minister aware that there is a suburb of Canberra called Griffith? Is he also aware that there is a town of the same name in New South Wales? Is it a fact that this causes some confusion to the railway authorities and to the Postmaster-General’s Department, and results in the mis-direction of parcels and mail? Have the Canberra postal authorities recently advised the residents of the suburb of Griffith to have their mail addressed to Canberra, and not to Griffith, in order to avoid delays in delivery? Is it a fact that the post office in the Canberra suburb of Griffith is known as the Throsbycrescent Post Office? Is it a fact that confusion is caused in the New South Wales Department of Education, which staffs the school at Griffith in Canberra, because it services and maintains as well a school at Griffith in New South Wales? In view of these facts, will the Minister ask his colleague, the Minister for the Interior, to give consideration to changing the name of the Canberra suburb from Griffith to Garran? This would not only avoid confusion, but would serve as a memorial to a very great Australian - the late Sir Robert Garran - who did so much for Canberra and the Commonwealth of Australia.
– I am aware that there is a suburb of Griffith in Canberra and a town of the same name in New South Wales. I am not aware of any difficulties that have been caused in mail deliveries as a result of confusion over the two names, nor am I aware of any confusion arising from the fact that there are schools in both places. However, I will bring this matter to the attention of the Postmaster-General and the Minister for the Interior and let them know what has been suggested by the honorable senator as to re-naming the Canberra suburb after Sir Robert Garran.
– I should like to ask the Minister a question supplementary to the question just asked by Senator Tangney. Will the Minister take into consideration the fact that Sir Samuel Griffith was one of the fathers of the Constitution, and was also the first Chief Justice of the Commonwealth? I suggest that a decision to change the name of the suburb of Griffith is not to be lightly taken.
– I shall also bring Senator McCallum’s question to the notice of the two Ministers concerned.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Has the Minister yet made any study of the recent budget changes in the United Kingdom to see whether they will be of benefit or otherwise to exporters of Australian wines to the United Kingdom? Press statements originating from the United Kingdom and South Australia on the matter appear to differ widely.
– I cannot say that I have made a careful study of the results likely to flow in this direction from the United Kingdom budget, but at first glance it certainly appears that the reduction of duty announced in the budget must be of assistance to Australian wine-growers. If there are other factors that would in some way destroy that assistance, they have not yet come to my notice. I suggest that the honorable senator approach the Department of Primary Industry direct to ascertain its assessment of the position. On the face of it I would say that some benefit will accrue to Australian winegrowers.
– I want to ask the Leader of the Government in this chamber a few questions without notice. Is it a fact that the average intake of pills and potions in Australia is the highest in the world? ls it a fact that Australian children have the worst teeth in the world? Is this due to our high standard of living or to the weakness of the present Government’s health policy?
– The answer is that it is due to the high standard of living.
– I ask the Leader of the Government a question supplementary to Senator Scott’s question about the number of telephone installations and motor cars in Australia and his comparison of living standards in this country with those in America. Will the Minister say how many people are unemployed in Australia and in America? Does the Minister consider that it is necessary to have a high incidence of unemployment in order to have a high standard of living?
– I am sorry, but I did not quite hear the last part of the honorable senator’s question. Comparative levels of unemployment in Australia and the United States of America are very much in favour of Australia. I forget the exact figures, but our unemployment level is considerably lower than that in America.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Trade seen a statement in the press, reported to have been made by Lord Balfour of Inchrye to a conference of representatives of British chambers of commerce, to the effect that
Australian exports will meet with very fierce competition in Europe in the near future? In view of the high rate of profits of quite a number of Australian organizations that are manufacturing for export, as shown by their balance-sheets, will the Government take notice of this warning by Lord Balfour and take steps to see that companies which are presenting our goods on European markets will fix prices which will enable them to meet such fierce competition?
– I do not think that the honorable senator has given a very fair interpretation of what Lord Balfour said. I took a good deal of notice of what he said, because of his great experience. It was comforting to me to hear his forthright statement that, in view of the new competitive era that is commencing in Europe, he was looking increasingly towards the maintenance of existing Commonwealth preferential trade arrangements. Senator O’Byrne has asked whether, in such circumstances, we should limit profits. If the claim is that there will be fiercer competition, surely that in itself will lead to limitation of profit-earning capacities.
I think that we can become too concerned about the developments in Europe. There are two very powerful trading groups. There is the customs union and there is the free trade area. Both are aiming at reducing internal tariffs. One is aiming at a common external tariff, while the other is not. We in Australia will need to watch carefully the trends towards the encouragement of local primary industries in Europe, which may affect our export trade in certain primary commodities. I think it is proper to say that we think that the continual representations which we are making, as the Australian Government, in connexion with the negotiations are having an effect.
– Has the Minister for National Development seen the references that appeared in the newspapers last week-end to proposed arrangements with regard to the Australian Aluminium Production Commission’s works at Bell Bay? Is the Minister in a position to give the Senate information regarding the truth or otherwise of those reports?
– I am sorry to say that I have not picked up the newspaper reports to which Senator Wright has referred. Therefore, 1 am at somewhat of a disadvantage in answering his question, but perhaps I may outline the general situation at Bell Bay. A programme has been commenced with the object of increasing the capacity of the Bell Bay works to 16,000 tons. The Tasmanian and Commonwealth governments have co-operated, and that programme is in hand. There are further suggestions that the capacity of the plant should be increased to 28,500 tons, and the two governments, in conjunction, have been seeking private investment in order to allow that further expansion to be carried out. Total production would still be substantially below the total demand for aluminium in Australia, so that there is, therefore, an opportunity to expand the Bell Bay plant. ft is no secret that negotiations have been going on to obtain this additional capital, but I have said in the past in the Senate - and I repeat it now - that if negotiations are being conducted, I do not think it is appropriate to make those negotiations public. One cannot expect to be able to negotiate successfully in those circumstances. However, the Senate can rest assured on the final result because the relevant legislation provides that any deal that is made must, to be effective, first be approved by the Parliament.
– I wish to direct a supplementary question to the Minister for National Development. Has the Minister noticed the wide divergence of opinion between the reported views of the Federal Labour caucus and the State Labour Premier in Tasmania on the best means of doubling the output of the Bell Bay works?
– Obviously, Mr. President, 1 shall have to extend my reading of the Tasmanian newspapers. I would take particular joy in noting any divergence of opinion within the Australian Labour Party, but this is one that I have not noticed.
– I also wish to direct to the Minister for National Development a supplementary question which might clear up this matter. In his reply to Senator Wright, the Minister referred to negotiations to obtain additional capital for the Bell Bay works. Is that all that the Minister meant to say?
– No, I think that would be taking too narrow a view of the matter. We are generally negotiating. The effect will be to obtain additional capital, but it is not possible at this stage to say upon what terms and conditions.
– I also have a supplementary question to direct to the Minister for National Development. In view of the fact that the Tasmanian Government has some interest in the Bell Bay works, will that Government be consulted concerning any negotiations for an increase in the size of the plant or its sale?
– Yes, most assuredly.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of the world-wide horror at reports of flogging coming out of South Africa where human beings are being treated like dogs or oxen, will the Minister for National Development confer with his colleagues with a view to determining whether this is not an opportune time to review our Australian official delegate’s standing in the United Nations Organization where Australia was one of the few nations to subscribe to the practice of flogging of native people in Papua and New Guinea?
– I am sorry to say that Senator O’Byrne is ahead of me on this matter. I know of no such decision on the part of the Australian Government. If there has been any such decision - and I would be surprised if it were so - it has escaped my notice. On the South African situation generally, I think the Prime Minister, Mr. Menzies, has made the Australian position quite clear. We are not, in any circumstances, to be taken as condoning what is happening in South Africa. We feel concerned at the position; but in general terms we believe it is a matter primarily for the South African Government, and we shall not help the situation by criticizing or making - with respect to Senator O’Byrne - extravagant statements about the position.
– I address a question to the Minister for National Development. It arises from his earlier answer relating to negotiations connected with the Bell Bay aluminium undertaking. Are we to take it that the Commonwealth Government proposes to maintain some interest in Bell Bay as a result of negotiations now taking place?
– The old recipe for hare soup prescribes that one must first catch a hare. In this instance, the first essential is the successful conclusion of negotiations. As that stage has not yet been reached, it is hypothetical to ask whether the Commonwealth Government is staying in or whether it is going out of the transaction. When we reach finality, when we have a proposition, and when we make a decision, the Senate will be told about it.
– I understand that the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport has an answer to the following question addressed to him by me: -
If a decision is reached to provide an Australian ship for use in the Antarctic, will the Minister ensure that consideration is given to the possibility of such a ship being constructed (a) in Australia, and (b) more importantly, in South Australia, at Whyalla?
– I am advised by my colleague, the Minister for Shipping and Transport, that should it be decided to provide an Australian ship for use in the Antarctic, the honorable senator may feel assured that the utmost consideration will most certainly be given to the building of the ship in Australia. In such an event the order would be placed through the Australian Shipbuilding Board, and in line with the board’s policy, all shipbuilders, capable of the task, would be invited to submit tenders for the construction of the vessel. It is not possible, or indeed fitting, to say at this time where the order for a ship of this type would be placed. This aspect could only be determined after full consideration of certain essential factors in association with the situation then prevailing. Australian shipyard personnel have proved their ability to construct ships equal to world standards, and an order for an Antarctic vessel or any other new tonnage would be most welcome to all concerned with this important industry.
Some lime ago, ministerial approval was given to the production by the News and Information Bureau of such a handbook. This publication will provide authoritative data, supported by illustrations, on Australia and the achievements and endeavours of its people. Like the United Kingdom publication to which the honorable senator referred, the Australian official handbook will appeal to a wide variety of readers and at the same time will supply the detail and range of subjects expected in an official handbook.
The Commonwealth Year Book is a major reference volume and the bureau’s handbook will supplement it in a popular way. The new handbook will provide appropriate primary reference material for overseas businessmen, community leaders, teachers, students at university level and others who could be expected to take a broad and intelligent interest in Australia. Most of the research and text for the Australian handbook has been completed and the bureau hopes to have it published within the next few months.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMuIlin). - I have received from Senator Kennelly an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the Senate for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely -
The discrimination constantly practised by the Government against Trans-Australia Airlines and in particular the action of the Government in sponsoring and approving the cross-charter of aircraft between Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett-A.N.A. whereby, to the disadvantage of T.A.A. and to the great advantage of Ansett- A.N.A., three modern readily saleable turbo-prop Viscount aircraft owned by T.A.A. were hired to Ansett-A.N.A. and two outmoded virtually unsaleable propeller driven DC6B aircraft owned by Ansett-A.N.A. were hired to T.A.A. for a period of three years in each case.
.- I move -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till tomorrow at 11.30 a.m.
– Is the motion supported? (More than the number of senators required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places) -
– The Government has quite often claimed, through its Ministers, that it believes in private enterprise and also in fair competition. I have no doubt that it believes in private enterprise but to state that it believes in fair competition is nothing but arrant humbug. 1 say that the Government does not believe in fair competition. Any one who has been in this chamber for any time must know that every measure affecting the airline industry that this Government has submitted has enhanced the prospects of one major airline to the detriment of those of the other. 1 hope to prove this contention as 1 proceed. 1 was interested to read, last Monday or Tuesday, that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), when opening a factory in Melbourne, had stated that it was no good to believe in private enterprise unless one believed also in free competition. I wish that he would say those things, not at factories, but in the party room, so that his supporters, particularly the Ministers, would adhere to that principle, at least in regard to the airline industry. I have no quarrel with the Government for believing in private enterprise, because it has a perfect right to that belief, but I have a great quarrel with the Government when it states its belief in fair competition, particularly in this industry.
Let us consider the recent cross-charter of aircraft. Until Trans- Australia Airlines agreed to the cross-charter, the Government refused to permit it to import three Electra aircraft, although it had granted such permission to Ansett-A.N.A. last November. The cross-charter deal, I hope to prove, is so manifestly unfair that it could not have been agreed to by any person who believed in fair competition, even if he thought two major domestic airlines should be operating, unless he was forced to agree to it.
What are the facts? No one can gainsay that Viscount aircraft are attractive in competition with DC6B aircraft. That was proved on the east-west route, where T.A.A. used Viscounts in competition with the
DC6B’s operated by Ansett-A.N.A. The figures show that on that route T.A.A. carried 55 per cent, of the passengers as against 45 per cent, carried by AnsettA.N.A. That was in straight-out competition. Further, the industry states that it is cheaper to operate Viscounts on the Perth-Melbourne route than it is to operate DC6B’s. To give three Viscount aircraft in exchange for two piston-engined DC6B aircraft would be absolutely absurd, and hurtful to T.A.A., unless it got some compensating advantage, but it got no compensating advantage at all. The charter rates are not worked out on the basis of the number of passengers carried on the east-west route, where the Viscounts had a clear advantage. Two DC6B aircraft were chartered for £199 12s. a day and three Viscounts for £160 18s. a day.
– Would it not be better to- ?
– The honorable senator who interjects will have an opportunity to speak later. No doubt he will make a speech on this subject or on some measure. If the Government pulls his tail, he will walk out the door as he has done in the past. I have not much time now, and I want to go straight ahead. As additional evidence in support of my contention that this arrangement was totally unfair, I quote from an article on this very question by Mr. Warren McDonald, who was formerly chairman of the Australian National Airlines Commission. He states -
Suggestions that Mr. Ansett might be trying to force T.A.A. to agree to swop three of its Viscounts for two piston-engined DC6B’s calls for some comment. Apart from this being a retrograde step for T.A.A., such an agreement would be most advantageous to Ansett-A.N.A. It would rid itself of two aircraft which it cannot sell without incurring very heavy capital losses. T.A.A. would have to pay out hundreds of thousands of pounds if it were to revert to the operation of piston-engined aircraft when all its plans are well advanced for an all-jet powered fleet.
– From what are you reading?
– From the “ Financial Review “ of 26th November. I go further. Captain Chapman, the assistant general manager of T.A.A., in the Melbourne “Age”, described the DC6B’s as obsolete piston-engined aircraft. When the agreement was first announced Sir Giles Chippindall used these significant words -
The closer balancing of T.A.A.’s fleet with that of its competitor will provide a challenge to the commission.
I ask honorable senators: What does “ closer balancing “ mean except that TransAustralia Airlines gave away more than it received? On Monday of last week, commenting on an Ansett letter to companies, the same gentleman said -
The recent aircraft exchange agreement gave Ansett-A.N.A. some of the advantages of foresight and technical planning of T.A.A., bringing about some equalization of T.A.A. and AnsettA.N.A. fleets.
I know that the Government will quote Sir Giles Chippindall as saying that the agreement was fair and free from Government pressure. He made such a remark when he was addressing T.A.A. employees in Brisbane only a week ago; and the reason he did so was that he knew well the feelings of the employees over this matter. Let me inform the Minister that that matter is not finished yet.
– Is that a threat?
– No, I am merely making a statement. I wish, now, to refer to the Minister’s deception in this matter. I admit I am using a pretty hard word, but let us trace the facts. After asking many questions, I extracted from the Minister portion of a report by Mr. Warren McDonald which the Minister stated - and T believe him - was given to him on 8th December. Honorable senators will recall that we asked for the whole of the report. I think the last answer we received about a week and a day ago was that we would get the whole report in six weeks. We are anxiously waiting for it. The Minister conveyed the impression to this Senate, and the people outside, that Mr. Warren McDonald favoured the cross-charter deal. No one in this Senate can deny that that was the inference the Minister wished to be drawn. He tried to create that impression, and created it successfully in the minds of the people here and outside who have not taken the time to get down to a study of the actual position. That is why I spoke about the Minister’s deception in this matter.
Let us analyse that portion of the report by Mr. Warren McDonald which refers to parity. I have taken the trouble to spend a little time on it. Nothing in the extract from that report to the Minister of 8th December, 1959, detracts one iota from the statement. I read from the “ Financial Review “ of 26th November, lt clearly shows that Mr. McDonald was against this deal, as he stated in that journal. He does agree that parity in equipment is desirable. That is not the question. The point is that the Minister tried to delude the Senate into believing that Mr. McDonald agreed with this deal. Now, let us go through Mr. McDonald’s report. He points out that Ansett-A.N.A. had three opportunities to reach parity with T.A.A. The first was at the time that the T.A.A. Caravelle proposal was rejected by the Government in March, 1958, and when in May of that year the decision was made that both airlines should buy Electras. The second occasion was about August, 1958, when the proposal was discussed that both airlines should abandon the purchase of Electras. The third occasion was about November, 1958, when parity in equipment was discussed again. Mr. McDonald, in the report of 8th December, told the Minister that a few years ago, when the first proposals were mooted, the DC6B’s, and even the DC6’s, were valuable aircraft and could have been exchanged for Viscounts and such an offer was made. The position now is that the DC6’s and the DC6B’s are unsaleable except at very high capital loss. In brackets in the report the statement appears, “ This is Mr. Ansett’s own statement “.
Mr. McDonald further stated that if Ansett A.N.A. could not sell its DC6B’s the interests of the country could still be served better by the transfer - I emphasize this - of two DC6B’s from Ansett- A.N. A. at present sale market rates - not at charter rates, as the Minister tried to bulldoze the Senate and the people outside into believing Mr. McDonald had agreed to - in return for three Viscount 700’s. At page 3 of the statement, Mr. McDonald said -
The difficult matter to solve to bring this about will be T.A.A.’s objection to taking two outmoded aircraft, the DC6B’s, and to release three modern Viscount 700’s. But this difficulty need not be insuperable.
Then he said -
Mr. McDonald further stated that in 1956 B.O.A.C. purchased ten DC7C’s, a later model than the DC6B’s, for £13,000,000, and that they are now for sale at £3,500,000. He said that surely there was a lesson to be learnt in that. He maintained his hostility to the charter proposal right to the very end. A Minister of the Crown has attempted, by saying either too much or too little, to bulldoze the Senate into believing something that Mr. McDonald did not say in this report, and, what is more, he has attempted to fool the people outside. I have yet to hear of a more discreditable act.
The Opposition contends that everything that this Administration has done in this field has been designed to enhance the prospects of Ansett-A.N.A. It has not been done to help Mr. Ansett himself, because Government senators know as well as I do that he is just a pawn in the game. It has been done on account of shipping companies; on account of the Shell Company of Australia Limited, to which he owes nearly £1,000,000; on account of the Australian Mutual Provident Society, to which he owes something over £500,000; and on account of another oil company to which he is in debt. The Government should not try to lead the people of this country to believe that it is concerned about Mr. Ansett. He is a nice fellow, but he is only a pawn in the game. 1 say that the Government has permitted the cross-charter arrangement for one reason only - that is, to help its political friends, the Shell organization and other oil companies. I have not forgotten that Mr. Anderson, who left the Shell organization a short while ago, led the Liberal Party.
