23rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 1 1 a.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Army the following questions: - Is it a fact that an advertisement seeking applicants for entry to the Royal Military College at Duntroon contains the condition that applicants should be British subjects mainly or substantially of European origin? If so, does not the Minister think that the condition is unnecessary and undesirable? In the event of war, would not Australian citizens of aboriginal or Asian origin be called on to serve equally with their fellow-Australians? Did not at least one officer of aboriginal origin serve with credit to himself and Australia in World War II?
– The honorable senator raises a very interesting question. It is one with which I believe the Minister for the Army himself should deal. If the honorable senator places his question on the notice-paper, I shall refer . it to the Minister and ask him to furnish an answer.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Treasurer been directed to reports in this morning’s press which indicate that Soviet Russia is refusing to meet her financial obligations to the United Nations in respect of the situation in the Congo? Is the Minister able to inform the Senate whether this repudiation by the Soviet is likely to involve the Australian taxpayer in additional expenditure? If it is, does he not think that our local Communists would be more gainfully employed if they directed to the Kremlin some of their hypocritical complaints about high Australian government expenditure?
– I have not seen the report. I have no knowledge of the matter at all. I ask that the question be placed on thenotice-paper.
– Can the Minister representing the Treasurer inform the Senate to what extent the staff of the Bureau of Census and Statistics will be increased in this financial year and whether the whole of the extra sum of £200,000 that has been allocated for this bureau will be absorbed by the extra employees? Can he say whether the extra expense that is incurred by business houses in taking stock, where necessary, every three months will be allowed as a deduction for income tax purposes at the end of the financial year?
– I am not aware of any intention to increase the staff of the Bureau of Census and Statistics.
SenatorAylett. - What is the extra £200,000 for?
– A large part of that sum is probably required to pay increased salaries for a full year arising out of recent salary adjustments. However, I shall make inquiries to ascertain whether it is intended to increase the staff. In regard to the matter referred to in the second part of the question and about which the honorable senator seems to have developed something of a complex in recent times, let me say this: The form of statistics about which he has become so curious recently is not a new feature of Australian commercial life. It has been in existence since 1905.
– That is what I am saying.
– It appears to me that the honorable senator regards this system of collecting information as something quite new.
– I want to know whether the expense involved is deductible for income tax purposes.
– I have the impression that the honorable senator has just discovered that this system is in existence, but people have been putting up with it since 1905. This is regarded as a very valuable method of collecting information which is useful to, among others, the people in the commercial community. The expense involved is allowed as a tax deduction.
– That is all I wanted to know.
– It is an ordinary commercial charge which can be claimed as an income tax deduction. As I have said, the system has been in operation since 1905. Therefore, it has been in operation during periods when Labour governments have been in office.
– Has the Minister for Customs and Excise noted a statement by the Professor of Agricultural Economics at the University of Sydney that, in order to strike at the rising costs incidental to primary production, with their adverse effect on our exports, it is necessary that there should be a thorough modification of Australia’s wage and tariff policy? Can we have an assurance from the Minister that the Tariff Board has frequently under review the imposts placed by the tariff on articles necessary for primary production, and that every effort will be made to see that inefficiency will not shelter behind tariff protection, bringing with it ever increasing costs?
– The question asked by Senator Lillico is not easy to answer. It covers a wide range of conditions within Australia.. 1 am not prepared to comment on the wage structure, to which the professor referred, but I can say that Australia’s tariff policy is reviewed by the Tariff Board from time to time. A large number of items have been reviewed during the last year. It may be of interest to the Senate to know that of he last 48 Tariff Board reports, thirteen have recommended reductions in duties and nine have recommended that the status quo be maintained. The other 26 reports have recommended increases in duties. It works out at about fifty-fifty.
I do not think any one in the Senate fails to realize the importance of the cost structure to primary industry. Rising costs constitute one of the great problems with which we are all faced to-day, and the Government is fully aware of the problem. The tariff, of course, does affect the costs of things that are used by the man on the land, but the Tariff Board reviews the position from time to time and I am confident that it has in mind the question which Senator Lillico has raised.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, refers to “ Operation Re-union “. a scheme to permit people, who are living behind the iron curtain and who are relatives of migrants to Australia who have not yet been naturalized, to be re-united with their families in Australia. Can the Minister tell the Senate whether the situation has eased at all during the last eighteen months or so, and whether the Soviet Government has shown a more lenient attitude towards these people than in former years? Can the Minister give the Senate any information regarding the operation of the scheme up to date?
– I regret that I cannot give the honorable senator the information she requests. I have not any recent facts or figures from the Minister for Immigration. As he is in another place, I ask the honorable senator to place the question on the notice-paper and I will get an answer for her.
– Is the Minister representing the Postmaster-General aware of the concern of the members of the Western Australian Tree Society and other citizens of Western Australia at the damage being done by the Posmaster-General’s Department to trees and wild flowers on the Morawa and Mullewa roads? While being deeply appreciative of any improvement in communication facilities in those areas, I ask the Minister whether such work could be carried out with a minimum of destruction of these unique trees and flowers.
– One of the problems of a construction group engaged on work of this kind is always to do what is necessary without destroying trees and natural features of the landscape. I am sure that officers of the Postmaster-General’s Department have a standing instruction to do the best they can in the circumstances. I will bring the activities in the area referred to by Senator Tangney to the notice of the Postmaster-General so that he may check on the matter or direct attention to it in particular.
– Can the Minister representing the Postmaster-General say what progress has been made in equipping broadcasting stations 5AN and 5CL in South Australia with the extra power which the Minister foreshadowed in reply to a question on 9th March last? I point out that the proposed increase in the power of 5AN was from 2,000 watts to 10,000 watts, and in the power of 5CL from 10,000 watts to 50,000 watts. Can the Minister say when this work is likely to be completed?
– Senator Pearson was good enough to tell me that he wanted this information. I found out from the Postmaster-General that the building work on the new Pimpala site is now practically completed. Officers of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department are proceeding with the installation of the equipment. It is estimated that the work will not be completed before the middle of 1961.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. I remind him that after a series of questions and answers we resolved that the increments in Public Service salaries due to wage adjustments last year amounted to about £16,000,000. Can the Minister give the Senate the figure showing the total influence of those wage adjustments on the Budget? In view of the Treasurer’s announcement yesterday that the Government would neither support nor contest the Australian Council of Trade Unions’ claim for three weeks’ annual leave in industry, can the Minister say whether his colleague has made an assessment of the effects upon the Commonwealth Budget of an increase from two to three weeks in annual leave in industry?
– I can only ask that the question be put on the notice-paper. I will follow up the first part of the question to-day and see whether I can get a more precise estimate of the effect of last year’s wage increases.
– Further to the question about gold that Senator Vincent asked the
Minister representing the Treasurer on Tuesday last, I now ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: Has he noted that the American Government has refused to agree to an increase in the price of gold and has stated that it has no intention of increasing the price in the near future? Will the Government consider approaching the governments of other countries which produce gold and hold quantities of it, with a view to fixing a more realistic price for this commodity which is- so important to the welfare of Australia?
– I have been following the newspaper reports about variations in the price of gold with a good deal of interest. As I understand the matter, in the final analysis the price of gold is determined by the price which America will pay for it, the influential body in this respect being the International Monetary Fund. The recent variations in the price of gold have been due, I understand, to a belief that America will pay a higher price for gold, despite the fact that the American Government has denied that it will do so. Senator Scott has asked whether Australia will try to organize a movement with the object of having the price of gold increased. It has been the constant policy of the Australian Government to seek an increase. At all the international meetings that Australian representatives have attended on this subject they have done all that they could to secure a higher price for gold. I have no doubt that the Treasurer, on his recent trip abroad, reiterated the Australian views that have been so frequently expressed in the past. I shall convey Senator Scott’s suggestion to the Treasurer, although I think that the answer to his question is that we, as a Government, have done all that we could do to have the price increased.
– By way of a supplementary question, I point out that my previous question was concerned with an approach, not to the International Monetary Fund or the American Government, but to other free countries of the world, including those that produce gold and hold quantities of it. The object of that approach would be to stabilize the price of gold by having if fixed, outside the International Monetary Agreement, at a more realistic level. I now ask whether the Government is prepared to make such an approach.
– While I appreciate Senator Scott’s interest in the matter, I do not think that what he proposes is practicable. The nations to which he has referred attend the international meetings at which the price of gold is discussed, and many of them hold views similar to those of the Australian Government. Therefore, the matter has already been well canvassed.
– I address a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise, following the reference of my colleague, Senator Lillico, to Professor Campbell’s statement, made to a farming conference yesterday, about the effect of tariff duties on agricultural industries. I may say that I was also interested in Senator Pearson’s question of about three weeks ago, seeking a more comprehensive assessment of the effect. I now ask the Minister whether anything in the nature of a study or an assessment has been made by the Tariff Board of the effect of the tariff generally on agricultural industries over, say, a period of ten years. If no such assessment has been made by the Tariff Board, has one been made by any other government agency?
– I have no knowledge of any specific examination, made by the Tariff Board during the last ten years, of the effect of the tariff on agricultural industries. As far as I know, the Tariff Board has not undertaken such a study, but if it has, I will do my best to get whatever information I can from the board and let the honorable senator have it.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior seen the report of a statement by a Melbourne business man, Mr. G. C. Coles, after his return recently from America and other countries, that longer shopping hours and late shopping nights contributed in a large measure to increased costs and higher prices? As there has been a late shopping night in Canberra for some years, can the Minister say whether the extended shopping hours here have contributed to the higher retail prices in Canberra compared with other capital cities?
– Senator Tangney bowls a googly. The advantage of extended shopping hours is always a vexed question. I personally hold the view that there is very great merit in a late shopping night. It gives members of a family group an opportunity to go out together and make their purchases.
– You are 50 years behind the times.
– Senator Poke says that I am 50 years behind the times. I venture to predict that he and I will be here to see the proof that I am right. I think that members of a family like the opportunity to shop together. As to whether this adds to costs, I am not sufficiently well acquainted with that aspect of the matter to know.
– I wish to direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Will he, say whether the Government has decided to brief counsel to oppose the claim about to be made by the Australian Council of Trade Unions for an increase in the basic wage rate?
– The question is so important that I hesitate to give a reply. I have a recollection of a Government decision -
– That was in relation to the last claim.
– I know what the honorable senator means. If in speaking from a recollection, I gave him a wrong answer, that would not be fair, so I shall ask him to place the question on the noticepaper.
– I, also, wish to ask the Leader of the Government a question. In view of the serious deterioration of our overseas reserves, does the Minister believe that Australia can selectively reduce imports, particularly of luxury items? Will it be helpful to our economy to limit the quantities of goods that may be imported when similar goods are made in Australia?
– Senator Courtice raises a very important matter of policy. The choice lies between restricting imports, with a consequent risk of increasing Australian costs, or letting imports flow as freely as possible in the expectation that the competition that will thereby occur will result in a reduction of Australian costs. The Government, comparatively recently, made its decision on that important matter by lifting very substantially - indeed almost entirely - the embargo on imports into Australia, and it has no intention of departing from that policy.
– I ask the Leader of the Government: Is it not within our recent recollection that the Government followed the decision to remove import licensing by giving to the Minister for Customs and Excise power to impose emergency duties if any Australian industry was threatened, and did not the party of which Senator Courtice is an honorable member oppose the measure granting such emergency power?
– I thank Senator Wright for his assistance. The points that he makes are well taken.
– May I ask the Leader of the Government a question on the same subject? Will the Minister inform me by how much Australia’s overseas balances have fallen since import restrictions were lifted?
– I cannot give a figure offhand. The Government has had quite a deal of information about this matter and there have been reports in the newspapers. I cannot give a figure from memory. It is quite wrong to approach this matter with the idea that the deterioration in our overseas balances is due entirely to the lifting of import restrictions.
– I did not say that. I asked you a question. All you are doing is putting up an Aunt Sally.
– No, I am not.
I am trying to give a fair answer to a political question. That is my problem. It is quite wrong to take any one point in isolation. Basically, the problem of the deterioration of our overseas balances stems from the fall in the price of wool. We knew that an increased volume of imports would come into this country when restrictions were lifted. We knew just what would happen, but believed that we would have the strength in our reserves to stand up to the situation that would be created. We still believe that we have the strength in our reserves to meet the situation, despite the unexpected fall in the proceeds from the sale of wool. I am certain that events will prove the Government’s decision to be right.
– May I ask the Leader of the Government a further question along lines similar to the one that he has just answered? It would be unfair to expect the Minister to have these figures in his head. Will the Minister be kind enough to advise me in the near future of the extent to which our overseas balances have fallen since the Government lifted import restrictions?
– If Senator Kennelly will place his question on the notice-paper I will do my best to provide an answer. A great deal of estimation is involved. One has to consider not only the figures for exports and imports but also the figures relating to invisible items, such as freights, in respect of which charges are accruing but have not come home to roost or become an actual liability. A large element of estimation is involved, but I shall see whether the Treasurer is willing to put his estimate on record.
– Does the Minister representing the Minister for Trade know that imports of dried figs and almonds are causing a reduction in the price received by Australian producers of these commodities?
– I cannot deal with every industry in detail. I am good, but I am not as good as that. I can deal only with the position in the broad, because I do not know the circumstances of each industry. I repeat that there are a tremendous number of influences at work, including marketing schemes for primary products and tariff procedures. Those procedures have been stepped up to cover these circumstances. I am confident of the final result.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Army. In the statistics which the Minister has so kindly supplied there are figures for regular army strengths. I should like to know whether, in respect of France, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, those figures include or exclude men who are doing their ordinary compulsory training?
– If the honorable senator will ask that question later to-day during the debate on the estimates for the Department of the Army, I may be able to supply him with an answer obtained from my departmental advisers.
“The Way We Live”.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Interior has furnished the following replies: -
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following reply: - 1 and 3. Commonwealth taxation collections during 1959-60 amounted to £1,243,599,000 (£122 6s. per head of population). Levies on certain industries and primary products which are used for the purposes of the industries concerned, such as the wool and wheat taxes, are not included in the figures. The comparable figures for 1958-59 were £1,126,119,000 and £113 3s. respectively. 2 and 4. The information requested is not yet available. However, details of State net taxation collections in 1958-59 are given in the table set out below. The information includes, in addition to amounts paid to State Consolidated Revenue Funds, amounts paid to special or trust funds.
