23rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- I have received a communication from His Excellency the High Commissioner for the Federation of Malaya, thanking the Senate for the feelings of sympathy expressed on the occasion of the death of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Paramount Ruler of Malaya.
– I desire to direct a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise. It has been reported in the Adelaide “ News “ of 28th April, that stocks of fortified wines in Australia have now been built up to the equivalent of a twoyears’ supply, whereas two years ago stocks were equivalent only to eight months’ supply. When the forthcoming Budget is being considered will the Minister sympathetically review this industry again with the object of reducing still further the excise duty on wine or, failing this, ensure that no further burden will be placed on the industry by way of increased excise duty? I point out, by way of explanation, that although the excise duty has been substantially reduced in recent years, the actual revenue received from this source by the department has increased, which shows that apparently the revenue does not suffer as a result of any reduction in excise duty.
– The matter which the honorable senator has raised is one which is considered each year when the Budget is being framed. I give him an undertaking that that will be done this year.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Acting Prime Minister, and I shall preface it with certain remarks which necessarily will be brief. The Acting Solicitor-General, Mr. J. Q. Ewens, according to to-day’s Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ has alleged that the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner claimed £2,035,266 from the Commonwealth for 1956-57, 1957-58, and 1958-59 as compensation for beneficial freights conferred on a government instrumentality, the Electricity Commission of South Australia. As Mr. Ewens claims that the Minister did not have the legal power to grant concessional freight rates, will the Government endeavour to have the Minister refund the amount of £2,035,266 if it has been paid out illegally? In the light of this startling assertion by the Acting SolicitorGeneral, will the Acting Prime Minister conduct an investigation into the functioning of the Government in order to eliminate any other illegal practices which may be in existence?
– I shall pass the question to my colleague, Senator Paltridge, who was formerly Minister for Shipping and Transport, and who had charge earlier of the conduct of the matter.
– The very interesting question asked by the honorable senator raises a number of legal and I believe constitutional issues as well as financial issues. The matter has been the subject of consultation between the Department of Shipping and Transport, the Commonwealth Railways, and the Treasury for a lengthy period. Indeed, the AttorneyGeneral’s Department from time to time has tendered certain advice to all those parties who have been interested. As regards the fixation of a rate that should operate, I understand that the departments concerned have now reached a stage where they are nearer to agreement than ever before. Senator Dittmer asks whether, taking a strictly legal view, the Minister was wrong in making arrangements for a concession rate and whether he should be asked by the Government to refund approximately £2.000,000 now held to be outstanding. I can only remind the honorable senator that the first Minister who arranged for this concessional rate was Senator Collings, and I do not think the Government would institute a suit against his estate.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Has the Minister’s attention been directed to a statement by Dr. J. O. Dunbar, leader of a nine-member American study group which visited Australia in February last, that whilst Australia sold 57,300 tons of beef to the United States of America in 1959, the beef export trade to that country would drop to a low level during the next four to six years? In view of the importance to the Australian cattle industry of maintaining a high volume of overseas exports, can the Minister inform the Senate what action is being taken to obtain markets for beef in countries of the European Economic Community?
– I can only answer the honorable senator’s question generally. The Department of Trade, through its trade commissioners, is constantly examining the possibility of obtaining markets not only for beef but for all Australian products. If the honorable senator requires - as no doubt she does - a detailed answer as to precisely what steps are being taken to obtain markets for beef in Europe, I would ask her to put her question on the notice-paper.
– On Thursday, 17th March last, I asked a question concerning a claim for compensation made by Ronald Roberts, of Auchenflower, Brisbane, who was injured when undergoing National Service training. Will the Minister representing the Treasurer inform me what stage has been reached in the examination by the Commissioner for Commonwealth Compensation of this man’s claim? When can a positive decision be expected by Mr. Roberts?
– I will follow up this matter immediately and advise the honorable senator.
– Has the Minister for Customs and Excise noted the attack on book censorship reported in to-day’s Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ by Professor A. G. Mitchell? Has the Minister noted the professor’s reference to the book “ Borstal Boy “? Has he any comment to make on this matter?
– Yes, I did read the professor’s attack on censorship in the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “.I understand the attack to be mainly on the New South Wales law, but inasmuch as it refers to the Australian law I should like to advert to one or two points which the professor made, because he has been misinformed. The professor claims that university students and people who wish to study this particular book have not been able to read the unexpurgated edition. That is not correct, because following the appeal censor’s judgment the book was made available to genuine students of sociological, physiological and kindred matters. Therefore, it was available to university students who were genuine students of the Borstal system and who required the book as a text book.
The book was banned by the Literature Censorship Board and by the appeal censor. The book contained two pages of filthy, obscene and indecent ballads which were sung by the prisoners in the cells. In each case the recommendation was that those two pages, which had nothing to do whatever with the Borstal system, about which the book was written, should be deleted. I upheld that decision. Further representations were made to me, and then a copy of the book was presented with the two pages deleted. The book, with that deletion, has been passed by the censorship authority and is now on sale in Australia. I want to make it clear that that was the only deletion that was made.
The professor says that Australia is now a laughing stock. In approximately the last three years, only two of the thousands of books that have come into Australia have been in public dispute. One of them is “ Borstal Boy “, which is now on sale with a small deletion, and the other is “ Lolita “, which is still banned in Australia and also in some other countries. Far from Australia being a laughing stock, I believe that we have a censorship system which compares favorably with that of any other country. That is shown by the fact that, as I have said, only two books have been in dispute during the last three years.
– Did the Leader of the Government in the Senate notice in to-day’s press a startling article by James Devaney, under the caption “The Smell of Little Rock is Here “, which told of the unfair treatment and gross exploitation of our aborigines? Did he also notice yesterday that aborigines and Torres Strait islanders publically demanded higher education and fuller citizenship rights during a Cairns Labour Day demonstration? Is it not a fact that the Government subsidizes, under the Colombo Plan, the education of Asian students?I am not against that, of course. Would the Government consider the appointment of a royal commission to investigate the injustice done to aborigines economically, and to establish the best means of placing their education on as high a level as that of Asians?
– I am sorry to say that I did not see either of the newspaper references which Senator Brown has mentioned. I gather from the tenor of his remarks that they were, to say the least, critical of our treatment of our aboriginal population. I think myself that there is a good deal of unjustified criticism of our treatment of our aborigines. We give our natives very fair treatment indeed. By and large, they have the same privileges as the rest of the population. My recollection is that aborigines have recently been made eligible for social service benefits, except those who are nomadic. In respect of educational, health and other facilities, there is no differentiation or lire of demarcation. Nor, indeed, should there be.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Customs and Excise been drawn to an article published in to-day’s Sydney “Daily Telegraph”, indicating a move of dope peddlers to Australia? Will the Minister consider the acceptance of the invitation issued, apparently, by the secretary of the committee of the Narcotics Bureau of the United Nations to a representative of Australia to attend a meeting of that body, so that Australia may be made aware of the tactics that will be employed by these dope peddlers?
– The ComptrollerGeneral of Customs made a statement in Queensland, I think only last week, about this matter. He said that the department was fully aware that, owing to measures that had been taken in other countries, people who engaged in this dastardly work were turning their attention to Australia. The department is keeping the matter well under review, and if it is necessary to increase staff or to take other steps in order to deal with it, such steps will be taken. The invitation to which the honorable senator referred has not previously been brought to my notice, but I shall consider it. I may say to the Senate that we in Australia work very closely indeed with all countries of the world that are determined to stamp out, wherever possible, this filthy business.
– I ask the Minister for the Navy: What is the purpose of the visit to Sydney of the United States atomicpowered submarine? Is it correct, as stated in the press, that for security reasons all visitors, including Australian naval representatives, are excluded from the submarine?
– There is no special reason for the visit of the atomic submarine or, indeed, for the visit of the missilefiring cruiser “ Canberra “, except to show to Australia two of the most modern types of warship in the world. It is not true to state that no naval personnel and no civilians may go aboard the vessels in any circumstances.
– Can the public have a look?
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. On 15th March last, I addressed a question, in four parts, relating to the International Telecommunications Conference in Geneva, to the Minister then representing the PostmasterGeneral. As that question was directed for the purpose of eliciting information that is important to many Australians, I now ask when a reply may be expected to the question.In particular, I repeat my inquiry whether any allocations of radio frequencies have been made or are contemplated by the Postmaster-General’s Department which would be in breach of the undertaking given to honorable senators and members of another place in May of last year.
– I reply to Senator Hannan by saying that 1 shall see whether I have sufficient influence to expedite a reply to the question.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services aware that the Victorian Government recently amended the Landlord and Tenant Act which operates in that State, thus enabling landlords to obtain much higher rentals for homes than was possible prior to the amendment being made? Is the Minister also aware that the operation of this amendment will cause extreme hardship to those members of the Victorian community in receipt of social service payments and who pay rent for their homes? Has the Minister read a leading article in this morning’s Melbourne “Age”, which deals very impartially with the question and suggests that an inquiry should be made? Pending the holding of such an inquiry and the introduction of the Budget, I ask the Minister whether he will consider favorably the amendment of section 30a (2.) in Division 4a of the Social Services Act, which provides for the payment of a supplementary allowance of £26 a year to persons paying rent? I point out that that provision applies only in the case of single persons. Pending the introduction of the Budget, will the Minister recommend that the provision be altered so that married couples also may be permitted to benefit from this provision of the act?
– In the first place, I point out that the extra rents that Victorian people will be called upon to pay are purely a State matter, covered by State legislation which abolished the pegging of rents. I understand that before rents may be raised, the tenants will have an opportunity to go before a fair rents court. That matter has nothing to do with the Commonwealth Government. The honorable senator mentioned the supplementary rent allowance of 10s. a week, which he suggested should be paid to married couples as well as to single persons. I point out to him that a single age or invalid pensioner receives £4 15s. a week, whereas a pensioner married couple receives £9 10s. a week, which is exactly double the amount received by a single person. That is a very considerable difference. Whether or not that amount of 10s. is sufficient is a matter that the Government considers at the time of preparation of the Budget. Such matters will no doubt be considered again by the Government before the next Budget is introduced.
– I preface a question directed to the Minister for National Development by stating that I understand that the Government placed an embargo some time ago on the export of beryl and appointed the Australian Atomic Energy Commission as the sole buyer. This was followed by an announcement that the Government was to cease buying and that it would allow producers of beryllium ore temporarily to export this commodity, I understand, until 30th April. Has any decision been made by the Government on this mineral? If so, what is the decision?
– No formal decision has yet been reached. Beryl is a substance that is needed in connexion with the atomic energy programme. It was required by Great Britain. We made arrangements to purchase the local production but we then found that Great Britain did not desire to continue purchasing it. We also found that, whatever the reason, production last year was very substantially in excess of expectations. We have permitted export of this commodity to approved destinations. That policy will continue until there is an announcement to the contrary. If I were to forecast a government decision, I would say that the decision will permit export of the amount produced in excess of Australian requirements. I am not saying that we do need to purchase, but export to approved destinations will be possible. Remembering that this is a strategic material, an export market will be available to the extent that we do not desire the material.
– I ask the Minister for National Development whether he can give the House any information about the sale of coal that is taking place between Australia and countries overseas. What are the prospects, and what effect has the export of coal upon our balance of trade?
In particular how will this trade improve the employment situation on the coalfields? I ask these questions because our coal reserves are of such importance to the national economy.
– Senator Mattner asks a big question that is difficult to answer in a short compass. Over recent years we have developed quite a nice export trade in coal. Speaking from memory, I think the expectation is that we shall export something of the order of 1,000,000 tons a year, which would give us an annual export income of £4,000,000 or £5,000,000. All the reports indicate possibilities of a substantial expansion in that export trade, particularly as a result of the growth of the steel industry in Japan. There is a very optimistic report upon the possibility of expanding our export trade in. coal.
On the other side of the picture is this problem: Not only may our chances of exporting be upset, but also we may have difficulty in retaining our present trade unless there is an appreciable improvement in the port facilities at both Newcastle and Port Kembla.
– Can the Government help in that?
– The difficulties in handling cargoes out of those two ports are such as to impair Japanese confidence in our ability to ship to contract expeditiously and economically. Senator Ormonde asks whether the Government will help, to which 1 am constrained to make this reply: To me it is one of the mysteries of life that the New South Wales Government, confronted with the need to improve those port facilities, instead of providing the £4,000,000 or £5,000,000, which, I understand, is the amount of money necessary for the work, prefers to spend £3,000,000 or £4,000,000 in developing State coal-mines. I do not know by what process of logic that course can be justified. The Government of New South Wales is willing to spend up to £4,000,000 in developing new State coalmines, when I am sure that private enterprise would be glad of the opportunity to develop those mines, and at the same time that Government does not face up to the need to provide adequate port facilities, which would have such tremendous advantages in New South Wales not only to the coal-mining industry, but also to all the other heavy industries which have prospects of export trade that are at present being denied to them through inadequate port facilities.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade: Is he aware that there is a serious shortage of fencing wire in Tasmania, and that this material is urgently required to replace many miles of fences swept away by the recent disastrous floods? Can the Minister for Trade, through his department, take any action to urge the manufacturers of fencing wire to ship extra supplies to Tasmania in the immediate future?
– I had not heard of the particular problem that Senator Marriott mentions, but it does not require more than a moment’s reflection to realize that a good deal of fencing wire would be required as a result of the floods. I shall bring the inquiry to the notice of my colleague, the Minister for Trade. I should think that all the possibilities are that manufacturers of fencing wire are as patriotic as we are, ar.d that they will put their shoulders to the wheel and help Tasmania.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Is the Minister aware that it has been reported in the Tasmanian press that the Postmaster-General’s Department has decided to make a full installation charge for the provision of telephone services to individual subscribers who had their telephones damaged or destroyed in the recent floods? If this report is correct, will the Minister prevail on the PostmasterGeneral to reconsider his decision?
– I am sorry to say that I cannot tell the honorable senator whether or not the newspaper report is correct. In those circumstances, I ask that the question be placed on the notice-paper. I will then obtain a prompt answer so that we may all be informed of the situation.
– I wish to direct a question to the Minister representing the Attorney-General. Will the Minister tell the Senate of the decisions that have been arrived at by the conference which recently sat at Geneva to determine the provisions of international law to govern the extent of territorial waters? Will he also say whether the Australian Government intendto persist in its endeavour to arrive at i-. solution which will protect Australian fisheries and other interests affected by the present unsatisfactory situation?
– The conference on the law of the sea at Geneva has not reached any conclusion. A recommendation was made, supported by Australia and all other Commonwealth countries except India, that there should be1 a 6-mile zone and, outside that, another 6-mile fishing zone, subject to certain safeguards, and subject to a provision with regard to other nations having fished in the specified zone for a certain time. That recommendation was not agreed to. I do not think that Australia’s interests in pearl shell or fishing are affected in any way by that decision. The convention on pearl-fishing and other fishing in Australian waters was signed two years ago. It still stands, and is not affected by the failure of the conference on the law of the sea to agree on the extent of territorial waters.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Will the Minister inform the Senate why the Director-General of Health submits biennial instead of annual reports? Will he also say why there is a delay of almost two years before a report is published? The latest information - which became available only recently - covers the period from 1st July, 1956, to 30th June, 1958. If the delay is due to tardiness on the part of States or organizations in furnishing information, will the Minister for Health ask such States or organizations to supply the required information more promptly? Will he also endeavour to have annual reports prepared instead of biennial reports?
