23rd Parliament · 3rd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Assent to the following bills reported: -
Cattle Slaughter Levy Collection Bill 1961. Cattle Slaughter Levy (Suspension) Bill 1961. Cattle and Beef Research Bill 1961.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health: What steps are being taken by the Department of Health to deal with the sudden severe outbreak of poliomyelitis in New South Wales?
– Upon noticing reports of the severe outbreak of this disease in New South Wales, I asked the Minister for Health what steps we were taking in the matter, because the subject of Salk vaccine has been raised in the Senate a number of times. He informed me that since the end of August 140,000 doses of the vaccine have been supplied to the New South Wales Department of Health, that distribution arrangements have been made by that department and that he is sure that the department has made the best possible use of the vaccine. The recent outbreak of the disease appears to have been largely confined to one area of the New South Wales coast, and the latest information, suggests that in this area the outbreak is now under control.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of the continuing criticism and protests being made by members of the United Nations, particularly by the Soviet Union, about the head-quarters of the organization being in what they term the centre of capitalist activities, would the Australian Government be prepared to offer to the organization attractive country where its head-quarters could be built and its activities carried on free from the prejudice of both communism and capitalism?
– I take it that Senator Arnold contemplates the head-quarters being in Australia. That would be a consummation devoutly to be desired, but I do not think that the Australian Government would feel justified in advancing such a proposal, remembering the very long argument that occurred, I think in 1946, when the final decision was made to establish the head-quarters in the United States of America.
– Has the Minister for National Development read a letter which appeared in the Melbourne “ Age ** of 11th October, signed by Mr. R. Kent Wilson of the Commerce Faculty of the University of Melbourne, concerning the proposed Chowilla dam in South Australia? If the Minister has read the article, will he comment on the subject-matter of the letter, in which Mr. Wilson asks, among other things the following questions: - First, what is the estimated cost of this dam and who should pay for it? Secondly, why should Victoria be asked to contribute onequarter of the cost? I might mention that Mr. Wilson advocated a contribution by Victoria of less than one-quarter. Lastly, Mr. Wilson asks: What percentage of the water will South Australia and Victoria receive and what is the estimated value of the water that each of the participating States will receive?
– I did read the letter from Mr. Kent Wilson. The estimated cost of the dam is £14,000,000. Payment for the dam is a matter for negotiation and determination between the contracting governments that are parties to the River Murray Waters Agreement. There is no specific provision in the agreement placing responsibility for payment for the dam on any one government. The Commonwealth has said that it will pay onequarter of the cost of the dam, thus follow*, ing the precedent established in respect of all other major works that have been built on the river Murray proper for the benefit of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. Mr. Wilson has asked why Victoria should be asked to pay one-quarter of the cost of the dam. The River Murray Commission points out that the best way to operate the dam is as a river Murray storage. If that is done Victoria will gain very great benefits from the dam and I imagine that Victoria will be keen to see the storage built. It is for Victoria to say whether it regards one-quarter as a fair contribution. lt is not easy to say what percentage of water will be used by Victoria and South Australia respectively, nor what will be its value. I refer Senator Mattner to the report of the River Murray Commission. I think I might best answer the question by saying that in its investigation the River Murray Commission had regard to the records of weather conditions over the last 56 years and assumed that those conditions would be repeated in the next 56 years. It then took into account all the contemplated developmental works on the river Murray and estimated the demand for water over the next 56 years against the background of the works that are to be carried out. If there were no Chowilla dam, in the circumstances I have outlined South Australia might expect in the next 56 years to have twelve separate years during which restrictions would be placed on the use of water from the river Murray, but if the Chowilla dam is built restrictions will be necessary in only three years.
– I direct to the Minister for the Navy a series of questions that I hope he will answer. Is it a fact that the naval authorities of the United States of America have fitted an anti-submarine rocket known as Asroc to 150 of its ships? Is it a fact that this weapon is converted into an acoustic torpedo as soon as it hits the water? Are Australian ships fitted or about to be fitted with this antisubmarine weapon? Will the Minister give some indication of the effectiveness of the Asroc weapon?
– I do not know exactly how many ships of the United States Navy have been fitted with Asroc but it is undoubtedly true that some have been so fitted. It is also true that the weapon converts itself into a torpedo, although not necessarily an acoustic torpedo. At present no Australian ships are fitted with Asroc, although the two guided missile ships on order from the United States are fitted with Asroc for the United States Navy. They and other Australian ships will in future be fitted with Asroc or with some similar contrivance.
– Can the Minister for Civil Aviation say whether sea rescue facilities are available at major Australian airports which have runways close to the sea? If they are, can he state whether, and if so when, it is proposed that sea rescue facilities will be established for the Adelaide airport where, because of the prevailing winds, most flights take off immediately over the sea?
– The International Civil Aviation Organization convention on this matter prescribes that each contracting State shall introduce search and rescue measures where practicable. In Australia such measures are provided for by regulation. The honorable senator probably has not yet had an opportunity to look at the report which I recently submitted and in which I dealt at some length with this aspect of the activities of the Department of Civil Aviation. However, he can be assured that at Adelaide there are the necessary light rescue vessels and that a rescue co-ordination centre is maintained at the Adelaide airport.
– I address the following questions to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs: - Has the Government late information that it can make available on the serious situation that is developing in South Viet Nam? Is it correct, as suggested, that President Kennedy has sent a personal representative to examine whether it may be necessary to send American troops to assist in coping with Communist guerrillas in that country? Could Australia, by virtue of her membership of the South-East Asia Treaty Organization, be involved if the position developed towards an attempted Communist take-over?
– I have not anything to add to what is generally known about the situation in South Viet Nam where the Communists are engaging in massive subversion which in some cases verges on, if it is not in fact, outright war. I am not clear about whether President Kennedy has sent a personal representative to South Viet Nam, although I understand that he has. The actual purpose for which he has sent a personal representative need nol necessarily be that indicated by the honorable senator. On the question of possible developments in South Viet Nam, I can only say that Australia is a member of Seato but that any action taken by Seato is taken by all its members in concert and should be differentiated from action taken by any individual member of that organization.
– Has the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral seen a press report stating that the Western Australian Government, when giving consideration to the findings of a report of a royal commission into bush fires, decided that the Commonwealth Government should be asked to complete as far as possible the connexion of telephones to outlying country centres before the end of the year? Has the Postmaster-General received any request from the Western Australian Government to this effect? If so, has that government stressed any priorities for places where it considers the bush fire hazards are greatest? Will the Postmaster-General, if requested to do so, consider implementing a programme of extensions of telephone facilities to centres where fire hazards are greatest?
– I have not seen the newspaper report to which the honorable senator refers, but I have some knowledge of the findings of the royal commission. I understand that the PostmasterGeneral has received a request from the Western Australian Government for additional connexions to outlying areas, but I understand that no priorities have been set down. It will interest Senator DrakeBrockman to know that the PostmasterGeneral has agreed to a conference between the Western Australian Director of Posts and Telegraphs, the Western Australian
Bush Fires Board and officers of the Lands and Surveys Department of that State, when the contents of the report of the royal commission will be discussed, including priorities and connexions to outlying centres.
– Has the Minister for Civil Aviation, or have any of the officers of his department, in any way tried to get East-West Airlines Limited to sell out to or amalgamate with Ansett interests or any other interests? If so, why?
– No effort has been made by me and I am not aware of any effort having been made by any member of the staff of my department to the end suggested by the honorable senator. Indeed, I would think it quite improbable. I think the history of this matter is rather well known publicly. Some time ago - possibly eighteen months to two years ago - an offer was made by Ansett Transport Industries Limited to the directors of EastWest Airlines Limited to purchase the latter company. The directors of East-West Airlines Limited rejected the offer. Subsequently an announcement was made that the directors had taken action to alter the company’s articles of association to make it impossible for a transfer of shares to be made to any purchaser, as I understand it, without the sanction of the directors. So, it would appear that even if an offer were made it would be quite abortive.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for National Development, refers to the matter raised by Senator Mattner, namely, the Chowilla dam. The Minister, in his reply to Senator Mattner, referred to a report that has been presented by the River Murray Commission and which, apparently, is in his possession, but about which I have very little knowledge other than what I have obtained from the accounts of the report published in the press. If this report has not been made available to honorable senators, will the Minister see that it is made available forthwith?
– I have received some other similar inquiries. The report is available. It is a report of nine pages. The summary of it runs to four pages. I am sure that honorable senators will be referring constantly to this report. I do not know whether my proposal is orthodox or unorthodox, but I should like to see the report and the summary incorporated in “ Hansard “ so that everybody will know where they are and they will be readily available. That seems to me to be sensible. With the concurrence of honorable senators, I incorporate the report and summary in “ Hansard “. The report reads as follows: -
Following the approach by the Premier of South Australia to the Prime Minister, the governments concerned agreed in May, 1960, that the proposal to build a major dam on the lower Murray should be referred to the River Murray Commission for consideration of the technical aspects of the project. The matter was then formally raised in the Commission by the South Australian representative at its meeting in June, 1960.
The Commission set up a Technical Committee to examine and report on the hydrological aspects of the proposed storage at Chowilla. The South Australian Government undertook an examination of the design and construction aspects.
On the 20th February, 1961, the Premiers o£ New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia held a conference which was also attended for part of the time by Senator Spooner. The conference resolved that the commission should be asked to examine the practicability of the construction of the proposed dam in the light of views expressed at the conference. In addition, the conference asked the commission to report on the lines on which the River Murray Waters Agreement could be amended having regard to the interests of the States concerned.
As a result of the report of the Technical Committee on the hydrological aspects and that furnished by the South Australian representative on the physical aspects of the proposed dam, the commission resolved at its meeting on the Sth September, 1961, to submit a report to the contracting governments. The report is confined to the original reference to the commission, i.e. the technical aspects of the proposal. The commission is unable to comply with the request for a report on the possible amendments to the River Murray Waters Agreement until agreement has been reached between the governments concerning the control of the proposed storage and the apportionment of the benefits which would arise therefrom.
The Technical Committee had supplied a report giving details of its findings, following an investigation of the present and likely future water resources of the River Murray system. The report related these resources to the Chowilla proposal and set out in tabular and graphical form the anticipated benefits of Chowilla storage under various methods of control and water usage.
The committee considered two sets of circumstances, viz. those which will exist in the 1970 stage of development (these being fairly definite), and those which may exist in the year 2000. The degree of control and the extent of the usage of water by New South Wales and Victoria from the tributaries below Albury in the respective States would have a strong bearing upon the behaviour and usefulness of Chowilla storage. The committee was faced with a difficult task in attempting to assess these factors, particularly for the year 2000, and at its meeting on 12th April, 1961, the commission laid down what is considered to be a reasonable and realistic basis. Evaporation losses would have an important bearing upon the behaviour of Chowilla storage and the committee has made an assessment of these losses with the aid of all available relevant data.
Reliable stream flow data is available in respect to the year 190S onwards, and the committee’shydrological investigation covers the period of 51 years from 190S to 19S6, i.e. it has related a repetition of these conditions to the anticipated development in the year 1970 and in the year 2000. Diversions from the Snowy River to the Murray and Mumimbidgee Rivers in accordance with the 1959 advice of the Snowy Mountains Authority have been taken into consideration. These are, however, liable to modification.
During the course of its investigations, the committee examined the effect of additional storages of various capacities above Hume Reservoir, in order to determine if benefits greater than those from Chowilla could be obtained for acomparable expenditure on an upper Murray storage.
Chowilla storage could be operated in different ways and the committee examined the benefits of this undertaking as a South Australian storage,, a joint Victorian-South Australian storage, and a River Murray Commission storage operated under the terms of the present agreement. The secondmethod would involve difficult operational problems and it would be necessary for the Committee to extend its investigations considerably if further consideration was given to this method of control, which reduces the total benefit to the system compared to operation as a River Murray Commission storage, without much additional benefit to the two States concerned. Therefore, the following comments refer to two alternatives only, viz. control by South Australia, or by the River Murray Commission.
The extent of the flow of the Ovens River could play a big part in determining the benefitsderived from Chowilla. This river is now uncontrolled (with the exception of some pumping diversions) and the Committee has given consideration to a possible 30 per cent and 60 per cent utilization of the waters of the Ovens by Victoria. In the following assessment a 30 per cent, utilization of the Ovens River has been assumed as the commission considered this to be the most probable development.
Assessment of the Benefits of Chowilla.
With the present storages only, viz., Hume Reservoir and Lake Victoria, there would be fourteen seasons of restricted supply during the 5 1-year period under the year 2000 development conditions and the estimated total deficiency (all States) during these seasons of restriction is 13,361,000 acre feet
The mostsevere deficits would have occurred in the year 1914-15 (2,518,000 acre feet), 1938-39 (2,143;000 acre feet), and 1944-45 (2,537,000 acre feet). The total deficiency in these three years would he 7,198,000 acre feet, i.e., 54 per cent of the total deficit in the fourteen seasons of shortage.
Therefore, without Chowilla there would be three years in which very drastic restrictions would be necessary, resulting in heavy loss of production and serious capital losses. The year 1944-45 is quoted as an example of the deficit suffered by each of the States. In this year, New South Wales would have suffered a reduction of 1,110,000 acre feet and received only 22 per cent of its normal requirements. The corresponding figures for Victoria are a reduction of 873,000 acre feet to 38 per cent of normal requirements, and South Australia would have had a deficit of 554,000 acre feet, reducing the allocation to 56 per cent of normal.
With Chowilla operated as a South Australian storage, the total deficit over the 51-year period would be reduced to 6,310,000 acre feet and the deficits during the three years of severe drought would have been 1,243,000 acre feet, 875,000 acre feet, and 1,688,000 acre feet in 1914-15, 1938-39 and 1944-45 respectively. In the latter year, New South Wales would receive 47 per cent of its annual requirements (a deficit of 756,000 acre feet), Victoria 56 per cent (a deficit of 623,000 acre feet) and South Australia 76 per cent (a deficit of 309,000 acre feet).
New South Wales and Victoria would, therefore, receive substantial benefits in spite of the fact that Chowilla was operated as a South Australian storage. The main reason for this is that in assessing the benefits, the Committee took into account the arrangement which Sir Thomas Playford offered to accept in view of the submergence of Lake Victoria. In this arrangement a volume equal to the full capacity of Lake Victoria -would be made available from Chowilla in a drought period, in lieu of whatever quantities might have been in Lake Victoria, for allocation between the three States, in terms of Clause 51 of the River Murray Agreement. A second reason is that New South
Wales and Victoria would be able to supply their respective shares of South Australia’s allocation on an annual in lieu of a monthly basis.
With Chowilla as a River Murray Commission Storage.
With Chowilla operated as a River Murray Commission storage the total deficit during the 51-year period would be 3,578,000 acre feet (as against 6,310,000 as a South Australian storage) and the deficts during the three years of severe drought would have been 527,000 acre feet, nil, and 1,690,000 acre feet in 1914-15, 1938-39 and 1944-45 respectively. It will be seen that there is a considerable total benefit to the whole system in this method of operation compared with operation as a South Australian storage.
In 1914-15 New South Wales and Victoria would benefit substantially by reduction of the severity of shortages through the operation of Chowilla as a River Murray Commission storage, but South Australia would suffer some reduction in comparison with the supply available if Chowilla was operated as a South Australian storage. New South Wales and Victoria would also benefit in 1938-.39, and in this year South Australia would receive its normal allocation with either method of control
The total deficit would be the same in 1944-45 with either method of operation. New South Wales would benefit but both Victoria and South Australia would suffer some reduction. The benefit to New South Wales with Chowilla as a River Murray Commission storage would be due to a differencein the demands on Menindie storage for exchange purposes in previous seasons.
With this method of apportionment there would be little alteration in the total deficit during the 51-year period. Deficits during the three years of severe drought would be 456,000 acre feet, nil, and 1,716,000 acre feet in 1914-15, 1938-39 and 1944-45 respectively.
The following table shows the deficiency in the supply to the three States with the year 2000 development during the fourteen dry yearsin the 51 -year period and under four sets of conditions, viz.: -
Chowilla as a South Australian storage.
Chowilla as a River Murray Commission storage (5:5:3 apportionment).
Chowilla as a River Murray Commission storage (5:5:5 apportionment).
Normal supply has been assumed to be -
New South Wales- 1,420,000 acre feet.
Victoria- 1,420,000 acre feet.
South Australia- 1,254,000 acre feet.
Note. - The bottom line in the table shows the number of years in which shortages would be experienced
The Commission wishes to emphasize that the benefits derived from Chowilla storage would by no means be confined to the occasional drought years. However, in these years its value would be particularly great and without additional storage on the Murray, such as Chowilla, serious capital losses would occur involving heavy reestablishment costs and heavy loss of production in the ensuing years.
Additional storage above Hume Reservoir as an alternative to Chowilla.
The Committee gave consideration to the possibility of constructing an additional storage or storages above Hume Reservoir as an alternative to the construction of Chowilla. This investigation showed conclusively that Chowilla as a River Murray Commission storage would provide much greater overall benefits for equal expenditure than the construction of storages above Hume Reservoir.
The South Australian Constructing Authority has been engaged for some time upon site investigations and the preparation of designs. Tentative plans of the structure and a report on the investigations have been considered by the Commission.
The dam as designed would consist of concrete overflow structures on the River Murray, Chowilla Creek and Monoman Creek, together with a navigation lock and about 3¼ miles of rock-fill concrete faced embankment. The general height of the embankment would be approximately 40 feet The full supply level would be R.L. 205, i.e. 35 feet 6 inches above the Lock 6 pool level, and 3 feet below the Lock 10 upper pool level. The concrete overflow sections would be equipped with flood gates capable of passing a maximum flood without any effect on the flood level at Wentworth. The maximum recorded flood was approximately 140,000 cusecs in 1956, but the dam as designed would pass a flood of 400,000 cusecs.
Early investigations indicated that difficulty could be experienced in providing satisfactory foundations, as there is a considerable depth of unconsolidated sands underlying the whole of the dam site. However, arrangements were made with a company of world repute to carry out experiments in compacting the sand by means of a process known as vibroflotation. These experiments have proved that satisfactory foundations can be provided, and estimates of the cost of the structure have been based on the use of this process.
The design provides for a roadway 24 feet in width across the entire length of the dam.
The estimated total cost of the undertaking, including a navigation lock and land resumptions, is £14,000,000.
Elimination of the lock would reduce the cost by approximately £1,000,000, and in order to effect savings while not allowing the structure to block navigation, the commission is of the opinion that consideration should be given to alternative means of transferring vessels from one level to the other.
In conclusion the commission wishes to express its appreciation of the thorough and efficient manner in which the Technical Committee has carried out its complex and lengthy investigations which involved the exercise of high technical skill. Members of this committee were -
The summary reads as follows: -
RIVER MURRAY COMMISSION REPORT ON PROPOSED MAJOR STORAGE AT CHOWILLA (SUMMARY).
The River Murray Commission has recently completed a report on a proposal to build a major storage on the River Murray at Chowilla in South Australia. Senator the Honorable W. H. Spooner, M.M., as president of the River Murray Commission, has forwarded the report to the Premiers of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.
The site of the proposed storage is a few miles down-stream of the South Australian border. It would have a capacity of 4,600,000 acre feet and would be the largest reservoir in Australia. (Lake Eucumbene in the Snowy Scheme has a capacity of 3,860,000 acre feet and the enlarged Hume Reservoir has 2,500,000 acre feet.) The reservoir would inundate Lake Victoria Reservoir and over 400 square miles of land, most of which is in New South Wales and Victoria. The dam wall would be 3i miles long with an average height of 41 feet. The total cost of the project is estimated at £14,000,000.
The proposal was first raised by the Premier of South Australia with the Prime Minister in May, 1960, after which it was agreed by all four governments that the River Murray Commission should investigate the technical aspects. The commission, in June, 1960, set up a technical committee to report on the hydrological aspects of the project in extension of its general investigation into additional storages, and the South Australian Government undertook an examination of the design and construction aspects of the site.
The Technical Committee’s investigation was necessarily a very complex one. It first assessed the level of the demands for river Murray waters in the immediate future and then compared these demands with the likely level of available supplies. These supplies would become progressively reduced as a result of the greater utilization by New South Wales and Victoria of their tributaries of the Murray, which flow into the river Murray below Albury. The committee estimated the extent to which waters in the tributaries would be utilized first in respect of 1970 and secondly in the year 2,000. It then had to take into account the seasonal conditions which might operate in the future; to do this it assumed that the weather conditions which occurred over the 51 years between 1905 and 1956 would be repeated.
As a result of these calculations the committee showed that on the level of tributary controls which were likely to be in effect by the year 2,000 there would be fourteen seasons in the 51- year period when restrictions in supplies to the States would have to be imposed. During this period the total deficits in the required level of supplies would amount to 13,400,000 acre feet. The deficits would be particularly severe in three seasons, namely in the equivalent of 1914-15, 1938-39 and 1944-45. In the first of these years New South Wales would have received only 22 per cent, of its normal requirements; Victoria would have obtained only 38 per cent, and South Australia 56 per cent. Under such conditions there would have been a heavy loss in production and serious capital losses. It was apparent that a major storage was necessary to avoid major national losses.
The committee then repeated these calculations with various storage capacities at Chowilla and additionally examined the possibility of providing storage upstream of the Hume Reservoir. It was shown that a 4,600,000 acre feet storage at Chowilla would be the most advantageous in reducing deficits in water supply.
In normal seasons New South Wales and Victoria have an obligation under the River Murray Waters Agreement to make available to South Australia 1,250,000 acre feet per annum in prescribed monthly quantities. In periods of declared restrictions South Australia is entitled to threethirteenths of the available water in the river and its various storages including Lake Victoria, the upper States having the right to draw water from the Hume Reservoir and to replace it with the equivalent amount of water from their tributaries flowing into the Murray below the Hume.
If with the approval of the River Murray Commission Chowilla was built by the State of South Australia on its own behalf, that State could operate the reservoir to meet its own needs. The Premier of South Australia, however, indicated that in the event of the storage being constructed on that basis he would be prepared first to accept his State’s 1.25m. acre feet normal entitlement on an annual rather than a monthly basis; secondly, in the calculations of available water in periods of restrictions he was prepared to make available 0.5m. acre feet in Chowilla in lieu of what water might have been available at such a time in Lake Victoria.
These two proposals were taken into account in calculating the likely benefits which might arise if Chowilla were operated as a South Australian storage. It was found that the total deficit in the 51 year period would be reduced to less than half. Deficits in the three critical years (1914-15, 1938-39 and 1944-45) would also be significantly reduced.
If, however, the proposed storage were operated as a River Murray Commission work and the present basis of sharing of water were maintained far greater benefits would occur. (In periods of restrictions the available water under the control of the River Murray Commission is shared 5:5:3 between New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia respectively.) The total deficit in 51 years would be reduced to less than one-quarter - 3.6m. acre feet as contrasted with 13.4m. acre feet without Chowilla. In the three critical years, the 1914-15 deficit would be reduced from 2.5m. acre feet (without Chowilla) to about 0.5m. acre feet, the 1938-39 deficit would be eliminated and the 1944-45 deficit would become 1.7m. acre feet as contrasted with 2.5m. acre feet without Chowilla.
Calculations were also made of the effects of sharing Chowilla equally in periods of restrictions. This improved the South Australian position at the expense of New South Wales and Victoria.
Although Chowilla would be downstream of the New South Wales and Victorian irrigation areas, it could be used in a normal year to satisfy the whole of the South Australian entitlement of 1.25m. acre feet without drawing on the Hume for this purpose. In periods of restrictions releases of Hume water to meet South Australia’s share of available water would be reduced considerably.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Last week, at the United Nations General Assembly a statement relating to the European Common Market was submitted by a member of the Australian delegation. What motivated the Government to select an officer who is without any trade experience and who has been out of Australia for many years, apart from a couple of hit-and-run visits to Australia? In view of the importance of this subject - I was glad to see that after four and a half years the Prime Minister agrees with me on this aspect - why did not the Government select one of the army of trade officials who have an up-to-the-minute knowledge of the subject and who are at present in the northern, hemisphere, to tell the United Nations the reaL story; or is not the Government in deadly earnest on this important problem?