The total taxes collected by the States should not be used as a measure of the relative severity of taxation in the several States. The items included in the totals are those items of State revenue which conform to the statistical definition of taxation. The purposes for which revenue is raised and the methods of raising revenue from some sources vary considerably between the States. For example, while substantial revenue has been raised from lotteries in five States, in only three does it occur in the form of taxation and then in varying degree. Another example is the inclusion in the taxation collections of two States of a levy made on behalf of race clubs. A further consideration is that some taxes levied by a State are borne in part by the residents of other States.
– I desire to inform honorable senators that Mr. F. H. Bishop, who has occupied the position of Housekeeper since October, 1952, will be retired from the Commonwealth Service on 7th November next on the ground of ill-health.
Mr. Bishop has been an officer of the Parliament for more than 33 years, having joined the Parliamentary staff as a junior attendant on the Senate staff in May, 1927. In July, 1928, he was transferred to the Joint House Department as one of our front door guides. On 1st July, 1942, he was promoted to the position of senior attendant on the staff of the House of Representatives, where he remained until he was promoted to his present position in October, 1952.
I have no doubt that I speak on behalf of all honorable senators when I wish Mr. Bishop well for the years of his retirement.
– by leave - I should like to say a few words on behalf of Government senators. Mr. Bishop has been with us for a long time. We all have very pleasant memories of the good work that he has done in his official position and of our association with him.
I believe 1 may say that he goes out with the good wishes and the respect of honorable senators on both sides of the chamber. One experiences a little touch of regret at the breaking of such an association particularly when, as in the case of Mr. Bishop, the retirement occurs as a result of ill health. We say to Mr. Bishop: Thank you for what you have done during the 33 years you have been an officer of the Parliament. We wish you a long and happy period of retirement.
– by leave - I am sure that the Senate is obliged to you, Mr. President, for having directed attention to the pending retirement of Mr. Bishop, the Parliamentary Housekeeper. Speaking for myself and all other members of the Opposition, I express regret not only at his retirement after 33 years’ service but also at the cause of that retirement as announced by you.
All of us are indebted to Mr. Bishop for his efficient direction of the housekeeping arrangements for this building during the years he has been the Housekeeper. We are indebted not only to him but also to his good wife for very many courtesies. As one who regards the little pleasantries of life as being of the real essence of living, I have a very vivid recollection of the quick smile and ready co-operation of both Mr. and Mrs. Bishop in all the emergencies that have been encountered. I recall in particular the graciousness and readiness to help that have been displayed during the illness of honorable senators from time to time in the precincts of this building.
I am supported by all my colleagues when I join with the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Spooner) in wishing both Mr. and Mrs. Bishop a very long, happy and healthy period of retirement. We hope that all they hope for will be realized. I join with Senator Spooner in saying to both of them: Thank you very much indeed.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a bill for an act to extend the period of office of the Commissioner constituting the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Standing Orders suspended.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to extend the period of office of Sir William Hudson as Commissioner, Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority, for three years. Sir William was the first commissioner appointed under the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority Act. His initial appointment dated from 1st August, 1949, and was for a period of seven years. In 1956 he was appointed for a further term which, in accordance with the provisions of section 9 (2) of the act, expires on 26th April, 1961, the day preceding his sixty-fifth birthday. In the eleven years of Sir William Hudson’s leadership the construction of the Snowy Scheme has won world-wide recognition. Many honorable senators have visited the scheme and have seen at first-hand the spectacular progress which is being achieved.
On his appointment Sir William’s first task was to establish an organization to carry out the development of the water resources of the Snowy Mountains for power production and irrigation. This involved a world-wide search for staff to investigate, design and construct one of the largest individual civil engineering undertakings ever attempted. The project area comprised 3,000 square miles of unmapped mountain country. Geological and hydrological information was lacking and much of the area was inaccessible except on foot. The initial difficulties were overcome and the scheme’s first power was produced from the Guthega project in February, 1955, to be followed in May, 1958, by the completion of Eucumbene Dam, one of the largest of its type in the world. Tumut Pond Reservoir, formed by a 238-ft. high concrete arch dam, was placed in service during September, 1958. This reservoir forms the headpond for the 320,000 kW Tumut 1 underground power station which commenced operation in May, 1959. In June, 1959, the 14-mile Eucumbene-Tumut tunnel was completed. This tunnel, the longest ever constructed in Australia, has created a link between the coastal and inland river systems and makes possible for the first time the conservation, on a large scale, of Australia’s eastern water resources for the benefit of the inland.
Construction of the second major group of works in the Upper Tumut area commenced late in June, 1958. These works are now substantially complete. The Murrumbidgee-Eucumbene diversion, involving a large concrete gravity dam and 101/2 miles of tunnel, is within a few months of completion. Similarly, the Tooma-Tumut diversion, which comprises an earth and rockfill dam 220 feet high and 9 miles of diversion tunnel will be in service towards the end of 1960. Progress on the 280,000 kW Tumut 2 power station, the second underground power station in the Tumut valley, has progressed to a stage which will enable the first production of electricity within twelve months. In the short space of ten years the authority has built up a team of highly skilled and experienced technical personnel. The organization has established a reputation both in Australia and overseas for enterprise and achievement.
The authority’s future construction programme provides for work to be commenced in the immediate future on the second major phase of the scheme, i.e., the Snowy-Murray Diversion. The following table illustrates the scope of the works to be commenced during the next three years.
Construction of these projects will extend over the next six to seven years and involve a total expenditure of close on £100,000,000
The Government is most anxious that the benefit of Sir William’s leadership should not be lost to the Snowy Scheme during the initial stages of the new works, and it is therefore proposed in the bill now before the Senate to extend his period of office for a further three years. I have now been Minister responsible for the Snowy Mountains Scheme for nine and a half years. As the result of this experience and of my personal contacts with all senators I feel sure that I express your views correctly when I say that I do not think that Australia could have made a better choice than Sir William Hudson when it selected him to assume the leadership of this great national undertaking. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till
Tuesday, 8th November, at 3 p.m.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives without amendment.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Paltridge) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
In the course of his Budget Speech delivered on 16th August last, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) outlined a number of proposals to amend the income tax law. The bill which I now bring before the Senate incorporates these amendments. Among the amendments is a provision to increase the maximum amount on which depreciation at the special rate of 20 per cent, of cost is allowable in respect of residential accommodation provided for employees, tenants and share-farmers engaged in primary industries. The industries concerned are the agricultural, pastoral and pearling industries. The special rate of depreciation has hitherto applied to so much of the cost of accommodation for each employee, tenant or share-farmer as did not exceed £2,750. In relation to buildings commenced after 30th June. 1960 and completed by 30th June, 1962, this amount is to be increased to £3,250. The increased amount will also apply to buildings commenced by 30th June, 1962 and completed not later than 30th June, 1963. Normal rates of depreciation will continue to be available on the amount of the cost over £3,250.
A further proposal is to increase the deduction allowable for periodical subscriptions paid for membership of a trade, business or professional association. The broad effect of the present law is to limit to £10 10s. the deduction for an annual subscription to each association of which a taxpayer is a member. This ceiling will be raised from £10 10s. to £21. It is also proposed to allow deductions for gifts of £1 or more made to the National Trust of Australia (Tasmania) Limited, the Art Gallery Society of New South Wales, and the Australian Productivity Council. In addition, deductions are to be allowed for similar gifts to the Australian Postgraduate Federation in Medicine, the College of Radiologists of Australasia, the Australian College of General Practitioners and the College of Pathologists of Australia.
In these latter four cases, however, deductibility will be conditional upon the gifts being made specifically for the purpose of education or research in medical knowledge or science.
This bill also gives effect to the Government’s decision announced by my colleague the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) on 17th May last regarding the exemption from tax of 20 per cent, of the profits derived from mining certain prescribed metals or minerals. The partial exemption which was due to terminate on 30th June, 1960, is being extended without limitation as to time. Further explanations of the proposed amendments are provided in a memorandum that has been circulated with the bill which, I now submit for the consideration of the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Armstrong; adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Paltridge) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
By this bill it is proposed to declare the rates at which income tax and social services contribution will be payable by individuals and companies for the current financial year, 1960-61. In the case of individual taxpayers, the basic rates of tax which have operated since 1954-55 are continued in the present bill. It is not proposed, however, to re-enact for this year the rebate of1s. in the £1 allowed against the tax payable on 1959-60 incomes of individuals. The discontinuance of the rebate has made it necessary to revise the tax instalments which are deducted from salaries and wages. The revised scale of instalment deductions came into operation on 1st October, 1960. The provisional tax payable upon individual incomes other than salary or wages for the current 1960-61 year will also be varied for the same reason. The provisional tax will be notified in assessments based on 1959-60 incomes.
Consequent upon the increase of 5s. per week in age pensions, it is proposed to increase the income tax allowance for aged persons. This allowance is available to Australian residents in the lower income groups who have reached, in the case of men, the age of 65 years, and in the case of women, 60 years. Complete exemption from tax will apply in the case of an aged person whose net income does not exceed £442. This is an increase of £13 in the exemption which applied in the last financial year. In the case of a married couple, both of whom are qualified for the age allowance, it is proposed to exempt combined net incomes of up to £884. This is an increase of £26 in the previous allowance. If the income of an aged person is not substantially in excess of the exemption points mentioned, a special limit is placed upon the amount of tax payable. A single person whose net income is not greater than £502, will pay no more than nine-twentieths of the excess of the net income over £442. In the case of a married aged taxpayer having a net income not in excess of £1,236, the tax payable is also limited to nine-twentieths of the excess over £884 of the combined net incomes of the husband and wife.
With regard to companies it is proposed to increase the rates of primary tax by 6d. in the £1 in all cases. This, for example, will mean that public companies will pay tax at the rate of 7s. in the £1 on the first £5,000 of their taxable income and 8s. on the balance. The corresponding rates for private companies will be 5s. and 7s. respectively. No change is proposed in the rate of tax payable by a private company in respect of an insufficient distribution of income. In other respects the provisions of this bill do not differ from past legislation imposing rates of tax and I do not think there is need for me to deal with those provisions in any further detail. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Armstrong) adjourned.
In committee: Consideration resumed from 26th October (vide page 1329).
Department of Customs and Excise.
Proposed Vote, £4,934,000.
Miscellaneous Services - Department of Customs and Excise.
Proposed Vote, £40.700.
.- I wish to refer to one aspect of the work of the Department of Customs and Excise, namely, the duties that the department undertakes to safeguard the revenues and industries of this country by the prevention of smuggling, and in particular the prevention of the smuggling of certain dangerous types of narcotic drugs. Recently I referred to this matter in a question and I was very pleased to hear from the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) that this matter is taken very seriously at the present time and the department has made contacts with other countries in order to ensure that Australia is protected from this menace. I am pleased to know the Government is devoting attention to this matter.
Now that we are considering the appropriation for the Department of Customs and Excise, I want to say that I would support to the utmost any expenditure by the department which was designed to safeguard Australia against the importation of this kind of drug. The matter is occasioning public bodies and governments throughout the world some alarm. In recent years there has been a big increase in the smuggling of narcotic drugs and it is quite obvious that an international organization has been set up for the purpose of handling this dreadful traffic. There is big money to be made. Consequently, countries in America and
Europe have established special narcotic squads and have sought the co-operation of Interpol, the international police organization. I am pleased that the Australian Department of Customs and Excise and the Australian Government are co-operating in the activities of that organization. The United Nations, with which we are associated, has set up its own organization to co-ordinate work against this drug traffic. The reports of the United Nations Organization are available in the Library. They show that this kind of traffic, on an international basis, needs to be combated.
The measures that have been adopted in other countries have been rather successful in recent years. Authorities abroad have stated that the people concerned in this traffic are looking for new markets and that one of the prospective markets is Australia. Early this year, the Melbourne “ Herald “ sent its crime reporter to the United States of America. In subsequent articles in the newspaper he stated that he had been told in the United States that the authorities had evidence that the people concerned in this traffic were turning their attention to Australia. There has been an intensification of the drug trade in the East, particularly in the Hong Kong and Macao area. I have seen a statement that has been issued from Formosa, declaring that the Communist Chinese Government, in the search for foreign exchange, is promoting this traffic. That is a statement which needs to be proved. People would naturally say that there is opposition between the Government of free China and the Government of Communist China, but I suggest that the Government of free China should be asked for the information in its possession in regard to this matter.
I think we have to agree that smuggling of this kind has been made easier by the increase in air travel. We all have heard stories of the smuggling of transistor radios and gold. T suggest that drugs such as heroin can be smuggled more easily than can small radios and gold. The money that is available for the purpose unfortunately is of such proportions that the people concerned, as can be understood, will do anything to get the drugs to the countries where there is a sale for them. At our seaports there is a check by the customs authorities on the legitimate importation of drugs. I understand that the Department of Customs and Excise also has a small staff which maintains a statistical check on imports and which co-operates to some extent with the State authorities in regard to the legitimate importation of drugs. However, I have had correspondence from a gentleman who is interested in the drug industry, in which he suggests that he is perturbed by the possibility of an increase in the illegal sale of drugs. He suggests that, because of the new circumstances with which we are faced, the department might see fit to increase the staff which keeps a check on the importation of drugs and that the State authorities which endeavour to check the movement of drugs between wholesale and retail drug houses also might increase their staffs, there being some evidence that the necessary vigilance is not being observed.
United Nations reports, which are based on information sent to that body by countries throughout the world, indicate that Australia has a good record in this respect, although I note that in the case of morphine, Australia has had to report cases of forged prescriptions, irregular issue of prescriptions, failure to keep records by persons entitled to sell the drug, and unsafe storage. Similar comments have been made about other drugs. It appears, therefore, that if we in Australia are to face the problems that other countries have faced in connexion with the drug traffic, we need to examine the safeguards against smuggling that exist at our sea-ports and also the safeguards against the wrongful distribution of the drugs, even through channels that are supposed to be legitimate.
