23rd Parliament · 3rd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 1 1 a.m., and read prayers.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. How can he justify the Government’s economic policy regarding free flow of imports and credit restrictions, when there are many complaints, even from the Government’s own supporters in another place, for instance, from the right honorable member for Cowper, the honorable member for Wide Bay, and the honorable member for Herbert, among others, all of whom have recently voiced grave concern at the ill-effects of this policy in their own areas?
– -There cannot be great changes in economic policy which win 100 per cent, approval in all directions. I understand the position of the members of the Government parties to whom Senator Sandford referred. They are concerned about the situation in regard to sawmilling activities in their electorates. We aim to make a contribution to assist to correct that position.
– 1 address a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, both in that capacity and as the Minister responsible for housing, in which field he has done such a splendid job In view of the urgent need for mortgage money for home-building, I ask the Minister: Does he agree that many public-spirited people would be willing to lend money specifically for housing if they could be sure of a reasonable return on, and security for, their investment? If the answer is, “ Yes “, would the Government consider floating immediately a special project loan, earmarked for housing, on terms similar to those for any other Commonwealth Government loan, that is, a reasonable rate of interest and tax concessions on such interest? Would the Minister ensure that this money was spent to the best advantage by allocating it specifically to building societies in each State on a population basis? Would he also consider stipulating that families with young children should be given preference by the building societies in the allocation of such loan funds?
- Senator Buttfield’s question covers a very wide range of activity.
– It covers a multitude of sins, too.
– And, of course, it throws into relief, as Senator Courtice says, a great number of the virtues of the Government’s policy. I cannot hope to answer the question adequately without notice. I do not think it would be practicable under present financial arrangements between the Commonwealth and the States to float such a loan for housing. The apportionment of housing money is well defined. The Australian Loam Council fixes the total amount available and each State, having regard to the situation within its own borders, appropriates in turn what it considers to be a fair proportion of the total resources that are available to it. I should like to see an improvement in the mortgage money market for loans on homes. Attractive returns, which should encourage the investment of money in mortgage transactions, are available. I think that such transactions have been somewhat superseded in recent years. There is not now as much money going through the average solicitor’s office for mortgage loans on houses as there was some years ago. I personally would like to see a greater volume of such transactions because I am sure that it would make a great contribution to the housing position, more particularly as we want to keep the supply of new houses going in order to cater for our growing population. That money would assist the sale of existing properties. I hold the view that if existing properties were used to greater advantage, the housing shortage would be correspondingly reduced.
– My question also is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, and as it relates to the subject to which Senator Buttfield has referred, it will give him another opportunity to discuss the matter. In view of the serious adverse economic effects of the unreasonably high cost of land for home building, will the Government confer with the States as early as possible with a view to suitable action being taken to protect the people from individuals or combines whose aim is to make unreasonably high profits on land urgently required for home building?
– I agree with Senator Courtice that the high price of land is a factor which must cause concern to all of us. Vacant land for home sites is changing hands at prices which are higher than would seem to be justified, even after making allowance for the great growth that has occurred in population and in the demand for homes. I do not think we should get anywhere by instituting what, in effect, would be prices control. If Senator Courtice’s suggestion were adopted, it would be necessary to have some kind of prices control and an authority to give effect to that policy. I think we are proceeding on a sounder basis with the policy of consultation which is now in operation.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In the light of the recent attack by the Leader of the Opposition on the Government’s leadership, and the fact that members of the Opposition at every opportunity attack the Prime Minister, I ask the Minister whether his attention has been directed to a gallup poll which was conducted recently, and the results of which were published in the Melbourne “ Herald “ of Tuesday last. Would the Minister care to comment on those results?
– On previous occasions in the chamber I have said that I believe in gallup polls. My judgment has been confirmed by the poll to which the honorable senator has referred. I saw the results of that poll, and they must cause the Opposition some anxiety. They indicated that 6 out of 10 people in Australia held the view that Mr. Menzies should continue as Prime Minister. There was a majority for that view in all States of the Commonwealth. What must cause the Opposition more worry than anything else, is that the gallup poll showed that 43 per cent, of the Labour supporters considered that Mr. Menzies should continue as Prime Minister.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Treasurer a question. In view of the losses incurred in the various States, particularly Western Australia, in recent months as a result of floods, cyclones, bushfires and other disasters, will the Minister consider schemes that have been introduced by the governments of New Zealand and the United States of America whereby national disaster insurance funds have been established and are apparently working very successfully to protect persons living in areas subject to such disasters?
– The honorable senator pursues me too quickly. It Was only last week, I think, that she asked a similar question and I said that I would submit the matter to the Treasury for examination and comment. I have not yet received the Treasury’s reply. I have no doubt that the Treasury officers in preparing their comments will take into account the position in New Zealand, particularly, and in the United States.
– I, too, wish to direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate which has relation to housing. In view of the lag in sales of flats which is evident at least in my State, can the Minister give the Senate any information about the effect of that trend in building on the housing situation?
– Senator Wright has put his finger on one of the difficulties of the present situation. There has been a greater down-turn in housing construction than we would like to see. We hope to be able to take some appropriate steps to improve the situation, but it is not easy to do so because the circumstances vary from State to State. The position in some States is quite different from that in other States.
One of the factors that complicate the position is the great number of flats and home units that were built last year. I think there is ground for the opinion that the number of flats and home units that were built exceeds the present demand for them and that, as a result of that situation, there would have been a pause in the building of flats and home units until such time as the demand caught up with the supply.
The total number of flats and home units that were commenced in 1960 was 16,491. The number in the previous year was 8,703. There were 5,643 flats and home units commenced in 1958, 3,807 in 1957, and only 2,213 in 1956. So nearly eight times as many flats and home units were commenced in 1960 as were begun in 1956. Senator Wright has directed attention to a complexity that exists in connexion with our desire - our proposal - to increase the level of home building.
– I wish to direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Apropos of the recent debate in this Senate chamber on the Australian film industry, will the Minister who, I believe, is the only member of the Cabinet to have fought at Gallipoli, say whether he had an opportunity to view in the Parliament building last evening the wholly Australian-produced film called “ The Anzac Story “ ? If he has, I ask him whether, from his own experience, he believes that the Australian nation is much more likely to receive a true and honest appreciation of the heroism of our first A.I.F. from such productions than from imported films which scarcely ever refer to Australian forces. In the Minister’s opinion, does not the technique of this film compare favourably with well-known documentaries such as “ Victory at Sea “, “ Desert Warfare “. “ Time to Remember “ and the like?
Senator SPOONERS rather suspect that Senator Hannan prefers Australian films to imported films. Last night, I saw the film to which he has referred and I was very interested in it; I thought it was a really first-class production. I got pretty hot under the collar from time to time at the accompanying commentary, which I thought was far harsher than the circumstances warranted. I can say only that I recommend all of the old and bold who are still going strong to see the film for themselves.
– ‘Will it be shown again?
– I understand that it will be shown again to-night.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Territories. Is it a fact that a new high school has been planned for Darwin? Also, is it a fact that although features of the plan submitted included windows, walls and air-conditioning ventilation ducts, airconditioning as such will not be provided, but instead, a mechanical device is to be fitted which will blow hot air into the classrooms? As summer temperatures in Darwin average 95 degrees, with very high humidity, and as winter temperatures average 85 degrees, with high humidity, does the Minister really approve of the new plans?
– I saw the press statement this morning. I have no detailed knowledge of the type of ventilation which is to be installed in the school, but I am aware that for a long time the Minister and officers of the Department of Territories were studying plans in an attempt to obtain the best possible ventilation and cooling system for the school. Just how the matter finished, I do not know. I shall find out and tell the honorable senator, but I venture the opinion now that the press account this morning is highly coloured, to say the least.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. By way of preface, I invite his attention to to the fact that the overseas shipping lines have announced reductions of up to 20 per cent, in some passenger fares from Australia. No doubt the fierce competition from passenger air carriers has been the cause of those reductions. Despite the fact that overseas shipping lines seem to have, as one Adelaide newspaper puts it, “a stranglehold on freight shipping from Australia “, does the Minister believe that shipping freights on our exports from Australia could be reduced similarly, either by negotiation or competition or both or by any other means?
– The question asked by the honorable senator touches the administration of a number of departments, including the Department of Trade and the Department of the Treasury. In justice to the honorable senator, I feel, therefore, that I should ask that the question be put on notice so that I can get a comprehensive answer. It occurs to me, however, that it might not be completely accurate to assume that the passenger shipping lines are also the lines that carry the bulk of freight coming to and going from Australia. It may well be that the circumstances of the passenger trade are completely different from those of the cargo trade.
– My question is directed to the Minister for National Development. In view of the importance to Australia of water for both domestic and irrigation purposes, of the fact that most important rivers and streams are near the coast, of the high cost of head works and of the submersion of many acres of valuable land due to water storage schemes, what action is the Department of National Development taking to explore for artesian water in known artesian basins? What research is being done on this very important matter?
– Senator Sheehan has raised an important matter. A few years ago the Academy of Science brought this matter to the attention of the Commonwealth Government. The Academy of Science pointed out, if memory serves me correctly, that about one-third of Australia was in artesian basin areas and that, although a great deal was known about them and although a great deal of artesian water was being used, a good deal more work should be done to delineate the areas and to conserve artesian water resources. This matter is a responsibility of the State governments and is of supreme importance to each of the States. They must use their artesian water resources to the best advantage.