- Senator Hendrickson is in deadly earnest, but bis opponents are quite safe. If his aim in other matters is no better than it is in this matter, I do not think he will hurt any one. Debates in the United Nations are conducted by people experienced in the procedures of the United Nations. It would not be in the interests of Australia to have representations made on its behalf in that forum by some one not well experienced and well versed in those procedures. I have no doubt that this spokesman was briefed and knew the facts: I have no knowledge of the details, but I should be very surprised indeed if I were told that before he spoke and while- he was speaking there were no officers of the Department of Trade sitting behind him to ensure that what he said was accurate.
– In view of the widespread interest aroused by newspaper reports of the possibility of Broken Hill South Limited being taken over by nonAustralian interests, will the Minister inform me what powers the Commonwealth Government has to prevent rich Australian resources from being owned and operated by non-Australian interests? As the credit squeeze at present operating in this country has made some companies financially embarrassed temporarily, and as such companies are good targets for take-over bids, what assurance have the Australian people that valuable natural resources will not be alienated in this way?
– As 1 have asked Senator Laught to put a similar question on the notice-paper, I think it would be fair to ask Senator O’Byrne to put this question on the notice-paper also. I will permit myself the luxury of pointing out that each case must be considered on its merits. We want all the overseas capital for developmental purposes that we can attract to Australia. However, this transaction was in a different category. Because of the wide implications, I would prefer that any answer that I gave had the prior approval of the Prime Minister.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of statements made recently by members of the Government in both Houses of the Parliament to the effect that they are most happy about the unemployment situation, and particularly that they are not concerned about unemployment because only 109,000 people are unemployed, according to them - there are more than 170,000, according to other well-informed sources - does the Government propose to fly flags and organize lavish celebrations when the number of unemployed becomes smaller than 109,000 or 170,000? Is it true that the Minister for Labour and National Service - perhaps he should be called the Minister for Unemployment - was so delighted with the latest manifestation of unemployment that he was likened by one cartoonist to a man standing on his head and clapping his feet?
– I had not heard any member of the Government parties say that he was most happy about the unemployment situation. Senator Hendrickson does not do justice to the Government.
– You said so yourself the other day.
– I have never said in my life that I was happy about the unemployment situation. What I have said ad nauseam* and I repeat now, is that Senator Hendrickson is greatly exaggerating this situation in an endeavour to make political capital out of the unhappiness of others.
– My questions to the Leader of the Government relate to matters connected with the European Common Market. My first question is: Has the Minister seen a published report by Mr. Colin Clark, a noted economist, to the effect that-
– Did you say “ Communist “ or “ economist “?
– 1 said “economist “. Mr. Clark’s statement was to the effect that Australia should take the initiative in the establishment of what would amount to a South-East Asian common market comprising such nations as Burma, Thailand, Pakistan, Malaya, the Philippines, Japan, New Zealand and other smaller democratic countries. Can the Minister state what the Government’s views might be on this rather revolutionary suggestion by Mr. Colin Clark? I preface my second question by .stating that at present discussions are taking place in Europe between British representatives on the one part, and members of the European Economic Community on the other, about the admission or otherwise of Great Britain into the European Common Market. British representatives are reported as having said that European Common Market nations might give consideration to the admission of certain members of the British Commonwealth as associate members. Does the Minister know whether the British representatives include Australia in that suggestion? In other words, are the British representatives putting forward a case now for the possible admission of Australia as an associate member of the European Common Market?
– I did see Colin Clark’s statement. Quite apart from the suggestion of a common market, it is Australia’s objective to seek additional markets in all those Asian countries that Senator Vincent has mentioned. That objective is all the more important because of the risks that may arise if the United Kingdom joins the European Common Market. The honorable senator has referred to a proposal that there should be a common market in South-East Asia of which Australia is a .member. I did not see any comment in Mr. Colin Clark’s statement about the effect upon Australian industries of such an arrangement. It is basic to the common market concept that tariff barriers between member countries shall be eliminated. 1 cannot see a future for such a proposal within the present concept of a common market. I have not seen the report that British representatives are advocating that Australia might be admitted as an associate member of the European Common Market.
– I did not say Australia, I said certain members of the Commonwealth.
– There might be possibilities in respect of tropical colonies in the British Commonwealth. I doubt whether the suggestion would include Australia.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service noticed the gloomy expression on the faces of honorable senators opposite following the publication yesterday of the employment figures? Is it a fact that the employment position has improved considerably, notwithstanding the effect of the strike at Mount Isa and the temporary unemployment of staff by General MotorsHolden’s Proprietary Limited? Has the Minister seen a statement published in Western Australia at the week-end which informed the people of that State that it is approaching a boom which will exceed that of ten years ago? Is it a fact that there is a shortage of skilled labour in Australia at the moment? If so, can the Minister say what action is being taken to encourage skilled migrants to come to Australia to fill the jobs that are vacant?
– Taking the question seriatim, it is difficult to notice a gloomy expression on the -faces of members of the Opposition, but it is possible to notice a state of comparative gloom because they have been gloomy ever since I have been here. It does seem to me, however, that recently the pall has deepened. It is quite true that the figures referred to by the honorable senator indicate not only that the employment position has improved - on the true figures, by something like 7,000 people - but also that registered opportunities for jobs have increased and the numbers in receipt of unemployment benefit have fallen. We are all, I hope, happy to hear from the Minister for Labour and National Service that there is likely to be still better news next month. I have noticed the reference to which the honorable senator has directed our attention. I would not know whether or not it was strictly truthful, but I suggest that it would have the basis of truth that quite clearly Western Australia, in common with States such as Queensland and South Australia, is developing and will continue to develop by reason of the great projects which this Government is bringing to fruition in conjunction with the governments of the States.
– On 28th September, Senator Hannan asked me the following question: -
Has the attention of the Minister representing the Postmaster-General been directed to the statement made last week-end by Mr. Donald Crosby, the Victorian president of Actors Equity, pointing out the appalling state of the radio drama industry in Melbourne, in particular, and in the whole nation in general? Mr. Crosby stated that in 19SS, ISO quarter-hour radio drama sessions were being produced in Melbourne each week, but that now, as a result of imported American pop music recordings almost dominating pro gramme material, that number has now been reduced to two per week. This position is causing great distress among Australian actors, actresses and technicians. I ask the Minister whether he will consider giving some advice to radio station licensees along the lines of the letter which he sent to television licensees last year on the percentages of material used.
The Postmaster-General has now furnished me with the following information in reply: -
Whilst the Government and the Australian Broadcasting Control Board agree that broadcasting stations should do all that they can to develop Australian programmes, the problems related to the reduced demand by commercial broadcasting stations for Australian dramatic programmes in transcription form are, because of the introduction of television, not easy of solution.
The board has had the matter under investigation for some time and in this connexion the honorable senator’s attention is invited to para graphs 62 and 63 of the thirteenth annual report of the board which was tabled last month. Broadcasting is clearly in a transition stage in consequence of the introduction of television, but according to the board’s recent report, there was some evidence during the past year of a partial return by commercial broadcasting stations to former practices. In this respect the board stated that whilst it did not propose to determine arbitrary proportions for various types of programme matter, it may be necessary to reconsider this if stations revert to the trend, now apparently arrested, of abanding all forms of programmes, except music and essentia] services. The board is continuing its investigations into all aspects of the matter.
– 1 address a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. What exactly is meant by the rationalization of air transport services? Does the Minister consider it rational that on some days there are four nights from Perth to the eastern States, while on other days there is only one? Does not the Minister think it would be in the best interests of air travellers if there were at least two passenger nights each day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon? Also, does the Minister consider it rational that on some days of the week there are two Electra flights leaving Perth within fifteen minutes of each other and on other days there is no Electra flight at all?
– I am surprised to learn that the meaning of rationalization is not known to the honorable senator. I thought that the Senate had discussed the subject frequently enough for every one to be conversant with it. As rationalization applies to Perth, and indeed to all other places, it is a question largely of meeting the traffic demands. If the honorable senator believes that she is more conversant with traffic demands than are the airline operators, 1 invite her to give them the information which she has and which they apparently have not. Regard must also be had to the fact that the airline operators must direct their attention to the use of equipment. It is imperative that in an industry in which one piece of equipment costs £1,000,000, that equipment shall be used to get the optimum return. I know that in the airyfairy thinking of the Australian Labour Party and of others, costs and prices do not matter, but as a matter of hard, solid commercial fact, profitability is a very important aspect of the operation of an airline, whether it be privately owned or governmentowned.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport noticed and given consideration to the passage in the annual report of the Tariff Board, summarizing its report on the timber industry, to the effect that the freight cost between Western Australia and Adelaide has been responsible for the reduction - almost the annihilation - of the trade in jarrah from Western Australia to Adelaide? Has he also noticed the statement in the annual report of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission to the effect that the introduction of the new ship the “ Tasmania “ has enabled a freight reduction of the order of 20 per cent to he effected? Does that reduction apply to timber exported from Tasmania?
– Answering the second part of the question first, I understand that the reduction in freight from Tasmania does apply. I shall check the position, but that is my present understanding of it. The effect of freights on the price of Western Australian timber in South Australia is a question which I know has concerned the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Indeed, about eighteen months or two years ago an inquiry was made into the matter because of a reference in an earlier Tariff Board report. The detailed, on-the-spot investigation that was made at that time indicated that while freight was a factor which had a detrimental effect on the sale of Western Australian timber in South Australia, there were other factors which were equally if not more important. One of these factors was the competition which Western Australian timber was encountering in South Australia from oregon. Another factor was that in certain facilities at the Western Australian timber ports there were deficiencies in some respects. I was not aware that another reference had been made to the subject in the most recent report of the Tariff Board. I shall take the opportunity to confer again with the Minister for Shipping and Transport and ask him whether there is any further or later information that I may give to the honorable senator.
– I direct a question to the Minister for National Development.
– Is this another Dorothy Dix-er?
– The previous one was not a Dorothy Dix-er. This question relates to a different subject and it will not remove the gloomy look from your face. I ask: Can the Minister tell me the percentage increase in coal exports over the last two years? Has the Government considered approaching private enterprise with a view to encouraging it to enter into bulk shipping of coal to foreign ports with the idea of bringing back, for instance, phosphates from Christmas Island or iron ore from Cockatoo Island?
– On previous occasions in the Senate 1 have quoted the coal export figures. The Joint Coal Board estimates that the level of exports will rise to about 3,000,000 tons by 1965. 1 was very intrigued to read, in either to-day’s or yesterday’s newspaper, a statement by Sir Edward Warren, chairman of the Colliery Proprietors Association, showing that he was now thinking in terms of the export from New South Wales of 5,000,000 tons by 1965. There is a big trade to be done in this direction.
I am pretty certain that the coal industry has not given thought, in its shipping arrangements, to return freight, because, I think, most of the bottoms are at present provided by Japanese purchasers in the form of chartered ships. Taking a longterm view, I would not be inclined to disturb that arrangement. Our information is that the Japanese steel industry is building vessels of from 30,000 tons to 40,000 tons to cater for the Australian trade. We, on our part, are providing, at Newcastle, Port Kembla and Port Jackson, port facilities to handle ships of that size.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade: Has the price of coal been reduced since 1957? If so, what is the order of the reduction?
– I do not keep the figures in my mind, but it is true that, as a result of mechanization and other improvements in the coal-mining industry, the price of coal has been steadily falling over the last four or five years, a period in which the prices of most other commodities have increased. The price of coal has gone down and is going down as a result of the efficient running of the industry and the fact, of course, that with a good government in power the bad old days of industrial disturbances in. the industry have gone.
– I ask the Minister for National Development whether it is also a fact that employment in the coalmining industry has been reduced by 50 per cent, over the last ten years.
– I am not quite certain whether the figure is SO per cent., but there has been a substantial reduction in the number of employees in the industry. I carry with me in the Senate each day, in case I am asked a question such as this, particulars of those who are unemployed in the industry. I hazard a guess that the total number of employees in the coal-mining industry has declined by 8,000 or 9,000, but, due to the activities of the Joint Coal Board and government departments, which watch the position closely, as at 7th October last only 436 employees in the coalmining industry were registered as seeking employment elsewhere. A major reconstruction has been effected in the industry. The situation has been handled as carefully as governments can handle such a situation.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service indicate the number of hours lost on the waterfront last year and this year? What has been the effect of the legislation passed by the Parliament earlier this year to encourage people to work on the waterfront?
– I think the answer to the honorable senator’s question will serve to indicate that the improvement on the waterfront noticed in August last has continued. About 2,400 hours were lost on the waterfront in Australia last September, compared with 5,000 or 6,000 in the same month last year. It is interesting to note that last September there was no loss of hours on the waterfront in Tas mania. I think the present position is; an indication of the success, of the legislation passed by the Parliament earlier this year.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice- -
Will the- Minister inform the Senate in general terms what success has attended the implementation of taxation incentives designed to stimulate exports of Australian goods, particularly those of a secondary nature?
– The Minister for Trade has supplied the following answer: -
These taxation incentives were passed by the Parliament only last May. It is, therefore, too early to measure their results in terms of statistics of exports. The incentives have, however, received a most favorable reaction from the business community. The Department of Trade has had many meetings and discussions with businessmen, both in groups and individually. In the course of its regular contacts with industry, which amount to hundreds a week, the field officers of the department constantly explain the potentialities of the incentives. This has led to a great awakening to the possibilities of profit from export. Many firms - large, medium and small - are expanding their export operations or are moving into export for the first time. Even in the short time available since the Parliament approved the incentives, there have been a number of notable successes. There has been a great expansion of overseas travel with exporters visiting their markets for a first-hand examination. The Trade Commissioners report a very great increase in the number of visitors and of trade inquiries. In several significant cases firms with overseas connexions have already been able to arrange for their restrictive export franchises to be eliminated or reduced. The whole outlook arising from the changed attitude of mind of businessmen is most heartening.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
Can the Minister give the Senate any information, representing the assessment of the Department of Trade, on recent claims that Japan is gearing her manufacturers to a change over from wool to synthetics within a period of from seven to ten years?
– The Minister for Trade has now informed me as follows: -
The Department of Trade is not aware of any specific claim that Japan intends to gear her manufacturers to a change over from wool to synthetics as a long-range policy. A Japanese Government special committee set up to study the supply and demand for textiles recently forecast that wool usage would rise from 10.5 per cent, of total textile demand in 1960 to 10.6 per cent, in 1965. The committee also forecast an increase in total textile demand from 2,600,000,000 lb. to 3,500,000,000 lb. over the same period. On the basis of these estimates the demand for woollen textiles in Japan would rise from 280,000,000 lb. to 370,000,000 lb. - an increase of 35 per cent.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
In view of the constant need to improve our volume of exports and particularly the fact that in the near future our butter sales in the United Kingdom may have strong opposition, will the Minister explore the possibility of manufacturing ghee in Australia for export to those countries which use it, such as India, Pakistan, Burma and others?
– The Minister for Trade has now informed me as follows: -
For many years now, ghee has been manufactured in Australia for export markets, mainly in
Asia. In 1960-61 a total of 2,765,000 lb. of ghee was exported from Australia - an increase of <“1 000 lb. over 1959-60 ghee exports.
The Government is well aware of the potential markets for ghee in some Asian countries. However, some of these countries, e.g. India and Pakistan, themselves have enormous cattle populations and are large producers of ghee.
The Government, through the Trade Commissioner Service is constantly exploring the possibilities of expanding Australian exports to these markets. During the 1960-61 season Australia exported ghee to 28 different destinations.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
Can the Minister inform the Senate whether it is difficult to purchase Australian butter in London although butter from countries outside the Commonwealth is readily available?
– The Minister for Trade has advised as follows: -
Australian butter, identifiable as such, is usually available in London, but not perhaps in every retail store.
Many brands of butter covering British, Commonwealth and foreign origins are available from which the retail grocer may choose to stock his shelves. Not all grocers stock Australian brands.
However, due to the promotional activities of the Overseas Trade Publicity Committee, to which the Government contributed the sum of £Stg.365,325 for 1960-61, and to which the Australian Dairy Produce Board makes a pro rata contribution, the proportion of Australian butter sold in the United Kingdom in retail packs identifiable as Australian increased from about 10 per cent, in 1959 to about 30 per cent, in 1960.
A recent market survey showed that the proportion of households buying identified Australian butter in the London and southern counties area increased from 4 per cent, in April, 1960, to II per cent, in December of the same year.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade has now supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade has supplied the following answers: -
An Australian wool textile survey mission is at present visiting North America examining the market for yarn, wool tops, woollen and worsted piece goods, blankets and rugs and knitted outerwear.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
What are the commodities admitted to Australia under import licence or under Ministerial control?
– The Minister for Trade has now informed me as follows: -
Commodities still subject to import licensing control are most textiles and apparel; umbrellas; aluminium and aluminium alloy and primary shapes; A.C. watt-hour meters; ball and roller bearings; some hand tools; oil seeds and nuts; animal and vegetable oils; insulators; chinaware; sanitary-earthenware; plain clear sheet glass; lenses; plywood; toys; spectacles and spectacle frames; footwear; cameras and projectors; some synthetic resins; travel goods; man-made fibre yarns; canned fish; second-hand machinery and equipment
Under the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations there are certain goods the importation of which is prohibited for various reasons unless the permission in writing of the Minister for Customs a. d Excise has been granted.
asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The Minister for Territories has supplied answers to the honorable senator’s questions as follows -
– I present the report of the Public Works Committee on the following subject: -
Proposed construction of a Weapons Workshop at H.M.A. Naval Dockyard, Garden Island, Sydney, New South Wales.
The committee’s recommendations and conclusions, arrived at after studying the evidence and material submitted, are contained in the report whichI am presenting now. The dockyard area has been developed over the years. The committee found that there is an acute shortage of workshop space at H.M.A. Naval Dockyard Garden Island, which was taken over from the Royal Navy in 1913. It is not possible at present to achieve centralization and co-ordination of weapons repair facilities.
The committee found that there is an urgent need to erect a new weapons workshop. The site is well located and the fact that it is on reclaimed land should not present any insoluble problems. It is interesting to note that 30 acres of land comprise Garden Island and through the reclamation work done years ago the island has been linked with the mainland at Potts Point. Of course, associated with Garden Island is the Captain Cook Graving Dock which was laid down in 1945. Adequate provision has been made for the future in the plans. Construction of the building to the size, design and layout proposed is recommended. The estimated cost of the proposed workshop is £420,000. Space which will become vacant when the workshop is completed will be put to good use. It is estimated that 200 employees will be attached to the new building when it is completed. I have much pleasure in presenting the report.
.-For the information of honorable senators, I lay on the table of the Senate the following paper: -
Report of the Radio Frequency Allocation Review Committee.
This committee, under the chairmanship of Professor L. G. H. Huxley, was set up by the Government in 1960 to examine the allocation of frequencies for all types of radio and television services in Australia following the 1959 International Frequency Conference held at Geneva.
The Geneva conference was convened by the International Telecommunication Union to undertake a complete survey of frequency allocations throughout the world. It will be appreciated by honorable senators that the control of frequency allocations involves action at both international and national levels. International action is directed by the International Telecommunication Union and aims at obtaining worldwide agreement to a table of frequency allocations - this table representing the basis on which the spectrum is apportioned. It is then the responsibility of member nations to supervise existing services and allocate new services in their respective countries to conform as closely as possible to the recommendations of the union.
The Radio Frequency Allocation Review Committee was representative of government departments and authorities concerned, amateur wireless operators, radio manufacturing interests and public utilities and commercial organizations licensed to operate radio services. Broadly, its terms of reference were to examine the existing frequency allocations and those arising from the Geneva conference, to examine specifically any aspects of the frequency position as it affected broadcasting and television services in this country, and to make any necessary recommendations to the Government. One of its immediate tasks was to deal with the allocation of frequency channels for television purposes, Honorable senators will recall that, as a result of this examination, a report on the practicability of accommodating thirteen television channels within the very high frequency band was submitted on 13th November,1960.
The committee approached its task with enthusiasm and zeal. The report which it has now submitted on the overall frequency position has been compiled expertly and with a great deal of care, together with a deep sense of responsibility appropriate to so important and far-reaching a subject. It is, I think, significant that, in a matter of such complexity, the committee reached a unanimous report. The report outlines clearly the proposed table of allocations, both in relation to the existing Australian table and the Geneva table, and the differences between the existing and proposed tables.
The Government has considered the committee’s report and has adopted its recommendations.
Motions (by Senator Spooner) - by leave - agreed to-
That Senator Anderson be granted leave of absence for one month on account of absence overseas.
That Senator Wardlaw be granted leave of absence for one month on account of absence overseas.
Motions (by Senator McKenna) - by leave -agreed to -
That Senator Armstrong be granted leave of absence for one month on account of absence overseas.
That Senator Sheehan be granted leave of absence for one month on account of absence overseas.
That Senator Cameron be granted leave of absence for one month for the purpose of medical treatment.
– I move -
That Standing Order No. 68 be suspended until the end of the session, to enable new business to be commenced after half-past ten o’clock at night.
The expectation is that the Parliament will rise at the end of next week. This is the usual motion to enable the Senate to deal with the business as expeditiously as we can in the last two weeks of the Parliament.
– The Opposition opposes this proposal. It is not a matter of doing that because it is the traditional thing to do. We do it in particular on this occasion because of what flowed from the adoption by the Senate of an exactly similar motion in May last. A proper understanding of the position will show that the Government need not suspend this standing order which prohibits the introduction of new business after 10.30 p.m. If the Government wishes to keep the Senate in session until the small hours of the morning, it may do that without suspending this standing order. The purpose of the suspension of this standing order is to enable the Government to introduce new business late at night, without an adjournment to permit of the consideration of the new business, and push it through to finality. That is the aspect of the suspension of this standing order that really stirs the Opposition.
I suggest that that type of thing completely negatives any pretence by the Senate to be a house of review. If there is one thing that a house of review should have, it is time to study a measure after introduction and to prepare considered amendments when that is deemed to bc necessary. It is obvious that a period of time should be allowed to elapse between the introduction of a measure and the debate on it. An appropriation bill was introduced into this chamber in the small hours of the morning of 18th May. Then immediately before an adjournment for breakfast at about 8 a.m., a vital bill was introduced relating to the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories. That was a bill that deserved the most thorough consideration and examination, but we did not become aware of it until 8 a.m., in a sitting that had begun at 3 p.m. the previous day.
I had to devote the entire period of the adjournment for breakfast to considering that bill, to preparing a second-reading speech on it and to considering the amendments that the Opposition desired to move. When the Senate resumed after breakfast, we were met with the guillotine and the gag - with a limitation of the debate. I do not think that anybody will deny that after that long sitting we were exhausted and that we did not have adequate time to put our case.
– You did not show it much.
– Senator Henty says that I did not show it much. I say to him, “ Noblesse oblige “. One is fortunate to be able to go through a long sitting like that and, at the end of it, to feel in any way fit to do justice to an important measure of that kind.
The Minister has an opportunity to keep the Senate sitting for as long as he likes. The Government alone has control of the length of the sittings in this place. 1 hope that he will keep in the forefront of his mind what happened on the occasion to which I have been referring, because the proceedings then did not do credit to the Senate. Indeed, I think they brought the Senate into a good deal of disrepute throughout Australia, because a good deal of publicity was given to what went on then. Apart from anything else, sittings of that length place an undue physical strain upon all senators, whether they are in action all the time, as I was then, or whether, although not participating in the debates, they have to be present. I hope that the Minister will ensure that our business will be better arranged on this occasion and that honorable senators will be allowed a norma] period of sleep at night before being asked to address themselves to new business All-night sittings do not make for the proper consideration of legislation, and they may well do a lot of harm to the health of some people. My personal experience of the sitting to which I have referred was that from not long after 3 p.m. on 17th May, I was continuously engaged, at this table, in debating in committee the clauses of a very contentious bill for the granting of long service leave to men employed in the stevedoring industry. I was so engaged until 2 a.m. on 18th May, and then, with my colleagues, I had to consider before breakfast another ten bills. Most of those bills were gagged through, although they were vastly important. The sitting was resumed after breakfast. It continued until almost lunch time - until 12.15 p.m. - and during that time we debated a bill relating to the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories.