The Government professes to favour free and fair competition. If that is so, why does not it provide that there shall be free and fair competition in the air throughout the whole of Australia? I have asked the Minister many times why T.A.A. is not allowed to operate intra-state in four of the States. If the Government really believes in free and fair competition, why has not T.A.A. been permitted to operate in those States? The Minister stated the other day that T.A.A. has a monopoly in half of the Northern Territory. That situation could be altered by this Government alone if it wanted to allow Ansett-A.N.A. to compete against T.A.A. in the Northern Territory, but to give T.A.A. a fair go in the States would necessitate the passage of Commonwealth legislation and complementary State legislation. I have not much time left in which to deal with this matter.
– The honorable senator is not making much use of his time.
– I have not done too badly up till now. 1 have shown that an attempt has been made to bulldoze the Senate into believing something that is not in Mr. McDonald’s report. If Government senators do not agree with that contention, they can stand up and say so later.
Let us have a look at the intra-state traffic. At present, Ansett-A.N.A., on the non-competitive routes, carries approximately 415,300 passengers a year, and T.A.A., on its non-competitive routes - mainly to Darwin - carries 35,700 passengers a year. Where does the free and fair competition come in? Every one knows that if a person travels from, say, Bathurst to Sydney by a certain airline, when he desires to travel further he will naturally travel by the same airline. We all know about the discreditable affair concerning the Butler changeover. It is believed in the industry itself that at least 10 per cent, of the traffic on the non-competitive routes is what is called on-traffic, so Ansett-A.N.A. gets more than the vast advantage of carrying 377,000 more passengers than T.A.A. on those routes. I say here and now that if we introduced legislation to enable T.A.A. to operate intra-state in New South Wales, the New South Wales Government would enact complementary legislation, but this Government will not do that. It professes to favour free and fair competition, but it does not practice what it preaches.
I believe that we should not hamstring our own organization. I say that as a result of the cross-charter arrangement, there is every likelihood that T.A.A. will lose from 2 per cent, to 3 per cent, of its traffic. Every 1 per cent, of traffic lost costs £200,0000. I believe that T.A.A. will be a very fortunate organization if it can show even a slight profit this year. I have been informed that if this Government continues to act as it has done in the past, T.A.A. will lose from 2 per cent, to 3 per cent, of its traffic.
– Who told you that?
– I do not need to say who told me. I asked the Minister a question yesterday about an approach by Ansett-A.N.A. to T.A.A. for an increase of. fares and all he could say was that he knew nothing about it. Let the Minister make inquiries, and then perhaps he will not come into this chamber and say that he knows nothing about that matter. I remind him that he said last Thursday -
Let us repeat that we as a Government have adopted a two-airline policy for this country and we are going to see that these two airlines carry on. In the division of business, we shall introduce such arrangements as will make that possible.
Does that dovetail with the Minister’s oft repeated assertions of fair competition? The Minister stated to me. in answer to a question, that he would make arrangements to ensure that the two airlines were kept In the air.
– That is quite right.
– Well, if you say it I will know what you mean, but I do not want you to say that in one breath and then mouth words about fair competition, as your leader did as late as last Monday. If the Government wants two airlines - and I believe it does - all I ask is that it give each of them a fair go.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid). - Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Deputy President, there are two points in the matter put forward by Senator Kennelly and if we examine them we shall see the theme behind the motion. The first point is the alleged discrimination by this Government against Trans-Australia Airlines and the second has particular reference to the cross-charter of two DC6B’s and three Viscounts.
During the course of his remarks Senator Kennelly gave two reasons why the Government had agreed to the cross-charter arrangement. I will give two reasons why the Labour Party has instituted this debate. The first is that a by-election is to be held in La Trobe, in Victoria, next Saturday, and this matter is raised by the Opposition purely for political purposes. The second vital reason for bringing this matter forward is that a revitalizing has taken place within the Labour Party in respect of its platform of nationalization of industry. This has come about since the elevation of Mr. Gough Whitlam to the deputy leadership of the party. Mr. Whitlam has been touring the country, particularly Queensland, stating that he stands for nationalization. That is the platform of the Labour Party. On television interviews in Queensland Mr. Whitlam has said that he is in favour of nationalization. He was reminded during an interview of the cost to the people of Queensland when a Queensland Labour government ventured into socialization of butchers’ shops and sheep stations. He replied that that took place many years ago. Senator Kennelly, in his remarks to-day, emphasized to the people of Australia that the Labour Party still believes in nationalization of industry.
I stand with the present Government in strongly opposing nationalization because I believe that the people of this country want private enterprise to be given a free run. Labour governments in the past did not give private enterprise a free run, and it was only with the change to a LiberalAustralian Country Party Government that we saw, as a consequence of the free run given to private enterprise, the great influx of capital to this country, which enabled hundreds of new factories to be established. Those factories in turn provided employment for thousands of people, and gave them a prosperity and happiness never previously enjoyed. This Government believes in the encouragement of private enterprise. With regard to civil aviation, the Government has taken the stand that as a government airline was in operation when it took office, there should be competition in the industry and that we should have not only a government airline, but also a private airline. The Government believes that there is nothing wrong in encouraging private enterprise in civil aviation.
The Labour Party speaks of AnsettA.N.A. as if it were to be treated not as a friend, but more or less as an enemy. Of course, it is an enemy in that its very existence is contrary to the philosophy of the Labour Party. Let me remind honorable senators opposite that 18,000 good Australians hold shares in Ansett-A.NA. with an average investment of only £200 each. Does that indicate that the organization is controlled by capitalists? It indicates that a great number of Australians believe In free enterprise and are willing to invest their savings in companies such as AnsettA.N.A.
This Government’s attitude towards the airlines is quite different from the attitude adopted by the Labour Party when it was in office. One might be pardoned for thinking, having heard the questions that have been fired from the opposite side of the chamber during the past few days, that this is the only government that has ever done anything to help an airline or, as the Opposition would put it, to disadvantage an airline. Let me remind the Senate of what took place in the early days of aviation. Governments were not the first to venture into civil aviation in Australia. Civil aviation was established in Australia through the enterprise and courage of private people who were prepared to risk their capital. Over the years, through adverse times and many difficulties, the standard of civil aviation has been raised in Australia to a very high degree.
– Mr. Ansett was one of the first in the field.
– Mr. Ansett rose from very lowly circumstances. We should be thankful that men like the late Sir Ivan Holyman and Mr. Reg Ansett were able to rise to higher and better things. In doing so they provided employment for other people. So looking back we can see thai private enterprise developed the airlines of this country. But what happened? A Labour government came into office. A Labour Minister was off-loaded or had difficulty in getting a seat in a plane at Townsville during the war. Repercussions followed, and a government airline was established. That was at a time of great shortages of materials and equipment. Did Labour give Australian National Airways the same run that it gave Trans-Australia Airlines? Of course not. The Labour Government gave every possible advantage to T.A.A. in obtaining equipment, thus enabling it to reach the same standards as Australian National Airways.
– The Labour Government sought power over civil aviation.
– Yes. That was Labour’s policy when it was in office. Labour brought T.A.A. up to the same standard as A.N.A., but it had taken years of hard work for A.N.A. to reach that standard. Then Labour tried to nationalize the airlines. It tried to squeeze A.N.A. out of business but A.N.A. stood up to Labour. A.N.A. took the Government to court and the court upheld A.N.A. and private enterprise was allowed to continue in civil aviation. The Labour Party has never got over that. It has always been bitter about its defeat in the courts by A.N.A. It has always been bitter about private enterprise in civil aviation ever since that day. The present Government believes that the two airlines must continue in competition and the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) has consistently maintained that the Government’s policy is to see that the two airlines have some parity in equipment. The Labour Party in this debate seems to be attacking that policy of parity in equipment. In this regard the former chairman of the Australian National Airlines Commission. Mr. Warren McDonald, said -
There can be little or no stability in the domestic airlines until both major airlines have parity in equipment.
It does not matter how Senator Kennelly may try to twist words; Mr. McDonald’s meaning is as clear as crystal.
Senator Kennelly and other honorable senators opposite hold the view that this Government has endeavoured to hamper T.A.A. Let us consider the position of the two airlines at the time when Reg Ansett took over A.N.A. This Government had then been in office for a considerable number of years. At that time, T.A.A. had thirteen Viscounts and Ansett-A.N.A. had two, which it took over from Butler Air Transport Limited. Does that suggest that the Government disadvantaged T.A.A.? If the Government was trying to disadvantage T.A.A., why did it allow T.A.A. to have so many Viscount aircraft?
Later, Ansett-A.N.A. bought another four Viscounts, which gave it a total of six. This Government was then so terrible to T.A.A. that it allowed the airline to buy another two Viscounts, giving it a total of fifteen. Then T.A.A. had fifteen Viscounts and Ansett-A.N.A. had six. At that time, T.A.A. was really over-seated for its requirements. Ansett-A.N.A. wanted to purchase four Electra aircraft, but could get only two, and T.A.A. also got two Electras. It was not T.A.A., but Ansett-A.N.A., which was disadvantaged in relation to the purchase of Electras. Ansett had his order in for four Electras, and because this Government prevented him from purchasing four at the time, he lost his place in the order of priority and could get only two Electras. Had this Government not disadvantaged Ansett-A.N.A. - not with any wilful or spiteful intent, but that is how it turned out - Ansett would have had one Electra in November, 1958, another in December, 1958, another in January, 1959, and yet another in February, 1959. On the other hand, T.A.A. would not have been able to obtain its first Caravelle until about August, 1959, had the purchase of Caravelles been approved. In the meantime, Ansett-A.N.A., with its four front-line Electras, would have got away with the trade. It has been estimated that T.A.A. would have been disadvantaged to the tune of about £1,000,000 in lost trade. In view of the deals that took place, I should say that if anybody received an advantage in the circumstances, it was T.A.A.
Senator Kennelly said that T.A.A. had been greatly disadvantaged, but I suggest that T.A.A. gained an advantage as a result of the cross charter. As a matter of fact, T.A.A. welcomed the cross charter. Because of it, T.A.A. is able to operate DC6B aircraft on. long hauls, to its advantage. What is more, if a stand-by for the Electra is needed, the DC6B is a much more suitable plane, because two Viscounts would be needed to handle the same number of people as an Electra. That shows that the Government, through the cross charter, was giving an advantage to T.A.A., an advantage that the airline appreciated. Another advantage that it got from the arrangement was that it was allowed to charter quickly another Electra from Qantas Empire Airways Limited. It would not have been able to do that had the cross-charter not been arranged. Thus T.A.A. was given the opportunity to have three Electras to compete with the three which Ansett-A.N.A. had.
My time is limited to a quarter of an hour, and there is not much more that I can say except to repeat that T.A.A. has welcomed the swap. The bitterness surrounding this matter is most marked on the Opposition side of the chamber. I spent last week in Mackay, where the citizens were celebrating, by a festival, the opening of the tourist season. I saw there high-ranking officials from both T.A.A. and Ansett-A.N.A., joining in the celebrations and welcoming the opportunity to do so because of the great traffic that the tourist trade brings to the airlines of this country, particularly in the north Queensland region. I found that the officials of the two organizations were associated in a friendly, competitive way. They did not have a bitter attitude towards one another. There was a spirit of friendly competition, which the Minister for Civil Aviation and the Government have been encouraging. There are fine types of men in both organizations. I believe that our major internal airlines provide a service that is the finest in the world. We should be proud of the way in which they conduct their business. I am proud of the men who represented T.A.A. and Ansett-A.N.A. at Mackay last week, because of the friendly, broad-minded, competitive spirit which they exhibited.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.- Senator Wood has put forward suggested reasons for the Opposition bringing this matter before the Senate. It is crystal clear that we on this side of the chamber are not prepared to accept the explanation, constantly given by the supporters of the Government, of the discrimination against Trans-Australia Airlines, and it is only by means of this procedure that we can attempt to sift the facts. It is not surprising that Senator Wood should have taken such a stand, because over the years he has had a reason for supporting private enterprise. He has been in the tourist business in Mackay, and has been an agent for Ansett and Australian National Airways Limited. The surprising thing is that he invariably travels by T.A.A.
As we know, T.A.A. is a Government instrumentality. We may ask ourselves: What is the Government? Under whose auspices is T.A.A. run? What is the purpose of T.A.A.? Private enterprise always has support from the present Government parties. I want to pay a tribute to the people who are running T.A.A. - some of the finest people associated with civil aviation, not only in this country, but in the world. Their loyalty and efficiency, their devotion to duty, and the high ideals that they have followed, have given Australia one of the safest air organizations in the world. The morale of the staff of T.A.A. is a very important factor in the high standard of Operating efficiency that has been attained. Who is to speak up for those people if their competitors are continually referring to them as socialists and saying that they want to nationalize civil aviation in this country?
The Australian National Airlines Commission is a Government instrumentality carrying out a very important national function. Under its charter, it is expected to keep the airlines to a high standard of efficiency. In addition, it is expected to pioneer new air routes and to follow Government policy in the event of an emergency.
– It is expected to pay taxes, too.
– I should say that, both directly and indirectly, it is making its full contribution to the revenues of this country. Trans-Australia Airlines is becoming the butt of its competitors, but not because of its lack of efficiency, its equipment, the standard of courtesy of its staff, or the other factors involved in running an airline. The managing director of the competing airline has said that he wants the active support of people in the cause of private enterprise. I emphasize the word “ active “ because so many persons who have so vigorously opposed socialization continue to patronize the governmentowned airline. It just does not make sense. I suggest to the Senate that that is an insult to the people who are associated with, the running of T.A.A. It is an insult to the Minister and the Government, and it is an insult to the people of Australia, the majority of whom prefer to travel by T.A.A.
– It is not an insult to the Opposition.
– No, but we think that in this cross-fire of recrimination, some one should speak up for those associated with the Australian National Airlines Commission and T.A.A. We have had the spectacle in the past of this Government, for political purposes, directing its attacks against all branches of the Public Service. We on the Opposition side, in the traditional role of fighting for a fair deal for everybody, have defended the Public Service. We have been branded in political propaganda as the black-coated men. lt has been a case of, “ lock the door, Richard, so that the black-coated men, cannot come in “, despite the fact that this Government is fairly and squarely on the back of the Public Service and would crash to-morrow if it were not for those who carry the burden and cover up the mistakes inherent in the Government’s policy. We will continue to maintain the role of defender of those who are associated with the Australian National Airlines Commission and who are operating T.A.A. They have given splendid service to Australia through the aviation industry.
The Minister for Civil Aviation was asked to give to the Senate a copy of the statement on airline parity, and he presented a document that was headed, “ Comments by Mr. Warren McDonald, former Chairman of the Australian National Airlines Commission to Minister for Civil Aviation on parity of equipment between Trans-Australia Airlines and Ar.settA.N.A. “. Whether that statement was a report we do not know, but I direct the Minister’s attention to a statement made by Mr. Warren McDonald on 26th November, 1959, just prior to his retirement as chairman of the commission and published in “ The Australian Financial Review “. Whether or not the comments by Mr. McDonald that were presented to the Senate were made after or before his retirement is something that the Minister has failed to tell us. The Minister himself has struck some trouble in connexion with this matter as I am reminded by the Melbourne “ Age “ in a report of a statement by the Minister published in March, 1958. This stated -
Senator Paltridge added that Cabinet would be prepared to approve the extended purchase of the 800 Series Viscount as replacements in the fleets of both airlines now in service. . . .
The Government’s decision is regarded as a great fillip to the British aircraft industry.
The Australian Government has made it clear that its two domestic airlines are not going to pioneer two new aircraft - the Electra and the Caravelle - produced by the United States and French aircraft industries.
Senator Paltridge said the main factors governing Cabinet’s decision were -
The internal air transport system had been passing through a grave economic crisis that was sharply outlined by the collapse of A.N.A. and the entire industry still has a very marginal rate of profit.
The traffic background showed a decline in the rate of growth, and the Electra and the Caravelle could not be operated as economically on the shorter route stages up to 500 miles which carried 75 per cent, of the total traffic.
The Minister himself has often been on the wrong track, or perhaps he was on the right track and was diverted from his own views by different pressure groups along the line. The point is that the man who assisted the Minister - Mr. Warren McDonald - had this to say after his retirement in the statement in the “ Financial Review “ -
For some time it has been claimed that lack of parity between the fleets of the major domestic airlines has been entirely responsible for the definite lead held for many years by Trans-Australia Airlines.
However, the Federal Government, through its rationalization policy and the Air Lines Equipment Act, is acknowledged to have done a tremendous amount towards bringing Ansett-A.N.A. more into line with T.A.A.
The Government has agreed to guarantee Ansett-A.N.A. some £9,000,000 for the purchase of new equipment, and it is well to note that, while the Government policy is directed towards assisting Ansett-A.N.A. to obtain up to 50 per cent, of the competitive passenger market, that airline enjoys 60 per cent, or more of the total freight market and is guaranteed half the revenue from the carriage of Government mails.
T.A.A. is now commanding a greater percentage of the overall passenger traffic on competitive routes than has ever been the case since the Ansett organization first took over control of A.N.A.
T.A.A.’s share of this traffic is greater than the 5 1 per cent, quoted by the “ Financial Review’s “ Canberra staff correspondent in last week’s issue of the “ Review “.
On the other hand, this advantage is more than outweighed by the heavy preponderance of freight carried by Ansett-A.N.A. - a fact which is substantiated by Ansett-A.N.A.’s claim to a total revenue of £14,000,000 to T.A.A.’s £12,000,000.
There is a disparity there of £2,000,000. Mr. McDonald continued -
It should also be remembered that T.A.A. operates a relatively large developmental route mileage where revenue return is low and operating costs are high.
This is a national responsibility for T.A.A. and one which it would not avoid . . .
From the point of view of passenger comfort, the fleets should be compared in terms of pressurized aircraft.
At the present time, Ansett-A.N.A. offers many more pressurized seats on the competitive routes than T.A.A. (Ansett-A.N.A., 1,304; T.A.A., 1,208).
Mr. McDonald then outlined the strength of the fleets and mentioned the changeover. Then he added -
Over the last two years, Ansett-A.N.A. has had the opportunity on three occasions to achieve turbo-prop parity with T.A.A. easily and cheaply by buying British Viscounts, lt has not taken the opportunity. Perhaps Mr. Ansett wants fleet superiority, not parity.
In his letter to his clients, Mr. Ansett has stated clearly that he has fleet superiority.
– Have you any objection to air fleet parity?
– None at all, but I do not want to see discrimination with parity. If you have efficiency and the other factors I have referred to, it is good for aviation. Mr. McDonald also stated -
It is difficult to understand the statement in the “ Review “ article that Ansett-A.N.A. is “ labouring under severe difficulties of fleet size and quality because it has to perform a traffic task on noncompetitive routes about 35 per cent, greater than does T.A.A.”.
On the contrary, there are very significant benefits available to Ansett-A.N.A. through spread of overheads as well as feeding traffic into its main trunk routes. Ansett-A.N.A. obtains approximately £1,000,000 more revenue than T.A.A. from non-competitive routes.