– I was not aware that the Director-General of Health made annual or biennial reports. I thought his reports were prepared from time to time as sufficient information became available to warrant the publication of a report. How ever, my information may not be correct. If the honorable senator will place his question on the notice-paper, I will get an answer for him.
– I address a question to the Minister for the Navy. The Senate will remember the statements the Minister has previously made concerning the proposals to salvage H.M.A.S. “ Perth “. Has the Minister anything to add to his previous statements?
– Yes, Mr. Deputy President, I can now inform the Senate definitely that there is no proposal either on the part of the Indonesians or the Japanese to salvage H.M.A.S. “Perth”. It has been established that she is lying in deep water, that she is not a menace to navigation, and that she was not included amongst the ships which were surveyed for salvage. I am sure the Senate, like the Government, will receive this information with pleasure.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The Minister for Immigration has supplied the following information: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior and1 the Minister for Works, upon notice -
Minister for the Interior, who is also the Minister for Works, has supplied the following answers, which refer only to the capital expenditure by the Departments of Works and Interior, and the National Capital Development Commission: -
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
Is an apprentice who pays income tax entitled to any taxation concession for money spent on (a) text-books and/or technical equipment required in the course of his technical school training, and (b) fares superimposed on his normal fares to and from his employment?
– The Treasurer has supplied the following information: -
Since 1952 a deduction has been allowed for educational expenses incurred by a taxpayer with family responsibilities in connexion with the fulltime education of his and other dependent children. At present the amount allowed is up to £100 in respect of each such child. This deduction does not extend to educational expenses incurred by a person on his own account, whether he be an apprentice or not.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has furnished the following reply: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
Minister for the Interior has furnished the following reply: -
Reports on Items.
– I lay on the table reports of the Tariff Board on the following subjects: -
Drafting machines. “ I “ beam axle assemblies.
Air-operated dental drilling units and dental engines.
Fuel injection equipment and nozzle-testing outfits.
Gelatine and animal glue.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) - by leave - agreed to -
Thai Senator Buttfield be granted leave of absence for one month on account of ill health.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Sir Walter Cooper) read a first time.
[3.45]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time-
This bill proposes to extend the power of the Parliament, through the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, to scrutinize the majority of public works projects proposed to be carried out for the Government. It proposes to extend the authority of the Public Works Committee in three ways: First, the existing act provides that the Minister may move in the House of Representatives that a proposed work estimated to cost more than £25,000 be referred to the Public Works Committee for report. The first thing that the new bill proposes to do is to remove that minimum limit of £25,000 because it is considered that not frequently, but occasionally, there may be a public work estimated to cost less than £25,000 which ought to be examined by the Parliament, such as a work where some important national interest is involved or some new feature of architecture is introduced. The existing act also provides that the Minister may move in the House that a work costing more than £25,000 shall be referred.
It is proposed in the second part of the bill that no proposed public work which is estimated to cost more than £250,000 shall be commenced unless it has been referred to the committee for a report to the House. This will be subject to some limitations. The House may resolve that the work may proceed without reference to the committee. This passes the discretion in the matter from the Minister to the House. Again, the Governor-General may, by order, declare that the work is for defence purposes, and that reference to the committee would be contrary to the public interest.
Honorable senators will perceive that, in future, any proposed public work estimated to cost more than £250,000 will, in the normal course of events, be considered by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works. It will be so considered unless the House decides that it shall not be referred, or unless it is declared to be a defence project that should not be referred in the interests of the public.
The third extension of authority of the committee involves its being given power to review its own reports so long as the actual work on which it has reported has not been commenced. At present, once the committee has tabled its report in the House, it cannot re-examine its works proposal except by a resolution of the House. In some cases, before the Government is able to find funds to commence a project, some years elapse. The committee may have additional information or circumstances may have changed, making it desirable for the committee to have another look at the project on which it has reported. The bill provides that if the work has not been commenced the chairman or vice-chairman may notify the Minister in writing that the committee has decided to review its report, and in such circumstances the work will not be commenced until the committee resolves that it does not desire the commencement of the work to be deferred, or until a further report has been presented, or until the House resolves that the work shall proceed, or until the life of that Parliament expires without the presentation of a further report from the committee.
If the House had previously resolved that it was expedient to carry out the proposed work, a further resolution from the House would not be necessary unless the House, on the presentation of the further report, wished to cancel its previous approval. This, I think, is a very desirable feature, strengthening the methods by which the Parliament may scrutinize or control major public works projects. The amount of £250,000 has not been plucked out of the air or decided by guesswork. It has been fixed after consideration of the number of major projects on which the Government is engaged, the relative amounts of time available to the Public Works Committee to look at these projects, the desire not to delay comparatively minor projects for too long, and other aspects such as the time and cost involved in presenting evidence before the committee. The officers of the Department of Works have to spend a considerable amount of time in preparing cases for consideration by the committee. The committee’s consideration takes several months, as a rule, and by the time its report is prepared and tabled in the House, and the House has been able to examine it, usually some six months or even more have elapsed. These considerations have led to the fixing of the amount of £250,000 as a reasonable limit for mandatory references to the Public Works Committee. I commend the bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Paltridge) read a first time.
Debate resumed from 28th April (vide page 652), on motion by Senator Gorton -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– When the Senate adjourned on Thursday last I was addressing myself to this important measure. The setting up of the Australian Cattle and Beef Research Committee to conduct research into the beef industry is an important step forward. I understand that up to the beginning of the last war the general opinion was that the northern parts of Australia were incapable of turning off fat cattle. It was thought that those areas could be used for breeding purposes but because of the great distances over which cattle had to be transported, areas on the east coast and in the southern States were preferred for fattening the cattle. In the main, areas in the Northern Territory, western Queensland and the Kimberleys were considered unsuitable, with few exceptions, for fat cattle. However, since the end of the war the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has conducted extensive surveys into the introduction of suitable pastures for fattening cattle, particularly at Katherine in the Northern Territory, at places in Queensland and at the Kimberley research station situated on the Ord River. The results of those surveys have been outstanding. It is now believed by those in the industry and by officers of the C.S.I.R.O. that, with the introduction of suitable plants, cattle can be fattened, not only for a few months during the rainy season but also throughout the dry season, in areas receiving an average rainfall of 30 inches and more.
The brigalow scrub country, extending from Gunnedah in New South Wales to Collinsville in Queensland and covering an area of 23,000,000 acres, enjoys a rainfall in excess of 25 inches. It has been estimated that in its virgin state this country can carry one beast to each 10 or 12 acres. The speargrass country in the coastal belt, covering some 50,000,000 acres, enjoys a rainfall of 40 inches or more. With improved pastures, we could increase its carrying capacity from that of one beast to each 10 or 12 acres - the capacity of the brigalow country in its virgin state - to that of one beast to 21/2 acres. I think I mentioned to the Senate last week that in some areas producers have been able to fatten cattle, under suitable conditions, on a carrying-capacity basis of one beast to the acre. That result has been brought about by research carried out by the C.S.I.R.O. officers in conjunction with cattle-men in the various areas. The carrying capacity of large areas in the Northern Territory and in the Kimberleys could be increased many times with the introduction of suitable pastures.
Therefore, this legislation, under which a committee of twelve people will be established to recommend to the Minister the research work that can be undertaken, is very important to cattle-men, particularly those in the north of Australia. The committee will consist of four members from the Graziers Federal Council, two from the Australian Wool and Meat Producers
Federation, one from the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation, one from the Australian Agricultural Council, one from the C.S.I.R.O., and one from universities engaged in beef research. In addition, there will be the chairman of the Australian Meat Board and a representative of the Department of Primary Industry.
– There is no representative of the employees. I thought the employees might have been represented.
– There are no employees. The growers, with seven members, will have a majority on the committee.
The committee will make representations to the Minister about the various forms of research work that can be undertaken. I presume that the research work recommended will deal with improvements in the cattle industry. A lot of research has taken place in the past ten years, and it has given cattle-growers a greater knowledge of their industry. If the results obtained from this new research are put into operation, the industry will be helped. No doubt the research work recommended by this committee will be carried out by either the C.S.I.R.O. or by the universities which are interested in the beef industry. We will no doubt obtain solutions to some of the problems that confront the understanding at the present time.
I should like the Minister to tell me whether this committee will have power, under its terms of reference, to consider the problem of transport, which is vital to the beef industry. Will it also be able to consider economic problems arising from the policy of governments? With the permission of the Minister, could the committee consider such matters as income tax and depreciation allowances, as well as the best methods of encouraging capital from the cities and from overseas, if necessary, to be spent in areas that need further development?
At present, large areas of country are occupied by a few people or a few companies. Whether this is in the interests of the beef industry could be decided by a body such as it is proposed to set up. In the Northern Territory there are properties covering hundreds, and even thousands, of square miles. They are owned by one company or one individual. The C.S.I.R.O. has made recommendations in relation to the control of ticks. In one of its pamphlets it has said that the best method of controlling ticks is to have paddocks, and to keep one paddock free of cattle for a period of four or five months. After this lapse of time, cattle should be sprayed and then put into this paddock. Experiments have been carried out to prove that if cattle are sprayed once or twice, and then put into paddocks in the manner indicated, a property can be more or less cleared of this vermin. How is a big pastoral company to fence its area and so bring the ticks under control? I have visited properties in the north of Australia - no doubt other honorable senators have done the same - where only a horse paddock is maintained and the cattle run wild on the range - with periodical musterings and brandings, of course. On those properties there are no facilities for carrying out the recommendation made by the C.S.I.R.O. for the control of ticks. That is one thing that the committee could look into. I ask the Minister whether the committee will have power to make recommendations on matters of that kind.
Will the committee have power to make recommendations affecting the transport of cattle? Will it be able to make recommendations on that subject to the governments of Queensland, New South Wales, Western Australia, South Australia and, of course, the Commonwealth Government, which controls the Northern Territory? Will the committee have sufficient authority to make recommendations to the various governments regarding the way in which transport could be improved? People engaged in the cattle industry and those who interest themselves in this problem, together with State governments, have divergent views on the policy that should be adopted by all the governments concerned for the development of transport in our northern areas.
I recently read an article, which interested me very much, that proved conclusively that when the three methods of transport - road, rail and air - are compared, in regard to the movement of a given number of cattle or sheep, or a given quantity of cargo, the railways are out because of the low volume of traffic. I think that every honorable senator will agree that the cheapest form of transport of the three forms to which I have referred is rail transport, provided that there is a sufficient volume of goods to keep the locomotives and the railway employees fully occupied. In the case of the transportation of 59,500 head of cattle, 16,800 sheep and 3,600 tons of cargo, from the Queensland inland fattening areas to the coast, it was found, on 6,500,000 revenue ton miles, that while the cost of running the trains was ls. 3d. per ton mile, the interest and sinking fund charges on the capital outlay required to provide that facility amounted to 35. Id., making a total of 36.4d. per ton mile. It was found that the cost of transport by road was 7.7d. per ton mile, while the capitalization and interest and sinking fund charges amounted to 25d. per ton mile, making a total of 32.7d. The cost of developing and maintaining aerodromes would be only 1. 3d. per ton mile, while the cost of transport in new types of aircraft was estimated at approximately lOd. per ton mile, making a total of 11.3d. for air transport, compared with 32.7d. by road and 36.4d. by rail.
Transport is of such vital importance to the future development of our northern areas that a policy for all the governments concerned should be formulated and put into effect. What good will it be to this nation if we have one government developing a rail system, another government developing a system of roads, and yet another government developing airlines? I am sure that Senator Tangney will agree with me when I say that Western Australia is the most progressive State in the Commonwealth. The first base for the Air Beef scheme was established at Glenroy, in Western Australia, with the aid of a subsidy from the Western Australian Government. The undertaking has been quite profitable to the people concerned. It has led to numbers of cattle being killed and taken by air to Wyndham, and also to Derby, that normally would not have been transported to those places. It has enabled the cattle-men to kill the older cattle, known as pikers, and to have them transported to Wyndham and Derby and sold at a profit, which would not have been the case had droving methods been employed, because many of the cattle would not have been able to reach their destination.
The development of our beef industry is such an important matter that a select committee, preferably of the Senate, should be appointed to inquire into all its ramifications. Recently, an organization known as the Inland Development Association was formed at Bourke, in New South Wales. The association, in its eagerness to develop the north, intends to approach the various governments concerned, with a view to having constructed a bitumen, sealed road between Bourke and Mount Isa. The New South Wales Minister for Transport has stated that it is intended to construct a road from Bourke to the Queensland border. No doubt the Inland Development Association will be approaching the Queenslan ! Government, and also the Commonwealth Government, in connexion with the construction of the road. At the meeting at which the association was formed, the chief argument advanced in favour of such a road was that in time of drought it would enable cattle in the outback areas to be brought by road south to Bourke and then railed either to other places in New South Wales or to Victoria. The association also has in mind a proposition concerning water conservation, which involves changing the course of the rivers that come down through the Channel country so that they will flow into the Cooper River, and thence into Lake Eyre.
I understand that the Queensland Government intends to extend its network of roads by constructing a road from Winton to Boulia, and another from Currawilla to Quilpie. The distance from Winton to Boulia is 200 miles. Cattle will have to be transported from Winton by rail a further 600 miles, making a total of 800 miles to get to Townsville. Others will go from Currawilla to Quilpie, a distance of about 274 miles, and a total distance of 800 miles to Brisbane. The approach by the Inland Development Association, I understand, will be for a road from Bourke to Mount Isa. I do not doubt for one moment that that would be of great assistance, but if we are to develop and populate our north, the question is not how we are to get our cattle south. We should look, as I hope we shall look, for the development of our northern areas in such a way that in times of drought in central Australia and in the south-west of
Queensland cattle can be taken not south, but north, east or west to the Kimberleys.
– Why not south?
– One of the arguments is that the stations in these areas should grow their cattle till they are two years old, and then transport them south for fattening and killing. If we do that, how can we expect to populate the north? Research has proved that on the coastal plains of Queensland some 50,000,000 acres of land can be so improved with pasture that it Will fatten a beast to 2 acres. The research station at Katherine has shown that 1,000,000 acres of country in the 35-in. rainfall belt can fatten a beast to the acre. On 1,000,000 acres of land 1,000,000 cattle can be fattened each year, but the total number of cattle in the Northern Territory to-day is only a little over 1,000,000. No doubt with future development those cattle numbers will increase. Queensland, which is the greatest beef-producing State in the Commonwealth, has about 7,000,000 or 8,000,000 beef cattle. Those numbers could be increased three-fold or four-fold. That has been shown by the research conducted by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.
– You mean for export?
– As you know, most of the cattle bred in Queensland are exported. This is a very great problem. I doubt whether the committee established under this legislation will have the power to make recommendations to governments on what is needed in the way of transport. If a select committee of the Senate were appointed to inquire into all aspects of beef production and transport, we should get somewhere. It could formulate a policy for the future development of these important areas that could be carried out by all governments.
– Can we export from Darwin?
– A beef slaughtering establishment was built at Darwin but, as you know, it never operated.
– I do not know. Strikes and other industrial troubles prevented its operation.
– That was used as an excuse.