I hope that that sort of thing will not be repeated and that the Minister will be able to make better arrangements to deal with the rush of business that faces us. On behalf of the Opposition, I undertake to co-operate with him in that. We could meet earlier, or we could sit for one more day in a week than is usual. The Opposition is quite prepared to co-operate with the Government to ensure that honorable senators will be given some time in which to sleep in at least every period of 24 hours.
I hope that the Minister will take advantage of our offer of co-operation. The members of the Opposition would be quite prepared to come to this place on some mornings at 9 a.m. or 9.30 a.m. We would prefer that to a repetition of what happened earlier this year.
We say, first, that the Senate should act as a house of review, and secondly, that in circumstances such as those that we encountered in May the Opposition is not permitted to do its duty as an Opposition. That is not so much an injustice to the Opposition as a denial of democracy. We speak in this place for a large section of the people of Australia. We are entitled to an adequate opportunity to consider measures and to present, not only our view, but the views of the people whom we represent.
For all those reasons, we oppose the motion. As I see the picture, about 39 bills will have to be passed in the next fortnight. It is true that six of them, 1 think, relate to customs matters and will be debated together, and that nine of them relate to the sales tax, but each of the other 24 bills has a very distinct flavour and, in some instances, an important flavour. I believe that some of them will not need to be opposed by us, but I suggest now to the Government that an intelligent approach to their disposal and an intelligent allocation of time for our sittings would avoid imposing an undue physical strain upon honorable senators and would lead to a better consideration of the measures.
.- 1 rise simply to say that I share the intense regret expressed by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) about the proceedings at the end of the last sessional period. 1 agree that those proceedings reflected no credit on this chamber. However, I support this motion because I have formed the judgment that what occurred last May will not be repeated now, and also because I believe that Standing Order No. 68, which it is proposed to suspend, has no direct relationship to the matters that Senator McKenna has raised, which demand the thoughtful consideration of every honorable senator.
– In supporting the motion, I want to refer briefly to some of the remarks that have been made by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). I, too, have a vivid recollection of the closing hours of the last sessional period, but I think one fact emerges from those events. It is the complete inability of honorable senators opposite to carry out their task as an Opposition in this Parliament. During the preceding months, the Leader of the Government (Senator Spooner), to use a colloquial expression, bent over backwards to meet the wishes of the Opposition, very often at the expense of the convenience of his own supporters. We accepted that without complaint. Then, only one or two days before this all-night sitting took place, the Opposition, speaking to an electoral bill, I think, took up time to a degree that I thought was most regrettable. Then we considered a bill affecting the waterside workers, and again the Opposition took a great deal of time. Had honorable senators opposite made a reasonable approach to those measures the necessity for the subsequent all-night sitting would have been avoided.
We sympathize with the Leader of the Opposition in the trial that he underwent on that occasion. All of us appreciate the tremendous amount of work that he had to do during the proceedings, and particularly during the all-night sitting, but that again is an indication of the inability of the Opposition. The position is that the remainder of his team either was not capable of doing the work that it should have done or was just too lazy to do it. Honorable senators opposite can take their choice. I point out that that was the only occasion since I have been in the Senate - about two and a half years - on which we have indulged in an all-nighter. If we are not prepared to put ourselves to a little personal inconvenience to do the job that is required of us, I say that we should not be here.
I do not anticipate that the situation envisaged by Senator McKenna will happen. I did not like such a position any more than anybody else does. I appreciate the wisdom of the Leader of the Government in proposing this motion so that if we find ourselves in a position where certain measures have to be taken, we can go ahead and take them. After all, we are put here to do a job. If we are not physically able, or not willing, to do thai job, we should make way for others who will do it.
– Senator McKellar displayed a peculiar sense of proportion when he said that the Opposition was wasting time in discussing the Commonwealth Electoral Bill and the Stevedoring Industry Bill. The last-named bill was vital to a large body of men who had served in that industry for a long time. Incidentally, when I stood up to speak, Senator Gorton applied the gag, and I was not permitted to proceed.
– He did us all a good turn!
– I did not hear the interjection, but I gather that it was not an intelligent one. The Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Bill was introduced after an all-night sitting and, as we know, Senator Henty set a definite time limit to the debate on that bill. In the second-reading stage only the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) was permitted to speak, yet Senator McKellar said that the Opposition had wasted the Senate’s time, and was not prepared to devote its attention to the bill. He said that Opposition senators were lazy. That statement is completely irresponsible. He must know it to be so. I think that ordinarily he is intelligent enough to know when the statements he makes are not sensible.
Senator McKellar said that honorable senators were put to a little inconvenience when they had to sit many hours. Fancy suggesting that being forced to sit all night was a little inconvenient! That is one of the grossest exaggerations I have ever heard since I have been a member of this chamber. It is disgraceful to adopt such a view of the responsibilities of the Opposition. Senator McKellar has displayed a lack of proportion and a lack of a sense of perspective that completely passes my comprehension. His attitude calls for severe condemnation. I do not know why on this occasion he should suddenly adopt such an attitude because ordinarily he is so sensible. I can only assume that he has been prompted to make these remarks by the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I feel that he does not really mean what he said. Ordinarily, I have a great respect for the honorable senator but on this occasion 1 think he has shown a lack of a sense of proportion, he has been completely unreliable and has displayed no evidence of appreciation of the Opposition’s responsibilities.
.- The Australian Democratic Labour Party will oppose the motion. I feel that this extraordinary procedure should not be necessary. To avoid it the Senate could meet earlier in the day, or meet on more days. I believe that would be for the good of the Senate.
I do not think that what happened at the end of the last sessional period was any good for the reputation of the Senate. I was not present in the latter stages of that sitting, and I am quite prepared to say that I was not present because I did not feel I could deal with the measures properly under the conditions in which we were asked to deal with them.
– I support the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). I would not have risen had it not been for the stupid statements of Senator McKellar. Unfortunately there is a phonetic likeness in the names of Senator McKenna and Senator McKellar, so I want to make a clear distinction between the two honorable senators. I think that Senator McKenna would suffer far more as a consequence of confusion between the names than would Senator McKellar.
What utter stupidity for a man to say that the Opposition is not carrying out its true function in objecting to a measure such as this! Senator Wright, one of the most responsible senators on the Government side, has already indicated quite clearly that he does not want a repetition of the sorry thing that happened in May of this year. Senator McKenna said that he was not objecting so much to an all-night sitting - although he said, and I agree with him, that if the business of the Senate is carried out properly there should be no need for such a thing - as to lack of proper opportunity afforded to the Opposition to consider important bills. He said that in May Opposition senators had to give consideration to important measures without any chance of studying them objectively and of informing their minds of the provi sions contained in them. Apparently Senator McKellar’s idea of a good Opposition is one which will join in any irresponsibility which the Government puts forward.
As I said, I would not have entered this debate had it not been, for the fatuous remarks of Senator McKellar. I am sure there is no need for me to say that I hope such remarks will not be repeated by any of his colleagues.
– in reply - I wish to make a few remarks, I hope without heat and feeling, in order to put the record straight. May I remind the Senate that the Government was forced in some ways, to some extent, to take the action that it did at the close of the last sessional period because of filibustering on the part of the Opposition. Honorable senators opposite were repeating speeches that had been made previously, with the deliberate intention of taking up the time of the Senate.
– That is not true.
– It is true. That is one of the reasons which actuated me in pushing events as far as I did.
The second thing I want to point out is the small contribution that the Opposition made to the debates in all the circumstances. I repeat Senator McKellar’s statement that the Opposition in truth walked out on its job. It left the debate largely in the hands of its leader.
– That is not true, and you know that it is not true.
– I would like to go back and look at the record. I think an inspection of the record would show that the debate on very few bills was led on behalf of the Opposition by any one other than the Leader of the Opposition. If the Labour Party in the Senate is too incompetent, or too lazy, to take part in debates, then it forfeits a good deal of the respect to which it might otherwise be entitled.
This is mainly a synthetic objection on the part of the Opposition. The Opposition knows that the Government wishes to deal with business as efficiently and as competently as it can, and that the great weakness of the Senate is the laziness of Labour
Party senators. On bow many bills do Labour Party senators speak?
– I rise to a point of order. If that remark is intended to apply to me, I object to being called lazy.
– The point of order is not upheld.
– I, too, wish to take a point of order. I submit that the statement by Senator Spooner is a reflection on a vote of the Senate. The position is that the Government applied the gag when the Opposition wanted to speak on important bills and amendments thereto. Opposition speakers were prepared to continue the debate on two most important measures, but the gag was applied and honorable senators on this side were not permitted to speak. I ask that the Leader of the Government be made to withdraw the statement be has made.
– The point of order is not upheld.
– I take up from the point at which I was interrupted. The principal contribution to the debates made by honorable senators opposite, apart from the Leader of the Opposition, was continually to come into the chamber and call for a quorum to be formed. That was their idea of how a house of review should function.
– Have a look at the record. You would not permit us to speak.
– May I take the matter a stage further and point out to the Senate that, in an endeavour to improve the way in which we go about our business, a new procedure was introduced in the Senate. What was the reaction of the supporters of the Australian Labour Party to that procedure? They voted against it. They objected to it. Of course, the supporters of the Labour Party in the Senate object to anything which means that they will have to do a little work. That is the situation in a nutshell and that is the principal reason for their objection to this motion.
A motion of this kind, Mr. President, is proposed in the Senate and also in the other place at the end of every sessional period of the Parliament. It is proposed on this occasion just as sincerely as it has been proposed on past occasions. I hope that on this occasion we shall have a little variation on the part of the Opposition in the closing fortnight of the sessional period. I hope, too, that honorable senators opposite will overcome their laziness and be prepared to do a little work in the Senate.
Sentor Dittmer. - You are putting a proposition-
– Order! The question is–
– You are utilizing-
– Order. Senator Dittmer, you will be quiet while I am speaking. The question is, “That the motion be agreed to “.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Spooner) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to authorize the raising of loan moneys totalling £42,900,000 for financial assistance. ~.o the States for housing. In accordance with the requests of the States and the approval of the Australian Loan Council, the amount of £42,900,000 will be allocated as follows: -
The provision of this amount in 1961-62, for which approval is now being sought, represents an increase of £5,700,000 over the amount advanced to the States in 1960-61.
Advances to the States of the moneys referred to in this bill will be made under the authority of the Housing Agreement Act 1961, which provides that the Treasurer shall advance moneys in accordance with a new housing agreement with each of the six States, the form cf such agreement to be substantially in accordance with the schedule to that act. The new agreement has been accepted in principle by the Commonwealth Government and all State governments, but, as I shall explain presently, it has not yet been executed or formally approved by all concerned.
In order to allow advances to be made before the agreement is executed, the Housing Agreement Act also provided that before the execution of the agreement the Treasurer may make advances to the States for housing on the same basis as though the agreement were already in force. Under this arrangement five States have already drawn advances during 1961-62 out of moneys appropriated by previous Loan (Housing) Acts.
During the five years of its operation, the 1956 agreement allowed the provision of £180,000,000 in Commonwealth advances to the six States for the construction of dwellings. Of this sum, £128,000,000 has been made available to the State housing authorities for the purpose of their housing programmes, under which 47,000 dwellings were built during the five years. A sum of £45,800,000 has been advanced through the Home Builders’ Account under the agreement for the finance of private home ownership, mainly through building societies, and this allowed the construction of over 18,000 dwellings. Lastly, a further sum of £5,600,000 has been advanced to the States for the construction of dwellings for serving members of the Defence Forces to match a like amount from the funds which are available to the State housing authorities.
Altogether, the housing agreement has made a considerable contribution to the financing of dwelling construction in Australia. Construction of homes under the agreement has provided a stable component in the national housing programme. It is aimed, moreover, at the construction by the State housing authorities of dwellings for families of low or moderate means. The home building which has been financed under the home builders’ arrangement has also been relatively low in cost.
The new agreement envisaged in the Housing Agreement Act 1961 extends the 1956 housing agreement, which expired on 30th June, 1961, for a further term of five years subject to certain amendments which I discussed in my second-reading speech on the Housing Agreement Bill. These amendments are relatively minor in nature. They do not change the basic nature of the earlier agreement and were introduced with the object of making the agreement more useful and workable.
The provision of finance by the Commonwealth under the 1956 housing agreement has been most beneficial to State housing schemes and to the development of building societies. The passage of the bill now before the Senate is necessary to ensure that these beneficial arrangements will continue. The execution of the new agreement requires special legislation which is yet to be passed in some States. I hope that the legislation will shortly be completed and that the new agreement will be duly signed and come into formal operation in all States. lt is expected that of the total Commonwealth advances of £42,900,000, £28,660,000 will be allotted to the State housing authorities compared with £26,030,000 during 1960-61. In that year the housing authorities commenced 9,583 homes and completed 8,859 homes. The funds available for 1961-62 will allow a 10 per cent, increase in construction expenditure by the authorities.
Under the new agreement the States will be required to set aside an amount estimated at £1,074,000 for the housing of members of the Defence Forces during 1961-62. Supplementary advances will be made by the Commonwealth from revenue funds to match these allocations and in addition the Commonwealth and any State may agree, under the terms of the new agreement, that either, or both, should make further allocations for the same purpose. The State allocation for service housing plus the Commonwealth matching funds should allow the construction of 595 houses, compared with 576 houses built from the moneys provided in this way during 1960-61. The total allocation of building societies and other institutions for home ownership during 1961-62 is estimated at £14,240,000 as compared with £11,170,000 last year.
In 1960-61, 298 institutions received home builders’ funds under the agreement. During the year, 3,456 new houses were commenced and 4,524 houses were completed and purchased from home builders’ funds. The amount of Commonwealth finance which will be allocated to home finance institutions during 1961-62 is 27 per cent, above the amount allocated in 1960-61.
The new agreement, like the old one, will continue to provide a useful measure of Commonwealth support to the building society movement which, by the encouragement of private savings for home ownership, allows a larger number of houses to be constructed than if the same amount of money were dispersed on normal government construction. I hope that, being assisted in this way, Australian building societies will play an increasingly larger part in the solution of the Australian housing problem.
I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Benn) adjourned.
In committee: Consideration resumed from 12th October (vide page 1123).
Department of Labour and National Service
Proposed expenditure, £2,615,000.
.- During the debate on the proposed vote for the Department of Immigration, I raised with the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty), who was in charge of those estimates the position of new Australians who had come to this country after receiving some sort of test. I understand that the Minister can now give me an answer to the question.
– I have been advised that the matters affecting migrant tradesmen, which Senator Kennelly raised, were discussed with him by the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) in June last and were subsequently explained in detail in a letter. In brief, the position is that migrant tradesmen in the trade categories covered by the Tradesmen’s Rights Regulation Act, who offer for selection for migration to Australia, are not required to undergo a trade test if they meet the requirements for formal trade training and experience, as provided in the selection procedures. Provision is made, however, in Italy and Holland for the trade testing of those who lack the necessary formal training and experience but otherwise would appear to be capable of performing tradesmen’s work. Presumably, Senator Kennelly was referring to the migrants accepted in Italy following successful completion of a trade test.
On arrival in Australia, there is nothing to prevent any migrant, whether or not he has been selected overseas as a tradesman, with or without a trade test, from applying to a local trades committee for a tradesman’s certificate. In cases of doubt the local trades committee, as a statutory authority, may conduct such inquiry as it thinks fit in order to establish the trade status of an applicant. This may include a trade test. In the financial year 1960-61, 45 Italian workers were selected and proceeded to Australia as tradesmen in the categories set out in the Tradesmen’s Rights Regulation Act. Of those who had been trade tested in Italy only two were not granted tradesmen’s certificates and both cases are now being reviewed.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid). - Order! I must inform the Minister and Senator Kennelly that they are entirely out of order, because the proposed expenditure to which they referred has been dealt with.
– I thank you, Sir, for having allowed me to proceed.
– The Opposition contends that the Department of Labour and National Service has been sadly neglected by the Government. The department should have been able to assist greatly the development of this country but, in line with the Government’s attitude of laisser-faire, it has been allowed to deteriorate. In saying that I cast no reflection on the officers of the department. The department was established at a very critical stage of the war. To its credit the department assisted the war effort by filling many jobs in war-time industries. It served Australia well for a period but this Government has not allowed the department to continue its good work. To-day, during question time, Senator Scott asked how many tradesmen were out of work. He said that there was a shortage of skilled tradesmen. I would like the Minister to tell me how many qualified and skilled tradesmen have left Australia to seek employment in other countries. It is well known that New Zealand has successfully sought to recruit Australian tradesmen, offering them better conditions than they can obtain in Australia and guaranteeing to them return fares to this country. Has the department noted that state of affairs? When Australia loses a skilled tradesman she loses a valuable asset. II costs thousands of pounds to train a tradesman, whether he be employed in private enterprise or in a government undertaking. If any figures of the wastage to which I have referred are available, I would like the Minister to supply them.
A very serious situation is developing in the building industry and in other industries because they are not operating at full pressure. I know that many young men are leaving the callings for which they have been trained and are earning their living outside those callings. That is a serious situation in a developing nation such as Australia. Many plumbers, carpenters and other skilled tradesmen, owing to the lack of employment in the industries for which they have been trained, have decided to seek some other vocation where their services are better appreciated and where the monetary return is more encouraging. I wonder whether the department has kept a check on that situation. If any figures in relation to this wastage of trained tradesmen are available I would like the Minister to supply them to me. I know that the unions have records of the number of persons who have left the various trades, as well as records of the number of skilled persons who are seeking employment.
I would like to know to what extent the the department is a party to the ramp in connexion with unemployment figures. I would like to know to what extent the department is concerned with the provision of figures in relation to that elusive entity referred to by the Government as the Australian work force. I would like the Minister to teE me how the Australian work force is determined. Of what is it comprised? Does it comprise unskilled workers and self-employed persons? What types of workers go to make up the Australian work force, the figures in relation to which are relied on by this Government to show that the unemployment figure is very low? The figures of the number of persons unemployed, as published by the Government, are challenged by the Opposition, the trade unions and industry in general. Can the Minister say why the unemployment figures as published by the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures are so different from those released by the Government? Is it a fact, as claimed by the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures, that of persons formerly engaged in manufacturing industries the number now out of work represents 11 per cent.?
The Department of Labour and National Service is a most important department, but the Government has not allowed it to do its best on the nation’s behalf. I vividly recall this department doing great work in war-time when Australia was denuded of skilled tradesmen. Our apprentices had been neglected and we were unable to provide the skilled tradesmen that were so urgently needed to stimulate the war effort. After all, with our education facilities there should have been no shortage of apprentices qualifying as tradesmen. The department was able to reach agreement with the unions on the use of dilutees in industry. I wonder whether the department is aware that to-day little encouragement is given to young men to become apprentices and to train as tradesmen. I know that the control of apprenticeship arrangements is the responsibility of the States but I wonder whether the Government is doing anything to train apprentices to take their place in munition factories and engineering workshops so that if Australia were engaged in another war our industries would be able to continue to operate. Is anything being done to encourage apprentices to become skilled fitters1 or moulders? Are apprentices being encouraged in the metal trades and in the building trades? How would we manage if we had to build aircraft in the numbers that were being built when Labour went out of office? Has the department any statistics to show whether tradesmen would be available? If such figures are in existence, I should like them to be made available to honorable senators.
Another very important task which I think could well be allocated to the Department of Labour and National Service is the placement of children who leave school in positions that are compatible with the education they have received. It is common knowledge that the approach to this problem has been for children to apply for a position and for them to be told, “ We will sort you out a job “. It must be remembered that this nation has advanced to a stage where most children leave school at the junior university standard. Those children are capable of being employed in a reasonable vocation, and they should be so placed. Others matriculate and are quite capable of taking professional positions, if such positions are available.
I should like to know whether the department has made a survey of the number of children who are of school leaving age and the possibility of placing them in employment. Can the Minister for the Navy say whether the Government or the Department of Labour and National’ Service has prepared statistics relating to this matter and to what degree the Government can assist the young persons who will leave school at the end of this year to obtain promptly employment in keeping with their educational standard? I do not mean deadend jobs, but jobs that will offer some future. I should be pleased to obtain this vital information, and I am sure the public, too, is eager to receive it.
I refer now in particular to the item, “ Ministry of Labour Advisory Council - Expenses, £2,000 “ under Division No. 401 - Administrative. I note that in 1960-61 a sum of £11,000 was appropriated but that only £4,349 was expended. No doubt there is some explanation of that. I should like to know why less than half of the appropriation was expended and why this year the appropriation is to be £2,000.
– I think it was because the Australian Labour Party pulled out of the council.
– If I could get an official reply, I would appreciate it.
– That is it.
– I note that this year the proposed appropriation for fares, travelling expenses and allowances to workers is to be £100. In 1960-61 a sum of £13,000 was appropriated and £12,146 was expended. I should like to know the reason for the smallness of the appropriation this year. Because of the degree of unemployment in many industries in recent times, many employees have had to take employment away from their home towns. Many unskilled workers whose average earnings would not permit them to travel into the country to take up employment and leave their families provided for would need assistance. There may be some explanation for the reduction in the appropriation this year. Perhaps the expenditure is provided for elsewhere.
, - The Department of Labour and National Service is one of the departments that have a good record. It has a difficult task to perform. In New South Wales at least, the department seems to be able to tread difficult paths without doing very much harm, even though perhaps sometimes it does not do any good. The officers of the department have close associations with the trade union movement. Twenty years ago it would probably have been said of them that they were security people or strike-breakers, but nowadays I do not find that the trade unions adopt that attitude towards them. I said a little earlier that the officers of this department have difficult tasks to perform. They have to report to the Government on industrial developments and issues that might well become strike issues. A section of the department’s officers are what we might call troubleshooters. Without in any way involving the rights of the trade unions, these officers seem to be able to do their job and to acquit themselves very well.
I believe the Department of Labour and National Service is more inclined to deal with issues as they arise and to develop schemes for avoiding trouble when it is just about to occur. 1 was wondering whether the activities of the department could be extended to enable it to take a longer view of industrial relations and developments in industry and the trade union movement. To illustrate my point, I point out that in Australia automation is at the most only ten years off. It most assuredly will become established here. But I do not think any section of industry is preparing against the impact of automation. The Government, through the Department of Labour and National Service, ought to be collating information on the effects of this development. Plenty of such information is available in America and other countries.
I have often said that in many ways this Government has been very lucky. This afternoon I asked the Leader of the Government in this place (Senator Spooner) to what extent the number of employees in the coal industry had been reduced. Actually their numbers have been reduced by 50 per cent. - as a result not of automation but of extreme mechanization. The Government may say that those whose services were dispensed with are all employed elsewhere. Of course all those who are employable have found other work, but not because of anything this Government has done. Mines have been closed down willynilly. What happens is that a week’s notice is given and out go 300 or 400 men. The Government sits by, the sun rises next day, and we find that those men are in jobs in different parts of New South Wales. But that is not a solution of the problem.
There is no reason why the Government should not know at what stage a mine will close and how the men will be provided for.
Quite a number of the men who have been displaced from the coal industry have suffered great disabilities. When a man loses his job at Cessnock and has to move to the Burragorang Valley to work he is not provided with a solution to his problem. Instead, he has to travel 40 or 50 miles backwards and forwards at weekends or take his family from where it has become established and take his children from the place where they have been receiving their schooling. But he cannot take his house with him. In this day and age a government, whatever its political colour, ought to be interested scientifically in what will happen to workers who will be affected by automation in the next ten years. I should like to see the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) interest himself in setting up within the department a section to examine the effects of automation.
– You are not confining your remarks to the coal-mining industry, are you?
– No. I Just happened to mention that industry because 1 know it most intimately. What I am saying about the coal-mining industry applies to many industries. It applies to white collar workers. In Sydney next week mass meetings of white collar workers will be held in the Domain and elsewhere. These people have never been organized before. They come from outside the Public Service organizations. They call themselves “ the white collar workers “. They have been pushed on to the brink of unemployment by these mechanical innovations in industry and commerce, without anything being done to protect them.
I believe that this is the logical department to accept the job of surveying the possibilities of automation in Australia and the future of the workers. After all, people need to have confidence in the future; but workers are afraid of automation and mechanization because there does not seem to be any body trying to understand their position and reactions. No organization has been set up to look after development in automation. I believe it is as important that a government department should study this subject as that the Government should look after health or anything else that impinges on the man who works for a living. I hope that a section will be established within the department for the study of automation and its effects on workers.