That is another advantage - 100 seats and £1,000,000 worth of freight. That is supposed to be parity. Mr. McDonald then stated -
Ansett-A.N.A.’s weakness in front-line turboprop equipment had forced the airline into “ its currently dangerous weak stance on the profitable Perth route”.
This situation is entirely one of Mr. Ansett’s own choice and could be rectified to-morrow.
All through Mr. McDonald’s statement, he pointed out that Mr. Ansett was playing hard to get. He is picking off all the sweet fruits of the airline industry. When the efficiency of T.A.A. catches up and overtakes him, the beneficent Minister comes along and says: “ Look out, T.A.A., here I come. Give me a share of the business you have built up through your efficiency and I shall hand it to Ansett-A.N.A.” That is what the Minister calls parity. That is their technique, and that kind of thing is going on continually. We on this side believe that discrimination is being practised constantly against T.A.A.; and that is not good for the instrumentality which we know and respect. All through that organization we have skilled men. We have pilots of the highest order, we have technicians working day and night keeping the aircraft in reliable and safe condition. Indeed, right through the organization from the top echelons down we have men who, at a moment’s notice, can come in to defend the country. They are men who are respected and revered.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood). - Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.-The Opposition’s motion is concerned with two points. One is the broad accusation that the Government has constantly discriminated against T.A.A. The second is that the Government sponsored and approved the cross-charter agreement. Senator O’Byrne made a very interesting speech, but, except for what he said in reply to an interjection by Senator Wright, not one word of it related to this matter of urgency. I heard not one word spoken by Senator O’Byrne which was relevant to the subject before the Chair. For example, he did not give one illustration of the discrimination which the Opposition alleges is constantly practised against T.A.A., and certainly not one word was uttered by him in support of the assertion that the Government acted objectionably in sponsoring and approving the cross-charter agreement.
On the other hand, Senator Kennelly endeavoured to support the motion by quoting one or two gentlemen as authorities; and, in general, he supported the second proposition, namely, that the Government was wrong in sponsoring and approving the cross-charter. I think Senator Kennelly hinged his whole argument in that respect on the observations of Mr. Warren McDonald, and I shall deal with those in due course. Here, I point out in passing that not even Senator Kennelly gave one illustration to support the suggestion by the Opposition that the Government has constantly discriminated against T.A.A. I invite some member of the Opposition to give us illustrations of this constant discrimination by the Government against T.A.A. After all, the Opposition is putting up the cock-shy, and its members have to knock it down. We cannot be expected to know what we are being accused of unless somebody tells us what it is. I invite some member of the Opposition to give us illus- trations of not merely discrimination, but also the constant discrimination which is alleged in this respect.
The gravamen of Senator Kennelly’s argument is that the agreement, which we say is fair and does give parity, is in fact unfair. We must argue the proposition from there. Perhaps at this stage I might quote from the well-known journal, “ Flight “, in connexion with the nature of the agreement and the fairness of the parity achieved by it. “ Flight “ is a journal which is accepted throughout the world. It has no politics and is one of the few journals in the world which are recognized as magazines which understand the subjects with which they deal. “ Flight “ is recognized as a magazine which understands matters pertaining to air transport. This is what “ Flight “ said about the agreement in its issue of 5th February -
Australia’s mixed economy policy has worked well. The Government has had to step in only once - and that was to put a stop to a struggle by each airline to out-equip the other regardless of capital cost involved. The resultant Airline’s Equipment Act of 19S8 was one of the most enlightened pieces of air transport legislation ever enacted by a government. We mention it because (to quote the Journal of Air Law and Commerce) it reflected the Australian Government’s declared policy of maintaining competition between a government instrument and a private airline, and of ensuring that actions of the executive do not unfairly discriminate in favour of either airline.
There is an impartial and well-informed journal discussing this proposition, and it comes to the conclusion that it is a fair deal, that there is nothing fishy about it. I invite the Opposition to comment upon “ Flight’s “ observations in connexion with this matter.
Again, is it not strange that, despite what Senator Kennelly says about the matter, and despite what Senator O’Byrne tried to say but did not, T.A.A. signed the agreement without any objection? Does not that rather colour the Government’s argument that there might be some merit in the agreement after all? Where is the objection by the National Airlines Commission to this cross-charter? Can the Opposition point to any word, written or oral, over the air or anywhere else, to the effect that the commission does not agree with the crosscharter? If the Opposition can put before the Senate any evidence along those lines, then we have a proposition to debate; but until the Opposition can give us some illustrations to prove that the National Airlines Commission has objected at any stage to this agreement, I do not think there is anything worth debating. In my opinion, the motion is pure political clap-trap brought in this week - before Saturday - for very obvious reasons, and it has no merit whatever.
But surely, on the other hand, there is some evidence that it is a fair agreement. We have Mr. Warren McDonald’s own statement, and here I join issue with Senator Kennelly. This is what he says, and this is to what Senator Kennelly takes umbrage -
If this is so, then so much the better, but assuming that he -
Referring to Mr. Ansett - is unable to do so, the interests of the country-
I pause there because I think that is a most significant remark - may be still better served by the transfer of two DC6B’s from Ansett-A.N.A. at present sale market rates in return for, say, three Viscount 700’s, again at market rates.
That is where I think Senator Kennelly really joins issue with the Government, because he claims that Mr. McDonald’s words refer to a sale. If Senator Kennelly had read the words carefully, I think he would have come to the conclusion that they do not refer to a sale at all, but that they can - I think they do - refer to a cross-charter, because the words are -
The interests of the country may be still better served by the transfer-
He does not say “ sale “; he uses the word “ transfer “ - of two DC6B’s.
Senator Kennelly is now insisting that Mr. McDonald means a sale. I suggest that Mr. McDonald means nothing of the sort. He says distinctly, “ transfer of two DC6B’s at present sale market rates “. Surely that suggests exactly what happened. If Mr. McDonald had intended to say that there should be a cross-sale at market rates, why did he not say so. He said a “ transfer “ - that is, a physical transfer of the aircraft. That can mean only a cross-charter. I suggest that Senator Kennelly did not state Mr. McDonald’s comments properly. Mr. McDonald did not mean a sale, but even if he meant a sale, what difference would there have been? Is not the present deal even better than a sale for T.A.A.? If these DC6B aircraft are not so saleable as Viscounts, they are still on the plate of Ansett-A.N.A., which will ultimately have to quit them. Surely the disadvantage in that respect is with Ansett-A.N.A.
On the matter of parity and the merits or demerits of the arrangement, let us turn to clause 16 of the agreement that both airlines have signed. It is surely the crux of the agreement, because it provides parity not only for the present but also for the future. That, I think, is the finest and fairest element of the agreement. The clause reads - . . neither T.A.A. nor the Company . . . shall during the period of this Agreement purchase, lease or otherwise obtain the use of or deliver any letter of intent to purchase any pure jet aircraft or any heavy turbo prop aircraft . . . without the written consent of the other parties hereto .. .
I suggest that there, in the agreement signed by both airlines without objection - in fact with great willingness - is the essence of Government policy and of fairness. Not only does the agreement give parity at present, but it arranges for future parity and the consequential potential saving to the Australian taxpayers of many millions of pounds. There is the great virtue of the agreement. Finally, as this agreement has been approved by both airlines and as, in the words of Mr. Warren McDonald, it is in the interests of the country that we should have such an agreement -
– He did not say that.
He said there should be parity.
– Surely that is exactly what is taking place. What is the merit of the action of the Australian Labour Party in bringing this matter forward to-day? I suggest it has no merit. This is merely a bit of political clap-trap for Saturday’s by-election. But for that byelection, we would not be having this debate now. I have listened for some weeks with a certain amount of apprehension to the Opposition’s attacks on Ansett-A.N.A. and on the Minister, who has tried to be as fair and impartial as anybody could be, and has succeeded. I say to the Opposition, in all seriousness, that these attacks have no merit. If they are persisted in, as they are being persisted in, and if they evolve into a continuous, unwarranted attack on our airlines industry, they can do great harm, not only to Ansett-A.N.A. - this is the obvious aim of the Opposition - but also to T.A.A. I do not object to attacks if there is any merit in them, but I suggest that there is no merit in these. If they continue, nothing but evil can flow, because the general public, receiving a garbled version of what happens in this Parliament, will learn only the demerits of the case. Public opinion is a very fickle thing, as the Opposition is well aware, and could react most unfortunately on the morale and general standards of an industry of which the Opposition should be as proud as we are. I put it to the Opposition that these continuing attacks ultimately could have a most adverse effect, not only on the operatives, but also upon the industry as a whole, of which we are so proud.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I should like to make quite clear at the outset that I and my political associates have never attacked the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge). I want to make quite clear to the Minister that we appreciate his integrity, his courtesy and everything else about him - except a political conscience - that makes a politician worth while. We realize how his conscience has twisted and turned to try to serve Government policy.
– I can assure you that my conscience is twisted by no one.
– Then the Minister has done an excellent job of appearing to have it twisted. The Opposition regards as important the matter which is now before the Senate. So important does the Government regard it, in comparison with free hospitalization and medical care, that it is anxious to have Opposition speeches on the subject completed early to-day, when the listening public is small, so that to-night the Minister, with the evasiveness so characteristic of him, can get under the guard of every one. Most of us on this side of the chamber will have spoken before the suspension of the sitting for dinner. It is not badly organized. The Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty), who had to reply to the matter raised yesterday, was given the first opportunity and took half an hour, but to-day the Government is, characteristically, allowing the Minister for Civil Aviation to have half an hour on the air to-night to tell the story, not as it should be told, but as the Government sees fit to tell it to the people.
– You would not do that?
– No, certainly not. I would be anxious for the people to know the truth. Incidentally, without the newspapers on their side, honorable senators opposite would not have been in office so long. What amazes me is the complacency, conceit and smugness of the Government. It claims credit for the prosperity of Australia, which is really due to an extraordinary sequence of good seasons, the capabilities of Australian workmen, and the initiative of Australian businessmen. Since 1949 the Government has claimed credit for this trinity.
On this particular question, I would not say that the Minister was untruthful. I do not think that he is, but he has an extraordinary capacity for evasiveness. Questions have been asked on this subject for months. They were not attacks, as Senator Vincent suggested. The questions were asked because we were anxious to get knowledge, and one does not get very much knowledge from governmental records over the last ten years. We have to try, by asking questions, to get a measure of information. The Minister realizes that he has been evasive. Last November I told him, in the course of a question, that the exchange was on. Actually, it did not become an exchange of three Viscount aircraft for two obsolescent DC6B aircraft. It became what was known as a crosscharter. Incidentally, if the Minister wants to know - and this is really informative - I suppose I might as well let him know now because he can easily check this up because it comes from within his own department. It is as reliable as the information he gets, but at least I am going to make it available to the public. He would not make it available in a similar manner if he were to get it. The information is -
Ansett is in a hell of a mess financially and making a big effort in every market. He seems to want all the private enterprise traffic and half of everything else. Up to now he is getting plenty of Government support and has not lost a trick.
In view of the answers the Minister gave to the Senate, I think that this is the whole thing in a nutshell. There have been three acts introduced.
– Did you say that what you just read came from the department?
– I did not say it came from the department at all. If the Minister had listened carefully, as he usually does, he would have heard what I said, but on this occasion he was talking to the people behind him and he missed the trick.
– Did you not say it came from within the department?
– I am answering Senator Paltridge, I am not answering you. In many departments there have been directions issued that passengers from the departments shall travel by Ansett-A.N.A. equally with T.A.A. I have asked questions about this matter on occasions, but they have not been answered.
– Did you say the statement you read came from within the department?
– I will make my speech in my own way. I was courteous enough to answer you, Senator Paltridge, so I think I should be entitled to make my speech in my own way.
– Are you running away from your previous statement?
– I cannot answer two honorable senators at once. You as a barrister would not require two witnesses to answer at the one time. Let me proceed with my speech in an orderly manner and not in your disorderly fashion.
The matter being discussed by the Senate is one of urgency, lt deals with the discrimination constantly being practised by the Government against T.A.A., and in particular with the cross-charter of aircraft between T.A.A. and Ansett-A.N.A. That is the crux of the debate. Let us consider the position. In 1949, honorable senators opposite hoped to become the government. Incidentally, they did become the government as the result of the backing of money and the press. Never at any stage at that time were they wedded to the policy - so often enunciated by the Minister for Civil Aviation - of sponsoring two airlines. In his policy speech the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) did not say that the
Government would bolster up A.N.A. But in 1952, when A.N.A. was in trouble, the Government introduced a bill in an attempt to save A.N.A. It guaranteed the airline, by way of a loan or otherwise, up to an amount of £4,000,000. When the airline could not carry on because of the efficiency and popularity of T.A.A., the Government took further steps to assist A.N.A. In 1958, there happened to be a fuel war in which A.N.A. was not successful. Reg Ansett was a front runner for an oil group. I do not propose to name the group, but it is well known to honorable senators opposite. It was mentioned earlier to-day. It included an insurance company and a shipping company, and Reg Ansett was the front runner for those companies. Incidentally, I admit that Reg Ansett has done an excellent job in the field of motor and air transport. I am not taking anything away from him, and I want honorable senators to realize that. It is unfortunate that this afternoon his name has to be mentioned because it is now part of the name of Ansett-A.N.A.
What did the Government do in 1958? It introduced another bill. The Government’s own airline was succeeding, but nevertheless the Government was prepared to provide, by way of a guarantee, an amount of £3,000,000 to the private airline to purchase Electras, although dollar currency was needed and was in extremely short supply at that time. The Government was also prepared to provide another £2,000,000, if necessary, to purchase six Fokkers for an airline that was engaged in competition with a line owned by the people. Does that not suggest two different approaches by the Government? First, there were the interests of the people who have supported Labour through the years; and secondly, the Government has a basic philosophy of antagonism to any undertaking owned by the people which has a possible chance of success. Trie Government had two purposes in mind. One was to bolster up something owned by its supporters, and the other was to deny success to something owned by the people.
The Government has got rid of everything that has looked like being a profitable instrumentality, including, as Senator Scott will realize, the Whaling Commission in Western Australia - Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, as Sydney people will realize - and Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited, as Australians generally will realize. The Government also proposes, if the people will let it, to do away with the Bell Bay aluminium project. A couple of years ago it attempted to get rid of TransAustralia Airlines, but there was such an outcry from the public and even from some of its own supporters that it was not game to go on with the proposal. However, the Government proceeded with a policy of socalled rationalization. In other words, it decided to tell the public that it was rationalizing competition between Ansett-A.N.A. and T.A.A. The Government hoped, but in vain, that it would be backed universally and automatically by the people. These facts have been mentioned by Senator Kennelly than whom no one has taken a greater interest in these matters, and probably no one knows more about the machinations that have taken place behind the scenes to strangle T.A.A., and keep it from getting ahead of Ansett-A.N.A.
The Minister for Civil Aviation knows as well as any one what was contained in the report of Mr. Warren McDonald on the cross-charter agreement between T.A.A. and Ansett-A.N.A., as it is now termed. It was intended to be an exchange agreement. Sometimes I wonder whether an exchange would have been less favorable to Ansett-A.N.A. than the cross-charter, because at least the airline would have had to pay only when it used the Viscounts. We talk in terms of parity. The Minister has used the words “ equal access “; I do not understand their full implication, but they appear to confer some benefit on AnsettA.N.A.
Let me get back to the report of Mr. Warren McDonald who was formerly Chairman of the Australian National Airlines Commission. He cannot be discredited in the eyes of the Government because it saw fit to make him head of the Commonwealth Bank in preference to Sir Arthur Fadden who would have left Mr. McDonald for dead as far as banking knowledge and procedure are concerned. Every one knew, particularly in Queensland, that Sir Arthur was not acceptable to Liberal Party members. The point I am making is that Mr. McDonald cannot be discredited by honorable senators opposite, because the Government has now made him the head of the
Commonwealth Bank. The Minister for Civil Aviation has been evasive when asked what advice he received from Mr. McDonald, who, I think, has been completely honest in his approach to the problem. What did he say about this parity that has been spoken of so much by honorable senators on the Government side. This is what he said -
No less than three times since Ansett purchased A.N.A. he has had the opportunity given to him by the Government-
That is the Liberal Party and Country Party. The latter, incidentally, does not amount to very much now since it has lost Sir Arthur Fadden.
That is the Cabinet of which Senator
Paltridge is a member - that he could buy Viscounts which are the main part of the T.A.A. fleet.-
That would be at that time -
By expending the same amount of money that he has already done on two Electras and spares and ancillary equipment, he would already have almost reached parity with T.A.A.
I do not propose to spend much more of my time on this, as the report is available to all. Then Mr. McDonald gave the smaller disadvantages of Viscounts, and their relative advantages, which are considerable. He proceeded to say -
Thus parity would have been achieved with minimum cost and in the quickest possible time.
Let us remember that parity is what honorable senators opposite have sought. At any rate, they have emphasized to the people of Australia, through the press and over the air, that, in their view, parity is desirable in the airlines. Mr. McDonald said that the fleets would have been more flexible and there would have been more frequent services.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Anderson). - Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I rise to a point of order. I move -
That Senator Dittmer lay on the table of the Senate the document from which he quoted in respect of Mr. Ansett’s financial position.
I submit this motion in accordance with Standing Order No. 364.
– Mr. Acting Deputy President, the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) addressed no argument: in support of his motion,, but referred us to Standing Order No. 364, which I have not yet had an opportunity to peruse.
– When you do, you will see that there is no argument.
– That may be. Standing Order No. 364 reads -
A Document quoted from by a Senator not a Minister of the Crown may be ordered by the Senate to be laid upon the Table; such Order may be made without Notice immediately upon the conclusion of the speech of the Senator who has quoted therefrom.
The first thing that I would need to be convinced about is that Senator Dittmer did quote from a document.
– I do not know whether he did.
– He said he was quoting.
– I do not know what the honorable senator said; I was not listening at the time. My attention was directed elsewhere. I say quite frankly that I do not know what he said. The onus is upon the Minister to establish that the honorable senator did quote from a document. I do not know whether Senator Dittmer was quoting from his notes, or from a document, departmental or otherwise belonging to somebody else. I merely put to the Senate at this stage that there is nothing to justify the operation of the standing order until it is established that Senator Dittmer was quoting from a document. That has not been established. I think there is an obligation upon the Minister to establish that as a condition precedent to the operation of the standing order.
What is there before you, Mr. Acting Deputy President, to show that Senator Dittmer was quoting from a document? Did he say so? Has that been established by the Minister? The mere moving of a motion, without establishing that Senator Dittmer quoted from a document is not enough. It must be established to your satisfaction, either by some method of proof or by the admission of the honorable senator himself, that he did quote from a document. A senator stands up in this place and quotes from many documents, his own notes-
– And from memory, too.
– Yes, from his memory of notes and documents. I submit that it was not proper for this matter to be raised, as it was, on a point of order.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - It was raised under Standing Order No. 364.
