24th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir. Alister McMullin) took the chair at 1 1 a.m., and read prayers.
– I direct some questions to the relevant Minister, who I think is Senator Henty. I preface the questions by paying a tribute to the Australian Broadcasting Commission. A gentleman who shall be nameless has invented something which will be of more interest to the feminine section of our so-called civilization than anything that has been invented since Antony made love to Cleopatra. He has had to request me to pipe down, because he was receiving too much publicity from the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Suffice to say that the ladies will be delighted to know that their nylon troubles will be over before the end of this year. I now ask the Minister: Is not radio still a force and power to be reckoned with, in spite of television? How has television affected the numbers listening to parliamentary broadcasts? Is not the rebroadcasting of question time in the Parliament most popular and does it not attract the greatest listening public? If the Minister cannot answer the questions offhand, will he be so good as to be so kind as to furnish me with the information during the forthcoming recess?
– The honorable senator has addressed his questions to me as Minister for Customs and Excise. I do not know under what section of the Department of Customs and Excise he imagines the Australian Broadcasting Commission or radio comes. I suggest that the honorable senator place his question on the noticepaper and direct it to the appropriate Minister. I do not doubt for a moment that he will then receive a suitable answer.
Senaor LILLICO. - Can the Minister for Civil Aviation say whether there is any possibility of air time-tables being revised in the near future with a view to amending the existing schedules for some States under which aircraft of both major airlines arrive and depart within a short time of one another? Would it be feasible for the timetables to provide for a morning and afternoon service instead of the service that is at present provided in certain States? I refer particularly to the north-west coast of Tasmania.
– I know that this is a matter in which Senator Lillico has been interested for a long time. I think he is aware of the wish of the Department of Civil Aviation that time-tables be arranged so that they best suit the public convenience. This question has been discussed in the Senate previously, and I have pointed out that the operators have real problems in arranging time-tables. In order to achieve the optimum use of their equipment, they must have their aircraft at various points throughout the Commonwealth at times when they can transport the greatest number of passengers. Notwithstanding that, my department has maintained its interest in this matter, because we realize that some improvements could possibly be effected in the time-tables. The honorable senator will no doubt be pleased to know that currently - not for the first time - the department is engaged in talks with both the operators to see what further improvements, if any, can be effected. Whereas, in the past, whilst we have had to acknowledge the general principle adopted by the airline operators that they must be permitted liberty to use their aircraft in such a way as to get the best possible result, my department is now talking to them along these lines: While we accept that principle, is it not possible for you to introduce such elasticity into your time-tables as to do away with the situation which so frequently exists to-day, with aircraft of both operators leaving at approximately the same time or at times that are very close to one another? The honorable senator may draw some comfort from the fact that we are currently engaged in discussions of this sort.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport: Is it a fact that Ansett Transport Industries Limited has recently purchased from the United States of America several air-conditioned road clippers for its interstate transport system? Is it not a fact that these buses could have been built in Australian factories, thus easing our serious unemployment position, apart from saving the expenditure of valuable dollars? Is it a fact that the firm of J. Lawton, of South Australia, which specializes in these vehicles, could have built them, minus toilet facilities, at a much lower cost? Further, is it a fact that the Ansett organization has removed the toilet facilities built into the clippers and substituted two extra seats for passengers?
– I am not personally aware of the reported acquisition by the Ansett organization of these road vehicles from the United States of America. As the honorable senator recognizes, this is a question for my colleague, Mr. Oppermann. I shall refer it to him and ask that the honorable senator be provided with the information by letter as soon as possible.
– Is it a fact that approximately 40 per cent, of incoming air travellers from overseas have Melbourne as their point of destination? Is it a fact that a similar percentage of outgoing travellers have Melbourne as their point of first departure? If these figures are correct, will the Government press on as speedily as possible with the completion of Melbourne’s jet airport at Tullamarine?
– I have not any doubt at all that a very large percentage of travellers into Australia, at some time or other during their stay in Australia, visit Melbourne. I do not know whether their destination is Melbourne, but I am prepared to accept that they visit Melbourne during their stay here. I should treat the estimate of 40 per cent, of outgoing air traffic originating from Melbourne as being, perhaps, slightly on the high side. I do not think that there is anything I can add to answers I have given earlier in this session in respect of the airport at Melbourne. I am sure that the honorable senator is aware that the Government has stated that this question will be examined later in the year and in the light of the decisions made by the domestic operators on the particular equipment they propose to purchase.
– Does the Minister for Health agree with Sir Douglas Robb, the president of the British Medical Association in New Zealand, who is in Australia to attend a medical congress in Adelaide, that general medical practitioners - the men in the closest contact with patients - are on the way out? Does the Minister believe that such a development would be a tragedy for all concerned? Will he make representations to the medical congress in Adelaide with a view to ensuring that the private general practitioner will not disappear from the medical scene?
– I have not yet had an opportunity to read the contribution made by Sir Douglas Robb on this very important question, but I would agree that if general medical practitioners were on the way out, that would be a tragedy, because they are the individuals in the community upon whom we rely very heavily in times of trouble. I shall be in Adelaide on Wednesday for the opening of the medical congress there, and it is my intention to discuss this matter with representatives of the Australian Medical Association. I would not go so far as to say that the general practitioner is on the way out, but I agree that there is an understandable tendency for young doctors to want to specialize. If that policy were carried to the ultimate, it could well leave us short of general practitioners. However, I have no doubt that the Australian Medical Association realizes that it has a responsibility to provide general medical services and I am confident that it will watch the position.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport give the Senate any information concerning orders for ships that are coming forward for the shipyards at Whyalla? For how many people does the current shipbuilding programme provide employment?
– I was recently in Whyalla, and I will give the honorable senator all the information that I have in my memory. If I find that I have omitted anything, I will let the honorable senator have that further information by letter during the recess. Whyalla is currently in possession of a very good list of shipping orders. As the honorable senator will know, a 32,000-ton tanker is being built under subsidy at the Whyalla yards for Ampol Petroleum Limited. That vessel has been launched and is now at the fitting-out wharf, where it will remain for some considerable time. That work is providing employment for a number of men. In addition, a 16,000-ton bulk carrier is being built for the bulk ships organization. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited is building two 21,000- ton bulk carriers for its mining organization, and two smaller vessels of 3,500 tons each are on order for the Union Steamship Company. That represents a pretty good programme.
With regard to the employment situation, the shipyards at Whyalla employ about one-half of the total Australian shipbuilding work force. I saw the figures some weeks ago. My recollection of them is that about 2,800 people were employed on shipbuilding throughout Australia - the highest figure for some time - and that Whyalla was providing employment for about 50 per cent, of this total, or 1,400 people.
– I desire to direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. Some time ago I directed a question on this subject to the Minister for the Navy, but I did not have very much success in getting the answer I desired. Has the Minister seen the report of the federal conference of the Returned Servicemen’s League in which a recommendation was made to the Government that a naval base should be established on the Western Australian coast? In view of the grim situation in the Far East and our near north, will further consideration be given to this most important project?
– I read the resolution of the federal conference of the Returned Servicemen’s League to which Senator Tangney refers. I pay very great respect to views emanating from that quarter on this matter. However, I do not think the changed conditions have altered the Government’s view that in the overall strategy in this part of the world, Singapore, in the present circumstances, is the focal naval point.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation. The Repatriation Department, with an aging ex-service population to care for, claims to be in the forefront in the geriatric field. I understand that special geriatric facilities have been established already in New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia and that in all 115 patients are being specially cared for. Can the Minister state whether the provision of such facilities is contemplated for South Australia? If it is, when will the provision be made, where will it occur, and what facilities will be available?
– I will refer this matter to Mr. Swartz, the Minister for Repatriation, but my understanding is that plans for the development of establishments in South Australia are not yet advanced to the point where any detailed information can be made available. In referring the question to Mr. Swartz I will ask that Senator Laught be informed of planning and of developments as they are about to occur, and as they occur.
– Is the Minister representing the Postmaster-General aware that considerable discussion is taking place, especially in Victoria, about decentralization of industry, and that it is argued by country interests that they are at a distinct disadvantage regarding telephone charges compared with their metropolitan counterparts? It is pointed out that in Melbourne people in a wide area can be reached for the ordinary telephone charge while in the country 4s. or more is charged for a trunk line call. In view of this, and also in view of the fact that Post Office finances appear to be in a healthy condition, will the Minister, during the preparation of the forthcoming Budget, recommend a decrease in telephone and postal charges so as to help existing industries in the country areas and encourage the establishment of new ones?
– I concede that the rural manufacturer is at something of a disadvantage compared with his metropolitan competitor in respect of telephone charges, but I emphasize that the PostmasterGeneral is ever-mindful of the part that the telephone can play in decentralization. At the present time, and in fact for some years past, much planning has gone into providing a system that will ultimately bring uniformity. The first step was when the extended local service area was introduced. It is true that the benefits conferred were confined to a fairly restricted area, but when the ultimate, that is, subscriber-to-subscriber dialling, is achieved, we will have advanced a long way towards the uniformity that is so desired. Subscribertosubscriber trunk dialling charges are based on a unit fee, plus the time factor. The extension of this system throughout Australia is, I agree, a distance away but the efforts of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department are being concentrated with a view to bringing the system into full operation. I shall bring to the notice of the Postmaster-General Senator Sheehan’s remarks about charges generally.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. Is it true that Australian troops bound for Laos will be transported by commercial airlines? If so, will the Minister say why the Royal Australian Air Force Hercules troop carriers are not to be used for this purpose? Is it a fact, as reported in the newspapers, that jet aircraft will be used? If commercial airlines are to be used for this purpose, why not use Ansett-A.N.A. or Trans-Australia Airlines?
– I must ask honorable senators to place on notice questions relating to this matter. Later in the day a statement may be made on this subject.
– I ask the
Minister representing the Treasurer a question. Since employees of the Commonwealth Bank in New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland, Tasmania, Western Australia, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory work a fiveday week, why are employees of the
Commonwealth Bank in Victoria compelled to work a five and a half day week?
– The answer to the question resides in the fact that bank employees in Victoria, whether employed by the Commonwealth Bank or by private banks, work under statutes that are the business of the Victorian Government. The honorable senator may recall that recently I answered a question concerning the application that the Commonwealth Bills of Exchange Act might have to this matter. I then informed the honorable senator that the Commonwealth Bills of Exchange Act provides that banks should remain open on days that were trading days and should be closed on days that were bank holidays, but that the declaration of bank holidays within the borders of any one State was a matter for the State government concerned. Where a Saturday was not a bank holiday in terms of the State statutes, the banks remained open and obviously the officers worked.
– Do I take it that the decision in this matter is the responsibility of your friends in Victoria?
– The responsibility lies with the Victorian Government. At this stage of the session I am delighted to know that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition acknowledges that I have any friends at all.
– I ask the
Minister for Health whether it is a fact that Victoria and Tasmania still are having great difficulty, because of lack of adequate funds, in proceeding with their mental health programmes. Will the Minister say whether the recent meeting that he had with the Premiers and Ministers for Health of Victoria and Tasmania is likely to produce a solution to this problem?
– I am aware of Senator Wedgwood’s very lively and continuing interest in this subject. All I can do is repeat what I said in answer to a question raised in this place some time ago. I met the Premiers of Victoria and Tasmania in conference on this matter. They agreed to supply my department with requisite information in order to support their claims. That information has been received and is being examined. Any future action taken to help Victoria and Tasmania in this respect will be a matter for policy decision.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Health, relates to refunds from medical benefit funds. Does the Minister consider that a refund to a patient of £4 10s. on an account for £10 10s., for seven medical visits at £1 10s. a visit, is a fair refund and is in accordance with what was generally agreed to be the true spirit of the assisted medical benefits scheme?
– I could not comment on a question such as this unless I knew all the circumstances involved. If the honorable senator is prepared to give me the relevant facts of this or a similar case, I shall be very happy to consider them, and if there are any anomalies - I concede that there may be because no scheme is perfect - I will do my utmost to iron out those anomalies and see that a greater measure of justice is achieved.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade. Is it a fact that the infrequent hearings of the Tariff Board held in Western Australia are due to the reluctance of the board to travel to that State? Is it also a fact that the Tariff Board cannot accept statutory declarations as evidence? If those statements are correct, does the Minister realize that such a reluctance places Western Australian industries and consumers at a disadvantage compared with those in the eastern States because of the cost involved in attending hearings held in those States, and also prohibits them from sending representatives to such hearings, particularly when each reference requires two separate journeys from Western Australia to the eastern States and back again? Will the Minister take up with the Tariff Board the possibility of holding more frequent hearings in Western Australia, especially when such hearings affect local industries?
– I shall ask the Minister for Trade to put Senator DrakeBrockman’s views before the Tariff Board for its comment.
– My question, which is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, relates to a question that I put on the notice-paper yesterday about the unrest and uncertainty that everybody feels after reading newspaper reports on the situation in South-East Asia. Do I understand from the answer which the Minister has given to the question asked by Senator Branson that a statement on the position will be made to the Senate to-day?
– I would think so, but we have to wait.
– I rose simultaneously with Senator Tangney to direct a similar question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I should like to ascertain from the Government authoritatively the commitments of American, New Zealand and Australian troops in regard to the present situation in Laos. I understood the Minister to say in answer to Senator Branson that a statement might be made to-day. If a statement to-day is not assured, will the Minister give the Senate such information as he can give now?
– I certainly would not be prepared to give information on this matter off the cuff. As Senator Wright will know from his experience, whatever the Government says will be said in very carefully chosen words.
– And to the Parliament while it is sitting?
- Senator Gorton and I have a bit of a problem at the moment in relation to getting a message. I shall say more about this matter before the end of the day if no statement arrives.
– I desire to ask a series of questions. I do not think there is anything in the Standing Orders to stop me asking the questions of myself. I have asked myself these questions several times lately. Should a senator ask pertinent and significant questions relating to defence organization which serve to compare our defence forces with those of other countries? A few weeks ago I asked Senator Gorton a question, but he would not answer it. He asked me to see him in his room. I saw him in the corridor, and the answer he gave me then was somewhat disturbing. My next questions are: Should the people be told the truth regarding defence? Has Indonesia’s military power been strengthened by further aid from foreign powers recently?
– I take a point of order only to be courteous. I do not know to whom the question is addressed.
– I apologize. I am addressing my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, for whom I have a high regard as an answerer of questions. He is as good as Barry Jones.
– Will the honorable senator ask his questions again?
– Should the people be told the truth concerning our defence? Has Indonesia’s military power been strengthened by further aid from foreign powers recently? Is it not a fact that Australia’s safety depends on the United States of America? Is the United States Government satisfied with our contributions to our own defence? I have another question to ask, but I do not know whether the Minister can help me on it. I am very interested in this matter. Could any Government department supply senators with a map showing American bombing bases and positions outside that country? My last question has been asked before. Has the United States asked for a bombing base in Australia?
– These are very difficult questions to answer. Because this is the last day of this series of sittings of the Senate, I would like to do Senator Brown the courtesy of giving an answer now, but he has asked questions of such great importance that a Minister must be hesitant in replying to them. The questions relate to matters of far-reaching consequence. Trying to deal with the matter without being cursory, but without saying more than I should say, I give this answer to the first question. The Service Ministers have repeatedly published the full extent of Australia’s armed forces in the various categories. So full information is available to the Australian people on Australia’s defence effort. As to the question about Indonesia’s strength being increased, the answer is “Yes”. The honorable senator asked also whether Australia’s safety de pends on the United States of America. Australia’s safety depends primarily on Australians. What we do ourselves is the prime consideration, but no realistic Australian would overlook the importance of the Anzus Pact, which establishes our military relations with the United States. Replying to the question about whether the United States is satisfied with our defence contribution, I say that I cannot answer for that country. To my knowledge, there has been no criticism by the Americans. They realize the value of our defence forces and of the contribution that Australia can make. The answer to the question concerning a map of United States bombing bases is, “ No. “. I would not encourage any belief that such a map will be provided.
Representations by Senators - Departmental Procedures.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. It relates to the much-discussed subject in this chamber of copies of Minister’s letters in reply to representations made by honorable senators on behalf of constituents being sent to members of the House of Representatives in whose divisions those constituents live. Recently, I received a letter from the Deputy Premier of New South Wales regarding one of his constituents who lives at Brewarrina. I am not complaining about copies of replies to my letters going to members of the House of Representatives-
– You should.
– I know I should, but I have been complaining for a long time and nothing has happened. However, I think it is carrying this practice a little too far when the contents of a letter from the Deputy Premier of New South Wales, addressed to me, are communicated by the Minister for Social Services to the member of the House of Representatives for the division in which the constituent lives. I think that the Deputy Premier of New South Wales should receive some protection in the matter, even if honorable senators do not. I ask the Minister whether he has yet received a decision from the Prime Minister concerning protection of the rights of senators in this very vexed question.
– I am sorry to say that finality has not yet been reached. I have attended conferences with the Prime Minister and the Minister concerned, but a final decision has not been arrived at. If Senator Ormonde would be good enough to write to me about the particular instance to which he referred, I should appreciate it.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers: - 1, 2 and* 3. I direct the honorable senator’s attention to the statement I made yesterday on the employment of physically handicapped persons in the Public Service. With regard to the employment of married women, I know that Senator Buttfield was one of a deputation of women senators from the Government side which saw the Prime Minister on this matter recently, when he promised early consideration of the question by Cabinet.
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The following answer is now supplied: -
An item appeared in the daily press in February stating that Northern Development (Ord River) Proprietary Limited, the company operating the pilot farm at Kununurra on the Ord River, Was arranging for tests of safflower grown on the farm. According to the latest information available to my department, these tests have not yet been carried out.
A research programme conducted at the Kimberly Research Station over a number of years has resulted in an understanding of the best methods of growing safflower in the Ord River area and has provided seed for the laboratory testing of the oil content. The results of these tests have been encouraging.
I do not doubt that the tests being arranged by the pilot farm operators are to determine the yield of oil that can be expected under commercial oil extraction processes from seed grown on the farm.
The main use of safflower oil in Australia is for paint and resin manufacture. There is an increasing trend overseas for safflower oil to be used as an edible oil, but this trend has not spread to Australia.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The following answers are now supplied: -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Relative to the statement made by the PostmasterGeneral that the Australian Broadcasting
Control Board was consulted before the Government made its decision to issue further commercial television licences in some Australian capital cities, will the Postmaster-General advise - (a) What was the nature of the consultations; (b) when and with whom did they take place; and (c) what opinion, if any, did the Australian Broadcasting Control Board express as to the desirability of the issue of these licences?
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answer: -
The Australian Broadcasting Control Board made a full report to the Postmaster-General on the whole question of the extension of television services in the Commonwealth on 30th August, 1961. This report dealt with both metropolitan and country areas. On 18th October, 1961, the Postmaster-General made a public statement setting out the decisions of the Government on country extensions and added that the question of the establishment of additional stations in th: capital cities would be further considered at a later stage. This was done and on 8th March, 1962, the Postmaster-General announced the Government’s decision on the matter. The PostmasterGeneral does not think he should disclose the contents of the board’s report on the subject of capital city stations, mainly because it includes a review of the financial position of existing stations in those cities, which information must be regarded as confidential.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
Does the Department of External Affairs have any say in the kind of programmes to be broadcast over Radio Australia; if so, upon what statutory authority is this based?
– The Minister for External Affairs has supplied the following reply: -
The answer to the honorable senator’s question is that, while there is a useful liaison between the Department of External Affairs and Radio Australia, the department does not have any control nor right to veto over the programmes broadcast by Radio Australia. The department assists Radio Australia in several ways, as for example, by providing general background information on current international events, by forwarding reports from overseas posts on the reception of Radio Australia’s transmissions, and, when requested, by facilitating overseas recruitment of foreignlanguage staff. Assistance of such a kind is not, however, confined to Radio Australia; it is also given, if requested, to other Australian governmental and some non-governmental bodies and the department’s information material goes also to a wide range of interested organizations in Australia, including the press and educational institutions.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade has supplied the following information in answer to the honorable senator’s questions: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– I have received the following answer from the Minister for Primary Industry. -
In answering the questions, cognizance must be taken of the background to the flax industry and the Commonwealth Government’s activities in this field. In 19S7, the Commonwealth Government, which had been operating, through the Flax Commission, all flax mills in Australia, with the exception of one operated by private enterprise in Western Australia, announced after an exhaustive inquiry its intention of withdrawing from the field. Its decision was based on the view that continuation of financial assistance could not be justified on defence grounds. At the same time, it announced an extension of bounty assistance to the industry for three years and that the Government would give close consideration to any offers from interested parties for the purchase of any mill as a going concern. Subsequently, at the end of the three-year period, the Tariff Board recommended against further bounty assistance to the flax industry and the payment of bounty ceased for Max produced after 31st October, 1960.
With the foregoing as background, the specific answers to the questions asked are:
No undertaking can be given although I am prepared at all times to discuss their problems with the parties concerned.
The Commonwealth has already, after exhaustive inquiry, decided it cannot on defence grounds justify further aid to the flax industry.
In view of the decisions already so recently taken by the Government, action along the lines suggested is impracticable.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
Relative to the statement by the Minister last week that a roneoed document had been prepared for the information of staff of his department containing answers to a number of questions, will the Minister advise what answers his staff were to give in reply to the following questions: (a) Has Australia cut its immigration programme? (b) How many migrants may we expect in the next five years? (c) What is being done to step up immigration of women? (d) What is the present population of Australia? (e) How many migrants arrived in Australia between 1945 and 1956? (f) How many migrants arrived in Australia between 1957 and 1961? (g) What are the qualifications required of migrants? (b) What is the average length of time a migrant has to wait before he receives employment? (0 What allowances do a migrant and his family receive until employment is found? (j) On what recommendations do people migrate to Australia? (k) What facilities are there for migrants on their arrival? (I) Are there adequate educational, sporting and social facilities for migrants? (m) Are there any welfare centres for migrants or is there contact through their respective consuls? (n) Why have some migrants gone back? (o) What is being done to increase migrants’ knowledge of English? (p) Do migrants before leaving their home countries receive guarantees in respect to long-term employment, and, if so, what type of guarantees? (q) Will the withdrawal of “Orontes” and “ Strathnaver “ from the United Kingdom-Australia run early this year mean a reduction in British migration to Australia? (r) Will a record number of migrants be naturalized in Australia this financal year?
– The Minister for Immigration has furnished the following reply:-
In my reply to the honorable senator’s question on this subject - vide “ Hansard “ of 3rd May, page 1101 - I pointed out that the statement to which he has referred was prepared in answer to a comprehensive list of questions submitted to the Department of Immigration by the Junior Chamber of Commerce in September, 1961.
The statement is so long that I have arranged for the honorable senator to be supplied with a copy of it.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works, upon notice -
– The Minister for Works has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has furnished the following replies: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
Can the Minister comment on the statement by the Premier of Tasmania to the effect that cheese and fruit from Europe are being marketed in Indonesia and that Australia is deprived of this market because it has insufficient trade contacts, which should be undertaken at Government level, in that country?
– The Minister for Trade has supplied the. following answer: -
According to the latest statistics available, Indonesia is only a small importer of cheese and fruit - about £44,000 worth of cheese a year and about £8,000 worth of apples a year. Indonesia, of course, has severe balance of payments difficulties, and therefore applies stringent import controls which severely restrict market opportunities in that country. However, within these limits, Australia has in recent years been a major supplier of cheese and apples.
The Australian Government has worked continuously over many years to set the stage in Indonesia for the importation of Australian products. However, the exploration and development of overseas markets for Australian products are primarily the functions of private exporters and the relevant statutory marketing boards.
As reported, Mr. Reece appeared to be urging producers to make efforts to improve their share of the Indonesian market rather than criticising Government efforts in this direction.
The Government, of course, will continue to assist exporters both by way of negotiations with other governments to improve access to markets and through the service of the Department of Trade in Australia and the Trade Commissioner Service overseas.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following answers: -
– by leave - As honorable senators are aware, the United States naval authorities have for some time been investigating possible sites and studying the feasibility of establishing a naval communications station in Western Australia. Following these investigations the United States Government has formally requested permission to establish and operate such a station at North West Cape. The Commonwealth Government has approved the request. The Western Australian Government, which has been kept informed, has already rendered considerable assistance in the initial survey activities. It has expressed its desire to cooperate to the fullest possible extent in the project - an offer which is greatly appreciated by the Commonwealth Government.
The purpose of the station, which will include a complex antenna system, highpowered transmitting and receiving equipment, and administrative and supporting facilities, is to provide radio communications for United States and allied ships over a wide area of the Indian Ocean and the western Pacific. The power supply required for the station will be provided by conventional type diesel motors. The total area of land affected by the project will be about 28 square miles. Of this area, all except about 4 square miles will continue to be available for such activities as grazing, subject for technical reasons to restrictions on certain types of construction or installations.
The estimated capital cost of the station itself will be of the order of £A.33,000,000 Substantial additional funds will be required for such things as housing and family amenities. The United States Government will meet in full the expenditure required for both the construction and operation of the station, which will be without cost to the Australian Government.
Construction is planned to commence as soon as possible and will be at its peak from early 1963 to late 1965. During this period employment on the project is expected to be between 800 and 1,000 people. In the construction of the station, the maximum practical use will be made of Australian contractors, labour and materials. Detailed liaison will be established between the United States authorities and appropriate Australian departments and authorities to achieve this. Present plans provide for an eventual population in the area, to operate and maintain the station, of approximately 450, including both United States and Australian personnel and their dependants. Married quarters and essential community facilities will be provided for these people. A detailed agreement is being worked out with the United States Government to cover the status of American personnel who will be in Australia in connexion with the station.
In addition to normal inter-service, technical and administrative liaison between the
United States authorities responsible for the station and co-operating Australian departments and services, arrangements will be made for consultation between the two governments on matters relating to the station and its use. The facilities of the station will be available to the Australian forces. The matters to which I have referred will be embodied in a formal agreement between the two governments, which is now being prepared. This will be announced in due course.
The establishment of this station in Australia will mark an important step in the steadily increasing defence co-operation between the two countries. It will make a highly significant contribution to general allied military capability in this area. It is within the spirit of co-operation envisaged under the Anzus Treaty, under which the parties agreed to co-ordinate their efforts far collective defence for the preservation of peace and security.
– by leave - Recent military developments in Laos have given rise to great concern on the part of the Australian Government and its allies, including the Government of Thailand.
The pro-Communist forces in Laos have launched attacks and captured important Laotian Government positions in north-west Laos. On 3rd May, pro-Communist forces attacked and occupied the strategically important village of Muong Sing. On 6th May they attacked the important provincial centre of Nam Tha in north-western Laos. The Royal Laotian Army garrison at Nam Tha was forced to retreat to Ban Housi Sai (80 miles to the south-west), where the Mekong divided Laos from Thailand. Elements of this garrison also escaped into Thailand.
These Communist advances have extended the Communist threat to a substantially greater area of Laos. They are of immediate concern to Thailand because of their proximity to the Thai border. The attacks, which had obviously been carefully prepared in advance, broke a year-old cease-fire and have thrown serious doubts on claims by the Communist powers that they genuinely desire a negotiated settlement in Laos.
Britain and the United States have protested to the Soviet Union, which is one of the two co-chairmen of the Geneva Conference, against these violations of the truce and have sought Soviet co-operation for measures to restore the cease-fire, including investigatory action by the International Control Commission. Similar representations were made recently by Western representatives who visited the head-quarters of pro-Communist forces at Khang Khay in Central Laos. As of 16th May no satisfactory response to these approaches had been received either from the Soviet Union or the leaders of the pro-Communist forces in Laos.
In these circumstances the United States has taken certain precautionary measures including the introduction of United States forces into Thailand at the invitation of the Thai Government to help ensure the territorial integrity of that country. In taking these measures the United States has emphasized the defensive nature of its actions, which are designed to enable the speedy fulfilment, should the need’ arise, of its obligations under the Seato Treaty. As a member of that alliance the Australian Government commends and fully endorses the measures taken by the United States Government.
The United States has re-affirmed its determination to work for the reestablishment of an effective cease-fire and negotiations for the formation of a government of national union in Laos. Australia shares these objectives. It is particularly regrettable that the violations of the cease-fire took place within a few days of indications that earlier difficulties in the way of negotiations between the neutralist leader Prince Souvanna Phouma and the Royal Laotian Government might well be overcome.
It is the Government’s earnest hope that the Soviet Union will be persuaded to use its influence with the pro-Communist leaders in Laos to restore the cease-fire and enable negotiations to be resumed.
The Seato Council representatives, including the Australian Ambassador to Thailand, met in Bangkok yesterday, 1 6th May. They reviewed the situation resulting from the breach of the cease-fire in Laos and heard statements from the United States and Thai representatives on the precautionary and defensive moves, which had already begun, for the positioning of additional United States forces in Thailand.
The Australian Government has had, and is continuing, consultations with other Seato members as to further measures which may need to be taken to ensure the territorial integrity of Thailand, including the movement of further military forces into that country. The Australian Government intends to honour its obligations under the Seato alliance as I am sure the Senate would wish it should. As the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) has explained on previous occasions, obligations under the Seato Treaty are individual as well as collective, and any decision as to the manner of performing its obligations will be made by the Australian Government itself, but in the light of consultations with its allies and of the action which they are taking. These consultations, as I have said, are proceeding. The occasion for decision by the Australian Government as to any particular course to be taken in performance of its obligations under the treaty has not arrived; for one thing the Government has as yet received no request from the Government of Thailand But naturally the Government has been considering what form its assistance might take. I am able to say that, if the occasion arises, that assistance will be furnished by means of the regular Australian forces.
– by leave - On 3rd May, the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Davidson) announced that Cabinet had decided to ask a State Supreme Court judge to inquire into allegations of improper conduct and failure of co-operation with the Victorian police on the part of postal officers in connexion with gambling activities in the State of Victoria. I am now in a position to inform the Senate of the terms in which these matters will be referred to the judge who undertakes the inquiry.
The judge will be asked to inquire into and report upon the following questions: -
State of Victoria in the Postmaster-General’s Department in connexion with or in relation to illegal gambling activities in Victoria of the kind referred to in the letter sent on the ninth day of April, 1962, by the Chief Secretary of the State of Victoria to the Postmaster-General and in the report which the Chief Secretary enclosed in that letter and, if so, what improper practices.
The inquiry will be established by commission under the Royal Commissions Act 1902-1933 which gives the commissioner the necessary powers to obtain evidence and to conduct the inquiry including power to take evidence in private if the circumstances require. The Government desires to emphasize that the terms of reference do not open to inquiry standing Government policies and statutory provisions and administrative procedures designed to secure secrecy of communication through the services of the Post Office.
The Postmaster-General is unable to announce to-day the name of the judge who will conduct the inquiry as negotiations with a State to make the services available of a Supreme Court judge are not completed.
Debate resumed from 16th May (vide page 1434), on motion by Senator Gorton -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The bill before the chamber is merely for the purpose of extending a bounty payable to a selected number of gold producers in the gold-mining industry for a further period of three years. It will be noted that the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton), in his second-reading speech, said that a conference had taken place with representatives of the Chambers of Mines of Western Australia, Victoria,
Queensland and the Northern Territory, and that later in the year we may expect some further amendments to this legislation.
The Labour Party does not intend to oppose the bill, but in an effort to assist the industry, and to bring to the notice of the Government some points that may be of use when the amending legislation is being prepared later this year, I wish to make a few general observations. It should be appreciated by the Government that this industry is about the most efficient in Australia. It is the only industry of which I know that has borne the effects of inflation since 1949 without an increase of the price of the commodity it produces. That, Sir, is a remarkable feat. However, the inflationary spiral has had repercussions upon the industry, and has caused it to contract its operations. For those not familiar with the mining industry, I should explain that it means that dead work, that is developmental work, must be. cut down. In addition, the grade of ore treated has to be maintained at a sufficiently high level to give a return to those who have invested capital in the industry. That means that a lot of ore that in normal circumstances would be used is by-passed. Once ore has been bypassed in a mine it is often impossible to get back to treat it. At times such ore may be blocked out and left for future use, but that does not happen very often. In the main, ore that is by-passed is wasted. Such wastage reduces the life of the mine. When the life of the mine is reduced the homes and jobs of the people in the surrounding community are jeopardized. The business people of the community cannot plan ahead. Very often they close their businesses and leave the district. The essential community services tend to deteriorate when it becomes known that the expected life of the mine has been shortened.
The only assistance that this industry has received since 1949 has been the subsidy paid by the Commonwealth under the original act of 1954 as amended from time to time. It is worthy of note that the Government has left the cost of production figure at £13 10s. since 1954 but has from time to time increased the amount of the subsidy. I am speaking now particularly of the large producer. There are many ways in which the large producer may qualify for the subsidy and, equally, many circumstances could debar him from obtaining the subsidy. One thing that strikes me at the moment is the Government’s partial recognition” of the increase in the cost of production by its increase of the subsidy payable and by the fact that it has increased the amount that may be offset against the cost of production figure in respect of development costs. The amount that may be offset in respect of development work was fixed in 1954 at £3 10s. That figure has subsequently been increased to £5 5s. By providing that increase the Government has recognized that the cost of development work has increased. The Government has also increased the subsidy over the years. The increase in the subsidy has, to an extent, been offset by the increase in the amount allowed in respect of development work. Accordingly, the increase in the subsidy has not been of very great benefit to the industry.
The problem that is of greatest interest to the people on the gold-fields - not just the people who work in the mines but also the business people in the community and the mine managers - is the shortening of the life of the mine because of lack of development work. The Chamber of Mines and the mine managers have constantly urged the Government to take a more realistic view of the industry, particularly as regards development work. To date nothing has been done about development work. I hope that the Minister will have more pleasing information on this subject during the Budget session. As development work in the mines declines, the people in the community commence to move out. Very often people who can see that a mine is likely to close down will leave the district if they can obtain jobs elsewhere. That leaves the mine short of skilled labour. Men working in this industry must be highly skilled. Experienced miners, particularly development miners, are scarce. If there is a reduction of development work done in a mine, the training of the miners suffers. If there is any falling off in the number of people employed in the mines we will reach the stage that was reached in the depression days, when skilled miners were unobtainable and the development of the industry was retarded by lack of skilled labour at a time when it could have been very prosperous. -“
The Government should provide a direct subsidy for the development of the mines, irrespective of the efficiency of the industry. The subsidy that is now paid places a premium on efficiency within the industry. As I have already said, this industry is the most efficient industry operating in Australia. But if a mine is sufficiently efficient to be able to keep its costs of production below £13 10s. a fine ounce, and qualify for the allowance attachable in respect of development work, it does not receive a subsidy. Furthermore, a mine that is making a profit of 10 per cent, on the capital employed does not receive a subsidy. I admit that 10 per cent, should be a reasonable return on capital, but very often it is not because the development of the mine is sacrificed in order to pay dividends. That kind of thing has been happening for quite a few years now, particularly along the Golden Mile.