I am very interested in Division No. 401, sub-division 2, item 06, “ Legal expenses, ?6,500”. I should like to know to whom that item refers. If individuals are involved, I do not want to know about it. I want to know the general purpose of the legal expenses. I am also interested in the item relating to court-controlled ballots. In 1960-61 the appropriation was ?2,000. I do not know whether that was to pay the returning officer, the fellows who collected the ballot-papers, or the legal expenses in relation to appearances before the court. No appropriation is made for 1961-62. Does that mean that the Government does not expect any need for such an appropriation?
– That is provided for under the Attorney-General’s Department.
– I am sorry. The Minister need not answer that question; it has been answered for him. However, I still want to know why the item is included.
– I will answer, as well as I can, some of the questions that have been asked. The first answer I give is to the queries raised by Senator Ormonde on the problems which automation may pose to industry, workers in industry and the country as a whole in the future. The departmental officers inform me that the department is now collecting information on automation both overseas and in Australia. Recently the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) has had discussions on this matter with the president and secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. There is nothing completely revolutionary about automation, which is a name for the sort of technical changes that have been seen before in industrial revolutions. In conjunction with the trade unions, the department will continue its study of the changes which may come about as a result of automation and what can be done to protect the interests of all concerned. I do not think 1 can give a more definite answer than that at this moment.
asked me another question about court-controlled ballots. He wanted to know why an appropriation of ?2,000 was made in 1960-61 and no appropriation is being made for 1961-62. The Estimates themselves give the answer. If he looks at footnote (a) on page 86 he willsee that the money for this purpose is provided under Division No. 216 - Industrial Registrar’s Branch.
Senator Ormonde also asked, me about legal expenses provided for under Division No. 401. The notes provided for honorable senators indicate that the appropriation of ?6,500 is to meet legal expenses incurred by the department under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act to cover payments representing financial assistance approved by the registrar under regulation 138 to members of organizations who take action under sections 140 and 141 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. These latter payments were included in expenditure for 1960-61 after the responsibility for them was transferred from the Attorney-General’s Department. The increase of about ?1,900 this year is to provide for an average rate of expenditure in 1961-62. The expenditure in 1960-61 was rather below average and this provision brings it up to average.
asked a number of questions. First, he asked for the composition of the work force. The definition of “ the work force “, as given by the Commonwealth Statistician-
– I do not want a definition; I want the statistical components or the numbers that make up the figure.
– The honorable senator asked me whether the work force included rural workers and so on. At the moment, I cannot break it down. I will read into the record what the Commonwealth Statistician regards as the Australian work force for census purposes, which is the work force about which Senator Cooke was speaking. It includes employers, selfemployed persons, wage and salary earners, unemployed persons, and all helping in any industry, business, trade or service but not in receipt of wage or salary. Wage and salary earners include rural workers, those in private domestic service and members of the forces. No precise statistics of the work force are available, except at census dates, and the estimate of about 4,200,000 is based on the assumption that the work force bears the same relationship to the estimated population in various age groups as at the 1954 census.
Senator Cooke also asked, why from time to time the Chamber of Manufactures published unemployment figures which were different from those published by the statisticians employed by the Department of Labour and National Service. The answer to that is that the figures published by the Chamber of Manufactures refer only to a small sample of factory employment in Victoria. That organization chooses a very small section in order to publish the statistics that it wants to publish. It may well be that it also has a desire to indicate that manufacturing industries are worse off than they really are so that the owners of these industries can get more protection, or something of that kind, possibly to enable them to raise prices to the consumers.
As Senator Cooke indicated, it is quite true that the matter of apprentices is very largely one for the State authorities, although the Government, through the Department of Labour and National Service, does keep in constant touch with the various State authorities in order to assist in the development of apprenticeship opportunities and the numbers of apprentices in Australia as far as it can without infringing the prerogative of the States. In respect of Commonwealth instrumentalities, I know that at Garden Island, for instance - that is the Navy yard in which the trades to which Senator Cooke referred, such as boiler-making, moulding, welding and the electrical trades, are particularly important - great attention is paid to the training of apprentices. I believe that the position is the same in the Army and the Air Force and in respect of civilians attached to Army, Air Force and other Commonwealth-owned factories.
I cannot tell Senator Cooke how many people will leave school at the end of the year. It is impossible to say precisely. A survey might be made and some people who said then that they would be leaving school at the end of the year might not leave in fact. However, I think that the estimate of the number of people who will leave school at the end of the year would be fairly close to the estimate of the number of those who will be due to leave then.
As far as I know, the Department of Labour and National Service has not made a survey to find out into what jobs particular people leaving school could be fitted. I do not think that any of the people who have received the higher education to which Senator Cooke has referred will have much difficulty in gaining placement. The various States are short of teachers and require educated people for that purpose. The professions are short of young men with degrees, if that is what Senator Cooke was referring to.
– I was referring to people educated to the Junior Certificate standard which is below the matriculation standard.
– I thought the honorable senator had referred to people educated to the matriculation standard and to university students, and I was dealing with those two categories first. The professions and industry are short of highly trained people of that kind, and there should be no difficulties there. I suppose that people educated to the Junior Certificate standard or to the Intermediate standard - the title differs in the various States - would not be regarded as having received a very high level of education. I imagine that the work opportunities which existed for such people in the past still exist, and that industry will be able to absorb people with those qualifications.
asked also about the provision for the expenses of the Ministry of Labour Advisory Council. The appropriation for that purpose last year was ?11,000, of which only ?4,349 was spent, and the appropriation sought this year is ?2,000. Although ?11,000 was allocated for 1960-61, the Australian Council of Trade Unions, in spite of having co-operated on the council for a number of years, decided, to refuse to continue to co-operate, after a change of the personnel pf its executive, and consequently only ?4,349 was spent. For that reason, the sum sought this year has been reduced to ?2,000. The purposes for which the ?2,000 is required are set out in the notes provided for the information of honorable senators. A sum of £500 is required in respect of one ad hoc meeting, £750 is required for the printing of the report of the second conference on industrial safety, £300 is required for the final payment on a film commenced in 1960-61, and £450 is required to provide for the continuing expenses of productivity groups, for publications and so on.
asked why only £100 is sought this year under the item relating to fares, travelling expenses and allowances to workers. I have been told that the explanation is that money is advanced to workers to enable them to pay their fares when going to new positions, and that those advances are recoverable. This £100 is merely a token amount included in the Estimates for this year. A large proportion of the money advanced last year has been repaid since the end of the financial year and is available to the department again to enable advances on fares to be made.
– I wish to refer to the item relating to the expenses of the Ministry of Labour Advisory Council. The Minister, replying to Senator Cooke, intimated that the sum sought for this purpose had been reduced because the Australian Council of Trade Unions, after having co-operated on the council for a number of years, had decided to co-operate no longer. In 1958-59 there was an appropriation for this purpose of £17,000, of which only £3,690 was spent. In 1959-60 there was an appropriation of £12,400, of which £1,374 was spent. Last year there was an appropriation of £11,000, of which only £4,349 was spent. To my knowledge, the A.C.T.U. was not represented on the Ministry of Labour Advisory Council during those three years, so that the appropriation has not been reduced this year because of the failure of the A.C.T.U. to be represented. I asked last year a question similar to that which Senator Cooke has just asked and received much the same answer as he has received, but this matter goes back beyond then.
Without the co-operation of the A.C.T.U. and without any representation of the trade union movement, I fail to see how this advisory council can serve any useful purpose. For a number of years, the A.C.T.U. was represented on it by delegates from each State, but that representation was eventually withdrawn. The reason for that was that members of Government parties in this Parliament sought to use, as counterarguments to arguments presented by members of the Labour Party, recommendations made by the council,, saying that the A.C.T.U. had agreed to the recommendations. I well remember the rock upon which foundered the representation of the A.C.T.U. on this body. It was a proposed amendment of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act relating to secret ballots or, perhaps, to court-controlled ballots.
– Are you sure that there was such a specific matter as that?
– Any matter presented to the advisory council by the Department of Labour and National Service was considered and discussed by the council. As has been said, the council consisted of representatives of the trade union movement and of representatives of other organizations. However, it was not a policy-making body. It was, as its title suggested, purely an advisory body. The representatives of the trade union movement did not have a majority on the council, and the most that they could hope to do was to break down some of what they considered to be the more vicious aspects of proposed legislation discussed by the council. In most instances the A.C.T.U. representatives were in total opposition to the proposed legislation, but, because they were serving on the council, members of the Government parties in this Parliament, trying to refute arguments advanced by members of the Labour Party, often said that the legislation had been recommended by the council, on which the A.C.T.U. was represented. I well remember the debates that took place in the A.C.T.U. and in the trades and labour councils of South Australia on that matter. That most certainly was not during the last three years. It went back beyond that. I think the question the Minister should answer is: What purpose can this advisory council serve when it is not representative of both sides of industry?
– I wish to revert to the matter raised by Senator Cooke in relation to unemployment figures. It should be obvious to the Government that there is a division of opinion on the authenticity of these figures. This division of opinion occurs because the percentage given by the department is worked out on the total work force of 4,250,000. That figure includes doctors, bakers, candlestick-makers, bookmakers and everybody else - 500,000 of whom possibly do not work at any time. The Labour Party and the trade union movement feel that it would be better and in the interests of everybody if two sets of figures could be produced. One set could show the percentage of unemployed in the total employable work force of, say, 4,250,000, and the other could show the percentage of unemployed in the 3,250,000 persons who are workers in industry. You cannot convince, for instance, the Australian Textile Workers Union that the unemployment figure is only 2± per cent, if 33 per cent, of its members cannot find jobs.
The suggestion I make is in the interests of public relations, and I expect that the Government wishes to maintain good public relations. Good public relations could be maintained if the Government were to produce a set of figures showing the employment position in each industry. I should think that any responsible government would want to know the employment figures from week to week in each industry. At present the figures are available for the whole of the Australian work force but they do not give an indication of the real position. The Minister ought to consider the compilation of figures for each industry because after all it is the people in the various industries who are affected. It is possible, because of the new types of employment available, to have severe unemployment in one industry and full employment in another industry nearby. Such a position creates great dissatisfaction. I should imagine the Government is interested in maintaining the goodwill and the confidence of the trade union movement. It can do so by producing employment figures that are correct. The figures based on the total work force of 4,250,000 are not acceptable to the trade union movement.
, - I thank the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) for his reply, and I also thank Senator Ormonde for expanding the point which I began to develop, and about which I propose now to say a little more. I regret sincerely that the Minister made the statement that the Chamber of Manufactures in Victoria had some motive not altogether honest in submitting figures in relation to employment in industry.
– Do you think so?
– I do, and I think it was a serious statement for the Minister to make from a position of privilege.
– I do not regret it.
– You would not, but 1 think it was very unfair to make an allegation of that nature. When I asked the question I did not anticipate the twisted mind of the Minister on this question. My object was to find out whether the Department of Labour and National Service could supply employment statistics in respect of each industry. I think that the figures of the Chamber of Manufactures are correct and are not overdrawn at all. If those figures take into account stand-down periods and time lost by short working weeks they give a more precise picture of the state of industry. I think it is necessary to present figures in that way and that that is the only honest way to do so. In the national interest figures showing the shortage or surplus of employees in the various industries should be kept by the department. If that were done changes in employment could be noted. Skilled workers might be unemployed in one industry and jobs might be available in another. We should have the statistics to hand. It is no use diluting our vital statistics by making no distinction between skilled and unskilled workers. Yet both are thrown into the melting pot, and we are told that the unemployment figure is 2.4 per cent. During the war the Department of Labour and National Service did a very good job by making skilled labour available to industry through the dilutee scheme. With the coming of automation the department has the same national responsibility to assist industry by producing statistics of trained personnel in each industry. Figures should be compiled to show employment requirements and whether skilled personnel are fully employed or are not employed at all. I suggest quite seriously that it was wrong of the Minister to make the imputation that anybody would rig figures for a political purpose. The Chamber of Manufactures of Victoria is just as anxious to have correct statistics as is the Government.
I do not think the Minister grasped the full portent of the other matter I raised in relation to children leaving school. Whether the number of children leaving school is 100,000 or 250,000 is not germane to the question. Children sit for the Junior or Intermediate Certificate examination between the ages of fourteen and sixteen years. If a child goes on to matriculation standard he is sixteen or seventeen years of age. The position of children leaving school is very difficult in a period of depression or unemployment, whatever the Government likes to call it. When a child reaches the age of sixteen child endowment ceases to be paid notwithstanding the fact that the child has left school and has not found employment. The question I should like to ask is: At what point can a child, having left school, register for employment with the Department for Labour and National Service and obtain some payment to help the family purse? The position is serious for big families where child endowment is not being paid in respect of children over sixteen years of age and they are without employment. Children who cannot be absorbed by the labour market are a burden on unemployed parents. It may be said that assistance can be sought from the Child Welfare Departments of the States, but parents should not have to resort to that process. My submission is that a child should be considered as unemployed when he leaves school. He should be able to register if he is unable to obtain a job within a fortnight of leaving school and thus obtain some assistance for his family. Often a family is already suffering as a result of the father or other members being unemployed.
I should like the Minister to reply to these matters T have raised. I should like to know whether the department is prepared to make the employment statistics available as I have suggested. They would not only be of great national importance but also indicate to people seeking work the industries into which they could be readily absorbed. An unskilled labourer would know that with a little application he could fit himself for a section of industry where labour was in demand. That would be of great advantage. The Minister did not answer my question about the number of tradesmen who have left Australia during the depression and the period of the credit squeeze. The press has reported on that matter and the trade unions have given certain figures, but I presume that the Minister has not the relevant figures, since he did not answer the question. I should also like to have particulars of the number of skilled tradesmen who are out of work.
Senator Scott said earlier today, in effect: “Well, there are no skilled tradesmen out of work. If they are skilled they are in demand.” He implied that it was only unemployable persons who were out of work. But that does not accord with the union figures which show that there has been considerable unemployment of skilled workers. I know personally that the books of the unions show that a lot of wastage has occurred because trained workers who have not found work available in the industries for which they were trained have gone into other vocations which are just as lucrative and in which the working conditions may be better. That could mean a great national loss because those skilled workers might be lost for all time to the callings for which they were trained. I should also like to know whether the Minister or the department can indicate whether apprentices are coming forward in sufficient numbers to meet the requirements of the various industries. I suggest that statistics of that kind are necessary from a national point of view. If we were again engaged in a war we might suffer severely because such statistics were not available.
I refer now to Division No. 401, subdivision 2 - Administrative Expenses - item 10, “ Fares, travelling expenses and allowances to workers - Advances (Amounts recovered may be credited to this item), ?100 “. I quite understand that expenditure is sometimes recouped, but I think that the general rule is that expenditure of this kind is more or less self-balancing, so that if there is an appropriation of ?13,000 and ?12,000 is spent, that amount is recouped. Do I take it that the amount appropriated is paid into a trust fund or a suspense account? If so, by whom is it administered? Are the amounts recovered not paid into Consolidated Revenue but into’ a fund? Does the department say: “We have collected £10 from Bill Smith. Tom Jones wants to go on a journey. We will give the £10 to him.”? I think that perhaps there is a simpler explanation than that.
– I shall answer Senator Cooke’s last question, while it is fresh in my mind. I am informed by the officers here that it is precisely as simple a matter as the honorable senator has stated it to be. That is exactly the way in which it is worked. In other words, the money does not go to Consolidated Revenue; it comes back to the department from the persons to whom it is advanced and is then available for a new advance to Bill Smith or Jim Jones, as the case may be.
asked what purpose was served by the Ministry of Labour Advisory Council if it were no longer fully representative. I think it is reasonable to say that the council would not serve any significant purpose if it were not fully representative. The honorable senator’s contention that it would not do so unless it were fully representative is quite correct. On the other hand, £500 of the £2,000 asked for this year is being provided in the hope that the council will become fully representative during the year and will be able to have a meeting. As is indicated, the rest of the money requested this year is for the final payment for a film which was started last year, the printing of a report of ‘the second conference on industrial safety, provision of £450 for the continuing expenses of the productivity groups which were set up by the council when it was fully representative and which are still functioning, and the reprinting of publications which were put out by the council and for which there is still a demand.
To Senator Ormonde, and to some extent to Senator Cooke, who questioned the validity of the method of compiling employment statistics, and the base on which they are compiled, I can say that this method of compiling the statistics was originally recommended by international statisticians. In any case, the figures have been compiled in the same way for at least the last decade.
In order to make, at any given moment, a proper comparison of the situation with that of last year, the year before or even the year before that, it is surely essential to use figures which are compiled on the same basis, because only by comparing like with like can you get a full and proper comparison of the situation as it develops in the country. Whether or not that is the best way of compiling the figures could be a matter of opinion, but one thing is certain, and that is that the figures having been compiled in this way for so long, one would get quite a false answer if one tried at this stage to compile them on a different basis and to compare the result with those of past years when the figures were compiled on the basis which we are now using.
Senator Cooke inquired about children leaving school. The answer, I suggest, is that a child on leaving school may receive child endowment until he is sixteen years of age. He may register for employment at any time, and he may draw unemployment benefit if he is unemployed when he is over sixteen; that is, when child endowment has cut out. I have no figures regarding the number of Australian tradesmen who have left Australia. I imagine that this would be a matter of opinion. My opinion would probably be different from Senator Cooke’s. I remember reading that people from New Zealand who had come over here to recruit Australian workers had complained bitterly that they could not get recruits to go to New Zealand, but I have no actual figures to give to the honorable senator.
On the question of whether the figures compiled by the chambers of manufactures are correct, I can only say once more that what the chambers do - and this is the fact - is to compile the statistics from factory figures only. They compile them on the basis of a small section of factories, and they compile them in one State. That does not appear to me to give a reasonable idea of employment throughout Australia. I reiterate my own belief, and I also reiterate my right to express a belief. As to the publication of employment figures, industry by industry, which Senator Cooke raised, I point out that statistics of employment, industry by industry, are now published by the Commonwealth Statistician.
Sitting suspended from 5.55 to 8 p.m.
– I should like to refer again to Division No. 401, particularly to the item relating to advances for fares, travelling expenses and allowances to workers. The Minister has been good enough to explain that the manner of drawing these expenses has been changed, and that an appropriation of £13,000 has been replaced by an appropriation of £100. He explained, in effect, that when Smith paid back the money advanced to him, it was paid to Jones.
I should like to be informed of the manner in which the fund is operating. What amount is it in credit? At what stage did the Department of Labour and National Service decide that instead of there being an appropriation from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, this fund should be created from refunds of previous drawings on Consolidated Revenue? I should like particulars of drawings on the fund and of outstandings, that is, moneys advanced but not recovered. How are moneys awaiting recovery treated in the accounts? Are they put into a suspense account? Ultimately, what is the manner in which those amounts are removed from the account? Who audits the fund? Instead of drawing amounts from Consolidated Revenue and tracing them back to Consolidated Revenue either in the form of refunds or in the form of unexpended amounts at the end of the year, how is the expenditure managed? Is the fund recouped under the imprest system? Can the Minister explain the mechanics of the fund? At what time is the account audited and by whom are payments approved?
The matter now ceases to be one which comes annually before the Parliament, with the Parliament saying that £13,000 is to be allocated for the purpose of providing this essential service to people in indigent circumstances seeking employment. What decided the Government to establish a separate fund to be operated by the department? When £13,000 was virtually an annual vote for this purpose, the Parliament had scrutiny of the matter, lt seems as if the matter will now escape parliamentary scrutiny, and I should like to know more about it.
I should like the Minister, rather than refuting, by means of a personal statement, allegations of unemployment in industry, to give an assurance that never again wil! Parliament be placed in the embarrassing position of having official figures disputed. We have been given figures which are said to be correct and which we can readily believe to be correct, because the trade unions’ estimate more or less balances with the employers’ estimate. The Minister certainly has a right to express himself, but he must always remember that it is not the things that he does not know that make him ridiculous. It is the things that are wrong but that he believes to be right. We must be in a position to meet such a challenge with properly produced figures.
I should like the widest publicity to be given to the information that the Minister supplied to me in relation to children leaving school who cannot find employment. If they are over sixteen years of age they can register with the Department of Labour and National Service and be paid the unemployment benefit and if they are under fourteen years they can register for employment-
– I did not say that.
– The Minister should make clear what he did say. I understood him to say that a child of sixteen years of age who leaves school and is unable to find employment may, after a lapse of a fortnight, register and be paid unemployment relief by the department. He no longer receives child endowment.
– If he is over sixteen.
– That should be made clear to the public. If the child is under sixteen he may still register with the department for employment, but he will not be paid unemployment relief. Child endowment will be paid to his mother, and the department will endeavour to find employment for him. I want that fact to be made known. There is much unemployment among juveniles in country areas. In the north-west of Western Australia, it is difficult to find employment for children. The employment market is bad. There is a similar position in Kalgoorlie, where the gold-mining industry is declining. No future is seen for children there. I believe that there is in the town a representative of the Department of Social Services, and probably a representative of the Department of Labour and National Service, but in those country areas it is not generally understood that it is possible to seek the assistance of the Department of Labour and National Service in respect of this matter. I only ask for the widest possible publicity to be given to the Minister’s statement, because it is a matter of real concern to families, particularly when the breadwinner is unemployed. When a child becomes too old for endowment and is unable to find employment, families do not know what to do about it.
In relation to advances for fares, travelling expenses and allowances, 1 should like to know at whose direction the procedure was altered. What appropriations have been made for this purpose over the last few years? How have advances been collected in previous years? Have refunds been paid back to Consolidated Revenue? Has the fund been built up in the department with the idea of ultimately being financed not by appropriation from Consolidated Revenue but from amounts refunded? I have no doubt that many advances are never recovered. In what manner are they written off and what approval is obtained for this action? Is Executive Council approval required? At what stage is the account audited on behalf of the Government?
– If Senator Cooke will look at the item, he will see in brackets the words “Amounts recovered may be credited to this item “. If he had looked at last year’s Estimates, he would have seen the same statement in brackets. Last year was the first year in which the practice was adopted. The Parliament having last year passed the Estimates with the same statement in brackets as appears this year, the Parliament has approved of the practice. That is the authority for continuing this practice. The Government determined in 1960-61 that amounts that had been advanced and recovered should be credited to the item relating to fares. If there is in this account any credit remaining at the end of the financial year - that is, sums that have already been recovered; not sums that are owing - it goes to Consolidated Revenue in the normal way. But sums that are recovered after the end of a financial year are, as the English in the estimates indicates, credited to the vote and then paid out again to people who may require assistance in respect of fares. The item referred to by the honorable senator and in respect of which he sought particulars as to auditing is audited by the AuditorGeneral. That, I think, answers the questions raised by the honorable senator.
.- I wish to refer briefly to the Ministry of Labour Advisory Council, because I was very interested in Senator Ridley’s remarks on this matter. The council was formed some years ago on the invitation of the Government. It had representation from employers and from the trade unions. Its formation was felt generally to be good for two reasons - it would make a contribution towards better understanding and industrial peace and, more importantly from the point of view of the unions, it would give them an opportunity to obtain information as to the Government’s intentions and an opportunity to put their views before representatives of the Government.
Years ago the trade union movement in Great Britain took the stand that whatever government was in power, the duty of the trade unions was to associate themselves with government-appointed committees dealing with industrial issues. A certain amount of disagreement on this issue occurred in Great Britain between the political and trade union wings of the Labour movement. That disagreement became manifest later in Australia. The political wing felt that the trade union movement should give it full support. It also felt that the trade union wing compromised the Labour movement in entering into any relations with the government - even with a council of the kind to which I am referring. The trade union movement in England rejected that point of view and has always taken the stand that if in its view a committee offers anything of value to trade unionists, it is the duty of the trade unions to associate themselves with that committee, no matter what government is in power. That point of view was strongly adopted by the leaders of the Australian Council of Trade Unions in the last ten or fifteen years. People who very strongly put forward what I might term the English point of view were the late Mr. Percy Clarey, Mr. Monk and the late Reg Broadby. I think they made the point that it did not necessarily follow that at all times the interests of the trade union movement and the Australian Labour Party would coincide. We have had some spectacular examples of that on occasions when the A.C.T.U. has been seeking wage adjustments at a time of Federal or State elections. Then the political wing, where it has been the Opposition, has told the people from the election platform that the economy is in a serious plight, that unemployment is likely to occur and that a recession is just around the corner. Simultaneously, representatives of the trade union movement have told the arbitration court that the economy is in a state of great prosperity and justifies an increase in wages. It was recognized - I have heard this view put forward by Mr. J. V. Stout as well as the other people I have mentioned - that it did not necessarily follow that what was good for the trade union movement was good for the Labour Party and that what was good for the Labour Party was good for the trade union movement. I have often known the political leaders of the Labour movement to suggest to the A.C.T.U. that it take certain action or issue certain statements to benefit the political party. Those requests have been refused on the ground that what was being sought was not in the interests of the trade unions. I merely mention that fact to indicate that in my opinion it is regrettable that the Ministry of Labour Advisory Council should have lost the representation of the trade unions, because I think that the English attitude has much to commend it.
