24th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 10 a.m., and read prayers.
Assent to the following bills reported: -
Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Bill (No. 4) 1962.
Customs Tariff Bill (No. 5) 1962.
Excise Tariff Bill (No. 1) 1962.
Appointment of Joint Select Committee. The PRESIDENT.- I have to inform the Senate that I have received letters from the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) appointing Mr. Erwin, Mr. King and Mr. Wilson, and from the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Calwell) appointing Mr. Johnson and Mr. Stewart to be members of the Joint Committee on Parliamentary and Government Publications.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. No doubt, the Minister is aware that the Queensland Country Party-Liberal Party Government sets production quotas at Queensland coalmines in order to protect the employment of mine-workers in that State. If over-production at the Peabody-Mitsui open cut at Kianga threatens future employment in New South Wales mines, will the Commonwealth Government ask the Queensland Government to set a production quota at the Kianga open cut?
– I do not pretend to be familiar with the production quotas in Queensland. I think they are set by an arrangement under which the industry generally has accepted certain levels of output to meet the current trade that is available. My recollection is that the Government gave the Kianga mine authority to go into production solely upon the basis that the coal produced was exported. There is competition for export trade and I would doubt very much the powers of the Commonwealth Government to arrange with the
Queensland Government to set quotas for export on a particular mine. I doubt also the willingness of the Queensland Government to accept any such arrangement.
This mine is another example of an important discovery of natural resources in recent years. The new coal-field in Queensland is like other mineral deposits that have been discovered in that the more information one obtains about them, the greater appears to be the size of the deposit. It is a matter of material consequence to Queensland to ensure that that coal deposit is worked, and it can only be worked by expanding export trade. I hold the view that the people who are buying coal from Australia will spread their favours. They will buy from New South Wales and Queensland. They are aware that we spent substantial sums on improving port facilities in New South Wales on a clear understanding that they would give us long-term coal business from those ports, and I believe that they will live up to that arrangement.
– I preface my question, which I direct to the Minister for National Development, by stating that since I have been away from Australia announcements have been made in the press to the effect that a pipeline is to be constructed between Moonie oilfield and Brisbane. What is the size of the pipeline to be constructed? What amount of fuel oil is expected to be conveyed from Moonie oilfields to Brisbane? What savings in overseas balances will be thereby effected?
– These questions are a bit premature. The present situation is that the Queensland Government is bringing down legislation in respect of the construction of a pipeline. The Union Oil Company, the company acting for the consortium carrying out the full operations, at the present time has technical experts engaged upon a study of the economics of pipeline operation and sizes. The actual quantity of oil that is available on the field has not yet been determined. The very satisfactory feature of the whole matter is that the company has taken a firm decision to construct the pipeline and is having the plans and specifications finalized. It has stated publicly if my recollection is correct, that it will have the pipeline in operation and oil going from Moonie to Brisbane within the next twelve months. The size of the operation will be determined when the size of the field is determined. That, of course, is the story behind this continual drilling of holes.
The tenth hole has now proved to be satisfactory. That means, in effect, that the size of the deposit is proved to be so much larger. The company will go on drilling further holes until it has defined the area in which oil is located. Then, as I understand it, it has a second pretty difficult and important technical engineering exercise, that is, to reach conclusions upon the best method of extracting the oil and the proportion of the deposit that will be or can be extracted.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. I hope that you will pardon me, Mr. President, for prefacing it with a few words.
– I hope that the preface will not be too long.
– I shall try to keep it short. In any event, I understand that we have plenty of time. In reply to a question I asked concerning Sir John Williams of the Melbourne “ Herald “ being; a director of three companies in a position to control television licences and thereby in contravention of the law, the Minister representing the Postmaster-General stated that Sir John Williams was in fact a director of Herald and Weekly Times Limited and Advertiser Newspapers Limited, which were, each in a position to control a television licence. But he also stated that while Sir John Williams was a director of Queensland Press Limited, the articles of the company controlling station BTQ provided that no shareholder could exercise more than 15 per cent, of the total votes which could be cast at a general meeting of the company and was therefore not in a position to exercise control of the licences within the meaning of the act. I now ask: Is the Minister aware that Queensland Press Limited is not itself a shareholder in the company holding the television licence BTQ but has 100 per cent, control of two companies which are shareholders? Is he aware that the two companies, Queensland Newspapers Proprietary Limited and the Telegraph Newspaper Com?pany Limited, have shareholdings amounting to 17.14 per cent, and 11.14- per cent, respectively of the total shares? Would a correct interpretation of the clause in the articles of association of the television company be that Queensland Newspapers Proprietary Limited could control 15 per cent, of the votes and the Telegraph Newspaper Company Limited 11.14 per cent.? Since Queensland Press Limited controls both companies would it be correct to assume that that company would thereby control 26.14 per cent, of the total votes, and for the purposes of section 92b of the Broadcasting and Television Act be in a position to control the company? As Sir John Williams is a director of Queensland Press Limited, would he thereby be contravening section 92c? If so, will the Government prosecute Sir John Williams? If not, why not?
– I am quite sure that although the honorable senator is able to quote percentages as precisely as 11.14 and 26.14 he could not really expect me to be in a position to give him an intelligent answer off-hand to such a question. I remind him that the Postmaster-General gave a very lengthy answer to his question on this very matter on Tuesday of this week, and the final statement in the answer was to the effect that Sir John Williams did not contra:vene any section of the Broadcasting and Television Act on account of his shareholdings. It appears to me that Senator Kennelly has made a rather close study of that answer and is of the opinion that he. may have another avenue through which to have this matter probed. I repeat that the PostmasterGeneral only on Tuesday, in reply to this same question, made a categorical statement that Sir John Williams had not contravened the act, and in spite of Senator Kennedy’s research into this, matter I am prepared to say that that statement still holds. However, in view of the amount of work Senator Kennelly has done on this subject I will bring his question to the notice of the PostmasterGeneral and ask him to examine it-.
– My question is directed to , the Minister for National
Development. Is there any truth in the suggestion that the Premier of South Australia, Sir Thomas Playford, has during the last few weeks moderated his request for assistance in respect of beef roads from last year’s level, which I understand was £2,000,000, to less than £500,000 now? Has the Premier at any stage offered to make a grant to match a contribution from the Commonwealth Government for beef roads, as is done by the Western Australian Government? As the Premier’s amended request is a moderate one and directly in line with the suggestion by the Division of Agricultural Economics when it surveyed beef roads in northern Australia, will the Government consider making an immediate grant to South Australia of approximately £500,000, so that beef producers can expect that all beef roads in the north may be finished at about the same time to obviate the danger of beef cattle being diverted from the South Australian market to other States?
– I do not like having to answer such questions without notice, because one has to rely on one’s recollection of events. However my recollection is that within the last month or so we have had a request from South Australia for assistance in respect of beef cattle roads which is substantially smaller than the request originally made. I have no recollection of any suggestion from South Australia that it would match a Commonwealth contribution. I cannot forecast what might be the decision of the Commonwealth on the application. As Senator Buttfield knows, the criterion that is applied to these proposals is their worth in terms of earning export income for Australia. It is not a question of diverting beef cattle from one State to another; it is not a question of improving standards within States. The question that we examine and consider on each occasion is this: In view of the great need to increase Australian exports, will the particular proposal yield that result; and how does the result that may come from that proposal compare with the results that may come from proposals submitted from other States? In other words, although it is not put in express terms, there is some order of priorities. We are using our resources to increase export income as much as we can.
– I ask that busy Minister, the Minister for Health, a few questions. But I want to ask a preliminary question before I ask my main questions. Would the Minister agree that the basic property of the heart is that it is a muscle and that the chief peculiarity of a muscle is that we do not understand it? The more we know about it, the less we understand. It looks as if we will soon know everything and understand nothing. These are my main questions: Is it true that hundreds of so-called cranks have offered their advice and services to the National Heart Foundation? Because of that, and for other reasons, has the foundation limited its advisers, helpers and investigators to recognized medical men only? Are there not many capable men, such as dietitians and nutritionists amongst whom is my friend Mr. Thompson, who have had great experience in combating the ills suffered by the human body and who could supply to the National Heart Foundation many facts gleaned from their actual experiences in treating human sickness and suffering? Why are these earnest and serious-minded men practically boycotted by the National Heart Foundation and other foundations? Is the Minister aware that a court in England, when trying the famous Sir Harold Barker case, declared that the medical profession had no monopoly of the healing ai ts?