The Commonwealth acted upon the advice of the Academy of Science and arranged for a conference, at the technical level, of Commonwealth and State representatives. That conference made a series of recommendations, the principal ones being that a greater number of hydrological engineers should be made available and that more work, both in respect of de lineation and conservation, should be done. From memory I think that the recommendations of the conference have been accepted by all governments, State and Federal. From those recommendations will come a permanent standing organization at the technical level. That organization will, to a great extent, act in an advisory capacity. This matter is so important to the States that they could not part with control over it. The first meeting of the standing organization is scheduled for some time early in May. It will meet at regular intervals to discuss the work that is going on in the various States. The organization, which will be representative of all States, will see that all the necessary work is being done and that there is a free exchange of information on the results being obtained in any State.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport and deals with the standardization of the railway line between Sydney and Melbourne. Is that work proceeding according to schedule? When is the work expected to be completed?
– I recently conferred on this matter with my colleague, the Minister for Shipping and Transport. He told me that the line is being built according to schedule. It will be completed late this year, as I told the Senate some time ago in answer to a question on this matter. It is expected that the first train will be run over the standard gauge line between Sydney and Melbourne on 2nd January next. That train will be a goods train and traffic will be confined to goods traffic for some months - until, I think, April - to allow the line to settle before passenger traffic is introduced.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I recently paid a visit to Adelaide, that fine city in South Australia. While there I was introduced to a beer that was brewed properly. The labels affixed to bottles of this beer bear the words “No Chemicals or Preservatives in This Beer”.
Is it not a fact that almost every brand of beer in Australia contains chemicals and preservatives? Are not these chemicals and preservatives poisonous to the drinkers? I do not know whether the Commonwealth Department of Health would deal with the matter, but is there any other department that analyses and examines Australian beers to find out how much poison they contain? If there is not, would it not be possible for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, seeing it already has a division which deals with animal husbandry, to establish a division to investigate thoroughly the poisons that are contained in beer and let the people of Australia know the bad effects those poisons are having on their constitutions?
– If Senator Brown says there is poison in the beer, my first reaction is to ask “ Oh death, where is thy sting? “ I do not think this is a matter in which the Commonwealth can intervene. The State authorities deal with food standards under their pure foods legislation. I should think that the matter is sufficiently under observation by the Australian public as a whole without the intervention of government officials.
– I preface my question, which is addressed to the Minister for Civil Aviation, by stating that it is reliably reported that passengers who are travelling overseas will be able to buy at terminal airport shops that are to be established in the near future certain goods free of import duty. I ask the Minister: Is this report correct? If it is not, under what conditions will it be possible to purchase these goods? What restrictions, if any, will be imposed on sales?
– The report referred to is correct. A customs-free shop is to be located at the Sydney international airport. Of course, sales will be closely controlled. Goods will be sold only to outgoing passengers on production of a ticket. Those goods will not be delivered to the purchasers until they are boarding their aircraft and then only at a location which will ensure that they are taken by the purchasers on to the plane. This particular innovation has been adopted to provide what is recognized to be a facility that is required by international travellers and which is commonplace at many other airports close to Australia. Hong Kong, Nandi and Singapore provide examples of this kind of airport facility. The existence at those places of what is regarded as being a modern practice has prompted the Department of Civil Aviation to take this action.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade the following questions: - What was the tonnage of steel of all types imported into Australia in the years 1956 to 1960 inclusive, and what was the quantity exported in those years? What is the present Australian requirement of all kinds of steel? What is the present productive capacity of the industry?
– I hesitate to rely on my memory in replying to a question of such importance. As the honorable senator will remember, there was a net export of steel last year. My recollection is that the value of exports of steel from Australia was about £7,000,000 more than the value of imports of steel. I believe that it is only in comparatively recent months, as a result of the 1960 boom, that the demand has exceeded local production. My recollection is that, generally speaking, Australian steel production is sufficient to meet Australian requirements, but there will always be shortages or surpluses of particular kinds of steel because the industry just cannot produce steel according to a mathematical formula, as it were, to meet the exact requirements for each kind. Those shortages and surpluses will cause imports and exports of particular varieties of steel. Having said that, I ask the honorable senator to put the question on notice, so that I can obtain accurate information for him.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. By way of preface, I remind him that during the Address-in-Reply debate I had cause to complain about the schedule of air services from Tasmania to the mainland and that later my colleague, Senator Laught, asked a question regarding the absurd timing of services from Adelaide, in reply to which the Minister promised to make inquiries. Does the Minister agree that there should be an air service from the National Capital to Melbourne with connexions to the western States on Saturday evenings? If so, will he ask the two major civil airlines to agree that one operator should provide a service to Melbourne on Saturday evenings and the other on Sunday evenings, rather than have no service on Saturdays and two half-used services on Sundays, as at present?
– The arrangement of timetables for all air routes in Australia depends very largely on the availability of traffic, lt occurs to me that a service ex-Canberra, with a connecting service to the western States, on Saturdays, as suggested by Senator Marriott, might not attract enough traffic to justify the service. I do not know what the traffic figures are. I assume that the absence of such a service indicates that both operators have examined the possibility of providing that service and have decided that the traffic would not warrant it. I do not know what the situation is on Sundays. Frankly, I am surprised that there are two such services to Melbourne on Sundays. All 1 can do is ask the operators to have a look at the schedules. I am sure that the honorable senator does not expect me to be aware of the details of all the services that are operated in Australia.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport indicate the future shipbuilding programme at Whyalla? The Minister will remember that when he was administering the Department of Shipping and Transport in 1955 he had prepared a statement giving the answer to a question similar to my present question. I desire to know whether he can make available to me a statement on the programme from 1961 onwards.
– I will refer the honorable senator’s question to my colleague Mr. Opperman, and get a full statement on the shipbuilding programme for Whyalla and other yards.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Acting Minister for External Affairs, relates to a statement issued by the Acting Minister on 27th February in regard to a Korean training scheme, which indicated that the Government of Korea had joined with the Australian Government in giving assistance to about twenty Koreans who will come to Australia for study. Can the Minister give me any information as to the order of that assistance? Supplementary to that question, 1 ask the Minister whether he can give me information on another matter. Students who ‘ have come to Australia from Hong Kong have recently come under my notice in Hobart, and I am anxious to know whether any assistance is made available to them, as there seems to be such a need.
– The Asian students in this country at the moment, numbering about 10,000, are made up, on the one hand, of Colombo Plan students and, on the other hand, of private students who come here of their own initiative and at their own expense. The students brought here under the Colombo Plan may come from Hong Kong or, indeed, from almost any of the Asian countries to our north. Their expenses are paid for out of Colombo Plan funds and they are given assistance in a great number of ways. Private students come here on their own account and, although we endeavour departmentally to give them assistance and advice to the greatest extent possible, they are in the position of being private students in Australia.
It is quite true that twenty students from Korea recently arrived in Sydney under the Colombo Plan or, if not under the Colombo Plan, under an off-shoot of it, which is designed to provide for the first time training in Australia for Korean students in various technical capacities. I do not quite know how to answer the question as to “ the order of that assistance “, because the order of the assistance to be given in these matters is determined each year at Budget time in relation to the amount of money that Parliament will vote for such activities.
– Has the attention of the Minister for National Development been directed to the statement made in Melbourne last week by Mr. Hightower when addressing the Australian Petroleum
Institute, that natural oil would be found in commercial quantities in Australia before the end of 1961? Does the Minister share this optimism?
– 1 am, by nature and instinct, a profound optimist, but I should not like to go on record as saying the date upon which oil will be found in Australia.
– In reply to my old colleague, Sir Walter Cooper, I give an answer which again must be in general terms. Water is already going through the TI power station down the Tumut River into the Murrumbidgee River and is already being used in the Murrumbidgee irrigation area of New South Wales. At present it is being used rn conjunction with the water storage at Burrinjuck Dam, which is the main water storage for the Murrumbidgee irrigation area.
The amount of water that will go down the Tumut River will increase very materially towards the end of this year or the beginning of next year, dependent upon when the T2 power station comes into operation. The water is available. It would be wasteful to use the water in one power station at the present time, when within a comparatively few months two power stations will be operating and will be able to produce double the amount of electricity from the same volume of water. From early next year, dependent upon the date of completion of T2 power station, the volume of water going to the Murrumbidgee irrigation area will be very materially increased. I do not have the exact figures in mind. We have reached the stage at which, given six months or twelve months in order to run the power stations in, we shall be delivering pretty well the full quota of water from the Snowy scheme to the Murrumbidgee area.
– Will new land be made available?
– That, of course, is a matter for the New South Wales Government, which has already opened a new irrigation development alongside Darlington Point; I forget the name of it. The weakness of the Snowy scheme, from the standpoint of New South Wales, is that the State has not built the ‘ Blowering Dam. If we had the Blowering Dam, the water could be conserved in It and used to so much greater advantage than will be the case until the dam is completed. The engineers of both the Commonwealth and New South Wales are at present holding Snowy water in Burrinjuck Dam to get the best advantage from the water until such time as the Blowering Dam is completed.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. In view of the statement attributed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport that at least 20,000 children are involved in road accidents each year and that many of these accidents are fatal, can the Minister inform the Senate what steps are being taken to reduce this tragic toll of the road? Also, can the Minister inform me in how many accidents, fatal and otherwise, during the past twelve months, teenage drivers or teenage victims have been involved?