– In any event, that is what I heard. The works were closed. I suggest that we could have an inland killing centre and the cattle fattened at Tippera Plains could be transported to Darwin. Why should a beast that is born in the Katherine area, for instance, be transported by road and rail to Bourke, thence to fattening areas in New South Wales or Victoria, and then sent to a metropolitan meatworks to be slaughtered, with the beef being shipped 1.000 or 2,000 miles farther in the reverse direction to reach its destination? The correct thing to do is to establish meatworks in the producing area and endeavour to make conditions right for southern money to be invested in the development of the cattie industry in the north. Beasts could then be fattened and killed in the north, transported to Darwin and shipped overseas. I think that that would be the answer to the problem and that we should face up to it very quickly. The Commonwealth is being invited to participate in the construction of the suggested roads and to kill the Territory by so doing. I am not against the development of roads to the south, but I think that we should concentrate on the north and realize where we are going.
The industry in, the north could enter a new era, if a select committee were to inquire into forms of transport and the many other problems of the beef industry. One of these problems relates to taxation. A property owner in the Northern Territory may build a residence for an employee, a garage for motor vehicles, sheds, yards, mills and troughing, and deduct the amount expended from his taxable income in the year in which it is spent, but a property owner over the border in Western Australia, Queensland or South Australia is allowed to deduct only 20 per cent, over five years. Is that correct or just? We are penalizing a person on one side of the border in comparison with a person living on the other side, in the Territory, in completely similar circumstances. The provision as it relates to the Northern Territory is an excellent one, because it should encourage - I think it has encouraged - the investment of southern capital for development. That is one of the problems facing the industry to-day. Research officers of the C.S.I.R.O. have proved that cattle can be fattened in the area during the off-season and that, with improved pastures, they can continue to be fattened all the year round. In the past it has been possible to fatten the cattle only during the growing season and the weight then put on was generally lost in the dry season, so that it took four, five or six years to get a beast that was suitable and strong enough to travel to the markets.
This is a complex question that should bc examined thoroughly. The Government should know where it is going. Are we to have more railways, airways or roads? We should have one aim. Having decided what is best, let us develop this area along those lines. I do not wish to speak any longer. This is a very important bill which will allow sufficient money to be made available for complete research into the beef industry to be conducted. I understand that over £600,000 a year will be available to the committee. This committee will make suitable recommendations on. the type Of research that, with the Minister’s consent, Shall be carried out stage by stage. This measure cannot fail to be of considerable help not only to the beef industry, but also to Australia as a whole. I support the bill.
.- The three bills now under consideration form a connected series and constitute a very important mark of progress towards assisting the beef industry in Australia. For many years the people of this country have been inclined to treat the beef industry as of secondary importance and this tendency has spread throughout the rural community. It was not until recently, following what might be called the dawning of a new era for the beef industry in Australia, that measures to put in on its feet were discussed, leading eventually to the present stage where the Commonwealth Parliament is willing to legislate along these lines.
The measure dealing with meat export controls, which was previously debated, was more or less the lock-nut of this series of bills, inasmuch as it made provision for financing the Cattle and Beef Research Bill 1960, the Cattle Slaughter Levy Bill 1960 and the Cattle Slaughter Levy Collection Bill 1960. Moreover, the organization of this aspect of research and sales, the contact being made between the people who are responsible for slaughtering the cattle, and all the other factors concerned with the success of the industry can be brought together by this series of measures. Our common aim, I believe, is not only to further the interests of the beef industry generally - thereby increasing our potential for earning overseas credits - but also to provide an incentive to the beef grower to go back again to the grass roots and to improve the quality of his final product. In making funds available for research and sales promotion we are starting along that path.
The Cattle and Beef Research Bill will make possible a much quicker tempo in research activities, both scientific and technical, and for investigation into the general economic problems of the beef industry. Other industries have already organized themselves along these lines. The woo! industry has its research section with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and has imposed levies upon wool-growers for this purpose. It is well known that the wheat industry and dairy produce organizations have developed research establishments which have proved very successful. The tobacco industry in this country is starting now to reap the great benefits of basic research. I understand that this year the industry has made a tremendous leap forward in not only the quality but also the quantity of leaf grown. The great advances being made in these other fields fully justify the view that funds should be made available readily and plentifully to assist the very important meat industry.
The Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton), in his second-reading speech, said that this legislation marks an important step towards ensuring the future welfare of the Australian beef industry, since it points the way to a concerted attack on the vital problems that have been retarding its progress. For a while I should like to draw the attention of the Senate to some of what 1 consider are the vital problems confronting the beef industry. In the first place, over the past year or so, the trade that has developed with the United States - what is called the hamburger trade - has given us a wonderful opportunity to get rid of quite a big percentage of the cull cattle - cull cows - that have been holding back the quality of our herds. Whether this has been completely effective will not be known, but at least this trade has given the beef producer an opportunity to unload many cows in his herd that previously were uneconomical but were retained because they could produce a calf every year, with the obvious result that the quality of the herd remained at the same level, or, more precisely, that the quality of a percentage of the herd remained at the level of that of the most inferior cows in the herd.
The opportunity to unload these inferior cattle has produced a good trend in the beef industry. We have seen a way for the beef producer to engage in big culling of his herd and at the same time to find a ready market for the culled cows. 1 believe that there is a tendency throughout Australia to overlook the importance of basic breeding of beef cattle. It is the nature of our grazing industry that we have large areas. A big proportion of our beef cattle is grown in northern New South Wales, Queensland and the Northern Territory, in areas where the size of properties makes it difficult to undertake intense animal husbandry and breeders tend to be careless about the quality of the bulls. I come back to my point that without an incentive in the form of a reasonable price to be obtained for stock as beef, the tendency will be towards the purchase and use of cheap bulls.
I support the point made by Senator Scott that there should be a thorough investigation of the beef industry so that Parliament itself will not only appreciate the importance of improving the general standards of our beef cattle but also, perhaps, adopt the principle that has been in operation in Tasmania with regard to dairy cattle. In Tasmania in earlier years the quality of dairy cattle was not very high. Milk production did not compare favorably with that of other parts of Australia and other parts of the world. Consequently the State Government introduced, in the 1930’s, what was known as a bull subsidy. This made it possible for owners of dairy herds t” ‘if’ ‘u.~ standard and qualify of their cattle to such an extent that Tasmania’s production of butter fat and milk is now better than that of other parts of Australia and of the world.
What applies to dairy cattle applies in the same way to beef cattle. It is my con tention that if you do not have the best strains of cattle distributed over as wide an area as possible you are not using the country available for beef production to the best advantage. The major problem in the Northern Territory and in Queensland over the years has been the deterioration of herds through the activities of what are called scrub bulls. If you look at some of the mobs of cattle that come from those areas you will see the stunted and run-out progeny of the scrub bull. The approach to this problem involves, of course, a good deal of expense. The country must be well controlled, and finance must be made available for fencing, for sub-division, for the provision of water and for other such requirements. It is because these big areas are difficult to control that the standard of the herds is likely to deteriorate. 1 believe there should be some way of making finance available through the banking institutions, perhaps through the rural branch of the Commonwealth Bank, by way of loan to enable the beef producer to improve his property and achieve the necessary control of his holding. If he can sub-divide his property he can more effectively control his stock. He should be given assistance, if necessary, to obtain the very best strains of bulls. In this way he will be able to lay a foundation for increasing his production of beef.
Another matter that requires attention is the handling of stock. It is surprising to see the figures showing losses due to bruising caused by faulty handling of stock both on the properties themselves and during transport to market. On some properties one can see narrow gateways with spikes and what are called Cobb and Company hitches sticking out from the fences. Cattle that are handled on such properties suffer a tremendous amount of damage through bruising. A great deal of improvement could be effected by better management and better handling. Every time cattle are handled the necessity should be kept in mind to produce the best-quality carcass possible.
Let me refer now to the matter of transport. Senator Scott mentioned the meeting in Bourke last Friday of the federal Inland Development Association. Unfortunately a situation has developed in which State jealousies are rearing their ugly heads. The
Queensland Government is, I think, taking a short-term view of this matter which is similar to the view which was taken by those who advocated railways of different gauges in the different States. This generation and previous generations have suffered because of the short-sightedness and the parochial outlook of the people who made the decisions to build railways of different gauges. 1 believe that this matter should be tackled on a national level, and that it should be divorced from the parish pump of State interests.
Over the years we have seen the bleaching bones of cattle that have been born, grown to maturity and died out in the far west of Queensland, and which have been simply a national loss. When the season tends to dry off in those areas the grazier should be able to get his cattle away to other parts of the Commonwealth where there may be good feed. There are times when Queensland suffers from a widespread drought, while New South Wales and Victoria are enjoying good seasons. With the road trains that are available these days, one can move a mob of 1,000 head of cattle in one operation. In a matter of a few days we could have tremendous numbers of cattle taken out of the drought-stricken Channel country and areas even further inland, and transported to better pastures in areas of more reliable rainfall.
I want to make my view clear. We should not have bickering between States over this very important national problem. lt should be approached in the same way as the Snowy Mountains scheme was approached by Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia. After all, if we do not have roads into the Channel country the cattle will die out there as they have always died. Of course in the good seasons the cattle come in, and the position then is quite satisfactory. The country seems to be rich enough to cover losses sustained when cattle die because of drought. But for every beast that is saved somewhere along the line the nation must gain. Therefore, the provision of good roads into the Channel country is a matter of the utmost importance.
There is no doubt that the Queensland Government can see the importance of providing roads in that State. It is that Go vernment’s responsibility, I agree, to provide roads from Quilpie to Windorah and out to Currawilla. I also believe that a road should be provided from Currawilla through the Channel country up to Cloncurry and Mount Isa, and that connecting roads should be provided through that country westward from Winton and Longreach. That does not mean to say that we do not need an outlet road other than one into Queensland. Surely, when drought conditions prevail in Queensland, pastures in other parts of Australia could be made available.
– There are good pastures to the east of the Warrego River.
– I agree.
– If we had a road to bring the cattle to the railheads at Winton and Quilpie it would be a tremendous advantage.
– I agree that if these roads were constructed they would enable the position in the Channel country in times of drought to be relieved. In turn, the cattle could be taken perhaps to forward stores and later, if they were not suitable for fattening, they could be put on to improved pastures. I shall leave that particular aspect of the matter for the time being.
I support Senator Scott’s suggestion that a committee of the Federal Parliament should have a good look at the proposal of the Inland Development Association to see whether it should be recognized as a national matter and financed by Commonwealth funds, not only in the interests of the beef industry itself but generally as a means to open up the western part of Queensland.
– And the northern part, too!
– Yes. That would be of great advantage to the beef breeder and it would also be of very great importance from the point of view of maintaining mobility for defence purposes. We have only to look at the dramatic improvement and development of the Northern Territory along the road from Alice Springs to Darwin. It was perhaps just by a chance of fate that that road was constructed at the particular time it was constructed. It was an important defence project. Perhaps a few thoughts should be given to the advantages the road will ultimately provide to the people engaged in pastoral pursuits in the Northern Territory. This road has played a tremendous part in attracting people to the Territory and in the development of mineral resources and so forth. There is no proper, well-designed and wellconstructed road running north and south until we reach a point 1,500 miles further east on the coast. There is a great need for the provision of a parallel road suitable for defence purposes - to enable mobility in times of emergency - and also to enable the breeders of beef cattle in those rich areas to transport their produce to the markets.
Another very important aspect of the matter is the finishing off of our cattle. For years and years we have accepted the view that the Argentine has had special advantages over Australia on the world’s markets because if has been able to produce a better quality carcass. It is a well-known fact amongst people engaged in rural industries that 80 per cent, of the quality of a beast - that is. from the point of view of beef production - depends on what goes down its neck. That is to say, if a well-bred beast is placed on poor pastures the quality of the beef will be very good. If a poorlybeast is placed on good pastures, the quality of the beast will be very good. If a poorlybred beast is placed on good pastures, the quality of the beef will be relatively high. I cannot stress too strongly my belief that if we want to produce beef of competitive quality for both the domestic market and the world’s markets, we must go more thoroughly into the matter of pasture improvement. After all, we are a bit inclined to think that Australia is a low rainfall country, but there are tremendous areas of this Commonwealth of ours which have a rainfall of 20 inches or more per annum. Abundant pastures can. be grown in these areas provided sufficient attention is paid to testing, trace elements and other factors associated with pasture improvement.
I feel that there is a very wide field still to be tapped in the technique of contour ploughing for pasture improvement. Under the contour method, each furrow around a gradient acts as a little reservoir for the storage of water. In areas that have been eroded by water rushing down the sides of hills and cutting deep gullies in them, where the surface soil has been washed into rivers and small water courses, the introduction of contour ploughing has enabled a tremendous quantity of water to be held. The run-off of water down the hillsides has been reduced, and the furrows running around the contour of hills have enabled pastures to get a good start. Roots can go deep into the soil and be supplied with moisture from the water that is held in the furrows.
I come now to the question of the opening up of new areas suitable for pasture improvement. To do this, we must have a constant supply of store cattle. It is the function of cattle breeders in the lower rainfall areas so to improve the quality of their cattle that when they reach a certain age they can be transported to better rainfall areas, provided sufficiently improved pastures are available there to enable them to be fattened ready for slaughter. There seems to be too much indifference to the various stages through which a calf passes before it is an economic proposition to slaughter the beast. Frequently we see cattle that have been on the roads for anything up to six months. When cattle have to walk long distances between watering places the quality of the beef deteriorates considerably. These cattle have very tough and sinewy carcasses. They should have good pastures available to them, and by good pastures I mean legumes, clovers and other rich protein-containing feed which can quickly build up muscle and sufficient fat to make the cattle attractive both to the domestic and overseas markets.
I would recommend that the funds being made available under this legislation should be directed to quite a number of other avenues. Efforts should be made to introduce the Santa Gertrudis strain of cattle, which is allegedly tick resistant, to the northern parts of Australia. We must do everything possible to minimize the losses sustained to the cattle industry, both in respect of lowered condition and the cost of dipping and other control measures, as a result of the ravages of cattle tick. If a tick-resistant strain of cattle is available it should be bred in numbers large enough to be distributed widely throughout the tickinfested areas of this country. That would lead to a great saving in money and many more cattle would more quickly reach the market as beef.
Investigations should be carried out into losses of cattle between the calf stage and the ultimate killing stage for beef, whether for export or the domestic market. Big losses are sustained in the cattle country from the ravages of dingoes, despite the efforts in various inland areas of very experienced doggers, who must be admired for their amazing bushcraft and their ability to outwit the dingo and trap or poison him. But, unfortunately, those men belong to a vanishing race. Much greater use should be made of aircraft for the laying of poison baits for dingoes. The main objection to this way of fighting the dingo menace is that the domestic dogs - the ringers as they are called - that follow the musterers are likely to pick up baits. Dingo eradication must be tackled on a wider and larger scale than at present.
Fodder conservation should also receive attention from those people who will direct their efforts towards the scientific side of beef raising. Many areas of Australia are suitable and capable of growing fodder for conservation. One of the latest methods of fodder conservation uses polythene as a covering for ensilage. As it is very expensive to build barns and equally expensive to dig pits for ensilage, the researchers should direct their attention to the most economical way of conserving fodder. Many of the dry periods that come in a year could be withstood if a ready supply of previously conserved fodder were available. The attitude of the Australian cattle raiser seems to be that something will turn up. He does not seem to realize the importance of fodder conservation. Greater attention must be paid to fodder conservation because of the variations in seasons and rainfall. Only three weeks ago Tasmania, which has a rainfall that has been for many years considered reliable, was in the grip of one of the worst droughts in the State’s history. Large areas of the State will grow pastures readily and hundreds of thousands of tons of fodder could have been conserved, but the stage was reached in Tasmania where it was extremely difficult to buy any type of stock food at all and last month many stock died in Tasmania. The position there has now been relieved. Following heavy rains the grass is growing again in Tasmania. What happened in Tasmania should be a warning to everybody in Australia. When the good seasons come it is time to conserve a9 much fodder as possible. Do not let your pastures or your natural grasses dry and blow away. Every bale or ton of fodder that you put away is provision not for a rainy day but for a dry day. Proper fodder conservation can be the means of saving many stock that die each year because of an improperly organized plan of fodder conservation.