– The honorable senator asked me this preliminary question: Is the basic property of the heart a muscle? I suggest to him that it depends entirely on one’s age and one’s point of view. When we are young, basic affairs of the heart certainly have no relation to muscles. The honorable senator went further, as he developed his question, and suggested that the National Heart Foundation boycotts people whom he described as wellmeaning, well-informed and in a position to give sound advice on this very important matter. He referred to dietitians, nutritionists and so on. I remind him that the people who control the National Heart Foundation have a very high regard for people in other professions. Whilst those people may not necessarily be required to be members of the foundation, their services and advice are always available and it is not unusual for them to be co-opted. I assure the honorable senator that the foundation, in its great task, is using every method at its disposal in order to come to the proper conclusion.
– I preface a question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral by stating that in South Australia the Australian Labour Party makes a broadcast each week from station 5KA and the Liberal and Country League has a weekly broadcast from station 5AD. Can the Minister explain why station 5KA rejected the Australian Labour Party’s proposed broadcast on the Friday night preceding the recent Midlands by-election in South Australia, on the ground that any political broadcast after a Wednesday night immediately preceding an election on the Saturday would be in contravention of the Electoral Act, although station 5AD permitted the Premier, Sir Thomas Playford, to make his usual weekly broadcast from that station on the Thursday evening immediately preceding the by-election? Will the Postmaster-General take steps immediately to enforce the law in this matter and also to ensure that all political parties will be given equal treatment in the forthcoming by-election in South Australia on 15th December?
– I am aware, of course, that the Broadcasting and Television Act definitely prohibits political broadcasts after the Wednesday prior to a Saturday on which an election is to be held. I am aware also that Sir Thomas Playford is a most astute and responsible Premier. I should be surprised if he offended against the spirit of the legislation. I make that remark having in mind the representations that were made recently, when honorable senators from both sides of the chamber were verbose in their support of propositions that the Premier has put to this Government. There was no lack of unity on that matter in this chamber. It could well be a matter of fine judgment whether the Premier’s weekly broadcast came within the category of a political broadcast. I am not prepared to make any comment on that. I will bring the submissions of the honorable senator to the notice of the Postmaster-General and ask him to give a ruling on this matter.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is it a fact that officers of the Commonwealth Employment Service are prevented from divulging the figures relating to unemployment amongst migrants in migrant holding centres? If, as I believe, the answer to that question is in the affirmative, will the Minister tell us what is the motive of the Government in trying to hide these unemployment figures?
Senator GORTON__ I do not know the answer to the first question, on which the answer to the second question depends. I suggest, therefore, that Senator Sandford put his question on the notice-paper so that I can get a reply from the Minister.
– My question is directed to the Minister for National Development. Has the Bureau of Mineral Resources made any estimate for the Minister of the extent of the salt field at Port Augusta, near the head of Spencer’s Gulf in South Australia? Is the salt to be won from this part of South Australia likely to be an export earner? Have any approaches been made to the Commonwealth to assist in the construction of a jetty or a wharf to facilitate the export of this salt, in the event of its being an export earner?
– I have not heard anything from my department for some time on this particular matter, but of course over the years I have had discussions from time to time with groups which have been interested in it. In my opinion, it is a matter of considerable importance to South Australia, because that State has a great preponderance - I think more than 60 per cent. - of the total salt deposits in Australia. There is no question of there being a lack of salt for export, provided that overseas markets can be found for it. South Australia has a comparatively small market in New Zealand for, I should guess, about 20,000 tons a year, but a very big trade in salt could be developed if the markets could be found.
I have no recollection of representations having been made to the Commonwealth for assistance in providing capital works. I doubt whether such representations would be made. The last information I had was to the effect that a company was contemplating the development of the salt resources, and my recollection is that if it could find a market in which to sell salt in sufficient quantities to justify its doing so, it would itself provide the capital services. I may be wrong about that, but at least we have had no representations. I think that the best answer I can give Senator Laught is that we hope that the company can find markets overseas, because we certainly have salt available for export, and the extension of the salt mining industry would be a wry useful addition to mining activities in South Australia.
– I preface my question, which is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, by saying that. 6u -Tuesday last I asked him whether correspondent I had received from the Postmaster-General was in breach of an undertaking given by Senator Spooner to the Senate. He stated ti. it if I made available a copy of the correspondence he would obtain a reply for me. 1 i. iw ask whether he is in a position to give mt a reply to my question, and whether I may ha >. my correspondence back.
– What I di” was to send a letter to the Prime Minister’s i Department with a view to having the matter it “deed at in the light of the decision that had «. >en made earlier. I received a memo from Prime Minister’s Department expressing the view that the procedure was in accordance with that decided upon, and that where representations were made by a senator concerning a public facility such as a post office or a telephone exchange - I think in the honorable senator’s question he referred to letter boxes, although I am not sure on that point - the honorable senator who raised the matter was informed. The member of the House of Representatives from the area concerned also was informed because it was not so much a personal matter as a public one concerning the provision of postal facilities in the member’s electorate.
When I received that reply and bad a look at it, it seemed to me to be in accord ance with the arrangements that we had made. I then asked for a letter to be prepared for despatch to Senator Cavanagh, in reply to the question that he had addressed to me in the Senate. I hope he will receive that letter within the next few days, and I am reasonably certain that he will receive his correspondence back with it
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior. Earlier this week, the Minister promised me that he would discuss with his colleague my suggestion that the law governing the management of the Australian War Memorial be amended to provide for representation on the Board of Trustees of contemporary artists and also the women’s services which did so much during the various wars fought by Australia. Can he now inform me whether his colleague has made any favorable response to my suggestion?
– I did inform Senator Buttfield on Tuesday that the submissions she had made in her speech on the Australian War Memorial legislation had been passed on to the Minister for the Interior. The Minister has written to me saying that he acknowledges the speech she made during the passage of the Australian War Memorial Bill. He says further -
I would be grateful if you would assure Senator Buttfield that her suggestion that a woman be included on the Board of Trustees of the Memorial will be carefully examined.
Set.-, it FITZGERALD.- I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Because of the mounting death roll on the roads, and in order to promote greater road safety, will the Minister ask the Prime Minister to include in the business sheet for the next Premiers* Conference the report of the Senate Select Committee on Road Safety, which was presented a couple of years ago?
– I do not think that would be the appropriate procedure. The report of the Senate select committee was referred to the Australian Transport Advisory Council, on which the Commonwealth and the State transport ministers sit/
That council gave the report full consideration. This is really a question that should be directed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport, but my recollection is that there is a Commonwealth road safety organization and that, side by side with it, there is an organization composed of representatives of the Commonwealth and the States. The report went to both groups. In those circumstances, I do not think it would be appropriate to take it to the Premiers’ Conference.
– Will the Minister for Civil Aviation let me know what success he has achieved in persuading the States to extend the provisions of the Civil Aviation (Carriers’ Liability) Act to intra-state carriage by air?
– I know of the continued interest that Senator Laught shows in this question of extending the provisions of the Commonwealth act to the various States. He has asked me a number of questions on this matter from time to time over the last two or three years, since the passage of the Civil Aviation (Carriers’ Liability) Act. Earlier this year, I was able to tell him that Victoria and Western Australia had passed complementary legislation, and I think I said that the Government of South Australia was making active- preparations to have similar legislation enacted. In June of 1962 at a meeting of the Australian Transport Advisory Council, the South Australian delegation advised that legislation was being prepared for submission to the State Parliament. I am pleased to be able to tell the honorable senator that the South Australian Parliament has since passed that legislation. So the legislation of three States is now in line with that of the Commonwealth.
Each of the other three States reported that its legal officers saw some difficulties that could arise and that the matter was to be referred to a conference of State Attorneys-General and Ministers for Justice. I now understand that, as a result of discussions within that body, the three State governments concerned no longer see any difficulties and that they intend to proceed with the enactment of the necessary legislation. I hope that during the autumn session, when I have no doubt the honorable senator will ask me a further question on this subject, I shall be able to tell him that at least one other State has enacted legislation.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service: Has the Government’s attention been drawn to the statements made by the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions at the Asian Regional Conference of the International Labour Organization protesting against the unnecessary use of penalties against the Australian trade union movement and indicating that the council was considering a reference to the International Labour Organization Freedom of Association Committee in connexion with these grievances? In view of the importance of these statements, emanating from the chief spokesman of the national trade union movement, will the Government explore the possibility of holding conferences with the Australian Council of Trade Unions with a view to removing the discontent caused by the industrial situation complained of by that organization?
