5 December 1962

24th Parliament · 1st Session

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.

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Senator MURPHY:

– I ask the Minister for Health: Does the Commonwealth Department of Health have a research section? If so, what work is being done by it, particularly in connexion with the administration, planning and organization of hospitals?

Senator WADE:
Minister for Health · VICTORIA · CP

– This is not a question that can be answered in a few words. As I understand, the honorable senator asks whether we have a research section. We have the National Health and Medical Research Council, which does a great deal of research into all aspects of hospitals and health, but, generally speaking, that council acts only in an advisory capacity. It has responsibilities other than those in relation to research. We have no facilities comparable to those in the teaching hospitals in which to conduct research. The teaching hospitals in this country are adequately equipped for research work. They and the universities undertake general research work in connexion with health and medicine. We have a very lively interest in that work, but I must confess that our activities are confined to co-ordinating and advising.

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Senator BRANSON:

– i ask the Minister representing the Minister for Air whether it is a fact that Aircraftman John Crouch is still living in the guardhouse at the Royal Australian Air Force station at Darwin. Is it a fact that he stays there all day and does not go to work? As he is not carrying out his duties as a serviceman, has the Minister considered suspending his pay for the period that he has not been working? Could not his actions which precipitated the present position be considered to be in the same category as a self-inflicted wound?

Senator WADE:

– My understanding of the position is that this airman is still sleeping in the guardhouse and that, although he is not at present employed in his mustering as a guard, he is performing other duties on the base. Apart from creating a nuisance, for which he has been warned, he has contravened no service regulations. I am sure the Senate will be interested to learn that Crouch has applied for his discharge, and that that application is now being processed through the normal channels.

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Senator BROWN:

– I should like to ask the Minister for Health a few questions. In these drug-injecting and drug-taking days, the public is eager for information, which I hope the Minister can supply. In view of the discovery of the dreadfully dangerous and deforming nature of the drug distaval, can the Minister inform the Senate of the names of other drugs that are suspect and are the subject of investigation? A correspondent has asked me whether the attention of the Minister has been directed to the danger of the promiscuous ingestation of pharmaceutical compounds containing phenacetin. Can the Minister say whether phenacetin is a dangerous drug?

Senator WADE:

– As a layman, or even if I were a professional man, I would not be brave enough to stand up in a public place and suggest, off the cuff, that a particular drug was suspect. One has to be very well informed and very strongly fortified by evidence before making such a suggestion. However, I can inform the honorable senator that my department is particularly interested in this aspect of its responsibilities in the field of public health. In the very near future I shall be in a position to make an announcement regarding at least one drug about which we are very concerned, and in respect of which appropriate action is being taken.

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Senator LAUGHT:

– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Trade been directed to an article published in the Adelaide “ News “ yesterday under the date line “ Kuala Lumpur, Monday “, and under the heading “ Malayans see Australian materials “? I point out that the article stated that hundreds of Kuala Lumpur builders, contractors, architects, and government construction authorities had visited the Australian building materials trade mission display of products at the Hotel Merlin since the display opened last Wednesday. In the light of the great impact which this display has made in Kuala Lumpur, is it likely to be shown in other areas of South-East Asia before it is dismantled?

Senator SPOONER:
Minister for National Development · NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– As Senator Laught will be aware, this is the first trade mission which has specialized in a particular activity. It has been quite successful, and an appreciable volume of sales has been made. The mission will return to Australia within the next day or so. When it returns, a report will be made and considered by my colleague, the Minister for Trade. More than that, I cannot say. I think it is too late now to contemplate moving the display to another site, as the mission is due back within the next 24 hours or so.

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– My question is directed to the Minister for Health. Is he aware of the activities of the Medical Services Committee of Inquiry for New South Wales which is summoning before it doctors who provide pensioner medical services and is questioning them regarding those services? Whilst I agree that in some instances inquiries may be justified, I ask the Minister whether he is aware that members of the medical profession have claimed that the innocent are being treated as if they were guilty men who have been committing serious breaches, with the result that many doctors are afraid to attend pensioners for fear of being summoned before the committee? Further, I ask the Minister whether he will watch closely the activities of this committee with a view to preventing it from intimidating members of the medical profession, which could result in the deterioration of medical services to pensioners.

Senator WADE:

– This committee was set up by the Parliament by legislation to inquire into matters that may be referred to it by my department. Those matters are encompassed within several fields. To suggest that innocent people are being victimized or intimidated is quite wrong and unjust. When a medical man is asked to explain his doings - it may be in regard to a complaint of over-visiting, or some other matter relating to visits - he is invited to produce his clinical evidence to support his visits. That evidence is examined by the committee. If, in the wisdom of the medical men who compose the committee, and who have been appointed from the profession, those visits are considered to be justified, no further action is taken. If, after investigation of the clinical evidence, the committee seeks further information on the subject, it invites the doctor concerned to attend. He may have legal representation. I invite any honorable senator who suggests that the inquiry is something of an inquisition to discuss with me the processes that he thinks should be adopted. The present procedure is in the nature of an inquiry between professional men, and if the committee in its wisdom is of the opinion that some misdemeanour has occurred, I am advised accordingly.

Rather than have an impression go abroad that the Australian medical profession is incensed by what the honorable senator has said could be happening, I give an assurance that medical mcn are so jealous of the reputation of their profession that they support this Government and the Department of Health in all the efforts they make to have the legislation properly implemented. Finally, neither the Government nor my department has ever indicated to a medical man that he should not visit, or receive visits from, a patient.

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Senator PROWSE:

– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry inform the Senate of the reasons for the considerable disparity between the freight rates for apples and pears from Australia and New Zealand to Europe, and from South Africa to Europe?

Senator WADE:

– I cannot answer the honorable senator in a few words. This is not a matter of pence per lb. or miles to be traversed. I think that perhaps I could be of more service to the honorable senator if I gave him a written explanation.

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Senator ORMONDE:

– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Does the Government intend to establish a consumers’ council to discuss and report upon consumer problems in Australia? Is the Leader of the Government aware that the governments of the United States of America and the United Kingdom have established such councils in their respective countries?

Senator SPOONER:

– I can only say in reply to the honorable senator that I have not heard of any such proposal being canvassed by the Government, nor have I heard of any such request being made or being under consideration.

Senator BISHOP:

– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade. Has the attention of the Government been directed to statements by the High Commissioner for Pakistan, Mr. K. M. Kaiser, as reported in the Adelaide “ Advertiser “ of 3rd December, that Australia could do more to help Asian countries by extending long-term commercial credits to them? Mr. Kaiser also said that there was plenty of scope for further trade between Australia and Pakistan on that basis. Will the Minister explore the views presented by the High Commissioner for Pakistan?

Senator SPOONER:

– This is a point of view that is quite frequently put forward. The Government set out to meet the situation several years ago when it established the Export Payments Insurance Corporation. I saw some figures recently, which unfortunately do not remain in my mind at the moment, but which showed that that corporation is expanding its business. I would think that, at this stage, the policy being pursued by the Government is the appropriate one.

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Senator WRIGHT:

– I direct a question to you, Mr. President. Some weeks ago I directed a question to the Leader of the Government quite seriously, but he preferred to treat it in fun. It relates to the protection of the valuable and beautiful floor of King’s Hall in Parliament House from damage that is avoidable. If Mr. Speaker is, as he has said, so nervous about even suggesting to women what they should wear or should not wear, is it not within the capacity of those who are responsible for the proper custody of property in this build ing to formulate rules so that people wearing damaging footwear can be kept in channels which are especially protected by rubber matting or something of that sort to prevent damage to that lovely and most costly floor?


– I thank Senator Wright for his question. I know that the matter has been of interest to a large number of honorable senators, and I shall be pleased to confer with Mr. Speaker on it. Whilst I am of opinion that the laying of rubber runners round the perimeter of King’s Hall would detract from the general appearance of the hall, I think that consideration must be given at the appropriate time to having this done. There is no doubt that it would tend to minimize the damage at present being done. However, I point out that when the floor was laid in 1960 it was known that because of natural shrinkage it would have to be resanded and filled. Provision will be made to have this work carried out in the 1963-64 financial year and the question of providing rubber runners will then be considered. It is fair enough to say that if we put runners down now we shall have to take them up for the sanding, and probably it will be better to do all the work in one operation. We are well aware of the damage being done, unfortunately, by stiletto heels worn by women visitors.

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Senator MURPHY:

– I direct a question to the Minister for National Development. Has the coal industry improved its efficiency and increased its productivity over recent years? Have its traditional markets in Australia been greatly affected by the use of residual oil? Is it true that increased unemployment is likely in the coal industry? What steps will the Government take to avert such unemployment?

Senator SPOONER:

– The answer to the first question is, “ Yes “. The answer to the second question is, “Yes”. The coalmining industry has lost some 2,750,000 tons of coal under conditions of competition with fuel oil. The answer to the third question is, “ I do not think so “. I think that the trend in the coal-mining industry overall - I emphasize “ overall “ - will be a gradual, not spectacular, increase in local sales, and the possibility of quite an appreciable increase in export sales. It hai to be remembered that there are various coals in various coalfields and conditions on one coalfield vary from conditions on another. Overall, I should think a fair estimate is that coal will, at the least, maintain its present level of production, perhaps with fewer employees. Perhaps, on the other hand, there may be increased production and increased turnover.

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– Has the Minister representing the Prime Minister seen a report in this morning’s paper to the effect that Mr. Khrushchev, the leader of the Russian nation which so consistently demonstrates its inability to allow freedom and individuality among its people, has given yet another illustration of this by banning an exhibition of modern art by young Russian artists in Russia? Will the Prime Minister illustrate the willingness of the Australian Government to encourage the individuality and freedom of thought of our young artists by granting for every Australian public building a certain amount of money for the inclusion in the building of Australian art, and commission Australian artists, whether they be realists, surrealists, impressionists or abstractionists, giving them an opportunity -to portray Australian thought in our public buildings?

Senator SPOONER:

– Recently, in reply to a question, I stated the Government’s policy on the encouragement of Australian art. We have an art advisory board, and funds are made available each year to buy some pictures for the national collection. I doubt the advisability and the practicability of the Commonwealth Government’s attempting to take the action suggested, or to make arrangements for displays by individual artists.

Senator Buttfield:

– Not displays - murals.

Senator SPOONER:

– Well, murals, in the various cities and elsewhere in Australia.

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– Now that the British Empire and Commonwealth Games held in Perth have ended on a highly successful note, and now that congratulations have been conveyed to the competitors for their impeccable sportsmanship and to the organizers for their efficiency, and to the spectators, will the Postmaster-General convey to the management! of the national and commercial broadcasting systems the grateful thanks of the vast majority of Australians who were not able to be in Perth, for the magnificent contribution made by the commentators who conveyed a coherent, colourful, comprehensive and accurate description of the games to every corner of the nation and beyond? I hope that my view in regard to this matter will be endorsed by every member of the Senate who was able to spare a moment to listen to these graphic and thrilling details.

Senator WADE:

– I thank the honorable senator for his reference to the very interesting and informative broadcasts of the games which have just ended at Perth, and I shall be very happy to put his suggestion before the Postmaster-General and to ask that Minister to see that the sentiments expressed by the honorable senator ar-e conveyed to the quarters where they would be most appreciated.

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Senator BROWN:

– On 25th October, I asked the Minister for Health a question relative to the activities of a certain gentleman from the north coast of New South Wales who was doing some work connected with the curing of cancer in cattle. The Minister said that he would make some inquiries and let me know the result. Has he yet received any report as a result of his inquiries?

Senator WADE:

– I can tell the honorable senator only that I have asked the Department of Health to advise me on the matters that he raised, and that at this point of time I have not yet had a reply from the department. As an explanation of the time lapse in providing the reply I think it is only fair to say that the matters that the honorable senator raised were of such importance that one could not expect a report on them until a great deal of time had been spent on research into the claims made by the person who said he had some method of alleviating the dread disease of cancer. So I make no apologies, Sir, for the delay in the provision of the report. When I receive it I shall let the honorable senator have a reply.

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r Senator ANDERSON asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -

Is a tablet about to be marketed in Australia which is designed to obviate the necessity ot diabetics giving themselves insulin injections?

Is it a fact that this drug, which will be taken in oral form, will be marketed in Australia under the name of “Diabex” will be free of harmful side effects, and may replace injections entirely in about 65 per cent, of cases of diabetes?

Has this new drug yet been tested under Australian conditions by the Commonwealth health authorities?

What are the conditions precedent for any marketing in Australia of new drugs or medicines obtained from overseas?

Senator WADE:

– The following answer is now supplied: -

  1. It is understood that a tablet similar to others already on the Australian market is to be marketed in Australia.
  2. Yes, but the percentage of cases of diabetes in which it would replace insulin cannot be estimated nor can an assurance be given that it will be entirely free of harmful effects.
  3. No facilities are available to the Department of Health for clinical testing. However, the drug is at present under examination by the National Biological Standards Laboratory.
  4. All new substances intended for therapeutic use are referred by State health authorities to the poisons advisory panel of the National Health and Medical Research Council. Protocols are examined in detail by this expert committee.

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Senator CORMACK:

asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice -

What is the significance of the words “ wet “ and “ dry “ as applied to natural gases and particularly to gas encountered in oil drilling?

Senator SPOONER:

– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows: -

Most natural gases consist predominantly of the light hydrocarbon gases methane and ethane; but they may contain also different proportions of heavier hydrocarbons such as propane, butane, pentane and hexane. Natural gases are termed “ dry “ or “ wet “ according to the proportions of the “ light “ or “ heavy “ hydrocarbons they contain. The term “ wet “ derives its significance from the fact that some of the heavier hydrocarbons contained in the gas are liquid under normal surface conditions.

To meet the commonly accepted definition of the term, a “ wet “ gas must contain an appreciable quantity of liquid hydrocarbons as determined by standard tests. The significance of the terms in exploratory drilling depends upon the associations frequently observed on oil and gas fields. Cases which are in contact with oil pools underground are often “ wet “, particularly where the oil is a light crude. On the other hand gases associated with heavy crude, or from gas fields where oil pools are absent, are likely to be “ dry “.

There are, of course, many exceptions to this rule which can be taken as a guide in only a very general sort of way. I am advised that some reports of oil drilling operations have incorrectly described as “ wet “ gas a gas containing mainly methane and some ethane. This could be misleading to the public.

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Senator WRIGHT:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -

Has any recent assessment been made of the amount of present day Australian coastal shipping as compared with that operating ten or twelve years ago?

Minister for Civil Aviation · WESTERN AUSTRALIA · LP

– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has provided the following information: -

As at 1st August, 1952, there were 174 Australian registered vessels over 200 tons gross employed on the Australian coast and their aggregate gross registered tonnage was 468,340 tons. There were also four vessels exceeding 200 gross tons registered in New Zealand and three such vessels registered in the United Kingdom, having a total gross registered tonnage of 21,767 tons, and licensed to engage in the coasting trade. In addition, nineteen overseas owned and registered vessels were an charter to Australian shipowners, and these vessels engaged in the coastal carriage of cargo either under continuing permits or exemptions in accordance with the provisions of the Navigation Act as it stood at that time.

As 30th June, 1962, there were 132 Australian registered vessels over 200 tons gross employed on the Australian coast and their aggregate gross registered tonnage was 466,138 tons. In addition there were five Australian registered vessels licensed to engage in the coasting trade and having a total gross registered tonnage of 18,414 tons employed mainly in the carriage of cargo to New Zealand and/or New Guinea. There are also thirteen vessels registered overseas which hold continuing permits to engage in the coastal carriage of cargo.

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Motion (by Senator Spooner) agreed to -

That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till to-morrow at 10 a.m.

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Bill received from the House of Representatives.

Standing Orders suspended.

Bill (on motion by Senator Wade) read a first time.

Second Reading

Senator WADE:
Minister for Health · Victoria · CP

.- I move-

That the bill be now read a second time.

The main purpose of this bill is to amend a number of the hospital benefits provisions of the act. These amendments are being proposed following a comprehensive review of the hospital benefits arrangements which was undertaken by the Government earlier this year. As a result of this review, the Government considers that the development of the hospital benefits scheme has been extraordinarily successful.

It was in January, 1952, that the Government first embarked on the policy of providing additional hospital benefits for patients who were insured with hospital insurance funds. The objective of this policy was to encourage people to undertake voluntary insurance which would enable them, by their own efforts, to build up entitlements to hospital benefits, to be availed of when they or their families needed hospital treatment. The record shows how outstandingly successful this policy has been in practice. In June, 1952, there were 1,052,000 contributors to hospital insurance funds throughout Australia. By June, 1962, the number of contributors had increased to 3,130,000. Over the same period the number of persons covered by hospital insurance contributions increased from 2,154,000 to 7,738,000. The proportion of the population covered for hospital insurance benefits had risen from 25 per cent. to 73 per cent. Of those who are not now insured, a big proportion receive free hospital treatment as pensioners or repatriation patients or under some other free treatment arrangement. The proportion of people who are liable for hospital charges and who are not insured is now quite small.

These facts and figures indicate in most striking fashion the extent to which the government-assisted hospital benefits insurance scheme has met with public acceptance and support. It is quite apparent that this system is the very best means of arranging for the assistance of patients to meet the cost of their hospital treatment and for assisting hospitals to secure an adequate income to meet their inevitably heavy commitments. At the same time it safeguards the rights of every citizen to exercise freedom of choice of hospital according to his medical needs. It is sometimes claimed that the finance made available for hospital expenses through the insurance scheme is not adequate. I want to inform the Senate that the facts simply do not support this claim. In the year ended June, 1952, a total amount of £7,500,000 was paid from Commonwealth and hospital insurance fund sources towards hospital expenses. The amounts paid from these sources in the year ended 30th June, 1962, totalled £35,700,000. The estimated payments for this year are more than £40,000,000, comprising more than £25,000,000 Commonwealth benefits and £15,000,000 fund benefits. These are the overall figures.

As regards individual patients, the position is that for a weekly payment of1s. 6d. in the case of single persons, or 3s. for families, contributors and their dependants are entitled to receive benefits totalling £19 12s. a week for hospital treatment in every recognized hospital in Australia and for any hospital treatment that they may require when they are absent from Australia overseas. The payment of £19 12s. a week covers, or virtually covers, and in some States considerably exceeds, the present hospital charges for treatment in public wards. For patients who wish to insure for higher rates of benefit, there are tables of 5s. a week which entitle the family contributor to £28 a week in benefits, which are sufficient to meet the greater part of private ward charges in most of our hospitals. A few insurance organizations provide even higher tables.

I have given all these particulars so that it may be clear to all that the hospital benefits scheme is being developed in a most valuable fashion both in the overall sense and from the viewpoint of individual contributors, and that it is sufficiently flexible to meet the requirements of patients in all hospitals throughout Australia. There are, however, some aspects of the scheme in regard to which it appears to the Government that improvements can and should be made. In a scheme of this magnitude it is inevitable that anomalies and difficulties arise and it is to effect adjustments : in these respects that this bill is brought forward.

One aspect which has been a cause of some misunderstanding and difficulty has been the payment of the Commonwealth benefit for insured patients in two separate stages. The arrangement has been that a benefit of 8s. a day has been deducted from the patient’s hospital account and an additional benefit of 12s. a day has been paid to the patient by his insurance organization with his fund benefit. In future it is proposed that insured patients will receive the whole of their Commonwealth benefit of £1 a day in a single payment from their insurance organization. This amalgamation of the two separate benefits into a single benefit of £1 a day for insured patients will be a considerable step forward in simplifying the scheme and making the arrangements better understood by patients generally.

In cases where patients pay their accounts to the hospital in the first place and then claim their benefits from their insurance organization, the Commonwealth benefit of £1 a day will in future be included in the cheque sent to the patient by the insurance organization. Some patients may prefer to arrange with their insurance organization for the payment of their Commonwealth and fund benefits direct to the hospital. This will be a matter for arrangement between individual patients, hospitals and insurance funds. My department will co-operate to the full in any such arrangements which are made, Government policy being that every facility should be provided to enable hospitals as well as patients to receive full and prompt payment of the benefits provided by the legislation.

Another matter to which the Government has given attention has been the development of a tendency for pensioners to be required to pay hospital insurance contributions to meet charges for hospital treatment. The traditional practice of public hospitals in most parts of Australia has been to treat pensioners free of charge in the public wards. The Commonwealth recognizes that the continuance or otherwise of this practice is a matter entirely for the State governments concerned and we would certainly not wish to interfere with the State governments’ rights in this matter. The majority of pensioners and their dependants are provided with a .free general practitioner medical service and pharmaceutical benefits at Commonwealth expense and we believe that the provision of free hospital treatment for these pensioners is a most valuable social service. We accordingly decided that we should offer a special benefit to hospitals who treat pensioners free of charge in order to assist them to continue this service.

At a recent conference with State Health Ministers I undertook that my Government would introduce legislation to provide a benefit at the rate of 36s. a day for the hospital treatment of pensioners and their dependants who are entitled to the pensioner medical service - this benefit to be paid in cases where public hospitals provide free treatment for all such pensioners who are classified as public ward patients. In my discussions with the State Ministers it was generally acknowledged that this will represent a considerable advance on the present system, which is that the only special benefit provided for the treatment of pensioners is a benefit of 12s. a day for uninsured pensioners. In general terms, therefore, the proposal is for a threefold increase in the rate of this benefit.

The Government hopes that public hospitals will, with the aid of this benefit, follow a policy of providing free treatment for pensioners and their dependants who are entitled to the pensioner medical service. I repeat that there will be no compulsion on any State to accept this proposal; nor, of course, is there any objection whatsoever on the part of this Government to individual pensioners enrolling in hospital insurance, or continuing in hospital insurance, if the individual prefer to do so. Some pensioners may, for example, wish to retain their insurance in order to provide for benefits which would enable them to have intermediate or private ward treatment. There will be absolutely no interference in their freedom of choice in this matter. What this proposed legislation will do will be to provide a special benefit of 36s. a day to public hospitals whose practice is to provide free treatment for pensioners and their dependants entitled to the pensioner medical” service. Its implementation will be a big step forward in completing the medical coverage of the 815,000 pensioners and their dependants already provided by this Government in the form of the pensioner medical service and the provision free of charge of pharmaceutical benefits.

There ls one other group of patients in regard to which the existing arrangements have not been operating satisfactorily and that is the patients in convalescent and rest homes and in the infirmary sections of State benevolent homes and State and private homes for the aged. Because many patients in these homes are pensioners and because they very often remain in the homes for long periods of time, the Government has decided that they should not be obliged to join an insurance fund to qualify for Commonwealth benefits. It is therefore proposed that patients in these institutions willreceive a Commonwealth benefit of £1 a day which will be deducted from their accounts by the institution regardless of whether they are insured with a hospital insurance fund. The institutions to which this arrangement will apply are institutions which in the past have been treated as “ unrecognized hospitals “ in the hospital benefits legislation. In future it is proposed that patients in these institutions will be classified as nursing home patients and the legislation provides that the Commonwealth benefit of £1 a day will be payable for “ nursing home care “ in these nursing homes. This benefit will be paid from the first day of their admission to the nursing home and will continue without limitation as long as they are patients there.

I believe that this amendment will be welcomed by the patients of these homes. They will be saved the expense and inconvenience of paying weekly contributions to an insurance fund and their benefits will be automatically deducted from their accounts. Remembering that these patients, by and large, are elderly and that many of them are not in good financial circumstances, it should be a considerable advantage to them to be eligible for Commonwealth benefits without insurance requirements.

The Government has not overlooked the fact that some nursing home patients, after discounting their insurance payments, may find that they need hospital treatment. To meet this position, the bill provides that, upon admission to an approved hospital within eight weeks of their discharge from a nursing home, these patients may enrol in an insurance fund and be eligible for hospital benefits from the date of enrolment, instead of having to wait the eight weeks customarily required of new contributors.

The amendments I have referred to are the most important changes in substance being made by this bill. They involve a complete recasting of the hospital benefits provisions of the act. Consequently Part V of the act which contains those provisions is being repealed and a series of new provisions inserted in place of the existing ones. I will be pleased to supply honorable senators with detailed explanations of the clauses in the bill when we are in the committee stages.