The Government has been very lax in not endeavouring to obtain an increase in the price of gold. This is a matter that the Government must pay regard to in the near future. We are producing a valuable and readily exportable commodity. The sale of our gold provides about 35,000,000 dollars a year towards our balanceofpayments position. Yet the operation of the industry is controlled from outside Australia. If the price of gold does not rise and if the mines become uneconomic, they will close down and we will lose the benefit of the industry and the assistance that the sale of our gold gives to our balanceofpayments position. Other Australian industries in respect of which subsidies and bounties are paid by the Commonwealth are treated much better than is the goldmining industry. I do not want to go into details, but during this week the Senate agreed to pay a subsidy of £13,500,000 a year to the dairy industry for the next five years. It is estimated that the subsidy paid to the gold-mining industry in the current year will be £600,000. This is an important industry to Australia. Whilst the Government will pay a subsidy of £13,500,000 to the dairy industry, we have no guarantee that we will be able to get rid of the commodities produced by that industry; but gold is a commodity that is readily saleable on any market in the world at the fixed price.
The Government could be more vigorous in attempting to obtain an increase in the price of gold and in that way relieve the Australian economy of the need for the Government to pay a subsidy. It may be necessary to continue the subsidy to the small producers. In the main it is the small producers who find where the gold is, although as producers they have largely gone out of the industry now. They find where there are some indications of gold and the leases finish up in the hands of the large producers. These days producers have to produce on a large scale to enable them to carry on. They carry on on the basis of the tonnage treated rather than the high returns from that tonnage.
I urge the Govenment to give very close consideration to helping the industry by including in the development programme that is assisted not only diamond drilling for development purposes but also diamond drilling for exploratory purposes. The Western Mining Corporation Limited is endeavouring to find the southern extensions of the Golden Mile. It has spent a considerable amount of money on deep diamond drill holes to see whether the lodes of the Golden Mile extend southwards. That is not taken into consideration as development work. I believe that the Government should consider including it in development work that is subsidized. The Government should be more vigorous in attempting to persuade the world powers to increase the price of gold in order to give this industry an opportunity to continue to be of benefit to Australia.
– Mr. Acting Deputy President, although Senator Cant has said that during the winter recess the Government will give further consideration to the nature of the assistance that may be forthcoming to the gold-mining industry, I feel obliged to make further reference in this debate to the industry in that context. Before doing so, however, I wish to refer to some of the remarks made by Senator Cant. I do not agree with him in one or two respects. He made a statement to the effect that the operating companies in Western Australia were culpable in some way because they were in the habit of paying rather excessive dividends. That, of course, is not true; it is completely untrue. The dividends that the major operating companies in Kalgoorlie are paying are extremely low in relation to their true capital and when their investment is regarded as a risk investment.
Senator Cant also referred to a lack of activity on the part of the Government in regard to the fixed price of gold. Again I join issue with the honorable senator. I suggest that the Government has done everything that it, as a member of the International Monetary Fund, could do in endeavouring to increase the fixed price of gold. As is well known, the price is fixed internationally by the International Monetary Fund. Unless and until that fund, which is a collective body of nations comprising the fund, agrees to an increase in price, Australia is quite powerless to do any more than advocate an increase. At the annual meetings of the fund, each year South Africa and Australia, and in certain years Canada and Great Britain, have asked for an increase. I emphasize that Australia has always put forward the strongest possible case for an increase in the fixed price of gold. I believe that we will continue to do that. It is in our interests to increase the price. Therefore, I cannot understand Senator Cant’s statement when he accused the Government of inactivity in that respect.
At this stage I believe it is desirable to refer briefly to the reasons why a subsidy is being paid to the gold-mining industry. Mining industries should be able to exist without subsidy. It is of the very essence of a mine that the risky nature of the enterprise warrants a profit commensurate with that risk. That is not by any means in accordance with the notion of paying a subsidy to the industry. However, a subsidy is advisable and essential for this industry. There are many reasons for that. I will repeat a few of them very briefly.
The first is that gold is the most valuable commodity in the world. Tn fact, it is not really a commodity at all. It has not the characteristics of wool, iron, butter or wheat. AH those commodities disappear from the face of this earth; but the indestructibility of gold - the quality which even the ancient Egyptians understood as well as or perhaps better than Australians understand it - makes this precious metal quite different from anything else.
– Why is it precious?
– I am trying to tell you that it is precious because it is indestructible. Even a diamond can be destroyed by being crushed; but it is not much good trying to crush gold. One can reconstitute it. The qualities of this metal, which men have prized above all other things for so long that history cannot recall its beginning, have given mankind a tremendous confidence in gold, which still exists. The peasants in China and France alf understand its value perhaps even more than many Australians understand it. Those peasants hoard gold. It is interesting to realize that one of the problems facing the world is that the amount of new gold available for trading purposes is severely restricted because of the habit of people throughout the world of hoarding gold. In fact, gold is not a commodity at all because it is too valuable.
Another reason why a subsidy is paid to the gold-mining industry is that the price is fixed. When we consider the fixed price of gold in relation to the ever-increasing cost of production, we see another very important reason for paying a subsidy. In addition, we must realize that gold is not like wool or any other commodity in that it is compulsorily acquired. Gold’ cannot be held indefinitely after it is converted into bullion. Under Australian law, it must be sold to an authorized gold dealer at the fixed price.
Above all, I believe that gold - doubtless some people will join issue with me on this - is still the only stable international currency in the world. I know that some people say that the hard currency of the United* States of America is stable and that sterling is picking up, but if you go back through the history of the world you will find that there has never been a paper currency that has remained stable, and there never will be. Inevitably we go back to gold as a currency stabilizer, and as the only stabilizing factor that we have. Some of our modern economists do not understand that proposition and reject it, but the day has passed when this Government did not accept that proposition.
There are a couple of other reasons why a subsidy should be paid. Gold is not the only means that this country has of repaying overseas loans in dollars, but I suggest that it is the best means, lt is true that we can sell some of our other commodities for dollars at the moment so as to pay our overseas debts, but that position need not always exist. It has not always been so in the past, and the economic history of the world indicates that it will not be so in the future. Therefore, gold becomes of inestimable value for paying off our overseas loans or debts. In other words, we should regard gold as being of the utmost importance as an earner of export income. I do not suggest for a moment that other commodities are not important. For instance, we are now very conscious of the importance of our iron industry, but who would be dogmatic enough to say that in 25 years’ time we will be able to sell our iron? No one would predict that. Who is prepared to say that in 50 years’ time we will be able to sell our butter overseas? It would be a brave man who would say that. We might not be able to give it away. However, we will always be able to sell our gold, and my point in that respect is that gold must continue to be regarded as an important commodity in earning export income.
I am obliged to make some remarks about the subsidy and its application to Western Australia. In that State the goldmining industry is still the biggest employer of labour. I exclude, of course, State employees. In the private sector of the economy the gold-mining industry is, and probably will be for many years to come, the biggest employer of labour in Western Australia. Over 5,000 people are employed directly in the industry in the town of Kalgoorlie, and it is quite easy to see that that industry supports indirectly a very large number of breadwinners. It has been estimated that the industry indirectly supports two or three other persons for every miner employed. In effect, it gives a livelihood directly to 5.000 gold-miners and indirectly to anything from 10,000 to 15,000 other breadwinners. That makes it a big industry in Western Australia and is one reason why a subsidy is desirable. Of course, there are other reasons.
The present subsidy is the idea of the present Government. The previous Government did have a form of subsidy, but it was completely unsatisfactory and it was not until this Government came into power that the present subsidy was framed. Over the years it has operated, changes have been occurring in the industry. I now sug gest to the Senate that the present form of subsidy has failed, as did the previous form. It has not achieved what it set out to do. It has been given a fair trial but the indications are that it is not doing what it purported to do or what it should have done. The original purpose of the subsidy was to keep the production of gold at a constant level. That has been achieved only at the expense of the major operating companies. In due course, I shall explain what 1 mean in that regard. It is my suggestion that the present subsidy has not succeeded, despite the fact that production has been kept at a certain figure.
When it is suggested that a different form of subsidy should be adopted and a larger amount granted, certain objections are raised. I want to refer to those objec-tions because I think most of them are fallacious. At one stage one heard that any higher form of subsidy or different type of subsidy which had as its purpose the increasing of production would be contrary to the policies of the International Monetary Fund. That objection was used on one occasion, but it is not correct. I have said on many occasions that if a subsidy is framed so as to maintain existing operating mines in a healthy condition - I emphasize that expression - and, incidentally, has the effect of increasing production - I emphasize the word “ incidentally “ - that is not opposed to the policy of the International Monetary Fund.
I cite as an example the Philippines. Last year the Parliament of that country passed an act which gave a direct form of subsidy to all operating mines. For the purposes of the subsidy in- the Philippines, two classes of mines were established, marginal and non-marginal mines. Marginal mines were given a subsidy of 65 pesos an ounce which, converted to Australian currency, is almost three times the subsidy we are paying to our marginal mines. It is quite a big subsidy. To all the other mines in the Philippines, including the richest, there was granted a direct subsidy of 50 pesos an ounce. That means that every gold-mine in the Philippines, irrespective of how wealthy it may be, receives a fairly high subsidy, which is very much higher than the subsidy paid in Australia. I point out also that in the Philippines there are mines that are far richer than some of the mines in Australia. The subsidy scheme in the Philippines was approved by the International Monetary Fund, and the scheme had the effect of increasing production from 400,000 fine ounces a year to 800,000 fine ounces. In short, production in the Philippines is rapidly catching up with Australian production. At one time it was regarded as only a minor producer of gold. I mention that matter because there has been a lot of silly talk about the policies of the International Monetary Fund in relation to gold production and subsidies. Perhaps we will hear nothing more of the kind.
A further objection has been put forward to the adoption of a different and better form of subsidy for our gold-mining industry. I have heard it stated that a subsidy iti a more expensive form would be objectionable because it would cost more than the actual value of the increased gold production. That also is a fallacy. It is rather a foolish argument, and those who argue in that way make it quite clear that they do not understand what gold-mining operators really do. I do not mind admitting, of course, that, initially, an increase of subsidy to established or permanent major operators might not increase production. That is to say, the cost of the increased subsidy would temporarily be more than the value of the increased production, but the important point is that a proper form of subsidy would assist in preserving the life of a mine. Over a period, the cost of the increased subsidy would be infinitely less than the enhanced value of the mine to the economy of Australia. In other words, if a reliable mine could be preserved indefinitely, we would have not only to measure the cost of increasing the subsidy against the increased production from year to year, but also consider it in relation to the total future production of the gold mine.
As I have said, Sir, I think that the present form of subsidy has been given a fair trial and has been shown to be barely worth while. I shall explain why I think that is so. The present form of subsidy should be altered in order to preserve the life of the major operating mines in Western Australia. I am of the opinion that an increased subsidy, of a different type, must be paid. I do not propose to discuss the details of the type of subsidy 1 think should be paid, but I emphasize that the present situation is not a satisfactory one. In fact, it is most ominous. The only way in which to have a proper picture of the industry is to look at the ore reserves of the operating companies. In this connexion, I wish to refer to the ore reserves of two mining companies that are receiving the subsidy, Sons of Gwalia Limited and Gold Mines of Kalgoorlie, and also those of three major operating companies which are not receiving the subsidy.
It must be appreciated that the subsidy is intended to maintain production at a certain level. Production has in fact been substantial, but one must look at the ore reserves in order to get the real picture. In 1956 Gold Mines of Kalgoorlie (Aust.) Limited, which is receiving quite a large subsidy under the present policy of the Government, had ore reserves of three and a half years. In five years, those reserves had dropped to two and a half years’ reserves. The Sons of Gwalia mine, which also has received quite a large amount of subsidy, is in a far more serious position. The ore reserves of the Sons of Gwalia mine at Leonora have dropped from seven years in 1951 to one and a half years in 1961. I do not think anybody would argue that a subsidy which is intended to maintain production, but which at the same time results in reduction of the life of a mine, is a proper subsidy. To consider only the volume of production per year is not the correct way to measure the economic value of a mine.
When we turn to the major operating companies that are not receiving the subsidy, such as Great Boulder Gold Mines Limited, North Kalgurli (1912) Limited and Lake View and Star Limited, we find that the position of their ore reserves is much the same as that of the companies I have already mentioned. Mines which have been regarded as non-marginal also reflect the same trend. In 1948, the Great Boulder mine had ore reserves of about six and a half years. In 1960, those reserves had been whittled down to four years. The North Kalgurli mine had reserves of almost ten years in 1948, but last year its reserves were down to just over six years, so that its reserves had been almost halved.
Senator Cant said that the goldmining industry is one of the most economical and efficient industries in Australia. The Lake
View and Star mine is, I should say, the most efficient gold mine in this country. Despite its efficiency, however, and the tremendous efforts made by the management to reduce costs, or to halt the everincreasing costs of production, the ore reserves of that magnificent mine have dropped from seven years, as they were in 1948, to just over four anr! a half years to-day. It might be thought that four and a half years’ ore reserves is a lot of ore, but that is not so when we are speaking of a mine that should be operating when our grand-children and our great grand-children are old.
The large mines would have an almost indefinite life if their ore reserves were maintained at a proper level. In the instances I have given, in a few years, which should be but a fraction of the life of a mine, the ore reserves have fallen considerably. Gold-mining companies are not in this business for love. They are in it to make profits. Too often on the goldfields, when a critical period was reached in the existence of a mining company, the directors said, “ Our ore reserves are dropping so fast that it is not economical to continue development. We shall stop and make the mine what is called a salvage proposition.” The end of the mine is then definitely fixed; it will come. That has been happening in Western Australia for a long time. These big operating companies are the industry at the moment and they will continue to be. They should have an indefinite life, with proper assistance. I suggest that the industry should get such assistance as will allow not only marginal mines but also all other mines to maintain their ore reserves at a healthy level. The ore reserves of the major operating companies in Western Australia have fallen below a healthy level.
– The only way to do that would be by continuous developmental work.
– I quite agree, and it costs money to do that. I have been asked why shareholders could not pay for this development as they are getting the profits, but the profits of these companies are shown against the original capital which is, of course, ridiculous. Their real profit is extremely low. It is less than that of the average business or industrial undertak ing which does not operate in a risky industry, such as gold-mining, and it is far less than that of most companies in Australia.
– If the life of mines in Kalgoorlie is unlimited, as you said a little while ago-
– I said “ indefinite “.
– What is the risk attachable?
– The risk always is that costs will rise so high that it will not pay to mine. That happens frequently. I do not suppose any mine that has closed down in Western Australia has had absolutely no ore left. There is always ore left in a mine. It is a question of the cost of getting it out. We often hear that a mine has run out of ore. A typical illustration was the closing down of the Big Bell company mine. There is plenty of ore left in that mine but it would cost too much to get out.
– Not at the grade on which it started to operate.
– That is the whole point. It is a question of value.
– Why should shareholders have the responsibility of preserving a mine for posterity, in view of the artificial circumstances in which they operate? The mines are not responsible for the artificial price of gold or the highly inflationary costs of production that they have to absorb. There is no obligation on the shareholders to preserve an asset of the nation out of their pockets. No other industry is asked to do it. Why should gold-mining shareholders accept this burden? Of course, they do, in effect. An enormous proportion of gross returns from mines is ploughed back into development and the profit of mining companies assessed on true capital is a very modest return. It would be far better for a person to put money into brewery shares than to put it even into the best gold-mine.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– There are one or two comments I should like to make before I conclude. I have tried to establish that the present policy in relation to the subsidy should be changed, and I have endeavoured to show how it should be changed. I wish to sum up by saying that it does appear - I say this in all seriousness - that the policy must do three things. It must maintain production at the present level - that is what it sets out to do now - but it must do more than - that. Production cannot be maintained at the present level unless the policy ensures to the major operators in this industry that the future of their mines will be preserved, which means that the ore reserves will be maintained in a healthy condition. The subsidy must be related to that aspect of the problem as well as to the mere arithmetical aspect of measuring the industry by the number of ounces of gold that it produces. Production can be maintained only if proper stimuli are given to exploration for new ores and even for new mines. I suggest that those three elements are essential to a healthy balance and the maintenance of this industry. The Chamber of Mines has covered that position adequately.
I conclude by saying that the Government members mining committee is most interested in this question. The members of that committee undertook the long trip to the gold-fields of Western Australia to study the problem, and I am sure they will support the case which has already been presented by the Chamber of Mines. I place on record the appreciation of the industry of their efforts. I do not think I could resume my seat without placing on record an appreciation of the very fine assistance that has been given to the industry in Western Australia - and, in fact, throughout Australia - by the Minister in charge of this bill, Senator Paltridge. His attitude at all times has been helpful and sympathetic. His grasp of the problems affecting the mining industry is profound and rather astonishes any one who is not a mining man. I place on record my appreciation of the assistance that he has given to the industry.
Senator COOKE (Western Australia) [2.191. - 1 propose to speak only briefly on this bill, because it is not of the type that warrants lengthy debate. I should like to put into the record of this debate a matter which I raised by way of a question to the Minister on 5th April, to which he gave me the courtesy of a reply. I asked the Minister a question without notice about the ineligibility of gold recovered by the treatment of sands and residues for the payment of a subsidy under the provisions of the Gold-Mining Indus try Assistance Act 1954-1961. Some people treat sands, residues and dumps to obtain gold. I can see the logic of saying that no subsidy should be paid on gold so recovered and that the subsidy should be paid only on gold actually produced. However, I think the Government should show a little tolerance in this matter because, as it knows, the area in which gold is being sought and actually being mined is diminishing. There are still people who are prepared to go out into isolated fields - dead fields where mines are not being operated - to recover gold in this way. People who seek gold in such places usually also have the objective of opening up or testing a field. They are put to a fair amount of inconvenience and expense, but they receive no subsidy payment at all until they start to produce gold.
It is thought by many prospectors that if they go out into the backblocks to treat these dumps and get some gold, they should receive a subsidy to assist them to put life into the area. That might very well lead to the achievement of the objective sought by everybody who believes that the goldmining industry could and should be further developed. These people should be encouraged in the opening up of new fields and new mines. They are really the lifeblood of the industry. It is as a result of their work that eventually other people put their capital into the mines that produce gold.
I do not think this measure is worthy of a prolonged debate. It is simply an agreement to extend for another three years the conditions we have enjoyed and complained about over a considerable period of time.
– You complain about your enjoyment? You say that you have enjoyed the provisions and at the same time you complain about them.
– We have enjoyed the conditions because they are necessary, but enjoyment does not always bring satisfaction. I enjoy looking at Senator Wright because he is a queer, interesting and amusing little man, but I get no satisfaction out of it at all. Somewhat the same meaning could be applied to my words concerning the conditions to which this bill relates. We enjoy them because they are available to us, and if they were not available we would b» rather unhappy, but we are not satisfied with them. Does Senator Wright now understand my choice of words?
In reply to the question asked by me on 5th April, Senator Paltridge advised that he had obtained the following answer from the Treasurer: -
Under the provisions of the act, subsidy on any gold produced may be paid only to persons who have produced, from mines or alluvial deposits, the gold-bearing materials from which that gold has been extracted. Other persons who obtain gold, for example by extraction from tailing dumps left by the original producers of gold-bearing materials, are ineligible for subsidy. For practical purposes, this means that gold recovered from dumps within the normal operations and working life of a mine qualifies for subsidy, but not if it is recovered from old dumps on abandoned mining properties. These provisions are in accordance with the basic purpose of the gold subsidy scheme, which is to provide assistance to the gold-mining industry.
That is rather a narrow view. The goldmining industry will continue only - the history of development in Western Australia particularly is a history of mines that haveonly a certain working period - if the mining companies have reserves large enough to encourage them to continue working or, alternatively, people go to abandoned places where the gold deposits are known to be fairly good and show that it would be worth while for another company to open them up. New deposits of gold are not being found. If what I have suggested were done, it would encourage prospectors to go out and might lead to the opening up of new areas or the re-opening of old areas.
As I was saying, before replying to the interjection, this bill is merely an extension of the 1954-1961 act. It extends the subsidy for a further three years. I should like to be assured that the following statement, which is an answer to submissions made by me on 5th April, is correct. The Minister said -
The decision to extend the operation of the present Act without change in its provisions does not necessarily represent the Government’s final position in the matter of assistance to the industry.
I assume from those words that the Government realizes that the position of the industry is unsatisfactory and that it will take cognizance of the matters submitted by the Chambers of Mines and the industry generally and have them incorporated in later legislation. The Minister further stated -
The Government has before it a number of proposals for amendment of the provisions of the act, but consideration of these proposals could not be completed in the limited time available prior to the close of the present sittings of Parliament. This consideration is still proceeding, and the Government hopes to be in a position to indicate its decisions by the time the Commonwealth Budget for 1962-63 is introduced.
I have read that reply on the part of the Minister because I wish to incorporate it in “ Hansard “ at this point. I request the Minister to see - I know that he will, as a good West Australian interested in goldmining - that this promise to the people who are doing a mighty job on our goldfields will not be disregarded for another three years, but will be given effect in amendments at an early date.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 16th May (vide page 1442), on motion by Senator Spooner -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– This is a very important bill. It deals with one of the remaining international agreements that Labour struggled so hard to get, against the opposition of the present Government parties when in Opposition, years ago. The agreement provides for an international system of organized marketing which has stabilized the wheat markets of the world and provided a much better outlook for Australia and the other signatories to the agreement. The International Wheat Agreement, 1962, is a voluminous document. The objectives of the agreement are well worth quoting to the Senate. They are -
An international wheat agreement was first envisaged in 1934, but an endeavour to implement such an agreement failed. Internationally, the idea was not received very well because the necessity for organized marketing did not appear to be so apparent then as it does to-day. In 1949, the Labour Government negotiated for an agreement in spite of the opposition of the present Government parties. At that time the United Kingdom was rather hard-pressed and did not come into the agreement, and to that extent the agreement was. considerably weakened.
The International Wheat Agreement came into existence in 1949 and was re-enacted in 1953, 1956 and 1959. The latest agreement covers a far wider area, new countries having become signatories to it. In his second-reading speech the Minster for National Development (Senator Spooner) said -
The new agreement was negotiated at a conference convened by the United Nations, at which 48 countries participated, including, for the first time in recent years, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Ifall these participating countries sign the agreement, about 95 per cent. of the world’s trade in wheat will be covered by its terms. Trade in flour is also covered by the terms of the agreement.
I should like to know how many of the 48 countries represented at the United Nations conference have ratified the agreement, and how the number compares with those that ratified the 1959 agreement.
I should like to consider briefly the position in regard to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. That country is included in Annex B of the agreement as one of the exporting countries, but I notice that it is not included among the importing countries. From Australia’s point of view it is interesting to note that the Communist bloc has entered into an agreement of this nature. I do not know whether the Government has given any consideration to what effect this will have on the markets that have been open to us. For instance, Australia has been selling large quantities of wheat to Communist China. What will be the position if the Soviet Union becomes an exporter of wheat? Although the Government has severely criticized any suggestion that we should trade with Communist China, it cannot be denied that the Government has traded with Communist China to a much greater extent than any previous government. The market has been very valuable to us for the disposal of our primary products. I would like the Minister to comment on the possible participation of the Communist bloc in this agreement and the effect that that may have on our markets. The agreement is a good one. The Labour Party does not oppose Australia’s acceptance of the agreement. We on this side of the Senate have always advocated international agreements to govern the marketing of primary produce.
I would like to hear a statement from the Government on the likely effect of Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community on our wheat industry. What is likely to be the effect on our wheat industry of the acceptance of this agreement by certain countries for the first time? Will Australia be restricted in her marketing of wheat or will the increased participation in the agreement lead to an expansion of our markets?
The bill is a very simple one, but the agreement to which it refers is most important. The agreement is readily available for perusal but in his second-reading speech the Minister referred only briefly to the agreement. Very little has been said to the Parliament or to the Senate about the effect on our wheat industry of the increased participation by countries in this agreement. Is that increased participation in the agreement likely to improve our trading position in wheat?
I should like to say a few words about the new price range. The basic minimum price of wheat has been increased to about 14s. 6d. a bushel. That represents an increase of about1s. 2d. a bushel. The maximum price has been increased to 18s. 4d. a bushel - again an increase of about ls. 2d. a bushel. The average price paid by the United Kingdom for our wheat has been about 14s. 9d. a bushel, which is a slight increase on the new minimum price. If we are to make any gains in the selling of our wheat they will be made on the minimum price, because it is not often that we enjoy selling at the maximum price.
I should like to know whether the Government has made a survey of costs of production in the industry. I know that costs of production vary from area to area, but has the Government made a recent survey of the average costs of production to see what effect they will have on the sale of our wheat, bearing in mind the limitations fixed on the price that we will receive for it? We must undoubtedly ratify the agreement and we should know how the industry will fare if wheat is sold at the fixed minimum price, or at a price slightly in excess of the minimum, as against an average cost of production figure.
In his second-reading speech the Minister said -
The agreement offers no remedy for the current situation where countries like Australia have to sell in the United Kingdom under conditions of cut-throat competition at so-called “ world prices “ far below prices received by the vast majority of the world wheat producers and often below our domestic prices in Australia. This situation needs to be altered radically. We are convinced that the problem can only be solved if we get some overall world-wide commodity arrangements. This view was pressed by the Australian Government at the Commonwealth Trade and Economic Conference in Montreal in 19S8 and has been forcefully re-stated more than once since that time.
The Opposition thoroughly agrees with the Government’s comment in that regard, but what is the Government doing about the position? In 1957 we entered into a trade agreement with the United Kingdom. That agreement was widely discussed. At the time I pointed out that in negotiating that agreement the Government had paid no regard to the fact that the European Economic Community was developing. The Government at that time did not seek any assurances from the United Kingdom with regard to our primary industries. The agreement that was entered into in 1957 was a very loose arrangement. The Government has complained that it is not satisfied with the returns obtained for the sale of our wheat and other commodities to Great Britain since 1958. But what has the Government done to rectify the position? The agreement entered into in 1957 gave the Government plenty of opportunities to appeal to the United Kingdom for better prices. The matter could have been investigated. The Government could have negotiated a fresh agreement if the existing agreement was unsatisfactory. I wonder whether the Government has done anything about the 1957 agreement. It is futile to have been complaining since 1958 about the unsatisfactory features of the prices and trade relations with the United Kingdom if something has not been done to rectify the position. Has the Government negotiated with the United Kingdom since entering into the agreement? What has the Government done to correct the situation about which it complains and of which the primary producers of this country are keenly aware?
The Labour Party does not oppose this bill. We believe that it is absolutely necessary for Australia to accept the International Wheat Agreement of 1962. As I have already said, I should like to know what will be the effect on our wheat industry of the acceptance of the new agreement by these new participating countries. I should like to know what the Government has in mind with regard to costs of production in the industry. Does the Government intend to give any assistance with regard to freights, subsidies or insurance to primary producers in order to make their efforts more profitable, not only to themselves but to the nation as a whole?
I note that flour and other commodities are referred to in the agreement. Only a decade ago the Labour Party tried very hard to obtain assistance for Australian flour millers to enable them to mill wheat in this country and send the flour overseas. But the buyers of our wheat wanted to do the milling in their own countries. We were able to sell our wheat to overseas millers but our milling industry was brought to such a stage that Western Australian millers lost contracts with many people of Asia and other parts of the world for whom flour was milled. Not only was the loss of our export trade in flour a tragedy but also our dairy-farmers and our poultry-farmers had the greatest difficulty in obtaining their requirements of bran and pollard, which are the residue of the wheat after the flour has been removed. Has the
Government done anything about expanding our export markets for flour? Has it had any success in this field?
I do not wish to take up the time of the Senate any further on this measure. I am sure that before long we will have a very good debate on marketing. The Opposition supports the principle of organized marketing. It is fully in accord with the policy of making international agreements to cover the marketing of primary products. Such agreements will benefit this country and all other countries.
– Mr. Acting Deputy President, I will not delay the Senate for very long. I support this bill. It seeks the approval of the Parliament to the signature and acceptance by Australia of the International Wheat Agreement of 1962. I was very glad to hear Senator Cooke say that the Opposition is supporting this measure because I believe that it is a very important one, which should be supported by every member of this Parliament. This agreement was negotiated at a meeting convened by the United Nations at which 48 nations, including Russia, were represented. I pause at this point to comment on a remark made by Senator Cooke. He said that he doubted whether Russia’s entry into this agreement would be beneficial to the agreement.
– I said that I doubted whether it would be beneficial to Australian trade and our national position, not the agreement.
– My comment to Senator Cooke is that Russia’s entry into this international agreement does not mean that Russia has suddenly become an exporter of wheat. Russia has been an exporter of wheat for some years. I believe that it is far better to have Russia inside the agreement than outside it. While outside the agreement, Russia could sell wheat to any nation that wanted to buy wheat from it at prices far below those of other wheat-exporting countries that are bound by the International Wheat Agreement.
– I agree with that.
– For that reason, I am very pleased to see Russia come into the agreement and join with the other exporting nations in agreeing to sell wheat at the prices stated in the agreement.
As I said, this agreement was negotiated at a conference convened by the United Nations at which 48 nations were represented. Surely there is a lesson to be learnt from that meeting of all those nations. If wheat can be sold by exporters under an agreement with the importers on the price they should pay and the quantities that each country should buy, surely similar agreements can be made in respect of other commodities. Many Australian primary producers would like to see international agreements covering the commodities in which they are interested. Producers of commodities other than wheat are very envious of the agreement that the wheatproducers have for the sale of their commodity.
In the new agreement certain modifications have been made to the present agreement. The major wheat-importing countries have agreed to increase their minimum percentage purchase commitments. It is significant that, at this time when large quantities of wheat are still on hand, in an international agreement the major wheatimporting countries have agreed to buy larger quantities of wheat at increased prices. The United Kingdom, which a few years ago would not come into the agreement, has now decided to increase her purchase commitment under the agreement from 80 per cent, to 90 per cent, of her total wheat purchases. Japan, which has been a big importer of Australian wheat, has agreed to increase her purchases from 50 per cent, to 80 per cent., and West Germany has agreed to increase her purchases from 70 per cent, to 87£ per cent. I have mentioned that the major importing countries have also agreed to increased prices. This agreement provides for increases both in the maximum price and in the minimum price. That is a very great thing.
This international agreement is of the utmost importance to Australia. If we did not have this agreement, what sort of a wheat stabilization plan would we have in Australia? If Australia did not have a stabilization plan, where would the wheat industry be and where would we get the stability that exists in the industry at the present time? They are not the only matters that are affected’ by the international agreement. What would happen to the people in industry and the workers of this country if we did not have stability in the wheat industry? When we compare the wheatgrowers’ lot now with that of the 1930’s, we see that now they have every modern facility both on their properties and in their homes. They have far better homes than the homes that existed in the 1930’s. In fact, in those days they were not homes; they were only bag shacks. That has all been brought about by stability in the wheat industry. Hundreds of millions of pounds are spent by the Australian wheat-growers in purchasing new machinery and other commodities for their homes and properties. Those purchases keep thousands of people in work in Australia. That is why I attach great importance to this agreement.
In conclusion, I pay a tribute to the Minister for Trade and Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr. McEwen). I pay tribute to the leadership that he has given in working out solutions of the problem of decreasing returns on wheat exports and also the problem of the inability of under-developed countries to buy more wheat. This Government agrees with the suggestion made by France that the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade should form a cereals group. I hope that the Minister for Trade will continue to give the leadership that he has given in the past and that one day in the near future we will achieve something much nearer to the objective at which he is aiming than what we have at the present time is. I have much pleasure in supporting the bill.
– in reply -I thank the Senate for its support of this bill and compliment the two honorable senators who have spoken to it. Senator Cooke raised a few questions. I shall endeavour to answer them, although one cannot be dogmatic in answering questions on what I suppose is the largest commodity agreement in existence at the presenttime. All the ramifications, things that may happen and the various changes that have been made in the agreement are matters of opinion and matters for consideration by those who have more experience in these matters than I have.
The first question Senator Cooke asked was how the numbers of signatories to this agreement and the last agreement compare. The position is that the 1959 agreement was signed by 29 importers and nine exporters and the 1962 agreement, which is open for signatures until July of this year, will probably be signed by 31 importers and ten exporters. So, there will be two more importers and one more exporter.
The next question Senator Cooke asked was about the effect of Russia becoming a signatory to the agreement. That is a matter of opinion. Experience will tell. The significant point about Russia’s entry into the agreement is that it brings the sales of the world’s third largest exporter of wheat within the terms of the agreement. That must have a beneficial effect on Australia because it gives greater security against the dumping of a large quantity of wheat on the world’s markets. I cannot say with any precision what effect this agreement will have upon the Soviet’s relations with Communist China in wheat transactions. During a period of drought China has turned to the outside world for supplies of wheat. At the moment, therefore, we are looking at the situation under abnormal circumstances. Senator Cooke raised the question of when the cost of production was last assessed. My inquiries indicate that that was last carried out by the Division of Agricultural Economics in November, 1961.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 16th May (vide page 1440), on motion by Senator Paltridge -
That the bill be now read a first time.
.- When this debate was adjourned I was speaking about the Government’s proposals to adjust the functions of the trading banks. I believe this adjustment to be long overdue. My only regret is that it was not made a long time ago. I hope that the amount of £55,000,000 envisaged by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) will be considerably increased, because I believe such an increase will provide a much needed boost to our export trade and to development work in this country. That is what the measure is aimed at. It is good to see the shackles being removed to some extent from the trading banks, to allow those banks to function as they should.
I noted that Senator Kennelly said that he was not opposed to term loans by trading banks, but apparently he is opposed to the necessary adjustments being made to enable term loans to take place. I believe that in future, more especially if the Common Market develops as some people fear, it will be more than necessary for Australia to rely on income from the export of manufactured goods. Mr. McEwen has said that he has no doubt whatever that we will be granted a transitional period in relation to the primary products that we export to the United Kingdom. However, there is a great deal of doubt and speculation as to whether Australia will be able to continue to export the same quantities as at present to the Common Market countries. If that avenue for our exports is cut off and if those markets are not replaced by fresh markets, it seems to me to be perfectly obvious that we shall have to concentrate to a greater degree on the export of manufactured goods.
