23rd Parliament · 3rd Session
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid) took the chair at 1 1 a.m., and read prayers.
Assent to the following bills reported: -
Social Services Bill 1961. Repatriation Bill 1961.
Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Bill 1961.
– Will the Minister representing the Prime Minister request the Queensland Government to investigate the problem of how cheaply thermal power could be produced per electricity unit? If there is any possibility of producing such power at anything approaching an economic rate, and if the net cost is low enough to be commercially practicable, will the Government give consideration to subsidizing power production to the extent necessary to attract Comalco and justify its establishing a smelter in Queensland, thereby retaining for Australia the aluminium industry to which it should be entitled because of the enormous deposits of bauxite in the Cape York peninsula and other areas?
– Senator Dittmer has asked a good question which is not easy to answer briefly. Basically, of course, this is a matter for the Queensland Government. The honorable senator may remember that that government engaged the services of a firm of consulting engineers to make a survey of Queensland power resources. Of course, I took quite an interest in that survey. As I remember it, the best proposition that could be evolved for Queensland was the production of power at about .45d. per kilowatt hour. That cost is very appreciably in excess of the reported cost in New Zealand. I do not think I should give the New Zealand figure because I might be in error about it and it is confidential.
– It is .25d. in New Zealand.
– I neither confirm nor deny that. It is a matter for the people concerned. We did a good deal of work on the possibility of using nuclear power at Weipa, the development of the Blair Athol coal deposits and development based on the Callide coal deposits. The Queensland Government engaged a firm of consulting engineers. The aluminium would have to be produced at world parity prices because there would not be a market in Australia for the great quantities that can be produced.
Any proposal to subsidize the production of such power would have run into extraordinarily large figures which would not be a justifiable charge against revenue. I do not know that the company concerned would have liked to adopt that proposal as a matter of policy. Indeed, it would have been rather difficult for the Australian Government to consider the proposal, remembering that the competitor in this matter is the New Zealand Government, with which we are on very friendly terms.
– My question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate has reference to the public announcement to-day of the success of the loan that has just closed. Does not this success indicate two things; first, the confidence of the people in the policies of this Government; and secondly, the tendency of people to look towards saner investments?
– This question is not a Dorothy Dix-er. I think that the success of the recent loan can be fairly stated to be an indication of the success of Government policies, because, as we all know, inflationary trends make loan raising more difficult. This loan has been a very great success. If we can continue on this basis there may be repercussions, not only on the increase of savings throughout the Australian community, but also on Commonwealth and State financial relations. This is a very heartening sign, and as Senator McKellar quite rightly, and indeed modestly says, it is a further indication of the confidence of the Australian people in the Government.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government. Has he seen a report that the Prime Minister, in addressing the federal council of the
Liberal Party in Canberra on Monday said that unemployment in Australia was not as great as in some other countries, and that as an economic factor it had no great significance? Does the Minister agree with that outlook? Further, does the Minister consider that a comparison between unemployment here and unemployment in other countries offers no consolation to the hundreds of thousands of people who are suffering from the effects of unemployment?
-I attended the conference and I heard the Prime Minister speak. Of course, I agreed with what he said. He said that the existing level of unemployment in Australia is not of economic significance. That is quite correct. The number of unemployed in Australia is not of economic significance. Unemployment is a human and personal problem; that is the position. At present we have some 50,000 people registered for unemployment in excess of the number normally registered. When that number is contrasted with the total work force throughout Australia the figure is not a large one. 1 think it is significant to contrast the Australian scene with the position in other countries because the level of employment in Australia is much better even under the present circumstances, than that in other countries, all of which are committed to a policy of full employment. .
– They have not the same problems as we have.
– Every country has its own particular problems. Do not let us get this matter out of perspective. Unemployment is a social and personal problem, and the Government is doing its utmost to ensure that those persons at present affected by unemployment are not handicapped by it.
– The honorable senator has asked an important question. The demand for tin in Australia is grow ing. I forget the exact figures, but I believe that the establishment of a tinplate works at Port Kembla has increased the demand for tin by about 50 per cent. We are encountering difficulty in discovering new resources of tin. The Bureau of Mineral Resources has given a good deal of priority to f.is work, and there have been some interesting development. About a fortnight ago I read in a departmental paper a report on a special geophysical survey that was made in the Cairns d:trict. Tin is found generally in river beds, and this survey has raised the possibility that, as rivers in earner times fi < wed over different strata, there are in the Cairns district tin-bearing strata below the existing liver beds. The Bureau of Mineral Resources has reason to believe that this may be an important development and it has taken steps to have the area drilled and further prospected. The details do not remain in my mind. Because of the significance of this development to the mining industry, I ask the honorable senator to place the question on the noticepaper so that I can get a factual report from the department.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Each year the National Health and Medical Research Council issues a report of its activities under the Medical Research Endowment Act. I notice that in the latest report very little is said about foods, their values and their effects, good or ill, on the human body. Will the Minister ascertain what scientific investigations have been made by the council in this regard, and what were the results?
– I have not read the report to which the honorable senator has referred. I would have thought that these activities were gradually being transferred to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and that that organization was entering more and more into this field. However, I am not aware of what has been done, so I will ask the Minister for Health to supply directly to the honorable senator the information for which he asks.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. As there is a condition of over-supply on the Australian fat lamb market and, consequently, producers are receiving prices which represent only their costs of production, or less, will the Government further investigate the possibility of finding fresh markets overseas for fat lambs, with a view to disposing of some of the surplus production? Should such markets, if found to be available, prove to be uneconomic, would the Government consider paying a subsidy on exports? Do the present low prices for fat lambs give rise to a danger of Australia’s export income being further reduced, in view of the fact that if the present trend of prices continues there must be a serious decline in production?
– The present depressed prices for lambs are causing great concern, not only to the industry, but also to the Government. As honorable senators know, the chief market for Australian fat lambs is the United Kingdom, and prices in that market are depressed temporarily because of increased local production. However, I believe that the position there is improving. I assure the honorable senator that the Australian Meat Board is very much aware of its responsibilities in this matter and is doing its utmost to find new and greater markets for the industry. However, the scope for expansion is limited. The Asian markets that we are exploring to-day tend to be interested in lean mutton. It may well be that some time will elapse and a good deal of energy will have been expended before a market for Australian fat lambs is developed in Asia. I assure the honorable senator that the board is doing its utmost to expand the markets that are available.
The question of the payment of a subsidy is a matter of policy, and I shall refer that part of the honorable senator’s question to my colleague, the Minister for Primary Industry. It is true that there is a very real danger that if lamb prices remain as depressed as they are at present, that could have an effect on the economy, inasmuch as production might well fall. Perhaps I may offer a suggestion to the Senate and to the honorable senator in particular. I believe that the local market could make a worthwhile contribution to a solution of this problem. Quite recently I bought from a butcher good lamb chops for 2s. 6d. per lb. If the people of this country, realizing the value of this industry to Australia, took unto themselves the obligation to have one lamb chop for breakfast on six days a week, that would make a magnificent contribution to relieving the problems of the industry.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Is it a fact that the Antarctic Division of the Department of External Affairs has chartered two Danish ships for Antarctic expeditions during the coming summer months? In view of the fact that the charter of Danish ships has been going on for several years, will consideration be given to the building in Australia of a special Antarctic exploration ship to be manned by Australian seamen?
– It is a fact that the Antarctic Division of the Department of External Affairs has chartered, as is usual, two ships for Antarctic expeditions during the coming year. It is also a fact that the question of the building in Australia of a ship for Antarctic exploratory work is under consideration. If and when such a ship is built, I believe it will be manned by the Navy.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Is he in a position to comment on the statement made yesterday by Mr. W. F. Sheahan, the New South Wales Minister for Health, that he expected the major political parties to produce dental benefit schemes during the coming federal election campaign? As the Minister knows of my continuing interest in the dental health of the Australian people, can he assure me that the Government parties are among those referred to by Mr. Sheahan in his reference to major political parties? Will the Minister ask the Minister for Health to have a survey conducted by the Commonwealth of the dental health of all children from the age of one year to sixteen years?
– I read this morning the statement made by Mr. Sheahan, the Minister for Health in New South Wales. I know of the honorable senator’s intense interest in this subject. However, I think we shall read a lot of idle speculation, between now and 15th November, about what the political parties propose to do, what they will not do, and so on. I think that another article that appeared in the press on the same subject would also be of interest to the honorable senator. In it, a very grave attack was made by a Dr. McDermott on the Minister for Health in New South Wales because of the failure of the Government of New South Wales to suppress illegal dentistry in that State. As to the possibility of a survey being conducted, if the honorable senator places his question on the notice-paper I shall ask the Minister for Health what can be done.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade whether the Government agrees with the statement, reported in to-day’s Melbourne “Age”, of Mr. Warren McDonald, the Chairman of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation, at an Australian Institute of Management dinner, that it would be a tragedy if Australia were beaten to opportunities for trade with other Pacific nations. Does the Government agree with Mr. McDonald’s further statement that in this area Australia is dragging the chain a little? Is it not a serious matter that, with difficulties impending for us because of the European Common Market arrangements, one so well informed as Mr. McDonald should feel that we are not taking full advantage of our opportunities for Pacific trade?
– I noticed that Mr. Warren McDonald recently had a trip, and, of course, that qualifies him as an expert on these matters! I do not think that his trip abroad was of sufficiently long duration to enable him to grasp the situation, if he says that we are dragging the chain in our efforts to get into these markets. Perhaps it was while he was away that the newspapers reported the great concern in the American coal-mining industry because the Australian coal mining industry is making inroads into American coal exports to Japan.
I think that, all things considered, we are doing well in respect of increasing our exports to other countries in this part of the world. Rome was not built in a day. It takes a while to change the pattern of trade. It is true, as Senator McManus says, that the problem becomes increasingly urgent as a result of the European Common Market developments, but I think that we still have time to breathe. I do not think that any changes that may occur will occur overnight. The Senate may rest assured that in that breathing space we are doing everything that we can do, and achieving a good deal of success, in developing new markets.
– I direct to the Minister for National Development a question which arises from a question in which Senator Dittmer sought information regarding the possibility of erecting a nuclear reactor for generating power in north Queensland in order to develop the bauxite deposits of that State. Is it a fact that when the Calder Hall nuclear reactor in Great Britain began production, in 1958, the cost of generating electric power was 1.2d. a unit? Is it a fact that within three years a type of reactor was constructed which could produce current for .6d. a unit, as the Minister said in reply to a question I asked yesterday? Since that answer was given yesterday, I have information of a new development whereby electricity can be produced by a nuclear reactor for Ad. a unit. As we have found that the cost of electric power generated by a nuclear reactor has been more than halved within three or four years, is it not likely that within the next three or four years it will be halved again? Therefore, would it not pay Australia to subsidize the generation of electricity by the erection of a nuclear reactor at the site mentioned, thus saving overseas funds and getting the utmost income from the huge bauxite deposits in northern Australia?
– The movement of power costs is an interesting subject. One has to be careful about it. A professional man’s experience in electricty generation is needed to assess the pros and cons. There have been marked reductions in the costs of nuclear power. I shall be surprised indeed if there is not in future dramatic progress in the reduction of those costs, but when that will occur is another matter. Results are obtained from prototypes, but results must also be obtained in a working power house, which takes at least five years to build and requires a vast capital investment. One of the difficulties associated with the provision of conventional power in an isolated area like Weipa is that you must first assess your generating needs and then make provision for stand-by capacity. The professional people concerned with the project at Weipa felt that it was not safe to rely on one power house to operate permanently at 100 per cent, efficiency. That factor had to be taken into account. It was necessary to provide for a substantial increase in available power output, and that necessitated the building of a second power house alongside the first one.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. I refer to a question that I asked in the Senate about six months ago concerning the Government’s intentions in connexion with the renewal of the wheat stabilization plan. If 1 remember rightly, on that occasion I was advised that the Government was very mindful of the need to give this matter careful consideration but that it wanted also to consider the views of the wheat-growers. I now ask the Minister whether he is aware that the Australian Wheat Grower’s Federation recently held a meeting in Canberra and expressed grave concern at the present position with regard to the wheat stabilization plan. The federation wanted to know whether the plan would be renewed when it expires on 30th September, 1963. Is the Minister now able to give any better indication of the Government’s intentions than he gave me six months ago? As the present plan provides for guarantees in respect of 100,000,000 bushels of wheat only, and in view of the fact that the Government has asked the wheat-growers to increase production, will the Government favorably consider the suggestion of the wheat-growers that the quantity of wheat guaranteed under the plan be increased by 50,000,000 bushels in order to assist the wheat-growers to meet the Government’s request for higher production? Can the Minister say whether the Government will consider renewing the stabilization plan for a further five years? Will the Government also give consideration to the suggestion that the first payment under the plan be announced not later than 1st November and that it should be at least 1 ls. a bushel for the 1961-62 season? Is the Minister aware - I feel sure that he is - that the delay in making payments and the fact that payments are small, coupled with the effects of the credit squeeze and the Government’s economic policy generally, has caused embarrassment to wheat-growers and has forced them to raise loans, on which they pay interest, to finance the sowing of their crops?
– Senator Cooke has rightly stated that the present stabilization plan will end in September, 1963. He has asked whether the Government will consider renewing the plan. I assure him that when the present plan expires the Government will give very sympathetic consideration to its renewal for a further five years. The Government realizes that the wheat industry is now in a fairly happy position, due, mainly, to the wheat stabilization plan. The Government is concerned to maintain stability and progress in the industry.
The honorable senator has asked specifically whether the Government will consider renewing the plan on certain conditions. It would be premature for me to forecast the terms that might be embodied in the new plan, but I assure the honorable senator that the principles embodied in the current plan have been so satisfactory to the industry and to the economy of the country that I imagine they would form the basis for negotiation for a new plan.
Senator Cooke also asked, whether I would convey to my colleague in another place his suggestions with regard to the first payment for the coming harvest. He may or may not know that the first advance is regulated to some extent by the cost of production, which is fixed annually. All those factors are taken into consideration. I can assure the honorable senator that the Government will endeavour to make its announcement as early as possible.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Treasurer a question somewhat along the lines of that asked by Senator McKellar and to give the Minister an opportunity to elaborate a little the subject that was mentioned by the honorable senator. Has the Minister noted in to-day’s press an announcement to the effect that the £40,000,000 cash loan which closed last Thursday was over-subscribed by £33,000,000? Does not he consider that the result gives the lie direct to the oftrepeated charges of Opposition senators that under the administration of the Menzies Government the loan market had broken down? If, as was stated in the newspapers concerned, about half of the loan money subscribed was contributed by life assurance companies and savings banks, does not that fact fully vindicate recent Government policy and legislation which were aimed at achieving more successful loan raisings?
– I believe it can be said in a general way that the success of the cash loan can be regarded, not only by the Government, but also by the people of Australia as a whole, as being extremely satisfactory. The participation of the life assurance companies ‘and the banks is cause for added gratification. I believe that the final comment should necessarily be reserved until an opportunity is given to look at the result of the conversion operation which, as I understand the situation, was conducted simultaneously with the cash loan, so we may see what ‘percentage of conversion was effected and what percentage of the outstanding loans must necessarily be redeemed because of non-conversion. But in a general way it can be said, I believe with great emphasis, that the success of this loan indicates that the country is in very good heart indeed.
– I address to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration a question in regard to the refusal of a permit to enter Australia to Mr. Brenner, a lecturer in economic history at the University of London, who nas been appointed to the staff of the University of Adelaide. Will the Minister for Immigration reconsider this decision, in order to avoid further discrediting Australia in university circles throughout the world, as was evidenced in the Gluckman case? Is the Minister for Immigration aware that, contrary to the views he expressed yesterday, Mr. Brenner had actually been appointed to the staff of the University of Adelaide and that office accommodation had been apportioned and indicated within the university after the university authorities had fully investigated Mr. Brenner’s background? Has the Department of Immigration further information adverse to Mr. Brenner which has not been made available to the university authorities? If so, does not this indicate a lack of co-operation between government instrumentalities and the universities before appointments of overseas applicants are made? Has Mr. Brenner been given the details of the grounds on which he is to be excluded from Australia so that he may defend himself in accordance with the ordinary rules of British justice?
– I have read the relevant press statement and the personal statement which was made in another place last night by the Minister for Immigration. I suggest that the honorable senator also should read the latter statement, because it would refresh her mind on a great number of the matters about which she has asked, and would answer her questions in their entirety. Mr. Downer said, in the statement he made last night, that he did make an error when he said, off the cuff, in reply to a question without notice, that the university had not appointed this man. Actually what he did say was that as far as he was aware the university had not appointed him. Later, the Minister said that that was not correct and that the university had appointed him. The university said that this position is only a junior one and the decision will not worry it in any way. It can -fill the position easily by appointing a more suitable person. The Minister has made it quite clear that he is not prepared to reconsider this decision.
– I refer the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry to a very interesting statement that he made in the Senate some weeks ago on the Australian tobacco industry, in-. which he said that the Government was making a thorough investigation of the economics of that industry in view of the problems with which it is now faced. How is that investigation going? If it has not yet been completed, will it be completed before the Parliament rises? Can the Minister also tell me, in particular, whether the investigation covers the problems of the tobacco-growers in Western Australia?
– The tobacco industry is uppermost in the minds of many honorable senators at present because it is conceded that the industry is facing problems, many of which are not of its own making. For that reason, I have asked my colleague, the Minister for Primary Industry, to keep me informed of Government activity in meeting the problems of the growers. Only yesterday, he informed me that the growers’ committee, which has been set up by the Australian Tobacco Growers Council, is pursuing a very vigorous policy in investigating, in particular, the hardships of the growers and the likely problems that will face the industry in the future. I remind Senator Vincent that the Government is so concerned about this matter that it has made available to the council the services of its officers and is making a contribution towards the out-of-pocket expenses of the committee. At present, I think, that committee is in Western Australia. It is seised of the need to complete its report as soon as possible because undoubtedly its findings will have an effect upon the new season’s plantings. That is a matter about which both State and Federal Governments are deeply concerned. I do not know when that report will be tabled, but I hope that it will be tabled before the Parliament rises.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer, is consequent upon questions asked about the success of the recent Commonwealth loan. In view of the claim by Government spokesmen that the success of the recent loan reflects the great prosperity of Australia, will the Minister inform me whether the subscriptions, apart from those from financial institutions, have been made by primary producers from the sale of tobacco, to which Senator Vincent has referred, or fat lambs, to which Senator McKellar has referred, or wheat, wool, dried fruits, berry fruits and timber, to which Senator Wright has referred? Have over-subscriptions to the Commonwealth loan come from those sources, or is the prosperity which is spoken of enjoyed only by financial institutions and not by the people who are the backbone of our economy - the primary producers?
– I am delighted to have an acknowledgment from no less a person than Senator O’Byrne that the1 loan has been an outstanding success. At this stage I am not in a position to give any details at all of the categories of people who have subscribed to the loan, but I have no doubt at all that Australian primary producers are well represented, as they always are, in subscriptions to Commonwealth loans. Senator O’Byrne referred to the prosperity of Australia. If he wants an indicator of the opinion of the world about the prosperity of Australia, may I suggest that he examine the figures of the continuing inflow of capital to this country from all parts of the world and from all sections of the investing community overseas. Those figures will indicate to him beyond doubt that in the authoritative opinion of the world Australia is indeed a prosperous and progressive country.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation any details of the incidence of cancer in service personnel as compared with its incidence in people who have never been service personnel? If he has, what are the incidences in those two classes of people? If those figures are not available, will the Minister take steps to collect the necessary statistics?
– I do not know whether or not the statistics that the honorable senator seeks are available. I will refer the question to my colleague, the Minister for Repatriation, and see what information he can let the honorable senator have.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the
Minister for Health. Is the Minister for Health aware of the grave shortage of fully qualified dentists in Australia? Is it a fact that many of our fully qualified and fully trained dentists have gone to the United Kingdom, where, it is stated, they are offered very much better opportunities under the United Kingdom national health scheme? Will the Minister investigate that statement and see whether it is possible to offer better inducements to our own fully trained dentists to remain in Australia?
– I do not think there is any doubt that Australia has lost a number of qualified dentists who are practising overseas because of the better returns available to them abroad. A number of people have commented that the loss is of great significance to Australia. This matter comes largely within the jurisdiction of the State governments. Whether or not the Commonwealth should engage in an investigation of this matter would be decided by the Minister for Health and the Government. If the honorable senator puts her question on the notice-paper, I will ask the Minister for Health to give consideration to her proposal.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral been directed to the statement made last week-end by Mr. Donald Crosby, the Victorian president of the Actors Equity, pointing out the appalling state of the radio drama industry in Melbourne, in particular, and in the whole nation in general? Mr. Crosby stated that in 1955, 150 quarter-hour radio drama sessions were being produced in Melbourne each week, but that now, as a result of imported American pop music recordings almost dominating programme material, that number has been reduced to two per week. This position is causing great distress among Australian actors, actresses and technicians. I ask the Minister whether he will consider giving some advice to radio station licensees along the lines of the letter which he sent to television licensees last year on the percentages of Australian material used.
– I have not seen the statement attributed to Mr. Donald Crosby, the Victorian president of the Actors Equity. I would expect that he would speak with some authority. I am not prepared at this stage to accept his statement as the last word on that matter, for the very good reason that the Government’s policy on the question has been enunciated many times by the Postmaster-General, who has emphasized that the Australian content must be extended as much as possible in television and radio programmes. We all realize that Australian actors are in world class. For that reason, if for no other, they should be supported. Because of Senator Hannan’s continuing interest in this matter I think that in fairness to him I should discuss the points he has raised with my colleague, the Postmaster-General. I shall do so and let him have the PostmasterGeneral’s reactions to the statement to which he has referred.
– My question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health is further to the question asked about dentists. Is the Minister aware that one of the reasons we lose so many good dentists is that the School of Dentistry of the University of Sydney is one of the very best in the world to-day and that its graduates are eagerly sought for by every other country?
– I was not aware of that, but as I know Senator McCallum to be an expert in this matter, I am very glad to hear what he has said.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Some months ago I asked him a question about the delays suffered by railway passengers travelling from eastern States to Western Australia and vice versa. I pointed out that most of the delay is occasioned by people having to wait, at the instigation of the Victorian Railways Department, for a full day in Melbourne, on their journey to Western Australia. The Minister said he would have a look at the matter and see whether he could persuade the Victorian Railways Department to eliminate the long wait in that rather dreary city. Has the Minister had another look at this matter? Has he been able to persuade these rather selfish people in Victoria that east-west passengers do not want to wait for twelve hours in Melbourne when on their way to see the beauties of Western Australia? Can anything be done to shorten the waiting time?
– Knowing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, I can only say that if he had said he would use his persuasive powers’ he would certainly have done so by now. If he has failed, it is indeed unfortunate, and can be accounted for only by the fact that he found, possibly, that the operational requirements were such that the request could not be granted. I am aware, however, that because of certain other matters which have recently come to notice, the Minister is having conversations with officers of other railway systems. I shall bring the honorable senator’s question to the notice of the Minister again to see whether something can be done.
– My question also is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Notices were recently posted in the University of Western Australia referring to interstate vacation travel for university students. It was stated that concession fares would be available to students, and that they could make stop-overs at the various capital cities, which were mentioned as Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. No mention was made of Canberra. I should like to ask whether the stop-over provision applies to students who wish to visit Canberra during the long Christmas vacation. It seems to ‘be rather ridiculous that the National Capital is not included amongst the capitals of the Australian States.
– I regret that I have no information on the matter that might be helpful to the honorable senator. I shall refer the question to my colleague.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is it not a fact that Communist influence and control are strong in many industrial unions, and also in many sections of the Australian
Labour Party? Is it not a fact that prior to the last general election the Communistdominated Seamen’s Union of Australia made a gift of £3,000 to Australian Labour Party funds? If so, does the Minister think that gifts of this sort assist the Labour Party in its so-called fight against unity tickets? Does the Minister believe that this type of gift helps to explain why Labour’s foreign policy is daubed in whitewash on public buildings and structures throughout the country?
– On the question of whether the funds given to the Labour Party by Communist-dominated unions would be reflected in the actions of the Labour Party, I can say only that in1 Victoria, at any rate, the influence of the unions, both on Labour Party policy and on the selection of Labour Party candidates is over-shadowing the branches of the Labour Party known as the Labour leagues. They are withering away year by year, as is clearly shown in the published report of the Victorian executive of the Labour Party. I would say, Sir, that it would be likely that the great influence exerted in the preselection of candidates, and the reliance on funds from Communistdominated unions would be responsible, partly at any rate, for the softness towards communism evidenced by the Victorian executive. The latest evidence of this is the endorsement for the forthcoming Senate election of an official of the Communist front known as the Jewish Council to Combat Fascism.
– I desire to direct a question to you, Mr. Deputy President, with reference to the last question that was asked. On the “ Notice of Question “ paper it is pointed out for the guidance of honorable senators that questions should not ask for an expression of opinion. I should like to ask you, Mr. Deputy President, whether the question just asked sought an expression of opinion and nothing else.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - The question to which Senator Ridley refers was framed in a manner which has been accepted in the past. If the Senate wishes me to enforce the Standing Orders to the very limit, I am quite prepared to do so, but as a certain amount of latitude has been given, up to date, by the President,I would be very loath to insist on strict observance. However, if I am obliged to enforce the Standing Orders to their limit, I will do so.
– I should like to address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Has he seen a statement in to-day’s press to the effect that the Australian National Line has shown a profit of over £1,000,000 and that five overseas voyages had been made by vessels of the line carrying freight at competitive rates? Would it be possible for the Australian National Line to compete in the iron ore and coal trade from Australia to Japan?
