23rd Parliament · 3rd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service a question. Is he aware that the unemployment situation in Queensland is pretty grim, and that in about six weeks’ time the situation will be desperate? Is the Minister aware that this unemployment situation is the result of droughts over a long period and this Government’s fiscal policy? Has the Minister received advice that there are in Queensland at present 1,500 unemployed children who left school last year, and that in a few weeks’ time thousand’s of children will be released from school only to find there is scarcely a job for them? Has the Minister been informed that the bad unemployment situation now existing in Queensland will prevail for many months into 1962, and that the position warrants special consideration by him and the Treasurer?
Also, is the Minister aware that only about one-third of the homes in Brisbane are sewered, and that other cities and towns in Queensland’ are suffering from a similar lack of sanitation? Will the Minister confer with the Treasurer and the Premier of Queensland with the object of commencing sewerage constructional work on a wide scale to relieve the widespread unemployment?
– I am aware that the meat season, in particular, in Queensland, has been affected by the drought to which the honorable senator referred, and that consequently the meat season has been shorter than is generally the case. I do not know whether the honorable senator is referring to the unemployment figures in Queensland as a whole at the time at which they were last assessed. The latest, figures have not yet been issued. I point out that when they are issued they will include the number of workers at Mount Isa who’ at that time were on strike and therefore had registered for employment. As to the question of making money available, or of conferring with- people, about works such as sewerage, I point out that a conference at this stage certainly seems unnecessary, since extra money was made available in the last Budget to meet local and municipal works, including sewerage and the like. The situation is now in the hands of the authorities in Queensland.
– My question is directed to the Minister for National Development and relates to the report and announcement concerning the Chowilla storage proposal. Can the Minister give some details of the manner in which the River Murray Commission made its estimates and assessments of the likely resources of, and demand for, river Murray water, both: for the present and the future? As the whole project is of importance to South Australia, can the Minister give any indication when the conference of the parties concerned is likely to be convened?
– Naturally, I take a good deal of interest in the report of the River Murray Commission. The commission, in making its investigations, adopted a procedure that I shall outline. First, it made an estimate of the amount of development that would be likely to occur along the river Murray, such as new storages and new irrigation works. That provided an estimate of the amount of extra water that the States would want for those purposes. Secondly, it went back, over its records for the 51 years ended in 1956; took out particulars showing the periods of drought and the periods of flood; and then made the assumption that there would be similar conditions in the next. 51 years. Having done that, the commission estimated the demands for water and the seasonal conditions. It then arrived at the amount of water that would be available for distribution among the States. It then presented three resulant calculations. The first was made upon a basis which had been suggested by the Premier of South Australia, namely, that the whole of the water went to South Australia. The second1 showed how the water would be distributed under the existing formula in the River Murray Waters Agreement, under which in a drought year South Australia gets threethirteenths of the total water. The third calculation showed how the water would be distributed upon the assumption that it was shared equally among the three States concerned. 1 forgot to make the point earlier that the River Murray Commission based all its estimates upon the beneficial results from the water in drought years only. It contented itself with the remark that, of course, great additional benefits would be derived in normal years; but as all water developments are limited, in the final analysis, by the amount of water that is available in the worst conditions, the relevant information covered the position in the drought years. From memory, I think the records indicated that in the 51 -year period, fourteen drought years might be expected.
– I assume that the honorable senator’s question refers to the Trans-Australia Airlines terminal building at the Brisbane airport.
– That is so.
– The work being done there is estimated to cost about £60,000 and the building will be ready late in November. In reply to the last part of the question, I inform the honorable senator that it is not proposed to establish a liquor bar there, but consideration is now being given to the possibility of establishing a restaurant which would be licensed to serve liquor with meals.
– I preface my question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, by stating that last week the Department of Trade issued in book form a survey of manufacturing activity in Australia, which was excellently presented. In the introduction it was stated that in the first half of 1961 the output of Australian manufacturing industry fell sharply. This was the first time since 1952 that manufacturing output had shown an overall decline. On page 9 the survey stated that employment fell rapidly during 1961. My question relates to a series of articles in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ which stated that the number of people unemployed was not fewer than 177,000, or 4.2 per cent, of the work force. These figures are, in effect, supported by the. trade survey. Mr. McMahon said that this view was illogical, but the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ has now accused the Minister of not attempting to analyse the figures. As further unemployment figures are about to be issued, will the Minister arrange for his departmental officers to examine critically and non-politically the facts and figures given by the “ Sydney Morning Herald “, having in mind the need to forecast the postChristmas scope for absorbing the next wave of school-leavers and the contemplated resumption of the migrant programme?
– The figures on unemployment issued by the Department of Labour and National Service are compiled now without any political considerations at all, and therefore I do not need to give an undertaking that they will be so compiled in the future. I have not seen the booklet issued by the Department of Trade, but the question indicates that it concerns purely employment in manufacturing industries. The figures issued by the Department of Labour and National Service cover the whole range of employment, not only in manufacturing industry but also in primary industry, tertiary industry and government service. The figure in the booklet, which refers to only one segment of the national economy, could not be compared, therefore, with figures taken over the national economy as a whole.
The honorable senator referred to the figure of 177,000, being the number alleged by the financial editor of the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ to be unemployed. I did notice that the newspaper, in a leading article, admitted that the figures given were subject to being a matter of opinion. I would prefer to pin my beliefs to a completely impartial review issued monthly, as it has been for years without being questioned previously, of the number of people requiring employment in Australia. I have a feeling that the question may have been motivated by the belief that next month the unemployment figures will be much lower than they were last month.
– I refer the Minister for National Development to reports that the, South Australian Government has proposals to build a thermal power station on Torrens Island at an estimated cost of £80,000,000, spread over a period of years and financed by loans, and to the belief of Professor Baxter, of the University of Sydney, that South Australia would be the most appropriate place to establish the first atomic power reactor. Has the Minister any comment to make regarding such a power station and Professor Baxter’s statement?
– I read Professor Baxter’s statement and also the South Australian Government’s announcement. Professor Baxter repeated the view, which is widely held, that by about 1965 the costs of producing nuclear power will be competitive with the costs of producing conventional power in certain localities. When interpreted, that view means that by 1965 the time may be appropriate to start building nuclear power stations. On the assumption that the building of the stations would take about five years, it would be, perhaps, 1970 before they came into operation.
– Goodnight coal, then!
– I do not think so. There will be varying conditions in different localities. It will be much later than 1965 in New South Wales and Victoria where coal is plentiful and can be won easily. The South Australian proposal is for a power station having a capacity of approximately 1,000,000 kilowatts which, on my understanding, would meet South Australia’s requirements until perhaps 1975 or 1980. But in such situations we are not bound, as it were, by the law of the Medes and the Persians. A big power station such as this is built in stages. If, when this station is half-built or quarter-built, it transpires that nuclear power is cheaper than thermal power, there would then be an opportunity for the South Australian authorities, if they so desired, to convert the balance of the programme to nuclear power. I say to Senator Mattner that the question then will be: Which is the cheaper form of power? I should imagine that in the South Australian proposal room will be left for manoeuvre if the present views are found to be correct.
– I address these questions to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral: Is it a fact that seven telephone linemen in the Launceston district recently received dismissal notices? Is it a fact that thirteen linemen in the Burnie district are to be dismissed? Is it a fact that altogether 47 telephone linemen in Tasmania are to be dismissed? If the answers are in the affirmative, will the Minister state why the men are to be dismissed, particularly as Tasmania has the highest percentage of unemployment in the Commonwealth at the present time?
– I regret that I have no knowledge of the dismissals that are alleged to be about to take place. I shall inquire of my colleague, the PostmasterGeneral, and let the honorable senator know what the position is without delay.
– Is the Minister for the Navy in a position to say whether there is any truth in a press statement of 5th October to the effect that the British Government was considering shifting the Singapore naval base to Western Australia and that Lord Carrington had already had discussions with the Western Australian Government in relation to the proposed transfer? Is the Commonwealth Government in a constitutional position to object to this transfer, or is the matter solely one for the Western Australian Government?
– The answer to the first part of the question is, “ No “. The answer to the second part is that it would be a matter for the Commonwealth Government.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, relates to the cost of the installation of two new cross-bar telephone exchanges, one at Haymarket in Sydney and the other at East Kew in Victoria, contracts for which have been let to private contractors. I point out that in the past this type of work has been carried out by highly skilled technicians trained and employed toy the department. I ask the Minister: First, where will the contractors obtain their highly technical skilled staff to carry out the work in a manner which will satisfy the expert requirements of the department? Secondly, what was the amount of the successful tenders, and what was the estimated cost of installation by the staff of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department?
– A similar question was asked in this chamber recently, without any reference being made to the specific points raised now by Senator Hendrickson. I am not informed on this matter. If the honorable senator places ‘his question on the notice-paper, I shall ask my colleague to supply the information without delay.
– Does the Minister representing the Postmaster-General recall that about a month ago I asked the Minister for Customs and Excise whether he knew that an important move was afoot at Port Pirie in South Australia to move the railway line from Ellen-street, which is the main street in Port Pirie, and to run it a short distance away but nearly parallel to the existing route? The Minister may remember that I pointed out that the project involved the making available of certain land belonging to the Department of Customs and Excise, as well as portion of the Post Office property. Has he been able to discuss the matter with the PostmasterGeneral? If he has, what has been the result of the discussion?
– I have had in my possession for several days information from my colleague, the Postmaster-General. I regret that I did not pass it on to the honorable senator. The PostmasterGeneral has advised me that the Harbour Board of South Australia has approached the director in Adelaide with a view to making available the rear portion of the post office site at Port Pirie to permit the rerouting of the railway line from the main street to the rear of the post office building.
Such an arrangement will involve the erection of a building elsewhere to house the battery, power, mechanical, ventilation and stand-by power equipment associated with the telephone exchange. Other buildings to provide accommodation for storage of equipment and bicycles, and for toilet facilities, also are involved.
Two meetings between representatives of the Harbour Board, the Department of the Interior and the Postmaster-General’s Department have been held and a further conference will be held immediately the cost of providing the necessary buildings and equipment on another site has been determined. Details have not yet been worked out, but it is considered that the cost will be considerable. The Post Office will be happy to co-operate with the Harbour Board in this matter. It is assumed that the latter will be prepared to meet reasonable costs.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. Was he aware, when he commented last Wednesday on the employment of Mr. R. Roberts by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, that when investigation officers are about to commence interrogating an officer of the Postal Department concerning an alleged breach of an act or regulation the officer concerned has the right to request that an official of the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union be present while the interrogation is taking place? Also was he aware that this right was granted to employees of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department a long time ago and that it was publicized in the journal of the postal workers union? Was he further aware that officials of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department had availed themselves of the right?
– I was aware that Mr. Roberts had the right to request the presence of an official of the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union while he was being interrogated for an alleged breach of regulations and I also knew that that was a right and privilege that had been granted to employees of the Postal Department many years ago. That Mr. Roberts failed to avail himself of this privilege was a decision that he and he alone took; but I suggest that his decision must discount the references to pressure tactics by the department and to the application of the Crimes Act. Since he had that right, I suggest that references to that act of Parliament are completely irresponsible.
– Is the Minister representing the Postmaster-General in a position to say when it is expected that the special report from the ad hqc Frequency Allocation Committee will be made public? In view of the importance of the subjectmatter generally, and of the need for urgent action to resume frequency modulation broadcasting, will the Minister ascertain whether the report will be made public in time to allow discussion before the impending dissolution of this Parliament? If it will not, will he undertake to ensure that top priority is given to this matter when the new Parliament re-assembles?
– I am aware that the report has been completed and is in the hands of the Postmaster-General. who is studying it. I understand that he is anxious to reach finality in the matter and to have the report made public with the least possible delay. Whether that can be achieved before the rising of the Parliament I do not know, but should it not be possible 1 shall bring the honorable senator’s request to the notice of my colleague, so that when he is Postmaster-General in the new Parliament he will be able to present the report in the first sessional period of that Parliament.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer be good enough to look into the case of a mail officer named F. A. Jennings, employed in the Melbourne General Post Office, who collapsed at his work in the ‘King-street parcels office and was off duty from 26th May, 1960, to 9th January, 1961. and whose claim for compensation under the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act has been disallowed? This case was brought to my notice by the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union and, after discussing it with officials of the union, I agree with them that the decision was unjust. Will the Treasurer examine the Commonwealth
Employees’ Compensation Act with a view to deciding whether a definition or a section could be inserted which would cover cases of a type similar to this, in which a considerable financial burden has already been imposed upon a junior officer?
– The question asked by the honorable senator, concerning, as it does, an individual case, is not the type of question which is usually asked at question time. .However, one part of the question concerns a possible amendment of the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act to meet what is presumably held to be a rather unusual circumstance. Therefore, I shall refer the question to the Treasurer and ask him whether he will look at the act and consider whether it would be advisable, or whether there is a need, to amend it.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. Doubtless the Minister has had brought to his notice the serious ravages by sirex wasps in at least one pine forest in southern Tasmania. Has he had brought to his notice an announcement by the Tasmanian Minister for Forests that sirex wasps have been detected as far north as Campbell Town? Have there been any consultations between the Tasmanian forestry commissioners and the C.S.I.R:0, about the risk of these wasps threatening forests throughout Tasmania .or in other parts of .Australia?
– I have seen for myself the depredations of sirex wasps in the southern part of Tasmania. They are particularly noticeable as you approach the aerodrome at Hobart. I know that it has been found that these wasps have trespassed as far as .Campbell Town, in the centre of the island. I understand that officers of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization have been working on the problems arising from the presence of .this pest in Tasmania and that they have been in consultation with officers of the Tasmanian Forestry Department, but I do not know what stage the .consultations have reached. If the honorable senator will put that part of his question on the notice-paper, I shall .get the latest information for him.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for Civil Aviation, concerns the conduct of liquor bars at airports. The Minister will recall that when the Airports (Business Concessions) Bill was being discussed by the Parliament, it was opposed by members of the Opposition, who expressed grave forebodings about its effect. They said that one of the horrible consequences of the passage of the bill would be that air passengers would become intoxicated and, worse still, that even air crews would suffer the effects of consuming large quantities of liquor and that passengers in their aircraft would suffer a horrible fate. This measure has now been in operation for some time and liquor bars have been operating at various airports. My question is: Will the Minister state whether the horrible prognostications made by the Opposition have become realities?
– I seize this opportunity to say that, although some members of the Opposition made rather colourful statements about what could be expected as a result of the operation of the legislation, none of the dreadful things that they predicted has occurred. The provision of cocktail lounges at airports in Australia is, I think, accepted by the Australian travelling public as a convenient, modern amenity to which most travellers, especially international travellers, are accustomed, and for which they look at the various airports.
I am pleased to say that the progressive introduction of the lounges into airports has been most successful and, I believe, highly appreciated by the travelling public. I should like to make only one further comment on the subject-matter of Senator Vincent’s question. He referred to these amenities as liquor bars. We eschew the expression. Cocktail lounges, please.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The Minister for Immigration has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Is it a fact, as recently stated in the press, (hat a booklet discussing the relationship between smoking and lung cancer will be distributed among 200,000 senior school students in Victoria? If so (a) Is this a Commonwealth Government, a Victorian State Government or a private enterprise publication; and (b) Will the Prime Minister arrange for copies of the booklet to be made available to members of Parliament?
– I have the following answer from the Prime Minister: -
I understand that the Anti-Cancer Council of Victoria, an organization consisting of nongovernment and State Government representatives, in association with the Health Education Committee and with the approval of both the health and education departments of Victoria, will shortly issue to senior school students 200,000 pamphlets on the relationship between smoking and lung cancer. I shall pass on to the Anti-Cancer Council the honorable senator’s request that copies of the booklet might be made available to members of Parliament.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister supplies the following answers: -
The Government shares the desire of other Western countries to conclude an agreement which would result in effectively controlled discontinuance of nuclear weapon tests. The Australian delegation will therefore be instructed to support plans for. the discontinuance of nuclear testing taking account for the need. for. effective control and inspection.
asked, the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has. furnished the following replies:. -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice - 1.Is the Post Office at Lameroo,. South Australia, listed to be rebuilt or renovated this financial year?
– The replies from the Postmaster-General are as follows: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
In view of the Government’s interest in amendments to the Arbitration Act to give the court authority to imprison or fine union secretaries, and fine trade unions for striking without permission, will the Minister initiate legislation providing for similar penalties for industrial organizations’ making huge profits from locking out. employees?.
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following information: -
If the honorable senator is referring to sections 109 and 111 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act it has to be pointed out that they apply equally to registered employers’ organizations and to individual employers parties to awards who may be involved in a breach or non-observance of the act or an award made under it.
Senator McKENNA (through Senator
O’Flaherty) asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
What are the causes of the disruption of production programmes in the motor vehicle industry?
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following information: -
The motor vehicle industry is a complex one with many ramifications and comprises very many enterprises, large and small. An answer to the question posed by the honorable senator could not be attempted without a detailed “investigation of the affairs of each of these enterprises and the Government does not propose even to consider this, assuming it had the power to do so.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following replies: -
asked the Minister representingthe Minister for Health, upon notice -
Will the Minister have a Commonwealth-wide survey made into the dental health of children up to the age of sixteen years?
– The Minister for Healthhas furnished the following reply: -
There are no plans for such a survey at present.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Ministerfor Health has furnished the following replies: -
Debate resumedfrom 5th October (vide page . 905), on motion by Senator Paltridge -
That the bill be now read asecond time.
– The Australian Labour Party does not intend to oppose this bill, the Cattle Slaughter Levy (Suspension) Bill 1961 and the Cattle and BeefResearch Bill 1961. I suggest that these three bills be debated together.