Last night I spoke about the action the Government had taken to try to provide the necessary inducements to bring that about. I believe that it is now up to the ingenuity, concentration and, if such a thing is possible, the dedication of the people of Australia to take action. In order to compete on the markets of the world with manufactured goods, it is obvious that we must reduce our costs of production. I believe the days have gone when pressure groups, whatever they might be, could agitate continuously for easier and better conditions.
– Do you believe that applies to dairy-farmers?
– Dairy-farmers are not enjoying good conditions. If the honorable senator were working on a dairy farm, looking after a herd of cows seven days a week, he would soon realize that. The fact is that we have to try to compete with the rest of the world. We have to earn our living in the world and pay our way. I believe the holiday is over.
There must be greater concentration on reducing costs of production and on maintaining efficiency in order to place ourselves in the position of being able to compete with the rest of the world with the goods we export.
Before I conclude, I would like to make one other observation. We all listened with a great deal of interest to the speech delivered by Dean Rusk at the dinner the other night. I think any healthy-minded person would agree entirely with what he said about communism and the preservation of democracy and what we term the free way of life. We would all agree entirely with that. However, although we agree with him on certain aspects, and although I and many other people look to the United States of America as a great bastion to preserve the free way of life, that does not mean that we agree with everything he says or with every policy he advocates. The next evening, in New Zealand, Dean Rusk was more forthright when speaking about Australia’s export trade. He made the statement that the United States simply could not afford to see the preferences that Australia had enjoyed in the past with the Common Market countries in Europe being continued. I noted that Mr. McEwen made the obvious rejoinder to that statement by saying that it could not be any more inimical to the trade of the United States if the same quantity of goods were exported to the Common Market countries or exported solely to the United Kingdom. It could not make a scrap of difference. Because of the hard times in which we are living in regard to our export trade, it is good to see that the Commonwealth Government is alive to this aspect and to the necessity for making facilities available to boost our export trade.
I am interested in the investigation that is being made in the United States of America, at the instigation of the President of that country, and which is supposed to be aimed at a reduction of its general tariffs. As the Minister for Trade has pointed out, the United States has presented a closed door to Australian trade. If the European Common Market arrangements result in a similar policy being adopted, it will certainly be a bad thing for the free world. People in the United States speak of the need for a free flow of trade throughout the world; at the same time they say that the right of this country to export to the United Kingdom is inimical to the United States. The leader writer of the Hobart “ Mercury “ newspaper has looked rather askance at this proposal of the United States to reduce its tariffs, so that the trade of the world might flow more freely. That newspaper stated -
The best illustration of what happens when a hard fact meets a tidy theory was given this week by the President himself. He is asking Congress for sweeping new powers to cut tariffs on foreignmade goods, but when he was confronted by stiff competition from oversea manufacturers of wilton carpets and glass, he raised tariffs on both immediately.
So, it is very largely a matter of self-interest.
While it is commendable that the United States should be investigating the possibility of reducing tariffs, there is a good deal of conjecture about whether tariffs will in fact be reduced, because to do so might conflict with local interests. I believe that the time has gone when manufacturers in this country could shelter behind import licensing or high tariff walls, and concern themselves only with the local Australian market. Every effort must now be made to get out into the world and trade, not only in primary products but also in manufactured goods. Because of the uncertain position of our overseas markets for primary products, there has to be a greater effort to reduce costs and more dedication to the task of increasing exports.
– I enter the debate to reply to Senator Kennelly’s comments last night on the banking arrangements announced by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) recently. 1 am sorry that I was not present in the chamber when the honorable senator spoke. For that reason, I was not able to reply to him when he finished his remarks. I know that my colleague, Senator Paltridge, was in a similar position. The main point 1 want to make is that the free enterprise banks exercise one of the most important influences of all on the national economy. Therefore, the re-arrangement of their affairs, which was part and parcel of the programme announced by the Government in February, was one of the salient features of the programme. Senator Kennelly made no attempt to deal with that angle, nor did he attempt to deal with the national importance of the re-arrangements we have made.
I remind honorable senators that, in many ways, this is a new Australia. There has been a great increase in our population. There have been expansion of our trading activities and an increase in overseas investments in this country. As a part of that development, many changes have occurred in our financial arrangements. We are developing more sophisticated financial arrangements, in keeping with those of many other monetary centres of the world. New forms of financial institution have arisen. We have seen the expansion of hire-purchase companies, of the short-term money lending market, and of the wool futures market. The number of building societies has increased. There has been a great increase in the number of unit and development trusts. Development corporations of various kinds have appeared. A great many new financial activities have been commenced. Senator Kennelly made no mention of those matters, nor did he refer to the need to re-cast the arrangements with the free enterprise or private banks. It is not unfair to say that he merely rolled out the barrel and made a series of most unworthy accusations against the Government. i
The honorable senator alleged that the banking arrangements had been made in return for political services rendered in the past or to be rendered in the future. I suggest that, at the best, that is merely shallow thinking. Such comment reflects no credit on the person who makes it. lt indicates a lack of ‘appreciation and knowledge of the nature of the problem, and also the absence of strength of character. As, however, the honorable senator chose to make his criticism on that basis, I should like to place on record in the Senate my view of the relations between the Government and the trading banks.
I regard the free enterprise trading banks, and the 62,300 members of their staffs, as being of consequence in this community. The bank officer renders a greater service to the community, by the experienced exercise of his profession, than does the average professional man. I appreciate the value of the services which the banks perform. If there is a political affiliation between bank officers and the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party, then for my part I am proud of it. I am proud to be in their company.
It is understandable that those people should look with political favour upon the Government parties, in view of the fact that the Australian Labour Party, in 1949, attempted to nationalize the banks. That party still maintains nationalization of banking as a plank in its platform. If it were returned to power, despite the constitutional difficulties, it undoubtedly would attempt to nationalize the free enterprise banks by stealth. I should hope that it would be unnecessary for us on this side of the Senate to stand in our places and say we would alway support free enterprise banking, not for the political support that we might get from it, or not because of the many personal friendships that I, in particular, have with bank officers. Many of my best friends are in the service of the trading banks and I may be pardoned if I get a bit hot under the collar from time to time when I hear unworthy .attacks made on them and on the Government. Whatever political affiliation there is, wherever our political views coincide, in my view if these arrangements do result in increased political support for the Government, it will be a good thing for Australia if this helps to keep this Government in power.
Having said that, I want to repudiate completely any suggestion that what has been done for the banks in these arrangements is the price paid for past political support or for political support to come in the future. These arrangements are a very important, indeed an integral, part of the programme that the Government advanced last February for the expansion of the Australian economy. I outlined earlier in very brief terms the more sophisticated nature of the financial arrangements within Australia. I think that the evolving of a more flexible set of arrangements which will enable the trading banks to take an increasing share in the responsibility for formulating adequate financial arrangements for this changing Australia of ours is belated. If those arrangements, in their incidence, increase the profits and status of the banks, and if in their effect they enhance the professional standing and reputation of the bank officers, in my opinion they are to be commended.
A good deal was said about the increasing profits of the banks. I wonder how many on the opposite side have looked at the facts and figures. I have had a tabulation prepared, showing the effect of bank transactions from 1945 to 1961, a period of sixteen years. This shows an amalgamation of all the profits of the banks. In no year during those sixteen years did the aggregate net trading profits of the banks exceed 6.1 per cent, of shareholders’ funds. That was the highest level of trading bank profits in that period. That is, by all standards, an inadequate return on capital invested. It is a poor return upon commercial activity. In some years profits were down to 3.6 per cent. The figure for 1959 was 5.3; for 1960, it was 5.4; and for 1961 it was 5.4. I have not made a mathematical calculation, but I should hazard a guess that over that long period net profits on shareholders’ funds have averaged less than 51 per cent.
To suggest that these arrangements are so generous as to warrant the sort of attack that Senator Kennelly made last night is just quite ridiculous. The labourer is worthy of his hire in any set of circumstances. We in this Senate had little compunction about accepting the recommendations of the Richardson report. It is a condition precedent to any industry, profession, calling or occupation, that there should be reasonable remuneration for the work that is done. To cite the figures that Senator Kennelly cited is grotesque. It puts the matter completely out of perspective. The whole question is whether, as a result of the arrangements made, the remuneration is inordinate, extravagant or excessive. There was no attempt to approach the matter from that point of view or to relate the remuneration to the worth of the services performed. There was no attempt to establish that it was greater than the worth of the services rendered, considering capital investment and other aspects. There was not even any reference to the national services rendered by these institutions, but merely a personal attack, an allegation that all parties concerned conspired together to do something for political purposes. That is a reflection not only on the Government, the officers and the directors of the bank, but also upon everybody associated with the situation.
Let us examine the accuracy of Senator Kennelly’s statement. Let me direct the
Senate’s attention to this matter. One of his allegations was that the Commonwealth Development Bank was designed to provide long-term lending to primary producers, secondary industries and exporters. That is absolutely contrary to the truth. As Senator Kennelly himself stated, in a quotation from a speech by the Treasurer, the function of the Development Bank was to provide finance which -
The purpose for which the Development Bank was established was to provide a source of finance for people who could not meet the normal standards of borrowing capacity. It was to be an addition to the banking structure. Senator Kennelly ignored that angle altogether. He claimed that these arrangements were part of a programme to undermine the Development Bank. This addition to long-term lending facilities will provide a real service to industry, from which national development will result. It will provide a real service to primary ‘.producers, secondary industry, and exporting industry, making loans possible on longer terms than are at present available. That will, in the opinion of the Government, be of great national benefit. There is a great need in Australia for a larger volume of finance for these longer-term transactions. If they result in increased activities, it is surely reasonable that, as a corollary to those increased activities, increased earning capacity will be placed in the hands of the banks. Let me say that no organizations are better equipped to carry out these functions than the existing free enterprise, banking organizations. They have staff available, with long years of experience of transactions of this kind. They know the pitfalls as well as the possible advantages. They can give advice to those who contemplate going into this sort of transaction. It is a real service to Australia to put these experienced and skilled organizations in such a situation that they can expand their activities and make available more finance for those things that Australia wants to see encouraged and developed. It is a carping man who, in those circumstances, complains that, as a result of the banks developing their activities, they will enjoy an increase in their profits.
I do not propose to reply in detail to Senator Kennelly, because I do not think the time is appropriate to do so. We cannot do it during this sessional period, but I hope that when we reassemble we will have a closer look at this matter from the point of view of the technical alterations and’ changes that have been made. The objective of the Government is that the trading banks shall play an increasingly important role in our commercial transactions and be able to compete on better terms with what we have come colloquially to call the fringe banking institutions. We want to see them engage in more longterm lending and, in particular, to have greater resources available so that they can extend their activities in those directions that will increase Australia’s export trade. In those circumstances, I do not propose to go through the actual programme of events or the actual re-arrangements. I am intent on refuting what I describe as a most unworthy attack on the Government by Senator Kennelly. There is an old adage that the labourer is worthy of his hire. Bank profits in past years have fallen substantially below those that might reasonably be expected to be earned by such large aggregations of capital. The banks now will be in a better position to do what they have done in the past - render good service to Australia.
– I can agree with Senator Spooner that this is not the proper time for a lengthy dissertation upon the subject of banking. I noticed that he was admirably brief. I hope to be relatively brief, if not admirably so. The measure we are discussing is one of the aftermaths of the election. The Senate will recall that, following the election, the Government conferred with almost everybody in the industrial life of Australia and sought advice as to what it should do. It proceeded to reverse many of the policies which it had followed prior to the election. This is one of the measures that came up as a consequence of the various conferences that took place. Senator Spooner has taken Senator Kennelly to task, but there were two matters raised by Senator Kennelly which have not been controverted.
– You would not come down to his level of debating?
– I ask Senator Wright to let me make my own speech in my own way. There were two matters upon which there was no controversy or no contradiction from the Minister. The first point Senator Kennelly made was that this was an arrangement between the Government and the banks for the benefit of the banks.
– Nonsense! If you are attempting to say that I agreed to that, you are wrong.
– I attributed the statement to Senator Kennelly, so perhaps Senator Spooner will withdraw his use of the word “ nonsense “.
– It is still nonsense, but in a different category.
– I do not think it is nonsense, for the simple reason that the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) himself, in the course of his speech on this matter, stated most plainly that these measures were designed to give the banks better opportunities. Whatever these measures are, it is not denied by the Government - in fact, it was positively asserted in the course of a statement here - that arrangement was made between the banks and the Government that the measures should be implemented. Surely that is not denied. It is true on any reading of the Treasurer’s statement. Whether Mr. Ricketson’s statement was incidental to it, or whether he was merely one of the propaganda elements used by the banks to further their cause, I do not know, but it is not denied that these measures were produced at the instance of the banks and in accordance with the request of the banks. The Government undoubtedly met them on that particular point.
The second thing that is not denied is the allegation by Senator Kennelly that these new arrangements will increase the profitability of the banks to the extent of some £3,000,000 per annum. Of course, that is a conservative estimate, based upon the figures that were submitted to the Senate. Those were the two main grounds of Senator Kennelly’s indictment of the Government on this matter.
– I did not affirm that. 1 did not have the figures available. The best figure 1 could obtain was £1,500,000 after income tax, but I did not get an accurate figure.
– Do you agree that the banks will get only 3 per cent, for fixed term lending?
– I will come to that in my own time. First, I want to traverse Senator Spooner’s speech. He justified the increase in the profitability of the banks that will flow from these measures on the ground that, down the years, the banks had never earned more than 6.1 per cent, upon shareholders’ funds. I do not contravert that proposition. I simply state that I have not verified it. I should like to investigate the element upon which the percentage is based - shareholders’ funds. Senator Spooner does not say that it is based upon share capital. Before I could look at that percentage in proper perspective, I should require answers to a number of questions. For example, how much of the profits earned and capitalized are included in shareholders’ funds?
In other words, what is the extent of the reserves? Do shareholders’ funds include the writing up of the capital increase in the value of buildings that certainly has taken place over a period of some sixteen years? Whilst the figure sounds impressive, I certainly shall accept it in the minute proportions to which Senator Spooner sought to reduce it until I know a great deal more about what is involved in the term shareholders’ funds.
– Will you comment on this proposition? Will you compare the 6.1 return on shareholders’ funds with any other form of investment?
– I have not all the other forms of investment before me. All I say to the honorable senator is that they vary. I know some that make good profits with heavy capitalization. In proof of that I invite the Minister to refer to the statistics of the Commissioner of Taxation from which I quoted, in another context, in the last few days. He will see that there are thousands of firms spending huge amounts on new plant, and because of that they are not subject to taxation. They are great trading operators. One cannot generalize and answer such a question by saying that the return is small or great. One would need to make a complete study of the position. I would say that the comparison would be reasonable, but again it all depends upon how the basic figure upon which the percentage is calculated is based.
– It is not likely that the capital value of shareholders’ funds is in excess of their real value.
– That may well be.
– Not likely!
– It is also likely that an enormous accretion of plant and buildings, which constitute one of the greatest assets of the banks, may have been added to shareholders’ funds.
– That is the capital accretion.
– It is a capital accretion, but they are included in shareholders’ funds for the purpose of determining this percentage if there has been such accretion, but to what extent, I do not know. I am not impressed by the case that was put on that until I have a good deal more information regarding the make-up of the term “ shareholders’ funds “, that was used by Senator Spooner. I know he was speaking with precision as an accountant, and from experience in the commercial field, in selecting that term. I have had some little experience myself in the same field, and I would not be impressed by any percentage difference in such general terms.
– Would you like to operate on a 6.1 per cent. basis?
– On share capital, no, but on shareholders’ funds, in the context used by Senator Spooner, it could be a marvellously remunerative rate.
– I do not notice any collapse in the shares of banks. They seem to be holding very well and to be selling at something above par.
– Take a comparative basis. You are surely not putting the proposition that bank shares are as well prized in the market as any other shares?
– I would not put that proposition, but bank shares are quite healthy. They are in good demand and very firmly held as far as I can see.
I was most interested to hear Senator Spooner indicate that the banks had not had a very good time, that they were going through a difficult period and that something had to be done to help them. The Treasurer indicated the same thing. When all is said and done, the Government should accept some blame for the position of banking in this country. I concede that there is need for further expansion in term lending, and above all in lending for financing export credits. That is a useful contribution to the economy as a whole.
– Hear, hear.
– Unquestionably that is so, but the Government itself in 1953 caused the whole trouble. In 1953, the Government repealed section 28 of the 1945 Banking Act. That was the section that forbade the private trading banks - without the consent of the Commonwealth Bank, which was then, in effect, the Reserve Bank of Australia - from investing in government securities or in the shares of companies listed on a stock exchange.
The field covered by the banks was a wide one. It covered the total area of credit provided in Australia. What did the banks do? They took advantage of the repeal of that section to go outside the normal traditional functions of banking into hire purchase, to get free from control of the banking power of this Parliament. According to the banks they moved out of the sphere of control, but I will later discuss whether they should have been deemed to be out of control or not. What caused the contraction of banking activity was the repeal of section 28 in 1953. When the Labour Government put through its banking legislation in 1945 it was the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank who had to give consent to departures from normal banking practice under that section. That authority was transferred to the Treasurer by the present Government, and finally the section was repealed.
I am sure Senator Wright will remember that the Constitutional Review Committee directed attention to this matter when it was considering the economic powers. At page 142 of its report, paragraph 1065, it said -
The banks provide only about 20 per cent. to 25 per cent. of all credit.
– Could you give me the figure for fifteen or twenty years ago?
– Speaking from memory, I think it was 56 per cent, pre-war. It is now down to 20 per cent, to 25 per cent.
The Government takes the view that the banks’ power extends only to so-called banking. The Opposition takes a different view. It thinks that these fringe institutions - the new term for them - which accept deposits and make loans are performing the function of banking. The claim of the Opposition is that the Government should treat these institutions as banks and should bring that important credit-providing facility under banking control. Why should 80 per cent, of the credit of this nation run free of control by the Reserve Bank of Australia and the nation, through this Parliament? Why should the Reserve Bank be left in effective control of only some 20 per cent, to 25 per cent, credit of the nation? How can the National Parliament effectively regulate credit in the community when, as it acknowledges itself, it can exercise control over only 20 per cent, of the nation’s credit? The Government itself is to blame for that decline in banking activity, and the proof that it recognizes this to be true is shown by its desire, expressed by this measure, to let the banks play a greater part in the life of the community. That is what we have heard from the Treasurer and from the Minister who made this statement in the Chamber. This is designed to correct in a small way the damage that the Government has caused.
– That is not so. What about the damage the philosophy of the Labour Party caused? Do you not think that a philosophy which supports the nationalization of banks would drive capital from the banks to other activities?
– I say that the banks are enshrined behind, not only a decision of the High Court of Australia, but also a Privy Council decision which says that they cannot be nationalized. That is the plain fact. The banks are not terrified of nationalization.
– That was not my criticism. My comment was that Labour’s philosophy drives capital out of an industry. You may not be able to nationalize the banks but if you came to power you would reduce the activities of the trading banks.
– That is completely untrue. There has been more restriction and coercion of the banks under the present Government than there ever was under a Labour government. This Government has applied the screw much more tightly and has applied the 1945 act more capriciously, more ruthlessly and more often than ever Labour did.
– And your deputy has put forward an argument that we are here shovelling out benefits to the banks and feeding them in return for services.
– In making that statement the honorable senator was indicating the very choice benefits that are conferred upon the banks under this bill to the tune of £3,000,000 per annum. I am most aggrieved to read in the statement made by the Treasurer on 12th April last the following remarks: -
In saying this, they-
That is, the banks - did not in any way dispute the need for an overall control of banking operations in pursuance of national monetary policy.
There you see the benefit of Labour philosophy. When we introduced the legislation in 1945 it was revolutionary - it was unthinkable. Government members so said. The banks so said. In actual fact, in the 1948 case - the Melbourne City Council case - relating to one or two sections of the act, not only were those sections attacked but also one attack was made on the validity of the whole of the 1945 act. It delights my soul after the passage of time to hear the private trading banks saying that they now do not dispute the need for an overall control of banking operations in pursuance of national monetary policy. I say to Senator Spooner: But for the fact of the bank-inspired attack in the case to which I referred in the High Court against the validity of the whole act, and in particular the attack on the principle that it was proper to have a national monetary policy controlling the operations of banks-
– They were fighting for their lives.
– It is really good in my view to see the private trading banks, good and worthy institutions that they are, coming out and, in the words of the Treasurer, expressing the view that there was need - I emphasize the word “ need “ - for an overall control of banking operations in pursuance of national monetary policy.
– The Treasurer did not say that the banks expressed that view. He said that they did not dispute the need. That is a very diplomatic way of dealing with a grievance if you want to remedy it.
– It is clear that the banks are not raising any objections. Of course they would like to run completely free.
– They had voluntary arrangements long before the 1945 legislation.
– We know that Senator Spooner has had some experience of voluntary arrangements, particularly when his Government made them with the hire-purchase institutions, which threw them overboard within three months in great insult to the Government. The Government did nothing about that. I would invite the honorable senator to keep out of the field of voluntary arrangements with business because his Government has had an extraordinary lesson in that respect.
– Well, let us talk about compulsion. The Labour Party announced in the Parliament that it would nationalize the banks.
– That was quite a correct statement - a frontal attack, for the reason I have given. Had the banks rested on the 1945 act. which they now do not attack - which they now do not dispute and which has been tightened up in its operation by this Government - there would have been no thought of nationalizing the banks. My heart rejoices to see the banks now accept the need for national control of credit. I face the position - I invite the Senate to face it - that the Government, by opening the door in the repeal back in 1953 of section 28 of the 1 945 act, let the banks out of the field of banking. Here the Government is dangling £3,000,000 a year to help shepherd them back into the fold - back into the area over which the Government and the Reserve Bank can exercise some control. The view of the Labour Party is that these fringe institutions are banks in the sense in which the term is used in the Constitution. The Government, seeing the damage that those institutions had done down the years, unquestionably should have used on them the power applauded by the Government in relation to banks. It should have used that power on those fringe institutions, which are the real disturbers and disruptors of credit in the community. It is those institutions that are responsible for the 80 per cent, of activity in credit that is allowed to run free by this Government.
Recently, on behalf of the Government, the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) said that the Government did not have in mind giving effect to any of the recommendations of the Constitutional Review Committee. One of those recommendations was that the Commonwealth should have power over consumer credit so that the National Parliament may have control not of 20 per cent, of credit through banks but over the whole field of credit, where so much damage-
– Control over everything!
– That recommendation was not unanimous.
– There was one dissentient- the honorable senator himself. That indicates how very closely that particular recommendation was sieved by the twelve members of the committee. It is a tragedy for the country that the Government did not act on that recommendation. The Attorney-General asked for indications as to an order of priorities. One of the reasons that he gave for not proceeding with any of the recommendations made by the committee was that the committee had not settled an order of priorities for the various recommendations. Well, I can give him an order of priorities now. The Government obviously wants control over credit. Certainly it needs control over credit. Let the Attorney-General have a referendum on the subject of consumer credit. I undertake to pledge the Labour Party to support from one end of Australia to the other the view that the Commonwealth should have that control. So we see the errors of the Government as far as consumer credit is concerned. The Government has let the banks out of banking and is now trying to shepherd them back into the fold.
I would like to make a few comments on the paper that is before us.
– On the paper that is not before us.
– Strictly, that is right, although the Treasurer’s statement is still on the notice-paper for discussion. In his statement the Treasurer referred to the new interest ceiling of 7 per cent. He said -
However, the present ceiling of 7 per cent, on overdraft rates will continue to be observed-
But he did not stop there. Listen to this exception - except in cases where an exemption is agreed on to meet certain special requirements.
There is to be a 7 per cent, limit except where an exemption is agreed on. Agreed on by whom? The customer and the bank, of course. I can imagine myself as a suppliant seeker of a long-term loan asking for it at the rate of 7 per cent. The banker would say to me, “ No “. I would say, “ Not on any terms? “ and he would say, “ At 9 per cent.” Because I had to get money 1 would agree. I say that this exception lets the bank fix any rate it likes.
What is the definition of “ certain special requirements “? What are they? In other words, 7 per cent, is not to be the limit for overdrafts; it is to be whatever amount the banker and the customer determine. I am sure that I do not have to argue to the Senate that anybody in the position of borrower is in an inferior position from the moment he asks for a loan.
– Is that the intention of the expression “ agreed on “?
– I have put my interpretation on it. I would be very happy to know what else it could mean.
– In its context, I take it to refer to the Reserve Bank and the trading banks.
– Can the honorable senator point to one word that would justify that view?
– No. I am only seeking information.
– So am I. That interpretation is not stated and I am sure the honorable senator will concede that at least the expression is open to the interpretation that I have put on it.
– I would like to hear an answer from the Government on that matter. I set out to say something about Senator Spooner’s comments on Senator Kennelly’s speech. I conclude, as I began, by saying, first, that Senator Kennelly’s proposition that this is an agreement between the trading banks and the Government has not been contradicted and cannot be contradicted, and, secondly, that the arrangements that have emerged confer a very substantial benefit amounting to millions of pounds upon the private trading banks.
– Mr. Acting Deputy President, I decided to speak in this Supply debate because I desired to address the Senate on road safety matters and the report of the Senate select committee on that subject. But, of course, I cannot help being aware of the trend of the debate. It has taken a distinct turn towards banking. I feel constrained to say that, having listened to Senator Kennelly’s speech last night and Senator McKenna’s speech this afternoon on the subject of banking, I am reminded of the words, “ Clancy’s gone adroving and we don’t know where he are “. On the one hand, the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) has castigated the Government because of the restrictions and difficulties it has imposed on the banking system. On the other hand, last night, with a full head of steam, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Kennelly) blasted the Government because of its generosity towards the banking system. Quite frankly, I say that the one statement conflicts with the other.
It is quite apparent that, because of the thing about banking that the Labour Party has in its system, whatever the Government said about banking, inevitably the Labour Party would say that it was wrong. As was said by way of interjection, the Labour Party is wedded to the principle of nationalization of banking. That is its sacred cow. Its members can talk about constitutional difficulties or anything else, but the plain fact of the matter is that they have this thing in their complexes. The Leader of the Opposition goes one way and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition goes the other way. Senator Mckenna, on behalf of the Labour Party, gives an assurance that it would support a certain proposal for constitutional reform if the Government would put it to the people by way of referendum. He is a brave man who will say that he can get the support of all members of the Labour Party on any broad issue such as that.
I conclude what I want to say on the banking issue by stating that through these banking proposals the Government is endeavouring to stimulate the economy. The Labour Party has been directing our attention to unemployment and difficulties in trade and commerce. Now the Government, after taking leaders of commerce, primary industries, the trade union movement and the banking fraternity into its confidence, has brought down a series of measures calculated to give help and encouragement to the economy and to provide more employment for the little people about whom we heard so much yesterday. Yet members of the Labour Party, because of this complex and this thing that they have in their systems, say “ No, it is wrong “. They do not know where they are. My main reason for entering this debate was to speak about another matter.
– I do not want to be unkind, but I hope you know a bit more about it than what you have been talking about.
– I got that way from listening to Senator Kennelly’s speech on banking last night. Having made those few comments, I come to the issue to which I really rose to address myself. I want to speak somewhat critically about road safety and the report of the Senate select committee on that subject. I direct attention to the fact that by resolution of the Senate on 14th May, 1959, a Senate select committee was appointed, with representatives from every party in this chamber, to consider and bring down recommendations on the problem of road safety in Australia.
I had the honour to be chairman of that committee. After visiting every State and taking evidence from about 120 expert witnesses, the. committee tabled its report in September, 1960. I believe it is fair to say that th; findings of the select committee have been accepted by people all over Australia as an Australia-wide blueprint of measures to reduce the terrible toll of the road. In the short time available to me, I do not propose again to discuss the terrible carnage that goes on day by day, hour by hour, and even as we stand or sit in this chamber.
Recently I read a statement from the World Health Organization in which it directed attention to the fact that the world road toll exceeds 100,000 people every year. I believe everybody will agree that that is shocking and terrible. The Australian contribution to that figure last year was 2,542 people killed. In addition, 60,749 people were injured in road accidents in Australia. Those figures in themselves - I shall not repeat many of the statistics that have been given in this chamber before and are on record - give a quick pointer to this problem. The report of the select committee has been accepted throughout Australia as a statement of the findings of the most comprehensive research project on this problem. I draw attention to the fact that the Australian Automobile Association placed so much importance on the appointment of this committee that it published a booklet containing nothing else but the evidence which the association submitted to the committee on the problem. The document, which is in the Parliamentary Library, starts by quoting the resolution which I proposed in this chamber for the formation of that committee, and then it sets out the evidence given by the association on various subjects.
To give some information on the status of the Australian Automobile Association in the community, I inform honorable senators that it has as constituent members the National Roads and Motorists Association of New South Wales, the Royal Automobile Club of Australia, the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria, the Royal Automobile Association of South Australia, the Royal Automobile Club of Queensland, the Royal Automobile Club of Western Australia and the Royal Automobile Club of Tasmania. The association has approximately 1,100,000 members. In its federal newsletter of 6th March of this year, it makes this comment -
The Select Committee on Road Safety appointed by resolution of the Senate, 14th May, 1959, did an excellent job. Its report is far superior to anything of its kind ever produced in Australia and probably at least equal to anything of its kind produced anywhere else.
That brings me to the point at issue in this matter. I did not quote from the Australian Automobile Association’s federal report, in which it criticized the onmplementation oof certain recommendations made by the select committee. If I have time, I may come back to that later. On 9th May, Senator Branson received an answer to a question upon notice that he had asked dealing with the action that the Government intended to take to implement the recommendations of the Senate Select Committee on Road Safety. He asked for certain figures, which were given. In reply to the question the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) said -
Most of the recommendations are directly the concern of the State authorities. Only a limited number were the concern of the Commonwealth, and, where appropriate, action has been taken to implement these recommendations.
Nobody would disagree, least of all the members of the select committee, that most of the recommendations of the committee were directed to State authorities. If I had time, perhaps I would have dealt with what the States have done to implement these recommendations. However, that is not the purpose for which I speak to-day. 1 point out in passing that the record, whilst not dramatic, is significant in certain fields. For instance, we know that the select committee made certain recommendations - to take a rather controversial subject - in regard to driving under the influence of alcohol. They were -
We know that “Victoria is tackling that problem, under certain difficulties, and is putting the second of those recommendations to the test. Time will tell whether what is being done will be effective, but that is one recommendation that is being put to the test in a real and practical way. Action is being taken in various States to implement certain aspects of the select committee’s recommendations. I was informed by the secretary of the New South Wales branch of the Road Safety Council that a trainee driving school, similar to the one in existence outside Perth, was being established in Newcastle, a big industrial city in New South Wales where the road casualty and death rates are very high. Many things are being done by the States in connexion with accident reporting and other matters, all of which are to the good.
My purpose in speaking to-day is to draw attention to the first and most important recommendation made by this committee. It was -
It is imperative that a research group be established, financed by Commonwealth funds and directly responsible to a Commonwealth Minister, to direct and co-ordinate basic and applied research into every aspect of road safety. The group should determine research projects and priorities, allocate projects to existing institutions and organizations, co-ordinate the results of local and overseas research, arrange for the analysis and evaluation of findings and publish its recommendations.
The overwhelming importance of research was strongly impressed upon the committee. If honorable senators look at the thousands of pages of evidence given by 120 witnesses to the select committee, they will find that the message continually coming through was that there was a great need for research. We are groping in the dark with this problem of road safety and no one is certain what should be done. This is not peculiar to Australia - the position is similar all over the world - but there are some purely Australian aspects of road safety problems. Throughout its sittings the committee was told of the need for research, the need for co-ordination of research and the need for the testing of ideas so that the very maximum of safety could be assured. To use a mild term, it is regrettable that the Commonwealth Government has not yet seen fit to take action on the recommendation I have just quoted. I believe it is the foundation-stone of the structure which would enable us to attack this problem.
Certain things are being done at the State level in this regard. I direct attention to the fact that even if a body set up by the Commonwealth merely had the functions of allocating projects and co-ordinating the work of the States to ensure that there was no wastage in this field, a tremendous job would be done. I have ascertained that the National Association of Australian State Road Authorities is doing a great deal of research work on the problems associated with road construction and their implications in relation to road safety.
The New South Wales School of Traffic Engineering is carrying out considerable research in its particular field. In addition, the Australian Medical Association is undertaking medical research in relation to the road safety problem. But that is a disjointed approach, Mr. Acting Deputy President. What is needed, above all else, is leadership. Where could better leadership be found than in the Commonwealth sphere? After all, when 2,500 of our citizens are dying each year on the roads, the matter becomes a national responsibility.
I am a federalist down to my heels. I am conscious of the rights and the privileges of the States. While I do not suggest that the States should abrogate any of their rights and privileges in this matter, I think the Commonwealth should take the lead in the field of research. It should take the initiative and try to eliminate overlapping and waste. It it did so, the road safety problem could be tackled more effectively, lt would be a relatively simple matter for the Commonwealth to distribute the information that was gleaned on the subject. I look forward to the day when the Commonwealth Government will seize the nettle, as it were, and take the lead in establishing a research organization. I again point out that the Australian Automobile Association has stated that the Commonwealth Government should implement the recommendation of the select committee regarding the establishment of a research group.
The select committee also recommended that the Australian Road Safety Council be reconstructed. The committee was of the opinion that the positions of chairman and chief executive officer of the council should not be held by one and the same person. There were cogent reasons for that recommendation. I wish to make it perfectly clear that the committee did not intend to reflect on the skill or attention to duty of any one, and certainly not on the incumbent of those offices at the time. The recommendation was made because the committee considered it advisable to have a division of functions and responsibilities. When it was announced that Dr. Darling had accepted the office of chairman, we thought that his appointment was a result of dynamic leadership by the Commonwealth. But our joy was somewhat dampened when we found that Dr. Darling had also been appointed to the chairmanship of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Dr. Darling is an Australian for whom I have the greatest respect. He has done a magnificent job for this country in many fields. Nevertheless, I believe that the office of chairman of the Australian Road Safety Council calls for the undivided attention and loyalty of the person appointed to it. I understand that Dr. Darling is to go overseas in connexion with the work of the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
– He has gone.