– From time to time I have explained to honorable senators who have asked questions of this type that any Australian shipping company encounters extreme difficulties when it tries to enter the overseas shipping trade. I think it was Senator Kendall who asked a question recently about the profitability of overseas voyages undertaken by vessels of the Australian National Line. The reply given to him, on the authority of the Minister for Shipping and Transport, was to the effect that those overseas voyages were undertaken more for the purpose of keeping ships employed than for the purpose of earning profits. It remains extremely difficult, if not impossible, for Australian ships, operating under Australian award conditions, to compete successfully in the overseas trade with foreign-owned vessels, operating under different conditions.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
What amounts were paid in each of the months June, July and August, 1961, by way of (a) unemployment benefit, and (b) special benefit?
– The Minister for Social Services has furnished the following reply:-
The amounts paid in each of the months June, July and August, 1961, by way of unemployment benefit were respectively £961,601, £1,047,682 and £1,092,231.
Expenditure on special benefit for these months was approximately £63,000, £58,000 and £54,000.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following replies: -
Medical schools at most Australian universities, either through the Departments of Surgery or Specialists in haematology; anti-cancer councils in the various States;
Australian College of Pathologists;
Department of Mathematical Statistics, University of Sydney.
asked the Minister rep resenting the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
What was the average duration of the periods of unemployment relief of claimants in the years 1948-49 and 1960-61 respectively?
– The Minister for Social Services states -
Statistics showing the duration of periods of payment of unemployment benefits are not kept. The information requested is therefore not available.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The replies are as follows: -
Motion (by Senator Spooner) agreed to -
That Government business take precedence of general business after 8 p.m. this sitting.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a bill for an act to amend the Civil Aviation Agreement Act 1952-1957.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a bill for an act to amend the Australian National Airlines Act 1945-1959.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a bill for an act to amend the Air Navigation Act 1920-1960.
Debate resumed from 27th September (vide page 681), on motion by Senator McKenna -
That the Commonwealth Dwellings (Rent) Ordinance, No. 18 of 1961, made under the Seat of Government (Administration) Act 1910-1959, be disallowed.
– in reply - In closing the debate, I wish merely to comment upon two matters. I shall deal, first, with the speech made by the Minister for
Customs and Excise (Senator Henty). Referring to a speech in the other place by the member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser), he said -
I want to deal with the matters raised in that speech because the answers to the points the honorable member made show that either he was unaware of the facts or he grossly misinterpreted and misused them. I am not prepared to say which is true, but let me remind the Senate of the facts.
Then the honorable senator set out facts which, as he claimed, showed that the cost of maintenance, as a component of each £1 rent, was 5s. in the case of houses built between 1945 and 1946 and 4s. 2d. in the case of houses built after 1st July, 1956. He went on to say -
The proportion of total rent collections attributable to the maintenance component would be about 4s. in the £1. That is where both the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory in another place and the Leader of the Opposition in this chamber completely fell into the trap of basing their facts upon false figures. Based on an annual rent collection under the new formula of £1,607,320- the figure used by the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory - the amount to be collected on account of the maintenance component is estimated at approximately £330,000 and not £763,477 as the honorable member suggested.
I indicated in the course of my speech, as I think Mr. Fraser did in his speech, that in preparing our statements and assessments we were relying on an answer given by the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) on 21st April, 1959. Mr. Fraser had asked, in the second part of his question -
What is the break-up of each £1 in the weekly rent of government-owned dwellings in Canberra in respect of (a) interest, (b) insurance, (c) maintenance, (d) sinking fund, and (e) administration for both brick and timber construction?
The Minister stated in his answer -
There is no break-up. However, for each £1 received by way of rent for new houses the Commonwealth’s inescapable commitments are: - Insurance, 4d.; maintenance, 9s. 6d. . . .
He dealt with other items as well, but I shall stop at the reference to maintenance.
– That was in 1954, was it?
– No. The answer was given on 21st April, 1959. The figures on which Mr. Fraser and I had worked, independently, were based on the Minister’s answer.
I directed attention in the course of my speech yesterday to the extraordinary disparity between the figures given in 1954 and those given in 1959. They had practically doubled, according to the Minister. The figures cited by Mr. Fraser and I were both accurate, being based on the relatively recent estimate of the Minister. There were no false figures; there was no misunderstanding and there was no misrepresentation.
– Has that figure of 9s. 6d. in the £1 for maintenance been corrected?
– I have read what the Minister said.
– Yes, but has it been corrected otherwise than in his speech?
– I have no knowledge of that. This is the first time that the statement has been made, so far as my knowledge extends. I believe that the reference to the figures of 5s. in the £1 for the period from 1945 to 1956 and 4s. 2d. thereafter, also has been made for the first time.
– I thought that the Minister referred to them in another place.
– I do not recall the occasion, but I do not contradict the Minister.
– I may be wrong, but I thought that that was so.
– I still do not deny that it may be so, but the occasion is not present to my mind. My impression is that this is the first time I have heard the figures dealt with in that way. It may be true that the Minister has done so previously. If he has, perhaps it is only in the last day or two.
– Having put the record straight on that matter, I merely wish to make the further comment that the cases of hardship, of which there are many hundreds, should unquestionably receive attention from the Government. I think it will be cold comfort for those people who are placed in difficult conditions - and I gave two typical instances yesterday in my speech - to hear the Minister, in particular, say that there has been a good deal of feather-bedding in relation to housing and rentals in Canberra, and also to hear his colleague from Western Australia, Senator Vincent, say that the tenants were spoon-fed. Having regard to the number of cases of hardship, both comments were particularly infelicitous. Mr. Deputy President, I commend the Opposition motion to the Senate.
Question put -
That the motion (vide page 719) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The Deputy President - Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid.)
Majority . . 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
Bill presented by Senator Paltridge, and read a first time.
Standing Orders suspended.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of the Airlines Agreements Bill is to give effect to and obtain parlia- mentary approval for an agreement between the Commonwealth, the Australian National Airlines Commission, Ansett Transport Industries Limited and Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited. The agreement has been executed by all the parties, including the commission but does not come into force until it is approved by Parliament.
In addition to obtaining approval for the airlines agreements, the bill contains three substantive provisions which are necessary in order to give effect to the agreement. First, the Commonwealth is authorized to give the guarantees provided for in the agreement. Secondly, the Australian National Airlines Commission is given necessary statutory authority to enable it to carry out the agreement. Finally, the Minister is required to continue to perform his existing functions under the Airlines Equipment Act 1958 relating to the control of aircraft capacity and acquisition of new aircraft for so long as the airlines agreements remain in force. In its present form the Airlines Equipment Act 1958 contemplates that these functions would lapse as soon as Ansett Transport Industries Limited repays the Electra loans authorized under that act which are due to be repaid in full in 1964.
The Civil Aviation Agreement of 1952, as supplemented more recently by the Airlines Equipment Act 1958, hap been the cornerstone of the Government’s successful two-airline policy. However, the financial provisions of that agreement become inoperative on 18th November, 1962, and as this date falls within the period during which both airlines will wish to place orders for turbo-jet aircraft for delivery in the latter part of 1964, the Government considered it appropriate to review completely the legislative framework of the two-airline policy. The new airlines agreement and the Australian National Airlines Bill 1961, which I shall shortly introduce, are the direct outcome of this review.
Before considering these matters in detail, it will be appropriate to summarize briefly the major consequences of the new airlines agreement.
Firstly, in the recitals to the agreement the Commonwealth reaffirms its policy of maintaining and securing a situation in which there are two, and not more than two, operators of trunk route airline services, one being the commission, each capable of effective competition with the other.
The substantive provisions of the new agreement extend the Civil Aviation Agreement of 1952 for a further period of ten years. They make detailed provision for the selection and introduction of turbo-jet aircraft for domestic air services and authorize the giving of guarantees to Ansett Transport Industries not exceeding at any one time £6,000,000 for the purpose of purchasing turbo-jet aircraft comparable in size and performance to those authorized for purchase by the commission.
The new agreement includes undertakings by the Commonwealth not to increase air navigation charges by more than 10 per centum in any period of twelve months or to increase aviation fuel tax by a greater amount than the corresponding amount of increase in tax on motor fuel. Finally, the agreement consolidates the existing rationalization procedures under the old 1952 and 1957 civil aviation agreements and introduces a number of procedural changes which have been recognized as desirable or necessary in the light of past experience.
The Government’s two-airline policy requires a situation in which the airlines operate fleets which are comparable in quality and capacity. Secondly, the fleets must be operated under regulated competition which avoids overlapping of services and wasteful competition with due regard to the interests of the public and a proper relation between earnings and overall costs. Thirdly, the two airlines should, as far as practicable, enjoy comparable cost structures. It will be appropriate at this point to examine the measures taken to ensure that each of these requirements are satisfied.
The importance of comparable equipment was fully recognized in 1952. Clause 3 of the Civil Aviation Agreement 1952 provided that the Commonwealth will facilitate the purchase by the company “ of an equal number of heavy aircraft comparable in type and size to those authorized for purchase by the Commission “. It was contemplated that both airlines would obtain Viscount aircraft but at the last minute the old Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited sought and obtained approval to substitute DC.6 aircraft. Because of the greater passenger appeal of Viscount aircraft, this decision proved unfortunate for A.N.A. and was an important factor leading to its take-over by Ansett Transport Industries Limited in 1957. The fight back of private enterprise in the succeeding years has been largely a struggle to obtain modern competitive equipment. The Government recognized the fundamental importance of this aspect of its two-airline policy in the Airlines Equipment Act 1958.
In addition to facilitating the purchase of new equipment by both airlines, this act introduced detailed provisions for rationalization of aircraft fleets which were designed to ensure that neither airline had excess capacity and that the acquisition of additional aircraft would be governed by principles which ensured that neither airline had a qualitative advantage over the other. In particular, neither airline can purchase, or otherwise obtain the use of, additional aircraft unless the Minister has issued a certificate under section 13 of the act certifying that the obtaining of the aircraft will not result in the airline to which the certificate is issued having excess capacity or, having regard to the type of aircraft operated by the other airline, be detrimental to the stability of the domestic air transport industry.
Ansett Transport Industries Limited gave an undertaking to comply with the obligations specified in Part IV. of the Airlines Equipment Act in consideration for the guarantees while T.A.A. is similarly bound by force of the act for so long as the company is bound by contract. Ansett Transport Industries Limited is, however, only bound by this undertaking for so long as any part of the relevant loans are not repaid. Clause 7 of the new airlines agreement ensures that Ansett-A.N.A. and T.A.A. are bound by these obligations during the entire period of the airlines agreement.
Since 1958, these provisions of the Airlines Equipment Act have been a decisive factor in controlling the overall capacity of the two aircraft fleets and of ensuring a continuous progress towards complete qualitative parity in fleets. The three-year agreement involving the cross-charter of two DC.6B for three Viscount 700 aircraft, which would have expired in February, 1963, flowed directly from an application of the principles of the act. Clause 15 of the new agreement extends the crosscharter agreement, subject to possible modification of its financial provisions, until the introduction into operation of the first two turbo-jet aircraft obtained by either the commission or the company. This agreement achieved substantial equipment parity on the most economical basis possible and brought to an immediate halt a threatened further phase of the expensive equipment race. The present state of the front-line competitive fleets of the two airlines is -
The numerical advantage of T.A.A. is in part offset by the fact that Ansett-A.N.A. has five Viscount 800 aircraft compared with the commission’s two, and also five Convair aircraft, two of which have been offered for sale following the recent introduction of two F.27 aircraft. The Convairs are, however, normally operated on noncompetitive routes.
Unless the airlines are permitted to sustain disastrous capital losses by replacement of existing equipment before it is adequately obsolesced, we must plan on the present front-line turbine equipment remaining in operation for at least several more years. Accordingly, in the Government’s view, it would be quite wrong to think in terms of a complete switch to pure jet aircraft before that time. However, under normal conditions, the annual rate of traffic growth is at least 6 per cent, and this factor alone will require in due course additional heavy aircraft for each airline. It is, therefore, contemplated that the introduction of turbojets will be geared in the first instance not to large scale disposal of existing fleets but to growth in traffic.
There are two other factors to be borne in mind. First, pure jet operations, even on a limited scale, involve important aerodrome and facility problems which must be solved in advance. Second, it appears probable that orders for turbo-jet aircraft suitable for domestic purposes will need to be placed at least eighteen months before delivery date. For these reasons, my department and the domestic airlines have for some time been giving careful consideration to the limited introduction of pure jet aircraft and there is now unanimous agreement that it will not be practicable to have such aircraft in operation before the middle of 1964 at the earliest. However, because of the planning involved, both on the departmental and airline side, and the period which elapses between placing of orders and delivery, it is also agreed that decisions on type of equipment and timing for its introduction must be taken, if practicable, before the end of 1962.
Technological development of pure jets over the last few years has been most rapid and aircraft are now being developed which manufacturers claim will have operating economies which compare most favorably with existing turbo-prop aircraft. Neither the department nor the airlines have completed the studies necessary to decide which aircraft is best suited to Australian conditions. The selected aircraft will have to meet the most stringent conditions concerning structural integrity, have acceptable and proven performance characteristics and superior, or at least, comparable, operating economies to existing turbo-prop types.
Under our two-airline system, I think past experience suggests that it is axiomatic that the airlines must re-equip with, jet aircraft comparable in size and performance although not necessarily of the same type. It is also essential that neither airline should be permitted to obtain an advantage in delivery dates. Section 13 of the Airlines Equipment Act 1958 is admirably designed to achieve these objectives and it is, therefore, proposed that all applications for turbo-jet aircraft shall be determined in accordance with the principles of that act. Clause 3 of the Airlines Agreement also contains important provisions designed to ensure common delivery dates of the first two turbo-jets obtained by each airline.
Ansett Transport Industries Limited is currently entitled to guarantees in respect of loans under clause 3 of the Civil Aviation Agreement 1952 and also under section 8 of the Airlines Equipment Act 1958 which at the peak point could have reached a ceiling of £9,000,000. Currently, the loans guaranteed by the Commonwealth under these provisions and not repaid amount to only £3,484,000, and since 1957 a total of £4,445,000 has been repaid.
Clause 3 of the 1952 agreement provides that the Commonwealth will guarantee the repayment of loans necessary to enable the company to purchase an equal number ot new or second-hand aircraft comparable in type and price to those authorized for purchase by the commission provided that the total amounts borrowed and not repaid do not at any one time exceed £4,000,000. If the company is unable to obtain a loan on reasonable terms on the commercial market, the Commonwealth undertakes to advance the amount. This undertaking becomes inoperative on 18th November. 1962, and as the guarantees under the Airlines Equipment Act were for specific purposes, the company’s entitlement to further Commonwealth guarantees under either the agreement or the Airlines Equipment Act is exhausted on that date. 1 believe it is unnecessary to restate the reasons which have led the Government on two important occasions in the past to authorize guarantees for the repayment of aircraft loans. Suffice to say that guarantees are vital if private enterprise is to reequip with pure jets in competition with the government airline. A turbo-jet aircraft, plus spares, will cost, depending on the type selected, between £1,200,000 and £2,000,000 each and, having regard to minimum requirements over the ensuing ten years, the Government has decided that the £4,000,000 ceiling considered appropriate in 1952 should be substituted by similar arrangements authorizing guarantees for the repayment of loans not exceeding at any one time £6,000,000. This figure will, of course, enable the company to purchase significantly more than the two turbo-jet aircraft contemplated for 1964. However, the purchases will be geared to the purchases by the commission and will also be subject to the principles of the Airlines Equipment Act 1958. The figure of £6,000,000 is considered to be the minimum necessary to meet the company’s legitimate requirements over a ten-year period.
It has not been practicable to decide at this point what further financial arrangements, if any, will be necessary to ensure that the commission is in a position to purchase any turbo-jet aircraft in respect of which it has been issued with a certificate. However, it is the Government’s intention to take whatever steps are reasonably necessary to ensure that the commission is in a position to purchase all turbo-jet aircraft for which a certificate is issued. It seems probable that the commission will be able to finance at least the first two turbo-jets from its own resources but, in any event, appropriate steps will be taken to ensure that it is not prejudiced in playing its role in the two-airline policy because of lack of capital or limitations on its borrowing powers.
It is also proposed under clause 6 of the agreement that the authority under section 8 of the Airlines Equipment Act 1958 to guarantee the repayment of £2,000,000 of loans for six Fokker aircraft, which has not been taken up by Ansett Transport Industries Limited should be formally withdrawn. On this basis, it is interesting to note that the new proposals will not involve any increase in the total guarantees available to the company since the £6,000,000 will, in effect, be in substitution for the £4,000.000 under the Civil Aviation Agreement 1952 and the £2,000,000 for the six Fokker Friendship aircraft.
Indeed, under the 1952 agreement and the Airlines Equipment Act, Ansett Transport Industries Limited had a total entitlement to guarantees of loans which at the peak point could amount to £9,000,000 but under the arrangements for which approval is now sought the ceiling will reduce by early 1964, when current loans have been repaid, to £6,000,000. In fact at that date the amount of outstanding loans under the Commonwealth’s guarantee will be substantially less than £3,000,000.
Finally, I invite attention to clause 16 of the Airlines Agreement 1961, which ensures that the Commonwealth has complete access to the company’s accounts for so long as any part of a loan in respect of which the Commonwealth is guarantor remains unpaid. It will be noted that this access is substantially wider than that granted to the Commonwealth under clause 13 of the 1952 agreement.
The importance of rationalization was also fully recognized in 1952 but the machinery for this purpose proved inadequate and tended to lapse into disuse. The 1957 Civil Aviation Agreement, therefore, established a rationalization committee constituted by a chairman, nominated by the Minister, known as the co-ordinator, and two members nominated by the company and the commission respectively. The airlines agreed to review and keep under review air routes, time-tables, fares and freights and other related matters so as to avoid unnecessary overlapping of services, with due regard to the interests of the public and to bring earnings into a proper relation to overall costs. If the airlines are unable to agree, either airline may refer the matter in issue to the committee.
Three main types of problem are referred to the committee. These are -
Contrary to a popular misconception, the committee has rarely been involved in the details of day-to-day operation of air services. For example, questions relating to time-tables, passenger amenities, ground transport, catering and suspension of flights are almost invariably resolved by the airlines without coming before the committee. The effect of the more important decisions has been to maintain rather than suppress the keen competitive element which is a primary justification for the two-airline policy. My annual report to Parliament under section 29 of the Air Navigation Act 1920-1960 will include details of each of the decisions.
The Australian domestic airlines earn only from 2 per cent, to 3 per cent, profit on revenue and, although this figure compares quite favorably with that of Qantas Empire Airways Limited and overseas airlines, it indicates the very marginal nature of the industry and its great sensitivity to traffic recessions and uneconomical competition. Because of this fact the rationalization machinery, particularly during the current traffic recession, has proved an essential part of the two-airline policy. The proposed ten-year extension of the Civil Aviation Agreement will, in the absence of contrary provisions, automatically achieve continuance of this machinery.
The opportunity has been taken in clauses 9 to 13 of the airlines agreement to consolidate the existing rationalization machinery and to include express provisions to meet problems which have arisen in administering the corresponding clauses of the 1952 and 1957 agreements. The aspects of airline operations which are to be the subject of rationalization are set out in detail in clause 10 of the new agreement.
The Rationalization Committee established under the 1957 agreement is reconstituted under the new agreement and given continuity in respect of membership and records, while past decisions and agreements continue to be binding. The right of appeal to an independent chairman or arbitrator, as he will now be described, is preserved. On this aspect, I invite attention to one change in substance. Under clause 14 of the 1952 agreement, the chairman is appointed by agreement or, in default of agreement, is a retired justice of the High Court of Australia or of a Supreme Court appointed by the Minister.
Under clause 13 of the new airlines agreement he is a person appointed by agreement or, in default of agreement, is a justice of a federal court other than the High Court made available by arrangements made by the Attorney-General. It will be recalled that Parliament was recently informed that Sir John Latham, who held this position from 1952, had submitted his resignation. I take this opportunity to place on record the Government’s and the airlines’ great appreciation of the services of Sir John Latham during the last decade.
The 1952 agreement required a certificate of the independent chairman before either the commission or the company obtained the use of an aircraft from the Commonwealth or a corporation in which the Commonwealth had an interest - at that time British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines, Tasman Empire Airways Limited and Qantas Empire Airways Limited, but now only Qantas - and established principles which ensured that such aircraft were available for acquisition by either airline on a non-discriminatory basis. The original object of this was to cover heavy aircraft such as the DC.6 aircraft operated by B.C.P.A., but the language clearly extends to all aircraft irrespective of size. This has proved inconvenient in practice and, as both airlines desired that the clause should apply only to heavy aircraft in excess of 50,000 pounds all-up weight, the agreement has been amended accordingly. The only aircraft which might conceivably in future be affected by this provision are the four Qantas Electra aircraft, although I should emphasize that Qantas has no current plans to dispose of any of these aircraft.
It will be noted that, under clause 8 of the new airlines agreement, the Commonwealth undertakes to limit increases in air navigation charges, so that in any period of twelve months the increase, in charges will not exceed 10 per cent. Similarly, the Commonwealth undertakes not to increase in any period of twelve months taxes on aviation fuel by a greater amount than any corresponding increase in tax on motor fuel.
We have estimated that with increases in charges of this order, reasonable traffic growth will continue, so that a combination of gradually increasing rates of air navigation charges with growing intensity of use of facilities should achieve full recovery of properly attributable costs within the foreseeable future.
This bill proposes that Parliament approve the airlines agreement, which is designed to consolidate all the arrangements and principles currently in force for maintaining and securing our highly efficient competitive system of airline operations and to provide for the introduction of turbo-jet aircraft on Australian domestic routes.
All the proposals, it will be noted, have the approval of both the commission and the company, and together with other measures which I will introduce to the Parliament separately, will create an atmosphere in which planned competition on the major routes can continue with consequent benefit to the operators, the travelling public and the nation. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Kennelly) adjourned.
Bill presented by Senator Paltridge, and read a first time.
Standing Orders suspended.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The Australian National Airlines Bill 1961 deals with two matters, namely, the setting of a profit target for the Australian National Airlines Commission and self-insurance of major aviation risks by the commission.
The differences in the cost structure of the commission and the private airline company, insofar as these differences arise from the fact that one is a government instrumentality and the other a private enterprise organization, have assumed increasing importance. The commission did not pay a dividend prior to 1950, but since 1957 it has maintained a steady rate of 5 per cent. In each of the last two years, despite vigorous competition from the private enterprise airline, the commission has made record profits and it is probable that for the financial year just completed it will be able to pay its highest dividend to date. In contrast, in order to meet reasonable private enterprise standards, Ansett Transport Industries Limited must have a target of the order of 10 per cent, after tax and a reasonable allocation to reserves. It will be readily apparent that disparity in cost structure could destroy the ability of the airline with the higher cost structure to compete with the other.
The bill, therefore, establishes a financial policy for the commission and permits the Minister for Civil Aviation, after consultation with the commission, to set the commission a target of achieving a reasonable return to the Commonwealth in relation to its capital after taking into account all relevant factors. These factors are specified in the act.
On the one hand, the commission obtains substantial advantage because in the past it has obtained loans from the Commonwealth at interest rates less than current commercial rates, and also because moneys rep resenting provision made by the commission for staff superannuation amounting to more than £3,000,000 are used by the commission in the conduct of its business. On the other hand, the commission is at a disadvantage because of the greater spread of overheads of its principal competitor resulting from its more diversified activities and greater share of non-competitive air transport operations.
Detailed provisions for setting the commission a dividend target are contained in proposed new section 32 of the Australian National Airlines Act which is inserted by clause 4 of the bill. Apart from expressly authorizing the Minister to specify the dividend target of the commission at the commencement of each financial year, this section merely places on a statutory basis the existing budgetary practices of the commission.
From time to time the Government has authorized the commission to act as a self-insurer in respect of a wide range of risks. With the introduction of Electra aircraft costing more than £1,000,000, and notwithstanding a very steep increase in premiums for aviation risks, the commission concluded that it would not be prudent to act as a self-insurer in respect of such risks unless the Commonwealth, in effect, guaranteed the liquidity of its insurance provisions. As a result, in 1959 the commission was assured by the Commonwealth that in the event of its insurance provisions proving inadequate, the Commonwealth would advance special loans to meet any deficiency.
As the commission’s borrowing powers under section 31 of the act are currently limited to £3,000,000, it is desirable to authorize the commission by legislation to act as a self-insurer of major aviation risks and to amend the act so that in appropriate circumstances the present £3,000,000 limitation of the commission’s borrowing powers may, if necessary, be exceeded. Clause 5, therefore, seeks to insert a new section 37a in the act, the effect of which will be to give the commission the right to elect to insure the risks in question on the commercial market or to act as a self-insurer. In general terms, the risks in question are defined as loss or damage to aircraft and aircraft equipment, death of or injury to passengers and damage to third parties on the surface caused by the commission’s aircraft.
Again, in general terms, if the commission elects to act as a self-insurer it is required to credit to its insurance account - described in the bill as the “ prescribed account “ - amounts equivalent to the current commercial premiums that would be payable by the commission for insurance and to keep those provisions invested in Commonwealth securities. By requiring investment in Commonwealth securities the provisions cannot be used in the business of the commission but will be readily available to cover any loss to which the section applies which is not fully covered by insurance.