– There being no objection, that course will be followed.
– The principle of the tax on the slaughter of cattlehasbeen approved by the Senate previously and the Labour Party did not oppose the measure on that occasion. The measures brought down on this occasion are designed to remedy defects in the previous legislation in order to make it effective.
The interesting provisions of this legislation are those which provide that the revenue from the levy is to be spent in research into the beef industry. That is the major amendment contained in this legislation. Previously, therevenue from the levy could have been spent, at the direction of the Minister on the recommendation of the Australian Cattle and Beef -Research Committee, in almost any way at all; but now it will , be limited to encouraging beef exports and the raising of cattle in Australian internal Territories. In future, the proceeds of the levy will be spent only to encourage beef export and the raising of cattle in the Australian territories. The importance of the legislation can best be illustrated if I direct attention to the importanceof the beef industry to Australia. Cattle holdings increased from 73,588 in 1950 to 84,365 in 1956, while beef cattle numbers increased from 9,698,000 in 1950 to a peak of 12,139,000 in 1957. There was ‘then a gradual decline in the number of beef cattle until 1960. The number now is 11,663,000. So it appears to me ‘that there is room for research if the number is to be increased.
One of the most important developments in the industry is the shift in incidence of cattle raising from what might be termed the northern zone, with larger properties, to the southern zone, where cattle are run in small numbers in conjunction with other activities, but mainly with sheep raising. Statistics of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics show that the number of cattle in the southern zone is gradually increasing. Despite this trend, the northern zone, with its large properties, still accounts for 80 per cent, of our beef cattle. Conditions in that zone are very difficult for raising beef. The main difficulties seem to the Labour Party to be in respect of roads, ports, cattle tick - with which are associated tick fever or redwater - buffalo fly, and pleuro-pneumonia. If research is conducted into diseases that prevail particularly in the northern zone, although there is some tick infestation also in northern New South Wales, the turn-off of cattle from larger stations may be increased.
If adequate money is expended on roads, in conjunction with research, it will be possible for quite large numbers of cattle per acre to be turned off and the number of cattle slaughtered will be very greatly increased. There is terrific wastage at the present time. The greatest numbers of cattle come from the northern part of Queensland, which is a tick-infested area. We urge the Government to conduct intensive research into this problem, although there are schools of thought which hold that it would be unwise to eradicate the tick altogether, because some cattle have developed immunity to ticks and, in fact, require ticks for their existence. It is a matter, therefore, of control of ticks rather than their elimination.
The provision of roads would allow a greater number of fats to be brought in over very long distances. Cattle are presently brought from the borders of Western Australia to Northern Queensland and en route, of course, they lose quite a lot of condition. They have to be held in Queensland for a very lengthy period in order to regain the fat. If roads were built, not from Western Australia into north Queensland, but into Western Australia abattoirs, the distance to be covered would be very much reduced and the cattle would arrive younger and in a better condition, so providing better quality beef for the export market.
– You have meatworks at Wyndham and also at Derby?
– We have abattoirs at Wyndham and Broome. Air Beef Proprietary Limited operates at Glenroy, and the beef is brought into Derby, packaged and sent south, some of it being exported. But there is, in fact, no abattoir in Derby, merely a packaging works operating in conjunction with Air Beef Proprietary Limited. Cattle are being brought quite long distances to the Broome meatworks and there is ample scope for road improvements. The cattle would travel much better over shorter distances. This would particularly apply if some of the roads constructed in association with oil-drilling operations were brought up to the standard required for large beef trains. It is notable that at Wyndham this year approximately 10 pei cent, of the cattle slaughtered were brought in by beef train under very good conditions. Loss by bruising amounted to only about 7 per cent. The manager of Wyndham meat works is of opinion that with more upgrading of the roads, the percentage loss by bruising could be greatly decreased.
However, as I said in my opening remarks, the Opposition does not oppose any of the three bills before the chamber. I leave the matter at that.
– Senator Cant spent a short time telling us what should be done with the research moneys that will be provided by this legislation. However, he said very little about the bills themselves. I am very pleased to know that the Australian Labour Party is not opposing them and I hope that they will have a very quick passage through the Senate. The measures propose amendments to meet the position arising from the issue by certain meat interests out of the High Court of Australia of a writ challenging the validity of the cattle beef research legislation of 1960. It will be recalled that that legislation provided for the collection of a levy on all cattle, weighing 200 lb. or more, slaughtered for human consumption. The levy was to be payable by the persons who owned the cattle at the time of slaughter, the maximum rate to be 2s. per beast. The scheme was introduced with the promise that, while the owners of the stock at the time of slaughter would be responsible for paying the levy, they would not bear the cost but would pass it on to the cattle producers. The legislation intended that they should pass on the levy by shading their bids at the time the cattle were bought. In other words, it was intended that to compensate for the levy they should bid slightly less than they proposed to pay for the cattle. That is the normal practice which is adopted in saleyards these days when buyers raise or lower their bids according to the supply and demand.
However, when the scheme was put into operation it did not work out as intended. It was discovered that the meat operators bought their cattle and then, when presented with invoices by the selling agents, they would deduct from those invoices an amount of 2s. per beast. The selling agents had no legal means of recouping this amount. In many cases, instead of the growers paying the levy the selling agents were bearing the cost.
Towards the end of July, 1960, the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) met representatives of the various sections of the meat industry. We are told that at that meeting the meat operators told the Minister in no uncertain manner that they could not make allowance for the levy in their buying limits. At the same time, the selling agents asked the Minister to amend the legislation to make it possible for the cattle producers to be responsible directly for financing this project. Following this meeting, the selling agents announced that they intended to take legal action to recover the payments which they claimed had been deducted from their invoices by the meat operators. Eventually a writ was issued out of the High Court of Australia. The Minister for Primary Industry and the cattle producers were eager that the legislation should operate and that the levy should be deducted as was intended so that research into the beef industry could be carried out. Therefore, certain suggestions were agreed to, with the result that we now have before us this amending legislation. Following the issue of the High Court writ, the Minister agreed to suspend the levy as from 14th October last year and to await the decision of the High Court. I understand that, if this amending legislation is passed, the action in the High Court will not be proceeded with.
The measures now before the Senate are designed to implement the wishes of all sections of the industry. It is intended that in future meat operators and selling operators shall be able to deduct the levy as a separate charge from the account sales of the vendor in respect of all cattle that are intended for slaughter. This method of deduction is straightforward. I know that a few queries have been raised as to what will happen in certain cases, but I believe that those cases will be isolated and that when the legislation is passed and the levies are being deducted the difficulties experienced will be ironed out.
Speaking personally, I cannot see any need for this legislation. I realize, of course, that it has been introduced purely as a result of agreement between all interested parties in the meat industry. It seems extraordinary to me that the. meat operators should say that they cannot allow for this levy in their limits, particularly when we look at the manner in which the deficiency payments under the fifteen-year meat agreement are paid. Time and time again during the years for which that agreement has been in operation growers’ organizations have come to the Minister for Primary Industry of the day and have said that they felt they were not being paid the full amount that was made available under the deficiency payment provisions. The Ministers have told them repeatedly that they have approached the meat operators and have questioned them about the matter and that they have assured them that the full amount of money has been made available to the growers. But now when we want the process to operate in reverse the meat operators say they cannot do it. Having been connected with the growing side of the, industry in the past, I doubt whether we are getting the full benefit of our deficiency payments. However, I do not intend to detain the Senate any longer. I support the measure. I hope it wilL be- given, a quick, passage so that we shall’ be able to get on with the task of carrying, out research into the beef industry.
.- The purpose of the measures now before the Senate is to correct the hit-or-miss effect df the earlier legislation. My attitude to the proposed legislation is easily stated. I agree with it whole-heartedly, because the levy will, have to be paid by the producers ar beef cattle and the sum which they contribute will be for their own benefit and economically to their own great advantage. There is such a wide field of research in connexion with the beef cattle industry and so little has been done that I am pleased to. note that at least positive action is- being taken, as outlined in the bills before the Senate, to commence research work in- a worthwhile manner,
T was’ disappointed when I read the introductory comments of the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator- Paltridge) to findthat no information was given to us regarding the sum collected last year under the existing legislation; I had to ascertain that information for myself. For the benefit of the Senate, Mr. Deputy President, I propose to state how the sum collected last year waa expended. My information indicates that the Cattle and Beef Research Acts- 1960 established the Cattle and Beef Research Trust Account, which is a trust account, for the- purposes of section. 62a of the Audit Act. Section 5 of the act provides for an- -appropriation, from the Con. solidated Revenue Fund for credit to the trust account of- amounts equal to the amount of levy raised, under the Cattle Slaughter Levy Collection Act 1960, including, amounts received from, the proprietors at: abattoirs, and also, amounts payable by way of penalty, in accordance with section 7- of the act, together with amounts equal tO: one-half of the. amounts payable out of the account in, accordance with the act, but not exceeding, the amounts, received from levies. I have no doubt that that is quite clear to my audience.
Moneys in the trust account may be expended1 for the purposes set out in section 6 of this act: Summarized’, those’ purposes include scientific,, economic or technical research related to the raising of cattle or the production- or distribution of beef and other products of. the slaughter of cattle; the training of persons for any such research; the publication of reports, books and so on; the dissemination1 of information and advice on matters related to- the raising of cattle or the production or distribution of- beef or- other products of the slaughter- of cattle; and- the payment of relevant administrative expenses incurred by the Australian Meat Board and of fees and allowances to members of the Australian Catties and Beef Research Committee and others.
Transactions related to the trust account in 1960-61 show that transfers from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, Part I,, by way of special appropriations as provided by section 5 (1;.) (b) of. the Cattle and Beef Research. Acts 1960, amounted to only £191. Special appropriations, as provided for toy section. 5 (1.) (a) of the Cattle and Beef Research Acts 1960, amounted, to £82,139.. Other receipts amounted to £1,200, making a total of £83,530. Miscellaneous expenditure amounted to £3,381, leaving, a balance at 30th June last of £80,149.
It appears on the face of it that no research work at all was carried out last year and that the good intention expressed in the legislation when the Senate previously dealt with this- matter was never given effect.
Of the balance of £80,149 at 30th June, last, £70,000 was invested in short-term fixed deposits with the Reserve Bank of Australia. Levies in abeyance at that date totalled’ £121,030, while returns outstanding, amounted to £2,304. I take it that that figure relates to the number of people who had not paid their levy last year. I leave the matter for the Minister to clear up when he is replying to the debate. I think T have said sufficient to show that in an ordinary year the levy should provide sufficient finance to launch- research projects.
I stated; earlier that, the purposes of the existing legislation included, scientific, economic or. technical research related’ to the raising of cattle.. I do not know whether if is- now proposed to amend the: act in that’ respect. That appears to me to be rather a broad field, as I shall; indicate, shortly. There is, of course, a- wide, field of research- awaiting the: Government and: those who administer the fund. I am greatly interested in this legislation because of the employment potential of the beef cattle industry in Queensland. One half of the beef cattle of Australia are found in Queensland. The distribution of beef cattle throughout the Commonwealth is as follows: - New South Wales, 2,382,000; Victoria, 997,000; Queensland, 5,643,000; South. Australia, 328,000; Western Australia, 785,000; Tasmania, 171,000; the Northern Territory, 1,099,000; and the Australian Capital Territory, 6,000, making a total of over 11,000,000. Those figures show that the major part of the beef cattle industry is in Queensland. We have there at least seven or eight major meatworks which provide remunerative employment for between 7,000 and 8,000 hands during the killing season. In. a good season, killing runs from about early March, or sometimes February, through to November. It is unfortunate that during the last two years the killing season has been very short indeed, due to the droughts that have been experienced in the cattle-raising regions of Queensland.
I do not want to take up- the time of the Senate in dealing with certain, aspects of the beef cattle industry, but on another occasion I certainly hope to devote time to them. The action that the Government proposes by means of the levy system is worthwhile. It is necessary to tackle the diseases- that occur in cattle, but there are also other matters associated with the industry which are of the greatest importance and’ which also need to be tackled. There is no reason in the world why the meat works in Queensland should’ not operate throughout the whole of the year. There should- be a constant supply of beef cattle awaiting killing in that’ State. There is certainly a lucrative overseas market. Nevertheless, we have the sorry spectacle of the meat works being closed because of a shortage of suitable cattle for killing. I once visited1, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, experimental- station, at Katherine, in the Northern- Territory. After I had viewed the station for a. while I was satisfied that tobacco- could- be grown, in, the Katherine district and- that cotton, almost any vegetable that could be- named,, and citrus, fruit also- could be grown there.. However, that is miles away from the market. I do not think that in my time, at any rate, such things will be produced economically at Katherine or anywhere else in the Northern Territory.
I was told that the experimental station at Katherine had been operating for five or six years. As I walked away from the station, I said to myself that the officers there had been wasting their time. The Northern Territory is fundamentally a cattle-raising area. It has never been able to support much more than 1,000,000 head of cattle, but it is cattle-raising country and an effort should be made, not only to double, but even to quadruple the number of head of cattle that could be grazed there. The C.S.I.R.O., instead of wasting its time experimenting with the growing of tobacco in Katherine when we can grow in the Mareeba district nearly all the tobacco that Australia requires, could devote its energies to the problem of crossing the natural grass of the Northern Territory with another species, such as Flinders grass, with the object of providing a fodder for cattle in the Northern Territory that would be nutritious throughout the year. Speargrass the natural grass of the Northern Territory, contains nutriment for cattle in its early life. While it is green and succulent it is nutritious, but it loses the nutriment almost entirely when it becomes old and then it is valueless as cattle feed. The C.S.I.R.O. is faced, with the challenge of crossing speargrass with a grass of another type to produce a hybrid grass that will be a succulent, nutritious and very satisfactory food for cattle. That is something that could be done. I do not suggest that the money required for the work should come out of the fund that is established under this legislation. Already the C.S.I.R.O. has financed experiments with money appropriated from Consolidated Revenue. As L have said, this is a major task awaiting the organization’s attention.
The- forms of research mentioned in the measure are very important. I read not very long ago that the work done in Australia by the various research, authorities, including the CS.LR.Oi, had gone far. enough - it had gone too far in some circumstances - and-, that; the work of implementing the: recommendations! made’ by those who had conducted the: experiments1 was lagging. It is still lagging. That work is several years in arrears, and all the time the experimenters are making new discoveries. There is no authority that can co-ordinate the political forces in Australia and say that this recommendation or that recommendation should be implemented.
If 1 were to ask any honorable senator to tell me the amount that Queensland loses annually through the depredations of ticks, probably he would not be able even to hazard a guess.
– It is £13,800,000.
– You are a cattle man, and I exclude you from my remark.
– You mean that, with the exception of Senator Scott, those on the Government side would not know?
– I remember giving Senator Scott that information last year, when legislation similar to this was being dealt with. On that occasion, he was shocked to learn that the annual loss to Queensland was so great. How can we deal with the tick problem? It is certainly a serious problem in Queensland. I regret that Senator Maher is not here at present, because he is an authority on this matter. He informed me once that the United States of America, I think it was, suffered at one time from the ticks that we have in Queensland.
– He plays politics. He is not interested in ticks.
– He is a member of the Country Party and, therefore, is an authority on ticks. I understand that one of the American States had ticks similar to those that are found in Queensland and that the authorities there dealt with the pest in the only way in which it can be dealt with effectively. That method is explained in a publication of the C.S.I.R.O., which states -
The cattle tick begins and ends its life on the ground but only feeds and comes to maturity on cattle. The move from the ground to the animal is a critical step in the life of the parasite. If the miniature ticks do not reach their food within a certain time, the life cycle will be broken and the particular paddock will no longer be a source of tick infestation.
I think the State concerned was Texas. It had a government which was strong enough to say to the cattle-growers, “You must take your stock out of the tick-infested paddocks and you must not bring them back for six months “. The cattle-growers did that, and when the cattle returned to the paddocks all the ticks had died through starvation. As I have said, that is the only way in which this pest can be dealt with effectively. The day will come when Queensland will have a government strong enough to force the cattle-growers to take that action.
– What has been done in the last 30 years?
– If this Government were prepared to reduce the incomes of the cattle-growers over a period of twelve months and to affect seriously the supply of beef cattle to the meatworks over a period of twelve months, that would be all right, but the Government probably would be required to pay £50,000,000 or £60,000,000 in compensation to those who would be affected. The sooner ticks axe cleared entirely from Australia, the better it will be for the Australian beef-raising industry. There is only one way in which to deal with the tick pest effectively, and that is to kill every tick.
– You do not kill them. They die because they cannot get anything to eat.
– That is explained in the scientific work I have referred to. There is no cheap way to solve this problem. It would be an impossibility to rub the cattle. We cannot introduce an insect to Australia that would thrive on ticks, although I know that we dealt with the prickly pear problem in Queensland by the very cheap method of introducing the cactoblastis insect which demolished the prickly pear within a year or so.
We in Queensland are faced with problems that are not encountered by the people in the other States. Queensland has a hotwet region and a hot-dry region. Cattle are raised in both regions. If I say certain things about the cattle-raising industry in Queensland, some honorable senators doubt what I say. If I state something positively, they say that that is my own idea and that what I have said may not be true. In dealing with this legislation, we are considering matters affecting our overseas balances and the need for greater exports.
This area has the potential for doubling, or even - as I said a while ago - quadrupling the output of meat. 1 desire to quote from one of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization’s productions in which, under the heading “ Big Gains in Beef Production”, the following appears -
The tremendous productive potential of some tens of millions of acres of well-watered but comparatively undeveloped land in eastern Queensland below the Tropic is strikingly illustrated by the most recent figures from a large grazing trial. This experiment on native spear grass country near Gladstone has now been in progress for several years.