– Surely that is not appropriate to a point of order. This is not a matter of a point of order at all. A point of order is raised when an honorable senator is alleged to be disobeying the Standing Orders. The Minister, 1 presume, knew what he was doing. He rose to order and he asked for your ruling, presumably upon the point of order. Then, having risen to a point of order, he moved a motion. You must first rule, Mr. Acting Deputy President, upon the pseudo point of order.
What is the point of order? That is the basis upon which the Minister puts the matter to you. I submit that no point of order is involved. I suggest that as the Minister rose to speak to a point of order, it was completely out of order for him to move a motion relating to another matter. I invite you to rule accordingly. The Minister, I repeat, rose to order. What point of order was involved? He did not say, but he proceeded to move a motion, without advancing a single argument in its favour, and without establishing the fact upon which the operation of Standing Order No. 364 depends. I suggest to you, Mr. Acting Deputy President, that you must rule that there is no point of order involved. That would conclude the matter. You cannot have two things before you at once - a point of order and a substantive motion. In any case, a substantive motion cannot be agreed to unless the mover provides a basis for it.
– One would normally have to wait a long time before having the experience of listening to a quibble, so clouded in confusion, as that which the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) has haltingly endeavoured to express. Standing Order No. 364 says -
A Document quoted from by a Senator not a Minister of the Crown may be ordered by the Senate to be laid upon the Table: such order may be made without Notice immediately upon the conclusion of the speech of the senator who has quoted therefrom.
In fairness to Senator McKenna, I admit that he did say that he had not read the standing order before he began to make the observations to which we have listened. The last part of that standing order really makes futile any arguments that Senator McKenna has addressed ito us. Surely those arguments greatly disadvantage the Opposition’s case, which is designed to ensure continuing consideration of the Minister’s administration of airways’ policy. I submit that the matter is properly before you, Sir, in the terms of the standing order.
Senator McKenna, in opposing the Minister’s motion, raised the question whether Senator Dittmer quoted from a document. The Senate is the judge of that, and, by its vote, it will declare its decision. Until I heard a certain utterance from Senator Dittmer, I would have been disposed to advance the view that the honorable senator should stand in his place and say whether or not he quoted from a document. But Senator Dittmer interjected, either by way of prevarication or evasion, and insinuated that he did not make a quotation from a document by saying that he quoted sometimes from his memory. I suggest that the Senate must ensure that the dignity of its proceedings will be maintained. Senator Dittmer, somewhat challengingly, said to the Minister something to this effect. “ You get information from within, the department, and so do I. The only difference between you and mc is that 1 make it available to the public bv quoting it.” He then proceeded, with a piece of paper before him, to give everybody who was listening to him intently, as I was, the impression that he had got from some responsible person connected with the Department of Civil Aviation a statement reflecting on Ansett’s position and Ansett’s claim to a share in the air traffic business. I submit that it is highly dishonorable for an honorable senator to retract from the position that he has put publicly before the Senate and to refuse to lay on the table of the Senate, as required by the Standing Orders, any document the credence of which he has asked us to accept. Such an action should not be condoned by this Senate.
– The Standing Order in question is a very simple one and does not require any explanation. But in dealing with this matter we must consider more than just the Standing Order. The Standing Order refers to a document quoted from by an honorable senator. We have no evidence before us that a document was even shown by the honorable senator-
– We have eyes.
– Was it a document? Did the honorable senator quote from it? Was the document identified at the time?
– “ Hansard “ will show that.
– We have no evidence before us that the honorable senator quoted from the document at all, and in the absence of evidence it is impossible for the Senate to decide this matter. Senator Kendall is rumbling like an empty kerosene tin. He would not know.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order!
– Mr. Deputy President, did you see fit to call Senator Kendall to order when he was interrupting me?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order! 1 was calling the Senate to order to enable you, Senator Benn, to continue your remarks.
– Thank you, Mr. Deputy President.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - I might point out that it would be unwise of you to be provocative, thereby necessitating my calling the Senate to order.
– In the absence of any substantial evidence that a document was quoted from, you, Mr. Deputy President, have no alternative but to reject the request of the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge). I can remember the incident quite well. Senator Dittmer was speaking quite fluently at the time. He looked at a document, put it down and gave his personal version of what appeared therein. He never quoted anything verbatim. The Minister asked Senator Dittmer a question and the honorable senator replied courteously. Senator Wright, in a bullying manner, asked Senator Dittmer about the document. He asked Senator Dittmer why he did not give a further reply. Senator Wright pursued his question, apparently unaware that this is the Senate and that he is not entitled to ask questions of an honorable senator who is addressing the chamber. Many honorable senators who are now in the chamber were absent when Senator Dittmer was speaking. They did not see him use a document; they did not hear him quote from a document; therefore they are incapable of voting on this issue.
– Mr. Deputy President, may I have your ruling? What is before the Senate?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order! Senator Paltridge has taken a point of order under Standing Order No. 364.
– Mr. Deputy President, have you ruled on that point of order or is the Senate discussing a substantive motion submitted by Senator Paltridge? What really is before the Senate?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order! At the conclusion of Senator Dittmer’s speech Senator Paltridge raised a matter under Standing Order No. 364. I do not consider that I have to determine anything, and unless Senator Sheehan has some point of order that he wants to raise, I propose to put the question in accordance with Standing Order No. 364.
– I should like to have this matter clear in my mind. I heard Senator Paltridge rise to a point of order.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order! I suggest that the honorable senator read the standing order and all will be revealed to him.
– I have read the standing order.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order! I propose to put the question in accordance with the standing order.
– Mr. Deputy President, are you determining a point of order?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order! I am not determining what is or what is not a document. I am merely obliged to put the question in accordance with the standing order, and I now do so.
Question put -
That the document quoted from by Senator Dittmer be laid on the table.
The Senate divided. (The Deputy President - Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid.)
Majority . . . . 8
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I welcome the opportunity to enter this debate because it gives me, a back-bencher, an opportunity to share the public approbation that the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) enjoys. On each occasion that the Opposition has seen fit to question the Minister about this matter of the crosscharter of aircraft he has had a full and complete answer. I have no doubt that the people of Australia are asking themselves: What is behind all this probing by the Australian Labour Party, despite the fact that the Minister has fully answered all the innuendoes and allegations? We all have been wondering why this probing has gone on. The confusion that is evident in the ranks of honorable senators opposite has been increased by the statement to-day by Senator O’Byrne, one of the Labour Party
Spokesmen and one of its most intelligent members, that he frankly and freely admitted that the Labour Party had no objection to parity of airline equipment.
When we consider all the probing that has been undertaken by honorable senators opposite, it is natural also to consider the motives that have prompted that probing. If we are to keep this matter in proper perspective, we have to reduce it to a consideration of values. There are two kinds of values; first, there are human values, and secondly, there are commercial values. Human values are the more worthy of the two kinds. My mind goes back to the 1949 general election, when the people of Australia were still smarting from the attempt of the Labour Party to nationalize industries, under private enterprise management of which Australia was fast becoming proud. This Government was elected in 1949, basically to preserve human values. At each subsequent general election it has been returned to office because the people have had proof of its determination to maintain for the citizens of this country freedom to choose the job at which they will work, freedom to foster private enterprise, and freedom to develop their talents and ingenuity. The Government has been returned because it took a stand against the attempts that were made by the Labour Party to nationalize some of our most valuable assets.
The matter before the Senate; which has been presented as an urgent matter, has only sham urgency. The Opposition is trying to confuse the people who will go to the polls on Saturday. We on this side of the chamber welcome with pleasure the opportunity that has been presented to us to tell the people once again of the motives that have prompted the Opposition to start up a hare and chase it. Senator O’Byrne referred with some disdain to the fact that we on this side of the chamber had spoken of the socialistic policies of the Labour Party in regard to airlines and other matters. By implication, the honorable senator indicated that socialism was not the issue before the Senate. We know, of course, that honorable senators opposite are socialistically minded. Let me quote the words of no less a personage than the present Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Calwell).
According to a report that appeared in the “Advertiser” of 14th March. 1957, Mr. Calwell said, when addressing the Brisbane; conference of the Australian Labour Party on 13th March, 1957, that when Labour in 1921 adopted its objective of democratic, socialism it rocked the party. According to the newspaper, he went on to say -
I agreed with the decision then and I agree with it now. I hope the objective will never be altered.
Socialization, Mr. President, is the motive behind the introduction of this matter to-day. The Opposition is concerned that this Government, by the encouragement of private enterprise and a balanced approach to the problems of both our major airlines, is stimulating the growth of two airline organizations that will be too strong for any future socialistic government to destroy. That is the background of the human values involved in this debate.
Let us proceed to have a look at some of the commercial values that are involved in it. In 1945, the Labour government of the day established Trans-Australia Airlines in opposition to Australian National Airways Limited, as it was then. I remind the Senate that A.N.A. has made a magnificent contribution to the development of this country. It was the only airline in Australia when we were at war, and the contribution that it has made both to our defence and our national development is a monument to its skill and operational ability.
I would have had no objection whatever to the establishment of T.A.A., in opposition to A.N.A., provided that all things were equal. But of course, the mere establishment of T.A.A. did not satisfy Labour policy. That policy envisaged the socialization of air services. Labour therefore lavished on T.A.A. benefits that A.N.A. did not enjoy. It provided T.A.A. with almost unlimited capital and with access to government business, and it sent T.A.A. out to destroy the airline run by private enterprise, despite the fact that this country owes a great debt of gratitude to private enterprise. When this Government came to office in 1949, it was concerned about what was going on in the field of civil aviation. It had no illusions about the motives that had prompted the Labour government to foster and cherish the national airline.
This Government believed in competition, and it took a firm policy decision that, during its term of office, the spirit of competition between the two airlines, and the demand for their services, would be maintained at a high level.
– It also decided to put value back into the £1.
– I would expect a more valuable contribution, during the debate of a matter such as this, to come from a man with the great parliamentary experience of Senator Courtice. This Government appreciated that, in order to implement its policy of encouragement of private enterprise and the spirit of competition, it would be obliged to take a hand in the airline fight. The Government made funds available to both air lines. That is a statistical fact for which we on this side have no apologies to make. The Government made funds available to both organizations because it was its policy to provide competition between the airlines.
– With the people’s money.
– With the people’s money, and that leads me to the very point that I now want to make. I suggest that no responsible Government would make available to two such organizations money that the taxpayers had provided, without having regard to the way in which that money was expended. The Government decided that, having made financial advances to both organizations, it would take a hand in the way in which the money was expended, and would attempt to ensure that the most economical services were provided for the people of Australia. Honorable senators who know anything of the cost of aircraft to-day will appreciate that when you propose to buy aircraft you must think in terms of millions of pounds. The way some of my friends on the Opposition side talk, I am inclined to think that they would advocate that the Government rush into the expenditure of many more millions of pounds on airports to cater for jet aircraft. There would have been jet aircraft and nowhere to land them, and therefore it would have been necessary for the Government to spend a huge sum for the development of jet airports. Melbourne is languishing for a jet airport, but if the Opposition had had its way, Melbourne would never get one. This Government has decided wisely that it will maintain some control over expenditure, and that eventually a jet airport for Melbourne will be an accomplished fact. So the Government reached a decision that parity of equipment was needed. I shall read again the opening paragraph of Mr. McDonald’s statement, and no one can accuse him of being progovernment in this statement. He said -
There can be little or no stability in the domestic airlines until both major airlines have parity in equipment.
This is not a new belief. The Australian Labour Party has believed in that for a long time, as Senator O’Byrne has said. Now we know what has prompted the Opposition to produce this sham motion. As I have said, this is not a new belief. That view has been advanced consistently for some years; but as soon as the Government stated that it was going to have parity of equipment, some irresponsible members of the Australian Labour Party screamed to high heaven on the radio, through the press and on the public platform that this Government was going to force T.A.A. to swap - and I use the word “ swap “ because everybody in Australia knows exactly what it means - to swap with A.N.A. two thoroughbreds for two dead crocks. The Labour Party did its utmost to inflame public opinion.
Since this agreement was tabled and became public property, it became evident just how silly the Labour Party appears in the public eye. The facts are these: There has been no swapping or exchanging. This charter is on a hire basis. T.A.A. will hire two DC6B aircraft of a market value of £280,000 each from Ansett-A.N.A. AnsettA.N.A. will hire two Viscounts valued at £225,000 each. What is the net result of these transactions? Official calculations show that on a basis of 65 per cent, passenger and freight load-factors and utilization for eight hours a day for each aircraft, the annual revenue earnings of each aircraft would be £813,000 for the DC6B’s and £529,000 for the Viscounts. I suggest that some of the lesser lights of the Opposition might make a note of these figures so that they can appreciate them. The net result of the deal is this: After allowing for the £40 a day extra that T.A.A. has to pay for the DC6B aircraft, each DC6B aircraft will earn an additional £269,000 a year for
T.A.A. As there are two DC6B’s and the agreement is for three years, the net gain to T.A.A. from the deal is £1,400,000. Yet we find the Opposition talking about the way the Government is discriminating against T.A.A. The fact is that its discrimination amounts to a credit of £1,400,000 in three years. Obviously, the Minister for Civil Aviation can be proud of this agreement.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– As is usual in debates on matters of urgency, we have heard from the Government side all the supposed reasons why the Opposition has brought this matter before the House. First, the supporters of the Government have thrown into the debate the good old La Trobe by-election. Then wc have had the story of the Opposition’s socialization objectives, and Senator Wood - if I heard him correctly - suggested that this motion came about because the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) had become the deputy Leader of the Opposition in another place. Senator Wood suggested that because of Mr. Whitlam’s special type of socialism, this matter had come before the Senate. Of course, the one thing to be said in favour of Senator Wood is that he is consistent. If there is one way to earn the hostility of the Liberal Party and the press of Australia, it is to be elected the Leader or Deputy Leader of the Australian Labour Party. Then you get all the vilification and abuse about the place until you are dead, and then you become a hero. The attitude of supporters of the Government has been consistent with that pattern since it became obvious that there would be a change of leadership in the Australian Labour Party. Nevertheless, how it has found its way into this debate only the hierarchy of the Liberal Party would know.
– You do the sams thing.
– I would not do it in that way. If I want to deal with such matters, I do so on the public platform. Nobody has seen me resort to that sort of thing in this place, and nobody ever will. A debate of this sort was as inevitable as the rising of the sun because, as the motion has set out, of the persistent attitude of the
Government in continually attacking T.A.A. and by the action of Ministers in constantly avoiding answering questions in the press and in this place.
The Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) has frequently been guilty of this evasion. If he had been more honest in answering questions, he would not have had to face this attack. Perhaps he might be exonerated to some extent because 1 think he was thrust into this debate by the Cabinet. Nevertheless, he could have been more honest in his dealings with honorable senators. For example, Senator Benn asked the Minister a simple question: What was the cost price of the Viscounts and the Electras? Surely that was a simple enough question. The Minister rose to reply and finished up by criticising Senator Kennelly. We are not worrying about that because Senator Kennelly is quite capable of looking after himself; but such a reaction from the Minister does not enlighten the Senate. We could not get a simple answer. Probably, the information could be obtained from the Parliamentary Library, but if the Minister did not know the answer, he could have said so and offered to supply the information. Then we would have thought a lot more of him. Now, the Minister has had to face this debate. He has been cast in this role almost since he was first elected to the Senate.
To understand the attitude of the Government, it is necessary to go back to the socalled agreement of 1952. That was when the Government clearly laid down the basis of what I call “the new capitalism”. It said in effect, “We are not going to have two airlines in open competition. There will be one airline under free enterprise with the backing of the Government to see that it gets along all right.”
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
.- I was expecting Senator Willesee, who was speaking when the sitting was suspended, to resume his remarks; but I am not surprised that he should now indicate that he will be silent on the matter, because the trend of the debate before the suspension gave a distinct disadvantage to the case the Opposition was making. Honorable senators opposite have suggested that the Senate should adjourn as a protest against what they allege to be discrimination by the Government against T.A.A. and in favour of Ansett-A.N.A. In particular, they complain of discrimination with respect to the crosscharter under discussion.
I want to be quite brief, because my time is limited. The debate was opened by Senator Kennelly, who had the impudence to base the first part of his case upon a challenge to the integrity of the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge). Senator Kennelly referred to what he called deception on the part of Senator Paltridge. 1 take this opportunity to express what I believe is the real feeling of both sides of the Senate - that of all members of the Federal Parliament at the present time there is none for whom the whole chamber has a superior regard, both as to ability and integrity, than the Minister for Civil Aviation. I think that the impartial, patient and very business-like way in which our civil aviation laws are being administered inspires confidence in all sections of the community. I feel there is some degree of temerity in the sense of fading power of which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Kennelly) is obviously sensitive at this stage of his political career, but I should think that with his acquaintance with the channels of chicanery in Melbourne over the last twenty years he would be the last person from whom such an imputation could emanate with any degree of impression in this Parliament.
I want now, over the croakings of Senator Hendrickson, who is very touchy on such matters, and who is interjecting, to deal with the question before the Senate. The first point I feel should be made is that the Government stands upon a policy of high competition in the air industry as distinguished from the Opposition’s policy of Government monopoly. The present Government maintains two things. The first is that it is essential that we continue to maintain Trans-Australia Airlines with its impressive history of achievement and its unequalled record of safety in air operations. The second is that it is no less essential that the free enterprise unit in the aircraft industry should be protected and maintained in all its integrity; and that is the point upon which the Opposition is so contentious.
It is alleged by the Opposition that the Government has displayed discrimination against T.A.A. One has only to read the debates which took place in the Senate as recently as October, 1958, when the Airlines Equipment Bill was before us, to see the impartial and balanced presentation which the Minister made of the requirements of each airline with regard to capital re-equipment. It will be noted from those debates, also, that the Government advanced £1,500,000 in cash from the Treasury for T.A.A,, that it made arrangements in the United States of America for overseas capital amounting to £3,000,000 for that organization and that it made further arrangements for the purchase of one Electra aircraft from Qantas at a cost of £2,300,000. The total cash accommodation made available to T.A.A. by this Government was £6,800,000. As against that, the Government guaranteed Ansett-A.N.A. to the extent of £5,000,000. I emphasize that this cost that organization absolutely nothing despite the fact that the ordinary financier would have charged a brokerage fee of one-quarter per cent. I emphasize also that this Government has not been called upon to make good one penny of the amount guaranteed.
The way in which this Government has fostered T.A.A. and guided its expansion since 1949 can be gauged by reference not merely to that measure but also to the last published report and figures of T.A.A. itself. I refer to the annual report of T.A.A. for the year ended 30th June, 1959. On page 13 of that organization’s own document, if will be seen that when the outgoing Government left the stage in 1949, the capital provision of T.A.A. was £1,700,000 whereas to-day it is of the order of £ 1 8,400,000. Let it be said at once that much of that capital has been generated by the profitable enterprise of T.A.A., and let it be understood that the opportunity would not have been available but for the ready according by the Government of its cash resources and financial accommodation. Of the £18,400,000 capital, Treasury advances by this Government amount to approximately £7,000,000 in actual cash. If honorable senators opposite want to argue terms of fairness, I suggest that we remind ourselves that when the Treasury advances money it advances your money and my money, and the people who live by private enterprise outside yield their contribution to that and then earn a living for their own executives and great staffs. That is the position of
T.A.A. Far from dwarfing or prejudicing T.A.A., this Government has enabled that organization to expand in the way I have indicated.