Unfortunately, to date the Australian insurance market has not been able to absorb major aviation risks without reinsurance on overseas markets which reflect the high premiums based on world-wide accident experience. Should the Australian insurance market establish its ability to absorb these risks locally at premiums based on Australian accident experience, the Government will immediately review its policy on this question. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Kennelly) adjourned.
Bill presented by Senator Paltridge, and read a first time.
Standing Orders suspended.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization - I.C.A.O. - which held its thirteenth extraordinary session at Montreal between 19th and 21st June, 1961, adopted unanimously a protocol amending the existing Article 50 (a) of the Chicago Convention by increasing the number of members of the I.C.A.O. Council from 21 to 27. The amendment requires ratification by 56 contracting states before it comes into force. The purpose of this bill is to obtain parliamentary approval for Australia to ratify the protocol.
Parliament approved the ratification of the Chicago Convention by the Air Navigation Act 1947 and authorized the making of regulations for carrying out and giving effect to the convention. It will be recalled that in 1960 Parliament also enacted the Air Navigation Act 1960 which sets out the text of the Chicago Convention together with two other protocols which Australia has ratified as schedules to the act. The bill seeking approval for Australia to ratify the latest protocol continues this practice and inserts the protocol as the Fifth Schedule to the Air Navigation Aci 1920-1961.
The council, which is the permanent governing body of I.C.A.O., provides the continuing direction of the organization’s work. One of its major functions is to adopt international standards and recommended practices for civil aviation and to incorporate these as annexes to the Convention on International Civil Aviation. This council, of which Australia has been a member since its inception in 1947, has contributed in a very significant fashion to the development of standards which, in themselves, go a considerable distance towards making air travel a safe and reliable means of transport.
The Australian delegation to the extraordinary session of the assembly in June, 1961, supported the increase in the numbeof members of the council for three major reasons. First, it was obviously the wish of the great majority of member states that there should be an increase of six members on the council. Secondly, such an increase could not be considered unreasonable in the light of the fact that the total membership of the organization had grown from approximately 50 in 1948 to 86 members in 1961. Finally, an increase has occurred in the size of the executive bodies of other specialized agencies of the United Nations.
The Australian Government welcomes the participation of an increased number of members in the executive work of I.C.A.O. particularly as this increase, being limited to a total of six new members, may be expected to improve the functioning of the council without impairing its efficiency by making it too large and cumbersome and. therefore, slow in reaching decisions on important problems affecting international civil aviation for which it is responsible. It is to be hoped that amongst the members represented on the slightly larger council will be representatives of a number of newly independent countries. Almost all the new members of I.C.A.O. only recently have achieved independent nationhood and face extraordinarily difficult problems of communications. Aerial services are playing a vital part for such countries in providing communication links which would otherwise be unavailable to them. Participation in the work of the council by representatives of such countries should assist them in the essential development of their air transport services.
I therefore commend the bill approving the ratification of the protocol amending the Chicago Convention so as to increase the size of the I.C.A.O. Council from 21 to 27 members.
Debate (on motion by Senator Kennelly) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 12.53 to 2.15 p.m.
In committee: Consideration resumed from 27th September (vide page 708).
Prime Minister’s Department
Proposed expenditure, £11,461,000.
– I note with pleasure, in the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department, Division No. 127, section 4, a very gratifying increase of £300,000 in the amount to be appropriated for tuition fees and living allowances under the Commonwealth scholarship scheme. I express great pleasure at that increase, and I hope that further increases will be made in the years to come. 1 know that a population explosion is about to take place in our schools which will increase the number of children seeking these scholarships. More scholarships will be necessary if we are to give our young people a reasonable opportunity to undertake tertiary education. I should like the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Spooner) to let me know exactly how many additional scholarships will be available as the result of this increased appropriation. I understand, too, that there may be some improvement in living allowances.
Another matter to which I wish to refer relates to the list of grants-in-aid. One is pleased to notice that many philanthropic and sporting organizations, and some organizations in other countries - for instance Chile, the Philippines, Laos and Pakistan - are to benefit. I am particularly pleased that grants are to be made to some countries in Asia with which we all hope to improve our friendships. However, I regret that there has not been included in this section a grant for the assistance of Japanese children. When I refer to Japanese children I means children of mixed parentage, the children in most cases being those of Australian soldiers who were stationed in Japan during the occupation. Those soldiers fathered these children and then failed to continue to support the mothers or the children. I know the plight of these children who unfortunately suffer from the disadvantages that seems to affect people of mixed blood in many countries.
Their plight was brought to the notice of the Commonwealth Government by a number of church organizations but I regret that after investigation the Government decided not to make a contribution. The matter was then taken up by voluntary bodies, one of which is the AustraliaAsia Association in Melbourne. The head of that organization is Mr. Justice Lowe of the Victorian Supreme Court. This association collected a considerable sum of money and then, I understand, made a further approach to the Government asking it to reconsider its decision. I regret that again the Government decided that it could make no contribution to the support of these children. I understand that when the money collected by voluntary agencies was made available to the Japanese body which supervised the distribution, a representative of the Commonwealth Government was present. I feel sure that he must have been considerably embarrassed by the fact that his own government had refused to do anything for these children.
I do not desire to labour the point, other than to say that I think an opportunity was lost to create goodwill. Further than that a contribution by the Government would have helped these unfortunate children for whom we have some responsibility in view of the fact that their fathers, in most cases, were Australian members of the armed forces. I hope that perhaps at a later stage it will be possible for the Government to do something in this matter.
The other matter to which I wish to refer is education. General comment has been made on the fact that in its education vote the Commonwealth Government has decided not to take note of the request contained in a petition for increased Commonwealth aid for education. That petition was presented to Parliament and it was hoped it would influence the grant for education in the Budget. As a former teacher in government schools for nearly twenty years, I strongly support increased Commonwealth aid for education, but I think that the persons who prepared that petition made a very serious error in the form in which they presented it. I have heard it suggested that the initial grant should be £100,000,000. Twenty-five per cent, of the children in this country attend non-government schools. Obviously, if £100,000,000 were to be granted in Commonwealth aid for education - in the form in which the petition was framed - the parents of those children in nongovernment schools would be called upon to provide one-quarter of the money, or £25,000,000. It was envisaged by the petitioners that nothing would be repaid to those parents. I think the proposal demonstrated a certain amount of bad planning by those concerned. They should have realized that to get a Commonwealth grant for education their proposal must be presented in a form which would commend itself to the community in general.
There is another aspect of the proposal which I regard rather seriously. The condition on which non-government schools are allowed to operate is that the facilities they provide shall be at least equal to those provided in government schools. If vast sums of money are to be spent exclusively on government schools, then the parents of children in non-government schools will have to provide their proportion of the additional taxation. In addition to providing one-quarter of the Commonwealth grant, they will have to put their hands in their pockets also to make more money available to the non-government schools in order to raise the facilities to the standard of government schools. It appears to me that these parents, many of whom are labouring under a sense of injustice at the present time, can hardly be expected to agree to bear this additional burden.
I know that there are people who on principle have strong objections to any assistance being given to non-government schools. I say to them that the proposal which I support, and which 1 would have liked to have seen embodied in this Budget, is that there shall be no grant to any church or any private school. My proposal is that the Commonwealth pay, in respect of each school child in the community, an education endowment, similar to the ordinary child endowment; that the education endowment payment be made available to a parent of each child; and that the parent then nominate the school to which it should be paid. In my view, that would eliminate the objections that some persons have to money being paid to certain church schools or to other schools - because by no means all non-government schools are conducted by churches.
There are some people who say that a grant from the Commonwealth is unnecessary and that the same result could be achieved by allowing parents taxation rebates for the education of their children. Let me point out that such rebates benefit only the more prosperous sections of the community. Many people on low wages are sending their children to primary schools conducted by non-government bodies and are paying out sums which really mean something to them. Under the present taxation system, those people pay very little in taxes. The people who benefit most from the present system are, as I have said, those who are quite reasonably well off. Therefore, I think that a method of the kind that I have suggested should be used to deal with this problem.
– When you say that the Commonwealth should allocate money for education in much the same way as it does for child endowment, do you mean that payments should be made to all parents? That would mean that parents whose children went to secular schools would have their children educated free and would pocket this money.
– I am grateful to the honorable senator for raising that point
On an average, a certain sum is spent on each child in a government school to-day. I suggest that a sum equal to that be made available to the parents of children in nongovernment schools. To my way of thinking, that would be fair play, lt would be a method by which this problem could be dealt with.
There is not much more that I want to say, except that I believe that the opposition to any form of assistance to non-government schools in these days is exaggerated. I know that many people have strong objections of principle to such assistance, and I respect those objections, but gallup polls taken on this matter in recent years have indicated that a majority of the Australian people are of the opinion that some assistance should be given to nongovernment schools. 1 read with admiration recently of the assistance received by nongovernment schools in the United Kingdom. 1 am full of admiration particularly for the people of Scotland who, in many ways, set an example of fair play and justice by the way in which they assist all forms of education.
– I want to refer to a few matters which were left over from last night and to bring up to date my replies to the questions asked to-day. Let me say at the outset that I do not contemplate answering questions on matters of policy, such as those raised by Senator McManus, mainly on the ground that my job is to get the Estimates through. If I were to embark on dissertations of policy, I should lengthen the discussion.
asked last night for information about students under the Colombo Plan. 1 have been informed that 15,000 Commonwealth scholars completed their training by the end of 1960. Of those scholars. 80 per cent, passed their firstyear examinations at the first attempt. At the end of June, 1961, there were 10,000 South-East Asian students in Australia undergoing primary, secondary and tertiary education. Of these, 1,000 were sponsored students under various Colombo Plan arrangements.
asked for some information about the Public Service Board. The increase of expenditure by £52,000, compared with last year, is due mainly to normal cost of living increases, accounting for £10,000; incremental advancements to members of the staff, accounting for £10,000; positions which previously were vacant but which are expected to be filled during 1961-62, accounting for £26,000; and £5,000 for travelling and subsistence payments. With regard to the board’s staff, provision is made for six additional positions during the current year, five for Colombo Plan training and one for the board’s statistical work.
asked also for information about employment under the Public Service Act. The overall increase between June, 1960, and June, 1961, was 2,316, or 1.4 per cent. Of those additional employees, 566 went to the PostmasterGeneral’s Department; 507 to the Department of the Treasury - mainly temporary for census work; 444 to the Department of Supply; and 233 to the Prime Minister’s Department. The increase in the staff of the Prime Minister’s Department was due to the transfer from a parliamentary department of the Library Archives Division.
Senator McManus requested information about Commonwealth scholarships. The scheme originally provided for the award of 3,000 scholarships each year to assist students enrolled in under-graduate degree courses. As from 1st January, 1961, up to 4,000 scholarships can be awarded each year.
– I should like to comment on the very interesting remarks that were made by Senator McManus about assistance to private schools. I agree occasionally with the learned and honorable senator, and I agree with him on this occasion, although not entirely. I agree with him in principle. I think that a large majority of the thoughtful people, in Australia agree in principle that private schools should get some assistance from governments. It is completely against our ideas of ordinary natural justice that the private schools which do such a magnificent job and save the national exchequer such an enormous amount of money are not officially recognized in the Budget. Having said that, I want to return to a problem which, I think, Senator
McManus himself highlighted. He said he did not agree with a plan for aid to private schools that had been suggested recently. I do not agree with it either. He then put forward an alternative idea, basing his suggestion on the proposition that the Commonwealth should contribute o.n a per capita basis on the lines followed in the payment of child endowment. With great respect, I do not agree with that idea. I do not think the proposal would work. There are serious difficulties in connexion with it, and those difficulties again highlight the problems associated with this matter.
One of the major obstacles to be overcome in Senator McManus’s proposal relates to the fact that the Commonwealth does not make money available to the States for education. That is the first hurdle to overcome. The second difficulty is that the States spend different amounts per capita on education. The practical difficulties associated with the proposal are enormous. I think the fatal difficulty is that, immediately we started to hand out money to private schools as a matter of right in accordance with a formula, we should encounter the grave weakness that the schools would come under the dominating influence of State control. I may be wrong, but it seems to me that one of the great virtues of the private school, whether or not it is controlled and administered by a church, is that it is completely free from domination by the State.
I am not altogether enamoured of the State system of education. I think there are very grave weaknesses in it, apart altogether from the religious aspect, which 1 do not intend to discuss now because it is not appropriate to do so. Those weaknesses flow from the fact that the great body of people generally referred to as “ the Department of Education” in each State is in control of the child mind. I am not entirely happy about that set-up. I think that the churches and other bodies which administer schools other than State schools are doing a magnificent job. They believe that the influence of the State in education is not a good one. Senator McManus’s proposal, if adopted, would tend to place the independent schools - they are independent in name and independent in character, and they should be maintained as such - more under the domination of the State education departments. To my way of thinking that would be a bad thing.
Having said that, Mr. Temporary Chairman, I suppose I should expect the question to be asked: What do you think about State education? My answer is that I think assistance should be granted, but only under conditions that would enable the schools to retain their independence.
– That is done in regard to hospital benefits.
– Yes, and do not tell me that the hospitals are not now completely under the domination of the authority that is handing out the cash. Senator Dittmer is attempting to chip in. I do not know what he is saying, but I suggest that he say what he has to say after I have finished my remarks. The principle underlying this matter should be that assistance will be granted only on conditions that preserve the independence of the schools. Assistance could be given, for example, by way of a special grant to each individual school, on its merits, for capital expenditure. Most of the schools that are controlled by the churches are desperately short of funds for building extensions, for the provision of better class rooms, for the purchase of additional scientific equipment, and so on. They need increases in their budgets. They could be assisted by way of free-of-interest loans, or straight-out grants. By that means they could be helped to develop at a rate commensurate with that of the State schools. In my opinion, assistance of that kind would not result in the schools coming under State influence.
I am not dogmatic about this matter, but I have given a little thought to it and have discussed it with many thoughtful school-teachers who are concerned with the problem. A considerable proportion of the head-masters of the public schools agree with the idea I have put forward. Of course, I do not present it as an original thought at all. It is not original by any means, but it is something that I think should be placed before honorable senators because eventually we, as a nation, must face up to this problem. It is an important one. While it may be a little late in the day to discuss it in detail, the time is coming when we shall have to consider it seriously.
J wish to refer very briefly to the remarks of Senator McManus about the children of Australian soldiers in Japan. I join issue with the honorable senator on this matter. 1 do not believe there is a firm obligation on the part of Australia to advance money in a somewhat vague way to assist these children. I agree that there is a problem in relation to them. No one will deny that that is so, but I do not agree that an overall grant of money should be handed to some authority in Japan for the assistance of the children. There is, of course, an obligation on the fathers of the children. Our Australian law recognizes that there is an obligation on every father to support his child.
– You may know the law, but evidently you are unaware of the way it operates.
– I hope the honorable senator will pardon me for saying that the law in this respect is enforced. I suggest that the people who are now clamouring for funds from the Government for this purpose, in a pretty vague way and without giving details as to how or by whom the funds are to be expended, could better assist in solving the problem by endeavouring to help the mothers of the children to enforce the law in Australia. There is a perfectly good law in Australia which renders the father of the child in these circumstances responsible, and it is not very difficult to implement it.
– The honorable senator said that the law was enforced. Now he says that we should see that it is enforced.
– That may well be the answer to the problem. I do not think these unfortunate people in Japan have been assisted along those lines. Until we try to do that and to implement our own law and make it work, I do not think there is a very strong case for the making of the large grant to which Senator McManus referred. A good, sentimental argument can be made out, I admit, but there is more than sentiment in this matter. We have a law that is applicable. It should be enforced. We could well concern ourselves with its enforcement. If we did so, I do not think there would be so much clamour for grants of money to be made in various vaguely expressed ways.
.- I regret that the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner), who was in charge of the estimates of expenditure that we discussed in this chamber last night, in replying to my submissions overlooked what I considered to be the main burden of them. I refer to the increasing cost of the Public Service Board, estimated this year to be £862,700. That is for the board of management of the Public Service. I am totally at a loss to understand, in the absence of the details, how this cost is accounted for and why a board of management of the service requires such an appropriation. 1 think that the committee is entitled to have readily available to it some statement of comparative costs of boards in the various States, in relation either to the gross cost of the public services of the States or to the budgets of the States. For myself, I believe that the committee requires a very firm assurance that the Government periodically examines this agency to ensure that it is run with proper regard to economy.
The second matter that I want to raise under the heading of Public Service Board is referred to at page 20 of the board’s annual report. Under the heading “ Discipline “, the board goes out of its way to make special reference to the case of Dr. Bazeley. I want to recapitulate very briefly some of the circumstances of that case. It will be remembered that late in the last sessional period the Government, through the Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron), announced a proposal to convert what had been virtually a department, namely the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories, into a government corporation. My recollection of the matter, based purely upon newspaper information, is that some few days later the director of the laboratories made a statement to the press containing views opposed to the legislation. I did see some press reports that went so far as to say that the director had come to Canberra and engaged in conversations with leaders of the Opposition. That, I think, was after he made the statement to the press.
It will be remembered that the legislation came into the Senate on the last morning of our sitting and was dealt with after senators had been engaged in an all-night sitting. The debate was brief and controlled, lasting, I think, about three hours. I saw nothing in what I then understood to be the position to cause me to object to the legislation, but immediately after that the Public Service Board suspended Dr. Bazeley. Then a board of inquiry was constituted under the chairmanship of Mr. Justice Eggleston and Dr. Bazeley admitted misconduct in the form I have mentioned. Thereupon, a decision was made by the board and approved by the GovernorGeneral to remove Dr. Bazeley from the high post of director of this undertaking.
Of course, I do not stand here to offer any justification for the director’s departing from his duty to give complete loyalty to a decision of the Ministry whose servant he was, but the nature of that departure was very special indeed. Dr. Bazeley, 1 believe, is regarded as a scientist of exceptional status in this country. Australia owes him a special debt in relation to the Salk poliomyelitis vaccine. The next thing about his lapse was that he expressed his views in a public statement, not in any hole-in-corner manner. The next thing was that he stated a view which, I think none has denied, was squarely expressed, in his opinion, in the public interest.
A departure of that sort is certainly misconduct in the sense that it is not in conformity with the .undivided duty that is owed by a public servant as adviser and counsellor to the Minister whom he serves. 1 believe that Mr. Justice Eggleston commented during the proceeding that the statement went further than opposing the view of the Minister and urged that the legislation should be rejected. I believe, too, that there were elements in the statement that at least implied that some of the considerations motivating the legislation were for undisclosed purposes.
But even on that basis I should like to hear a justification from the Minister of the degree of punishment that was visited on Dr. Bazeley. I think that this is the appropriate time to ask for a public statement on this matter. The board of inquiry had no judicial duty to recommend the degree of punishment. That is a decision which the Public Service Board and the Government must entirely justify. I feel, and have always felt, that in the particular circumstances a highly skilled scientist who keenly felt misgivings as to the impact of the legislation on the public interest, considering especially the late stage of the sessional period in which it was promoted and passed, might as a matter of preeminent public duty feel impelled to make a statement of this sort. I cannot think that his removal from the office of director and subordinated appointment to a position in the service is a proper measure of justice. There is no need for me to add, when I make a submission of this sort, that I have had no communication with the person concerned, directly or indirectly. If I had, I would have said so at the outset.
The third matter I wish to mention concerns the Office of Education. I refer to the recent extension of the Government’s interest in university education. We remind ourselves of the most illuminating report we had on this subject from the Murray committee in 1957. I have always regarded that as a sterling report. I remind the committee that, for the second triennium, an increase of about 100 per cent, in the moneys for universities, from about £20,000,000 to about £40,000,000 or £45,00,000, has been recommended. That provided an appropriate setting for the announcement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on 27th August that he would set up another committee to inquire into the future of tertiary education. I raise this matter because I would like the Minister to give the Senate some insight into the balance of experience represented by the personnel of this committee. The chairman of the committee is the present chairman of the Australian Universities Commission. The vice-chairman of the committee is the Professor in Education in the University of Sydney. Sir Keith Angas is a grazier. Professor Ennor is deputy chairman of the Institute of Advanced Studies and dean of the John Curtin School of Medical Research. Sir Alexander Fitzgerald is an accountant. Professor Ford is professor of preventive medicine in the School of Public Health, Sydney. Mr. Jones is managing director of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. Professor Karmel is professor of economics in the Adelaide University. Mr. Mackay is principal of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. Professor Schonell is vice-chancellor of the University of Queensland and is a former professor of education. Sir Samuel Wadham is a former professor of agriculture. Mr. Weickhardt is technical director of Imperial Chemical Industries Limited. Dr. Wyndham is Director-General of Education in New South Wales. It will be seen that the committee is composed almost exclusively of professors of education and directors of education. I would have liked to see some eminent scholar of the classics represented on the committee so that that branch of university learning would be catered for adequately. I notice that there, is nobody on the panel who is interested in the profession of law - a gross deficiency.
– You will notice also that there is no woman on the panel. You would not think that girls had to be educated, would you?
– The difference between man and woman is not to be overlooked, but I do not subscribe to the view that women always should be represented on public institutions or on public committees of inquiry. However, I think it would give great satisfaction if one of our illustrious women scholars was on this committee of inquiry if for no other reason than because of the sentiments that Senator Robertson obviously has in her mind.
– Perhaps a woman would bring a degree of emotional harmony to the committee.
– That suggestion is like Senator Vincent’s recent observations with regard to parental control - theoretical and not very practical.
I do not suggest that the States all should be represented on committees of this nature, but I would have been happy to see a Tasmanian scholar on the committee - or one of Tasmania’s many scholars who has found a permanent post on the mainland.
– Now you are being parochial.
– That observation is not unexpected from a representative of South Australia. I always mention a matter of this kind with bated breath but with great pride. In all seriousness I ask the Minister to indicate how long this com mittee will take to complete its inquiries and whether terms of reference have been settled.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.- I rise merely to enable Senator Wright to continue his remarks.
.- I am indeed obliged to Senator O’Byrne for his courtesy.
– The Tasmanians get together.
– I do not think that is it. I was asking to be informed in a responsible way whether this committee had any precise terms of reference because if it has they will determine the scope of the committee’s report. I was about to recall something that the Prime Minister said. I am not using the right honorable gentleman’s words but I think I understood him correctly to imply that we must not assume that universities will be developed in the next twenty years along the orthodox lines of development that have characterized their development in the past. It may be necessary to place particular emphasis on some faculties of learning in order to take them out of the conventional, unlimited and free scope of universities as we know them, and deal with those faculties in institutions that are better able to cultivate a completion of studies in those fields. I assume - I ask the Minister to confirm my opinion - that the Prime Minister had in mind the emphasis that the modern world places on the science faculties. I imagine that those faculties may be segregated from the entire scope of university knowledge and dealt with in institutions developed specially for their needs. This is a matter of very great importance and I am obliged for the two minutes that have been accorded to me in which to develop my thoughts.
– I would like to clear up some of the matters that have been raised because I feel that we have taken up a good deal more time on this line of inquiry than was originally contemplated. I answered the question about the increase in the tasks of the Public Service Board. Perhaps I should have added that the total increase in expenditure was of the order of £50,000. I gave particulars of the expenditure of something like £40,000. The remaining £10,000 is accounted for by a range of items. Perhaps I would have been more explicit if I had stated that the items I enumerated covered the major part of the increased costs.
As to the matter of Dr. Bazeley, Senator Wright will see that it is mentioned on the notice-paper of the Senate. I content myself with saying that this matter was dealt with strictly and completely in accordance with the terms of the Public Service Act. The principle involved was the maintenance of a non-political career public service in Australia based on British traditions. In the circumstances I do not think it is competent for me to express views on the adequacy or otherwise df the finding in the Dr. Bazeley case.
The terms of reference of the committee of inquiry into tertiary education are to consider the pattern of tertiary education in relation to the needs and resources of Australia and to make recommendations to the Australian Universities Commission on the future development of tertiary education. When he announced the appointment of the committee and the terms of reference the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said that the committee would make a wide-ranging investigation and that it was hoped it would be able to complete its work and submit its recommendations before the end of the 1961-63 triennium. I refrain from con>menting on Senator Wright’s remarks about the constitution of the committee of inquiry.
.- I refer to the proposed vote of £862,700 for the Public Service Board, an increase of approximately £50,000 on last year’s expenditure. I desire to refer to the administration of the Northern Terri*tory, and in particular to the activities of the Public Service Board. I understand that the board maintains an office in every State of the Commonwealth and in the Australian Capital Territory but that it has no office in the Northern Territory. I understand, also, that the Public Service inspector for the Northern Territory is permanently stationed in Canberra and that on an average he makes three separate visits to the Territory each year. I believe other officers of the board visit the Territory from time to time and that in addition the Northern Territory Administration, as the agent of the board, performs certain functions such as recruitment, examinations and general training.
Darwin has a population of more than 12,000 persons, many of whom are government employees. They complain from time to time about the office and living accommodation that is provided for them in this tropical area. In 1957-58 the Public Accounts Committee, after taking evidence from the Administrator, the head of the Department of Territories, Mr. Lambert, and Sir William Dunk, said that in its opinion the work Of Administration would be facilitated if a Public Service inspector were stationed in Darwin. I should say that the correct thing for the Government to do would be to ensure that the recommendation of the Public Accounts Committee was given effect. That recommendation was submitted in 1958; now we are in the year 1961. I ask the Minister for National Development whether the recommendation of the committee has been carried out.