Improved pastures based on cultivation and sowing of a grass-legume mixture turned off beef at the rate of 153 lb. liveweight per acre.
Senator Scott is a beef baron and he will understand the meaning of that. He will know that that sounds good. The article continues -
Unfertilized native pasture showed a net production for the year of only 15 lb liveweight per acre, while native pasture oversown with Townsville lucerne and topdressed with superphosphate and potash produced at the rate of 110 lb per acre.
The improved pastures not only carried more stock, but brought the stock to killing weights one year earlier than did the unimproved native pasture. The topdressing and oversowing of native pasture with Townsville lucerne should be profitable under commercial conditions.
The establishment of similar high-producing pastures in other parts of the subtropics depends on success in finding suitable pasture legumes. A world-wide search for these key plants has met with some success, and several potentially valuable species are now being adapted for local conditions.
I know the area referred to very well. The report says that it is well watered. It is well watered at the present time because twelve inches of rain fell there last week, as Senator Wood, who is from Queensland, well knows.
The report speaks of tens of millions of acres not producing anything near the volume that they could produce. All that is required to make this land produce is to transplant legumes from some other part of Queensland. It is all a question of grass. As I mentioned, this is speargrass country. If some of the smart fellows in the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization could cross speargrass with some good type of grass that we have in Queensland - such as Flinders grass - and produce a nutritious cattle fodder, we could then turn off such a large number of cattle from this area that you probably would not be able to count them. Then, as Senator Wood well knows, the meat season, instead of lasting only three or four months of the year, could continue for the whole twelve months. Senator Wood knows full well what that would mean to the northern parts of Queensland, and to a city such as Rockhampton, which is almost dependent upon the beef cattle industry, and Townsville where at least 2,000 employees are directly engaged in the meat industry.
It is because of the importance of the beef cattle industry to Queensland that I am taking part in this debate. I approve of everything contained in the bill. I approve strongly of cattle-growers finding the money out of their own incomes to pay the proposed levy. I whole-heartedly support that arrangement. Then the growers should decide in a democratic way, through the various agencies that exist, what research work shall take place in the industry. The whole thing is fair, and it is something that appeals to me.
The Minister for Civil Aviation, in his second-reading speech on one of these cognate bills, referred to roads that it is proposed to build in Queensland and one other State. If I do not refer to this matter it is fairly certain that one Government member will do so because roads are very important to the beef cattle industry, although not as important as the provision of fodder for cattle. That is the basic necessity of the present time. Cattle can be transported in some way or other. They have four legs and they can walk from place to place as they have done ever since Australia was a Commonwealth. In a document presented to Parliament, the following appeared under the heading “ Encouragement of Meat Production “ -
During 1960-61 payments and advances to the States of Queensland and Western Australia, under the States Grants (Encouragement of Meat Production) Act 1949-1954 amounted to £4,768 and £2,000 respectively. Total payments and advances to Queensland and Western Australia to 30th June, 1961, were £1,323,550 and £832,000 respectively.
The Treasurer has determined in accordance with Section 9 of the Act that for the period to 31st December, 1960, the amount payable to Queensland was £1,312,450 and to Western Australia £830.154.
Those two States will use the money to great advantage. Roads will be built which could be used by road trains between the railheads and the cattle-raising areas. In due course these roads will be constructed from some of the railheads in western Queensland to what is known as the Channel country. The Channel country is referred to often by some people as if it were a magic country capable of producing any number of cattle, lt is held out to be first-class cattle grazing country whereas in truth it is probably the poorest grazing country in the whole of Australia. No more than 2.4 beasts per square mile are turned off the Channel country.
J am anxious to see money spent on the construction of roads from railheads out into the western parts of Queensland for the purpose of bringing in fat cattle. Road trains operate only when the seasons are good. I do not think any road trains have operated in the Channel country for a number of years. I understand, however, that cattle are coming in from certain parts of the Northern Territory. Any one who has had the interesting experience of travelling over the Barkly Tableland will have seen, in a good season, one of the greatest tracts of grazing country in the world. If you go there in an ordinary or poor season, you shudder at what you see. Now cattle are coming into Mount Isa from the Northern Territory. Road trains are being used. This year funds are to be made available by the Government for a road from Julia Creek, on the northwestern line, to Normanton. Legislation will be introduced to authorize the Government to make the money available.
I emphasize that the transport of cattle is not the problem. The problem is to get sufficient fodder for the stock. A while ago 1 referred to a report by the C.S.I.R.O. to the effect that tens of millions of acres south of the Tropic of Capricorn are awaiting development. Those areas are not far from the meatworks, railway lines and good roads. I do not know whose function it is to develop those areas. After six years the C.S.I.R.O. has presented that report which slates that the country requires the planting of legumes in order to capture it as a cattle-raising country. Surely it must be the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government or the State Government, if the land is privately owned or leased, to advocate strongly that the occupants take action to develop this tract of country. 1 know that the Government cannot force them to do anything.
– Is this the coastal country?
– Yes. I am sorry thai Senator Hannaford was not here before because he would have understood clearly what I said. It is a tract of country south of the Tropic of Capricorn in the central Queensland district. There are tens of millions of acres awaiting development. Very often that is just a figure of speech; but in this case it has been used by a scientist, so I take it to be correct.
The Government is allocating money for building a road from Julia Creek to the Gulf of Carpentaria. That will only take the cattle away more quickly. If the cattle were unable to travel over that road in a road train, they would be able to walk over it. Perhaps they would reach the railway a little later than if they came by road train, but the loss of weight in making the journey would be infinitesimal.
I do not wish to take up the time of the Senate at this stage because at some other time we will have an opportunity to debate this matter at greater length. I give the legislation my blessing. I am interested in it. I will certainly see what developments occur. Each year I will ascertain the amount that is collected under this legislation; I will see what type of research work is being carried out; and I will follow that up by seeing whether or not the research work is successful. I make an appeal to honorable senators on the Government side to get busy in order to have cattle in the Queensland meatworks throughout the year. It is most important to the commercial and industrial life of Queensland cities that there be a constant supply of beef cattle to the meatworks. I hope that this legislation will contribute towards that end.
– I support the bill. It is a great pity that this amending legislation has to be introduced into the Parliament this year. Unfortunately, it is necessary because of the method of collection under the previous bill which took effect from 1st July, 1960. Under the original bill, the person who slaughtered the cattle was to pay a levy of 2s. a head. The representatives of the cattle breeders’ associations throughout Australia thought that would be the best method of collection. All the organizations of breeders of cattle for slaughter in Australia were of the opinion that a levy of 2s. a head should be placed on the killing of all cattle over a certain weight, excluding calves, for the purpose of conducting research into the beef industry. In fact, the payment of the 2s. levy was their own idea.
Unfortunately, when the legislation was passed, the butchers, who were the last people to handle the cattle, were the ones who had to pay the 2s. levy. We were informed that at metropolitan sales, which are held weekly, and at country sales cattle were often knocked down to butchers on the last bid of £1. The system that operates in some metropolitan areas is that bids go up by £5 and then by £1 in the last bid. The 2s. is deducted from that last bid. Evidently the butchers were of the opinion that that was not a fair method of collection because they could not limit the last rise to 2s. as they are not allowed to make 2s. rises in bids. Therefore, they claimed that they, instead of the producers, were finding the money for the levy. As the intention of the producers was to have the levy imposed on the slaughter of cattle in order to promote the Australian beef industry, the butchers thought that it was only right that the beef producers should pay the levy. Consequently, we have the need for this amending legislation. No doubt the system will work out satisfactorily now, but almost a year has been lost. 1 notice that the levy was suspended as from 14th October of last year. The legislation was designed to raise £300,000 a year by way of levy, which was to be supplemented by the Government on a £1 for £1 basis to the extent of a further £300,000. That would have given £600,000 to be spent on research into the Australian beef industry. I understand that the Australian Cattle and Beef Research Committee was set up with Mr. J. L. Shute as chairman, and it had some meetings. That committee was studying ways and means by which the industry could best be helped by scientists and others in Australia.
As Senator Benn has said, the north of Australia is the area in which a large increase in the number of cattle can be achieved by adopting the methods outlined by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. I am firmly convinced that the number of beef cattle can be increased by more than 100 per cent. Pilot farms to carry out these research experiments should be established in the north of Australia, including the Northern Territory, the Kimberleys area and north Queensland. Queensland has about 7,000,000 or 8,000,000 cattle at the moment, out of the total Australian cattle population of 17,400,000. Experiments by the C.S.I.R.O. have shown that carrying capacity can be increased tenfold in the higher rainfall areas of Queensland. Areas that now carry about six beasts to the square mile could fatten one beast to 10 acres, which is equivalent to 64 to a square mile, on improved pastures. These higher rainfall areas extend from the eastern seaboard of Queensland to the northern part of the Kimberleys in Western Australia. The need to close meatworks at Wyndham and Queensland ports after about six months’ operation each year could be overcome smartly by the establishment of pilot farms in the higher rainfall areas, which would lead to increased carrying capacities. These pilot farms need not be very large. Areas of 50,000 or 60,000 acres would suffice. When I learned that a committee was to be established under the chairmanship of Mr. Shute, I contacted him by telephone and also by letter, giving him my ideas on the best methods to be adopted for the development of the beef industry.
– Why are beef cattle always bred in the outback rather than on good pastures?
– That is not quite right. Some of the fattest and best cattle are produced in higher rainfall areas in the south. For instance, baby beef, which brings the highest prices, is bred in high rainfall areas on improved pastures. The development of the outback has always begun with cattle, which are easier to run and do not require very much fencing.
– Is .the land cheaper?
– The land is the same price whether one runs cattle or sheep. Land in the outback is leased for the annual charge of between 3s. and 15s. per 1,000 acres, depending on locality. There is no doubt that people who went to the outback in the early part of last century took cattle with them. In 1850 or 1860, Mr. Durack went from northern New South Wales or southern Queensland to Wyndham.
– He went from Blackall, Queensland.
– Thank you. He established a station on the Ord River with 2,000 or 3,000 head. The droving of those cattle over 2,000 miles took two and a half years. That illustrates the spirit of the pioneers. They had great difficulty in raising cattle and prices were very low. We hear complaints to the effect that the outback has not been developed quickly. The reason is that in the Northern Territory and the Kimberleys - no doubt also in Queensland - the price received for a bullock at five or sis years of age, when it is fit enough or fat enough to travel to a meatworks, has been as low as £2 15s. or £3. That was the price in 1929 or 1930. Such a beast would kill at 600 lb.
– The cattle growers were not the only people who suffered during that period, as you know.
– No, I think that some doctors were very depressed. However, those cattle-raisers could not be expected to develop their properties under such conditions. Some persons, seeing the development that has taken place, are very critical, but one can understand the position when one knows the background and the prices that have been received for cattle.
Senator Benn said that development could be obtained by providing improved pastures without providing roads. I can only answer that statement by saying that in the past cattle have had to be walked 1,000 miles or so to be slaughtered. Those bred in the Victoria River Downs area of the Northern Territory walked 1,500 miles to slaughterhouses on the eastern seaboard. After being six or eight months on the road, they were in such poor condition that they had to be pastured for another fattening season adjacent to the killing works. With modern methods of road transport, which mean higher costs, of course that is avoided. I remember that when the Broome meatworks was established in 1945 or 1946 the owner believed that he would never have to carry cattle by road transport, and that droving was the best method of transportation. To-day, all the cattle killed in Broome arrive by road transport. The day of the drover is nearly over, although droving still is the cheapest method of transporting stock. I should like to refer to an article that appeared in the “ Sun-Herald “ of 11th September, 1960. It is headed “ Massive ‘ Droving ‘ Project “, and reads -
Huge herds of Northern Territory cattle are being transported into Queensland in the State’s greatest stock lift. In eight weeks cattle worth more than £1,000,000 will be carried into Queensland on mammoth diesel road trains.
The fat cattle will be sent to meatworks in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.
Most of the cattle are from the lush Barkly Tableland pastures, unaffected by drought that has struck most of Queensland.
The article further states -
Road-trains are bringing them over barren stock routes where droving would be impossible.
One large Northern Territory company is using a £120,000 road-train of seven diesel-powered units.
The train lifts more than 2,000 cattle at one time, and each of its units has a loaded weight of 37 tons.
A little further on it states -
A big north Queensland organization used to pay £3 10s. droving charges for every beast brought to Dajarra.
With road-trains it costs only 13s. 4d. a beast.
That statement is quite incorrect. There is no road-train or group of road-trains in Australia that could be bought for £120,000 and which would carry 2,000 head of cattle. If one spent £120,000 on road-trains one would expect to carry between 200 and 300 head of cattle.
– Possibly they meant sheep or goats.
– Yes. As I indicated, this article states -
A big north Queensland organization used to pay £3 10s. droving charges for every beast brought to Dajarra.
With road-trains it costs only 13s. 4d. a beast.
– That is not correct, is it?
– It is quite stupid. It has always been recognized that droving is much cheaper. In the olden days the cost of droving used to be 5s. per head per 100 miles. Of course, it has since risen. At the present time droving charges would be only about 10s. per 100 miles per beast. The rate charged by road-trains operating in Queensland and Western Australia is more than £1 a head. People are carried away when they write such articles, particularly about the north and the north-west of Australia.
As Senator Benn said, adjacent to Gladstone in Queensland there is one of the richest cattle-breeding areas in Australia. I believe that within a 300-mile radius of Gladstone, in an area which has a fairly high rainfall, there are 3,000,000 beef cattle. That number could be doubled if known and proven scientific methods were adopted. The industry and Australia as a whole have a responsibility to increase our export income by increasing our live cattle population from 17,000,000 to, if you like, 34,000,000.
The Northern Territory has a cattle population of more than 1,100,000. Within a couple of hundred miles of Darwin there are areas which have an annual rainfall of 50 inches. If improved pasture methods, such as the growing of Townsville lucerne and Para grass, were adopted it should be possible to run one beast to the acre in those areas. In other areas of the Northern Territory, particularly in the area adjacent to the Katherine research station on the Tipperary plains, with pasture improvement the cattle raising capacity of the land could be increased tenfold. When the money becomes available - when similar legislation was introduced last year it was expected that £600,000 a year would become available - we should endeavour, in conjunction with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and our research and pilot farms, to encourage southern investors to accept a certain degree of responsibility in the development of our northern cattle areas.
– With Victorian money?
– I think some of the Victorian manufacturers could well play a part in the development of the Northern Territory.
– I am sorry I spoke.
– With the assistance of tariff protection, secondary industries in the south are prospering. Some of the people who are paying 8s. in the £1 in company tax and who, when they receive their profits from the companies, are paying 10s. and 12s. in the £1 by way of income tex could well invest in the development of some of the properties in the Northern Territory. They could claim, for income tax purposes, a 100 per cent, deduction of all the money spent on the development of such properties, with the exception of small amounts expended on private cars and private homes. Some of the more influential and affluent people who live in the south should take an interest in the development of the north so that the cattle population of that area may be increased. I am quite sincere when I say that if we leave the development of the north to a government or a government department, in 50 years’ time the situation will be no better than it is to-day. Generally speaking, those people who are paying high rates of income tax in the south of Australia are fairly influential and knowledgeable people. If they were encouraged to spend money in the north, they would see that it was spent wisely and that correct methods of administration were developed on the properties concerned. Australia would benefit as a result.
A property with an area of 1,000,000 acres in the 50-inch or 60-inch rainfall area of the Northern Territory which is at present running only a few thousand buffaloes could, without any shadow of doubt, be developed to turn off 100,000 fat cattle a year. At the present time there are areas in the Territory which are let to people as grazing rights. The tenure is not even leasehold. A person renting such land pays only a very small sum to the Government. Those areas are not being developed. That is a tragedy. Surely it is the responsibility not so much of the Government but of people in the south who are making large profits from protected industries and who are enjoying themselves to take an interest in the development of the north.
I believe that the legislation as amended will prove to be a great success. There is plenty of scope for research. The amount of £600,000 a year that is to be expended on research could well be supplemented if people who live in the south were eager to share in the development of the north of Australia.
.- The three measures under consideration by the Senate have been canvassed on. a previous- occasion. At that time,, honorable senators on. this side of’ the chamber sup?ported; the proposed legislation: because we believed that- the: cattle industry,, a. most important section of our primary, industry, should, have every- possible assistance in solving its problems:. There: is no. doubt in: my mind, and” It am sure I speak for every one iff- this chamber, that: primary production’ is an essential part- of our economy. Over the1 years- we have been able to find markets for our- primary pro. ducts but prices^ have posed; a1 great problem for us. Throughout the world to-day there are people- who would be very pleased to Be able to- obtain’ Australian primary products-; but the1 great barrier- that has to- be surmounted before’ we can make contact with those- readily available markets is our price structure:
Honorable senators who have spoken m the debate so far have indicated that they believe that the cattle slaughter levy must be taken for granted. I think every one agrees that money should be made available for research to assist the industry to eradicate pests, to promote markets and for numerous other purposes. There has been a legal difficulty in deciding how best’ to collect the levy, and it appears that the measures now before the Senate propose to overcome that difficulty by providing that the person owning the cattle at the time of slaughter will’ be responsible for the payment of” the levy.