In view of suggestions that some of the more vicious drugs are now to be sent to Australia, there is particular interest in a statement made in the last report issued by the Department of Customs and Excise;, from which I shall read the following paragraph -
Fifteen ounces of heroin-
Which, of course, is one of the worst of these drugs - seized at Sydney from a seaman was considered significant, particularly as the offender was endeavouring to land the drug, presumably for sale. The drug was a brownish colour, in crude granulated form, about 95 per cent, pure and contained in small cellophane bags. Samples of the seizure were distributed to collectors to familiarize officers with the appearance of the drug in this form which appears to fit the description of crude heroin, originating in the Hong Kong-Macao area, where it is reported to be superseding opium as a drug of addiction. For this reason its appearance in Australia is regarded seriously and strict surveillance of vessels from that area appears necessary.
I am pleased that the Department of Customs and Excise takes a serious view of this matter. I am also pleased to note from the report that Australia is maintaining direct contact with drug control authorities in South-East Asian countries. Notification of significant seizures of drugs to the United States authorities has been arranged. It is gratifying to see that the department is alive to the danger and that it was represented by an observer at a conference held under the auspices of the International Criminal Police Organization at Lahore, in Pakistan. We are now considering the recommendations of the Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and meetings have been attended by representatives of the Public Health Committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council, the AttorneyGeneral’s Department and the departments of Health, Territories, External Affairs and Customs and Excise. Australia will also present its views at a plenipotentiary conference to be held in New York early in 1961.
I have spoken of this matter because the results of inquiries that have been made convince me that we need to take it seriously. I believe that the persons interested in the international drug traffic have made so much money in recent years that they are looking for potential markets throughout the world. I have not the slightest doubt that one of the markets they have in mind is the Australian market. I therefore say that I shall not begrudge, nor do I think will any honorable senator, expenditure made by the Department of Customs and Excise to check the illicit drug traffic. I suggest to the Minister that it may be necessary for us to station permanent officers in the areas from which the worst of the drugs come, as other countries have done. We should do everything possible to prevent the entry of narcotics into this country. Any one who has seen the human tragedies that result from drug addiction will agree that we do not want traffic in drugs to commence in this country.
The other matter to which I want to refer is censorship. This is a very unpopular subject these days. It is almost as unpopular in some quarters as is talk about communism. In fact, I think we have almost reached the stage where an attempt is made to impose censorship on anybody who supports censorship. I doubt whether there is any country which does not maintain some form of censorship. I think it ought to be stated here and now that sensible people who advocate censorship do not advocate unreasonable censorship. What they advocate is the reasonable censorship of publications which have no literary value and which usually are designed to make money from the sale of stories or information of an unsavoury kind.
I have noticed that an attack was launched against the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney recently because he had suggested that reasonable censorship was necessary. I think myself that what he said was quite to the point. I did not see anything unreasonable in it. and I was interested to notice that at least in one newspaper a person who could not be regarded in any sense as a wowser suggested there was a good deal of solid common sense in what the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney had to say.
I make a distinction between two kinds of people who oppose censorship. First of all, there are people who sincerely believe that there should not be any unreasonable censorship, and that if books have a sound, literary quality, even if perhaps they deal with a seamy side of life, people are entitled to read them. I know there are many people like these in the community who oppose censorship for sound, sensible reasons. Secondly, there are some people who oppose censorship because they are interested in publications which they think will make money for them if they are able to sell them in this country. A certain number of the attacks on censorship in this country to-day emanate from people who want to make money bv disseminating filth.
I have “noticed - and I am a very keen reader - that over recent years it has become the custom to include in most big novels one or more bedroom scenes. That kind of thing, I suppose, used to be included in novels before our time, but it is becoming much more common to-day. 1 have not the slightest doubt in my mind that the reason why that kind of scene has become much more common in novels to-day is that some people think the books will sell better if they include that kind of thing. 1 did a four-year university course, in which I majored in English Literature and Classical Literature. I studied the literature of many countries. I have had a look at one or two of the publications about which there has been a storm in regard to censorship. I had read in the newspapers that they had such a high literary quality that the people were entitled to read them. 1 can only say that I found them revolting. I could not understand why it was considered that there was any high literary quality in the kind of thing which, if written by a person on a lavatory wail, would lead to his prosecution. 1 believe there has been an honest attempt by the Government to put censorship upon a proper basis. I am not altogether sure that the people who conduct or determine the censorship should all bc persons possessing high literary attainments. Would not there be. a place on the censorship body for a woman, whose viewpoint in regard to some of these publications would be concerned with their effect on young people and upon children? I know that some people suggest that a policeman is not an appropriate person to have views on censorship. I do not know why they say so, because a policeman sees a lot of the seamy side of life. I do not see why a man of common sense who enters a police force is not necessarily a person who should help determine what should be in the hands of young people. I suggest that the question of whether a policeman is a good judge or not depends upon the policeman himself. I believe that a policeman could be an excellent person to be a member of a body determining questions of censorship.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.- I rise to give the honorable senator an opportunity to continue his speech.
.- I thank Senator Wright for his courtesy.
I have very little more to say other than that I think that the censorship boards would be improved if we added to them one or two people who did not necessarily have high literary or other qualifications but who represented what I may term the common sense of the community. I think that a good move was instituted by the Minister for Customs and Excise the other day when he wrote to the States and asked them whether they saw any merit in having a discussion on the fact that censorship was divided as between the Commonwealth and the States. He endeavoured to find out whether there could be any co-ordination and whether representatives of the States would attend a conference convened for that purpose. I think that nothing but good could come from such a discussion, and 1 consider that in that particular instance the Minister’s action is to be commended.
I am not, and I have never been, in favour of unreasonable or over-strict forms of censorship. There has been a lot of nonsense talked in this country about the extent to which censorship extends. I took part in a radio programme on censorship in Melbourne, and I went to the trouble to find out to what extent censorship had proceeded. I discovered that in the last three or four years only two books had been censored, and I ascertained that there was very little censorship of films. . Some other persons on the programme who appeared to think that we were living in a police state where everything was censored were amazed to hear of the small extent to which censorship had been exercised in this country.
However, I think the degree to which censorship should be exercised will always be a moot point. It will always be something on which we will disagree. I think that there should not be this attempt to howl down anybody who suggests that perhaps the young people of the community need some protection even if all the university professors do not think so. I consider there is a basis for censorship reasonably applied, and I do not think we should allow ourselves to be stampeded as I sometimes feel we may be by people who have a pecuniary interest in trying to sell certain types of publications in this country and appear to kick up a lot of fuss mainly because their books are affected.
– I should like at this stage to reply to some of the matters that have been raised, while I have them fresh in my mind and I have the information before me. I am referring to matters that were raised just before our consideration of the proposed vote for the Department of Customs and Excise was interrupted last night.
Senator Kennelly stated that there seemed to be an unreasonably high proportion of temporary and exempt employees to permanent employees in the Department of Customs and Excise, compared with the number in other departments. He directed attention to the fact that £303,600 is being provided this year for temporary and casual employees, compared with £3,736,000 that is being provided for the salaries of permanent officers. The honorable senator asked to be informed concerning the duties of the temporary employees, and how many of them are filling positions in the clerical division. I now have that information, which I should like to give to the committee. The proportion is not high compared with other departments. In the Department of Customs and Excise, it is about 8 per cent., in the PostmasterGeneral’s Department 35 per cent., in the Department of Works 80 per cent., in the Department of Health 30 per cent., in the Department of Immigration 25 per cent., in the Department of Trade 17 per cent., in the Attorney-General’s Department 10 per cent., and in the Department of the Interior 18 per cent. Therefore, I do not think the claim can be substantiated that the figure of 8 per cent, in the Department of Customs and Excise is higher than the figure in other departments. There are 77 clerks and thirteen analysts in the Third Division - a total of 90 officers.
– Does the Minister know the percentage in the Department of the Treasury?
– Yes, I understand that the ratio of temporary and casual employees to permanent employees in the Department of the Treasury is 5 per cent. In the Department of Customs and Excise, there are 260 officers in the Fourth Division, including clerical assistants, preventive officers, typists, accounting machinists, cleaners and others.
Many of the employees are engaged in work for which permanent positions are not provided such as cleaners, lift attendants and caretakers. Other employees are filling positions left vacant by officers on sick leave, or furlough, or temporarily detached for other duties. Others are filling positions temporarily pending the assessment of permanent positions needed in the service.
Senator Armstrong referred to Australian customs representatives in London and New York. The list of salaries and allowances in the Second Schedule shows only permanent staffing arrangements. In addition to one Australian customs representative and two investigation officers shown in the schedule, the department’s London office is staffed by one senior customs representative, in respect of whose position the maximum salary is £2,720 per annum, two investigation officers and a senior clerk. These officers are filling positions temporarily created by the Public Service Board pending an assessment of the permanent requirements of the post. I point out to honorable senators thai the salaries paid to those officers are matters for determination by the Public Service Board. I have noticed the comparison drawn by Senator Armstrong, but nevertheless the salaries paid are those that have been determined by the Public :Service Board.
Senator Armstrong stated that he had not received an answer to a question that he had directed to me. I had a reason for not providing him immediately with an answer to his question. I have already told him that I do not like to take two bites at a cherry when one will suffice. However, as the honorable senator apparently does not like that procedure I will see that it is not adopted again. The honorable senator should look at “ Hansard “ of Tuesday, 11th October, 1960- page 974 - where he will see that I answered his question. So it is not right to say that he did not receive an answer. He received an answer on the day after he asked his question. Obviously he has overlooked that fact. Not all of us can be efficient.
I will deal briefly with Senator Kennelly’s remarks about the clearance of aircraft at the first port of call. I have taken the trouble to obtain the schedules for the
Qantas Sydney-Japan service, the Qantas London-Sydney service and the British Overseas Airways Corporation London-
Sydney-Melbourne service. With the concurrence of honorable senators I incorporate the schedules in “ Hansard “.
The schedules show in almost every instance a stop-over of 45 minutes at Darwin. In one flight there is a stop-over of about an hour. Qantas operates two services weekly to Japan, each service carrying up to 75 passengers. It would be impossible to unload all the baggage from one of those aircraft, deal with the passengers and reload the aircraft without delaying its flight. We do not propose to do that. When I made my inquiries I was told that it costs as much as £1,000 an hour to hold an aircraft such as the Boeing 707 on the ground. I will not be a party to delaying these aircraft in Australia any longer than is necessary.
– Do you know the details about that cost of £1,000 an hour to which you have referred?
– No, I was merely given that figure. I did not have time to obtain details. Senator Kennelly said that Australia is the only country where airline passengers are not dealt with at the first port of call. He is wrong. Apparently he has not travelled overseas recently. Travellers to the American west coast on aircraft which make their first port of call on the east coast are not checked until they reach the west coast. If you alight from the aircraft on the east coast, you are checked at the east coast airport. If you propose to alight on the west coast, you are checked at the west coast airport. That is the correct way to handle traffic of this kind.
– Would passengers from America to Australia be checked at Honolulu?
– No, they would be checked at Sydney because that is the first port of call on our east coast.
– Are you talking about other countries?
– I was. I said that passengers entering America on the east coast and proceeding to the west coast are checked when they leave the aircraft on the west coast. I do not propose to traverse all the points raised on this matter. The decision has been made - quite rightly I think. It is the most economical way of handling this matter.
I must correct a statement that I made a few minutes ago in relation to the cost of holding a large aircraft on the ground. I should have said that the earning capacity of a Boeing’ 707 is £1,000 an hour. I thank Senator O’Flaherty for calling my attention to that point.
This morning Senator McManus dealt with one or two matters. I thank him for his very thoughtful speech on smuggling and censorship. He has always displayed a very keen interest, as I have, in smuggling. Smuggling is a dastardly trade that we are determined to stamp out by every possible means available to us. I have noticed that Senator McManus feels that the staff dealing with smuggling should be increased by one or two permanent officers. I assure him that if my department believes that further staff is necessary, additional appointments will be made. I agree with Senator McManus that we should spare no expense to keep this trade away from Australia.
The amount of heroin seized on the occasion to which the honorable senator referred was 15. 175 oz. The total amount seized in that year was 15.425 oz. The 15.175 oz. of heroin was a very large shipment indeed. It was packed in small cellophane bags and was obviously destined for retail distribution throughout Australia. It was a brownish-coloured heroin, 95 per cent, pure and came from the Hong Kong-Macao area. Such a large shipment, obviously destined for the retail trade, alerted the officers of my department to the probability that the trade in heroin may be turning towards Australia. The officers of my department are in constant communication with experienced customs agents in other countries. Information is freely exchanged between Australia and other countries so that customs departments in all countries are aware of what is taking place outside their spheres of operations. I can assure honorable senators that my department will continue to make the strongest efforts to keep this trade out of Australia.
No one is better qualified than Senator McManus to comment on censorship in Australia. He has always exhibited a keen interest in literature. A women has been recently appointed to the Literature Censorship Board and another has been appointed to the appeal tribunal. Women were chosen who would have a balanced and sensible outlook on the effect of literature on the younger generations of Australia. These women have greatly helped us in our work. As honorable senators will know, censorship is largely a matter of judgment and opinion. There are three schools of thought on the subject of literature censorship. People who subscribe to the first school of thought adopt a most drastic approach to censorship. Those who subscribe to the second school of thought would in the name of academic freedom allow almost anything to come into this country. People who subscribe to the third school of thought adopt a middleoftheroad course. They would make available to the adult population of Australia the real literature of the world. I use the word “ literature “ in its widest sense. That should be available to the adult population of Australia. Many reforms and much advancement have come from the real literature of the world, and this literature should not be denied to Australian adults. I should like the committee to know that the position in regard to paper-backs, is not as bad as the honorable senator suggested. During the year, 872 publications were referred by collectors for review in the central office. Of these, 626 were prohibited. The majority of these publications were paper-back novels and magazines.
I want to make it quite clear that our censorship work is in two categories. Books with a literary content are dealt with by the board. Terror comics and paper-backs are dealt with by the Department of Customs and Excise itself. These are entering Australia in greater numbers than previously. The fact that 626 were prohibited shows that it cannot justly be said that very little is being done, which was the impression that the honorable senator left with the committee.