– I thank the honorable senator for that information. I am dealing in broad principles when I say that the chairman of the Australian Road Safety Council should be a person who can give his undivided attention to his task.
– Has it been considered a full-time job hitherto?
– No, it has not.
The point I am making is that it should be so considered.
The Minister stated that, where it was considered appropriate, action had been taken by the Commonwealth. I read in a newspaper recently that a driving school was to be established in the Australian Capital Territory. That is an excellent idea.’ It indicates that within the Territories in which the Commonwealth Government has direct responsibility in this matter, it is attempting to do something worth while. My praise, however, is tempered with criticism, because the Commonwealth has failed to take the lead in the matter of safety belts in motor cars, although safety belts are now accepted as essential the world over. The select committee stated that safety belts were a worth while adjunct to road safety. The Commonwealth Government, as a large fleet owner, could set a good example by insisting on Commonwealth vehicles being equipped with safety belts. In California, the law provides that in all motor vehicles manufactured, anchors for safety belts must be installed as a part of their equipment. If the anchors for safety belts are installed in motor cars, the remaining cost to the motorist in installing a safety belt is not great. In most cases, safety belts are not installed because of the small physical effort involved in making the installation.
– What kinds of anchor are recommended?
– There are three or four kinds of anchor. The Minister’s question reminds me of the difficulties with which we are confronted in dealing with the problem of road safety. As honorable senators know, the select committee favoured a uniform traffic code. Senator Paltridge, who was for a considerable time Minister for Shipping and Transport, knows how difficult it is to achieve unanimity in these matters. Despite the fact that all the parties concerned agree that a uniform traffic code is desirable, that does not necessarily mean that a uniform code will be adopted. When you get the various State transport authorities together, they say, “ Yes, we believe in a uniform code “. Each one adds, “ Mine is the best “. The discussion results in a stalemate. The same is true of the adoption of a uniform accident reporting sheet. The State authorities agree that a uniform sheet should be used. When the subject is raised, they say, “ Bravo! That is a jolly good idea “. Then each one says, “ Of course, you realize that mine is the best”.
– The Victorians say that, do they?
– I am not saying which State is responsible for that attitude. I am merely indicating the kind of difficulty with which we are confronted. Mr. Opperman stated that the Australian Road Traffic Code Committee would meet in Brisbane on 2nd and 3rd April this year just to try to solve problems of that sort. Federation is a wonderful system, but as Dean Rusk said, it has its problems, and these are big problems, even when we get down to minor aspects of road safety. One problem is to get the States to achieve some sort of uniformity.
The select committee of the Senate comprised members from all sides. All parties were represented. Indeed, one of the members of the committee is now a Minister in this Government. The committee brought down its recommendations after extensive investigations, hearing in all States about 120 witnesses, all experts in their own right. Its report has been recognized as the most authentic document of its kind ever produced on this problem in this country. 1 look forward to the day when the States, to which most of the recommendations apply will be able to put those recommendations to the test in some form or other, and when the Commonwealth will give encouragement by way of leadership, particularly in research that will set the pace and pattern, so that good Australian lives will not be lost needlessly and 2.500 Australians will not be one year’s toll of the road.
– I propose to be quite brief, but I desire to take this opportunity to bring again to the notice of the Government zone allowances under the taxation legislation and their relation to the town of Geraldton. On previous occasions when I raised this matter I based my argument on the high cost of living in Geraldton, as shown by the C series index. Although that index was not a measure of the cost of living, it was a measure of fluctuations in prices. A base figure was applied to all towns and it was reasonably sound to work on the index in making comparisons of fluctuations. The C series index is no longer issued by the Commonwealth Statistician. We have now what is termed the Consumer Price Index.
Applying a base figure of 100 to capital cities, the Statistician has found that Mount Isa and Carnarvon, both of which are in the A zone for taxation purposes, have index figures of 107 and 108, compared with Geraldton’s 108 but we are not asking that Geraldton be included in zone A. Among the towns in zone B are Cunnamulla, Charleville, Tambo, Cairns, Longreach, Mackay, Mareeba, Bowen, Charters Towers, Winton, Townsville, Ayr, Innisfail, Broken Hill, Cloncurry, Esperance, Hughenden, Kalgoorlie, Northampton and Queenstown. The index figures for these towns range from 97 to 106. Geraldton’s figure, I repeat, is 108. So a case for the inclusion of Geraldton in zone B, on the basis of high cost of living, seems to be fairly well founded, despite the fact that other towns with a higher index figure are not in either zone B or zone A.
The line dividing the ordinary tax zone from the B tax zone is very indistinct in the municipality of Geraldton. The position is quite ambiguous. Looking at the schedule to the act, it is not clear whether Geraldton is in zone B or outside it. It is placed outside zone B only upon a decision of the Commissioner of Taxation. He has refused to grant the allowance that is applicable to zone B. The Deputy Commissioner of Taxation has stated in conversation that in his opinion he would be unable to prove that Geraldton was not in zone B. However, he would have to prove nothing. The Commissioner has ruled that Geraldton is not in zone B and to obtain the allowance it would be necessary for somebody to take a test case to the court and prove that Geraldton was in zone B. This Government is not entitled to place such an onus on the taxpayer or to continue an ambiguity in respect of this matter. It should, in the next Budget session, amend the income tax legislation so as to include Geraldton in zone B, or exclude it from the zone. The people of Geraldton, of course, would like very much to have the town included in the zone. However, if the position were merely made clear, the people would be easier in their mind particularly because, as a result of altered municipal boundaries, parts of the municipality, which were previously outside it, enjoy the benefits of zone B allowance. The commissioner, has ruled that as the people in those localities were entitled to the rebate at the time of its inclusion in the legislation, the mere alteration of a boundary should not exclude them. That is, municipalities should not be able to determine the application of the taxation law; it is, and should continue to be the province of this Government.
I urgently request the Minister to make representations to the Treasurer to give consideration, in drawing up the Budget for 1962-63, to an amendment of the schedule in the income tax legislation either to include or to exclude the town of Geraldton.
– I had no intention of speaking at this juncture, but as we have departed from our original intention to debate later the statement on banking, and as so many speeches have been devoted to that subject, desiring to say something about it myself, I take this opportunity of doing so. First of all, I would like to reply to some of the statements made yesterday by Senator Kennelly. I think honorable senators will recall that Senator Kennelly said - at least I understood him to say this - that the statement of Mr. Ricketson, which was published about 19th March, spurred the Government on to take action. I remind him that the Prime Minister made a statement on 7th February, and that, resulting from that statement, negotiations commenced with the trading banks’ representatives. They went on for many weeks before the resulting statement was issued by the Treasurer on 12th April. Consequently, I think Senator Kennelly’s suggestion that the Government was in a hurry to adopt Mr. Ricketson’s suggestions goes by the board.
Senator Kennelly went on to say that these banking arrangements made provisions for something new in banking, namely, term lending. Theoretically, I suppose that Senator Kennelly is right, but when we consider the new arrangements and the arrangements under which the trading banks were operating until two years ago, we see that there is not a great deal of difference between them. Two years ago, the policy was that applicants for loans would be granted overdrafts, which admittedly were at call but which in reality went on from year to year, with very little variation in many cases. Now, of course, a definite term is specified. In my opinion, the term is not long enough. It is from three to eight years, except in certain circumstances. The exception will give very much-needed latitude to the banks, which they will use in the cases of borrowers who are not in a position to liquidate their loans within the periods specified. I think one fact that has emerged from Senator Kennelly’s statement - it was touched on also by the Leader of the Government (Senator Spooner) during his speech to-day - is that there can be no shadow of doubt that Labour’s policy, when it gets a chance to put the policy into effect, will be to nationalize the trading banks. We have no illusions on that score.
Senator Kennelly went on to make the extraordinary suggestion - with which Senator Spooner dealt - that the Development Bank should provide the finance in these cases. He said that that was one of the reasons why the Development Bank was brought into being. As Senator Spooner pointed out, the function of the Development Bank is to make loans when finance is not available on reasonable terms and conditions from any other source. So much for that argument!
Senator Kennelly then went on at some length to castigate the Government and the banks on the ground that, under this agreement, the banks would be making considerably larger profits than in the past. That is the line of policy consistently adopted by the Labour Party, which apparently does not like to see any organization, particularly private ones, making profits. How any organization could exist without making profits, I do not know. I would rather see the trading banks making profits than the fringe banking concerns. They have been making huge profits over the years, to the detriment not only of the people of Australia but also of our economy.
One other statement made by Senator Kennelly was that the preferred treatment for borrowers would be eliminated. That is not so. It is clearly stated that that will remain. We in this corner are frequently castigated by our friends in the. Opposition and asked why we do not do something for the people whom we represent. I make the reply that I have made on many occasions. One of the greatest services that we can do for the people who put us here is to keep a Labour government out. While we have been assisting the Government that the people of Australia have enjoyed for the last twelve years, we have been doing in that respect alone, a good job for those people. Without wishing in any way to suggest that we have exercised undue influence, I am glad to have the opportunity to say that the agreement that the Senate is discussing - the agreement reached with the trading banks - is in no small measure due to members of the Country Party, throughout the whole of Australia. I also make the point, contradicting Senator Kennelly, that tine agreement reached with the trading banks meets with the approval of the primary producers.
I propose now to refer somewhat briefly to the details of the statement that we have been discussing. The Treasurer mentioned that the Government recognized the need for some wider facilities in export finance.
That is what this arrangement does. It provides finance for people who are engaged in producing export earnings for this country. A little further on the Treasurer said - and this is important -
Export finance is necessarily and properly the business of the trading banks.
I agree with that statement, and I think that, in their hearts, Opposition members also support it. The Treasurer said also -
As examples of typical purposes for term loans, I may say that, in rural industry, it is contemplated that loans will be made for the purchase of land for development, for heavy equipment, for buildings and fencing, for land clearing, pasture development and herd improvement.
Surely there is no quarrel about that. The statement proceeded -
In the area of commerce, as I have said, it is not intended to finance consumption expenditure. However, it is possible that appropriate cases for term lending will be found in service industries.
The Treasurer said also -
It will be seen at once that they make very substantial resources available for this necessary class of finance -
I have mentioned that - and they will do this without subtracting from the capacity of the banks to carry on their other forms of lending.
In other words, this is in addition to the facilities already in operation. The Treasurer went on to say that one of the agreements was that the requirement for a prescribed maximum average overdraft rate would be abolished. That was done because it was found that the average system was inoperable. The Treasurer proceeded to say -
The present ceiling of 7 per cent, on overdraft rates will continue to be observed except in cases where an exemption is agreed on to meet certain special requirements.
So much for Senator Kennelly’s allegations that the interest rates would be raised to a considerable degree! The next paragraphs of the statement read -
There will not be any general change in present levels of overdraft rates.
Where various classes of rural and other borrowers now receive preferred treatment from the trading banks in the matter of interest rates, this preferred treatment will be continued. I emphasize that this preferred treatment not only will continue in respect of current borrowers but is to apply to future borrowers in the same classes.
That gives the answer to Senator Kennelly’s allegation that the banks would be in a position, as it is colloquially described, to put the boot into the borrower. I think it was on the Wednesday before Good Friday that there appeared in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ a leading article under the heading, “ Has the Treasurer been duped again? “ or words to that effect. There followed an extraordinary supposed examination of the position so far as the new agreement was concerned. The article stated that no additional money would be available. I have gone to some trouble to analyse the position. First of all let us have a look at the two issues that are involved in the plan. One was the transfer of funds by the banks, firstly, from their statutory reserve deposit accounts at the Reserve Bank, and secondly from their free liquids. The transfer of these funds was into a new longerterm lending fund at the Reserve Bank to be called the Special Term Lending Fund. There is to be an increase in the amount of free liquids which the banks have agreed to maintain at all times, if possible.
At the time of the formulation of the conditions the position was as follows: - In the statutory reserve deposit account the banks had 121 per cent, of their deposits. In liquid and government securities they had 16 per cent, of their deposits, making a total of 28 i per cent. Their free liquids over and above those figures amounted to 14 per cent., a total of 421 per cent. The position after the special-term lending fund had been set up would be that the special statutory reserve deposit account would be reduced from 121 per cent, to 101 per cent. The minimum liquid government securities would remain at 16 per cent., making a total of 261 per cent. The special-term lending fund would contain 3 per cent, of deposits, making the total 291 per cent. The free liquids would be 13 per cent, as against 14 per cent, at present. Again the total is 421 per cent. The banks would lose 1 per cent, of their free liquids but would be able to lend another 3 per cent, of their deposits for exclusively longer-term purposes.
Figures from the latest Treasury bulletin show that the total liquid and government assets for March amounted to 30.6 per cent, and the statutory reserve deposits for the same month amounted to 12.4 per cent. It will be seen that a large amount of money was lying idle. I should like to place some emphasis on the fact that a great deal must necessarily depend upon the way in which the statutory reserve deposit account is administered by the Reserve Bank. If adjustments are made to this statutory reserve deposit account, then banks will be able to lend more, but if the statutory reserve deposit control is inflexible, then the banks and the community will have gained little, if anything, in respect of increased advances. The emphasis is on the way the statutory reserve deposit account is to be administered in the future.
The Reserve Bank works, not on the basis of the statutory reserve deposit account alone, but on the basis of the statutory reserve deposit account plus the liquid government securities minimum convention. Over the past year this has been kept at 121 per cent, plus 16 per cent, which gives us the 281 per cent. I mentioned earlier. If it is worked back to the 101 per cent, plus the 18 per cent., the total again is 281 per cent. I emphasise that the test of the Reserve Bank and the Government’s good faith will be seen when bank liquidity suffers a severe drop. Everything is all right when bank liquidity is high but we must pay some attention to what will happen at some time when liquidity drops. I think that then the Reserve Bank will probably have to reduce the minimum that has been set down for it.
We have seen a change of attitude on the part of the Government, in agreeing to the setting up of the funds and to a certain loosening of control over the banks. This change has been advocated by many of us for many months. It is to the credit of the Government that it has agreed to this change. If the banks are to benefit to some extent, then, as I said earlier, they will do a far better job in the interests of the nation, and consequently, they are entitled to some reward for doing so. Most of us recognized that the great banking structure did need some adjustment, and we are pleased that this adjustment has been made. We have seen what happened when too heavy restrictions were placed on trading banks. I have mentioned before in this chamber that one of the results was the rise of what has become known as fringe institutions. The measures agreed to by the Government will offset that trend.
I should like to deal with another aspect of the matter which I think is important. When a person goes to a trading bank for a loan, the nature of his investment, then his general probity and the possibility of his making a success of the project for which he wants the loan are taken into consideration. The position is very different in the case of these other institutions. Their object appears to be to lend as much money as possible on low security and at a high rate of interest. Trading banks are much more conservative in their approach to a lender. The prospective borrower has a much better chance of obtaining a loan if he can repay the amount within a few years.
Another difference between the trading banks and the other financial institutions is that in nine cases out of ten the prospective borrower from a trading bank is borrowing for purposes which will benefit the community, whereas the borrower from the other institutions is obtaining money for a purpose that will bring very little benefit to anyone other than himself. I think we should take also another factor into consideration. The greater the amount of money that is lent by trading banks under our present set-up the greater will be the control that can be exercised over that finance. When money is lent by the fringe institutions, no one has any control over it and consequently our economy does suffer.
A few other points could well be made. Bank lending, whether it be by trading banks or the Commonwealth Bank, is no more inflationary than is any other major form of lending. That statement may need to be qualified to some degree, but we do have certain forms of lending which are much more inflationary than others. I think no one will dispute the statement that borrowing from a bank is considerably cheaper than borrowing money from other sources. I have already given instances of how trading banks - when I say trading banks I include the Commonwealth Bank - apply stricter tests than do other lenders.
In view of the statements I have made, the reasons I have advanced and the extracts from articles that I have produced - particularly the article in the “ Sydney Morning Herald”, which I mentioned earlier - I think that the action the Government has taken is a correct one. I am sure that if more attention had been paid to the economics of the situation and if there had been less desire to score off the Government, the outcome would have been different. I regret that I had to deal with this matter hurriedly. I assure my friends opposite that the Government has the full support of members of the Australian Country Party in the agreements that were made with the trading banks. I am sure that those agreements will be of great benefit to Australia as a whole.
– I support the Government’s application for Supply. I do not regard very seriously the attack that has been launched by the Opposition against the Government. It is quite obvious that the policy announced by the Government in February last is having the desired effect. The special grants that were made to the States - a total of £10,000,000 non-repayable, of which South Australia got more than £900,000- to boost employment have already been put to good use. The employment figures are rising. In Western Australia and South Australia the number of persons unemployed represents only 1.5 per cent, of the work force. That figure is still too high, but it is well below the figure that obtained a few months ago. The figure for Queensland is less than 4 per cent. In view of all the special circumstances that exist in Queensland, that figure is very creditable. I am sure the Government should be supported in its application for Supply for the next five or six months - until the Budget Papers have been fully debated.
I propose to address myself to the report of the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) on the activities of his department because it is a report which, in my opinion, merits very close examination. I am reinforced in my intention to deal with this matter this afternoon by a question asked to-day by Senator Lillico concerning the programming of passenger air services in Australia. It is only fair to compliment the Minister for Civil Aviation and his department on the excellence of the report for 1960-61. In the report the Minister traces somewhat historically the major developments in aviation in this country and states -
In recent years the civil airline fleets of the Commonwealth, both domestic and international, have been almost wholly converted from piston engined to turbine powered operation at a cost of approximately £80 million. This has meant greatly increased passenger comfort and much faster and more reliable air services. These are a great advantage in a country like Australia where the main centres of population are separated by comparatively long distances. Without a fast and efficient network of interna! air services, it is certain that both public and private business could not be conducted with the degree of despatch essential to our continued national development.
I think I should pay some attention to that statement. I am very concerned at the fact that our internal air services lack the degree of despatch essential to our continued national development. I propose to give to the Senate some details to highlight what is happening in Australia with regard to passenger air services. Great wastage is taking place.
It is interesting to note that Australia’s domestic airlines last year carried 2,700,000 passengers. The Papua and New Guinea services carried approximately 100,000 passengers and the New Zealand and other overseas services carried approximately 250,000 passengers. All told in round figures 3,000,000 passengers were carried. The sum of £21,000,000 was set aside for expenditure both of a capital nature and on the ordinary services of the department. Disregarding the cost of operating the aircraft and having regard only to the task of lifting the passenger off the ground and returning him safely, each passenger cost the department about £7. As representatives of the taxpayers we in this Senate are entitled to ask what Ansett-A.N.A. and Trans-Australia Airlines are doing about co-ordinating their services. Those carriers have a distinct responsibility to this Parliament, to the Treasury and to the taxpayers to economize as much as possible in the operation of their services. In my view the public is entitled to enjoy the highest service from these airline undertakings. I make no apology for requesting the Minister to see that passengers obtain maximum service - not the half-service that they are getting at present. After all, as the Minister points out in the report to which I have referred, £80,000,000 has been spent in the conversion project.
Let me deal with one of the most recently acquired aircraft - the Electra II. I propose to refer to the actual flight schedules of the two operators between Melbourne and Sydney. Every day of the week an Electra II. owned by Ansett-A.N.A. leaves Melbourne for Sydney at 8 a.m., 10 a.m., 12 noon, 2 p.m., 4 p.m., 6 p.m., and 8 p.m. The 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. services do not run on Saturdays.
The Trans-Australia Airlines timetable shows that every day T.A.A. Electras leave Melbourne at 8 a.m., 10 a.m., 12 noon, 2 p.m., 4 p.m., 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. They leave Melbourne at precisely the same times and arrive in Sydney at precisely the same times as the Ansett-A.N.A. Electras. Strange as it may seem, T.A.A. omits the services at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturdays. So, Sir, on a normal week-day fourteen Electras fly from Melbourne to Sydney, but they give only seven services because both operators services depart at the same times. For the great departmental expenditure that I have mentioned - representing £7 per passenger - and the cost of the aeroplanes, the public receives only seven services between Melbourne and Sydney each day.
I believe that presents a tremendous challenge to this Government. It should ensure that that situation does not continue. lt has continued for years now. Until illhealth overtook him, a distinguished former Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia occupied a position in which he might have done something about this matter.
– Only if the parties raised a dispute before him.
– Yes, if the parties raised the question before him. I am grateful to my friend, Senator Wright, foi his interjection. I believe that the vacancy caused by that gentleman’s resignation has been filled. In the facts that I have presented to the Senate, surely there is the germ of a case to present to such a distinguished gentleman.
Do not let the Minister for Civil Aviation or his representative say that better services cannot be provided. This rationalization is being carried out with very great credit to the people concerned. Recently it was my privilege to represent the Senate at the Anzac celebrations in New Guinea. I discovered that on three nights a week an Ansett-A.N.A. plane leaves Sydney at a quarter to ten and drops into Port Moresby at 6 o’clock the next morning. On another three days of the week a T.A.A. plane does that. So, co-ordination is possible. It is practised and appreciated in that service. Yet there is no co-ordination of the services between Melbourne and Sydney despite the tremendous traffic offering. From inquiries I made in Papua and New Guinea, I know that the public is completely satisfied. People are able to choose between the two operators, who provide excellent services. There is proof positive that rationalization can be carried out and is being carried out successfully.
People in Lae say that, instead of crews waiting in that town for two days while having their’ statutory rest periods, it may be possible for one operator to allow its crews to fly the planes of the other operator back to Sydney. That is being discussed unofficially. So the co-ordination may go one step further when the operators are using the same type of plane. I believe that I have proved that rationalization can be and is being carried out. I ask the Minister why it is not being carried out. Why is he, as the responsible Minister who asks this Senate to appropriate £20,000,000 a year for the operations of his department, unable to ensure that the rationalization that applies so successfully between Sydney and New Guinea applies between Melbourne and Sydney?
While I am speaking on the question of airline timetables, as a South Australian I believe that I should invite the attention of the Minister,’ now that he has returned to the chamber, to the chaos that occurs at the Adelaide airport mainly during two periods of the day. Between 6.30 a.m. and 7.15 a.m. each morning of the week, one plane comes into Adelaide from Western Australia, bringing in 50 passengers on an average; two planes leave for Melbourne, carrying a total of 100 passengers on an average; and two planes leave for Sydney, carrying a total of 100 passengers on an average. So about 250 passengers may be moving into and out of the airport within that brief period of 45 minutes.
Then, until 2 o’clock in the afternoon, apart from an odd plane going to Woomera, Kangaroo Island or Broken Hill, the airport is practically dead. But, between 2 o’clock and 3 o’clock in the afternoon, two planes come in from Melbourne, two from
Sydney, one or two from Western Australia, two go out to Sydney, two to Melbourne and one or two to Western Australia. Between 400 and 500 passengers pass through the Adelaide airport within an hour or so. Then the airport is dead again until 9 p.m. when there is a repetition of the perfomance in the morning.
I admit that Adelaide airport is a convenient junction for passengers proceeding from Western Australia to Sydney or Melbourne; but, for the life of me, 1 cannot see why both operators should be permitted - I was about to say “ encouraged “, because they have not been discouraged - to operate their services in that way, in view of the fact that for every passenger the operators pick up and put down the taxpayers, in effect, pay £7. The position at the Adelaide airport is chaotic. The conveniences, sitting space and other facilities are over-taxed four or five times. When people come to the airport to see passengers off or welcome them, the position has to be seen to be believed. If that is coordination or rationalization, 1 am amazed that the Department of Civil Aviation will tolerate the airlines operating in that way.
Although the operators decide that 8 a.m., 10 a.m., 12 noon, 2 p.m., 4 p.m., 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. are appropriate times for services from Melbourne to Sydney, could not one operator! provide services at 9 a.m., 1 1 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m., 5 p.m., 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.? What is the magic in 8 a.m., 10 a.m., 12 noon, 2 p.m., 4 p.m., 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. as times for the ‘planes of both operators to leave Melbourne? I consider that the department, with its powers over the operators and in view of the very costly service it provides - costing £7 a passenger - should demand that rationalization be a reality.
Let me quote one other disadvantage of South Australians in order to introduce a lighter note and because my old friend, Senator Robertson, is in the chamber. I heard from her to-day that she will be leaving Australia at 4 p.m. on 9th June and will be in London at 11.30 the next morning. Compare that exercise by Senator Robertson with a flight under the Australian internal system which is described in the departmental report as having “ that degree of despatch essential to our continued national development “. What happens to a man coming from Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, to Canberra, the National Capital? He leaves Adelaide at 7 o’clock in the morning. If he is lucky he arrives in Canberra at 3 o’clock in the afternoon; but, on certain days, if he is a bit unlucky, he arrives here at 5 o’clock.
– The Western Australian position is much worse.
- Senator Robertson could leave Australia at 4 o’clock one afternoon and arrive in London at 11.30 the next morning. It does not take very much longer to travel that distance than it takes to travel from Adelaide to Canberra. I am not complaining about the speed at which the aircraft travel or that the waiting rooms at the Melbourne airport are uncomfortable. I complain that one has a long wait in Melbourne when travelling by these coordinated services, and I suggest that the matter be examined. The schedules appear to be drawn in such a way that connexions are just missed. It should be within the competence of the Department of Civil Aviation, which provides £20,000,000 a year for airways facilities, to direct the operators who use those facilities to draw up more convenient schedules. 1 refer in particular to the services from Adelaide to Canberra which are used by South Australian businessmen and members of Parliament who have duties to perform in Canberra.
I do not want to weary the Senate with information, but 1 want to sound an encouraging note and to show what the department has been able to do in other areas. Rabaul is within a few miles of the equator, yet it is possible to leave there at 6.15 a.m. and, because of magnificent coordination of services, arrive in Canberra at 8 p.m. On three mornings of the week the aircraft leaving Rabaul is provided by one operator and on another three mornings it is provided by the other operator.
– At what time do you leave?
– At 6 o’clock in the morning, and you arrive in Canberra that night. There is splendid co-ordination there. That shows what is possible. Apparently the Adelaide-Canberra services and other such services have been completely overlooked under the rationalization plan. The disappointing thing about the cases I have cited is that both operators provide an inconvenient service. It is not a case of one operator giving a convenient service and the other an inconvenient service; they both give an inconvenient service. That is another reason why a better rationalization scheme is necessary.
While I am on the subject of passenger transportation I should like to make a few comments about the railways. I am going to make an astounding statement. I do not think the travelling time involved in the journey between Adelaide and Sydney by rail has been shortened in the last 75 years. The railway was opened about 75 years ago. You would leave Adelaide, 75 years ago, in the late afternoon and arrive in Sydney in the morning two days later. The same time-table applies to-day. The reason for this is the shocking lack of co-ordination in Melbourne, brought about by the complete inability of the Victorian Railways Commissioners to size up the position. The night train from Adelaide approaches Melbourne from the west just as the morning train to Sydney is leaving. There is an interval of only about half an hour involved. The Commonwealth Government has spent £11,000,000 on the standardization of the gauge of the railway between Melbourne and Sydney, and £1,000,000 on each train, yet there is no better co-ordination than there was 75 years ago.
– What is the time lag?
– About half an hour to three-quarters of an hour. The night train from Adelaide is approaching the suburbs of Melbourne as the daylight express to Sydney is leaving Melbourne.
– That is if the train from Adelaide is on time.
– Yes. It usually is. There is a time lag only of from half an hour to three-quarters of an hour, yet the person travelling from Adelaide to Sydney has to spend a day in Melbourne, as he did 75 years ago. Why is it that the Commonwealth Government, which has provided so much money for rail standardization, allows these things to happen?
I have had a look at the time-table of the magnificent new train about which honorable senators opposite have been talking. I refer to the train which travels to Canberra from Melbourne. It leaves Melbourne at 6.45 p.m. and arrives in Canberra, on time, at 8 o’clock the next morning. Passengers do not have to get out of the carriages at Albury or Goulburn. That train leaves Melbourne on Sunday night, Tuesday night and another night each week. The train does not run on Monday nights when it might be of use to those members of Parliament and others who have to travel by train to attend to their duties in Canberra on a Tuesday. They have to disembark at Goulburn at 6 o’clock in the morning and get into another train. In other words, there is no co-ordination.
I cite these examples to show that there is no proper co-ordination of our rail and air services. Australia has invested many millions of pounds in air and rail services, but the persons using thse services for interstate travel are not getting anything like the treatment to which they are entitled.
I apologize for having been so tedious, but I think I have presented to the Senate an unanswerable case for the immediate investigation of these matters. The Minister for Civil Aviation could investigate the airways services, and I ask him to urge his colleague in another place, the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman), to ascertain what can be done, to persuade Sir Arthur Warner, the Victorian Minister of Transport, to do something about the co-ordination of interstate rail services at Melbourne, particularly the service between South Australia and New South Wales. There is a challenge to the Government to do something about this important matter. In Europe, trains travel through country after country in a coordinated manner. I read a book, “Victoria Four-Thirty “ by Cecil Roberts, in which a train left London and travelled to Istanbul or Cairo in a co-ordinated manner. Why cannot a train travelling from Adelaide to Sydney follow a co-ordinated schedule, avoiding the need for passengers to have to wait twelve or fourteen hours in Melbourne? I lay at the door of the Minister for Civil Aviation and his colleague in another place the responsibility for ensuring the co-ordination of both air and rail passenger traffic in Australia before further losses are incurred by the organizations responsible for the services.
.- In speaking to the Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1961-62, I take the opportunity to comment on the work of the Department of National Development and, in particular, the efforts of the responsible Minister, Senator Spooner, in certain directions. Towards the end of last year a very notable event occurred in Queensland. I refer to the discovery of oil at Moonie, in the south-western part of the State. It was an event to which we should accord due significance. When oil was struck in the first well to be drilled, there were doubts whether the oil would be in sufficient quantities to make it a commercial proposition. Since then, however, two further wells have been drilled, and it is very pleasing that each has proved successful.
We should be quite excited about this discovery, Mr. Acting Deputy President. For many years it was thought that Australia was too old, geologically speaking, to produce oil. Various other reasons were advanced for the belief that oil would not be discovered in this country. Oil has now been found in Queensland. To my mind, the discovery of oil is the greatest event that has occurred in Australia since gold was first found. At the time that gold was discovered, our population was very much smaller than it is to-day. The discovery of gold was an important milestone in our development. I believe that the discovery of oil is of equal importance and that we should be thrilled by the events at Moonie.
So far, oil has not been discovered in sufficient quantities to supply all our needs, but there is definite evidence that a supply of oil exists. The Moonie find indicates that oil may also be discovered elsewhere in Australia. As we know, small quantities of oil have been discovered in various other parts of the continent, such as Rough Range, and it is possible that discoveries equal in magnitude to the Moonie find will yet be made. When we think of the value of our imports of oil and oil products each year, we cannot fail to appreciate the importance of the search to discover oil in sufficient quantities. Speaking from memory, I think that such a discovery would mean a saving of about £130,000,000 a year. We have difficulties with our external credits - our balance of payments. If we could obviate the need to import oil and oil products, it would make a terrific difference to our balanceofpayments problem.
– That will happen.
– Yes, I believe it will. I am confident that, as more wells are drilled over a period of years, oil will be found in increasing quantities.
Senator Spooner, Senator Scott and other honorable senators have stated on several occasions in this chamber that in Canada, many more wells than have been drilled in this country were put down before the organizations concerned struck oil. Once oil is found in one area, it is quite likely that it will also be found in other areas. While it is of great importance to discover oil in sufficient quantities to supply our requirements, there are other aspects of the matter. The petro-chemical industry deals with the by-products of oil. I am told that the value of oil by-products used each year is more than £400,000,000. It will be seen, therefore, that the oil industry is of great importance to this country.
I have risen on this occasion with the particular purpose of paying a tribute to the men who have had the vision to do the things that needed to be done in connexion with the search for oil. Not long after this Government came to office, Senator Spooner had to stand up to a barrage of criticism regarding oil search. I take this opportunity to give full credit to Senator Spooner for his great courage in sticking to his opinion that oil would eventually be found. All Australian citzens owe him a great debt for his tenacity. Over a period of years, he has been instrumental in having oil search subsidies paid to companies that have been prepared to drill for oil. The subsidies have played a great part in attracting people to search for oil, and Senator Spooner deserves credit on that score. In addition, tax concessions have been granted to Australian investors in oil companies. In that way, investment has been encouraged. I think every one will agree that it is desirable to have, in the search for oil, not only overseas investment, but also a considerable proportion of Australian investment. The work of the Minister, and of the Government, in this regard has been of great importance. 1 also pay a tribute to Senator Scott and his mining committee, because I think it can be said that that committee played an important part in the granting of the taxation concession to Australian investors.
It is unfortunate that other people in this chamber have not been a little more enthusiastic about the discovery of oil and more appreciative of the efforts of the people who have been responsible for it. I pay a tribute, too, to the Honorable Ernest Evans, the Minister for Mines in Queensland. Like Senator Spooner, for many years he has believed in the ultimate discovery of oil in that State. Because of amendments, for which he was responsible, of the relevant Queensland legislation, encouragement has been given to people to search for oil. The amended legislation has attracted not only Australian oil companies but also overseas companies. There has been a transformation of oil search activity in Queensland. To-day, the whole of the State, with the exception of two very small areas, is covered by prospecting permits. Great credit is due to Mr. Evans for the common-sense approach he has adopted to the search for oil.
Instead of playing down the importance of the discovery of oil in Queensland, let us be a little more optimistic about it. I am convinced that the Moonie oil-field is a commercial field, and I think other com.mercal fields will be discovered in Australia. The United States “ Commercial Oil and Gas Journal”, of 25th December last, stated that Australia had had a long search for a commercial oil-field and that the Union-Kern organization, which is drilling at Moonie, had announced that the Moonie field was a commercial proposition.
I thought that the opportunity should be taken to pay a tribute to our Ministers who have sufficient vision and determination to stand behind their principles and to do what they believe is right. We, as Australians in this chamber, would pay tribute to such men as Senator Spooner and the Honorable Ernest Evans for what they have done for this country. As a result of the legislation that they have suponsored and the encouragement that they have given, this country has probably been launched towards a state of prosperity that hardly any of us can conceive.