– As the honorable senator will know, the Minister for Labour and National Service, who represents the Commonwealth Government, was chairman of the conference to which the honorable senator has referred, so clearly all business conducted at the conference was immediately before the appropriate and responsible Minister. That Minister and his department are also constantly in touch with the Australian Council of Trade Unions on a whole variety of industrial matters. The department and the A.C.T.U. are located in one State where their views are constantly being exchanged. Consequently, the suggestion that has been made by the honorable senator is already being given effect in that views are exchanged.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for. Primary Industry. Does the Minister recollect that on the sale of the Nor’West whaling station, assurances were given both by the Commonwealth Government and the Western Australian Government that profits from the sale would be directed towards the development of fishing in the north-western area of Western Australia? Is it a fact that an experimental trawling venture in the Great Australian Bight with head-quarters in South Australia lost £250,000 and was wound up without being a great success? Will the Minister give the Senate details of any expenditure on experimental Commonwealth fisheries ventures in the north-west of Western Australia where the fishing potential is supposed to be of a high order?
– I know something of the history of the sale of the Nor’West whaling station, but I am not sufficiently well-informed on the day-to-day activities in the fishing industry to answer the question off the cuff. If the honorable senator will put the question on notice I shall obtain the information he seeks. If he would like a reply sooner by letter, I shall endeavour to meet his wishes.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Has the Government’s preference for American aircraft been dampened in any way by recent overseas air disasters?
– First, I want to put the honorable senator right in respect of his reference to the Government’s preference for American aircraft, as he put it. The Government has not expressed a preference for any aircraft one way or the other. It is true that the major trunk airlines operating in Australia have recently ordered American aircraft after giving the matter close consideration and minutely examining the aircraft available both from American and other production lines. In requesting sanction to purchase those aircraft, both airlines made available to the Government the detailed reasons for their selection of the aircraft.
I do not quite see the relevance of the second part of the honorable senator’s question. It is true that a recent air crash, as I read the reports, involved an American aircraft, but looking back over a longer period, one recalls that unfortunately aircraft manufactured in countries other than the United States of America have been involved in aircraft accidents causing loss of life.
As to air safety as it applies generally to Australia, I think the honorable senator will agree with me that our own safety record is the assurance that any aircraft that flies in Australia operates to safety standards which are extremely high and reduce the risk of loss among Australians who travel by air.
– Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate aware that some considerable time ago, the Regulations and Ordinances Committee submitted a report to the effect that as a result of an administrative body operating in the Northern Territory, the committee wanted clarification of its responsibility in relation to the scrutiny of ordinances and regulations issued by the Minister and relating to the Northern Territory? Is the Minister aware that from the time of the report, the committee would not scrutinize those ordinances? I ask the Leader of the Government: What attention has been given to the ordinances and regulations issued in respect of the Northern Territory in the interim period since the Regulations and Ordinances Committee informed the Government that it had ceased to scrutinize such ordinances and regulations, and up to the present time when the committee is awaiting a reply to its report?
-I remember the report of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee containing the decision to which the honorable senator has referred. I have no recollection that its report called for a reply from the Government. My recollection is that the committee stated a series of reasons which brought it to the conclusion that it should not continue to examine these ordinances. I have no recollection of any request having been made for a decision or an expression of views by the Government.
– The report was considered by the. Senate and was approved in that respect. It was actually debated by the Senate and that part of the report was approved by this House.
– I think I am right in saying that it did not call for a governmental decision. Since then, ordinances affecting the Northern Territory have gone through the procedure of consideration by the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory, submission to the Minister for Territories, and approval by the Executive Council.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government on the same subject as that raised by Senator Cooke. Would the Minister be reminded that the Regulations and Ordinances Committee also pointed out that constitutional anomalies emerged inasmuch as the Minister of the day had the right to appoint a majority of the members of the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory and thereby impose his will in respect of the legislative ordinances of the Territory, and that perhaps that was a matter that should be examined from the point of view of making the legislature in the Territory independent and not merely a body capable of being directed by the Minister. In other words, in relation to these ordinances, the Minister would have somewhat the same power as he has by virtue of regulations which we now continue to examine. Does the Leader of the Government, having that before him, consider it proper to ask the Minister for Territories to examine that constitutional situation?
– I ask Senator Wright to put the question on the noticepaper. My recollection is that since that report was made by the committee and considered by the Senate there has been a recasting or re-organization of the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory, but I am not able to remember to what extent that was done.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the. Minister for the Interior with regard to the Canberra lakes scheme. Has proper scientific examination been made regarding the colour of the waters of the lakes? Are we to be confronted by the usual muddy appearance of New South Wales waters, or are we to be inspired by the blue sheen of the waters to which we are accustomed in southern latitudes?
– The honorable senator’s choice of words fires me to endeavour to answer him in the same strain. I remind him that the Canberra water supply is an excellent water supply. If the import of his question is. that steps should be taken to colour the water in the Canberra lakes and beautify it to a degree comparable to waters in southern lands, I am of opinion that the Government would not entertain such a proposition for one moment. It would be costly and an unnecessary expenditure of taxpayers’ money.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Air, who will recollect that a week or so ago, speaking to the motion for the adjournment of the Senate, I requested him to bring before the Government the suggestion that the Royal Australian Air Force regulations be amended so as to enable the bodies of air force personnel who meet their deaths away from their home States, to be transported for burial, upon request by the next of kin, to the States in which the personnel enlisted. The Minister informed me that, while neglecting to reply to my submission during that debate, he would, if requested later, furnish a reply.
– As the honorable senator probably knows, the regulations affecting the Army, the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force are uniform in this respect. I well remember pointing that out to him in the debate on the Estimates. He was- good enough to supply me with more detailed information concerning a specific case. I did, or I think I did, convey his submissions to the Minister for Air. As yet I have not a reply. If I have been deficient in my submission to the Minister for Air, I shall repair that immediately and ask the Minister to give a reply to the honorable senator’s representations.
– I direct a further question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior. I regret that if I introduced a flippant note into my question it should have evoked a flippant reply. I am quite serious in my concern about whether the expenditure on the lakes will produce water that is a pleasure to the eye. I am not suggesting the use of artificial colouring. God forbid! But can we be assured that the lakes will have clear water? Have we ensured that the water will not be discoloured?
– Senator Wright has amplified his question to some extent and 1 now have a better understanding of it. He places emphasis on the importance of clear water in the lakes. I am not an authority in this matter. Speaking subject to correction, I believe that it would be very costly to produce clear water. I think that filtration would be required to get the water to the standard that the honorable senator suggests.
– Would it not depend on the depth of the water?
– It would depend on many factors. 1 shall bring the matters raised to the notice of my colleague the Minister for the Interior who, I am sure, will have given them consideration and may be in a position to give the honorable senator a satisfactory reply.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior whether there is any written material, not on the construction of the lakes but on measures for keeping the water free from weeds and the cost of keeping the islands in proper condition. In asking this question I am not for one moment being facetious. lt is true that the authorities here will not be dealing with Yan Yean water, as I do in Melbourne. Weeds are a tremendous problem in a number of lakes in Victoria. The cost of keeping the islands in the Canberra lakes clean may be high. Bailey bridges may be required, and it may be possible to get them here from the Army. Incidentally, the Army is not unkind to me in this matter. Is there any material available on the cost of maintenance of the lakes, apart altogether from cost of construction? Is the water to be weed-free? Have the authorities examined the cost of preventing the islands from becoming an eyesore in the middle of the lakes? I would be most grateful if the Minister could produce a copy of any material on those matters.
– I acknowledge that Senator Kennelly’s question is based on a very long and wide experience in this matter. I have no doubt that his reference to conditions in Melbourne related to Albert Park lake, where the weed menace has been a great problem to the trustees for a considerable time. I freely admit that the matters raised are of real importance in this scheme for beautifying and utilizing water in the Canberra area. I do not know whether any study of this matter has been made by the Department of the Interior, but I shall certainly bring the honorable senator’s remarks to the notice of my colleague, the Minister for the Interior. If a study of the matter has been made I will ask that information on it be forwarded to the honorable senator. If no study has been made I will ask the Minister for the Interior to consider the making of such a study and also to examine the points raised by the honorable senator.