The honorable senator referred to film censorship. It is true that very few films have been completely rejected, but in very many cases cutting or alteration has been required. This part of the work of the department has developed tremendously because of the advent of television. On the staff of our film censorship board we have three excellent, practical, commonsense women, who are doing a great deal of the viewing of television films. Television goes right into the home, to the young people, and I think that no one can do better than Australian women in recommending what should be done to films before they are allowed to be shown by the television networks. The fact that not many films are totally rejected does not mean that a great deal of work is not done. Quite recently I had a film prepared consisting of the parts which had been cut from a vast number of films, mainly because they depicted violence. I had these put together as a short film. One of these days I hope to be able to bring it here and let honorable senators see it. It is, of course, a very disjointed film, but it shows what the censors are looking for and what they have done in the way of cutting out scenes of violence. I showed honorable senators one film called “The Fly “, which we had rejected, and I understand that one or two of them did not sleep for a couple of nights afterwards. I shall not repeat that, but the composite film to which I have referred will show what is really being done by the censorship board.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Department of Supply.
Proposed Vote, £21,221,000.
.- Quite recently we were provided by the Department of Supply with a booklet which showed the sources of the department’s supplies. It was noticeable that the expenditure of the department was almost exclusively in three States - South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. The amount that is spent over a period of twelve months is great. It is time the other three States had a look at the situation with a view to finding what is wrong and why they can not furnish the department with more of its supplies. The amount of business that goes to Queensland from the Department of Supply is infinitesimal.
I do not wish to be parochial or paltry, but it is obvious that the department favours three Stales. When we think of the employment that is offered to workers in the States from which the department gains its supplies, we realize that it is an economic matter, and I think some changes should be made almost immediately. I should like to hear Government supporters express their opinions about the situation. I hope that I shall get some explanation of why three States are favoured with the bulk of the expenditure by the department.
Senator HANNAFORD (South Australia^ [12.41]. - Various States at various times have complained about the vast sums of money being spent by the Commonwealth in Melbourne or Sydney. In years gone by I have been prone to adopt that attitude, but I do not think that a really valid argument can be advanced on that score, because in most cases it is necessary to concentrate expenditure in areas which are best suited for the purposes of the Department of Supply. In the past, South Australia has been in the position in which Queensland finds itself at present.
I, too, do not want to be parochial about the matter. From a defence point of view, South Australia’s record has been very satisfactory to the Commonwealth as a whole. We have to take a wide view of this matter. The Commonwealth does not set up Department of Supply establishments in places which are important to a State from an economic point of view. There is a large area north of Adelaide which many years ago became an important munitions centre and was ideally suited for the Weapons Research Establishment. It was more or less made to order for that purpose. It was not utilized to any great extent between the two wars. During World War II. a large area was devoted to shell filling and ancillary work associated with munitions production. At the conclusion of World War II. this area was largely unused. With the development of guided missiles and the necessity to provide an area for testing them, the Woomera Weapons Research Establishment was established by the United Kingdom and Australian governments in conjunction.
I do not think it is possible to argue that Queensland should have a similar project. There may be areas in western Queensland which could be devoted to missile testing, but extending from South Australia to the north-west of Western Australia in an area which has proved to be geographically and otherwise ideally suited for weapons research, not only from the point of view of scientific development but also for the actual testing. The Government utilized this area because of its ideal situation. It was almost uninhabited and we had good transport facilities. That is why the Government developed this great project in South Australia. I agree that it is largely fortuitous that South Australia has been chosen for the development of this scheme. I believe that, if Queensland could offer the same facilities and if it were necessary to develop another such project, Queensland would benefit accordingly. As Senator Benn has said, we do not want to be parochial about this matter. South Australia happened to have the goods, and that is why the project was developed in that State.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– There are a few matters relating to the Department of Supply about which I should like some information. Referring to storekeeping and store accounting procedures, the Auditor-General states in paragraph 117 of his report -
Has the Minister for Customs and Excise any knowledge of the stage that has been reached in the taking of corrective action? I should expect store accounting in a department under the control of Mr. A. S. Hulme to be in order. The AuditorGeneral further comments -
Some improvement is evident in internal audit, but until adequate trained staff is provided ana a complete programme of internal audit is put in operation the position must be regarded as unsatisfactory.
I am mystified as to why in the Commonwealth service there is not a system of internal audit - it is elementary and basic to ordinary accounting - which can be put into operation automatically within three months of the establishment of a department. I believe that the Minister for Supply (Mr. Hulme) has a particular responsibility to reply to the comment of the Auditor-General to the effect that the position must continue to be regarded as unsatisfactory.
I refer now to Division No. 563 - Defence Standards Laboratories. We are asked to appropriate a sum of £25,000 for the settlement of common law claims, no such provision having been made in previous years. Can the Minister give us some information about those claims? It is a matter of interest to me. I turn now to Division No. 565 - Weapons Research Establishment. It will be noted that we are asked to continue our practice of appropriating £18,000,000 or £19,000,000 a year and to allow an offset for recoveries from the United Kingdom amounting to £8,000,000 or £9,000,000 a year. I would be obliged to the Minister if he could make a statement about the basis of those recoveries from the United Kingdom. For what part of the expenditure is the United Kingdom responsible? How is it secured? In what way is the programme being affected by the decision of the United Kingdom Government during the last twelve months? The impression got abroad that the decision to which I refer was a unilateral decision by the United Kingdom Government without much consultation with the Australian Government. Can the Minister help us to understand the circumstances in which that decision was made and what has been its effect on the programme of this establishment?
– I should like to address questions to the Minister for Customs and Excise in relation to two matters, the first of which concerns the FN30 rifle. The Minister will recall that the announcement about the production of this rifle in Australia was made in 1954. I note that the Minister for the Army, in a booklet relating to the particular estimates, states under the heading “ Equipment “ -
The regular field force has been equipped ahead of schedule with the Australian made FN rifle and general issues to the Citizen Military Force commenced in July of this year.
I should like to know whether the Regular Army, consisting of 21,000 personnel, is covered by that issue or whether the issue has been made merely to the field force of some 4,000 or 5,000 personnel.
– We arc discussing the proposed vote for the Department of Supply.
– I am dealing with the Department of Supply.
– You Will not come back to this matter when dealing with the proposed appropriation for the Department of the Army?
– I do not want to come back to it. I merely want to know about the production of the Small Arms Factory. What has been the reason for the long delay in the production of this rifle and for the fact that after six years a regular force of only some 5,000 troops is equipped with it? According to an announcement that has been made, it will take another three years to equip the reduced Citizen Military Forces. Can the Minister indicate what the difficulty is which prevents, on that calculation, only some 25,000 rifles from being produced? The thought I have in mind is this: What is the annual rate of production?
My second question is related to the matter of aircraft production. The Minister for Supply, in his notes on this matter, says -
With the Canberra bomber project recently completed and with orders for Sabre fighter and
Vampire training aircraft almost finished, future production of conventional defence aircraft in Australia is under consideration.
Those who are concerned with aircraft production in Australia have been calling out since 1956 for some indication of the Government’s policy on the future of aircraft production in this country. Can the Minister indicate how close we are to getting a decision on the future of this very important industry?
.- Prior to the suspension of the sitting I was speaking about the expenditure of the Department of Supply. I pointed out that the bulk of the expenditure was undertaken in three States and that the other three States received only a very small share. Senator Hannaford said that South Australia had an area which was very suitable for a certain class of work undertaken by the Department of Supply. Queensland ha:; not a desert that is suitable for weapons research activity, so I do not mind that work going to South Australia. But the Department of Supply engages in other activities in which Queensland does not participate to any great degree. Mav I point out that last year this department arranged contracts for the Navy, the Army, the Air Force and other Commonwealth authorities amounting to £29,000,000. That sum included approximately £21,000,000 for fixed quantity contracts, and £8.000.000 for period contracts.
I have read Treasury Regulation 52, so I have a faint knowledge of fixed quantity contracts and period contracts. I also have an idea of the work that is done by various companies and firms in fulfilling the contracts they have with the Department of Supply. If we have a look at the employment aspect of the letting of contracts by this department in the various States, we will see just what the result is. In Victoria 9,625 persons are employed on Department of Supply contracts; in New South Wales, 3.411; and in South Australia, 4,647. I do not blame Senator Hannaford, who is always jealous to protect the progress his State is making, for defending the present location of the weapons research establishment. In Queensland only 244 people are engaged in carrying out contract work for the Department of Supply, and in Western Australia the number is 90. In Tasmania only twenty people are engaged in carrying out work for this department, and in Canberra the number is as low as three. I said this morning that I did not wish to tinge my remarks with parochialism when dealing with this vote, but if the Government allows three States in the Commonwealth to have almost the whole of the work associated with the Department of Supply, it is giving those States a vested interest in defence. They will guard the work they have as far as they possibly can.
Let us see where this work is being carried out. In Footscray - which I understand is in Melbourne - fuses, primers, cartridge cases and small arms ammunition are manufactured, and the number employed in this work is 1,487. There is a small arms factory in Lithgow in New South Wales, where rifles and machine guns are manufactured. The Lithgow factory employs 1,322 persons. The Department of Supply has an ordnance factory at Maribyrnong. I think that is in Melbourne. It also has ordnance factories at Albion, Mulwala and St. Mary’s. In these ordnance factories 2,229 persons are employed. Clothing factories are operating at South Melbourne and Brunswick for the purpose of producing uniforms, clothing and canvas goods. Those factories have 721 employees. The central drawing office of the Department of Supply is at Maribyrnong and employs 81 persons, who are engaged in printing, designing and other similar classes of work.
The fact that these kinds of employment are provided in virtually two States of the Commonwealth only - or three if we include South Australia - is something that should be investigated. If the taxpayers of the Commonwealth pay taxes to provide defence for the whole of the Commonwealth, there is no earthly reason why the whole of the Commonwealth should not participate in contracts that are let by the Department of Supply. I can see an honorable senator on my right glaring at me. I will lay him low before he gets an opportunity to say anything. I have read Treasury Regulation No. 52 and I know how these quantity contracts and period contracts are let. You just cannot get this class of work away from I the States that are performing it at the present time. Of course, you could not take away from Lithgow the work of manufacturing machine guns and rifles, because the factory there is a Commonwealth-owned factory. 1 am talking particularly about the private contracts that are let.
It may be said that the weakest kind of economy that any State could have is one founded on defence spending, because that State could have a lot of work to-day and none tomorrow. However, that is not the case in Australia, because approximately £200,000,000 is provided for defence annually and the Department of Supply is perhaps the greatest spender of all the defence departments.
– I should like to answer some of the queries I have received so far before I am snowed under. I shall deal first with the matters raised by Senator Benn, who was the first one to speak on this proposed vote. Senator Hannaford, I think, largely covered the reasons why the rocket range was established in South Australia. The location of industrial undertakings is governed largely by the availability of staff. Staff is available in industrial areas and factories are located in those ureas for that reason. The policy of building factories in places where staff is available has been followed by the Department of Supply.
However, I think that Senator Benn was referring mainly to work done outside the Department of Supply establishments for which the department calls tenders. When tenders are called, it is made clear that delivery is to be made to the capital city of the States in which the factory that will do the work is situated. The opportunity is given to quote a price for delivery to the capital city of the State. The successful tenderer does not have to pay freight charges for sending the goods to the place where they are required; the Department of Supply pays those charges. I do not think you can expect a Government department to be fairer in its approach to this matter than to call for public tenders on the basis that the goods will be delivered to the capital city of the State where the goods are manufactured. Each State is in the same boat, so to speak. I understand that the honorable senator’s point is that the position is not satisfactory for some of the smaller States, but I do not think a large department like the Department of Supply could work on any other basis.
Senator Wright raised two or three matters to which I shall reply as best I can. My advisers have been unable to locate in the Auditor-General’s 1959-60 report the adverse comment to which the honorable senator referred. Although he gave the page and the paragraph, they are unable to locate it. Senator Wright said that there had been an improvement in stocktaking and general auditing, but he wished to see a further improvement to the point where there would no longer be a necessity for adverse comment by the Auditor-General.
– I did not say that.
– I understood Senator Wright to say that he wanted to see the position corrected within the next twelve months so that it would not be necessary for the Auditor-General to offer any further criticism.
– That is the point. I think Senator Wright has a valid point. In all the departments where there has been criticism of stockkeeping and that type of thing, I think it is high time the position was remedied. Deficiencies in this respect were understandable in war-time and immediately after the war, when staff was scarce, but it is quite right to say that these matters should have been attended to by now. They should be dealt with in the proper manner, because staff is now available. The regulations should be carried out, proper accounts should be kept and things should be done in the right way.
The honorable senator knows that this is not the department which I administer, but I shall certainly convey his remarks to the Minister in charge of the department. As Senator Wright acknowledges, there is no one better qualified than the present Minister for Supply to attend to matters such as auditing and stocktaking because he is a man with wide experience in that field.
Senator Wright also asked, about the weapons research programme and the amounts recovered from the United Kingdom. Under our financial agreement with the United Kingdom, anything that we spend over ?9,500,000 per annum is recoverable. Under that joint agreement we have to meet the expenditure up to ?9,500,000 per annum. Any expenditure in excess of that sum is refunded by the United Kingdom. The fourth matter raised by Senator Wright referred to Division No. 563, Item 1 1 - “ Settlement of common law claims, ?25,000 “. That appropriation is made to meet a claim made by an employee for injuries received on duty. The case has been settled.
Senator McKenna raised two questions. The Department of Supply is working to the Army programme in the provision of FN rifles. The whole field force has been equipped with them and some training units are equipped with them. The production is geared to the programme set by the Army. In regard to aircraft production, I think the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation, which comes under the Department of Supply, and the private aircraft manufacturing industry have to be considered together to enable us to see the comprehensive picture. 1 do not think you can just take one section of the Australian aircraft production industry - the governmentowned factory. You must take the industry as a whole. The number of people employed in the aircraft industry is 6,500. The overall expenditure within the industry last year was nearly ?10,000,000. The present value of the assets of the aircraft production industry is ?36,000,000. I do not think you can judge the industry on the Department of Supply section of it only. I think I have covered the points raised. Was there anything else you asked me about, senator?
Senator KENNELLY (Victoria) [2.371.- I ask the Minister to give the committee some information about what is to happen to the Bendigo Ordnance Factory. I have no knowledge of this matter; hence my request. I admit that I do not place much reliance on press statements, as a rule, but it is very disturbing when they are so persistent, particularly in the local sphere. The factory is tremendously important to Bendigo from an economic viewpoint. If the factor” is liable to be closed - I am not saying it is - that is the cause of a great worry to the people who work in the factory. There was an intimation that it might be closed. I would like the Minister to give us some encouragement by saying that the factory will continue to operate as it has in the past.