The legislation now before the Senate is of great importance. It can be the start of a new approach in Australia towards the beef industry. We have the area, the climate and the breeds of cattle with which to compete with any other country. Our cattle industry can be a great source of income from overseas, and it can also supply our growing population with goodquality beef. There is no reason why we in Australia should not be able to get the best-quality beef, but it is interesting to note that the per capita consumption of beef in this country has fallen over the last two or three years.
– Annual consumption is 234 lb. per man.
– I understand that consumption was higher than that figure, and that it has dropped by 4 lb. or 5 lb. a head, which is a bad tendency. It has been said1 that a country’s prosperity may bs judged by the amount of good-quality beef that its people eat. Prosperous countries, such as the United States, Great Britain and Australia, are far ahead1 of poorer countries in the consumption of beef per head of population.
– Beef is getting too expensive for the wage-earner.
– I agree. This Government must carry a great deal of the responsibility for having allowed the costs of the primary producers in Australia to mount to their present level. One of the great difficulties facing our primary industries now is that caused by ever-increasing costs. Many people are inclined to say that the wool-growers are having a wonderful time. The newspapers print the price paid for scoured wool and give the impression that the wool-grower is receiving that price for his clip. We know, of course, that the price of scoured wool is 40 per cent, or more higher than the price of greasy wool. A great deal depends on how much foreign or vegetable matter is being carried in the greasy wool before it is scoured. The cost of fencing and other things is increasing. Cost increases present a tremendous problem and are a source of great disappointment to many people in rural areas. No matter how hard they try to prevent it, their costs keep mounting, and even with the high prices they are receiving, when they get their accounts back they find they can barely keep the show going. After deducting freight charges and all the other charges that go to make up the cost of production, very little is left to the growers.
The Labour Party supports the setting-up of this research organization to be financed by a levy of 2s. a head on each beast weighing over 200 lb. I am pleased to see that the levy will not apply to people who are slaughtering under ten head of cattle, which means that people who are killing their own meat, and even butchers operating in a small way, will not have to go to the trouble of filling out forms in order to comply with the provisions of the legislation. I feel that it will not be long before the cattle industry benefits from this new approach to research and the beef-growers have a new incentive to improve the standard of their herds, to watch the handling of their cattle and to build up larger areas of improved pasture. By those means, Australia’s reputation as a beef-producing country will be enhanced. I commend the bill.
.- 1 support the three bills that are before the chamber. They are good bills, and the objective that they set out to achieve should be of considerable advantage to Australia. The Commonwealth Government proposes to set up a committee which will be financed, on a £1 for £1 basis, by the Government and the industry. The Government will match the funds obtained by means of a levy imposed upon each beast slaughtered, and the money raised in that way will be devoted to research into problems affecting the beef cattle industry.
It is desirable that a committee should be set up to conduct research into the beef industry and that it should concentrate on that research. We appreciate the wonderful work that has been done in Australia by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and, of course, by the various Departments of Agriculture in the States, but it is desirable that there should be a. committee to investigate specifically the problems of the beef industry. It seems to me that the scope of the activities of this committee will be fairly wide, although we are somewhat hazy, as 1 think Senator Benn pointed out, as to what powers the committee will have to put its recommendations into operation. The Minister, in his second-reading speech, said that the money in the account would be used to conduct research into matters relating directly or indirectly to the raising of cattle or the production or distribution of beef. That indicates to me that the scope of the activities of the committee will be fairly wide. It should have power to investigate the various factors, particularly economic factors, that affect beef production. 1 was particularly interested in the speech that was made by Senator Scott. A lot of notice should be taken of his opinions, because he is a man who has a great knowledge of the beef industry and of the northern parts of Australia. He dealt extensively with the problem of transport and with other matters affecting the production and distribution of beef in the northern parts of Australia. I was particularly interested to hear him say that the potentialities of the air transport of beef had been by no means exhausted. He stressed the advantages of air transport over rail and road transport in remote areas where the opportunity for expanding the beef industry is great. Senator Scott’s contentions were borne out largely by a Mr. J. Kelly who, some time ago, investigated the potential of the beef-raising industry in the northern part of Australia, particularly in Queensland. Mr. Kelly dwelt at some length upon the problem of transport, and in his recommendations he stressed the fact that improved transport is a vital necessity for the further development of the beef industry in northern Australia. He went on to refer to the incidence of buffalo fly, cattle tick and pleuro-pneumonia, Mr. Kelly’s recommendations indicated to me that in the northern areas of Australia there is a potential for the beef industry which we should try to develop in every possible way.
I noticed that the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton), when introducing this measure, stated that beef raising was a potential earner of export income. I am one of those who believe that our export trade in primary products could easily approach a crisis because of the continually increasing costs of primary production. It should be obvious to everybody who thinks about this matter that if we are to maintain our rate of national development and our immigration policy, and if we are to preserve a balance of exports over imports, it is necessary during the next five years to increase the value of the exportable products of this country by £250,000,000 a year. I believe that the Government is tackling the problem in the right way, but investigation might show that costs could be reduced and export earnings increased. It cannot be gainsaid that the beef industry has a great potential value, if we care to develop it.
It was stated in this chamber last week, Mr. Acting Deputy President, that for some time the price of beef has been at an alltime high, lt was pointed out that that may be due, at least in part, to the fact that the United States of America has been taking considerable quantities of Australian beef. We have been warned that that market in the United States may cease. If the United States is able to increase the number of its breeding stock, that market which has been of such value to us might suffer severe limitation or even disappear altogether. While the price of beef has been at an all-time high, it has not necessarily followed that the producers of beef have had their incomes augmented to any great degree. I speak of the position in my own State, Tasmania, when I say that the margin earned by the fattener of beef is very largely governed by the availability of store cattle and by their price. Again, speaking of the position in my own State, I have often known the price of store cattle to be nearly as great as that received for cattle that have been fattened and subsequently sold. It is obvious that if store cattle are not available in reasonable numbers and at a reasonable price, the fattening potential will be considerably curtailed.
In regard to the export of beef, I was interested to read in the 29th March issue of “ Muster “, a publication which, 1 think, is circulated to all of us, an article by the chairman of the Australian Meat Board. Amongst other things, he said that while the United Kingdom market can absorb a substantial quantity of frozen beef each week, experience has proved that this demand can be over-supplied, resulting in depressed prices. He went on to say -
Chilled beef, on the other hand, is in short supply, and Australia has been asked to increase the tonnage of beef shipped in the chilled form. This presents real difficulties but is a challenge to Australia. In my opinion, the surest way of consolidating the position of Australian beef on the United Kingdom market is to increase the percentage of beef shipped chilled.
That is the opinion of the chairman of the Australian Meat Board. I understand that one of the difficulties in the way of shipping chilled meat to the United Kingdom has been the great distance over which it must be transported. When Senator Scott spoke of taking the beef north instead of south and providing meat works in the northern parts of Australia, it occurred to me that if that were done it might well result in a reduction of the time taken to transport meat from Australia to the Mother Country.
I have no doubt that the committee that is to be appointed will investigate the factors that have been referred to during the debate. I believe that such a committee could do valuable work for the beef industry and for Australia’s export trade generally. I repeat that I think it is desirable that there should be a committee to concentrate on matters affecting production and to conduct research into the beef industry.
.- This bill seems to meet with the approval of all members of the Senate. We on this side support the bill in principle, but we intend to move an amendment at the committee stage. It has been stated during the debate that this legislation will considerably help our beef export industry, particularly that of Queensland. In my opinion, the legislation will help not only Queensland, but also the rest of Australia, because it will assist the Australian economy to a very great degree. I hope that it will be of benefit to the people engaged in the cattle industry in Queensland, in the Kimberleys and also in the Northern Territory. If the research of the committee results in nothing more than the eradication of the tick pest, the committee will have done a good job.
– That is a mighty task.
– I know it is, because not only does the tick infect beef cattle but also it may eventually infect all other cattle. No doubt the dairying industry could be affected in like manner. It would appear that this pest may be likened to the prickly pear that existed in. Queensland. Slowly but surely that encroached upon some of the best pastoral land and denuded many acres of valuable country in Queensland. After many years of experimentation a cure was found for that pest. I feel quite sure that with research it will be possible to find ways and means of eradicating the tick pest. I know that, as Senator Maher says, it is a big problem. Already much work has been done in an investigation of the tick problem, and while no definite means of eradication have been found, we shall keep going just the same as we are doing with the ills that befall the human animal, and eventually this will lead to success.
The bill emphasizes the trend that has existed in this country in recent years for sections of primary producers to develop ways and means of helping their own industries. Recently we dealt with wool research. Only the other day we passed a measure relating to the marketing of our meat. We have passed a wheat research bill. I know that quite a good deal of investigation has been made into other problems that affect our primary producers. That is as it should be because, after all. while this country is becoming very highly developed industrially and exports from our primary industries are extending to many parts of the world, our primary industries are still the main source of our overseas funds. So it is necessary that we should place upon world markets products of the highest quality.
I listened with a great deal of interest to remarks made by some speakers and propaganda that was indulged in as to the activities to be undertaken by the proposed committee. It has taken a long while for this Parliament and those people connected with the industry to agree to the establishment of a research fund. The idea has been promulgated for quite a long while.
It is pleasing to anybody who takes an interest in development of our industries that at last this bill is before the Senate and in the final stage of becoming the law of this country.
I have had an opportunity, which was, of course, only brief in comparison with that of honorable senators and members of another place who come from Western Australia or Queensland, of visiting the Northern Territory and parts of north Queensland, and I have seen the difficulties under which the beef industry labours there. I agree with all that has been said in regard to the improvement of methods, not only of raising stock but also of bringing it to market. In the Northern Territory I have seen stations of many thousands of acres, where there was no regard for proper cattle husbandry. The herds were just wandering at large and there was no fencing. There was unrestricted intermingling of stock. Nothing was on a scientific basis. Through the Channel country, many thousands of cattle have to march many weary miles, eventually reaching rail head and being brought to market. There is a wide field for research into this important industry not only in relation to the eradication of the tick, pleuro-pneumonia and all those other ills to which cattle are subject-
– Including the Australian Country Party.
– The Australian Country Party, of course, is not the only party that is interested in the export trade of Australia and the proper development of our cattle industry. I remind the honorable senator that, in the final analysis, it is the followers of the Australian Labour Party who have to eat this meat, and if the piece of steak I had for lunch to-day in this building is a fair indication of the condition of our prime stock, there is a large field for the examination and development of this industry.
– It was a bit of Victorian bullock.
– I do not know from where it came, but it was pretty tough. The Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) made reference in his secondreading speech to the fact that other interests, apart from those which it is proposed will nominate representatives for this committee, sought the opportunity of being represented. These included the wholesalers, retailers and meat processors.
– And the unions.
– It would not be a bad idea if a representative of the Australian Meat Industry Employees Union were associated with this committee. 1 remember when, at the close of World War fi., the Chifley Government brought forward a measure to stabilize the wool industry. lt was felt that, as a result of the cessation of the war, the wool industry, thrown on its own resources, and with a vast stock-pile of wool in existence, would have a very difficult time. That Government brought forward a measure for the levying of 2s. a bale of wool for the purpose of establishing a wool research organization. The men who processed the wool were included in that scheme. We provided for the shearers and the textile workers to be associated with that research scheme so that the whole of the ramifications of the wool industry could be properly investigated. Every phase through which the commodity would pass was included. We went back further than the time of shearing to the breeding of the sheep, which included investigation of pasture::, and then on to the shearing. As I have said, the textile workers were included1 in the representation provided by the bill that was brought forward. I thought that it was an excellent suggestion and I think that it would not be a bad idea if a somewhat similar scheme were established for this great industry.
One could go even further and endeavour to teach people how to prepare a meal from beef. The other day honorable senators passed a bill designed to popularize the demand for beef in Australia. A campaign to develop the culinary art would be one of the best means of inducing people to eat more meat. They would be better able to appreciate the commodity. Such a campaign is very necessary for the beef industry. How often have we heard of complaints of the toughness of beef or steak? What is the reason for them? I know that the retailer usually gets the blame. Customers threaten the butcher that they will go somewhere else because his meat is a bit tough. But he does not make it; he has to sell it. The meat might look good but be of poor quality. That is the position. The whole ramifications of the beef industry must be examined. I notice that one honorable senator made reference to the fact that when in Great Britain he went about among not the wholesalers but the retailers and talked about Australian beef. He said that they suggested that it was too big, or something like that. I know that that is the complaint - that our Australian beef is too big.
– The pieces are too big.
– The people in the United Kingdom are what we are becoming now. They are economically unable to purchase as much beef as they would like to purchase, and so they look for the small joints. Those are aspects that can be examined. I have a vivid recollection of herefords and shorthorns that came from Queensland, at times as far down as Victoria. There were no abattoirs and the local butcher would do his own killing. Drovers would bring in the wild Queensland bullocks - and they were pretty wild, too!
– They still are.
– Yes. Like some of our Queensland senators, they get a bit tough at times. However, we are dealing with a serious problem. I believe that the development of our export trade and1 a consideration of what should be done to improve this phase of our activities are serious matters.
As the Senate is debating these three related measures I should like to say a few words on another aspect. The Cattle and Beef Research Bill, now before us, is the principal bill, for it provides the means and authority for imposing the slaughter levy. As one of those who will be held responsible for the collection of this levy because I happen to be a member of the committee that manages the abattoir in my home town, I have looked carefully through the bill to ascertain what part the collectors of the charge are to play. All that I can find in the measure is provision making us responsible for the collection of the levy, which must not exceed 2/- a head. No mention is made of any reward to be given to those who perform this work as a collecting authority. There is no mention of any compensation for the time spent by officers in collecting this money, keeping the books and forwarding the money to the proper authority.
– Pro patria.
– Do it, or else!
– I think that there should be some way of reimbursing the people who are collecting the levy. They are threatened with pain and penalties if they fail to carry out the provisions of the legislation. In some places, of course, this work will occupy a good deal of the time of the officers. Who is to be responsible for this activity? Another aspect of the measure requires a little further consideration. It is all very well to talk about the abattoirs, but I remind the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton), who is in charge of the bill and the Department of Primary Industry, which is responsible for the framing of the bill and, ultimately, for its implementation, that there are places where cattle are slaughtered privately, such as our bacon factories and smallgoods firms. In various parts of the country people have their own abattoirs which are under the jurisdiction of local councils and the Board of Health. Authorized inspectors are employed to examine and to brand the carcasses. What is to happen at those places? What precautions are being taken to ensure that the fees are collected?
– They would all be known, would they not?
– Yes, but who is to be responsible?
– The owners are responsible.
– If they slaughter over ten beasts a week.
– They will be doing so, but somebody has to be responsible. In my home town our employee is the officer who does the inspecting and branding.
– Would you slaughter ten a week?