.- We are engaged in a debate on the subject of supply, which affords an opportunity, of course, for any senator, especially members of the Opposition, to have a very full say in criticism of any act of misgovernment. It is most significant that during the whole of this debate representation on the Opposition side has been meagre indeed. For the greater part of the debate the Labour Opposition has been represented by one senator or two. Now it musters three. The third one has just come in, in the person of Senator Kennelly, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. No doubt, after the disgraceful speech that he made on the subject of banking last night, he is interested in the possibility that something may be said about it.
If ever there were anything that should be seized upon as an indication of stability of government in this country, it is the winnowed seats of the Opposition this afternoon. One would think there would be a sense of urgency, with the Parliament about to rise for a comparatively long recess. If there is any public concern about aspects of the administration, now is the time for Opposition senators to show their zeal for defending the public interest, but they sit a solitary three.
I rise to refer to the despicable contribution to the debate that emanated from Senator Kennelly last night. It concerned a subject of the highest public importance in this country, where economic affairs have not always been directed on proper balance, and where they present peculiar complexities and problems. One of the outstanding problems is the government of banking itself. During this session, we have heard a disclosure on the part of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) of true Liberal policy in relation to banking, a forthright statement of progressive policy, with the object of enabling the banks to extend their services to two most important sections of the community, the exporting section and the rural section.
Against that background, Senator Kennelly revealed the level upon which his mind cogitates in regard to the subject of banking. We found him unable to rise above a virulent form of abuse, suggesting that this arrangement was in the nature of a bargain between the Government and the banks. He said ‘that it was a subterfuge to get extra profits. He referred to it as a blatant act, indicating the servility of the Government, and a brazen episode. I rarely quote the diatribes that come from my opposition in argument but if the recital of those terms does not reveal the experience of the speaker, I shall be amazed at the lack of understanding of the Senate. You can see in that level of debate, Mr. Acting Deputy President, a reflection of the type of sordid experience in which considerations are moulded in the mind of Senator Kennelly. He brings to this subject of national importance a mind full of disreputable and unworthy factors of which those expressions speak.
He said that these proposals emanated from a bargain between the Government and the banks. The Government, as is well known, consulted with various sections of the economy, including chambers of manufactures, chambers of commerce, trading banks, and the Australian Council of Trade Unions. There was no secret about it. This was a deliberate public consultation for the purpose of the Government’s assessing, as a comprehensive judgment, what was required.
The Treasurer, in making his statement, took the trouble to inform the Parliament and put on the public record that he had been engaged in discussions with the Reserve Bank and representatives of the major trading banks. He said that these consultations began on 30th January, when economic policy was being considered by a committee of the Cabinet. He made, for the public to read, what seemed to me to be a clear and unconcealed statement on the exchange of considerations between members of the Government and the banks. He brought before the Parliament, for criticism or approval, a statement of the policy that was so moulded. If there were the slightest shred of substance or responsibility in Senator Kennelly’s scurrilous remarks, one would have expected the members of the Labour Opposition to be present in their places to push home the charge and to see that a government at which these charges were properly levelled would go castigated from this chamber, unworthy of respect. On the contrary, we have a most miserable performance from the Labour benches. Their occupants now number four, the Whip having come in since I commenced my speech.
But, Mr. Acting Deputy President, the matter does not rest there. When the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) intervened in the debate this afternoon, he made some reference, just by way of recital, to the two propositions Senator Kennelly had put before the chamber and he did most weakly attempt to support the charge that the purpose of these proposals was to enhance the profitability of the banks. But after that weak attempt the Leader of the Opposition went on record as saying that he conceded that there was a need to assist the term lending and finance of the export industries. That is the substance of the proposal. The substance of the proposal is that there should be within the banking system proper arrangements so that people engaged in the rural development of the country and the development of the export industries will be able to get from the banks, not merely overdraft accommodation - which, under the leadership of the Reserve Bank, is applied only to temporary lendings on security which involve a turnover of eighteen months to two years - but term loans. It is essential to the banking function that we introduce proper provision for term lending. [Quorum formed.]
With the knowledge that in the last few minutes some seven or eight Government members retired from the chamber to attend a rather special function which the Prime Minister is giving, the four repre.senatives of the Labour Party derived satisfaction from calling for a quorum. The arrival of another Labour senator brings their number to five. Such is the happy situation on the closing day of this sessional period. What I was saying was that, in the arrangement of bank finance, it is a great contribution to security and confidence in the two sections of industry which are most important - the exports and rural sections of industry - when the banks are permitted, under Government policy, to arrange lendings over fixed terms and lend.ings for relatively long terms. Senator McKenna necessarily concedes that that is a great public benefit. Surely we need nothing else to refute the scurrilous insinuations and innuendoes of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition was so small, and his ignorance was so significant, that he sought to base a criticism on the timing of a statement by Mr. Ricketson, who, he informs me, has some connexion with the firm of J. B. Were & Sons and is a director of Capel Horn’s. Mr. Ricketson’s statement was, I believe, made some few days before the Treasurer made his statement. Only the veriest novice with the most primitive type of experience of parliamentary procedures would develop the idea that Mr. Ricketson’s statement, made on 19th March, could be the inspiration of a Treasury statement made, accord:ing to Senator Kennelly, I think, on 12th April. Senator Kennelly, in his innocence, suggests that the Government is making a servile acceptance of Mr. Ricketson’s proposal. I have shown that the Government’s action is based on public considerations - considerations which are acceptable to the Leader of the Opposition.
But these proposals had been debated in this chamber before that. I take particular interest and, I hope, not undue pride - being a somewhat dissident unit on this side of the House - in sometimes finding that Government policy accords with proposals which I myself have expressed. It so happens that on 14th March, five days before Mr. Ricketson made his announcement, I said in the Senate -
We maintain that it is imperative to preserve a private sector of the banking system as a source of finance, in efficient competition with government banking. I wish to make a suggestion that I trust the Minister will examine. I want him to consider the possibility of taking into account the money which the central bank holds on special account from the private trading banks, in pursuance, I believe, of the outmoded idea that thereby the Reserve Bank of Australia is controlling credit policy. These funds amount to £200,000,000 or £250,000,000. I suggest that the money be made available to the trading banks so that they can create a development bank to work in co-operation with the Commonwealth Development Bank. Then, not merely £21,000,000 or £26,000,000 of capital will be available from the Commonwealth Development Bank. We will have a private development bank geared to the same policy of financing, and the two banks together can double the efficiency of one.
The resources of the trading banks are limited to the capital that they can gain from the public and what they can earn. They are not the masters of their resources. They have to utilize them in accordance with Reserve Bank policy. That means that the banking system does not finance long-term loans, but that the financial institutions financelong-term loans and bank finance is available as an auxiliary to be turned over, as I understand the modern banking outlook, at the rate of once every eighteen months or two years.
I have particular pleasure in supporting this measure, on considerations in which, I submit, the most superficial experience and judgment would find, not knavery but merit. I submit that any impartial examination of the proposals cannot possibly put into the ordinary mind - the mind of ordinary experience - abusive thoughts such as those to which Senator Kennelly gave expression.
The only other comment I wish to make is the criticism that the arrangements proposed by the statement have not been properly secured. I do not see in the statement any indication that these arrangements Will be expressed in statutory form. I do not like an arrangement whereby the source of finance - if I am right in my recollection, it amounted to some £55,000,000 - is a special fund in the Reserve Bank. To my mind, the money surplus to the requirements of the statutory reserve account should be refunded to the banks and made available for this special field of lending. It should not remain ensconced in a special reserve account at the Reserve Bank. This, Mr. President, is a very positive beginning of an expansion of trading bank facilities into a most important new field. Senator McKenna, in marked contradistinction to his deputy, said that this Government had imposed upon the banking system, controls more severe than were the previous controls. Yet the proportion of credits within the possession of the banks, and subject to control, has dwindled from 55 per cent. to 60 per cent. pre-war to 20 per cent. to 25 per cent. at the present time. It is imperative, if we are not to lose the unexampled benefits of a proper banking system, to allow a degree of freedom that will enable the banks to survive as substantial credit agencies in the community It is in that respect that I find great merit in these proposals, and I deprecate the criticism that has been offered by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
.-I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill and of the associated Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill (No. 2) 1961-62 is to obtain parliamentary authority for certain expenditure for which provision was not made in the 1961-62 Estimates. The various items contained in the Additional Estimates can be considered in detail in committee and I propose at this stage to refer only to some of the major provisions.
Some re-allocation within the defence vote has resulted in further appropriations of £3,546,000 being sought, but it is expected that total expenditure will not exceed the budget provision of £202,859,000 by more than £300,000.
There is a need for further appropriations for departmental votes of £6,347,000. There will, however, be savings on other items and net additional expenditure is not expected to exceed £2,500,000. Included in the provision is £1,500,000 for additional grants to eligible organizations under the Aged Persons Homes Act; £586,000 as a further contribution to the cost of the United Nations Force in the Congo; an additional subsidy of £240,000 for shipbuilding as a result of the construction of an additional five vessels; £267,000 to be paid to Commonwealth Hostels Limited mainly because of a shortfall in hostel tariff revenue; Department of Works salaries, £253,000, due largely to the engineers’ determination, increased salaries for juniors and increased district allowance; and £100,000 for settlement of a damages claim arising from a collision between the vessels “ New Australia “ and “ France Stove “.
An amount of £2,612,000 is sought for Repatriation Services. This sum includes £1,673,000 for war and service pensions and allowances as a result of an abnormal rise in new grants and applications for increases; £240,000 for the maintenance of repatriation institutions; and an additional £85,000 for the scheme for the education of children of deceased soldiers and of permanently and totally incapacitated soldiers.
Under Business Undertakings it is necessary to seek additional appropriations of £2,704,000 for the Postmaster-General’s Department, although the overall increase in expenditure is not expectedto exceed £1,743,000. The major component in the increase is an amount of £1,300,000 to meet higher rates of pay and allowances. The additional £197,000 sought for Commonwealth Railways mainly arises from increased maintenance being undertaken and from the recovery of rails and material along the abandoned section of the Central Australia railway.
The amount sought for the Territories is £308,000, which includes an amount for the Northern Territory of £199,000 which will be largely offset by equivalent savings in other items, and for the Australian Capital Territory, 106,000. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
That General Business be postponed until after the further consideration of Government Business.
– I should like to raise a matter concerning the Department of Social Services and the proposed additional expenditure of £1,500,000 on grants to approved organizations under the Aged Persons Homes Act. Several elderly ladies who have sought admission to an aged persons’ home have told me that they have been asked to provide varying sums of money in order to ensure that their applications will be considered. The sums sought from these people have varied from £600 upwards. When the person seeking a home has stated that she does not have sufficient capital to meet the request she has been told to apply for admission to a government home in respect of which no lump sum payment is required. Will the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) say how many homes for the aged have been financed under the government subsidy of £2 for £1? What are the circumstances under which persons wishing to enter these homes must first pay a lump sum?
In Western Australia some people have the idea that if they pay the lump sum they will not be required to make any further payments. They do not realize that they must also make weekly payments and must contribute towards the cost of insurance, rates and lighting. They do not realize that although they may have paid a lump sum to gain admission to a home for aged persons, which is heavily subsidized by this Government, they have no equity in the home. I am aware that this scheme is providing housing for many elderly people. As the Government is spending vast sums of money on the scheme I should like to know whether the Government has any control over the way that money is spent. What are the conditions governing admission to a home?
Many people are under the impression that these homes are set aside for age pensioners, but quite a number of people who are admitted to these homes are not age pensioners at all. They may be aged persons but they possibly possess a little capital. Our first responsibility should be towards those elderly persons who have nothing but their pensions to sustain them. I realize that this legislation has been a wonderful help in providing homes for aged persons - not necessarily poor aged persons, because if an elderly person has a certain amount of capital he or she cannot obtain a full pension. If you have £200 or more you cannot get a full pension. If you have £600 or up to £2,000 you certainly would not qualify for a full pension. Amounts of that order have been asked of elderly persons seeking to gain admission to some home units that have been erected under this scheme. This would tend to indicate that the value of the home unit was about £6,000 - a fairly elaborate unit. I would like the Minister to tell me how many church and other organizations have been assisted by this legislation. In respect of how many homes for the aged is a premium demanded before the aged person may take advantage of the home?
.- I wish to raise a matter concerning the Department of Health. I understand that a mass X-ray campaign was recently held in Canberra with a view to detecting the incidence of tuberculosis among the residents of the Australian Capital Territory. The radiation received from clinical X-ray apparatus is exactly the same as the radiation received from atomic fall-out. It has been claimed that the compulsory X-ray campaign could mean that people have been exposed to an unnecessarily high amount of radiation. The claim has been made that the campaign could have been conducted more efficiently if more modern equipment had been used. Independent tests that have been carried out show that each person examined in the campaign received a radiation dosage of 170 milliroentgens. That exceeds the normal dosage that a person would receive from radiation in the atmosphere over a period of twelve months. I understand that the organizers of the campaign assured the public that the radiation dosage received by each person X-rayed was so small that 40,000 similar exposures would be required before a person would suffer any harm. However, the independent tests that were carried out show that a mere 1,000 doses of radiation from the out-of-date equipment used would have very deleterious effects. I am informed that more modern equipment giving smaller doses of radiation is available. I should like the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) to give very serious attention to this matter and to see that the very best equipment is used in these mass X-ray campaigns.
It has been pointed out to me that people are called up for X-ray examinations alphabetically. No special consideration is given to women who are in the early stages of pregnancy. Of course, a dosage of radiation could be most dangerous to women in that condition. I should like the Minister to assure us that every precaution will be taken in future campaigns and that the most modern equipment available will be used in order to reduce, if possible, the amount of radiation received by each person examined, while at the same time ensuring the success of the campaign to eradicate tuberculosis and to bring to the notice of the people the incidence of lung cancer.
– I regret that I am not equipped to reply to Senator Tangney’s query. The information that I have with me simply details the growth of the arrangements concerning homes for the aged. I have no deailed brief in respect of administrative arrangements. The reason behind the provision of the extra £1,500,000 makes interesting reading, although it does not answer the honorable senator’s query. During 1961-62 there have been unprecedented rises in both new approvals and expenditure. New grants and increases in grants in 1961-62 were estimated at £1,800,000 and the revised estimate is now £3,500,000. Expenditure, for 1961-62 was estimated at £2,000,000 and is now expected to reach £3,500,000. That illustrates the popularity of the scheme.
All I can say to Senator Tangney is that I will arrange for the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) to give, her by correspondence, if that will be suitable, the information for which she has asked about the proportion of homes that charge an initial entry fee.
– Yes. This is something that I have been trying to find out for a long time.
– All right; I will do that.
– I was interested to hear Senator O’Byrne’s remarks on X-ray radiation. I hasten to assure him that the equipment now being used is the latest obtainable in the Commonwealth. I am sure that there is no risk whatever. However, I am prepared to go further and say that at present the Department of Health is examining proposals for X-ray equipment in future. I will be very pleased to reduce to writing the department’s thinking on this matter and the activities in which we expect to engage to ensure that our equipment is the best in the world for the task for which it is used.
– I wish to put to the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) a request about the medical benefits available to parents of babies of queer blood groups, such as Rh negative, who need to have their blood replaced within a few days of birth. I have received from parents complaints that they have been faced with very big expenditures if the birth has taken place in a private hospital. An amount of £31 10s. was mentioned in one case and £45 in another. The medical benefits scheme, contains no provision for reimbursement in such cases. Of course, if the birth takes place in a public hospital the service is free; but if the child is born in a private hospital the parents are faced with expenditure additional to the normal expenditure involved at the time of a birth.
– The question raised by Senator Tangney involves approved hospitals and those that have not obtained approval. If favorable consideration was given to meeting the cost of the operation to which she referred, assistance necessarily would have to be given in respect of other illnesses that were treated in private hospitals. The legislation says quite specifically that hospitals may seek approval under certain conditions. Those conditions are laid down in the act. Until the act is amended, nothing can be done to meet the cases to which she refers.
Generally speaking, I believe that the act is generous in its requirements of hospitals seeking approval. I admit that there is a continuing problem as to how far the Government can go. I remind the committee that our chief objective is to keep our hospital services up to a certain standard. We are trying continually to raise the standard of hospitalization. In comparisons of approved and non-opproved hospitals, the final yardstick is that hospitals seeking approval must, in most respects, provide the facilities of a general hospital. I believe that that is a very sound policy. I make no reflection whatsoever on the private hospitals.
– These hospitals are approved hospitals.
– If they are approved hospitals, I certainly will consider the point the honorable senator has raised because I have not struck a case such as that to which she referred to-night. I will take the matter up with the Department of Health and let the honorable senator know the reasons for the position that she has outlined.
– Perhaps I can help the Minister for Health (Senator Wade), Mr. Temporary
Chairman. I may not have expressed myself very well previously. My point is that the process of changing the blood of a baby in, say, the Rh negative blood group, should come under the schedule that provides for payment in respect of other operations. That is where the difficulty lies. No specific payment is laid down in the schedule to the act in respect of the actual process involved. In a public hospital the transfusion is done by the doctors in an honorary capacity; but if the same doctors are called upon to do it in a private hospital, there is nothing in the schedule to the act to say that tt should be regarded as an ordinary surgical operation.
– I see the position much more clearly now, Mr. Temporary Chairman. The point that Senator Tangney raises is always with us. The Department of Health has no jurisdiction and, in fact, desires no control whatsoever over what a medical practitioner shall charge for his services. The scale of benefits that is in operation to-day has been based on average charges throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth. We know that, generally speaking, a specialist demands for his services a greater fee than a general practitioner demands for his. I say to the committee quite frankly that we can never hope to chase those fees and bridge the gap between the benefits and the fees. I give this ray of hope: At present we are considering the schedule because I believe it contains some anomalies. We are trying to iron them out. Whether or not this matter comes into that category I do not know. It will be examined.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without requests; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
In view of the great interest that has been shown in the search for oil in commercial quantities in Australia, would the Minister for National Development be in a position to give the Senate a rough comparison between the progress made towards the commercial production in Australia, in relation to, say, Canada, as indicating the number of wells drilled in each country before oil was (a) discovered and (b) produced (in Canada) in commercial quantities? Also, a comparison of the amount spent in each country in categories (a) and (b)?
– The answers are as follows: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
– I present the first report of the Printing Committee.
Report - by leave - adopted.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The Minister for Territories has supplied the following answers -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers supplied by the Minister for Territories are -
Tonolei Harbour, Bougainville - approximately 107,000 acres containing 400,000,000 to 500,000,000 super, feet of timber.
Cape Hoskins, New Britain - approximately 200,000,000 super, feet of timber.
Oriomo River, Western District - 41,000 acres of coastal forest containing about 100,000,000 super, feet of timber.
Gogol River, Madang District - about 200,000,000 super feet, of timber.
Piaiwa Forest, 60 miles from Lae - about 120,000,000 super, feet of timber.
Smaller quantities of timber and timber on land to be cleared for agricultural use are allocated by the Administration to sawmillers at appropriate rates of royalty.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
In view of the ever-growing toll of death on the roads through car accidents, and the fact that the use of safety belts has been consistently recommended by the Australian Road Safety Council, the Senate Select Committee on Road Safety, and police authorities, as a means of affording protection to car travellers, will the Treasurer give favorable consideration in the forthcoming Budget to the elimination of sales tax on safety belts, and thereby offer further inducements to motorists to install these life-saving devices in their motor cars?
– The Commissioner of Taxation has advised me that car safety belts are already exempt from sales tax.
– On 4th April Senator Branson asked the following question without notice of the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior: -
Has his attention been directed to a press report which stated that a government servant whose wife worked in the same building was not permitted to take her as a passenger in a Commonwealth car that was provided for him daily to take him to and from his place of work, and that he had to drive past her while she walked home, whilst in another instance a father was not permitted to take his child to school, even though he had to drive right past the school? If those reports are correct does not the Minister think that the departmental decisions were harsh and that action of this kind represents a bureaucratic splitting of straws?
The Minister for Territories has supplied the following answer: -
The Government has at all times insisted that there should be no misuse of official transport. Instructions to this end were first issued in 1950 by the then Acting Prime Minister (Sir Arthur Fadden), and again in 1957. In addition the Treasurer has issued such instructions from time to time. In the Northern Territory Administration these instructions have been supplemented by local instructions, issued under the authority of the Administrator, to the effect that official vehicles must not, under any circumstances, be used for private purposes.
Apart from the important principle involved in confining transport requirements to official purposes, there is always the possibility that as a result of carrying unauthorized persons the Commonwealth, in the event of an accident, could be involved in substantial claims for damages.
Departmental decisions in respect of the type of cases referred to by Senator Branson take into account that any relaxation of instructions in particular cases would lead to preferential treatment for individual officers, anomalies and embarrassing precedents, and as a result other officers could justifiably make accusations of discrimination. Although the case of the officer whose wife was obliged to walk to and from work cannot be identified, it has not been represented correctly as no officer may use an official vehicle for the express purpose of transporting him to and from his place of work. It is only in a very limited number of cases that approval is given for officers to garage official cars at home. When this is done it is because it is necessary for these officers to have official vehicles available at their residences to meet emergency calls outside normal hours of duty.
In remote localities in the Northern Territory where there is no means of public or private transport available within reason as an alternative, the Administration may give a general approval that in specified circumstances the dependants of officers and other persons may be transported in official vehicles, subject to protection of the Com monwealth’s interests by a form of indemnity. The legal implications of this whole question have been fully and carefully considered.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration: -
– The Minister for Immigration has supplied the following information: - 1 and 3. The report to which the honorable senator has referred was based upon a misunderstanding of views expressed by the honorable member for Swan. The Government does not propose to alter the conditions applying to assisted British migrants.
Consideration resumed from 15th May (vide page 1342), on motion by Senator Paltridge -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 15 th May (vide page 1342), on motion by Senator Paltridge -
That the bill be now read a first time.
Senator TANGNEY (Western Australia) 18.24]. - I wish to refer to one matter in connexion with the Department of the Interior, lt relates particularly to the offices which are available to federal members in Perth. This matter has been raised on many occasions by honorable senators on both sides, and also by members in another place. The rooms in use are not sound-proofed and members and senators are unable to carry on their duties to the limit of their capacities because conversations can be easily overheard three rooms away. I can overhear telephone conversations carried on three rooms away from mine, and the same applies in reverse to senators and members using rooms near mine. The result is that when members of the public come to interview us we have to speak in hushed tones, or take them outside and talk to them there - or even take them to our homes. In fact, conversations cannot only be heard, but are magnified.
The second point I make is that there is no natural lighting in the premises. Artificial lighting is used. Every one of the secretaries engaged in these offices has had eye trouble since taking up duty. When we made complaints about this matter -previously one member’s room only was made soundproof. The reason given for that exception was that he was the only one who had not complained. Apparently the rest of the federal members were treated as bad children and, because they had made complaints about the inadequacies of lighting and the acoustic qualities of the rooms, nothing was done for them.
Acting on medical advice on account of my eyes and because of the difficulty of getting air into these rooms I applied for tenancy of a room which had been unoccupied for twelve months. It had both natural lighting and fresh air. I was told that because the carpet on the floor was of a quality normally reserved for Ministers I could not have the room. Yet that room remained the repository for various bags, papers and rubbish for a further seven or eight months. That office has now been given not to a Minister but to a temporary public servant. I do not know whether the ministerial carpet is still on the floor or whether it has been replaced by one of Public Service standard.
When I asked in this House some time ago what was the total rent being paid by the department for these offices in Perth I was amazed to find that the Commonwealth is paying much more for the offices than it should be paying. It is certainly paying much more than the services that the members and senators and members of the public - our electors - can get there are worth. I think every honorable senator from Western Australia will bear out what I say in regard to this matter.
We see also that a very large sum is being voted for a building in Perth for the Taxation Branch. A building has been acquired at a very inflated figure, yet at the same time preparations are in train for the eventual transfer of the branch to still another building which is in course of construction. I think the building being acquired is a big insurance building, and it is going to cost a great deal of money. I should like to know why the Taxation Branch cannot stay where it is until the new building which is to be its ultimate home is completed, and thus save the terrific expense of a double transfer. I realize that the employees of the Taxation Branch are working under great difficulties at present, but surely to goodness the permanent movement of the branch into the new government building could have been foreseen before huge commitments were undertaken in regard to the transfer to temporary accommodation in other premises.
In Perth federal departments are scattered throughout the city. I appeal to the Government to do something about building new offices for the departments so that they will be more centralized, thus making it easier for the public to visit them. The work of federal departments in Perth is increasing in volume each day, and with the departments scattered as they are throughout numerous buildings, many of which are sub-standard, I think it would be wise if plans were made for building a complete set of federal offices, thus making the conduct of business with departments easier for the public.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
.- I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to appropriate £281,436,000 to carry on the necessary normal services of government, other than capital works and services, during the first five months of the financial year 1962-63. These are services placed before the Parliament in the Appropriation Acts 1961-62. The several amounts provided for ordinary services are -
In general, these amounts represent approximately five-twelfths of the 1961-62 appropriations. However, the amount of £90,761,000 for Defence Services makes allowance for heavy contractual payments in the first five months of the financial year. The amount of £47,184,000 for War and Repatriation Services includes provision for the payment of war pensions at existing rates and has regard to the incidence of pension pay-days. There is no provision for new services except in the defence section. However, in accordance with established practice an amount of £16,000,000 is sought for an Advance to the Treasurer to make advances which will be recovered within the financial year; and to make moneys available to meet expenditure, particulars of which will afterwards be submitted to Parliament. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Consideration resumed from 15th May (vide page 1342), on motion by Senator Paltridge -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives without amendment.
Debate resumed from 3rd May (vide page 1146), on the following paper tabled by Senator Spooner -
Australia and the Common Market - Statement by the Minister for Trade, dated 3rd May, 1962.
And on the motion by Senator Kendall -
That the paper be printed.
.- We are indebted to the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) for the very comprehensive statementhe has made to the Parliament, after his recent visit to the United States of America, the United Kingdom and certain European countries, regarding the proposed entry of the United Kingdom to the European Economic Community. The Parliament and the people of Australia are grateful to him for the clear and forthright manner in which he put our case to those countries. Because of his work, and also that of our Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and other members of the Government, we gained the right, which I think was an important gain, to present Australia’s case to the Deputies of the responsible Ministers of the countries of the European Economic Community, a task that was performed so well by Dr. Westerman, the Secretary of the Department of Trade.
A wealth of comment has been made about this problem by those who are interested in it, but much of it has been built around conjecture. So often have we heard it said, “If that happens, then this will be the result “. No one can say what the outcome of the negotiations will be. We know that the United Kingdom has applied to join the European Economic Community and has inquired about the terms on which she would be able to join. That is a matter of vast interest to Australia and other countries which have preferential trading rights with the United Kingdom. I do not wish to refer at length to the historical development of this rather fascinating story. It began with the plan put forward by M. Robert Schumann that Germany and France, the great hereditary enemies, should pool their resources of coal and steel. Out of that proposal grew the European Economic Community.
Our interest in the European Common Market arrangements began when it became apparent that the United Kingdom, in its endeavours to build a European free trade association consisting of six European countries and itself, or The Seven, as it was known, was not having the success for which it was hoped. The United Kingdom then began to examine the steps that could be taken to secure its entry to the European Economic Community. Australia has enjoyed for a considerable period preferential tariffs in the United Kingdom for many of the products of our industries. Recently, I noted a comment in the press to the effect that the Minister for Trade has become somewhat emotional about the possible effects on those industries of Britain’s entry to the Common Market. To my way of thinking, the Minister merely stated the facts of the situation without any emotionalism whatever. We in Australia have built up, not only industries but also great rural communities, which are dependent on access to markets in the United Kingdom. The great dried fruits industry was developed after the 1914-18 War by the rehabilitation of many of those men who fought in Europe to maintain our freedom. They are rehabilitated in the communities on the Murray, forming the dried fruits industry which has been so successful and such a great exporter.
– There are 700 of them at Red Cliffs alone.
– Yes. I do not think that it is being emotional to state that this community of ex-diggers is dependent upon a traditional market developed over the years by export to the United Kingdom. Much of the fruit industry, with its allied canning industry, in the Shepparton area was built in the same manner and it has traditional, preferred entry to the United Kingdom. That industry and the people engaged in it are dependent upon continuation of that access.
So the story goes on. One would not say for a minute that the wheat industry, the sugar industry, or the wine industry were entirely dependent, as are these other industries, upon entry to the United Kingdom market, but that portion of the production of those industries which has been sold in that market has been given preference. Meat and other commodities have been sold on preferential conditions or under longterm agreements which have assured some industries that portion of their production would be sold overseas.
I approach this matter from the viewpoint of its effect on trade. That is the practical way in which the Minister for Trade himself has approached it. But just what we are seeking does not seem to have become clear to some persons. We are seeking that the quotas of goods that we sell now on the United Kingdom market, and have sold traditionally on a preferred basis - the foundation on which many industries have been built - should continue to have access, either to the United Kingdom market or to the whole of the European Economic Community, in the event of the United Kingdom becoming a member of that community. We are quite prepared to accept access to the European Economic Community. Our prime interest is to ensure continuity of entry to our traditional market. I suggest that it is perfectly equitable that, with the natural increase in the trade of the area, the quotas of our goods which have access to it should be increased in the same percentage. I want to make it quite clear that we are seeking only the right for goods in those quantities to enter the market plus, for instance, fruit trees that have been planted but are not yet producing.
It has been suggested that we should be satisfied, if the United Kingdom joins the European Economic Community, with a settling down period. It has been suggested that this period should be six, eight or ten years. I <io not believe that our rights can be spelled out in terms of a number of years. lt is suggested that during this period we should obtain’ alternative markets, which are not specified. It would be wrong to spell out the number of years until those markets become a reality. We may or may not need so many years. The period may be shorter, it may be a little longer, or it may be very much longer. I rather believe that we are entitled to enunciate clearly the proposition that unless the alternative market exists in concrete form no period of years should qualify the proposal.
We believe that we are entitled to our traditional market, particularly as our total trade would be but an infinitesimal part of the total trade of the community, especially if the United Kingdom became a member. Article 234 of the Rome Treaty states -
The rights and obligations resulting from conventions concluded prior to the entry into force of this Treaty between one or more Member States, on the one hand, and one or more third countries, on the other hand, shall not be affected by the provisions of this Treaty.
I shall not read the other paragraphs, which do not vary that provision. In addition, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, to which very many countries are parties, contains a provision for those countries that wish to make alterations to any preferential arrangements with other countries. That agreement, of course, was drawn up on the initiative of the great United States of America. It makes quite clear that any country can secure trading arrangements with other countries, provided these countries are prepared to give similar rights in return. Gatt provides a basis for any alteration in existing conditions. This morning I read a newspaper report with some concern. It must also concern members of the Senate and the Australian people. It reads -
Washington, May 16. - President Kennedy is fully aware of Australia’s criticism of United States Common Market policy, a high Administration source said to-day. The President is reported to be opposed to a permanent preferential treatment for Commonwealth agricultural products, should Britain join the European Common Market. Australia has criticized the United States for its refusal to support proposals that would permit Australia, New Zealand and Canada to export their products to the Common Market under a preferential system covering the quantities they now export to Britain.
The President, it is stated, believes that. Commonwealth goods admitted to Common Market countries on a preferential basis would virtually liquidate United States agricultural exports, to Western Europe.
These are now running at a rate of 2,000 million dollars (£A890m) a year.
I repeat, we are seeking only the same quantitative access to the United Kingdom market that has been our lot over many years, and we are prepared to go further and spread that over the European Economic Community.
I think the statement I have read confirms the fear that has been expressed by the Minister for Trade that the Americans still do not understand the basis of our proposals. We seek no enroachment whatsoever on America’s trade with Europe and this, I think, has been made quite clear.
Sir, I know we have to seek other markets - it has been freely stated - and indeed, Australia has been vigorously seeking other markets during the last few years. Our exports to the United Kingdom in 1957-58 amounted to 27.2 per cent, of our total export trade; in 1960, the proportion had dropped to 23.8 per” cent. In the same period imports from the United Kingdom have dropped to 29.8 per cent, of our total imports as against 31.4 per cent, in 1960-61 and 41.2 per cent, in 1957-58. However, we still have an adverse trade balance of £140,500,000. This adverse balance is for goods and services which we purchase and would, of course, go with any agreement which maintained the present status quo. Our imports from, and exports to, the United Kingdom have been falling as we have sought access to markets in other countries.
I should like to commend the Australian Dairy Produce Board for the steps it is taking to find alternative markets throughout the world. I welcome, as all honorable senators will, the recent statement by the Minister for Primary Industry that, in partnership with Asian firms, the Department of Primary Industry is setting up factories and plants in Asian countries to reconstitute milk and other products. The sale of these products in Asia will provide an outlet for a great deal of Australian dairy produce if these moves are successful. That is a great move away from the sale only of the traditional butter to the sale of dairy produce in a form in which the Asian countries need it. As I said, this will be done in partnership with Asian firms working in those areas. That is a direct move, and I commend the Australian Dairy Produce Board for it.
– Is it dried milk you are talking about?
– Yes, that is the form in which it goes to those countries. Also, 1 think that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is to be commended for the research which has produced a new powdered butter, which is in a form which lends itself to export, lower freights and easier handling. We do not yet know whether the cost of production is such that this powdered butter can be a commercial proposition, but if it is this butter, for use in bakeries and homes, should find a ready market in Asian countries. So I fee] that our search for fresh markets is meeting with success.
I dc not wish to delay the Senate. I wish to say only that in this search for new markets it is imperative that businessmen visit these countries and see for themselves the conditions under which they are to trade. I do not think that they should rely entirely on agents in other countries, or on the information, valuable though it is, that is conveyed through government institutions. It is up to the businessmen themselves to do something in the matter. This Government has given very strong incentives to business organizations to increase exports, because it is indeed tremendously important for Australia to-day to increase its exports and its export income rapidly. More and more of our businessmen are setting up abroad organizations which are partly Australian, to sell our goods and develop new markets for us. That is all to the good.
We are indebted to the Minister for Trade for the very comprehensive report which he has given of his trip throughout the world in connexion with our trade problems. I think that it will give the nation, as a whole, a great feeling of security to know that shortly the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) is also to go abroad to follow up the efforts of the Minister for Trade and to initiate and undertake further projects or. b:half of Australia.