The next point I make is that Senator Kennelly invoked some comments of Mr. Warren McDonald. After obtaining authority from the commentator, the Minister has made copies of those comments freely available to the Senate. I regret to say, however, that they disappoint me both as to substance and clarity, although there are two outstanding points in them. First, I refer to the following comment by Mr McDonald -
There can be little or no stability in domestic airlines until both major airlines have parity in equipment. This is not a new belief as it has been consistently stated for some years.
The second statement the commentator makes is -
Forgetting the past, and looking to the future, it would seem to be in the interests of the nation and the airlines to achieve parity in the near future.
So, we have the endorsement of that commentator for the Government’s view that the two airlines should be given substantial parity in quantity and quality of capital airline equipment. The next point is that, public money being at stake, it is imperative that the responsible Minister should see that gross capital depreciation does not occur as a result of irresponsible capital purchases, causing either a loss to the Treasury or increased fares for the travelling public. Therefore, when the price and equipment war seemed to be renewing itself at the end of 1938, the equipment position being that T.A.A. had two Electras-
– T.A.A. did not exist in 1938.
– I am glad to have such keen attention from Senator Hendrickson. I mean, of course, 1958. At that time T.A.A. had two Electras and no fewer than eleven Viscounts, as against Ansett-A.N.A. ‘s two Electras and four Viscounts. It was quite obvious to anybody who had responsibility for expenditure that instead of representatives of each airline going abroad and irresponsibly purchasing new aircraft, and bringing them on to the line for wasteful competition, it was much better that some rationalization should take place. It was decided later that there should be an elimination of inequalities of aircraft fleets by a cross-charter of two DC6B aircraft of Ansett-A.N.A. and three Viscounts of T.A.A. We then had the possibility of the fleets being made more nearly equal. Ansett-A.N.A. then had nine Viscounts as against T.A.A. ‘s eleven or twelve. AnsettA.N.A. had three Electras; T.A.A. had two and was to get an additional one. In addition, T.A.A. still had a great superiority of the feeder-class aircraft, the Fokker Friendship.
Rationalization and the almost equal balancing of aircraft fleets had great advantages so long as the terms of the crosscharter were arranged on a commercial basis, and I assert that, so far from that transaction producing prejudice in a business sense to T.A.A., certain advantages accrued to it. First, T.A.A. took advantage of the opportunity to see that it got a third Electra, and the Minister consented to that. That meant that in the front-line fleet of each airline were three Electras. Secondly, by the acquisition of two DC6B aircraft, T.A.A. was able to meet the threat of competition that Ansett-A.N.A. impressively offered by using DC6B aircraft, which were unequalled from the point of view of running economy services. Both of them enjoyed the advantage of not having to incur great capital expenditure, with consequential great depreciation costs.
The terms of the charter have been worked out by experts. The earning capacity of the DC6B aircraft is about £40,000 a year more than that of the Viscounts. The amount that Ansett-A.N.A. is paid for its two DC6B aircraft is £30,000 a year less than it pays T.A.A. for the three Viscounts. So on the transaction, T.A.A. gets an advantage - these are not my figures, but the figures of those who are immersed in the commercial considerations of this business - of £70,000 a year.
All of those considerations should be sufficient to humiliate those persons who brought forward this urgency proposal as a protest, and to convince everybody who will give the matter consideration that this cross-charter is a fair, businesslike and statesmanlike proposition.
Senator ARMSTRONG (New South whether the cross-charter we are now discussing is the culmination of the Government’s efforts on rationalization. Is this all that is needed to bring these airlines into a position of parity in relation to equipment and all the other matters in relation to which the Government says it desires parity? Or is this just another step along the road the Government has traversed since 1952 in order to further circumscribe the Government concern, Trans-Australia Airlines? If the Labour Government had imposed rationalization of this sort, the first people to attack it would have been honorable senators opposite, who would have said that that was the most wicked type of government control. If we did it, it would be socialization, but when the present Government does it, it is rationalization.
I believe in competition by the two major domestic airlines, T.A.A. and AnsettA.N.A., but unfortunately the Government has set out to destroy this competition. Whereas some years ago we had, in my opinion, the best internal air services in the world - particularly those provided by T.A.A. - the emphasis to-day is on cheeseparing and breaking down the standard of service formerly enjoyed by the travelling public. By agreement between the two major airlines, meals in flight, which were a feature of air travel in Australia, have been almost eliminated. They have certainly vastly deteriorated. A charge is made for transport to and from aerodromes. Country centres of very great importance are still being serviced by DC3 aircraft. Whether or not it was the Government’s objective, what has been achieved by the elimination of real competition between the two major airlines is a deteriorating rather than an improving internal airlines system.
Senator Wright has made great play on the fact that the industry would be ruined if the airlines bought aircraft indiscriminately. The Government has kept a strong controlling hand on the equipment purchased by the internal airlines. TransAustralia Airlines, whose judgment I would back against that of the Minister, wanted Caravelle aircraft, with their Rolls-Royce engines. Experience with the Caravelle, over several years in service, has been very happy. It is an economic aircraft, and it has been bought by American internal airlines that had never before bought air craft made outside America. The Government is telling the internal airlines what equipment they must have. In my view, the effect of this interference is the stultification of the proper development of Australian airlines.
Do honorable senators think that we shall get quicker and better country services by this means? I admit that there are arguments for and against the proposition, but I think we should get much better service if the airlines bought the equipment they thought was best. After all, both major airlines must make profits. AnsettA.N.A. will not buy an aircraft that is not efficient and profitable, because if the company does not make a profit it will cease to exist. Therefore, I think, the purchase of the type of equipment that is most economical for Ansett-A.N.A. is best left to the judgment of the company. They do not need that sort of protection. The same applies to T.A.A. Some one in the Department of Civil Aviation went to the Minister and gave him some advice. He was a person not directly associated with the airlines and not facing the day-to-day problems connected with running an airline which, of course, as we all understand, are very difficult and of a continuing nature. Some one tells the Minister that the airlines, for the betterment of the country and of the airlines themselves, should not get a particular type of aircraft.
Honorable senators opposite gladly use the term “ private enterprise “ when it suits them, but in this particular set-up private enterprise and competition has almost disappeared; and in the meantime, as I have said, the high reputation of Australia’s internal airlines is being impaired. After all, there are two objectives in running an airline or transport system. From the point of view of private enterprise, the airline must make a profit or go out of business. The other approach is that which was adopted by T.A.A. in its early years, namely that of providing service. T.A.A. provided an air service to the people of Australia that was recognized to be so efficient that the opposition airline of the day, A.N.A. as it then was, was rapidly moving towards liquidation because it could not stand up to the competition. Why should not the two airlines have competed with each other to the greatest possible extent? The net result would have been a better service to the people of Australia, and the development of much better airlines as well.
Ansett-A.N.A. purchased Electras. At the time they wanted to purchase Electras it was not the view of the department that these aircraft should be purchased. Great pressure had to be brought to bear on the Government by Ansett-A.N.A. to prove that the Electra was the right plane for them. The Government gave way on that point, and in that regard it got itself into the position of being an umpire or arbitrator between the two companies, neither of which wanted the Government to be in that position. I am sure that they would both be happier now if they could have gone on in the way they were going. We know the story of A.N.A., the culmination of which we are discussing to-night in this Senate. A.N.A. was the most efficiently run organization that one could find, and finally when it was on the brink of liquidation Ansett’s organization made an offer to it that was accepted. We remember in those days that the chief manager of A.N.A., Mr. Haddy, made a public statement by way of an advertisement that was published throughout the press of Australia. He blamed everybody in the world, including the present Government and the previous government for the failure of A.N.A. He blamed everybody but himself and the organization that was controlling the airline.
The last great mistake made by A.N.A. was the purchase of DC6B’s. That mistake brought the airline into a condition where it could not carry on. The reason the purchase of those aircraft was such a mistake was because the DC6B was not the type of aircraft that could be run economically inside Australia because of the peculiar conditions that exist in our internal airlines. They are beautiful aircraft and lovely to travel in, but that is not the point. Senator Wright compared the respective values of DC6B’s and Viscounts. It is not a question of a cross-charter in values of the aircraft; it is a question of a crosscharter in aircraft from the point of view of economical operation.
– The service they provide.
– No, their economical operation. If a company has an aircraft worth £500,000 that loses money and an aircraft worth £150,000 that makes money, the only aircraft that company can afford to employ is the one that makes money. It is no use talking about the relative values of Viscounts and DC6B’s because that is not the point at issue. The point at issue is the type of aircraft that will allow the operator that uses it to make a profit on his operations. I think the Minister admits that.
The DC6B’s were purchased with a fanfare of publicity, but they were not suited to the internal airline conditions in Australia, and they soon presented a very serious financial problem when the Viscounts came into competition against them. The competition was, o intense that A.N.A. was losing money by the thousand every week. We must face the position to-night that if the DC6B’s were losing money for A.N.A. before the take-over, then it is quite obvious they are still losing money. However, this exchange idea was sold to the Government or the Government sold it to somebody, or the press developed it on the idea that if Ansett-A.N.A. obtained three Viscounts and in return T.A.A. obtained two DC6B’s, which are planes which have a very great loading capacity, then it would become possible to put into operation in Australia a plan to bring about cheaper flying, which would have been a good thing.
Air travel has not been what it should be in Australia. For every one person who travels by air to-day there will be ten in ten years’ time. The idea was to get DC6B’s equally divided between the operating companies. Having done that the companies were then going to bring in a third-class travelling arrangement on a cheaper level than even the present tourist arrangement. This would make it possible for more and more people to travel by air. That was the ultimate objective. After all every time you bring the price of an aircraft ticket down by £1 or £2 you encourage more people to fly. That was the theory when they first talked about the cross-charter. From that point of view I thought that the idea might have some value, but that was the only point I saw in it. I did not see any virtue in it from the point of view of T.A.A. But what happened?
The air charter was completed in spite of the Minister’s reticence to say anything about it a week or so before. Then, after the cross-charter was completed, an announcement was made that the reduction of fares to introduce third-class travel was to be postponed for another twelve months. The only favorable aspect which I could see in the cross-charter arrangement was that fares would be reduced in order to encourage more and more people to travel by air. But instead of doing that the two airline companies-, due to the pressure of Ansett-A.N.A., is increasing the cost of air travel. Whilst it may cost only a few shillings to travel by bus from the airport to the airline terminal, such innovations add to the price of an air ticket. They are annoyances and tend to break down the reputation of Australian internal airlines. When the cross-charter was first suggested, I envisaged the employment of aircraft that could carry, say, 70 passengers, and that the cost to travellers would be reduced to a minimum. However, such conditions have not eventuated.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.- It is a matter of great grief to me to hear honorable senators opposite say that discrimination is being practised constantly against T.A.A. by this Government. If ever results have completely given the lie to an allegation, the achievements of TransAustralia Airways under this Administration have done so. What has this Government done to T.A.A.? It inherited T.A.A. from a Labour socialist administration. The Government took over an organization that was making heavy losses and has turned it into an organization that makes continuous and steady profits. The Government has run T.A.A. so well and so efficiently that T.A.A. is now the envy of many other airlines. In 1958, under the administration of this Government, T.A.A. won an international prize for air safety and efficiency. So do not let us have any nonsense talked about discrimination against that airline. If discrimination against an organization can turn that organization into one of the most efficient government instrumentalities that the Commonwealth has ever seen, then let us have more of it.
If we want to talk about discrimination - and I suppose we must - let us look at the vicious and unfair discrimination that was practised by the socialist administration at the time the Australian National Airlines Commission was born. I recall that the Minister for Civil Aviation in the Labour government, Mr. Drakeford, freely conceded from the floor of the House of Representatives that it was the intention of the socialist government to set up a monopoly airline. It was going to drive the pioneer airline out of business by charging excessive landing fees - the pioneer airline which opened up the back-blocks and back-woods of Australia and helped to carry so many Australian troops to the war zones during the last war. That government was going to do that to an organization which had the courage and initiative to raise its own money and obtain its own men and machines to plough a furrow - if I can borrow that metaphor - in the air. That was the reward which a progressive private enterprise organization was going to receive from the central economic planners.
The government of that day gave to T.A.A. all the government passenger traffic. Even members of Parliament were prohibited from travelling in the private organization’s planes, and all government mail was compelled to go to the socialist enterprise. That government imposed crippling landing charges on Australian National Airlines, as Ansett-A.N.A. was then called. Everything, both just and unjust, that could be done was done to the A.N.A. organization. I know why - and 1 shall make the point quite clear - the Labour socialists hated A.N.A. and why they now hate its descendant. The reason is this: The Labour socialists know that A.N.A. was the first private corporation to stand up successfully in the High Court and throw their dictatorial, totalitarian legislation back into the mire from which it should never have emerged.
I know that figures are of no great interest to my honorable friends opposite, but let us have a look at some of the market prices of aircraft. In America, the Viscount 700 is practically unsaleable. These aircraft have been offered for sale at £224,000, but for a DC6B aircraft the price asked is approximately £291,000. Capital Airlines recently chartered eleven DC6B’s from Pan-American Airways at a monthly rental of £5,600, with an option to purchase at £268,000 per aircraft. Do not let us have any more nonsense talked about discrimination. As Mr. Warren McDonald said on 8th December, there can be little or no stability in the domestic airlines until both major airlines have parity in equipment. This position has now been achieved. The same distinguished gentleman went on to say -
If that is so, it is so much better.
He also stated that the best interests of the country would be served by the transfer of two DC6B’s from Ansett-A.N.A. at present market prices in return for three Viscounts. Let us put an end to this clap-trap about discrimination.
.- An extraordinarily brief contribution has just been made by Senator Hannan, having regard to the amount of time that was available to him. Quite obviously, he was filling in time to keep the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) out of the debate as long as possible. This is the most extraordinary adjournment motion I have known. The Minister, whose administration has been under attack since 3.30 p.m., has still not come to his feet. As the debate will end at 9.10 p.m., let us hope that presently we shall smoke him out of his burrow.
The first point that I want to make in this matter is that the first consideration should be the travelling public of Australia. As Mr. McDonald, the former head of Trans-Australia Airlines, has said, this deal is a retrograde step, because all T.A.A.’s plans are well advanced for an all-jet powered fleet. I say that the Australian public is entitled to the best and the fastest fleets of aircraft. But what does this Government do? It standardizes the two great interstate airlines on the lowest common denominator of aircraft, not the highest. What this Government has done, in effect, has been to put the clock back in civil aviation in this country. It has deferred the advent of the jet age in this country for years. Until this exchange was brought about, T.A.A. was an all-jet line. That was one of its proud advertising claims. Now it has two DC6B’s, which Mr. McDonald said were virtually unsaleable, and Mr. Ansett agreed with that statement. The DC6B’s are piston-engined craft. In other words, the airlines of this country have been set at the lowest common denominator instead of the highest.
The second thing I want to say is that, since this step was taken there have been protest meetings all over the country by T.A.A.’s staff about the exchange of three modern Viscounts for two outmoded and virtually unsaleable piston-engined DC6B’s.
– It is a cross-charter, and you know it.
– It is an exchange, whether it is a hiring or anything else. It is an exchange by charter. There is no question about that. One hears, as one goes round the staff of T.A.A. to-day, bitter jokes in circulation amongst them. The latest is to the effect that T.A.A. has to exchange six of its top pilots for four baggage porters from Ansett-A.N.A. That is the type of joke that one hears in the T.A.A. establishments to-day. The men throughout T.A.A. are indignant and disheartened, having built T.A.A. into a wonderful airline. What is happening to-day is only one relatively small piece of discrimination against T.A.A. down the years. This is only topping up the process of discrimination a little. The 1952 legislation did the damage when, against the open hostility of T.A.A., the Government entered into an agreement with A.N.A. and compelled T.A.A. to carry out that agreement. Section 5 of the act required T.A.A. to do all things provided in the agreement that it should do. That is where the damage was done. All these things that have happened since have merely aggravated that damage.
What happened in 1952? The air mail had to be equally divided between the two airlines. There was no question of calling for tenders. There was no element of competition there. Government passenger and freight traffic had to be freely available to both airlines. No aircraft could be acquired or hired without the approval of an independent chairman. T.A.A., which hitherto had run free, was completely pegged down. For the first time there was rationalization of routes, time-tables, fares, freights and other related matters. T.A.A.’s competitor was given a guarantee up to £4,000,000. Air route charges were cut. which benefited A.N.A. to the tune of £600,000. It is true that T.A.A., which had paid all its charges, received a rebate of £400,000. But after all that help, A.N.A. broke down in 1957. It defaulted in its payments to the tune of £435,000 of principal, lt was in arrears to the tune of £70,000, despite all the help that it has received as regards interest alone. The Government again came to the rescue and re-financed the Ansett-A.N.A. organization that took over the former A.N.A. organization. At that time the Government extended the rationalization proposals to the new routes that had come into existence since 1952.
In 1958 there was enacted the choicest piece of legislation of all. Senator Wright referred to it as one that re-arranged finance for the new equipment programme for both airlines, but it did another thing. The Minister for Civil Aviation became the poohbah of the airlines of Australia. He had power under the 1958 legislation to determine the aircraft capacity required by the two airlines for their competitive and their non-competitive routes. He assumed power to direct the disposal of any excess aircraft above his determinations, and he has the power to forbid the purchase or hire of any aircraft that would bring the capacity of either airline beyond the limits determined by him. It is important in considering this matter to remember that the Minister has that vast power, because although he does not wield it publicly with a great show of force it is one of the factors that forced this deal.
Let us see how this deal came about. The controversy was triggered off on 29th January by a statement from Mr. Allan Fraser, a member in another place. The Minister for Civil Aviation made a statement to the press, which was reported in the “ Daily Telegraph “ on the following day. In that report the Minister denied that any agreement had been reached between Ansett-A.N.A. and T.A.A. In part that report stated -
Senator Paltridge said that when, and if, any developments happened, they would be reported to him. He then would make a statement.
The point is that the Minister did not await the agreement, because within two days he prepared a very lengthy statement in which he said that the airlines had reached no agreement upon the matter. He said -
The cross charter arrangements proposed are a normal feature of airline operations, and the Government -
The Government, mind you, not just the Minister - would give favourable consideration to them, as well as the request made in respect of the Qantas Electra.
So the Minister, who has wielded the big stick since the 1958 legislation, has before him an application from T.A.A. for a third Electra. He has had that application since December, 1959, but no decision had been made. T.A.A. was waiting to see whether it would get a third aircraft like the one approved for Ansett-A.N.A. in December and delivered in February.