.- I am obliged to the Minister for taking note of the queries I raised previously. In the quietude of the few minutes after the resumption of the sitting, I became amazed to think that this chamber is served by officers who advise the Minister but who did not go through the Auditor-General’s Report for days before they came into this chamber and did not underline and put asterisks against every adverse comment that that high officer of Parliament makes.
– They would not know which one you were going to choose to refer to.
– I am not here to single out any particular one. I am here to receive assistance from the whole Parliament. I said last night that my own view of the prestige and responsibility of the Auditor-General is such that I think his report is eagerly awaited by every Parliamentarian, every Minister, and every responsible officer of the Public Service. If there is any specific criticism that he sees fit to incorporate in his report to Parliament, the departmental officers must expect to be held responsible for correcting the position. We Parliamentarians look to the Minister and the Minister imposes that responsibility on the officers, yet they ignore the reports of the Auditor-General. I mention this because the series of criticisms by successive Auditors-General in regard to accountancy matters and security measures in respect of public moneys and stores indicates an attitude of irresponsibility that cannot be condoned. I will refer to the paragraph-
– Is this the report for the year 1959-60?
– I was just about to say that paragraph 117 of the report-
– For which year?
– For the present year. T am very sorry. I am at fault. I have been reading from the report for the year 1956-57. I am very sorry indeed. If there is no criticism in the 1959-60 report, I hope to be in a position to absolve the officers completely.
– We cannot find any critcism. I think that is the result of your efforts in the past.
– I regret having taken the time of the committee on this matter and 1 express my pleasure that the matters referred to in the 1956-57 report have been corrected. I hope that I can be assured that the adverse criticisms are suitably noted by the departmental officers a long time before their attention is directed to them by Parliamentary representatives and that early action is being taken to correct matters which are the subject of criticism. I do not see any corresponding reference in the 1959-60 report. I regret that I have taken up the time of the committee unnecessarily.
– I am happy to accept the honorable senator’s apology. He had us really worried. We could not find any adverse criticism in the report of the Auditor-General for 1959-60, although perhaps that is rather unusual. We do not want to be accused unjustly. I am sure the departmental officers understand the position.
In reply to Senator Kennelly, I point out that the Minister for Supply (Mr. Hulme) has already stated that the work-load of the Bendigo Ordinance Factory is assured for some time at least and no retrenchments are envisaged.
– He did not give a definition of “ for some time “.
– I do not think anybody could do so, in a matter such as this.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of the Army.
Proposed Vote, £65,639,000.
– I wish to raise one matter in connexion with this appropriation. Yesterday, my attention was directed by the Premier of Tasmania to the need to establish a Tasmania Command for the Army. Such a command was in existence until the recent re-organization took place. I wish to put before the Minister an extract from the letter which the Premier wrote on this matter -
When the announcement was made that the Army establishment in Tasmania was to be re-organized, I was unsuccessful in my representations to the Prime Minister for the retention of Tasmania Command. However, perhaps you would be kind enough to discuss this proposal with the appropriate Commonwealth authorities.
I propose to write to the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) and the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) on the subject, and I should like to enlist the support of the Minister in charge of the vote in this chamber for the proposal which I shall summarize very briefly.
The view of the person who has made the submission in the matter is that, from a strategic viewpoint, Tasmania should be well equipped so far as the Army is concerned. He points out that if Western Junction airport, near Launceston, fell into enemy hands the rest of Australia would be very vulnerable to air attack from that point. He suggests that the present system is not sound from an administrative angle, and that there should be a severance of operational command from the administrative control of Southern Command, in Victoria. He advocates the establishment of a full army battle group in Tasmania, the nucleus for which already exists in the form of Citizen Military Forces units of various categories, with auxiliary units the details of which he gives but which I shall not take up the time of the Senate bv repeating.
The person concerned refers to the economic factor, without relying on that as an argument. He says that it is recognized that troops must be disposed according to the tactical requirements of Australia. He states that although there is very little naval and air activity in Tasmania, such activity could be generated very quickly because of the existence of ports and airports which could be used if the need arose. He is of the opinion that it would be difficult to make the necessary Army dispositions if forces were not already in the State. He directs attention to the cold economics of the position, adverted to by Senator Benn in another context, that while the taxpayers of Tasmania contribute to the defence of the country pro rata with other taxpayer1;, there is very little expense expenditure in that State, particularly in relation to the Army. The number of military personnel is entirely disproportionate to the contribution that a population of the size of that of Tasmania makes to defence expenditure, and he states that it would be desirable, if only from that angle, to have larger forces in the island.
I leave the Minister with that thought. I ask that he interest himself in the question that the Premier has raised, from the two aspects of reconstitution of a separate Tasmania command and the establishment of a full battle group in that State, with the aid of C.M.F. units already in existence. I should be happy if I were able to report that the Minister will at least concern himself in the matter and confer with his colleagues.
Senator McC ALLUM (New South Wales) [2.501. - I thank the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) for the memorandum relating to the estimates for the Department of the Army with which he has furnished us. I wish to invite the attention of the Minister and that of honorable senators to annexure B at page 19 of the memorandum, where the regular army, strength of various countries is shown, together with their populations, and, in the third table, the regular army strength per 1,000 of population. I should like to know why those particular countries, and only those, have been included. I have looked for the relative particulars in the case of Soviet Russia, one of the most important of all countries from the point of view of armed strength, and I cannot find them. One of the most important factors in making a comparison is the strength of the Soviet Union. Details of the armed strength of other countries which it might be important to consider also have been omitted.
My main purpose in directing attention to this matter is to find out whether it will be possible for us to make a comparison. I assume that the strength of the Regular Army in Australia lies in the permanent forces and in nothing else. I should like to know whether the details that are given of the armed strength of France, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and other countries in which ordinary citizens serve in the regular army for a year or two years, include those parttime forces in the armed strength, or whether they are excluded. Honorable senators will see that the United States of America is shown as having 970,000 personnel in its armed forces. It seems to me that that figure must include the drafts, as they are called - the boys who do a term of service in the regular forces. I think that also in France and Great Britain there is a similar system of service. I should like to know whether servicemen of that kind have been included in the armed strengths indicated by the Minister for the Army, so that I may make a comparison.
– I wish to refer to the proposed vote for the Department of the Army. In the schedule of salaries and allowances contained in the bill details are given of Army personnel. I may say that I have raised this matter previously in this chamber. I notice that the number of Army personnel this year is smaller than it was last year. The fact that national service training has been abolished may have something to do with the reduction. It seems to me to be a tremendous waste of money to pay almost £26,000,000 for the maintenance of the Army, with practically nothing to show for that expenditure.
When we refer to the schedule of salaries and allowances, we see that provision is made for 11,372 officers and only 11,059 men, including lance-corporals, privates, gunners, sappers and drivers. It seems that if every officer wanted a batman to himself there would not be sufficient to go round. We are paying all these people all the time. In addition to those persons, there are 3,670 members of the civilian services, the salaries and allowances for whom amount to nearly £3,000,000 a year. Those members include the Secretary of the Department of the Army, assistant secretaries and administrative, technical, clerical and other staff officers. Therefore, Mr. Chairman, we are paying almost £26,000,000 by way of salaries and allowances for the personnel of the Army and nearly £3,000,000 in addition for the administrative personnel. That is not counting those who are employed in the Department of Defence - the central administration. It seems to me to be a tremendous waste of money to have a lot of brass hats - generals, majors, captains, lieutenants and so on - travelling around this country. We still have not got sufficient men in the Army to meet any trouble that may arise.
– But there are good opportunities for promotion.
– Of course That is right. Some of the nice old gentlemen have, been retired and placed on superannuation, as I will be next year or the year after.
– You are pretty glad to have them around when there is any trouble.
– Yes. I did not retire them; the Government did. It declared them to be redundant. Possibly that accounts for some of the reduction that I have mentioned. What I am concerned about is the fact that we have nothing to show for the enormous expenditure on this staff.
Turning to the matter of supply, I refer to the recent controversy concerning the supply of rifles to the Army. If the new rifles that are available were issued to the officers, they would give them to the batmen to carry and it would be necessary to have more men and issue rifles to them. At present there are not sufficient new rifles to go round. There are not even sufficient of them to give to the men at present in the Army. It seems to me to be a tremendous waste of money to have people going around wearing the Queen’s uniform - cockades and all the rest - attending one function or another.
– I rise to speak, not in support of what Senator McKenna has said, but in continuation of the remarks I made both in this chamber and elsewhere during the early stage of this re-organization. I do not altogether agree with all that Senator McKenna has said about the reorganization of the Army in Tasmania. Like Senator Benn I say quite sincerely that I am not being parochial when I confine my remarks to the situation of the Army in my State.
I say without fear of contradiction that it was a retrograde step again to put the Army in Tasmania under Southern Command. Previously in our history we had suffered indignity and inefficiency for the same reason. I am sorry that this has happened again. I believe that the pentropic organization is one of the facts of life in the military organization in Australia. I am not in a position to criticize it. I believe that our military advisers did the right thing in recommending the establishment of the pentropic division, but that is not to say that command of the Army in Tasmania should not be left in Tasmania or that there cannot be a sufficient number and variety of units in Tasmania to absorb the young men who would willingly serve in the Citizen Military Forces or the Australian Regular Army. 1 believe that the result of placing the Army in Tasmania under Southern Command will be a waste of money on administration and additional travel. If we called for a report at the end of the first year’s activities under the changed policy, I wonder what amount of expenditure on visits by officers of Southern Command to Tasmania would be revealed? This costly expenditure was not incurred under Tasmania Command. I am certain that the alteration of the command is causing delays in the making of decisions on transfers, promotions and other matters, as well as camps and bivouacs. That is causing frustration and will, I believe, result in inefficiency in the control of the Army in Tasmania.
I say to the Government that, having made this change, it is its bounden duty to watch the position closely and ensure that the senior army officers make the most effectual use of the organization. If there is any inefficiency in the Army in Tasmania, it cannot be laid at the door of the senior officers in that State. It is not their fault that they have to ring Southern Command in Melbourne in order to get stamps, envelopes, &c, sent to them. I hope that this position will be rectified. In this respect, I am glad that Senator McKenna supports my contention.
Another point that I desire to make is that, if frustration and inefficiency occurs in the Army, money spent on recruiting is a waste. If recruits are to be attracted to the Army, the serving members must be efficient and satisfied. I do not know how Senator O’Flaherty dreamed up the figures he quoted in relation to officers and other ranks in the Army, but I want to underline an important feature in relation to future recruiting. The officers and other ranks must be assured that if they serve efficiently and well they will get what people in the ordinary walks of life get when they display efficiency and initiative, that is, promotion and security.
There was a most unfortunate situation when the Army was re-organized. Eight or twelve very good and efficient serving officers were given bowler hats. Consequently, right through the Army, from the senior ranks to the lowest ranks, there is a fear that any further change of policy may result in more heads being chopped off. When an Army or any other service is concerned about its future, dissatisfaction arises and the cream of the members apply for discharge so that they can enter private life and make their way with security. I ask the Minister and the Government to consider the matters I have raised in this current year.
– The matter that was mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), on behalf of the Army in Tasmania, is one which I think has been in the minds of most senators from that State. When the Army was re-organized, Tasmania was placed under Southern Command in Victoria; the command was removed- from Tasmania. Many representations were made in this matter. The honorable senator has only asked that I interest myself in the matter and bring this matter to the attention of the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer). I undertake to do so, because I feel that something well worthwhile may be gained by adopting decentralization in the Army as much as possible. I speak in the knowledge that the Department of Customs and Excise is really decentralized. We have a central office in Canberra and branches in all States. I think the more decentralized the departments become the better.
Turning to another aspect of this matter, I am sure that all Tasmanians are very proud indeed that the Tasmanian regiment is now called the Royal Tasmanian Regiment. I also believe that the expansion of the artillery in Tasmania was well worthwhile. It is worth placing on record the fact that in the year that this re-organization took place, two regiments in Tasmania celebrated the centenary of their establishment. They have a long history.
I shall not attempt to reply to Senator O’Flaherty’s remarks, because apparently he is not aware of the difference between a commissioned officer and a noncommissioned officer.
– That is the reply I get every time.
– You have had that reply only for the last ten years. If you continue to get it for another ten years you may understand what it means. In this group of 22,000 . men, commissioned officers number 2,723. Non-commissioned officers and other ranks number 19,708. Those are the facts and they differ somewhat from the figures cited by Senator O’Flaherty. The opinion he expressed was one that we have heard often from him. He is entitled to hold his own views but they are not borne out by the facts.
I thank Senator Marriott for his comments, which have been noted. His comments about the re-organization of the Army, together with Senator McManus’s comments, will be conveyed to the Minister for the Army.
.- I rise to refer briefly to a matter in which my interest persists, namely losses and deficiencies of public money or property, referred to in paragraph 121 of the AuditorGeneral’s report for the year ended 30th June, 1960. I could scarcely err by referring to the wrong report on this occasion having regard to the comments from my genial colleague, Senator Henty. If he glances at the 1958 report he will see that in it the Auditor-General pointed out that this matter had been under consideration for fifteen years. That report stated that fifteen years had elapsed since the Auditor-General first commented on the inadequacy of the statutory provisions for the recovery of losses of public money or property sustained because of neglect or misconduct on the part of Service personnel. The position now is that all regulations providing for the recovery by administrative process have been repealed. In his latest report the Auditor-General states that so far the necessary legislation has not been enacted. I am glad to acknowledge that when this matter was referred to a fortnight ago, Senator Henty assured me that it would be taken up. He has told me that this matter can best be dealt with by
Senator Gorton when we come to the estimates for the Department of the Navy because Senator Gorton has made himself familiar with the position in regard to all three services. I simply comment that until we have some satisfactory explanation from Senator Gorton we will be interested in accounting procedures in the Army.
.- Twelve months ago I raised a matter relating to a rifle range at a township called Redbank, which is between Ipswich and Brisbane. My impression is that the township has developed around the rifle range and that there has been greater development during the last two or three years than there was in the previous ten or twelve years, as the result of which the rifle range is now almost in the middle of the town. The town is served by a railway and on one side of the railway line railway workshops are being established. I have received requests from residents of Redbank asking roe to approach the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) with a view to his department acquiring an area of land in the vicinity of the town for a playing field. The residents of Redbank want for this purpose an area large enough to accommodate three or four football fields - a soccer field, a rugby league field and an area for Australian rules football. They would also like to establish a couple of hockey fields, a basketball court and tennis courts. Quite by accident the most suitable area for this purpose is the rifle range.