– Both questions raise matters with which the Australian Road Safety Council is particularly concerned. I have not the answers to the questions here with me. I shall refer the questions to the Minister for Shipping and Transport and get replies for the honorable senator.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade. Is it a fact that a trade mission has recently returned from the countries of South America? Do the members of the mission believe that there is a great opportunity for Australia to export large quantities of goods to those countries? Is it a fact that those countries import each year goods worth about £3,500,000,000 in Australian currency? Also, is it a fact that there is a high degree of inflation in those countries and that they expect to trade with other countries on a long-term basis? Is it correct that in certain instances they expect other countries to give them up to ten years and, in some cases, up to eleven years, to pay for the goods that they purchase? If those are the facts, how can we in Australia give the same terms to compete with foreign countries on South American markets?
– I know that my colleague, the Minister for Trade, has been giving a lot of thought to the development of our trade relations with the countries of South America. I recollect that he is establishing trade posts in three or four of the capital cities, and I know that he has had a series of negotiations. That there are inflationary conditions in some of the countries of South America is well known. I had not previously heard the view expressed that such extensive trade terms were required by those countries. I cannot envisage any circumstances in which we would be prepared to trade on such a basis. In comparatively recent times, we sold some coal- to South America, and we have also sold some parcels of fuel oil. South America is one of the parts of the world in which we are not doing the business that we should be doing, and this fact is very much under the observation and investigation of the Department of Trade. One of the basic difficulties, of course, is the lack of a regular shipping service between Australia and South American ports.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. I hope he will forgive me when 1 say that it was with some feeling of relief that I noticed statements from the Ministry calling attention to the fact that over the last decade 65 per cent, of the finance for public works in Australia had come from revenue. Those statements were accompanied by some degree of misgiving or perhaps anxiety, as there is a threatened diminution of revenue. I ask the Minister whether or not the proposal to appropriate a specific part of income or taxes to public works expenditure in exchange for bonds has been the subject of consideration by the Government or Treasury officers in recent years. If the matter has been considered by officers of the Treasury, could the results of their study be made available to me? If not, will the Minister undertake to make a statement on that study to the Senate in the near future?
– The question asked by the honorable senator raises ghosts from past debates. All that I say on the subject is that it would be difficult to make a statement which would cover the whole complex of loan raisings, revenue collection and government expenditure by way of answer to a question. The specific study mentioned by the honorable senator no doubt has been made from time to time by the Treasury. I shall make inquiries and shall ascertain whether the results of the study, which I assume has been undertaken, can be made available to him. It does not occur to me that there should be any objection to that being done, but I say that with the reservation that the matter is one to be decided by the Treasurer and not by me.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. I read recently, in a publication issued by the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission called, I think, “ The National Line “, an article which dealt with the new ship “Bass Trader”, which will shortly go into commission on the Sydney-Tasmania route. The article referred to the engines being installed in the vessel. Can the Minister inform me of the name and type of those engines and the advantages to be derived from the saving of space, simplicity of installation and maintenance, and something of their performance, perhaps ‘ the most important point, because I understand that they are of a new type?
– I regret that I must disappoint the honorable senator. My knowledge of ships does not run to a grasp of the technical details that he has mentioned. I shall obtain the information for him.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for National Development, is prompted by the answer that he gave earlier to Senator Sir Walter Cooper, regarding the future use of water from the Snowy Mountains diversion schemes. Do I understand the position to be that most of the additional water that will go into the Murrumbidgee and Murray rivers will be utilized in the Murrumbidgee irrigation area and the Victorian areas through which the Murray River passes? Does the Minister agree that no State is more urgently in need of water from those two rivers than is South Australia? If he agrees that that is so, does he think it advisable and urgent that a dam should be constructed on the Murray River in South Australia to hold back water which is now flowing out to sea after New South Wales and Victoria have had their use of it. Can the Minister say what steps are being taken to expedite the construction of such a dam?
– The method of distribution of water from the river Murray is well established under the terms of the River Murray Agreement. I think that those terms are so well known that there is no point in traversing them. So far as South Australia is concerned, there was a recent public announcement to the effect that a proposal to build a dam at Chowilla was being considered by the River Murray Commission. I do not know how long it will take to complete the investigation of the proposal. I attended a conference at which the Premiers of the three States concerned were present, and it was formally decided to ask the commission to look into the matter. In fact, the commission has been doing so since, T think. October or November last.
asked the M mister representing the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
When may a report be expected from the interdepartmental committee set up by the Government some time ago to examine two recommendations of the Boyer committee on the Public Service which were not adopted at the time when Parliament passed other amendments to the Public Service Act. viz. f.i) the recommendation relating to the employment of physically handicapped persons, and (b) the recommendation relating to the right of female public servants, when they marry, to choose for themselves whether they should continue to be employed as permanent officers of the Public Service, provided they are qualified in all other respects and continue to comply with the terms of employment?
– The following answer is now supplied: -
I am informed that both subjects are now under active consideration by the Public Service Board which expects to report to the Government shortly.
asked the Minister representing the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– I now answer the honorable senator in the following terms: - 1 and 2. Copies of the official logs kept by Cook on his two voyages were offered for auction. The copies were made by ships clerks and signed by him. The National Library has Captain Cook’s diary of the first voyage, among other items.
The Library Committee of the National Library gave consideration to bidding for the logs, but decided to co-operate with two other libraries, the Mitchell Library in Sydney and the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington, New Zealand, who were anxious to acquire the logs. If they had acquired the logs, the National Library would have received photostat copies. The bidding went so high - £53,000 - that Australian and New Zealand libraries could not compete.
– For the information of honorable senators, I lay on the table the following paper: -
United Nations - General Assembly - Fifteenth Session, New York - 20th September to 20th December, 1960 - Report of Australian Delegation.
Copies of the report will be distributed to honorable senators when bulk supplies have been printed. In the meantime, a copy is available from the Clerk of the Papers.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) - by leave - agreed to -
That, in accordance with the provisions of section ten of the National Library Act 1960, the Senate elects the President, Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin, to be a member of the Council of the National Library of Australia from this day until the first day of sitting of the twentyfourth Parliament.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Tuesday, 11th April next, unless sooner called together by the President by telegram or letter.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Gorton) read a first time.
.- I move -
That consideration be given to the Government’s proposals for the development of Australia, with particular reference to -
northern road development to help the beef industry,
port facilities for handling coal,
expansion of the steel industry, and
The reason that I gave notice of my intention to propose this motion about a fortnight ago, Mr. President, was that on that day the press had given great prominence to an announcement by the Government that the additional sales tax of 10 per cent. on motor cars would be removed, thus reducing the rate to 30 per cent., but only an insignificant paragraph appeared in relation to these important developmental proposals of the Government. Throughout Australia, the press high-lighted the Government’s decision to remove the additional 10 per cent. sales tax on motor cars - it was front page news and ran to several paragraphs - but devoted practically no space at all to these important developmental proposals of the Government, and even then put the item at the bottom of the page. The variation of the sales tax on motor cars was a passing phase, which did not mean a thing, yet the press of Australia treated the announcement as headline news.
– It was important news to the public who had paid the tax.
– Apparently the honorable senator who is interjecting from the other side bought a motor car during the period that the additional sales tax was imposed and he was hurt. As I have said, the press high-lighted the announcement in relation to sales tax - the press is always against this Government - but withheld vital news about the Government’s proposals which will benefit the Australian public. Evidently the press, in its innocence, thought that the announcement to remove the additional 10 per cent. sales tax on motor cars was of national importance, of sufficient importance to be accorded front page publicity, but published the announcement of the Government’s proposals for the development of Australia in a corner at the bottom of the page.
– The honorable senator will want the press on his side later in the year. He has had its support before.
– We do not mind particularly where the press runs. I do not believe that the press has been on our side. We have managed to win six or seven elections since 1949 - in my opinion, without the help of the press. I emphasize that the press evidently thought that the Government’s announcement in relation to sales tax was of far greater importance than its announcement concerning the development of Australia. It is for that reason, Mr. President, that I thought the matter should be aired in this chamber, although I doubt whether, in view of my remarks, the press willl report my speech.
Since this Government came to office in 1949 it has spent about £180,000,000 on the Snowy Mountains project, and it is prepared to look at further projects for the development of Australia for which additional money will have to be provided.
The Administrator, in his Speech at the opening of the Parliament, referred to the first item mentioned in my motion, namely, northern road development to help the beef industry. The roads throughout the north of Australia require attention because, I believe, the future development of this country hinges on transport. If transport facilities are provided in the north, there will be a rapid growth, a rapid development there. At the present time, our income from beef exports is about £100,000,000 a year. We need an increased income from exports and I believe that the provision of proper facilities for the cattle industry in the north would enable our exports of beef to be doubled within a period of ten years.