I think it is> rather’ av pity that the levy is; not spread- more widely. When we consider a1 beast, from the time; of its birth to the’ stage at which it becomes- succulent food1, we realize that- many people are associated with- it. It seems- somewhat unfair that all the branches of industry that gain from the improvement- of the quality of cattle, from the reduction of costs of production in the cattle industry, and so on, do not contribute to the research that is- undertaken.. I think there should be a responsibility on those who gain from advances’ in. the industry to make an equal, contribution. I. am sure that- all honorable senators, appreciate the work, of the Commonwealth. Scientific and- Industrial Research Organization. As we know, the Division of Animal Health, and other divisions- of that organization are working on. the various problems- of’ our primary industries. The. Bureau of Agricultural Economics? also is- making a fine contribution to the solution, of those problems by means: of. its publications, and investigations-.
Our beef, industry over the years has had to battle against the natural elements. The wool industry, the wheat industry and other primary industries have been more lucrative than’ has the beef industry. Therefore, the areas- of Australia which” enjoy good’ rainfall have been used’ for– the- intensive cultivation of crops, the’ raising of” fat lambs, woolgrowing, and so on. The bulk of our beef has been’ produced in marginal areas under conditions which have made the cattle industry a very uncertain type of industry. There is- the problem of low rainfall or of intermittent- rainfall: Unless rain falls, Mr. D’eputy President, it does not matter how good the soil is or how good the climate is. Seeds will not germinate and grass will not grow without rain. Similarly, it does not matter- how well bred1 a beast- is;’ if there is not- a> continuous supply of good feed going down its throat it will not be- of much1 use in the long run. We therefore must ask ourselves:- What types- of beast are we~ to produce, how are we to produce them’, and’ where will we~ produce them?
It. is easy for us to say,. “ Look at. the vast acres of the- Northern! Territory and of Queensland “. I know those vast acres- and I also know- that the best of the land, at any rate: in Queensland’, i» oS limited-‘ use for fat: cattle1 raising! In- the Sub-tropical areas there* is seasonal or- monsoonal rain1. There are times of plenty, when the mon.soonal rains fall, and there are times of scarcity, in- the dry seasons. A calf may bc born- at a1 time when the mother- is able to give- it a good supply of milk. She may wax relatively fat and be- able to give the calf a-, good start. Then- a dry period may be experienced and the reserve that has been built up dwindles;. By next year the calf, now a yearling, is muscly and tough, and a certain period will have to elapse before’ it regains the condition that it lost during the dry season. The same comment may be made of cattle in the marginal lands of Queensland”. In one year there may be an abundant rainfall, and the cattle will’ all be fat. A year later, and. perhaps for two or three years running, they will be able barely to exist. They will have to eat shrubs and leaves from trees. The attitude of those engaged in the cattle industry appears to be that it is a matter of chance and to- accept those conditions as being good enough. We know that they are to be found in the great majority of cattle-growing areas of Australia.
Senator Drake-Brockman, Senator Benn and Senator Scott all referred to the subject of beef roads. We have been talking about beef roads for generations. I member that in the 1930’s people in the Channel country of Queensland were saying that, with good connecting roads, drought-stricken cattle could be moved to better country. At that time there were no arguments about whether Queensland or New South Wales would gain more from those roads; it was only a matter of being able to save cattle from dying. At present, there are arguments between rival interests about the directions in which the cattle would move, but still no beef roads are in existence. Some top level direction is required, and I hope the Federal Government will make certain that this important problem is tackled. It is not of much use for the C.S.I.R.O. to show us that we can make gains in one direction when great losses are being incurred through sheer bad management of the nation. Those losses are not the fault of the cattle-growers, who are the victims of seasonal conditions.
That brings me to the next problem with which. I wish to deal. Once in every three years, or perhaps every four years, there is a season when conditions are so good that the cattle-growers can bring their beasts to a condition of fatness that makes them readily saleable in the markets. But, to get to the markets, in most instances the beasts have to walk long distances. I agree, of course, that motor transports have been developed that can move limited numbers of cattle, and that is a great improvement. However, whatever means of transport, are used, there is a period of some days or even weeks when the cattle are drying, out, or are being knocked about and. jostled in. motor transports or railway cattle trucks, and. when the cattle reach the markets- they have lost the bloom that, good cattle should, have..
The next problem that I want to refer to concerns a great number of cattle - those in the better rainfall areas. During this debate, mention has been made of the eradication of parasites and of the great problem presented by the cattle tick. I believe that great advances are being made in the control of the cattle tick. The information on control that has been made available to the cattle-growers is very valuable, and the quarantine areas that have been provided are well conducted and well policed. Probably the cattle tick will eventually be brought under control in the same way as were the blow-fly and the rabbit. But then we come to the problem with which I want to deal now. How can we produce, first-quality beef at such a cost that we can supply our markets? That is the crux of the, problem facing the beef industry. It is well known that along the coastal strip of Australia, immediately adjacent to the Great Dividing Range, the rainfall ranges from 110 inches annually in the north of Queensland to 20 inches in Victoria and South Australia. We are somewhat inclined to look at a map and to say that that is only a narrow strip of this country, but there is in it an enormous, acreage of land that would lend itself readily to pasture improvement of a kind that would be of great advantage to the cattle industry.
The production of a good beast depends upon a good quality cow, a good quality bull and good quality pastures. If you have a combination of those three factors, you can expect a good quality product. I believe that a quick turn-over is of great importance to the cattle industry. It is very important to get a beast to the market in the yearling stage. Many good cattle-growers have shown that, with good pastures, they can produce vealers weighing from 400 lb. to 450 lb. when twelve months old. Pasture improvement is necessary, but all along the line the cattle-growers who try to improve their pastures are faced with high costs - with prohibitively high, costs, one might say.
If a. cattle-grower wants to sub-divide his land, he is involved’ in an expenditure of up to £200 or £300 a mile for fencing. The cost of wire netting, barbed wire and ordinary fencing wire is inordinately high. I. believe that monopoly organizations such as the Broken Hill Proprietary Company
Limited should be brought into line by Government decree and required, in exchange for the monopolies of the country’s iron ore resources that have been given to them, to devote a portion of their profits to assisting primary industry. The Broken Hill organization could quite easily send the wire and the wire netting which it produces direct to the farmers, if it wished to do so, but, instead of that, the materials pass through the usual channels. The manufacturer has his profit margin, and to that is added the profit margin of the wholesale and retail distributor. Then freight costs go on, and when the wire reaches the primary producer he has to pay a very high price. Therefore, he is faced with serious financial problems in sub-dividing his land, which is very important in efficient husbandry.
Similar considerations apply to superphosphate. We all know that, in order to improve the fertility of soil in pasture improvement, it is necessary to trigger off the original growth with legumes that will put nitrogen into the soil. To start with, superphosphate is required and proper inoculants for the seed in order to achieve good germination. But we see in relation to superphosphate the same thing that is happening in relation to wire and wire netting. The manufacturers charge high prices in the first place, and to those prices are added the mark-ups of the wholesalers and the retailers and high freight costs. In that way another financial burden is placed on the back of the primary producer.
– Can you give the Senate any particulars of those items?
– I could get them. They are readily available.
The next point I want to make is that there should be a better understanding by the beef-growers of the type of beast that is most profitable. There are varying opinions on that subject in Australia. In Queensland and the Northern Territory the overwhelming majority of the cattle comprise what are known as Shorthorns or Durhams. The Shorthorn is an English breed. The beasts are hardy and fair doers, able to put up with drought conditions. In other parts of the country there is the Black Polled Angus, or the Aberdeen Angus. That is a very good beast, which has acclimatized itself very well. It is a very good beef-producer - probably one of the best. The great difficulty is that these cattle are seldom given the best conditions to show what a good breed they are. The Black Poll or Polled Angus has special qualities in its beef. It produces what is known as marbled beef - layers of fat between the selvedge, which is attractive - but it produces these qualities only if it is grazed on good pasture. Very nice Devon cattle are also produced in Australia.
There does not seem to be any uniformity in respect of the production of horned or polled cattle. Much of the damage done in cattle trucks, drafting yards and abattoirs is caused by horned cattle. Every one knows that cattle are dual personality creatures. They are very docile at times, but at other times they become excited and defend themselves with their horns. The horns of the cattle do a tremendous amount of damage to the beef. I think that the beef-growers should be kept well informed of the losses that are inflicted by horned cattle. After all, cattle have to be mustered for branding, earmarking, &c, and it would not be a difficult process to dehorn horned breeds at the same time.
It is a matter of opinion whether some of the qualities of the breed are lost in breeding the polled variety. Personally I like the horned breeds because I think that they follow the original strain, and all the best qualities that have been bred into the breed have been associated genetically with the horned breeds. Therefore, in my opinion, dehorning is the better practice. Cattle with great big sharp horns up to 18 inches long can do enormous damage to one another in the trucks. It makes me wonder whether we are not losing much of the value and quality of our meat in this one sphere.
I should like also to direct attention to what I consider a careless approach to the type of beef we put on to the market. Economically the dairy-farmer has to produce the best milk-producing breeds. He breeds the Jersey, the Guernsey, the Ayrshire, the Friesian and the Illawarras. He breeds for milk production, but he also keeps a number of the offspring of these milk producers as a sideline. These cattle eventually find their way to the abattoirs, and I expect some of them are included in the beef we export overseas. The beef produced from milk herds is of poor quality, is yellow in colour, and has a bad effect on the reputation of Australia as a beefproducing country.
I think I have stated previously that there is an old saying in the bush that it costs just as much to feed a mongrel as it costs to feed a thorough-bred. When I use the term “ mongrel “ I refer to a calf by a beefherd bull from a milk-producing cow. Instead of producing well-bred herds from which can be obtained good quality soft beef that has bloom and fat we are obtaining some poor quality beef from mongrel beasts which eat the same amount of grass as the animals of good stock. This is a matter of national importance which has not been given sufficient attention.
I mentioned recently in the Senate that a breed of cattle has been introduced from the United States of America. It is the Brahmin cross which is known here as the Santa Gertrudis. It was developed at King Ranch in Texas. Good results from this breed have been obtained not only in America but also, I understand, in Australia. Under certain conditions it is a quick maturing, weighty beast of good quality.
– And it is tick resistant.
– It is also tick resistant. I think Senator Hannaford has hit on the most desirable characteristic of the Santa Gertrudis breed when he says that it is tick resistant. All other breeds of cattle perspire through their tongues. Most honorable senators will have noticed that if a beast is hurried along, it lolls its tongue, as a dog does, and saliva comes from the tongue. The Santa Gertrudis breed perspires through the skin in the same way as a horse or a human. Evidently because the Santa Gertrudis is able to clear the pores of its skin it can dislodge ticks from the surface of the skin. That is one of the greatest qualities of this breed.
However, one of the factors affecting the introduction of the Santa Gertrudis breed at the present time is its fertility rate compared with that of other breeds. This brings me to a point I want to stress in connexion with the use of the money to be raised by this levy. The subject of fertility demands the closest attention of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and other people associated with research into the beef industry. Statistics show that it is difficult to determine the natural increase because of so many factors such as the variation of seasonal conditions throughout Australia. However, those closely associated with the beef industry are really appalled at the low percentage of calving on large cattle properties. A calving of 45 to 50 per cent, is considered to be good. I understand that in the United States of America and the Argentine, on a well husbanded beef-producing property, anything below 75 per cent, is considered to be inefficient. Graziers in those countries follow a drastic culling programme. If a beast fails to produce a calf at its second calving it is expelled from the herd, and sent to the boneyard or some other place. That is done to only a limited extent in the beef industry in Australia.
– Where did you obtain that figure of 75 per cent.?
– From a report of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics published during the last twelve months.
– It is a very high figure.
– It relates to wellhusbanded properties. In the open-range areas where the bull percentage is from 3 per cent, to 5 per cent., it is more difficult to obtain the higher percentage of calving than is the case when the cattle are under control. I stress that in areas where pasture improvement means that the cattle are closer together and there is no need for them to be dispersed, as on the great open range properties, and the availability of feed is such that they oan fill themselves up quickly and camp near water or under shady trees, matings and calving percentages are better.
– They do not average that percentage of calves in the United States of America, do they?
– No. That is the aim which they claim is economic on the pasture-improved areas where they are specializing in beef production.
– That would not be under open range conditions, would it?
– No, it is on pastureimproved land. I think the alfalfa pastures in the United States is equivalent to our lucerne pastures. In that country the grazing conditions are such that cattleraisers have a great production of vealers and with large cuts of hay they are able to conserve their pastures. Many aspects of the : beef industry are practically neglected in Australia in comparison with the overseas industry. We are being recreant in not trying to find out why we are so far behind.
– Not all cattlemen in Australia are casual in their approach to their problems.
– I understand that their approach is mostly governed by economics. There is ,a certain amount of the old tradition of “It’s all right, Jack”. The old cattlemen have had big areas and have had to take the hits on the chin when they came along. They have experienced bad seasonal conditions, but they have been able to get by. Of course, they have to be much more efficient now than previously to be able to continue in the industry because shire rates, taxes and all the other costs are rising. Those costs make it so expensive to raise cattle that if the beef producer does not apply more efficient methods in his husbandry he will go broke. There is no doubt about that because his costs are rising all the time. Consequently, the beef producer will have to take these measures. I believe that he should be given every encouragement to use modern methods. Somehow or other, we have to devise a plan whereby the bulk of our cattle can still be raised out on the open ranges and then brought in to good, soft pastures to be finished off. They should be brought in in a forward-store condition and put on to good pastures in order to top them np quickly.
In the field of fodder conservation, -the crops must be taken off and stored away for use in emergencies, such as dry seasons, so that continuity of feed supplies can be maintained to fatten cattle and produce a uniform product for the market. All these matters are vital to the success of our beef industry in the light of the challenge that faces it. The European Common Market will pose problems in every field of primary production in Australia. The haphazard measures of the past will not be good enough to enable us to compete with the more intense and more modern and practical methods that are being used in the production of beef in other parts of the world.
In my opinion, this levy is only chickenfeed. It may encourage a few men -of good will in the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and other bodies associated with the industry to apply themselves and their great intellects, to the problems that are facing the industry, such as the eradication of pests. I believe that this is an unorganized and haphazard industry. It has existed in an era in which near enough was good enough; but we have to face up to a future in which near enough is no longer good enough. We have to have certain standards. We are finding that our wheat, butter and wool have to be up to a certain quality. In the same way, the quality of our beef has to be improved.
– -You have said the same about the Australian wool industry. Would you say that this industry is worse than the wool industry?
– I say that they are about on a par, although the wool industry has an advantage over the beef industry in that other countries can produce beef as well as we can, but they cannot produce wool as well as we can. We have had that natural advantage. When people want to export our merino rams, I think they want to sell our birthright. I hope that the Senate will be strongly against granting people permission to export merino rams. The beef industry has to come up to scratch. Australia has a suitable climate for beef cattle. The English breeds have acclimatized themselves and are suited to this climate. I hope that the industry will respond to my plea. I support the bill.
Sitting suspended from 5.46 to 8 p.m.
.- I have very much pleasure in supporting the three cognate bills that we are now discussing because I believe that this change in the method of collecting a levy for the purposes of beef cattle research will be of benefit. No doubt the Minister for Primary industry (Mr. Adermann) has gone into this matter fully. I sincerely hope that the proposed method of gathering the levy will be effective, because I look upon research in industries such as the cattle industry as very important. Greater intensification of science and research in industry will be more and more valuable to this country.
As one who lives in north Queensland, I realize the value of research to the great sugar industry along the Queensland coast. For many years, sugar-farmers have been contributing funds for the purposes of research, and with help from the State Government sugar experimental stations, research has led to great improvements from the raising of seedlings to the growing and cutting of cane, including mechanical harvesting, and also in respect of milling and refining. As a consequence, the Australian sugar industry has become a very scientific industry, which is looked upon throughout the world as highly efficient. This is the result of science and research applied over a period of years. These activities pay very handsome dividends to industries which engage in them. I hope that the cattle industry, which is such an important one to Australia, will benefit from the research that will result from this legislation.
There are great possibilities of building up our cattle industry to a higher standard of scientific development. I was very interested in some aspects raised by Senator Scott, of Western Australia, who gave us food for thought. A very great part can be played by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in increasing production and improving the economics of the industry. When an industry develops a higher standard of production, the economic effect is usually beneficial, because in the long run higher production leads to reduced prices and greater economies both for the individuals engaged in the industry and for the country generally. When individuals succeed in an industry, the nation benefits,
In recent years, the beef cattle industry has played a very important part in building up our overseas earnings. As I have said time after time for a number of years, the earning of overseas credits is most important. As Senator O’Byrne stated, problems associated with the European Common Market are facing us, and we should do everything possible to encourage and develop industry that can earn money for us overseas. Senator Scott made a very good point in regard to the development of north Queensland and northern Australia generally, that we will never get the development that we desire if the matter is left entirely to the governments. Development depends on people playing their own part, not only in investing and earning income but in helping individually and collectively in every other way. Individuals will contribute to a very large extent to the development of northern Australia. Whilst the C.S.I.R.O. may be responsible for a great deal of research, including the establishment of pilot farms, the individual will also make a very important contribution. Research in the sugar industry led to the breeding of new types of sugar cane that were- better producers and to improved means of combating insect and other pests..
With the development of new varieties of cane, these were tried not only in experimental stations; they were also distributed to various farms throughout the district and results were determined on crops grown by practical farmers under everyday conditions. It is true to say that very often reliable results may not be obtained from experimental stations because of the special considerations given to experimental crops. The production achieved may not be the same as that obtained on an ordinary farm; it would probably be greater. When individual farmers grew new types of cane, the practical side of farming was applied and the minds of those farmers were directed towards further development. I have always felt that the best results are achieved in cattle raising and other industries not only as a result of development by government departments but also by encouraging individuals to participate in scientific research and to use their own ideas and practical methods. It is marvellous what can be done in an individual way.