Senator McKENNA (Tasmania - Leader of the United Kingdom for membership of the European Economic Community poses very great problems, economic and otherwise, not only for Australia and the British Commonwealth of Nations, but also, I suggest, for the world. For the second time in the course of a very few months Australia is caught up in the tide of world politics and world trade, and it is likely to be particularly distressed by the back-wash. ‘
We had this matter before us last August. I recall that I spoke on it on 17th August, soon after we became aware of Britain’s intention to apply for admission to the Common Market. At that time I dealt at length with the important themes of the construction of the European Economic Community, particularly of the political aspects of its formation and of its objectives. I said then that, in my view, the Common Market was formed more for the attainment of political objectives than for the very important economic objectives that are also involved. The thing required was that Europe and the nations of Europe, hitherto enemies, as Senator Henty has said, should be brought together as though they were one country economically, removing, trade barriers between themselves and erecting a common tariff wall against the rest of the world. These things are important, but they were to underpin the political union of these countries to ensure that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization - the defensive military organization. - should be strengthened by a unified Europe. It is not certain that in eliminating the possibility of war among the great nations, and in strengthening and unifying Western defence, it would incidentally be helpful if the economic aspects of life in Europe were also bought into cohesion instead of remaining in fierce competition, with the hostility that might arise from that situation.
I do not propose this evening to go into the matters I traversed back in August last year, but I do not want to touch on this subject without acknowledging the vast importance of the political aspect. In forming any judgment one cannot look at it from the economic angle alone. Whatever view one may form on that aspect one must take into account as well the political effects. They are not necessarily all credits. There are debits associated with this matter, particularly from the viewpoint of the Commonwealth of Nations. One must take both aspects into account. Whilst I do not traverse the political considerations to-night I would like the Senate to appreciate that I am relying upon what I said last August and that I am fully conscious of the importance of the political implications.
When the matter was before us in August I urged that Australia should make an effort to have its own views placed before the Common Market countries in relation to Britain’s application so that our viewpoint might be put by ourselves. I indicated that the Opposition would support the Government in any action it took to try to bring about that result, and that if efforts failed to achieve it, then we thought there ought to be an observer at the talks. In due course, in honoring that undertaking, we supported the visit made quite recently by the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen). He has visited the various countries. He made a report which is the document we are now debating.
Mr. McEwen has indicated that he set forth with three main objectives. The first was to put Australia’s position at the highest possible level to the countries which constitute The Six, to Great Britain and to the United States of America. It is quite certain that he achieved his purpose of putting our position at that level. His second objective was to ascertain the thinking of other countries. He succeeded also in eliciting that, not to his own comfort nor to ours, but just as other countries are better informed about our views, we are advantaged by the fact that we know what other countries are thinking at top political levels. His third objective was to canvass the possibility of wider international agreements for trade in bulk commodities which constitute the greater part of the exports of this country. Whilst no real progress has been made beyond some kindly words from the United States about the future, it was an excellent idea to have put forth.
I should like to say that I appreciate the work that the Minister for Trade has done recently abroad on behalf of Australia. He has done as well as any person of great ability and real force could have done for this country. I think that has been acknowledged throughout the nation. I am happy to make that comment upon the efforts that he has made.
With him I am disappointed at the stand of our great friend and ally, the United States. I hoped that it would look at the merits of the case that we put, and also see us as one of the outposts, if nob the most isolated outpost, of Europe. We live in an area four times as large as the area of the Common Market countries put together. We have 10,000,000 or 11,000,000 people while they have some 220,000,000 to 250,000,000 people with a quarter of our area. Apart from New Zealand we stand almost alone, near Asia, which is undergoing a surge of nationalism in which terrific economic and industrial forces are being developed. I hoped that America would recognize us, not as one of the 75 countries to which it is so generously giving financial and other aid, but as a nation really prepared to stand on its own feet and solve the inherent difficulties in our economy, particularly in relation to our overseas trade and the difficult and unpredictable position of our balance of payments. I should have thought that in its great generosity America would go out of its way to help us in those difficulties. It took the view that it was against us.
America regards the system of preferences - not only the ones that Britain gives us, but also the ones that we give Britain. - as being wrong in principle. It appears to have exercised its great influence with the countries of the Common Market - The Six - to ensure the elimination of these preferences. It is obvious that America itself would benefit by that. Such an elimination of preferences would no doubt open our market to America on terms of equality with Britain that America does not enjoy at present. The United States would also have freer access on even terms to the European market if the system of preferences between Britain and ourselves were abolished. I join Mr. McEwen in expressing disappointment that the United States is not on our side but on the contrary is against us. I hope that with united efforts we shall be able to persuade this nation of the justice of our case and of our need in this matter.
– Or at least induce it to stay neutral.
– Yes, to stay neutral. According to Mr. McEwen’s report America was quite honest with him. It indicated that it was opposed to the principle of preferences. Mr. McEwen pointed out that that was not a matter that should be fought out on Britain’s application to join the Common Market but a matter that ought to be determined in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, which obviously is the proper place.
From Mr. McEwen’s report I gathered that America had agreed to adopt that attitude, but according to recent press statements, it really is pressing its views in places where they matter.
One advantage gained from Mr. McEwen’s trip was the fact that the committee of deputies of The Six - the top officials who are considering Britain’s application - did allow Dr. Westerman and his officials to have audience with them. They listened to the documented case Dr. Westerman presented. He and his staff were able to meet the officials, present a case and have discussions upon it. I am very delighted to see from cables from overseas - they are unofficial but nevertheless accurate - that the various members of the committee of deputies of The Six said that they were surprised and impressed with the case that had been made. The fact that men of that calibre should respond in that way is, I think, a tribute to the work that has been done by Dr. Westerman and his staff. I have had an opportunity to glance at some of the details of that case and, frankly, I was impressed with the conception of it.
I will not go into it now, but I rather admire the process that Mr. McEwen has adopted. It seems to me that he has launched a pincer movement. He commenced negotiations with officials at the lower level and is working up, but on the political side he started at the top and is moving down. I thought that was a welldesigned approach, and I will be interested to see how the idea works out. I join readily with Senator Henty in rejecting any solution of Australia’s problem that provides for a temporary continuance of pre- ferences and then an abrupt ending, whether it is over a period of a few years or longer. As Senator Henty indicated, we have industries and communities geared to production for the United Kingdom market. This matter goes far deeper than mere trade. It involves the disruption of the lives of entire communities. The matter not only is one of real significance to those immediately affected but in due course it must have an effect upon our standards of living and our rate of development.
The department of Trade has faced very realistically the fact that the basic objectives of the Treaty of Rome will not be changed by The Six. I think that is quite clear. I have expressed the view that there is no hope of changing the basic objectives of the Treaty of Rome, upon which the Common Market is built. In August last I referred to a statement by Professor Holstein, probably the most potent figure in the entire European Economic Community. He is president of the executive committee. I directed the attention of the Senate to his remarks when he said -
Under this Article -
That is Article 237, under which Britain is applying - only certain adjustments but no substantial changes can be made to the Treaty. We know that signing the Treaty would for the present pose a large number of problems to our partners in the rest of ‘Europe.
So it is not easy to alter the objectives of the treaty. The department faced up realistically to the fact that it had to find a way that would be compatible with the terms of the treaty. That was good tactics, because otherwise the department would unquestionably have been met by The Six standing firm on the treaty. As I understand the position, the department relied on Article 234 of the treaty. Senator Henty read the first portion of that article, but merely directed attention to the remainder of it. I ask the Senate to bear with me for a moment, because Article 234 in my opinion constitutes the only hope that Britain has of gaining entry to the Common Market. Article 234 reads -
The rights and obligations resulting from conventions concluded prior to the entry into force of this Treaty between one or more Member States, on the one hand, and one or more third countries, on the other hand, shall not be affected by the provisions of this Treaty.
So far, so good. The way would bt wide open for Britain, but the very next paragraph reads -
In so far as such conventions are not compatible with this Treaty, the Member State or States concerned shall take all appropriate steps to eliminate any incompatibility found to exist.
At that point one feels that one has encountered disaster but the next sentence revives hope. The article continues -
Member States shall, if necessary, assist each other in order to achieve this purpose and shall, where appropriate, adopt a common attitude.
I take it that The Six having recognized that they were bound to accept prior conventions only if they were not incompatible - the incompatibility had to be removed - the country applying had to offer to The Six the common benefit from whatever convention existed. So it appears to me that clear provision exists so far for admitting a country to the Common Market. That view is buttressed by the next paragaph in Article 234, which reads -
Member States shall, in the application of the conventions referred to in the first paragraph, take due account of the fact that the advantages granted under this Treaty by each Member State form an integral part of the establishment of the Community and are therefore inseparably linked with the creation of common institutions, the conferring of competences upon such institutions and the granting of the same advantages by all other Member States.
In other words, whatever benefit or advantage one shared had to be the common property of all members of the Common Market. Let me sum up the effect of Article 234 in this way: If the Common Market, while recognizing earlier conventions entered into by a prospective member, admits that member, it is prepared to replace an advantage or a preference allowed by one State with an advantage or a preference granted by all States of the European Economic Community.
I regret taking some rime over that article but I do so because I think it is the focal point upon which Britain’s application for entry rests. If Britain cannot find a way in under Article 234, she will not find a way in at all.
The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, to which we subscribe, prohibits the grant of any new preferences. The Department of Trade had to consider whether the transfer of our trading advantages with Britain to all the partners of the Common
Market constituted the granting of a new preference. That subject would make a most fascinating study. As 1 understand the position, the department relied upon Article 24, paragraph 9, of Gatt, which reads -
The preferences referred to in paragraph 2 of Article 1 -
They are the preferences existing at the time Gatt was formed - shall not be affected by the formation of a customs union or of a free trade area but may be eliminated or adjusted by means of negotiations with the contracting parties affected.
I think I can understand the working of the department’s mind. It claims that for the whole of the Common Market area to grant the preference that Britain now grants would not mean the creation of a new preference; it would be merely translating one preference into a form of customs union. Seeking the type of argument that the Department of Trade adopted, my mind fastened on that particular provision to which I have referred as the one upon which the department relies. I would be very interested to see the reaction of the European Economic Community to that approach.
Our trading position with Britain and the countries of the European Economic Community is interesting. Australia plays a very big part in world trade. We are heavily dependent on world trade. About 44 per cent, of our exports go to the United Kingdom and the Common Market countries. In all, Britain and The Six take 44 per cent, of our total exports. Almost 50 per cent, of our imports come from Britain and countries of the Economic Community. There is a great amount of trade between Australia and Britain and the Common Market countries. At every opportunity we should impress on the Common Market countries the need for us to develop this country - to industrialize it. We should impress upon them the fact that as we grow and develop we will want more imports, not fewer. Therefore, our growth means the opening up of markets for them and it is in their interests not to retard our progress or stunt our development by putting difficulties in our way and upsetting whole communities.
We have received a pledge from spokesmen from the United Kingdom to the effect that she would not enter the European
Common Market if serious harm would be done to Commonwealth countries. That pledge has been expressed in various forms. So, until the exact conditions of her entry are determined, nobody can form a firm judgment on Great Britain’s wisdom or otherwise in complying with the conditions. She is in a difficult position. The decision to enter the Common Market or not is clearly one for Great Britain alone and not for us to make. She has undertaken to have regard to our interests in making her decision.
Of course, we have to face the question realistically. Her first duty is to her own people, as against her duty to the Commonwealth of Nations. Also, as one of the great powers and, above all, a nuclear power in her own right, she has a duty to the world of leadership and of strengthening the Western and free world. She has a very difficult decision before her. She may be torn between a desire to preserve the Commonwealth of Nations, as we know it, and her desire to enter the European Common Market, with all its advantages and disadvantages.
It may well be that, regarding all those factors, Great Britain will not enter the Common Market. She may make that decision in the light of Commonwealth objections and also because of the inroads that joining the Common Market would make into her sovereignty. Once she enters she will be bound to comply with the laws made by the European Economic Community in so many aspects of her life - industrially, socially, in transport and in innumerable other ways. The whole area of the Common Market, including Great Britain, will be turned into one country, in effect, with free access from one area to another. Every conceivable kind of circumstance will have to be dealt with on a common basis. The British Parliament may well find itself circumscribed by the requirements of the Common Market Parliament and institutions. We do not know whether or not Great Britain will enter the Common Market.
The case presented for Australia was not merely for a continuation with the Common Market of our preferences at the existing levels of quantity or value. That is the basis of our claim, but a growth factor is also introduced. Australia has put the view that it is a young and developing country; it is developing mines and smelters, for example, which have not yet come into full production. The aluminium industry is the best instance of that, with its heavy capital outlay and commitment without any production yet. In our trade with Great Britain we have no limitation upon our quantities, except where we have specific long-term contracts with her. There always has been a growth factor in the dealing between Australia and the United Kingdom.
As Mr. McEwen rather graphically put the position, we have planted trees which have not yet borne fruit and we want to exploit them. That puts our position on the growth factor. So, as a young and developing nation, we would not be content to have merely our existing level of exports maintained indefinitely. Very properly, allowance should be made for what is called the growth factor. If we did not make that allowance, we would find that our preferences relatively would keep on decreasing year after year. As our production grew, our preferences would become less and less with the passage of time.
I should like to raise two or three other matters before I conclude my speech. This question is one of them. I should like to ascertain from the Government what Australia has done to communicate with other Commonwealth countries in order to present a united front and a united case to the United Kingdom. I believe that unity is strength. I know that Mr. McEwen has been to Canada and Dr. Westerman has been to New Zealand; but there are many other Commonwealth countries. Some of them have conflicting interests, but the great majority of them have a common interest. It seems to me that Great Britain would hearken far more to the voice of the Commonwealth if, at this stage, the Commonwealth countries presented a common view. I should like to be assured that the Government is taking very active steps without delay to try to bring about that position. I read that Mr. McEwen recoiled with some horror from a suggestion that various nations of the Commonwealth might gang up. I do not accept that expression and I do not accept the idea that the Commonwealth countries should not get together.
I press upon the Government the desirability of the people who are likely to be hurt going along and jointly making a louder noise about their difficulties and what lies ahead of them than the noise made by leaving Australia to go it alone or lead the way, as we seem to be doing at the moment. I believe that at present we are not only helping ourselves but also paving the way for other countries. I ask the Government: Would it not be good if we could get a common voice amongst the nations of the Commonwealth?
– I wish you were serious.
– I suggest to the honorable senator that when it becomes a matter of hip-pocket nerves there is a community of interest. If the trade of the Commonwealth countries is liable to be affected adversely throughout - any effect will be felt throughout the Commonwealth - every one will be affected.
– Could anybody have done more than Mr. McEwen has done?
– I am asking whether an effort has been made to get all the nations of the Commonwealth together. Mr. McEwen has not told us about that. He has told us about isolated talks with a few Commonwealth countries. I am suggesting to the Government that, if this has not been done, it might make a wider effort in that way.
By way of relief for a moment from this heavy subject, I remind the honorable senator who has interjected of something I read in the newspapers. There was a race meeting at Warwick Farm on Saturday last. It was pouring rain and when the horses ran down the straight in the first race they were in water up to whatever part is called their hocks. They were bumping into each other.
– Then they were swimming!
– I must confess that I am no expert on the terminology of horses. They were bumping into each other and there was great danger. I read that ultimately the stewards made a survey of the track and decided that the races should continue. However, the jockeys - the young fellows who were risking their lives - got together. They formed a deputation to the stewards and impressed on the stewards that it was not safe to ride on the track. So the races were discontinued.
– There were a couple of Labour jockeys among them.
– I am sure that there must have been a Labourite in the team, and I will guarantee that he would have been the spokesman. I digressed for a moment to make the point that, if the people who will be hurt by a set of circumstances get together instead of complaining singly or trying to fight individually, there is a greater likelihood of their achieving the result that they all want.
I am pressing upon the Government the desirability of making an effort with our brother nations of the Commonwealth. I am not sure how much time I have left. When one gets interested in a subject such as this, it is difficult to take account of time.
– You can get an extension of time.
– I do not need it, thank you. I wish to refer to one aspect of this matter that, to my knowledge, has not been discussed. It is not canvassed in the statement made by Mr. McEwen, but it must be a potent factor in a consideration of this matter. The Government has given no word on whether, if the six countries of the Common Market take over the advantages that the United Kingdom confers on Australia, which represent only one part of our bargain with the United Kingdom, the Common Market countries will want to step into Great Britain’s shoes and claim from us the preferences that we now accord to Great Britain. I am quite certain that the hard-heads of the European Economic Community will not overlook the fact that it is not good business to accept the burdens of a contract and to forget all about the benefits. I would fully expect that if the claim we put before the countries of the European Economic Community is successful- or if Great Britain’s claim is successful, and our aspect of it succeeds too - they will be driving a hard bargain which will involve our Minister for Trade and our Minister for Customs and Excise very heavily. Nothing has been said about that. Perhaps it is premature to discuss it, but I think it a as well for us to have in mind the thought that we cannot get a benefit extended over the whole European area and not be prepared to face a demand for some of the benefits Great Britain enjoys. I do not envy anybody in this country the administrative task of trying to equate our exports to Great Britain up to date with a programme for the future. Our exports to Britain - one country - could be assessed very easily, but an assessment of the same flow of exports to seven nations under a reconstituted Common Market would be very difficult. The same would apply to imports. I should not like to be the Minister or the departmental officers who would have to sort out the administrative tangle which would flow from that.
– That would be quite contrary to America’s sentiments.
– It would be, but I invite the honorable senator to put himself in the position of the six nations to whom we would say, “ We ask you, since you will not let Great Britain in while we retain our trade preferences in Britain, to take those preferences over and spread them among the lot of you “. Do you not think they would say to us: “ But you must also hand over to us all the preferences Great Britain has enjoyed to date. If we are all going to share Great Britain’s obligations let us share the benefits as well.” This is such an obvious propostion that I am surprised that I have not seen it adverted to before. But perhaps it is premature to have the idea that we will have to do some hard bargaining about that.
I remind the Senate that we have the example of the Treaty of Rome to show us what will happen. The Senate will remember that the dependent territories of the original members were brought into association with the Common Market, and will be interested to know that Dutch New Guinea is an associated territory in the Common Market. Various present members of the European Economic Community have dependent territories, and they are particularized in one of the annexures to the treaty. Articles 131 to 136 dealing with these dependent territories show that a pretty hard bargain was made with them. They had to abolish customs tariffs against the European Economic Community.
– It is the other way around.
– No, they are really treated as if they were members of the European Economic Community. They had to abolish tariff barriers between themselves and the community.
– Over a period of eight years, was it not?
– No, they are not limited in time.
– That is the Inner Six.
– No, I am talking now not about the six constituent original members of the community but about the association of the dependent territories of some of those countries.
– Under paragraph 3 of Article 133 there is an express provision relating to budgets for development and fiscal arrangements.
– Yes, I am well aware of it. That is for customs purposes and development of a fiscal nature, with the object of contributing to their budgets. I merely make the point that in paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 133 there is a high degree of mutuality in force. In my view, whilst we cannot go into the European Economic Community under those conditions, and we could not accept the obligations that we would be obliged to accept as an associate member, that gives us some indication of how the European Economic Community would look at us, if we drove a hard bargain and if we wanted to be in a practical association with it. Mr. McEwen, I think very properly, at the time when I heard him on a television programme recently, would not say one word about how we would retaliate if we were hurt in the process of Great Britain’s entry into the European Common Market.
– He was a bit weak on that.
– He declined to be drawn into an argument on that, and perhaps it is well to await the event and find out whether we are likely to be hurt.
I want to leave this thought with the Senate, which seems to me to be a simple proposition: The Ottawa Agreement was not limited as to time, in the terms in which it is written. Even the 1957 trade agreement that we have with Great Britain is ^limited as to time. But the preferences between Great Britain and ourselves have run uninterrupted down a period of 30 years, so that whether or not there is a written hard-and-fast contract to cover the three decades, the fact is that a course of conduct has grown up between us making for a well-established continuing contract for every minute of each of the 30 years.
I would say that if Great Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community results in her terminating that position there is at least a moral obligation on Great Britain to compensate this country in respect of the industries that will be affected. I see frowns on the faces of some honorable senators, but the view I am putting for consideration is that if Great Britain were to enter the European Economic Community for the sake of her own economic advantage and to strengthen the security of her own people, surely if that hurts us, and a contract of the nature that I have outlined is breached, we are entitled to prefer a claim for compensation. Many of our industries might, under those circumstances, have real claims. I am thinking in terms of industries of the type to which Senator Henty referred. I have not seen this proposition mentioned or projected anywhere, but if our negotiators have to meet a tough lot of negotiators abroad I think it is well at this stage to express some such thoughts.
-It will cost us about £170,000,000 a year.
– I would say that the honorable senator is almost exactly right.
– The war cost us £500,000,000 a year and it was cheap at the price.
– Yes. That is a judgment that the honorable senator is completely entitled to make.
– Apart from the devastation and human suffering.
– That is a judgment the honorable senator might form. I prefer to await the terms upon which Great Britain may enter the European Economic Community, before I form a really firm judgment. Having regard to the dramatic progress that has been made by the countries of The Six in developing their production and in improving export levels and the standard of living of the people, there is no doubt that if Britain joins the European Common Market she will find it a very good proposition economically. She might well benefit financially in a way that would justify her in paying some compensation. I leave that thought in the air. It is salutary, at this stage of the negotiations, for the world to know that Australia is even thinking along those lines.
I wish very briefly to particularize some of the things which, in the view of the Opposition, ought to be done in the present situation. We think they should be done whether or not Britain enters the Common Market. We have had a warning this time of what can happen to this country. Even if Britain’s application is rejected to-day, it might be accepted next year. We cannot rely upon a market that might slip away from us overnight. The whole country is alarmed at the prospect that faces us now. I wish to state a few propositions, not necessarily in order of priority. I shall not elaborate on them, but will merely state them. We should apply ourselves to the manufacture of new products and not export our employment opportunities to others. We should advance the treatment of our metals beyond the stage of concentrates, to ingots and to fabrication. The development of an aluminium industry is a case in point. We should seek new markets. We should impose import restrictions in the circumstances that face us. The lifting of import controls early in 1960, in the light of the European Economic Community arrangements and Britain’s projected entry to the Common Market, was one of the worst pieces of timing I have seen. A worse time could not have been chosen to do that. We should press on with oil search, because the discovery of oil in commercial quantities would dramatically change our balance of payments position.
There should be an active and deliberate campaign in this country to get costs down. We should take a hand, in the way that the Labour Party has outlined from time to time, in fixing the shipping freights to and from this country which take such a heavy toll of our export income and add appreciably to our importing costs. The same comment is true of insurance charges on the commodities that we export. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) recently suggested that the powers of all our statutory marketing boards ought to be increased and that, in this situation, a council should be formed of all the statutory marketing authorities so that they could move as a unit into markets overseas and evolve a common policy, instead of taking unconnected action.
– You have not mentioned the waterside workers yet.
– No, not yet. 1 have in mind an associated project. The Government made a move in connexion with the matter to-day - not to the full extent that I would like to see, but nevertheless a move has been made. I have in mind the establishment of an export credit corporation. That idea has, to an extent, been translated into law by the policy of the Government. We debated the matter in this chamber earlier to-day.
– You are referring to the statement on the trading banks?
– Yes. There should be organized marketing of wool, with the concurrence of a majority of the growers. There ought to be clear power over organized marketing in this difficult situation, power that we lack at present. Those are some of the ideas that I leave with the Government for its consideration. I suggest that an attempt should be made to put every one of them in train, whether Britain’s application succeeds or fails.
We have to face the fact that the European Economic Community is both a highly protective and a highly restrictive Organization. It is completely protective within its own borders, with a common barrier against the rest of the world. While it is pledged to help underdeveloped countries, we can look squarely at the fact that the countries of the Common Market can put into underdeveloped countries only what they make from the rest of the world. They are going to be a potent force in world trade.
I conclude by repeating some of the statements that I made when I spoke on this subject in August last. I said then that it was a situation that might face Australia with a great challenge to stand up and fight vigorously, not to lie down and cry. I said that adversity could be translated into advantage if there were sufficient imagination and determination, and that Great Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community might be the opportunity for Australia to stand squarely on its own feet. I said, too, that if this situation forced us to take steps towards self-sufficiency, to get our costs down and to exploit fully more of our employment opportunities instead of exporting them, then it would make us a nation of triers and lead us to nationhood in the truest and fullest sense.
.- I agree that the possibility of Great Britain entering the European Economic Community is a matter of great concern for all Parliaments in the British Commonwealth of Nations and of peculiar concern to the Australian Parliament. We have noted the energy displayed by the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) during his recent visit overseas, when he earnestly and, I think, impressively, brought home to the authorities in the United States of America, Great Britain and the various governments of The Six the essential trade interests of this country. Honorable senators who have spoken to-night have referred to the major industries of Australia that are likely to be affected by the re-negotiation of European trade that will occur if the British proposal to enter the Common Market is accepted. Britain’s entry will affect our markets for meat, fruit, sugar, wheat and dairy products to a total amount, I understand, of between £150,000,000 and £200,000,000. Not all of our trade in those commodities will be lost, of course, but our exports of them will meet European tariffs instead of British preference.
As with most aspects of Mr. McEwen’s handling of the trade portfolio, I find his statement a most practical one. So far as I am able to say, the terms of the statement are perfectly comprehensible. In fact, it evokes great admiration from me. It would be superfluous for me to attempt to make any real contribution to the debate by discussing the commercial aspects of this proposal. Before I leave that matter, I wish to make two comments on some of Senator McKenna’s observations. He posed the question whether the European Economic Community will expect to benefit by the transfer to Europe of the present preferential trading arrangements that Great Britain has with the Commonwealth countries. For myself, I should not have thought that anybody would gainsay that that would be the corollary of the proposition. That we should expect, just on an occasion of renegotiation, to have all the benefits for our exports and accept none of the obligations to give preference to the imports coming from those places is such a novel proposition as to be beyond the realms of reality.
The other question that Senator McKenna posed was that the acceptance by the community of the United Kingdom’s application to join would expose her to a justifiable claim by Australia for compensation for the termination of the British preferential tariff system. It would occur to me first to inquire whether or not under present arrangements there was any fixed term. I think there is not.
– I indicated that there was, for most of our preferences.
– For what period?
– In the case of the United Kingdom agreement, I think it was for five years initially in 1957, being extended for a year.
– The meat agreement and sugar agreement are for terms, but there is no thought of breaching them before their expiration.
– So there is no thought of disturbing those arrangements.
This arrangement provides for a transitional period over eight to twelve years. That provision is made in the Rome treaty. Four or five years have gone. I would reject out of hand any suggestion that Australia should claim compensation from the United Kingdom. I make those comments on the observation of Senator McKenna.
I feel bound to leave the commercial aspects of this proposal on that basis because more important considerations are involved in this matter affecting Australia and her future. It will be remembered that during the period 1942 to 1956 Sir Winston Churchill took a distinguished and leading part in awakening Europeans to the wisdom of unity for the purpose of re-creating Europe. It will be remembered that Churchill took the torch from Chamberlain and he has handed it on to Macmillan. The great pity is that the British Commonwealth has to confess that the bearer of the torch to-day may be as unequal to the task as Chamberlain was to the task of 1939. Would that we had the wisdom, courage and energy of Sir Winston Churchill to guide us in the implementation of this idea, which has an impact on the whole world. In considering its impact on the Commonwealth, it is essential, first of all, to look, not at the commercial considerations involved, but at the political and constitutional considerations. However easily some Australians lie when there is a discussion on constitutional arrangements, that is because they have known no real danger.
The United Kingdom, which has the mother of parliaments, has applied to join that new community and become one of the seven or one of the eight, and be bound by the Treaty of Rome. It is imperative, for us to understand the true significance of the obligations, politically and constitutionally. We must discuss these upon the basis of the present treaty.
We know that in the negotiations for the acceptance of the United Kingdom, variations of the treaty may be agreed to, but the variations that can be expected will not be fundamental. Therefore it is wise to discuss the matter on the basis of the terms of the present treaty. I say, with Omar Khayyam, that I am fully conscious that destiny has given to me only a blind understanding, as my mind even attempts to consider some of the aspects of this terrifically comprehensive proposition. The first thing that should be noted is that the treaty itself starts with the statement that the various countries concerned are determined to establish the foundations of ever-closer union among European peoples.
One should recognize that this passage is a translation, and therefore the interpretation of it may be elusive to a person whose knowledge extends only to English texts. To us the use of the word “ union “ has a significance which should not be passed over. I read the treaty as establishing arrangements not merely for the creation of a customs union or a customs treaty, but for the establishment of a community which the treaty itself says is a legal personality. Under it or within it is established a system of government, the ambit of which is no more and no less than the economy of the area. We know the extent of the expression “ trade and commerce “ in our own Constitution. Not merely trade and commerce but things economic are the area of the Treaty of Rome. So the scope of the new authority in respect of government is very extensive and most important.
In the course of my consideration, I have selected from some of the material that I have read on the subject three texts, the products of other men’s minds, which are most thought-provoking to me, and I take the opportunity, even in these circumstances
– Would you mind telling me your interpretation of Article 3 of the treaty?
– Article 3 provides-
For the purposes set out in the preceding Article, the activities of the Community shall include, under the conditions and with the timing provided for in this Treaty:
the elimination, as between Member States, of customs duties and of quantitative restrictions in regard to the importation and exportation of goods, as well as of all other measures with equivalent effect;
the establishment of a common customs tariff and a common commercial policy towards third countries;
the abolition, as between Member States, of the obstacles to the free movement of persons, services and capital;
the inauguration of a common agricultural policy;
the inauguration of a common transport policy;
the establishment of a system ensuring that competition shall not be distorted in the Common Market;
the application of procedures which shall make it possible to co-ordinate the economic policies of Member States to remedy disequilibria in their balances of payments;
the approximation of their respective municipal law to the extent necessary for the functioning of the Common Market;
the creation of a European Social Fund in order to improve the possibilities of employment for workers and to contribute to the raising of their standard of living;
the establishment of a European Investment Bank intended to facilitate the economic expansion of the Community through the creation of new resources; and
the association of overseas countries and territories with the Community with a view to increasing trade and to pursuing jointly their effort towards economic and social development.
That, I would have thought, was in our minds as something with which to begin the discussion. That is the basic statement of the objects of the community. It serves the purpose of showing how wide is the ambit and the purpose of this community.
I was about to refer to three of the texts that have given my mind real stimulation on this matter. I am not putting forward any conclusions to-night. I am hoping that other honorable senators will contribute their thoughts upon this subject and that from the general exchange of ideas we shall be able to form a better judgment upon these important issues. The first text to which I shall refer was written by E. Strauss, and was published in 1958. The title is, “ Common sense about the Common Market “, with a sub-title, “ Germany and Britain in Post-war Europe “. This author, is apparently somewhat obscure, as the Library has not been able to identify him by finding him listed in the Bibliography of Authors. However, he has written on the subjects of “ Irish Nationlism and British Democracy “ and “ Art and Socialism in the Life of George Bernard Shaw “. I propose to content myself with reading from “ The Economist “, which reviewed the publication, a short statement to show the author’s theme. The review states -
It is time that someone looked at the common market with the eyes of Hobbes instead of those of Grotius and Professor Meade. Mr. Strauss analyses the community of six, and the problem which its creation poses for Britain in terms not of prosperity or federalist aspirations but of power. His theme is simple: the common market, if not broadened to bring in Britain and the rest of Europe, will enhance west Germany’s economic and in time political pre-eminence in west Europe.
Then the review describes how he traces the German manoeuvres of creating the zollvereins of the last century. They constituted the nucleus from which grew German strength and power. Germany built up her economic strength and then, as the crescendo was reached on each occasion, launched into the three major wars to which she has treated civilization in the last century. I find a very sobering reminder that Western Germany, in the dimensions of power, is, or will be, by far the predominant party in this European community at the present time. She displays such energy in growth that she will outmatch the other parties very rapidly. That will give to her a terrific potential for European leadership. We cannot be satisfied that the power that that will give will always be used for furthering the interests of the English-speaking world. If Europe is left in the condition that West Germany is divided from East Germany, and West Germany is faced with the predicament within twenty or 30 years, of having in some way to re-unite Germany, the prospect of a rapprochement between West Germany and the Soviet, with a precedence stemming from 1939, precipitately entered into in breach of every previous assurance, needs thoughtful analysis.
Then, Mr. President, I have read a most thought-provoking text called “ The AngloAmerican Predicament”, written by Professor Allen, who is the Commonwealth Fund Professor of American History in the University of London. He published this text in 1960. Let me say in passing, as a matter of interest, that he was a research scholar in the Australian National University in about 1954. His record is first-class. In his book, “ The Anglo-American Predicament “, he thinks fit to put in the forefront of the book an excerpt from one of Winston Churchill’s speeches. I am not referring to the celebrated quotation from the Zurich speech, but to Churchill’s utterance in 1944. It reads -
There must be room within the great world organization for organisms like that British Empire and Commonwealth, as we now call it, and I trust that there will be room also for the fraternal association of the British Commonwealth and the United States . . . and besides this - I, for my part, hope to deserve to be called a good European - we have the duty of trying to raise the glorious continent of Europe, the parent of so many powerful States, from its present miserable condition as a volcano of strife and tumult to its old glory as a family of nations and a vital expression of Christendom. I am sure these great entities which I have mentioned - the British Empire, the conception of a Europe truly united, the fraternal association with the United States - will in no way disturb the general purposes of the world organization.
He is saying that the conception of our existence and our progress is based upon these three circles of interest - a united Europe, the British Commonwealth of Nations, and the union of Anglo-American nations. I find in the work of this professor of Anglo-American history an analysis of our development that is simply mind-gripping. It recalls, of course, Churchill’s own “ History of the Englishspeaking People” in which he wafts you immediately from the nonsense of the Boston tea party to the independence of America by the praise that he gives to the terms in which the American federal constitution was expressed.
The professor looks at the prospect of England standing alone and either withering on the vine, or seeing The Six develop a strong community. One of The Six is Germany, which has involved us in three perilous wars during the last century and which has no record of ‘democratic stable government. Within the last 25 years Germany brought her people to the utmost depth of degradation by Nazi tyranny and arbitrariness. Another is France, which, since 1789, has had ten convulsive changes of system of government. The only real stability that she has displayed has been during the last four or five years. This stability may be due more to the personality of that outstanding Frenchman De Gaulle than anything else.
– What was the period you mentioned in relation to France?
– Since 1789.
– You can go much further back than that, and France was still unstable.