We know very well that this Government, assisted by the Queensland and the Western Australian Departments of Agriculture, has carried out research in areas in the north designed to further the development of the cattle industry. The wet, high-rainfall areas of Queensland, provided they are handled correctly, can fatten up three beasts a year. By wet or high-rainfall areas I mean those areas around Tully. I am told by an authoritative person from those areas that you can fatten three beasts a year on pasture-improved country.
– Per acre?
– Per acre. It is absolutely astounding. For the expenditure of about £20 an acre, that land could be put into production and you could turn off three beasts to the acre.
– What do you mean by turn off?
– I thought the honorable senator would understand what I meant. I am sorry that I did not make it clear. The cattlemen buy cattle as stores and then fatten them. That may take three or four months. They repeat that process three times a year. The average profit per beast per year - I am speaking of gross profit, not net profit - is from £10 to £15. In fact, butchers will pay farmers and graziers in these areas £10 a head to fatten cattle, and will themselves supply the cattle.
There are 50,000 or 60,000 acres around Tully that could be used in this way. But that is not all. There are other large areas in the higher-rainfall region along that narrow coastal strip of Queensland that could turn off, not 50,000 head of cattle a year, but up to 500,000 a year. We have heard of the problem of unemployment in Queensland. We know that the meat works operate for only six, seven or eight months a year and then have to close down because of the lack of fat cattle for killing. With the development I have suggested, which could be done very quickly, these killing works in the coastal parts of Queensland would be able to operate for twelve months a year.
Therefore I believe that the provision of finance by the Government for the development of roads in these areas is of vital importance, not only to Queensland, but to the whole of the northern part of Australia. I have mentioned only Queensland, but there are other areas, in the northern part of the Northern Territory and on the coast of Western Australia, where similar conditions prevail. When those areas are developed and road transport is provided, cattle breeders in the north will be able to sell their cattle to graziers in those areas. The cattle can then be fattened and killed at the killing works at ports in the various States. The main problem arises from a lack of roads. The only way in which these cattle can be transported effectively, in my opinion, is by road transport, using bitumen roads.
There is also the problem of the Channel country in the south-west of Queensland. I have been told by Mr. Kelly that up to 300,000 head of cattle could be turned off from there annually. Mr. Kelly is employed in one of the departments. He has made a study of the beef cattle problems in the north and has issued reports on the subject over a period of 20 or 30 years. He is recognized as a man who knows more about the cattle industry in the north than any other man in Australia.
– Is he with the Bureau of Agricultural Economics?
– I think he is. He has reached retiring age but has been kept on for a year or two so that he can finish writing a book covering the whole of this subject. I have had conversations with him. The advice he gives is very enlightening. He is most emphatic that the only way to develop the north of Australia in the initial stages is by providing efficient road transport. Roads would help, not only the cattle industry, but also the mineral industry. At the present time, Weipa, in the western part of the Cape York Peninsula, is approachable only during the dry months of the year and then only by a track which is generally recognized as being too rough to travel on. It is used only in the dry period by Land Rovers and four-wheel drive vehicles. The port of Weipa will be developed quickly, but it must have road access. Approximately 100,000 head of cattle are running in the Cape York Peninsula at the moment, but that number could be increased tenfold.
The cattle population figures for the north of Australia are rather interesting. There are 5,500,000 cattle in Queensland, 1,000,000 in the Northern Territory and about 600,000 in Western Australia. It is generally recognized that, without the aid of pasture improvement, which I mentioned earlier in my speech, but with the provision of suitable roads to cover the whole of the areas concerned, the number of cattle in those regions could be doubled within the next ten years. That is important when we realize that Australia’s export income from beef alone is now in the vicinity of £100,000,000 a year. I believe that that sum could be doubled within ten years by the provision of roads in northern Australia.
– Are roads the problem at Tully?
– No, roads are not the real problem at Tully. I understand that it is only recently that, with the help of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and the Department of Lands and the Department of Agriculture in Queensland, methods of handling the area have been found. They now know the right type of pasture to put in to get the required results. As honorable senators know full well, it is only in recent years that a suitable legume has been found that will grow in these areas. That legume supplies nitrogen, for the grasses and provides rich fodder for the quick fattening of cattle.
– Do you know whether the 5,500,000 cattle population figure you mentioned includes dairy cattle or applies to beef cattle only?
– There are 5,500,000 beef cattle in Queensland, 1,000,000 in the Northern Territory and 600,000 in Western Australia. I am referring at this moment only to beef cattle. As I have said, with the provision of suitable road transport those numbers could be doubled.
A plan must be presented. We must have some idea of what we are going to do and of where we are going to build these roads. I should say that the best approach would be for the Commonwealth to say that it is prepared to provide finance up to a certain amount over a period for the construction of bitumen roads in these areas. I advocate bitumen-surfaced roads because in the high-rainfall areas, particularly in the Northern Territory, the Kimberleys and the northern part of Queensland, the dirt tracks become rough and severely washed out during heavy rains. It would be far cheaper in the long run to build good roads.
– This Government would not do anything when the Nicklin Government asked for assistance. The Commonwealth Government would not give Queensland any financial assistance.
– This Government has not yet heard my speech. I do not want to become involved in an argument with honorable senators opposite. If Senator Dittmer wants to have some fun we can play later, but for the moment I want to be serious. I have given a great deal of thought to this matter. For Senator Dittmer’s information, I understand that the Queensland Government is now putting certain proposals to the Commonwealth.
– It is submitting further proposals.
– The proposals that I speak of must be the further proposals to which Senator Dittmer refers. No doubt other States will seek assistance for roads. We must regard the Kimberleys, the Northern Territory and the northern part of Queensland as one area for this purpose. Roads should be built to cater for the needs of that entire area. We must have an integrated roads system. It would be stupid for the Queensland Government to approach the Commonwealth for assistance to build roads to serve only Queensland without paying regard to the needs of the Northern Territory. It would be just as silly for the Northern Territory to build roads that did not serve the north-west of Western Australia. We must have an integrated roads system that will cater for the needs of the entire north of Australia. Such a system can be developed only by Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia acting in concert. Those three areas should be asked to submit a roads plan, which should take into consideration the needs of the entire north. Before providing financial assistance for such a plan the Commonwealth must be satisfied that the roads planned will cater for the needs of the whole area. If the Commonwealth agrees to provide part of the finance necessary for a roads system in the north it must tell the States how far it will go, so that the States will know how much they are required to contribute over a number of years. No doubt the Commonwealth would bear all of the cost in respect of the Northern Territory.
If we had a good roads system in the north the output of cattle from that area could be doubled and greater use could be made of its mineral resources. Probably new mineral deposits will be found if the area is opened up by good roads. With good roads the northern part of the Northern Territory and the north-west of Western Australia, in view of the high rainfall there, could rapidly develop into areas upon which cattle could be fattened and from which they could be sent direct to meat works. That is all I have to say at this moment with regard to the first item of my motion.
The next item in the motion relates to port facilities for the export of coal. Honorable senators will observe that all the items referred to in my motion are of supreme importance to the development of our export potential. I have referred to the beef industry and I have shown how that industry can be expanded. I have shown how the export potential of that industry may be increased 100 per cent, in the next ten years by the provision of good roads. I have referred only to the industry in the north of Australia. I have not dealt with the industry as it exists in the south.
Japan is expanding her steel industry rapidly and she is an important customer of Australia for coal. Japan will require ever-increasing quantities of coking coal. We have the ability to provide that coal but we must do so at competitive prices. Our port facilities are not sufficiently mechanized to handle the orders that are likely to come from Japan. At the moment Japan is building bulk carriers each of which will handle 25,000 tons of coal.
– From where will that coal come?
– From wherever Japan buys the coal. Those carriers are being built in order to reduce freight costs. If we are to encourage those 25,000-tonners to come to Australia for our coal we must make available adequate berthing facilities. For instance, the port of Newcastle can cater at present only for ships of 10,000 or 15,000 tons.
– What depth of water do those colliers draw?
– I do not know, but 1 understand that the port of Newcastle would have to be deepened in order to handle the 25,000-tonners. We must abandon the crane system of loading coal. We must use bulk ore bins and conveyor belts, as we do when loading sugar. In that way we could load coal at the rate of 2,000 or 3,000 tons an hour.
Three or four coal-fields are of particular importance. The fields at Newcastle and in the Wollongong and Port Kembla area load through adjacent ports. The Balmain field ships something like 750,000 tons of coal a year.
– Is Balmain coal ot coking quality?
– I understand that it is, although I am not sure.
– At present Japan is taking Kianga coal and Moura coal.
– The Kianga field in Queensland is about 70 miles from the coast and the Japanese steel industry has proposed that it should spend something like £8,000,000 on the construction of a road or of transport facilities from the Kianga field to the coast.
– The Japanese steel industry proposed the construction of a railway.
– 1 am sorry; Senator Dittmer is right. The Japanese steel industry proposed constructing a railway from Kianga to the port at Gladstone and, I assume, improving loading facilities at Gladstone, so that the rich Kianga coal-field could be tapped.