– In directing a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior who, I understand, controls civil defence preparations in this country, I remind the honorable senator that I put a question on notice regarding allegations made by the Australian Medical Association about the inefficiency of the Army medical services. I remind him also that further questions placed on the notice-paper in regard to the deficiencies of medical services and hospitals required to accommodate civilian victims in the event of war were disregarded on the ground that they were not directed to the proper quarter. Can the Minister now give me a reply concerning the Government’s attitude to the report of the Australian Medical Association of very great deficiencies in relation to the availability of hospital treatment and medical attention and other matters pertaining to Australian civil defence in the event of the outbreak of war?
– I well remember the points raised by Senator Cooke on this matter, and I remind him again that the Commonwealth has accepted a limited liability in regard to civil defence preparations in Australia. The States have a very great responsibility in this matter, and I am glad to note that to-day there is a measure of co-ordination between the States and the Commonwealth in relation to civil defence. As to the report of the allegations which the honorable senator has mentioned, I must be guarded in referring to the Australian Medical Association in that connexion, because my understanding is that the allegations were made by individual members of the association and do not necessarily represent the considered opinion of that body as a whole. The question as to whether the opinion expressed can be accepted as representing the completely authoritative view of the association is therefore wide open. I believe that it is right to say that the State governments and the Commonwealth Government have at their disposal the best possible advice in the land. They are aware of the threats to the country and of what will be necessary if and when an emergency arises, and they make their plans accordingly. Whilst any government, either State or Federal, welcomes interest in these matters coming from outside, I am bound to say that no matter how high a standing outside people may have in the community they may not have at their disposal all the advice and information that governments have. Therefore, I think that I am on safe ground when I assure the honorable senator that this matter is in capable hands.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration: Under the immigration scheme is any discrimination practised against Italians? Does such discrimination apply to female assisted immigrants? If so, what is the reason for the discrimination?
– I think that a similar question was directed to the Minister for Immigration in the House of Representatives a few weeks ago. I remember reading the “ Hansard “ report of it. I do not recall all that Mr. Downer said in reply, but he said that he was considering the very point which Senator Murphy has now raised - that is, the point in relation to inducements designed to bring more Italian women to Australia, or at any rate more women, because of the imbalance of our population, which is predominant male. I understand that the Department of Immigration has been considering this very important matter, and if there is anything that Mr. Downer can add to what I have said I will ask him to reply direct to Senator Murphy.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
To enable Parliament to form a coherent opinion on the military build-up in Indonesia, as highlighted by the Commander-in-Chief, Far East, will the Minister make a definitive statement on the build-up by the leaders of the Republic, and the strategically offensive capacity of that build-up?
– The following answer is supplied: -
The Minister for Defence invites attention to the information furnished in answers to previous questions on this subject in “ Hansard “ for the House of Representatives on 25th October, 1962 at pages 2029-2032, and on 4th December, 1962 at page 2917.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The following answer has been supplied by the Minister for Social Services: -
I have no knowledge of the resolutions mentioned. Suggestions of the kind have been made from time to time but the view has always been taken that they should not be adopted.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
Health for items supplied on such a basis without providing particulars of discounts and rebates received?
– The following answers are supplied: - ^
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questions is- as follows: -
The Joint Coal Board has advised me that the mechanism has interesting features. At present. however, there has been little application to coal mining operations in Australia of hydraulic movement of solids. Consequently, it is not possible at this stage to predict what effect the “ hydro lift “ process may have on Australian coal mining practice.
asked the Minister representing the Acting AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
Will the Government give early consideration to the printing of bound volumes of consolidated Commonwealth acts for the period 1901 to this year?
– The following answer is supplied: -
Some preliminary consideration has already been given by the Attorney-General’s Department to the question of printing a further consolidation of the Commonwealth acts, but before this could be done it would be necessary to pass a Statute Law Revision Act. There is no question of passing such an act by the Parliament this year. The Attorney-General proposes to consider the matter again in the. new year.
– I present the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works relating to the following proposed work: -
Provision of additional wells, reticulation and tank to augment the Alice Springs water supply.
The recommendations and conclusions of. the committee, arrived at after studying the evidence submitted and visiting Alice Springs for inspections, are set out in the report. There are nine recommendations and conclusions. The first one reads -
A daily average per capita consumption of 130 gallons is a reasonable figure on which to base planning for the Alice Springs Water Supply.
The last four read -
Precedence: Sitting of the Senate.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) agreed to - That Government business take precedence of general business after 8 p.m. this sitting.
Sitting suspended from 11.18 a.m. to 5.13 p.m.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) agreed to-
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Questions with regard to the several stages for the passage through the Senate of all the following bills, viz., Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Bill 1962, Repatriation (Far East Strategic Reserve) Bill 1962, Repatriation Bill (No. 2) 1962, Re-establishment and Employment Bill 1962, War Service Homes Bill (No. 2) 1962, Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Bill 1962, Social Services Bill (No. 2) 1962, Broadcasting and Television Bill 1962, Estate Duty Assessment Bill 1962, and Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Bill (No. 2) 1962, being put in one motion, at each stage, and the consideration of all of such bills together in Committee of the Whole, and as would prevent the reading of the short titles only on every order for the reading of the bills.
Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Bill 1962.
Repatriation (Far East Strategic Reserve) Bill 1962.
Repatriation Bill (No. 2) 1962.
Re-establishment and Employment Bill 1962.
War Service Homes Bill (No. 2) 1962.
Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Bill 1962.
Social Services Bill (No. 2) 1962.
Broadcasting and Television Bill 1962.
Estate Duty Assessment Bill 1962.
Income Tax and Social Services. Contribution Assessment Bill (No. 2) 1962.
Bills received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bills (on motion by Senator Paltridge) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bills be now read a second time.
The history of repatriation legislation is that it was designed in the first instance to meet the needs of a substantial volunteer force serving in a world war. The Repatriation Act as we now know it is based on the consolidation made in 1920 of the war pension and repatriation legislation that had been introduced during the FirstWorld War and amended from time to time during that war to meet the needs of ex-servicemen and their dependants where incapacity or death resulted from war service. At the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 this legislation was extended to ex-servicemen of that war and their dependants, and later at the outbreak of hostilities in Korea and Malaya in 1950 its application was again extended to those operations.
By 1956 the Parliament found it necessary to make appropriate provision for repatriation benefits for Australian forces of a somewhat different character serving overseas. These comprised the forces serving in Malaya and Singapore as a part of, or in connexion with, the British Commonwealth Far East Strategic Reserve. Personnel serving with, or in connexion with, the strategic reserve, with some very few exceptions, were members of the permanent forces. They were persons who had chosen a service career and who had engaged for a term of years. Normally their service would be performed under peace-time conditions, including compensation for injuries, comparable with those offering in civilian occupations. However, in the case of the strategic reserve the members were exposed in the course of their anti-terrorist operations in Malaya to additional risk. Parliament recognized that this merited the provision of a scheme of pensions and other associated benefits based on those under the Repatriation Act. To meet this situation the Repatriation (Far East Strategic Reserve) Act was passed in 1956. That act related to a specific type of service in a defined area, namely service as part of the British Commonwealth Far East Strategic Reserve in Malaya and Singapore.
Since then the situation in Malaya has fortunately changed to the extent that the additional hazards of service are now confined to limited areas of that country. At the same time Australian forces are now serving in the Republic of Viet Nam where there is also some additional risk. This calls for the provision of legislation which will enable appropriate repatriation benefits to be extended to members of the forces serving in that country.
The Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Bill has therefore been designed to meet generally the repatriation needs arising out of this particular type of service now, and for the future. Should the occasion arise in the future where Australian servicemen ought to be covered for these repatriation benefits in respect of other areas, the provisions of the act can readily be extended to them by prescribing under the regulations an area within which service will be qualifying service for benefits. The principal bill before the Senate provides for the same repatriation benefits now available to Australian servicemen serving with the Far East Strategic Reserve in Malaya to be applied for service of that nature in such cases as are from time to time prescribed. The legislation will be applied immediately, by regulation, to troops in Malaya serving in forward areas and to a comparatively small group who are serving in an instructional capacity in the Republic of Viet Nam and who might thereby be exposed to some risk.
In a bill to follow this bill the Repatriation (Far East Strategic Reserve) Act 1956 is being amended. The effect of the amendment will be that any existing rights accrued under that act and any future claims in respect of “ Malayan Service “ prior to the date of operation of the new legislation will continue to be provided under that act. For the rest, they will be provided under the new act. In both cases the benefits will be the same.