For his information, I shall read the relevant part of the thirty-sixth and thirtyseventh reports. It appears in paragraph 219 at page 49, and reads -
Many of the problems df administration in the Territory are different in nature and kind from those met elsewhere in the Commonwealth and they, therefore, require an approach rather less conventional than is satisfactory elsewhere. Your Committee are quite satisfied, oh the evidence submitted to us; that the presence of a Public Service Inspector and staff in the Territory, wilh adequate powers, could make an effective contribution towards obtaining greater efficiency ana better working conditions in those Commonwealth departments working in the Northern Territory.
That recommendation, I repeat* was submitted after the committee had heard evidence from Sir William Dunk, the head of the Department Of Territories, and Officers stationed in the Northern Territory.
One could refer at length to expressions of dissatisfaction in this chamber about what has been done to develop the Northern Territory. For example, we could edn’sider the situation at the research station at
Katherine where officers of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization have been conducting research into tropical agriculture under dry-farming conditions and with irrigation, and into the growing of peanuts, bulrush millet and other legumes that can be grown in the area. After fourteen or fifteen years of such activity one cannot obtain any report on the economics of those forms of agriculture. Not only in this instance but also in a lot of other instances there does not seem to be sufficient planning and sufficient control over administration. Possibly that is a result of the fact that the Public Service inspector lives in Canberra and is too far away to look after the interests of the people who live in that area.
We are told quite frequently that the people who work for the Government in the Northern Territory have to go up there in some cases for two years and in other cases for three years. For the first twelve months they are there they regret having had to leave the south to live in a tropical area, and for the last twelve months they are looking forward to the time when they will return to the southern climes. The kind of accommodation in which they are expected to live is inadequate. They have very little, if any, air-conditioning, and if they want a refrigerator they have to rent it. I repeat that the kind of homes in which they are living are not satisfactory for tropical conditions. I was there some three or four years ago, and I noted that the quarters in which these people were living were frightful.
– Where was this?
– In Darwin.
– It is much better now.
– I did not say it was not. I hope to hear from the Minister that there has been a big improvement. Senator Wedgwood, who is a member of the Public Accounts Committee, will remember that the evidence that was heard by the committee in 1958 showed clearly that the Administration could not get complete satisfaction from the staff which was working for the Commonwealth up there because of the lack of amenities. I ask the Minister how many government employees are working in the area and what steps have been taken by the Government to implement the recommendations of the Public Accounts Committee which were submitted in 1958.
– My remarks are directed to Division No. 133. - Public Service Board, subdivision 2, item 08. - Recruitment - Advertising. The proposed expenditure for 1961-62 is £21,500. Last year the appropriation was £19,600 and the expenditure was £19,131. I ask the Minister whether at this stage it is possible to state the number of vacancies in the Public Service. I know that the Public Service, particularly in some departments, has difficulty in the recruitment of staff. As yet I have been unable to find out the exact number by which the departments are short-staffed. I thought I might have been able to find that out in the report of the Public Service Board for last year, but I could not do so. I wonder whether those figures could be given to the Senate at this stage.
From time to time one finds that the reason given for work not being completed is shortage of staff. Time and time again we come up against a statement of that kind. I am not suggesting that such statements are not always valid. Sometimes they are. The problem with which I am confronted is that I cannot find some one who can say, “ We are 50, 150 or 200 people short in the Public Service”, or whatever the number may be. If I could find out the number I, for one, would be much more contented.
I believe that in many cases the period of two years for which personnel are posted to the Northern Territory is not long enough. I should like to see that period extended in the interests of the efficiency of the work of the public servants and the efficiency of the departments in which they are employed. I do not agree completely with Senator Scott’s statements that the general feeling is that for the first twelve months these people regret their posting to the Northern Territory and for the other twelve months they are looking forward to coming back to the south.
– In the second twelve months they are worried about coming back.
– I do not agree with that. That applies in some cases, but many of the public servants in the Northern
Territory are quite happy. The position in the service is the same as in every other walk of life. I do not think it is quite fair to say that that is the general feeling. 1 would be pleased if the Minister could give me the information for which I have asked.
– I congratulate Senator McManus on his speech on government aid for church schools, but I regret that I cannot agree with him completely. I should like to refer to Senator Vincent’s remarks on this matter also. First, I compliment the church schools in Australia on the very wonderful work they are doing and have been doing for so many years. Most of the State governments would find the burden unbearable if they had to take over those schools and provide accommodation, staff and everything else for them straightaway. The suggestion of giving capital aid to some of these schools could be acceptable to many of us who do not want them to be completely State-controlled. Either gifts or free-of-interest loans for the extension of science buildings, laboratories and other buildings in these schools would be very valuable indeed.
An organization with which I am associated - the Pan Pacific and South-East Asian Women’s Association - took steps very early in the piece when a picture of the plight of the Japanese waifs was given to Australia. We sent letters to the Foreign Affairs Committee of this Parliament. I understand that those letters were sent on to the Minister for External Affairs for examination. He found that the picture was slightly exaggerated in some instances, but it was not all exaggeration. In common with Senator McManus, I express my sorrow that Australia has not been able to do what I believe it should have done in the interests of these small children.
When I was in Tokyo three years ago I found that some of these children were having a very hard time. I also found that the United States of America had shouldered its burden very quickly by taking the children whom it could claim back to the United States and had provided special hostels for them. Those children are now living a much better and more ordered life in the country of their fathers. Senator Vincent said that the
Japanese mothers have recourse to the law. That almost made me smile because, from his experience in his profession, he knows just how hard it is to trace an absconding father, even in Australia. I am unable to see how a Japanese woman could possibly trace a man in Australia. I regret very much that Australia has not been able to take further steps to help these children.
I also want to refer to the subject of an interjection I made during Senator Wright’s speech when he directed attention to the excellent committee on education that has been appointed. I am very keen on education and I am very thrilled that such an important committee has been appointed. However, I should like the Minister to record my intense disappointment that no woman educationist has been appointed to the committee. Many Australian women have done outstanding work and could have given very valuable assistance to this important committee. I can only hope that by some means the committee will be able to co-opt some of those women. As I understand the position, the committee will examine all kinds of education, and the population of Australia is almost half male and half female. I believe that the fact that advantage has not been taken of the work of the star educationists in Australia in the appointment of this committeewill mean a distinct loss to the community. I ask the Minister to record my disappointment that no women have been appointed to the committee.
Before I call the next speaker, I want to make it clear that each honorable senator who rises must relate his remarks to an item in the Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure; otherwise we will never achieve what we should achieve in this investigation of these Estimates.
– I should like to place before the Minister some aspects related to the expenditure on the Commonwealth scholarship scheme. About two years ago the amount of the scholarship was liberalized and subsequently the number of scholarships was increased. In view of the increasing number of students attending universities, and of the expectations of the Murray committee, will the Minister state why the number of scholarships is not increasing? The amount of the scholarships has not increased sufficiently in relation to the depreciation of the purchasing power of money. These scholarships were inaugurated by the Chifley Government, and only comparatively recently has the number been increased to any great extent.
In the past I have paid a tribute to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) for his interest in grants to existing universities. More than £50,000,000 has been given in the past three years and I think the amount proposed to be given in the next three years is £105,000,000. Portion of that amount will be given this year. The Murray committee forecast that the number of university students would increase to 44,000 by 1965. If one goes back over the records, one finds that that committee’s estimates have always been conservative. If the present trend continues, which appears to be inevitable, the number of people desirous of attending universities in 1965 will be well over 100,000. Only one university exists outside the capital cities. That is the university of New England. There are two university colleges that could be expanded, namely the University College at Newcastle and the college at Townsville, which was commenced this year. It is evident to every one who realizes the need for university training that a number of new universities will have to be established, and that there is need for decentralization.
A private committee set up in Victoria is considering the possibility of establshing a university in the Bendigo or Ballarat area or in another provincial town, but the point is that at present nothing is being done. A university cannot be established in a year. Buildings have to be erected and a staff gathered. Extraordinary difficulties have to be faced. Nothing tangible is being done about the creation of new universities. It is proposed to spend £105,000,000 during the next three years, portion of which is included in the present Estimates, but it should be realized that the staff-student ratio in Australia is probably the poorest in the world. In some universities the ratio is approximately 1 to 14, but some classes in Australia have hundreds of students. One science class has 1,500 students in it. All of them cannot fit into the one room and loud speakers are used to reach students taking this subject. That is an impossible situation in view of the fact that modern educational trend is towards a closer relationship between student and teacher and more and more tutorials. We seem to be getting away from that trend.
A committee of inquiry has been set up but it is interested more particularly in trends regarding technical education, and education at the tertiary level. No provision has been made for an investigation into primary and secondary education at a level lower than the tertiary or university standard. It does seem that Australia is falling down completely on the job when compared with Russia, the United States, and to a lesser extent, the United Kingdom and certain other countries.
The contentious subject of aid for nongovernment schools has been raised. Some people have their own ideas on this subject. Some think that government assistance in the payment of interest on the cost of capital structures is a real contribution. It may be a contribution, but it is not really substantial. It saves the Government the need to meet the cost of capital structures, but I myself am not keen on the Government meeting the cost of capital structures, as was suggested by, 1 think, Senator Robertson.
I feel that there are two fundamental rights in regard to education. It is accepted by every one that every child has the right to have as complete an education as his talents will permit so that he can enjoy his position in life and make the greatest possible contribution to the efficiency and development of his country. The other right is that laid down toy the United Nations, namely, that it is a parental right - a right more than a responsibility - to decide the form of education for their children. By the form of education I do not mean primary, secondary, technical or university education, or professional or nonprofessional education. I mean that parents should have the right to determine whether their children should be educated in nongovernment or government schools. Some one mentioned that if the Government does assist -non-government schools there will be State interference. That exists already.. In Queensland, every non-government school is subject to a visit from .State inspectors and the capital structures have to conform to the municipal and State laws. So, in effect, you do have State interference, or perhaps State control is the more appro.priate term. Interference may not be the correct word to use. I think that these two basic rights should be recognized - the right of every child to an education consistent with his talents, and in accordance with his desires, and the parental right to determine the form of education.
There is only one solution to this problem. That is to make a grant to every student irrespective of whether the Government decides the grant shall be subject to passing an examination after a certain period so that there will be no waste of public money. When the parents decide the form of education for their children, that is where the money will have to be applied.
Every State has conducted some sort of inquiry into education. Inquiries have been conducted in Queensland and Victoria, and the Wyndham report has been in the hands of the New South Wales Government for almost four years. All these reports suggest that secondary education should be extended. We in the National Parliament should realize that we cannot have great universities and highly qualified graduates unless we develop the primary and secondary levels of our educational system. We are coming in at the end instead of at the lower levels. I do not think these lower levels of education are adequately provided for in these Estimates.
– I desire to make my annual contribution on Division No. 121, paragraph 3, item 01, dealing with historical and other works of art, including commission of portraits, in respect of which it is proposed to appropriate £6,460. I note that last year we spent £4,425. This year the Commonwealth intends to spend a whole £6,460 on the acquisition of historic works of art, on other works of art and on portraits. I then glance down to paragraph 4, item 09, and I see that the Commonwealth has appropriated for the Commonwealth games in Perth just a bare £160,000. That, of course, is not all the money that will be spent on the Commonwealth games; it is only a small fraction. Actually this Commonwealth intends to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on run ning the Commonwealth games in Perth next year whereas it intends to spend £6,460 on the acquisition of works of art. I think the comparison should make every one think a little about the cultural development of our nation.
A report by the National Capital Development Commission on Canberra directs attention to the very depressing fact that the capital has no cultural facilities of a national standard. I do not suppose anybody will take much notice of what I am saying now, because I have said this sort of thing for some years. However, it is a matter of the greatest concern that we in this Senate should be prepared to spend so little on this item and so much on other activities, I do not decry for a moment the expenditure of £160,000 on the Commonwealth games, which are very fine in their way. I am very fond of sport and I have played a lot of sport in my time, but surely we should preserve some balance in these things. We might be. going the way of the great ancient Roman Empire, which spent all that it could afford on games. Those games, of course, were somewhat rougher than ours, consisting mainly of tearing Christians to pieces. But that was sport to the Romans and that form of sport was provided for the multitude. Historians relate that fact to the decline of the Roman Empire. I am fully conscious of the importance of sport to a nation, but I often wonder whether we in Australia will ever become conscious of the importance of national cultural development. Here is a sum of £6,400, as against-
– That is not the only amount. There is a proposed appropriation of £80,000 in the estimates for the National Library which takes in historical records and work of art.
– The acquisition of artistic items is related to this amount of £6,400. I know that there are other items relating to artistic endeavour, but there are many, many others relating to non-artistic endeavour. There is, for instance, a proposed appropriation of £12,000 for the Royal Life Saving Society. That is a wonderful institution, and I am not, of course, arguing that that appropriation should be reduced. I am drawing a comparison between an expenditure of £160,000 on some athletic games to be held in Perth and an expenditure of about £6,000 on the acquisition of works of art. The two things just do not add up.
We have only to look round Canberra, beautiful as it is, to realize what a paucity of works of art there is here, in our national capital. I do not think that my argument requires elaboration. I know very well that those who are concerned with the acquisition of artistic items for the national capital are gravely concerned at the lack of interest displayed in the subject, lt is high time that we, as a nation, had a look at the subject. There is no building - not even a plan for a building - to house a national art gallery in Canberra. We have a site for a building - we shall probably have only a site for the next 50 years - but we have hardly a decent picture to put into an art gallery. If you go to Ballarat - this will please Senator Kennelly, being a Victorian - you will find there a quite respectable art gallery for a city of that size. In this matter, Ballarat puts Canberra to shame, and so does Kalgoorlie, my own town. There is an art gallery in Kalgoorlie with some good pictures in it, but you can find neither in this city.
I do not think there is anything funny about this at all. I am being quite serious when I deplore the lack of interest that is shown in the cultural development of Canberra. I do not blame the Government entirely. Others must bear a share of the responsibility. I think that the leaders in the community generally should begin to discharge some of the responsibility that rests upon them. We know that bequests for artistic purposes are given to other cities. Why cannot we encourage them here? Great industries are making large sums of money available for use in the field of artistic endeavour, but none of it seems to come to Canberra.
– You cannot have prosperity and art together.
– I do not agree with that, but I think the honorable senator has sounded a very interesting note. In great eras of prosperity sometimes the art and culture of a nation do deteriorate. I suggest in all seriousness that those of us here who are interested in the subject should give some thought to the artistic and cul tural development of the national capital. Culturally and artistically, Canberra, like a spinster, is left on the shelf year after year. Nothing has been done about it, and I suggest that we should at least begin to do some thinking about it.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Prime Minister’s Department - Capital Works and Services
Proposed expenditure, £2,294,000.
– I refer to Division No. 836- item 02, “ Australian National University - Permanent buildings, acquisition and erection of dwellings, equipment and works, £2,085,000”. The appropriation for this purpose last year was £1,063,000, of which £1,044,000 was expended. I ask: Will this expenditure of £2,085,000 enable the erection of the buildings to be completed? If not, how much extra money will be required?
– Senator McKellar asks, in effect, what will be the final cost of the Australian National University. I am sorry to say that I cannot answer the question now, because the brief that I have contains only an explanation of the various items of expenditure for this year. I shall write to the honorable senator later and give him whatever information is available about the final cost of the programme.
– I refer to Division No. 836- item 03, “ Official establishments - Buildings and works, £16,000 “. There is a great difference between the proposed appropriation this year and the appropriation last year, which was £7,000. There is also a great difference between the appropriation last year, £7,000, and the actual expenditure, which was £1,342. I should like the Minister to tell me why so much of the appropriation last year was not expended, and why the appropriation this year is so much greater than that last year. I should also like him to tell me the type of buildings and works on which this money is to be spent by the Prime Minister’s Department.
– I think the best way in which to answer the question dealing with the types of buildings involved is to look at one item, covering some additions to Admiralty House in Sydney. The reason why so much of the vote last year was not spent and why the proposed vote this year is so much larger is that the money appropriated last year was to be spent on the erection of garages and a workshop. The work was interrupted owing to the death of Lord Dunrossil, lt was commenced and then was stopped, and it will continue this year.
– It comes under the control of the Prime Minister’s Department, does it?
– Yes, as do the Australian High Commissioner’s Office in London, the establishments in Washington, the Governor-General’s establishment at Yarralumla, and so on.
Proposed expenditure noted.
War and Repatriation Services - Reconstruction and Rehabilitation - University Training
Proposed expenditure, £20,000.
.- The proposed expenditure under Division No. 681 relates to university training, the first item being “ Tuition, text books and equipment, £5,000 “, and the second, “Living allowances, £15,000”. I should like to know who the trainees are, where they receive their training and whether they comprise both males and females. Are any ex-servicemen of the last war still in training? I am mindful of the fact that the war has been over for a good many years now, but I think it is essential to continue the training of some of the people who served during the war, especially if they were undertaking part-time courses at the time of their enlistment. It is not clear to me at the moment why money is still being provided in this way, and I hope that the Minister, at a time that is convenient to him, will give me some particulars of the proposed expenditure.
– With Senator Benn’s concurrence, I shall give him an explanation later. In the meantime, I suggest we note the proposed expenditure.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Department of Trade.
Proposed expenditure, £3,667,000.
.- Honorable senators will note that the proposed expenditure for the Department of Trade is divided into several sections. The proposed expenditure on salaries and payments in the nature of salary amounts to £1,821,800, on administrative expenses, to £1,689,200, and on other services, to £156,000, making a total of £3,667,000. lt will be observed that that sum is considerably more than last year’s expenditure. Of course, I know the reason why the Government is seeking more money for the department this year. In fact, I think nearly everybody in the Commonwealth is aware of the real reason. When I look down the list of countries in which the Department of Trade has offices, such as Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines, Singapore, South Africa and the United Kingdom, I think of the trading difficulties of the Commonwealth at the present time.
If we wish to sell our primary products and our manufactured goods to other countries, they may reasonably expect us to take something in return from them. International trade is a two-way thing. Let me point to the deleterious effects of some of our imports at the present time. Certain of our primary industries have been seriously affected by imported commodities during the last twelve months. For instance, peanut-growers of the Kingaroy and Atherton Tablelands areas have had their incomes considerably reduced because the Commonwealth permits peanuts grown in Papua and New Guinea to be imported. I do not intend to ask the Minister to state the quantity of peanuts imported, because he may not have the figures readily available, but I know that a sufficient quantity has been brought in to affect the Commonwealth market seriously. Peanut-growing in Australia is a co-operative undertaking. If the growers were allowed to market their own product in Australia they could get along without difficulty, but when their marketing activities are affected by the importation of quantities of peanuts they become upset. I hope that the Minister will not say that the present policy will be continued, despite the disadvantageous effect that the importation of peanuts is having on the income of Australian growers.
I have mentioned previously in this chamber the position regarding the importation of plywoods. Australia is a timberproducing country and is quite able to supply its own needs in respect .of the majority of softwoods and nearly all hardwoods. In any case, there are sufficient stands of timber in the Commonwealth to be exploited without importing timber from overseas. I do not know whether the Government intends to persevere with the policy of permitting imports of timber from overseas, but I point out that the importation of a relatively small quantity during the last few months had a very adverse effect on the Australian timber market.
– Can the honorable senator give the committee an idea of the quantity of timber that has been imported during the last twelve months?
– I have particulars of the quantities brought in from Japan, Canada and one other country for three months of this year, but, of course, the information is always delayed because of the inquiries that have to be made.
– I think that some was brought in from Sweden.
– Yes, that is so. I mention this matter because in Queensland we have a number of plywood factories which have been working only part-time. The plants have been practically idle and persons employed in the industry have been laid off.
I also wish to refer to the policy of this Government in permitting ships to be constructed overseas. I understand that the Commonwealth Government has authority to say whether or not the ships that are required in this country shall be constructed in Australia. It can grant permission for the importation of ships. Big oil tankers, and other ships, but not a great number, have been constructed overseas and imported. The shipbuilding industry should receive some recognition by the Commonwealth Government and the greatest assistance and encouragement, even to the point of preventing the importation of ships constructed overseas.
I do not suppose that we have a population that will allow us to become industrialized in the same way as is the United States of America. We have to depend upon other countries for raw materials and they in turn have to depend to a great extent on us for their raw materials. But 1 certainly object to the export of iron ore for any reason. I know the condition of our overseas balances and I know that there is a great cry for more exports to maintain the balances. But when we export natural resources such as iron ore, we are doing something that we are not entitled to do. The children unborn have a birthright in the minerals that are here. This country has only one issue of iron ore. I think it is most probable that Australia will live through the centuries to come and she will have to have iron ore deposits for her steel industry.
– Do you oppose the export of lead and zinc, which are in the same category?
– We must consider the world’s supplies of lead and zinc. The consumption of steel in the Commonwealth is increasing annually. I have not a great objection to steel being sold overseas after manufacture. We must protect the employment potential of the Commonwealth and our industrial strength. If we export the basic material, the natural resource in its original form, we do not give employment to Australian citizens. I view the whole matter very, very seriously indeed.
I turn now to another subject. I have mentioned Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines, South Africa, Sweden and other countries and I conclude that Commonwealth officers represent the Department of Trade in those countries for special purposes. I should like to know what is paid in rent for office accommodation and showrooms in those countries. I should like to know, if possible, what the showrooms are like, If we have any. At the moment, I cannot conceive of having representatives of the Department of Trade overseas, in the commercial intelligence or trade commissioner services, without some means of displaying Australianproduced goods. I should like to know whether the showrooms are at street level, deep down in some basement or high in the air where they cannot attract the public. I have seen one such showroom on the third basement level, where few people ever go. There is another matter that I should like to raise.
– Take one at a time.
– I think that the Minister can answer seven queries at a time. He has unbounded capacity in that regard. The way in which he answers questions is an encouragement for me to ask for more information, but I shall let the matter rest there for a while.
– I refer to Division No. 308 - Commercial Intelligence Service - Canada, sub-division 2, item 04, which relates to rent and maintenance of other buildings. An examination of the other divisions in the group shows that in some cases an appropriation is proposed. In this instance the amount is £5,400. No appropriation or expenditure was made for the purpose last year. That applies to quite a number of these divisions. In respect of division No. 317, an appropriation of £7,500 is proposed for this purpose. Last year there was an appropriation and money was expended. Why, in the majority of cases, was there no appropriation for the purpose last year and why was no money expended, when appropriations are proposed this year?
– I refer to Division No. 304 - Tariff Board. I wish to discuss some of the decisions of the board in recent months. In making these remarks, I am not reflecting upon the integrity or impartiality of the board but I do question its judgment. I was particularly interested in the position of certain people engaged in the production of dried figs in the Murray district of South Australia. As a result of the importation of figs from Turkey, those people were placed in a very serious financial situation. Local figs could not compete with the imported article and, as a consequence, a considerable tonnage still remains unsold. An appeal was made to the Tariff Board. Some people at least thought that there was a chance of the appeal succeeding, because a Melbourne importing firm wrote to its clients suggesting that they should order as much of the imported products as possible in case there was an adverse decision as the result of the appeal. At about the same time a similar decision was made in relation to ginger production in Queensland. In each instance some duty was sought on the imported article to protect the local industry, and in each case the
Tariff Board, in rejecting the claims, also removed the existing duties.
I am informed that Cabinet rejected the Tariff Board’s decisions on both items in relation to the removal of existing duties. This, I think, indicates fairly clearly that Cabinet believed that the decision arrived at by the Tariff Board was not necessarily right in either case. This opens up the question of the activities of the Tariff Board. Perhaps its problems and difficulties can be traced to the fact that we have unrestricted imports. As a result of the impact of these imports on local production in various fields and appeals by growers to the Tariff Board, that body could possibly be overworked. Particularly in the last twelve months it could be suffering from an overdose of references and in consequence not sufficient judgment has been shown in, or not sufficient thought has been associated with, its final deliberations and decisions. That idea is borne out, at least in some degree, by the refusal of Cabinet to accept two of its recent decisions.
I should like to ask the Minister whether other decisions have been rejected or not accepted by Cabinet, and, if so, their number. It seems, as far as the fig-growers of South Australia are concerned, that the chapter is closed. This is most regrettable and will have an impact on their incomes for some considerable time. The matters that I have raised indicate that insufficient thought is being given to some of the matters into which the Tariff Board is asked to inquire with a view to affording protection to Australian industries. It may be that some revision of the present situation is necessary. I would like the Minister to tell me whether there have been instances other than those to which I have referred when Cabinet has not completely accepted the Tariff Board’s reports
Order! I have allowed the debate to proceed but I cannot see that it comes within the scope of these Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure. The matter of passing judgment on the judgment of other people is, I think, outside the scope of this debate.
– I wish to refer to the proposed grant of £150,000 for the Australian National
Travel Association. This item appears under Division No. 301. It is extremely gratifying to know that the Government has increased the grant from £120,000 last year to £150,000 this year, but it is disappointing to see that almost £4,000 of last year’s grant was not spent. I do not intend to imply that the association has not done a good job. It has done an excellent job. It has been faced with an enormous task in re-organizing the travel industry and bringing it to a state where the Government is now confident that the association is doing its job and is accordingly intending to increase its grant to the association. The association could do a lot more. I suppose it will do a lot more as it develops. I am sorry that the Parliament did not accede to my request to establish a select committee on tourism. This Parliament could do a lot to assist the Australain National Travel Association. Australia urgently needs export income, and tourism is one of the most efficient ways of earning that income. I still think that we have a job to do in this regard. If it is too late to appoint a select committee, I ask the Minister to consider the appointment of a standing committee on tourism. I believe there is a continuing job to be done by this Parliament for the tourist industry. I also ask the Minister to consider appointing to the board of the association a representative of this Parliament. In that way the activities of the tourist industry would be brought directly to the Parliament. It would be a great asset to the tourist industry to have a representative of the Parliament on the board of the Australian National Travel Association.