At present Australia is exporting about 1,500,000 tons of coal a year worth approximately £6,000,000 or £7,000,000. I understand that that quantity can be doubled within the next three or four years, so our export income will be increased to that extent. But other ports will have to be provided. I believe that, not only will the output of the coal industry be doubled in the next few years, but also as the steel industry in Japan grows - it is growing rapidly, as is our own steel industry - it will require additional quantities of coal. Moreover, we may be able to sell coal elsewhere. It is vital to have the right port facilities to enable us to handle that coal cheaply if we want to compete with other countries. I believe every one in this chamber will agree with that statement.
I believe, too, that there are markets in other countries that we can exploit. The Minister for National Development said, in reply to a question asked to-day, that coal had been exported to a country in South America. Although he did not mention the country by name, I understand it was Uruguay. As the steel industries in such countries develop they will require additional coal. So we have a wonderful opportunity to develop our coal industry, because there are almost unlimited supplies of coking coal on our eastern seaboard at the places I have mentioned. We should make the utmost use of those deposits in order to earn the extra export income that is necessary for the development of Australia.
I turn now to the expansion of the steel industry, which is the next matter dealt with in my motion. I have referred to the rapid growth of the Japanese steel industry. Our own steel industry has grown rapidly, too. The relevant statistics show that in 1948-49 we exported ingot steel to the value of £2,600,000 and that in the same year we imported steel worth £11,036,000. So for every £1 worth of steel we exported we imported more than £4 worth. We have gradually overtaken the need to import steel.
In the year ended on 30th June, 1960, we exported steel to the value of £31,000,000 and imported steel ingots to the value of almost £24,000,000. So we had a credit balance of about £7,000,000. The Australian steel industry has developed rapidly. The Government was able to induce the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited to increase its production of steel from 1,100,000 tons in 1948-49 to 3,500,000 tons in 1959-60. That represents an increase of about 250 per cent, in ten years. If the output of steel ingot increases by an equivalent percentage in the next ten years, we will be producing 10,500,000 tons a year. That is terrific expansion. Everything possible should be done by the Commonwealth Government and the various State governments to encourage the expansion of the Australian steel industry with the ultimate objective of increasing our exports. If there is one industry that can help to solve the problem of our balance of payments quickly, it is the steel industry.
It can be fairly said that B.H.P. has done a magnificent job. That company has already announced that it intends to extend operations at Whyalla in South Australia, and no doubt it has commenced that work. I understand that the total expenditure on this project will be approximately £35,000,000. No doubt when that sum of money has been expended further moneys will be required for the expansion of the steel industry at that place. We know that subsidiary industries are started alongside steel mills, as has happened at Port Kembla and Newcastle. Probably all of us have seen those activities. Subsidiary undertakings could be established right on the spot at Whyalla, where they could obtain the steel they required to manufacture the finished product for export. That kind of development is beginning in Australia. We think of the Kwinana refinery, which is of importance to Western Australia.
In the past Western Australia, has had to rely upon importations of steel and manufactured goods from the eastern States. Subject to the standardization of the rail gauge between Kalgoorlie and Kwinana, B.H.P. intends, within the next ten years to build a steel works in Western Australia. We have large quantities of iron ore at Koolyanobbing which will be transported by rail to Kwinana. Coal will be brought from Newcastle. So within a few years we will have our own blast furnace at Kwinana. I understand that approximately £40,000,000 will be spent at Kwinana by B.H.P. and that the blast furnace will be in operation by 1968. So both Western Australia and South Australia will have entered the secondary industry field with the establishment of these steel mills.
I should like to say a few words about the sponge-iron industry. At Augusta on the Scott River in the south of Western Australia we have an estimated 300,000,000 tons of limonite ore which I understand can be turned into sponge iron. A company has been established-
– Can you define sponge iron?
– Sponge iron is iron which has had the oxygen taken out of it by a roasting process. The iron content of the ore is brought up to a fairly high grade, is worth very much more, and is wanted quite a lot by the steel industry throughout the world.
– It is an inferior pig iron, is it?
– No. In the south of Western Australia there are large deposits of limonite. In a few months the company concerned established that a small part of the deposits totalled about 300,000,000 tons. No doubt, as the years go by, that 300,000,000 tons will be doubled or quadrupled, and there will be enough to meet the requirements of an industry, if it is established, for many, many years. The company has stated that it is prepared to spend up to £4,000,000 on the development of a sponge-iron industry at Augusta in Western Australia over a period of four years, at the end of which it will be exporting 250,000 tons a year. Within the following four years those exports will reach 500,000 tons a year, and within ten or twelve years that industry will be producing and exporting about 1,000,000 tons of sponge iron a year.
– What company will be undertaking the manufacture of. this sponge iron?
– It is a company which has been formed in Western Australia. 1 forget the name of it. It is a very important company. It has Western Australian interests and evidently it can raise the capital that is needed for the establishment of this industry. It has now obtained permission to ship and has shipped 500 tons of limonite ore from Bunbury to Japan and West Germany so that metallurgical experiments can be carried out on the ore to determine whether it is possible to establish this industry. I understand that some of the reports are quite favorable.
The last matter to which I wish to refer, which I believe is of tremendous importance to the development of Australia, is rail standardization. Australia must have a standard-gauge railway system linking Perth with the other capital cities. That should be our aim. It is interesting to note that when the work on the Albury to Melbourne line has been completed - it is due for completion by the end of this year - about £11,500,000 will have been spent on thi standardization of that line. I understand that the Commonwealth Government finds 70 per cent, of the finance and the New South Wales and Victorian Governments find 1 5 per cent, each, but they have to repay the Commonwealth over a number of years.
The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman) has stated that passenger trains are expected to start running on that line in April next year. It is interesting to note that when those passenger trains are running direct from Melbourne to Sydney, without passengers having to change trains at Albury or Wodonga, the time for the trip will be reduced to a total of about 13i hours. That is not the reduction in the time, but the time that it will take passenger trains to travel from Melbourne to Sydney when the standardization of that line is completed and the trains are running full steam ahead after the trials have been carried out. That is not a very long time.
– What is the time at present?
– It is 141 hours, is it not?
– At the moment one leaves Melbourne at 6.30 or 7 o’clock at night ar.d arrives in Sydney at about 9 or 10 o’clock in the morning, so an hour will be cut off the time. These figures are very interesting.
The standardization of the line from Broken Hill to Port Pirie is expected to cost £12,000,000. The standardization of the line linking Kalgoorlie and Kwinana, which is a very important project, is estimated to cost in the vicinity of £35,000,000. When we look at the economics of the situation, we find that if we are to have a steel industry in Western Australia we must have cheap methods of carrying bulk loads by rail. The only way that can be done is on a standard gauge railway. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited would not have a bar of the present line. lt is a 3 ft. 6 in. gauge line. I presume that it is quite suitable for carrying small tonnages. However, the grades are fairly steep. For the establishment of an adequate steel industry, it is essential that a standard gauge railway be laid, with easy grades, so that large tonnages can be hauled by each train.
From Koolyanobbing and the adjacent area at least 300,000,000 tons of iron ore will have to be transported. I understand that those deposits are being conserved by the State Government for the development of the steel industry at Kwinana, as suggested by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited.
– What is the distance between those two places?
– It is about 262 miles, or a little further, by rail.
– From the iron ore deposits to Kwinana?
– It is another 30 miles to the iron ore. The iron ore will have to be carted into Southern Cross, or a railway line will have to be built to the deposits. I presume that the Broken Hill company will do that. The construction of a standard gauge line between Kalgoorlie and Kwinana is absolutely essential for the development of Western Australia.
– Is not that one of the conditions of the agreement between the Western Australian Government and B.H.P.?
– Yes. The company has stated that it wants the Western Australian Government’s acquiescence to its proposal by the end of the year. I understand that the State Government has asked the Commonwealth Government to go ahead with the standardization of this line and negotiations are now taking place. If the company does not receive the Western Australian Government’s acquiescence to its proposal by the end of the year, the company will leave us for dead.
– When is it proposed to have this steel works in Western Australia in full working order?
– The blast furnace will be in operation by 1968 or earlier.
– What about the steel works?
– We have steel rolling mills there now. The company will go on from there until about £35,000,000 has been spent and Western Australia will have its own complete steel industry. After that, we will not be forced to deal with the eastern States.
I have mentioned these matters, which are of tremendous importance to the development of Australia. As I said at the outset, the press was not interested in the development of Australia, but only in the 10 per cent, reduction of the sales tax on motor cars. The newspapers did not highlight any of these projects which, when they are developed and carried out, will earn Australia not just £1,000,000 or £100,000,000. Within ten or fifteen years the extra export income derived by Australia from these projects could be more than £1,000,000,000 a year. Yet they receive only one inch of headline in the press. Mark my words; our export income must double over the next ten or fifteen years, and I believe that it will double provided a satisfactory government such as the one which I support, is in power in Australia.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– The motion before the Senate is -
That consideration be given to the Government’s proposals for the development of Australia, with particular reference to -
northern road development to help the beef industry,
port facilities for handling coal,
expansion of the steel industry, and
We admit that we have read these proposals in the daily press. I did hear Senator Scott complain to some extent about the failure of the press to give adequate publicity to the proposals. He said that at the time the proposals were made the press was most concerned about the 10 per cent. increase in sales tax on motor vehicles and omitted to say all that could have been said about the proposals. He did not say that his party should have taken action to regiment the press for its failure in this respect.