– We might slaughter about nine and a half cattle a week to supply 10,000 people. In that place one of the largest smallgoods firms does a very big trade. Those are matters that have to be looked at. Some provision should be made to recompense those who are to collect the levy. As the bill stands, these duties are to be cast upon municipalities or other people connected with the proper supervision of meat, though no contribution is to be made towards the cost.
Another valuable contribution to the meat industry would be made if, as the result of the work of this committee, something was done to popularize inland killing. 1 know that a good deal of discussion on this subject takes place, but we do not seem to be getting very far. The honorable member for McPherson (Mr. Barnes) said in another place that cattle-men of the North had to take any old price that might be offered by the men further down the line.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended I had made a reference to my belief that much good might result for the beef industry, and for the meat industry in general, if we could induce those concerned to go in for inland killing. I said that although a good deal of propaganda had been disseminated about this matter, very little real progress had been made. I also said that the honorable member for McPherson (Mr. Barnes) in the course of an excellent speech in another place, had mentioned the part that was played by vested interests in forcing growers to accept low prices for their cattle.
This is another illustration of the way in which vested interests are retarding the proper development of our beef industry. It would appear that those who have established meat works in the metropolitan areas are opposed to the introduction of inland killing centres. In my own State there are two or three freezing works that have flourished at one time or another, but which are now lying dormant and falling into decay simply because they are not used for the purpose for which they were established. As I have said, spasmodically there is agitation to get these inland centres going again, but vested interests have retarded these developments. I do r.ot know whether an investigation of these matters will come within the functions of the committee that is to be established. I do believe, however, that, with the transport facilities that are available, it is possible for killing to be done near the point of production, and for the meat to be conveyed to the seaboard for export. If this were done, the meat would be of better quality than it is when cattle are forced to travel mary miles on the hoof before being slaughtered.
There are many problems connected with this matter, and I believe that the bill, generally speaking, is a move in the right direction. It is indeed pleasing to find that the industry itself is prepared to support such a project. Too often it is said that various industries or interests go to the Government for a hand-out. Although the Government is to subsidize this scheme on a £1 for £1 basis, the men engaged in the industry will also come to the party and help the scheme financially.
That is all I want to say on the matter at this stage. Later, when the bill is at the committee stage, I will strongly urge the Senate to accept the amendment that has been foreshadowed on behalf of the Opposition by Senator Benn, which would have the effect of including on the committee a representative from the Northern Territory. Most of us have had an opportunity of visiting the Northern Territory. Those who have rot at least know something about it. We all know the development that can take place in the Territory, and I feel that if we were to appoint on the committee a representative from that part of Australia, we would give a greater incentive to those engaged in the cattle industry in the Territory to improve their herds and pastures, and to do all in their power to develop this great industry. The Northern Territory has a great potential, but I feel that it is not being scientifically developed. That is the impression I received from what I saw there. There is an attitude of laisser-faire, if you like to describe it in that way, and no concerted effort is being made. I believe that if provision were made for a representative from that part of Australia, a complete change in the outlook of the people there would be likely to develop, and that they would do much towards improving the position of the cattle industry.
– The three bills before the Senate, which we are dealing with together, are the Cattle and Beef Research Bill, the Cattle Slaughter Levy Bill and the Cattle Slaughter Levy Collection Bill. The Cattle Slaughter Levy Bill is the measure that imposes a levy upon cattle slaughtered for human consumption, while the Cattle Slaughter Levy Collection Bill provides the machinery for collecting the levy. The Cattle and Beef Research Bill is, of course, a different kind of measure. It provides for intensified research activities into the scientific, technical and economic problems of the beef industry.
This bill forms part of the programme that the Government has followed in recent years in endeavouring to help primary producers’ organizations that are willing to help themselves. Valuable results have come from this policy, and 1 have no doubt that similarly beneficial results will follow the introduction of this legislation.
I mentioned that research will be undertaken into the scientific, technical and economic problems of the beef industry. Dealing with the scientific side, let me say something about diseases. Previous speakers have spoken of the great amounts of money that are lost through the ravages of the cattle tick, which has been one of the greatest bugbears of the industry in Queensland and northern New South Wales for many years past. It is by no means easy to control the tick, and it is even more difficult to eradicate it completely. In spite of the best efforts that have been made in Queensland and New South Wales during the past decade or so to reduce the damage caused by the tick, it has been found very difficult indeed to control it and prevent it from spreading.
As those of us who are interested in cattle know, the ticks attach themselves to the beasts and multiply in very large numbers. They quickly cover the animal. Men have told me that a white beast suffering from cattle tick may appear, when seen from a distance, to be black and white. The recognized method of control for some years past has been dipping. Arsenical compounds have mainly been used. I am told that in some districts the producers have had containers placed in the paddocks, with a dipping compound in them, so that a beast may rub against a lever and allow portion of the liquid to drop on to it, thus giving it some relief. Obviously this could not be nearly as effective as dipping. I have been told that cattle wait outside the dips for their turn to go in, because they realize the relief that dipping can give them. New South Wales has been particularly concerned about the tick problem. On the north coast it has been prevalent, and strenuous endeavours have been made, with some limited success, to prevent it from spreading southwards. A very intensive campaign was waged until some eighteen months ago. At the inception of that campaign the regulations were enforced so strictly that great hostility was aroused among the producers but after some little time most of them co-operated very well indeed and it looked at one stage as though the campaign would be very successful. The last information 1 had on it was that some of the tick-infested beasts had managed to escape and there was a danger of the tick menace spreading. There had also been a considerable reduction of the staff controlling or carrying out the dipping. That was a great set-back to tick control in New South Wales.
In addition to the tick there is pleuropneumonia. Cattle so infected were coming down from the north until just recently. It has been amongst cattle in the northern areas that pleuro-pneumonia has been most in evidence. Cattle that have contracted pleuro-pneumonia have to go through a quarantine period before they go into what are known as cleared areas. We have a quarantine area in New South Wales through which cattle must pass before they can be cleared to go into Victoria and other areas. Here again considerable progress has been made due mainly to the very valuable work - as far as New South Wales is concerned - of our stock inspectors, or veterinary inspectors as we now call them. They have done very valuable work indeed and I think it is largely due to their efforts that pleuro-pneumonia has not proved to be nearly as serious in New South Wales as it may well have been.
One other scientific aspect that may be of very material value over the whole of Australia is the practice of artificial insemination that has been commenced. In New
South Wales we seem to be very backward compared with other States, and I understand that in New Zealand there are as many as 400,000 artificial inseminations in twelve months. South Australia, I understand, has done far more than New South Wales in this respect. This is a method, of course, for improving herds very quickly. It enables people to improve their herds at a fraction of the cost of other methods because they are able to get the strain of some of the best progeny. As a result, their herds benefit very much indeed.
Mention has been made of the Australian Cattle and Beef Research Committee that is to be set up by this legislation. Seven of the twelve members will represent the producers themselves. The other five members are to be drawn from bodies that I think should be represented on this committee. The chairman of the Australian Meat Board was a natural choice. I feel that we could not have a research committee in this industry that did not include him.
In Australia, we have breeds of beef cattle which vary very considerably according to the climate of the areas on which they are run. In New South Wales, the most popular breeds to-day are Shorthorns and Herefords and in each of these breeds we have the poll types - poll Shorthorns and poll Herefords. In the hilly country, the Hereford is preferred to the Shorthorn, while in the open plains - the lush, grazing portion of our State - the tendency seems to be to go in for Shorthorns. In addition, we have the Red Devons, a breed that is very popular with some of our producers. Then we have the black poll and the red poll, which are quite good dairy breeds also. The latest breed amongst the beef cattle has been the Santa Gertrudis. This breed was established in Queensland mainly on account of the tick menace, because it is much more resistant to tick than any of the other breeds and also because it is a very quickly maturing and1 a hardy type of cattle. This breed seems to have gained great prominence within a very short period of time.
One thing that the producers do keep in mind on most of their properties throughout New South Wales, particularly on the smaller areas, is the fact that the grazing of cattle improves the pastures for the sheep. The cattle go along and take the roughage and leave the more succulent pasture grasses for the sheep. The taking of the roughage helps the sweeter grasses to grow. So over the last ten years the smaller properties in New South Wales have carried far more cattle than for very many years past. Although this has been a very welcome trend while seasons have been good, there is a danger in it because when we run into drought years again it will take a great deal of feed and water to keep the cattle alive. I am afraid that some of our younger producers who have not experienced the troubles and vicissitudes encountered when trying to look after cattle in times of drought will have a very rude awakening. The trend over the last decade has been towards younger and quickermaturing beef. Instead of the large bullock of years ago the popular trend now is to get rid of the vealers when they are from nine to twelve months old. In most cases, the prices to the producers for cattle at that age compare very favorably with the prices received for cattle twelve months older. In some instances, the prices received are even better and the producer avoids the expense of keeping the beasts for twelve months longer.
In New South Wales, there has been a tendency for quite a number of years for inland producers to go to dairy farms along the coast and purchase what were known as bobby calves, that is, calves that had been taken from their mothers to enable the mothers to produce milk for sale. These calves were taken inland and fattened and eventually sold. Here again, we have seen a change of trend. Many of the dairy farmers have found it to be reasonably profitable to keep their bobby calves until a later stage when they can obtain more for them. This is just one of the trends that has been brought about by the higher prices being paid for beef. Throughout the period that I have mentioned we have seen a very marked improvement in the industry. There is no question on that score. One has only to travel through country districts to see the big changes and the improvements that have occurred in the beef cattle industry. The Chairman of the Australian Meat Board, when in Canberra a few months ago, confirmed this in no uncertain manner when replying to a question that he was asked.
It has been mentioned in this debate that one of the ways in which our beef industry can be helped is to improve pastures, and it has been pointed out that a large area of Australia lends itself to pasture improvement. That is true. But I am afraid that sometimes we are apt to be carried away with the idea of improved pastures. A great amount of land in Australia is not suitable for the growth of pastures that we have been testing up to date. Much of our inland is subjected to very rigorous temperature conditions and pastures will not stand up to the very hot summers that we experience. We must also remember that although the rainfall in certain areas may, in the aggregate, seem to be sufficient for improved pastures, much of the rain may come in two or three falls and not at a time to suit pasture growth. I do not decry efforts to improve our pastures - we must improve and extend them - but we must be realistic and admit that much of our country is not suitable for the pastures that we have tried to grow in the past.
The improvement in the quality of our beef cattle is a striking tribute to breeders who have set out to produce cattle of very high quality. Just as we praise the merino breeders who have ‘built up their flocks to such a high standard, so. too, the cattle raisers in Australia are deserving of high praise for their careful breeding and selection of cattle. Selective cattle breeding is not easy. At the Sydney show at Easter I saw some beautiful cattle. Three bulls were exhibited which subsequently brought more than 4,000 guineas each. One of them was sold for about 4,700 guineas. It was of the Santa Gertrudis breed. The improvement in our cattle breeds has not come about haphazardly. It has come about because of the careful study and hard work that have been associated with the breeding of first the sires and later the dams.
The committee that is to be set up under this legislation must inquire into methods of transport. Improved transport facilities are an obvious necessity. Reference has been made in this debate to a meeting held at Bourke on Friday last, attended by almost 300 people who desired to assist the inland by the formation of a road from Bourke to Mount Isa. At that meeting a committee was formed and that committee is now seeking assistance from the Commonwealth Government. It will also need the co-operation of the Queensland Government. Apart from the comparatively short stretch from Bourke to the Queensland border, the road will travel through the Channel country of Queensland. It has been suggested in some quarters that the scheme is opposed to the interests of Queensland. That is a very erroneous suggestion. It should find favour with the Queensland people and the Queensland Government. Its critics have submitted a counter proposal that a road be constructed on a different route. Perhaps the two proposals could be integrated or a new scheme could be evolved which contains the essence of the two proposals. I am satisfied that the people who were present at the meeting in Bourke are convinced that in the interests of Australia this road must go through, enabling that area of the country to be developed. In all things there must be a commencing point and I felt that the meeting last Friday initiated a scheme that will do much for the development of Australia. Australia’s interest was the thought uppermost in the minds of 90 per cent, of those present at the meeting. It was not a matter of whether New South Wales or Victoria would benefit by such a scheme to the detriment of Queensland. We felt that Queensland would benefit far more than any other State if a road of this kind were constructed. Queensland would benefit by being able to get her cattle out in times of drought. She would also benefit by being able to get cattle in for restocking purposes when the drought had ended.
I could not agree with the suggestion that a road should not go south. It was pointed out to the meeting that it was essential that roads should go east and west and north and south so that access could be had to relief country no matter where it may be. That was the idea in the minds of the people who attended that meeting. I hope that any parochial attiture is squashed at the outset because it is in Australia’s interests that that country should be opened up as speedily as possible. Once a road is cut through that country, feeder roads will radiate from it.
I agree that the Northern Territory must be developed, and the construction of this road would be a step towards that end.
Mention has been made during this debate of the need for the development of markets. In the last twelve months we have been very fortunate to have had a great demand in the United States for Australian beef. Some of that demand arose because exports from Argentina to the United States had practically ceased. One of the reasons why those exports had almost ceased was that cattle-raisers in Argentina had sacrificed so much of their breeding stock that they were not in a position to send the required amount of beef to the United States. During the debate on the Meat Export Control Bill I said that, although our breeding cattle had been reduced in numbers owing to producers selling them when prices were attractive, I felt that the future of our herds had not been endangered. I hope that I am proved correct in that belief.
It has been said that there is a great demand for chilled beef. Chilled beef is not as easy to market as frozen beef. 1 have not tasted chilled beef, but I understand that it is more palatable than frozen beef. I have been able to get all the fresh beef that I have ever required, except for a period when I was in the Army and had to eat frozen beef of very poor quality. I understand that frozen beef is easier to export than chilled beef. It will keep in cold storage for longer periods and consequently the time taken for its transport may be lengthened. For those reasons it is easier to handle.
Some reference has been made to inland killing. In New South Wales the tendency has been to establish abattoirs throughout the State. We have one at Wagga, one at Dubbo and one at Gunnedah. The Dubbo abattoirs, cost, I think, something like £1,000,000, and it has been successful. I understand that the plant at Gunnedah also has been successful. Instead of cattle having to be trucked for 300 miles, they are killed at these centres and the meat is transported.
– What about refrigeration?
– The refrigeration arrangements leave much to be desired.
Until a few weeks ago, there were a few rail cars with some ice in one corner and a wind blowing through, lt was most primitive. If we could have decent refrigerated cars to transport the meat 300 to 400 miles to the market, it is obvious that it would get there in much better condition than it does at present.
We are to impose a levy of 2s. a beast in order to finance this scheme, the Government subsidizing on a £1 for £1 basis, the funds raised in that way. That is a very equitable arrangement from the point of view of the producers. The maximum levy is to be 2s. a beast, and the levy will not be imposed on slaughterhouses killing less than 10 beasts. I am very glad indeed to have heard the expressions of approval from the Opposition. Honorable Senators opposite know that the scheme will be of great benefit to producers of beef in all the States and, consequently, of great benefit to Australia generally. 1 have much pleasure in supporting the bill.
– Coming into the debate at this late stage, I do not feel disposed to take up much of the time of the Senate in discussing the establishment of a research fund for the further development of the great cattle industry of Australia. However, knowing that this legislation was to be introduced, and being very interested in the subject, I felt it to be my duty to do a little research and reading. I do not claim to be an authority on cattle production, but I have had some association with the industry, and for that reason I feel disposed to say a few words in support of the measures.