– How is the association constituted?
– I cannot say offhand, but it is comprised of representatives of tourist organizations. Two departmental representatives are on the board of the association, but there is no parliamentary representative. I think there is room for a parliamentary representative. One of the jobs that remains to be done is to coordinate activities of the various federal departments that are concerned with tourism. I do not think anybody other than a parliamentary committee could coordinate the work of those departments.
This is where I believe a standing committee could do a good job.
A great deal of work in tourism could be done from the point of view of the Territories. The National Capital is growing materially and in importance and we should be promoting tourism here. The Parliament should take an interest in this matter. A great deal remains to be done in the production of tourist films. I know that the Australian National Film Board intends to make films on tourism but a parliamentary interest in this matter, urging the board along, could assist.
I think we should do more to see that our overseas posts, whether they be associated with the Departments of Trade, Immigration or External Affairs, help to promote tourism. A great deal can be done in the federal sphere. The Australian National Travel Association has been successful in getting all States to cooperate with it. That has been a great step forward, but there is still much that the Commonwealth Parliament could do. In the past we have had a shortage of hotel accommodation. For a long time that retarded development of the tourist industry. But the lag in adequate accommodation is being overcome. I take this opportunity to congratulate the people associated with the erection of hotels and motels on the steps that they are taking in this matter. I am confident that the industry would be greatly assisted and that Australia’s export earnings would increase if the Parliament got behind this industry by forming a standing committee on tourism. Such a committee could continuously investigate ways of assisting the industry.
– I am anxious to co-operate with you, Mr. Temporary Chairman, and I realize the difficult task with which Ministers are confronted in dealing with various items in a comparatively short period. I am in something of a quandary. I am particularly concerned with the Commonwealth’s intelligence services in various countries. I suspect that my criticism should be directed at the Government because of its incompetence, but the Government will deny that it is incompetent. That being the case we can assume only that in certain countries, more particularly the United States of America, the United Kingdom and Canada, we have inefficient representation to foster the sale of our goods. We have adverse trade balances with each of those countries I have mentioned. Over a period of seven months we had an adverse trade balance of £99,000,000 with the United States of America. Over a period of nine months we had an adverse trade balance of £100,000,000 with the United Kingdom, and we had a substantial adverse trade balance with Canada. We have favorable trade balances with Japan, Germany, France, Italy and Belgium. The Minister may say that our adverse trade balances with the United States of America, the United Kingdom and Canada are brought about by the fact that we import large quantities of essential materials from those countries. But the countries with which we have favorable trading balances produce articles almost identical with those that we import from the countries with which we have unfavorable trading balances. I should like to know whether we are getting value for money from our commercial intelligence services in the countries with which we have unfavorable trade balances. Or are our balances with those countries unfavorable because of the incompetence of the Government?
As Senator Benn has pointed out, the Government has completely disregarded the peanut-growers of Queensland. I admit that we have a responsibility to assist the peanut-growing industry in New Guinea, where two crops a year are grown of a variety known as White Spanish. In Kingaroy and other areas the varieties grown are Virginia Bunch and Red Spanish but only one crop a year is grown. The Commonwealth must accept some responsibility for assisting the industry in Queensland. Australia imports more than 1,000,000 gallons of peanut oil a year, of which 800,000 gallons came from South Africa last year. Last year the value of peanut oil imported was £738,000. The year before we imported £1,100,000 worth of peanut oil. On the average we import oil worth about £1,000,000 a year. The Government does not seem to be seriously concerned whether the Australian industry can produce Australia’s oil requirements.
Senator Benn referred to the plywood mills. Nine plywood mills in north Queensland are completely closed down. Many sawmills have closed down and many others are working part-time. A total of 1,500 timber workers are unemployed. The Tariff Board, in its report on the timber industry, said that the mill-owners had been somewhat negligent about maintaining the quality of their product. That may be the trend; I do not doubt that that has occurred. But before the Department of Trade allowed plywood to be imported, it should have directed the attention of the industry to the defects. Then, if the millowners did not rectify the defects and improve the quality of their product, perhaps the Government could have considered jeopardizing the industry and, as it has done within the last twelve months, carelessly and callously have thrown people out of work.
We have been told that the Department of Trade is seeking markets for our exports. But it seems to be criminal for us to be exporting a basic commodity such as iron ore. At the moment we have only one steelworks. As we all know, a smaller works is to be built in Western Australia. The world is crying out for steel and other countries, particularly Japan, West Germany, Russia and China, are increasing their output of this commodity. We produce very little steel apart from that which is produced by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. We, a comparatively young country which is engaged in development, are not meeting our needs. We are not facing up to our responsibilities. When we do face up to those responsibilities, we will find that our ore reserves have become depleted as a result of our exports of ore.
I do not intend to traverse the history of bauxite. This morning I asked a question about the minimum cost of thermal power. I indicated that I understood that the cost of power in New Zealand was very cheap and that here it is perhaps 100 per cent, higher. I believe we should keep our supplies of bauxite in this country. Iron ore and bauxite are two basic metals which will assume ever-increasing importance, but all we are doing is trying to find export outlets for them. It is quite evident that with the reserves it has at Weipa, the Comalco organization - doubtless other organizations will do the same - will not merely smelt sufficient ore to meet its own requirements but will export the raw product to overseas customers.
If the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) and his colleagues in the Cabinet say they have efficiently handled the external and internal trade of this country, the departmental officers must have failed. The United Kingdom, the United States of America and Canada have been able to increase their exports to Australia and to limit their imports from this country. But if the officers of the Department of Trade are not to blame for the way in which our trade has been handled, the Government must accept the responsibility and not shelter behind the excuse that the commodities which are coming from the countries to which I have referred are essential, because such commodities could be imported from countries with which we enjoy a favourable trade balance.
– A little earlier I was asked about the proposed appropriation of £20,000 for Division No. 681 - University Training. This is a carry-over from the old Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme. Because of the time that has elapsed, very few persons now qualify for training under this scheme. A few ex-Korea boys are eligible. I am sorry that I did not have that information at the time the matter was raised.
I do not propose to accept responsibility for replying on policy matters. One cannot readily collect his thoughts on all the matters that are dealt with by a variety of departments. However, I shall try to bring together the comments of Senator Benn, Senator Branson and Senator Dittmer about our overseas trade service. We must keep in the back of our minds the fact that this is a developing service and that the conditions of engagement or employment are changing constantly. So-, when we find that there is a discrepancy between the rents and salaries paid in one year and those payable in another, we must remember that at one stage an officer may have been given an allowance to meet the cost of rent, in which case it would come under the heading “ Salaries “, and that at another stage the premises may be rented for him.
By and large, the need for a trade commissioner service cannot be judged by the relative trade figures. On the face of it, the worse the relative trade figures were, the greater would be the need to establish a trade post.
– The Government is at fault in this matter, not the departmental officers.
– In Senator Dittmer’s view, everything that happens is the fault of the Government. In my view, the Government has no faults at all.
– 1 give the Government credit when it has done something good.
– Let us try to keep the discussion on a proper level. The need for a trade post cannot be judged by the level of trade activity. Theoretically, the worse trade conditions are, the greater is the need for trade posts. Senator Benn referred to showrooms and the provision of other facilities. There are showrooms at some trade posts, but I should think that on the whole the existence of a showroom would be unusual. The trade commissioners are not retailers. Their function is to make contacts in the business world, to attend to advertising and public relations and, where circumstances warrant such action, to arrange displays and trade fairs. I repeat that there may be some show windows, such as at Australia House in London, but that is the exception rather than the rule. We do not expect trade commissioners to engage in retail selling. Their function is to deal with the matter at a higher level.
Senator Toohey devoted much of his comment to findings of the Tariff Board. Again, I do not intend to reply to what he said, because I am not equipped to do so. I remember the reports of the Tariff Board on dried figs and ginger, but if I were to rely on my recollection and try to discuss those reports I might give quite wrong information. I remind the honorable senator that on the business paper there is a motion relating to the last annual report of the Tariff Board which we shall be debating. When we discuss that matter may well be the appropriate time for the honorable senator to express the views he: has expressed this afternoon. It is unusual for the Government not to accept recommendations of the Tariff Board. I believe that the strength of our Tariff Board machinery lies in the readiness of members on both sides of the Parliament to accept the recommendations of the board as being the best and the most impartial that can be obtained. As I said, I do not want to discuss the merits of those two cases to which I have referred, because 1 have not the facts sufficiently well in mind. Apart from them, there are occasions when Tariff Board reports are not accepted; but they are still available because the reports are always tabled in the Parliament with a statement on whether or not the Government has accepted the board’s recommendation.
Senator Buttfield raised the matter of the Australian National Travel Association. The situation is that for this year the Government has decided upon an interim grant of £100,000.
– Is it not £150,000?
– No. I suggest that the honorable senator wait until I have finished. For 1961-62 the Government has made an interim grant of £100,000 to the association, but that grant is made on the basis that the Commonwealth will pay an additional amount of £1 for each £1 that the association raises in excess of £100,000. So, £150,000 is included in the Estimates. That appropriation contemplates that the association will have a total revenue of £200,000 for the year because of the £1 for £1 subsidy. Furthermore, at the moment a group of officers is looking into the situation and discussing with the association whether the present basis should not be changed in some way. Representations have been made to the Government and they are being investigated.
Again I refrain from replying to Senator Buttfield’s suggestions about standing committees and the appointment of parliamentarians to committees because it is not my function to accept or reject proposals of that kind; that is for the responsible Minister. If I have not the power to accept or reject the proposals, I should be careful about expressing opinions on them.
– I now direct my remarks to trade publicity under Division No. 301, sub division 2. I commence by saying that we should give a good deal of thought to this matter at this time. I noted that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), in the statement that he made on the European Common Market, said that £1,000,000 would be allocated for trade publicity and that the proposed entry of the United Kingdom into the Common Market made that action very necessary. I do not disagree with the contention of the Prime Minister. The only area of disagreement between the Prime Minister and me surrounds the fact that in view of the state of our trade position £1,000,000 is a mere drop in the ocean in comparison with what we ought to be providing in this matter.
On looking through the items I find that the amount which is appropriated is not £1,000,000 but £891,000, of which £491,000 - more than half - is allocated to the United Kingdom alone and only £400,000 is allocated to all other countries. That calls for some comment and some thought. It seems to me that, first of all, we should consider whether we are spending enough money on trade publicity in view of our present position and the problems posed by the European Common Market. In my humble opinion, the suggested amount of approximately £1,000,000 will nowhere near meet requirements. I should like to hear the Minister’s views on that point.
I represent South Australia, which is a wine-producing State. I do not suppose that it is an extravagant claim to say that 70 per cent., if not more, of the total Australian wine production comes from South Australia. So, naturally, the export of wine becomes the subject of my thoughts and the thoughts of all honorable senators who represent South Australia, not only from the South Au’stralian stand-point but also from the national stand-point. I know that from time to time the Senate and the other place have had long discussions on the promotion of the sale of Australian wines overseas. All sorts of difficulties have presented themselves and all sorts of explanations have been tendered to show why we cannot break into the European wine market successfully.
The world experts, connoisseurs, or whatever you like to call them, admit that in some respects - indeed, in many respects - the Australian product can compete successfully with overseas wines of a similar character. There is no evidence that the Australian product is inferior to the overseas wines in any way. Some suggestions have been made that Australia should jettison all the individual brands that characterize the various Australian vineyards and in some way or another confuse the issue in respect of Australian wines. The experts argue that that is not the answer. The theory that if we had only one brand we would sell wine more successfully has not been supported by any positive statements or inquiries.
Some weeks ago I was presented with a rather unusual aspect of this matter when I had the benefit of a conversation with a visiting economic expert who I understand was in Canberra and in Australia generally on some matters which had a relationship to the European Common Market. The conversation that I had with him opened up not only the question whether we are spending enough money in the United Kingdom and throughout the world generally, but also the question whether we are getting the best results for the money spent. I believe that a consideration of that latter question, in turn, opens up an important avenue. I am not trying in any way to portray myself as an expert on the sale of Australian products overseas. Like other honorable senators, I am groping for some reason why we cannot break into the overseas markets and trying to find out what are the effective barriers against us.
I would be interested to know in what way our overseas trade publicity is conducted. For instance, is it done in the form of television advertising or advertising in the various United Kingdom newspapers? ls radio utilized to any extent; and if it is, to what extent? In what way does personal contact between Australian representatives overseas and the United Kingdom traders come into the picture? I believe that all those questions are important in our consideration of the highly competitive nature of world trade. Sometimes we in this Senate and the members in another place do not receive sufficient information on these points to enable us not only to consider them but also to make some suggestions, from the viewpoint of the layman, that the experts may not have considered.
In the conversation that I had with the gentleman I mentioned, he opened up what I consider is a most interesting proposition. As I said, the subject of wine concerns the people of South Australia, not in respect of imbibing it, but of producing it. I asked this gentleman: If the Australian product were consolidated under a particular label characteristic of a certain type of wine, rather than under 101 different labels, would that have the effect of increasing sales overseas? He replied that he did not think so.
I then asked him in what way, in his opinion, Australian wines could break into the European market and in particular the United Kingdom market. The reply he gave was a most interesting one. He said that we could not expect the average traveller in Great Britain who goes around to wine shops or hotels and deals with all types of wines - English, Spanish and other wines that appeal to the palates of the people of the world - to be particularly interested in pushing the sale of Australian wines. He said that Australian wines get lost amongst a host of other wines that are more readily identifiable by the British people than is the Australian product. They are more readily identifiable mainly because they have only characteristic brands instead of a great number of brands and people can readily identify them.
This gentleman made a suggestion which I think is worth considering. He said that throughout Great Britain there are grocery shops and others that are granted a wine licence, and they could be readily purchased and stocked exclusively with Australian wines. He suggested some attractive form of showcase or window display and said that he felt that we could make some impact on the United Kingdom market if we worked in that way. I think that such a suggestion should be considered. Honorable senators should be given more information on the way in which our money is spent on publicity overseas. We should be told of the form of advertising adopted in relation to our wines that do find their way on to the British market.
I believe that the sum of £1,000,000 which is to be spent in the forthcoming year on trade publicity overseas is a mere drop in the ocean in the light of Great
Britain’s application to enter the European Common Market. We ought to be thinking in terms, not of £1,000,000, but perhaps of £10,000,000 or £20,000,000 to see whether by sales publicity we can break into some of these markets which I believe our Australian products have the ability to break into successfully.
– Perhaps I did not follow the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) very closely when he replied to a question I asked. I should still like an explanation of the items “ Rent and maintenance, office “ in most of Divisions Nos. 306 to 351 inclusive. Last year we spent £5,330 approximately whereas this year we intend to spend £62,200, almost £60,000 more. In Division No. 308 the amount appropriated this year is £5,400, but no amount is shown as having been spent last year. Were I to go through all the items, honorable senators would see that we are appropriating this year a sum of about £60,000, whereas last year we spent only £5,300. The difference might be accounted for by amounts appearing under other headings, but I should like the Minister to tell me the position.
– The answer I gave previously was correct. There has been a recasting of the way these figures are presented. Last year, in the majority of cases, the officer concerned was paid a rent allowance together with his remuneration. That came under the heading of salaries. This year, the amount for rent has been taken out and put in as a separate item.
.- A total of £891,000 is allocated this year for trade publicity. That is £200,000 more than was spent last year. Senator Toohey criticized the Government for not living up to its promise-
– I did not criticize the Government at all. I merely said that the amount was not enough.
– You mentioned that the Menzies Government had said that it would spend £1,000,000 on trade publicity.
– I said that the amount was not enough.
– An amount of £65,000 is to be appropriated for contributions to overseas trade missions, and £70,000 is to be appropriated for publicity in attracting overseas investment to Australia. If those two sums are added expenditure on publicity will be something over £1,000,000.
I notice that Senator Toohey refrained from referring to the Government’s intention to spend £70,000 this year on publicity for the purpose of attracting overseas investment to Australia. The object is to encourage people to invest in this important Commonwealth of ours. Senator Toohey was not keen about mentioning that matter because the Labour Party does not like to see overseas investment in Australia.
The Leader of the Government recently made a statement to the effect that overseas investment in Australia was now running at a higher level than it had ever approached in the history of our country. I think the figure mentioned was a rate between £150,000,000 to £200,000,000 a year. I desire to ask the Minister whether the £70,000 which it is anticipated will be spent this year on publicity to attract overseas investment will have that effect. I should also like to ask how the publicity campaign is carried out. Is it connected with our ‘trade commissioner offices overseas, or is an officer delegated to carry out that work?
I wish to refer to one other item which I think the Minister explained in answering a question by Senator Buttfield. The grant to the Australian National Travel Association this year is £180,000 which is a considerably larger grant than that made last year. I wish to congratulate Senator Buttfield on her suggestion that the Government should consider appointing a committee to look into all aspects of tourism in Australia. Many people in this Parliament have made a study of this subject. I am somewhat dismayed because the Government - apart from the item relating to the Australian National Travel Association, on which I congratulate it - is devoting only chicken feed, as it were, to this work. When we consider what is happening overseas, the effort that is being made in Australia is, I think, almost farcical. Tourism is costing us, in terms of export income, over £20,000 a year at present, and that has been the position for many years.
– Is that a net or a gross figure?
– It is a figure given off the cuff, and I hope I will be excused if it is wrong. I made a study of the subject a year or so ago, and I think I read then that the net loss to Australia on tourism annually was £20,000. I have a recollection of looking at a document recently which stated that that was also the position last year.
Some of the States are now taking a great interest in tourism. The Premier of Western Australia is also the head of the State tourist department and is doing everything possible to encourage tourists from the eastern States to come to Western Australia. However, the net return to Australia from tourist traffic of that kind is nil, because it is only a case of money coming from the east to the west or from the west to the east.
A great deal could be done by the officers of the various trade posts that we have established to publicize the facilities for tourists that are available in Australia. Some countries in the South Pacific area are spending large sums of money to encourage tourists, especially from America and Europe. If a tourist comes to Australia from, say, Europe, and spends £1,000 while he is here, that represents a net gain of £1,000 of overseas income to Australia. If we spent £100,000 on advertising to encourage tourists from overseas to visit Australia, and if tourists came here and spent £200,000, that would be a net profit of £100,000. Simple arithmetic of this kind is being done by many countries, particularly European countries, and they are trying to attract tourists. Speaking from memory, I think that tourism is the largest income-earner for Italy.
Australia has attractions for tourists that other countries do not have. For instance, people who want to get away from the cold winters of Europe could be encouraged to come to sunny Australia. If we did a reasonable amount of advertising I believe we would be able at least to balance our outgoings and incomings from tourist traffic. Anything that was done by the Govern ment in the way of establishing a select committee on tourism or of appointing a member of Parliament to the Australian National Travel Association to study ways and means to encourage that organization to function a little better would be to the advantage of Australia externally.
I refer now to Division No. 304 - Tariff Board, item 05, “ Freight and cartage, including removal expenses, £13,000 “. That item of £13,000 stands alone, isolated and lonely. If you look at the columns showing appropriations and expenditure for 1960-61, you see that in that year nothing was appropriated for or expended on freight and cartage for the Tariff Board. I should like to know why the board requires £13,000 for those purposes this year.
– Dealing with the last item referred to by Senator Scott, the sum of £13,000 is required to cover the expense expected to be involved in moving the Tariff Board early next year to the new premises now being erected for it in Canberra.
I intervene in the debate now in order to give a quick thumb-nail sketch of our trade publicity activities overseas, which have been the subject of discussion. First Of all, I want to make the, point that, in addition to the amounts provided in the Budget - the items in respect of trade publicity inside and outside the United Kingdom should be looked at together - an appreciable addition to the funds available for trade publicity arises from the contributions made by marketing boards. This year, marketing boards will add £163,000 to the amount provided for the Budget. If you add the amount contributed by marketing boards to the appropriations for publicity in and outside the United Kingdom, you get a total of over £1,000,000 for this year.
Several inquiries have been made as to the way in which this money is to be expended. I have a tabulation before me. Unfortunately, the items are expressed in terms of the £1 sterling, so honorable senators will have to do some mental arithmetic to convert the sums to their equivalent in Australian currency. The first break-up is of a sum of £480,000 for publicity in the United Kingdom. Of this, £170,000 is for advertising in the press and women’s magazines, on television and so on. That £170,000 will be spent on what we might call a press and television campaign. More effective work seems to be done by display materials. About £85,000 will be spent on display materials, about £16,000 on exhibitions and about £17,000 on what are called area ‘activities. Those, I assume, relate to comparatively small local events, trade fairs and so on. There will be some expenditure under the heading “ General public relations “, which, as we understand it, involves trying to get a paragraph in a newspaper on the appropriate occasion.
I have a further tabulation, giving a break-up of the expenditure in countries other than the United Kingdom. Of a sum of £400,000, £153,000 is for press media. Expenditure under this heading is mainly controlled from Australia and is on advertisements and other material published in local newspapers. By local newspapers, I mean the newspapers in the countries in which the effort is being made. A sum of £73,500 will be spent in Asia, £25,000 in the Middle East, £17,500 in New Zealand, £30,000 in North America and £40,000 in South America. I know that it is a little difficult to form a picture in one’s mind from figures such as those I am presenting. Let me try to summarize the position. We should add to the figures shown in the Budget the contribution by the marketing boards.
– Marketing boards for which commodities?
– The Australian Apple and Pear Board, the Australian Dried Fruits Control Board, the Australian Dairy Produce Board, the Australian Egg Board, the Australian Meat Board and the Australian Wine Board - all except the Australian Wheat Board, which goes its own way. The total is £227,000.
– What about the trade ships?
– That is a separate item. The proposed expenditure on overseas trade missions is £65,000. The campaign to attract investment funds has to be rather discreet, of course. The details cannot be shouted from the roof-tops. The matter is controlled from Australia, but is handled through officers of the Department of Trade overseas.
Unfortunately, Mr. Temporary Chairman, I have to attend a meeting, which will mean that I shall be absent from the chamber for about half an hour. May I suggest that if the committee concludes its consideration of the proposed expenditure by the Department of Trade, it should proceed to consider the Defence Department and the Department of Social Services, so that I shall not be absent when the proposed expenditure for the Department of National Development comes before the committee.
– I am prompted to rise to my feet by a statement made by Senator Scott. I thought I made it quite clear on the last occasion I spoke that I was dealing exclusively with the question of expenditure on overseas trade. I wanted to direct all my remarks to that subject. I did not in any way bring in the question of publicity associated with overseas investment in Australia. I consider that that is an entirely separate item.
– They are all trade publicity items.
– I consider that publicity associated with overseas investment in Australia has an entirely different significance from that of the point I was making. It is not true, as Senator Scott has said, that I was criticizing the Government for this and criticizing it for that. I thought I was being purely objective in the matter. All that I suggested was that, in my humble opinion, we were not spending enough on overseas trade publicity in view of our present position in relation to world trade. I suggested that we ought to be spending more, and I went further and said that I believed we ought to have more information.
– What did you say about the £1,000,000?
– I was speaking, as I have said, in terms of publicity in relation to overseas trade, and the only items covering that matter amount to £891,000, being made up of £491,000 for the United Kingdom and £400,000 for other parts of the world. I do not think that anybody, except a person with a mentality such as that of Senator Scott, would so distort the remarks I made. Frankly, I cannot understand why the honorable senator should say such outrageous things which had no relation at all to the matters 1 was discussing.
I am very grateful to the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) for the information he has given regarding the break-up of expenditure on publicity overseas. What I should like to see, for my own personal benefit and for the benefit of the Senate as well, is something in the nature of a detailed report on these matters to which we could refer from time to time. We could then see the amount of money expended on advertising, the avenues of expenditure, and the amounts applied to particular fields. If we had the information in the form of a report it would be of great assistance to us in considering this matter of our overseas trade to which, I believe, we should give continual thought.
– I should like to refer once again to the proposed expenditure on the Australian National Travel Association. My remarks arise from the answer the Minister gave to me earlier, when he pointed out that the Government, apart from the interim allocation of £100,000, is making a grant, on a £1 for £1 basis, to match amounts which the association raises. In other words, it must raise privately £50,000. It seems to me rather ridiculous that that should be so, when we consider that in the United Kingdom, which has a population at least five times as great as ours, a similar organization - the British Travel and Holiday Association - is able to raise privately only between £70,000 and £80,000. Yet, the British Government subsidizes the alreadyestablished industry in that country to the extent of about £1,000,000. We in Australia are expected to raise privately almost as much as can be raised in England.
There is an urgent need for the Australian Government to make a larger grant, for various reasons. The Australian National Travel Association is putting out excellent publications, such as “ Walkabout “ and “ The Australian Scene “, but there is a need for more travel pamphlets and publi cations to go to other nations. We have only three travel association offices - one in London, one in San Francisco and one in New Zealand. I believe that an office is about to open in New York, but we have no office in such places as Japan, Hong Kong and the European countries.
– The State governments have, have they not?
– The State governments have offices in some countries, but that is useless because they operate under the name of the States concerned, and many people who wish to travel to Australia do not as yet recognize the names of the States.