The trade union movement must work with whatever government is in power, even though it may determine that from a political point of view it will support the Labour Party. I understand that when the decision to which Senator Ridley referred was reached, it was opposed by Mr. Monk. There was a fairly even division of opinion among A.C.T.U. executive members who were associated with the Labour Party. The decision actually rested with the two or three Communists present who held the balance of power. I think that was unfortunate. I believe that the trade union movement has gained immeasurably in prestige by associating itself with many of these committees and that the work of the council was facilitated by representation of the trade unions. It has been good for the country that people associated with both sides of industry should meet, should hear each other’s views and should obtain information upon what each proposes to do.
Until Senator Ridley spoke, I was noi aware that the compelling factor in the decision that the trade unions should dissociate themselves from this council was the claim that certain decisions of the council were embarrassing to the Australian Labour Party. I was not aware of that, but I accept his statement. However, I should like Senator Ridley to clarify what he means by “ decisions “. It seems strange that a body of this character, on which people would sit merely as representatives, should be able to make decisions. Obviously, the A.C.T.U. representatives could hardly endorse a decision of the council. Whatever happened would have to go before the A.C.T.U. I would like Senator Ridley to clarify this matter because at best I would think that all that this body could do would be to make recommendations or to express opinions. It may be that the embarrassment occurred because representatives of the Government were in a position to quote opinions that had been expressed in council by trade union representatives. If that were so it would appear that the trade union representatives had a remedy readily at hand without going to the extent of dissociating themselves from the council. They could have demanded an assurance that any opinions expressed by them were to be regarded as confidential to the council alone. It is regrettable that this longstanding division of opinion as to whether the council was of greater advantage to the trade union wing or to the political wing should have led to the trade union movement being deprived of the opportunity of using the council as a forum for expressing its point of view and as a means of obtaining information. I hope that one day the unions will decide to re-associate themselves with the council. They have everything to gain from sitting on councils such as this. They must realize ultimately that what is good for the trade union movement must prevail and that political considerations must come second.
– I should like to refer to statements that have already been made about unemployment. Senator Cooke pointed out how necessary it was that we should have a clear understanding of the groups of people in Australia who are unemployed.
– Order! To what part of the Estimates is the honorable senator addressing his remarks?
– I am relating then’ to Division No. 401 - Administrative. Honorable senators will recall that during the debate on the Estimates and Budget Papers 1 said that I could see no point in honorable senators on either side of the chamber attempting to score debating points by saying that the percentage of unemployment disclosed by the Commonwealth Statistician was or was not accurate. I said - Senator Cooke has developed this aspect ot the matter very well - that we should find out which groups of people are unemployed and that then we would have a much better idea of the changes which would be necessary to correct the situation. I hope that this tendency to talk in terms of percentages does not indicate that we in this country are prepared to do as do people :q the United States of America and other countries where there seems to be a feeling of inevitability about the unemployed, like the poor, being always with us. It is quite easy for a nation to accept that casual approach to the welfare of a section of the community, particularly if that section is not unduly large, or, more important, is not unduly vocal.
It is quite unreal to suggest that we can arrive at a true percentage of the level of unemployment in Australia by taking into consideration people who are selfemployed, the unemployed themselves, members of the forces and a number of others the inclusion of whom does not clarify the situation but makes it more difficult to understand. The confusion that has been caused has resulted in a certain amount of unfair criticism of those persons who are entrusted with the compilation of the relevant statistics. At times the integrity of those persons has been reflected upon - perhaps unfairly - simply because they have not been permitted to portray the situation as it should be portrayed. I suggest that it is quite unreal to include the groups of persons to whom I referred a moment or two ago and then to arrive at the conclusion that, say, 2.7 per cent, of the work force is unemployed. How are we to correct the unemployment situation if we erect a smoke-screen of inaccurate statements?
An article in the official publication of the Institute of Public Affairs of Victoria refers to the specific matter mentioned by Senator Cooke.
– In what month was that published?
– I am referring to the April-June, 1961, issue. The article in question deals with the position of the younger people who will be released into the work force of Australia in the next few years. It reads -
Since 194S Australia’s population has risen faster than the labour force. But over the next 10 years it is expected that the work force will be increasing at a faster rate than the population. The number of 15 year-olds has been rising steadily since the beginning of the 1950’s and will continue the upward movement throughout the 1960’s, except for a slight decline in 1963.
The figures then set out are quite significant. In 1960 the number of boys between the ages of fifteen years and nineteen years who were expected to enter the work force was 315,000. The expectation for 1965, only five years later, is 100,000 greater. Then the article continues -
Forecasts show that the number of young people both male and female as a proportion of the total work force is rising steadily. As a percentage of the male work force the number of boys aged 15-19 years is expected to rise from 9.7% in 1947 to 10.2% this year and 11.6% in 1965.
This is a completely new development. For many years past, employers have had to face a situation in which there was a real shortage of young people becoming available for employment. From now on industry faces a two-pronged challenge, first to find additional jobs for young, people, and in the second place, to employ them in such a way as to promote the highest possible increase in productivity.
I submit that the matter raised by Senator Cooke is very important. Its importance has been, recognized quite readily by the Institute of Public Affairs in- Victoria.
The facts to which I have just referred indicate quite clearly that we should be directing our thoughts not to the scoring of debating points by trying to reduce or increase the level of unemployment by, say, 1 per cent., but to ascertaining the classes of persons - skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled; male and female; young and old - who are unemployed. Surely it is not impossible to obtain this information. I refuse to believe that it could not be obtained by the Department pf Labour and National Service. Various industries have to furnish such statistics at one time or another for taxation and other purposes. I repeat that no difficulty should be experienced by the Government in gathering these facts. If they were available, we would be able to come into this chamber and talk not in abstract terms about 2.4 per cent, this month and 2.7 per cent, of the work force next month being out of employment, that percentage having been arrived at from a wrong base, but in scientific terms about the various classes of persons who were unemployed. Then those of us who have some thought for the future of this country would be able to debate the situation with a better understanding.
I hope the Minister for Labour and National Service will raise this matter at a meeting of the Cabinet in the nottoodistant future and that it will be possible to do away with the quite false foundation on which the statistics are based at present. I am not saying that that foundation is deliberately false, but that it does in fact happen to be false. If we get rid of this false foundation, there will be no need for the suggestion that the figures are being blanketed and that a wrong impression is being given.
– At this stage I have not anything to say in reply to what Senator McManus said, but some of the points raised by Senator Toohey are interesting and I think should be answered. The points raised by him have been raised before, but as often as they are raised I think they should be answered. He spent a great deal of time complaining, as others have complained; about the computation of figures on the same basis as that on which they have been computed for the last ten years, during which time they have not been questioned as- they are being questioned now. He also spent considerable time - indeed, most of his speech - in complaining about percentages which are presented to this
Parliament from time to time to indicate the proportion of the work force that is unemployed. If he does not like the basis on which the figures are calculated, he is entitled to consider it a bad basis. Personally, I consider it a good one, as it has been in the past.
What is more important is that one is not confined to percentages, as Senator Toohey seemed to indicate. One is presented with the numbers of individual people who, from month to month, either register for employment or draw unemployment benefit. One has those finite figures to contrast with the number of vacancies that are registered by employers seeking people to work for them. Whether those finite figures of individual people are presented as percentages in one way or another is of minor importance compared with the numbers of individual people which are presented in the same way as they have been presented for the last ten years. I believe that that is the crux of the situation. Those figures give any reasonable person in Australia an indication of the number of people who at a given moment required work and could not find it.
I believe that the document from which Senator Toohey read was prepared on information given by the Government through the Department of Labour and National Service, which worked on prepared figures for the. future percentage rise in the population and pointed out that the future percentage rise in the work force was likely to be more than it had been in the past, relative to the population. The fact that that document was quoted by Senator Toohey is, by itself, sufficient evidence that the department and the Government have the future situation well in mind. Indeed, the department is the source from which the matters to which Senator Toohey referred emanated. For some years, at about this time of the year I have heard one honorable senator opposite or another rise and say: “There will be X thousand or Y thousand people leaving school at the end of this year. What is going to happen to them in the year that is to come?” Each year those people have been assimilated into the economy. I believe that the reason why that fear is expressed by particular honorable senators on the opposite side of the chamber is that the Opposition has, and has had for years, an incomplete impression that the Australian economy is a static economy and that because at the end of a year so many people are employed, therefore there will not be more employment opportunities in the year to come. But the conception of honorable senators on this side of the chamber is that Australia has a growing and expanding economy which requires more people year by year. So far that impression has proved to be a correct one, and the people who have left school at the, end of each year have been assimilated into the economy. 1 believe that that will continue to be so. I also believe that the figures that are issued now will continue to be issued in the future and will provide, not on percentages but on the numbers of individuals, a clear guide to all Australians as to the position of people seeking employment and the opportunities for employment in Australia.
– I refer to Division No. 401, subdivision 2, item 09, Ministry of Labour Advisory Council. Earlier in this debate I mentioned that the reason why the trade union movement no longer was represented On that council was the use that had been made of it by members of the Government parties when matters that had been before the council were debated either in this chamber or in another place. I think Senator McManus indicated that he agreed with my statement that the council could serve no useful purpose if the trade union movement was not represented on it. Then he went on to say that in his opinion it was bad that the Australian Council of Trade Unions refused to be represented on the council. He indicated - quite truly, I think - that there always was some difference of opinion in the trade union movement about the desirability or otherwise of representation on this body.
He referred to events in England which indicated a difference of opinion or conflict of interest in some instances between the trade union movement, representing the workers’ industrial interests, and the Labour Party, representing their political interests. That is all true. In the first place, there always was some difference of opinion. But the point that I attempted to make) - I think I used the words “ the rock upon which the A.C.T.U. representation foundered “ - was that following some proposed government legislation going before the advisory council for its opinion, the A.C.T.U. representation made recommendations for breaking down certain aspects of that proposed legislation. When the legislation was discussed, the fact that the A.C.T.U. had made recommendations for breaking down certain provisions was used by the Government as indicating that therefore the A.C.T.U. was satisfied with the legislation as proposed by the Government. Senator McManus said that I had said that the council failed because it embarrassed the Australian Labour Party. That was not the position. It failed because the trade union movement refused to allow its representation on the advisory council to be used by members of the Government parties against its political representatives.
Senator McManus made another wrong statement when he said that there was an even division of the A.C.T.U. executive. He mentioned that the president, Mr. Monk, and somebody else supported the proposal for A.C.T.U. representation on the council, but that the proposal was defeated by the Communist representatives on the interstate executive who held the balance of power. That was not in accordance with the facts. At that time the A.C.T.U. executive was composed of two members of each of the State trades and labour councils, together with the president and two vice-presidents who were elected by the A.C.T.U. itself. Any decisions altering policy which were made by the interstate executive had to be ratified by a majority of the State branches. The debate that I mentioned earlier was the one that took place in the various State trades and labour councils. By a majority decision of the States, the A.C.T.U. was no longer represented on the council. I have no doubt whatsoever that until the time the members of the Government parties attempted to misuse the representation of the A.C.T.U. on the advisory council, the trade union movement, by an overwhelming majority, was prepared to be represented on it. I think all the States, with the exception of Queensland, were in favour of that. The Queensland council was the only State trades and labour council with Communist delegates. I have little doubt that if the Government were prepared to give an absolute guarantee to the trade union movement that representation on this advisory council would not be used as a vehicle for misrepresenting the views of the trade union movement, there would be every possibility of the A.C.T.U. being represented on the council again.
– I enter the debate simply to say that although I do not mind Senator Gorton’s acting as a spokesman for the Government, 1 object to his acting as a spokesman for the Labour Party and stating that it has a static outlook on the Australian economy and on employment. Down the years my colleagues and I have said in this place that Australia has a dynamic economy which, year by year, produces results, not because of the Government but in spite of the Government. Those results flow from the quality of our people, not from the leadership of the Government. I completely reject the argument that has been addressed to the committee by the Minister.
Looking at the employment figures, we rind that under this Government Australia has not even a static economy. The economy is going backwards, especially in relation to employment. Let me refer to a document dated 11th October, circulated by the Commonwealth Statistician, in which there is a comparison of the employment figures for August, 1960, and for August of this year.
– Are they figures for factory employment?
– They cover the whole field of private employment and government employment. Private employment is divided into two categories - employment in manufacturing industries and employment in other industries. Private industrial activity rather than governmental activity is the keystone of the development of this country, and it is very interesting to find that, despite the fact that at the end of last year tens of thousands of school leavers entered industry and despite the fact that there has been, as one would expect, a great accretion to the work force from immigration, 65,500 fewer people were employed in manufacturing industries in August of this. year than were employed in the previous August. I am speaking of both males and females. Those figures do not indicate that the economy is static, lt is certainly not a dynamic economy or a forward-moving economy. It is clear that the economy is going backwards Those figures show also that a vast amount of the manufacturing and productive capacity of the country is not being utilized.
The figures relating to employment in manufacturing industries are divided into two sets, one relating to males and one to females. We find that in August of this year 36,800 fewer males were employed in factories than were employed in August of last year. For females, the figure for August of last year is 713,400, and for August of this year it is 687,400. I am speaking now of private employment. By and large, there has been a fall by 75,900 in the number of males and females in private employment. 1 fail to understand how the Minister can say that under this Government’s administration Australia has a dynamic economy and how he can throw at the Labour Party the taunt that it regards the Australian economy as static. I reject entirely the suggestion by the Minister that we of the Labour Party have a static outlook on employment and on the development of the country. Let me remind the Minister that down the years we have said in this place again and again that, without additional taxation, the natural expansion of the economy yields something of the order of £100,000,000 per annum. That fact has appeared every year for many years. When Labour first put forward that view in 1954, it was rejected emphatically by the Government, but that process has gone on for year after year. It is true that a portion of the extra revenue is dissipated by the natural growth in the expenditure on social services, but, by and large, there is a very nice overall accretion to Commonwealth revenue from the natural expansion of the economy.
I regret that I was prompted to come into this debate, but I certainly could not allow to stand on record unanswered a statement by the Minister attributing to the Labour Party a view that it does not hold.
– I wish to make only one comment on the remarks made by Senator Ridley. I shall apologize if the honorable senator can prove that I am wrong, but I am prepared to state that at no time did this Government or any Minister in this Government ever use the discussions of the Ministry of Labour Advisory Council to justify an action of the Government, to the embarrassment of that council. I am prepared to state, and to apologize if I can be proved to be wrong, that at no time while that advisory council was in existence did any representative of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, either publicly or privately, object to any statement made by any Minister of the Government associating the trade unions with something with which they did not wish to be associated, or in any way embarrassing them. I believe that to be true.
– You are confining your statement to Ministers in the Government?
– I am referring to Ministers speaking on behalf of the Government and to the Government itself. If I can be shown to be wrong in what I have said, T will apologize. I say that on no occasion has any spokesman for the A.C.T.U. said that his organization was embarrassed by something that the Government or a Minister had said in this respect. I will apologize if I am wrong, but I believe that Senator Ridley was mistaken in making that charge against the Government.
I assure Senator McKenna that I was not acting, or endeavouring to act, as a spokesman for his party when I said that it had a static outlook on the economy. I am not qualified to act as a spokesman for his party. Indeed, I find it difficult to discover who is. I am prepared to state my view, which is that the statements made by members of the Labour Party have indicated a static view of the economy.
It is admitted by Senator McKenna that results have been achieved in the economy. He says - he is entitled to say it if he believes it to be correct - that those results have been achieved, not. because of the Government, but despite the Government. However, the results have been achieved, and they have been achieved while this Government has been in office. The advantages that from time to time have accrued to the Government from the increased revenue to which Senator McKenna has referred are, of course, real advantages. However, the additional revenue has been used, as the honorable senator said, not only to provide increased social services and other Commonwealth services, but also to enable the States to provide the additional houses, schools, hospitals and other public services required by an expanding economy. The figures from which he quoted, issued by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics, refer to manufacturing industries, of course, and not to employment as a whole. Therefore, they should not be confused with the figures which have been quoted previously in this debate which indicate that between August, 1960, and August, 1961, the number employed in the manufacturing industries fell, just as they indicate that the numbers, during the same period, rose in other private industries. So many factors are involved in these things, such as increased efficiency in factories in which employment fell, and such as new industries arising in an expanding economy in which new people were employed, that a mere quotation of figures of the kind that have been quoted does not add very much to a considered examination of the position of this country.
.- I wish to refer briefly to Division No. 401 in which is to be found the item dealing with court-controlled ballots. Last year the appropriation was £2,000 but no expenditure is shown. No appropriation is shown for the coming year. At the foot of the page is a note which reads, “ Provided under Division No. 216 - Industrial Registrar’s Branch “. I have been through Division No. 216, Industrial Registrar’s Branch, and no reference whatever is made to the specific item of court-controlled ballots.
I understand that last year courtcontrolled ballots came under the Department of Labour and National Service and were shown under the estimates for that department. It would seem now that the item is tucked away somewhere and concealed in the estimates for the AttorneyGeneral’s Department, with no reference to the item as such. I should like the Minister to explain why this matter was taken from the control of the Department of Labour and National Service and the provision is concealed this year somewhere in the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department.
I mention this matter because it is a very important activity in the trade union movement. As a matter of fact all sorts of malpractices are creeping into these courtcontrolled ballots. On the surface, of course, the term “ court-controlled ballot “ makes it appear to the ordinary individual that everything is above board. However, there is evidence that in one particular union this year even physical violence was used in connexion with such an election. It is easy for a person to obtain a list of the names and addresses of members of the union to whom postal votes have been sent. Intimidation has taken place, even to the extent of physical violence being used. This happened particularly in Amalgamated Engineering Union elections on two occasions this year. On one occasion the motor vehicle of a shop steward was broken into. Very often people masquerading as A.E.U. members, who are not in fact members of the union, go around canvassing in an endeavour to intimidate members and influence their votes at court-controlled ballots.
I should like some information as to why the appropriation for this year has been concealed under the vote for the AttorneyGeneral’s Department and not given prominence under the heading “ Court-controlled Ballots “. Is it because too much money has been expended on that activity? I should also like an assurance from the Minister that some endeavour will be made to control these courtcontrolled ballots more strictly in order to see that malpractices do not occur. Affidavits can be supplied in regard to the matters I have mentioned in the Amalgamated Engineering Union ballot. What happened in that union obviously happens in other unions. Whether provision for this item is made in the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department or any other department, I should like some assurance from the Minister that every effort will be made to see that these courtcontrolled ballots will be tightened up and that the malpractices that are definitely taking place at the present will cease. I could give specific illustrations and produce evidence of malpractices that have taken place in these so-called court-controlled ballots. I would like some information on this matter from the Minister.
– The answer to the specific question asked by Senator Sandford is that prior to 1960-61 the expenses involved in court-controlled ballots were dealt with by the Attorney-General’s Department. In 1960-61 - that is last year - it was thought this matter could be administrated better if the responsibility, and consequently the expenditure involved in these matters, were borne by the Department of Labour and National Service. Consequently in 1960-61 an appropriation of £2,000 was made for this purpose. However, on examining the printed sheet circulated for their information honorable senators will see that there was no expenditure of this £2,000. The reason is that it was found administratively to be less workable for the Department of Labour and National Service to carry out this function, and consequently the Attorney-General’s Department continued to do it, as it had done it before 1960-61. In the estimates now before the chamber it is proposed that the Attorney-General’s Department shall control this matter during: 1961-62..
– Where is the item shown under the Attorney-General’s Department?
– It is shown under the Attorney-General’s Department, being written in English on page 86 under Division No. 216. The expenditure involved in court-controlled ballots is the payment of overtime and the payment of officials who conduct the ballots. These payments are shown in Division No. 216 as part of the payments to the officials of the court and the electoral officers who conduct these ballots in the same way as ballots are conducted in elections of this Parliament.
Some adversion has been made to alleged malpractices. I hope sincerely that Senator Sandford is not suggesting that these malpractices were due to the operation of the court or of the electoral officers.
– I did not mention that at all.
– I am glad to hear it, but I want to get the record clear. I am glad to hear that Senator Sandford agrees with me that there is no suggestion that either the electoral officers or the court are in any way engaged in any underhand practices.
– I never suggested that at all.
– 1 just said that for the sake of the record, and 1 am glad to hear that Senator Sandford agrees with me. That makes both our positions quite clear.
In reply to what has been said by Senator Sandford about malpractices in the Amalgamated Engineering Union election, I agree that malpractices have in fact occurred. Indeed, I can provide Senator Sandford with photostatic copies of circulars issued by Amalgamated Engineering Union Officials telling their members that if anybody went around - according to law - asking members of the union to petition the court for a court-controlled ballot, the members should take the numbers of the motor cars of the people asking for a courtcontrolled ballot to be held. They should endeavour to seize from them by force the lists that they had with signatures asking for a court-controlled ballot and seek to destroy those lists. They should in every way possible endeavour to prevent people from collecting, as is their right by law, signatures for a court-controlled ballot, and in every way possible try to prevent those people from doing what the law allows them to do. To that extent I agree that malpractice has occurred.
.- The first point I want to make is that I think the term “ court-controlled ballots “ used at page 86 of the Estimates Papers is incorrect and should not be used by the Department of Labour and National Service. People who know anything of the matter will agree that they are not courtcontrolled ballots. The second point I want to make is that whatever may be said about the ballots conducted under this law, they are infinitely cleaner than the ballots that used to be held in many of the unions, though not perhaps in all unions, before we had legislation which allowed a proper ballot to be conducted.
– That still does not say that there are not malpractices.
– In the Amalgamated Engineering Union, which Senator Sandford mentioned, an attempt is being made at the present time to create the impression that all kinds of illegalities and wrongful things are going on in connexion with the ballots conducted under the control of the registrar, I think. There is an obvious reason for that. As all of us who know anything about the trade union movement are aware, years ago, if you wanted to vote in an Amalgamated Engineering Union ballot, you had to go to the union meeting. In these days, attendances at union meetings have dropped off in the same way as have attendances at friendly society meetings. We have had the spectacle in the A.E.U. of elections to fill the most important posts, when it has been a job to get 10 per cent, of the members who were qualified to vote, to record their vote. Where such a small percentage of the members vote, minorities like the Communist Party are able, with shrewd organization, to have their representatives elected. They find the going more difficult if the ballot-papers are posted to members. In that way a wider representation of the membership is obtained. There is a cleaner ballot and there is less prospect of intimidation or influence being used than if people have to go to a branch meeting where perhaps one section, such as the Communist Party, is in control.
We know that at the present time the fate of the A.E.U. is to be. decided in Queensland and Western Australia. This union has three voting members on its Commonwealth council. One represents Victoria and Tasmania, one represents New South Wales, and the other represents in the main Queensland and Western Australia. Southwell, a Communist, has just been elected in Victoria to one of the three vital posts. A non-Communist just managed to win in New South Wales, and it depends on the vote in Queensland, where Hennessy, a Communist, is the representative, whether the Communists are to retain a two-to-one majority. They are flat out to keep control of one of the most vital industries in Australia. To help their candidate they are endeavouring to create the impression that there is something wrong going on, and that intimidation, violence and all kinds of things are occurring. That atmosphere is being created deliberately for the purpose of influencing the minds of the ordinary members of the. A.E.U.
– Is that why Senator Sandford is so vocal?
Senate McMANUS.- - I am not saying that at all. I am merely saying that there is an election in the A.E.U. at the moment and that it will suit the book of the Communists if an atmosphere can be created which is adverse to the clean ballot, to the postal ballot, by means of which an election may be held.