We all realize the importance of this legislation. As was outlined by the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) in his secondreading speech, this is another case of a fund being created for research into the problems of a primary industry. I think it is a very good thing that we are extending research into this industry. It was Senator Sheehan, I think, who said that the industry had been carried on in a somewhat haphazard way. Research in an industry like this can only do good. We know the importance of the cattle industry to Australia. It provides the meat protein requirements of an increasing population, and at the same time helps us to build up our balances overseas. The industry is important to the economy as a whole, and it can be assisted to a great degree by more intensive research into the problems that confront it.
We are all aware of how the industry has grown in recent years. In 1949-50, Australia produced about 600,000 tons of beef, and to-day the production is nearly 1,000,000 tons. That increase is due, at least in part, to certain governmental measures. I think the fifteen-year meat agreement has helped considerably to accelerate the expansion of the meat industry. Despite fluctuations due to seasonal conditions, we have been able steadily to increase our beef production, and now we have reached the relatively satisfactory position where we are producing approximately 1,000,000 tons of beef each year. Senator O’sullivan has just reminded me that Queensland is the greatest cattleproducing State. I agree that the natural conditions in Queensland are conducive to the breeding and fattening of cattle, perhaps to a greater degree than in other States, but the cattle industry is by no means confined to Queensland. An increase in the industry is taking place in my own State, South Australia. In some of the higher rainfall areas in South Australia we have stepped up cattle production, and the metropolitan area of Adelaide is deriving a large proportion of its beef supplies from those areas, particularly those in the south-eastern corner of the State, where the quality of the beef produced is unexcelled. I emphasize that the quality of the beef cattle produced in the south-east of South Australia, and in the other higher rainfall areas of the State, bears comparison with the quality of the beef cattle produced anywhere else in Australia.
The cattle industry is important throughout the whole of Australia, but as far as Queensland is concerned, it is one of the mainstays of that great State. I believe that this bill is intended to foster the industry in Queensland as well as in the other States. We know that we have had to face very severe competition in the past in marketing our beef overseas. We talk about our great cattle industry. Australia is only a small producer compared with some other countries, but it is a great exporting country. There is no doubt about that. The same can be said of wheat.
Australia is low down the list of wheatproducing countries, but it is one of the great wheat-exporting countries. We are one of the mainstays of the Mother Country as far as her beef requirements are concerned. Argentine was our principal competitor, but she has receded from that position in recent years, mainly by virtue of the fact that the standard of living in the Argentine has risen and she is absorbing a great deal of her own beef production. Australia is pre-eminent in the production of beef for export to England. I am not trying to under-estimate the value of our exports to America, but what we export to America is only a relatively small amount. Although that trade is particularly valuable at this stage, it is relatively unimportant compared with our trade with the Mother Country.
I think the subject has been examined effectively by all honorable senators who have spoken. I do not want to make invidious comparisons, but I would say that I was very interested to hear Senator Scott on this subject. He showed that he was particularly well versed in the problems confronting the industry. I was very interested in his remarks about the beef cattle experimental station on the Katherine. I have not had an opportunity to visit that area, but what he said indicated to me, at any rate, that something is being done in the Northern Territory to further the interests of cattle production.
The cattle industry of the Northern Territory has had many ups and downs. The Territory is perplexed by problems that are proving very difficult to solve. I think it augurs well for the future that there is in existence an experimental station on the Katherine River. Senator Scott, I understand, said that some of the problems of the industry, particularly in regard to pasture development, are being investigated at that station. I know that the honorable senator is well-informed on the subject of cattle production in the Kimberleys region, whereas I am not. In fact, I have not had first-hand knowledge of many of the areas mentioned during this debate, although I have travelled through certain of the cattleraising areas of Queensland. I know that some of those areas in Queensland have great potential in respect of beef production. I have been to the area around
Mount Isa and have travelled on the Townsville-Mount Isa railway. I know the shortcomings of that railway line in regard to beef transport, although I believe it has done a remarkably good job in transporting beef cattle to be slaughtered at the Townsville depot.
I have had a look at some of the coastal areas of Queensland, and in this respect I believe that Queensland has prospects that are relatively undeveloped. When I have been travelling in those areas I have frequently wondered to myself why there were not more cattle. However, I may have been looking at things in a superficial way and have been completely wide of the mark. Nevertheless, I am convinced that Queensland has some remarkably good areas that are capable of further development by those concerned with the cattle industry. Research into problems associated with the industry should achieve a great deal.
I understand that the total amount of money to be raised under this legislation will be approximately £640,000 a year. That will be a nucleus. As we know, research is terribly expensive, and I do not think that that sum will really go very far when a comprehensive organization, covering all aspects of the industry, begins to operate. I think that the sum will prove to be inadequate, but its provision is a very good start, and it should at least enable the problems of research to be taken in hand.
Having touched on the matters to which I have referred, Mr. Deputy President, I wish now to invite the attention of honorable senators to a journal which I had the pleasure to receive not long ago. I thought that it might come in handy during a debate of this kind, so I kept it by me and have found it most interesting reading. I commend it to honorable senators who are interested in this subject. It is the report of an economic survey of the beef cattle industry of the Leichhardt-Gilbert region of Queensland by Mr. J. H. Kelly, who is connected with the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. Senator Benn nods his head, indicating that he is familiar with the work. I assure the Senate that it is a very well documented . survey covering not only the problems associated with the beef industry in the Leichhardt-Gilbert region, which is the region around the Gulf of Carpentaria, but also other major beef-producing areas of Australia. Being a South Australian, I was greatly interested in the small part of the survey that was devoted to the Channel country.
We hear an awful lot about this wonderful Channel country. 1 have heard quite a lot of references to it in this chamber to-day. I was rather interested to read in this survey to which I have referred that the Channel country is one of the lightest cattle-carrying areas in the whole of Australia. We have to remember that because of the uncertainty of the climate and of the flow of the rivers, there is great difficulty in maintaining in that area numbers of cattle for lengthy continuous periods. As Senator Sir Neil O’sullivan reminds me, cattle can be fattened in the area, but there are times when there are disastrous drought conditions, when the rivers do not flow. There is no flooding, and consequently there are extremely heavy stock losses. I note that Mr. Kelly states that, as a whole, the Channel country is one of the lightest cattlecarrying areas in, Australia. He says that it is doubtful whether the part of the area that is within Queensland would carry four head to the square mile, and he also states that the part of the area in South Australia would carry only about two head to the square mile. ft can be seen, therefore, that we can get a somewhat wrong idea in this respect. There is always a certain amount of romance associated with the Channel country, but I point out to the Senate that it is relatively unimportant as a cattleproducing area, compared with the coastal area of Queensland, extending from Townsville south to Brisbane. The Channel country carries less than 10 per cent, of the number of cattle that that coastal area could carry. It is important that we concentrate on the areas that are the sure cattleproducing areas of the country. We do not want to be swayed too much by sentiment about the Channel country which, after all is said and done, is pretty forbidding, and other areas.
T know that we in South Australia receive some of our beef supplies from the Channel country, along the noted Birdsville track. By the time that some of the old cattle get to the trucking yards at Maree, they are pretty tough. They have been on the road for months at a time. There is a great problem in droving cattle down through inhospitable country to the railhead at Marree for transport to Adelaide. Sometimes I am surprised that their condition is so good.
– The Channel country is fattening country.
– I know that. I am referring to the droving of fattened cattle down to Marree, and I am saying that they must have been remarkably good when they started out, because not all of them are in bad condition when they reach us. But whether they provide meat of good quality is another matter altogether.
The Australian cattle industry owes Great Britain a great deal. We recall the breeds mentioned by Senator McKellar. The United Kingdom has had magnificent achievements in the establishment of cattle breeds. We have the Hereford, and the Shorthorn which is particularly well-adapted to Australia, especially to the inland areas. These breeds emanated from Britain, as did the Devon and Angus. They are all magnificent cattle. We need a good deal more research into breeding because we have the affliction of disease, which has been a very serious problem. To meet it, we have with some success introduced outside breeds such as the Zebu, the Santa Gertrudis, and Brahmin. I remember seeing in Papua a herd of Shorthorn cattle to which, in order to overcome that country’s humid conditions a Santa Gertrudis male had been introduced with some success. I thought that the progeny of that animal were very good indeed. As a matter of fact, the first generation calves did not show very much of the pronounced hump that is characteristic of the Santa Gertrudis breed. As far as I could see, these seemed a type of cattle that would be quite suitable for beef production.
Disease of cattle has been mentioned a good deal. Tick, of course, is the great problem of the cattle industry. Pleuropneumonia can be guarded against. The buffalo fly also presents a problem. I do not know for sure how an animal is affected by buffalo fly attack. I am told that this is a stinging insect, which has a very adverse effect on the skin of the animal and a debilitating effect on the carcass. The latter effect, we know, also follows tick infestation. The tick, of course, is a bloodsucking insect and regular dipping is the only effective way of dealing with it.
That brings me to the point at which 1 suggest that many of our cattle-producing areas need better management. We must realize that some of them are so vast that preventive measures present a problem. That does not mean to say that we should not tackle the problem in a more effective way. I believe that many of our cattle runs are inadequately staffed. There are vast areas, in some instances extending over many square miles, where it is almost impossible to have regular yarding and dipping. Although improvements on cattle properties have been extended in recent years, in some instances they leave much to be desired. These are practical problems associated with the industry. I believe that in due course we shall gradually improve the situation and by so doing improve the prospects of the industry.
We know the difficulty of some of the transport problems. These have been mentioned by quite a number of speakers in this debate. We must have a blending of rail transport with road transport, while realizing that in this country we must depend on the old method of droving for many years to come. That is my personal opinion. In the near future, at any rate, we shall not get any solution of our transport problems other than that which was suggested by a group of interested people at Bourke the other day. I believe that their suggestion has merit. The getting together of these interested parties is a step in the right direction.
Much more investigation can be made of the training of personnel in the fostering of the cattle industry. It is important that we put into the field people who are competent to advise cattle owners on the best methods of production. We know how effective extension officers have been in agriculture, and there is no reason why we should not effectively train extension officers to help the cattle producer in some of the problems that confront him. Some of the money raised by this levy could be devoted to the training of extension officers to assist in that direction.
The personnel of the committee that, the bill contemplates provide a pretty fair coverage of the industry. The Graziers Federal Council will have four representatives. This council was in fact the body that initiated the scheme. There will be two representatives of the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation and one of the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation. The committee will also include the chairman of the Australian Meat Board, one representative of the Australian Agricultural Council, one representative of Australian universities concerned with meat research, one representative of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and one representative of the Department of Primary Industry. The committee, therefore, will be a very comprehensive one, covering the whole range of beef production. I am glad to see that there will be a representative of the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation. Some might wonder why the dairying industry should be represented, but a tremendous amount of beef is produced by the Australian dairy farmer. Heavier breeds of cattle are very often crossed with dairy breeds, and quite a proportion of the beef that finds its way to metropolitan markets is produced on dairy farms. Quite a few problems are associated with animal husbandry in the dairying industry. We know how effective this industry has been over the years in combating diseases that afflict dairy herds. However, we have a long way to go towards the solution of some of the problems that are associated with the higher producing areas. One of them that I have in mind is a disease, if you like to call it a disease - strictly speaking it is a complaint - which carries off many thousands of our cattle annually. I refer to bloat, or hoven, the technical name for it. It has been estimated that we lose in one State alone approximately 15,000 head of cattle every year as a result of bloat. That is a tremendous economic loss. We do not associate it with the beef industry particularly, but it is, in part, associated with that industry. So I say that it is quite important to have research into such a matter.
I shall not take up any more of the time of the Senate. I believe that the bill is a very important one. It is important for the industry and for Australia. I think that it is a step in the right direction, even though a long overdue step, as a matter of fact.
We need research into it. We need all the knowledge that we can gain from trained personnel who are investigating the problems of the industry, and this bill will provide the necessary wherewithal to set up an organization which, in the long run, will prove of inestimable benefit to the cattle industry in Australia.
– in reply - Once again it is my pleasure to reply to a secondreading debate which has shown that from all sides of the Senate approbation is paid to the general principles of the bill. I seem to have been doing that quite a lot lately, which must indicate the excellence of the legislation produced in this chamber by the Government and backed by the Opposition. There appears to be no objection whatever from any quarter to the proposition that a levy should be struck on the slaughter of beef cattle for human consumption and that it should be expended for the purposes of research into better ways of combating diseases that strike beef cattle and of channelling cattle to local markets and to the seaboard for shipment overseas, and for matters connected with the betterment of the industry generally.
In the course of the debate there have been some very interesting suggestions as to the way in which moneys in the Cattle and Beef Research Trust Account should be spent. Senator Scott, I think, believed that the air should be the way by which cattle should be moved. Senator McKellar, 1 believe, thought that the road was the way; and no doubt other people think rail is the way in which it should be done. But at least after the fund has been established and the Australian Cattle and Beef Research Committee has examined all these questions, then I am sure the views expressed will be taken into consideration and any decisions reached or suggestions made by the committee will once again, and perhaps more appositely, be the subject for either attack or agreement by those who have views on these matters.
There was a point raised in the debate by Senator Sheehan who believed that the fund having been established, the collection of the moneys by municipalities, in some cases, would be a great, or at any rate a significant, imposition on them. Senator Sheehan believed that they should receive some compensation for collecting the money that would accrue as a result of the slaughter of the beasts. I suggest that as things operate at present, a municipality that owns an abattoir allows people to kill in it - either the people themselves or on behalf of a number of others from whom they buy cattle - and it charges those who kill in that abattoir. For the purpose of assessing the charge the municipality keeps a tally of the number of beasts that are killed by each slaughterer and then makes out a bill for so many beasts that have been killed. All that will be required, under this measure will be the addition of 2s. to that sum - the mere writing down of 2s. below the sum, whatever it may be, that the municipal abattoir now charges. It would not be any great disability, nor would it cost anything more than the municipality is at present required to meet.
– Except 5d. for the letter to post the cheque.
– I will agree to that point. It might cost Sd. per cheque. I think that is all I need to say at this stage of the debate. Once again I remark that it is pleasant to have this general approbation, and once again I commend those who have quite obviously gone into this matter and presented to the Senate their own reasoned views, even though they might not be the same. Indeed, it is the function of a chamber such as this to have opposing views backed by evidence and from those opposing views to distil, as we hope this bill will help to be distilled, the best ways in which to kill and market the cattle that will earn for Australia the export income that we so sorely need.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 8 - by leave - taken together.
, - I should like to speak on clause 6 (1.) (a), which reads -
Subject te the next succeeding sub-section, moneys standing to the credit of the Research Account may, with the approval of the Minister, be expended for the following purposes: -
scientific, economic or technical research in connexion with matters related either directly or indirectly to the raising of cattle or the production or distribution of beef and other products of the slaughter of cattle;
I should like to ask the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton), who is in charge of the bill, whether scientific, economic or technical research will cover research into the various systems of transport of beef and whether the committee would have the power to look into the costs of the various systems with a view of advising the Government as to which would be the most economical system for the future development of the industry and of the Commonwealth. 1 would also like to ask the Minister whether the committee will have power to make recommendations to the Government regarding depreciation allowances designed to improve production of cattle in the areas concerned. I would like to know, further, whether the committee will have power to recommend taxation concessions as a means of increasing production.
– I can say, first, that the committee will have the right, subject to the limitations set out in the clause, to conduct research into methods of handling and distributing beef - the word “ distribution “ is specifically used - either on the hoof or in carcass form. Clause 6(1.) (a) says, in part: -
Moneys . . . may … be expended for the following purposes: - . . . technical research in connexion with . . . distribution of beef.