This was the plight of T.A.A. The organization had a new chairman, whose whole life had been devoted to carrying out the policy of governments of any colour. He had not yet found his feet with T.A.A. He had only just taken over and he saw that public statement of Government policy that I have just quoted. What would be the effect of it on his mind? What would be the effect on him of the Minister indicating that if T.A.A. behaved itself and accepted the agreement, the Government would arrange for T.A.A. to obtain a new Electra? It was personal coercion and public coercion. Everybody in T.A.A. knew what had happened in 1952. Everybody knew the weapon that the Minister took in his hand in 1958 when he dealt with the legislation. The Minister may say that he did not influence the decision, but he certainly created all the skids for it to run along and gave it a very hefty kick when, on 2nd February, after saying on 30th January that he would not say anything until the two airlines agreed, he announced the Government’s policy. That was two days after he said he would not say anything and, as he said himself at the time, before any agreement had been reached between the airlines.
It is clear that the Minister, with the power of veto that he exercised over T.A.A.’s application for a third Electra, forced - I use the word advisedly - the chairman of T.A.A. into this agreement. That is a very proper conclusion to draw from the facts. Let the Minister say why, two days after he had promised to make no statement until agreement had been reached, he announced publicly in every newspaper in Australia the Government’s policy.
It must be common ground that the DC6B aircraft are unsaleable. This has been agreed by Mr. McDonald and acknowledged by Mr. Ansett. What is to happen? The Ansett organization is to receive £399 4s. a day for these outmoded, virtually unsaleable aircraft. That means that over the three-year period Ansett-A.N.A. will receive 75 per cent, of the cost assigned to it in this agreement and it will have the residual value of the aircraft at the time. This agreement will extricate Ansett-A.N.A. from the jam it got into with these aircraft when it unwisely bought them at a time when T.A.A. wisely bought Viscounts - a better and more economical aircraft. This agreement is to rescue Ansett-A.N.A. from the consequences of its lack of vision. In 1957, the Minister said how unwise Ansett-A.N.A. was to buy equipment that was not suitable when it could have bought Viscounts. That statement is in “ Hansard “ in the Minister’s own name.
There are views about this deal abroad. The “ Daily Mirror “ had inquiries made overseas, and in a report on 30th January last that newspaper said -
Airline officials in Britain and America said yesterday T.A.A. was being “ taken for a ride “. In New York, the vice-president of Captal Airlines said a Viscount was worth about £382,500-
This agreement puts the value at £225,900, or nearly £157,000 less- and a DC6, £270,000.
That is £10,000 less than the value assigned in favour of Ansett-A.N.A. The company to which the newspaper article refers operates 57 Viscount aircraft and seven DC6’s. The article continued -
Other United States airline officials said Viscounts were generally better aircraft.-
For reasons that were given -
In London, a spokesman for Vickers-Armstrong Limited, makers of the Viscount, said: “ I’m astonished. It sounds like a stupid deal.” One of Britain’s biggest aircraft brokers said: “ Somebody’s being done. It certainly looks as though T.A.A. copped it.”
– What newspaper printed that?
– I said that it was printed in the “Daily Mirror” of 31st January last. The newspaper carried the report as headline news. What a different proposition it would have been had the values mentioned in that newspaper been assigned in the agreement that we are discussing.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
18.521. - 1 have entered the debate rather later than would usually be the case because 1 wanted to have the benefit of hearing what the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) had to say. I confess that I am most disappointed in what he said. I say at once that his speech was almost entirely misleading and that a good deal of it was based not on fact but on newspaper reports which would not stand up to a moment’s investigation. I shall come back to his contribution shortly.
I wish to commence my remarks by referring to the unfortunate incident to which the Senate was subjected this afternoon during the speech made by Senator Dittmer, from Queensland, when he sought to induce the Senate to believe that he had information that came from my department, which had been supplied from within my department, and which cast, if it were true, the gravest possible reflection on the officer who had supplied it. The papers were tabled - at least, papers were tabled - after Senator Dittmer and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate had done their utmost to evade their tabling. I have looked at the papers that were tabled. Nothing in them supports what Senator Dittmer was trying to convey, that an officer of my department had, outside the bounds of his duty, supplied to an unauthorized person information which was the property of my department. I take this opportunity to say that my examination of those papers has confirmed the opinion that I have, and which I hope every honorable senator has, of responsible officers in the Commonwealth Public Service. I refute and fling back in Senator Dittmer’s face, the imputation, the dirty imputation, if I may so describe it, that one of my officers went outside the bounds of his duty to supply such information to an unauthorized person. That is the kind of imputation and the kind of evidence on which the debate of this so-called matter of urgency has been launched.
Let us have a look at the motion itself. It begins by referring to “ a discrimination constantly practised by the Government against Trans-Australia Airlines “. Not one tittle of real evidence has been brought to show that there has been any discrimination against T.A.A. What is the record of T.A.A.? Is it not a story of continual and constant advance, and of increasing efficiency? Is it not a story, during our regime, of ten years of healthy advancing in the service of the Australian people? This Government, which is supposed to be trying to stifle T.A.A., has seen the capital of the airline grow to £5,870,000. I have always thought that if a government sought to stifle a government authority it would go at least some of the way by reducing the provision of capital to that authority. We have provided capital for the expansion of T.A.A. Not only have we done that, but we have also increased its borrowing powers. This Parliament did that two years ago by means of legislation which the Leader of the Opposition now criticizes. We gave T.A.A. authority to borrow up to an amount of £3,000,000, thereby increasing its overdraft availability by £2,000,000. We made available to it, under a special loan act for the purchase of equipment in America, £3,000,000 at 4.58 per cent, interest. Was that the action of a government which was crippling one of its own instrumentalities?
The staff of T.A.A. has grown consistently. It now numbers 4,000 persons. It is a well-paid staff, with a splendid superannuation scheme of its own. If the Leader of the Opposition has any lingering hope that the staff of T.A.A., now quite conversant with the details of this deal and with its conditions, intends to go on strike, as was suggested earlier, then that is another of the vain hopes which he entertains. I know that attempts were made, and so does my friend the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. I know that there were puny, childish approaches, but they did not conic off, and they are not coming off.
This Government, which is said to have stifled T.AA, has given permits for the importation by T.A.A. of thirty modern aircraft, against thirteen by its opposition. Does that indicate stifling? If we look at the profit figures of T.A.A. we see that they have grown each year, and we might con trast that growth with the miserable record that was achieved under the socialists. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, who has consistently forecast financial disaster for T.A.A., must be chagrined by the continuing record of profitability. I say to him that this year, short of some unexpected, development, will see T.A.A. returning its greatest profit ever. I have no doubt that, even so, he will still go on saying that we are putting the airline out of business.
Let me refer to the annual report of this government instrumentality which we arc supposed to be stifling. The noncommercial assets of the airline have grown from £1,700,000 in 1948 to £18,400,000 in 1959. That is a record of advancement of which any private enterprise organization in Australia would be proud. I turn to page 33 of the report, which I commend to honorable senators opposite. Wc have the records to show that over the last ten years, coincidental with the ten years of office of our Government, there has been financial progress by the airline; but still we have this absolute nonsense emanating from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition about our desire to stifle its business.
What has happened, and what the Opposition does not like, is this: Under this Government and its sound methods, we have been able by practical encouragement to build up a government airline of which any government and any people could be rightly proud. But while we have been doing that, in accordance with our policy and principles, we have also ensured that, side by side with the development of the government airline, there exists a private airline. That is the simple fact which annoys my friends of the Opposition. There is no socialistic monopoly. We have a good government airline, and while we maintain it, we will also see that a fine private enterprise organization has aircraft flying the skies of Australia. We will keep that going despite what the Opposition may say.
I have been very interested in what has been said about this agreement. Singularly enough, honorable senators will have noticed that while the Leader of the Opposition pressed me strongly to table the paper, when the paper was tabled, he made hardly a single reference to it. Why? Because he knew that the paper revealed a commercial deal which was of mutual advantage to the parties, and at the same time had the effect of introducing stability and doing away with the equipment rat race in the airline industry as a whole.
The motion that was submitted by the Leader of the Opposition contains these words - and approving the cross-charter of aircraft between Trans-Australia Airlines and AnsettA.N.A. whereby, to the disadvantage of T.A.A. and to the great advantage of AnsettA.N.A. . . .
The implication is that while the Government is culpable, the commissioners of the Australian National Airlines Commission are equally or even more culpable. I put it to the Leader of the Opposition and to his deputy that if they believe that - and obviously they do - somewhere in this debate” some one of them should have had the courage to say, “ Chippindall sold out T.A.A.”, “ Vial sold out T.A.A.” or “ Murdoch sold out T.A.A.”. Do they believe that? Do you members of the Opposition believe that? I ask you directly whether you believe that the commissioners sold out T.A.A.? The Leader of the Opposition is silent. May I point out that the commissioners who guide the destinies of T.A.A. are a band of singularly devoted men who work for practically nothing in Australia’s cause, and whose sole purpose is to see that the interests of T.A.A. are guarded and advanced. Would they sell out T.A.A.? Why did they come into this deal? Simply because it would be to the marked advantage to T.A.A. to come into it.
– Mr. Warren McDonald did not think so.
– I do not care what Mr. McDonald said. I am prepared to discuss his statement all night because you misunderstood him. I want to say briefly now something about the advantages which flow to T.A.A. from this agreement, and are well understood now by every one except the socialists who sit opposite. T.A.A. was iri this position as opposed to Ansett-A.N.A. when this deal was consummated: Of their front-line fleet, T.A.A. had two Electras. Ansett-A.N.A. had two Electras with another one coming forward.
T.A.A. had fifteen Viscounts. AnsettA.N.A. had six Viscounts and four DC6B’s.
All honorable senators will remember the propaganda that was introduced in this chamber and in another place against these grand machines - the DC6B’s - by the members of the Opposition who were trying, through this Parliament, to persuade the Australian public not to use them. Honorable senators will remember that they were described by Opposition members and by Senator O’Byrne particularly as “clappedout old piston-engined machines “. Mr. Ansett found himself in a position where he might do better if he sold them; but if if he sold the DC6B’s, what was he going to re-equip with? He was going to re-equip with Electras, and that would have given him a marked advantage over the Electra fleet of T.A.A. The commissioners of the Australian National Airlines Commission saw this and realized that, for the first time, they were at the end of a phase of reequipment. T.A.A, was vulnerable if Mr. Ansett went on with the purchase of Electra equipment, forcing T.A.A. to dispose of the Viscounts which were not then amortised. The commissioners said, “ Right, we will go into this deal because it will get for us a parity of equipment. We will get three Electra’s against three Electras. We will maintain twelve Viscounts against nine Viscounts.”
This deal brought to T.A.A. the very great advantage of not having to sell three Viscounts to acquire new Electras. It brought to Ansett-A.N.A. the tremendous advantage of not having to raise further capital to enlarge their fleet and it brought to the industry as a whole an end to the rat race until such time as the domestic airlines together can go into jet aircraft. That is what we have been trying to get for years. That has been recognized as the most desirable end by every one who ha& given any study to this problem. This agreement brought it about, and with it comes not only stability of equipment but also an end to the ever-increasing cost that goes with re-equipment. It brings stability to the industry and gives both airlines an opportunity to consolidate. That is an opportunity that both of them want as much as anybody ever wanted anything, so that when they move into the jet era, they will have reserve funds which will assist them at that very difficult time. Those are the advantages which flow from the agreement. 1 know that the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader have tried - and tried darned hard - to make something of the staff position at T.A.A. I know of the trouble that was taken to foment little bits of upheaval here and there and I know of their partial success. But the chairman of the Australian National Airlines Commission has recently toured the entire Australian establishment of T.A.A. and has spoken to the staff. The staff thoroughly appreciates and understands the position and sees in this agreement not some derogation of their rights or danger to their employment, but real stability for the industry and security of employment. The management and staff of T.A.A. are assured that the stability brought about by this agreement is at least one strong guarantee of continuing employment in an industry which, in the past, has been notorious for its instability.
– Order! The time allowed under Standing Order No. 64 for this debate has expired.
– Under Standing Order No. 408, I crave the indulgence of the Senate to make a personal explanation arising from the debate just concluded.
– Does the honorable senator claim that he has been misrepresented?
– Yes. I understand that when taking part in the debate just concluded Senator O’Byrne referred to my contribution and stated that despite what I had said, I always travelled by T.A.A. That is a complete fabrication; it is entirely untrue. On principle I believe in supporting free enterprise, and therefore, in the main, I travel by Ansett-A.N.A.
– Mr. President, I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honorable senator claim that he has been misrepresented?
– Yes. I thought Senator Wood had more sense than to travel by Ansett-A.N.A.-
Debate resumed from 5th April (vide page 452), on motion by Senator Paltridge -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– I speak to this bill with rather mixed feelings. I feel a little regret for the passing of an era in which Australia has led the world in the provision of a university of the type of the Australian National University.
It will not be amiss at this stage to recapitulate some of the history of that institution and of the Canberra University College. As far back as 1913, when the site for Canberra was chosen, the Labour leader of the day, Mr. Andrew Fisher, expressed the hope that in time Canberra would become not only the centre of government in Australia but also its centre of culture and learning. Within a very short time that hope was to be fulfilled. In 1943, when Sir Howard Florey visited Australia, he discussed with the Prime Minister of the day, the late John Curtin, the possibility of establishing a research school for medical science in Australia. After Mr. Curtin’s death, those discussions were continued by others who were , interested in the project; and in 1946 the House of Representatives transmitted to the Senate a bill for the establishment of the Australian National University. I was proud to be a member of the Senate at the time when that university was established. I noticed that when speaking in another place a week or so ago the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) had the courtesy to express gratitude - which should be felt by all Australians - for the work done by one of the former members of that place, Mr. Dedman, in bringing to successful fruition the long and arduous task of establishing the Australian National University.
From its inception, the Australian National University was something far different from any other university in the English-speaking world, indeed in the whole world, in that it was a university devoted if not entirely then certainly mainly to research. In the first bill introduced for the establishment of the university, it was contemplated that the Australian National University eventually might incorporate the
Canberra University College, so that what is being done by the bill before us was envisaged by those who drew up the original legislation to establish the Australian National University. As I have said, the main function of the university was to conduct research, lt was necessary to have such a university because at that time many graduates of Australian universities who wished to undertake further research in various subjects found it was better tor them - indeed in many cases obligatory upon them - to attend universities abroad. Very few of those graduates found their way back to Australia because their talents and experience were availed of in the countries to which they had gone. Australia suffered terrific loss of man-power in that way. Certainly the man-power was not lost to the universal realm of science and knowledge; but it was lost to Australia.
It was decided in the first place that the Australian National University should deal principally with four fields of research, and, as a token of the esteem in which all Australians, irrespective of political party 01 anything else, held the war-time Prime Minister, Mr. John Curtin, it was decided that one of the first units of that university should be named the John Curtin School of Medical Research. That unit has now been working for several years. It has attracted to it men of the highest calibre. As this research university was something completely new in the realm of universities, it was necessary that it should attract to itself men of the highest calibre if it were to be successful, for, after all, universities are judged not alone by the buildings in which they are housed but by the work of the men and women who work in them.
From the beginning, the university has been very fortunate in the types of men who have come into its service. For instance, in the John Curtin School of Medical Research we have men who have been working quietly throughout the years. Incidentally, I think one of the reasons why people do not fully appreciate the work that is accomplished by our national university is the fact that these great workers, these world-famous scientists amongst us in Canberra, do their work quietly and unobtrusively. Very few people are aware of the full extent of the work done at our university in the realms of medical research and physical science. Although the name of Sir Mark Oliphant is well known throughout the world, very few people appreciate the great amount of time and the great talents and vast amount of energy expended by him and his staff in the realm of physical science.
At the Australian National University we also have the School of Social Sciences and the School of Pacific Studies, both of which are very important. The School of Pacific Studies is of particular importance because we are a nation set among Pacific peoples, and it is essential that we have a complete knowledge and understanding ot the peoples in the Pacific area if we are to maintain ourselves as the bastion of British freedom in the South Seas.
The time came when the whole position of the Australian National University had to be reviewed in the light of what was happening to another section of university life in Canberra, the Canberra University College. I should like to pay a tribute to the staff of that college and to those other men and women who, since its inception in 1929, have worked so loyally and well to bring to Canberra the high standard of university education that this community enjoys. Although in 1929 there were only about 7,000 people in Canberra, among them .were many who appreciated the value of university education, including some who had not been able to have it themselves but who, because of that, were especially desirous that their children should have it, if possible. Among those who were very active in the formation of the Canberra University College was the late Sir Robert Garran, to whom I referred this afternoon. His work in this connexion was recognized by the Australian National University when he became the first graduate of that organization. As there were only about 7,000 people in Canberra when the Canberra University College was first mooted, it was not possible for it to have a charter as an independent university, so the University of Melbourne very kindly undertook the responsibility of administer ing the Canberra University College, which has remained an affiliate of that university until now.
A few years ago the University of Melbourne informed the Prime Minister that after 1959 it could no longer accept responsibility for the Canberra University College, but after some discussion between the Prime Minister and the university authorities that deadline was extended till the end of this year. So it became necessary for the Government to decide what was to happen to the Canberra University College, in fairness to both the institution itself and to the students who were enrolling for courses of study not knowing whether their courses would ever be finished under the auspices of the University of Melbourne or of any other university. Then was raised the question of whether there were to be two universities in Canberra. Up to this point I agreed very heartily with the Prime Minister, but I should like to stress that the Australian National University is in no sense a Canberra university. Its very name implies that it is a national university. Just as Canberra is the national capital, the Australian National University has no State allegiance whatsoever. While stressing that point, I acknowledge that there is a responsibility upon that university, the community of Canberra, and the Parliament to provide under-graduate education.
Quite a number of factors had to be considered. Would the standard of research at the Australian National University be affected by the inclusion in it of undergraduates? Would the university continue to attract to it men and women of the calibre of those who are at present on its staff? Would the Canberra University College be a poor appendage, or poor relation of the larger Australian National University? There were people on the councils of the universities who were apprehensive about these matters, but when the Prime Minister requested the amalgamation, the council of the Canberra University College and the council of the Australian National University got together and in a remarkably short space of time managed to agree substantially upon these very important questions.
So from the beginning of next year there will come into being in this community a university organization that is starting under very auspicious circumstances. It will still be the national university, having its research schools to which, we hope, it will attract the very best men and women in various fields of knowledge, but it will also have an under-graduate section. I am rather envious of those young undergraduates because they will be able to work and study at a university with these other people who have proved their worth, not only in Australian learning but in the realm of world knowledge, and whose names are household words in places where scientific and cultural knowledge count for so much. Their experience will be of benefit to the under-graduates.