There is one other matter in regard to hospital benefits which I should make clear at this stage - that is that the present hospital benefit of 8s. a day will continue to be deducted from the hospital accounts of patients who are not insured. It has been advocated in some quarters that there should be an increase in this benefit for uninsured patients. This bill provides for a large increase in benefit for uninsured patients who are pensioner medical service pensioners. It does not provide for any increase in benefit for uninsured patients who are not pensioners, because the very best means of help in these cases is selfhelp - that is by joining a hospital insurance fund. An increase in benefit for uninsured patients might discourage people from joining or continuing in insurance funds - that would be a great disservice to the hospitals and to the people themselves.

So far as uninsured patients generally are concerned, the only change proposed by this bill is a machinery one under which the benefit of 8s. a day will be paid by the Commonwealth Department of Health direct to the hospitals which make the deductions from the patients’ accounts, instead of, as in the past, through the State Treasuries. This will facilitate a simplification of existing procedures and ensure the payment of the benefits to the hospitals with a minimum of delay. This arrangement for direct payment to hospitals instead of to State Treasuries will also apply to the new hospital benefits being introduced for hospitals which treat pensioners free of charge.

There is a further series of machinery amendments in this bill arising from the formation earlier this year of the Australian Medical Association to carry out the functions previously carried out by the British Medical Association in Australia. The existing act provides for an agreement between the Government and the British Medical Association in Australia regarding the provision of the Pensioner Medical Service. It also provides for the nomination of members of various committees under the act by the federal council of the British Medical Association in Australia. The bill provides for all these references to the British Medical Association in Australia to be changed to the Australian Medical Association in order to provide proper authority for the Government to deal with this new body.

I am sure that we have a very good hospital benefits scheme in Australia. What this bill is doing is to make that good scheme a better scheme. The amendments all are designed for the simplification and better public understanding of the scheme by the removal of difficulties and anomalies. I am certain that the new arrangements will be more satisfactory to patients, to insurance organizations and to hospitals. The total cost of the proposals will be £3,200,000 per annum and the new benefits will be of very great value to the people for whom they are provided, especially pensioners and nursing home patients. I commend the bill to honorable senators.

Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.

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Second Reading

Debate resumed from 4th December (vide page 1706), on motion by Senator Paltridge -

Thai the bill be now read a second time.

Senator WRIGHT:

.- The purpose of this bill is to give the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission authority to increase its overdraft from the present statutory limit of £1,000,000 to £5,000,000. Contrary to first impressions, the second-reading speech of the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) makes it clear that the authority is intended to be of indefinite duration and for the general purposes of the undertaking. One could be forgiven for understanding at the outset that there was a proposal for the increased authority to be applicable only to the building of ships, but the Minister has made it plain that the overdraft accommodation now to be afforded is for the purpose of meeting foreseeable demands for liquid funds.

The Minister has referred to the need to pay dividends, income tax and other fluctuating commitments. Reference is made to payment for the construction of ships, and it is clear that the overdraft is intended to be used for general purposes. That raises the question of whether any real case has been made for the increased authority. There is nothing that I can find in the Minister’s speech, nor in any of the supporting material, other than the say-so of the Minister, which is unsupported by specific references, to justify an increase in the overdraft. One must consider the matter from both a commercial and a political point of view, because Australian coastal shipping is being run under a system whereby part of it is government-owned and the other part is owned by private enterprise. There is, therefore, a duty to ensure that no undue advantage is -forthcoming because government money is available on call to the tune of £5,000,000, by vote of this Parliament, without consideration of the comparable availability of finance for private enterprise coastal shipping. It is for that reason, Mr. President, that I am not satisfied that the authority should be granted.

I point out that that is no reflection upon the efforts of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission. Especially in relation to Tasmania whose efforts have been rather exceptional. But in relation to its general achievements, the commission, in its annual report, has gone on record as stating that since it was established in 1956, the amount of money invested in ships and other fixed assets has increased from £12,170,723 to the present figure of £27,853,383. The commission goes on to state -

The substantial growth of the enterprise has been financed out of retained profits and reserves and it may be noted that no call has been made upon the Commonwealth Treasury for additional funds.

It is relevant to bring to the attention of the Senate that, with regard to the trends in Australian shipping, the figures relating to the volume of cargo carried provide a useful guide. In 1951-52, of the total of 9,200,000 tons of dry cargo carried on the Australian coast, the Australian Shipping

Board, hs it then was, carried 3,400,000 tons and the other shipping lines carried approximately 5,700,000 tons. Ten years later, the position was that, of a total of 11,800,000 tons, the Government shipping line had increased its tonnage to 5,900,000 tons, while the other lines carried 5,800,000 tons.

Other figures which are at my disposal do not quite tally with the figures given on page 10 of the report, showing the actual dead weight tonnage of the Australian Shipping Commission fleet. However, passing, by that discrepancy for the moment, my information is to the effect that in the last three years the dead weight tonnage of the Australian National Line has remained approximately static at about 267,000 or 268,000 tons, whilst the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited has increased its dead weight tonnage from 111,000, as it was in 1959, to 155,267 in 1962. That, of course, is rather a specialist line of ships. The dead weight tonnage of other Australian coastal shipping has decreased from 227,780 tons in 1959 to 134,872 tons. That is a reduction of 92,908 tons. These figures all indicate unmistakably the growing disproportion between the share of Australian coastal shipping enjoyed by the Government line as against the private enterprise shippers. These things should be taken into account. I do not wish to debate their significance to-day except in relation to the availability of finance. It becomes imperative in my opinion that this disproportion should be considered as an important factor in reaching a judgment on whether Parliament should authorize an overdraft limit for the Australian National Line and increase it from £1,000,000 to £5,000,000. In the circumstances, it is essential to consider what is the availability of finance available to competing interests.

I cannot forbear from making reference to a matter that Senator Arnold mentioned last night. This is becoming rather a favorite hobby horse of the Opposition. I refer to the advocacy that the Australian National Line should go into overseas shipping, and should not confine itself to the Australian coastal shipping trade. I have! followed this advocacy with a rather persistent interest, and I deem it proper to make only passing reference to this matter because it is only in that sense that it is relevant to the subject-matter of the bill. But, Mr. President, I notice that Senator Arnold did not refer to what was said on this subject by the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission in the annual report on the Australian National Line for 1962. I quote this passage from page 7 of the report -

Unhappily, no recovery in the world tramp market has occurred, the reverse in fact, and on rare occasions only has it been possible to show a profit from overseas voyaging. On the other hand, losses overall were less than those involved had ships been laid up, whilst the Commission has, of course, constantly considered the desirability of providing the maximum amount of employment for Australian seamen.

Since the close of the year, cargoes offering for overseas have again diminished, with freight and charter rates falling in sympathy, from which it is to be expected that, unless some recovery occurs, the prospects of vessels of the Australian National Line participating in the tramp trade on reasonable terms will become increasingly remote.

The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman) has been good enough to supply to me by request some material on this subject for which I am most grateful. One of the facts which appears from the records with which I have been furnished is the comparative cost of operating Australian and British shipping. I shall refer only to one statement by the chairman of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission who said in 1960, in an address to the Economic Society of Australia and New Zealand, that the cost of operating a British ship was £205 sterling a day compared with £388 sterling a day for an Australian ship. An adjustment is necessary to bring these figures up to date, but if they are applied to July, 1961, it would seem to indicate that the cost of operating a British-owned ship would be £269 sterling a day compared to £463 sterling a day for an Australian ship. I throw those figures up for consideration.

I have expressed the hope that the Senate will engage in a purposeful debate on complete material on that issue at an early date. The Australian Labour Party is projecting this proposal as something other than a plank to be grasped in a shipwreck; it is putting the proposal forward as one of its policies upon which it is prepared to voyage, and I think reference should be made to it. Those figures would discourage in me any idea that it would be conducive to the economics of our export trade to start to freight our goods abroad at Australian costs rather than at the British costs that are available to us.

I have only one further word, and that is in reply to what Senator Arnold said last night concerning the Australian Overseas Transport Association. He seemed to convey the impression that the association was ill-matched to bargain with the Oversea Shipping Representatives Association, which I believe is the organization controlling the conference line ships which have been under contract on an annual basis to serve the Australian trade ever since Mr. Stanley Bruce, as he was then, handed over the government of the Commonwealth to Mr. Scullin in 1929.

In its genesis, that arrangement had the benefit of the joint blessing of the outgoing Prime Minister and of the incoming Labour Government led by Mr. Scullin. It was the incoming Labour Government that put through the amendment to the Australian Industries Preservation Act which scotched any doubt that the Australian Overseas Transport Association might otherwise be a combine contrary to the provisions of that act. The legislation of the Scullin Government established it on a basis conformable to the act.

Ail 1 want to say is that I would join in any effort to see that the Australian Overseas Transport Association was completely divorced from shipping interests, because the association should represent the cargo-owners whose freight is to be carried. To my way of thinking, that being achieved, it is the best arrangement that could be made by this country for shipping to service its overseas freight. Anybody who looks at the dangers and risks of unco-ordinated overseas shipping in the 1 920’s, ten ‘ years before the arrangement was commenced, can see how precarious and unwise it would be to detach from this country the stable arrangements that stem from this contractual arrangement with the conference lines. But I have trespassed too far into foreign shipping. I content myself with saying that for the reasons I have referred to relating to Australian coastal shipping, no sufficient case has been made out to justify an affirmative vote in favour of this bill.


.- It is not my intention at the moment to answer all the statements made by Senator Wright. I can assure him that we shall be! only too willing to debate the question of overseas shipping lines at a later date. The honorable senator discounted altogether the £239,000,000 that we pay in freights and insurance, commonly known as invisibles. He wants British ships, whether or not they are manned by coolie labour, to carry his goods; but for his services here he wants, as he is quite entitled to want, Australian rates and conditions. I do not want to go further into that aspect now. I shall have much pleasure in doing so at a later date. I am attempting to keep to a time schedule in order that we may - let us hope - get through some time before early next week.

I agree with the proposal to allow the commission to have an overdraft of £5,000,000, but I am rather amazed at the proposed alteration of the principal act in regard to banking facilities. Clause 2 provides that “ approved bank “ shall mean the Reserve Bank of Australia or another bank approved by the Treasurer. Surely a commission such as this ought to bank with our own bank. I want to know why the change is proposed. Since 1956 the commission has been banking with our own bank. There may be ports, possibly, where the facilities of that bank are not available. The commission has an overdraft now of £1,000,000 with the Reserve Bank. Why is the change proposed? Last year the Government gave the banks a decent handout. Surely they are not so greedy as to want a bit more. Section 32 (2.) of the principal act provides -

Moneys of the Commission not immediately required for the purposes of the Commission may be invested on fixed deposit with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia or with any other bank approved by the Treasurer, or in securities of the Commonwealth.

That emphasizes that the commission’s moneys ought to be banked with the Reserve Bank or the Commonwealth Trading Bank. There must be some reason for the alteration and I should like to hear the Minister’s explanation of it. The Opposition proposes to vote against the provision, because we see no good reason for the alteration.

The bill gives us an opportunity to discuss shipping. I believe that all honorable senators will agree that shipping is a very important matter to this island continent.

We are all very proud of our line. I compliment the commission upon its report which is an extremely well presented document containing a tremendous amount of valuable information. The commission, in view of its profit, was not at all concerned about the cost of the report, which is a credit to those who were responsible for it and certainly takes its place in the forefront of reports issued by any Commonwealth instrumentality.

The line has been a striking success. I am sorry that Senator Wright is not here when I say that this shows the superiority of public enterprise, run as it ought to be run, over much-vaunted private enterprise that this Government supports. It is interesting to look at past Australian shipping lines. This is not the first. I remember one during the Bruce-Page Administration, when the farmers of this country, and particularly their representatives, were much more radical and fought for their own line because they wanted their goods carried overseas at fair prices. The Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers reduced freights and it not only saved millions of pounds of foreign exchange but also put a great deal of money into the pockets of primary producers. Its deliberate destruction was brought about by the Bruce-Page Government, the forerunner of this Administration. It is true that that government passed under a different name, but anti-Labour governments have had very many changes in name - I think about eight. When they fool and trick the people for too long under one name, they use another.

The facts of the sale of that shipping line are interesting and ought to be related again. The destruction of the line was desired by the Conference Line, of which the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company was the largest member. When glorious private enterprise wants a sympathetic government to cut out another enterprise, as this Government did with its whaling undertaking and other enterprises, one must give the Government credit for not being afraid to do so. The Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers was sabotaged. Its vessels were sold piecemeal until in the end the government of the day got rid of the lot. I suppose the greatest irony in the history of this country was that we were not paid for them. The company that bought the ships went bankrupt. The person who led the company - if I remember my political history - was one Lord Inchcape. To use an expression of the man on the racecourse, the company welshed. In the words of the ordinary man outside, it took the knock and did not pay. We find, then, that by a most remarkable coincidence-

Senator Paltridge:

– I do not want to interrupt the honorable senator, but I am sure that he would not like to impugn the wrong lord.


– Heaven forbid that I should do so.

Senator Paltridge:

– You said that it was Lord Inchcape, but in fact it was Lord Kylsant.


– I do not want to impugn the honour of any lord. Not I! Anyway, by political fortune Bruce was defeated for the Flinders seat in the 1929 general election. He gave the politics of this nation away and went to London. I am not imputing motives - God forbid that I should ever do so - but the same Mr. Bruce became a director of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company Limited. Surely a coincidence!

As a result of all this, we had no national line of ships. Indeed, at the beginning of World War II we had very little Australian shipping, and everybody knows what that meant to this country at that time. From 1941 onwards, during the Labour Government’s term of office, shipbuilding began in this country. The Labour Government got a fleet together, and after Labour went out of office in 1949 - unfortunately, I may say - the present Government trad desperately to sell the national shipping line. It is true that it did not succeed in doing so. In 1956, after it had tried unsuccessfully for six years to sell the national line the Government made an agreement with the private steamship owners which is almost as good - from the point of view of some people, anyway - as the airlines agreement. The legislation giving effect to that agreement established the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission. This agreement - if one may properly use that term - between the Government and the private shipowners and stevedores was to last for twenty years. It provided that during that time the national line would not increase its tonnage above 325,000 tons; that it would not employ its own booking agents but would use agencies owned, in most cases, by its competitors; that it would not operate its own stevedoring services. It was a remarkable thing that the stevedoring costs of the line for half of the year 1957 amounted to 23.4 per cent. of its total costs. You people opposite are most remarkable people. You can make the best agreements to help your friends. If you gave me an open go I could not do as well for my friends. You are pretty good.

Now let us look at the responsibilities of the private shipowners under the agreement. They were to conduct adequate and efficient services. So one wonders what to expect next.

The national shipping line proved an immediate success after its establishment. It provided services far beyond those provided by its competitors. It is true that at the time of the establishment of the national line the Suez crisis was on, and there was a big demand for chartered vessels throughout the world, and I would say that primarily on that account the line declared a profit of £1,139,296 for the first six months of its operation. Later the line concentrated on the bulk trades, and thereby avoided some of the disadvantage that would have flowed from having to pay the excessive booking and stevedoring charges levied by its competitors. In 1957, I repeat, stevedoring charges represented 23.4 per cent. of the line’s cost of operation for six months. As a result of the line going into bulk handling, which it has done most successfully, the percentage of total costs of operation represented by stevedoring charges has fallen to 12.7 per cent., according to this report.

It is well to look at some of the facts to illustrate the position which the Australian National Line occupies in the coastal shipping of this nation. Most of the facts which I shall give come from a publication issued by the Department of Shipping and Transport called “Australian Shipping and Shipbuilding Statistics”. These statistics show that there is a total fleet of coastal, intra-state and interstate vessels numbering 132. Intra-state vessels number 21, and interstate vessels number 111. The total coastal fleet has a tonnage of 626,000 dead weight and 466,000 gross. There is no need to state the tonnage of the intra-state fleet, which is small. The size of the major shipping lines is expressed in the following table:-

Similar figures in relation to other lines which operate ships round our coasts are -

Even counting in the four vessels of the national line that are laid up, the average age of the national line ships is eight years. The vessels owned by the private shipowners of whom this Government is always a valiant - I will not use the word “ servant “, but will use another word if I can think of it-

Senator Lillico:

– Defender.


– Defender. That is the word. The average age of the ships of the private shipping companies is double the age of those of the Australian National Line.

Senator Kendall:

– What period does this refer to?


– This is at the present moment. Of the 67 private interstate vessels, fifteen are more than twenty years old, six are more than 25 years old and one - this must hold the belt - is more than 45 years old.

Senator Kendall:

– It does not matter how old they are.


– I am only pointing out that the ships of the Australian National Line are more up to date than the ships owned by companies that are in the game only to get every possible farthing out of it.

By using efficient ships and efficient methods of organization, the Australian National Line has been able to absorb a great deal of the increased costs and even to reduce freights. The freights charged by the National Line for the carriage of iron ore between Whyalla and Port Kembla are lower than the freights charged anywhere else in the world for carriage over a similar distance. It is rather interesting to compare the charges made by the Australian National Line on the service between Melbourne and Devonport with the charges on services between Preston and Northern Ireland, and between Brindisi in Italy and Patras in Greece. Between Preston and Northern Ireland - a distance of 136 nautical miles - the base fare per mile for a passenger is 6d., in our currency. From Brindisi in Italy to Patras in Greece the distance is 251 nautical miles, and the bass fare per mile is 7.8d. From Melbourne to Devonport, a distance of 217 nautical miles, the base fare per mile is 4d. That is a remarkable illustration of the efficiency of our line. Those figures were taken from page 8 of the annual report of the Austraiian Coastal Shipping Commission. They demonstrate that the line can absorb rising costs and still make a very commendable profit each year.

The figures showing the net profit earned are interesting. For the six months ending in June, 1957, the line made a net profit of £1,130,000. The figures for the succeeding years are as follows: -

In addition, the line has increased the value of its assets, as Senator Wright stated, from £12,170,000 to the present figure of £27,853,000. Its total capital and reserves have increased from £16,900,000 to £18,100,000, while its liabilities have increased by only £500,000. I believe that this line has made a remarkable contribution towards keeping freight charges stable on the Australian coast.

There is one other thing with which I am very pleased. I have been on some of the ships of this line when they have been in port - sometimes on very important occasions. The seamen with whom I have spoken, and whom I have addressed at certain times, have told me that they would rather sign on in one of the Australian National Line ships, because the accommodation and the food are much better than in the ships of the private companies. All in all, I believe that the Australian National Line has given wonderful service. Those who are in control of it are to be congratulated. Let us hope that they will be able to submit a report next year which will be as good as the one submitted this year, from the point of view of the standard of the report itself and the financial results it discloses.

I should like to say something to my friend, Senator Paltridge, who is in charge of this bill. I hope that rationalization will not be introduced into this industry. I should be extremely hurt if I thought there were a possibility of a cross-charter between the Australian National Line and private shipping companies, similar to that between the two major airlines. I should hate to see a ship taken from the Australian National Line and given to one of the private companies, which gave up in return an old and troublesome ship. I remember one vessel, the “ Patawilya “, with which I had a great deal of trouble on behalf of the men who sailed in it. Thank goodness, it has gone off our coast now.

I know that there is no greater exponent of rationalization than the Minister in charge of this bill. He has got rationalization down to a fine art. I ask him most earnestly not to attempt to rationalize our coastal shipping services. He can play around with the rationalization of air services - he seems to have done that fairly well from one point of view - but I ask him not to touch our shipping services. I think he is just as proud of this line as I am and as other honorable senators are. He must be proud of the success of the line and of the fact that it has been able to keep freights down. Admittedly in this modern age the amount of cargo available for coastal shipping is declining, because of increasing air services, standardization- of railway gauges and competition from road transport, but there is still an important place for shipping, which is the cheapest form of transport.

The Opposition will vote against clause 2 of the bill. We just do not understand at the moment why an alteration has been made of the legislation and lesser emphasis has been placed on the Commonwealth Bank - the people’s bank - than was the case in the original act. Apart from that, I am certain that every honorable senator on this side will support the bill and will join me in wishing the line continued success.

Senator LILLICO:

.- I rise to speak very briefly on this measure. Senator Kennelly spent a great deal of his time praising the very great efficiency of the Australian National Line and the very great benefit that it has conferred on the people of the Commonwealth. He spoke in glowing terms of its efficiency. In fact, he held it up as an example of the superiority of government enterprise over private enterprise. In my opinion - I think most honorable senators agree - the line has functioned very efficiently indeed. Last year it showed a profit before taxation of nearly £2,500,000 according to the report of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission. I believe that the line is an example of private enterprise methods being applied by an efficient government to a government-owned enterprise in competition with private enterprise. When we talk about socialist enterprises and nationalization projects, we usually envisage a monopoly owned by the government, run at a loss and subsidized by the taxpayers. That has been the experience in Australia over very many years in the operation of government-owned enterprises. In this instance private enterprise methods have been applied to the Australian National Line under an efficient government which was determined to cut out the losses and to ensure that this enterprise paid its way in competition with private enterprise. Had there been a complete monopoly of Australian coastal shipping, the picture could have been very different.

In my opinion, it is just as necessary to have two shipping lines as it is to have two airlines in Australia, in spite of the criticism levelled at the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) in respect of Ansett-A.N.A. That airline is in competition with a government enterprise that has shown a profit approaching £500,000. In the same way, this government-owned shipping line has shown a considerable profit; but it has done that under a set of circumstances produced by an efficient Minister for Shipping and Transport. We heard Senator Kennelly praising the work that has been done by the Australian National Line, its efficiency and the benefits that it has conferred. I repeat that all of that was made possible by the methods and supervision that were applied to it. The story in the past, under Labour governments, was very different. We did not have this efficiency or the wonderful advantage that is inherent in this measure, namely that by act of Parliament the line can increase its overdraft from £1,000,000 to £5,000,000. If the same financial accommodation were available to the private enterprise lines that operate around the Australian coast, they would not be under a disadvantage, as I believe they are, in competing with the Australian National Line.

I believe that as in the case of the airlines it is a necessity for Australia to have two distinct competitors in the field of shipping. We should not continue the trend that is apparent at present, under which we have monopolies in some fields. Honorable senators opposite often have much to say about monopolies. Never let us forget that the worst monopoly of all is probably a government-owned one. It is essential that the private enterprise shipping services and the government-owned shipping service should run in competition, one with the other, as far as possible.

Senator Ormonde:

– Don’t they?

Senator LILLICO:

– They do, up to a point; but the position is so heavily loaded in favour of the Australian National Line in some respects that the private enterprise shipping lines that serve the Australian coast are declining. I would be sorry to see them decline to the stage where they went out of existence and all we had was the governmentowned shipping line operating around the Australian coast. In saying that I do not for one moment detract from the very great benefit that has accrued to the people, particularly of Tasmania, from the operation of the Australian National Line. The line has revolutionized the sea-road service between the mainland and Tasmania. Much has. been said about the roll-on roll-off freighters and the “ Princess of Tasmania “. Without doubt they have come to be looked upon as an integral part of the existing service between Tasmania and the mainland. The line has certainly conferred benefits under an efficient Minister with the determination to ensure that the line paid its way and did not follow the trend of nearly all government enterprises by incurring a loss to the taxpayers.

I do not propose to say very much more. I expected to hear the same old proposition that has been advocated by the Opposition for so long trotted out, namely that the Australian National Line should embark upon overseas shipping. Something seems to have happened to that proposal. I note that in another place the advocacy now is for only a few ships, although at one time it was for 250 ships, I think.

Senator O’Byrne:

– Wait until the next election when we put it to the people.

Senator LILLICO:

– As time goes on and the people begin to realize all the implications of the proposition and what it would cost the taxpayers by way of subsidy, I believe that they will not be very keen about it. However that may be, in latter days the proposition seems to have been watered down. It was not even mentioned by Senator Kennelly. In fact, there is very little criticism to reply to. Senator Kennelly was full of praise for the achievements of this line. In praising the line, without doubt he unconsciously praised the efficiency of the Commonwealth Government. I believe that the present Minister for Civil Aviation and his successor as Minister for Shipping and Transport made it possible for this line, instead of being a drag on the Australian taxpayers, to confer a very distinct benefit on the people.

Senator POKE:

– I am very sorry that Senator Lillico is disappointed with the attitude of the Opposition towards the Australian National Line entering into the overseas trade. Let me inform Senator Lillico that that is still a part of the Labour Party’s platform and policy and that when we become the Government in 1964 we shall certainly give as full effect to that policy as Australia’s financial resources will allow.