That would cover beef on the hoof or in carcass form.
As to the second question asked by the honorable senator, I would say that the committee would have no right to make recommendations with regard to taxation, because that is rather outside the field of scientific, economic or technical research. But of course the organizations that will elect representatives as members of the committee, such as the Graziers’ Federal Council, will have, as they have now, the right to make suggestions to the Government as to the way in which they think the industry can best be helped by means of taxation legislation.
– Clause 6(1 .)(b) reads: -
Subject to the next succeeding sub-section, moneys standing to the credit of the Research Account may, with the approval of the Minister, be expended for the following purposes: -
the training of persons for the purposes of any such research.
Is it envisaged that the various State departments of agriculture and the various agricultural colleges will be given grants to train persons, or will these moneys be used mainly on the research level in conjunction with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization? I would point out that excellent work is being done by the various State governments, up to the limit of their financial capacity, in training men in various fields of agricultural science. But there is a limit past which they cannot go, and I believe that if the provision for training persons for the purposes of research were extended, so that the States could get the benefit of portion of this fund, a more equitable distribution would result, and each State would benefit from the services of the personnel who would be trained.
There is another point on which I would like some information from the Minister. I mentioned in my second-reading speech the importance of improving the standard of our beef herds, and I spoke of the small amount of information that goes direct from the C.S.I.R.O. and the Division of Agricultural Economics to the grower himself. I believe that a fund such as the one in question should be able to support quite an extensive publicity campaign, so that people who make application, or, for that matter, all substantial beef producers, may have their names placed on a mailing list and be forwarded the very valuable publications that are issued, such as the one I have before me at the moment, which is the quarterly review of the Division of Agricultural Economics. This will ensure that such publications actually get into the hands of the producers.
There are very many publications these days on scientific developments in rural production which are readily available at the academic level and readily available to people who have access to libraries. But the man whose full time is taken up with the everyday activities of running a cattle property does not have time to spend on anything but the immediate needs of his property. Therefore, I would like to see a portion of this fund directed towards publicity, so that any producer desiring to do so could have his name placed on the mailing lists of both the C.S.I.R.O. and the Division of Agricultural Economics. The producers will then have the benefit of results of the research work that will continue to be done and will expand when money is provided from the fund.
We are not going to get anywhere unless the results of research work are conveyed to the men who are actually looking after the pastures and the cattle. They are the people on the practical end of the industry and the information must be conveyed to them. It does not matter how much we talk here, how much we improve facilities in the abattoirs, how good we make the harbour installations or how much refrigeration is provided in the ships. If we do not get the information to the men on the land, in terms that they can understand, so that they can apply it, we will be failing in our main purpose. I would like to have the assurance of the Minister that this measure will enable my suggestion to be carried out, and that the information obtained as a result of this research work will find its way to the people who count most in the industry. I would like to be assured that, through the medium of publicity and public relations, the closest contact will be maintained with the men on the operational end of the industry.
– In reply to the matter raised by the honorable senator, I point out that clause 6 (1.) (d) of the bill, as indeed the honorable senator knows, provides for the publication of reports, periodicals and books in connexion with scientific, economic or technical matters. As to how much would be expended on the publication of reports, periodicals, books and so on and as to how they would be distributed after they had been published would be matters for the decision of the Australian Cattle and Beef Research Committee itself which is being set up under this bill to administer this trust fund. A majority of the members of that body will be grower producers. It will be the function of the members to decide, as it were - indeed, definitely - a list of priorities for research including such things as the distribution of periodicals, and having decided that list of priorities, to use - and this is the other point the honorable senator made - but not to duplicate the existing sources of research. So if the committee decided it was absolutely necessary before anything else to attack the problem of tick infestation, then for that purpose money would be provided and for that purpose also one or other of the existing research institutions - either a State institution or the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, whichever was the better for the purpose - would be used for the training of persons or to supplement research already going on in that institution.
Clauses agreed to.
Clause 9. (1.) The Committee shall consist of -
.- I move -
At the end of sub-clause (1.) add the following paragraph: - “ (i) one person, nominated by the Northern Territory Pastoral Lessees’ Association and the Central Australian Pastoral Lessees’ Association, to represent the beef cattle producers of the Northern Territory.”.
In support of the amendment, I point out that the two associations referred to therein are major associations by reason of the fact that they are the associations of many cattlegrowers in the Northern Territory. I think I mentioned during my speech at the secondreading stage that the cattle population of the Northern Territory is 1,000,000 head. Over the years - even throughout the drought years that have been experienced in the Commonwealth - that number has remained static. The importance of the cattle industry to the Northern Territory cannot be overstated. It is of the greatest importance because it is a natural cattlebreeding and cattle-raising area. At the present time, no doubt, the Northern Territory is enjoying a fair measure of prosperity, due entirely to the winning of certain minerals in the Territory, but there is a possibility that the production of minerals will wane at some time in the future and once more the economy of the Northern Territory will be almost entirely dependent upon the cattle industry.
We do know that cattle in the Northern Territory, like those in Queensland, are subject to tick infestation and to the same diseases because they are raised in the same climate and in similar grazing fields.
When speaking of the cattle industry in the north, many people are under the impression that there is only one-way cattle traffic for Northern Territory producers; that is, all the cattle raised there leave the Territory and go either to South Australia or Queensland. By the clause we are considering, we are saying, in effect, to the people of the Northern Territory, “ Notwithstanding the fact that your cattle are subject to the same diseases as cattle in the various States and that those who are engaged in the cattle industry in the Northern Territory are faced with similar problems to those confronting the cattlegrowers in the States, you are not to be allowed representation on the Australian Cattle and Beef Research Committee “. To my way of thinking, that is not a democratic attitude for this Government to adopt. The Government is saying to the cattle-growers, in effect, “ We will deal with your cattle at the meatworks or abattoirs at Adelaide or elsewhere and we will take 2s. per beast from you, but you are not to be allowed representation on the committee “. In the interests of fair play, the Government should accept my amendment; indeed, I think it should welcome the amendment.
The Barkly Tableland in the Northern Territory is one of the greatest tracts of grazing country in the world. I do not think it would be possible to see a better tract of grazing country anywhere. I believe that when large stations such as Alexandra Downs, Victoria River Downs and Brunette Downs are sub-divided into smaller holdings, an impetus will be given to the cattle industry in the Northern Territory. The Northern Territory is a part of the Commonwealth and notwithstanding the fact that it is regarded as a Territory the Government should permit it to have one representative on the committee. That is all that is asked for. The Northern Territory is dependent almost entirely upon the cattle industry and, for the reasons I have mentioned, I hope that the amendment will be accepted.
– The Government does not feel it right to accept this amendment for a number of reasons. One is that it would immediately lead to great difficulty if the Government were to accept a representative from this Territory or that State rather than a representative from a federal organization embracing the organization in all the States and all the territories. Secondly, the formulation of this bill was the result of close consultation with the growers’ federal representatives throughout Australia - the Graziers Federal Council and so on. This matter was not specifically raised. But above all, Sir, apart from those disabilities which would result from doing what the honorable senator suggests we would have Western Australia immediately - and rightly, if it came to be a matter of a State representative - demanding one representative for sure or two representatives for sure and Queensland would demand one. But apart from that, there is a completely open channel by which a representative of the Northern Territory Pastoral Lessees Association and Central Australian Pastoral Lessees Association of which the honorable senator spoke, can be represented on this committee. The organization to which the honorable senator referred is affiliated with the Graziers Federal Council, which has a right under the bill to appoint four representatives to the committee of management, and I have no doubt that through that channel any significant cattle-producing area, through its own grower organization - and not through government interference - will appoint its own representatives. Indeed, in the case of the Australian Meat Board, to which the Graziers Federal Council has the right to appoint two representatives, already one of them has been appointed from the Northern Territory to represent the areas in the Territory. So, I do not feel that any injustice has been done. It is quite certain that the federal organizations of the growers do not object and have not objected to this proposal and I think there would be great disabilities if we accepted the amendment.
.- The Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) has said that he could not accept Senator Benn’s amendment because the Government would be faced with great difficulties if it were to provide for representation of this Territory or that State. I feel that there is merit in the amendment. At this stage, when we are setting up this committee, we should be prepared to recognize the contribution that the Northern Territory makes to the beef industry of this country. Acceptance of the amendment would show that we are aware of the special problems that exist in the Northern Territory. Not only is the Northern Territory a source of supply in the way of forward store cattle that come into Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria for fattening, but it is also an area crying out for development. A representative from that area would be of great benefit to the committee. At present there is no guarantee that the Graziers Federal Council will have a delegate from the Northern Territory.
– There is no guarantee that it will not have two delegates from the Northern Territory.
– I agree with the Minister. The Northern Territory plays a vital part in Australia’s beef industry. Conditions in the Northern Territory differ from those obtaining in the States. Inaccessibility is a major problem in the Northern Territory. At present the Northern Territory is in the early formative stages of developing an export trade from Darwin. Many of the problems that apply to the Territory do not apply to the States and I think we would be remiss if we did not stipulate that the committee should have at least one representative from the Northern Territory. The committee is a comprehensive one and appears to be well balanced, but the Northern Territory cattle breeders should be represented.
As I see it, the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation will protect the interests of the wool-growers.
– Where will they come from?
– They will certainly not come from the Northern Territory because wool is not grown there to any extent. The Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation would look primarily to the interests of meat processors. It would represent the interests of the abattoirs and the meat exporters. The Australian Agricultural Council is a very august body but is more interested in the intensely cultivated parts of Australia, whose problems are different from the problems of the Northern Territory. The committee will comprise, also, one member representing the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and I must admit that that body will have the interests of the Northern Territory at heart, but it is a Commonwealth instrumentality that is not specifically interested in the Northern Territory. On the committee will be one person representing such universities as are engaged in research into matters affecting the beef industry, but there is no university in the Northern Territory that is directing its attention specifically to these problems. So we come to the Department of Primary Industry. Its interests in part extend to the Northern Territory but the purport of Senator Benn’s amendment is that the Parliament itself should say that it recognizes the importance of the Northern Territory and its great contribution to this industry. If we include a provision for at least one member of the Northern Territory Pastoral Lessees Association and the other body to be represented on the committee, the whole field would be covered more effectively than it is at present. Provision should be made that if four persons represent the Graziers Federal Council, one of them should be a delegate from the Northern Territory.
For those reasons I support the amendment that has been proposed by Senator Benn. I hope that the Government will see the reason behind my argument. No provision is made in the bill for a Northern Territory representative on the committee, and this omission should be rectified at once.
– I think I should briefly reply to Senator O’Byrne. The manner of approaching this matter that has appealed to the Government, and which still appeals to it, is to leave to the premier producers organizations in Australia the right to decide who their representatives will be on a committee that is to spend taxes collected from the growers of beef. If we told the Graziers Federal Council that it may nominate four people to the committee, but that one shall be from a particular territory, there would be nothing to stop us from saying that another representative shall be from here and another from there. In the end the producers would not have the real say as to where the representatives should come from. I think we can leave this matter of representation to their good sense, knowing that they will see that these northern areas of Australia are properly represented through the organization to which the various State and Territory organizations themselves belong. After all, there is but little difference between the north of Western Australia, the Northern Territory and the north of Queensland as far as cattle-raising is concerned. Let us, as a government, refrain from deciding who these organizations should pick or from where the representatives should specifically come.
.- I feel that the Minister for the Navy has more or less avoided facing up to the point that I made, because the Graziers Federal Council is predominantly a wool-growing organization. It has its cattle representatives, but, Australia being a wool-growing country, the overwhelming majority of members of the Graziers Federal Council are wool-growers. The same applies to its affiliated organizations. I do not think we should leave this matter to chance. There could be a strong tendency for the interests of the Northern Territory to be overlooked. I feel that we would be taking too much for granted if we left the Graziers Federal Council to make up its own mind, when the Parliament would like to see the interests of the Northern Territory protected to the full.
If this amendment is not accepted, perhaps the wish of the Parliament could be expressed in some other way, so that the Graziers Federal Council, when appointing its delegates, could give serious consideration to including a representative of the Northern Territory. If the Minister were to express the view that representation on the committee should be extended to the Northern Territory, I feel certain that the Graziers Federal Council would be influenced by that expression of opinion. Therefore, I should like to hear the Minister develop a little further his views, and the views of the Government, on the suggestion that the Graziers Federal Council make certain that there is on this committee a representative to put forward the views of the beef producers in the Northern Territory.
– The only comment I make is that the Government wishes to leave it in the hands of the Graziers Federal Council to decide from where the representatives on the committee will come.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 10 to 18 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 27th April (vide page 601), on motion by Senator Gorton -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
.- I refer to sub-clause (2.) of clause 5, which reads -
For the purposes of this section, an animal shall not be taken to have been slaughtered for human consumption if its carcase cannot lawfully be used for human consumption by reason of its having been condemned or rejected by an inspector in pursuance of a law of the Commonwealth or of a State or Territory of the Commonwealth.
I should like the Minister to inform me whether this legislation extends to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. No reference is made in it to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, but there is a cattle-growing industry there which will expand as time goes on, because some of the country is admirably suited to beef cattle raising, and, for that matter, also to dairy cattle raising.
The clause which I have just read contains the words, “in pursuance of a law of the Commonwealth or of a State or Territory of the Commonwealth “. That is the only mention I can find in the legislation of a Territory of the Commonwealth. I should like to know whether any of the provisions relating to the imposition of the levy, the application of research and the collection of the levy will extend to Papua and New Guinea. I have seen some of the dairy herds that were introduced into the Bulolo Valley, and I understand that since that time herds have been taken to the highland areas of New Guinea, which appear to me to be admirably suited to the raising of cattle. The time will come when considerable numbers of cattle will be raised in those areas.
– I am informed, Mr. Chairman, that the provisions of this bill could apply to the Northern Territory at the moment, because there are inspectors there, but that they could not apply at the moment to Papua or to New Guinea, because there are no inspectors in those areas.
.- I am rather interested in what the Minister has just said. Am I to infer that beef cattle slaughtered for human consumption in Papua and New Guinea are not inspected at all? The Minister made a most remarkable statement. I know that my question does not arise under the bill, but it arises from the statement just made by the Minister.
– My information is that there are no beef inspectors in Papua or New Guinea at the moment. The beef industry is in its infancy up there. In any case, the legislation does not apply.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without requests; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 27th April (vide page 601), on motion by Senator Gorton -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Advice was recently received from the United Kingdom Government that it proposes to ratify the International Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone 1958 and that, as the levying of charges on foreign ships by reason only of their passage through the territorial sea is prohibited by Article 18 of that convention, the collection of colonial light dues was being discontinued. Colonial light dues have been collected by the United Kingdom Government, under the relevant provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act 1894, from the master or owner of every ship which has passed and has had the benefit of any lighthouse, beacon or buoy on the coast of a British possession. Since 1932, where ships have arrived at ports in Australia after having passed and benefited from lighthouses and buoys located in the Bahamas and on Sombrero Island, in the West Indies, the Australian Government has collected the dues on behalf of the United Kingdom Government.