I have been in touch with the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) about this matter and he has sent courteous replies indicating that very little can be done. I have also approached the Minister for the Interior, who has replied in similar terms. Next year I propose to invite both those honorable gentlemen to visit the rifle range in the middle of winter. I am sure that if they accept my invitation the responsible Minister will be pleased to give up the rifle range to the sporting bodies in the township or to similar bodies in Ipswich so that the area may be devoted not to a better purpose but to a purpose for which it is ideally suited. If the department concerned does decide to give up this area of land it will not lose anything because on the outskirts of Brisbane, towards
Ipswich, there are tracts of bushland which could be developed easily into a suitable rifle range. In addition, there is an area of land,, not far from Brisbane, which was used for national service training, and which; could be’ used for this purpose. Indeed, I do. not know of a better location for a rifle range. Good roads lead from the area into Brisbane and members of rifle clubs would not be disadvantaged in any way if a rifle range were established on that land. As long as the rifle range remains at its present location at Redbank the young people of the area will be under a disadvantage.
Another complaint that came to my notice was that during the operation of the national service training scheme machine guns were fired, on the range, scaring the very wits out of residents of Redbank. Nothing much could be done about that because such firing practice took place only about once a month throughout the year.
– Did the trainees ever hit anything?
– I do not know that they ever reached a sufficient standard of proficiency to be able to hit anything.
Senator TANGNEY (Western Australia) [3.131. - I have one or two matters that I would like to raise. One of them, which I raised last year, concerns Division No. 504 - General Services. Item 09 relates to concessional postage for servicemen for which this year the Government seeks to appropriate the sum of £120,000 for payment to the Postmaster-General’s Department. I should like to know why servicemen are treated as such and are allowed concessional postage rates, yet if they are injured or killed while on duty, not being engaged in a war, they are regarded as civilians for the purpose of compensation. If they are treated as civilians in one respect they should be treated as civilians in the other, or if they are treated as servicemen for a postal concession they should equally be treated as servicemen for the purpose of compensation. I cannot see the reason for this differentiation.
Division No. 511 relates to arms, armament, mechanization and equipment, for which an appropriation of £11,344,000 is sought. Some controversy arose recently over the sale, willy-nilly, by the Army of obsolete rifles. At the time of the sale fears were expressed that the rifles might find their way into the hands of undesirable persons and gangsters and be used for criminal purposes. I should like to know whether, if usable rifles are sold, any precautions are taken to ensure that they will not get into the hands of persons who might do a lot of harm with them. An amount of £11,000,000 seems to be a great deal to be spending at this time on arms, armament, mechanization and equipment, in comparison with the £5,820,000 being provided under Division No. 510.
I refer to Division No. 502 - Civilian Services. Here again we find the old problem of temporary, casual and exempt employees. These must be in the majority in the Department of the Army, because an amount of £3,305,000 is to be provided for their pay, as against £2,950,000 for the salaries and allowances of permanent employees. In every department we find a large proportion of temporary, casual and exempt employees, but in this department the majority of employees seem to be still on the temporary list. I should like to know for how long people must be temporary employees before becoming permanent employees, or whether they are permanently temporary. I should think that in the civilian branches of the services there is room for many ex-service people who have been retired from the services but are still below the retiring age applicable in other fields of industry and endeavour. There is still a lot of useful life ahead of men who retire from the services in their early 50’s. They have an intimate knowledge of their service which the ordinary lay person has not. It seems wasteful that when men retire from the defence services their particular skills - the only skills that they have acquired - are not availed of in the civilian branches of the services. I understand that there would be some difficulty with the Public Service Board, but in these days of rationalization, surely it is possible to reach some rational solution of the problem instead of turning these highly skilled men onto the labour scrap heap. Those who deal with employment officers know that it is very difficult for men over the age of 40 who have not a particular skill to get permanent employment.
– Senator McCallum referred to annexure B of the explanatory notes circulated by the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer), in which comparisons are made of regular army strengths. As Senator McCallum thought, those figures do include men who are undergoing two years’ full-time service. The countries enumerated are those which have interests around the Pacific and in the South-East Asia area, and it is for that reason that they are shown on the list.
I am sorry that 1 cannot answer Senator Benn’s inquiry about the Redbank rifle range, but 1 was interested to learn that he wanted a football field to be provided for the playing of Australian Rules football. It is nice to know that Queensland is starting to understand what football really is, and I approve of that trend. The two matters raised by Senator Tangney will be brought to the attention of the Minister for the Army. I am getting some information about rifles and I shall answer that inquiry later.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Health.
Proposed Vote, £2,248,000.
Miscellaneous Services - Department of Health.
Proposed Vote, £1,027,400.
Payments to or for the States.
Proposed Vote, £577,000.
Ordered to be considered together.
– I ask the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) whether the Government provides £1 for every £1 expended by the States on mental hospitals.
– The Commonwealth provides £1 for every £3 of capital expenditure by the States on mental hospitals.
– I- am concerned about the number of persons who come to this country as immigrants and, unfortunately, develop mental illnesses. A few years ago I went to the trouble of obtaining from the various State Ministers the numbers of immigrants who suffered from mental illnesses. I have not gone to the trouble of collecting from the State Ministers the latest figures, but I should be more than surprised if the precentage was lower than was the case when I last obtained such information. Like every one else, I am concerned at the number of newcomers who are finding their way into our mental institutions. The Minister said that the Commonwealth provides £1 for every £3 spent by the States on capital works for mental hospitals, but it seems to me that there should be a much stricter medical examination of prospective immigrants, because the whole of the cost of maintenance of mental hospitals has to be borne by the States. I assure the Minister that when we return after the short recess I shall be fortified, as I was during another debate on the Estimates, by having the percentages of immigrants in the various States who suffer from mental illness.
The Government deserves credit for its contribution towards the provision of accommodation for these unfortunate people, but State governments are incurring great expenditure in the treatment of mental illnesses, not only amongst nativeborn Australians but also amongst immigrants. I believe that the Commonwealth has an obligation in this matter. The figures amazed me. I know that at one time the Minister doubted them, but I produced telegrams I had received from the various State Ministers. The Government deserves credit for helping to build institutions but, as immigration is a Commonwealth responsibility, the Commonwealth ought to shoulder a further burden by helping the States out of the troubles in which they find themselves in the maintenance of these institutions.
I had the idea that we would be dealing with the proposed vote for the Department of Health when we returned after next week’s recess; otherwise I would have had certain figures available. Mental illness is causing a tremendous economic loss to the nation. A lot of money has been gathered and spent on research into heart complaints. In Victoria a lot of money has been gathered to help in the fight against the scourge of cancer. A lot of work has been done to combat tuberculosis; the Commonwealth has provided the money and the States have done the work. But I believe we should go a little further and see what can be done to help the States in the maintenance of mental institutions.
My own view, for what it is worth, is that, if a migrant contracts mental illness within five years of arriving in Australia, the Commonwealth should bear some responsibility for the cost of his treatment. 1 have not been, and still am not, satisfied that the medical examination of intending migrants is all that it could be. I admit that the privations that were suffered by these people in various camps in Europe and the brutalities they suffered first at the hands of the Germans and later at the hands of others must have had a grave effect on their mental stability. But the number who have contracted mental illness after they have come to what we believe to be the peace and quietness of this land is quite large. I repeat that I believe the Commonwealth should shoulder some of the responsibility of caring for these people. We are all prepared to help in combating heart disease, cancer and tuberculosis; but I think the Commonwealth should do a little more to help in the construction of homes for people suffering from mental illness. We have a responsibility to make the lot of these people better.
– I refer to Division No. 293 - Health Services. We are asked to appropriate a sum of £13,000 for the item “Publicity - Pamphlets “. I am wondering whether the Department of Health proposes to undertake publicity designed to restore the health of people instead of filling them with pills, potions and the like. I do not know what kind of publicity is contemplated. There is not a shadow of doubt that Australia is becoming a nation of pill-takers. I have in my hand a statement to the effect that the men and women of Australia take more than 5,000,000,000 pills, potions and tablets every year. One writer has said that the difference between men and monkeys is that monkeys do not take pills.
There must be some reason for the presence of illness throughout Australia. I wonder whether the Department of Health ever takes cognizance of such matters and whether it engages in any publicity or adopts any other means so to improve the health of the people that there would not be any need for the taking of so many pills and potions. I recall listening to a speech that was delivered in this chamber in November last by Senator
Branson. The honorable senator dealt with dental caries and other dental troubles in Australian children. It was a startling speech. I do not know whether anything resulted from it or whether the dental profession acted upon it. It seemed to me that the honorable senator had gone to a great deal of trouble to ascertain facts concerning the dental troubles of our boys and girls. He said -
When both the permanent and deciduous, or baby, teeth are considered, we find that only five of every 100 children in the six-year-old age group in Australia have healthy teeth. From that point, the position starts to deteriorate rapidly. Only 2.5 children in every 100 seven-year-olds have healthy mouths. The position deteriorates even more rapidly from then on. Among the eight-year-olds, only 0.6 of every 100 have healthy mouths; 0.96 of nine-year-olds; 1.6 of tenyearolds; and 0.75 of twelve-year-olds or fewer than one in every 200. The proportion is much the same among the fourteen-year-olds while none of the fifteen-year-olds have caries-free mouths.
That was a startling statement. What I want to know is whether there is any possibility of the Department of Health ascertaining the reason for the sickness that abounds, be it dental or any other physical sickness. There must be a cause.
I suppose all of us, when we are sick, fly to the medicine bottle. But I do not think that flying to the medicine bottle will ever result in a healthy nation being developed. I admit that here and there we do find a courageous gentleman or lady who does not go to the bottle.
– Which bottle?
– There are all kinds of bottles. We know what are the ill-effects of going to the alcohol bottle. We can see them in the faces of many of our fellow citizens. According to a statement I have in my hand, the Government is becoming very worried about the incidence of sickness. The cost of the pharmaceutical benefits scheme is rising. In 1953-54 the cost was £9,200,000 but, according to the figures I have, in 1959-60 there were 24,600,000 prescriptions, which cost £25,000,000. It would be a splendid thing if, within the Department of Health, there was a band of scientists and others who could delve deeply into this question. It is comparatively easy to distribute millions or billions of pills and potions and run up a huge debt. A pill or potion may satisfy momentarily a poor devil who is sick, but that is all it will do. According to some of the greatest thinkers in the medical world, something more is necessary. Sir James Barr, the president of the British Medical Association, when addressing a medical convention at Droitwich in England, is reported in the official magazine of the association, “ Lancet “, as saying -
I also have a statement by Professor Walter Murdoch of Western Australia. All honorable senators know of Professor Murdoch, who stands very high in the opinion of thinkers throughout the world. He had occasion to visit a Harley-street specialist - he had stomach trouble or some other condition - and he came to this conclusion -
I have also a statement by Dr. Alexis Carrel. He was one of America’s famous diagnosticians. In his book, “ Man the Unknown “, which I read many years ago and highly recommend, he said -
Unless the doctors of to-day become the dietitians of to-morrow, the dietitians of to-day will be the doctors of to-morrow.
I do not contend that a rational diet will cure all ills, but I am satisfied, as the result of my own experience and the experience of my family, that there is something lacking in our diet and that that gives rise to sickness. We are false to ourselves on many occasions by over-eating and overdrinking. As Dr. Barr says, 95 per cent, of our ailments are due to faulty diet.
I ask the Minister whether the department is doing anything in this direction. When speaking previously on this subject 1 have advocated that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization should investigate this matter. We have a branch of that organization dealing with animal husbandry. If we can look after sheep,’ cows and other animals, why should we not have a branch to look after the health of men and women? It is said that the proper study of man is man himself. In the C.S.l.R.O. we have divisions of animal genetics, animal health, animal physiology and food preservation, and we have also a national cattle breeding station.
We have sections investigating barracuta and tuna and also a section dealing with plant nutrition. I understand that on one or two occasions scientists of the C.S.l.R.O have undertaken studies dealing with the diet of aborigines. I do not know whether that is true or not.
– It is quite true.
– My friend Senator Benn assures me it is quite true. If we can do the right thing by the cattle of this nation, why cannot the Government do the right thing by our men and women? It is absurd to spend millions of pounds on medicines, on aspirins and aspros. As a matter of fact, thousands of people in Australia are suffering from drug poisoning. There is not the slightest doubt that some people are suffering from aspirin poisoning. They have taken so much aspirin that they have poisoned their systems. It is said that the teeth of the children of Australia are the worst in the world. There is a reason why we have all this sickness and trouble, and I think the Department of Health should investigate the matter. If the Government does not wish to go so far as to set up an appropriate organization within the C.S.l.R.O. it should at least set up an organization within the Department of Health. It should publicize the fact that we are poisoning our people in many ways and helping to reduce the health of the nation by pouring into human bodies millions of pills, potions and drugs of every kind.
– I am interested in several aspects of health services. I wish to refer first of all to Division No. 636, Department of Health. I notice that for cattle tick eradication and control in New South Wales a subsidy of £272,350 is proposed. Last year the amount expended was £477.058. For the Division of Child Health, however, the proposed vote is £18,000, and for child health centres the proposed vote is £41,600. Having regard to the money available, remarkable results are achieved by these fine institutions. I should like to see the vote increased by a considerable amount.
One of the aspects of the activities of the Department of Health which should give honorable senators great joy is the work that is being done by the Commonwealth Serum
Laboratories. Honorable Senators who have not been to the laboratories and seen the work carried out there by self-sacrificing scientists of world standard should do so. We all rejoiced this week when the Nobel Prize was awarded to Sir McFarlane Burnet, an Australian scientist, for his contribution to medicine. He is a scientist of world standard. In the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories you will find a number of research workers who could have amassed large personal fortunes in private practice, but they have chosen to work in the laboratories. Although it is late on Thursday afternoon and the Minister apparently is in a hurry to finish the consideration of these estimates, I think it would be unfair to allow this opportunity to pass without commenting on the work that is being done by the scientists in all branches of our health services.