I can very well understand why the press did not make extensive reference to the Government’s proposals. Its reason for not doing so was that over the years similar proposals have been made and no action whatever has been taken. I recall that in 1950 Mr. R. G. Casey, who is now Lord Casey, forwarded to me a booklet entitled, “ Regional Planning in Australia “. It is rather interesting to have a look at that booklet at this stage when we have these proposals before us. The preface states -
Regional planning, as a method of planning post-war development in Australia had its origin during the war years.
It goes on to mention certain things. In Chapter 1, this is stated -
The first steps to bring together all States to accept regional planning came in October, 1943, when the Prime Minister (The Right Hon. John Curtin) communicated with the Premiers of all States raising the question of regional planning.
Regional planning was more closely related to the proposals that were submitted by the Government and mentioned this morning by Senator Scott than were other things. Regional planning was suggested, outlined and organized for the purpose of dealing with similar proposals. The object was to strengthen the economy of the Commonwealth, to provide for the welfare of its people and, above all, to provide employment for all citizens of the Commonwealth.
When we are dealing with a motion, we have very little upon which to work. We have to rely upon our own imagination and our own facts. We are not dealing with a statement made by somebody and there is no second-reading speech by a Minister. But these matters are of great importance to the Commonwealth, and for that reason I am participating in the discussion. I compliment Senator Scott for bringing these matters into the Senate for discussion. Of course, nothing about the proposals has been blueprinted. Something has been suggested, but the matter has not gone beyond the suggestion stage. Nothing has been said about carrying the matter further than is envisaged at the present time.
One of the important matters Senator Scott dealt with this morning was the steel industry. The motion refers to the “ expansion of the steel industry”. When I read that first, I thought that the Commonwealth Government had resolved to conduct a cold war with the only steel manufacturer in the Commonwealth, or alternatively an open war, and had decided that the company now manufacturing steel ingots in Australia was not doing sufficient in that regard. I thought that the Commonwealth Government was going ahead to establish its own steel works in competition with the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. I thought thatwas possible, because I am a simple soul. I was somewhat disappointed when I heard Senator Scott outline what lay behind the proposal to expand the steel industry of the Commonwealth.
Last night the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) said that during the past decade steel productionin the Commonwealth had increased 300 per cent. I checked that statement this morning and I found that the information he supplied was not incorrect. Steel production has increased by 300 per cent. over the past decade. We ask ourselves, “Why?” We have had an increase in population. We have had operating in the Commonwealth a company that had the capital to expand. It has found its expansion activities most profitable indeed. When I say this, I am not condemning the company in any way.
It has the right to expand, to produce what it is producing and to do all the things that it is doing.
This is the situation. Steel is most necessary in our everyday life. It happens to be the greatest friend of everybody in the community. In a minute or two I shall give details of the consumption of steel in the Commonwealth over recent years. When I state a few facts, honorable senators will easily understand why the consumption has increased considerably and why it is increasing at present at the rate of 5 per cent, per annum. I can recall that a few years ago, when I travelled from Cairns to Adelaide, going through the sugar-producing areas of Queensland, and the wheat-growing and mixed farming areas of New South Wales and Victoria into South Australia, I would see on every farm a number of horses which were kept and fed for the purpose of doing farm work. One may make a similar journey now and not see one working horse throughout the whole journey. The working horses in the Commonwealth have been displaced by internal combustion engines, and steel is used in their manufacture.
Steel is used in almost every imaginable thing. If I look around the Senate chamber, I see steel in the broadcasting devices in front of me, in the pen nibs that are being used, in the doors, in the locks, and in various other things. In the sporting field we have steel-shafted golf clubs, and the sprigs on footballers’ boots contain steel. Steel is used in the baby’s perambulator and in countless other things. The demand for steel has grown over recent years and will continue to grow. In 1960, the Commonwealth produced 3,500,000 tons of ingot steel. I have heard it said that that was a very good effort, and I admit that it was, having regard to the low production rate of a few years ago, when we were producing only 43 per cent, of our requirements. At the present time, we are producing 94 per cent, of our total requirements of steel.
When we compare Australian steel production with that of other countries we find that we are fairly favorably situated. America produces approximately 81,000,000 tons of steel per annum, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics 58,000,000 tons. I stress the fact that the 3,500,000 tons of steel produced in Australia is as important to the economy of this country as the much greater production in America and the Soviet Union is important to those countries. I mention, as a matter of interest, that Australia is the greatest producer of steel in the eastern hemisphere. Australia’s production of steel is greater than that of India and China.
Senator Scott referred to sponge iron this morning, and when somebody asked him what it was, his description was rather hazy. I have not sufficient geological knowledge to explain exactly what sponge iron is, but we should not run away with the idea that it is the same as sponge steel. As we know, the main ingredient, or perhaps I should say the only ingredient, of steel is iron ore which is converted into pig iron and from pig iron into steel. It is done by the application of heat, by furnace treatment. When Senator Scott mentioned sponge iron this morning, I imagined that it was ore of a low grade that had been treated and that the fuel used had not been capable of generating sufficient heat to purify the ore into a suitable pig iron. That is to say, I thought that the treatment of the iron ore had not removed all the impurities it contained and that the result had been what is known in the trade as sponge iron. Later on, perhaps, in Western Australia and also in New South Wales, a system of furnace treatment will be evolved that will be satisfactory for the treatment of low-grade ores. There is a furnace known as the LinzDonawitz, Mr. President, which is used in an Austrian method of treating iron ore. Usually, with that method, more oxygen is used in the furnace and the ore can be treated far more rapidly than by any other method that has been tried over the years, such as the use of a blast furnace or an open furnace. I understand that some of those furnaces are being established in New South Wales at the present time.
I heard Senator Scott say that samples of sponge iron had been sent to Japan and also, I think he said, to West Germany. I wondered, as I sat here, why samples were being sent overseas. Is it proposed to sell the sponge iron, or the product of it, to other countries? We have in Australia the means to convert it into steel ingots, and that being so, it should be treated here and not exported. I have a very good reason for saying that, and in a minute or two I shall tell you why, Mr. President. If we sell our sponge iron or our iron ore to other countries, they will get the full benefit of it. They will convert it into steel which can be used to their advantage. If they do not require all the steel they are able to manufacture, they will export steel. I want to see expansion of the Australian steel industry, but I do not want to see it done in the way that Senator Scott suggested.
At present, we are producing steel and importing from other countries goods that contain steel. I want to see not only expansion of the steel manufacturing industry, Mr. President, but also expansion of the treatment of the steel that we produce. That is to say, I want to see our steel manufactured in Australia into machines and all the other things containing steel that Australians use, whether for building purposes, for the construction of motor vehicles, for railway lines, or anything else. I want to see Australians given employment in that way and the need for us to import machinery and other things from overseas obviated. We do not go sufficiently far in our steel industry. We bring steel production to the point of manufacture, where the steel can be used by certain persons in the Commonwealth, but there is far more that we could do with our steel, to the benefit of Australia. When one thinks of steel, of course, one immediately also thinks of certain places in the Commonwealth, such as Newcastle, Port Kembla and Whyalla. Perhaps I should also mention Yampi Sound, because from that place comes the material which enables the steel industry to function.
In 1938, an embargo was placed on the export of iron ore. At that time, it was estimated that we had reserves of iron ore amounting to 259,000,000 tons. It was stated quite recently that we now have reserves amounting to 368,000,000 tons. It appears that the known quantity of iron ore in the Commonwealth has increased since 1938, but iron ore deposits do not develop, nor do they mature. The iron ore that is in Australia at the present time was here long before we inhabited this place. It is of the pre-Cambrian era, which means that it is approximately 600,000,000 or 700,000,000 years old. All the ore that has ever been in Australia was here when Australia was first known. Therefore, we have at our disposal only the ore that is here at the present time. One wonders why a government should contemplate for a moment exporting iron ore, because if we export it, we send away from this country one of the resources that must last us till the end of time. We have only a limited quantity. We should put our foot down and say: “ Not a ton of iron ore will be exported to any country. We shall require all of it. Australia will be a nation for far longer than this century, and we have to look ahead and protect the interests of Australians in future years.” As I mentioned before, there are three steel works in Australia, and although I have thought that the Commonwealth Government expected that another steel works would be established in order to overtake the backlag in the supply of steel, 1 know better now. I know that it is not proposed to do that at all. At least, that is the situation as I see it at the present time.
Iron ore for use in the manufacture of steel is transported from Yampi Sound around Cape York to Newcastle and Port Kembla. The position will be different at Whyalla, where a steel works will be established, I understand, alongside the sources of supply - Iron Knob and Iron Baron - but the coal that will be required will have to be transported from Newcastle. It seems to me that irrespective of where a branch of the steel industry is established in the Commonwealth it is inescapable that transport costs will be incurred.
Senator Scott mentioned that, in order to increase the supply of steel in Australia, it was intended to establish another steel works in Western Australia, but that this intention was conditional upon the Western Australian Government standardizing the gauge of a certain length of railway line. The honorable senator also mentioned what would be the approximate cost of carrying out that work. Let us analyse this proposition for a few moments. The company will establish a branch steel works there and will use the iron ore that is available to it in Western Australia, which is not of a high grade. The grade of this ore is not as good as that of the iron ore ore at Yampi
Sound, but it is unlikely that the company will transport ore from there to the new steel works.