At this juncture I should like to point out that servicemen generally, as members of the permanent forces, already have the cover of the provisions of the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act. The basic principle of the principal bill is, therefore, that eligibility for war pension and associated benefits should stem from an occurrence, including the contracting of a disease, that happened during a period of the member’s service which exposed him to hazards beyond those of normal peacetime service. This was the principle adopted by Parliament in the Repatriation (Far East Strategic Reserve) Act.
The basis of eligibility for war pension and the classes of persons who will be eligible as dependants are broadly the same as those found in the Repatriation Act, with the same variations as were made under the Repatriation (Far East Strategic Reserve) Act. The rates of war pension for eligible persons will be the same as those payable under the Repatriation Act the relevant provisions of which are being extended by clause 6 of the principal bill. The procedures for determining claims for pensions under the new legislation will, by reason of that extension, be exactly the same as those which apply under the Repatriation Act. The Repatriation Commission will administer the new act and the Repatriation Boards and the entitlement and assessment appeal tribunals will have jurisdiction in determining claims and appeals. Division 5 in Part III of the Repatriation Act is not being extended for the same reasons as it was not extended to the strategic reserve in 1956, and accordingly service pensions will not be payable. This is because the nature of the service is generally not the same as it was in the two World Wars and because members of the permanent forces now have available to them the benefits of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act.
The principal bill contains a provision in clause 14 for the making of regulations, including regulations for granting assistance and benefits to members of the forces and their dependants. Regulations will be made covering such matters as provision of medical treatment, payment of medical sustenance and other allowances, and provision of education benefits under the Soldiers’ Children Education Scheme. They will follow similar provisions already in operation in the Repatriation Act and regulations.
To sum up, the principal bill provides that members of the Australian forces who served abroad and whose service involves some operational risk beyond that normally associated with peace-time service, and the dependants of those members, will receive pensions and associated benefits in respect of death or incapacity attributable to that service on broadly the same basis as that on which benefits are available under the Repatriation Act to ex-servicemen and dependants of the two World Wars and the Korea and Malaya operations. Any further information which may be required concerning the details of the bill can be given during the committee stage.
The passage of the principal bill calls for three consequential amendments to tha Repatriation Act. Briefly, th-se amendments will provide against the duplication of war pension payments to certain children of members of the forces, for example, where, in certain cases such as adoption, a child could be eligible in respect of two members; will exclude from income for service pension means test purposes attendant’s allowances payable to certain members of the forces under the new legislation and will provide that a person receiving a war widow’s pension under the Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Act shall not be entitled to receive a service pension as well. These amendments will simply apply arrangements which now exist under the Repatriation Act and Repatriation (Far East Strategic Reserve) Act to pensioners in similar circumstances under the new legislation.
Consequential amendments to a number of other acts will also be required. Again the purpose of the amendments is to ensure that conditions currently applying under those acts in consequence of the Repatriation (Far East Strategic Reserve) Act will extend to those in comparable circum stances for whom provision is now being made under the proposed Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Act.
The details of the consequential amendments can be explained in the committee stages if honorable senators wish. It may be convenient, however, if I refer briefly to the act concerned and the nature of the amendment proposed in each case.
Broadcasting and Television Act - Present concession rate broadcast listeners and television viewers’ licences for totally and permanently incapacitated war pensioners will apply.
Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act - Compensation will not be payable under that act in respect of injury or disease for which pension is payable under the new legislation.
Estate Duty Assessment Act - Estate duty concessions will apply to the estates of exservicemen whose deaths are accepted as due to special service overseas.
Re-establishment and Employment Act - Pension under the new legislation will not be taken into account as income for business re-establishment allowance purposes.
Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act - The concessions available in respect of service with the strategic reserve will be made available in respect of service to which the new legislation applies.
Social Services Act - The amendments, will extend the meaning of the expressions “ member of the Forces “, “ Repatriation Act “ and “ war pension “ wherever occurring in the Social Services Act to include respectively “ members of the Forces “ as defined in this bill, the proposed Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Act, and war pensions granted under the last-mentioned act.
War Service Homes Act - Where a member of the Forces has special service in a special area, as those terms are used in the Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Act, that service is also qualifying service for the purposes of the War Service Homes Act.
To sum up, this is the effect of this bill and the consequential bills which I have mentioned. Australian servicemen serving in Malaya will continue to receive the same benefits as under the Repatriation (Far East
Strategic Reserve) Act and associated legislation in respect of future service which is in prescribed areas there. Other Australian servicemen henceforth serving under similar conditions in the Republic of Vietnam and such additional areas as may in future be prescribed will be able to have the same benefits extended to them to meet contingencies of special overseas service. The bill confers substantial benefits on those “ members of the Forces “ on special overseas service of the nature I have indicated.
I commend the bills to the Senate.
.- The bills before the Senate are the Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Bill and bills consequential thereto. There are nine bills, all having the purpose of enlarging the scope of repatriation benefits to embrace Australian servicemen and servicewomen, where applicable, serving in the Far East Strategic Reserve, in Viet Nam and other areas that may be prescribed in the future. The measures meet with the approval of the Opposition as far as they go. It is my intention to move, during the committee stage, an amendment which will, if carried, make provision for servicemen who contract tuberculosis as a consequence of their service overseas.
Special legislation passed in 1956 - the Far East Strategic Reserve Act - specifically covered, as mentioned by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge), members serving in Malaya and Singapore. lt extended to them benefits similar to those enjoyed by ex-servicemen who served in the two great wars. It could be said that the Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Bill follows exactly similar lines, providing immediate benefits to servicemen in Viet Nam and also covering automatically those members of our forces who may at any time be called on to serve in prescribed areas. I think every one in the Senate would agree that service in far eastern areas is beset with hazards, especially health hazards, that would not normally be met with in ordinary peace-time service. The provisions of the measure could apply to members of Australian forces serving in any part of South-East Asia, or, for that matter, if the situation arises, it could apply to a contingent of Australian servicemen supplied to the United Nations to help in a United Nations peace force in any part of the world, or to a force supplied under arrangements with Seato and Anzus. No further legislation would be necessary to cover those servicemen, provided the areas in which they served were formally prescribed.
It is difficult to understand why the Government has excluded the provisions of Section 37 (3) of the Repatriation Act from this measure. During the course of his second-reading speech the Minister took pains to point out that servicemen generally, as members of the permanent forces, already have the cover and the protection of the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act. He continued -
The basic principle of this bill is therefore that eligibility for war pension and associated benefits should stem from an occurrence, including the contracting of a disease, that happened during a period of the member’s service which exposed him to hazards beyond that of normal peace-time service. This was the principle adopted by Parliament in the Far East Strategic Reserve Act.
In the Repatriation Act recognition is given to the incidence of tuberculosis amongst members who were involved in the mud and blood of the Somme and other European battlefields during the First World War. Similarly, it is recognized that the appalling conditions in prisoner-of-war camps in the Second World War, with diet deficiencies and the breakdown of natural body resistance, left servicemen prone to lung weaknesses and infection by tuberculosis bacilli. While member’s of our forces are engaged in areas of South-East Asia, it must be admitted that tropical and jungle conditions, extreme humidity, malarial infection, and other hazards could create conditions of health in which tubercular infection could occur after they are discharged. We believe that the provision that already exists in the Repatriation Act, covering those people who suffered from tubercular infection as a result of their service during the First and Second World Wars, should not have been excluded from this legislation. It is not easy to follow the thinking of members on the Government side who are prepared to differentiate between servicemen who are serving, or who have served, in South-East Asian battle areas and those who served in other theatres in other wars. After all, there are many ex-servicemen suffering from war-caused disabilities who were never in the front line and who never fired a shot. But, rightly, they are regarded as having been on duty on behalf of their country and their people. It is the nation’s responsibility to see that they are justly compensated and cared for as a consequence of those disabilities.
In some of these cases, tuberculosis did not reveal itself for a considerable time after the ex-servicemen had been discharged from the forces. I have had brought to my notice cases in which the development of tuberculosis has been attributable to war causes. The repatriation boards or tribunals were satisfied that connexion between the condition of these ex-servicemen and their war service had been established. The Minister has implied that such men would be covered by the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act, but that would apply to the time of their actual engagement. If they were to be discharged, or if they left the service for some other reason, and contracted tuberculosis after a period had elapsed they would not be covered as a result of the exclusion of this aspect of war service from the provisions of the Repatriation Act.