While my own district of Mackay is devoted mainly to sugar production, over the range is the Nebo district, which continues to the great rolling downs towards Clermont and which is devoted to cattleraising. There cattle producers are making experiments. Only recently I read in the
Mackay “ Mercury “ of experiments that a Mr. Windsor is making by way of lot feeding on his cattle property. The results gave an indication of what can be done to bring about greater production from the land by the application of scientific methods in an up-to-date way. Reports that Mr. Windsor has given so far indicate that production from his property has been remarkably increased over a very short period as a result of fattening his cattle by lot feeding. His experiments are not yet complete, but they indicate to me that there is a very great need for scientific investigation and research to provide intensive development of the cattle industry. Just as individuals such as Mr. Windsor in that area can play their part, so can many others throughout other cattle districts of Australia. With the guidance and help of the C.S.I.R.O. such people might be sparked off and encouraged to use some imagination in scientific research on their own properties. I am sure that many of them, who have been on the land for many years, only need encouragement in certain ways. With their practical knowledge, there is no doubt that they in turn will do a great deal to help the industry along.
I remember that some years ago the late Mr. J. Michelmore, of my own area, came across the grass that is now known as Townsville lucerne. It is not a true lucerne, but grows very close to the ground. From my knowledge of it, its greatest value as fodder is when it dries off. The seed of Townsville lucerne came to Australia, perhaps, in fodder of some kind. If I recall correctly, it was first noticed in the Townsville area, hence its name. Mr. Michelmore, who was a very keen man with cattle, always looking for scientific developments and encouraging the growing of new grasses and fodders, used to get men in my district to gather the seed of Townsville lucerne. Wherever he drove in the country, he scattered the seed, with the result that the grass came up everywhere. People said at the time that he was foolish to be doing it, that the distribution of this seed might prove to be detrimental. But nowadays we are reading more and more about the value of Townsville lucerne. So we see that the late Mr. Michelmore as an individual, and Mr. Windsor as an individual on his own cattle, property, in addi tion to government research, have played their part in more intense scientific development to help to build up the efficiency of the industry.
We know that in the western regions there are problems to be overcome. Reference was made to-day to the Channel country of Queensland and to the value of roads. Of course, there are arguments about the Channel country. Some people say that the coastal region is the best area in which to raise cattle. There is even argument amongst people who are employed in the cattle industry. For example, we have Mr. John Murray, who is the member for the division of Herbert and who has done a very great job of experimentation in the wet regions in the north of the State-
– Mr. Bryce Henry did experimentation years ago, too.
– Yes, Mr. Bryce Henry of the Innisfail area did a very good job of experimentation also. Whilst such men may be seeking an immediate gain, they are doing a national service. There are problems associated with transferring cattle from dry regions to wet regions. Some people say that cattle can be taken from dry country to wet country.
– - What was learn: as a result of Mr. Bryce Henry’s experiments?
– No doubt quite a lot was learnt. In regard to this problem of moving cattle from dry country to the wei coastal country, it must be remembered that the food in the dry country is referred to as being sweet and that the food in the coastal region is referred to as being sour. The experience of some people who have transferred cattle from dry country to the wet coastal country has been that the cattle have lost condition, that it takes about twelve months to acclimatize them and that many of them die as the result of the move. I do not know whether Mr. Murray has found a solution of the problem; he believes he has. But these men who are continually investigating various aspects of the problem are doing a national service as well as a service to themselves.
Quite a lot of misunderstanding exists about the Channel country, which is a very broad belt of country that runs more or less down through the centre of Queensland, lt is during the monsoonal season - probably from January to March - that this western country floods. The water channels out and the floods extend for miles and miles. In a good season, there is a beautiful growth of grass after the flood waters recede. That is when the Channel country really comes into its own for the production of cattle. There is much argument about whether we should have roads running out to the cattle country, whether we should have roads running from the north to the south of Queensland and then to New South Wales and the other States, or whether we should have roads out to the lush areas on the coast. The provision of roads serves a couple of purposes. We must remember that the Channel country is soft country. Cattle that have been in the Channel country for some time become soft-footed. Because of the tenderness of their hooves they cannot be driven as hard as can cattle that have been used to hard country. Therefore, to have good roads from the Channel country to the meatworks would be of very great value. If such roads were provided, the cattle could be transported by motor truck and not have to be driven on hard country that they are not used to.
If good roads were provided, in times of drought cattle could be moved quickly to be slaughtered or to other agistment. Many millions of pounds worth of cattle have been lost in Queensland in recent years. If we had had good roads from the western regions to the coast, where the meatworks are situated, no doubt a lot of those cattle could have been saved for slaughter or could have been taken to other places for agistment. I am one of those people who believe that the building of roads from the cattle areas to the various centres is of prime importance. I believe that when such roads eventually are completed, the people who now scoff at the idea and who say that they are not essential will acknowledge that they are one of the best forms of assistance that could have been given to the cattle industry. I am firmly convinced that the provision of good roads not only will make conditions better for the stock-
– Order! I am afraid that the honorable senator is going quite beyond the scope of the bill. The provision of roads and the development of the cattle industry are not directly associated with the measure now before the chair.
– I am sorry, Mr. President. These matters had been dealt with and I was merely correcting statements that have been made about them. However, I shall conclude my remarks at that point.
– As I stand here in my place, Mr. President, I do not want Government senators to assume that I am entitled to speak to this measure merely because they regard me as the nearest thing in the chamber to an educated butcher. Sensible people regard me as being not an educated butcher but a skilful surgeon. We are considering a measure which is designed to assist an important primary industry. The levy imposed was not heavy. When one realizes the importance of the industry, one cannot say that the Government was extraordinarily generous in subsidizing the levy on a £1 for £1 basis. But what intrigues me, Mr. President, is that this levy became the subject of a quarrel. Leaving out the poor consumer, the three main constituent members of the industry are the producer, the selling agent and the butcher. But these people had a brawl and appealed to the High Court of Australia over a levy of 2s. on a beast of more than 200 lb. dressed weight. Such events do not suggest that there has been a great sense of responsibility on the part of those who earn their livelihood from the industry. At least, the Government has been sensible and responsible enough to introduce what we might describe as or what the Government hopes to be validating legislation.
Incidentally, there will be anomalies in implementing the legislation. Apparently the producers have accepted a responsibility for collecting the levy. But if the producers sell so many hundred head of cattle to a registered butcher, he will deduct 2s. for every animal that is sold to him. But he may not decide to kill all those cattle. He may decide that his monetary interest lies in holding them for a time, fattening them further and selling them then perhaps to another butcher. Then that butcher will deduct the 2s. So the man who has made the real profit from the animal will not be meeting the charge of 2s. The charge will be borne by the person who raised the animal originally. Reference has been made to calves. Those who have visited abattoirs and selling pens will have seen beasts much older and heavier than calves placed in calves’ pens. However, if the inspectors do their job, such beasts should not be passed and there should be no evidence of the levy.
A further anomaly, which will have the effect of penalizing those who produce cattle in the most difficult terrain, is that the levy is to be at a flat rate. Some may say: “ That is all right. We are looking for improved quality, and that is why the levy should be at a flat rate.” But it will be a handicap to those who face the difficulty of raising animals on poor country.
An interesting aspect of the debate in the Senate to-day has been that apart from the Minister for Air (Senator Wade) who was speaking not as a representative of the Australian Country Party but as the Minister who represents the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann), there have been three Government speakers. That party which claims here and everywhere else throughout Australia that it represents the interests of the primary producer and that neither the Liberals nor the members of the Australian Labour Party can officially represent their interests-
– There was only one Country Party speaker on the other side of the chamber.
– Order! That matter has not anything to do with the bill.
– I was merely directing attention to the interest that has been displayed in the bill, Mr. President. We have heard one Country Party speaker and two Liberal Party speakers. Peculiarly enough, every other speaker has been able to roam all over the country.
– But always on the bill.
– You were the greatest offender of all, and if the President had been here he would have fixed you. The bill is primarily directed to meat research, not particularly to the cattle industry, but generally, although you dealt with roads and all sorts of other things.
I think we are entitled, when speaking of meat research, to deal with the import ance of the cattle industry. I understand that the importance of the industry is one of the main reasons for the imposition of the levy. The future of the north must be associated with primary production for a number of years at least. When we consider the issues involved in the development of the north beef cattle-raising must appear as one of the most important. The difficulties that face Queensland, from which I come, were adequately dealt with by my able colleague, Senator Benn. I point out, Mr. President, that more than 50 per cent, of the beef cattle of Australia are to be found in Queensland. Honorable senators opposite have, tried to claim some measure of credit for the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Murray), in relation to the fattening of cattle in coastal areas. Their remarks were not original. Even if the scheme that has been proposed were put into effect its results would be infinitesimal in proportion to what could be done in the beef cattle lands of Queensland and the Northern Territory, provided that sufficient money were to be. spent there. After all, this measure is concerned with meat research and meat production. If the quality of the animal can be improved, a better product for sale and a wider market ultimately must result.
Experts consider that with adequate facilities, such as efficient transport, there could be a trebling of the beef cattle numbers in Queensland. At present there are approximately 5,300,000 cattle there while in the Northern Territory there are about 1,500,000. It is claimed that with adequate transport facilities in that area, within a number of years the cattle areas of the Northern Territory could carry quite easily 5,000,000 cattle of a reasonable, quality. Of course, we know that droughts have been experienced and that it may take from five to eight years to build up the herds again after a drought. The Opposition is being constructive, as usual, in its discussion of this measure. We are prepared to play our part and to offer constructive suggestions when we see something that we believe to be worth while. Even though this is a miserable approach to a big project we are prepared to support it because it is something of a constructive nature.
Honorable senators opposite spoke this afternoon of roads and other matters. We realize why ‘they -spoke df -roads in discussing the -need to .improve <the quality of cattle. They did so because a general election is to be held shortly. One State Liberal -Government suggested, in -relation to ‘improving the -quality of meat with a view to obtaining adequate sales overseas, that it -would be prepared ‘to embark on a £3*000,000 scheme - this was some ‘two years -ago - =if the Commonwealth Government would meet it by way of a £1 for £1 subsidy. “But the Commonwealth Government was mot :prepared .to enter into that commitment. There is to be an election on 9.th December next, .and the Commonwealth Government ‘has now come forward with a so-called tentative scheme to provide £5,000,000 for north Queensland and £500,000 for the northern part of Western Australia.
A lot of research has been done in the cattle industry. I think that a tribute should be paid to the men who have been engaged in it. There is a research station outside Rockhampton. Because this is an election year, the Minister in charge of .the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (Dr. Donald Cameron) has suggested that a similar station be established in the “Herbert electorate. There has been no suggestion of a station being established in western Queensland, the dry area, where the beef cattle of Queensland, by and large, are to be found. The Administration of the Northern Territory has a research station outside ‘Katherine. It is doing excellent work under Mr. -Richardson, but it is starved for funds. It is a miserably small show. In addition, there is an animal husbandry station at Alice Springs. I am open to correction by Senator Scott when I say that I do not know of research that is being undertaken in relation to the difficult terrain of the northern part of Western Australia, from the point of view of animal husbandry as it affects the cattle industry.
When we speak of the cattle industry we must think in terms of tens of millions of pounds. We must realize, too, the difficulties that the industry will face, particularly as it appears inevitable that the United -Kingdom will join the European Economic -Community, or the European Common Market, as it is known. If there is no measure of agreement regarding the purchase of our beef in the future we shall be thrown on .to the .markets ;of the world. That means that we:must have :efficient production. We must look more closely at our cost structure, as .Senator Wright frequently .has .emphasized. .1 .appreciate his interest in the matter. The cost structure is important in all industries, but it will be particularly .important for primary industry if we are to. face world markets. It seems to me that little is .being done for the cattle industry.
It is of no use to speak :in terms of the final meat product when we are referring to cattle industry research and the amount to be provided by the industry, with a subsidy by the Commonwealth Government of £1 for £1. If the beasts are not healthy it is not possible to .have a good quality meat. I think it is true to say that pleuropneumonia last year cost us £2,000,000. Senator Benn told us this afternoon that the ;cattle tick .had cost Queensland £13,800,000. Then, there is the .buffalo fly. Some years ago, Mr. J. L. Wilson of Calliope Station suggested to graziers that they offer a prize of £500,000 for a solution .to the tick problem. Even though the graziers were losing £3,000,000 a year at that stage they said that the prize was enormous and that .it was not worth offering it. ‘They were not prepared to offer a decent prize which probably would have interested all the research stations in the world. That is the approach of the people who are in the industry.
We say, .Mr. President, that the levy of 2s. per beast is little enough. We regret that a year has been lost in .commencing the research. I think it was in 1958 that the graziers .first developed the idea of a levy for meat research, but then there was an argument with the agriculturists. The Government was dilatory, as it is so often. That is a characteristic of it, as we have seen in relation to the European Common Market. It did not wake up until the whole thing fell on Australia and the Commonwealth countries in general. -However, we commend the Minister for having introduced the .measure though, as I have said, we regret that a year has been lost and that there has been such a dilatory approach. I realize that I may not ramble right through the cattle industry of the Commonwealth, as previous speakers did. I think, Mr. President, that you were quite right in curtailing my speech.
Although this is a desirable measure, it nevertheless shows the dilatory approach of the Government. It also indicates the constructive attitude of the Opposition to anything that is worth while. That will always be our attitude. We regret that there should have been a quarrel between people who have made so much out of the industry. It is the consumers who have paid. Outside the wool industry, I do not suppose there is any Australian industry that has made more people wealthy than has the cattle industry. Yet there is a quarrel between the producers, the selling agents and the butchers as to who shall pay the levy of 2s. on a beast of over 200 lb. dressed weight. We recommend the bill.
– Thank you.
– Was that a grunt or a sign of approval from Senator Scott?
– I said, “ Thank you “.
– Ignoring that rude interruption or, perhaps I should say, that indication of approval - I shall put it in that way, because as honorable senators know, I always try to be courteous - let me say that we commend the Government for its introduction of the bill and that we wish the measure good luck. We deplore, however, that the levy is not greater and that the Government is not prepared to subsidize the payments by more than £1 for £1.
– I am grateful for the reception that has been accorded to the measure and I appreciate the contributions to the debate that have been made by honorable senators on both sides of the House. The debate has covered a fairly broad field and in all the speeches there has been a note of optimism and of enthusiasm for the beef industry. I am certain that the industry will derive some comfort from the knowledge that its welfare is a matter of such great concern to this Parliament.
It is true that the original legislation was brought into the Parliament at the specific request of the growers. That is true also of this amending bill. In the main, the amendments that are proposed provide machinery for the payment of the levy to be passed back to the producers. That was the objective of the original legislation, but when the legislation was being implemented and it was sought to achieve that objective, some confusion reigned because there was no legal provision to make it possible for the levy to be passed back from the registered slaughterers to the producers. 1 repeat that that was the intention of the original legislation, and the amendments proposed by this bill are designed merely to put that beyond all reasonable doubt.
Senator Cant, who led for the Opposition in this debate, graciously conceded that the Opposition was happy to support the measure. In his remarks, he made two points. His first point was that the legislation provided that the funds collected by means of the levy should be used only for the purpose of developing beef interests for export. I think those were the words that he used. That is the direct intention of the legislation and that is in line with the policy of the Government. We have seen what a great boost has been given to the economy by the activities of this industry during the last three or four years. The markets that have been secured in the United States of America and elsewhere have lifted the industry to a position that it has not occupied for a very long time. The Government realizes the great value of export markets for beef and believes that this legislation will give a worthwhile incentive to the people who are endeavouring to expand the beef industry.
A good deal has been said about beef roads. Those roads are not mentioned specifically in the bill and I shall make no reference to them now, save to say that the Government’s optimism regarding the results of the implementation of the legislation leads it to believe that additional roads will be necessary. The Government has, in fact, made a grant of about £4,500,000 to the Queensland Government for roads to enable the industry to develop.
Senator Drake-Brockman covered the history of the legislation quite adequately. He dealt with the difficulties that were encountered in the implementation of the legislation and concluded by saying that he did not believe that the amendments now proposed were necessary. He argued, with some justification, that the meat operators were receiving from the United Kingdom certain payments that were intended originally to be passed on to the growers. I believe that, in the main, those payments are reflected in the growers’ returns. Senator Drake-Brockman said he took the view that, because of those payments, these amendments are not necessary. 1 believe they are necessary, for several reasons. You may recall, Mr. President, that in days gone by, when a fat bullock was sold for, say, £15, the bids that were taken finally by the auctioneers were sometimes only ls. greater than the immediately preceding bids. If one bid was £15 15s. and the last bid was £15 16s., that was the recorded sale price of the beast and that was the sum shown on the sales account of the vendor. But that is not the system that operates to-day. The prices paid tor cattle have risen to such an extent that, in the main, bids are taken first in rises of £5 and finally in rises of £1 and occasionally of 10s. I am referring to bids for one beast. The procedure adopted by most of the selling agents is that if the final bid made for a bullock is, say, £50, the beast is booked out for the producer at £49 ls. The price is reduced automatically by 19s. I suggest that it would be quite impossible to ask a butcher to reduce, shall I say, his bid by 2s. when the margins between the various bids that have been made are margins of about £1. For those reasons it has been very difficult to argue that the butchers could make provision in their bids for the 2s. levy.
– If you asked me, I think they would make a reduction of £1 to cover it.