There has not been much opposition to this measure, which seeks to amend the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission Act. The bill may be divided into five parts, one of which proposes a major amendment of the act and four of which propose alterations that may be regarded as consequential. The major proposal relates to the authorization of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission to borrow up to £5,000,000, as against £1,000,000 hitherto. I wholeheartedly support that proposal. Like Senator Kennelly, I am concerned about one of the minor proposed amendments. I refer to the proposal to delete the words “ Commonwealth Bank “ from the act. I feel that they should be retained. Although I appreciate that their deletion will not necessarily mean that the facilities provided by the Commonwealth Bank will not be availed of by the commission, I feel that the Australian National Shipping Line and the Commonwealth Bank should be tied together, both being Commonwealth undertakings. I deprecate the Government’s proposal to delete the words “ Commonwealth Bank “ from the act. We all realize that if the Australian National Line is to continue to be a successful business undertaking, it is essential that it be enabled to borrow money on overdraft.

I think the annual reports submitted over the last few years show clearly that this undertaking has been conducted in a very businesslike manner and with great success. A perusal of the sixth annual report reveals the success that has flowed from the efforts of the efficient management of the undertaking. A study of the comparative figures for the years 1961 and 1962, as published on page 2 of the report, discloses that the amount of cargo carried in 1962 was greater than that carried in 1961, that the amount of revenue paid over to the Taxation Branch increased, and that there was also an increase in the total value of fixed assets such as ships, land, buildings, plant and cargo gear. In fact, the report tells a story of success in all spheres of the line’s activities.