Now the machinery of the take-over must be considered. Some people thought that the national university, the Institute of Advanced Studies, as it will be called, would be top-heavy for the rest of the university. It was thought that the School of General Studies, which will be the under-graduate level of the university, would be a kind of poor appendage. I do not think that that will be so. Through the years during which I have been on the council of the Australian National University, I have come to know well quite a number of the professorial staff and other members of the staff, and I am quite certain that while they are intent upon their own work in their research establishments, they will be of the greatest assistance to those who seek their help. Although not all of the national university staff will be engaged in teaching - in many instances the even tenor of their ways will not be disturbed by the amalgamation - the very fact that they are within the university and able to be approached at any time, with their great learning available for the good of the whole university, will place the university on a very high level indeed. I do not think it will ever be just a university for Canberra youth. By virtue of having so many exalted scholars in its ranks, it will attract young men and women from all the Australian States. This has already happened in the research schools. In the last ten years men and women from all parts of the globe have come to study in a place which, before the establishment of the Australian National University, was., perhaps completely unknown to them.
I should like to pay a tribute to those persons who have worked so well and painstakingly since the university was first established. One year after the end of World War II., when everything was in short supply and if one managed to acquire a house iri Canberra he was regarded as being much cleverer than the cleverest scientist, and when the whole concept of a university such as the Australian National
University was completely new both in Australia and elsewhere, a mighty effort had to be made to make a success of the Australian National University. It was decided that the first thing to be done was to select personnel pf the highest standard. In that, we were very successful. I should like to pay a tribute also to those honorable senators who were members of the interim council that was established before the first permanent council. I refer to Senator Sir Walter Cooper and Senator O’Byrne. I should like to pay a special tribute to Senator O’Byrne, because he relinquished his position on that council to make way for me, as he knew I was interested in the establishment of the university. I have never ceased to be grateful to him for that, because I have found it a great honour and of great interest to be a member of the council.
We were very fortunate in having as our first vice-chancellor Sir Douglas Copland, who relinquished his position as minister to China to take up the appointment. His good work has been continued since by the present vice-chancellor, Sir Leslie Melville, and I very much regret that at this important stage in the life of the Australian National University we are to lose the benefit of his great experience. The Registrar, Mr. Hohnen, has been with the university since its inception. He is the administrative officer upon whom so much work falls.
During the years we have had some excellent people on the council. Until recently, we had our friend Senator McCallum. Before he relinquished his place on the council he put a great deal of energy and interest into his work. At present the Senate is represented by Senator Laught and myself. I thank the Senate for having given me the opportunity to do the little bit I can on the council of the Australian National University. In the early days of the university we were very much indebted to the late Professor Mills who was a wonderful man in the university world. He worked so hard that he died prematurely. His name will be always honoured as one of the pioneers of the national university in this city. Then there was the late Sir Ian Clunies Ross, who was also a great executive officer on the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. His death last year was really a national calamity. As Pro-
Chancellor, we have Dr. Coombs - it is always good to keep in well with the banks - who since the formation of the interim council has been an executive officer of the university. We have also a man who is well-known to members of this Parliament in the person of Sir Frank Richardson. We, of course, think that he knows the right things to do. He is among many business men who have given freely of their time to the work of this council. To-night much mention has been made of Mr. Warren McDonald who was the general manager of Trans-Australia Airlines and has now moved to banking circles. He too has given the benefit of his experience to the council. In addition to banking men, professors and other learned men we have representatives of the Senate and of the House of Representatives and representatives of business and commerce.
Under this bill the number of members of the council will be increased from 30 to 38. Honorable senators may think that that will be rather an unwieldy committee; but I am sure that Senator McCallum will bear me out when I say that although the present council is larger than the average committee, I have not heard very much disagreement among its members. I have not seen the slightest evidence of animosity among these people who represent so many differing interests. Although the amalgamation of the Australian National University with the Canberra University College will necessitate an increase in the number of members of the council, I feel quite certain that the same amicable relations will continue to exist in the larger council. Those who are privileged to take part in the work of amalgamating the two universities, in making the Australian National University a reality, in giving to the undergraduate body of this capital city the opportunity to become members of the Australian National University, will be so interested in the welfare of the university as a whole, and of the community too, that there will be no sign of any bitterness in their dealings with each other when they meet in council.
As I said when I started, I view this amalgamation with mixed feelings. I am rather sorry to think that this unique institution which we have regarded so favorably for so long will no longer exist as we know it. It will continue to exist as an institution with a higher status in the new conception of the Australian National University. I feel quite sure that with this reorganization the research work that is being done will not be lessened in any way. That is something which we had to guard against because those who are engaged in research work at present have built up a most enviable reputation for their scholarship in the work they have done over the years. 1 should not like to be a party to passing any legislation which would have the ultimate result of lowering in any way the standard of the research work that has been carried out at the National University. On the other hand, whilst I am rather nostalgic about the passing of this purely research university, I am quite happy to think that the Canberra University College, which has done so much good in Canberra, and which upheld the flag of university education for twenty years before the advent of the Australian National University - and for 30 years has catered for undergraduates of this city - is at last coming into its own. I am happy to think that it will be recognized as an integral part of the Australian National University, and I am quite certain it will not suffer in its status as a result of the amalgamation.
I hope that those who have the responsibility of seeing that this amalgamation takes place smoothly will, when their task is done, be able to look back with satisfaction upon the accomplishment of something which is really worthwhile in the cultural life not only of Canberra but also of Australia generally. At first there was a great deal of support for the contention that there should be two universities in Canberra, one an undergraduate university and the other a research university; but as practical people we have to realize that this city could not at the present time have two universities when universities in Australia to-day are so crowded. We understand that in four or five years time Australia will have the greatest ratio of university students to its population in the world. We are fast approaching that time now. That is something we have to bear in mind. Again, we must realize that so much finance for universities has to come from the Commonwealth Government that we could not in our consciences justify to the Government, the other universities or to the States, which are calling out for more universities - because there is a real need for them - the setting-up of a second and separate university in Canberra, which, I think, might have become a second-rate university.
For these reasons I support the bill. I wish the “ new look “ Australian National University the success and happiness which its predecessor, as a purely research institution, has been able to bring to the cultural life of this Commonwealth.
– I support the bill. As a Government senator I am proud to do so. I should like to congratulate Senator Tangney on the excellent and informative speech that she has just delivered. She explained to us that she has had a long association with the Australian National University. Her speech, of course, came naturally and most feelingly as she went along. She explained that she felt rather nostalgic about the passing of an era, as she put it. I take comfort from the fact that very clearly written into this legislation is the provision that there will be in fact an extension of the research activity of the Australian National University. Sub-clause 1 of clause 8 reads -
That is the Institute of Advanced Studies - shall comprise research schools in relation to medical science, the physical sciences, the social sciences, Pacific studies and such other fields of learning as the council determines.
In the old act, there was not that last paragraph. So, I can assure Senator Tangney that the idea of further fields of research is embodied in the legislation that is before the Senate this evening.
I take comfort from the concluding words of the Minister’s second-reading speech, when he drew our attention to the recommendations that had been made to the Government by the council of the Canberra University College and the council of the research university in the negotiations that took place over the last three months. It was urged that the Australian National University, already of distinctive character and structure, should preserve its emphasis on post-graduate research. It was recommended that this original function should be maintained and that, in widening its scope and role, the university should be enabled to develop general faculties for university education of the highest order and of a truly national kind. The Government accepts this concept of the future role of the new university and it is confident that the new structure will be of benefit to both the present institutions and to the Australian nation.
Although, as my friend Senator Tangney has said, this amalgamation marks the passing of an era, there is the dawn of a new era in the structure that is being created by this legislation. There is no need for me to go into details concerning the legislation, as it has already been splendidly explained to the Senate.
I feel that we are on the verge of an exciting age in Australia. It would appear, from statistics I have studied and from reading I have done, that by 1970 there could well be from 14,000,000 to 15,000,000 people in this country. What is vitally important is that the 17 to 27 years age group could easily be 75 per cent, greater than it is at the present time. Here is a great challenge to the nation. I am very glad indeed that the Parliament is now considering strengthening the Australian National University and the provision for undergraduate training for the young people of the National Capital.
Sir, the problem before the Government was to decide whether there should be a continuation of the separation of the Canberra University College and the Australian National University, or whether they would be amalgamated. Possibly the receipt of a notice to quit, if I might put it that way, from the University of Melbourne speeded up the making of a decision. The University of Melbourne was bursting at the seams, so, in the interests of selfpreservation, it had to proclaim to the Government that it could not continue beyond December, 1959, the association with the Canberra University College which had been so successful, and for which the Commonwealth had been so grateful since 1929. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) was able to obtain an extension of one year, so the notice to quit, as it were, does not fall due until the end of this year. A decision has been taken to associate these two bodies.
Senator Tangney put the position quite fairly when she stated that there was always a risk of the Canberra University College, if it attempted to become a full-scale undergraduate university, being for many years a second-rate or a second-class university, because of the limited scope that it would have, of necessity. From that point of view, I believe that the decision is a good one. The Canberra University College would, in time, have developed certain postgraduate study courses, and there would, therefore, have been an unnecessary duplication of post-graduate courses had the separation of the two bodies continued.
I like to look at the positive benefits to both institutions that this association will bring. I believe that the mingling of the staffs of the two institutions when they are amalgamated will be a good thing. I believe that the mingling of the 90 or 100 research people, and the honours students and the students undertaking the course to qualify as doctors of philosophy, with the 200, 400, 600 or 800 students - as there may well be in ten years’ time - in the undergraduate school, in sporting and cultural activities, can make only for good. The Prime Minister, in the most imaginative speech that he delivered in the other House, referred to the thrill that would come to the younger people from mingling with eminent men, just as graduates of Cambridge are thrilled when they can say that they were there with Rutherford. In this age, I believe that it would be a great thrill to the students of Canberra to be in the same institution as great men like Sir Marcus Oliphant and Sir Keith Hancock - great world figures in university life. I believe that the influence of great teachers, great research people, in the Australian National University will be felt by the undergraduates, even though they may not actually deliver lectures regularly. It has never been contemplated that they will deliver lectures regularly to undergraduates, but their influence will be felt throughout the Australian National University. Therefore, I think that this association could result in great benefit.
The Government did not enter into this arrangement without consulting experts on the matter. I think it would be well for me to remind the Senate of the opinion that was given to the Government about three years ago by the Murray Committee.
Honorable senators will remember that Sir Keith Murray, of the United Kingdom, chaired that very important committee. When considering the points of view of the Canberra University College and the Australian National University, that committee said -
We sympathize with both these points of view. On the other hand, we do not think that the establishment of two quite separate universities in Canberra should be lightly undertaken. It should be possible, in our view, to devise a form of constitution giving to the college all the independence in operation which both the National University and the College desire and yet making it possible for students at the College to receive degrees of the National University and for common services to be organized and maintained without unnecessary duplication. Such a constitution for a university would be a new thing in Australia; but there are patterns of various types in universities overseas which might well be studied and we think it should not pass the wit of man to devise constitutional arrangements which might suit the situation in Canberra in a manner which would be acceptable to all concerned.
The Prime Minister very wisely submitted this proposition for further report by the Martin Committee, which, as is well known, is at present in constant contact with all universities in Australia. I understand that the Martin Committee in a letter to the Prime Minister said that it had considered this problem with the knowledge of the facts and views recently put before Cabinet and had unanimously concluded that some form of association is both desirable and practicable. However, the commissioners believed that if the concept of association is accepted, it can be more easily achieved now than later. Before reaching its decision to recommend in favour of association the the commission gave some thought to the means by which this could be achieved. It seemed to the commission essential that there should be one institution to be called the Australian National University and it should have one council with a vicechancellor as its chief executive officer.
The Government has given very close consideration to this matter and has had the benefit of the best possible advice. The task of the university council has been, as Senator Tangney said, of great importance and interest. The university council and the council of the Canberra University College set to work at the beginning of this year and in less than three months they were able to reach agreement on all major items connected with association. As a result of that agreement this legislation is before Parliament. So on no account could it be said that this legislation has been bulldozed through the councils of both bodies. They have met for long periods, and I pay a tribute to the chief executive officers of both councils for the tremendous work that has been carried out in the last three months in resolving almost every outstanding problem in the most amicable and learned manner. As a result, as Senator Tangney pointed out, we will have the Institute of Advanced Studies and the School of General Studies. The Council of the new body is of particular interest. Honorable senators may be interested to know that the Senate representation will be the same as on the council of the old body. But I should like to point out that there will be twelve appointees of the Governor-General - that is, twelve appointees of the government of the day - on the council. The remainder of the 38-man council, apart from the two members from the House of Representatives, virtually will come from the academic people associated with the university or from academic people in general. Therefore there is a great responsibility on the Government to see that its twelve appointees, as the act says -
– What was the number of government appointees previously?
– There were eight government appointees previously. I hope that in its choice of nominations the Government will make as wide a spread as possible, both geographically and otherwise. At present, apart from the Western Australian members of Parliament on the council, Western Australia has no representatives. I am the only South Australian on the council. I understand that Tasmania is not represented on the council. I also understand that nobody from Queensland is on the council at present. So it would appear that all the appointees, both in the academic field and those appointed by the Governor-General, come from Melbourne, Sydney or Canberra. I hope that when the Government applies its mind to recommendations for these twelve posts there will be a geographical spread, because this is not a Canberra university. This is a national university and it is very important that people with day-to-day contact and direct interest in the far-flung States of the Commonwealth should be represented on this council. Obviously twelve or fourteen permanent residents of Canberra will be on the council because they will be the directors of the school, the vice-chancellor, the deputy vice-chancellor, the master of the college, arid so on. But it is important to preserve the national character of the governing body of this university. 1 think we should remember that this university is not a branch of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization - that is, not simply a research place, a glorified C.S.I.R.O. We must remember that it is a place of teaching - a university. I hope that there will be great scope for teaching at this great research university, and that the people who are given the responsibility of the higher posl.3 in the university will continue to regard themselves as teachers, because teaching ennobles anybody in any walk of life. I was encouraged to read words spoken in the other place by Sir Earle Page, who, in another capacity, is chancellor of the University of New England. He developed a very interesting line of thought. He said that we should not skimp this new university for ground. I think that approximately 300 acres of scrub land, woodlands and suburban land are available at the moment, and I urge the Government if possible not to be parsimonious with grants of land contiguous to this university.
I know that all the land to which Sir Earle Page referred will not be needed for university buildings, but I think that the Australian National University might well be set in a beautiful area which could become a parkland. The Adelaide University, of which I have the honour to be a graduate, is hemmed in by North Terrace on one side and the banks of the River Torrens on the other, so that it is unable to expand. It is very crowded. I join with Sir Earle Page in pleading with the Government to ensure that more than adequate land is reserved for the university. It gives me great pleasure to support this legislation and to congratulate the executive officers of both institutions on the success of their labours. I wish the university, in its new form, God speed for the future.
– I welcome heartily the bill that is now before us. One of the first assignments that I was given, as a representative in this Parliament of the Australian Labour Party, was to serve on the interim council of the Australian National University. I was appointed to the council at the instance of John Dedman and the late Ben Chifley, a former Prime Minister of Australia. I do not suppose that any greater honour could be bestowed on me than appointment to that council.
I have watched with great interest the growth of the Australian National University. I have seen it develop from a mere thought in the minds of broad-minded Australians, who saw a vision splendid of a great university in this young and growing country, of an institution at which our young men could develop their talents, to the important institution that we know to-day. Traditionally, in past years, all the best brains of our country went overseas. The universities of the United Kingdom, of America and of other countries were staffed by distinguished men who were Australian born and bred. There grew in the mind of the late Ben Chifley the thought that the memory of John Curtin could be commemorated in no better way than by naming after him the medical school at the national university.
Let me refer to a few of the distinguished people with whom I had the honour and the great privilege to be associated during my term as a member of the interim council. There were Sir Douglas Copland, at that time the chairman of the council, and Sir Robert Garran, whom I remember well for the magnificent contribution that he made in the formative stages of the university; there were tremendously interesting and vital people, such as Professor Douglas Wright and Professor Marcus Oliphant, as he then was; Dr. Coombs, a man of great intellect and ability; Mr. Herbert Goodes, of the Department of the Treasury; and Sir Howard Florey, who is famous for his research in connexion with penicillin.
The Government has applied itself to the task, which I approve, of combining the Canberra University College and the Australian National University. By succeeding in doing so, it has not only relieved the Melbourne University of a very heavy financial responsibility, but has brought together two important institutions within the National Capital. The Government has adopted the recommendations put forward by the Murray committee in the wonderfully enlightening report which was presented to the Parliament in 1957, and to which I shall refer in detail later in my remarks. As we know, that committee examined the whole university scene in Australia.
As the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) stated in introducing the bill in the Senate, the Canberra University College was established in 1929. Classes began in 1930, with a limited range of courses in arts and commerce. The curriculum was later expanded to include a course in science. As Canberra and the area in which it is situated progressed, the Canberra University College advanced. Complementary with the growth of the college, the Australian National University has expanded and grown in importance. We might regard the amalgamation of the two institutions as a wedding of these two important and valuable sections of our intellectual life.
The Murray report provided a very enlightening and interesting outline of the needs of Australian universities and their role in the community. I believe that a reiteration of the basic principles on which the committee based its report could well be associated with the debate on this bill. Referring to the role of the universities in the community, the Murray committee’s report stated -
Inevitably the first question which presented itself for our consideration was “ What is the role of the university, as such and without regard to race or nation, in its community? “ Universities have a long history, and though superficially they have suffered changes, their purpose and way of life have remained, and still remain, essentially the same. It is in the light of what is of unchangeable value in their work and nature that we have sought to base our judgments of the achievements and problems of the Australian universities to-day.
In approaching the problem in that way, Professor Murray and his committee have borne in mind the very problem that faces the national capital. In this city, there is a population now of 45,000. It is expected that the population will grow to 70,000 in five years and to 100,000 in ten years. Any consideration of the university must be based on the expectation that this will be a major city of the Commonwealth, equal in population to the present size ot Hobart, the capital of Tasmania. The report states -
In this day and age, universities are very much in the public eye and in most countries they receive a good deal of attention and also very substantial financial support from governments.
In that connexion, I must pay a tribute, not only to the Labour Government which preceded the present administration, but also to this Government. It has kept its sights high. It has not stinted the Australian National University in its expansion. It has not been niggardly in seeing that Australian graduates have opportunities for expressing their views and using their talents within their own country. I believe that a great investment has been made during these past years in our own future. The Murray report also stated, referring to foe universities -
In most parts of the free world they are accorded a high degree of autonomy and selfdetermination on the ground that the particular services which they render, both to their own country and to mankind in general, cannot bo rendered without such freedom.
The Australian National University has been nurtured in that atmosphere of freedom. There has been associated with the university an admirable degree of academic freedom. The professors and research scholars have been able to develop their talents and pursue their research with a minimum of political interference. The report adds -
Even in time of war and national danger the nations of the West have sought to honour, so far as they humanly could, the rights and duty of the universities to pursue new knowledge without fear or favour and to educate in a liberal spirit and with integrity; and even in times of economic depression they have shown increasing signs of seeking to maintain the life and work of universities in full vigour.