There is a need to open more offices in Australia’s name in other countries. I noticed when I was in England that there was only one officer in the Austraiian National Travel Association office, which meant that he had to spend his time in the office. It was impossible to have any one out on the road, visiting travel agents, and so on. It is essential to have larger staffs and more offices, and that more pamphlets be sent to travel agents overseas. I hope that the Government will consider the obligation that it has placed on the Australian National Travel Association to raise £1 for each £1 of the Commonwealth’s contribution above £100,000. It is necessary to make a straight-out grant, particularly as the industry is not yet established. As I have said, in England, where the tourist industry is established, the government is making a grant of £1,000,000. It gets back in return more than £100,000,000. As Senator Scott has pointed out, we have a deficit and we need to put money into this field quickly to help overcome the deficit.
.- I have been waiting to speak on two subjects that have already been discussed. I am grateful to Senator Toohey for his reference to trade publicity. I do not think we need to get into arguments about that matter. My disappointment with the item arises from the lack of information that we have about it. It is true, of course, that Senator Spooner has somewhat overcome that lack. I wish to refer specifically to the disappointing nature of the Auditor-General’s comments on this subject, as well as many others. His reports give me the impression that they are designed to state as little as possible for the information of the Parliament.
If one looks at paragraph 81 of the latest report of the Auditor-General, it will be seen that, on the subject of trade publicity, the following statement is made: -
The operation of the trade publicity scheme was outlined in the Report for 1957-58.
If we refer to the 1957-58 report, we see, in item 80, a generalized statement with regard to publicity. The simple statement is made that publicity programmes are prepared annually by a publicity committee in London for the consideration of the Department of Trade, and that the final programme is recommended to and approved by the Minister. The final paragraph of that report finishes with the same gibberish as is contained in item 81 of the present report. What is the meaning of “ transfers from division 637 “, item so and so? It is not an attempt to give Parliament information on substantial matters of fact of which we are entitled to be informed. This seems to be a report prepared in a fugitive sort of way, shall I say an apprehensive sort of way. I think that the Parliament is entitled to receive in the Auditor-General’s report a substantial statement of fact in relation to these figures so that we know the position - not merely references to transfers from divisions X, Y and Z or other algebraic formulae, but facts.
I think that we are also entitled in the report not merely to a certification that expenditure has in fact been made in accordance with budgetary items and that there have been no defaults, but also some assessment of the economical nature, or otherwise, of the expenditure. My experience is that State Auditors-General take upon themselves the responsibility of advising the parliaments if expenditure indicates uneconomical trends or unproductive results. That is disclosed to the parliaments, which can form an opinion with regard to it.
This leads me to some observations that have been made this afternoon with regard to policy. There seems to be an indication that this debate should concern itself with inquiries about what such and such an amount has been spent upon and whether it is enough or too much. In my submission, we shall be wholly wanting in fulfilling the true purpose of an estimates debate if from time to time we do not review and criticize, as well as support policy, to see whether or not it is proper, in the opinion of this committee, to allow increased expenditure or to approve of reduced expenditure. Having had the information that Senator Spooner put before us about the nature of trade publicity in Great Britain, I do not feel very impressed with the efficacy of the publicity. The type of stuff indicates a pretty hashed job. This impression corresponds with reports that I have had of our trade publicity in England from friends visiting there and friends who have come from there to live in this country. They have compared very adversely advertisements for such commodities as Australian meats, particularly lamb, with advertisements for New Zealand lamb. I am not wedded to advertising expenditure, nor am I am expert on it, but those in the committee who know something about it are entitled to be informed as to the nature of the expenditure.
I had marked the item in respect of the grant to the Australian National Travel Association, to which Senator Buttfield referred. I wish to express my disappointment that the Senate allowed itself not to bring to fruition Senator Buttfield’s efforts three or four years ago to finance tourism on an Australian basis. That is now history, and I was glad to see in the Budget speech of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) that the Government now recognizes the potential of this industry as an income earner.
Senator Scott directed our attention to the terrific income that is derived by other countries, particularly European countries, from tourism. That requires us to consider the appropriateness of the Australian National Travel Association for this purpose. Will the Minister give us a sketch of the constitution of this association, together with a brief indication of the composition of its directorate, the size of its budget, whether it is expended - including our £100,000 - and on what type of promotion? Are its accounts subject to audit by the Commonwealth Auditor-General? Lastly, I ask whether any consideration has been given to the elevation of this association to a status where it would have government recognition. There is value in the suggestion by Senator Buttfield that it would be a step in the right direction if a member of the Parliament, willing to act, were appointed to effect liaison between the association and the Parliament. Needless to say, there would be no fitter representative than Senator Buttfield herself. I hope my statement will not dim her chances of appointment. I defer discussion of other items under this heading until other senators have spoken.
– Before the questions, which in any case are a little out of my field, get away from me, 1 shall try to answer those that have been asked since I have been here. I did not completely follow Senator Toohey’s remarks but I gathered that he was suggesting to the Parliament what should happen rather than asking a particular question that I could answer from this place.
Senator Buttfield suggested that there should be a straight-out grant for the Australian National Travel Association, replacing the £1 for £1 grant. The present straight-out grant is the subject of review at present by a committee of permanent heads, who are investigating the size of the grant with a view to recommending to the Minister and the Government whether or not it should be increased. The proposed expenditure of £150,000 in 1961-62 is only a provisional estimate. Subject to the report, it may be increased. 1 think that the £1 for £1 grant would be continued in addition
– May we have an indication of the constitution of the committee, and information as to the departments with knowledge of the needs of the trade that are represented?
– I shall endeavour to supply later information regarding the permanent heads who are involved. Senator Wright raised two points, one of which had to do with the presentation of the AuditorGeneral’s report.
– On the item of trade publicity.
– This, strictly speaking, is not a subject for the Department of Trade, the Auditor-General being subject to the Prime Minister. I have some reservations, and I suggest that Parliament should have some reservations, about the suggestion that the Auditor-General should present his own views on matters of policy, which are properly the responsibility of a department, and very properly then the responsibility of this Parliament. Any member of the Parliament is obligated to ask questions on any matter of policy or economics and to receive answers from the department concerned.
Senator Wright supported Senator Buttfield’s suggestions, to which I have already referred, and he asked other questions concerning the Australian National Travel Association. I understand that this association is incorporated as a company under the Victorian law. Its accounts, which would indicate how its budget was spent, are subject to audit, not by the Auditor-General but by private auditors in the ordinary way in which company accounts are subject to audit. It is registered under the Companies Act 1958. On it are representatives of State governments and officials of the Commonwealth Government, shipping companies, Australian international airlines, railways, road tourist services, hotel and motel organizations, travel agencies, banks, the Associated Chambers of Commerce, the Australian Automobile Association, retail trading organizations and general business interests, all of whom serve in an honorary capacity. The Commonwealth’s representatives are Mr. McClintock, Assistant Secretary of the Department of Trade, and Mr. Murphy, Director of the News and Information Bureau.
The other suggestion made by Senator Wright will be brought to the attention of the Minister.
– I am prompted to rise because of Senator Scott’s contention that expenditure on trade publicity overseas and expenditure on publicity designed to attract overseas investment in Australia are necessarily synonymous. His remark prompted me to think of a case that is the very opposite of what he contends, namely, the case of General Motors-Holden’s Limited. The decision whether Holden cars, will be exported from Australia is made by the parent company in America. That would be a classic example of money spent publicizing overseas investment in Australia re-acting adversely to the expansion of our export trade.
It is well known that the General Motors Corporation of America divides the world into zones and allocates to the General Motors company in Australia the area to which it may export. The parent company in America also decides to which countries its goods may be exported. In reaching this decision it has regard to the political colour of the governments of those countries. Take the case of mainland China, for example. Whatever our feelings may be about the politics of the government of mainland China, nevertheless we are happy to sell our wheat to that country. But the General Motors Corporation of America has laid down that the Australian company must not sell Holden cars to mainland China. That is a classic example of overseas investment in Australia hamstringing our economic interests. I have mentioned mainland China only because we sell our wheat to her. Similar considerations could apply to Europe and the countries which are members of the Common Market. It may be possible for Australia to sell Holden cars in Europe in competition with Volkswagons. I have no doubt that we could economically sell Holdens in competition wilh Volkswagons
– After paying freight from Australia to Europe?
– Yes. I will come back to that point later. The price at which Australian-manufactured cars are sold outside Australia need not necessarily be the same price at which they are sold in Aus: tralia. Let us compare the price, at which Japanese cars are imported into Australia with the price for which they sell in Japan. Japan is exporting cars to Australia, for about £425 each. Those cars cost, the people of Japan more than they cost Australian buyers, even if we take into account the fact that sales tax and other charges are added to the price Qf. the car before it is sold to the Australian public.
– Can you give us any definite, figures w relation to. this, matter, because: if you. are; right it would appear that dumping; is- taking! place?
– The figure of about £425 is correct up u> the last quarter of the last financial year. That figure is obtained by dividing the number of Japanese cars- that have been imported into Australia into their value in Australian currency.
– ls that the price to the Australian public or to the importer?
– That is the landed cost of the car. After profit and sales tax have been added I think the price is in excess of £1,000. This is not a matter of dumping. I think it is widely known that once the General Motors organization in Australia has reached a daily production of 500 cars it can produce a further 50 a day for practically the cost of the materials involved. So the General Motors organization could easily increase production in order to compete on overseas markets. If overseas companies can successfully compete on the Australian market, surely Australian companies with the necessary volume of production can compete on overseas markets. I raise this matter simply to refute Senator Scott’s suggestion that money spent on publicizing overseas investment in Australia directly assists our drive to increase export earnings.
It is wrong for the General Motors Corporation of America to dictate to the Australian company where and. when it may export Holden cars. That power should lie only with the Commonwealth Parliament. If the Government was sincere in its drive to increase export earnings it would seek that power, if it has not already got it. The Australian government - not the American controllers of the General Motors Corporation - should decide in which countries Holden cars are sold.
..- The committee may find further reference to this item somewhat tedious but we are dealing with the. Department of Trade which, in my view, has the responsibility of solving the major economic problems that confront Australia at this perilous time. Therefore. 1 do not think I should apologize for further consideration o8 this department’s estimates. E want to refer to some new matters but before doing so< I want to comment on the remarks passed’ by Senator
Ridley about the possibility of selling Australianmade cars in Europe. I direct attention to the annual report of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited which was issued three or four weeks ago. In its report the company, after referring to Australian costs of production, states that in attempting to sell steel in Singapore or in the Philippines - comparatively close markets - it is confronted with freight costs greater than those with which its European competitors are confronted. The market in South Africa is inaccessible because of freight costs. The chief component of export freight costs is the stevedoring cost. We should take this matter seriously to heart in considering the expansion of our export trade. The Department of Trade, apart from its administrative expenses, is responsible for expenditure on commercial intelligence services in various countries. Those services are very good, but it is of no use having salesmen unless you are able to get the products to the market at a competitive price. We should concentrate more upon keeping down the prices of our products than upon the salesmanship of our commercial intelligence services.
My chief purpose in rising is to refer to the proposed vote for the Tariff Board. We have been reminded by the Minister for National Development that included in the business-paper is an item relating to the report of the Tariff Board. I doubt whether we will reach that matter during this session. I should like to see half a day, or even a day, devoted to a debate on this matter, because the report contains a lot of material which I believe should be the subject of debate. Those of us who have yearned and pleaded during the last five years for a general review of the operations and effect of the policy of the Tariff Board over the last twenty years have not yet been satisfied. A general review of tariff policy and Tariff Board decisions has not been undertaken since 1931. A general analysis should be available for the guidance and consideration of honorable senators.
It is unwise for us to continue in the haphazard way in which we have proceeded in the past. I refer particularly to the granting of emergency tariffs to protect our industries against the precipitate impact of the removal of import licensing, and other emergency measures which have been adopted during the last eighteen months. I believe that our exporting industries, in particular, should have some knowledge of the effect upon the economy of these tariff adjustments.
The next matter I want to mention is this: We are all seised of the very difficult conditions which confront our exporters of primary products. We should not be complacent or satisfied simply because the Government has been able to build up as at the end of June - perhaps it was at the end of August - overseas balances amounting to approximately £500,000,000. Such an achievement is reassuring, but the continuance of a profitable export trade is still a matter of concern. If honorable senators were to look at the “ Treasury Information Bulletin “, of July, 1960, they would note that for the year 1960-61 the value of our exports on current account was £937,000,000, and the value of our imports was £1,084,000,000. After taking into account credits on invisible transactions amounting to £227,000,000, debits on invisible transactions amounting to £484,000,000, and the import valuation adjustment - I do not know the meaning of that term - amounting to £35,000,000, we have a balance on current account of minus £369,000,000. In other words, there was a deficit in our trading on current account of £369,000,000.
That sum was offset by official transactions, loans and undistributed income, which in this connexion I do not understand, amounting to £65,000,000, and other private capital inflow items amounting to £261,000,000. The deficit was greatly reduced by those items, which are not produced by trade. I should like the Minister representing the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) to give us, before we conclude our consideration of this proposed vote, an indication of the assessment of the Department of Trade of our trading prospects for the next year. It is quite obvious that if the whole of that deficit of £369,000,000 is to be borne by the exporting industries, those industries will be cut close to the bone.
That brings me to the second idea I have in relation to the Tariff Board and which I advance for consideration and criticism. Is there any way by which the Tariff Board can adjust at least the primary and secondary customs duty component in the cost of producing our export commodities? Can the Tariff Board devise a system whereby that element in the cost of our exported products can be withdrawn in favour of the primary producer? I do not stay to develop the theme. The use of withdrawal duties is an old and familiar tariff technique. I wish to apply the idea to the situation in Australia and to ask whether the Department of Trade, or the Tariff Board with the knowledge of the department, has considered a system whereby our export industries can recover a sum equal to the tariff component that has gone into the cost of production of their commodities in both a primary and a secondary way.
The third matter I raise is a more direct proposition which is being and has been advanced over a number of years. Has the thinking of the Department of Trade, the Tariff Board or, if these matters have not come before the department or the Tariff Board, of the Government advanced to the stage of considering the granting of export bounties or subsidies to assist our export industries? It is my thesis, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that if we suffer trading deficits amounting to £369,000,000 or even £250,000,000 a year, with an annual export income of £800,000,000 or £900,000,000, our export industries will be forced right down to a cost basis. Then we will find that the hand which should have dressed the vine will be applauding in the circus. It is of no use waiting till the end of next year to decide these matters. Is there not some merit in some of these ideas, which have been advanced with a view to giving some stimulus to those industries upon which we depend for our export income?
– I rise to clarify one point that Senator Wright mentioned. He said that he believed that the main barrier to the export of cars from Australia was the transport cost and that the stevedoring cost was the biggest factor in that. I do not accept that as necessarily being true. I believe that other factors in transport costs have a greater impact than stevedoring costs have. Even if we accept for the sake of argument that that is a barrier, the point that I made was that if that barrier is removed the decision as to where General Motors-Holden’s
Limited exports cars will not be made in Australia. That decision is made in America by the General Motors Corporation. The policy that dictates to which country General Motors-Holden’s Limited sells cars, even within the regional area allocated to Australia by the General Motors Corporation, would still be made in Washington and not in Canberra.
. I should like to obtain some information about the Commercial Intelligence Service. If we examine the appropriations for this service from Division No. 306 right through to Division No. 351 we find that under sub-division 2 - Administrative Expenses - Item 04 - Rent and maintenance, other buildings - where that item has appeared in the Estimates before, this year the appropriation is increased considerably, but in a number of cases no appropriation has been made before and a considerable amount of money is appropriated in these Estimates. For the West Indies the appropriation this year is £2,600.
– This point was made by Senator Branson.
– In view of that, I will not proceed. This year substantial appropriations are made in respect of those items which, in some cases, have not appeared in previous Estimates. I should like an explanation of that.
– I want to refer to Division No. 304 - Tariff Board. Under sub-division 1 - Salaries and payments in the nature of salary - the appropriation this year is £148,000, compared with last year’s expenditure of £130,929. The total appropriation for Division No. 304 this year is £209,000, compared with last year’s expenditure of £174,517. The schedule shows that this year there will be an increase in the number of employees. I presume that that is because of the increase in the number of members of the Tariff Board.
I now wish to refer to the board making quick decisions and the Government acting on them. Recently the board took evidence throughout Australia on the plight of the nitrogenous fertilizer industry and accepted the recommendation of the industry. A deputy chairman decided that there should be a duty of 4s. a unit on the importation of nitrogenous fertilizer for each unit of nitrogen that a ton of fertilizer contained after 130,000 tons had been manufactured in or imported into Australia. That looked after the Australian industry to the extent that Australia had the capacity for the production of about 100,000 tons and 30,000 tons was being imported; but the Australian industry could not ‘Compete with overseas industries. Therefore, it was decided that protection would be given to nitrogenous fertilizer, some of which contained 45 units of nitrogen. The duty on that would amount to £9 a ton.
Now let us consider the fruit-growing industry, which is what interests me. As Senator Wright has just mentioned, in Australia we have an arbitration system which does not seem to take any cognizance at all of the earning capacity of our export industries.
– That is not the job of the arbitration tribunals.
– I do not know anything about the arbitration system. I do not profess to know anything about it. All I know is that Senator Wright has said that very shortly the Australian Parliament will have to look into the matter of granting subsidies to our primary industries.
– The very thing that the arbitration tribunals purport to determine is the capacity of industry to pay, including the capacity of export industries to pay.
– I believe that that is right. ‘When the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration ‘Commission gives a judgment on the wage structure in Australia it takes into consideration the capacity of industry to pay, and surely it must take into consideration the capacity of our primary industries as well as ;that of other industries.
– It did.
– If the honorable senator says it did, let us look at the facts. That is what we have to do. Let us consider the report of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics on how much the woolgrowers are getting for their wool and how much profit on capital the wool-growers in the ‘higher rainfall areas are making. The ‘bureau has come forward with the statement that wool-growers in the higher rainfall areas in Victoria are Hosing 1 per cent, at the moment; in South Australia wool-growers are making 3i per .cent, -profit on capital; and the average income .of primary producers 0I wool, wheat, meat and dairy .products represents a return of less than 3i per cent, on capital. Therefore, I .believe it is time the Arbitration Commission took cognizance of the position of our primary industries. Evidently, it is not doing that at the moment. That is all I want to say on that matter.
– Even the primary industries that do not -employ la’bour?
– Nobody has a farm unless he works it. I have just stated the facts as I see them.
Now I wish to come back to the fact that a member of the Tariff Board decided that the nitrogenous fertilizer industry should be protected to the extent of £9 a ton. The ‘fruit-growers in .Australia are having a bad time, hut they are expected to pay the additional amount for nitrogenous fertilizer if they can .afford to carry on their industry. Recently I noticed with particular interest that the chairman of directors of a .well-known Australian company, in his annual report to the shareholders, stated that a Western Australian firm which had recently been acquired by and become .a subsidiary of the large stock company had shown a substantial profit for the year. That was a fruit-growing firm. That must have -been very pleasing to all the fruit-growers in Western Australia. None of .them who produces the Cleo and Dunn varieties of apples can produce them at a profit. The company that recently acquired the Western Australian firm was very pleased with the results -of its subsidiary company and the profit that it made from the export of fruit from Western Australia. For the first time in the history of the Western Australian fruit-growing .industry the fruit shippers put their heads together and came out with the one price. I am very pleased to hear that the Western Australian Government has set up a royal commission to inquire into and report on .the industry.
I want to support what Senator Wright said. Surely the Government and the (Parliament of Australia should consider the income earned by our primary industries and endeavour to do what they can to increase that income.
– Before the sitting is suspended, 1 should like to take the opportunity to answer, as far as .1 can, the points that have been raised so far. Senator Ridley mentioned the sum of £70,000, which it is proposed to spend on advertising in order to attract investment to Australia. I do not know whether he objects to the allocation of that sum which, in itself, is not large. He tied his objection rather to one company - General Motors-Holden’s Limited. All I can say is that General Motors-Holden’s Limited does not represent all the investment that comes to Australia, even though what Senator Ridley said about that company is correct. Australia needs to develop. The sum provided is not large because the economic conditions in Australia are themselves conducive to overseas investments, which, as has been shown to us, are flowing in quite freely. I am informed that General Motors-Holden’s Limited exports to New Zealand, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Greece.
Senator Wright pointed out that one of the things that militated against exports was stevedoring industry costs. That is undoubtedly true. He .asked whether the Department of Trade could forecast what trade will be secured next year. The department cannot do that. It is the responsibility of the department to endeavour to find avenues through which our trade can flow, but it is not its responsibility to assess the amount of export income which can be secured or the import expenditure which may be incurred. That is the responsibility of the Treasury, and not so much the responsibility of the Department of Trade. The general effects of Tariff Board policies are under fairly constant review by the Government. There is not at the moment a proposition to set up a special committee to review them.
The honorable senator asked me whether the Government was considering paying bounties to primary producers. I gather that he tied his remarks to primary producers, or, let us say, at any rate to export income-earners. The answer is “ No “. If, in fact, the Government did embark on that course, it would probably get into considerable trouble in its international relations, because such a policy is against the provisions of the General Agreement on Tariffs ;and Trade, ‘and would be liable to cause (trouble which might militate against our markets more than the benefits which the bounty would secure for us.
– A bounty would not be out of order in relation to Gatt if it was merely for the purpose of maintaining productivity.
– It depends upon the effect on the price for which the commodity is sold, which obviously would be a case in point here. As I have pointed out, the Government has used other methods of incentive. Some involve rebates of income tax where products are exported, and others involve rebates of ‘ pay-roll tax by which a percentage of the tax is rebated depending upon that portion of the firm’s products that is exported. I think those were the main points raised by Senator Wright.
Senator Wedgwood raised a point relating to Division No. 306, Item 04, under the heading “ Administrative Expenses “. I am told that previously the rent of leased buildings was charged to salaries and allowances under item 01 of sub-division 1, but after a recent review it is now provided for under item 04 of sub-division 2, administrative expenses.
Sitting suspended from 5.50 to 8 p.m.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Proposed expenditure - Department of Trade - Capital Works and Services, £134,000- noted.
Department of National Development.
Proposed expenditure, £8,450;000.
.- I wish to refer to a statement made by the Auditor-General in his report dated 30th June, 1961 - dealing with the financial year 1960-61- about rental losses of £352,368 under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. I should like the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) to -1611 me how -those losses arose. I was under the impression that, in pursuance of the agreement, lump sum payments were made to the State governments by the Commonwealth Treasury and that the States then administered ‘the agreement. Will the Minister tell me whether this loss is a recurring item? Can we expect similar losses to occur? Will the Minister also give me some information about Division No. 413 - Bureau of Mineral Resources - Other Services, for which an appropriation of £2,740,100 is sought?
– I wish to make a brief reference to the Division of National Mapping, the estimates for which are shown in Division No. 412. I am most heartened by the very fine work that the Department of National Development is doing in the field of national mapping. This work is essential to the conduct of the mining industry. To a great extent, the improvement in exploratory work for mining purposes is attributable to the activities of the Division of National Mapping. I notice that it is expected that the division will spend a good deal more money this year than last year, and that has my consent and complete approbation. Will the Minister inform the committee of the nature of the extra work foreshadowed by such a large increase in the vote? Will he tell us also whether the division is carrying out its geophysical work in pursuance of an overall plan? If it is, will he tell us something about that plan? How long will it take to complete and what is its general nature? The work done by the division is, as I have said, most important to the mining industry, and the Minister might be able to help us to comprehend the nature of the work if he gave us some details of it.
– I also wish to refer to the Division of National Mapping and to give the committee some information of which I hope notice will be taken. Recently the Public Accounts Committee, of which I am a member, considered at a public inquiry the activities of the Division of National Mapping. The record of the inquiry is available to all honorable senators. The inquiry gave the members of the Public Accounts Committee an opportunity to examine in some detail the work being done by this division, and I, for one, was very much impressed by the businesslike way in which the problem of national mapping is being attacked. We learned that a representative of the Commonwealth is the chairman of a council, members of which include representatives of the States, established to formulate and carry out a national mapping plan. The evidence taken by the Public Accounts Committee in its inquiry into the activities of the Division of National Mapping is well worth reading. I take this opportunity to support the complimentary remarks made by Senator Vincent.
– Senator O’Byrne has referred to a sum of £352,000 - rental losses under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement - mentioned in the Auditor-General’s report for 1960-61. I do not find that item in the estimates that are before us, but I think that it relates to the old rental rebate scheme provided for in the 1945 legislation. The Commonwealth undertook to bear two-fifths of the cost of rental rebates. A rebate was made when a tenant had an income below a certain figure, computed according to a formula. I have not seen any relevant figures lately, but I know from my general knowledge that although the advances were made many years ago, and although there were no claims for losses in the early years, now, sixteen years after the agreement began to operate in 1945, a number of losses is being brought to account. I assume that the figure mentioned by the honorable senator relates to that fact.
asked for a description of the overall plan in relation to national mapping. That question is easier to ask than to answer. There is an organization known as the Advisory Committee on Commonwealth Mapping, of which the secretary of my department is the chairman and which, from memory, is constituted by members from the Department of the Army, which does a good deal of mapping work, and the Department of the Interior. The committee maintains liaison with the States. The plan is, of course, to prepare adequate detailed maps for the whole of Australia. It proceeds according to a programme, but of course the programme is interrupted from time to time. At the present time, there is great pressure on tie Division of National Mapping to produce maps that will be useful in the search for oil. A little while ago there was pressure to produce maps that would be useful in the search for uranium. Throughout, there is a constant demand for maps that are required by the defence forces. The Division of National Mapping issues at regular intervals maps showing the portions of Australia which have been adequately mapped in detail and the areas that remain to be done.
asked for a break-up of the amount of £2,700,000 which it is proposed to expend by way of oil search subsidy. I do not think I can present a much better picture than that which is provided in the Estimates. Honorable senators will see that Division No. 413, which relates to the Bureau of Mineral Resources, is divided into three sections. First, there is the section dealing with salaries, then there is the section dealing with administrative expenses, and there is the third category of items relating to other services. The interesting points in the list of proposed expenditure are, first, the amount of £909,000 for operations, and, secondly, the provision of £2,700,000 for oil search subsidy payments. It will be noted that each of those items is substantially greater than last year’s expenditure.