*Australian Coastal* [5 December, 1962.] *Shipping Commission Bill.* 1723 On page 3 of the report we find particulars relating to new trades entered into by the Australian National Line. They include the regular service which was established between southern ports and Rockhampton and the introduction of a weekly container service between Melbourne and Brisbane. All these things show clearly that the management of the line is in very good hands and that an increase in the availability of fluid capital to the line from £1,000,000 to £5,000,000 is justified. I have referred to the increase in cargo carried. The line is to be commended upon that achievement, and the report indicates that there is every reason to believe that this activity will increase in the years ahead. Not only has the line done an excellent job in increasing the amount qf cargo carried on the coastal services and in entering new trades, but also it has assisted the economy of the country considerably by the carriage of cargo in the overseas trade. The report shows that there was an increase, not only in the coastal cargoes carried, but also in the overseas tonnages transported in 1962 as compared with 1961. I venture the opinion that the economies of both primary and secondary industries have benefited considerably from the operations of the Australian National Line. My one great regret is that I do not think we are building anything like enough ships here to keep the Australian shipbuilding industry and the men working in it fully employed. I think we all know that in Australia we have some of the best shipbuilding yards in the world, but the potential of those shipyards is not being exploited to the full. There is ample room to build more ships in those yards, and both our shipbuilding yards and the workmen engaged in them have demonstrated time and time again that they are capable of building ships comparable with those built anywhere else in the world. One has only to look at the " Princess of Tasmania " for proof of their ability to build excellent ships. I was one of those who were fortunate enough to be on that vessel during its inaugural voyage. I think everybody who went on that trip was *most impressed* with the workmanship put into the building of the vessel. I think it is safe to say that it has not given any trouble since it was built. That speaks volumes for the quality of Australian work manship and proves conclusively that, given the opportunity, the Australian shipbuilding industry and the men engaged in it can do an excellent job. I feel that, to some extent anyway, Australia is suffering from economic strangulation due to the fact that we have not our own overseas shipping line. **Senator Lillico** seemed disappointed that we had not suggested that we should have enough ships to carry the whole of our exports overseas. I point out to the honorable senator that, in all the arguments we have advanced relating to the carriage of our exports overseas, we have never advocated that Australia should seek to carry the whole of its exports in Australian ships. We have submitted that she should have enough ships to enable her to enjoy some part of that trade. I do not know of any country in the world that has enough ships of its own to service the whole of its export and import trade. Certainly many countries do have their own shipping lines, but they can cater for only portion of their import and export trade. It has been estimated that the cost of freight on Australian imports and exports in 1961-62 amounted to approximately £300,000,000. That being so, I contend that there is good reason for Australia to enter overseas trade with its own ships and to endeavour to gain some of the trade that is offering. The Australian Coastal Shipping Commission, in its annual report, states that it has proved cheaper on occasions to enter into that trade than to lay up an Australian ship. Although some losses might occur through entering the overseas shipping trade, if we were to do so we would be assisting the economy of this country. Particularly in view of the fact that Great Britain is almost certain to enter the European Economic Community, we should have our own shipping line. I do not want to discuss the European Common Market and its implications for us, because 1 do not think that subject has a great deal to do with this bill. It is one that we could speak about for a very long time. However, the possibility that Great Britain will enter the Common Market makes us realize that we have to find new markets and, which is most important, to maintain them once we have found them. We could help to do that by having our own ships trading overseas. **Senator Lillico** deplored the idea that socialized monopoly should outdo private enterprise. If there is a choice between a socialized monopoly and a capitalist monopoly, I prefer the socialized monopoly, lt is obvious that a capitalist monopoly is concerned only with the making of profits. It is not at all concerned about the need to maintain markets which may be established in other parts of the world. As most honorable senators are aware, recently I was invited to visit Nigeria, where a trade fair was being held at Lagos. I was disappointed to find that Australia had no display pavilion at the fair. I endeavoured to ascertain the reason why we were not represented. The answer I received was that there was no shipping available and that, had shipping been available, it would have been too costly, anyway, to transport goods there. As I have said, if Great Britain enters the European Common Market we shall have to find new markets for many of our commodities. The Lagos trade fair provided a golden opportunity to display the products that we had to sell. Nigeria already purchases some of our products. Our trade commissioner in that country is doing a particularly good job, and 1 think the Australian Government could have assisted him in his efforts by exhibiting Australian goods at the fair. During my visit to Nigeria, I visited a number of stores. I found that Australian butter was on sale at 6s. per lb. The Nigerian currency is almost equal to sterling, so it can be seen that the price of 6s. per lb. is only a little more than we have to pay for our butter in Australia. The people of Nigeria appeared to be happy to pay that price for it. I also found that some of our preserved fruits were available for sale. Many countries, including Communist countries, were represented at the trade fair. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics had its pavilion, and so did Germany, Japan and Hong Kong. I venture the opinion that it would not have cost Australia much more in terms of freight to display goods at the fair than it cost Hong Kong. {: .speaker-K8Y} ##### Senator TURNBULL:
TASMANIA · IND; AP from Aug. 1969; IND from Jan. 1970 -- Is a shipping line going to put up a pavilion? I am trying to connect your remarks with the bill. {: #subdebate-17-0-s4 .speaker-K19} ##### Senator POKE: -- I do not know whether the honorable senator followed my pre vious remarks on this matter, but I pointed out that if we had our own ships operating on the overseas shipping lanes, our goods would be available in countries such as Nigeria and would be able to compete with the exports of other countries. Following World War I, Australia had a successful overseas shipping line. It operated at a profit. However, the government of the day, which was of the same political outlook as the present Government, saw fit to dispose of it. In fact, one could almost say that the line was sabotaged. The time came when it did not show a profit, and that afforded an opportunity for the government of the day to dispose of it. {: .speaker-JZU} ##### Senator Ormonde: -- It was given away. {: .speaker-K19} ##### Senator POKE: -- That is true. With the establishment of an overseas shipping line, there could be a tendency to reduce freights on goods coming to Australia and also on those leaving this country. It is interesting to compare the freight charges on goods consigned to Australia and those consigned to other parts of the world. Let us take steel as an example. It costs 50s. a ton more to transport steel from Australia to Singapore than it does to transport it from Great Britain to Singapore. We all realize that the haul from Singapore is approximately one-third of that from Great Britain to Singapore. Why does this situation prevail? 1 venture the opinion that it prevails simply because we are unable to enter into competition with the overseas shipping lines. We have not the ships available to provide a regular service from Australia to Singapore. The same position is true in relation to steel transported from Australia to Hong Kong, and from the United Kingdom to Hong Kong. There is a difference of 35s. a ton in favour of the United Kingdom to Hong Kong haul. There is a difference of 12s. a ton between the cost of freighting steel from Australia to Indonesia and that of freighting it from the United Kingdom to Indonesia. The examples I have given are sufficient to indicate to the Senate that Australia is suffering a great disability in not having its own shipping line to transport to other countries many of the products that we have available. To take my argument even further, I could refer to the position regarding the transport of our wool, wheat, fruit and farm products overseas. If we want to get closer to home, we could look at the position in New Zealand. New Zealand can freight its canned meat to the United Kingdom more cheaply than meat can be taken from Australia to the United Kingdom. We must remember that Australia is not competing to the fullest extent in overseas shipping lines whereas New Zealand has its own shipping fleet. {: .speaker-JZY} ##### Senator Paltridge: -- What? {: .speaker-K19} ##### Senator POKE: -- New Zealand has a number of overseas trading vessels. {: .speaker-JZY} ##### Senator Paltridge: -- It has nothing of the sort. They are conducted entirely by the Union Steamship Company. {: .speaker-K19} ##### Senator POKE: -- The information I have tells a different story. The Minister for Civil Aviation can contradict me later if he wishes to do so. {: .speaker-JZY} ##### Senator Paltridge: -- I can do it now. I do not have to wait until later. {: .speaker-K19} ##### Senator POKE: -- I still do not accept what the Minister has said. I accept the authority I have, and the Minister may contradict me when it suits him if he wants to do so. {: .speaker-JZY} ##### Senator Paltridge: -- What is your authority? {: .speaker-K19} ##### Senator POKE: -- I have the authority, but I know the Minister would not accept it because he is one of those Ministers who accepts only his own authority. It would be useless to tell him my authority. Since Australia is one of the ten top trading nations of the world, there is plenty of room for us to establish our own shipping line for overseas trade. Let us compare ^Australia with overseas countries which have shipping lines. Switzerland and Czechoslovakia both have their own shipping lines although they have no coastline, and are completely surrounded by land. Why should two countries situated as they are have an overseas shipping line when Australia, with one of the longest coastlines in the world, has no overseas shipping line? It is wrong for Australia not to enter the overseas trade. J With many others, I have advocated for a long time that Australia should enter into this trade progressively. I believe that the trade is there, and that good use could be made of our ships in an overseas service. Employment would be provided for many Australian seamen and for those engaged in our shipbuilding industry. I was pleased to hear **Senator Kennelly** pay a tribute to the Australian National Line, and I join with him in congratulating that line on the splendid job it has done. There is plenty of room for it to expand its activities into the overseas trade. The only point about this bill with which I am unhappy is that it involves the deletion from the act of the reference to the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. Otherwise, I can see no reason why the bill should not be passed, because it is not opposed by the Opposition. {: #subdebate-17-0-s5 .speaker-K8Y} ##### Senator TURNBULL:
TASMANIA · IND; AP from Aug. 1969; IND from Jan. 1970 -- First, I wish to congratulate the Australian National Line on its efficient handling of a complex problem. As a senator from Tasmania, I feel that we are indebted to the line for what it has done for Tasmania. That brings me to my second point, which concerns the removal of the " Bass Trader " from the Tasmanian service at the height of the tourist season. The withdrawal of that ship from the trade for three weeks just before Xmas seems to be inexplicable. I understand that industry closes down about then, and for that reason the ship is taken off the run for its overhaul. The " Princess of Tasmania " went into dry dock recently to have its hull scraped, and it came out without missing a beat. There is an extra engine for the "Bass Trader" that could be used if the ship were to have its engines overhauled. One of Tasmania's greatest industries - although the Tasmanian Government will not recognize it - is the tourist industry. We are losing tourist trade at Xmas because tourists cannot get their motorcars across Bass Strait. There should be no need to lose this trade at such a time. We should have provision for unaccompanied vehicles to be carried on both the " Princess of Tasmania " and the " Bass Trader". I do not know what the regulations are, but why stop such trade at the peak period if it can be avoided? We want all the tourists with their cars that we can get to visit Tasmania. The Minister for Civil Aviation **(Senator Paltridge)** probably has a reason for this provision, and I hope that he will give me an answer. The regulations alone should not be the reason why we cannot have such an arrangement. If a ship is going to be overhauled, it could be done at another time. I must support the Opposition regarding an overseas shipping line for Australia. I do not believe in the omniscience of Ministers. Recently, I heard the Minister for Shipping and Transport **(Mr. Opperman) say in the other House that it would be futile to have an overseas shipping line because it just would not pay or work. I do not wish to rub salt into raw wounds, but we remember that Ministers said Australia would be bankrupt if we went into a deficit of £100,000,000. That was said just before the las; elections, but now the same people who made that statement are going into a deficit of £ 1 1 8,000,000 and it does not mean a thing. Therefore, we do not have to accept the omniscience of Ministers.** Every speaker in the Senate has praised the Australian National Line. I believe that it is so efficient that it could run an overseas Une. Let me say that I do not believe in nationalization - I strongly object to it. The best way of running a concern such as that we have in mind is to have the Government owning 51 per cent, of the shares and giving the industry to private industry to run. 1 am quite happy with the way Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, the Commonwealth Oil Refineries, and the engineering and aluminium projects have been run. They have been quite efficient and have made a profit, and I am certain that the Australian National Line could do likewise in the overseas trade with one proviso. That is, that the Seamen's Union has to come to the party. I cannot see any reason why the union cannot come to the party when an overseas shipping line would mean more employment for seamen. That would be to the advantage of the Seamen's Union and its members so long as it did not make conditions so intolerable that no one could run the line at a profit. **Senator Wright** referred to the fact that the tramp steamer service was not paying and ships were laid up. We would not lay up aircraft of Qantas Empire Airways Limited to-morrow if it made a loss. We would not do that if Qantas made a loss for two of three years. We would subsidize Qantas and get it going. There is a national pride in having an overseas airline and there could be national pride in having our own overseas shipping line. It is said that these people are not efficient. If we allowed them to run an overseas line themselves without hindrance, they could run it successfully and make a profit. Admittedly, in some years it might not make a profit, but that could not be helped. Even the best regulated companies do not make profits of the size they want. We agree now that Trans-Australia Airlines must be allowed to remain. We do not say, " Throw it oat ". We should advocate, and strongly advocate, an Australian overseas shipping line, and look into the possibilities of establishing it. We are paying through our noses in freights. I do not know whether freights would be any cheaper if we had our own overseas shipping line. I do not really believe they would be, just as I never believed that when we had " Bass Trader " and " Princess of Tasmania " freights would be any cheaper. If they are cheaper, any reduction in charges has been taken up by the middle men. I wish to make only those points. I thank the shipping commission for what it has done. I suggest that " Bass Trader " be retained in service during the busy Christmas period. If we can get the Seamen's Union to play ball with the shipping commission, there is no reason why we should not have an overseas line. {: #subdebate-17-0-s6 .speaker-JZY} ##### Senator PALTRIDGE:
Minister for Civil Aviation · Western Australia · LP -- in reply - This comparatively small bill seeks to amend the measure under which the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission operates, by increasing from £1,000,000 to £5,000,000 its power to borrow by overdraft. At the outset, I should make the comment that every single speaker who participated in the debate commented on the service that this line has given to the Australian community. That will prove to be very gratifying to the commission and to the Minister for Shipping and Transport **(Mr. Opperman).** **Senator Wright** addressed himself directly to the proposed increase in the borrowing power of the commission. He expressed some misgiving because, he said, his first impression was that the increased amount was to be made available by overdraft for the purpose of financing building, but it was now apparent that this was not the case and that it was to be used for general purposes. Reference to the second-reading speech will make clear that the prime purpose of the additional borrowing power is the purpose of conducting a necessary building programme. I quote from the speech itself - >This figure- That is, the proposed new figure of £5,000,000- should be adequate to meet all foreseeable demands for liquid funds. The increased borrowing power is sought primarily because of the heavy capital expenditure which wall be incurred by the commission on the new tonnage construction programme due for completion progressively over the next two or three years. An instance is given of a recent building project, and the speech goes on to state that in respect of that project payments from now to 30th June, 1964 for one vessel alone will amount to some £6,578,500. That indicates, as the speech states, that the prime purpose of the bill is to allow increased borrowing for the purpose of building. A further interesting aspect that comes out of this matter is the ratio between equity capital and non-equity capital when the borrowing is at its peak. Even when the borrowing is at its peak, that gearing ratio will be better than three to one. {: .speaker-KBW} ##### Senator Wright: -- What do you call equity capital? {: .speaker-JZY} ##### Senator PALTRIDGE: -- Subscribed capital. Non-equity capital is borrowings from outside, on debentures or things of that nature. {: .speaker-KBW} ##### Senator Wright: -- What subscribed capital has this commission? {: .speaker-JZY} ##### Senator PALTRIDGE: -- The capital of the commission at the moment is £16,425,000. When the borrowing is at its peak of £5,000,000, the gearing ratio will be better than three to one. That, having regard to the nature of this industry and of the investment required for building replacement in an industry of this sort, does reflect very soundly on the general financial structure of the business. It is pertinent to point out, too, that the original capital subscribed to the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission in 1956, that is, six and a half years ago, was £15,732,000, and that capital consisted of ships taken in from the old' Australian Shipping Board at valuation,' plus the' funds, which were not very great, at that time in the hands of the expiring board. Since that time, only one addition to capital has been made, namely, an amount of £692,000 in the year following the foundation of the commission. That addition to capital comprised not cash but a transfer of ships and fixed assets from the expiring board. Over six and a half years, this enterprise has financed its re-equipment programme from its profits, from its internal resources, together with its borrowing power of £1,000,000. In the context of the times, I suggest that it is no more than to be expected that now, faced with the building programme referred to in the speech, it should require to be in a position to get further capital for that purpose. I point out, too, because I believe it to be pertinent and probably not understood by all senators, that this overdraft accommodation is made available against the assets of the undertaking itself and is not supported in any way by Government guarantee. {: .speaker-KBW} ##### Senator Wright: -- But, of course, the Government would necessarily have to undertake liability if called on. {: .speaker-JZY} ##### Senator PALTRIDGE: -- Undoubtedly. I make this point because of **Senator Wright's** comment as to the advantage that might accrue to this commission, borrowing, I repeat, against its own accrued assets, whereas a private company, he suggested, might not have an opportunity to borrow in the same way. I do not quite know how to answer that particular approach to the question. To do so, of course, it would be necessary to examine minutely, or at least in some detail, the accounts of those shipping companies which wanted to borrow against their own assets. I think it is fair to say, in regard to what has been revealed in recent years as to the valuation of assets of some shipping companies, that they would not be able to effect a borrowing of this size or nature if they were so minded. Now, as to the rest of the statements which emanated from the Opposition benches: I must say that I was not surprised that the Labour Party dipped back into the mists of the past to the existence of a national shipping line 40 years ago and, more recently, to the position when shipping was conducted by the Australian Shipping Board. **Senator Arnold,** who opened the debate for the Opposition, referred to the Australian Shipping Board, but when he was, in a sense, comparing what the old shipping board did with what the new commission does he overlooked one very pertinent fact. That is, that when Commonwealth-owned shipping was conducted by the Australian Shipping Board it was conducted at a very substantial loss over a long period. From the time when the present Liberal-Australian Country Party Government embarked on the conduct of shipping our ships have operated as a commercial enterprise. The Australian National Line has not been a burden on the Australian taxpayer year by year, but year by year has paid a modest dividend on the capital invested. There were some passing references to the possibility or desirability of Australia embarking, through the medium of the Australian National Line, on overseas shipping. We have had this sort of scrappy debate before. I sincerely hope that some day we will be able to have something in the nature of a conclusive debate on this very important subject. I repeat now what I have said many times before in this chamber - that it is idle for anybody, including any member of the Opposition, to try to prove by arithmetic that overseas shipping can be undertaken commercially by us. It cannot be. To try to prove that it can be would be just as hopeless as trying to prove that the sum of the angles of a triangle is either more or less than 180 degrees. Arithmetic does not support the proposition that we can make overseas shipping an economic proposition. I would welcome the opportunity for a full-blooded debate on this subject. To mention only one thing to indicate the error into which the Opposition falls in this connexion I remind the Senate of the references made by **Senator Arnold** and **Senator Poke** to the freight on steel, Australia to Hong Kong. This is significantly more than the freight on steel, United Kingdom to Hong Kong. Why? Simply because wharfside costs in Australia are of such an order that ships, whether Australianowned or overseas-owned, cannot operate at the same costs in Australia as apply in other countries. I put it to the Opposition that if it wants to develop an overseas shipping line one of the factors that has to be corrected is our excessive cost at wharfside In this respect I believe that the Australian Labour Party could make a significant contribution. When one mentions the heavier costs of handling ships in Australia, Labour Party members say, " Oh yes, there will be a loss, but we will subsidize the overseas line ". While we have industrial lawlessness on the waterfront in Australia what you are in fact proposing to do is not to subsidize shipping but to subsidize striking - and we cannot enter the overseas shipping business on that basis. **Senator Kennelly** and **Senator Poke** expressed some concern about the proposal contained in clause 2, which seeks to amend section 5 of the principal act by inserting a new definition of the term " approved bank". If the honorable senators will refer to sections 31, 32 and 33 of the principal act they will find there provisions to the effect that the commission shall open and maintain an account or accounts with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and may open and maintain an account or accounts with such other banks as the Treasurer approves. I remind the honorable senators that since the principal act was passed in 1956 certain changes have taken place in our banking structure. The Reserve Bank of Australia has become the successor to the Commonwealth Bank of Australia in this connexion, and in order to bring the act into conformity with similar acts which have been passed since the Reserve Bank came into being it is proposed to insert what is now, I am told, a standard clause in all acts of this nature. First, we write into section 5 of the principal act a new definition of " approved bank ", so that the term will mean the Reserve Bank of Australia instead of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia as heretofore, and will include any other bank approved by the Treasurer for the purposes of the provisions in which the expression " approved bank " occurs. That will bring the act into line with the present position. I can assure the honorable senators that there is no catch in this. {: .speaker-KPK} ##### Senator Kennelly: -- Will you talk about the rationalization that I mentioned? {: .speaker-JZY} ##### Senator PALTRIDGE: -- I am just going to do that. I have a note about it here, and was not going to miss the opportunity. I venture the opinion, if I may, **Mr. President,** although the present bill has nothing to do with airlines, that rationalization has brought improved and more efficient services to the Australian public and better financial results to both major airline operators in Australia. **Senator Kennelly** expressed some apprehension that the same sort of thing might be applied to shipping. In a very muted voice, **Mr. President,** I remind the honorable senator of the activities of the central traffic committee of the shipping industry of which the Australian National Line is a member, whose purpose is to rationalize shipping so that there will not be an over-provision of tonnage at any one time in one port, but ships will ply to and fro on the schedule that will provide the best service. {: .speaker-KBW} ##### Senator Wright: -- That is done by managements and not at the direction of the Minister concerned. {: .speaker-JZY} ##### Senator PALTRIDGE: -- That is true. Neither is rationalization of air services done by direction of a Minister. Ministerial direction has nothing to do with rationalization. The honorable senator is completely in error. Just as there is a central traffic committee in the shipping industry, so there is a rationalization committee in the airlines industry. The Minister does not sit upon the central traffic committee, nor, at any point of time, does he have anything to do with the decisions of the rationalization committee. The honorable senator stands corrected. **Senator Kennelly** referred, also with some apprehension, to the possibility of cross-charters occurring between the Australian National Line and private shipping lines. I shall be delighted at any time I am in Melbourne to meet my friend, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, and go over with him the various charters that have been arranged from time to time between all shipping companies, including the Australian National Line. The word " charter " is not a dirty word. Chartering is a means by which shipping companies attempt to get the greatest possible use of the tonnage which is available to them. **Mr. President,** despite the mild excitement of the last few minutes, I express very *great* pleasure indeed that the chamber has accepted this measure in the manner in which it has. For the reasons I have given, I must say to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that the Government will not accept the amendment which he has foreshadowed, in the event of his proceeding with it. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time. In committee: The bill. {: #subdebate-17-0-s7 .speaker-JZU} ##### Senator ORMONDE:
New South Wales -- I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation **(Senator Paltridge)** whether he can explain why the Australian National Line can make a handsome profit when trading on the coast of Australia, yet, when one of its ships takes a load of material to Singapore, or some other overseas port, the ship is incapable of making a profit. {: #subdebate-17-0-s8 .speaker-JZY} ##### Senator PALTRIDGE:
Minister for Civil Aviation · Western Australia · LP -- I can do better than explain that myself. If the honorable senator refers, not to anything I say, but to the report of this very efficient commission itself, he will find that the commission has stated that it is unable, because of the circumstances that exist, to put its ships into the overseas trade profitably. Bill agreed to. Bill reported without amendment; report adopted. Bill read a third time. Sitting suspended from 5.39 to 8 p.m. {: .page-start } page 1729 {:#debate-18} ### DERBY JETTY AGREEMENT BILL 1962 {:#subdebate-18-0} #### Second Reading Debate resumed from 4th December (vide page 1698), on motion by **Senator Paltridge** - >That the bill be now read a second time. {: #subdebate-18-0-s0 .speaker-K7Y} ##### Senator TANGNEY:
Western Australia -- The Australian Labour Party does not oppose this bill. It will result in the replacement of the jetty at Derby and thus will assist in the very important work of developing the north and helping the trade of that very vast area. However, we would like to discuss a couple of points which vitally affect this bill. For instance, we do not like the fact that the Western Australian Government has to repay £400,000 of the total Commonwealth payment, with interest at the rate operative at the time when each advance is made. Although the loan of £400,000 that is being made by the Commonwealth Government has been agreed upon between that government and the Western Australian Government, it is a mere drop in the ocean compared with the vast expenditure that is necessary if the north is to be developed to its full capacity. The loan also is to come out of the loan funds that the Commonwealth Government has made available to the State under legislation recently approved by the Senate. The funds that were made available at that time are to bc used all over the State. Other ports in Western Australia, apart from Derby, need improvement. For instance, Bunbury is desperately in need of extensive harbour renovations, and the ports of Albany, Esperance and Geraldton are clamouring for attention. The State Government has to meet those demands as best it can. If the money made available under this bill is being spent in the north, it cannot be spent elsewhere. AH the money is coming out of the one purse. Whilst the sum of £400,000 may not mean very much to the Commonwealth, it means a very great deal to the State. Although the time allowed for repayment is fifteen years, the interest to be paid each year and the capital repayment amount to quite a large sum when viewed against the background of other liabilities that the Western Australian Government has to assume and all the other responsibilities that it has, which are greater proportionately in Western Australia than in any other State because of the very nature of the State. I refer to the vast areas of which the State Government is the guardian and the hospitals, schools, roads and other services that it has to maintain. We would feel very much happier if this agreement that has been entered into already by the Premier of Western Australia and the federal authorities did not include the repayment clause. However, we are grate ful for what is being done. I, as a Western Australian, would be lacking in my duty to this Parliament and to my State if I did not say that we appreciate this money being made available for this long overdue work at Derby. The Derby jetty has been falling into disuse for a very long time. It has reached the stage now where it is practically dangerous. The area around it is being developed vary quickly. The need to do this work on the jetty is very urgent in the overall plan for the development of the north. That brings me to the second point on which w,e differ from the Government; that is, this piecemeal work in the northern areas. I admit that quite a lot of work is being done. For example, there is the Ord River development plan, the Western Australian Grant (Beef Cattle Roads) Bill that will be debated later this evening, other grants for beef roads in the north, and this money for the construction of a new jetty at Derby. AH this work is being done piecemeal. The Labour Party maintains that there should be an overall plan for northern development. We would like to see established not just a commission without power but an authority such as the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority to deal with the development of the north, with the Queensland Government, the Western Australian Government and the Commonwealth Government all acting in concert, as the Commonwealth and certain State governments do in the Snowy Mountains Authority. I recall that in this chamber about sixteen years ago all kinds of doubts were cast on the possibility of having a Snowy Mountains Authority. The whole of the Snowy Mountains plan was under discussion. It was felt that the work could never be done because the concept was too vast, there were too many interstate rivalries to overcome and the States would not want to relinquish to the Commonwealth any of their sovereign powers. Time has proved that that criticism was wrong. We maintain that time also will prove wrong the people who say that a northern Australia authority would not work. In Australia we have men with the know-how to do that job thoroughly. The job is being done, but it is being done very slowly. Very few federal members and senators have been to the northern areas and realize the vast expanse of the area and how much work has to be done. I should like to see every honorable senator pay a visit to the northern part of Australia and see for himself or herself the amount of developmental work that has to be done. It will be a much more expensive and much more drawn out job if it is done piecemeal by making a grant or a loan to Queensland to enable certain work to be done, by the Commonwealth doing certain jobs in the Northern Territory and by building a new jetty at Derby when other jetties in the north need fixing. The jetties at Port Hedland and Onslow need fixing. We are to have a new deep-water port at Depuch. That will not be affected by the provision of this new jetty at Derby. All this work has to be done. But it is being done in fits hnd starts. The Government has not a planned, orderly scheme of development. {: .speaker-JZY} ##### Senator Paltridge: -- What is disorderly about it? {: .speaker-K7Y} ##### Senator TANGNEY: -- I am saying that the granting of this money for the building of this new jetty at Derby is good, but it is only part of the huge amount of developmental work that should be carried out in the north as part of an orderly plan. The **PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin)** - Order! I remind you, **Senator Tangney,** that that does not come within the scope of this bill. {: .speaker-K7Y} ##### Senator TANGNEY: -- That is a criticism that we have to offer in regard to this sum of money. We believe that it is inadequate and that if we had an overall plan more money would be spent in the north and this work would fall into its proper perspective. The criticisms that we offer of this bill are in respect of the repayment of interest and capital over fifteen years, and the conditions that the Commonwealth is imposing on the State as shown in the schedule. We agree with the standards. We believe that it is only right that the people who pay the piper should call the tune. We believe that standards have to be maintained, but at the same time we feel that Western Australia will be hard pressed to repay this money, and the loan granted for the building of the standard gauge railway line within the comparatively short time of fifteen years. Whilst we do not oppose the bill, we criticize those two aspects of it. They are, first, the fact that this is only piecemeal legislation and the work is not part of an overall plan; and secondly, that the State Government has to pay current rates of interest on half of the total amount. We regret that those features appear in this legislation. Otherwise, we support it. {: #subdebate-18-0-s1 .speaker-K5K} ##### Senator SCOTT:
Western Australia -- I am very pleased to hear that the Labour Party is supporting this measure. {: .speaker-JYA} ##### Senator O'Byrne: -- We always do support constructive measures. {: .speaker-K5K} ##### Senator SCOTT: -- I know the Labour Party always supports sound measures brought forward by this Government, and this is a very sound measure. I am surprised at the criticism that came from my Western Australian colleague, **Senator Tangney,** who is a member of the Labour Party. I doubt whether any previous Commonwealth Government has done as much for the Kimberleys area of Western Australia as the present Government has done. If honorable senators examine the measure, they will find that it seeks to provide finance for the construction of a jetty at Hedland. The jetty is to cost £800,000, and the Commonwealth Government is making a free gift of £400,000, without any restrictions whatever. The other £400,000 is to be repaid by the Western Australian Government - which applied to the Commonwealth Government for this assistance - over a period of fifteen years at loan rates of interest. Surely a project in which one is required to repay only 50 per cent, of the cost, at ordinary loan rates of interest, must be a profitable investment. The Western Australian Government believes that the returns from this venture will be sufficient to meet interest and sinking fund commitments on half the total capital expenditure over a period of fifteen years. {: .speaker-K7Y} ##### Senator Tangney: -- We hope it is right. {: .speaker-K5K} ##### Senator SCOTT: -- We are convinced that the Western Australian Government is right; otherwise we would not be lending it the money. We also have faith in the Kimberleys. Let me say also to the honorable senator, who says that if Labour were in office it would have an overall plan for the development of the north, that when the leader of the Labour Party was being interviewed on Channel TVW7 in Western Australia during the last election campaign and was asked what he would do about the development of the north if he became the Prime Minister of Australia, he said he would dam the rivers of the north. When asked what rivers of the north he would dam, he hesitated for a considerable time and then replied that he would dam all the rivers of the north. There are hundreds of them there! That is said only just in passing. I want to refer to the statement by the honorable senator that the Labour Party has an overall plan for the development of the north, which would include the Derby jetty. She stated that the Labour Party would establish a commission, similar to the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority, which would be charged with the responsibility of developing the area of Australia north of the twenty-sixth parallel. {: .speaker-K7Y} ##### Senator Tangney: -- What is wrong with that? {: .speaker-K5K} ##### Senator SCOTT: -- There is a vast difference between carrying out in the Snowy Mountains area a specific project approved by the Parliament and developing the north. There is no specific task connected with the development of the north which could be referred to an authority similar to the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. {: .speaker-K8N} ##### Senator Toohey: -- That is a lot of nonsense. {: .speaker-K5K} ##### Senator SCOTT: -- Let me say in reply to the honorable senator who interjects that if an authority were set up to develop the north we would not be able to find sufficient money in Australia to finance it. For instance, if that authority set out to dam all the rivers in the north, as the Leader of the Opposition in another place said he would do if he became the Prime Minister, the cost would be something in excess of £1,000,000,000. {: .speaker-JYA} ##### Senator O'Byrne: -- You know what he meant when he spoke about the development of the north. {: .speaker-K5K} ##### Senator SCOTT: -- I do not mind members of the Opposition making .statements pf that kind. They have a right to say whatever they wish to say on these subjects. This Government has a plan for the development of the north. I remind the Opposition that the Labour Party has been in office before but did nothing like what we propose to do or like what we have done for the development of the Kimberleys. We are saying to the Western Australian Government that we are prepared to contribute half of the cost of the construction of this jetty. I emphasize that this offer follows a gift by the Commonwealth to Western Australia of £5,000,000 for the development of the north. The State Government has already spent between £900,000 and £1,000,000 of that money on a deep-water port at Wyndham and something approaching £1,000,000 on the Ord River scheme. This project is a part of an overall plan which the State Government has in mind for the development of the Kimberleys and in connexion with which it is approaching the Commonwealth Government for assistance. I was very pleased indeed to hear **Senator Tangney** say that she supported the measure, although she said also that the Labour Party would go a step further. We know very well that when Labour was in office it did not even make the first step - it did not get to first base. Now the people of Western Australia, indeed the people of the whole of Australia, are conscious that at long last the northern part of Western Australia has begun to spring into development, and that the stage is being set for increased production in that area. The provision of this jetty will facilitate the export of all the products of the country which will be irrigated by the waters stored behind the dam to be constructed across the Fitzroy River. I refer to such products as rice, safflower and linseed, as well as fat cattle. The Commonwealth Government and the Western Australian Government do have in mind an overall plan for the rapid development of this particular area. I am pleased that, despite some of the remarks made by my colleague from Western Australia, the Labour Party is not opposing this measure. Together with the Opposition, I have very much pleasure in supporting it. {: #subdebate-18-0-s2 .speaker-KBC} ##### Senator WILLESEE:
Western Australia .- It is a great pity that **Senator Scott** should have spoilt the efforts of the Minister for Civil Aviation **(Senator Paltridge)** and of the Government in this connexion by overstating and exaggerating the value of the project we are discussing to-night. He referred to the work as an instalment in the development of the north. This project is not a part of the development of the north. It is merely the replacement of a jetty that is rapidly becoming unserviceable. I think that the application for the work to be done came to the Government away back in 1955. I ask the Minister, when he replies to the debate, to inform me whether or not that is correct. As **Senator Tangney** has said, we of the Opposition accept this proposal, but it is merely embarrassing to the Minister to indulge in nonsensical propaganda of the type that **Senator Scott** indulged in. The fact is that Derby is a town which had been run down for some time. It received a lift by reason of the fact that the ore deposits in the Yampi Sound area are being developed by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, and also the development of the oil resources and the commencement of rice-growing. Derby is a most important town if for no other reason than the fact that I was born there more years ago than I care to remember. Indeed, my mother also was born there. The Commonwealth, by means of the legislation we are discussing, is recognizing its responsibilities to the north-west of Western Australia. I hate to use that phrase, because I believe that, as Australians, we should be looking to the development of the whole of the area north of the 26th parallel. As a Western Australian, it does not worry me very much whether cattle are shipped from Wyndham, Derby or Broome, or whether they are shipped from Darwin or Kalumburu, which has not yet been developed. **Senator Scott** has made the error of over-enlarging the importance of the project which is designed to replace a jetty that is rapidly becoming unserviceable. A few months ago, I walked the whole length of the jetty, and I also rode over it in a train. It was obvious to me that something had to be done about it. To say that this work will do something for the cattle industry or the rice industry at Derby is entirely wrong. We are already shipping cattle and rice from the inefficient jetty which is there at the moment. The proposal is to replace a worn-out piece of capital equipment by one that is more efficient. I regret to have to make these comments, because I do not want to detract in any way from the step that the Government is taking. It has chosen to moke finance available to Western Australia and to require the State Government to pay back half of the money and to pay interest. As **Senator O'Byrne** very aptly interjected while **Senator Scott** was speaking, if anything had gone wrong during the Cuba crisis three or four weeks ago, the Commonwealth Government would have had to bear the whole cost of the project because it would be a defence work. It was not our fault that some one in England, many years ago, drew a line across the Australian continent - incidentally, I note from the maps that he did not even draw a straight line - and said to a relatively small number of people, "This is your responsibility, even though much of the country is desert and a great deal of the rest of it will never be more than pastoral land." It was not the fault of the Government of Western Australia, nor of the people of the State, that that was done. Therefore, it is obviously the duty of the Commonwealth to accept some responsibility for the development of the northern part of Australia. On a broader aspect, **Mr. President,** I am delighted that on this occasion we are not entangled in the arguments that usually arise when we discuss education or the provision of water supplies and all the other services that need to be provided in a nation such as ours. When we discuss those matters, there is a tendency to say, " That is a Commonwealth responsibility or, " That is a State responsibility ". The Labour Party welcomes this legislation because it is an acknowledgement by the Commonwealth that even though the provision of jetties is usually the sole responsibility of State governments, there are difficulties in this case, and there is also the matter of defence potential. Western Australia has a long coastline to the Indian Ocean. It is a fact that Derby is situated in the only tropical area in the world where disease does not plague man. Therefore, the development of that area is a challenge to us. Because that is so, and because the Government has acknowledged that fact, to a degree, in this bill, the Labour Party welcomes it. **Senator Scott,** in his meanderings, said there was something wrong in advocating the establishment of an organization to look at the development of the whole of the northern part of Australia. He referred to the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority. It took the late Ben Chifley, with his attitude to finance, to say that the Snowy Mountains scheme was not too big a job for Australia to tackle. The very people who are claiming credit for it to-day are those who cried it down in the early days. The history of conservatism shows that it always has followed a policy of, "It can't be done." Everybody knows that the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority is an efficient body. Most honorable senators have travelled over the Snowy Mountains scheme at the various stages of its development and have been thrilled to see what Australians can do. Governments of both political complexions have been prepared to stand behind it and say, " We will find the finance ". In the north of Australia to-day there is a tremendous challenge to young Australians, including young engineers and young parliamentarians, to accept the task of developing it. **Senator Scott** got on to his old hobby horse, and I regret to say that the Minister supported him with frequent " Hear, hears! " The honorable senator referred to an interview that a certain individual had with **Mr. Calwell** in Perth, in the course of which **Mr. Calwell** was asked about his attitude to development of the north. As a politician and a parliamentarian should have said, he stated that if the Labour Party were returned at the forthcoming general election, it would be prepared to set aside a certain amount of money for the development of the north, just as governments have set aside sums for the Snowy Mountains scheme, rail standardization, social services and other matters. When he was asked what he would do, he said he would dam the rivers. Honorable senators opposite seem to derive a great deal of fun from the fact that he went on to say that he would dam all the rivers. Surely honorable senators opposite, many of whom have been in this place since 1949, know that it is not the job of a Minister, or of a government, to say that a certain kind of dam construction, a certain type of earth- moving machine, or a certain brand of petrol should be approved. It is the job of the Government and of politicians generally to. lay down the broad lines on which the technicians should work. Parliamentarians must have the courage to tax the people to provide finance for developmental projects to be carried out. I recall a previous occasion in the Senate when I heard **Senator Scott** speak about the opening of the Snowy Mountains scheme. He said that at the opening ceremony the first sod was turned half a mile from where the original blasting shot was fired, as though it was the job of the Treasurer of this country to know the exact spot where the first shot should be fired. It amazes me that any one who has been in this Parliament since 10th December, 1949, as I have myself, should not have realized the relationship between the artisans and technicians of this country and the politicians and executive members. I regret very much that a work such as the Derby jetty project should be discussed on that level. Something bad to be done about the jetty at Derby, because Derby is one of the towns of the north which, unlike others, is booming. We must not forget, when we are looking at the problems of the north, that it is necessary to do much more than merely preserve the status quo. It is necessary to do more than replace jetties that are falling down. You have to say to those families who are moving in there, " We are concerned with your comfort and the attitude you take to the north ". It is not going to make one iota of difference to them whether they have a concrete and steel jetty or the wooden jetty that they have to-day. The Government's vision must be greater than that. So, despite all that has been said by **Senator Scott** and the Minister for Civil Aviation, when the Leader of the Opposition states that we are prepared to dam all the rivers, he means all the rivers that the technicians, including the geologists and the engineers, consider are capable of being dammed. That is the vision one must have of the development of the north. For too long have we had people investing their money in these areas simply to take money out of them. The Government has ignored those who have been bom and bred in the north, and have succeeded there. It does not matter whether the Government dams every river. Unless it gives the people something extra to attract them to those areas rather than to other places where the climate, the schools and the amenities are belter, and where they can get fresh vegetables, they will not be prepared to go to the north. We support the legislation because the proposed work is necessary. The jetty has to be replaced, and obviously the work is beyond the resources of the Western Australian Government. I regret that **Senator Scott** has brought this matter down to the level of a great hand-out by the Commonwealth Government. It is good that the Government is providing money for this purpose, but while we welcome that provision, we do not believe that this is the end of it. The Government is only preserving the status quo and it should not turn its back on an overall plan. 1 invite the Government to look at some of the leading citizens of this area who are non-political, and who want the Government to take an overall view of this matter before it is too late. It is not for the Government to decide whether the Ord River ought to be developed before the Gascoyne River, or whether the Ord River should be developed before some river in Queensland or the Northern Territory. The only way is to make a complete analysis of the situation and to lay down the priorities that should be followed. The Opposition accepts the financial arrangements, but we think that the Commonwealth Government should be more generous. We accept them as the Western Australian Government has done, but do not let us get things out of perspective. The task of the Commonwealth Government is to redistribute the revenue, which is collected by way of taxation, for the benefit not only of the city people, but of every Australian. {: #subdebate-18-0-s3 .speaker-JZY} ##### Senator PALTRIDGE:
Minister for Civil Aviation · Western Australia · LP -- in reply - It is a matter of regret that a measure of this sort which attracts the support of both sides of the House, should, paradoxically, become a matter of contention. As I understand it, there is contention regarding the amount of credit that should be given to, or withheld from, the Commonwealth Government. As **Senator Willesee** was speak ing, I re-read the second-reading speech on this bill. In the light of what the honorable senator has said, I would commend a rereading of the second-reading speech to **Senator Willesee,** because nothing in that speech claims for the Commonwealth Government anything other than a degree of foresight, and a recognition of the need to do those things that could be justified by any objective judgment. If this Government showed any lack of foresight and judgment, it is rather a pity that **Senator Willesee,** speaking with magnificent hindsight, could not have brought pressure to bear on the Government he supported to do the right thing. I remind **Senator Tangney,** who has spoken now of what should be done, that the Government which she supported, and which had the ability and the opportunity to do something for the north of Australia, did precisely nothing. Honorable senators opposite may scream as they like. The facts are on record and cannot be ignored. {: .speaker-K3W} ##### Senator Cant: -- What facts? {: .speaker-JZY} ##### Senator PALTRIDGE: -- The fact is that this is the first Commonwealth Government that has shown an awareness of the need to do something for the north, and a willingness to do it. The Labour Government that was in power for so long had the opportunity to do so much, but it did nothing. This contention would not have arisen had it not been for the statements made by **Senator Tangney.** From the interjections that have come from the Opposition side, I understand that **Senator Willesee** suggests that I walked out on a war. 1 invite him to reflect on that statement. {: .speaker-KBC} ##### Senator Willesee: -- I said that your Government walked out. {: .speaker-JZY} ##### Senator PALTRIDGE: -- The Government I support did not walk out on a war, as the honorable senator knows very well. {: .speaker-KBC} ##### Senator Willesee: -- Then you explain it. {: .speaker-JZY} ##### Senator PALTRIDGE: -- I will on a suitable occasion explain to the honorable senator what did happen then. {: .speaker-KBC} ##### Senator Willesee: -- That will be the day! {: .speaker-JZY} ##### Senator PALTRIDGE: -- As the honorable senator says, that will be the day, and he will live to regret it. The honorable senator, of all those who sit on the Opposition benches, is least justified in criticizing anything this Government has done. But to return to the bill, I want to say that this contention would not have arisen had it not been for **Senator Tangney,** who sought to bring into this discussion an element of criticism of the agreement. I emphasize that this agreement was open to criticism. {: .speaker-K3W} ##### Senator Cant: -- Well, it is. {: .speaker-JZY} ##### Senator PALTRIDGE: -- I ask **Senator Cant** and **Senator Willesee** where and why it is a proper subject for criticism. The Government is providing 50 per cent. of the money as a cash grant for the reconstruction of a facility which is a revenueproducing facility and will commence to produce revenue as soon as it is in order and working. {: .speaker-K6F} ##### Senator Cavanagh: -- It is already producing revenue. {: .speaker-JZY} ##### Senator PALTRIDGE: -It is already producing revenue, as **Senator Cavanagh** reminds me; but because of its deteriorated condition its revenue-producing capabilities are severely limited. That is the point. The Government comes to the aid of the State Government, not in any parsimonious fashion, with a 50 per cent. cash grant. The Government says, " We provide 50 per cent. of this money. You will not be asked to service the other 50 per cent. until it is revenue-producing." If the Western Australian senators who sit opposite the Government exercised greater perspicuity than they exercised to-night, as I thought they might, they would read into the terms of this something which they obviously do not understand and which they would understand if they had given some study to the Commonwealth Grants Commission's method of making payments to the States. Fifty per cent. is repayable over a period of fifteen years. If instead of being made repayable, as **Senator Tangney** suggested, by the State Government from loan funds, it is made repayable from Consolidated Revenue, as it undoubtedly will be, this payment will be an allowable deduction by the Commonwealth Grants Commission and, in effect, the Western Australian Government will pay nothing of the advance that is made. **Senator Tangney** was too quick, as she always is, to seek to make party political capital of what is a first-class agreement - I emphasize the word " agreement " - between the Commonwealth Government and the State Government. In seeking to make that political capital, she led **Senator Willesee** into the trap of trying further to make political capital out of a situation in which there was no political capital. This, in fact, is a first-class agreement for Western Australia, matched only by the agreement which the Brand Government made with the Menzies Government in respect of the rail standardization which **Mr. Hawke** has so consistently but so stupidly tried to criticize. **Senator Willesee** made some point, or attempted to make some point, of the Calwell television appearance. Let me complete the story. What was asked of **Mr. Calwell** was this: " **Mr. Calwell,** if you were to develop the north, how would you do it?" **Mr. Calwell** said, "Oh, I would make £60,000,000 available". The interviewer said, " Yes, **Mr. Calwell,** but how would you expend this amount of money? " **Mr. Calwell** said, " Well, there are rail standardization projects ". The interviewer said, " **Mr. Calwell,** there are no railways north of Geraldton to standardize ". **Mr. Calwell** said, " Well, in that case, I would dam the rivers ". Asked what rivers he would dam, with gay abandon **Mr. Calwell** said, " I would dam all of the rivers ". And **Mr. Calwell** got in Western Australia, as he deserved, the greatest horse laugh that any Leader of the Opposition has ever got. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time. In committee: The bill. {: #subdebate-18-0-s4 .speaker-KBC} ##### Senator WILLESEE:
Western Australia -- I was very interested in the histrionics of the Minister for Civil Aviation **(Senator Paltridge).** They took me back to 1949, when he used to be a smasher-up of our meetings. I was particularly interested in his explanation of the fact that this would actually cost the State Government nothing. {: .speaker-KPI} ##### Senator Kendall: -- In relation to which clause is this? {: .speaker-KBC} ##### Senator WILLESEE: -- The honorable senator was not listening, I am afraid. The committee is taking the bill as a whole. The honorable senator was fast asleep. I am asking the Minister to show under what conditions this will cost the State Government nothing at all. He said, in an airyfairy way, that under the procedures of the Commonwealth Grants Commission the State would get this assistance for nothing. He has had a drink of water and settled down. His blood pressure is dropping and he is back to his old genial self again. {: .speaker-KOW} ##### Senator Henty: -- He had you jumping out of your seat. {: .speaker-KBC} ##### Senator WILLESEE: -- We had you jumping out of your seat last night, and you had to come crawling back to the committee. {: #subdebate-18-0-s5 .speaker-JZQ} ##### The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Anderson:
NEW SOUTH WALES -- I direct attention to the fact that we are in committee, and I insist that honorable senators speak to the clauses of the bill. {: .speaker-KBC} ##### Senator WILLESEE: -- As I understand the position, we are taking the bill as a whole. {: #subdebate-18-0-s6 .speaker-10000} ##### The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: -- Honorable senators still have to link up their remarks with the bill. The blood pressure of another senator has nothing to do with it. {: .speaker-KBC} ##### Senator WILLESEE: -- I do hope that you will treat the Minister in the same fair and unbiased way. If you do that, 1 will be prepared to stick. I ask the Minister to explain the position to the committee. The bill has been debated in another place and the press has reported that half of the cost of this project is to rest on the shoulders of the Western Australian Government, to be repayable at 5 per cent, interest. The Minister explained to us that it will actually not cost that Government anything at all. I wonder whether he could enlarge on that in order to make it a little clearer. We might regret some of the criticisms we have made if we find that it will not cost us anything, instead of costing £400,000 plus 5 per cent. {: #subdebate-18-0-s7 .speaker-JZY} ##### Senator PALTRIDGE:
Minister for Civil Aviation · Western Australia · LP -- **Mr. Temporary Chairman,** I cannot relate my comments to any clause of the bill, but if you will allow me the same liberty as you have allowed **Senator Willesee** I shall reply to his query. I suggest to **Senator Willesee** that he should make some study of the pro cedures of the Commonwealth Grants Commission. I suspect, as I look across the chamber, that **Senator Cant,** with whom I have discussed this matter before, knows rather more about this than does **Senator Willesee.** {: .speaker-KPK} ##### Senator Kennelly: -- You cannot divide us; this is the old game of divide and conquer. {: .speaker-JZY} ##### Senator PALTRIDGE: -- I would not attempt it, because we have conquered you already. I know that **Senator Cant** understands this point; quite obviously **Senator Willesee** does not. If a charge of this nature is made against Consolidated Revenue- {: .speaker-10000} ##### The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: -- Order! I want to make perfectly clear to the committee and, in particular, to **Senator Willesee** who is interjecting, that the committee is taking the bill as a whole. **Senator Willesee** asked the Minister a question in relation to the bill and the Minister is now answering his question. {: .speaker-KBC} ##### Senator Willesee: -- He is talking about **Senator Cant.** {: .speaker-JZY} ##### Senator PALTRIDGE: -- I was simply saying in answer to a question asked by **Senator Willesee** from Western Australia, who apparently is not aware of this position, that where a State Government charges yearly an amount of this nature against Consolidated Revenue instead of against loan fund, then the Commonwealth Grants Commission will permit that as an allowable expense in calculating the grant to be made available to that State under the States Grants Act. This is precisely what the Western Australian Government will do, or I am a Dutchman. {: #subdebate-18-0-s8 .speaker-KPK} ##### Senator KENNELLY:
Victoria -- If the important State that I represent ever got anything for nothing I did not see it happening. Will Victoria get the same consideration as **Senator Paltridge** has seemingly been able to get for his own State? I know that Victoria is a small State, but it seems rather remarkable when a responsible Minister of the Commonwealth can say twice that although the bill distinctly states that half the amount is to be found by the Western Australian Government that government will, in effect, not have to pay anything at all because it will get the money back under the Commonwealth Grants Commission. I should think that if that is the truth it is not to the credit of a Minister that, in order to score a point, he should say that the Government's intention in this matter is snide. Bill agreed to. Bill reported without amendment; report adopted. Bill read a third time. {: .page-start } page 1738 {:#debate-19} ### WESTERN AUSTRALIA GRANT (BEEF CATTLE ROADS) BILL 1962 {:#subdebate-19-0} #### Second Reading Debate resumed from 4th December (vide page 1700), on motion by **Senator Paltridge** - >That the bill be now read a second time. {: #subdebate-19-0-s0 .speaker-KBC} ##### Senator WILLESEE:
Western Australia -- The bill is another measure of a kind that we have had over the last two years or so, and is designed to make money available for the development of beef cattle roads in the area that lies north of the 26th parallel of latitude. Some twelve months or two years ago moneys were made available to Western Australia and to Queensland for the building of beef cattle roads in order to expedite the moving of beasts by road trains from the interior to the coastal areas and thence to the world markets. This provision, particularly in Western Australia, where most of the heavy beef-producing areas are more than 100 miles inland from the main ports of Derby, Broome and Wyndham, has meant the more expeditious travelling of beef with less loss of life on the journey. It has also meant the end of the old romantic days of the bullocky and the cattle drover. It is obvious that these beef cattle roads will be used for purposes other than the droving of cattle. There is one point that I should like the Minister to deal with if he is in the mood to do so. I notice that money is to be granted to Queensland to seal, or bitumenize. roads which were built last year or two years ago, because it has been found that the original gravel surface is not standing up to the arduous conditions that result from the climate. We in Western Australia have had long experience of the effect of climatic conditions on roads, and the Commonwealth Government has had before it some enlightening facts on this very matter. It is possible with a road that covers a great distance to have one kind of climate at one end of it and a completely different climate at the other end. In the Kimberley region we get intense rains during the wet season, which cause flooding of the road surface, and then a long dry summer followed by winds. This leads to a degradation of the road surface. As I understand the bill these Western Australian roads are to be surfaced in gravel or whatever material is at hand and are not to be bitumenized. I know that it has already become necessary to bitumenize roads which were originally gravelled, and I think it would not be very wise to lay down roads that would not prove capable of standing up to the extreme climatic conditions that prevail in the area concerned. I know very little about rail transportation, but there is one other point that I should like to put to the Minister. Many people have told me that dieselization has revolutionized transport in all parts of the world. The Minister has plenty of advice available to him on the subject of transport, and I should like him to tell me about the possibilities lying in the use of road trains on these roads. One of the important things in time of drought in Australia's wide open spaces is the ability to move beasts from one area to another - that is to say, from a drought area to an agistment area. The wealthy squatters realize the importance of surviving droughts, and that is why, particularly in Western Australia, they own properties in high rainfall areas. I do not know how many places **Senator Scott,** who is now interjecting, owns, but I know that he is always shifting something from somewhere. I see that he is laughing. I simply ask the Minister, and the responsible senators who are listening to me - and not the two honorable senators giggling in the corner - whether these matters have been given consideration. The Labour Party, of course, supports this bill. It represents another effort - which is particularly desirable in view of the likelihood of Britain joining the European Common Market - to build up our primary exports. After all it is basically our primary exports which enable us to supply the import requirements of our secondary industries. As I have said, the Australian Labour Party supports the bill. I merely pose to the Minister the questions that have been put to me by constituents. If the Minister has the information available now, I would be pleased if he would supply it tonight. If he has not the information available, perhaps there is somebody somewhere in his department who can give some advice on these matters. {: #subdebate-19-0-s1 .speaker-K5K} ##### Senator SCOTT:
Western Australia -- Again I reply to a colleague from Western Australia, but this time of a different sex. I congratulate **Senator Willesee,** who has, on behalf of the Australian Labour Party, supported a measure brought down by the Government to provide finance for the construction of beef roads in the Kimberleys area of Western Australia. I think it is generally realized by all political parties in Australia that it is vital that in the ensuing decade we develop the north of this continent. This is one of the measures that has been thought out between the State Government of Western Australia and the Commonwealth Government. The Commonwealth is to provide about £3,000,000 over a period of three years. This year it will provide £700,000, and in the succeeding three years it will provide £750,000 a year, for the construction of beef roads in the Kimberleys. The proviso attached to this grant is that the State Government of Western Australia will supply approximately a similar amount during five years, including the present year. I believe that the development of the north of Australia will revolve around the construction of beef roads, because they will enable the people engaged in the beef industry to transport their stock by a most expeditious means to abattoirs in inland areas or on the coast. The Kimberleys district covers an area of approximately 140,000 square miles. At present the district has the same number of cattle as were there 50 or 60 years ago, namely, 500,000 head. {: .speaker-K3W} ##### Senator Cant: -- There could be fewer. {: .speaker-K5K} ##### Senator SCOTT: -- The honorable senator may be right; there could be fewer. I would say that if we are to develop the north, the way to do it is by the provision of adequate transport facilities, including roads for the transport of beef cattle to slaughter houses either at inland centres or at ports. Because of our economic position, and the fact that at the moment Great Britain seems anxious to join the Common Market, we in Australia will have to rely more and more on the exports of our primary industries to produce an income that will enable us at least to maintain the standard of living we now enjoy. Having recently travelled over a considerable part of North and South America, I say without fear of contradiction that the standard of living of the people of Australia is higher than the standard of living of any people in the countries that I visited. I am told that at the moment the United States of America has the highest standard of living of any country in the world. I query that statement. When I went through the United States, I found that although the standard wage of the people there is higher than the basic wage in Australia, costs in America are considerably higher than costs in Australia. A person on the basic wage in Australia can buy more goods with his money than can his counterpart in the United States. The **PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin).** - Order! The honorable senator must relate his remarks to the bill. {: .speaker-K5K} ##### Senator SCOTT: -- -Yes, **Sir. I** think you are entirely right, but I was carried away by a realization of the efforts of this Government to raise the standard of living of the people of Australia. I believe that the introduction of this legislation is a move to raise the standard of living of the people in this country. This measure is designed, **Mr. President,** to provide beef roads so that the cattle areas in the Kimberleys can be developed and can produce greater numbers of cattle thus increasing the export income of Australia. {: .speaker-JYA} ##### Senator O'Byrne: -- Are you going to seal these roads? {: .speaker-K5K} ##### Senator SCOTT: -- **Senator O'Byrne** must remember - this applies to Tasmania also - that before you can seal a road you must have a road. That is terribly important. You just do not seal roads before you have them. This measure is designed to construct roads so that the people in the Kimberleys will be able to develop their properties and transport cattle from those developed properties to the nearest abattoirs. I should like to say to **Senator O'Byrne** that at this moment we still have people in the north-west of Western Australia who possess the pioneering spirit. They are prepared to go out into the outback areas in an endeavour to develop properties. I could mention the names of people who have gone 300 or 400 miles from a port. At present it takes them eight to ten days to get to the port to obtain their stores. This measure is designed to provide a road 60 that they will be able to do in about ten hours what they now do in ten days. In the initial stages that road will not be sealed, but it will give those people transport to the port about ten times more quickly than they have now. In the future the Western Austraiian Government may decide to seal the roads that will be built under this legislation. In conclusion I say that I agree with **Senator Willesee** that this is a good bill. With him, I have much pleasure in supporting the Government's proposal. {: #subdebate-19-0-s2 .speaker-K3W} ##### Senator CANT:
Western Australia -- I rise on behalf of the Australian Labour Party to support the measure that has been introduced by the Government. I am somewhat sympathetic with **Senator Scott** who probably knows this area as well as if not better than any one else in this Parliament knows it, despite the fact that **Senator Willesee** was born there. I commiserate with **Senator Scott** in his inability to explain himself on this evening of conviviality. We support this measure because we, as a party, believe in the development of the northern part of Australia. We criticize the measure because we do not believe that the development of the north should be dependent upon the capabilities of a State budget to set the tempo of development. I say that because the bill provides that the Commonwealth Government shall provide certain amounts of money spread over a five-year period. Last year the amount provided was £500,000. This year it is to be £700,000. In the ensuing three years it is to be £750,000 each year. These grants are conditional. The condition is that the State Government shall match the grant by the Commonwealth not necessarily on the same roads but in the same area. That has two effects. Despite the fact that a Liberal government is in control of the treasury bench in Western Australia, I know that any government in that State regardless of party would be anxious to develop the State. When the Commonwealth Government says to the State Government, " We will provide £3,450,000 over a five-year period for the development of roads north of the twentieth parallel ", the State Government will take the money although over that same period it has to provide the same amount from its own finances. In the first instance, that deprives the State Government of the right to spend its money - most of which comes from the Commonwealth Government, of coursein the areas in which it wants to spend it. That also enables the Commonwealth Government to have a dictatorial effect on the Budget of the State Government in that the Commonwealth is able to say to the State Government, " We will give you a certain amount of financial assistance if you channel your budget in certain directions ". I do not believe that the development of the northern part of Australia should be carried out under those conditions. As **Senator Scott** said earlier, when speaking on another bill, the development of the north of Australia may cost £1,000,000,000. I do not intend to estimate what it may cost. I know that it will be a colossal sum of money. I agree with my colleague, **Senator Willesee,** about the development of outlets for cattle. He spoke about the Derby jetty being a replacement- {: #subdebate-19-0-s3 .speaker-10000} ##### The PRESIDENT: -- -Order! We have finished the debate on the Derby Jetty Agreement Bill. {: .speaker-K3W} ##### Senator CANT: -- I will connect my remarks to the bill before the Senate. **Senator Willesee** talked about the Derby jetty being a replacement for an existing facility. The bill before us provides for a road into what is known as the northern Kimberleys, through the King Leopold Ranges, to enable cattle to be brought out of that area. I well remember that in 1958, after nine years of government by the conservatives, a grant of £5,000,000 was made to Western Australia for development north of the 20th parallel. That was an unconditional grant, as I think all grants for development in that area should be. The grant was made under section 96 of the Constitution for expenditure on works approved by the Commonwealth Government. At that time Western Australia had a Labour government. It put three projects before the Commonwealth Government which were approved. The first was a deep-water jetty north of the 20th parallel. {: .speaker-K5K} ##### Senator Scott: -- That was at Black Rocks, was it not? {: .speaker-K3W} ##### Senator CANT: -- Black Rocks was approved finally. The second project was an additional berth at Wyndham. The third was a barge berth in the gulf near Wyndham. That barge berth was designed to provide for transport out of the area known as the northern Kimberleys, across the gulf to the Wyndham abattoirs. In that instance there was no need for an expensive road to be built across the King Leopold Ranges. With a change of government in Western Australia, other projects were approved. With the £5,000,000, only one of those three projects was completed. That was the extra berth at the Wyndham jetty. We are very grateful for it. To all intents and purposes and for the amount of traffic through it, Wyndham is now a first-class port. I emphasize that two things are required in the northern part of Australia, particularly in the north-west with which we are now dealing, to help to develop that area. They should be carried out by the Commonwealth Government. They are the development of the water resources of the area and the development of transport in the area. People talk about the road transport of cattle to agistment in various parts of Australia, but I point out that the area north of the 20th parallel is a quarantine area. The only station north of the 20th parallel that is allowed to transport cattle to the southern parts of the State is Anna Plains. I know that cattle do go from Billiluna, but that is south of the quarantine district. Because of this, any movement of cattle by means other than sea transport must be restricted to the area above the 20th parallel. The three outlets for beef from that area are the freezing works at Broome, the freezing works at Wyndham and the freezing works at Glenroy. Let me emphasize that there are no facilities for the slaughter and treatment of cattle at the port of Derby. What has been referred to as a meatworks is only a packing shed for the beef slaughtered at Glenroy. The area to be served by the" roads to the three places to which beef may be directed is comparatively small, and the £500,000 granted to the Western Australian Government last year was for the purpose of upgrading the two roads from Hall's Creek into Wyndham, one passing through Nicholson and the other through Turkey Creek. That grant was also intended to cover the cost of constructing two bridges, one over the Denham River and the other over the Ord River, both of which are quite sizeable when in flood even though they may be dry for the greater part of the year. When the legislation relating to that grant was before us I was somewhat critical, although grateful for it. I said at that time that I did not think that £1,000,000 was too great a sum to spend on 500 miles of road when it involved the construction of two bridges over rivers that were subject to tropical flooding. The arguments I used then are supported by the legislation under discussion now, because! this bill seeks to make available further moneys for expenditure on those roads. **Senator Scott** will agree when I say that there is very little surface metal in this area, and that any roads constructed there will have to be formed from existing subsoil. Further down, around the Canarvon district, the engineers have given some stability to the roads by the use of certain sands in the soil, and I do not detract from the abilities of the main roads engineers in Western Australia, but in this area the sub-soil becomes boggy after only a limited fall of rain. I think it is safe to say that in one year out of five only 1 inch of rain falls in this area during the dry months of May, June, July and August, but even that is sufficient to make the roads impassable. It will be appreciated, therefore, that in circumstances such as those it is possible to spend an enormous amount of money on constructing a road which could be completely destroyed the day after completion if, on that day, there were a heavy downpour and a few vehicles travelled over it. If that should happen, the road would have to be reconstructed or re-formed immediately. It is obvious, therefore, that unless the roads under consideration are constructed of some stabilizing material - preferably gravel - and sealed wilh bitumen, the cost of maintenance will be much greater than their capital cost within a very few years. If the Commonwealth Government wishes to attach any condition to the grant it makes to Western Australia, it should require that the roads be constructed of good stabilizing material and sealed with bitumen. I do not see the sense of spending something like £4,500 a mile on constructing a road that might become a quagmire, and require reconstruction almost immediately after its completion. The purpose of the bill is to assist in the development of the cattle industry and to bolster the economy by increasing exports. Unless the roads constructed are sealed with bitumen it will be found that the cost of transporting beef by road in those areas will be not four times greater than that of droving per 100' miles per beast, but something much higher. I also direct the Minister's attention to the greatest element of cost in road transport - wages. They account for approximately 20 per > cent, of the cost of road transport. If the roads are not sealed with bitumen the drivers of the vehicles will be compelled to drive constantly under unpleasant and uncongenial conditions as the traffic increases. This will lead to claims for increased wages and allowances which, in normal circumstances, could not be rejected. This, in turn, will mean that the cost of transporting cattle by road will rise to the point where it will become uneconomic. To illustrate my point let me mention that in 1958 the cost of transporting cattle for the first 438 of the 700 miles from Anna Plains to Meekatharra was uneconomic. Yet, the person concerned was expected to bear the additional transport cost between 438 miles and 700 miles. It can be seen, therefore, that there is no room for drastic increases in road transport costs compared with droving costs. In fact, over short distances, the cost of road transport cannot compare to-day with the cost of droving. The main objection to droving is that there are very few efficient drovers available. Generally speaking, if a pastoralist wants to drove his stock he has to provide the droving labour from his station employees, and the work on the station cannot be done. Maintenance work suffers, and the efficiency of the station depreciates. That seems to be the main objection to droving stock over any substantial distance these days. As I see it, few advantages lie with road transport up to a maximum distance of perhaps 400 miles. Road transport, of course, carries with it very high capital costs. For instance, it costs approximately £14,000 to provide a diesel prime mover of approximately 150 horse-power, plus two trailers. In addition to meeting that capital cost, the operator must make sufficient profit to cover his wages. Road transport is not something that is new to Western Australia. Road transport to the rail head at Meekatharra commenced in 1932. Road transport commenced in the Kimberleys area in 1952 and has made considerable strides since then. I wish to impress on the Government that, in its attempts to assist the cattle industry, it should take into account that the Government of Western Australia is responsible for the administration of a very large area. The Commonwealth Government, in making grants for the development of that area, should not tie the finance that is made available to the State Government any more than is absolutely necessary. While the State Government is eager to develop the area, there are certain limitations placed upon its economic capacity to do so. The Commonwealth Government should not make it a condition of the development of the north that the State Government should spend an amount equal to that provided by the Commonwealth. I am pleased to support this legislation because it will assist in the development of the outback area which I know so well. I hope that the Minister, who is a member of the Cabinet, will bear in mind that it is undesirable to tie up the finance that is made available to Western Australia any more than is absolutely necessary. {: #subdebate-19-0-s4 .speaker-JZY} ##### Senator PALTRIDGE:
Minister for Civil Aviation · Western Australia · LP -- in reply - I rise to express my pleasure that the Opposition has indicated its intention to support this measure. I am delighted that that is so. This is a piece of legislation which is designed not only to produce vital export income but also to assist in developing an area which is sorely in need of development. The development of the cattle industry is most appropriate to the area through which these roads are to be built. My comments will be brief. I merely wish to say a word or two about the criticism that has been made, first, in connexion with the provision that the State Government should match the contribution made by the Commonwealth Government for this work. In addressing myself to the matter, I again take the opportunity to point out, as I pointed out in my second-reading speech, that the matching requirement is not tied, either as to the locality in which the State spends the money, or, and probably more importantly, as to the period over which it is spent, so long as it is within the period set for the plan. I know that **Senator Cant** will be interested to know that the State Government itself proposed to the Commonwealth the matching arrangement which is now incorporated in the measure. Matching arrangements, of course, are not new in cases such as this. They apply to all Commonwealth aid road agreements and also to special grants that are made to the States for flood and fire relief, and matters of that nature. Generally speaking, matching grants of this kind result in more money being spent on worth-while works than otherwise would be the case. I make the point that the matching arrangement which, if I may say so, has been mildly criticized by **Senator Cant,** originated with the State Government, which has expressed its pleasure that the Commonwealth Government has found it possible to enter into the agreement for expenditure on road construction. Both **Senator Willesee** and **Senator Cant** referred to the need to seal the roads. I make the point that, in connexion with this great developmental work which will not only bring development to the area concerned but also increase the export of Australian beef, the Commonwealth's part is essentially that of making a financial contribution. The planning has been left to the State. In this area, above all other areas of Australia, I think it is most appropriate that that should be so, because no one knows better than the State Government and its representatives the particular problems of the area, many of which were referred to by **Senator Cant.** As I stand here, I am thinking, as no doubt other Western Australian senators are thinking, of the magnificently comprehensive know ledge that men like Duncan had of the northern part of our State. {: .speaker-KBC} ##### Senator Willesee: -- Yes, he is No. 1. {: .speaker-JZY} ##### Senator PALTRIDGE: -- Would it not be foolish for any one here in Canberra, or, I venture to express the view, for any one in Perth, to try to take away from men like Duncan the decision, in negotiation with his superiors, on the way in which this money should be spent? I repeat, therefore, that as a Commonwealth Government our part is to make a cash contribution. The development of the plan is left to the State itself. In general, the roads will be gravel, although sections will be sealed where traffic is heavy, where flooding is likely to cause damage, or where it would be very expensive to maintain the gravel surface. It is important to state that the Western Australian Main Roads Commissioner, who, no doubt, was advised by his local officers, considers that the roads will be of a sufficiently high standard to take beef road trains. I make the further point that traffic in the Kimberleys will not be nearly so heavy as will be traffic in Queensland, where the roads are to be sealed. In the Kimberleys there is not as great a need for immediate sealing as in the case of the Queensland roads. It is important, too, that the State has advised the Commonwealth that any further development of this road plan work will be carried out after the expiration of the agreement in 1966, including the expanding programme of the sealing of roads. So I hope that what I have said to honorable senators who have raised this important point will show that it has certainly not escaped the attention of those responsible for the construction and maintenance of the roads, and that this matter has been given full consideration. I express appreciation of the support that has been given to the bill. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time. In committee: Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to. Clause 5 (Approval of works). {: #subdebate-19-0-s5 .speaker-KBC} ##### Senator WILLESEE:
Western Australia -- Clause 5 states - >Tor the purposes of this Act, the State may, before or during a year to which this Act applies, request the Commonwealth to approve, . . . I understand that the measure will apply to (lie year ending 30th June, 1963. In what circumstances does the Government envisage that the State may take some particular action? What is the purpose of this clause? {: #subdebate-19-0-s6 .speaker-JZY} ##### Senator PALTRIDGE:
Minister for Civil Aviation · Western Australia · LP -- The clause provides for the State to make an application each year, and for the Treasurer to approve each year of roads on which the Commonwealth grant is to be spent. There was a similar provision in the 1961 legislation under which a grant to Queensland was approved. {: .speaker-KBC} ##### Senator Willesee: -- The clause provides that a request may be made before or during a year. {: .speaker-JZY} ##### Senator PALTRIDGE: -- In order to beat the wet season, some work was done before the start of the financial year, and it was necessary for approval to be obtained. I do not think I need remind the honorable senator, who knows the conditions in this area very well, that it is necessary to act before the wet season begins. It was necessary to get on with the job, and that was done. Clause agreed to. Clause 6 agreed to. Clause 7 (Standards of design and construction). **Senator WILLESEE** (Western Australia) [9.45J. - My interest was aroused by the statement of the Minister for Civil Aviation, who paid a tribute to the work of the Western Australian Government. The Minister said that the design would be left to the officers of the Western Australian Government. I think that was wise, because the Western Australian engineers have done a great deal of work in this area. Clause 7 states - >The Treasurer may, for the purposes of this Act, approve standards of design or construction . . . It appears to be mandatory that the Commonwealth Government must approve the design. I realize that the provisions of this clause might be elastic, but I wonder how this provision will affect the project. The Western Australian Government has to provide half the funds necessary for the work. Does not- the Government consider that it would be safe to leave the final design to the officers of the Western Australian Government in view of their experience in this area? {: #subdebate-19-0-s7 .speaker-JZY} ##### Senator PALTRIDGE:
Minister for Civil Aviation · Western Australia · LP -- I invite the honorable senator to study the clause, which states that the Treasurer may do certain things. This is obviously merely a safeguard over the expenditure of Commonwealth funds in the unlikely event of somebody connected with the Western Australian Government going off the rails. This clause is not likely to be invoked, but it is there in case of need, and is a normal provision in regard to works of this nature. The Western Australian Department of Public Works would formulate plans, which would go through the State office to the Commonwealth for approval. 1 am sure that any plans that bore the signature of the Commissioner of Main Roads in Western Australia would be approved because, as the honorable senator knows, that officer enjoys a high reputation both in Western Australia and throughout the Commonwealth. {: #subdebate-19-0-s8 .speaker-KBC} ##### Senator WILLESEE:
Western Australia -- I do not wish to challenge this clause, but since the Western Australian Government will contribute half the funds required for the work, and1 as it has had long experience of road construction in Western Australia, the Minister might consider deleting this clause from future legislation. {: #subdebate-19-0-s9 .speaker-JZY} ##### Senator PALTRIDGE:
Minister for Civil Aviation · Western Australia · LP -- This is something that might be kept in mind, but I do not think that in this case, or in any other case, this provision need be invoked. Clause agreed to. Clause 8 agreed to. Clause 9 (Certain expenditure not to be taken into account). {: #subdebate-19-0-s10 .speaker-KBC} ##### Senator WILLESEE:
Western Australia .- Will the Minister for Civil Aviation explain the provision that certain expenditure shall not " be taken into account for the purposes of section six of the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act 1959"? I have not had' time to study the act. I am just wondering how it impinges upon the Commonwealth aid roads legislation and whether the Minister would give a brief explanation. {: #subdebate-19-0-s11 .speaker-JZY} ##### Senator PALTRIDGE:
Minister for Civil Aviation · Western Australia · LP -- The clause provides that only expenditure by the State in excess of the actual amount reimbursable under clause 6 shall be taken into account for Commonwealth aid matching purposes. It would not be reasonable to allow expenditure which, although incurred initially by the State, becomes in reality a Commonwealth expenditure by virtue of the reimbursement provisions of this legislation, to be regarded as a State expenditure for Commonwealth aid matching purposes. A similar provision was included in the Western Australia Grant (Beef Cattle Roads) Act 1961. It might be noted that the State's expenditure on roads in the north, which is expenditure reimbursable under this legislation, will, in addition to being matched by the Commonwealth under this legislation, also be accepted as expenditure by the State for Commonwealth aid roads matching purposes. The only exception to this is that at the end of the four-year period there will be an amount refundable by the State to the Commonwealth by virtue of the operation of clause 6 (3.). If the State has failed to match the Commonwealth grant, the payment of the refund by the State to the Commonwealth will not be accepted as State expenditure for Commonwealth aid matching purposes. Clause agreed to. Clauses 10 to 12 agreed to. Title agreed to. Bill reported without amendment; report adopted. Bill read a third time. {: .page-start } page 1745 {:#debate-20} ### PRINTING OF PARLIAMENTARY PAPERS AND GOVERNMENT PUBLICATIONS {:#subdebate-20-0} #### Appointment of Joint Select Committee The **PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin)** - I have received from the House of Representatives the follow-" ing resolution which was agreed to by the House of Representatives this day and a request that the Senate concur and take action accordingly - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. That a joint select committee be appointed to inquire into and report on the printing, publication and distribution of parliamentary papers and all government publications. 1. That the committee consist of three members of the House of Representatives appointed by the Prime Minister, two members of the House of Representatives appointed by the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, two senators appointed by the Leader of the Government in the Senate and two senators appointed by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. 2. That every appointment of a member of the committee be forthwith notified in writing to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. 3. That the chairman be one of the members appointed by the Prime Minister. 4. That the chairman of the committee may from time to time appoint another member of the committee to be deputy chairman, and that the member so appointed act as chairman of the committee at any time when the chairman is not present at a meeting of the committee. 5. That the committee have power to appoint sub-committees consisting of three or more of its members, and to refer to any such sub-committee any matter which the committee is empowered to examine. 6. That the committee or any sub-committee have power to send for persons, papers and records, to move from place to place, and to sit during any recess or adjournment of the Parliament and during the sittings of either House of the Parliament. 7. That the committee have leave to report from time to time and that any member of the committee have power to add a protest or dissent to any report. 8. That four members of the committee, including the chairman or deputy chairman, constitute a quorum of the committee, and two members of a sub-committee constitute a quorum of the sub-committee. 9. That, in matters of procedure, the chairman or the deputy chairman, when acting as chairman, have a deliberative vote and, in the event of an equality of voting, have a casting vote, and that, in other matters, the chairman or deputy chairman have a deliberative vote only. 10. That the committee report to the Parliament not later than. 30th September, 1963. 11. That the foregoing provisions of . this resolution, so far as they are inconsistent with the Standing Orders, have effect notwithstanding anything contained in the Standing Orders. Motion (by **Senator Paltridge)** - by leave - agreed to - (1). That the Senate concurs in the resolution transmitted to the Senate by Message No. 87 of the House of Representatives with reference to the Appointment of a joint committee to inquire into and report on the printing, publication and distribution of parliamentary papers and all government publications. {: type="1" start="2"} 0. That the provisions of that resolution, so far as they are inconsistent with the Standing Orders, have effect notwithstanding anything contained in the Standing Orders. 1. That foregoing resolutions be communicated to the House of Representatives by message. {: #subdebate-20-0-s0 .speaker-10000} ##### The PRESIDENT: -- I have received the following letter from the Leader of the Government in the Senate **(Senator Spooner):** - >In accordance with the terms of the resolution passed by the Senate on 5th December, 1962, concurring in the appointment of a Joint Select Committee on Parliamentary Papers, I hereby appoint Senators Breen and Marriott to be members of the committee. I have also received the following letter from the Leader of the Opposition **(Senator McKenna):** - >In accordance with the terms of the resolution passed by the Senate on Sth December, 1962, concurring in the appointment of a Joint Select Committee on Parliamentary Papers, I hereby appoint Senators Toohey and Murphy as members of Cbe committee. {: .page-start } page 1746 {:#debate-21} ### NATIONAL HEALTH BILL 1962 {:#subdebate-21-0} #### Second Reading Debate resumed (vide page 1715). {: #subdebate-21-0-s0 .speaker-KTN} ##### Senator McKENNA:
Leader of the Opposition · Tasmania .- The bill will amend the very important National Health Act. It runs to some 23 pages but is not nearly as fearsome as it might appear at first sight. Its main purpose is to repeal Part V. of the National Health Act and to re-enact it with some changes. Part V., as the Senate will know, deals with hospital benefits granted by the Commonwealth, and I address myself almost exclusively to that topic. I indicate at this stage that the Opposition would like to be in a position to move an amendment to one portion of the bill in committee. There are technical reasons why that course is not easy. In the circumstances, the Opposition will content itself with moving an amendment to the motion for the second reading of the bill. If that amendment is not supported by the Senate, we shall' support the motion for the second reading. We shall certainly not oppose it. I should like to make that clear at this stage. On 23 rd October last the Minister for Health **(Senator Wade)** made the first announcement regarding the proposals contained in the bill now before us. He answered a number of questions on days succeeding 23rd October. On the very next day after his announcement, which incidentally was a preview of the secondreading speech that he has made to-day, as I noted with interest, he answered a question from **Senator Wedgwood.** He referred to the proposal now contained in the bill to pay a Commonwealth hospital benefit of 36s. a day to pensioners entitled to the pensioner medical service and their dependants if they are treated without charge in a public ward of a public hospital. On that occasion he said - >I repeat that that gesture represents the first attempt in the history of the Commonwealth by any government to make hospital treatment free for pensioners..... Now, if the Minister had not said that, I would certainly have been free to address myself with brevity to this measure; but I join issue with the Minister on that statement. I intend to demonstrate its inaccuracy. That leads me to give a brief review of the history of hospital benefits in this country. I go at once to the seventh report, dated 15th February, 1944, of the Joint Committee on Social Security. That committee was presided over by **Mr. H.** C. Barnard, and on it were two members of the Senate who are happily still with us - **Senator Sir Walter** Cooper and **Senator Dorothy** Tangney. The committee did excellent work, and laid the basis for the whole of the social services programme that the Labour Government embarked on under, first, **Mr. Curtin** and, later, **Mr. Chifley.** This report deals with the subject of hospital bene'fits. It is interesting to note that this is the origin of later legislation. It will take me only a moment to refer to the1 relevant part of the report. The recommendation of the committee provided for the following: First, payment by the Commonwealth, from a fund raised by taxation for the purpose, of a subsidy of 6s. 6d. per day per occupied bed for general medical, surgical and obstetric cases, conditional upon the provision of public bed accommodation without additional charge to the patient; an allowance equal to the rate of subsidy towards the cost of intermediate or private beds in public or private hospitals of an approved standard; and the payment into a trust account, for the extension and. improvement of hospital services, of any savings resulting to the State from the payment of the subsidy. The committee made other recommendations in regard to differential rates of subsidy in other cases. That was the beginning of hospital benefits, and it occurred in this Commonwealth Parliament. That recommendation from a joint committee representative of both houses of the Parliament and of all parties in the Parliament was unanimous, as were many of the other recommendations made by the committee. I doubt whether in the history of the Commonwealth a select committee has played a more significant part in initiating a new activity than that committee did. {: .speaker-KNR} ##### Senator Hannaford: -- That was after the referendum on social services, was it not? {: .speaker-KTN} ##### Senator McKENNA: -- No, that was in 1944, long before the referendum, which was not taken until 1946. I will say a word about that at a later stage when I am reviewing the history of this matter. {: .speaker-KNR} ##### Senator Hannaford: -- I thought it was consequential upon the referendum. {: .speaker-KTN} ##### Senator McKENNA: -- No, this was the genesis of the hospital benefits scheme, and it occurred before the Commonwealth was armed with constitutional power in the matter. The Curtin Labour Government did not wait upon arming itself with firm constitutional power because, in the following year, 1945, it brought down the Hospital Benefits Act, which was assented to on 11th October, 1945. That act provided, not for a payment of 6s. 6d. a day but for a payment of 6s. a day per occupied bed in public wards of public hospitals. It laid down one firm condition - that the money would be paid provided there was no charge to the patient. That legislation was not restricted to financing the hospital costs of any particular type of patient. It was for the benefit of anybody in Australia who cared to avail himself of public ward facilities. It applied to pensioners and millionaires alike. If there is criticism of that, let me say that wealthy persons were perhaps as much entitled, in justice, to the use of public ward facilities, as anybody else, because in graduated tax they had paid for the facilities over and over again. Immediately after the war there was a shortage of hospital beds, particularly in public hospitals and, above all, in public wards, and the State governments of the day had to resort from time to time to the device of declaring as public beds those beds in what would be otherwise intermediate wards. They had to do this in order to make room for people requiring public ward accommodation in the immediate post-war years. At the same time an arrangement was made for a Commonwealth hospital benefit of the same amount of 6s. a day to be provided in respect of patients in intermediate and private wards of public hospitals and, in fact, in private hospitals also. There was a requirement that if a surplus were left out of the 6s. it should be paid into a trust account and that that trust account could be appropriated only for capital works in the building of hospitals. Very substantia] funds accumulated in that account. I think that honorable senators who are not already aware of the figures will get a shock to hear of the average amount per bed per day that the various States were able to collect from patients at that time. The averages in the two years preceding 1945, in respect of public ward beds, were - New South Wales, 4s. 5d.; Victoria, 3s. 3d.; Queensland, 4s. 10d.; South Australia, 4s. Id.; Tasmania, 4s.; and Western Australia, 5s. 9d. So, in paying that 6s. per occupied bed per day, the Commonwealth was paying the States an amount larger than they had ever been able to collect from patients. The difference between the amounts that the States had been able to collect from patients and the amount of Commonwealth subsidy - which in some cases was the difference between 4s. and 6s. - went into the trust account of which I have spoken. It is interesting to see that the cost of maintaining a bed in a public ward, as disclosed in the seventh report of the Joint Committee on Social Security was at that time a little less than 13s. a day. Thirteen shillings! So, in offering a benefit of 6s. a day, the Commonwealth was contributing almost half of the total cost. One cannot get this matter into perspective until one realizes that that was the original financial basis of the hospital benefits scheme. The Commonwealth subsidy remained at 6s. a bed a day until the Chifley Labour Government increased it to 8s. a bed a day, with effect from 1st July, 1948. It is staggering to think that that rate of benefit has never been varied from that basic amount. There has been some superstructure added to it, to which I will refer later, but it has not changed basically since July, 1948, despite the enormous increase in costs that has occurred since then. I have already indicated that the cost of maintaining a bed in a public ward in those days was roughly 13s. Let us have a look not at what the costs are to-day but at what is charged to patients in public wards. The Minister was good enough to include this information in the statement that he made on 23rd October. In New South Wales the charge is 44s. as against the 4s. Sd. that was collected in 1945 or thereabouts. In Victoria the charge is 60s. In Queensland it is nil. In South Australia the charge is 60s.; in Western Australia 56s. and in Tasmania 60s. All of those figures are the charge per day. {: .speaker-KNR} ##### Senator Hannaford: -- That is not a correct comparison with the 4s. 5d. you mentioned. {: .speaker-KTN} ##### Senator McKENNA: -- Those are the charges. That is what the hospitals are charging per patient per day. The .figures I quoted earlier were not strictly comparable. I quoted first the fees that were collected, and I indicated that the cost was 13s. per day. The figures I have given now are the charges that are being, made in public wards. The actual cost of maintaining the beds would be much higher than those high figures that I have just given. It is very interesting to watch the vast development in the cost of these schemes. It is true that facilities have been improved and that nurses' wages have increased - a long overdue reform- - but there is a shocking disparity between what was' the position when hospital benefits were first conceived and the position that faces the nation to-day. Following the passing of the act in 1945 there was the referendum in 1946 of which **Senator Hannaford** spoke a moment ago. It was a referendum that gave a firm constitutional base to quite a number of things that the Commonwealth had been' doing. It also sought the concurrence of the people for the provision of other benefits. The heading that was written into the Constitution in placitum (xxiiiA.) of section 51 reads as follows: - >The provision of maternity allowances, widows' pensions, child endowment, unemployment, pharmaceutical, sickness and hospital benefit.'