If Senator Sandford wanted to attack the problem I should have hoped that he would base his attack on the fact that in Victoria, Southwell, a Communist, was elected, that the other day Carmichael, a Communist, was re-elected State secretary, and that they were elected with Mr. Butler, a member of the Australian Labour Party central executive, acting as the campaign organizer for the Communists, as he did earlier this year, when he acted as campaign organizer for the unity ticket. Yet, he is on the A.L.P. Victorian executive. I know a little about the way in which some union ballots were conducted in years gone by. The majority of union ballots are clean, but in unions where there is a fight between the Communists and the non-Communists, you often have people who are determined to achieve a result. Sometimes you will find people who will stop at nothing to achieve that result. If you want to see intimidation, Mr. Temporary Chairman, you should go to the Sydney wharfs when it is a question of getting Communists elected to control of the Sydney branch of the Waterside Workers Federation. That is where you will see intimidation.
I suggest once again, therefore, that whatever may be said about the postal ballot, where a ballot-paper is sent to a man’s home, it must be said that it is clean and means that everybody in the union gets the chance to vote. In those circumstances it is a good system. It is infinitely better than the system whereby ballot-papers are handed round at the work place and squads of people go about either intimidating employees or saying, “ Listen, this is the way to vote “, or, “ Give me your ballot-paper and I will vote for you “. It is infinitely better than that and it is also better than the other systems such as that whereby people are supposed to go to a place to vote. We know how apathetic they are. They will not go. So, you get a small section of the union deciding the election, and when you have small sections doing that you do not get the good result that is obtained when a big percentage of the union votes. In that way you have a real cross-section of what the members think.
– I was interested to hear Senator McManus making an admission that under the present court-controlled ballot-
– To which division is the honorable senator referring?
– The same one as other honorable senators.
Order! I again ask to which division is the honorable senator referring.
– I am referring to the item relating to court-controlled ballots in Division No. 401. I was interested to hear Senator McManus say that under the present system of ballots being operated by the court, already one Communist has been elected and that there is a possibility that another Communist will be elected in Brisbane. That rather proves the point I have been trying to make many times in the last ten years, that court-controlled ballots, whether they are good or bad, are not what honorable senators on the other side of the chamber think they are - a means of defeating Communists.
– They are impartial, though.
– The case in support of the court-controlled ballot has always been that that is the way to defeat the Communists. I have never thought that that was the way to do so. It has been proved conclusively, of course, that that is not the way to defeat the Communists.
– You are not serious, Senator?
– I am serious. No honorable senator - and I include Senator Hannan - can- “stand up and give me evidence to the contrary.
– What about the Ironworkers Association?
– The ironworkers’ decision was made nearly fifteen years ago on a classic case of corruption. They used it and still use it as their case history. Union ballots have been so corrupt that Senator Hannan has to go back to 1945 for evidence of corruption.
– It was not 1945.
– It was 1951, then. The fact is that most trade union ballots are absolutely honest. I think that most workers are honest when they go to cast their votes. That is a fair generalization. Senator McManus, we would agree, is a bit of an expert on court-controlled ballots; he has given a lot of time to studying them. But he does not set out to prove that the court-controlled ballot does the job that it was originally intended to do in Communistcontrolled unions.
– Would you prefer to go back to the original method?
– No, I would go back to the Chifley legislation, which excluded the possibility of corruption. The present type of ballot does not exclude the possibility of corruption. The mere fact that the provision of only £2,000 is being proposed for court-controlled ballots shows how little influence the courts have over what happens in a ballot. What happens when a court-controlled ballot takes place? First, there occurs what causes most discontent in unions, the taking of a petition. I think that Senator McManus will agree that although it is legal to prepare a petition, the court has no control over the persons who prepare the petition. If I were a unionist, I would resent the position that exists at present, whereby butchers, bakers or candlestick makers call on members of the Amalgamated Engineering Union or the Miners Federation and canvass their votes. The law says that there shall be no canvassing of votes. These people not on lr canvass votes but also collect votes. If they do these things, they will also handle the votes.
As Senator McManus said, there is much apathy amongst trade unionists, and designing hands can do almost anything when a voter is apathetic enough to hand his vote over to somebody who calls at the door for it. That is the principal objection that Labour men have to court-controlled ballots. There is no real control at all. As Senator McManus said, the term is wrong. The ballots are court-conducted and they are court-conducted only to a meagre extent. The court has very little influence on the conduct of ballots. The great danger is in the taking up of petitions. That is What disrupts the trade union movement. It is looked upon as interference with the rights of unionists. It is interesting to note that many unions are never attacked on this question of Communist influence or control. We never hear Senator Spooner say that we must do something to get rid of the Communists in control of the Miners Federation. He talked this afternoon about the 19;000,000 tons of coal breaking all records. This record production was produced by an alleged Communist-controlled union. When the Prime Minister’s policy speech is made in a month, about the third item in it will be the mammoth coal production by a union which is controlled by Communists.
– And which kicked the Labour Government.
– That is right. Since 1949 - I wish Senator Scott were here, as he has a lien on that year-
– He is a forty-niner!
– Yes. Since 1949, despite Communist control - I am not trying to score off the Government, I am merely stating a fact - there has not been one major strike in the federation. Yet, after all, the miner’s strike of 1949 helped to put us out of office, and the fact that the miners have been producing coal in record quantities ever since has help to keep the Government in office.
Will the honorable senator please return to the subject of court-controlled ballots?
– I am trying to show that this amount of £2,000, as Senator O’Byrne said, is really chicken feed. If this Government were really serious about court-controlled ballots, it would be spending more money than that for this purpose. If this money is all that is to be spent, we cao assume that it is for the reason that the trade union movement does not need the expenditure of any more than that to keep it’s ballots clean. It runs its affairs honestly, although perhaps not always to the standard that some people expect to be maintained, but generally speaking, the average trade union ballot is honest and no attempt is made to handle it improperly. I am afraid that an impartial investigation of court-controlled ballots would show that they have not turned out to be the paragons of virtue that was originally expected. It may be found, for example, that the day that the ballot papers are posted is generally very well known to a select few. I am not blaming officers of the department. Just after tea on the day that a union ballot paper arrives at a unionist’s home, somebody comes around to collect it. By some miracle, he gets to know when the ballot paper is arriving. If men are going to be corrupt, they will be corrupt whether or not there are court-controlled ballots. The Government would be well advised to apply the same sort of reasoning to such unions as the Amalgamated Engineering Union, the Seamen’s Union of Australia and the Waterside Workers Federation as it applies to the Miners Federation. In relation to the last named union there is never any attempt to raise political issues. The greatest mistake that can be made by any government, Labour or Liberal, is to attempt to turn a union into something that it was never intended to be. That is when trouble starts, The Communists disrupt the trade union movement by trying to turn it into a political movement. In a contra-sense, the Government tries to do something similar when it interferes in the affairs of unions. I leave the matter at that. I agree with Senator McManus that the term “ courtcontrolled ballots “ does not cover the matter under discussion, because although the ballots may be conducted by the court, they are not controlled by it.
– I should like to reply briefly to two or three points raised by Senator Ormonde. First, the officially controlled ballot provided by this Government’s legislation to enable union elections to be conducted with precisely the same impartiality and freedom as political elections is not designed to be a paragon of all the virtues or to protect this Government. It is designed to protect the unionist and to see that the unionist has the same chance as the ordinary elector has of ensuring that he is represented in his union officially by a man who is secretly and freely elected by a majority of the members of the union. This Government does not decide how much money is required for court-controlled ballots because this Government does not decide which unions will apply for a court-controlled ballot. The decision to seek an officially controlled ballot is left to the unionists themselves or to a percentage of the unionists. If they wish to have an officially controlled ballot, it is held, but not at the instigation of this Government. The names of unionists who wish to have an officially controlled ballot are collected by members of the same union. They are not collected by officers of the Government. I think Senator Ormonde agreed that these elections are conducted completely impartially. I think he agreed that a court-controlled ballot usually - but not always - results in Communists not being elected. I think he agreed that such ballots always result in all reasonable members of the public and of the unions knowing that the man elected, whether he be a Communist or a non-Communist, has been elected fairly by a free vote of unionists. That is all that the legislation set out to do.
.- I agree with Senator Ormonde-
Order! To which item is the honorable senator referring?
– I am referring to the un-numbered item following item 12. I agree with Senator Ormonde that the purpose of court-controlled ballots is not just to get rid of Communists. The purpose of the ballots is to ensure a clean election. The proof of the fact that these ballots give a clean result is that formerly in a Communist-controlled union Communists always won. Now, with court-controlled ballots, Communists sometimes win and sometimes they do not. I defy any trade unionist here to say that any person who was not a Communist had any hope of election in the old days in a union over which the Communist Party had full control.
Why was the legislation dealing with court-controlled ballots introduced? It was introduced because of a ballot for the Victorian branch of the Building Workers Industrial Union. That ballot was entirely corrupt and was proved so in a court. But the court held that it could not do anything in the matter. The men concerned - members of the Australian Labour Party - went to the Victorian Trades Hall Council. That council summoned the officials of the Building Workers Industrial Union before it, but they refused to appear. The men who were concerned about the ballot then appealed to the Australian Council of Trade Unions, which held that the ballot was the business of the Trades Hall Council. Nobody would touch it. If the trade union movement had been willing to run its own affairs in blotting out corrupt ballots this legislation would not have been necessary. But in Victoria the Trades Hall Council and the A.C.T.U. refused to take any action. They said that they could not do anything in the matter. The Chifley Government, of which Senator McKenna was a member, was approached and it introduced legislation. i issue a warning to the Australian Labour Party if it campaigns in [he elections on the basis that it will bring back the Chifley legislation. If it does that it will run a very serious risk. The trouble with the Chifley legislation was that you had to prove malpractice.
– Prima facie.
– That is right. Take the case of a union with 2,000 members. Supposing the returning officer ran down to Coronation Press, the Communist press, as we know he often did, and had 1,000 extra ballot papers printed. He then got the office girl to fill out those ‘ballotpapers in favour of the Communist candidates. But he did not do that in public. He did not let everybody know what he was doing and it was impossible to prove what was going on. Even where Labour Party candidates took a case to court, under the Chifley legislation the Communists were able to engage clever lawyers who sought adjournments on quite justifiable grounds. The cases were strung out over a long period of time. Sometimes the defeated candidates proved malpractice and obtained a verdict in their favour, but by the time the verdict was delivered a new election was due. They may have proved that they were honestly elected in the first place, but by the time they obtained a verdict in the case a new election had been held and new office-bearers were in power. What was the good of a verdict, delivered in 1954, that they had been elected for the year 1952-53? If we go back to the Chifley legislation it will be possible for that kind of thing to happen. I do not think that will commend itself to the people.
Senator Ormonde referred to the Federated Ironworkers Association case of, as he put it, 1945. I think Senator Ormonde was a little premature, particularly as I think he gave evidence in the case. He knows that the case took place in the I950’s. I think that the present controversy about court controlled ballots is an attempt to create an atmosphere that will influence the elections in the Amalgamated Engineering Union and will ensure that the Communists retain a two-to-one majority in the union. Whatever may be said about these ballots, they are clean. The evidence is that sometimes one side wins and sometimes the other side wins. In the old days the thing to do was win the job of returning officer. Then you were assured of winning the election. It was not always the Communists who did this. People who were not Communists won the position of returning officer of their union in order to keep out the Communists. I remember a man telling me on one occasion that he was a fighter against the Communists-
Order! Honorable senators will please note that we are discussing an item in the Estimates. Honorable senators should not make long speeches on the merits or demerits of court controlled ballots. There has been far too much wandering away from the estimates before the Chair. 1 ask honorable senators to confine their remarks to the subject under discussion.
– I conclude my remarks with a reference to Senator Ormonde’s statement about the peace that has existed in the coal-mining industry. When he attributed the present state of affairs to various things he failed in some measure to acknowledge the achievements of his own party. I attribute much of the peace in the coal-mining industry to the establishment of the Joint Coal Board. The board gave miners a fair deal. That is one reason why there has been peace in the industry. Another reason why there has been peace in the industry is that you do not get trouble in an industry where unemployment is shrinking. That aspect has had its effect on the industry.
– I wish to refer to Division No. 401, item 02, “Temporary and Casual Employees, £440,800.” Provision for temporary and casual employees is a regular item under this division. Is it not possible to reduce the number of casual employees and to employ more permanent officers? if we turn to the schedule of salaries and allowances at page 211 of the Estimates, we note that provision of £48,350 is made for permanent officers occupying temporary positions. It will be noted also that under Division No. 401 the proposed appropriation for temporary and casual employees is £440,800. I should like the Minister for the Navy to indicate what kinds of positions are occupied by casual employees and whether any of those positions can be made permanent. Also, will he indicate which temporary positions are being occupied by permanent officers?
I note that the number of executive and senior administrative officers has been reduced by two but that the staff under them gradually has increased. For example, the number of employment officers has risen by eleven. That is a fairly clear indication that unemployment is a matter of some concern to the department. Also, there are four additional industrial relations officers. I should like to know where they have been placed. Twelve additional professional, technical and research officers and librarians have been employed. I should like to know what kind of professional and technical research is conducted and whether it is possible for this group of officers to conduct research into unemployment in industry and the wastage of trained personnel. The Minister should be in a position to say that vital statistics relating to such matters will be made available through either the research section of tha Department of Labour and National Service or through the Commonwealth Statistician’s office on information supplied by the department.
– I am informed that the bulk of the proposed expenditure is in respect of permanent and temporary officers. There are a few casual employees who are employed as cleaners and so forth.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Department of Labour and National Service - Capital Works and Services
Proposed expenditure, £102,000.
, - It is proposed to spend £22,000 on the acquisition of sites and buildings. I should like to know whether the sites in question have actually been acquired. The condition of some of the offices in which the officers of the department are working are shameful, to say the least. The offices of the unemployment section of the Western Australian branch in King-street, Perth, are dirty. It is not reasonable to ask competent and decent officers to work in such premises. In summer these offices are hot. They were unsuitable when first acquired and they have never been improved. This section of the department will be in existence for some time. Attention should be given to the provision of better facilities for the officers who work there and for the unfortunate members of the community who have to apply there for jobs.
One often sees queues of people outside in Wellington-street waiting to be called in. Those people spend a miserable morning waiting out on the street opposite the railway yards to see what will happen to them. It is time that the Government thought of establishing decent office accommodation and decent facilities for interviewing people in a department which obviously will be permanent. The proposed expenditure we are considering does not seem to include provision for any improvement of the offices to which I have referred. I should like to know whether the Government is prepared to provide better accommodation.
– I am not quite sure just what the query was about. If the honorable senator was asking what this sum of money is to be spent on, it is set out at page 31 of the explanatory notes that were circulated to honorable senators. One of the acquisitions relates to Fairfield, in Victoria. There is to be a movement from the premises at 199 Heidelberg-road.
– Is that the acquisition?
– It is a transfer from that building in order to make an acquisition which will cost £13,125. In addition, provision is made for the acquisition of a site at Ryde in New South Wales for a district employment office at a cost of £4,075. That makes a total of £17,200. The remaining sum, which will bring the total provision up to £22,000, is for the acquisition of a site which the department requires to enable it to move from accommodation which it does not consider good enough.
– Is there any possibility of anything being done to improve the bad accommodation that exists in Western Australia? lt seems that the section to which I referred earlier will be permanent. It has been in the present accommodation for two decades.
– No provision for that work is made in the estimates now before us. If the honorable senator strongly believes that there should be an improvement of the offices in Western Australia, perhaps he could best achieve his objective by taking up the matter with the responsible Minister.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Proposed Expenditure - Defence Services - Department of Labour and National Service - Post Discharge Re-settlement Training, £1,000 - noted.
War and Repatriation Services - Department of Labour and National Service - Technical Training.
Proposed expenditure, £154,000.
– I should like to know more about this technical training. I should like to know whether it is training for Commonare trained, where they come from, and wealth service, the number of students who what form of application, if any, has to be made by persons who want to be brought under the scheme.
– What is the variation in the expenditure under this division?
– For this year the proposed expenditure on tuition, text-books and equipment is £130,000. In 1960-61 the appropriation was £200,000 and the expenditure was £165,519. The appropriation for this year is £35,519 less than the expenditure last year. The appropriation for living allowances this year is about £6,000 less than the expenditure last year. The appropriation for buildings and equipment is about £3,000 more than the expenditure last year. Only £146 was spent under that item in the year 1960-61. I should like the Minister to give me the information for which I have asked on the type and number of students and whether any special type of application for technical training is required. I should like a break-up of the expenditure and the statistics.
– I have not the statistics of the actual number of people taking advantage of this provision at present. The provision is made for such things as tuition fees, books, tools of trade, correspondence and part-time training under the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme, the Korea-Malaya Training Scheme and the Disabled Members’ and Widows’ Training Scheme. The decreases to which Senator Cooke referred are due to a marked reduction in applications for training. That reduction has occurred because the KoreaMalaya Training Scheme is drawing to a close. The downward trend in expenditure from 1958-59 to 1960-61 is expected to continue to the same extent in 1961-62 because of the diminution in the number of applicants. I have not the actual numbers, but that is the sort of training that is provided and the trend in the numbers asking for that training.
– The numbers are becoming fewer and the pool seems to be drying up, according to the Minister; yet money is being spent on buildings and equipment. Is that appropriation for maintenance or extensions? This scheme has been going along smoothly with a small expenditure.
– The relevant information is provided in the document which has been circulated to all honorable senators. The appropriation for buildings and equipment is made for renovations and maintenance of the Fairfield annexe following a report on the building by the Metropolitan Fire Brigade. The provision in 1960-61 was for the same purpose, but the Department of Works was unable to let a contract in sufficient time for the work to be completed in that financial year.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Department of the Navy.
Proposed expenditure £48,019,000.
– I wish to pose a question to the Minister for the Navy in relation to the two Charles F. Adams destroyers which are estimated to cost more than £40,000,000. One is to be delivered in December, 1965, and the other in December, 1966. Is the Minister satisfied that those ships will meet the requirements at that time? Allegations have been made that they could not be built in Australia; yet Australian shipbuilding yards, including Williamstown and Cockatoo Island, have no contracts for more than a few months ahead. I have been informed - perhaps I have been misinformed - that apart from the superficial structure the basic construction of these vessels is not very much different from that of other vessels.
Over the last twelve years almost £2,000,000,000 has been spent on the defence forces. Probably £600,000,000 of that amount has been spent on the Navy. Ships have been remodelled and frigates have been built in Australia. The Government or government representatives have claimed that those frigates are among the most modern in the world. The orders for these two Charles F. Adams destroyers, which will cost about £41,000,000, have been placed in the United States of America. It has been claimed that they could not have been built in Australia and that they could not have been built in the required time. Admittedly, they might have cost more money if they were built in Australia. However, the United States of America is not a cheap place in which to build anything, including vessels.
I ask the Minister why the Government has placed the orders in the United States of America and whether it could have obtained a franchise or licence to have them built somewhere else. I ask him whether they could have been built in Australia. The Australian shipbuilding industry is in the doldrums. In Queensland Evans Deakin Limited is putting men off because the company will not be able to start until the end of January on the ship that it has a contract to build. That shipyard needs a building programme of at least 10,000 tons a year.
– Is that ship for the Navy?
– I am talking about the preparedness of the Navy and the needs of the Navy. Shipbuilding is a part of that. Would you not know that, Senator Scott? I thought you would, with your wide experience.
– All I am asking you is whether Evans Deakin Limited builds for the Navy.
– Do you not realize that all ships-
– I realize a lot of things, but answer the question.
– I will leave it to the Minister; he knows the story. Frankly, I am sick and tired of these rude interruptions when I am trying to make a speech. Give me a break on this occasion at least. You have gagged me, Ned Kelly-ed me and Ben Hall-ed so often-
– I pose that question about the two Charles F. Adams destroyers. Nuclear-powered submarines have been considered overseas, yet the Government intends to rely on conventional submarines to protect the nation. The Government intends to spend more than £40,000,000 on two destroyers with seatoair guided missiles. One is to be delivered in December, 1965, and one in December, 1966. Would it not have been better to have modernized the Australian shipyards? The Government claims that the Navy’s frigates are as modern as any in the world. They were built in Australian shipyards.
Shipyards cannot be modernized suddenly. Once the technical men and even the skilled workers leave, you cannot just get them back again when you want them. I am accused of being parochial when I talk about the Queensland shipbuilding industry. Surely these modern vessels could have been built under licence at Whyalla. The Government might have got them built more cheaply in other shipyards; for instance, at Glasgow or somewhere else in the United Kingdom. An amount of £700,000 has been committed this year for these vessels. These vessels are to be bought under the hire-purchase system, I understand. The Government has said that it does not have to pay for them now, but it will have to pay for them eventually, and pay dearly. I ask the Minister to tell us his responsibilities in relation to shipbuilding in Australian shipyards.
– Let me answer first the last of the questions asked by Senator Dittmer. My responsibility as the Minister for the Navy is to get for the fighting men of Australia who join the Royal Australian Navy the greatest amount of the most modern equipment in the shortest time and at the lowest cost, so that they will be able to do their work with the greatest of safety to themselves and with the greatest benefits to the country that they serve. That is a responsibility which, I believe, has been discharged by ordering the ships to which Senator Dittmer has referred. In that way we are getting for Australian sailors in the shortest time and at the lowest cost the most modern ships of this class that are available.
In one part of Senator Dittmer’s speech there was an indication that he thought a comparison could be made of frigates built in Australia and destroyers such as those that we are buying abroad. Of course, it is quite impossible to compare the two classes of vessels. The frigates that we build in Australia are about half the size and half the horse-power of the destroyers about which we are talking. In addition, the frigates are considerably slower than the destroyers and have no missiles and have much less armament. For ships of their type, designed exclusively to hunt submarines, the frigates are good modern ships, but as all-round fighting vessels they are not comparable with the destroyers that we are procuring from abroad.
I was asked whether these destroyers could be built somewhere else more cheaply. I was asked, in particular, whether they could be built in Australia more cheaply.
– Or in other countries, such as the United Kingdom.
– I was asked particularly whether the destroyer could be built more .cheaply and more quickly in Australia. I am convinced that they could not be built in Australia as cheaply or as quickly as they will be built in the United States of America. The answer to Senator Scott’s question, which Senator Dittmer refused to give, is that Evans Deakin Limited has not worked for the Navy since the last war, when it did some naval h ull construction work. The shipyards of that firm are not naval shipyards.
An endeavour to construct ships of this kind in Australia would involve far more than the construction the hulls, which are, so to speak, just the skins covering the expensive parts of the ships. Unless we were prepared to devote to the work, at an immense, cost, a vast proportion of Australia’s total resources of skilled manpower and technical facilities, we should have no import all the electronic devices designed specially for firing and guiding the antiaircraft missiles, for firing and guiding the Asroc - about which Senator Brown asked a question this afternoon - for aiming and firing the quick-firing 5.7-inch guns and for controlling the equipment which will enable the crews of these ships to communicate with the crews of fixed wing aircraft, helicopters, surface ships and submarines belonging to the British Navy or to the American Navy. We should have to import all the other things which we now have to import in order to equip, for instance, the type 12 frigates and the Daring class destroyers.
As I have said, the frigates that we build in Australia are not equipped with missiles - the cost of which is included in the cost of the destroyers that we have ordered - and are about half the size and half the horse-power of the destroyers. They cannot be compared with the destroyers as all-round fighting ships, although they are most useful for anti-submarine work.
When construction of the frigates was started a long time ago, the cost was estimated at about £7,000,000 and it is estimated now at more than £9,000,000. lt is quite clear that these destroyers could not be built as cheaply in Australia as in America. If we were prepared to devote enough of our man-power and other resources to the job, I suppose that, at the expense of many other things, we could build destroyers of this type or anything on which we set our mind.