The oil search (subsidy will, I hope, be debated in the Senate on Tuesday next, when relevant legislation comes before the chamber. I should think that it is not an over-statement to say that when that legislation becomes law, as I hope it will, Australians will be able to obtain an income tax deduction for any money they subscribe to a company searching for oil. When the company commences to operate it will become eligible for subsidy for almost every operation it undertakes, with the exception of administration. When that legislation becomes effective, there will be no country an the world, so far as we have been able to ascertain, which offers more favorable arrangements in the search for oil than are offered in Australia. There will be the taxation deduction for any money that is invested in all the operations from the geological surveys to the geophysical surveys, the seismic surveys and the drilling operations, and right through to the stage at which oil is found in commercial quantities.
– Who gets the taxation deduction? Does the shareholder of the -company get it?
– The shareholder gets the tax deduction. The company has the right, as have other mining companies, to deduct expenses; on completion of deduction of capital expense^, the income becomes taxable.
I do not think it is possible for me to detail the vast programme covered by the proposed expenditure of £909,000.
– Is there any detailed reference to it in the Estimates?
– No. There is nothing more in the Estimates than tha information that is given under Division No. 413.
The figures that I am about to read give a total expenditure of a little more than £1,000,000. That will be the programme. Of that amount, £909,000 will be spent in cash, and we shall close the year with about £100,000 worth of work in progress. Expenditure on oil search surveys will amount to £763,000; on metal search, £130,000; uranium search, £29,000; engineering, geology and geophysics, £8,900; regional surveys, £22,000; resident geologists, £11,200; laboratory investigations, £53,600; miscellaneous investigations, £3,300; drafting, map and office compilation, £18,400; and workshop, £18,240.
These figures give a bird’s-eye view of the programme. It would be a lengthy matter indeed and, I suggest, not to the advantage of the Senate, to endeavour to go through the programme item by item. I have in front of me information which shows where geological surveys are proposed.
– Give us a sketch of the oil search programme.
– That, again, is not as easy to do as it sounds, because some of the field parties are not engaged exclusively in oil search. The mapping work is not confined exclusively to oil search. With many of the activities an apportionment of the total expenditure is made, portion of it being for oil search and portion for other activities.
Let me indicate how difficult it is to present the picture properly. There will be shallow scout boring in the Georgina Basin. The data is needed to piece together a logical story of the continuity of outcropping formations that are visible from the surface.. There will be mapping in the Great Artesian Basin and in the north-west part of the Amadeus Basin. There will be mapping in the Canning Basin, and’ in the Bowen Basin. We are sotting up a basin study group., that being one of the recommendations made by the mission from the Petroleum Institute of France which recently visited this country. A special group of technical officers- will1 correlate that information and note what 1 would describe as signs of resemblance, to get the geological picture of the situation in the various basins in order to suggest the nature of the work that might be undertaken, upon the basis of what has been found in one basin from which information is available. Mapping is the basis of geological surveys. Two seismic parties, will be operating over a pretty wide field. They are composed of very highly skilled officers. It is very expensive to maintain a seismic crew in the field.. The first of the two parties will carry out surveys near Goondiwindi in the Great Artesian. Basin, in the Georgina Basin and in the Bowen Basin. There will be a big survey to investigate the possible extension of the Georgina basin in the Northern Territory and Queensland. The second party will, operate from Alice Springs.
I do not think that I gain much by going through operations in detail in that manner. The department aims to provide basic topographical and geological mapping information, then to carry the process a stage further by geological and geophysical sur>veys, with the aim of producing publican tions to be distributed for the benefit of companies that are interested in oil search, providing information for them to decide whether the signs and portents justify detailed exploration. We look to the companies to carry out the detailed geological, geophysical and drilling exploration. Each of these classes of operations is eligible for subsidy.
– The Minister for National Development has gone to a lot of trouble to explain the activities of the Bureau of Mineral Resources and I thank him for doing so. But f think it would be better if people could get a look at the maps that he mentioned. The type of information that the Minister supplied to-night could, I think, be provided better, more quickly and more intelligibly by means of a map, and I do not mean that as a reflection on the Minister. Therefore, I should like to ask the Minister just what the department does with these geological, geophysical and seismic maps. I have not seen: any of them in the Library. I have had a look at one or two. that show in detail some cores from boring, and I think that I saw one or two connected with the overall aerial survey. I should like to ask the Minister whether these maps are available and where they may be seen. They are not available in the Library. I refer to Division No. 413, sub-division 2, item 07., publications. These publications are issued from time to time, I understand. Senator Scott is holding one up to let me know that he at least has one. They are not made available through the Library,, and I should like to know just when and where they are available. Does one have to go to the office of the Bureau of Mineral Resources to obtain publications?
As an illustration of what I am’ driving at, 1 mention that the: Mines Department of South Australia has seismic surveys proceeding now. In South. Australian libraries there is a record of every survey made, in connexion with water, oil uranium or coal. All these are covered by publications of the. Mines Department, and are available at any time to. anybody who desires to have them. They are in the public and parliamentary libraries. I have all those reports for the past 40 or 45 years, but I have not been able to obtain Commonwealth reports, other than those tabled or read by the: Minister,, which do not give the detailed information provided in the reports to which I have referred or even in maps. I ask the Minister whether it is possible to have those reports tabled either in the Library or at some other place convenient to members and senators, without their having to go tothe department in Canberra or elsewhere.
, - I should like to compliment the Minister for National Development on the work being done by the Kimberley Research Station. I refer to Division No. 411, sub-division 3, item 02. Recently I’ had the privilege of spending some time at the station and I was tremendously impressed with the work done there. Z note that, tha appropriation for the purposes, of the station was not expended last year and that the proposed appropriation this year is larger. I am hoping that those two details may be connected with a request I made a few days ago for research to be undertaken into light land’ problems that are. worrying pastoralists, in the Kimberleys. Will some of the work projected under the proposed appropriation be directed to an inquiry into that problem in order to provide guidance to the people of the area similar to that which the research station has been providing on other problems for the past few years?
– I want to deal briefly with some of the matters raised by Senator Robertson. First P would like a break-up of the amount of money that is being provided for the Kimberley Research Station and for the building of the dam. I would also like some information on the type of research that has been done by the station in the last two or three years. I remember raising this matter about five or six years ago. At that time, as far as I could see, the research station was simply proving over and over what everybody already knew, namely, that it was easy to grow such things as safflower, rice and cotton. At the time the Minister concerned told me that no new research was being undertaken. I wonder whether the station is still undertaking the same type of research or has moved into some of the fields referred to by Senator Robertson, such as the development of light land and the production of cattle fodder. Four or five years ago it appeared to me that the research station had come to the end of its tether as far as research was concerned. Something has been done towards gauging the Ord River and building a dam but I wonder what purpose the research station serves apart from being a shop window for visitors who pass through the Kimberleys. What new research work is being undertaken, or is the station still demonstrating that safflower and other crops can be grown, which was known to be possible some years ago?
.- I was interested in Senator O’Flaherty’s line of thought. When we are discussing important undertakings, such as the Snowy Mountains scheme, for which particular
Ministers are responsible^ I think it would be an excellent idea if we followed the course followed in. other parliaments and had models and maps of the undertakings in our committee room. Then, when matters of this sort came before us, the committee could adjourn until the ringing of the bells and those of us who were interested could assemble in the committeeroom where, the head of the departmentconcerned or one of his officers could, with the aid- of the maps and models, convey to. us the scope of the operations on which the expenditure is to- be made. That would be an infinitely more effective method of explaining projects than the old-fashioned method of trying to explain them in words.
I should like to know whether now is the appropriate time to refer to the sum of £16,560,000 sought to be appropriated under Division No. 935 for expenditure under the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Power Act. If not, when may I raise that matter?
Order! That matter may be discussed when the committee is dealing with Capital Works and Services.
.- I should like to refer to, the proposed contribution under Division No. 413 of £38,900 to the Australian Mineral Development Laboratories. The. contribution approved by the Parliament last year was £22,508,. almost all’ of: which was spent. I understand that the Australian Mineral Development Laboratories are established in Adelaide and that until recently they were, under the: administration of the South Australian Government. The laboratories are probably the best mineralogical laboratories in Australia.
– They are the best in the southern hemisphere.
– I do not know what other laboratories there are in the southern hemisphere. The mining industry claims that results achieved by these, laboratories are as good as, if not better than results achieved by any other laboratories in Australia, including those in my own State of Western Australia. I understand that when uranium was discovered in Australia the laboratories prepared the flow sheets for the Uranium Mill project in South Australia.
I understand also that the Commonwealth Government used flow sheets prepared by the laboratories in connexion with the project at Rum Jungle and that flow sheets obtained from the laboratories were used in connexion with the Mary Kathleen project. Laboratories such as these are very important to Australia. The more efficient they are the better will our mining industry become. It is essential that we produce the cheapest uranium oxide in the world. That can be done only by the use of the latest methods and properly prepared flow sheets for the extraction of the mineral. It would appear that Australia is as far advanced in this type of work as any other country. The people engaged in these laboratories are to be congratulated on the work that they do. I would like the Minister to tell me what the contribution of £38,900 represents and who the other contributors are.
Let me say a few words now about the search for oil. Division No. 413 shows that the cost of running the Bureau of Mineral Resources has increased from £2,744,761 last year to an estimated £4,478,000 this year. The major portion of that increase is accounted for by the subsidy paid for the search for oil. I. have a great liking for the Bureau of Mineral Resources. I have seen a good deal of the work that it has done and is doing in all States. I should like to see more money made available to the bureau because the work that it is doing will help Australia to increase her export income from her mining fields. A lot of work is yet to be done, particularly with the large new deposits of iron ore that are being discovered almost every week. Only the other day we read of a new iron ore deposit of between 100,000,000 tons and 300,000,000 tons being discovered in the Northern Territory about 145 or 150 miles south of Darwin. The ore in that deposit is said to be of a grade up to 68 per cent. I congratulate the Government on increasing the subsidy for the search for oil, and as we will be dealing with this subject next week I will say no more about it at this stage.
I refer now to the proposed appropriation for the Kimberley Research Station and Ord River gauging, to which Senator Willesee has referred. I should like to know whether any assessment has been made of the size of the major dam that is to be constructed. Senator Robertson said she visited this project recently. I know that she took a great interest in it. I have been informed by people who are working on the Ord River project that when the dam is completed it will impound as much water as is in Sydney Harbour and that it will provide for the generation of all the electricity that will be required within a radius of 50 or 100 miles of the dam site. I understand that a similar project which is being undertaken in the Fitzroy basin in Western Australia will impound as much if not more water than is contained in Sydney Harbour.
Sometimes in the development of a nation a person or a government is apt to move forward a little too quickly. Surely the first step that should be taken in developing Australia, whether it be in the north or the south, is to take full advantage of the natural resources. It will be noted that when the first pastoralists settled in Australia they grazed their stocks on the open pastures. Then, to improve those pastures, they cleared the land and fenced it. In later years they further improved their pastures by using fertilizers and providing extra watering facilities. Thereafter they put in dams, conserved water and engaged in irrigation.
Mr. Wise, a former Administrator of the Northern Territory, recently succeeded in having the Western Australian Government take note of his suggestion that the land tenure system in the north-west of that State should be examined. A very interesting debate on his suggestion took place. What I am trying to do is to point out the difficulties that exist in these areas. I believe that, if we adopt the right approach to the development of the north of Australia, we will find out just what improvements could be effected to our dry-farming methods.
– What is the present tenure there?
– I could not tell you what the tenure is in the Northern Territory, but I know that in Western Australia the leases will expire in 1982. I was referring to the pastures in the north and the desirability of endeavouring to improve them. If we established research farms in the dry-farming areas at a cost of £10,000 or £20,000 a year, probably we would ascertain that in ten years we could increase the carrying capacity of the land in the north of Western Australia and the Northern Territory by at least 100 per cent. I guarantee that research farms, if established, would prove that to be so. We have had experimental stations on the Ord River since 1947, but they have not succeeded in improving the carrying capacity of that area by 1 per cent. The people of Western Australia and in the southern parts of this continent are expecting the Government to spend millions of pounds upon the further development of the southern areas. In my opinion, we may be putting the cart before the horse. I believe we should start as did the first settlers, and that we should work up from there slowly and be assured of success.
.- I refer to Division No. 413 - Bureau of Mineral Resources - and in particular to item 01, Search for oil - Subsidy, under the heading “ Other Services “. I congratulate the Government in general, and the Minister for National Development in particular, on the zeal and enthusiasm which have been shown in the search for oil in Australia. It is difficult to imagine a commodity that is of greater importance to this country. But, however keenly we may push the search for oil, it is still a chancy business. I ask the Minister whether he will again consider a request I made three years ago for the Government to examine the possibility of making oil from coal - in other words, the possibility of making synthetic fuel. This is a matter which interests honorable senators on both sides of the chamber. The manufacture of synthetic fuel is chemically and scientifically practicable.
Australia is fortunate in that Victoria possesses one of the three large-scale Lurgi plants that exist in the world. At the moment, the Victorian Gas and Fuel Corporation is producing quite a deal of oil as a by-product in its production of gas for Melbourne. I am informed that the process of gasifying the coal accounts for three-quarters of the cost of making oil from coal and that the Lurgi process, which is employed at Morwell, accounts for three-quarters of the chemical process that is required for the making at synthetic fuel. I have been informed further that the expenditure of a mere £9,000,000 on the present plant at Morwell would enable Australia to produce enough synthetic fuel to meet the requirements of the Navy, the Army and the Air Force in the event of our overseas supplies being cut off.
I realize, of course, that the Commonwealth does not own the Morwell plant, but that it is the property of the Victorian Government. My modest suggestion to the Minister is that the Government should inquire of the Victorian authorities to ascertain whether my suggestion is practicable. The Victorian Government has always been keenly aware of the part that Victoria has played in Australia’s national development. I have no authority from any one to say this, but I believe that such an approach would be received sympathetically At least we would know that when we spent £9,000,000 we would get some fuel. Admittedly, it would be only a drop in the bucket compared with Australia’s annual requirement, but conceivably it could be enough to get us out of a difficult defence spot or a difficult position at any other time when overseas supplies were interrupted.
I say to the committee that with the modern methods of treatment in use. - such as the modern Lurgi plant which is available in Australia and the modern development of the Fischer Tropsch process - there is nothing inferior about synthetic oil made from coal. About twenty years ago, when Hitler was letting loose his air force on the world, he ran the bulk of that air force on synthetic fuel. Since that time considerable chemical improvements have been made both in efficiency and costs. Therefore, I hope that the Minister will re-examine this matter and see whether anything can be done about it.
– I refer to Division No. 411, sub-division 3, item 03, “ River Murray Commission - Contribution towards expenses, £1,850 “. Would I be correct in assuming that that is only a contribution towards the running of the commission itself? In view of the great national potential in the development of the Murray valley, does the Department of National Development take any other active interest in the development, of the Murray valley by the contribution of finance or in any other way? The whole of the Murray valley has potentialities similar to those of other areas in Australia on which the Government is spending a great deal of money on research and development. If the Government is not giving any assistance other than that covered by the item to which I have referred, could the Government undertake some more substantial development along the lines of the Snowy Mountains scheme? If there are any constitutional difficulties as far as the States are concerned, perhaps they could be overcome in a similar manner to the way in which they were overcome for the Snowy Mountains scheme.
– As an addendum to my previous remarks on the Kimberley Research Station, I wonder whether the Government has made any economic surveys of the possible sale of commodities produced as a result of the Ord River scheme. Have any surveys been made of whether safflower and the other commodities that it is hoped to grow there will be able to compete on foreign markets? In other words, has the economic side, rather than the mere agricultural side, of the project been considered? If any surveys have been made, could the Minister make a brief comment on them?
– I refer to Division No. 411, Administrative, for which the total appropriation, is £355,000. I intend to refer to the: development of the north of Australia. At the outset I state that it is very gratifying to know that the Minister for NationalDevelopment is taking such positive steps1 for the development of the north; but it is– a pity that at present the developmental work is being done in what I call a piecemeal fashion. Money is being allocated to Western Australia for development in that- State; money is being allocated! to Queensland for roads in that State: T presume that some money is going into the Northern Territory for development there. If we do not start to get an overall plan, I believe it will end up as a hotchpotch system.
I ask the Minister whether he has given any thought to setting up a commission to formulate an overall plan, although a certain amount of interim development has to be carried out. I suggest the establishment of a commission to formulate a plan for the overall development of the north. That commission should have representatives of all the States concerned. If that was done, there would be one authority to formulate a plan, co-ordinate all the evidence that the various States obviously have and fill in the gaps which exist. There would then be one plan for the development of the beef industry, agricultural industries and mineral resources. The commission could undertake a hydrological survey and do all the other things which must be done if a plan is to be carried out in the most efficient manner.
A commission for the development of the north was set up in about 1926 under what was then called the Ministry for Home Affairs. That commission ran for about- four years and was disbanded duringthe depression when government finance was withdrawn. If it was good enough to have a commission then, is there any reason why it would not be wise to have a similar commission now? I noticed that there were three commissioners on the body to which I have referred, but I’ suggest that the number should be extended so thatthere would be one member from each State concerned, as there is- on the River Murray Commission. I should like to know whether the Minister has given any thought to that matter.
I now refer to Division No. 411, subdivision. 3, item. 03 - River Murray Commission. Can the Minister tell me what the present position is in regard to the request by South Australia for a dam upstream from Renmark? I understand that a report has been supplied to the River Murray Commission. Will the Minister tell me what the situation is in that respect?
-. - Senator- O’Flaherty asked some questions about maps. The present arrangement is that they are distributed’ to all libraries,, all mines’ departments, all universities and all State governments: The. list includes the:
National library. So, we should be able to get them in the Library of the Parliament on request. I am , not quite certain of my facts in this respect, but I think the Library of the Parliament is a branch activity of the National Library. If that is correct, as the National Library receives a copy of each map as it is issued, we should be able to go to our Library and obtain copies of the maps. As well as being distributed to bodies such as those I have mentioned, about 70,000 copies a year are sold to those members of the public who are interested in them. They are on sale in all capital cities .in the mines departments
– Where do you buy them in the capital cities’?
– In the State mines departments, the offices of the Department of National Development or the office from which Commonwealth publications can be bought, which is the office of the State Controller of Supplies in each State. Without any knowledge of this at all, I suggest that the honorable senator look at the maps that he is now using to see whether the name of the Bureau of Mineral Resources is printed on the bottom of them. The Division of National Mapping of the Department of National Development produces the majority of the maps that are used, and the honorable senator may well be using maps prepared by the department. On some occasions when I have obtained a map for some purpose, I have been intrigued to find that it was produced in my own department.
asked some questions about the Kimberley Research Station. An agreement has been entered into between the Western Australian and Commonwealth Governments to increase the activity of the station in the coming year. As I suppose Senator Robertson knows, a policy committee controls the research station. On the committee are representatives from the Commonwealth Scientific and “Industrial Research Organization, my own department and the two Western Australian departments concerned. We have agreed upon a five-year programme, commencing this year, under which each government is to find in equal shares ‘the funds .for a programme ‘Costing £9.2,000 a year.
I do not agree with Senator Willesee’s diagnosis that the stage has been reached where the station is carrying out the same sort of experiments and is possibly getting a bit stale.
– It was you who told me about that.
– I told you about the experiments, but I do not subscribe to the view that there is no great value in the work the station is doing. I thought you decried the work being done, suggesting that the station ought to be moving out into a wider field.
– What is the new ground it has covered?
– That is the whole point I have been making. Although the station has been carrying out experiments successfully up to a certain stage it is continuing to do an appreciable amount of work on the present group of crops such as safflower, cotton, rice and so on. A five-year programme has been drawn up, but it is still necessary to continue existing activities. I suppose it is an overstatement to say that the work of the station is the foundation for the Ord River project, but at any rate it is providing a very important contribution towards that project. The development of the Ord River project was very largely assisted by what is being done at the Kimberley Research Station.
Senator Wright made the suggestion that models and maps should be made available. He has made that suggestion in previous years. I endeavoured this year to meet it to some extent by having, so far as the Snowy Mountains scheme is concerned, a preliminary or tentative annual report circulated well in advance of this discussion. 1 think that report contains some good maps and illustrations.
Senator Scott discussed the laboratories in South Australia. The arrangement is that the South Australian Government owns the premises and a partnership arrangement exists between the mining industry, the South Australian Government and the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth contribution consists of the provision, either in cash or in work, of £45,000 a year. The figure in the Estimates is the amount of cash that is needed this year. The amount of work provided is valued at about £6,000. I think Senator Scott wanted to be assured that the Bureau of Mineral Resources was receiving adequate support. I can give him quite a firm assurance. Eliminating the subsidies for oil, there is an increase of approximately one-third in the total financial appropriation for the bureau. That represents quite a substantial extension of its activities.
Senator Hannan raised the question of obtaining oil from coal. That question is the subject of an exhaustive inquiry at the moment by a committee consisting of men possessing very high technical qualifications. On the committee are representatives of the business community as well as officers of the Public Service. Included in the personnel is Dr. Andrews from the Gas and Fuel Corporation of Victoria. The committee has been inquiring, not only into the possibilities of obtaining gas from coal, but also into other activities which might increase, or improve, the use of coal. It has been making its inquiries for the best part of twelve months, or even longer. I made some inquiries from the committee recently and ascertained that it does not expect to complete its deliberations until early next year. I have met members of the committee from time to time and talked things over with them, and I hold the view that this inquiry is the best and most thorough investigation that has yet been made into the future uses of coal as a fuel, and into its uses for other purposes. I told the committee frankly that I would rather it did the job thoroughly - having a good impression of what is being done - than give me an early report.
Senator Sandford was correct in suggesting that £1,850 was for the running expenses of the River Murray Commission. He asked whether there were any other proposals connected with the Murray. I would remind him of the constitution of the commission. It consists of representatives of three State governments and the Commonwealth Government. It is entirely responsible for any work done in the main river bed of the river, but developments along the banks are the responsibility of the State governments within whose area the particular projects may come.
asked whether there had been economic surveys as well as farming experiments carried out by the Kimberley Research Station. My answer is that there have been, but I cannot prove it. I know that the work the station has done has been taken into account, not only by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics in the Commonwealth sphere, but also by the relevant State departments. I know, too, from common knowledge, that there has been a good deal of examination of the economics of the various crops. One of the by-products, as it were, of this station is the Liveringa rice development. I was on the Ord River a few months ago, and one of the things that impressed me was the approach to the problem by putting in what are called pilot farms. I think the officers of the research station are developing about 2,000 acres on a commercial basis. They have an arrangement with the company that owns or is developing Liveringa - they are the managing agents or whatever the proper term is - to put a couple of thousands of acres under crop and prove its worth before they go very deeply into the scheme as a whole.
asked why there is not a plan for the development of the north of Australia. That is a subject that has been hotly debated and very much argued. Such a plan would cover perhaps one-third of the total area of Australia. It would touch the Northern Territory and parts of Western Australia and Queensland. It would perhaps touch parts of South Australia as well. I belong to the school of thought which prefers the way in which the development of the north is being approached at present. I am apprehensive of what would happen if we established a commission to prepare a plan for this purpose. Possibly it would be years before the commission produced a report, and then the report might well meet the fate of so many other reports on the development of the north. I have given only my personal opinion, and the time may come when the Government will decide against me.
I believe we are apt to underrate the development that has occurred in the north in recent years and the development that will occur in the next few years. The ground work has been done for many things that will happen in the comparatively near future. My great complaint about mining development, for instance, is that it takes so long before any project comes to fruition. A mining developmental project of any size involves large engineering works, which may take three or four years to complete, and you have to possess yourself in patience until the project comes into operation.
With regard to the Chowilla dam, the position is that the River Murray Commission is completing its report. When the report has been completed, it will have to be circulated to the State Premiers before any of the information contained in it can be made public.
.- I should like the Minister to tell me whether any agreement has been made by the department and the private companies engaged in mapping work in mineral fields and oilfields to exchange information and maps so that there can be a more comprehensive coverage of Australia. In view of the valuable services that have been rendered by the Department of National Development, through its mapping division, to many people and companies engaged in mining and in prospecting for oil, it seems to me that there should be some reciprocity. I should like to know whether that is the case. To what extent, if any, is there liaison between the department and the big mining organizations and oil companies that are operating in various parts of ti, Australia?
– I refer to Division No. 418 - Australian Atomic Energy Commission. I notice that the proposed vote for the commission this year is £2,862,000 and that the expenditure last year was £2,379,000. In round figures, £500,000 more will be spent this year than last year. I should like the Minister to tell me the reasons for that increased expenditure.
I should also like him to tell me whether, in his opinion, the Commonwealth Government is doing enough work on the development of atomic power in Australia. We have a nuclear reactor at Lucas Heights, but it is very small. I do not know whether it is big enough to allow full-scale experiments to be carried out. I have no doubt that in the not very distant future the main sources of power in the world will be nuclear reactors, using uranium. My reason for saying that is quite obvious. The cost of generating electricity with nuclear reactors has fallen considerably in the last few years.