!, medical and dental services (but not so as to authorize any form of civil conscription), benefits to students and family allowances. The very important development at that stage under the Labour Government was to give a clean constitutional base to all these benefits. It is unfortunate that some of them have not yet been exploited, notably provision for dental benefits throughout Australia. Then we came to a change in government in December, 1949. Pursuant to the 1945 Hospital Benefits Act, agreements were made with the States in 1946. The original act of 1945 set out in a schedule the type of agreements that the government of the day was entitled to enter into. They got the approval of the Parliament. Now we come to 1951. The new Menzies Government was in power and it brought in the Hospital Benefits Act 1951. It repealed the three Labour Government acts of 1945, 1947 and 1948 to which I have referred, and authorized the making by the Commonwealth of agreements with the States. No mention was made of submission to the Parliament for approval. The executive government took the power in the act to enter into these agreements and gave no undertaking to submit them for parliamentary approval, but in fact kept them most carefully away from the scrutiny of the Parliament. From there we move on. The agreements entered into between the Labour Government and the States expired in 1951. They commenced in 1946. and ran out in 1951 or thereabouts. This new scheme under the new Government's bill of 1951 was designed to cover the following five years. The most interesting thing - and I direct the Minister's attention to this - was that the benefit of 8s. per day was to be paid to the States only on the condition imposed' by this Government that the States made charges against public ward patients. It was a condition of the payment that the State charged patients in public wards. After nearly six years, when from one end of Australia to the other treatment in public wards was completely free for any person in the community, including a pensioner, this Government set out to tear that structure down; and it succeeded in doing so. Let me spend a moment to document that statement so that there will be no doubt about the- deliberation with which the Government proceeded. I can recall in those days being eternally on the warpath pressing for information about the agreements, asking for information about what the Government was planning and discussing. It was never possible to get that information; but I retained a document that Iobtained at that time, notably a statement from the Department of Health dated 5th September, 1956. I read this document in this Senate ten years ago. One of the opening statements in this brochure explaining the new Government's proposals in national health reads - >Basic principles of the scheme are that the Commonwealth benefits will not be payable unless a charge is made for the hospital treatment and that the Commonwealth benefits must not exceed the amount of the hospital charge payable by the patient. That document is on the file in the Department of Health and may be seen. If what I have said requires further proof or establishment I refer to regulation No. 72 of 1952 dated 20th August, 1952. This is one of the regulations which brought in this Government's new proposal. The regulation provided that if you were privately insured you could get a benefit of 4s. in addition to the basic benefit of 8s. a day. Regulation No. 41 provided that a charge was to be made and sub-section 2 read - >Where the gross fees per day for hospital treatment payable in respect of a contributing patient does not exceed Fourteen shillings per day, the additional benefit under this Part is not payable. Sub-section 3 of regulation No. 41 provided that if the charge went to 15s. you would get only1s. additional benefit because that would be1s. over 14s. A charge of 18s. per day had to be made before the patient could get the full additional benefit of 4s. Surely the two documents from which I have quoted, and which I have pinpointed, show the deliberation with which the Government set out to tear down the structure of entirely free hospital treatment that had run successfully and happily for about five years. I wish to refer again to a speech I made in this place on 1st October, 1952, indicating what the States had to say about this. I personally vouch for the accuracy of the quotation that I now read from page 2379 of " Hansard "- >Some days ago, the Queensland Treasurer, **Mr. Walsh,** issued a financial statement in which the following passage occurred: - > >The present Commonwealth Government has now made clear its opposition to free public hospitalization, and has withdrawn the payment of 8s. per day per bed because the State Government will not agree to allow the Commonwealth to force it to charge patients in public hospitals. I added - >Honorable senators should note the use of the word " force ". I come now to a recent financial statement made by **Mr. Madden,** the Treasurer of, Tasmania, in which he said- This was also in a financial statement - >The Commonwealth-State Hospital Benefits Agreement, under which a subsidy of 8s. per daily occupied bed was paid, was terminated by the Commonwealth Government as from the 20th August last. I went on to say - >Speaking for his Government, he continuedWe deplore the decision of the Commonwealth Government to terminate the free hospitals scheme. **Mr. Madden** referred to the Commonwealth Government's decision " to terminate the free hospitals scheme ". I repeat that that scheme was not limited to pensioners, but was available to everybody in the Australian community. We reached the position where, except for Queensland which defied the pressure from this Government, free hospital treatment throughout Australia was abolished. That was the clear action of this Government. There is no question whatever about that. Let me take the matter a little further in order to complete the history very briefly. I remind the Senate that the Government did all of this under the 1951 act, which did not require it to bring the regulations openly to the Parliament, except by tabling them as it is required to do, and under which it had no obligation to produce the agreements made between the Commonwealth and the States. In 1953, having accomplished its purpose behind the back of the Parliament, the Government brought in its National Health Bill 1953. The Government repealed the 1951 act and, having got what it wanted sewn up with the States for five or six years ahead, and having destroyed the completely free hospitals scheme, in that bill, it blithely authorized the making by the Government of agreements with the States and nobly added a provision that the agreements had to have parliamentary sanction before becoming operative. It is very significant that that condition, which was imposed by the Labour Government, was suspended by this Government for a two-year period. In that twoyear period, in relative secrecy, without the knowledge of this Parliament, and certainly without consulting this Parliament, this Government went to work and destroyed the structure that Labour had built up. This Government succeeded in doing that. Then the Government introduced the National Health Bill 1955. That was a calamitous thing. It was the bill that inserted the new definition of a pensioner, and dealt with the establishment of the pensioner medical service. It provided that, whilst everybody who was a pensioner up to 31st October, 1955, was entitled to be registered or enrolled in the pensioner medical service, after that date everybody who had an income, apart from the pension, of the princely sum of £2 a week - the amount of the means test as at December, 1953 - was not to receive the benefit of the pensioner medical service. That is what the 1955 bill did. That was a further constriction, applying a means test within a means test. The allowable or permissible income of a pensioner was much higher than the £2 a week at that time. That provision was introduced in 1955. We opposed it bitterly, but it is still there. I mention especially how it came about and what its effect was. because it is preserved in the benefits that the bill now before us purports to give. In 1957. the Government amended the National Health Act again to provide that if a patient were insured for a benefit of more than 6s. a day and less than 16s. he would receive an additional benefit of 4s.; but if he were insured for more than 1 6s. he would be entitled to an additional benefit of 12s. a day. That is when the additional benefit was really increased. In 1958, the Government again amended the National Health Act. It introduced the very interesting special accounts procedure. It is very complicated, but I. admit that it is quite beneficial. {: .speaker-KPI} ##### Senator Kendall: -- That is the provision for aged people, is it? {: .speaker-KTN} ##### Senator McKENNA: -- Yes, for people over 65 years of age, and the chronically ill. I concede that it is quite beneficial. Broadly, that is the relevant portion of the history of this matter. The Government claims great credit for providing in this bill 36s. a day for some pensioners - not for all of them - on the condition that no charge is made to those pensioners in public ward beds. How delightful it is for Labour ears to hear that after ten years the Government that opposed and destroyed the condition imposed by Labour - namely, that the benefit was given as long as no charge was made - has been forced by circumstances to take a tentative, small and puny step back and say to the States and to public hospitals, " We will give you a benefit of 36s. a day provided you do not charge the pensioners, but only some of them ". The Government goes on to say that in this bill there is no need for those pensioners to insure because the whole 36s. a day will be paid to the public hospital in which the pensioner is a patient without any condition that the pensioner be insured. I will come back to that second condition in a moment. I repeat that through this bill the Government is taking a paltry step back towards the system of free treatment in public wards that it destroyed in 1952. I said that the new benefit introduced by this bill is for some pensioners and their dependants. That cannot be contraverted. The Minister for Health has indicated that the bill will confer benefits upon pensioners and their dependants, bracketed together, totalling 815,000 people. As recently as 13th November, 1962, the Minister for Social Services **(Mr. Roberton),** on behalf of the Minister for Health, said in answer to a question that at 30th June, 1962, the number of pensioners not enrolled in the pensioner medical service was 93,602. Accordingly, they are not entitled to the benefit of 36s. a day that this bill offers. The 36s. a day will be paid only to those people who are entitled to the benefit of the pensioner medical service. The 93,602 other pensioners, who have separate incomes of more than the princely sum of £2 a week, are not entitled to the benefit of 36s. a day. If I add to the 93,602 pensioners their dependants, I arrive at a figure of about 150,000 persons. If I add to that number the 815,000 pensioners and their dependants who are already in the pensioner medical service, I arrive at a figure of close on 1,000,000 persons affected. As 1 have indicated, at 31st October, 1955, the entitlement of pensioners with separate incomes of £2 a week or more was cut off in mid-air. The Opposition amendment that I will move in a moment or two is directed particularly to the definition of pensioner inserted by the 1955 act. It is a means test inside a means test. In the view of the Opposition, there is a meanness about it on which we have commented frequently. It is a meanness that is hard to understand and, I believe, much harder to justify on any count. So we get two positions affecting these 93,602 pensioners and their dependents. They are debarred not only from participating in the pensioner medical service but also from receiving free treatment in public wards of public hospitals. By the actions of this government, they suffer two disabilities. I think I have said enough to explode **Senator Wade's** statement that this is the first attempt by any government in Australia to introduce free hospital treatment for pensioners. I think that in the process I have also .exposed the inadequacy of the Government's approach to free hospital treatment for all pensioners. It does provide for some. I pass on now to the other main aspect of the bill - the provision relating to patients in nursing homes and so on. The bill introduces an entirely new feature for patients in what the Minister described as approved convalescent and rest homes and in the infirmary sections of State benevolent homes and State and private homes for the aged. Under this bill, they are to get £1 per day towards their hospital fee whether they are insured or not. Once more the Government retreats from the position it had taken that patients were not to get the additional benefit unless they were insured. The other benefit provided under the bill is that if a patient of that type leaves the approved nursing home and, within two months, enters an approved hospital of a general type for more intense medical treatment, he will not have to undergo a suspended period of eight weeks upon joining a medical benefit fund but will be entitled to Commonwealth benefits from the day upon which he enrolls. Those are the benefits which are conferred under this bill. 1 repeat that here again we have a move back to Labour's policy which is that it is completely wrong to say to people in the community who have paid their taxes, " You will get without question 8s. per day by the way of hospital contribution, but you will not get the next 12s. unless you are privately insured ". The Government is now retreating from that stand and proposes giving two concessions, one to some of the pensioners as a body and one to some of the pensioners in the type of nursing home defined in the bill. {: .speaker-K7Y} ##### Senator Tangney: -- Would patients in C class hospitals be included? {: .speaker-KTN} ##### Senator McKENNA: -- It is not within my knowledge that they are so categorized in the bill itself. I think an entitlement under the measure depends upon approval by the Director-General of Health. What the honorable senator refers to may be a State classification, and I think I am right in saying that it is not one that is made under the legislation we are considering. {: .speaker-JZU} ##### Senator Ormonde: -- Is that the 20s. a day? {: .speaker-KTN} ##### Senator McKENNA: -- Yes. It is the old unconditional 8s. a day plus the 12s. for which you had to be insured before you attracted Commonwealth benefit. They are now wrapped together and being made available to persons who are in institutions in the circumstances that I have indicated. Let me go back for a moment to Labour's policy with relation to this matter. I repeat that our attitude is that it is quite wrong to make it a condition of entitlement to any portion of Commonwealth benefits that you have to be privately insured. We regard that as complete coercion. Let me advert to the Minister's statement early in his speech that the Government's policy was to encourage people to undertake voluntary insurance, and to his latest statement that it safeguards the rights of every citizen to exercise freedom of choice of hospital and type of treatment, whether it be public, intermediate or private. There is an element of hypocrisy in a situation that talks about freedom of choice while applying economic compulsion on persons to join a benefit society. The people of this country have been economically coerced into joining the various benefit funds. Yet the Minister talks about voluntary insurance. We of the Labour Party regard this as compulsory insurance. We think it is unfair that the great majority of the people should be herded into these benefit societies in order to attract the major part of the Commonwealth benefit. The thing to bear in mind from Labour's viewpoint is that they all pay the same rate for the same benefit. It is a form of disguised flat-rate taxation. People do not pay for these benefits according to their means; the rich, the poor, and those in between all pay for benefits of the one type at the one rate. In truth, that additional benefit already paid for in taxation ought to be financed on a properly graduated system of taxation under which people contribute according to their income. I want to refer now to the term " nursing home care ", which is defined in this way on page 4 of the bill - nursing home care ' means accommodation and nursing care for the purpose of professional attention- I underline those words - being accommodation and nursing care of a kind ordinarily provided in a benevolent home, convalescent home, home for aged persons or rest home for patients requiring professional attention. I again underline the words " professional attention ", because they are defined in this way in the next sub-clause - professional attention' means - {: type="a" start="a"} 0. medical or surgical treatment by or under the supervision of a medical practitioner; 1. obstetric treatment by or under the supervision of a medical practitioner or registered obstetric nurse; or 2. dental treatment by or under the supervision of a legally qualified dentist or dental practitioner; Let me apply that to the type of people who are to be helped under this new proposal in these nursing homes. The Minister himself acknowledges that they are all aged who would be special account contributors, if they were paying anything at all; but most of them will be pensioners. How many of them will be interested in obstetric treatment? I think they might have passed beyond that stage. How many would be interested in dental treatment? Most of them would be lucky if they had any teeth at all. Then we come back to the first item - medical or surgical treatment. Unquestionably there would not be so much surgery; but there would be a good deal of medical attention. Having made that comment, I invite the Senate to turn to proposed new section 57, the net effect of which is that unless the director-general otherwise determines, the Commonwealth benefit for nursing home patients is not payable unless, before the commencement of the period of treatment in the nursing home, the doctor gives a certificate in writing and unless he repeats that certificate in writing for every month during which the treatment continues. I refer also to sub-section (2.) of proposed new section 57 which leaves it to the discretion of the director-general at any time to disregard those certificates and say the benefit will not be payable. From a legal viewpoint it is an establishment of right which is rather tenuous in favour of the occupant of the rest home. I emphasize that it is not given to everybody in rest homes; it is given only to those who are practically under constant medical attention, the whole of their nursing being directed by a doctor. They are people who are involved in paying medical fees. At least, they could be helped in doing so if they were members of medical benefit societies, but they are aged people' and they are infirm people. What I have said will show the narrow compass of this benefit. It will apply only to the really sick amongst the aged and the pensioners, to the people confined in rest homes, and not toall those whom we see wandering about benevolent homes. It will apply only to those who are in the infirmary, or who are almost completely bedridden. So, there is no very great scope for this new benefit. Let me pass to the next logical point. The Minister has told us that some £3,200,000 will be absorbed by the provision of this benefit. I think that he has brought in his bill with pride and that he is proud of the amount that is to be expended, but let us analyse it. I indicated a while ago that there are approximately 1,000,000 pensioners and their dependants who will benefit under this measure. There are fewer than 1,000,000, if we take into account the 93,602 people who are not entitled to pensioner medical service benefits. Let us group them all together for a moment. If we divide the £3,200,000 by 1,000,000, we get approximately £3. That is 60s., or a little more than ls. per week per pensioner or dependant. I hope the Senate realizes the significance of that. If the £3,200,000 is spread over all the people who are to receive the benefit, it works out at a little more than ls. per week per head. {: .speaker-KAF} ##### Senator Wade: -- That is, if they are all sick at the one time. {: .speaker-KTN} ##### Senator McKENNA: -- I am giving the average. Let us look at the matter to see how significant the figure is and how grand is the scope of the new benefit. I am saying that the amount which the Government is making available, when spread over all those in the pensions field and their dependants, works out at a few pence over ls. per week for each of them. That puts into proper perspective the benefits which are proposed under this bill. The great bulk of the payments will go not so much to the relief of individual pensioners and their dependants as to the relief of State budgets. The money will be paid over to the proprietors of the relevant establishments, and in many cases the proprietors are the State governments. Looking at the matter from the viewpoint of the State governments, in relation to their hospital finance problems, even if they receive the whole of the £3,200,000 it will be most inadequate relief. Of course, not all of the money will go to them. Some will go to denominational hospitals which, in many instances, are heavily subsidized by the States. Some of it will go to convalescent homes, some of which are run by the States and some of which are run privately. The interesting thing to remember, on top of that, is that throughout almost the whole of Australia beds in public wards are to-day free of charge to pensioners. They are already free in most public hospitals as a result of State action and State subsidies. So, when we look at these 1,000,000 people, we find that the great bulk .of them are already entitled to free hospital treatment, and that this payment will go rather to relieve State budgets than to relieve the pockets of the great number of pensioners. That comment brings me to another aspect of this bill. I think the Senate is well aware of the disappointment of the Australian Labour Party with the Government's handling of a national health scheme. The title " National Health Scheme " is a magnificent one, but how can it be called a national health scheme when nobody can get a medical benefit unless he is properly insured? Each person in the community must incur the same flat rate of expense. There is no additional hospital benefit except in the two instances that are now being exempted. {: .speaker-KAW} ##### Senator Wedgwood: -- What did the Labour Party call its health scheme in 1948? Did not you refer to it as a national health scheme? {: .speaker-KTN} ##### Senator McKENNA: -- No. As I recall it, we brought in legislation of the kind I have . mentioned, such as the Hospital Benefits Act. I do not think the National Health Act was put through until very late in our term of office. {: .speaker-KAW} ##### Senator Wedgwood: -- But you did call your scheme a national health scheme. {: .speaker-KTN} ##### Senator McKENNA: -- I have not checked the matter for the purposes of the survey I am making to-night, but the honorable senator will remember that the National Health Act was the genesis of the scheme which was then in its infancy. She should also -remember that constitutional power for the Commonwealth to function in the field of health was not complete, nor is it .complete to-day. All that this Parliament can do by way of grants to the States, with or without conditions, is to grant benefits. It cannot take charge of public health. I am merely saying that the grandiose title " National Health Scheme" is hardly appropriate when there is no dental benefit, when there is no benefit for pensioners in mental hospitals, a subject we have heard discussed here quite frequently, and when we find that the Government is moving away from the provision of benefits without charge. As we know, recently a charge of 5s. was introduced for each prescription, provided under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme. That was another benefit which was completely free until it was disrupted by the introduction of the charge. The final point I want to make in this regard is that there are people throughout the community - and a considerable number of them - who are not insured. Perhaps some of them do not want to insure, but it is certain that their number includes many people who are not able to afford insurance. What kind of a national health scheme is it which says, in effect, to people who, in many instances, would be the most dependent and the weakest, both financially and otherwise, in the community, " Because you are not insured, you will get a hospital benefit of 8s. per day "? I remind the Senate that the Government has allowed that figure to stand for those people from 1948 to 1962. Is that a fitting element of a national health scheme? There are other proposals in the bill which are of a relatively minor nature compared to the two that I have discussed. Some of them are of an entirely machinery nature. The great bulk of the bill is taken up by the repeal and re-enactment of Part V., the hospital benefits section of the National Health Act. On behalf of the Opposition, I shall now move the amendment which, I hope, has been circulated. I repeat that the Opposition would have preferred to move it at the committee stage but for difficulties that were encountered. To the motion that the bill be now read a second time, I move - >Leave out all words after " That ", insert " the bill be withdrawn and redrafted to omit from the definition of ' pensioner ' in section 4. of the Principal Act all the words and figures after Tuberculosis Act 1948*.". If that amendment is carried, it will have the effect of putting all the pensioners on the one basis, so far as the pensioner medical service is concerned, and also in relation to the 36s. per day hospital benefit that this bill proposes to introduce. In the light of the experience that the Government has had, I hope that it will recognize that what it did in 1955 was not right, and that it is not right to-day to exclude 93,602 pensioners, along with their dependants, from the. benefits which this bill purports to provide. {: #subdebate-21-0-s1 .speaker-K8Y} ##### Senator TURNBULL:
TASMANIA · IND; AP from Aug. 1969; IND from Jan. 1970 -- This is an excellent bill, and I can only say that everything in it is good. It is what. is not in the bill that causes concern. This bill affects the pockets of nearly every person on a wage or salary, yet when the Leader of the Opposition **(Senator McKenna)** rose to speak, and for most of his speech, there were exactly nine senators listening to him. I know that all of us have reasons for being absent, but this is an important bill. {: .speaker-K3O} ##### Senator Buttfield: -- We had an important bill yesterday when the honorable senator was not here. {: .speaker-K8Y} ##### Senator TURNBULL:
TASMANIA · IND; AP from Aug. 1969; IND from Jan. 1970 -- I am not saying that every honorable senator must attend at all times, but to-night there were three Labour senators and six Government supporters present when the Leader of the Opposition began his speech. The bill, so far as it goes, is excellent, but it does not go far enough. The provision for hospital expenses is not adequate. The Minister stated that it was claimed sometimes that the funds made available for hospital expenses through the insurance scheme was not adequate. I say that that claim is made - not sometimes but always. The Minister then stated - >I want to inform the Senate that the facts simply do not support this claim. Then he went on to show that the total amount paid from Commonwealth and hospital insurance fund sources towards hospital expenses had risen to an estimated amount this year of more than £40.000.000. The fact is that at the same time, the cost of hospital treatment has risen from 10s. to 120s. a day. Therefore, any figures given by the Minister do not support the claim that the funds made available through the insurance scheme are adequate. They are not adequate in relation to. costs to-day. The provision is still inadequate for every one except pensioners, and even in their case it is adequate only for certain pensioners. As the Leader of the Opposition has pointed out, many pensioners are not included. The provision is inadequate both for the States and for the individual. Statements have been made about the grant of 8s. a day for hospital patients. That' amount was provided in 1942 and it still remains at that level. If it was good enough to introduce a scheme to provide 8s. in 1942 it should be good enough to bring the grant into proper perspective. The salaries of members of this ' Parliament have increased by 80 per cent., but the hospital grant has not increased to that extent. If the Government thinks that hospitals should be subsidized by a grant, it should act accordingly, but at least it should use some common sense and should increase the grants as the cost of living rises. The cost of a hospital bed has gone up from 10s. a day to 120s. The provision for assistance is inadequate, and nothing that the Minister has said has shown that it is adequate. I agree with the Minister that the Government is giving a lot of money to the individual. It is the individual's business where he spends the money, but the States do hot like it because obviously some individuals collect the money from the insurance company and do not pay the hospital. However, I agree that the patient should get the money and then pay it to the hospital. There is no increase in the amount of money that goes into the pocket of the patient. If a man was injured, the provision was £1, and it is still £1, which is inadequate to meet the fees that have to be paid if a patient goes into a private hospital. The provision is also inadequate from the point of view of medical benefits, and I think we should have a look at the medical benefits societies. The profit last year from medical and hospital benefits was £4,900,000. When the funds are questioned, we are told that the organizations must have adequate reserves, but I have still to learn what are adequate reserves. The societies have reserves totalling £11,000,000, and they should be made to disgorge some of this money. They are supposed to be mutual concerns, and they should be made to give more to subscribers. I think it is time that the Minister for Health took action to ensure that they do give more. I know that the answer given by the funds is that they have not sufficient reserves, but I repeat: What is an adequate reserve? An actuarial investigation should be made into this matter but nothing has been done or, if it has, I have not been informed about it. Reserves totalling £11,000,000 seem to be adequate although they amount to only 27s. a person. Last year, when there was an influenza epidemic, we were told that the reserves would be eaten up. The fact is that the reserves have increased. This is like life assurance. When there is a war, we are told that the life assurance companies will be hit to leg, but at the end of a war their reserves are greater than ever. The provision that is made for the individual is inadequate because he cannot get enough assistance either from the Government or from the insurance companies. The blue cross societies publish only combined figures. They do not show separate profits from medical benefits or hospital benefits, or it is difficult to dissect the figures. I believe that hospital benefits are not as profitable as medical benefits, but I think we should have some dissection of the figures. The Minister for Health said there were some aspects of the scheme in regard to which it appeared that improvements could and should be made. I suggested one improvement, but I do not see provision for it in this bill although it has been recommended by the benefit societies. I refer to the fact that when a person reaches the age of 65 years - I think that is the limit - he ceases to be entitled to be a member of two funds. Many people want to go into private hospitals, but the moment they reach 65 years, they are no longer allowed to be a member of two funds. Is there any rational reason for that provision? At a time of life when their income decreases rapidly and when they want assistance as they are more likely to be ill, they are prevented from joining two funds. {: .speaker-K3O} ##### Senator Buttfield: -- Do you mean that the Government should pay twice? {: .speaker-K8Y} ##### Senator TURNBULL:
TASMANIA · IND; AP from Aug. 1969; IND from Jan. 1970 -- No. The fund would pay once and the Government would pay once. That could easily be worked out. The present provision is not rational or humanitarian. {: .speaker-K1T} ##### Senator Benn: -- Are these cases not called special cases? {: .speaker-K8Y} ##### Senator TURNBULL:
TASMANIA · IND; AP from Aug. 1969; IND from Jan. 1970 -- No, that is different. The other matter is the payment direct to the patient. I am not questioning that because I think it is best for the patient. In his second-reading speech, the Minister said - >Some patients may prefer to arrange with their insurance organization for the payment of their Commonwealth and fund benefits direct to the hospital. [SENATE.] I agree that that is correct, but I have had knowledge of cases where one of the big firms would not pay direct. It insisted that it would not pay small accounts direct to the doctor. Whether that applies to the hospitals I do not know. I hope the Minister will look into that and make sure that the funds are forced to pay directly. The Minister also said - >Another matter to which the Government has Given' attention has been the development of a tendency for pensioners to be required to pay hospital insurance contributions to meet charges for hospital treatment. I want clarification of that statement. Which State has this iniquitous provision? I did not know that any State charged pensioners. I would go even further "than the Minister and not give such a State anything. Debate interrupted. {: .page-start } page 1756 {:#debate-22} ### ADJOURNMENT The **PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin).** - 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. {: .page-start } page 1756 {:#debate-23} ### NATIONAL HEALTH BILL 1962 {:#subdebate-23-0} #### Second Reading Debate -resumed. {: #subdebate-23-0-s0 .speaker-K8Y} ##### Senator TURNBULL:
TASMANIA · IND; AP from Aug. 1969; IND from Jan. 1970 -- If there are State governments which are prepared to charge, pensioners, I am sure the Minister would get the support of the public if he did not give those States anything. The Minister stated that the legislation would provide a benefit at the rate of 36s. a day Cot; the hospital treatment of pensioners and their dependants who are entitled to the pensioner medical service. The Leader of the Opposition has given an explanation of '.that. There are some 93,000 pensioners who are not entitled to the pensioner medical service. I think I am correct in saying that?. I understand that they are to be excluded. These people are perhaps superannuitants or perhaps they earn more than £2 a week. The Government agreed with the Australian Medical Association that it would not extend the pensioner medical service to people who received more than a certain amount in addition to their pensions. That was not because of the iniquity of the Australian Medical Association but because the association said, " We will provide free service as long as you stop somewhere ", and the Government said, " We shall stop at that point". That was the permissible income in addition to pension that was fixed. I do not argue about that, but I do argue for those pensioners who receive a little more than the permissible additional income and therefore have their pensions reduced. That reduction is quite in order, but having had their pensions reduced, they also are excluded from the pensioner medical service, as far as I can see. These people are borderline cases. They are already penalized in one way and we penalize them then in another way by saying that they are not entitled to participate in the pensioner medical service and therefore cannot have free hospital treatment. I wish the Minister would look into this matter, because many of these people are borderline cases and are in very difficult circumstances. It is an extreme hardship for them to go to hospital. Certainly there is to be a. threefold increase from 12s. a day to 36s. a day for the hospital treatment of pensioners entitled to the pensioner medical service, but why is that provision not carried to its logical conclusion and applied to every one? If it is good enough for the Government to increase from 12s: to 36s. a day the payment for hospital treatment of pensioners, the Government should continue the principle by increasing from. 8s. a day to 24s. a day the amount paid to other individuals. That increase would be more commensurate with the cost of a hospital bed to-day. The Minister dealt also with patients in convalescent and rest homes and in the infirmary sections of State benevolent homes and State and private homes for the aged. There is one glaring omission from this list, namely mental institutions. It is just ridiculous to allow this discrimination to go on. I have now a letter from the Minister for Social Services **(Mr. Roberton),** which **Senator Spooner** promised he would obtain. lt covers a whole page, but says nothing.A mentally ill pensioner is no different from any other pensioner. He has a mental illness Instead of a physical illness. The Minister, referring to the existing provision, stated - >This has been the position ever since the Commonwealth commenced to pay pensions in 1909. Because the provision began in 1909, is it to remain on our books for the rest of our lives? Is not the Minister aware that medical science has progressed slightly and that now in most mental hospitals we have a 60 per cent, cure rate? A person who went into a mental hospital in 1909 would stay there for months or years. A person who goes into a mental hospital to-day would remain there only weeks or months. The Minister went on to say - >The whole question of Commonwealth assistance In the field of mental hygiene was carefully considered in 19SS following the receipt of **Dr. Stoller's** report on State mental institutions, lt was decided that, instead of assisting the States in connexion with maintenance costs ... the Commonwealth should provide assistance by way of grants towards the capital expenditure . . . That was a magnificent scheme, but we have done nothing for the patient except to give him sympathy. The Minister went on - >The present Commonwealth Government is not unmindful of the fact that, whilst the maintenance of inmates of mental hospitals is a State responsibility ... The inmate of every hospital is a State responsibility. The Government picks out the mental hospital and says that it is different. Of course, it is . not. The Minister continued - {: type="i" start="1"} 0. . there are other aspects involved in the case of a pensioner who loses his pension on admission to a mental hospital. I have myself given a great deal of thought to the whole problem and will continue to do so until a satisfactory solution can be found. Those are noble words indeed. A satisfactory solution is simple. People with mental diseases should be treated in the same manner as people with physical disorders. There is no difference whatsoever between the two categories, and there is no justification for this archaic segregation of the mentally sick from the physically sick. I shall talk of this week after week, as I said I would, until something is done. In his second-reading speech, the Minister for Health stated - >The Government has not overlooked the fact that some ' nursing home patients, after discontinuing their insurance payments, may find that they need hospital treatment. To meet this posi tion, the bill provides that, upon admission to an approved hospital within eight weeks of their discharge from a nursing home, these patients may enrol in an insurance fund and be eligible for hospital benefits . . . I think the Minister meant private hospitals, because if these people went into a public hospital they would not need such a provision. In the explanatory notes that the Minister has supplied, he has stated that persons who have been contributing for a fund benefit of less than 16s. a day are now to receive increased Commonwealth benefits. That is completely against the Government's principle that in relation to this scheme every one must help himself: Now the Government says that persons who insure themselves for a benefit of less than 16s. a day will be given greater help. That is wrong in principle. If those persons are not prepared to contribute for greater insurance benefit, I do not think we should help them. The Government either believes in the scheme or it does not. Persons contributing for a fund benefit of less than 16s. are entitled to Commonwealth benefits totalling 12s., which will be increased to 20s. There is to be no increase in respect of persons who are contributing for a fund benefit of more than 16s. That is totally against the Minister's principle of helping those who help themselves. . I will not mention mental hospitals at this late hour, when I know that other honorable senators want to speak, but I should like to mention the matter of committees. I asked the Minister how many of these committees such as the Pharmaceutical Benefits Committee, the Medical Services. Committee, federal committees of inquiry and State committees of inquiry, have members nominated by the College of General Practitioners. I have seen, time after time, at Australian Medical Association meetings, when the pensioner medical service has come up for discussion, that the people who get up and speak about it are the orthopaedic surgeon, the senior physician, the gynaecological specialist and so on, who tell the rest of the members of the A.M.A., the bulk of whom are general practitioners, what they should .do about the pensioner medical service. Yet these men do not do a darned thing about it themselves. 1 feel that in a scheme which is mainly and essentially one which belongs to the -general practitioner, and Which he has to deal with, we should refer to the College df General Practitioners for the nomination of members of committees rather than to the Australian . Medical Association. I do not think that there is one general practitioner on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Committee - although there may be - yet there are 8,000 general practitioners compared to only 4,000 specialists in practice, and it is the general practitioner who renders the services that are required. {: .speaker-JZU} ##### Senator Ormonde: -- Tell them to break away from the union. {: .speaker-K8Y} ##### Senator TURNBULL:
TASMANIA · IND; AP from Aug. 1969; IND from Jan. 1970 -- We are trying to form our own union and to decide whether we should still stay with the body as a whole. But even if there is to be only one body, my contention is that the cost of pharmaceutical benefits to the nation has grown tremendously because the specialist goes one better than the general practitioner by using aureomycin instead of sulphadiazine, or using, tetramycin instead of a cheaper drug. I think that the College of General Practitioners should also appoint members to such committees as the Medical Services Committee and the various State committees. Another anomaly I should like to mention concerns hospital and medical benefits in maternity cases. The present provision is that a woman does not receive benefits unless she has been a fund contributor for at least ten months prior to the birth. That is completely wrong, especially in the case of single women. A single girl is in enough trouble and enough disgrace without having to bear the added burden of hospital and medical bills when she is pregnant. Surely the hospital and medical benefits funds have so much money, and the Commonwealth has so much money, that out of humanitarian sympathy alone, they could do something for both single and married women having babies. After all, there are not many single women who have babies, and it should not be difficult to help them anyWay. The provision regarding ten months' membership of a fund prior to the birth is a terrific burden on married women. As most people know, a considerable number of first babies seem to be premature. Why do we have to have this ten months' provision. It does not matter whether a woman beat the gun, if you want to so term it. Why should that affect what she receives in the way df benefit? I do not care whether a woman having a baby is married or not, but at least a married woman who is a member of a fund is surely entitled to medical or hospital benefits without having to be a member for ten months prior to the birth. 1 should like the Minister to amend this provision. I turn now to ambulance services. I do not want the Government to go into this field directly, because it has enough on its plate already; but I point out that we pay doctors for attending pensioners, we pay hospitals for treating pensioners, we pay chemists for filling prescriptions for pensioners, we subsidize nursing services for pensioners, yet when it comes to ambulance services we say to the pensioner, "Brother, look after yourself ". Why should the provision of ambulance services not be part of the service available to a sick pensioner? An ambulance has to take him to the hospital! I do not want the Government, as I said, to break new ground and enter this field, but why not make the medical benefits funds provide an insurance cover for ambulance services? That could easily be done. It is done in some States, for instance, Queensland. {: .speaker-K7Y} ##### Senator Tangney: -- And in Western Australia. {: .speaker-KPI} ##### Senator Kendall: -- People can get that cover by subscribing to an ambulance service. {: .speaker-K8Y} ##### Senator TURNBULL:
TASMANIA · IND; AP from Aug. 1969; IND from Jan. 1970 -- Not in all States. I know that Queensland has had such a cover for years, and so has Western Australia. Why not make the cover part of the hospital and medical benefits scheme, and so solve the problem? I know that the Minister says that mental health is not his business. That is correct, but nevertheless it is surely logical for the Government to do something about it. If . everybody in this chamber asked their constituents whether it was right that the Government should do something about mental health the answer they would receive is, " Yes ". Yet honorable senators come here and say, " No ", and do nothing about mental health. In this chamber we talk and talk and talk - and what happens? Because the Government does not want to do anything about mental health honorable senators decide that nothing should be done about it. In 1909, the Commonwealth would not do anything about mental health, and it will not do anything about it to-day. At least if the Government will not do anything about that matter let it try to help married and unmarried mothers in relation to hospital and medical benefits and pensioners in relation to ambulance services. There are simple things that we can do and should do. I must support the amendment because 1 believe that all pensioners, irrespective of the wishes of the Australian Medical Association - about which I am not quibbling, because that body has its problems, too - are entitled to treatment as pensioners. If a person is a pensioner, and recognized as such, I do not care what sort of pensioner he or she is, or whether there is a slight amount of money in the bank in excess of the permissible amount, it is wrong that that person should not receive the benefit of the pensioner medical service. I assume that the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition, if agreed to, would mean that the bill will go through, but that all pensioners would get this 36s. a day payment. I agree entirely with the Leader of the Opposition. {: #subdebate-23-0-s1 .speaker-KAF} ##### Senator WADE:
Minister for Health · Victoria · CP [11.18). - I have listened with a great deal of interest to the last two speeches. I must confess that when the Leader of the Opposition **(Senator McKenna)** rises to speak I usually sit at his feet rapt in wonder and admiration - wonder at his great knowledge and admiration of the skill and ability with which he makes a weak case appear to be strong. But to-night my reactions have been confined to wonder - wonder why a leader with such undoubted skill in debate should leave himself so wide open to attack. The Leader of the Opposition spent a great deal of his time talking about a scheme very dear to his heart. I concede that he has made a great contribution in the past to the health scheme of the nation, but he concentrated in the main on his philosophy that free hospital treatment was the most desirable objective that any government could seek to attain. He set out to persuade the Senate that this philosophy so dear to his heart has such great advantages that what we propose in this legislation is insignificant. I am amazed that the Leader of the Opposition should compare the achievements of the government of which he was a member until 1949 with the achievements of the present Government. Must I remind him that in 1949 the total Commonwealth contribution to the health scheme in any and every sphere was something like £6,000,000? In 1962 under this Government that expenditure, for the first time, will exceed £100,000,000. The Leader of the Opposition made great play of the free hospital benefits that he brought to the people, but he made no mention at all of a pharmaceutical benefit scheme that is costing this Government £41,000,000 this year. He made no mention of a free pensioner medical service that is costing this Government something over £5,000,000 this year. Of course he made no mention of those things for the simple reason that the Labour Government never extended those benefits to the people who were in need. I repeat that I am surprised that a man of his great skill and knowledge should have to resort to a 1949 performance, embracing an expenditure of £6,000,000, to try to state a case in criticism of the measure the Government has placed before the Senate to-night. In the first instance he challenged the statement I made when I announced the Government's decision on this matter. He quoted me correctly when he said that I announced that this was the first time in the history of the Commonwealth that any government had made free hospital treatment available to pensioners. He challenged my statement and again went back to 1949 to prove his point. In doing so he emphasized that in 1949 the 6s. a day to which he referred was available to pensioners, but it was available also to people like myself in less straitened circumstances, and it was available to millionaires. There was no special consideration given to pensioners. I repeat what I said, that this is the first time in the history of any Commonwealth Government that an attempt has been made, successfully I hope, to provide free hospital treatment for those most in need of it - the indigent people of the community. I am taking this opportunity, **Mr. President,** to remind the Senate that this legislation completes a progressive policy of making available to people who cannot help themselves the benefits and facilities to which we believe they are entitled. The Government has provided them with a free ' pharmaceutical benefits scheme. It has provided them with a free medical pensioner service; and it is now taking the next step and providing them with a free hospital benefits scheme. I go back to 1949. The Leader of the Opposition emphasized, quite correctly, that the legislation brought down by a government that he supported insisted that hospital treatment should be free. He painted a glowing picture and indicated that that was something which was of immense value to the community. But again he told only portion of the story. He did not tell the Senate that in 1952 the hospitals of the Commonwealth were in such financial straits that this Government was obliged to come to their rescue and implement a scheme that was of real value to them. I know from my own experience that in those days - I refer particularly to provincial hospitals - hospitals were in desperate straits to meet their financial commitments from day to day. They were hamstrung for finance to make capital extension. If honorable senators stop to think for one. moment, is it not logical to argue that if this free scheme of which the Leader of the Opposition is so proud was of such value to the community, and was held in such high regard by the people of this country, would any government have been brave enough to remove it and implement a scheme that required people to pay for their hospital treatment? Of course, it would not. No government in the world, unless it was forced to take such action, would remove a free scheme and compel sections of the community to pay for their hospital treatment. So, **Sir, I** suggest that when the Leader of the Opposition is obliged to delve into the past to try to point out what he believes is a weakness in this legislation, he should tell the whole story. He should tell the people of Australia what the Government's contribution was in 1942 as compared with what it is in 1962. The Leader of the Opposition has moved an amendment to the effect that all pensioners should be brought into this free hospital treatment scheme. There are several reasons why the Government cannot accept the amendment. The first point I make is that when I met the State Ministers of Health on this matter I gave them a firm undertaking, subject to parliamentary approval, that this legislation would be implemented on 1st January, 1963. I emphasize that that undertaking was given subject to parliamentary approval. I believe that this Senate would incur the wrath of the people of Australia if, on a pretext of this kind, this legislation were held up. It is well known that this will possibly be the second last day of this session. It is well known that it is not anticipated that Parliament will meet until March of next year. {: .speaker-JYA} ##### Senator O'Byrne: -- You cannot blackmail this Parliament. {: .speaker-KAF} ##### Senator WADE: -- I am not blackmailing anybody. I am simply pointing out what honorable senators opposite and honorable senators on this side of the chamber face when they cast their vote on this issue. If honorable senators opposite care to vote for the amendment, that is their responsibility. I am not blackmailing them. I am merely pointing out that people throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth are expecting this legislation to be implemented on 1st January, 1963, and that if this Senate decides against that, then the Senate as a whole, or at least that portion of it that opposes the legislation, must accept the responsibility. There is another point that is much more valid because it is one over which the Government has some control. {: .speaker-K7A} ##### Senator Spooner: -- The point you are making is that if the amendment is carried the bill cannot go through this session. {: .speaker-KAF} ##### Senator WADE: -- That is the point I am making. I thought I had made it abundantly clear that if this bill is rejected in the Senate the legislation will be delayed for possibly six months. The second point I want to make is this: It is argued that people who do not hold an entitlement card should have free hospital treatment made available to them. It is argued that they are pensioners. That is true. It is argued that the Government has an obligation to provide free hospital treatment for those people also. Not one in the community, particularly those people in responsible places, would not do all he could for these people if it was financially possible to do so; but the Government's policy is directed towards helping those in the community who are indigent and in the greatest need. We have an alternative for people who do not hold entitlement cards. For 3s. a week a married pensioner can cover himself and his dependants for £19 12s. a week. A single pensioner, for ls. 6d. a week, can cover himself for the same amount. I suggest to the Senate that a person without an entitlement card, who is in receipt of the extra £2 a week, could well be in a position to afford ls. 6d. or 3s. a week as the case may be. If- any one wants to challenge that, as I take it my friend **Senator O'Byrne** is inclined to do, T remind him of the permissible incomes of those people. A single person who does not hold an entitlement card can be in receipt of £8 15s. a week. A married couple, one of whom is a pensioner, can be' in receipt of £12 5s. a week. A married couple, both of whom are pensioners, can be in receipt of £17 10s. a week. {: .speaker-K7Y} ##### Senator Tangney: -- Since when? {: .speaker-KAF} ##### Senator WADE: -- As from some years ago when the relevant legislation was passed, and the last adjustment of social services was made. These are the facts of life. Apparently in the Opposition there are people who do not take the trouble to find out for themselves whether or not their argument is soundly based. It is argued that this country should provide free hospital treatment for people who might well be in receipt of £17 10s. a week. I suggest to the Senate that there are very good and valid reasons why we should reject this amendment. I remind the Senate that there are yet to be explored many fields in which we could well do a greater measure of good for people in need than we would do by accepting this amendment. To-night **Senator Turnbull** made some very interesting suggestions to the Government. He talked about the waiting period for people who are in need of maternity care. I would expect him to know that there is no waiting period for Commonwealth benefits. They are available as from the date of joining a fund. When people refer to reserves of hospital benefit funds in excess of £11,000,000, I remind them that those reserves represent £1 per head of the total population of Australia. When you argue that those reserves are excessive, you are in a pretty wide field of debate. I say to the honorable senator who made certain suggestions to the Government that I am quite confident that time will provide a measure of relief in these matters. I believe that the hospital benefits funds, when they come under some criticism, might well be in the right frame of mind to discuss these matters with the Government. As non-profit organizations, they have an obligation to farm back into the community all the benefits that accrue to them, having regard to their need to have adequate reserves. The Leader of the Opposition said that he felt that the Government was proud of this measure. The Government is particularly proud of it and has every reason to be proud of it. This measure is designed to streamline the existing legislation, to simplify it and to bring a measure of relief to the people who are in need of relief. Therefore. I commend the legislation to the Senate. For the reasons I have given, I appeal to both sides of the Senate to support the legislation in order that it may be passed in this sessional period, and that we may be able to devote our energies to assisting people who, I suggest, are in greater need than people who have entitlement cards. {: .speaker-K8Y} ##### Senator TURNBULL:
TASMANIA · IND; AP from Aug. 1969; IND from Jan. 1970 -- I ask for leave to make a personal explanation, or to raise a point of order. I am not sure which is the correct procedure. {: #subdebate-23-0-s2 .speaker-10000} ##### The PRESIDENT: -- There being no objection, leave is granted. {: .speaker-K8Y} ##### Senator TURNBULL:
TASMANIA · IND; AP from Aug. 1969; IND from Jan. 1970 -- **Senator Spooner** very kindly pointed out to me that there was some misconception, about supporting this amendment and that the Senate, by vote, may not amend a measure so as to. increase the proposed charge or burden on the people. He also pointed out that if **Senator McKenna's** amendment were carried it would mean the withdrawal of the bill. I cannot support the withdrawal of the bill. This is where my statement comes to a point of order: If what **Senator Spooner** has pointed out is correct, although I intended to support the amendment, I cannot support it. Question put - >That the words proposed to be left out **(Senator McKeinna's amendment)** be left out. The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin) AYES: 25 NOES: 29 Majority . . . . 4 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the negative. Amendment negatived. Original question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time. In committee: The bill. {: #subdebate-23-0-s3 .speaker-K7Y} ##### Senator TANGNEY:
Western Australia -- First, I should like to say that I regret very much that this very important bill should be brought before the Senate on the last night of the sitting, thus preventing us from giving adequate attention to it. I wish to refer to what we in Western Australia call C class hospitals. Are they to be recognized as nursing homes coming within the definition contained in this bill? I ask this question because I think it is high time there was more adequate supervision and rigid control of these places in which, in many cases, old people are dumped. Many of them are not hospitals at all; they are merely big houses into which the proprietors cram as many old people as they can and take as much cash as they can from them for perhaps keeping them alive a little longer than they would live otherwise. Are these institutions to receive the increased subsidy? If they are, I should like to see more stringent control over them. {: #subdebate-23-0-s4 .speaker-10000} ##### The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: -- Order! I ask honorable senators on both" sides of the chamber, if they must converse, to do so in low tones so that **Senator Tangney** may be heard. {: .speaker-K7Y} ##### Senator TANGNEY: -- Recently the Commissioner of Public Health in Western Australia presented a report to the State Parliament in which he made special reference to some of the matters contained in this bill. He said that the number of old people's beds in Western Australian hospitals and institutions was about three times as great as it should be and that the hospital and medical services should be organized on an up-to-date basis. He mentioned particular hospitals for the aged many of which he said had just become dumping grounds for aged people. I have seen some of them during recent weeks. In one there were about sixteen patients, all elderly people, and the proprietor was taking from them not only their pensions but whatever else could be obtained by way of medical benefit, leaving the patients nothing for themselves. The facilities available were an absolute disgrace. The place could not be called a hospital by any stretch of the imagination. There was no trained staff employed on night duty. During the day, there was only one trained sister on duty and during the night there were only two untrained girls on duty. This place was nothing more than a second-rate or third-rate boarding house or dumping house for old people. Before the allowances made to the this type of hospital are increased, I should like some investigation made. I know that supervision of these places is a State responsibility, but at the moment we are discussing the disbursement of Commonwealth funds to certain hospitals, and as I said earlier, those who pay the piper should be able to call the tune. I suggest that there should bc some investigation on a Commonwealth level before these places receive registration. If the Minister or any of his officers would care to come to me for information, I can name the hospitals in which I know conditions have been far from satisfactory to date. In one of the places which I visited recently, there were more than twelve patients and not one of them had had a bath for more than three monhts. Yet this place is registered as a C Class hospital. It is engaged in a racket; it is exploiting the aged, and I think that Commonwealth funds could be exploited if they were paid out indiscriminately to such places as those which I have described. {: #subdebate-23-0-s5 .speaker-KAF} ##### Senator WADE:
Minister for Health · Victoria · CP -- I commend **Senator Tangney** for her contribution to this debate because, from time to time, we in the Commonwealth Department of Health are criticized by people who do not receive the registrations to which they believe they are entitled. I have told them on many occasions, and I repeat to-night, that when we provide Commonwealth funds we have a special obligation to see that a decent standard of service is offered by those who receive benefits. I give **Senator Tangney** the assurance that it is not our intention to alter our stand on this most important matter. The C class hospitals in Western Australia will be classed as nursing homes. As the honorable senator quite rightly says, the registration of such homes is a State matter, and when application is made to us for approval, the first condition we apply is that State registration must be granted. But the granting of that registration does not automatically carry with it the right to Commonwealth benefits because the Commonwealth DirectorGeneral of Health has the responsibility of being satisfied in his own mind that the standards required by the Commonwealth legislation are being observed by the applicant. I give the honorable senator the assurance that it is our intention to study the situation very closely with a view to bringing as many as we can within the ambit of the legislation while certainly excluding those which do not provide a reasonable standard of service. Bill agreed to. Bill reported without amendment; report adopted. Bill read a third time. {: .page-start } page 1763 {:#debate-24} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-24-0} #### REPATRIATION {: #subdebate-24-0-s0 .speaker-K2I} ##### Senator BRANSON: asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Are Australian repatriation benefits granted to ex-servicemen of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea who fought in the last war? 1. If not, who is responsible for the after-care of the Territory's disabled ex-servicemen and their dependants? 2. If benefits are provided, are they as generous as those extended to Australian ex-servicemen and women? {: #subdebate-24-0-s1 .speaker-JZY} ##### Senator PALTRIDGE:
LP -- The Minister for Repatriation has now supplied the following answer: - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Yes. 1. See answer to 1. 2. There is special legislation, the Native Members of the Forces Benefits Act under which appropriate repatriation benefits are provided for native ex-servicemen and their dependants. Generally they follow the same pattern as the benefits available to Australian ex-servicemen and their dependants, but at a lower monetary level related to the income levels and normal living costs of the indigenous population of the Territory. Benefits for natives of the Territory are administered by the Minister for Territories. {: #subdebate-24-0-s2 .speaker-KOU} ##### Senator HENDRICKSON: asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice - >How many widows of ex-soldiers have been granted T.P.I, widows' rates of pension after the death of their husbands? {: .speaker-JZY} ##### Senator PALTRIDGE: -- The Minister for Repatriation has supplied the following answer: - >At 30th June, 1962, there were 37,174 war widows. This figure includes those whose husbands died on or as a result of war service or who were granted a special T.P.I, rate of war pension prior to death or posthumously. Separate statistics of the various categories of war widows are not, however, available. {: .page-start } page 1763 {:#debate-25} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-25-0} #### WAR PENSIONS ASSESSMENT APPEAL TRIBUNAL {: #subdebate-25-0-s0 .speaker-K4S} ##### Senator SANDFORD:
VICTORIA asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. How many applications were made to the War Pensions Assessment Appeal Tribunal in 1961 to have rejected appeals re-opened on production of fresh evidence? 1. How many of the appeals were re-opened? 2. Of the appeals re-opened, how many were allowed and how many rejected? 3. Are re-opened appeals heard by the same tribunal as rejected the original appeals? {: #subdebate-25-0-s1 .speaker-JZY} ##### Senator PALTRIDGE:
LP -- The Minister for Repatriation has furnished the following reply: - >The decision of an assessment appeal tribunal determining the degree of incapacity and rate of pension is binding for a specified period. If, within that period, an ex-serviceman believes that his incapacity has increased he may make a further appropriate application. It would appear that the reference is intended to be to entitlement appeal tribunals. > >The information sought by the honorable senator about cases involving addtional evidence considered by the entitlement appeal tribunals is as follows: - > >Five hundred and twenty-nine cases were handled by the Entitlement Appeal Tribunals during 1961-62. 2 and 3. One hundred and twelve of these cases were re-opened and allowed and 492 were disallowed. The remaining 25 cases were withdrawn. > >The itineraries of the four Entitlement Appeal Tribunals are so arranged that each tribunal visits a number of States during the year. "Further evidence " cases are submitted to the tribunals as they are prepared, regardless of which tribunal may have determined the original appeal. {: .page-start } page 1764 {:#debate-26} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-26-0} #### ARTIFICIAL LIMBS {: #subdebate-26-0-s0 .speaker-K6F} ##### Senator CAVANAGH: asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Is it a fact that the Repatriation Commission's artificial limb section in South Australia makes artificial limbs for civilians? 1. As, in many cases, these limbs are paid for by civilians obtaining loans at a high rate of interest, will the Government give consideration to making the limbs available on terms with payments spread over an extended period and so save the unfortunate civilians in need of artificial limbs the present high interest rates? {: #subdebate-26-0-s1 .speaker-JZY} ##### Senator PALTRIDGE:
LP -- The Minister for Repatriation has supplied the following answers: - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Yes, as is the practice in other States. 1. The provision of credit facilities to private clients of the Commonwealth is a matter which has implications beyond the responsibility of the Repatriation Department. Against this background I shall arrange for this suggestion to be appropriately considered and advise the honorable senator of the result. {: .page-start } page 1764 {:#debate-27} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-27-0} #### EYE THERAPY {: #subdebate-27-0-s0 .speaker-JZB} ##### Senator FITZGERALD: asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Is the Minister aware that patients who attend the Commonwealth Repatriation Eye Hospital, Sydney, and request eye exercise treatment to benefit their sight, find their request scorned and advice given that treatment of such a character is of no value and that spectacles are recommended? 1. Will the Minister have an investigation made, with the assistance of the best authorities of the Department of Health, into the value of eye therapy? 2. Did not Sister Kenny show that muscles and limbs affected by paralysis could be repaired by exercises, proving that therapy is a cure for body ailments, and does it not follow that the eye, as a functional part of the body, could also respond to exercises, particularly in the case of young people? {: #subdebate-27-0-s1 .speaker-JZY} ##### Senator PALTRIDGE:
LP -- The Minister for Repatriation has supplied the following answer: - 1, 2 and 3. There is no Commonwealth repatriation eye hospital in Sydney. There is, however, an eye clinic at the Repatriation Out-patient Department in Grace Building, Sydney. Orthoptic training, which is the treatment to which the honorable senator refers, is a recognized treatment provided by the department's specialists in appropriate cases. While the treatment is valuable when applied to certain conditions, in a number of cases it could have no value whatever. {: .page-start } page 1764 {:#debate-28} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-28-0} #### REPATRIATION {: #subdebate-28-0-s0 .speaker-K4S} ##### Senator SANDFORD: asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. By whom are members of repatriation tribunals appointed? 1. What is the period of appointment? 2. What qualifications are required for membership of repatriation tribunals? 3. Is it a fact that most, if not all, appointments are made from persons who were formerly of commissioned rank? If so, what special qualifications are supposed to be held by such persons? 4. Are members of repatriation tribunals at the time of their appointment, or at any other time, instructed on government policy, or are they given a free hand in interpreting the act? {: #subdebate-28-0-s1 .speaker-JZY} ##### Senator PALTRIDGE:
LP -- The Minister for Repatriation has supplied the following answers: - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. The provisions relating to appointment of members of tribunals are to be found in sections 55 and 65 of the Repatriation Act. Members of the war pensions entitlement appeal tribunals are appointed by the Governor-General. Chairmen of assessment appeal tribunals are appointed by the Minister; the two medical members of these tribunals are selected by the chairman of the particular tribunal from lists of medical practitioners approved from time to time by the Minister. 1. Members of war pensions entitlement appeal tribunals and chairmen of assessment appeal tribunals may be appointed for a term not exceeding five years. The usual period of appointment is five years. 2. Chairmen of both war pensions entitlement appeal tribunals and the assessment appeal tribunals are required to be barristers or solicitors of the High Court or of the Supreme Court of a State and in the case of the assessment appeal tribunals -must be "returned soldiers" and be appointed from lists of not less than three names submitted by organizations representing " returned soldiers*" throughout the Commonwealth. One member of each war pensions entitlement appeal tribunal is required to be appointed from lists of ex-servicemen submitted as aforesaid. While the Repatriation Act does not specify qualifications in respect of the other members of the entitlement appeal tribunal, all such members holding current appointments are " returned soldiers ". The two medical practitioners who, with the chairman, constitute an assessment appeal tribunal, are required by the act to have the necessary knowledge of the nature of the disability from which the appellant or appellants is or are suffering. 3. There are twelve members of four entitlement appeal tribunals and six chairmen of assessment appeal tribunals. One chairman of an assessment appeal tribunal is recently deceased. Of the eighteen, sixteen held commissioned rank and two did not The most suitable applicant is appointed irrespective of his rank on service. 4. No. Senate adjourned at 11.52 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 5 December 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.