Great progress has been made in conquering the dread scourge of tuberculosis, and much credit is due to the scientists and members of the medical profession who have given a lead to governments and departments of health in making a frontal attack on the disease. It is true that, whereas Australia once had a relatively high incidence of tuberculosis, the incidence has now been brought within controllable limits. But that does not mean to say that the disease has been entirely eradicated. Cases of tuberculosis are still cropping up, and the sufferers from the disease are being treated for it, although their number is fewer than it was in previous years.
Service in tropical areas, where the persons concerned are subject to infections of various kinds, could result in the weakening of their general health, leading to a physical condition in which tuberculosis could develop, although it might not immediately reveal itself. The Opposition suggests that a provision to cover the auto matic granting of pensions to exservicemen who contract tuberculosis while on service ought to be included in the bill. We think that to do so would not harm the machinery of the Repatriation Act. The department would not be any the less efficient because of the inclusion of such a provision. In my opinion, it is parsimonious and hair-splitting to exclude it. That is the only direction in which we find fault with the measure. We think that the bill would be a better one if such a provision were included. At the appropriate time, I shall move an amendment with this end in view. Otherwise, we support the main principles embodied in the measure.
– in reply - I express limited satisfaction at the support extended to these measures by the Opposition. At the appropriate time the Government will, as might be expected, resist the amendment to be submitted by the Opposition. I shall at that time comment in greater detail on the proposed amendment. The only comment I wish to make at this stage is that Senator O’Byrne, during his speech, suggested that the 1956 legislation did for personnel serving in the Far East Strategic Reserve precisely those things which had been done under earlier Repatriation Acts. I take the opportunity to correct that impression, because the 1956 act, as we propose in this legislation, omitted tuberculosis as a pensionable disability when it was not due to war service.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bills read a second time.
– I refer to clause 7 of the Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Bill, which reads in part - (1.) Subject to this Act, the provisions of Divisions 1 to 4 (inclusive) of Part III. (other than section twenty-four, sub-sections (3.) and (4.) of section thirty-seven and sections forty-two, fortyfour and fifty-four) and sections one hundred and fourteen, one hundred and fourteen a, one hundred and nineteen, one hundred and twenty a, one hundred and twenty b and one hundred and twenty-one of, and the Schedules to, the Repatriation Act extend to and in relation to -
I move -
In sub-clause (1.), leave out the words “ subsections (3.) and (4.) of section thirty-seven “.
As I slated previously, the deletion of those words will enable tuberculosis benefits to be provided for personnel serving in the British Commonwealth Far East Strategic Reserve and in the areas prescribed. I think I have canvassed the matter sufficiently, and I leave it th’:re
– As I indicated at the second-reading stage, the Government does not accept the amendment which has been moved by Senator O’Byrne on behalf of the Opposition. I mentioned earlier that the 1956 legislation had particular reference to members then serving in Malaya and adjacent areas. Pulmonary tuberculosis, as a pensionable condition, was excluded. It was not excluded lightly or without very close consideration being given to the matter. The Government had regard to all the conditions that applied at that time, and particularly to service of the nature embarked upon in Malaya and which will bc embarked upon in actions of that kind in prescribed areas from now on, which was not of the strenuous nature encountered in the first two World Wars. Further, and possibly more importantly, frequent drug therapy and operative treatment have improved the chances of full recovery and have hastened recovery. Everyone knows of the quite dramatic and effective progress that has been made in the treatment of tuberculosis, so I am sure no one would doubt that statement. As I say, that provision was carried into the repatriation legislation in 1956. We have now had six years in which to see how it has worked. The plain truth of the matter is that that experience has revealed no need whatever for the provision to be carried into the 1962 legislation. For those reasons, the Government does not accept the amendment moved by the Opposition.
Sitting suspended from 5.46 to 8 p.m.
.- I was interested in the first of the bills because it is a good one. I am also interested in the amendment and I should like to have some information on the proposal to omit tuberculosis from the provisions of the bill. We know that cancer and heart ailments can arise from war service but sufferers from those diseases have not received the same privileges in repatriation benefits as those suffering from tuberculosis. Will a patient suffering from tuberculosis receive the same benefits as an ex-serviceman suffering from cancer or a heart ailment? I presume that if an ex-serviceman can prove that the disease resulted from war service, he will receive an entitlement. Tuberculosis was prevalent in the First and Second World Wars. Why should there ‘be a differentiation now against persons suffering from tuberculosis? Why has this disease been selected for attention before cancer or heart disease?
– I have nothing to add to what I said earlier when Senator Cole was not present. The first point that should be made emphatically is that if a patient suffers from tuberculosis which is caused by his war service, he is pensionable as in the case of any other warcaused ailment. Let there be no doubt about that. The exclusion in the bill is related only to pulmonary tuberculosis which is not due to war service. This disease was included in the provisions of the legislation covering service in the First and Second World Wars until 1950 for reasons that I have given previously.
In the First and Second World Wars, the nature of the service was completely different from the type of service in which our forces have been engaged since the Second World War. In the First World War, men spent long periods in the trenches in France. In the Second World War many saw active service in steamy jungle conditions or were confined in prisoner of war camps. Similar conditions do not apply to-day. No less important is the dramatic advance that has been made by medical science in the detection and treatment of tuberculosis. In reply to Senator Cole, I say specifically that if the disease is war-caused, it is pensionable. The provisions of the bill excluding tuberculosis apply to the disease when it is not war-caused.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator O’Byrne’s amendment) be left out.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Senator K. M. Anderson.)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Bills agreed to.
Bills reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bills read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wade) read a first time.
.- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill is designed to create a statutory body to be known as the Australian Wool Board, which will bring under a single direction the functions now performed by three separate instrumentalities - the Australian Wool Bureau, the Wool Research Committee and the Australian Wool Testing Authority. Furthermore, it is provided that the new board will investigate all aspects of wool marketing on a continuing basis and advise on measures which should be adopted to meet changing marketing conditions.
By introducing this measure, the Government desires to assist Australian woolgrowers in their efforts to advance the welfare of their industry. The Government is very conscious that the fortunes of this great industry are still of crucial importance to Australia’s economic life, despite the remarkable growth of secondary industry which has taken place in recent years. Indeed, much of this industrial growth was made possible by the availability of foreign exchange earned by wool, which helps us to pay for imports of essential materials and equipment. Last financial year our export income from wool was nearly £400,000.000, representing more than 37 per cent. of total earnings from all merchandise exported. Over the past 40 years the proportion of our export income earned by wool has never been less than 30 per cent. and, indeed, in many years has been around 50 per cent. This proportion is largely governed by the price paid for wool at auction, as on present production levels a change in the price of 1d. per lb. means a variation of about £7,000,000 in our annual export proceeds.
As some 95 per cent. of wool produced in Australia is exported, mainly in its greasy form, it may be said that our vast wool industry depends for its survival on the continued demand for wool throughout the world. This demand, however, can no longer be taken for granted. During the last twelve years, a great variety of synthetic fibres has been introduced to the public, and many of these fibres have succeeded in capturing large sections of the market for wool products. Indeed, wool has been completely replaced in certain end-uses.
The availability of these substitute fibres has already had. the effect of lowering wool prices and their increasing production makes it essential for the wool industry to prepare itself for stiffer competition. The first requirement in this respect is the efficient organization of the industry so that it can conduct its affairs in a businesslike manner. This is the prime objective of the bill we are now considering.
In the past the wool-growing industry has been divided in its views on the means which should be employed to deal with its problems. The main issue which divided the wool-grower organizations was whether (or not some change should be made in the present system of selling wool. The lack of unity amongst the organizations had the unfortunate effect of preventing the industry from coming to grips with the problems which confronted it.
However, in September, 1960, the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation asked the Government to set up an independent committee to inquire into the marketing and promotion of the Australian wool clip and related matters. The Government welcomed this joint approach by the two organizations as a sign of co-operation and, in January, 1961, appointed the Wool Marketing Committee of Enquiry under the chairmanship of Sir Roslyn Philp. The committee took evidence in Australia and in our major overseas markets for wool during most of 1961 and presented its report in February, 1962. I tabled the report in this Senate on 7th March last.
The report is a comprehensive document which honorable senators have no doubt studied. The most important recommendation concerns the establishment of a central wool authority and the committee had this to say about the need for such a body -
Soon after we entered upon this Enquiry it became apparent that the woolgrowing industry lacks a central organization charged with the duty of watching over the diverse interests of growers and for that purpose fully informed of the real facts concerning such matters as production, marketing, promotion and research and capable of forming competent impartial opinion upon those matters.