I feel that we in Australia are not doing as much in this field as we should. I should like the Minister to tell me, if he can, how much is being spent in Canada - by the nation as a whole, not only by the government - on the development of power by nuclear reactors. I choose Canada as an example because it is a country with a population about half as large again as the population of Australia, and because the Canadians, as we do, have adequate supplies of uranium. While I am on that subject, I ask the Minister whether there are any arrangements for the exchange of information regarding the results of the scientific experimental work on atomic energy being carried out by the free nations of the world, and whether such information is readily available to Australia.
Many questions have been asked in this chamber about atomic energy and the establishment of reactors in Australia. I should like an assurance from the Minister that if and when electric power can be produced as cheaply by nuclear reactors as by generating stations using coal and oil, those reactors will be established in Australia. In a cold war or a hot war it would be vital for each of the major countries of the world to have large nuclear reactors for the generation of power, and work is proceeding accordingly. I sometimes think that we are standing by and letting the larger nations bear the full brunt of the expenditure in this field and that we are waiting to know the results of their work before we play our part. If expenditure on the development of atomic power in Canada is running at the rate of £30,000,000 or £40,000,000 a year and expenditure in Australia is running at the rate of only £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 a year, that would prove to my satisfaction that we are not pulling our weight in the free world in this field of work.
Senator SPOONER (New South WalesVicePresident of the Executive Council and Minister for National Development^ [9.19].- Replying to Senator O’Byrne, there is a very healthy atmosphere in relation to the production of maps. One of the onditions .that the State governments impose on mining companies -is that the companies ‘shall give to the State .mines departments copies of all the geological -maps that they produce concerning any tenements that they hold. That is a State requirement. The mining companies give the maps to the States and the States then give copies to the Bureau of Mineral Resources. In the majority of cases, however, the mining companies would have already sent copies direct to the bureau. The Division of National Mapp’ing is the biggest mapping organization in Australia. It works very largely to a programme, in conjunction with -the States and the mining companies concerned. 1 inform Senator ‘Scott that there is an increase of £500,000 in the appropriation for the .Australian Atomic Energy Commission this year. I forecast that there will also be increases in -subsequent years. The present position is mat about £9;000,000 worth of capital has ‘been invested in -the commission’s establishments. We are only now reaching the stage where the actual buildings are being completed. The staff could not be properly assembled and the research programme developed until the buildings were available. That is the reason for the increase. I should think there will be a further increase next year and in subsequent years until the full establishment and the full programme of wonk is achieved.
I have been asked to say -how our programme compares with that of other -countries. One of the outstanding impressions that I gained during ,mv trip abroad was >of the volume -of research work in this field being done :in other countries. I point out that, in the -last year for which -figures are ‘available, Canada spent :£14,-000,000 in this connexion. When I returned from ‘overseas I assembled ‘all the information I had gained and :put -the .figures on (record in a speech that I .made in the Senate. I did so to indicate .the size of the programmes being undertaken overseas. The impression -one gains from -the figures .is that these great programmes would not be proceeding, with ‘governmental support, unless ‘there was confidence that they “would yield results.
We obtain information, although not automatically, .about what tis (going on tin this sphere ‘overseas. The -scene is changing a , little. The use of atomic -energy .for power .generation is becoming more -certain as -each year passes. Therefore, there is commercial -advantage to be gained from the possession of knowledge and know-how. We receive information from those countries with which we have bilateral agreements for the exchange of information. Fortunately, in the early days when the Atomic Energy Commission began its operations, we made arrangements with most of the countries, and as a result, we are well served with information about what is going on overseas.
.May I trouble the Minister by asking for a progress report on the Joint Coal Board’s port development programme in New South Wales, which we have discussed in this place once or twice previously? I should like to know the progress that has been made with the coal export .programme during the last half year. 1 -remind the Minister that the Japanese budget of April last, for the ensuing six months, provided for expenditure of £4,500,000 on the importation of coal from Australia. I heard the Minister refer earlier to the fact that the United States of America was casting jealous eyes on that trade. I must confess -that I am somewhat impatient of the dawdling progress that is being made in the improvement of the New South Wales ports. At any rate, that is my impression.
It irritates me to find that the export -of a j commodity that is readily available is being frustrated by delays in construction work. Will the Minister state, with some particularity, the stage that has been reached with the port construction work? Will he also say whether the programme of coal exports to Japan is being fulfilled, and whether there is any likelihood Of Japan diverting her custom to the United ‘States of America if we Cannot supply the coal because of delays in port construction?
– I refer again .to .the Australian Atomic ‘Energy Commission, and -also to the Bureau of Mineral Resources, Geology and ^Geophysics, ti -do not want to mention figures, but I should like to know whether it-he technical -officers and scientists that we employ,, .m ‘both .the .commission and -the bureau, are receiving adequate remuneration for the work that they do. I have beard that we :are losing -many of our officers from the Bureau of Mineral Resources because they are going to private mining companies, to State instrumentalities and to other countries. I am aware that about five years ago the remuneration that we were offering was not sufficient to attract scientists and technologists into our service.
A considerable amount of information has been sent to us showing how the remuneration of our technologists and scientists compares with that of Soviet Russia. It appears that the highest-paid people in Russia are the scientists and technologists. They receive much higher salaries than do the doctors and dentists.
– Where is that?
– In Soviet Russia.
– You do not mean to say they are doing something right?
– I think this is a serious matter, because more and more of these people will be required in industry in Australia. As we know, geologists and mining engineers must have a university degree.
I had a look at the work being done by the Australian Atomic Energy Commission at the Lucas Heights establishment, and I must say that I was somewhat bamboozled when I walked through the place. However, it is surprising how a politician can bluff his way through if he tries to ask sensible questions. I was amazed by the work being carried out there and by the high standard required of the officers who work at the establishment. I ask the Minister whether we are paying our technologists and scientists sufficient remuneration not only to keep them in their jobs but also to attract people to undertake work of this kind. If the honorable senators study the Soviet system they will find that the country is turning out thousands of these people every year, while we are turning out only about ten. If we are to survive as free nations, this matter must be considered seriously, not only by Australia but by all the Western countries.
– I cannot provide an answer to Senator Scott, because rates of remuneration are fixed by the Public Service Board or in accordance with awards. Research officers at Lucas Heights are, I understand, on the same basis .as scientists in the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. I have no reason to believe other than that the staff at Lucas Heights is happy and contented. I have no information about people leaving the establishment. The field, of course, is restricted. There are not many opportunities for that type of research work elsewhere in Australia. I imagine that the Bureau of Mineral Resources is one of the really good places for a man to obtain basic training in his profession. Private operators try to get officers of .experience from the bureau to go over to them. So far as I know, there has not been much evidence of that over the last couple of years.
The Commonwealth’s agreement to contribute £1,000,000 by way of grant and £1,600,000 by way of special loan has altered the whole outlook on provision of coal .port facilities in New South Wales.
– When was that announced?
– About three months ago, in the Budget. Since then, I have seen a letter from the Premier of New South Wales to the effect that the Port Kembla facilities will be finished by September, 1963, which is about as soon as they can physically be completed, having regard to the work. Tenders have been called for facilities in Sydney. I do not think the position is as clear at Newcastle. Tenders have been called for the deepening of the entrance to Newcastle harbour, but no decision has yet been made upon the location and site of loading facilities. There is some dissatisfaction amongst operators of shipping out of Newcastle because not as much progress has been made there as in other ports.
– Is Japan getting the full quantity of coal for which she programmed in the current half-year, which is worth, I think, about £4,500,000?
– The Japanese have sent missions from time to time to .evaluate the situation. The orders that have been received are about as large as can be handled by the present facilities at Port Kembla and Sydney. That level of orders is being maintained. There has been no departure from the level of business that has been written. The irritating aspect at the moment is the possibility of substantially increasing mining without having the physical facilities to handle production.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Department of National Development - Capital Works and Services.
Proposed expenditure, £52,980,000.
– I refer to Division No. 931, which deals with the provision of plant and equipment for the Bureau of Mineral Resources and the Division of National Mapping. Last year the expenditure for this purpose by the Bureau of Mineral Resources was £125,000 and by the Division of National Mapping, £11,985. This year the proposed appropriations are £120,000 and £46,000 respectively. Can the Minister state the extent of the equipment that will be obtained for that expenditure and whether it will include pilot plants for the treatment of refractory ores, including uranium ores? Will any pilot plant be provided in the laboratory that is jointly conducted by South Australia and the Commonwealth?
I understand that some considerable time ago the Commonwealth joined in the research being undertaken by the laboratory which was shifted, I think, to the Parkside area. The Commonwealth provided some equipment and plant for research purposes. The South Australian Government had earlier established pilot plants to deal with refractory ores. Some of these ores were more refractory than others and it became necessary to have better research facilities and equipment. Has the proposed appropriation any relation to the provision of more equipment at the laboratory in South Australia?
– I refer to Division No. 937, Acquisition of Sites and Buildings. There was no appropriation for expenditure on this account last year. Will the Minister say for what purpose the proposed appropriation is intended?
– I refer to Division No. 939, which relates to expenditure under the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Power Act. The proposed appropriation is £2,000,000 less than the appropriation last year. I understand that at present several tenders are being called for the development of the Snowy-Murray diversion scheme. In the last year or two the authority has experienced difficulties when contractors have completed work ahead of time and have had to be paid. That has led to hold-ups in the work because money has not been available for the contractors to continue at the pace at which they had proved they were able to work. They had broken records and were continuing to break records. I understand that the contracts for work on the scheme contain a penalty clause which is applied if the contractor is late in completing the contract. The contracts also contain an incentive clause, which encourages contractors to finish their work ahead of time. If the contractors complete their work ahead of time - I presume that is to our advantage - what will be the position with contracts? Will money be available to pay the contractors if they continue to break records, or will work be held up for periods and men be unemployed pending the allocation of further money?
– I, too, wish to refer to the proposed expenditure under the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Power Act. I notice that the proposed expenditure this year is approximately £2,000,000 less than was appropriated for this purpose last year. I would like the Minister to tell me the total amount that has been spent up to date on the Snowy Mountains scheme. I would also like him to tell me how much is being paid for the electricity that is being generated by the power plants already in operation. How long will it be before the scheme is completed? Is the scheme competitive with other hydro-electric schemes in Australia. Probably it is not competitive, because the electricity produced from the scheme is used only during peak periods. Does the Minister expect that at some stage in the future when the scheme is completed electricity produced by the scheme will be used to supply a base load in the eastern electricity network? I have asked those questions because my electors in Western Australia are very eager to see the eastern States developed and provided with cheap electric power. The people of Western Australia also would like some financial assistance to develop the northern areas of the State, which can be developed only by the provision of cheap electricity.
.- I too, wish to refer to the proposed expenditure under the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Power Act. Looking at the excellent report of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority for the year ended 30th June, 1960, I observe that advances made by the Treasurer to the authority up to and including 1960 total £162,683,249. The total capital indebtedness of the authority as at 30th June, 1960, was £187,089,573. The difference between the total advances from the Treasurer and the authority’s capital indebtedness represents accumulated interest not yet repaid. I am delighted to see that the authority has reported to the Parliament that the scheme is economically sound. Undoubtedly, the authority is under management and direction in which we may have the greatest confidence. In its report the authority sets out the cost of the electricity produced by it and describes the people who will benefit from that electricity. It is in this regard that I would like some information from the Minister. The report shows that for the year ended 30th June, 1960, the power output from Guthega and Tumut 1 stations was more than 296,000,000 kilowatt hours, produced at a net cost of £1,361,651 or 1.1006d. per kilowatt hour. The £1,361,651 represents the total revenue of the authority for the year in question. That figure is stated to be the cost of the electricity transmitted. Notwithstanding the particular nature of Guthega and Tumut 1 power stations, which are at present in operation - Guthega is a run-of-the-mill station; I forget what rating is claimed for Tumut 1 - it is claimed that the price at which electricity can be supplied, even in this modest volume up to date, compares favorably with the price at which New South Wales supplies thermally-produced electricity. If the Minister has the figures available I would like him to give me a comparison of the cost figure of this undertaking and the cost figure per kilowatt hour of the Tasmanian, Victorian and New South Wales systems.
I understand that the total projected expenditure on this undertaking is something like £400,000,000. It is claimed that the project is economically sound even without taking into account the valuable by-product of irrigation waters. It is obvious that the interest that will be returned to the authority and, through the authority, indirectly to the Commonwealth, over the period of ammortization will be an enormous sum. When the scheme gets into full production the revenue that will be paid annually by consumers in New South Wales and Victoria will be a very substantial sum. These facts pose in a very precise form a problem that the Government, the Parliament and in particular honorable senators should face up to in public finance. We are asked to provide out of current revenue the sums to which I have referred and which over the last ten years have aggregated £162,000,000. Many taxpayers of Victoria and New South Wales are the consumers of the electricity that is supplied to those two States. They, in common with other taxpayers, are contributing this money year by year and also are paying for their electricity a price which includes an element of interest. It will be noted that the interest rate at which the money has been made available has risen from £3 2s. 6d. per cent, in 1953 to £5 per cent, at the present time. It seems to me that the people who contribute this money are entitled to credit accruals for the revenue that is produced.
The facts I have outlined illustrate the fallacy of the continued financing of a productive enterprise - in this case it is to be spread over a period of approximately 72 years - by simply taking the capital cost out of the current taxation. If this method of financing were applied to all projects undertaken by the Government, I believe we would see a complete change in the structure of our community.
I should like the Minister to tell me who is to get the benefit of the revenue that will accrue from the production of this electricity, bearing in mind that the capital which has been provided has come from the taxpayers and ordinary current revenue.
– -Were those interest figures you quoted at a percentage rate?
– Yes. The rate rose from £3 2s. 6d. per cent, in 1.953 to £5 per cent, in 1960. May I take advantage of this opportunity to indicate the confidence that this project, which I have had the privilege of seeing on three occasions, inspires in one. Let me refer to one or two passages in the report of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority for the year ended 30th June, 1960. Under the heading “Safety” Sir William Hudson refers to conferences between the contractors and the executives of the commission that are held from time to time. At page 28 of the report, Sir William points out that in 1958 the “Severity rate days lost per million man hours worked “ was 4,590, that in the next year it dropped to 3,910 and that in 1960 it was 837. Surely those figures are an indication of the standards that the management adopts in its operations.
Another fact which gives me great pleasure is that up to 30th June, 1960, the authority had purchased property for the purposes of the project - I understand that was real property - of a value of £1,258,000, and that the whole of that property was purchased by negotiation without resort in any instance to compulsory powers of acquisition. I give the authority credit for not having paid more than a fair value for that property. The public relations spirit which was evident in the transfer of the little village of Adaminaby some six miles over the hill, the church and the homes of people who so desired being transferred to die new site, I should think was unique. lt is pleasing to note also that continued stress is being placed upon the need to prevent soil erosion and upon forest conservation in the area. The illustrations contained in the authority’s report enable one who has seen the physical terrain to see at a glance just what is meant. All these facts indicate that the detail of management is not neglected. The commission takes pleasure in recording a world record in the driving of the Tooma tunnel. That followed a succession of world records and was accompanied, and perhaps encouraged, by an incentive scheme under which half the saving accrues to the commission and the other half accrues to the personnel whose personal efforts have resulted in the saving. All this inspires a great deal of confidence.
I believe that, when we are invited to appropriate £16,000,000 as an increment in the capital of this undertaking, it is at least worth the effort-
Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I should like to address myself to Division No. 934, which provides for expenditure under the War Service Homes Act amounting to £35,000,000. In New South Wales, particularly in the suburbs of Sydney, very good value is given in the homes that are erected. I wonder whether the Minister for National Development can tell us the average cost of the homes that were built in the last batch, or even within the last six months. A very great improvement has been effected in the design of war service homes; they are no longer a series of box-like structures in a row which would lead one to conclude that having seen one house he had seen the lot. I believe an improvement could be made in the fences around the houses. The area in the suburbs of Sydney of which I am speaking is very different from Canberra because here houses do not have fences around them whereas in Sydney a fence is usually built. Sometimes the same kind of fence runs right along a row of ten, fifteen or twenty houses. Although it may be more economical to build a uniform fence right along the row, I do not think very much would be added to the cost if every house or every second house had a fence of a different design in order to take away the uniform appearance. That would definitely add to the picturesque appearance of the homes.
I mentioned that good value was being provided in these homes. Very good evidence in support of that is provided by the reluctance of quite a number of builders to have anything to do with building these homes. The reason for that is that costs are cut to so near the border-line that the builders do not make what they regard as sufficient profit out of building them. The construction of the houses seems to me to be well supervised. I have some knowledge of the work done by the Deputy Director of War Service Homes in New South Wales. In my opinion the supervision of the war service homes scheme from1 the top level down to the lowest level is very good indeed. Can the Minister state the average cost of these homes?
– The answer to each of the questions asked by Senator’ ©’Flaherty is, “No1”. No provision is made under these divisions for the treatment of refractory ores; nor’ are they linked up with the South Australian, establishment in any way. That is a separate item..
asked for particulars of the appropriation of £15,000 under Division No. 937, item 01. The funds are needed for the acquisition of a drill hall at Yarraville, previously used by the Army, which is being taken over by the Bureau of Mineral Resources for use as a store.
Senator Buttfield spoke of the Snowy Mountains scheme. She referred to difficulties experienced, by the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority because the contractors did more than was: expected of them. No difficulties were experienced by the authority;, the difficulties were experienced by the- Treasury. The Government unhesitatingly found die extra money required. The honorable senator does not give the Government the credit which is its due if she is critical of its attitude to the Snowy Mountains scheme. I believe the Government has given wonderful support to the authority and its programme.
– I was not criticizing the Government. Was there- not a” time towards the end of certain development when- the work had to slow down?
– No. We have let the contract and’ met the bill on each occasion..
– The authority gives the Government credit for that.
– Yes: I- believe the authority is very happy about the way the Government has supported’ it.
Senator Scott and Senator Wright spoke about the cost of power from the Snowy Mountains scheme. Senator Wright cited figures for Snowy power from the last annual report of the authority. An interim report, which has been prepared specially for this- debate, brings the figures up to date. Last year the figure, for Guthega was .8d. per kilowatt hour, and for Tumut 1, .9d. per kilowatt hour. The figure for Guthega will always vary according to the volume of water that is flowing which, in turn, depends on the seasons. The Tumut 1 and Tumut 2 figures will vary more than a little, as those power stations gradually come into operation. They are not yet being worked to full capacity. They will not be worked to full capacity until Tumut 2 comes into operation and is gradually expanded..
A better picture of the position is gained by stating: the expected revenue. I think Senator Wright cited a. figure of about £1,000,000 for last year.
– I said £1,360,000.
– Yes. The revenue in 1961-62 is expected to be £3,400,000. The following year it is expected to increase ta £7,300,000 as the. two- Tumut: power stations become operative and are used to capacity:
The honorable senator then asked a much more difficult’ question. He asked me to contrast the Snowy costa with the costs of other systems. In many ways he is asking me to, compare like with unlike because the Snowy scheme is designed to operate for only about one-third of the time in order to meet demands at certain, times of the day on the New South Wales and Victorian systems, whereas the State systems are designed to: run to capacity for as. many hours of the day as it. is. possible to run them. The Snowy power is peakload power, whereas the State systems’ power is base-load. So, Senator Wright has asked. me to compare- like with unlike.
The best comparison that I can give, applying a 24 per cent, load factor to the Snowy, is that the- Tasmanian Great Lakes figure is .53d., on a 60 per cent, load factor. In- other words, that system’ runs for 60 per cent, of the time, whereas the Snowy runsfor 24- per cent, and for the other 76 per cent, of the time the plant and equipment are lying idle. Water is provided for only 24 per cent, of the time. The figure for the new power station at Tallawarra in New South Wales is .6d. on an 80 per cent, load factor. The figure for the Hazelwood power station in Victoria is .5d. on a 75 per cent, load factor. The figure for the Snowy is Id. on a 25 per cent, load factor.
– Is that what the authority is charging?
– Yes, the charge is the same as the cost of production. Of course, this Snowy power is tremendously valuable to the States. Honorable senators can imagine what the position would be if the States had to build power stations and run them for only 25 per cent, of the time, using ordinary fuel.
.- I wish to develop the thought that was in my mind when my time expired. I want to reiterate to the Minister the advantage that comes from honorable senators being informed of the annual progress of this great undertaking. I submit that on an occasion such as this - the Estimates debate - a model of the undertaking could be put in the Senate committee room and the sitting could be suspended for an hour to enable the scheme to be more graphically explained to us. It would be a great compliment if Sir William Hudson himself, or one of his officers, explained the scheme to us. I believe that every honorable senator would then feel that he had discharged his responsibility of knowing the particular purposes for which the money was being appropriated and would gain great pride from seeing such devoted and skilled servants as Sir William Hudson and his staff explaining the authority’s operations. That is Parliament’s entitlement and responsibility. It is derived from the Tasmanian act where the idea is expressed in the form of a statutory obligation. Developments proposed by the Hydro-electric Commission each year cannot be put into operation until they have been reported to each House of Parliament. The specific project has to be considered, including its nature, capital expenditure and the estimated revenue from it. I put that suggestion forward for the benefit of the Parliament and the benefit of the authority. I suggest that it is in the public interest.
May I take one minute to refer to two passages in the annual report of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. No doubt some honorable senators have already read them. On page 29, the authority reported -
Control of stores and assets throughout the year was very satisfactory. Despite the accounting difficulties inherent in the control of widely dispersed camps, some of which are purely temporary, the deficiencies and surpluses at the annual stock-take were 0.110 per cent, and 0.106 per cent, respectively of the total value of stock held. The net discrepancy was 0.004 per cent.
I have no knowledge of how that percentage compares with the percentage in other construction camps, but since the authority has referred to it as very satisfactory, I am prepared to draw the inference that it is a very satisfactory achievement. It is in marked contrast with the experience we have had in recent years of departments whose store deficiencies have excited complete disappointment. I refer particularly to the service departments.
The other paragraph to which I made reference when Senator Spooner was on his feet deals with the supplying of additional funds. At page 32 of its report the authority said -
Progress on the major contracts during the year was so rapid that it was found necessary in April, 1960 to seek additional funds from the Commonwealth Government so that this work could proceed unhindered to 30th June, 1960. The Government met the situation by providing an additional sum of £2,650,000, enabling the excellent rate of progress being achieved by the Contractors to be continued to the end of the year.
Proposed expenditure noted.
War Service Homes Division.
Proposed expenditure, £1,173,000.
– I wish to bring to the notice of the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) a matter affecting tenants of war service homes in Western Australia. It relates to the connexion of an electricity supply to war service homes under what is known as the contributory scheme for the extension of electricity Under the relevant Western Australian act the State Electricity Commission is allowed to charge only a standard rate for electricity. This rate is not high enough to allow a sufficient capital margin for the extension of electricity into areas where the population is very sparse.
The commission introduced what is known as a contributory scheme under which an arrangement can be entered into whereby pre-determined annual cash payments are made. When a group of people in an area want electricity extended to that area, if they can fulfil the requirement laid down by the State Electricity Commission, it then investigates the proposal and makes an estimate of the total cost. That total cost is divided amongst two sections, the industrial section and the home owners section. The amounts thus computed are then divided by the number of intending subscribers in each section. When a figure is arrived at the commission will probably agree to accept instalments over a period of ten years. If these instalments are acceptable to the intending subscribers, the commission goes ahead and connects up the electricity supply.
The commission, to protect its own interest, demands from the intending subscribers a caveat. In the case of tenants of war service homes, the War Service Homes Division will not accept these caveats from the commission. On the other hand the Homes Division of the Commonwealth Bank is very glad to accept these caveats. It realizes that a home, when it is fitted with electricity, is much more valuable than if it has only kerosene lamps. The reason the division will not accept a caveat is that it feels that the debt of the tenant to it - £2,750 - is far greater than the amount of the caveat to the commission which is probably only a couple of hundred pounds. The commission demands that the caveat be serviced first in the case of a tenant selling his home or not being able to meet his commitments.
In view of the recent amendment to section 29 of the War Service Homes Act, surely the War Service Homes Division should accept these caveats and allow war service homes tenants to make an initial payment of £10 - if the amount is £10 a year - and just pay an excess instalment during the next year until he has built up another £10. He could withdraw that amount in order to meet his commitments in the following year. If a war service home tenant wanted to sell his home, surely section 35 of the act - which was also amended recently - provides the director of the War Service Homes Division with sufficient protection. He has the final say as to whether the house may be transferred.
I think this is a very important matter. At the present time, to my knowledge, there are about five or six tenants in Western Australia who have had to face this problem. With the extension of this contributory scheme, as electricity supplies are extended into country areas, more cases will arise. As I have said, when a war service home in a town is connected to the State electricity commission’s main lines, it has a much higher value than one that is lit by oil lamps. Recently a school teacher told me that it cost him between £25 and £30 a year to light his home without electricity. That, I consider, is a very high cost. If a tenant were connected to the State Electricity Commission’s lines, his lighting would be cheaper in the end. I bring this matter to the Minister’s notice and I hope it will receive consideration!.
– This is an important administrative matter and I would not care to give an answer at this stage. I will, of course, have a close look at it.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Proposed expenditure - Department of Defence, £1,696,000; Recruiting Campaign, £486,000- noted.
– I present the second report of the Printing Committee.
Report - by leave - adopted.
Senate adjourned at 10.29 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 28 September 1961, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1961/19610928_senate_23_s20/>.