– That is far enough for my purposes. A third member of The Six is Italy, which submitted to Mussolini. It has the greatest Communist party in Europe outside the Soviet Union. The association of that trio divorced from Great Britain gives no guarantee of stability for the European community. It affords no draught of confidence. If Britain were to join with that community and become involved in European affairs, would Britain’s involvement in the next war evoke from her overseas dominions the same response that led us to contribute to Britain’s need in the last two world wars?
There is another consideration. The European community is likely to be denied the nuclear power that it is within the hands of America to give, unless Britain is associated with the community.
– France has it now.
– Only to a negligible degree. The author goes on to say that if Britain joins the European community the only guarantee of equilibrium in any definite way would be for the other English-speaking unit of the world - North America - also to become associated with the community. As a Britisher who knows Australia and New Zealand through his association with our universities, he automatically says that Australia and New Zealand should be included.
Any who are daunted by the disorganization which comes from distance should remind themselves of what we saw last night in the film of Commander Glenn’s flight. He orbited the earth in a capsule in less time than it took Puck to circle the world. Puck said, “ I will put a girdle around the earth in 40 minutes “. I mention these matters only for the purpose of explaining the attitude of other minds to this problem. I see in that a terrifically thought-provoking idea. He says that nothing other than the establishment of a true federation will give the requisite element of stability for democratic government. That can be supplied only by the Anglo-American section. At the same time such a group will maintain a unified purpose in Europe that is essential in order to prevent internecine strife and to operate as a bulwark against Communist aggression.
Mr. Anthony Nutting has contributed to the literature on the subject a text entitled “ Europe will not Wait “. The book was published in 1960. He shows how in all these negotiations in the last decade in Europe Britain faltered at the step of becoming intrinsically involved in the European arrangements. Here is one who ardently advocates that Britain should join. He laments that she has not taken the lead that would have made her worthy of the conception of Churchill’s as he described in his speech at Zurich in 1946. After referring to the vast shivering masses of tormented, hungry, care-worn human beings who gaped on the ruins of their cities and homes and scanned the dark horizon over a scene of peril, tyranny and horror, he went on to say that Europe must find a means of evolving something like a United States of Europe. In such a context, the political development and implication of this European economic community are of transcendant importance.
I take leave to remind the Senate that although these negotiations have been going on within the British Commonwealth, and between Great Britain and The Six over the last twelve months, we have heard very little about anything other than the commercial implications. Simultaneously with these negotiations there have been impulsive moves to bring about the political development of this organization by the determined, and politically courageous men who evolved this very idea, and induced their countries to accept it in 1956. A committee was formed to draft a text to give expression to the political unification already contained in the treaty founding the European Economic Community. The drafting of that text was first committed to a Frenchman - M. Christian Fouchet - and is now in the hands of an Italian. The text was produced and the dissident voice in it was that of General de Gaulle. The text was found to be largely an expression of his idea of what Mr. Macmillan has referred to as “ 1’Europe des Patries “.
The principle objects of the draft treaty were to institute a union of states which would aim at achieving a common foreign policy in matters of mutual interest. The draft provided that the committee so established should act by unanimous vote, but that was not acceptable to The Six, and in January, 1962, General De Gaulle produced a revised plan to the committee. The comment that has been made to me is that this was even less acceptable to the other five countries since it deleted all reference to the proposed threat to Atlantic alliance in the context of common European defence policy and omitted any mention of safeguards of the autonomy of existing European communities. But the matter did not rest there. It is under active consideration. If the cabled reports are to be believed, within the last few weeks, arising out of the conference that was held on this very subject about three weeks ago, General
De Gaulle has largely modified his outlook on the matter of a common political objective for Europe despite the fact that, according to to-day’s newspapers, five of his cabinet ministers have resigned because of his declared adherence to a political objective as part of the general programme.
So, beginning with the preamble to the treaty, and considering the context in which it is evolved, let us not underestimate the political implications. The economic treaty is just the foundation upon which the higher structure is intended to be built. Having considered the perils of Britain’s involvement in Europe - the perils of European turmoil if Britain does not ally herself with Europe - and the subject of atomic energy, I see and share the concern of the British Government at the frightening prospect facing Great Britain if she remains dissociated from Europe and does not take the leadership in this transcendently important purpose of giving some unified inspiration to the political aspirations of Europe in the future, first, to prevent Europe becoming another volcano of war and, secondly, to match the strength of Russia, which is growing at a frightening speed. The old concepts of diplomacy may have been appropriate to the times, but with to-day’s wider horizons Britain’s only hope of meeting the threat of possible attack from Russia is the creation of a new entity to hold the balance of power.
So much for the political development of the European Economic Community, but what of its constitutional development? If Britain does become one unit of a united Europe it is almost transparently clear that that will produce a tremendous change in the relationship between Britain and the other autonomous members of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Not only have those countries gained politically from their association with Britain but they have gained also in the field of trade. Trading between Britain and members of the British Commonwealth of Nations has been on a reciprocal basis, enabling Britain to develop not merely as a power within Europe but as a world power. Churchill once said -
Each time we must choose between Europe and the open sea we shall always choose the open sea.
Some satisfaction may be gained from the fact that ever since Britain began negotiations with the Common Market she has given an unqualified assurance that if she has to choose between the Common Market and the Commonwealth, she will certainly choose the Commonwealth. In that regard, if Britain does enter the Common Market her relations with the British Commonwealth of Nations will be damaged. Such a state of affairs would be a tremendously important blow to the peace and understanding of races throughout the world. Let us rejoice in the fact that countries spread throughout the world, differing in race, aspirations, trading and standards of living, are now united in a common purpose. Although they are at liberty to be hostile to one another, as India and Pakistan have been for a time, their association within the British Commonwealth of Nations is an influence of real meaning and understanding that appeals to our people for the maintenance of peace in the world. Anybody who changes that association does great damage to the cause of world peace.
On a lesser plane, but still very importantly, consider for one moment the constitutional impact upon the Crown of the acceptance of these arrangements. I would be prepared to accept the view that so long as the Crown endears itself by its own works to the British people, as it has done for the last two generations, it will survive as one of the chief devotions of impulsive man, despite the association with all the European countries. But what of Parliament! In Europe an assembly will be created consisting, first, of nominees of elected parliaments. There is provision under Article 138 whereby the assembly - that is the European assembly - shall draw up proposals for elections by direct universal suffrage in accordance with the uniform procedure of the member countries, so that they will become directly representative of the people as such.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Anderson). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the negative.
– What are the powers of this European Parliament? It is required to be called together annually, and it proceeds by an absolute majority of votes cast, lt has one important power, and that is, by a vote of censure on the executive commission to require its resignation. Apart from that, so far as I can ascertain, it has no legislative authority at all.
That leaves at the apex of this new authority the executive agency, the commission, subject only to deliberate criticism from the democratically elected Parliament in due course. But there is a council appointed by the governments of the member States, and for the most part it acts upon a majority of its members in respect of certain matters which I will” not take the time to discuss. There are weighted votes given to each country and a qualified majority is required. I am referring now to the council, to the political association of Ministers that the member States nominate, who are members of the governments of the member States. They act as political Ministers of the organization.
– From what are you getting this information?
– I am referring to the text of the Treaty of Rome. Then we come to the commission, which is the permanent executive authority of the community. It is bound to enforce the treaty and actively administer its provisions. It makes a general report to the Parliament, and its members are appointed by the governments of the member States acting together. That is the broad set-up, which I trust we will all examine closely. But the real authority within the community, as constituted by the Treaty of Rome, resides in an executive agency, the commission, appointed by the governments of the member States, subject to the supervision of the political executive authority, the council, which consists of members of the governments of the member States. But the people’s Parliament seems to me to have no legislative authority at all.
When one considers that this community has to carry into effect a common agricultural policy and a common transport policy, and has to establish uniform provisions for the prevention of monopolistic practices and restrictive trade practices, it can be seen that the decrees and regulations and orders which the commission may make can be as extensive and dynamic in their operation upon the economy of the community as was the system of executive orders in war-time, both in Britain and in this country. They can penetrate every corner of the economic life of this community. But the matter does not rest there, because the community establishes an independent court and charges that court with the duty of ensuring the observance of law and justice in the interpretation and application of the treaty. It will be seen that this court is given jurisdiction to act in disputes between the member States. It is given jurisdiction to act in disputes between member States and the community itself, and to act in disputes as between undertakings, that is to say, great companies, operating within member States. Of course it has power to act in disputes as between individuals, insofar as they are affected by the provisions of the treaty, or orders or decrees made by the commission under the treaty.
I have here a collection of cases to which I think I should refer the Senate. Volume 20 of the “ Modern Law Review “ lists a number of cases decided by the analogous court in the Coal and Steel Community. It can be seen that the court deals not merely with matters that our English courts deal with. It deals with the validity of directions given by the commission to the Belgian Government that as a means of altering arrangements in the coal industry in a certain place it should pay certain compensation and make certain provisions for unemployment and subsidies. So the matters over which the court shall have jurisdiction in this European community are more extensive and more dynamic than we conceive in relation to the operation of British courts. But I remind honorable senators that the High Court of Australia has jurisdiction as between State and State, and as between Commonwealth and State. You will remember that in 1931 or thereabouts, when the High Court had to decide on the validity of legislation under the financial agreement to garnishee the revenue of an Australian State, it created something of a stunning effect upon the British mind in Australia. But when we find a court invested with jurisdiction to consider the legality of such matters as I have mentioned, we can see that there is an authority which, within the ambit of this treaty, would seem to me to make subordinate to it the British courts.
This treaty is not like the treaty that established the International Court at The Hague, which is bereft of any reality in terms of law enforcement. There are specific terms in this treaty that a member State is bound to give effect to a judgment of the court, and there is provision that if that member State fails another member may go to the court and have an adjudication. It is all very well for some conservatives in London to hide themselves in a cocoon of satisfaction and to say, “But we can say we do not like the decision and that we will, not implement it”. I cannot see Great Britain ever defying a court properly established under a treaty such as this.
All of that is sufficient to indicate, not to explain, that there is great weight behind the suggestion that, in the governance of this Economic Community, the authority of the British Parliament would be subordinate, and that in respect of law enforcement on matters that emanated from the agencies of the community - decrees, orders and regulations of the commission of the community - the British courts would be subordinate. Great Britain might be able to accept that degree of subordination of sovereignty, but she should do so only after thoughtful and deliberate understanding of the true extent of such subordination at its origin and as it will grow.
I want to remind the Senate of what Mr. Macmillan said on this subject in the House of Commons last year. With the concurrence of honorable senators, I incorporate in “ Hansard “ the following passage from Mr. Macmillan’s speech: -
A number of years have passed since the movement began which culminated in the Treaty of Rome and I am bound to say that I do not see any signs of members of the Community losing their national identity because they have delegated a measure of their sovereignty. This problem of sovereignty, to which we must of course attach the highest importance, is in the end perhaps a matter of degree. I fully accept that there are some forces in Europe which would like a genuine Federalist system. There are many of my colleagues on both sides of the House who have seen this at Strasbourg and other gatherings. They would like Europe to turn itself into a sort of United Stares, but I believe this to be a completely false analogy. The U.S.A. was originally born out of colonists with only a few generations of history behind them. They were of broadly the same national origins and spoke the same language. Europe is too old, too diverse in tradition, language and history to find itself united by such means. Although a Federalist movement exists in Europe it is not one favoured by the leading figures and certainly not by the leading Governments of Europe today. . Certainly not by the French Government.
The alternative concept, the only practical concept, would be a confederation, a Commonwealth if Hon. Members would like to call it that - what I think General de Gaulle called a Europe des Patries- - which would retain the great traditions and pride of individual nations while working together in clearly defined spheres for their common interest. This seems to me to be a concept more in tune with the national traditions of European countries and in particular of our own. It is one with which we could associate willingly and wholeheartedly. At any rate there is nothing in the Treaty of Rome which commits members of the E.E.C. to any kind of Federalist solution nor could such a system be imposed on member countries.
Here again unless we are in negotiations, unless we can bring our influence to bear, we shall not be able to play our part in deciding the future structure of Europe. It may be, as I have said, that we shall find that our essential needs cannot bc met; but if they can, I do not feel that there is anything on the constitutional side of which we need be in fear and which cannot be resolved to our satisfaction.
I add to that, a statement by Mr. Duncan Sandys. I will not quote his words exactly, bu the substance of his statement was that the United Kingdom Government had no intention of bringing before the House of Commons proposals which would involve any derogation of British ssovereignty outside the sphere specifically covered by the Treaty of Rome. I direct attention to the words “ outside the sphere specifically covered by the Treaty of Rome”. That sphere is very wide. He went on to say that what that meant was that derogation of sovereignty did not extend beyond the economic and social spheres set out in the treaty. He also said -
The Government will give no undertaking, implied or otherwise, which would commit Britain to join a European political federation, and, I must add, nor am I sure we shall be asked to do so.
I am sure that the experience of Australian federalism, in reality, over a period of 60 years could, with great advantage, be brought to the understanding of the British Cabinet. The statesmen of 1900 never visualized the extent to which the ambit of the central authority would grow and correspondingly subordinate the provincial parliaments. I believe we can be assured that one of the purposes of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in going abroad is, in discussion, to make clear the reality of an organization such as this in its impact upon the authority of the British Parliament and to direct attention to the constitutional dwarfing that will be caused thereby.
I have referred to these matter because I hope that by discussion honorable senators will be able to clarify my mind on the subject. I find it tremendously complex. I approach it with all the diffidence that comes from my inexperience, and from the fact that this is a European treaty and that I look at it with a knowledge of only the English language and very little knowledge of English law. I suggest that it poses for us questions of importance and responsibility unequalled in times of peace in our experience.
– Mr. President, I thoroughly enjoyed the extraordinarily interesting and erudite dissertation given by Senator Wright. I believe that we should be interested in how these matters, difficult to understand as they may be on occasions, apply to the Australian community and the Australian nation. On a previous occasion I listened to Senator Wright give an exposition of the constitutional make-up and of the governing bodies of the European Economic Community which has been established under the Treaty of Rome. The terms of that treaty govern many matters, but I gather that the organization is referred to overseas as the European Economic Community. I believe that basically it is an economic mechanism. That is why we, the representatives of the Australian people, should look at it from the point of view of the economic interests of Australia and see how it will affect Australia, adversely or favorably.
It is a tragedy that we are discussing this matter on the last night of this sessional period. It is not unusual for the present Government to bring down important measures on the last night of a sessional period. That is so characteristic of this Government that we have become used to it. But we have not become used to being in opposition. The result of the elections on 9th December, 1961, was very close. But for the unfortunate result of a Liberal candidate receiving Communist preferences, the Australian Labour Party might have been in government. This is a big issue, and it is a tragedy that the Government, particularly the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Spooner), should bring on this debate at this time. The debate on this matter in another place was initiated about a fortnight ago and continued last week. Now, on the last night of this sessional period, the Government has provided an opportunity for the Leader of the Opposition in this chamber (Senator McKenna) to present the case for Labour, which he did very ably.
Let us consider the Treaty of Rome and the European Economic Community, or the European Common Market, what they mean to the Australian people, what they could mean ultimately to our nation and how we could be affected adversely. Everybody says that Australia can get other markets; but what is the use of other markets unless those countries can pay for our goods in cash or kind - unless they can sell us machinery for the wheat, sugar or fruit that we sell to them, or establish overseas credits? If they can do that, it is all to the good. But if they cannot do that, they will require the extension of long-term credit, and that is not much use to a young and developing nation such as Australia. That is why I say that the Common Market issue is important.
Over recent weeks we have heard much about one Minister. I am not decrying him as a person - I think he is admirable as a person - but I do not think he has the ability with which the press almost universally has credited him. I am referring to the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen). I shall refer to him more specifically later. I have before me statements made by a man who I believe is the most realistic - or if not the most realistic at least the most idealistic and the most truthful columnist in all Australia. Later I will quote some of his statements verbatim.
I was particularly interested in Senator Wright’s speech to-night, as I was in his speech on the previous occasion when he dealt with the constituent bodies that control and administer the Treaty of Rome, which established the European Economic Community. The treaty is not founded only on an economic basis. It could be much more far-reaching. It could ultimately interfere with sovereignty. Let us examine the treaty. It uses the following words: -
All right. Let us not eliminate this clause. At least it is aimed at ensuring the prosperity of Europe. We had a distinguished visitor here recently who was determined to preserve the prosperity of his nation. I am not denying his right to do that. But we are a nation in our own right and we are determined to preserve our own integrity. However, we are a comparatively small nation. We also find the following aims in the treaty: -
The “ third “ countries include Australia, and I shall deal later with the products of this nation that could be adversely affected. The members of the European Common Market are determined to have free trade amongst themselves and they are determined that any country outside the Common Market shall be excluded from this privilege. They have defined their agricultural policy. They are going to preserve their own agricultural pursuits although their cost structure is as high as ours. Such a policy must adversely affect our exports of sugar, wheat and fruits.
I have heard it said that European political and economic unity was a Churchillian idea. Of course it was. But the idea did not originate with Sir Winston Churchill. Other men have visualized better relations between the States of Europe. Do not let us ignore history Over the centuries, many great men have visualized a federation of Europe, but it was not until the signing of the Treaty of Rome in 1957 that anything realistic was done to achieve this end. The treaty seeks also -
How menacing can this organization be to the Commonwealth of Nations? How worth while can it be to its constituent members? People will be able to move freely from country to country within the European Economic Community which embraces West Germany, France, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg and Italy. It is likely to embrace also the United Kingdom. Greece is already an associate member. Probably the other members of the European Free Trade Association, including Denmark and Norway, will also enter the European Common Market. Consequently, it must become an extraordinarily powerful organization.
It will form a powerful bloc against the Soviet States but the answer to communism does not lie in western Europe alone. The world does not comprise only Europe and the United States of America. There are other continents of which Australia is probably the least important. There are also Africa and South America. If those continents are neglected and there is an extraordinarily powerful bloc in western Europe what might happen to the nations that constitute those continents and what might happen to this continent of ours and its people? So I say that we have an argument which we should put forward in the deliberations that are now taking place.
As usual, the Government has been dilatory and procrastinating. I said at one time, with no real offence to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) that at 65 he was an old procrastinator whereas at 45 he had been a young procrastinator. From 1940 to 1945 Australia was in dire peril. That was martial peril. To-day Australia is in dire peril economically. Its standard of living is likely to be vitiated. This could have been foreseen years ago. Senator Hendrickson and Senator Cooke have been throwing out challenges for years about the Common Market. Their remarks have been arbitrarily brushed aside. Ministers have denounced them. Perhaps they did not know; perhaps they did not care.
It was reported in the press that while the Prime Minister was in Europe he conferred with Dr. Adenauer and General de Gaulle. I understand from the newspapers that Dr. Adenauer told the Prime Minister that it was inevitable, in his opinion, that the United Kingdom would join the Common Market. I think that the Prime Minister should then have realized the implications of the Common Market and should have called for a conference of Prime Ministers and Ministers of Trade of the Commonwealth of Nations to discuss the matter. In a newspaper called “ Muster “ I read recently that the Minister for Trade had not gone overseas to bargain, but only to discuss the position. But when you go into business you go in to bargain. I want to think in these terms: In recent years our adverse trade balances have been more particularly with the United Kingdom and the United States of America than with other countries. The adverse balances with each of those countries have exceeded £100,000,000 a year. Yet we had no bargaining point, apparently, according to the Minister for Trade! He was called Fighting Mac last year and Blunt Mac this year. According to one Canberra correspondent he was hailed as a genius. On his return to Australia he received great headlines in the press, whereas overseas he would not rate the space allotted to a racehorse in a trial gallop. Just how influential was he? Just how ill-timed was his visit?
If he had done what I am about to suggest, we might have had some influence. It was suggested by Labour members in this chamber and in another place last year and the year before that those were the times for us to take action because Australia was not the only country adversely affected under the terms of this treaty. Mr. Holyoake, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, claims that his country will be ruined. Mr. Diefenbaker, the Prime Minister of Canada asserts that his country will be adversely affected. Do not honorable senators think that if members of the Commonwealth of Nations had got together and submitted their case in relation to the dairying, timber, butter, sugar, wheat, dried fruits and fruit juices they might have made a real impression? That should have been dene before it appeared inevitable that the United Kingdom under the government led by Mr. Macmillan not only was anxious to join but was being pushed by the United States into the Common Market. The collective approach earlier might have had a real effect. I ask honorable senators to pardon that digression; I shall deal with the matter more fully later.
The European Economic Community is not only an economic set-up; it is for the free movement of persons, services and capital. I do not propose to deal with it in detail. I take it that every honorable senator has read the Treaty of Rome. Its aim is to have a common approach to human problems. People can move freely from country to country. However, they are still proud enough, I understand, to claim nationality. People can invest in any one of the nations, and the services, such as transport, are to be identical. The ultimate aim is to establish social conditions which are identical in each of the constituent nations.
Conditions and government controls are set out in the treaty. They refer to social relationships, social rights and so on. Provision is made for rights of investment and to finance the development of constituent parts. The members are prepared also to accept responsibility for the dependent territories; but Australia is not a dependent territory. We are not accepted as a dependent territory. I40 not propose to deal with the assembly, the commission, the court, the council and so on.
Turning to the treaty, one finds in detail the tariffs which must adversely affect Australia. When we understand the purpose of the establishment of this set-up, we realize that it must adversely affect such nations as Australia, Canada and the other members of the Commonwealth of Nations. What is the position of our sugar industry? The nations associated with the European Common Market can produce beet sugar. We cannot just send our sugar into any country. We have an agreement with the United Kingdom under which we have been selling 315,000 tons of sugar to that country each year at an agreed price. This year the quantity may be increased to 340,000 tons. The agreed price suits the Australian growers and Australia itself from the standpoint of establishing overseas credits. However, if the United Kingdom enters the European Economic Community, as appears inevitable according to all reports, a tariff will be imposed which will prevent us selling our goods at the cost of production. Whatever the selling price may be, an 80 per cent, tariff will be added to it. How many tons of sugar would we sell under those conditions?
Greece is an associate of the European Economic Community and is being encouraged to increase its production of beet sugar. Other nations are increasing their sugar production. We will not be able to sell sugar.
France grows wheat and other countries of Europe produce dairy items possibly more efficiently than we do. We have been entitled to consideration because we have been good buyers. Yet, to-night we are discussing a particularly big problem which could adversely affect the standard of living in Australia. It could adversely affect the standard of living of every farmer. I do not intend to discuss the position of the graziers because, according to overseas reports, the position of wool seems to be secure. Beef has a reasonable chance of securing a good market, but sugar, wheat, fruit and dairy products may be adversely affected to an extraordinary degree. The Government callously disregards all the rights of the Australian people. Do not forget that it is not only the farmer but also every citizen who will be adversely affected. The towns that are dependent on primary industries could become desolate if Great Britain enters the European Economic Community. I have the greatest admiration for the Leader of the Government in the Senate, but apparently he does not want to preserve the prestige of this House. It seems to me that there is something extraordinarily wrong.
– You do not do a lot for the prestige of the Senate.
– Of course I do. At least the people now know that there is a Senate in existence. Perhaps, Madam Acting Deputy President, I should ask for your protection against interjectors. I need it.
I think it was desirable that the Minister for Trade should have gone overseas. I think it desirable also that representatives of both parties should go overseas, but we want to make our position quite clear. We want to let the Australian people know that there is no tie on the Labour representatives going overseas in connexion with the Common Market. They have the right to look, the right to ask and the right to listen. Having the right to go away, they look and they are not tied to the opinions of the Government. There are no strings to these visits. If there were, I would be completely opposed to them. All the Labour representatives are attempting to do is to save something from the wreckage that has been created by the Government. I doubt whether they can do so, because it is so late in the day, but at least we are honest enough to attempt to do something in the interests of the Australian people and the nation.
As I have said, I think it was desirable that the Minister for Trade should have gone overseas, although it was very late when he did so. He should have gone last year or the year before. He should have gone in 1956, when the Treaty of Rome was proposed. Senator Cooke and Senator Hendrickson both raised this matter. Senator Cooke did so during the debate on a white paper and Senator Hendrickson repeatedly asked questions about the Common Market. I do not think the various Ministers intended to be rude; I think they just did not know how to answer the questions. They just brushed both the senators I have mentioned to one side. Senator Cooke and Senator Hendrickson sought some clarification of Australia’s position if the United Kingdom joined the Common Market. I must admit that the questions were answered, but no clarification was given. As far back as 1959, Dr. Adenauer told the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), according to his own admission as I read it in the press, that it appeared to him inevitable that the United Kingdom would join the Common Market. Now, in 1962, on the eve of the United Kingdom joining the Common Market, the Government sends the Minister for Trade overseas, and he has been called “ Fighting Jack “.
I have here a number of newspaper cuttings. The newspapers have been referring to this matter for two or three years, but I have just picked out these cuttings haphazardly. The first one I wish to refer to is dated 2nd April, 1962, and refers to “Black Jack a Star”. I do not mean to use that expression offensively. The newspaper article reads -
According to the “ Sunday Mail “, “ Black Jack “ McEwen, Country Party Deputy Prime Minister, has turned into the star performer in the drama of the Europe’s Common Market.
This is the man who did not rate more lines in the press than the novice in the trial race -
It is at least a pleasure to learn that he has turned into something useful or entertaining.
The Common Market has been in existence since 1957 and for over three years it has become more and more apparent that the United Kingdom could be forced to join, and two-fisted, hardhitting “ Black Jack “, not so beloved of the cockies, has done nothing.
Now at long last when Blind Freddy can see what is happening, perspicacious Jack sees something! He has even been decent enough to go overseas and tell Europeans the possible dire consequences which could accrue to Australia’s sugar, dairy products, wheat and the fruit industry.
Labour suggested long ago that the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister go to Europe and meet the Prime Ministers and Ministers of Trade of other Commonwealth countries, and after consultation emphasize forcefully to the United Kingdom and other European countries the dire consequences inherent in the conditions of the Treaty of Rome if these conditions were observed to the full.
They must be observed to the full. If they were not observed, this would not be the Treaty of Rome; it would be a new treaty. The article continues -
It was pointed out that benefit’s accruing to the Commonwealth countries did not represent a one-way traffic. The United Kingdom did all right out of it.
Further, it was emphasized that a strongly-knit Western Europe was invaluable in the struggle against Communism, but it must be remembered that the answer to Communism did not lie in Europe alone.
There were the continents of Asia, North America, Africa, and Australia . . .
There was the answer, perhaps, to communism. The article goes on -
Selfishness and self containment are not necessarily the key to success in the battle against Communism. “ Black Jack “ may be a rip-tearer when he gets in the ring, but it does appear that be may have gone into the ring a little late to achieve a knock-out. There is little doubt that the big boys of Europe will hand him a toy to salve his injured pride.
Perhaps it might be more appropriate if we termed Jack the “ bullkeeper “, who did not realize that it is necessary to keep the bull out of the china shop, not let it in and then attempt to repair the pieces.
Mr. McEwen, your publicity men may kid you, and they may kid some others, but they do not kid us, and “ us “ includes Harold Holt, whom you hope to displace in the Prime Ministerial Stakes.
– Can you not get out of the gutter7
– I am quoting from the most realistic, the most idealistic and, I believe, the most truthful columnist in Australia.
– Will you tell us what date it was published?
– That was 2nd April, 1962.
– In what newspaper?
– The “Worker”.
– Now we know where you stand!
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Tangney). - Order!
– I do not mind, Madam. I will carry on when they finish.
– We wanted to know that you read from the “ Worker “.
– Do you want me to table it? Senator Paltridge can ask for it to be tabled. He did so at one time; I can remember that.
– Yes, and you tried to put a rough one over us.
– I beg your pardon, I did what?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Senator Dittmer, I ask you to continue with your speech.
– The newspaper cuttings are here. Do not lean on Senator Paltridge; you can jump up yourself, if you are game enough, and ask for them to be tabled.
– We do not want the “Worker” tabled in the Senate.
– I will have them included in “ Hansard “, irrespective of your rude interjections. Do you mind?
– They are not rude.
– I come now to an article dated 30th April.
– The “ Worker “ again?
– Yes, and if it is true, what is wrong with it? It is realistic and it is factual. It describes the man as he really is, not as the tory press would have the public believe he is. He is being built up in case the Prime Minister desires to retire. You cannot sell the present Treasurer to the Australian public, if you have to go to an election in the next few weeks. You must have some figurehead for the public and the Minister for Trade is being built up as “Battling Jack”, “Fighting Jack “ and “ Big Jack McEwen “. I do not use his surname disrespectfully. Honorable senators know how respectful I am to public figures.
– Never in your life!
– Give me a chance.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Senator Dittmer, I ask you to go on with your speech.
– I am going on with it, and they cannot inferfere with it because these extracts are going in.
– They are from the “ Worker “.
– There are 90,000 people who get it and 120,000 people who read it, so it is worth while having these extracts included in “ Hansard “ for the benefit of the few people in Tasmania who read “Hansard”.
– Are you a shareholder?
– No, I am not a shareholder. This article reads-
A genius? Well …. near enough. Those are the words of the ace correspondent of “ The Courier-Mail “ from Canberra. He is experienced and competent enough to know better. Our words are as follows. A genius? Well very far removed from one and we shall give our reasons.
– Who are “ We “?
– I take it that is the editorial “ We “ or the royal plural. What do you want?
– As long as it is not you, we might believe it.
– No, it is not a leader, it is a column. As I told you, it is the editorial “We” or the royal plural, I would not know. The article continues -
We do not mind how biassed the policy of “ The Courier-Mail “ is.
Incidentally, it can be biased. Then the article says -
The people have come to expect this. But when it comes to the so-called news pages, pages allegedly reporting the truth or facts as they are or should be seen, then there should be no place for gross distortion, or even allowing for the frailty of human preference, then there should be a minimum of distortion.
In “The Courier-Mail” we were told of the toil expended by and the perspiration dripping from “ Black Jack “ McEwen-
As you have just returned to the chamber, Mr. President, I point out that the term “ Black Jack “ is not used out of disrespect for Mr. McEwen or in any derogatory way, although I am conscious that some honorable senators on the other side-
– You have no friends on your own side.
– They are all my friends on this side.
– They look disgusted with you.
– You would think so.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Order!
- Senator Marriott wants to change his glasses, because he cannot be seeing properly. The article stated-
We were told how Mauler McEwen-
Did I hear an honorable senator opposite call for order?
– Order! You may carry on, but I suggest that you should be able to verify the statements you are quoting.
– I know they are true.
– Then that is all right.
– The article continues -
We were told bow Mauler McEwen, previously termed Fighting Mac by “The Courier-Mail”, slugged it out with our great and powerful friends of the other side. Of course he did, but the fact was that he was a year or two years late. Whatever benefits, if any, he may have achieved from his recent visit he could have quadrupled if he and “ Somnolent “ Bob Menzies had had vision enough to have foreseen the entry of the United Kingdom into the Common Market, and had enough energy to arrange a meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers and Ministers of Trade.
Federal Labour Parliamentarians have been harping on the Common Market for years and its probable consequences, but the Federal anti-Labour Ministers have airily brushed them aside.
Come off it, “ Mr. Courier-Mail “. “ Black Jack “ McEwen is no genius - no not even a near genius, and not even a great Australian Parliamentarian. He may be a Titan, relatively, but only because of the minnows who constitute his political bed fellows. He will willingly say that he is a big, raw-boned, horny-handed son of the soil and for this all credit to him. Classify your political figures correctly “ Mr. Courier-Mail “ and this at least will be one good service you render the public - I nearly said your public, but after all you have no “ your public “ because the unfortunate people have no choice.
– Order! Senator Dittmer, you will have to refrain from referring to the Minister for Trade by a nickname. You must refer to him by his proper designation.
– Should I say “ the honorable Minister “?
– That would be in order. You should not refer to him as “ Black Jack “.
– Very well, Sir. I shall ask “ Hansard “ to delete those references, or I shall do so when the proofs of my speech reach me.
– But you are hoping that it will appear in that way in the press to-morrow, are you not?
– I am not particularly interested in whether it appears in the press or not, but I am interested in seeing that the people are told the true story.
– You are only speaking to the press to-night.
– Order! Senator Dittmer should proceed with his speech.
– I am speaking to the nation. I have read from the article of 30th April. Now, let me refer to statements made in the column on 7th May, in order to get these matters in their correct perspective. It should be remembered, Sir, that the Minister for Trade has received high praise in the tory press. The nation was waiting for him to go overseas. He was a little slow in going. We were waiting for his message when he came back. He has received a great deal of publicity. He has subsequently admitted, in his own statement, that he achieved nothing overseas. He was not even prepared to bargain. He said, “ You will get nothing if you bargain “. All he wanted to do was to learn.
– It is a pity you did not follow his example.
– Perhaps I have learned much more than he has; and I am much younger than he is. I turn to the comments that appeared in the column I have mentioned on Monday, 7th May, last. They are as follows: -
For a long time I have written on the CommonMarket, and for some time I have attempted to place the honorable the Minister for Trade, Mr. McEwen, anti-Labour Deputy Prime Minister, in his correct place at the political table. 1 am loath to write about him again, but the recent relatively irresponsible outpourings of Harold Cox, alleged ace commentator of “ The Sunday Mail “ and Michael Charlton, ace tale teller of Four Corners of the A. B.C., and his metropolitan representatives force my hand and I have no alternative but to have a lash again at the much overrated McEwen.
The heading for Mr. Cox’s article in “The Sunday Mail “ of 29th April was: “ Blunt Battler McEwen emerges as the strong man.”*
– I rise to order, Mr. President. I understand that the Standing Orders provide that an honorable senator may not read his speech. Is Senator Dittmer entitled to continue to keep the Senate in session while he reads newspaper reports?
- Senator Dittmer is quoting from newspaper cuttings with the idea of developing his speech. The point of order is not upheld.
– Thank you, Sir. I thought it was a stupid point of order.
– Order! J
– The article continued -
He tells how Mr. McEwen is not swayed by sentiment and how he is personally very much the dictator of national policy on Common Market issues. Of course, Mr. Cox is not on his own in his adulatory balderdash-
I hesitate to use that word - in an endeavour to build Mr. McEwen into a political Atlas. Practically all the other papers have done the same thing.
Then, of course, we have Michael Charlton, who recently devoted most of his time in a session of Four Corners to the same McEwen, and he and his capital city experts practically bent over backwards to tell the story of McEwen’s greatness.