– I do not think I could sell that one to the butchers. I believe there is another very good reason why the 2s. should be deducted in the sales accounts of the producer. If that were done, every time the producer received a sales account he would be reminded that he was making a contribution to research activities for the industry in which he is interested. If that were not done and the 2s. were deducted in an obscure manner, the producer would lose interest in research. Every time he is confronted with evidence of a charge of 2s. he will be reminded that he is making a contribution to research for the industry and that will have at least the effect of making him inquire of and push the people charged with the responsibility of carrying out the research. I suggest that that will be very good for the industry.
There is another very cogent reason why there should be no ambiguity in this legislation. This levy or tax was asked for by a section of the industry. The people in that section of the industry said, “ We want you to impose this levy for the benefit of our industry “. I suggest that it would be morally wrong for a section of the industry to ask for a levy to be imposed for the purpose of raising money to be spent in its interests and then to seek to off-load that levy or any portion of it on to other sections of the industry. That, I believe, is a very good reason why there should be no misunderstanding about the passing back of this levy.
Senator Benn said that before the suspension of the levy the research trust fund had accumulated a balance of about £82,000 and he said, quite rightly, that none of that money had been spent on research. As a matter of fact, less than £2,000 of the money has been spent, and that was used for administrative purposes. Research was not undertaken for a very good reason. A substantial sum had to be available before research could be undertaken, and when the £82,000 had been collected a writ was issued out of the High Court and that threw the whole of the scheme into confusion. Nobody was prepared to undertake research while the validity of the legislation was likely to be challenged. For that reason no action was taken to develop the research provided for by the legislation.
asked also for information concerning some 2,000 outstanding returns from meat operators dating from 14th October, 1960. When the collection of the levy was suspended on that date abattoir proprietors were required to continue to lodge their monthly returns. As time went by, pending negotiations between the interested parties, the number of returns has declined. The department has taken some action to secure the lodgment of those returns, but in view of the negotiations that have been proceeding over the last few months, pending the introduction of this legislation, no legal action has been taken. The Cattle Slaughter Levy Collection Bill 1961 makes provision for the refunding of any moneys paid for cattle slaughtered between 14th October, 1960 and 13th October, 1961.
Senator Benn referred also to the provision in this amending legislation for the spending of money on scientific, economic or technical research in relation to the raising of cattle, or the production or distribution of beef, and asked what the exact position was under the bill. Substantially similar provision is made in proposed new section 6 (1 .) (a) of this bill but for constitutional reasons the permitted research is expressed to be confined to research that will encourage export of beef, or the raising of cattle in the Territory. It is anticipated that in actual practice the area of permitted research will not be any narrower than the research that was intended under the previous act. Senator Benn also expressed a desire to study the results of the research undertaken. I am happy to tell him that annually a report of the activities of the Australian Cattle and Beef Research Committee will be presented to the Parliament.
I think I have covered all the points that have been raised by honorable senators who have sought information on the bill. I repeat that I am grateful for the reception the bill has had, and for the contributions that have been made. I am confident that the amendments contained in this bill will enable the principles contained in the original legislation to be put into effect, namely, the raising of a levy sought by the producers, to be paid by the producers in the interests of the beef industry.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 5th October (vide page 905), on motion by Senator Paltridge -
That the bin be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 5th October (vide page 906), on motion by Senator Paltridge -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I refer to clause 3 of the bill. It reads -
Section six of the Cattle and Beef Research Acts 1960 is repealed and the following section inserted in its stead: - “6. - (1.) Subject to the next succeeding subsection, moneys standing to the credit of the Research Account may, with the approval of the Minister, be expended -
for the purposes of encouraging the export from Australia of beef and other products of the slaughter of cattle, and of encouraging the raising of cattle in the Territories of the Commonwealth forming part of the Commonwealth, by means of -
This is the point I wish to stress -
I desire to ask whether that sub-paragraph covers the making of finances available to secondary industries for experimental stations in the north of Australia, and whether the funds collected by the Government from the beef industry together with the subsidy of the Commonwealth can be spent on research into the transport of cattle in the northern parts of Australia. I am firmly convinced that in order to develop the cattle industry we must make a. scientific approach to cattle transport facilities in an attempt to find the best method of transporting cattle to meat works and of transporting slaughtered cattle to ports for shipment overseas. In the north of Western Australia the Glenroy abattoirs are situated 150 to 200 air miles from a port. Those abattoirs have operated successfully for a number of years. Last year was their most successful year of all. Cattle are bought from adjacent stations and are killed on Glenroy station. The abattoirs have their own freezing works. The beef is transported by air to Derby, where there are cold storage facilities. When shipping is available, the beef is shipped from that port.
I believe that a scientific approach could be made- to the economics of inland slaughtering places or abattoirs, in conjunction with either air transport or road transport of the product. We all know that the dearest form of transport in Australia at present is air transport. It should not be able to compete, and does not compete, on a £1 for £1 basis with any other form of transport that operates in Australia. Air transport may become cheaper. With modern aircraft and modern power plants in aircraft we can look forward to the day when, instead of carting beef products from inland abattoirs to a port two, three or four tons at a time, 20, 30 or 40 tons will be carted at a cost of a matter of a few pence per lb., instead of 6d. or ls. per lb.
Some years ago I took out some figures on a comparison of air transport with rail and road transport. I think that air transport was twice as dear as rail or road transport. But times are changing and no doubt we can look forward to a time in the near future when air transport will compete with road transport. Therefore, I believe that this clause is terribly important. The committee that is formed to look into the beef industry should examine all the possibilities of the transportation of cattle and cattle products, including the establishment of new abattoirs and the transport of products by air or road. The development of the north of Australia presents a tremendous problem. The committee, when it is appointed, should make an examination of the possibilities of all forms of transport with the object of presenting a plan for the transportation of the increased numbers of cattle that we expect in the north of Australia. That would be an advantage to the industry. I ask the Minister whether proposed new section 6 (1.) would allow the committee to make recommendations to the Government for the expenditure of money on the scientific development of forms of transport - whether land, sea or air - which will be the most economical for the Australian beef industry.
– My remarks are related to the clause which Senator Scott has just mentioned. During the second-reading debate I was interested to hear figures in relation to road transport. The Minister may enlighten me on this matter. My understanding of the position is that at present weaners can be transported 1,000 miles at a cost of £3 10s. a head. Senator Scott said that some time ago the road cost was about 5s. a hundred miles and now he thought it was about 10s. a hundred miles.
– That was for droving.
– Yes. That would work out at £5 a thousand miles. Road transport costs seem to me to have improved. Recently I was able to see some of the road trains in the Mount Isa area. Each train is capable of shifting about 80 grown beasts. It might also be of interest,, Mr. Temporary Chairman - if I may digress for a moment - for me to advise the committee that we had within the precincts of this Parliament to-day a practical breeder from the Mount Isa area in the person of a member of the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory, Mr. Bill Petrick. He has been raising cattle in that area for many years. When we contacted him at Mount Isa recently, he was able to give us some first-hand experience of the losses that he had experienced as a result of recent droughts. I am grateful to you, Mr. Temporary Chairman, for your latitude in allowing me to mention that matter. I thought it would be of interest to honorable senators.
I agree with Senator Scott that the time may come when air transport will prove a far better means of conveying beef to the markets than it is at present. At the moment there is only one thing wrong with it, to my knowledge, and that is the cost. Tremendous strides have been made in the air transport of various goods, and it may be only a few years before beef can be transported by air at a far more economic cost than at present. When that time comes a tremendous fillip will be given to the beef industry. I hope that the Minister will be able to throw some light on the matters to which Senator Scott has referred.
– Sub-paragraph (iii) of proposed new section 6 (1.) (a) reads -
By what means is it proposed to get the information to the various people whom the Government intends should have it? Will it be disseminated only to other organizations, or is it the desire of the Government that as a result of the imposition of this levy information will go directly to the beef producers themselves? Sub-paragraph (iv) reads -
Is it also intended that some liaison or public relations will be built up by which every periodical and every country newspaper, practically all of which would be concerned, will be encouraged to publish as much information as possible on the results of scientific, economic and technical research and the findings of the various research bodies, so that the information will go right to the point where it can do the most good, namely, the producers themselves? Many of the publications that senators receive are of very great interest. On occasions I send them to various people and they are extremely pleased to receive them. They say, “Where can we obtain some copies of this book so that we can give them to other people? “ I believe that there is a breakdown in the contact with many people in the industry because they do not receive all the information that is available from people conducting research. Dissemination of information is a very costly business. Within the terms of the legislation, a good public relations man could sell to newspaper proprietors the national advantage of disseminating this information, and arrange for the newspapers to provide space for reprinting some of the articles that appear regularly in such publications as those issued monthly by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics and which contain items of very great interest. This avenue could be developed by an experienced and practical man going to the editors or managements of country news papers and journals and encouraging them to disseminate as widely as possible the information that will become available as a result of increased research. I should like to know whether the Minister has any views to express on that aspect and whether that is within the intention of this clause.
– Senator Scott and Senator McKellar have sought information in relation to proposed section 6(1.). They will, of course, appreciate that the Commonwealth’s powers are limited by the Constitution and that its interests must of necessity be limited to promoting the industry for the purpose of developing export markets. This provision is included to conform with the Constitution. I direct the attention of both honorable senators to its wording, which is as follows: -
The provision is drawn in the widest possible terms to allow research into the various activities that Senator Scott and Senator McKellar mentioned. Both emphasize the need for a scientific approach to the transport problem. I am advised that the provision is wide and specific enough to permit that approach to be made. That applies to most of the matters about which Senator Scott sought interpretations.
asked for information concerning the dissemination of information and the publication of reports. The provisions in relation thereto are drafted widely enough to permit the Australian Cattle and Beef Research Committee to adopt almost any course it considers desirable in the interests of the industry. I know that in the wide open spaces of the Northern Territory and Queensland it is more difficult to disseminate information than in the more closely settled areas of Victoria and New South Wales. For instance, field days make most valuable contributions to the spreading of information to interested parties on the latest development in the industry. The verbiage used in those provisions permits the committee to adopt any method that it believes to be expedient in order to fulfil its obligations to the industry. The overriding force will be that the committee must justify its existence. It is charged with a heavy responsiblity. Many people will be interested to know what progress it is making, and the latitude that it will enjoy under this legislation will give it a free hand to adopt all of those measures that it thinks are necessary in the interests of the industry.
– I now refer to proposed section 6 (2.), which reads -
The Minister shall not exercise his power to approve the expenditure of moneys from the Research Account for a purpose referred to in paragraph (a) of the last preceding sub-section except in accordance with recommendations of the Committee.
Will the Minister state the composition of the committee, including the organizations represented? Does this provision mean that although the Government will contribute on a 50-50 basis, the Minister cannot authorize any expenditure under proposed section 6 (1.) (a), relating to research, training of persons, dissemination of information, and publication of reports? I should say that in this instance the Minister has not any authority at all. That may be good or it may be bad. If, for instance - I do not suppose that it is very likely - the Australian Cattle and Beef Research Committee went completely off the rails and was spending the money provided by the industry and the Government not wisely on a specific subject, would the Minister have any power to prevent such expenditure?
.- The Australian Cattle and Beef Research Committee comprises twelve persons: The chairman of the board; four persons to represent the Graziers Federal Council of Australia; two persons to represent the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation; one person to represent the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation; one person to represent the organization known as the Australian Agricultural Council; one person to represent the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization; one person to represent such universities as engage in research in to matters affecting the beef industry; and one person to represent the Department of Primary Industry.
Senator Scott also sought information concerning proposed section 6 (2.). The meaning of the provision is that the Minister will not be able to initiate any expenditure, but he will have the right to veto recommendations of the committee. I think it will be agreed that that is a necessary safeguard to retain for the Parliament of the day overriding authority in relation to the expenditure of these moneys.
– I thank the Minister for the answer he, has given. I note that, in stating the personnel of the Cattle, and Beef Research Committee, he mentioned the various sections of the industry and referred also to a representative from the Australian Agricultural Council, one from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and I think one from the Department of Primary Industry. Is that right?
– That makes a total of twelve members. Did the Minister say that the chairman of the committee was to be Mr. Shute, the Chairman of the Australian Meat Board?
– Not necessarily.
– Is the committee still in existence? After the Minister has answered that question, will he tell me whether the bill makes any provision for increasing the, personnel of the committee? My reason for asking that question is that one of the main sections of the community which could play a large part in the scientific development of the north of Australia would be secondary industry as represented by the chambers of commerce and the chambers of manufactures. I believe that section of the community could be encouraged to take a very keen interest in the research that should be undertaken, particularly in the running of research pilot farms. I envisage the time when this committee should be able to approach the leaders of commerce for their help.
I do not wish to mention any particular names, but I know there are quite a number of people who give thousands of pounds each year to institutions like the University of Sydney for research work, particularly in relation to physics. I do not think there is any greater need in Australia to-day than for the outback areas to be developed scientifically. I believe it can be said accurately that those areas are completely undeveloped. There are places which at the present time are not capable of carrying six beasts to 640 acres, which is a square mile, but which could be developed to turn off at least one beast to the acre. Such areas are not limited to a few thousand acres in the north; they run into millions of acres. We have in the north of Australia an area in the lower rainfall belt which could be used to breed and to carry young stock. Then, when those stock reached a certain age, they could be transported by road train to the heavier rainfall areas and there fattened. Those heavier rainfall areas are adjacent to meatworks or, in the case of the Northern Territory, could be adjacent to a meatworks if one were established at Darwin. By this means it would be possible to turn off within a State or Territory the cattle that are produced in that State or Territory without having to transport them thousands and thousands of miles.
I hope provision has been made in the legislation for the chambers of commerce and the chambers of manufactures to appoint representatives to the committee so that those bodies will know what research work has been done and so that - this is much more important - they can provide large sums of money to help the Commonwealth Government and the producers. Not only have the breeders of cattle a responsibility to develop the beef industry and not only has the Government a duty to provide assistance by matching the levy that will be collected. In addition, I believe that the business interests in the southern parts of Australia have a responsibility to take a keen interest in the development of the industry and in the north of Australia so we can get the most out of the north and have it adequately populated.
.- The Cattle and Beef Research Committee is in existence, and has met on several occasions. It is ready and willing to function efficiently as soon as this legislation is passed. The second query raised by Senator Scott related to the possibility of appointing additional representatives to the committee. The original legislation makes no provision for increasing the number of members beyond twelve, but there is provision for the Minister for Primary Industry to co-opt the services of people who may be able to make a contribution to the work of the committee. The Minister also has the power to pay such co-opted persons any fees that he thinks are adequate and necessary.
– I refer to clause 3, which deals with the application of the Research Account and is the operative part of the bill. It seems to me that, although this series of bills is very timely because of the difficulties through which the cattle industry is passing, the real trouble lies just over the horizon. It seems to me that, if England joined the European Economic Community, our market would be very gravely upset. We would then be faced with severe competition from countries like Denmark which are now producing pork, chicken and so forth. I am wondering whether this legislation envisages examining the possibility of finding fresh overseas markets in the event of our main market in Britain being suddenly cut off. I know that the Japanese market is expanding, but we have to face the possibility that we may lose our market in England. There is also the possibility of fierce competition because of a reduction in the price of chicken and pig meats. I am wondering whether it is proposed to spend any of the proceeds of the levy on the solution of overseas marketing problems. This is a time when the industry should be looking for methods to reduce the cost of production.
– Provision could be made under this bill for research into overseas markets along the lines suggested by Senator Willesee, but if I may intrude a personal view, I suggest that the Department of Trade has a very real responsibility in the search for overseas markets. As a primary producer, I would much prefer that the Department of Trade accepted that responsibility - it has a splendid record in that regard - and that the proceeds of this levy, from contributions by the Government and the growers, be devoted to improving the industry in this country. It is of paramount importance to us to develop the industry so that we may obtain the advantage of overseas markets.
.- The bill seeks to amend the Cattle and Beef Research Act and to provide for scientific, economic or technical research in connexion with matters related either directly or indirectly thereto. If a dairy farmer sells to a metropolitan abattoir for slaughtering cattle rejected from his dairy herd, he must contribute 2s. per beast by way of levy, and the Commonwealth will pay an equal amount. I ask the Minister whether clause 1 envisages that any of the proceeds of the levy will be spent on research into the dairying industry.
– The Australian Dairy Farmers Federation is represented on the Australian Cattle and Beef Research Committee and is fully aware of the implications of this legislation. I do not think for one moment that the dairy farmer is going to object to a levy of 2s. per head for any animal that may be slaughtered, even though it is an old milch cow. He is a wise enough person to realize that any money that is spent in the interests of the industry, though in the main for the benefit of the beef industry, will be reflected throughout the industryHe knows that he will obtain some benefit from the legislation. I am sure that if a dairy farmer offers one of his dairy herd for sale he will have no objection to paying the levy. That statement is borne out by the approach of the industry to the legislation. The industry is in agreement with it.
– The Minister’s comments in relation to the killing of dairy cattle are very interesting. I now ask him whether any of the moneys in the fund can be expended on scientific research into the processing and disposal of whole milk or by-products of the dairying industry, including butter fat and cream.
– With great respect, I suggest that Senator Scott may be somewhat parochial in his approach to this subject I fear he has the impression that the beef for export comes only from the wide open spaces of Western Australia. Apparently he has not been to the really lush areas of this great continent. I remind him that Victoria,
New South Wales, South Australia and even Tasmania have a very lively interest in the export of beef. Any research that is done to improve pastures in the southern areas of the continent must be reflected throughout the beef industry. Let me refer to bloat, for instance. A dairy cow will bloat just as quickly as a fat bullock on certain pastures, and if research can finally resolve that problem and produce an effective and easily applied remedy, that must be of great service to the dairying industry. The honorable senator has asked specifically whether money from the fund will be applied to the butter and whole milk branches of the dairy industry. I should say that the answer is “ No “.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
In committee: Consideration resumed from 5th October (vide page 955).