As a second string, Senator Dittmer referred to the possibilty of the destroyers being built in the United Kingdom. All that I can say about that is that the United Kingdom Government is engaged in trying to produce ships of this type, but the British Admiralty has estimated - I emphasize that word - that the cost will be far higher than the firm price that we shall pay America for our ships. Our experience in dealing with shipbuilders for the British Admiralty is that the estimates given are always lower than the prices that eventually have to be paid. For my part, I am convinced, as were the members of the Naval Staff, that these ships, even though they would not provide a solution to all the problems with which the Royal Australian Navy would be faced if it had to fight a war by itself, will greatly strengthen our naval forces and allow us to make a significant contribution to an allied naval force. The prototype of these destroyers has been in service for only a year. When the ships join our Navy, the class to which they belong will have been in service with one of the major navies of the world for only five or six years. I do not believe that any other navy has ships of this type.
.- -I refer to Division No. 475- Administrative Expenses and General Services, item 06, Naval aviation and other personnel - Special training fees. The appropriation under this heading for 1960-61 was £90,000, and £94,393 was spent. The appropriation sought this year is £280,000. What is the reason for the big increase? Is the reason that the Australian Government has great faith in the Navy and believes that more money should be spent on the special training of personnel?
I remember that, at the invitation of the Minister for the Navy, I attended some naval exercises which took place outside the Sydney Heads. Speaking from memory, 1 think the exercises were called “ Operation Shopwindow “. Those who attended saw the latest equipment that had been purchased by the Navy being operated by naval personnel. I was most impressed by the exercises. They involved submarine activities, the detection and destruction of hostile craft, and the destruction of submarines by naval aircraft. The recruits of the Navy carried out the exercises in a manner which, I believe, should go down in history as being worthy of the true Australian spirit. Then I come into this chamber a year or two afterwards and see that the amount for the tuition of these personnel has been increased threefold. I should like to ask the Minister the reason for the increase in this item from £94,000 to £284,000.
– On Thursday evening, just before the Senate adjourned, I asked the Minister for the Navy a question about the Navy. 1 gave him details and referred to an article that appeared in the “ Sunday Mirror “. 1 wish to refer to the matter again because the Minister did not answer the question I addressed to him. He did then what he did quite recently in reply to Senator Dittmer. He gave a nice dissertation, but he did not answer the question. The Minister goes round with the boys in gold braid and makes after-dinner speeches, but honorable senators on this side of the chamber cannot obtain any information from him. The Minister does a lot of what I call shuffling, and at times a lot of prevaricating. There is no doubt that he is pretty good at shuffling.
I referred the Minister to Division No. 471 - Australian Naval Forces, and Division No. 476 - Equipment and Stores. I asked the Minister whether any further arrangements are in hand to provide an up-to-date navy within a short period to oppose any aggressor. I have not had a reply yet. The Minister gave a reply to Senator Dittmer recently in relation to building ships in Australia but he did not answer the question outright at all. We would like to know whether there is any possibility of building in Australia the whole range of ships that are needed by the Navy. We must not forget that Australia is an .island continent as is Great Britain and Japan. Those countries are able to build the ships required for their navies. Some of the ships they build are better than could be obtained elsewhere. I see no reason why we should not build our own ships in Australia. The Minister has dodged answering this question just as he dodges answering questions in the Senate at question -time. It is impossible to get a straight-out answer from him as the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, or for that matter, as Minister for the Navy.
On Thursday night 1 made certain charges. I said that the Navy was not up to date and could not defend Australia and that, in addition, there was no provision for the Navy to defend Australia. An hour or so previously Senator Mattner had said that we should defend Australia, not on Australian soil, but somewhere else. I made the charge then-
– Your policy is to defend Australia on Australian soil?
– Let him make his speech in his own way. He is entitled to do so.
– Have the interjectors finished?
The CHAIRMAN (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid). - Order! Senator O’Flaherty to continue.
– Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I mentioned that Senator Mattner had made the statement that we should not defend Australia on Australian soil but should defend it in other places.
– That is my opinion, and I stick to it.
– Exactly. You said that.
Sentor Mattner. - Yes, and, what is more, I went there to do so.
– Wait a moment! I said at the time that the Navy could not defend Australia and could not transport any troops overseas. I said that it had no ships to do so. The Minister posed some question of his own and gave us an answer to it, but he did not answer .my question.
– Has the Navy ever transported any troops?
– No; and during the course of his speech he said that it was not the Navy’s business to ship troops.
– That is right.
– Exactly. However, about two minutes later the Minister stated that the Navy was converting Her Majesty’s ship “ Sydney “ to a troop carrier. I ask the question: Is the Navy in existence for the purpose of defending Australia, or is it in existence for the purpose of carrying troops overseas to defend Australia somewhere else?
– You do not want them to go overseas!
– That does not answer the question. I was told that we must not defend Australia here, but that we must defend it somewhere else. As a matter of fact, the Government is depending on the South-East Asia Treaty Organization for the purpose of defending Austral but already that treaty is disintegrating and will not be of much help to us. The Navy will not be able to help Seato because it has not the ships to do so.
I again ask the Minister whether any provision has been made to bring the Navy up to date and make it an effective force. Is there any provision to provide, within a short period of time, a fighting force that can defend Australia if some aggressor attacks us?
I desire also to ask the same question as Senator Dittmer asked. Have any arrangements been made to extend Australian shipyards so that they can build up-to-date ships for our Navy?
Senator Sir WALTER COOPER (Queensland) [10.9]. - I refer to Division No. 476, item 02 - Naval air stores. The appropriation for 1960-61 was £4,631,000.
The appropriation for this year is £3,818,000. Will the Minister tell me Che reason for the difference in those amounts?
Senator ORMONDE (New South Wales) (10.10]. - I direct the Minister’s attention to the dispute between the Department of the Navy and the Sydney City Council over the proposal to erect naval barracks at Wyde-street, Potts Point. So that I would be well informed on the matter, yesterday I attended a meeting of the Sydney City Council at which discussions took place regarding this affair. Apparently the Department of the Navy has decided, rather high-handedly I thought, to establish barracks in that area. The council objects to this proposal on the ground that the barracks will not conform to the residential zoning of the area. Also, it is said by the aldermen and the Lord Mayor of Sydney, who is probably well known by reputation in this chamber-
– He will be the next honorable member for Bennelong.
– That is right. They say that the proposed naval building will conflict with the council’s foreshore building code because it will cover more than 30 per cent, of the site, that the height of the proposed building also will conflict with the code, and that the building will block the harbour views of people who have paid high prices for properties.
This is not just a cheap argument between the City Council and the Department of the Navy. From the point of view of the council, the decision of the Navy to build on the site creates great difficulties for the council The Minister probably knows that the council has big building projects in view for this year. Some of the major business houses in Sydney, including David Jones Limited and Farmer and Company Limited, have come to the conclusion, along with the State Government and the council, that for too long people have been shifted out from the city areas into the suburbs. They now feel that people should be housed closer to the city proper, because that would help to relieve the traffic problem and other incidental problems that city dwellers have to contend with to-day. Therefore, if the Navy erects the building in that location it will really be affecting the council’s general plans for the rebuilding of Woolloomooloo and the demolition of the slum areas around Woolloomooloo and the lower end of Potts Point and their replacement by modern residential buildings.
As I explained earlier, it is not just a question of an argument over a particular area. As I understand the views of the aldermen, if the building is erected there it will affect the whole of the City Council’s building proposals for that area. It will disjoint them and be right out of harmony with them. Another objection is taken by local residents. I should not think that their objection has been taken out of any disrespect for the naval personnel who are to be housed there. They object to large aggregations of men living under barrack conditions in that part of the city. They conceive, whether rightly or wrongly, that certain evils could grow out of those circumstances, irrespective of the discipline exercised over the personnel. That, of course, may be only a matter of opinion, but I express the objection because it is one that I heard, not from the Labour side of the Sydney City Council but from the Civic Reform side. I ask the Minister whether, even at this late hour, it would not be possible for representatives of the Department of the Navy or the Government to confer with officers of the Sydney City Council with a view to arriving at a solution of the difficulty. It is not a very good spectacle when one government authority opposes head-on another government authority in a matter like this. After all, one authority must have respect for another authority’s rights. The Government would do a great deal of good, and also help the Government of New South Wales and the Sydney City Council out of a difficulty, if it could arrive at an amicable arrangement which would suit both sides to the dispute.
.-Senator Scott asked me why there is’ such a large increase in the provision, in Division No. 475, for special special training fees for naval aviation and other personnel. The main reason for the increase is the decision by the Government to equip the Fleet Air Arm with 27 Westland Wessex helicopters which are coming into service in the United Kingdom at the present time. They are all-weather helicopters. We are sending pilots to England to familiarize themselves with those aircraft and, after having done so, to serve for a while with Royal Navy squadrons so that when the aircraft arrive in 1963 we shall have fully-equipped pilots, observers and reserves all ready with the helicopters.
Senator O’Flaherty made reference to a number of questions which he said he asked me last Thursday. He complains that he had not received answers to them. “ Hansard “ indicates that he asked one question and one question only. It was as follows: -
I ask the Minister whether any further arrangements are in hand to provide an up-to-date navy within a short period, to oppose any aggressor
I am not quite clear what the honorable senator meant by “ any further arrangements “. The arrangements in hand to provide an up-to-date Navy are such that there wm arrive in this country in the next calendar year six mine-sweepers and one fast fleet replenishment tanker. During that time two more improved type 12 frigates, which will join the fleet in the year after that, will be in course of completion in Australian shipyards. There will be provided in 1963 the helicopters of which I have already spoken in answering Senator Scott’s question. To be delivered in December, 1965, and March, 1966, there will be the two guided missile destroyers, of which I have already spoken. Those are the steps which are in hand to provide a navy.
The second question which Senator O’Flaherty asked me to-day was whether we intended to build in Australia ships able to cover the whole range of naval requirements. The answer to that question is, “ No “. The honorable senator also asked whether arrangements had been made to open up shipyards - I think those were his words - in order to build up-to-date ships for the Navy. The answer to that question is. “ Yes “. The Newcastle State Dockyard has, by tender instead of by cost-plus, gained a contract to build for the Navy an up-to-date survey vessel.
asked me why we were providing less for naval and air stores in the current estimates. The answer is, in part, because the fixed wing aircraft which at present constitute the Fleet Air Arm are due to phase out in 1963. There are on hand stores which make it unnecessary to buy as many stores of that kind as were bought in the past. Naval stores, in the form of a number of capital items which we have been seeking for some time, have been provided for in the last year and do not need to be provided for in 1961-62.
asked me some questions about an alleged dispute between the Sydney City Council, I gather, and the Navy. All I can say on that matter is that as far as I am aware - and I made inquiries at the end of last week - there was no indication from the Sydney City Council to either the Department of Works or the Department of the Navy that there was in fact any question at issue between the council and those departments of the Commonwealth Government. The matter would perhaps be better known to members of the Public Works Committee, who have been looking into it, as is their right and duty. If there were reservations on the part of the City Council, I presume that the committee would have been told about them by the council. We certainly have not been told of them. If there were such reservation, the arguments in favour of them put forward by Senator Ormonde ought not to be regarded as compelling. This land is owned by the Commonwealth Government. It is now built on. It is at least as important that sailors be housed in decent conditions near their work as it is that employees of the big businesses to which Senator Ormonde referred should be housed in flats which, I presume, would be owned by other big businesses which would no doubt make a profit if this land were made available to them. The ordinary building regulations, should there be any question at issue, would be the subject of negotiation.
As I say, I know of no indication by the city council. If there were to be an indication, if it were to be based on such grounds as Senator Ormonde suggested, and above all if it were to be based on any imputation that the bringing together in that area of a number of Australian sailors - who, to be Australian sailors nowadays, have to be among the best educated of our population, physically fit and of good character, young men learning trades and serving their country at the same time - is something from which evil could grow, I would not consider it for one minute.
– I refer to Division No. 482, which relates to the purchase and manufacture of aircraft and associated initial equipment. The expenditure last year on this item was £25,000. The appropriation proposed for this year is £2,260,000. I ask the Minister the reason for this large increase. Are we purchasing aircraft outside Australia? How much are we spending on the purchase of aircraft outside Australia, and how much are we spending on the manufacture of aircraft in Australia? We have heard from Senator O’Flaherty criticism of the proposition that we should go outside Australia to defend it. Senator Mattner said that for the defence of Australia in its early stages we should go outside the shores of Australia.
– And I stand by that.
– He stands by it, and Senator O’Flaherty contradicts the proposition. That is what worries me about the defence policy of the Opposition. Surely, if the policy of the Australian Labour Party-
– I rise to order. What item in these estimates relates to the Labour Party’s policy?
– That is not a point of order.
– I maintain that it is a point of order. I want to know to which item the matter relates.
– There is no substance in the point of order.
– This is a most serious matter. I am discussing the item which relates to the purchase and manufacture of aircraft for the defence of Australia.
– We defended Austrafia when you walked out.
– In 1941 we took over when your party walked out.
– This is a very serious matter. I am discussing a proposed increase in expenditure from £25,000 last year to £2,260,000 this year. In this connexion, I mentioned that Senator Mattner had stated his belief that in the initial stages the defence of Australia should take place outside its shores. That proposition was opposed by Senator O’Flaherty, who said that no expenditure should be incurred in defence outside the shores of Australia. Having said that, I ask the Minister-
– What did you say?
– Do you want it repeated?
– No. We heard you the first time.
– One member of the Opposition asks me to repeat what I said and the other says that 1 need not bother because they have already heard it. Whom do I please, the honorable doctor or the boy from Tasmania?
– The honorable senator should speak to the estimates under consideration.
– This matter is most serious. There is a difference between the Opposition and the Government in respect of policy. I think it is terrible that the Labour Party should adopt a policy of defending Australia within Australia. I am intensely interested in the particulars of proposed expenditure under this item. I ask the Minister: What proportion of the aircraft will be purchased outside Australia and what proportion will be manufactured in Australia?
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Chairman do now leave the chair and report to the Senate.
Question resolved in the negative.
.- In reply to the question asked by Senator Scott, the reason for the increase from an expenditure of £25,000 is because of the provision of £2,257,000 towards the 27 new helicopters that are being bought for the Fleet Air Arm. The remaining £3,000 is for the purchase of a Bristol Sycamore helicopter. All the helicopters and their equipment are being purchased in the United Kingdom.
– I refer to Division No. 481 - Naval Construction, and Division No. 482 - Aircraft and Associated Initial Equipment. My remarks will be confined to those two divisions. I direct the committee’s attention to the fact that in April, 1957, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), in his survey of the defence of Australia, indicated that the Navy lacked ships of the appropriate kind. That statement rather staggered the nation but it was demonstrably true. The Opposition expected that, with the realization of the defects in the Navy, remedial action would be taken speedily by the Government. What happened? Nothing happened for nearly four and a half years while the Government endeavoured to make up its mind what types of ships it would get and what form the equipment of the Navy would take. After four and a half years the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) as recently as 5th October last announced that two Charles F. Adams : lass destroyers were to be purchased from the United States of America. When are we to get those destroyers? We will get them in 1965 and 1966. At least five years from now we are to get the two Famous destroyers. We are to get 27 Westland Wessex Mark XXXI helicopters, ordered only after four and a half years.
– I would say at least four years ahead, not five.
– This is 1961. Subtracting 61 from 66, on my arithmetic-
– At least from 1965.
– The Minister for Defence said that the destroyers would be delivered in 1965 and 1966. That means five years from now, according to my arithmetic. The 27 helicopters have been ordered to equip the “ Melbourne “ as a helicoptercarrier in 1963.
– In eighteen months from now.
– Again, that sounds like two years to me. There is no indication whether they are to be delivered at the beginning of the year or at the end of the year. I direct the Minister’s attention to the fact that it was in April, 1957, that the Navy was acknowledged to lack ships of an appropriate kind.
Now I come to the refitting of the aircraft carrier “ Sydney “ as a fast transport for the movement of Army personnel. We are told that that work will be completed early in 1962. We are told that six coastal mine sweepers will be converted for service as units for our Navy. They are to be completed in about a year. Then we come to anti-submarine frigates. Two of them have been constructed in Australia and two more are expected to be completed by early 1963. The Minister for Defence has recorded the fact that there are no submarines in the Royal Australian Navy but that we have stationed in Australia a number belonging to the Royal Navy. We cannot count on those in an emergency. Judging from what has been written by those who are responsible for naval strategy, the best defence against submarines is provided by submarines. Australia has no submarines of her own. How long can we rely on the provision of submarines by the Royal Navy if the United Kingdom becomes involved in war in another theatre? Can we count upon those submarines for a day, for a week or for a month? Why did the Navy take so long to reach a decision as to the types of vessels that it required? How comfortable can Australia feel at the prospect that the new ships that are envisaged will take so long to come into commission?
Looking at the document in relation to the estimates so thoughtfully provided by the Department of the Navy we find that the anti-submarine frigates, of which two are yet to come, will cost a total of £27,600,000. I have indicated what will be the fate of the other two. They, fortunately, are being manufactured in this country. I turn to the coastal mine sweepers to be made available in about a year. We are told that arrangements were made with the United Kingdom for the purchase of those vessels and that their outfitting will cost £6,300,000. I ask the Minister why that work cannot be done in Australia. It is not a mammoth task. It quite obviously could be done here and when one weighs the question of cheapness one must always have regard to the difficulties that confront us with our balanceofpayments position. I ask the Minister to indicate to the committee what actuated the Government in determining that the refitting of those mine sweepers, which is to be spread over a period, should not be undertaken in this country. A survey ship is scheduled for completion in September 1963. That ship is being built in Australia. The two Charles F. Adams class destroyers, for which £700,000 is allocated this year, and about which we will hear in December 1965-
– In four years’ time.
– One in December, 1965, and the other in December, 1966 - five years.
– March, 1966.
– If the Minister refers to page 20 of the document dealing with the Navy’s estimates he will find that the expected delivery dates are December, 1965, and December, 1966.
– It is now March, 1966.
– Do not tell me that the Navy has made a mistake!
– No, the United States has advanced the delivery date.
– I am happy to hear that. In those circumstances we might have had a correction to the document that was circulated.
– The delivery date was brought forward after the document was circulated. We do not stand still.
– If I accept March, 1966, as the delivery date for the second destroyer, that is four and a half years.
– For the second.
– For the second one, and four and a half years too long, the Government already having had four and a half years in which to make up its mind on the matter. So, in all, nine years will have elapsed from the time the Navy acknowledged that it did not have sufficient ships of the right kind to the time when these destroyers are delivered. It is that approach to the naval construction programme that horrifies the Opposition. We are horrified to think that the Government, with the vast sum of £200,000,000 per annum at its disposal year after year, should have acknowledged in 1957 that the Navy lacked equipment and should have placed orders four and a half years later, with delivery dates a further four and a half years ahead. The Minister should explain this delay not merely to the committee but for the benefit of the country. The Charles F. Adams class destroyers are costly. They will cost £40,100,000. That amount no doubt will be spread over a long period. They are to be built outside Australia. They will cost badly needed dollars. This year we are spending £700,000 and are not making very much progress. I put it to the Minister that the record of the Government in equipping the Royal Australian Navy is completely inglorious. I refer to page 21 of the explanatory notes, which deals with aircraft and associated initial equipment and the purchase of 27 Westland Wessex helicopters. The Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) indicated, I understand, that the aircraft carrier “ Sydney “ would be refitted as a fast transport and that the “ Melbourne “ would be refitted as a helicopter-carrier by 1963. When is the delivery of these helicopters expected to ‘be completed?
– You will see it at page 21.
– The notes state that the delivery of the helicopters is expected to commence late in 1961-62. That gets us somewhere near the end of June next year and I am interested to know when the delivery is expected to be completed. I know the commencement date, but 1 am concerned about the date of completion of deliveries.
– I feel that I should not allow Senator O’Flaherty’s remarks to pass without indicating the feeling of contempt on this side of the chamber for what he said and particularly for the bitter attack he made on what he chooses to term the “ top brass “. By that I presume he means officers in the Navy from the rank of captain upwards to flag rank. Does he not realize that it takes from 35 to 40 years for a man to reach the rank of admiral and that senior officers in the navy to-day, from the rank of captain upwards, must have put in at least six years in the bloody hell of war when he and his confreres were sitting back doing nothing and laughing, no doubt, at the casualty lists. I think his remarks were disgraceful and I want to put that on record.
.- I am not going to enter into any argument between this side of the chamber and the other side concerning the disposition of troops or reflections on admirals. I think every one in this Parliament must realize, in these days of nuclear warfare, that we cannot afford to enter into political disputation of that nature.
– Whenever I hear somebody speak as Senator O’Flaherty did I will intervene.
– I do not for one moment think that Senator O’Flaherty used the words that Senator Scott attributed to him. I think that perhaps Senator O’Flaherty, in his good Irish way, was expressing perhaps a little roughly the fears of thousands of people in this nation, from Brisbane to Perth and from Cape York to the Tasman Sea, who, because of modern developments in the nuclear sphere are very much afraid that in dealing with the Navy the Government is not aware of the great progress that has been made in modern combat methods. Having read in the press only a few days ago that a rocket weapon was sent 7,000 miles and landed on its target, I would have been amused to-night, if it were not so tragic, to hear the discussion by learned gentlemen in this chamber as to whether troops should be sent away or kept at home to defend Australia.
I rose to ask a question concerning defence research and development. Last year the appropriation for this purpose was £164,000 and we expended £166,577. This year the appropriation is £344,000. I am not questioning that, as long as the money is to be expended in a proper manner, because to-day there is need for the deepest research in order to provide this country with modern defences. We, on this side of the committee, are not opposed to money being spent on research, but I would like the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) to tell us what form that research is taking. Does it deal with the change in modern naval strategy as the result of modern scientific developments? While I know that most of this work is of a secret nature, I would like to know where we as a nation stand, with our present Navy, in relation to the modern weapons that are being developed. lt must be admitted that the development of rocket projectiles, the nuclear bomb and other such weapons has revolutionized naval strategy and warfare. In every country in the world where the naval forces are highly developed there is considerable divergence of opinion between the leaders - the admirals and governments - as to what is the best plan to pursue to bring the naval forces up to date. I asked a question the other day, but the Minister for the Navy, who is an alert and quick-minded man, noticed that it should have been directed to our friend the courteous Minister for Aix (Senator Wade). Perhaps, while speaking to this item, I shall be allowed to ask this question again, because I think the answer to it should throw some light on the ability of our forces to destroy submarines. We do not want for one moment to mislead the people of Australia into falsely assuming that we have a modern navy capable of fighting even a minor war. We want to know the truth and, if it is essential to spend more money on certain arms the people, if they know the truth, will agree to that. But if they think that our defence is almost perfect they will criticize any government which wishes to spend more money on defence than is at present being spent.
– Order! I think the honorable senator should return to the item under discussion.
– My God, I think I am a damn sight nearer to the mark than most other speakers have been to-night! There is not the slightest doubt about that. Surely in our present serious position we should have a bit of common sense.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! I ask the honorable senator to come to the matter with which he wishes to deal.
– All right, I will get on with it.
– Order! The honorable senator must show respect to the Chair.
– I am showing every respect to you, Mr. Temporary Chairman. I think you are one of the best chairmen we have ever had.
– I suppose it is all right to have a little humour in this sterile chamber. I am not dealing with the sectarian question.
– Order! I ask the honorable senator to proceed with his speech.
– To-day people are asking whether helicopters and aeroplanes can deal with the modern nuclear submarine which carries the Polaris missile. This missile was used only within the last day or two by the Americans. Of course, it was a dummy weapon. But it was fired from under the sea. I have discussed this matter with many naval and air people and have asked them whether our modern form of defence is of any avail against the modern nuclear submarine which can fire a Polaris missile when submerged. On 5th October I referred to a press article regarding the new and deadly submarine-killing Lockheed P2V-7 Neptunes. The article stated -
Next April, with its Neptune 7’s at Garbutt, No. 10 Squadron will be ready again for any submarine that cares to poke up its periscope.
I asked the Minister for the Navy this question -
Of what avail would these modern aircraft be against submarines carrying Polaris missiles, which could fire these deadly weapons while totally submerged?
I now ask the Minister whether such matters can be dealt with under the proposed ap propriation for research. Can he tell me whether it would be possible for a Neptune 7 to destroy a modern nuclear submarine carrying the Polaris missile?
– The answer is “ Yes “.
– I am glad the Minister for Air says that, because people are fearful about our powers of defence in a minor disturbance or war. I recently asked a question in this chamber, but the Minister did not feel inclined to answer it. He asked me to see him in his room. I do not propose to deal with the matter referred to in the question. The Minister’s action was quite legitimate. If Ministers do not want to tell the public-
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! I ask honorable senators to come to order.