The committee went on to say -
It is because of the lack of a body concerned with marketing, the lack of a co-ordinating body, the lack of one voice which can speak for the industry and the defect in the set-up of the industry that we feel constrained to recommend the erection of a central commission or board upon whose decisions Government could confidently rely and which could speak with final authority on all matters affecting the industry.
Other recommendations and suggestions that the committee made are largely contingent upon the establishment of a central authority. The report initially met with a mixed reception from the industry, but further consideration evidently brought the realization that the course recommended by the committee would be the most satisfactory in the long term.
After having given the report full consideration the council and the federation again jointly approached the Government in July last and presented a plan for the creation of a central body along the lines of that suggested by the committee of inquiry. They requested that effect be given to the plan by legislation as soon as possible. The Government considered fully this request and the present bill contains the necessary legislative arrangements. The plan calls for the establishment of two new bodies, the Australian Wool Industry Conference and the Australian Wool Board.
The Wool Industry Conference is not a statutory body and was constituted jointly by the council and the federation on 24th October, 1962, in preparation for the action which this Parliament is now taking. It consists at present of 50 members, 25 each from the council and the federation and an independent chairman. It will be, in effect, the national forum of wool-growers. The main functions of the conference will be: to nominate the wool-grower representatives for appointment to the Wool Board; to consult with the Minister concerning the appointment of the three “ other members “ to the board; to recommend the maximum rate of levy to be collected from woolgrowers to finance the activities of the board; to recommend the operative rate of levy to be struck; to consult with the Minister concerning the appointment of the first chairman of the board; and to consult with the Wool Board in respect of the activities of the board. For the various functions I have mentioned the conference is given recognition in this bill and in the two wool tax bills which I propose to introduce later. Copies of the constitution of the conference will be made available to honorable senators who want them.
The Australian Wool Board, which will be established under this bill, will consist of eleven members comprising a chairman, six wool-grower representatives, a representative of the Commonwealth and three other members.
The first chairman of the board will be appointed after consultation between the Wool Industry Conference and the Government. Subsequent chairmen will be appointed on the nomination of the board after a secret ballot. The chairman will be appointed for a period of three years.
The six wool-grower members will be appointed on the nomination of the Wool Industry Conference. The three “other members “ will be appointed from a panel of five names submitted to the Minister by the conference. These members will not represent any particular interests, but the bill provides for them to be drawn from the fields of marketing of wool and wool products, wool manufacture and wool research, as well as finance and commerce.
Members of the board will be appointed for a period of three years. However, the initial appointments of the six wool-grower representatives and the three “ other members “ will be made for varying periods - one, two and three years - which will enable members to retire in rotation. Under this arrangement three members of the board will retire each year. This provision was specifically requested by the federation and the council and its purpose is to maintain a nucleus of experienced members on the board.
In brief, the functions of the new board will include those which are now performed by three separate organizations, namely, the Australian Wool Bureau, which deals with wool promotion, the Australian Wool Testing Authority, which is concerned with the testing of wool and wool products, and the Wool Research Committee, which is the advisory body on wool research. In addition, the board will be obliged to set up a marketing committee to which I shall refer later in some detail.
In order to permit the progressive takeover by the board of the functions at present carried out by the three separate instrumentalities, the bill is divided into Parts. The Parts are largely self-contained and provision is made for them to come into operation on dates to be proclaimed.
Parts II., III. and IV. of the bill provide for the abolition of the three statutory bodies now concerned with wool - that is, the Australian Wool Bureau, the Australian Wool Testing Authority and the Wool Research Committee - by repealing respectively the Wool Use Promotion Act, the Australian Wool Testing Authority Act and the Wool Research Act. The assets and liabilities of the Australian Wool Bureau and the Australian Wool Testing Authority will be taken over by the new board and in each case provision is made to meet any legal, financial or administrative situation that may arise because of the repeal of the acts and the subsequent commencement of the appropriate Part of the new legislation.
Under Part II. of the bill the present powers and functions of the Wool Bureau will be vested in the new board. The principal function is the promotion of wool in Australia and in overseas countries. It will be left to the discretion of the board to determine what arrangements it considers necessary to carry out its wool promotion activities. In this connexion provision is made in the legislation for the board to establish such committees as it thinks fit to assist it in its work.
At the express wish of the wool-grower organizations the board is required under Part II. to establish a wool marketing committee. However, under this legislation the board will not have any executive powers in regard to marketing. The function of the marketing committee will be to initiate and maintain a continuing investigation into all aspects of wool marketing. The committee will report its findings to the board, which in turn will make recommendations to the Wool Industry Conference on any proposed significant alterations in the marketing system. The wool-grower organizations attach considerable importance to this aspect of the board’s work and desire that the board establish the marketing committee as soon as possible.
It is the stated policy of federal woolgrower organizations that no fundamental . change should be made in the present system of wool marketing without the approval of wool-growers at a referendum, except, of course, in a state of national emergency. The Government agrees with this approach.
Part III. of the bill concerns the incorporation in the board of the Australian Wool Testing Authority. While becoming a part of the board the authority will retain its name in order to keep the goodwill it has built up both in Australia and overseas during its four years of operation. A body consisting of eight persons will be appointed by the board to control the affairs of the authority. The interests to be represented on this body will be substantially the same as the membership of the present authority with the exception that a representative of wool textile manufacturers will be added and it will not be mandatory for the two independent members to be government nominees. Although the new authority will be subject to the direction of the board on major policy issues it will be free to manage its own day-to-day affairs and will have complete discretion in deciding the manner in which it conducts its tests on wool and wool products.
I should mention that the secretary of the International Wool Textile Organization has advised that the new arrangements, if passed by the Parliament, will not affect in any way the international recognition granted by his organization to the present authority.
Part IV. of the bill deals with the arrangements for wool research. The function of the present Wool Research Committee, namely, the recommendation of expenditure on wool research, will be entrusted to the board. However, as the Government makes a substantial contribution to wool research - 4s. per bale for every 2s. contributed by wool-growers - the recommendations of the board will be subject to ministerial approval. Similar arrangements for ministerial approval exist in the case of research administered by the Australian Dairy Produce Board. The Wool Research Trust Fund will continue in existence and the present arrangements’ for the financing of research will likewise be continued.
To assist the board in its work two research advisory committees, one for wool production research and the other for wool textile research, are provided for in the bill. The chairman of each advisory committee will be a representative of the Government, and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization will be represented on each committee. Other members of these two research advisory committees will be appointed by the board in consultation with the Minister. The board will be empowered to appoint additional research advisory committees should this be found desirable. It is expected that all research advisory committees will bo relatively small bodies and comprised of only those interests which are directly concerned with the committees’ particular fields of research. The recommendations of the research advisory committtees will be submitted to the board, which will be responsible for working out a comprehensive research programme and for the coordination of this programme with wool promotion.
Part V. of the bill vests the control of the wool stores which are at present administered by the Wool Bureau in the new board and the Wool Stores Act is repealed. The control exercised by the Minister over the disposal of stores is maintained, as well as the right of the Commonwealth Government to re-acquire the stores in the event of a national emergency.
The activities of the board, other than those relating to wool research, will be financed from the sources of revenue which are now available to the Australian Wool Bureau. These include the present promotion levy of 10s. per bale paid by woolgrowers, income from wool stores and the reserves held by the bureau. The Australian Wool Testing Authority will be financed from the fees charged for its services, and, as I mentioned earlier, the present arrangements for the financing of wool research will be continued.
Appropriate provision has been made in the legislation for the employment of staff, and the bill also contains safeguards designed to preserve the rights and entitlements of employees who are now engaged by the Wool Bureau and the Wool Testing Authority upon their transfer to the new board.
Having dealt with the main provisions of the bill I would emphasize that the Government, in determining that the Wool Industry Conference should be a nonstatutory authority, desires that the industry itself should decide its composition. This was decided although representations had been made to the Government from organizations other than those represented on the conference, and these included the Australian Primary Producers Union, which sought inclusion of their organization in the conference. However, the Government notes with approval that the constitution of the Wool Industry Conference makes provision for the inclusion of other organizations under the terms set down, and considers it would be appropriate - and indeed the Government urges to that effect - if an agreement were reached between all organizations to enable a complete industry voice to be expressed through the’ conference. It might also be said that a nonstatutory body whose membership can be modified by mutual agreement among organizations offers full scope for the development of unity in the wool-growing industry.