I am particularly pleased with the work that is being carried out in the field of tuberculosis. However, I am afraid that the success that has been achieved in the eradication campaign has led to a feeling of complacency in some quarters. Because of this complacency, the disease could spread again, although not to the same degree as was the case years ago. In this complacency lies danger.
I desire also to mention the work that is being done by the Australian Red Cross, particularly in connexion with the blood transfusion service. The Government is not being over-generous in making an appropriation of f. 150,000 to the Australian Red Cross for blood transfusion work. T do not think that any amount of money could ever repay the society for the great work that is being done, but the appropriation certainly helps it to carry on that work. When we compare these appropriations with the vast national expenditure in other fields, I think we are operating many of our health services on shoe-string budgets. That applies to the research grant that is being made to the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories. The appropriation this year is only £20,000, which is exactly the same as last year’s appropriation. We all know that that is a very small amount for scientific inquiries.
Recently I asked the Minister a question about research into the various types of hearing aids. He told me that work was carried out in that field at the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories of the Department of Health and that hearing aids were made available to children, pensioners and other deserving cases. The purpose of my question was not to obtain that information. My purpose was to try to get the department to give some kind of a lead to the ordinary people of the community who have to buy hearing aids. Some people are being exploited to the tune of hundreds of pounds in purchasing hearing aids. The instruments have been advertised by their makers, distributors or agents as being so very worth while, and I know people who have gone into debt in paying off hearing aids which should be made available to them at a very much lower cost, as part of the national health scheme.
– Some people charge £97 for a hearing aid that costs £17 to manufacture.
– That is the point; the exploitation of people who are afflicted in this way is a national scandal. I asked my question in the Senate in regard to this matter in order to see whether the acoustic laboratories could give some idea of what would be a reasonable price for people to pay for the best available hearing aid, and whether it could be included in the national health service in some way, even with some extra payment or contribution. I believe that that would bring very great relief to the people who are afflicted in this way. In many cases their affliction becomes worse because they cannot afford to buy one of these highly priced hearing aids. If one looks at the newspapers one sees an indication of the amount of money that is spent on advertisements. The advertising campaigns on the radio and in the newspapers show that the manufacturers of hearing aids must have a big margin between their cost of production and their selling price because of the money they are able to spend on advertising. The person who buys a hearing aid has to pay for that advertising. I ask the Minister whether any provision is made in the amount appropriated this year for the work of the acoustic laboratories for research in that direction.
Senator MCKELLAR (New South Wales) C3.48L - I wish to put two questions to the Minister in regard to Division No. 636, item 05 - Cattle tick, eradication and control in New South Wales. Will the Minister be good enough to let me know whether the reduction in the appropriation this year compared with last year from £500,000 to £272,350 arises from the success of the campaign up to date? If that is not the reason, what is the reason for the reduction in the appropriation?
[3.491. - 1 will deal with the matters that have been raised by honorable senators. First, 1 will comment on the point raised by Senator Kennelly, which is one of great interest. 1 have interested myself in the figures that have been produced from time to time on the number of migrants included in the number of inmates in mental institutions. At the present time, the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council is conducting research into this matter. From the research that has been made to date, it is apparent that the States have counted every person who is not born in Australia as a migrant. Some of them have lived in Australia for 50 or 60 years, but because they were not born in Australia, in these figures they have not been counted as Australian citizens. Therefore, I think the figures are misleading. It was really alarming to read them before knowing all the circumstances. The research is still continuing, and we hope to have the facts before much longer.
This is the fifth year of the scheme under which special appropriations are made for capital expenditure on mental institutions. This year the appropriation is £1,147,472, which brings the total to over £5,500,000. This year Victoria will receive £518,000. The real point of Senator Kennelly’s comment was the rather alarming number of migrants in mental institutions. Perhaps I have provided a little of the answer to that question.
Senator Tangney raised the matter of the amount of the Commonwealth contribution to the Australian Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service. I admit that the contribution seems a little small, but the Commonwealth is meeting only 30 per cent, of the cost. The States meet 60 per cent., the Commonwealth meets 30 per cent., and the Australian Red Cross itself meets 10 per cent, of the cost. Our contribution is only half the contribution made by the States to the Blood Transfusion Service.
The answers to the questions asked by Senator McKellar are that the sum of £272,350 is for a period of only six months, because the whole matter is under review. Last year the appropriation was £500,000.
Senator Tangney has again raised the matter of hearing aids. She is very persistent in bringing forward this matter, as she has every right to be. So far, there has been no alteration in the policy. If she is in this chamber long enough, and if there is a change of government and by some mischance the present Opposition occupies the government benches, I have no doubt that she will make very strong representations to the government at that time for the inclusion of hearing aids in the national health scheme.
– You cannot get out of it that way. Are you not going to do anything now?
– I have stated the position. Senator Brown asked about the amount appropriated for publicity and pamphlets in the Department of Health. This appropriation is expended solely for the purpose of making known to the public the facilities and assistance available through the Department of Health or its instrumentalities, especially the forms of assistance available under the national health scheme. A limited amount is expended periodically on newspaper .advertisements, particularly when a new scheme is being introduced or when an existing scheme is being expanded. The principal outlay, however, is on information pamphlets such as those dealing with medical and hospital benefits, pharmaceutical benefits and tuberculosis arrangements. Such pamphlets are generally distributed in batches of from 30 to 50 to the surgeries of Australia’s 12,000 doctors and to about 5,000 chemists, and to other points at which they may be brought to the notice of persons likely to be interested.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Department of Immigration.
Proposed Vote, £2,205,000.
Miscellaneous Services; - Department of Immigration.
Proposed Vote, £9,252,000.
Ordered to be considered together.
Senator O’FLAHERTY (South Australia) [3.54J. - I notice that the Department of Immigration makes some payments to Commonwealth Hostels Limited. Commonwealth Hostels Limited is controlled by the Department of Labour and National Service, yet in this appropriation bill there is not a scintilla of evidence to prove that it comes under that department. To ascertain the real position, one has to go through the bill. We find that the major part of the money that is paid to Commonwealth Hostels Limited comes from the Department of Immigration. Admittedly, small amounts are paid by the Department of the Interior, the Department of Works and the Treasury. Sub-division 5 of Division No. 642 relates to Commonwealth Hostels Limited. Item 01 of that subdivision reads, “Contribution to maintenance of migrant families - £1,050,000”. Last year, expenditure in this connexion was £950,000.
Recently, 1 asked whether the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon), whose department administers Commonwealth Hostels Limited, could supply me with a copy of the balance-sheet of the company. I have received a balancesheet, but it is for last year, not this year. The balance-sheet shows the £950.000 which was provided for Commonwealth Hostels Limited by the Department of Immigration last year. Honorable senators will notice that the item in the bill refers to “ Contribution to the maintenance of migrant families “. It is apparent, therefore, that the Department of Immigration pays money to Commonwealth Hostels Limited, which has taken over the hostels that house migrants. In the balance-sheet, we find an entirely different explanation of the amount that is paid. We see, on the income and expenditure side, the following entry: - “ Contributions by the Commonwealth of Australia towards cost of accommodating dependants and cost of unoccupancy.” That is an entirely different item from that mentioned in the bill.
– What is the amount shown in the balance-sheet?
– The amount shown in the balance-sheet is £1,074,000. If honorable senators care to refer to the report of the Auditor-General, they will see that that amount of £1,074,000 is made up of £950,000 from one section, and amounts from another section in respect of works and maintenance. As a matter of fact, item 02 of sub-division 5 refers to “ Special maintenance and minor alteration of hostel buildings, £65,000”. Last year, the appropriation for this purpose was £115,000. It seems, therefore, that that is a part of the amount of £1,074,000.
I am concerned at the moment to know the purpose for which that sum is used and why we have no control over Commonwealth Hostels Limited. The Government has established this company to run hostels throughout Australia. The establishments that it controls are various hotels and hostels in Canberra, such as the Hotel Kurrajong and Lawley House, and hostels to which migrants are sent after arrival in this country. The Parliament, and apparently the Government also, have absolutely no control over the manipulation of the money handled by the company. No provision for the company is made in the estimates for the Department of Labour and National Service, which is supposed to control the company.
I should like to know, Mr. Temporary Chairman, how much money has been provided to the company by the Department of Immigration and the use to which the money has been put. I think that, generally speaking, the cost of running migrant hostels is greater now than it was when they were run by the Department of the Interior, but nevertheless I should like to know the meaning of the reference to “ cost of unoccupancy “. The only hostels that I know of where rooms may be reserved and kept unoccupied are hostels where members of Parliament and certain members of the staff of the Parliament are accommodated, such as the Hotel Kurrajong and Lawley House. I understand that provision is made at those places to retain rooms in certain circumstances. We find that money is wrapped up in a bundle, so to speak, to be made available for the purpose of keeping rooms for people - perhaps on the old bed and breakfast principle that I have mentioned in this Parliament previously. It is wrong that such provision should be made in the votes of the Department of Immigration. The expenditure should be made in such a way that we are able to control it, instead of by a so-called private company over which we have no control, which can hide the details of expenditure and do almost what it likes with the money. Of course, it is the job of the Auditor-General to show how such money has been expended and to see to it that money is spent in a proper way. I ask the Minister to explain the reference to “ unoccupancy “ and to say how the money for that purpose is used by Commonwealth Hostels Limited.
– I wish to bring to the notice of the Minister in charge of the matters now before the committee a situation that has arisen in Western Australia in connexion with group child migration. There is in existence a scheme under which children under the age of twelve years are brought to Western Australia from England and cared for by accredited migration authorities. Recently, the Minister for Child Welfare in Western Australia stated that as from 1st September last the Western Australian Government would reduce its contribution to the upkeep of migrant children brought to Australia under this scheme. The reduction amounts to approximately 17s. 6d. per child per week, which will mean great hardship for the institutions caring for the children.
The necessity for the reduction by the Western Australian Government has not come about suddenly. In past years, that Government approached the Commonwealth Government for increased contributions for the upkeep of such migrant children. So far, the Commonwealth Government has been unable to meet this request.
– Has the scheme any special name?
– It is called the group child migration scheme. The other reason that has forced the Western Australian Government to reduce its contribution has been the fact that in recent years the State’s per capita expenditure on social services has exceeded the standard adopted by the Commonwealth Grants Commission. Consequently, Western Australia has received unfavourable adjustments in respect to social services.
For the information of the Minister, I mention that the rate on which the Commonwealth Grants Commission bases
Western Australia’s standard is 14s. per week. That is the average rate of the three standard States. In recent years, the State has been contributing to these institutions at the rate of 23s. 6d. per child per week, with a further contribution of 10s. per week from the Western Australian Lotteries Commission. Looking at the contributions made by the other States, I find that New South Wales has contributed 7s. a week, Victoria, 12s. 6d., and Queensland 22s. 6d. a week. South Australia does not contribute at all. I believe that as a result of the reduction of the Western Australian Government’s contribution, the institutions have been forced to find more money to keep these children. I fear that it will prove to be beyond their capacity to continue and that this section of immigration will very shortly cease. That will be a very bad thing for a State like Western Australia which has a vast area but a relatively small population.
I have one other reason, Sir, for saying that I think this is going to be very bad. This scheme was introduced in 1947 following the Premiers’ Conference in 1946, when it was agreed that the authorities should look after these children and that the State and Federal governments should make contributions to provide accommodation and to furnish any new buildings that were needed. Over the years, the Commonwealth Government has contributed in this way an amount of £75,602. . The Western Australian Government has contributed a like amount, and no doubt various authorities have contributed very large sums of money towards these buildings. If this scheme falls through, all of that money will have been wasted.
In Western Australia three authorities carry out this form of migration, namely, the Fairbridge Farm Society, the Roman Catholic Immigration Committee and the Anglican Migration Society. Since the scheme commenced in 1947, no fewer than 1,522 children have been brought to Western Australia, this number being slightly more than half of the total number of children that have been brought to Australia under this scheme.
The reason I have raised this matter is that although approaches have been made to the Commonwealth Government by the Western Australian Government and also by various authorities in Western Australia for an increased Commonwealth contribution - and here let me say that the contribution that the Commonwealth Government makes is 10s. per week per child-
– The same as child endowment.
– Yes. I should add that the Commonwealth Government is also responsible for the passage to Australia of the children and it makes an initial grant of up to £10 for clothing upon a child’s arrival in Australia. 1 emphasize the contribution that the Western Australian Government was making, the importance of this matter to that State, and the large amount of money that the Commonwealth Government has made available to these institutions for buildings. Rather than that the scheme should fall through I think that the Commonwealth Government should again look at the position and try to assist. The responsible Western Australian Minister has said that if the Commonwealth Government increased its contribution, the State Government would try to raise its contribution to about the rate that it was paying recently. 1 ask the Minister for Customs and Excise to convey my plea to the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) and the Government to see whether assistance can be given in this matter.
– I should like to deal with the matter concerning Commonwealth Hostels Limited, which was raised by Senator O’Flaherty. Commonwealth Hostels Limited comes directly under the control of the Department of Labour and National Service. Each year it presents to this Parliament a balance-sheet which is subject to the scrutiny of the Auditor-General. Therefore, there is no question but that Commonwealth Hostels Limited is under the direction of this Parliament. It is just nonsense for the honorable senator to contend otherwise.
The amount paid by the Department of Immigration to Commonwealth Hostels Limited is in respect of a concessional rate for migrants and their families. For the first week they are in Australia we give them free accommodation to allow them to settle in. The cost is charged against the Department of Immigration. We keep a number of beds in these migrant hostels. Some times all of them are taken and sometimes they are not; it depends on the number of migrants coming here. When accommodation that is reserved is not used, the Department of Immigration pays Commonwealth Hostels Limited for it. There is a standing arrangement. The amount payable is arranged between the department and Commonwealth Hostels Limited. Everything is on a proper basis, and there is no question but that Commonwealth Hostels Limited is entitled to this payment. We charge migrant families a low rate until they are established. I think that is something honorable senators want the Government to do. The Department of Immigration also contributes towards the provision of accommodation at concession rates to migrant families.
At the moment, the matter that was raised by Senator Drake-Brockman is the subject of negotiation between the Minister for Immigration and the State Minister concerned, to see whether Western Australia will increase its contribution, even if only to the standard of the other States.