– The ore at Yampi Sound is of a high grade.
– Yes. We have in Australia twenty years’ supply of high-grade ore. When that has been exhausted, we shall have to use the low-grade ore. Steel will then cost considerably more to produce than it does now. Let us see that the company that proposes to establish a branch of its steel manufacturing activity in Western Australia gets the transport facilities it needs. Evidently, if the section of railway line to which I have referred is not standardized, double handling of the iron ore will be entailed.
I do not imagine that the standardization work would be undertaken for any purpose other than to obviate double handling of the iron ore. So, the Commonwealth has been invited to invest public funds in the work in the interests of the transport system of that company, which will rely upon the transport of ore by rail to its works. The company itself will not invest one penny in the project; it intends to allow the Government to standardize the railway gauge. The Government will expend public funds on the rail standardization project, from which the company will derive considerable benefit. The company will be the main beneficiary from the standardization of the gauge. Unless the company is assured of rail facilities to get the ore to the proposed site of its works, it will not establish its works there.
I do not blame the Western Australian Government very much for fighting for the standardization of the railway gauge, which will mean the difference between Western Australia having a steel works and not having one, because in these major matters -there is no doubt they are major matters - one must balance the financial cost with the economic gain. If we analyse the proposition in a broadminded way we find that from the point of view of Western Australia the economic gain will considerably outweigh the financial cost of standardizing the railway.
I said earlier that I would place figures before the Senate to show how the consumption of steel in Australia has increased. Whether or not in the present circumstances responsibility devolves upon the Commonwealth Government or any other government to expand the steel industry, responsibility to produce more steel will rest with the company which is almost the sole manufacturer of steel in Australia at present. In 1946, the consumption of steel in Australia averaged 28S lb. per head. By 1959, it had increased to 664 lb. per head and consumption is still increasing. Therefore, more steel has to be produced. Australia cannot be classed as a great producer of steel. In great industrial countries, such as the United States of America, the consumption of steel is considerably higher than is the case in Australia. For instance, the consumption in the United States of America is 1,146 lb. per head; in West Germany, 968 lb.; in Sweden, 845 lb.; in the United Kingdom, 842 lb.; and in Canada, 767 lb. per head. It is likely that the consumption of steel in those countries will increase. Much of the steel that is consumed in the United Kingdom is subsequently exported in the form of machines and other goods that have a steel content.
I want to stress the importance of undertaking in the Commonwealth every process involved in the manufacture of steel. It is not sufficient for us to export iron ore, or to reduce the ore to pig iron for export. That is far from satisfactory from the point of view of the typical Australian citizen, who is interested as much in the steel industry as he is in any other industry.
I shall now refer to employment in the industry. The winning and marshalling of the base metals in the steel industry involve the employment of 5,200 men. Although that number appears very small, that is the number of men who are employed in this activity. In iron and steel making - that is, manufacturing - 26,300 men are employed. In the finishing and fabricating of the steel, another 3,800 men are employed. An additional 100 men are employed producing by-products. There are 1,800 men employed in transport and shipbuilding and various other projects necessary to the undertaking. In the whole of the industry, 37,800 men are employed by one company.
I stress the importance of all activities in the industry being undertaken in Australia. We could increase our manufacturing income by using steel for our general manufacturing purposes.
– What about wool?
– I am glad that the honorable senator has mentioned wool. We started by exporting greasy wool. That practice was continued and we allowed the buyers from overseas to decide the prices they would pay. Has any one associated with the wool industry thought that by establishing the textile industry here we would be able to manufacture textiles from our greasy wool and dictate to other countries the prices that they must pay for our textile goods? I do not want to see the steel industry follow the road that the wool industry followed in the past. I thank the honorable senator for his interjection.
What have we done with the wool industry? When wool was over £1 per lb., I can recall that honorable senators on this side of the chamber - who always speak very wisely and objectively - said, “ You are getting £1 per lb. for wool to-day, but what about the time when the price goes down? “.
I ask for leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This is a bill to make uniform in Australia the law relating to marriage. It will apply throughout the six States and two internal Territories of the Commonwealth and will extend to Norfolk Island. Some of its provisions will have effect in the other Territories of the Commonwealth. The bill, moreover, includes provisions governing marriages overseas by Australian marriage officers and chaplains in countries outside the Queen’s dominions - a field at present covered by the Marriage (Overseas)
Act 1955-1958 which on the coming into operation of the bill as an act will be repealed - and, under a system of reciprocity, marriages in Australia by foreign diplomatic and consular officers. The bill also includes provisions relating to the legitimation of children by the marriage of their parents subsequent to the birth of the children.
I shall return later to those various matters, but for the present I wish to direct my remarks to the provisions in Divisions 1 and 2 of Part IV. of the bill which set out the proposed general law regulating marriage solemnized in Australia. These provisions, if passed, will replace with a uniform marriage law the diverse laws of the six States of the Commonwealth and of the three Territories - Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory and Norfolk Island. Although the various State and Territory laws have matters in common, there are many differences. Not only does the bill have the advantage of uniformity; it also introduces what, for some States and Territories at least, represent reforms.
It should, I think, be remarked that marriage legislation is, in the nature of things, largely concerned with procedural matters, and this has been the characteristic of such legislation ever since the passage in 1753 by the English Parliament of Lord Hardwicke’s Act - 26 Geo. II. C.33 - a measure which might be fairly described as the first Marriage Act in the present sense. Marriage legislation thus addresses itself to such matters as marriageable age, the giving of prior notices, the making of declarations, the obtaining of consents in cases of minors, the forms and ceremonies by which marriages may be solemnized, the qualifications and registration of celebrants and so on. But although that is so, underlying these procedural matters is the purpose of ensuring, as far as it is possible by legislation to do so, that there shall be in our community a sound basis for marriage and that persons about to undertake matrimony do so not lightly but advisedly.
It is fundamental to this type of legislation that marriages should be public, that the fact of marriage should be sufficiently evidenced and that marriages should not be made void simply because of procedural defects, or of errors or omissions in relevant documents. Registration of ministers of religion is to be on a Commonwealth register, kept at the State (and Territory) level. Registration on the Commonwealth register will entitle a minister to solemnize marriages anywhere in Australia. There are machinery provisions, in Division 1 of Part IV., for the nomination of ministers by their denominations, notices as to changes of address, removal of names from the register and for the making of arrangements with the States for the keeping of registers by State officers. Arrangements are permitted by the bill to enable the appointment of certain State officers as authorized celebrants and there is provision for the appointment of other suitable persons as celebrants by the AttorneyGeneral.
Division 2 of Part IV. deals with the preliminaries to the solemnization of marriage, the ceremony itself, and the issue of marriage certificates. As to preliminaries, clause 42 of the bill provides for the giving of a notice to an authorized celebrant not earlier than the ninetieth day nor later than the seventh day before the date of the marriage, the production to him of certificates evidencing the dates and places of birth of the parties and the completion by the parties before him of a declaration as to the conjugal status of the parties and the nonexistence of impediments to the marriage. Where a certificate as to birth is not available, a party is required to make an appropriate statutory declaration. The information thus obtained will assist in the maintenance of accurate records and diminish the possibility of void - and to some extent voidable - marriages, which are dealt with in Part IV. of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1959. Honorable senators will realize it is altogether fitting that there should be, prior to the marriage, a full disclosure between the couple of all material facts known to each party and the bill has been drawn with this in mind.
As I said in my opening remarks, legislation of the kind we are considering is largely of a machinery nature, stipulating as it does the various procedures that are to be observed in relation to the marriage prior to, during and after its solemnization. But in order to protect parties who bona fide go through marriage ceremonies, it is also necessary to state the effect of noncompliance with any particular procedure. This is the function of clause 48. Honorable senators will see that sub-clause (3.) of that clause will meet the case where the celebrant honestly believes himself to be authorized but is not in fact - which will be the more usual case - as well as the case where the celebrant knows he is not in fact authorized.
Another preliminary to the solemnization of a marriage is of course the obtaining of consents where one of the parties is a minor. This matter has a relation to the very important matter of marriageable age. Both these matters are dealt with in Part U. of the bril, to which I now turn. The Matrimonial Causes Act 1959 provides, in section 18 (1.) that a marriage that takes place after the commencement of that act is void where either of the parties is not of marriageable age. In Part II. of the bill before the Senate, marriageable age is defined and, when that part comes into operation, it will supplant the various State and territorial laws which currently govern this matter. Mr. President, this is a most important matter and I think it would be of considerable assistance to the Senate if I were to outline the position as it obtains at present in the various States.
Except in Tasmania, Western Australia and South Australia, the common law position as to age of marriage still obtains. At common law, the age at which a person is capable of giving a consent to and of contracting a marriage is twelve years in the case of a female, and fourteen in the case of a male. A marriage of a person under this age is, at common law, voidable and not void, and thus it may be affirmed after that age is reached. Continued cohabitation of the parties after the marriageable age has been reached will be an affirmation of the marriage. A marriage in which one of the parties is under the age of seven years is void at common law.