Let us make ourselves quite clear. Not at any time do we want to take anything from the credit due to this man, but we do not want Australians to be confused when it comes to the correct assessment of the political stature of this man, whom the Tories-
Or the Liberals, if there is objection to the word “ tories “ - when next they are jammed, may shove into the role of leader.
To McEwen’s credit is the fact that he has been a successful farmer, he very nearly became Country Party Leader in 1940, he became Leader in 1958 and he has been a Minister for many years-
– I rise to order, Mr. President. I direct your attention to Standing Order No. 419, which states -
No Senator shall digress from the subject-matter of any Question under discussion . . .
The matter before the Senate relates to the European Common Market, a subject to which Senator Dittmer has not referred for quite a long time.
– Senator Dittmer, without doubt you have been round the world in your remarks. If you come back to the subject of the European Common Market you will be on safe ground. You have read very extensively.
– I bow to your decision, Sir, as usual. I am perhaps the most tractable senator in the chamber. The negotiations to protect Australia’s interests in the event of the United Kingdom joining the Common Market are in the hands of Mr. McEwen, the Deputy Prime Minister. That fact has been announced throughout the length and breadth of this country. I think I am in order in discussing the man in whose hands rests the destiny of this nation and of its people - the farmers, the workers in the cities and towns of Queensland, the fruit-growers of Tasmania, the wheat-growers of all States in which wheat is grown, the cane-growers of central and northern Queensland, indeed all the people of Australia. I do not challenge the Leader of the Government. I am used to unfair decisions.
– Order! You have not had to suffer any unfair decisions. Get on with your speech and leave the decisions to me. You must not reflect on the Chair.
Senator DITTMER__ I am not reflecting on you, Sir.
– You are getting very close to it.
– Nothing could be further from my mind. I would not reflect on the occupant of the chair, whether it be Mr. President, Mr. Deputy President, the Chairman of Committees, or any of the temporary chairmen. I think I have had a very good run from all.
– Order! That has nothing to do with the European Common Market. If you get back to the European Common Market, you will be fairly safe.
– Australian products to the value of approximately £170,000,000 are involved in this question. Sugar exports are worth about £30,000,000 a year, dairy products are worth about £32,000,000 a year and wheat returns about £750,000 a year. Then there are those industries which export fresh fruit, dried fruit, fruit juices, and wine. We know that the sugar agreement is to remain in force until 1969 and I understand the beef agreement will continue in operation until about 1967. Those two industries have some prospect of security, but the future of all our other primary industries is at stake. Yet the Leader of the Government will not allow us to discuss the Deputy Prime Minister, the man who is in the public eye at the moment, the man in whose hands the future of Australia lies! Are honorable senators on the Government side frightened? Fighting Mac-
– Order! You have no right to refer to the Minister in that way. I have told you that before.
– I am sorry. I was using a phrase used by the press. I should have referred to the Minister for Trade, the Right Honorable Mr. McEwen. He is the man in whose hands rests the destiny not only of this nation but of its people, including the farmers. The graziers believe they are safe. I hope they are, and I think they are. Wool is faced with competition from synthetics, which may become more severe if synthetics become cheaper. We hope that the beef industry will survive, because we have an agreement which is to operate until 1967. As I have said already, the sugar agreement is to continue in operation until 1969. 1 remind the Senate that the settlement of the north of Australia is not based on the pastoral industry; it is based on the agricultural industries, particularly in Queensland. If the United Kingdom enters the European Common Market, what will happen to towns like Cairns, Babinda, Gordonvale
– Don’t forget Mackay.
– I will come to that. As we come down the coast we come to Townsville, which will survive because of the pastoral and mining industries in the hinterland. Certainly it will be adversely affected, but other towns along the coast could be in a much more serious position. I refer to Ingham, Home Hill, Ayr, Proserpine, Mackay and Mirani. Further still down the coast we have the sugar towns of Bundaberg, Childers, Maryborough and Nambour. They will be seriously affected. Nambour will be affected perhaps to a lesser extent, as will Beenleigh in southern Queensland and towns on the north coast of New South Wales.
– What about Rockhampton?
– What sugar does Rockhampton produce?
– Beef is the industry there.
– I was talking about the sugar industry.
– How about Brisbane?
– No sugar is produced at Brisbane; only refining is done there. Of course, the people there eat it. I do not intend to be diverted.
– Don’t forget the seven days.
– I have had that in mind for the last fortnight. You have no chance of giving me seven days, Mr. President. I think that the Government has been irresponsible and dilatory, as usual. Not for the first time, it has failed to realize the significance of a trend of events. It has not realized the significance of the European Common Market to Australia or its people. It has not realized the significance of the effect of Britain’s entry into the European Common Market on the nation. I do not think that the present Minister for Trade, the Right Honorable J. McEwen, is worthy of the adulatory articles published by the tory or anti-Labour press about him. In fact, I do not think it would be very wide of the mark to say that those articles were published in an attempt to build him up in case there should be a forced election. The Government wanted to be sure that, if necessary, there would be some one to take the place of the present Prime Minister.
I feel that both the Government and the Opposition have a responsibility to realize the significance of the treaty. Its clauses are all-embracing. It does not visualize only trade; it does not visualize just a common market as between the constituent or member countries. It visualizes more than that. It visualizes tariff barriers and social integration. It visualizes a common bloc which ultimately could interfere with the sovereignty of the constituent countries and could have an adverse effect on the nations of the Commonwealth, of which Australia is one.
Having read the provisions of the treaty, the Government had a responsibility to confer with the Prime Minister of Canada and with the leaders of other Commonwealth countries and to discuss with them how the treaty could affect us all and our ways of life. The Government had a responsibility to discuss with those people the means by which we could contribute to the fight against communism, which, although it is not mentioned in the document, must be considered. We cannot fight a strong western European bloc alone. I say that the Government stands charged, not with a callous disregard of the rights of the Australian people, but with an unintelligent approach to the problems of the nation. If there were an election next Saturday, the jury - the Australian public - would find this Government guilty and would condemn it to the political wilderness, from which I hope it would never return.
– This is indeed a very important subject. Despite the late hour, representing the section of the community which I do, I cannot let the opportunity pass to make a few remarks, however brief and however inadequate they may be. At the outset, I should like to congratulate Senator Wright upon the splendid speech that he delivered to-night. It was most instructive and informative and listening to it did all of us good. I was very glad indeed to hear the line adopted by Senator McKenna. He said that this was a matter that should be above party politics. I greatly regret that I cannot extend congratulations also to Senator Dittmer.
– His speech was what we have come to expect from him. He could not resist turning to party politics and traducing a man who stands high in the estimation not only of Australia but also of all other countries that he has visited. I congratulate our Country Party Leader, the Deputy Prime Minister, John McEwen, on the splendid work that he did for Australia during the past few months. I am quite sure that no one in Australia could have done a better job. He receives the thanks of all of us who are capable of evaluating the work that has been done and are prepared to set aside party differences when the future of Australia is at stake.
I do not propose to go into great detail on this matter. There are just a few figures that I should like to put on the record and a few observations that I wish to make. Under the United Kingdom-Australia Trade Agreement, nearly all Australian exports to the United Kingdom are guaranteed dutyfree entry. Tariff preferences are also guaranteed on many important items of trade. On most other items of trade, preferences are enjoyed by Australian goods on a non-guaranteed basis. Thus, foreign goods pay duty, while the Australian product enters duty free. Minimum sales of 750,000 tons of Australian wheat to the United Kingdom each year are assured by the agreement.
The Commonwealth Sugar Agreement runs until 1968. It guarantees Australian sugar producers a market for their sugar - 300,000 tons at a negotiated price which is above world price, plus an outlet for a further 300,000 tons at world price, plus preference. It has been usual every year to extend the duration of the agreement by one year to keep it running for eight years ahead. The fifteen-year meat agreement runs until 1967. It gives Australia the right of unrestricted entry to the United Kingdom market for all shipments of beef, mutton and lamb at guaranteed minimum prices, which are negotiated from time to time. That gives some idea of the value to us of that market and what its loss would mean to Australia, economically and financially.
The European Common Market aims at the removal of all barriers and restrictions on trade between member countries, the setting up of a common agricultural policy, the establishment of a single common tariff for the whole group against imports from the outside world, and harmonization of policies in a number of other fields, such as social services, mobility of labour, and transport. According to the treaty, the transition to complete internal free trade must be completed within twelve years, with a possible extension to fifteen years, but it may be made much sooner.
Those are, very briefly, some of the disadvantages which Australia could suffer if Britain were to enter the Common Market on the basis that she would no longer have with Australia the trade agreements that have existed in the past. I and other speakers to-night have said sufficient to show that Australia’s State in the possible entry of the United Kingdom to the Common Market means so much to us that it is time for plain speaking. We very much regret that our mother country, the United Kingdom, which has in the last 50 years twice saved the world, is forced for selfpreservation to go, almost cap in hand, to the six nations for entry on terms that may very well be not at all to her liking.
We do get comfort from the reiterated statements of Mr. Macmillan, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, that if the issue is between the Commonwealth and the United Kingdom’s entry to the Common Market, the United Kingdom certainly will not join that market. As a backbencher, I want to say something which a Minister possibly could not say. I think that I am voicing the opinion of many Australians to-day when, not in anger but rather in sorrow, I suggest that in the minds of many of us there is, with some justification, a fear that the United Kingdom is endeavouring to placate so many of the newer members of the Commonwealth that she is apt to turn her back on those members of the Commonwealth who have stood by her and proved their loyalty to her in the past. I reiterate that that statement is not made in anger. I make it with regret and, I am afraid, with some justification. We should hardly be called upon to remind the United Kingdom of the loyalty and help that we have given her over the years and of our readiness to do the same again whenever the occasion arises. 1 turn now to the United States of America. This is a very important nation indeed, which was at one time in much the same position as that in which we are now. She has risen to great heights and great power. But we can say with some justification that she could not have risen to her present position had she been subjected to the stifling that she now proposes to apply to us. I sincerely hope that that fact will be regarded by those who are in control of that great nation, with which we are very friendly. We look upon Americans as cousins. We hope that we shall get from them a better deal than appears likely at the present time.
There is another factor. We give the United States of America great credit indeed for her efforts to build up the economy of very many countries. She is doing this, in many instances to win friends, and in most instances to try to prevent further extension of the Communist bloc. But I take this opportunity of reminding her that Australia has proved her friendship and, indeed, loyalty to the United States of America as an ally. We have provided her with bases and given her what help we could. She certainly has not any basis for qualms about our becoming part of the Communist bloc, yet she has just taken for granted that we shall go along in the same old merry fashion. I believe that she should not take our loyalty and help for granted. By comparison with the United States of Amercia, we are a very small potato. Still we have our uses as an ally. We have proved our usefulness in the past in providing bases for the United States of America. Within the next few months she will be conducting tests which would be difficult for her to complete if we had not arranged to make available to her our testing ground at Woomera.
– We are a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, too.
– I agree. That is one of the other dangers that I see. Most of us recognize that if the United Kingdom is forced into the European Common Market it will inevitably lead to a further weakening of Commonwealth ties. We do not want that. I suppose we must accept the fact that this may come about but we do not look forward to it with any pleasure.
I also remind the United States of America that twice in the past 50 years, Great Britain has saved the world. She had to take the brunt of the fighting in two world wars while the United States got ready to take its part. We in Australia did not hesitate. We did not wait for two or three years. When Great Britain was in danger, we went to her assistance at once. Thought could be given to those historical facts when these negotiations are proceeding.
I am very pleased that the Opposition will send representatives overseas when discussions on the European Common Market are taking place. That must do much good for Australia. I do not think that Australia could do anything else but have full representation at these meetings. I congratulate both the Government and the Opposition upon their approach to this matter without party politics. AH concerned are approaching this matter as Australians and are endeavouring to see that if the United Kingdom goes into the European Common Market it does so on the best of terms for herself and for Australia. Mr. President, I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– On 2nd May, Senator Sandford asked me the following question: -
Is it a fact that direct dialling facilities are now available on telephone services between Sydney and Canberra and that such facilities are not yet possible for Melbourne telephone subscribers who wish to call numbers in Sydney? If the answer is in the affirmative, when is it expected that direct dialling will be possible between Melbourne and Sydney?
The Postmaster-General has now furnished me with the following information in reply: -
I should like to explain that in keeping with the telephone policy, which I announced in August, 1959, the Post Office is pressing forward with the plans which will ultimately enable telephone users to dial all other subscribers in Australia. However, these plans are necessarily of a long-term nature and will take many years to achieve. The main problems to overcome are the provision of adequate numbers of high-quality telephone circuits between centres and the installation of exchange equipment for the automatic switching and charging of subscriber dialled calls.
So far, subscriber trunk dialling installations have been effected primarily at centres where the manual exchange was unable to satisfactorily handle all of the calls offering and where the availability of adequate trunk lines could be assured. The provision of broad-band radio and coaxial cable systems on the more important trunk line routes is preparing the way for the further extension of subscriber trunk dialling service. Prior to the introduction of direct dialling from Canberra to Sydney, this type of service had been limited to selected routes of less than 100 miles, the longest being that between Newcastle and Sydney. The Canberra-Sydney route was selected as being the most suitable on which to gain experience of subscriber dialling over longer distances from the viewpoint of both performance of equipment and subscribers’ acceptance of the service.
Exchange equipment currently in use is of a type known as step-by-step. Much of it is unsuitable for the addition of the subscriber trunk dialling facility. However, as you may already know, crossbar type exchange equipment, which is new to Australia, has been adopted for the future development of the national telephone system. This equipment possesses all of the features necessary for the establishment of nation-wide subscriber dialling but, as yet, purchases of crossbar equipment have been limited to that designed for local call service for which there is by far the greater immediate demand. Some time must therefore elapse before trunk switching equipment will be available for the full-scale extension of subscriber trunk dialling.
The department is anxious to provide subscriber trunk dialling from Melbourne to Sydney as soon as practicable and the matter is currently under review. However, equipment limitations as mentioned above make it impossible to indicate at this stage when this can be achieved.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
What is the difference between nationality and citizenship?
– The Minister for Immigration has supplied the following answer: -
Insofar as either of these terms, nationality or citizenship, is used to denote the national status or country to which a person belongs, there is really no difference between them. However, as used in the British Commonwealth of Nations, citizenship denotes the particular country of the Commonwealth to which a person belongs, while nationality refers to the wider common status of British subject that still exists within the Commonwealth. Hence, an Australian is both an Australian citizen and a British subject.
– by leave - Mr. President, we come to the end of a sessional period of the Senate and I should like to complete the proceedings with a few general remarks. The thought dominating our minds to-night is that the new Senate, when it meets in a few months’ time, will be much different from the Senate that sits here to-night. We are to lose from our ranks no fewer than twelve of our members. On the Government side we will lose Senator Sir Neil O’sullivan, Senators Reid, McCallum, Wardlaw, Agnes Robertson, and Davidson, and on the Opposition side Senators Donald Cameron, Sheehan, Armstrong, McManus, Courtice and 0’Flaherty. I think it would be quite impracticable for me to attempt to deal with the virtues of each of those senators. Some of them have been here for many years. We would like all of them to know that they are held in high regard by all who sit on the Government side of the Senate.
One retiring senator is not with us to-night. He has been very ill indeed. We all rejoice to know that he is recovering. I refer to Senator Albert Reid. We think to-night of his many good and endearing qualities and the high position he has held in the Senate. We regret that he did not seek re-election.
To all those who are leaving we say most deliberately, “ Au revoir “ and not “ Goodbye “. We hope we shall see all these retiring senators back in Canberra. We hope that they will remember where we live here and that when they return to Canberra we shall have the pleasure of meeting them again. Good luck to all twelve of you!
I want to extend congratulations in particular to the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator McKenna) on his selection to go overseas as a representative of the Australian Labour Party at the inquiries into the European Common Market. We can say many harsh things about him from time to time, but we could never say, wherever he was, that he was not working hard at something. It is interesting that after his many years of service in the Parliament, this is Senator McKenna’s first trip overseas. I am certain that he will not change his political views, but I am equally certain that the work that he does on this trip will be for the benefit of Australia.
I take the opportunity to extend in a minor key congratulations to the other three members of the Senate who have won trips overseas during the past few weeks. It is true that the trips do not commence immediately but it must be a great satisfaction to them, as it is a pleasure to us, to know that they are now certain that they will have these opportunities to travel.
We all look forward with a great deal of interest to the next sessional period. The numbers will be even and the situation will revert to that which existed some years ago. I face it with a good deal of confidence. Our experiences when the numbers have been even have illustrated that the Senate is not likely to act arbitrarily. I think we will get the right answers in the right way even though I suspect that the going may be a little harder for the Government than it has been in the current sessional period.
I have nothing more to say. This has been an arduous session. I say to my colleagues in the Government - without suggesting any other situation on the opposite side of the chamber - that I am happy in the thought of how well we have worked together as a team and of the friendships that we have formed between ourselves in the work that we have done. It is the old story - friendship is always based on respect. When you work well together the bonds of friendship become stronger.
So, Mr. President, I wish all honorable senators a well-earned respite from their labours, commencing with you and from you to all honorable senators, the clerks at the table and the attendants who help us in our work.
– by leave - I welcome the opportunity to say a few words at the end of the session. I begin first with a reference to the twelve who are leaving us. With one exception, they are all gentlemen. The exception is Senator Agnes Robertson. Looking down the years from the time that I first came to this place and thinking of the twelve who are leaving I can say truthfully, despite all the activity in which I have to engage as Leader of the Opposition, that I have never had a personal difference with any one of them. So they leave not only without any feeling of rancour, but also with my respect, the respect of all of us and with a very deep regard - particularly affectionate regard for the men on my own side with whom I have worked very closely, with three of whom I have had the honor of serving in a Federal Cabinet. I refer to Senator Courtice, Senator Armstrong, and Senator Cameron. The fourth ex-Minister who retires is my own friend and contestant, Senator Sir Neil O’sullivan. This is a very distinguished company which has played its part in Australia’s affairs.
Men like Senators O’Flaherty, Courtice, Armstrong, Sheehan and Cameron are stalwarts of our party and they leave the Senate with unsullied records. We have met them on a number of occasions in recent weeks and have told them what we think of them and all that is in our heart about them. I shall not go into it again. They know that they leave with our best wishes. I say that to all senators who are retiring. I hope that two of them will return. In particular, I hope that the fates will be kind enough to send Senator Armstrong back to this place at some time in the future. I made a prophecy six months ago that we would be seeing Senator Davidson again, and I was right for once in my efforts as a prophet. I say the same thing to him again. I hope and believe that he also will return.
I join with Senator Spooner in expressing good wishes to Senator Albert Reid. All my colleagues join with me in my joy that he is recovering. I shall not refer to each of the others in turn but I ask them to accept from myself and my colleagues expressions of our greatest respect and our warmest regards.
I want to refer now to the Australian Democratic Labour Party. Senator McManus is to leave us. I say to him that we respect his personal qualities and his fighting capacity, and that his withdrawal from the Senate will be a distinct subtraction from its debating strength. We wish him well in his personal capacity but not in his political capacity.
I should like to thank Senator Spooner particularly for his kindly reference to the mission with which I have been entrusted on behalf, I feel, not merely of the Labour Party but also of our country. I appreciate the way in which his references were received by both sides of the Senate. I shall certainly do my best.
I want to refer now to one other event which will take place before we return - the departure of our housekeeper, Mr. Joe Marshall. He has been here since I first came to this place. I want to place on record the appreciation of us all - I think I may speak for all honorable senators - for his cheerful presence and his ever-ready co-operation day and night. We wish him and his wife a long, happy and healthy retirement.
Senator Spooner, Mr. President, always thinks that Christmas falls at about this time of the year. I thought all references to you and the staff were saved until Christmas. I remind him that the conflict is only about to begin, but as he has embarked upon it I join him in his references to yourself and to the staff. I wish honorable senators, the staff, the attendants and every one else a thoroughly good rest during this recess. These are occasions when after a heavy day and a number of speeches, one’s mind does not function as well as it usually does. Accordingly if there is anything I should have said about any one whom I have not mentioned, please excuse me and accept the fact that it is an omission by inadvertence and not by intent.
– by leave - I admit quite frankly that the retirement of two of our distinguished Country Party senators will leave my party the poorer. Senator Agnes Robertson is a very great lady in her own right. Richly endowed with outstanding qualities she has spent a lifetime in serving the community, and her contributions in the National Parliament carry the hallmark of quality. We, too, wish her well in her retirement.
I speak with an even deeper note of regret in my references to Senator Albert Reid, who is absent as a result of a very serious indisposition. We rejoice that he is slowly but surely making a recovery. As a man, Albert Reid’s carriage and bearing exemplify his character. “ Straight “ is the one word which describes adequately all his actions. He is energetic and forceful, but always kindly. At an early age he went overseas on active service. He was awarded the Military Cross and was mentioned in despatches. He was discharged with the rank of major. On the second occasion when his country was threatened he again volunteered his services and served with Headquarters, Eastern Command, in the rank of lieutenant-colonel. Senator Reid graced this place for twelve years and his conduct on every occasion was a model of parliamentary behaviour. As Chairman of Committees for almost nine years, he brought dignity, precision, and impartiality to his high office, and earned the affection of honorable senators on both sides of the chamber. His Country Party colleagues who remain pray that he soon will be returned to full health, and hope that he and his wife will enjoy a long period of retirement.
To my retiring colleagues on this side of the chamber and to my personal friends opposite I say quite sincerely that you have played the political game with a straight bat. We wish you well in your retirement.
– by leave - I should like to say farewell to those honorable senators who are about to leave this place. When we return after 30th June, it will be rather strange for a while as twelve honorable senators will have been replaced. Speaking for my own part, I shall miss Senator McManus who has made an outstanding contribution to the work of this chamber. I am sure that all honorable senators will agree that he has done much to enliven and enhance the debates of the Senate. I should like to thank the Leader of the Government (Senator Spooner) and the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) for the courtesies they have extended to my party. I hope that my farewell in the case of my colleague, Senator
McManus, will apply for a limited time only. In view of the contribution that he has made to the work of the Senate, I am sure most honorable senators will agree with me that on his return to the Senate he will be appreciated as much in this chamber as he is now.
– by leave - I desire to refer particularly to the retirement of Senator Albert Reid. As honorable senators are aware, since I have been in the Senate I have been very closely associated with him. I was associated with him also prior to my coming here. I say unhesitatingly that Albert Reid is the most unselfish man I have ever met. He has always put thought of self last. His first thought since I have known him has been for the welfare of his country and the good df his party. He was deeply attached to his family, being blessed with an exceptional wife. With very great pleasure indeed, I join with other honorable senators in paying a tribute to the work that he has done not only in this Parliament, but also in the Parliament of New South Wales in which he served as a Minister. I think his political career has extended over a period of about 30 years.
Mention has been made of Senator Reid’s service in World War I. and also - in a minor capacity compared with his service in World War I.- in World War II. He endeavoured to come back to say farewell personally to all his friends in the Senate, and it has been a great disappointment to him that his health has not permitted him to do so. He has asked me time and time again to convey his greetings to you all; and I might say I have faithfully discharged the injunction of many honorable senators, on both sides of the chamber, to convey their best wishes to him. I wish to put on record my appreciation of the work that Albert Reid has done for Australia and particularly for New South Wales. I join with the leaders of the parties in the Senate in wishing him a speedy return to health and a happy retirement.
– I whole-heartedly endorse the kindly references to Senator Albert Reid. Over a number of years I have been directly associated with him in the work of this chamber. No one could have a more loyal friend or a colleague of sounder judgment. Whatever success has been evident in the management of this chamber has been due largely to the very kindly and sympathetic support that I have received from him. I wish to place that fact on record. Without doubt he has made a tremendous contribution to the effective management of the Senate during the years that he has been Chairman of Committees.
Personally, I shall miss him greatly. He was loyal, friendly and kindly. Possessing these qualities he exihibited a great capacity in faithfully discharging the duties of the position of Chairman of Committees. I regret that my association with Senator Reid in parliamentary activities is ending. I shall always remember with considerable pleasure the years during which we have worked together. At the same time, I greatly regret that his health failed in the latter stages of his parliamentary career.
Of the retiring senators, I should like to mention that Senator Agnes Robertson, Senator John McCallum, Senator McManus and Senator Sheehan were closely associated with me on the Library Committee. During that association tremendous changes have taken place in the library. We have seen the Parliamentary Library pass from the control of the National Library to that of a council. A lot of work was carried out to ensure that the change-over took place on the most amicable terms. Out of that arrangement will emerge a great National Library and an equally great Parliamentary Library of which honorable senators will have every reason to be proud. I thank sincerely the four senators whom I have mentioned for the services they have rendered to the Library Committee.
I should like, as Senator McKenna did, to refer to the retirement of the housekeeper after a long period of service. He has done a splendid job. We do not come into contact frequently with various members of the parliamentary staffs. They -carry out their work unobtrusively, but whenever we meet them we find them to be efficient, kindly and courteous.
I sincerely thank the leaders of the various parties for their kindly references to myself.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave of absence be granted to every member of the Senate from the termination of the sitting this day to the day on which the Senate next meets.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till a day and hour to be fixed by the President, which time of meeting shall be notified to each senator by telegram or letter.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Mr. President, after having listened to all the nice things said about me, I think it is only fitting that I say a few words of thanks and appreciation to all those who have been so kind to me during my long stay in the Senate. Particularly do I thank you, Sir, for your never-failing kindness and courtesy. I give thanks also to the staff and especially to my colleagues in the Australian Labour Party and to my friends on the opposite side of the chamber. At all times during my quarter of a century in this place, I have believed that I could meet any one here in the corridors adjacent to this chamber and look him straight in the eye and full in the face and feel that he was my friend. I am sure that no one here bears malice towards me.
I greatly appreciate the privilege that I have had in being a representative of Queensland and of the people of Australia generally in this place for so long a time. That privilege is very great indeed, and I hope that for others it will exist for a very long time. I hope that the Senate will continue in existence as an illustrious place for a very long time indeed. I believe that this House has a great function to perform as a very valuable part of our system of government, and I am sure that as time passes the Senate’s value will be enhanced rather than diminished.
I do not want to delay honorable senators, but, as one of the twelve disciples who are leaving this place, I should like to say that I go out of the Senate with a feeling of considerable satisfaction, not at my departure from it, but at the thought of the part that I, along with other honorable senators, have been able to play here. On leaving the Senate, one finds very difficult the assessment of one’s feelings. Perhaps, after a little while, as I continue on in recess, as it were, I shall wonder why I am not going to Canberra, and I shall then realize how much I shall miss a lot of friends that I have made here. However, I shall always have the satisfaction of knowing that whatever we advocate in this Parliament, and however strongly we feel about the matters that we take up, time changes all things. In recent times, I have seen the Government doing things that would have been thought terrible things for a government to do when I first came into the Senate. Any government that did in those days the sort of things that this Government now does would have been regarded as a collection of red-raggers. As I have said, time changes all things. For instance, I never thought that a man like Senator Spooner would be ably controlling a great socialistic enterprise, and the change that has come upon him is a great satisfaction to me.
I am one of those who believe that as time passes we all shall come to have a better recognition of the fact that this nation can be great only if we all serve it well. This applies to all sections of the people. I have never thought that one section of the community should get something at the expense of another. I have never said or thought that if this nation is to be great we can afford to have any section of the community not pulling its weight. We can make this nation great and maintain our standards only if all sections of the people do their best for this wonderful country.
I thank you all for your great courtesy, kindness and friendship, from the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) down. I leave this place with no feeling of rancour or of bitterness towards any member of the Parliament. As I have said before, I am philosophical enough to believe that, when I come to Canberra at some time - I would very much like to visit this city again when the lakes have filled - and find Senator McKenna sitting on the opposite side of the table, I shall be able to renew friendships and contacts with so many decent people who are in this place.
– Mr. President and colleagues, I used to think that appearing before a party selection committee was the most searching thing that ever happened to anybody. However, I now think that there is something perhaps even worse, though, in a sense, it leaves a more pleasant taste. That is the experience of having people saying farewell to one over a period of about three weeks - an experience through which I have been going recently. Really, it has been a wonderful one. In fact, I feel encouraged to emulate the Presbyterian minister who had been a very popular figure with the members of his church and who was being farewelled. Not that I have not been popular; I am sure I am the most popular person here! After many nice things had been said about the minister at his farewell, he responded: “I had no idea that you thought so well of me. Now that you have expressed yourselves in this way, I shall settle down and stay with you”. So you never know when I may appear again among you.
I thank you, Mr. President, for your extreme courtesy during all the time that I have been here. Indeed, I thank all three honorable senators who have been President during my service in this place. When I became a member of the Senate, Senator Brown was President, and he was followed by Senator Mattner. I thank Ministers also, and particularly the Leader of the Government (Senator Spooner). I thank the “ Hansard “ staff, too, and also the reporters in the press gallery who sometimes have reported me faithfully. I thank all members of the staff and all those honorable senators on both sides of the House who have been so kind to me. Colleagues everywhere have, indeed, been more than kind.
My service of twelve and a half years here has been a wonderful experience for me. I think we all come here with very high hopes. I think that a story that I told earlier at another gathering could well be told at this point. Do those honorable senators who heard it agree?
– Let us have it.
– Some one suggested once that I ought to appear in films. I think now that perhaps I shall, and when you are watching television here you may see me imitating some of the things that are done here.
Now to my story. It is about a girl who was to be married. She said to her father, “I am sure I shall be so nervous that I will faint as you walk me down the aisle “. Her father said: “ That is a stupid way to look at it. You will be quite all right if you just fix your mind on three things - the aisle, the alter which you are approaching and the hymn that the people in the church will be singing”. His daughter replied, “That is a great idea: I’ll alter him ‘.” She went down the aisle quite bravely with that thought in her mind. I think we all come into the Parliament thinking to ourselves, “ I’ll alter this and I’ll alter that”. But things do not always work out quite like that.
I very much appreciate all that we have tried to do in putting through legislation. We are living through very troublous times, and I hope and pray that this Parliament will continue its successful work and that this Commonwealth will become, as we all want it to be, one of the greatest nations in the world. I thank you all.
– Mr. President, I should like to say a few words on behalf of the irremovable object which no irresistible force has been able to move. First of all, I thank you, Sir Alister McMullin, for the kindness and impartiality with which you have dealt with the members of the party to which I belong. I am sorry that Senator Albert Reid, the Chairman of Committees, is not present this evening. He has always impressed me by the manner in which he has applied the forms of the House. I have always been impressed, also, by the manner in which the officers of the Senate, not all of whom are present here this evening, have guided the footsteps of those who have been chosen by honorable senators to lead and control the senate. I thank them for their willingness to assist us whenever we have been in a bit of a fog as to how we should proceed.
As for the Government senators who are retiring, I wish them well. I have met
Senator Sir Neil O’sullivan socially on a number of occasions. I have admired him for his kindly outlook towards everybody wilh whom he has been associated. I must admit to being an admirer of Senator Agnes Robertson. Having seen the courage and determination with which she has fought for causes in which she has believed. I have no difficulty in believing the old traditions that say that Scotland was colonized originally from Ireland.
Because of the unusual circumstances of my entry into the Senate I have at times clashed with members of the Opposition and some reference has been made to communism. I leave this Senate with this thought: I am sure that not one member on this side of the chamber has the slightest time for communism. I am sure that all members of the Labour Party are good Australians. They may have disagreed with me on occasions, but that is their privilege. I have always admired the contributions made to debates by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). I have also admired the contributions made by some of his colleagues.
There is in north Melbourne a college named St. Joseph’s College. It is rather interesting to recall that it has the privilege, or the notoriety, depending on your point of view, of numbering among its old boys Mr. Arthur Calwell, Senator Nicholas McKenna and, of course, in very much descending order, myself. It may be of interest to add that another old boy of that college is a. gentleman by the name of Mr. B. Santamaria. An educational institution that can boast, or be ashamed, of having produced Arthur Calwell, Nick McKenna, myself and Bob Santamaria has something to be proud of, or to answer for.
Although I leave this Senate I do so without any hard feelings or malice towards anybody. Politics is a tough game. I was reared in the Labour Party in the old days, where you learned to play it tough; where you learned to take it and to give it. In the early days of my political career I observed with interest and admiration the ability and determination of Senator Kennelly. We did not always agree. At times we clashed, but I admired his ability to achieve the result that he sought. 1 am very proud to have been a member of the Senate. The Senate does not always get the press that it deserves. I am not complaining about those who work in the press gallery of the Senate, because the most determined strictures that are levelled at us come usually from pressmen who are never seen in the Senate. I believe that the Senate plays a very powerful part in the government of this country, and I regard it as a privilege to have been a member of it. I leave it without malice towards anybody. I leave it with goodwill towards every member of it whom I have met during my six years here.
– This is the last occasion on which I will have the privilege of addressing this Senate. I admit that I leave with feelings of very great regret. But those feelings are mingled with many happy thoughts and pleasant memories. I will always look back on my association with the Senate as a happy one. I express thanks to you, Mr. President, to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, to the Ministers, to my colleagues on this side, to the Leader of the Opposition and to honorable senators opposite for the courtesy that has been extended to me during my term here.
I have made many firm friends during my stay here. I am proud to say that those friends are not all on this side of the chamber. I will always treasure the memory of my term as a senator. I have been honoured to represent Tasmania, and I greatly appreciate the confidence that the people of Tasmania expressed in me by electing me to the Senate on two occasions. I am deeply conscious of the honour that they bestowed on me.
I have pleasant memories of my association with the Menzies Government. I am proud to have been associated with a government that has done so much for Australia. I do not think that any government in the history of this country has done more for it than has the Menzies Government.
To all honorable senators I extend my goodwill. I wish everybody much happiness and good health. I hope that those of you who intend to seek re-election to the Senate will be returned and will long represent your States. Once again I thank all of you for the nice things that you have said about me.
– Mr. President, may I acknowledge briefly the expressions of goodwill towards me. I appreciate the good fellowship that has been extended to me by you, Mr. President, by my colleagues on this side of the chamber and by honorable senators opposite. I am also grateful for the courtesy extended to me by members of the various staffs associated with the Parliament. I am particularly appreciative of the goodwill of the Ministers. I am grateful to Senator McKenna for his references to me personally. It goes without saying that I hope that his prophesy will be fulfilled and that I shall have another opportunity to serve this country of which I am very proud.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 12.38 a.m. (Friday) till a day and hour to be fixed by the President.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 17 May 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1962/19620517_senate_24_s21/>.