Our governments and our people have come to recognize that a national community in this age cannot flourish without good universities. I believe that, in the words of the report, there is a tremendously important message for us all. We hear of great scientific advances in other parts of the world. We read of rockets and missiles hurtling through space. We read of things that were inconceivable only a few years ago. All these advances have been conceived in the minds of our scientists and university graduates. In this age, unless we sponsor and nurture our university people and create opportunities for higher education, our chances of survival and the survival of our way of life are threatened by those who put a greater emphasis on education. The report makes this comment -
The most urgent demand which is made of the universities of to-day is the provision of sufficient graduates.
Unfortunately, over the past ten or fifteen years there has been an abnormally high ratio of failures in Australian universities. Because of the difficulties within the universities, the examiners have had to strike a level and say, “ We have so many vacancies in our universities in the second, fourth or fifth years “, as the case may be. They have to go through the first-year students with a pruning knife and discard so many regardless of whether they obtained 50, 55 or even 60 per cent, of the possible marks. That must have its effect on our national status. It emphasizes the purposes of this bill, which will create greater opportunities in the National Capital for undergraduate and post-graduate training.
I repeat what I said in my opening remarks: The Government must be commended on this union between the Canberra University College and the Australian National university, a union which will provide for continuity of education within the National Capital for the students from the primary schools, through the secondary schools, to the university college and on to post-graduate and research activity. But there are things that we must bear in mind. After all, this is a costly activity; university buildings cost a great deal of money. However, the whole purpose of education is an investment in the future. Any man, any community, any State or any government which forgets that we must invest in our youth, that we must invest in the next generation, forgets one of the fundamentals of our very existence. For instance, the Murray committee’s report stresses the fact that the most urgent demand which is made of universities to-day is for the provision of sufficient graduates. It goes on to say -
Twenty-live years ago, it seemed that most countries were producing many more graduates than, economically considered, their manner of life demanded. It even seemed that the pattern of the future might be that industrial communities would be run by machines and unskilled labour, the whole direction and control being; in the hands of a few very brilliant and welltrained experts. But this nightmare has passed, and is almost forgotten.
This passage is most important -
The post-war community calls for more and more highly educated people all along the line, and in particular for more and more graduates of an increasing variety of kinds. Industry and commerce call for more graduates, government and public administration call for more graduates and all the services of the welfare state call for more graduates. lt would be foolish for us to close our eyes to the fact that, for better or for worse - I submit it is mostly for the better - we live in a welfare state in which the ultimate goal of human activity is the satisfaction not of greed but of need. We must marshal the brains of our nation to solve the great problems that confront mankind to-day, but unless we provide educational facilities we shall lag far behind in the race. The Murray committee’s report continues -
The proportion of the population which Is called upon to give professional or technical services of one kind or another is increasing every day; and the proportion of such people who have to be graduates is increasing also. The whole machinery of modern society brings within the power of man many benefits and a spread of advantages which would never have been thought to be possible in the past; but the price of all this is increasing complexity in every part of that machinery, and a world-wide shortage of graduates.
That report stresses the fact that if we do not prepare the way for getting more students to the universities, if we do not widen the field for directing their talents to the best uses, if we do not provide a pathway to post-graduate studies and if we do not give Australian youth and Australian manhood the fullest opportunity in an Australian environment, we shall fail in our duty not only as a Parliament but also as a community.
I have very much pleasure In supporting this measure. As I have said, it seeks to bring about the wedding of the undergraduate and post-graduate authorities; it seeks to streamline within the National Capital opportunities for the development of God’s greatest gift to mankind - the mind, which distinguishes man from the lower animals. If the mind is given every opportunity regardless of miserable claims as to cost, if it is given the opportunities envisaged in this bill, our race will be able to hold up its head with the other races of the world, and great honour will be bestowed on this generation for the facilities that will be made possible as a result of the passage of this bill.
– I listened with great interest to the speeches of Senator Tangney, Senator Laught and Senator O’Byrne, and I think I am in full agreement with most of what they said. What we seek to do by this bill is to unite two institutions and so create a new one which, I think, will be better than either of the other two. I hope the Senate will bear with me if I say what I think a university is or should be. The word is almost identical with the French word “ universite “ but it comes from the latin word “ universitas “ which means, in effect, a guild or corporation or, if you like, a trade union. The early universities of the 13th .century were simply guilds of teachers or, as was the case with one great university in Italy, which was predominantly a law university, a guild of students who employed teachers and disciplined them very severely. I should imagine that only students who were studying law could have done that. But, out of that, we get our modern universities.
While to-day we face a new world and have to reshape many of the opinions that were patterned in the past, there is much in the past that we must retain, and if we regard a university as simply a research institution we quite misunderstand its functions. It could have been that when the Australian National University was founded a purely research institution on the model of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, or some other organization, could have been set up. But that was not done.
The Hon. John Dedman, who introduced the original bill on 19th June, 1946, stated very definitely that it was a university that the government of the day intended to found, and he paid a great tribute to the council of the Canberra University College. He said -
Therefore, I am doing no dishonour to the Australian National University when I begin with the college, because it is the older body. It was founded in December, 1929, by an ordinance. It was fostered and is still being fostered by the University of Melbourne, to which we should be eternally grateful. From the very beginning it had a very fine teaching body. I say this deliberately, because I have read that remarks which might cast a slur on that teaching body have been made, and I regret them. I recall the first, or certainly one of the earliest, lecturers in English, Professor L. H. Allen, who was my teacher both at the Sydney Teachers’ College and at the University of Sydney, and who would have adorned a chair not only in the subject that he did teach but also in at least three other subjects. He was a classics scholar and also a modern languages scholar. That was the quality of at least some of the teachers at the Canberra University College. To-day there may be some teachers who do not quite measure up to the standards of some universities, but I have not met them. All of the teachers I know in the college are of the highest calibre.
The other body, of course, is the Australian National University, which was established by an act in 1946. I have read from Mr. Dedman’s speech introducing it. Although this has been and still is purely a research institution, with of course the incidental teaching that is necessary to the research student who talks with the professor or whoever else is supervising his studies, it was contemplated in the beginning that the Canberra University College should be incorporated. Section 9 of the act states -
The University may provide for the incorporation in the University of the Canberra University College.
I say very definitely that while some people seem to deplore the union of these two bodies and some seem to accept it as a painful necessity, I, without any inhibitions, qualms or nostalgia, welcome it. I think it will be for the benefit of both bodies, and I may say that I have always believed that this was the right solution. I did not wait until somebody else gave the signal and gave me the chance to make up my mind.
I support the union of these two bodies because I believe that in a university research and teaching are twin brethren.
We need both of them. The good teacher, certainly on the tertiary level and, I believe, on the secondary level and even on the primary level, should know something about research. I can illustrate that only from the subjects that I know. It may be that in the physical sciences there will be better research if there is no teaching; I do not know. I know so little about the physical sciences. I do not believe that that is so, but I will not pretend to argue with those who know more about it than I do. I am sure that in history and all of the analogous subjects - those that I know - the research student is all the better for doing some teaching and the good teacher must have some knowledge of research. As a matter of fact, for many years I tried to teach history from the point of view of one who was always consulting original sources. I do not believe that one can teach history properly merely from a text book, particularly as most of the text books simply copy from older text books the errors that the good research student would soon find out. As a matter of fact, in my teaching of history I spent a large amount of my time correcting the errors that were in the text books.
There is another point about good teaching. Some people assumed, when this bill was introduced, that the research people in the Australian National University might be called on to do ordinary class teaching, or to take the place of the teachers in the other part of the university. I do not think that that will happen, but there is ample opportunity for teaching of a different kind. At a university there are certain outstanding figures, and a single lecture from one of them might have an influence on the ordinary student infinitely beyond what the lecturer or any one else thought possible. I recall that when I was at Sydney University, too many years ago, some outstanding figures were there. I happened to be there in what I call the twilight of the gods, when the men who had made the university, who had come there with the great Challis bequests, were mature, and when most of them were ending their term. There were three or four outstanding men whose classes I never attended, who were in faculties different from the one in which I was studying, but who had an enormous influence on me and, I think, on the whole undergraduate body. One of them was Sir Edgeworth
David. I hope I do not need to tell any Australian who he was or what his achievements were. Another was Professor Wilson, who was Professor of Anatomy in the medical school. Another was the great Australian scholar and poet, Christopher Brennan. I remember one night when I heard Christopher Brennan deliver a lecture which altered the whole course of my reading, and which has influenced me right to the present day. I would say that if the directors of the schools and the professors who have a world-wide reputation, great character and personality, were to give two or three lectures a year to all of the students in the undergraduate body, they would have an influence that would be, perhaps, incalculable and would make this a great teaching body.
There are other ways. The Prime Minister mentioned them when he talked about the contact of minds. A university should be a place where staff and students freely intermingle, not only in the lecture room, but also in club, as it were, in debates, in general discussion and general conversation, when all kinds of ideas are communicated. That is one of the great functions of a university. That is what makes for the greatness of the old universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, and Paris. There are many people who do not want to take a degree but simply go to attend the lectures of the great teachers in those universities. I recently read the memoirs of G. P. Gooch, a British parliamentarian and professor, a Liberal of the old school, who tells how, after his university course in England he went to Berlin and then to Paris. He did not trouble to take a degree but simply listened to the great teachers in those two great universities at that time. I hope that our university will become such a body, to which people will come from all over the world, simply to listen to the public lectures given by some of our great teachers.
I do not think that this step will in any way detract from the work that the Australian National University has done or is doing. I cannot see that it will impede research or hamper, hinder or frustrate the people who are mainly engaged in research or in teaching students, and who will be students of the super-graduate body. Its effect on the other body, the university college will, I think be enormous, and will be swift. If we had made it a separate university, I think it would have taken a good many years for it to build itself up to the status of one of the great universities of this country. I say that without disrespect to the staff of whom I have already expressed a high opinion. But, by joining it to a body with an established reputation, such as the Australian National University, we will lift the college to the status of one of our great teaching universities.
Some of the criticism has assumed that the university college exists only for people in Canberra or the Australian Capital Territory. Well, at the moment it may. I know perfectly well that some of the most brilliant students from the local high school and other secondary schools have not even condescended to go to the Canberra University College; they have gone to Melbourne or Sydney. However, I believe that when this step has been taken and the college is joined with the Australian National University that will no longer happen. The university college will not be looked upon by anybody as being in any way an inferior body, but will take its place at once with the great universities in this country. It is wonderful how you can do that. People say you cannot do things by waving a magic wand, but occasionally you can. You take a step and suddenly things are completely transformed. I believe that that will be the experience in the university.
The staff of the university college is already of a very high calibre and I believe that when the college is incorporated in the Australian National University it will be easier to attract men of an even higher calibre.
– Will there be any changes?
– I cannot tell the honorable senator what changes there will be. I have only got the bill before me. We have already had three speeches telling us what is being done. There will not be a complete fusion of the two bodies. There will be the Institute of Advanced Studies which will carry on all the work that the Australian National University has been doing. There will also be the School of General Studies which will carry on the teaching work that the university college has been doing. Those two bodies will be distinct and separate, but they will have their common meeting points and they will be governed finally by the council. They will be under the general superintendence of the vice-chancellor, and the administration will be co-ordinated.
However, research will go on exactly as it has gone on before, and teaching will go on in the School of General Studies exactly as it has gone on before. The council will have power to add both to the studies in the teaching body and to the type of research that is being done. There are four research schools at present - the Schools of Social Sciences, Pacific Studies, the John Curtin School of Medical Research and the School of Physical Sciences. Two of those schools now have directors, one has a dean, and the other will have a director very shortly. Ultimately, I think, there will be four directors. It will be in the power of the new council to add new studies within these schools, or to found a completely new school. It will also be within the power of the council to add to the studies and faculties in the School of General Studies.
Some one has said that with 38 members the council will be large. I do not think it will be. As Senator Tangney said, the present council - a body of 30- - is a not unwieldy body. I will not say that there are no arguments on it. I have heard some very interesting ones and have taken part in them, but certainly it is a very happy body of people who are usually willing to see one another’s point of view. It directs the general studies of the university very closely but it never interferes with purely domestic things. It does not take a pettifogging view of the administration or the work and function of directors and professors.
There is one body in the university which I think will be very important and that is convocation. Convocation, which is a very small body, consists of graduates of three years’ standing, and anybody who has represented any organization on the council. For instance, six members of this chamber have acted in that capacity. They are Senator Sir Walter Cooper and Senators O’Byrne, Gorton, Laught, Tangney and myself. We are members of convocation because we have served on the council. I hope that convocation will play a very important part in the development of the university. It could be, of course, that some graduates will lose all interest in the institution, and many others will be in other countries. The University of Sydney has found a special way of invigorating convocation. That university’s convocation, which slept for 50 years, has in recent years been able to exercise great influence on policy in the university, and I have no doubt that that experience will be repeated here.
Another feature of the bill to which I refer is a very wise provision. I hope that when we come to the committee stage honorable senators will look carefully at the clauses. I am in favour of every provision in the bill, but it would be well that the Senate should not pass any provision perfunctorily. The provision to which I now refer is that which for ten years places the determination of the standard of the doctorate, the higher degree, in the hands of the Board of the Institute of Advanced Studies. This is a very wise provision because members of the Australian National University might naturally have feared, when it was proposed to amalgamate the university with another body, that the standard would be lowered. One reason for the fusion is that if you were to set up the university college as a completely independent body it would naturally want to confer the higher degree of doctorate and it would want to have its own research students. Tt could be that you would have overlapping. You could have a very high standard in the Australian National University and a much lower standard in the Canberra university. That would be highly undesirable.
I do not say that any university in Australia sets a low standard for its doctorate degree, but there are universities in the world which do so. One of the curses to-day in the academic world is that we have a large number of people who call themselves doctors although some of them have done no serious work at all. I will not mention the country I have in mind, but it is very easy to guess it. In that country there are some universities of much lower standard than the best universities in that country, or in Australia or Great Britain. The doctorate has become, I would say, in certain subjects, a pest. One of the worst features of education to-day is that you have people promulgating theories which are striking, which arrest attention and advertise the persons concerned and enable them to claim that they have done a certain amount of work. But those theories and that work are of very little value to anybody. The subject of education has become, I think, infected by shallow thinkers - by people who spill an enormous amount of ink and multiply words, but contribute nothing new and spoil an appreciation of things that are old. Therefore, the standards for the highest degrees should, I believe, be set by people with the very highest qualifications. I welcome the provision in the legislation which will, for ten years, place the responsibility for determining the standards for a doctorate in the hands of the present Australian National University or, as it will be, the Institute of Advanced Studies. After ten years the council will have matured, the two bodies will have grown together, and we need not fear that there will be any lowering of standards.
I wish to emphasize that the value of a university lies largely in the general education it gives - in what we used to call a liberal education. To-day, of course, everybody is talking about science and research. It seems to be assumed that the main function of a university is to produce a large number of people who have gained doctors’ degrees and who have produced some writings. I think that the function of a university is to give a general education, a liberal eduction. The person who obtains that and goes out into the world, into whatever occupation, is all the better for it, and the occupation in which he works is the better for it. I see no reason whatever why the general secretary of a trade union should not be a university graduate. We have one - Dr. Lloyd Ross - who is a very able and learned man. I am putting the emphasis, not on the doctorate, not on special research, but on the ordinary general, liberal education - the study of literature, history, languages and the other things which one studies for their own sake, not merely to develop a skill for which one will receive money. In Scotland, the country from which my forefathers came, it has been accepted for 250 years that an education has to be undertaken for its own sake, and not merely to give you a skill that will enable you to earn money.
I would like to see that idea grow in this country. I would like to see the universities foster that idea. I think one of the weaknesses of Australia is that that idea has not taken root, except among a very limited number of our people. Most people think of a university education as something that is undertaken, not for its own sake, but purely for professional reasons, or, to put it bluntly, purely to gain a skill necessary to be able to earn a higher income. Nobody gains much from any study unless he studies the subject for its own sake. This applies to the professions. No lawyer is a good lawyer unless he has respect for the law as such, and no doctor is a good doctor unless he has respect for medicine as such. This applies not only to professional studies, but to studies of subjects that the ordinary person considers useless, such as literature and history - the subjects that I value above all others.
Let me summarize what I think will be the advantage of the amalgamation of these two bodies. I think we will get better teaching in what is now the University College. I think we will get at least as good research - and probably, in the long run, better research - at the Australian National University. We will get a community of people engaged in a common enterprise. That, I think, will probably be the most valuable part of this city of Canberra.
It is a good thing to get away from the huge universities of the great cities. To-day, Sydney has two universities, and Melbourne also will soon have two. They are too big. If you want to give a university education to more people, either you have to get huge barracks, huge aggregations of people, or you have to provide a larger number of small universities. I prefer the latter alternative. I think that one of the finest steps taken in New South Wales was the establishment of the university at Armidale. For that, I give great credit to two of my friends in the other House, Sir Earle Page and Mr. Drummond - as well as to many other people. That institution has grown into a fine university, remote from the great cities, where ultimately, I think, the studies undertaken will be more like those undertaken at Oxford, Cambridge and the other older universities in England than is possible in great cities.
We hear a great deal about academic freedom. If that means that a teacher in a university should not be subjected to political or any other pressure, but should be allowed to draw what he considers to be the proper conclusions from his own studies, I believe in academic freedom. But I say that there goes with it academic responsibility, or, I might even say, academic duty. The staff of a university is not a body which can be disciplined in the way that, say, a body of troops or the pupils at an elementary school can be disciplined. You do not get good work at a university by making people sign a time book, by saying to a professor, “ You arrived five minutes late to deliver your lecture yesterday. Please explain.” Those things do not operate at that level, and consequently a stronger and better self-discipline is needed. In dealing with this measure before us, I think we have a right to say that the Parliament of this country expects a very high sense of duty from all the professors and the teachers of both institutions, and also, may I say, from the students themselves. But I will say this, lest I be considered a rather hard taskmaster: I have found in my own dealings with the members of both these bodies that their sense of duty is that expressed by Wordsworth in his great poem, “ Ode to Duty” -
Glad hearts without reproach or blot,
Who do thy will and know it not.
.- I would not like this measure to be passed by the Senate without my saying anything about it. I recognize the development that is taking place in the establishment of the inspiring and purposeful institution that will exist when the two separate institutions are fused into one. I do not regard this, as Senator Tangney did, as the demise of an old institution. This is not an occasion for recalling the past of the Australian National University. The Canberra University College and the Australian National University are to amalgamate, but the measure provides for the continued existence of both institutions, associated together under one council.
An important and significant feature of the bill is the provision that there shall be one professorial board. There will be a common administration in relation to external affairs, and, within the institution - 1 look to the Minister for guidance and, if necessary, correction on this - there will be a professorial board consisting of all the professors of both existing bodies, without discrimination. I believe that these two features of the bill provide an assurance that the two bodies, when amalgamated, will grow and develop as one institution.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir
Alister McMullin). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 6 April 1960, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1960/19600406_senate_23_s17/>.