Department of Shipping and Transport
Proposed expenditure, £3,622,000.
– I refer to the amount to be provided for the Eyre and Barkly Highways, to which Senator O’Flaherty referred last week. The sum of £25,000 of the total amount of £46,000 is to be provided for the 723 miles of the Eyre Highway. Can the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) say how that money is to be split up? Does the South Australian Government get one-half, or is the money divided on the basis of the number of miles involved? I ask the Minister to keep in mind that the Commonwealth Games are to be held in Perth in November of next year, and it is considered highly likely that during the period of the games this road will carry a tremendous amount of traffic. At present, during peak periods, particularly during school holidays, it is not exceptional for 100 vehicles to use the road in a day. When the Commonwealth Games are being held, the density of the traffic will increase considerably. I should like the Minister to ask his colleague whether the grant of £25,000 could be increased, at least for next year.
.- As 1 explained recently, this grant is made for the maintenance of the road. The money is not intended to be spent for construction purposes. In fact, this grant is not intended to be anything more than a contribution to the cost of maintenance. The grant is split on a fifty-fifty basis between the two States, and £12,500 is made available to each State on a £1 for £1 basis.
I appreciate that Senator Branson probably uses this road more than, and knows it better than, any one else in Australia and that he is probably more interested than any one else in Australia in the road and in its development. It has been settled policy now for many years that this money shall be made available for the purposes that I have stated. Despite the fact that the Commonwealth Games are to be held, I cannot hold out any hope of an increase.
– May I refer to the next item? Why will the reimbursements of the Suez Canal surcharges cease in 1961-62?
– A surcharge of 3 per cent, on transit tolls is levied on all shipping using the Suez Canal in order to recover the cost of the canal clearance operations for repayment to the United Nations. Doubtless the honorable senator will recall that the United Nations undertook that task. Following representations on their behalf, reimbursement is made to Australian shipowners and charterers of the amounts of the surcharges paid by them in respect of their ships which use the canal. This policy of reimbursing the Suez Canal surcharge tolls is similar to the policy adopted in the United Kingdom. As no further claims are expected, no provision is made for the current financial year.
– I refer to Division No. 372 - Marine Branch, item 09, Overseas Telecommunications Commission - Payments towards cost of coastal radio services. I notice that the appropriation sought this year is about £67,000 less than the amount appropriated last year. What is the reason for that? Can the Minister tell me also when the branch of the commission which is situated at Applecross in Western Australia is likely to move to Bassendean?
– I cannot say when it is expected that the transfer of the branch from its present location will be made. Indeed, I do not know whether a date has been fixed. I know that various discussions have taken place - on the initiative, I believe, of the local authorities - but I do not know whether any progress has been made.
With regard to the other question asked by Senator Branson, during 1960-61 advance payments made to the commission were greater than previously and are to be adjusted this year. There was an excess payment last year. That payment, however, is reflected in the lower provision required for the current financial year.
).- A question of general importance arises in relation to the chairman of the Australian National Line, Captain Williams. I want the Minister to tell the committee the extent to which the line deals, in regard to brokerage for the construction of ships, the disposal of ships or the purchase of ships, through a firm called Fleetways Transport and Agency Proprietary Limited, in which, I understand, Captain Williams has a controlling interest. I should like the Minister also to tell the committee the extent to which the Australian National Line does business with that firm in connexion with ship repairs and construction, and the extent to which provisions are procured for the line by the firm. I want to be satisfied that there is no contrariety of interest between the position of Captain Williams as the chairman of the line and the position of Captain Williams as the managing director of, or as one having a controlling interest in, the business I have mentioned.
The other point to which I want to direct the attention of the Minister arises from paragraph 99 of the latest report of the Auditor-General, dealing with the Commonwealth Railways. I have read the report of the Commonwealth Commissioner for Railways with a great deal of interest, and I notice that the report records an increasing improvement of the earnings of the railways, despite the increases of costs that have been going on for a long time now. I think there have been no increases of freight charges or passengers’ fares for - the Minister will correct me if I am wrong - about ten years. Credit is taken for a working profit this year of £1,400,000. In paragraph 99 of the report of the AuditorGeneral this statement appears -
Obsolete Locomotives and Rolling Stock. Disposals continued during the year and the proceeds, £18,909, were credited to the Loan Fund. Total proceeds from disposals to 30th June, 1961, were £70,353. The book value of obsolete stock, £1,084,567, including stock sold £900,848, still appears in the railways accounts at cost.
– Does not that come under Division No. 698 - Trans-Australian Railway - rather than under the Department of Shipping and Transport?
– I will defer my request for information on that subject. I ask the Minister to give me the information I have sought with regard to the Fleetways company.
– Senator Wright indicated to me that he wanted information about Captain Williams’s association with Fleetways Transport and Agency Proprietary Limited. I have been able to get some information which I hope will satisfy his queries. Although Captain Williams himself is overseas, inquiries have been made, and I am able to tell the honorable senator that Captain Williams is the managing director of Fleetways Transport and Agency Proprietary Limited. I have figures of the business done by that firm with the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission over the last few years. No business was transacted in the year ending 1957. For the year ended 30th June, 1958, business to the value of £126 was transacted; for the year ended 30th June, 1959, business to the value of £112; for the year ended 30th June, 1960, business to the value of £30; and for the year ended 30th June, 1961, business to the value of £262. All this business was in respect of the cartage of stores and hire of cranes and trucks. In addition, the company is an important customer of the commission and ships considerable quantities of goods by the sea routes services for which it pays the normal freight rates operating.
The honorable senator asked about the relationship between Captain Williams and any firm that was engaged in the sale of ships. Captain Williams is also the managing director of Fleet Forge Proprietary Limited, which does a good deal of ship repair work. I have not a complete set of figures, but over the years the company has done various amounts of work, reaching as high as £117,000 in one year and being as low as £10,000 in 1957.
The position in respect of work undertaken by a firm of which any member of the commission is a member is covered by a provision in the act which makes it mandatory for any member of the commission interested in a firm doing business with the commission to declare his interest in that firm and to take no part in the discussion affecting the negotiation of that business. On his appointment to the commission Captain Williams disclosed his entire interests, and on subsequent occasions, despite that blanket disclosure, if I may so refer to it, when business has been done by the commission with a firm in which Captain Williams has an interest - this has been done by every member when the circumstances warrant it - he has disclosed again his interest, and the necessary procedures of the act have been fully complied with.
– Is he considered to be a public servant?
– No. He is chairman of the commission. He is certainly not a public servant in any way.
.- May I trouble the Minister to give me a little further light on the reference he made to repairs, which he said were between £117,000 and £10,000? What is the method of fixing the price of those repairs? What is the largest individual contract for repairs? I should think that honorable senators would want some assurance that not merely has there been a disclosure regarding interest but also that prices are accepted on a competitive basis and no undue advantage is taken of the position.
– I am informed that the position is that tenders are called for the repair of each ship and that the work is allocated on the basis of the tenders received. Captain Williams would take no part in the discussion of the tenders received and, having declared himself, would take no part in the allocation of the work.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Department of Snipping and Transport - Capital Works and Services
Proposed expenditure, £5,233,000.
Senator Sir WALTER COOPER (Queensland) [9.45]. - I should like some information about the replacement of lighthouse supply vessels. I wish to know how many vessels there are and how much work is involved in respect of the proposed vote of £950,000.
– There are three of these lighthouse supply vessels and two smaller vessels operating in the Thursday Island and Papua and New Guinea areas. The proposed replacement of these vessels is to be effected over a period of years. The first vessel to be replaced will be the “ Cape Otway “. This vessel, although commissioned six years later, is in the most urgent, need of replacement. In addition to being smaller and lower in power and speed, the “ Cape Otway “ is not up to the same standard of construction as the two other ships and consequently has deteriorated to a greater extent. The proposal is that the three vessels will be replaced progressively, and that work on the “ Cape Otway “ will proceed immediately.
.- I refer to the proposed expenditure under the Railway Standardization (New South Wales and Victoria) Agreement Act. The amount is £4,000,000. Will the Minister inform me when the work associated with this vote began? Am. I correct in saying that this project originated from a report submitted by the committee of Liberal and Country Party members and senators under the chairmanship of the honorable member for Mackellar. Mr. Wentworth? Will the Minister tell me the interval between the date of the submission of that report and the commencement of the work, and when, it is expected that this link in the rail, standardization scheme will be completed? Has the Government in mind to standardize the other links that were recommended in that report so as to provide a standard gauge railway from Perth to Brisbane?
– The committee of Government members was established, if I remember correctly, in 1957. It is true that one of the recommendations made by the committee was the building of the Albury to Melbourne link. The decision was taken by the Government either late in 1957 or during the Budget session of 1958, and work was commenced, I think, in 1958. It has proceeded according to schedule. It is expected that the first goods train will run over the line early in the new year when the line will have been completed. After a period of about three months settling down, during which goods trains only will be running over the line, the first passenger service is planned to run in about March, 1962.
The Government members committee also recommended the standardization of the links from Port Pirie to Broken Hill and. Kalgoorlie to Perth. Of course, the honorable senator is aware of the decision taken recently in connexion with the latter line. No decision has yet been made in connexion with the Port Pirie to Broken Hill line. Aspects of that matter are currently before the High Court of Australia at the instigation of the Premier of South Australia.
– Would you be good enough to tell us generally what is the method of financing, as between the States, the link between Albury and Melbourne?
– The method of financing is that, in the first place, the Commonwealth finds all the money, but 30 per cent. - 15 per cent, from each of New South Wales and Victoria - is repayable to the Commonwealth over a period of 52 years. The agreement varies from the agreement with South Australia under the 1949 act inasmuch as this agreement contains no provision for the non-payment of interest on sinking fund, as is contained in the South Australian agreement.
– I believe- that the time has arrived when we South Australians should be given some information on the matter of rail standardization in our State. I have been particularly concerned about this matter, as I think all of my colleagues from South Australia have been.. We note that the only reference made to the question in the interim report on Commonwealth railways operations is as follows -
Standardization proposals for the Peterborough Division of the South Australian Railways System have been considered, but no decision has been made to proceed with the work pending consideration of other standardization proposals.
That very vague reference causes me considerable concern. Apparently the position in Western Australia is clear. I understand that certain negotiations have still to be undertaken before finality is reached; nevertheless, it seems that the conditions which have been presented to the Western Australian Government are eminently suitable and it is only a matter of a few things being ironed out before that work proceeds. It seems that in this matter South Australia will be the Cinderella State. I hope that the Minister will be able to give me something far more definite than just the statements that are made in the notes from the Department of Shipping and Transport on the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure.
– Do not forget that Cinderella ultimately got her fairy prince.
– Let me develop my point.
(Senator McKellar). - Is the honorable senator relating his remarks to Division No. 909, item 02?
– Yes. If Senator Vincent believes that he can clear up the Western Australian position, that is all right. I want to have the South Australian position stated definitely, if I can. The only reference to the South Australian position in the notes on the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure that we have received from the Department of Shipping and Transport - a very excellent and informative document - is that an amount of £10,000 was allocated last year for what might be considered survey work on standardization proposals in South Australia-
– I raise a point of order. I do not want this to be taken as an intention on my part to stop this debate. I ask you, Mr. Temporary Chairman: Is the honorable senator in order in discussing this project in view of the action by the Premier of South Australia in the High Court of Australia? Is it desirable or proper that the matter of the standardization of South Australian railways should be discussed at this level in view of the present position.
– Speaking to the point of order, I point out that the estimates for the Department of Shipping and Transport include Division No. 909, item 02, which reads -
Kalgoorlie-Kwinana railway - Survey
For expenditure under Railway Standardization (South Australia) Agreement Act
That item does not deal with the court action in any shape or form. Also, a statement has been made by the Department of Shipping and Transport in the brochure that it has given us. So, this matter has no relation at all to the other aspect; it has relation only to the item in the Estimates, the proposed expenditure by the Government on some work associated with the project.
– May I speak to the point of order, Mr. Temporary Chairman?
– All I wish to say is that I believe it would be difficult for you to sustain the point of order that Senator Vincent has raised, particularly in view of the statement that I have just read to the committee, which indicates quite clearly that the interim report on Commonwealth railways operations was not inhibited in any way by any suggestion of this matter being sub judice. Under the heading “South Australia” on page 30, that report states quite clearly -
Standardization proposals for the Peterborough Division of the South Australian Railway System have been considered, but no decision has been made to proceed with the work . . . not because of its being sub judice, but simply because of the consideration of other standardization proposals. If it should be ruled that the matter is sub judice, why does the Department of Shipping and Transport make a specific reference to the question of South Australian railway standardization in the notes on the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for that department? I believe that the point of order cannot possibly be sustained.
– I wish to speak on that aspect of the point of order to which Senator Toohey from South Australia has referred. It is true that the notes provided by the department do not make any specific reference to the action before the High Court of Australia. They are a set of notes, and they should not be regarded as anything other than that. I put it to you, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that it is a matter of public knowledge that this important question is in fact before the High Court. Whatever course the debate takes, for my part, I do not propose to discuss that aspect of railway standardization which is before the High Court.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman
Order! The honorable senator has already spoken on the point of order.
– Yes, but now I wish to speak - if I am permitted to do so - to the point that Senator Paltridge has raised in regard to the document issued by the department.
– The honorable senator may proceed.
– Whilst one might concode that the document to which Senator Paltridge referred is merely a report, one cannot escape from the fact that the report on Commonwealth railways operations is public property.
– I wish to speak to the point of order. When this matter arose in this chamber some considerable time ago, I made inquiries. My recollection of the result of those inquiries is not quite clear at the moment. My recollection is that the case between South Australia and the Commonwealth concerns the interpretation of certain clauses in an agreement between the Commonwealth and that State. It is a pure question of legal interpretation of certain clauses in a particular document. 1 understand that that is the central issue. If there are other issues, I do not know of them. There may be other issues. The Minister might have information on that point. I submit very strongly that if that is the pleading and the issue, it is a mere argument as to the meaning of clauses in a certain document. There is no reference to that document in this debate and the meaning of the clauses in controversy is not canvassed. There could be no interference with the function of the court in deciding the correct interpretation of the agreement. I put it to you, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that in those circumstances discussion of the desirability of standardizing a particular line does not breach the rule relating to discussing a matter which is under consideration by a court. I submit that the practical merits of the proposition, its advantages and disadvantages, could be canvassed without in any way interfering with a proceeding that has such a limited scope as I have indicated. If it relates simply to interpretation of a clause of the agreement, the rule will not be breached if there is no advertence by any member of the committee to that aspect.
– As some doubt exists about the position, I think that, to be on the safe side, Senator Toohey should confine his remarks to Division No. 909, item 02.
– I cannot confine my remarks to that. I feel that the matter is of such importance that I should be permitted to proceed along the lines that I have indicated.
That is my ruling.
– I accept it, under protest.
– I take it, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that you do not mean that Senator Toohey must confine himself to the adequacy or otherwise of the amount to be provided, and that he may discuss to some extent the project for which the money is to be appropriated. I do not know what the honorable senator is opening up, but I respectfully suggest that unless he has already indicated the nature of the matter that he proposes to put and you have closed your mind to it, it may be wise to give him an opportunity to develop a theme until you can see whether it offends your ruling.
There was an appropriation of £10,000 for this item last year. No appropriation is proposed for this year.
– I want to know why there is not.
– That is a fair question. I do not know whether Senator Toohey wants to develop the theme of why a survey which was being made then is not being made now. It would be quite consistent with your ruling if he proceeded along those lines.
– I can relate my remarks to the question of the survey.
Very well. The honorable senator may proceed, so long as he keeps away from that part of the subject which is sub judice.
– I might inevitably come back to it. However, the present indications are quite clear that there is unlikely to be any major standardization work undertaken in South Australia in the foreseeable future. Because of that, I express my concern. I think it is important that this matter be clarified, because, in South Australia, statements have been made to the effect that some deal has been negotiated whereby, in return for the construction of a dam above Renmark, South Australia is likely to forget that urgent rail standardization work in our State is necessary. I hope that the Minister will give some indication, not of matters that are supposed to be sub judice and have to be determined by a court, but of where South Australian stands in regard to rail standardization. I know that the Minister is not desirous of hiding behind some rather obscure legal point. I do not think there is any need for this fear, which seems to be contagious, that because of some obscure legal point these matters which are contained in the Estimates and are of concern to South Australia and the Commonwealth should not be discussed.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN__
Order! We are not discussing the matter that is sub judice. I ask you to relate your remarks to the item in the Estimates that you rose to discuss.
– I appreciate your point, Mr. Temporary Chairman. I was hoping to stress the fact that sometimes we pay too much regard to intricate legal matters. I hope that the Minister will say what will be the future of rail standardization in the Peterborough division of South Australia, as all sorts of statements are current throughout the State to the effect that there is no likelihood of any work of that character being undertaken in the measurable future. In South Australia, at the moment, we have a certain unemployment problem, and this position could be helped in no small degree by an early start on this work, which, although needed .no more urgently than similar work in other States, at least has some pressing claims for consideration. If the position were clarified, we could go back to our State and say that we have had the matter out in this chamber, that no standardization work was to be undertaken for some considerable time, or that it was to be undertaken in the not distant future. Even if we cannot get anything specific, the Minister may be able to give us some cause for hope.