The authority for such collections, which have been made by collectors of customs on behalf of the Department of Shipping and Transport, has been the Colonial Light Dues Collection Act 1932-1936 and the Colonial Light Dues (Rates) Act 1932-1936, and regulations thereunder. Remittance to the United Kingdom Government of the dues so collected has been made from the Consolidated Revenue Fund by authority of the Colonial Light Dues Appropriation Act 1932. In view of the fact that, as I have mentioned, the collection of colonial light dues comes into conflict with the provisions of the International Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone 1938, which it proposes to ratify, the United Kingdom Government requested that the collection in Australia of all such dues should cease as from 25th March, 1960, and action accordingly has been taken.
As from 25th March, 1960, therefore, the Australian legislation relating to colonial light dues rates and collection should cease to have effect. The bill under consideration therefore provides for the repeal of the Colonial Light Dues Collection Act 1932-1936 and the Colonial Light Dues (Rates) Act 1932-1936, with effect from that date. The regulations under those acts will then automatically cease to have effect. The bill also provides for the repeal of the Colonial Light Dues Appropriation Act 1932, with effect from 1st July, 1960. This time margin will allow for the completion of the necessary financial adjustments with the United Kingdom. The Treasurer concurs in the proposed repeal of this act. The need for the measure is obvious and it will doubtless receive the support of all honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Kennelly) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 28th April (vide page 627), on motion by Senator Gorton -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– While the Senate is very interested in the subject of this bill, I feel that it is not appropriate at this late hour to give a long dissertation on whaling and the part that it has played in the development of Australia. That is a thesis which could well be developed at length, because since the earliest days whaling has been one of our important industries. This bill has a twofold purpose, with which the Opposition agrees. The main purpose is to repeal the Whaling Act 1935-1948 and to apply the provisions of the International Whaling Convention of 1946 and the protocol of 1956. We as a party are always eager to confirm Australia’s participation in international conventions. This international relationship can only be made through the agency of the Commonwealth, since international bodies do not recognize the States as such. Therefore, State legislation may be necessary later, within the framework of the convention.
There is, I think, Mr. Deputy President, a weakness in all our international legislation, and that is that there is no agency which can enforce such legislation on those who are participants in it. That is to say, if there is any violation of this agreement, there is no international court already established - perhaps the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) will correct me if I am wrong - to which the other signatories to this convention may take their complaints. We regret very much, Sir, that since last year two of the chief whaling countries of the world have withdrawn from the convention. I refer to The Netherlands and Norway. Since the earliest civilized times, Norsemen have been great seafarers. We in Australia owe quite a deal to the seamen of Norway for helping us to build up our whaling industry.
There was some doubt last year whether Japan would continue to be a member of the convention. She has agreed to do so, and we now find that agreement has to be reached between the four great whaling nations, namely, Great Britain, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Japan and Australia. Immediately after the war, I was a member of an advisory committee which dealt with the Japanese peace settlement. In the course of our negotiations we were privileged to have the advice and direction of the late Sir Douglas Mawson. One of the pieces of great wisdom which he imparted to the committee at that time concerned the very thing that has now come to pass. He warned of the necessity to safeguard the Antarctic waters against the depletion of whales. Honorable senators may know that whales do not multiply very rapidly. Their wholesale destruction had been a feature, before World War II., of Japanese participation in the industry. Such depletion was what the committee to which I have referred feared most. Fortunately, that did not come to pass. The Japanese did not become reckless in their treatment of Antarctic whales, but the northern European countries, by their methods of whaling, did completely destroy the whaling industry in the Arctic. There is now no whaling industry to speak of in the Arctic. This convention is designed to ensure that that kind of thing does not happen in the Antarctic. We, who are very close to those waters, are very interested in the convention and the conditions appertaining thereto.
At this stage 1 should like to bring before the Senate the might of Soviet intervention in whaling. The Soviet has just brought into commission a whaling ship named “ Soviet Ukraine “, of 44,000 tons, which is almost as large as “ Canberra “ at present being built for the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company. This whaling vessel is as high as a fourteen-storey building and its size is unique in the history of the whaling industry. This makes it very important that we should have Russia as a signatory to the convention. This vessel is accompanied by a smaller whaler of about 15,000 tor.s. With a gross tonnage of this magnitude, the Soviet can easily dominate the whaling industry in the Antarctic. We are going to this convention as one of the nations pledged to support it. We would have a great deal more strength to our hand if we did not have behind us a record which is not very happy in relation to our participation in the industry during the last few years.
As we all remember, it is only a very few years since we on this side of the Senate fought a bitter battle over the disposal of the Australian Whaling Commission’s assets to a private company in Western Australia. We felt then, as we still feel, that this was not in the best interests of the industry or of the people of Western Australia. While whaling itself is a very important industry, there are other facets of the fishing industry which have not been fully exploited in Australia. We in Western Australia know that a great deal more research could have been carried on in Western Australian waters if the money that was raised by the sale of that government instrumentality had been devoted to that purpose. At this time of night I shall not start recriminating about things that are gone, but I should like to mention how what we said at that time has been borne out by the history of the last few years.
The whaling industry to-day is not in a flourishing condition. This is clear from the “ Fishing Newsletter “, an official publication under the auspices of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann). 1 refer honorable senators to page 7 of the March issue of that booklet, which reveals the very serious position of the whaling industry in Australian waters. Because there are two shore-based whaling stations on the Western Australian coast, we are particularly interested in this. There was a terrific decrease, amounting to 37J per cent., in the number of whales taken in Western Australian waters between 1958 and 1959. Worse than that are the practices that have been indulged in by whaling companies on that coast. This aspect is very important, because the whaling industry is so vitally different from other forms of primary production. Whales are very slow to reproduce their species, and it has been an unwritten law that wherever possible whales shall not be disturbed before the birth of their offspring, but what has happened? We find that in Western Australia the percentage of females caught increased from 47.4 in 1958 to 52.7 in 1959, being an increase of over 5 per cent, in one year. There was a very sharp increase in the percentage of immature whales taken on that coast, from 6.8 in 1956, which year has a very significant ring for us, to 22.7 in 1959. The percentage of immature whales caught in 1959 was therefore three and a half times the percentage caught in 1956. The percentage of immature females in the catch increased from 10.2 in 1956 to 36.4 in 1959. The implication of that increase is that it would not be very long before all the whales were wiped out if that kind of ruthless slaughter were allowed to continue.
The dates are very significant. The year 1955-56 was the last year of operation of the government-controlled whaling station at Babbage Island. At that time there were very strict inspections of all whales taken, and Government supporters cannot tell me that the captains and gunners employed by the Australian Whaling Commission were so much better than those employed by private industry that they could distinguish immature whales from mature whales and immature females from mature females to such an extent as to account for a differentiation of 400 per cent. That is what it amounts to. Private enterprise is very eager to catch whales.
– You have the same inspectors, do you not?
– That is what 1 am trying to find out. It is impossible to place the blame. I am trying to ascertain from the Minister why this should be so. Why has there been this terrific increase in the number of immature whales, including immature females, captured by this private company as compared with the number taken when the Government station was in operation? I remind the honorable senator that it is not of much use to have inspectors viewing the catch after the whales have been killed. The inspectors would come on the job after the whales were caught. That is what has happened. The inspectors, coming on the job afterwards, have discovered this big discrepancy. There has been a discrepancy not only in the type of whales taken but also in their size. I put it to the Senate that this indicates quite clearly that the private company which is engaged in whaling is much more intent upon making a profit out of the whales than upon seeing that the industry itself is secured for the next generation. When whales are destroyed we lose an asset that is almost irreplaceable. I therefore put it to the Minister that when our delegate goes to the whaling convention he should have with him the answers to these problems because they are very nasty. On the east coast similar problems have not occurred as have occurred on the west coast in four years. It may, of course, be only coincidental, but the facts seem to be a little too strong to be explained by coincidence. It seems to be more than coincidence that this slaughter of immature whales has taken place to such a great extent since the removal of the Government from the industry and its being conducted exclusively by private enterprise. Furthermore, Mr. Deputy President, we find that the whole aspect of whaling has altered over the past ten years or so. Before 1948 whaling was conducted mainly from shore bases, and not a great deal of deep sea whaling was carried on. The whole aspect of whaling has now altered. Labour conditions in the industry have altered, and this Parliament has to recognize the necessity not only for deep sea whaling and the use of whale chasers, but also for the use of aeroplanes and helicopters in the spotting of whales. A very good service is rendered to the whaling industry and the preservation of whales is assisted by the provision under which incentive payments, which are an integral part of whaling, are not made to gunners and captains of vessels when the catch is below standard or consists of immature females. The strict observance of these regulations answers, I think, Senator Hannaford’s point that there must be inspectors to ensure that the catches are not of immature whales. If the inspectors find that immature whales have been caught, the payments generally given to gunners and captains of whaling ships are to be withheld because the catches do not comply with the standard set down by the international convention.
We are very pleased that Australia is ratifying this convention on whaling. We hope that all other nations involved in this industry will become once again signatories to it and that all will endeavour to ensure that this convention is observed with the same degree of scrupulous fairness that we as Australians have learned to expect, but have not always received from our own people who sign international treaties.
.- I feel that the Senate has a very important matter before it. The bill ostensibly is a machinery measure to ratify an agreement so that it can cover the pelagic whaling operations on the coastal areas of Australia. But it is more than a machinery measure, in my opinion, because the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) said in one part of his second-reading speech -
The whale reproduction rate is very low and the stocks are susceptible to over-exploitation. The virtual annihilation of whales in the northern hemisphere, brought about by uncontrolled killing, has clearly demonstrated the necessity for proper conservation measures in relation to the Antarctic stocks.
In a government publication that has been quoted by Senator Tangney we read of drastic and alarming exploitation. The number of female and immature whales being caught is rising apace. Figures were quoted to show the Senate that since 1949 a total of 16,684 humpback whales and 645 other whales have been taken, and that the sales of whale oil and products of those whales have realized over £18,000,000. [ feel quite alarmed about the position, Mr. Deputy President. If we allow the exploitation to continue at this rate the result will be disastrous. It does not matter whether you are dealing with whales, sheep, pigs, cattle, or even crayfish. If you allow the first phase - that is, killing off the bull whale - to be completed the situation can become critical. Evidently, as the whalers are encroaching now on the immature and female whale, most of the bulls have been taken.
– That is the answer to Senator Tangney’s query.
– That is right. But we have reached the stage now where the exploitation of the Antarctic whales has reached a critical level. We are making provision for what we call the orderly development of the industry, but we are actually destroying it. We have evidence of the virtual annihilation of the whale population of the Arctic regions, yet here we are considering a further process by which we may annihilate the whales in the Antarctic. I do not feel inclined, Mr. Deputy President, to support a bill of this nature that is not taking full cognizance of the depletion in the whale population. This destruction of both immature and mature female whales has been highlighted by the quotation from the “ Fisheries Newsletter “. No industry, whether you are breeding guinea pigs, hens or anything else, can expand while you are working on your breeding section of the population.
– Destroying them.
– Yes. Then it has been pointed out that the figures showing the destruction of whales reveal a marked increase in killings since the private company has been in operation in Western Australia. As every one here knows, especially honorable senators on this side of the chamber, a private company is not in business for the purpose of preserving the whaling industry. It is there, first and foremost, to get profit; and with its organization to maintain and with a target to be reached, the private company is going to take whatever comes along, whether it be a mature bull whale or an immature female whale. It is going to keep its staff and fleet in operation.
– It is limited with respect to the numbers that it can take, as you know.
– I agree; but the availability of the proper catch is the point. I do not think that we should tolerate the killing of anything but the bull whale. We should not allow the destruction of the female whale at all.
– The problem is that other countries do not think the same way as you do.
– We are considering an international agreement. If we merely approach the whole matter with a view to just keeping the industry going regardless of consequences, the next generation here will read about the whales as something that lived in the sea in the old days. Bass Strait and the coast of Tasmania used to be a favorite playground and haunt of whales. Whalers figure largely in the early history of Tasmania. The population of Flinders Island has contact right back to the whaling days. But times have changed. There are very few whales on the Tasmanian coast now because the whale population was almost annihilated by overhunting. If the figures that have been presented to the Senate to-night are reliable - and I have no reason to doubt their accuracy - our whaling industry is facing very serious trouble, and, indeed, the whale, as a species, is facing serious trouble.
At first glance I thought this was just a machinery measure, but I find there is a lot more to it than meets the eye. I hope the Government will give serious consideration to the practice of exploiting the schools of whales that come up into the warmer areas and may be taken easily by vessels operating from coastal whaling stations. We should give a lead to other countries in recommending, at the international convention, that the time has come when we must seriously consider having a closed season on an international basis. If we want to protect wild ducks we have a closed season. If we want to protect our supplies of flounder or scollops or some other form of edible sea food, we institute a closed season. I suggest we should similarly have a closed season to allow the whale population to build up.
We have a great asset not only in whale oil but also in whale meat, but it will not last very long if the commercial interests, whose purpose is simply the pursuit of profit and who have no interest in posterity are allowed to continue to get in for their chop on the principle of “ Blow you, Jack, I’m all right “.
We as a parliament have a responsibility to conserve the supply of whales, which is evidently limited. I would like to see something constructive emanate from this Parliament, and I suggest that we should instruct our delegate to the next international convention to make recommendations for a closed season, so that the whale population may build up sufficiently to enable exploitation to be recommenced.
– The schools of whales built up during the war because they were not hunted so extensively.
– I can quite understand that. During the war shipping and man-power were not available, and the whales enjoyed a respite from the continual hunting. As a consequence their numbers increased. But we find from this document that 16,884 of one variety have been taken in the last eleven years. With only one Australian station in operation, at Point Cloates in Western Australia, Australia took 190 humpback whales out of the huge total of 16,884.
I hope this matter will not be treated lightly, Mr. Deputy President, because it is an historical fact that many species of animal life have been ruthlessly annihilated through uncontrolled and unthinking exploitation, and the same thing could easily happen to the whale. We know that in the Arctic whales were virtually wiped out, and the same thing could happen in the Antarctic. If we allow this kind of exploitation to go on in our generation, it is quite possible that whales could be wiped out, while on the other hand if they are carefully husbanded they can continue to represent a great asset. When considered in this light, a school of whales is in the same category as a herd of cattle or a flock of sheep. You can kill off the males, and you can even improve the breed by selective killings, leaving the strongest males with the flock or herd or school. But if you start killing off the females you are bringing about the beginning of the end of your flock. That is just what is happening in the case of whales.
I view this measure with great concern, and I do not feel inclined to add my support to a piece of legislation which does nothing at all, as far as I can see, to correct the very alarming situation that is developing.
– in reply - I have two or three comments to make. First, Senator Tangney asked whether there was an international court of any kind, which could deal with a country that breached the provisions of this international convention. The answer is that there is not. But the purpose of adhering to an international convention is to allow a country to deal with any of its own nationals, through its own courts, who breach the provisions of the convention. Any one of the countries that are parties to this convention can deal with its own nationals.
There was quite a lot of discussion on the danger to our whale population. Let me say that the passage of this bill cannot but help conserve the whales of the world. We are adhering to a convention, and to refuse to support it because it does not go as far as a particular person might like it to go is only to do what the man who refuses his support says he does not want to do.
With regard to the very real problem that has been raised by Senator Tangney, I may say that at the meeting on 20th June next of the International Whaling Commission, which meets each year, one of the proposals that will be put forward by the Australian Government to ensure better conservation of whales will be that there should be a closed season for five years in area 4 of the Antarctic, which is where the vast majority of the whales are taken at the present time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid). - Order! In con formity 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 10.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 3 May 1960, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1960/19600503_senate_23_s17/>.