In Tasmania, since 1942, no marriage may be celebrated if either of the intending parties thereto is under the age of eighteen years in the case of a male, or sixteen years in the case of a female, unless the RegistrarGeneral or a police magistrate, after inquiry, is satisfied that for some special reason it should be celebrated. In Western Australia, in 1956, the age of marriage was similarly raised to eighteen for males and sixteen for females. A magistrate may make an order permitting a marriage below that age if, after inquiry, he is satisfied -
In South Australia, in 1957, the age of marriage was raised to eighteen for males and sixteen for females. In the case of a boy over fourteen years and a girl over twelve years, the Minister administering the act may make an order permitting the marriage “ if he is satisfied that it is desirable that they should marry”. In the United Kingdom, since the Age of Marriage Act 1929, a marriage between persons either of whom is under the age of sixteen years is void. In New Zealand, the Marriage Act 1955 prohibits the marriage of a person under the age of sixteen years, but a marriage in contravention of the section is not void on that account only. Under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1959 a marriage under the marriageable age is void.
It is clear that the trend is to increase the minimum age for marriage and that most of Australia is lagging badly in this regard. There has been some agitation in the Commonwealth for an increase of the marriageable age above that countenanced by the common law. In particular, representations have been received from time to time by my colleague, the AttorneyGeneral, from various women’s organizations to increase the age limit to sixteen for both sexes, and in other cases,to increase the age limit to sixteen for females and eighteen for males. After very careful consideration of all factors involved, it has been decided to adopt the limits last referred to. Clause11 of the present bill provides that a male person is of marriage able age if he has attained the age of eighteen years and a female person if she has attained sixteen years.
Mr. President, although I think it is true to say that the age limits just mentioned accord with contemporary thinking in the Commonwealth on this subject, it does, I suggest, still need to be realized that there can be very unusual and exceptional circumstances in which a marriage might be permitted where one party had not attained the requisite marriageable age. Accordingly, provision is made in clause 12 of the bill for a judge to hold an inquiry into the relevant facts and circumstances of such a case and by order to authorize the marriage, if he is satisfied that the circumstances are so exceptional and unusual as to justify the making of the order. He may not do this, however, where the party is under sixteen years, if a male, or under fourteen years, if a female. The provisions of clause 12 will not be available where both parties intending marriage are under marriageable age.
In the absence of a judge’s order, where either party is not of marriageable age, a marriage will, by reason of section 18 (1.) (e) of the Matrimonial Causes Act, be void. Honorable senators will understand that I do not propose to go again into this point at any length. I should, however, point out that the possibility of a valid marriage by people under marriageable age affords a reason for, if indeed it does not encourage, pressure being brought to bear on young people to marry for the sole purpose of legitimating the expected child. Social workers seem now to agree that” forced” marriages rarely last and that it is really not in the interests of the child or its parents to marry for the sole purpose of legitimating it In the result, the child may be born illegitimate; but if this bill is passed in its entirety, the provisions in Part VI. relating to legitimation will permit the legitimation of the child by the marriage of its parents, if, after an interval of time, they retain both the desire and mutual respect to do so.
With the concurrence of honorable senators, I incorporate in “ Hansard “ at this point the following table compiled from a United Nations publication, “Consent to
Marriage and Age of Marriage “, which shows the age of marriage in a number of other countries: -
Part II. of the bill also deals with the question of consents to the marriages of minors, a subject dealt with in all State and Territory legislation but not throughout the Commonwealth in precisely the same way. Clause 14 and the Schedule to the bill set out the persons whose consent is to be required in these cases. Sub-clauses (3.) and (4.) of clause 14 preserve the position under State and Territory laws, such as child welfare and aboriginal welfare legislation, whereby statutory guardians of specified groups of minors are appointed. Clause 13 (1.) introduces a new feature in this field in providing in effect that consent will be valid only for a period of three months after it is given.
In relation to marriages in Australia, clause 15 makes provision for the circum stances in which a prescribed authority may dispense with consent and clause 16 for a magistrate to consent in cases in which consent is refused by such prescribed authority. Clause 17 permits a judge of a supreme court of a State or Territory to re-hear the matter if the magistrate also refuses to consent. Clause 19 prevents repeated applications in this connexion by requiring six months to elapse before the matter can be raised again once refused. The provisions of Part II., Mr. President, represent, it is submitted, the basis for a reasonable code in this field in relation to marriages in Australia.
The preliminary matters already referred to, such as notices, declarations and consents, will apply, in general, but with some modifications to which I shall refer, to marriages solemnized in accordance with Part V. of the bill. Part V. is the part that is to replace the Marriage (Overseas) Act, the provisions of which have been only slightly modified in this bill in order to fit them in with the rest of the measure. Honorable senators will recall that in 1955 when the Marriage (Overseas) Bill was under consideration it was accepted by both sides of the Senate as a useful machinery measure. My remarks on Part V. will therefore be- brief. The celebrants to be recognized by that Part are marriage officers and chaplains. Clause 66 deals with notices in the case of marriage officers, and honorable senators will see that there have been some slight modifications made to the practice in this connexion proposed for marriages in Australia to take account of particular difficulties that can arise where the marriage is to take place overseas. After consideration it has been decided not to require a notice at all where a marriage overseas is to be solemnized by a chaplain. The Registry for overseas marriages will continue to be at Canberra.
While in Part V. of the bill provision is made governing marriage overseas in accordance with the law of the Commonwealth of Australia, provisions are made, to operate on a reciprocal basis, in division 3 of Part IV. in relation to marriage performed in Australia in accordance with the law or custom of overseas countries by diplomatic or consular officers of those countries. The Governor-General is, by clause 54, to be empowered by proclamation to declare overseas countries permitting marriages under Part IV. of the bill to be “ proclaimed overseas countries “ for the purposes of the legislation. Clause 55 provides certain requirements in relation to the solemnization of marriages in Australia by the officers of proclaimed overseas countries.
I turn now, Mr. President, to Part VI. of the bill - that Part concerned with the legitimation of children by the marriage of their parents. At common law, a child born illegitimate remained so, notwithstanding the subsequent marriage of his parents. Statutory effect has, however, for some time been given to the principle of legitimation by subsequent marriage, which, following the canon law, had long existed in many other systems of municipal law. It is now the law of each State and Territory of the Commonwealth that where the parents of an illegitimate child marry each other, the child shall be rendered legitimate by the marriage, but in some States this applies only if the parties were free to marry each other when the illegitimate child was born. The law in England in this regard has been extended even further very recently by the Legitimacy Act 1959, which removed the bar to legitimation that existed where the mother or father was married to a third person when the child was born.
Clause 89 of the bill has been drafted to give effect in general terms to this extended principle, the clause applying where the relevant marriage takes place in Australia or the father is domiciled in Australia at the date of the marriage, or where the marriage is solemnized under the Marriage (Overseas) Act or Part V. of the bill. Previous1 legitimations- by State or Territory law are to be preserved by sub-clause (4.) of that clause. Clause 90 provides for the recognition in Australia of any foreign legitimation by the marriage of the parents effected by the law of the father’s domicile at the date of the marriage.
Clause 91 introduces a new and, I suggest, very necessary principle in this field of law, by deeming to be the legitimate child of his parents a child of a void mar- riage where, at the relevant time, either party to the marriage believed on reasonable grounds that the marriage was valid. This provision, which is to apply where at least one parent was, at the material time, domiciled in Australia, will go some way to assist the victims of bigamous marriages and in other cases.
There are several other aspects of thi; bill to which I wish shortly to direct the attention of honorable senators. Part VII. deals with offences. In the machinery provisions of the bill, how far, if at all, noncompliance with the provisions of the bill affect the validity of a given marriage is set out in detail. Such provisions are of course, necessary to protect the parties and to make for certainty. On the other hand, it is equally essential that breaches of the law must not go unnoticed and accordingly the provisions of Part VII. are there as sanctions that the various machinery provisions will not knowingly be ignored. The offences provided for are unexceptional and, in general, have their counterparts in existing legislation.
Part IX. deals with a number of miscellaneous matters, the more important being the regulation-making power in clause 120; clause 119, which deals with the jurisdiction of courts; and clause 114, which deals with the correction of errors in marriage registers. Of great importance to the smooth introduction of the legislation is Part VIII. - the transitional provisions that have been devised to enable persons intending marriage under the new legislation to comply with all necessary preliminaries prior to the general coming into force of the act.
One thing, Mr. President, remains fo; me to mention, namely, that this measure will not affect State and Territory laws regulating the registration of marriages, and the existing registration machinery will be availed of on the introduction of the new legislation. Provision is made in clause 9 of the bill to enable the GovernorGeneral to make appropriate arrangements with State Governors in this connexion. State magistrates and judges will be brought into the scheme by means of similar srrangements. The measure will rely very heavily for its effectiveness on the cooperation of State officials and functionaries.
The Government believes, Mr. President, that the bill not merely places the solemnization of marriage on a uniform footing throughout Australia but that it is a contribution towards the stability of marriage, which is so essential to the well-being of this country throughout its. great future. I commend the bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Flaherty adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 3.10 pan.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 23 March 1961, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1961/19610323_senate_23_s19/>.