– Senator Toohey referred to “ all sorts of statements “ that were current throughout South Australia, and he asked me to comment on them. With respect, I suggest that he is rather like the newspaper reporter who rings up and says: “ We have a report about so and so. Will you comment? “ The report may have come from the office boy or some no-hoper anywhere in the world. The reporter asks for a comment because the newspaper wants news. I suggest that Senator Toohey’s approach is much the same. The position in regard to rail standardization and assistance for dam projects and the like has been well stated by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). The fact is that the appropriation last year for this survey was £10,000.
– You did not spend two bob of it!
– Wait a minute. That was part of an allocation of £50,000 which was made in the previous year to South Australia for the purpose of making a survey of the stretch of line from Port Pirie to Broken Hill. I am informed that South Australia still holds unexpended some of the funds that were advanced for that purpose. I presume that work in connexion with the survey is still going forward.
In respect of plans for the actual construction of the line, the honorable senator knows full well that the matter is to-day before the High Court of Australia and that no statement of intention can be made on a matter which is clouded by some doubt. I have no doubt at all that as soon as possible after the action has been tried - if that is the appropriate expression - a statement of intention will be made. It is quite impossible to give one at this time. I am sure that the honorable senator understands that position.
– I appreciate the Minister’s reply. I feel a little better informed than I was previously. There is another matter that is exercising my mind and the minds of a number of other people on which the Minister may be able to give some help. I ask him when the case before the High Court is likely to be concluded. I make it quite clear that I am not canvassing any of the issues involved or even when the matter is likely to be heard. I know that certain action was taken by South Australia some considerable time ago, and I have been wondering whether at this time next year we will be asking whether a decision has been given. I know we cannot determine exactly how courts will deal with matters, but I am wondering whether the Minister can say when the hearing of this case will be concluded.
– I merely said that the matter is before the High Court this day. Surely this matter is sub judice, if ever a matter was. I certainly cannot guess when the case will end.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Construction of Jetty for Handling of Explosives
Proposed expenditure, £289,000.
Senator Sir WALTER COOPER (Queensland) [10.11]. - I should like to know when this project was started, the cost to date, when it is likely to be finished, and the estimated total cost.
Senator PALTRIDGE (Western Australia
The work was commenced in 1954-55 and the estimated cost was £1,300,000. It is now estimated that it will cost £1,700,000.
– Yes. It is around Port Phillip Bay towards Geelong. It is situated at Point Wilson.
– Can the Minister for Civil Aviation tell us anything about the expected revenue which will justify expenditure of this order on a jetty? In my State jetties are being jettisoned.
– This jetty is being provided especially for the handling of explosives. Such jetties are provided by the Commonwealth because the State port authorities, very understandably, want to protect their own port facilities and do not want Commonwealth explosives to be unloaded in their ports. Indeed, some rugged negotiations have occurred between the Commonwealth and the States from time to time in order to obtain a permit for Commonwealth explosives to be unloaded at State ports. Fees are charged for the handling of commercial explosives at these ports. It was never expected that those fees would cover anything like the capital cost of the construction or, I should think, the interest payable. Jetties for the handling of explosives are provided in harbours or anchorages remote from commercial shipping as a necessary safeguard and at the pressing request of the States.
– Has there ever been any instance of danger which has warranted these handling facilities being removed from the ordinary ports?
– Yes, indeed. There has been a whole volume of correspondence and conferences with the States on this matter.
– When has a ship blown up or has a port facility exploded?
– An explosion at Calcutta is a prime example. The explosion of “ Panamania “ at Fremantle some years ago is another.
– “ Bombay “ is another example.
– This is a matter of great and constant concern to State port authorities. Although a catastrophe of this nature may not occur frequently, this is the form of insurance which a port authority - I think very properly - has to take. It must ensure that explosives are not loaded or handled within the commercial boundary of the port.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Proposed expenditure, £5,037,000.
.- 1 do not wish to repeat what I said earlier. I ask the Minister to give us an explanation of the following statement which appears at page 58 of the Auditor-General’s report for the year ended 30th June last -
The book value of obsolete stock, £1,084,567, including stock sold £900,848, still appears in the Railways accounts at cost.
That seems to be very irregular.
– I am informed that the question of the adjustment of funds and the writing off of obsolete locomotives and rolling-stock has been referred to the Department of the Treasury and is now the subject of discussion between that department and the Commonwealth. Railways. The stock concerned has accumulated over a considerable number of years and it would be unrealistic to write it off against working expenses in any one year. As I have indicated, discussions with the Treasury are now taking place to determine how it shall be done.
.- I refer to Division No. 698 - Trans-Australian Railway. Can the Minister for Civil Aviation offer any explanation of the exorbitant freight that is charged on the transport of water to the lime kilns at Zanthus, outside Kalgoorlie? The lime is used as a refractory in the treatment of gold at Kalgoorlie. A small population exists around the lime kilns. There is no water in the vicinity of this place. Water is transported by the Commonwealth Railways from Kalgoorlie to the area at a cost of £9 per 1,000 gallons. People in metropolitan areas continually complain about high charges for water services; but when we note that they pay only from 3s. to 4s. per 1,000 gallons and that the people in this desolate area have to pay £9 per 1,000 gallons, £8 of which I understand is absorbed in freight costs, the plight of these people at Zanthus becomes apparent. The high freight charge increases the cost of the commodity produced there, and it also increases costs for the gold-mining industry, which is battling against continually rising charges without having the benefit of an increase in the price of gold. I suggest that some concession should be made. Even in the early days, when water had to be condensed on the gold-fields, it cost scarcely as much as the people at the lime kilns have to pay to-day. I should like the Minister to explain the reason for the high freight charge.
– I very much regret that there is not an officer here who can give me details of the matter referred to by Senator Cant. The best I can do is to tell him that I shall have inquiries made and let him know the result by letter as soon as I can.
– I refer to two matters which both arise from the report of the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner. At page 6, the following statement appears: -
Despite an increase in traffic on the Australian Capital Territory Railway, a loss on operations of £18,944 has been recorded as compared with a loss of £15,880 during the previous year.
Can the Minister say why that additional loss of approximately £3,000 has occurred? At page 17 of the report I note with interest, under the heading “ Workshops “, the following statement: -
In the car shop section the major works undertaken were -
Preparation for service of new rolling-stock manufactured under contract in Japan. . . .
I am not suggesting that there is anything wrong in the fact that rolling-stock is being obtained from Japan, but I am wondering whether that work could not have been done in Australia. If it could not be done here, why was that so? I know that at the Port Augusta railway workshops there are highly skilled tradesmen who could acquit themselves well in any form of rolling-stock construction work. No doubt the Commonwealth railways authorities have explored that avenue. Nevertheless, I should like the Minister to explain why the work was not undertaken in Australia.
.- I refer, first, to page 6 of the 1959- 60 report on Commonwealth railways operations, where the following statement appears: -
The number of passengers offering during this period was so heavy that on many occasions it was necessary to attach additional sets of cars to the trains, doubling the capacity available for passengers. “ Double consists “ were also necessary on thirty-six (36) trains at other times during the year, to enable exceptional demands to be met. As has been mentioned in previous reports, the running of “ double consists “ is not regarded as entirely satisfactory working. It causes some degree of inconvenience to passengers, notably at terminals, and difficulties in train working. In the conditions which exist, however, such working is, at times, unavoidable.
The heavy demand at the peak periods rendered necessary the running of old-style passenger carriages, completely renovated but not airconditioned, on some trains. When the new secondclass carriages now on order are available for service, this position will be alleviated. It cannot be entirely eliminated, however, until additional first-class cars can be obtained.
I notice that in the interim report of the commissioner the following reference to this matter is made on page 9: -
The Department has continued to improve its passenger services, and a new high standard of luxury for second-class passengers was introduced following the arrival of two-berth roomette type sleeping cars from Japan. The demand for accommodation in these cars by married couples who wish to travel together was one factor which influenced the number of passengers carried.
According to the 1959-60 report, the acquisition of more first-class rolling-stock was necessary to eliminate difficulties that the transcontinental railway was experiencing. Yet we find in the 1960-61 report that the emphasis has been on secondclass rolling stock.
– No. At page 3 of the 1960- 61 report it is stated that considerable assistance was provided during the year in the conveyance of passengers by the arrival of coaches from Japan.
– But those were the second-class coaches.
– No. There were both first and second-class coaches.
– When will more firstclass accommodation be made available? The Minister will know that recently questions have been asked about the inadequacy of the services provided on the transcontinental railway and that at the present time it is impossible to book a passage this side of Christmas. I appreciate some of the difficulties which confront the railway authorities, but I think it is their responsibility, as the administrators of the major link between the western and eastern parts of Australia, to make greater efforts to accommodate people who want to use the railway.
– Answering the last of Senator Cant’s questions first, I inform him that delivery was taken during the year of both first and second-class passenger coaches and that tenders are now closing for the supply of four more cars, one lounge car, one dining car and other rolling-stock. It will be seen, I think, that there is a progressive movement towards meeting the requirements of the railway. It is impossible to say specifically just when there will be sufficient rollingstock, but from year to year rolling-stock is being added.
– Where from?
– The last rollingstock that was obtained was manufactured in Japan. As I have indicated, tenders are now being called, but I do not know where the orders will go.
Replying to Senator Toohey’s query in respect of the Australian Capital Territory railway, I inform him that over the years this has been a difficult railway to conduct because of the falling amount of traffic coming into this city by rail.
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Temporary Chairman do now leave the chair and report to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative. (The Temporary Chairman having reported accordingly) -
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Older! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
.– I regret to have to detain the Senate in order to refer to a matter which I mentioned last week - the matter of certain circulars, recently issued in Victoria, referring to Mr. Sam Cohen, a member of the Australian Labour Party. I said last week that the secretary of the Victorian branch of the Australian Labour Party, Mr. Wyndham, had declared that the circulars arose from a fraudulent plot engineered by the Democratic Labour Party and that - no doubt with an eye to election votes - he was at some pains to implicate me. I made it clear last week that neither I nor other supporters of my party had been associated with the circulars, but since then Mr. Wyndham has repeated his charges.
When he repeated them, I communicated immediately with trade union officials at the Melbourne Trades Hall. I refer to officials of certain unions who are friends of mine. Some of them are members of the Australian Labour Party, but we have retained our friendships even though we differ politically. When I inquired about the origin of the circulars they informed me that the identity of the persons responsible for them was no secret at the Melbourne Trades Hall, that it is almost certain that Mr. Wyndham knows the persons concerned and that those persons are associated with the Australian Labour Party, not with the Democratic Labour Party. To some extent, that is confirmed by the fact that the persons who issued the circulars have claimed that they were able to post them to Australian Labour Party branch secretaries because the addresses were made available by a prominent personality in that party.
As a former official of the Australian Labour Party, I know that those addresses are jealously kept secret or confidential. Relatively few persons would have had access to them within the last few months. You could count them on the fingers of one hand. I have no hesitation in saying that Mr. Wyndham knows the person who was described as a prominent personality in the party. I have no hesitation in saying also, that, for some reason - probably for fear of electoral repercussions or for fear of a further split in his party which might entail federal intervention - he is afraid to charge the man concerned and, instead, has resorted to the device, not unknown in his party in recent years, of accusing other people.
What was said by Mr. Wyndham has been added to in an article published in to-day’s issue of the “ Sydney Morning Herald “, written by someone described as “ Our Political Correspondent “. The article states -
A.L.P. men claim that the D.L.P. bought into the fight through the offices of a Mr. Bono Wiener, the leader of the Jewish Socialist Workers’ Bund, a violently anti-Communist organization.
I am amazed at the suggestion that Mr. Wiener is associated with the Democratic Labour Party. Mr. Wiener has been one of our most fervent opponents.
– He might be a convert.
– He is not a convert. Mr. Wiener is a socialist by conviction. Because the Democratic Labour Party is opposed to socialism, Mr. Wiener has never had any time for it. Indeed, he was employed as the secretary of the Australian Labour Party’s New Australian Council, with the specific task of inducing new Australians not to associate with the Democratic Labour Party but rather to associate with the Australian Labour Party. It is an indication of the flimsy nature of Mr. Wyndham’s evidence when he chooses as an alleged associate of the Democratic Labour Party a man whose whole history in this country has been a history of opposition to that party.
In the article, the political correspondent then states -
Associated with Mr. Wiener on the bund is Mr. O. Rosenbess, the vice-president of the Motor Transport Workers’ Union,-
Here is the rub - which is affiliated with the D.L.P.
Apparently if a man is in a union and that union is affiliated with the Democratic
Labour Party, that makes him a Democratic Labour party supporter. Mr. Calwell is a member of the Victorian branch of the Clerks Union, which is affiliated with the Democratic Labour Party. Are we to take it that Mr. Calwell is, therefore, a supporter of our party? I leave the Senate to judge for itself the worth of that statement in the article. Then the writer goes on to refer to a report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. He says -
The board reveals that in the State election campaign in Victoria. . . the D.L.P. purchased 105 minutes of time on commercial television stations compared with 90 minutes purchased by the Liberal and Country Party and only 18 minutes by the A.LJ>.
He proceeds to draw certain conclusions from those facts. We employ television more ‘than do other parties, and we do so for two reasons. First, the other parties receive liberal allowances of radio and television time from the Australian Broadcasting Commission, at the taxpayers’ expense. We of the Democratic Labour Party receive a meagre allowance of time from the commission, and we are forced to ask our members to put their hands into their pockets so that we can buy time from commercial stations and try to put ourselves on a somewhat equal footing with the other parties. The second reason is that, as our party has few full-time officials, we find that the best way in which we can get to the people is through television. One of our broadcasts from Victoria was estimated to have been seen by 700*000 people.
– It could not have convinced them, though.
– It convinced enough of them, did it not? Let me continue with this remarkable article in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “. The correspondent states further -
Commercial television time rates as high as £180 a minute in Melbourne at peak periods of popularity. The D.L.P. would certainly have averaged £140 at least a minute for its purchased time, an outlay of almost £15,000, compared with the A.L.P. figure of only about £2,520.
This sort of money does not grow on trees, and the D.L.P. books would make interesting reading as far as its source of electioneering funds goes. The A.L.P. has always claimed that the Liberal Party subsidizes the D.L.P. to do ‘the really dirty ‘work for it
I thought the Australian Labour Party claimed that the oil companies did that, but apparently there has been a change of attitude. I take no objection to the writer in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ using the words “ The A.L.P. has always claimed “, but I do take objection to the next statement, which, I take it, represents the writer’s own opinion. He says -
This is a logical assumption if the political payoff is taken into account.
I have communicated with the secretary of our party in Victoria and I find that, on the official price lists - we did not get any rebates - we paid for our television time £20 a minute. The correspondent of the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ has said that we paid £140 a minute. I hope he did not say that in order to make his story look good. I have been informed also that our total <bill for television time was under £2,500. It was not £15,000. Some of that £2,500 was found by electorate councils, which said they would have a whip round and would sponsor a particular fifteen-minute session. From our central funds we paid only £1,500. I assure the Senate that a party like ours - a party which, in Victoria, has between 15,000 and 20,000 members and between 200 and 300 branches and obtained the votes of about 250,000 Victorians - can raise £1,500 for television time without going to the Liberals for assistance. The statement that it is a logical assumption that the Liberal Party subsidizes the D.L.P. to do its dirty work is a dirty allegation. It is not based upon any evidence and is the sort of allegation that I am sorry to see in the pages of a journal such as the “ Sydney Morning Herald “. The article continues -
The D.L.P. will not receive any free national time in the coming Federal elections, as this is reserved for the Government parties and -the official Opposition, both of whom will receive 120 minutes.
This will throw the D.L.P. back on to commercial time only, and the subsequent bill will be a big one. But no one doubts that it will be met.
The implication is that we will go to the people to whom we have gone before. I do not understand that statement because we gave a press statement to the “ Sydney Morning -Herald “ a week before this item was published. We pointed out in that statement that the Australian Broadcasting Commission had given us time. We are to receive 45 minutes radio time and 30 minutes television time. That is a wretched allocation in view of the fact that other parties are to get four hours radio time and two hours television time at the taxpayers’ expense. We will have to go amongst our supporters to try to obtain money to pay for our time. At any rate we are to receive the time I have mentioned and I do not know why, since we officially informed the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of the fact, the political correspondent of that newspaper should say we are not going to get any time, nor why he assumes we will have to run to some source that is suspect to obtain the money.
I am getting a little tired of the continual allegations against the integrity of my party. When I came into the Senate I said I would not throw any garbage cans unless some were thrown at us first, and I think I have generally kept to that position. I read a statement made in another place the other day by Mr. Costa that our party was getting money from suspect sources, and now there is this newspaper statement, which I have no doubt came from an A.L.P. source. The “ Sydney Morning Herald “ correspondent may have printed it in good faith, but I suggest that he should have checked the source of his information. Senator Cole and I are always available to give any information on any statements that are made.
I have been an official of the Australian Labour Party. Much confidential information came into my possession during my five or six years as an official. I shall keep that information confidential because of the circumstances in which I obtained it, but I do issue this challenge to the Australian Labour Party: If it wants the origin of party funds debated I will debate the subject on the condition that the Australian Labour Party produces all the evidence it has about the source of our funds, and allows me to produce all the evidence I have about the source of its funds. I make that challenge with the full confidence that it will never be taken up.
– Does that go for the Government parties, too?
– Every political party. Let us be quite blunt. A wellknown member of the Australian Labour Party in this House used to say to me before each election, “ Well, the election is only two months away, it is time we went around the traps “. Let us have no more hypocrisy. Let us fight the election cleanly. Let none of us pretend to this hypocritical frame of mind that is reflected in the suggestion that my party is being paid by oil companies or Liberals!
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.45 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 10 October 1961, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1961/19611010_senate_23_s20/>.