– I do not know why such a pack of fools laugh when a man is trying to be serious. I shall finish at that point and go home.
– I am sorry that Senator Brown, who asked a number of questions, is leaving the chamber beforeI can reply to him. As his questions are on record, I thinkI should record my reply. The honorable senator asked why the provision for research is to be increased this year. The answer is that much more research is being conducted. The Government, in conjunction with the governments of other countries, is engaged in work on anti-submarine devices. Senator Brown asked me also whether helicopters could cope with submarines which fired the Polaris missile. The only answer I can give him is that the use of helicopters is considered to be one of the best methods of discovering and attacking submarines. If a helicopter is able to discover a submarine, whether it be nuclear-powered or of the conventional type, it would be able to attack that submarine and would have a very good chance of destroying it. If it did not discover the submarine, of course it could not attack it and therefore would not be a defence against it. I repeat that the use of helicopters is one of the best methods of discovering, tracking and attacking sub’ marines.
As a matter of principle, I am still unable to answer the honorable senator’s question about the proper functioning of Air Force equipment. If I started to answer questions on such matters, which are not within my responsibility but are within the responsibility of my colleague, the Minister for Air (Senator Wade), 1 could be asked other questions on those matters. Honorable senators will note that my colleague gave an affirmative answer in relation to a matter that came within his sphere of responsibility.
The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) asked a number of questions and made a number of observations. He said that about four or four and a half years ago it was stated that the Government did not have sufficient of the types of ships it should have. The implication of his subsequent remarks was that nothing had since been done to rectify that situation. I point out that during the last four and a half years two Daring class destroyers have joined the fleet. This year two Type 12 frigates have joined, the fleet. As Senator McKenna pointed out, there will be six minesweepers. But as he did not point out, one fast fleet tanker will join the Australian fleet next year.
asked why the minesweepers were converted in the United Kingdom instead of being built or converted here. These vessels, which are constructed of wood and aluminium, are of a type which has not been built in Australia before. The aluminium sections are not rolled in Australia. Investigations show that, amongst other things, because the vessels have to be built under cover the capital expenditure required before construction could proceed and the acquirement of techniques which are not known in Australia at present would have delayed the acquisition of these minesweepers for years beyond the time when they will in fact be delivered. They will be delivered within approximately eight months from now. If the Government had not acquired them in this manner, no doubt Senator McKenna would have complained that their acquisition had been delayed for too long.
The helicopters about which the honorable senator inquired and which will be used to re-equip the Fleet Air Arm are scheduled to be completed in March, 1963. The vessel “ Melbourne “ should be equipped with them by about May, 1963 - eighteen or nineteen months from now. In addition to the achievements I have already mentioned, we can look forward to the delivery, in approximately four years’ time, of the first of the Charles F. Adams destroyers and in approximately four and a half years time to the delivery of the second such destroyer. In the meantime, as I have mentioned, two Type 12 frigates have joined the fleet, as well as a survey vessel and ancillary craft which for the moment we can leave aside.
I think it is rather unreal to suggest, in view of the fact that the ships I have enumerated will come into service with the Navy over a period which, from now, will be from four years to four and one-third years, that there is any lack in the planning of the Government, or any lack of speed in the action of the Government in relation to the provision of ships in accordance with the money which the Parliament is prepared to make available for that purpose. In that period of about four and a half years we are to have eleven ships, two of them being major ships, and I think that that is fairly good going, especially when there are added the 27 anti-submarine helicopters.
If it is thought that the time for the building of these major ships - from four years to four and one-third years - is too long, I can only say that it is much shorter than the time taken to build in Australia the ships of the Daring class or the Type 12 frigates, and also much shorter than the time which will be taken in Great Britain to design and build a comparable type of ship, which has not yet been completed. Had an attempt been made much sooner than this to settle on the type of guided missile destroyer which Australia wants, that action would have been taken too soon. As I have said, Great Britain has no vessel of this kind in commission, and the prototype of the vessel we are getting has been in commission in the United States Navy now for over a year - long enough for any bugs in the design to be ironed out and to enable a proper decision to be taken on the type of vessel best suited to Australian conditions. I think that the number of ships to be provided, the times at which they are to be provided, and the number of ships which have joined the Navy over the last four years, are in themselves sufficient facts- and figures to refute the allegation of tardiness- made, by the Leader of the Opposition.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) agreed to -
That the- question be- now put.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Proposed expenditure, £2,437,000.
– I direct my remarks to Division 211, which deals- with administration of the. Attorney-General’s Department. On page 181 of the Estimates we find a. number, of details concerning the administration of this department, the Crown Solicitor’s. Office, the High Court, the Bankruptcy Court and so on. Among those are repeated references to registrars - the Registrar of the High Court, the Registrar of the Bankruptcy Court, and several other registrars. The AttorneyGeneral’s Department seems to include a number of sub-departments that are concerned with courts and registrars. In to-day’s issue of the “ Canberra Times “ there appears a leading article dealing with the very matter on which I wish to speak, and with your permission, Mr. Chairman, I will read a portion of that article so that it will be on record. I hope that the Attorney-General’s Department will look into the matter with which it deals in order to try to overcome the difficulty which I believe exists, and which the article explains fairly well. This leader says in part -
It seems to be complicated, but the department will, understand it. The leading article continues -
As Registrar of Companies- and of Co-operative Societies, one of the Canberra magistrates in the course of his administrative responsibilities, deals with matters which could become the subject of prosecution in the court. Unless the Magistrate is to be prosecutor and judge, he cannot be available for his duties in the court in matters arising from his office of Registrar. If he does not preside in the court, he is placed in the undesirable position that his administration may be under review in the court, with the possibility that, oner magistrate may be asked to uphold or reject the actions of another magistrate arising, from matters which have no relationship at all. to magisterial responsibilities-.
The article continues -
Commonwealth, administration should avoid this, conflict of principle and duty. Moreover, no magistrate should be- required to perform administration duties which, could expose him to public criticism..
I- have read, that article: to the committee, Mir. Temporary Chairman, because it deals most emphatically with- the duality of the position of a- magistrate who is also prosecutor and registrar. I think that the Attorney-General’s Department should look into’ the- matter to see whether, it may be necessary to remove some of these: positions, to administration by another, department, sothat the judiciary may be separate and apart and will not have to do duties other than court duties:
– I. desire to refer to the office of Parliamentary Draftsman, which comesunder Division No. 211. This important officer of the Attorney-General’s Department has under him a number of qualified practitioners: who act as draftsmen. As I understand the position, they deal with legislation proper as well as with subordinate legislation! commonly known as regulations. In my opinion, the staff is efficient, but there appears to be not enough staff in the section. The volume of work cast upon this section has increased enormously since this Government came into office. Within the last twelve or eighteen months there has been included in Commonwealth law the matrimonial causes legislation. In addition, the Parliamentary Draftsman and his staff have been dealing with the preparation of uniform, company law. We read that the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick) will shortly have quite a large addition of law, known as “ family law “, dealing with the law of adoption and so on, to make to our existing, law. Wherever one looks the Commonwealth appears to be increasing its legislative ambit, but the staff of the Parliamentary Draftsman, which is expected to draft the legislation and the regulations subsequently required, as well as the forms required under legislation, has not increased. I suggest that there should be a system of recruitment for the work that is carried out by the Parliamentary Draftsman’s section. 1 was very interested to read in the Adelaide press last week-end that the AttorneyGeneral’s Department is advertising for officers for the Patent Office. In the advertisement an attractive course of training is foreshadowed. For that specialized work of the Attorney-General’s Department there is active recruitment and training of young men and women. However, as far as I am able to ascertain, there is no system of training for parliamentary draftsmen. People are attracted to these positions from the legal professions of the States. I believe that some may be attracted from the parliamentary draftsmen’s offices in the various States, but no effort appears to be made to recruit and train parliamentary draftsmen, whereas the Patent Office is attempting to recruit and train officers.
I believe that very little has been done to send parliamentary draftsmen abroad for experience in the legislature of the United Kingdom. 1 understand that officers of the Houses of the Parliament occasionally are sent abroad for training so that they become experienced in the forms and procedures of the Parliament; but as far as I can ascertain, there appears to be no active training scheme of the same kind for the Parliamentary Draftsman’s staff. Consequently, a good deal of the important work of this Parliament is delayed somewhat. 1 refer to the seventeenth report of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee, dated 5th October, 1961. In that report, with reference to the Public Service Regulations, the committee referred to a delay of about eighteen months between the intention of the Government to promulgate the regulations and the actual promulgation of the regulations. The committee said -
The committee regards the delay as inexcusable.
I understand that it was clearly shown to the committee, in its inquiry, that delay occurred in three sections. It occurred in the department requiring the regulations; there was some delay in the Parliamentary Draftsman’s office; and there was quite an interesting and considerable delay in the Government Printing Office. I believe that the whole question of the drafting of statutes and regulations could well be examined in order to ascertain whether these delays could be reduced considerably.
Of course, I am very sympathetic towards the officers of the Attorney-General’s Department who do this difficult and exacting work. Towards the end of a session, especially, they have to work at great pressure. 1 believe that the work of this Parliament has increased so greatly that aD active attempt should be made to inquire into the. whole question of parliamentary drafting. Maybe the Government should consider discussing the question with the Australian National University. Perhaps some course of training in this particular branch of the law should be undertaken. Obviously, that would be a job for the Australian National University rather than for the universities of the States, because it is here in Canberra that the greatest need for parliamentary draftsmen exists and there is the greatest requirement of speed and accuracy in drafting.
I refer now to the Commonwealth Bankruptcy Act and the need for some clarification as to when the committee which is revising that act will present its report. That committee was appointed about three Attorneys-General back. The present Attorney-General inherited this task from the previous Attorney-General, who inherited it from former Senator Spicer. To my knowledge, no report at all has been presented by the committee which was set up in Senator Spicer’s time as AttorneyGeneral to revise the Bankruptcy Act.
I am receiving requests from the commercial community on this matter. I have before me a request dated 7th October, 1961, from the Adelaide Chamber of Commerce to ascertain the position as to the work of this committee and when its report is likely to be available. At present, there are matters of considerable obsolescence under the bankruptcy law. These matters have been entrusted to this committee for a number of years and to date no report has been presented to the Parliament. I ask the Minister for the Navy whether he will be good enough to say when it is likely that a report will be received from this committee.
– The answer to the point raised by Senator O’Flaherty, which has been provided to me by the department, is that the disturbing situation which he described is peculiar to Canberra. It is proposed to alter that situation by relieving the registrar of magisterial duties. An additional full-time magistrate will be appointed and neither of the two magistrates will have any administrative duties.
I believe that Senator Laught’s remarks about difficulties in staffing, particularly the difficulties in securing parliamentary draftsmen in view of the arduous work they have to do, are well made. The department has been and is in consultation with the Public Service Board on this matter. The department is seeking some sort of cadet training along the lines which commended themselves to Senator Laught. One can only hope that the results of the consultations with the board and of such training schemes as may be established will remedy the situation which disturbs Senator Laught.
In regard to his remarks about what the bankruptcy law review committee is doing, the departmental officers inform me that the committee is now considering the final draft of its report and it should be in a position to submit its report in the very near future.
– I address my remarks to Division No. 216. 1 agree with Senator Laught’s remarks about parliamentary draftsmen and their responsibilities. I preface my remarks by saying that if there were ten prizes in a raffle, my ticket would be the eleventh drawn; the Government has denied me the right to speak so often that I have become used to it. I wish I was poised in attack, as my leader is, and could be as gentlemanly in my approach. He said that the Government horrifies the Opposition, but it terrifies the people in most of its approaches. The shortage of parliamentary draftsmen is not peculiar to the Commonwealth Parliament. There is a shortage not only in the Commonwealth Parliament but also in the State Parliaments.
Senator Laught is to be commended on this approach. So many acts are amended without the acts being consolidated that simple people have difficulty in following the many amendments and correlating them with the principal act. There is a responsibility on the Government in this respect. In consultation with the Australian National University, the Government might choose suitable students who desire to follow the career of a parliamentary draftsman and offer them suitable and liberal scholarships.
I would like to refer to certain matters that come under the administration of the Attorney-General’s Department. I recall rather vividly that on 8th March, 1960, a spokesman for the Government said that the Government was concerned about monopolies and restrictive trade practices. Not long afterwards the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said he was extremely concerned about those matters. Some months later the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) said he would proceed with no undue haste. Certainly the honorable gentleman did not exaggerate, because what little he has done since then has amounted to practically nothing. Restrictive trade practices are still being indulged in all over Australia. They are affecting adversely the rights of the common people who we claim should be able to live freely under a government allegedly wedded to the policy of free enterprise.
The motor tire industry was one of the first to be affected. In that industry restrictive trade practices took away from many operators the right of free trading. Restrictive trade practices have also been resorted to in tendering for work for local government authorities. Senator Wood can bear me out in this. These restrictive practices have been evident in my own State of Queensland, and I have no doubt that they have been adopted in other States. Often when local government authorities call for tenders several firms quote exactly the same amount, even down to the last penny. If one firm makes a tender of, say, £18,000 7s. lid., six or seven others will quote exactly the same price.
Restrictive trade practices are also evident at wool sales. The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) in another place referred to the wool sales in Portland. The honorable member is one of the most conservative of conservative members, yet he saw fit to attack the wool-buyers’ ‘ association. He was also able to produce documents which showed that the association went so far as to forbid its members to patronize the sales. An inquiry into wool sales was conducted in New South Wales by Mr. Justice Cook. His Honour established that buyers rings were in existence and that they determined prices. 1 can give a more recent example of these restrictive trade practices. This concerns my own State of Queensland, and it has particular reference to the tobacco industry and concerns two major tobacco growers. It has been said that inferior grades of leaf were submitted for auction at this year’s sales. I know that this is true, to a certain extent, but I also know that some men who submitted leaf have been engaged in the tobacco industry for fifteen years. They have been successful growers, have established themselves and have made a considerable amount of money from the industry. They control substantial assets to-day. They have told me that the leaf they submitted at the 1961 sales was not substantially dissimilar from the leaf that they submitted in 1960. Yet they could not get a satisfactory price this year. The tobacco industry is now a major industry in Australia. Its product is utilized in Australia. It is an industry in which millions of pounds are invested, and on which the economic welfare of thousands of families depends. Nevertheless, the industry seems to have no protection.
Let me give a concrete example of what can happen under existing conditions. I know an efficient grower who submitted leaf for which he was offered 40d. per lb. He refused the offer. The leaf was then marked at SOd. per lb., and when he continued to refuse the offers he finally received 80d. per lb. It should be remembered that, practically speaking, there are only two major buyers, the British Australasian Tobacco Company Proprietary Limited and Rothmans of Pall Mall (Aust.) Limited. I am not going to present any arguments on behalf of the growers of inferior leaf. They are newcomers to the industry and they will have to learn. They will find that the tobacco industry is one of the most difficult of all to master. As any one associated with it knows very well, you have to sterilize your soil and then you must watch your plants practically until the day the leaf is sold. There are people, however, who have been successfully engaged in tobacco growing for years. They are not going to offer in 1961 a leaf inferior to that which they offered in earlier years.
This Government said, on 8th March, 1960, that it was concerned about monopolies and restrictive trade practices, but it has done nothing about them. Take-overs have frequently occurred, but the Government has never expressed opposition to them. It was only as recently as last week, when what was apparently an Asian group was prepared to bid £17,500,000 for Broken Hill South Limited, that the Government, presumably under political pressure because the election is fast approaching-
Order! I think the honorable senator should relate his speech to the estimates before us. He should not make a second-reading speech.
– Does not this matter come under the administration of the Attorney-General’s Department?
– The honorable senator is being allowed considerable latitude, but I think he should relate his remarks more directly to the matter before us.
– The assurance that was given by a Government spokesman was, I take it, given on behalf of the Attorney-General, and I am trying to show that that honorable gentleman is lazy, dilatory and completely neglectful of his responsibilities.
– I ask the honorable senator to relate his remarks more directly to the estimates before us.
– I suggest that the Attorney-General has a responsibility for the assurance given to the people by a spokesman for the Government. This £17,500,000 take-over bid by Asian interests was made at a time when a general election is approaching, and I suggest there was a measure of political intrusion, because such a take-over might have embarrassed the Government, having in mind the many extraordinary take-overs that have occurred recently.
– It was certainly a political intrusion, because the agent for one of the parties was a member of the Australian Labour Party.
– I am not concerned about that. Give me a chance to make my speech in my own way.
Order! 1 ask Senator Dittmer to proceed and not to make this a second-reading speech.
– I do not know of what party the gentleman in question was a member. I do know, however, that it was a representative of the Government who interviewed Lindsay Clarke about the matter.
– Who was it?
– I will not tell you.
Order! The purpose of this debate should be to elicit information from the Minister. I ask Senator Dittmer to proceed on that basis.
– There is another matter I am concerned about in this regard. Two major chain store organizations in Australia have been active in absorbing other business organizations. The question is: Which is the more likely to take over the other? When one does take over the other we will see a complete monopoly. As honorable senators will realize, I am referring to Coles and Woolworths. When is the Attorney-General likely to bring down legislation to deal with such matters? Is he likely to bring it down before the general election so that the people may express an opinion on it? I raise these matters of wool pies, tires, electrical firms which agree on prices that they will submit, and take-overs.
Another matter that comes within the administration of the Attorney-General is the Australian Security Intelligence Organization. We on this side of the chamber are sick and tired of Government supporters trying to imply that we are not interested in the security of this nation. What are we interested in is the rights of individuals. Decent Australians are being pilloried without any evidence being found to support a charge against them. It is no use saying that the files do not exist; I have seen them. I have even seen where one superior officer has written the word “ ridiculous “ on a submission. He prefaced it with an adjective that I will not use here. The staff, of the security service should be chosen with extreme care so that there is complete confidence in it. I have no doubt about the integrity of Brigadier Spry, but I am concerned about certain members of the security service. This service is under the administration of the Attorney-General. I know that many people have been unfairly and unjustly treated and I ask the Minister to give an assurance, on behalf of the AttorneyGeneral, that in the future the staff will be more carefully chosen.
They are the pleas I make. I do not know whether the Government would have time to introduce legislation before the general election, but it should make an announcement as to its intention in relation to monopolies and restrictive trade practices. It should say whether it is prepared to do something about the shortage of parliamentary draftsmen. It should also say whether it is prepared to revise the methods of recruiting the staff of the security service.
– I think the answer I gave to Senator Laught also answers one of the questions asked by Senator Dittmer. The department is at the moment looking into the shortage of parliamentary draftsmen and is seeking to overcome it.
Another matter to which Senator Dittmer referred and in relation to which he gave a number of instances is the question of introducing legislation to prevent restrictive trade practices. Such a law could best be brought in, in the opinion of the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick), in consultation and agreement between the Commonwealth and the States. Such consultation has been going on for some considerable time and is still continuing. But getting so many different Attorneys-General to agree on such a matter is a lengthy process.
No provision is made for the security service, to which Senator Dittmer referred, in these estimates. The estimates for the security service come under the Prime Minister’s Department.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Proposed expenditure - AttorneyGeneral’s Department - Capital works and services, £256,000 - noted.
Department of External Affairs.
Proposed expenditure, £12,086,000.
.- I ask the Government to consider sending an ambassador to free China. I have had a look at the expenditure provided for ambassadors overseas and it is very reassuring to see the way in which our overseas diplomatic service has extended. But one can look through the list and find a large number, of countries, important in their own way, with which we have taken the trouble and expense to set up proper diplomatic relations. Australia has been one of those nations which has rigorously refused to recognize red China and has rigorously opposed the admission of red China to the United Nations. In these circumstances, it would seem consonant with the settled and fixed foreign policy of the Government to send an ambassador to free China - or Formosa, as it is generally called, or Taiwan, to give it its Chinese name.
I notice that we propose to spend £58,800 on our embassy in Cambodia. I do not challenge the spending of that money in Cambodia, but I suggest, with respect, that the money might be more advantageously employed if it were expended in the way I have suggested. One of the difficulties, of course, for a country the size of Australia is the expense of maintaining diplomatic missions overseas. In order to counter this expense and to overcome this problem, Australia might well use the device, common to a number of countries maintaining diplomatic representation in the Far East, of having one ambassador appointed to two countries. For instance, it would be a relatively simple matter for the Australian ambassador to the Philippines to represent Australia in Formosa. The distance between the two islands is only about 450 miles by air. This practice is followed by a number of countries. The ambassador to Japan of some countries is also accredited to Formosa.
We should bolster the morale of our friends. I do not think that we should forget that the presence of 650,000 to 700,000 trained men in the armed services of. free China have been a buckler and a shield to this country in the last few years of uneasy peace. It appears to be clear that led China is unlikely to embark upon a military adventure of great significance while an armed force of this size remains on its flank. It is important, too, at a time when the question of red China is about t» be discussed again at the United Nations that we should make this gesture of friendship and of confidence in the regime in Formosa. It is true that this is a relatively small part of what was once called China. It is true that there are only 11,000,000 people there. But it is also true that it is the only part of China, other than Hong Kong and Macao, in which there is any freedom. At present, the island is very largely dependent upon American support, both financial and cultural. I use the word “ cultural “ in the sense that American support is given to education. Formosa is one of the few countries left in Asia in which a citizen, if he wishes to do so, can criticize the government in a newspaper, and in which newspapers can publish articles attacking the government, without fear of punishment. I have seen such newspaper articles myself. Although free China may not be exactly the type of democracy which is supported in Australian ideas, it is a free country. It is also a country at war. In those circumstances, it is understandable that some restrictions which we would find irksome are maintained.
If we look at the list of embassies, we find that the Government intends to spend £103,900 this year to maintain the Australian Embassy in Moscow. Expressing a personal opinion, I say that that will be pouring down a drain money which could perhaps be spent to far better purpose in the country that I have mentioned. We intend to spend £60,000 on representation in the Philippines this year, and £108,000 on representation in the Republic of Indonesia. I have already mentioned the figure for Cambodia. It is proposed to spend £48,000, in, of all places, the United Arab Republic. Our High Commission in Ghana will cost us £29,800. It may be that in these matters economics is the determining factor, but I feel that other considerations may well be involved. A quick run through these figures will show that the relative importance of Formosa greatly exceeds that of the other nations to which I have referred. For these reasons, I urge the Government to appoint an ambassador to Formosa.
– I wish to ask a few general questions. First, what determines whether we shall have an ambassador or a minister in a country? 1 notice that in Laos we have a legation with a minister in charge, and that in Israel we have an embassy, still with a minister in charge. Secondly, how is the salary of an ambassador determined? Is it determined in accordance with seniority or in accordance with the importance of the post the ambassador holds? I notice, for instance, that the salary of the Australian ambassador to the Netherlands is higher than those of the Australian ambassadors to France and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
Thirdly, I wish to refer to an item which occurs in relation to several of the embassies and legations, namely, “ Allowance to officers performing duties of a higher class “. I should like to know what those duties are and why that special payment is made.
– I listened to Senator Hannan’s remarks, and 1 shall bring them to the attention of the Government. Whether Australia shall have an ambassador or a minister in a certain country is a matter for negotiation between the two countries concerned. As a result of the negotiations, the missions in each country have the same status, so that, for example, an ambassador is matched by an ambassador.
The allowance for officers performing duties of a higher class applies to officers occupying positions which normally would be filled by officers of greater seniority. It is similar to the allowance payable in the Commonwealth Public Service when an officer is filling a position normally reserved for an officer with greater seniority. While the officer occupies the higher position, he draws the salary applicable to it.
I am not clear about who determines the precise rate of pay for an ambassador.
– Does not the importance of the country concerned come into the matter?
– Probably it does. 1 am told that the Public Service Board does not come into the matter at all. An officer appointed to a position receives the pay which he would normally draw while he was in the department, lt is in the discretion of the Minister to add to that pay in accordance with a recommendation by the department, taking into consideration matters such as Senator Hannaford has mentioned.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Proposed expenditure - Department of External Affairs - Capital Works and Services, £371,000; Economic Assistance to support defence programme Seato member countries, £550,000 - noted.
Senate adjourned at 11.47 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 17 October 1961, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1961/19611017_senate_23_s20/>.