Senator MCMANUS (Victoria) [4.141. - I notice that last year the Department of Immigration expended £2.130,000. The appropriation of £2,194.000 was underspent. I realize that it is not possible for a department of the nature of the Department of Immigration to estimate to a penny what it will expend in a year. I am pleased that the Government has not reduced but has increased the appropriation for this year, because I am one of those who think that every penny that is spent on immigration to-day is money well spent. I would be prepared to support increased expenditure on immigration because every penny spent by the Department of Immigration is good insurance. We must have more people in this country for developmental and defence purposes. I have heard some people decry our immigration programme. I would suggest that they pay regard to the announcement made recently that since the inception of the Colombo Plan the population of Asia has increased by 100,000,000 people. Bearing that fact in mind, how can we keep Australia if we do not populate it, particularly the empty areas of the north? I approve whole-heartedly of the work done by the Department of Immigration because it is work that is of the utmost importance to the future of this country. I pay a tribute to the courtesy and efficiency with which the officers conduct the affairs of the department. 1 have a good deal of contact with the department. It is not always possible for its officers to accede to my requests, but when they cannot do so they usually refuse very courteously and they go to a lot of trouble to explain the reasons for their refusal. I commend the department on the work that it is doing. 1 refer to one other matter. The entry of Asians into Australia is restricted. We allow them to come in as students, for trade purposes or to work in certain types of businesses. I have been disturbed bv the fact that Asians who have been permitted to enter this country have been forced to live apart from their wives and families for years. I know that this state of affairs is not the fault of the department. It must administer the law and no matter how much the officers of the department may wish to be liberal in their attitude towards these people, they must enforce the law. I make a plea for more liberal consideration of the plight of Asian men who are allowed into Australia under the present restrictions. They should be permitted to bring their wives and families with them. I understand that at present those of executive status - what might be called the bosses in a business firm - may bring their wives with them, but the ordinary Asian employees may not do so. I should hate to think that we are encouraging class distinction of that nature.
I appeal for the Government to adopt a more liberal attitude towards the relatively few Asians who are allowed to enter Australia at present. An Asian who has been a good citizen should not be placed in the position of having to approach a member of Parliament with the complaint that he has not seen his wife for ten or twelve years. That should not be permitted to happen in a country that claims to be civilized, and I hope that the Government will give this matter speedy attention.
– I wish to make a few comments on the subject that was raised by Senator Drake-Brockman, a subject in which I have been interested for some time. I represented the Minister for Immigration when the first group of child migrants came to Australia on the “ Asturias “ in 1947. Since then I have taken an active interest in every group of child migrants that has come to Western Australia where the greatest number of child migrants coming to this country has settled.
– Why is that?
– I think it is because organizations in Western Australia were anxious and willing to look after those migrants. Brother Keaney of Bindoon, Western Australia - a Christian Brother - was interested in looking after young boys who emigrated to this country. He established a boys’ town where he accommodated quite a number of lads who had been in distress in England during the latter days of the war. His efforts were co-ordinated in the general child migration scheme.
– What about the Fairbridge Farm scheme?
– The Fairbridge Farm scheme had been established much earlier and did not participate in the postwar child migration arrangements. The Fairbridge Association in the United Kingdom has a number of wealthy patrons and is well established, whereas the child migration scheme depended on co-operation between the Commonwealth Government, the State governments and the Government of the United Kingdom. I have been amazed that over the years the Commonwealth has made no contribution towards the upkeep of these children other than the payment of child endowment after they arrive here. It has also contributed towards the capital cost of buildings used to house the children. At one time I estimated the value of the contribution to be at the rate of 4s. a week per child. Since I calculated that figure no additional buildings have been erected, but in view of the large number of children who have since come here, it would now be only about 2s. 6d. per child. That is the weekly cost to the Government for each child since its arrival here. T do not think that the Government has been over-generous to the child migrants.
I have had the privilege of tracing the careers of some lads who have been forced to leave the various institutions upon reaching the age of sixteen years. My’ home in-
Western Australia has become a meeting place for many of these lads who have found employment. I have pointed out to the authorities in Western Australia that liaison is needed between the State authorities and the Commonwealth so that these boys may be helped over the difficult initial days when they go out into the world to earn a living. Until they reach the age of sixteen years they live in an institution where everything is found for them. At sixteen child endowment payments cease and they must find employment. They usually find accommodation with private families and, earning money for the first time, they become independent. The first things that many of them want to buy are a pair of hot socks and a red shirt. They need somebody to give them guidance during the difficult years between sixteen and eighteen. They need help until they become accustomed to handling their own money. The problem is not as acute as it was a few years ago. I have tried to interest people in establishing hostels for some of these lads. We have one or two such hostels in Perth, but they are not adequate to cope with the situation. We must do all we can to assist these boys to become absorbed into the community. Many people have taken them into their homes. I am grateful to them for their kindness. These lads welcome the opportunity to discuss their problems with somebody who they feel has an interest in them. I remember one lad coming to me and thanking me for a Christmas card that I had sent him. Although he was sixteen years of age it was the first personal Christmas card he had ever received. Little human courtesies of this kind may not mean much to adults but they mean a lot to children. Organizations such as the Apex Clubs should do something to help these children over the difficult period that lies between their leaving an institution and becoming full citizens. Legacy carries out a function such as this in respect of war orphans. I hope that the Western Australian Government will be able to resume payment of a subsidy to organizations that are doing magnificent work with child migrants. The work that they are doing is important not only to Western Australia but to Australia generally because children are the best migrants that we can have. They settle down quickly and almost all of them become very good citizens after leaving the institutions in which they have been raised.
– 1 rise again because the Minister in charge of this debate, Senator Henty, said that it was rubbish for me to claim that the Parliament had no control over Commonwealth Hostels Limited and that the money voted to that organization may be spent by it as it thinks fit. Does the Minister know that the operating expenses of these hostels are nearly £4,000,000 a year and that the charges made bring in only about £3,000,000 a year? The £1,074,000 proposed to be appropriated under this heading is intended to bridge the gap between these two figures. I defy the Minister to show me, either in the AuditorGeneral’s report or in the records of any department that contributes to Commonwealth Hostels Limited, the accounts of this organization. When the Department of the Interior controlled the hostels, we got separate statements for each hostel or for each group of hostels of a like character. We knew the expenditure and revenue of each hostel or group of hostels. We knew how much was paid to the Department of Works for repairs and maintenance.
I defy the Minister to tell me who does the repair work for Commonwealth Hostels Limited. Only the people running Commonwealth Hostels Limited can tell me. I think it is wrong that we cannot get separate accounts for each hostel or group of hostels. We know that hostels can be grouped. For instance, we have a couple, of hostels here that cater for migrants, and a couple that cater for other categories, and this applies also in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. We cannot get the information we want. The hostels have, been handed over to a company, which is supposed to be Government-owned, and from that point we have had no control at all. It is proposed that we provide the company, through the Department of Immigration, with £1,074,000, but we shall have no control over the expenditure of this amount. The Government may lay down the policy, but it has not any facts or figures. The balance sheet does not explain what is going on; it tries to hide everything, and all that we get are lump sums here and there. I object to the Minister’s remark that what I am saying is rubbish and that there is control. The Government has had no control over the expenditure since the hostels were handed over to the private company, Commonwealth Hostels Limited.
.- I should like to be assured that there is no substance in what I understood to be Senator O’Flaherty’s submission. The Auditor-General’s report sets out a consolidated statement of receipts and expenditure, but now that Commonwealth Hostels Limited has taken over the hostels in Canberra that were formerly administered by the Department of the Interior, it will be important that the Parliament be supplied with individual statements of receipts and expenditure for each of those undertakings. I understand it to be implicit in the previous statement of the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) that these will certainly be available to members and senators.
– In answer to both Senator O’Flaherty and Senator Wright, I say that the Department of Labour and National Service is in charge of these hostels. It is of no use for Senator O’Flaherty to challenge me. I do not represent the Minister for Labour and National Service. All that we are discussing now is the contribution that the Department of Immigration is making.
– Do not tell me that I am talking rubbish.
– It was rubbish. The Government is in. control of this set-up. An officer of the Treasury sits on the board of Commonwealth Hostels Limited. If any member of the Parliament asks the Department of Labour and National Service for particulars of expenditure on any hostel, he will receive them.
– No, he will not. He will be abused, as we were to-day.
– If anybody wants the information, he will get it.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Proposed votes - Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization - £7,570.000; Miscellaneous Services - C.S.l.R.O., £166,000- agreed to.
– by leave - With the concurrence of honorable senators I incorporate in “ Hansard “ the following technical report on the Savage River ore bodies, which is, in effect, a reply to a question on the notice-paper: -
The Savage River ore bodies, formerly known as the Rio Tinto ore bodies, extend as a line of magnetite outcrops for about 3 miles. The existence of these outcrops has been known for about 75 years but there has been considerable difference of geological opinion as to their value. In 1919 the Tasmanian Department of Mines made an estimate of 20,000,000 tons of high-grade magnetic ore, based on surface trenching and some tunnelling. This estimate was discounted in 1936 by Woolnough, who considered that the former estimate was exaggerated as to quantity and grade, and that the sulphur content of the material would make it unacceptable as iron ore.
In 1956 an aerial magnetic survey of the region by the Bureau of Mineral Resources showed two very pronounced magnetic anomalies corresponding to the Savage River ore bodies and a third anomaly, 6 miles to the south not corresponding to any known ore body. The size and intensity of the Savage River magnetic anomalies suggested the presence of magnetic bodies considerably larger than the dimensions assumed by the Tasmanian Department of Mines in its 1919 estimate.
As a follow-up to the aerial magnetic survey, a ground magnetometer survey of the Savage River ore deposits was undertaken by the bureau in 1957. The interpretation of the results of this survey was that the Savage River magnetite outcrops belonged to two magnetite bodies, the northern body being 2,300 feet long and the southern body, 5,000 feet long, both dipping steeply to the east. Recommendations were made for six diamond drill holes to test the width of the bodies below the outcrops.
Four holes had been drilled by the Tasmanian Department of Mines to the end of 1959 and drilling has continued this year, the total number of holes now being eight. The first four holes each intersected several hundred feet of medium grade iron one and the other holes have made similar intersections. Ore reasonably proved - “ demonstrated “ - to date is about 50,000,000 tons and ore inferred from the dimensions interpreted from the ground magnetometer survey and tha drilling results amounts in total to about 130,000,000 tons, with the possibility of further ore existing below the level of the diamond drill intersections. Our earlier figures based on the results of two bore holes, were 8,500,000 and 132,000,000 tons .respectively. Six additional holes have added considerably to the “ demonstrated “ figure.
The ore intersected by the diamond drill holes has an iron content of 40 to 45 per cent, and contains impurities in the form of minerals which contain sulphur, phosphorous and titanium oxide.
It cannot be assumed however that the ore as mined would be as high in grade as this.
Magnetic separation tests in the Tasmanian Mines Department’s metallurgical laboratory in Launceston has shown that the ore, including some very low grade bands, can be beneficiated with a recovery of971/2 per cent. of the iron to a grade of 65 to 67 per cent. iron, with substantial removal of the sulphur and phosphorous, but with imperfect removal of the titanium dioxide contentwhich ranges from1/4 to13/4 per cent. in the concentrate.
Titanium oxide when present in iron ores in amounts greater than1/2 per cent. causes serious difficulties in the operation of a blast furnace. Therefore, unless a process can be devised for removing the titanium content, or unless selective mining can produce ore with a titanium oxide content of less than i per cent., the Savage River ore may be difficult to use or to sell in competition with ores which contain no titanium. It could, of course, be blended with low titanium ores.
The magnetic anomaly, 6 miles south of the Savage River deposits, which did not correspond to any known ore body, was tested by one drill hole by the Rio Tinto Exploration Company. The drill hole intersected about 200 feet of ore with an iron content of 48 per cent. This anomaly is not sufficiently tested to give any indication of tonnage but the ore body could be important, and could be worked in conjunction with the Savage River deposits.
The rugged topography of the area which makes access and testing difficult, would facilitate working the Savage River deposits because they both crop out on the crest of a steep ridge, with the Savage River valley between them. Developing the bodies by underground workings would be comparatively easy.
The Savage River deposits are large and the ore can be beneficiated to a high-grade product in terms of iron content. But the titanium content of the concentrates, difficulty of access of the ore bodies, the expense of concentration, and the fact that a magnetic concentrate would require modulizing and roasting reduces much of their attractiveness. Possibly they could be developed by electric smelting, for which the titanium content is immaterial, at or near the deposits. A detailed economic study would be necessary to establish whether such a scheme is feasible.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I am sorry to delay the Senate at this hour but I wish to bring to notice a matter concerning the Leighton battery, which is just outside Fremantle and is, in fact, within the boundaries of the municipality of North Fremantle. The land on which the battery is situated was originally endowed to the umversity but it was transferred to the Department of Defence at about the commencement of World War II. The battery is now used only for the training of units of the Citizen Military Forces. It is doubtful whether it is of any other use whatsoever. It was originally installed for the protection of the port of Fremantle. On occasions there are training shoots, when the entrance to Fremantle harbour must be closed. Only quite recently a ship sailed into the target area while a shoot was being conducted and there could easily have been some fatalities. In addition, during shoots, the Stirling Highway, which runs between Fremantle and Perth, is closed to traffic. In these days of modern armament it seems that this battery would not be of any value for the defence of Fremantle.
The request I make is that this area of approximately 75 acres be released to the North Fremantle municipality for use as a housing area. This municipality is gradually being squeezed by the appropriation of land by the State Government for railways, roads, marshalling yards and that sort of thing associated with the port of Fremantle. There is no room for expansion within the municipality other than in this area of 75 acres. The municipality of North Fremantle has asked me to request the Government, in view of the practical uselessness of this battery for the defence of the port, to release this area for use as a housing settlement.
– in reply - I can only say that I shall bring the matter to the attention of the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley). I suppose that primarily the question is whether the battery is still needed for defence purposes. Senator Cant has expressed the opinion that the defence requirement no longer exists. I have had previous experience of the need to retain open areas for port defences even though there has been a change in weapons. Of course, I have no idea whether that applies in this particular case. As I said earlier, I shall see that the matter is brought to the attention of the Minister for Defence.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 4.37 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 27 October 1960, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1960/19601027_senate_23_s18/>.