Few will doubt the advisability of having the various activities of the wool industry being brought under a single body. I think it will be generally agreed that the past endeavours of the industry in the fields covered by the bill have been too diffuse to achieve the best results. It will be the function of the Australian Wool Board, as the single policy-making body, to coordinate these activities in order to achieve the maximum effectiveness.
It will be recalled that over the last two years or so there has been a fundamental re-organization of the International Wool Secretariat, the organization for the promotion of wool throughout the world which is maintained by the Australian Wool Bureau and the wool boards of New Zealand and South Africa. As a result of this reorganization the structure of the secretariat has been streamlined and top-class personnel have been appointed to carry out an expanded promotion campaign. Australia has a majority on the board of the International Wool Secretariat and contributes the major proportion of funds for international wool promotion.
The improvements in the organization of the Australian wool industry foreshadowed in this bill, combined with the re-shaped International Wool Secretariat, will give Australian wool-growers effective machinery for the advancement of their interests. With such an organization it will be possible to ensure that the latest developments in wool research, in which Australia leads the world, are effectively combined with modern promotional techniques in a vigorous effort to stimulate the demand for wool. Provided that this organization, is armed with adequate funds to create the necessary impact, wool’s future in the contest with its synthetic rivals should be assured. At the same time, Australian wool-growers will have a body in Australia which will keep the marketing system under a searching review in order to ensure that our wool marketing techniques are in step with changing world conditions.
The Government believes that this bill will provide the wool-growing industry with the most effective means of furthering its interests. The new Australian Wool Board will indeed have a great responsibility, but I have every confidence in its success. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
WOOL TAX BILL (No. 1a) 1962.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wade) read a first time.
– I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The amendments proposed in the Wool Tax Bill (No. 1a) 1962 and the Wool Tax Bill (No. 2a) 1962 are consequential upon the Wool Industry Bill 1962, and their object is to give the Australian Wool Industry Conference statutory recognition in the Wool Tax Act (No. 1) and the Wool Tax Act (No. 2).
The Wool Tax Act (No. 1) applies to the levies paid by wool-growers for promotion and research on wool received by a wool broker or dealer, while the Wool Tax Act (No. 2) relates to the same levies paid on wool exported which does not pass through the hands of a broker or a dealer. Apart from this difference, the two acts are identical, and to suit the convenience of the Senate this speech covers both bills.
Under the present wool tax acts, the rate of the wool promotion levy is prescribed on the recommendation of the Australian Wool Bureau, which in turn is required to consult with the two organizations represented on the bureau, namely, the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation. The rate of the wool research levy is prescribed on the recommendation of the council and the federation.
The arrangements which I have outlined when dealing with the Wool Industry Bill envisage that the Australian Wool Industry Conference will take over the role which the Australian Wool Bureau, the council and the federation now play in recommending the rates of levies for wool promotion and research. The amendments contained in this bill and the complementary Wool Tax Bill (No. 2a) will give effect to this change. No alteration is being made in the present rates of the two levies.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
WOOL TAX BILL (No. 2a) 1962.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wade) read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Wade) proposed - That the bill be now read a second time.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Debate resumed (vide page 1788).
– I propose to the Senate that the three bills that have just been introduced be debated together. They each form part of one scheme. Although we might discuss them together during the second-reading stage, no doubt the questions arising on them will need to be put separately. If honorable senators are agreeable, I will proceed on that basis.
THE PRESIDENT.- There being no objection, the three bills will be considered together.
– I put the view that the subject-matter of these bills, and the purposes at which they aim, are of the utmost importance. That point has been well made by the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) in the second-reading speech. I shall not go into detail because the importance of the wool industry to Australia has been canvassed thoroughly, not only by the Minister, but also, I think, by other honorable senators in recent times. I merely pay tribute to the industry as one that is responsible for our export earnings. Those export earnings give us our imports of the capital goods and the raw materials needed to support our secondary industries, upon which in turn depend our level of employment and, in fact, the standard of living of everybody in the Australian community. Good fortune for the wool industry is good fortune for everybody in Australia, and the contrary proposition applies with equal force. I will not develop that theme. I take it for granted that everybody concedes the importance of the wool industry.
Nor do I intend to review the history of the industry in its various phases. The history is important in promoting an understanding of the problems of the industry, but I think that, having regard to all the circumstances, I need not advert to it. I will come directly to recent times. Last year, the Australian Labour Party addressed its mind very thoroughly to the problems of the wool industry and in April of 1961 published a statement of policy on the matter. With the concurrence of honorable senators, I incorporate the statement in “ Hansard “.
A.L.P. FEDERAL CONFERENCE, APRIL 1961.
Reserve Price Marketing Plan for Wool.
The Australian Labor Party believes woolgrowers favour the establishment of a statutory woolmarketing organisation providing for a reserve price auction system similar to the joint organisation known as the “war-time wool surplus disposals plan “ which operated under Labor between 1946 and 1951-52.
As a result of this belief, a Labor government on taking office will submit to growers’ organisations a marketing plan for their consideration and for submission to the government of any amendment they may consider necessary.
After a reasonable time for grower consideration, a grower poll will be taken to ascertain their desires regarding the final draft plan. The plan will provide for the creation of a competent marketing authority with majority grower representation. Financial provision for the operation of the plan will be provided by a government guarantee to the Commonwealth Bank of a sum of up to £25,000,000’ plus the revenue from a grower levy of not more than 5% while prices remain at a level not exceeding the found cost of production as ascertained by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics.
In the event of this found cast being exceeded, the levy, if required, would be increased to not more than 7i%. For so long as a government guarantee is involved, the final determination of the reserve price shall be the prerogative of the Commonwealth Treasurer after consideration of marketing authorities’ recommendations.
However, should the need for a government guarantee be found unnecessary as grower levy funds accumulate, then the fixing of the reserve price shall be the prerogative of the growee majority marketing authority.
To ensure the effective functioning of such a plan, a Labor government would seek the cooperation and inclusion of South Africa and New Zealand.
In examining the Labor Party’s approach to the problems of the woolgrower, it should first of all be noted that the Menzies government refuses to face up to the need for action other than to appoint a Commission of Enquiry which may take years before submitting a report.
Labor is mindful of the fact that 95% of the Nation’s wool clip is exported each year, with only 5% being utilised within Australia. Overseas buyers and/or their agents determine the prices they will pay at auction. These buyers have 100% membership of buyers’ organisations.
An enquiry conducted by Mr. Justice Cook on behalf of the New South Wales Labor government disclosed that buyers and/or their agents operated buyers’ “ pies “ for the purpose of depressing prices. The New South Wales government is prevented from taking deterrent action because of Constitutional difficulties that flow from section 92 of the Australian Constitution.
Labor believes that quick action must be taken to introduce stability into the industry because price variations are not only annual variations - they are of almost daily incidence and vary as between the fifteen Australian selling centres and from week to week. Few of these variations have any relationship to changes in world economic conditions; in fact, the world wool-buying organisations are holding 90,000 Australian woolgrowers and the Nation to ransom. Australia has experienced price variations of over 12 pence per lb. between annual sales leading to grave disturbance in export income representative of many millions of pounds.
I wish to make one or two brief references to the contents of that statement. We of the Labour Party advocated a statutory wool marketing organization, providing for a reserve price auction system. We undertook at the election to submit, if we won, a plan for. organized marketing to the wool-growers of Australia. We undertook to give the wool-growers time to con sider the plan and to suggest any amendments, and then to submit it to a grower ballot. We undertook to back the organized marketing scheme with a guarantee at the bank to the extent of £25,000,000, plus the revenue from a grower levy of not more than 5 per cent. We said that for so long as that guarantee remained in force the Government should have the final say in determining the reserve price that was in mind, but the moment the guarantee was no longer required the determination of the reserve price was to be a matter entirely for the board on which the growers had a majority. The statement concluded with this paragraph -
Labour believes that quick action must be taken to introduce stability into the industry because price variations are not only annual variations - they are of almost daily incidence and vary as between the fifteen Australian selling centres and from week to week. Few of these variations have any relationship to changes in world economic conditions; in fact, the world wool buying organizations are holding 90,000 Australian woolgrowers and the nation to ransom. Australia has experienced price variations of over 12 pence per lb. between annual sales leading to grave disturbance in export income representative of many millions of pounds.
In January of 1961 the Wool Marketing Committee of Enquiry was set up by the Government. I direct particular attention to the name. The committee brought in a report in February, 1962, but it brought in no plan whatever for marketing. The committee’s report was the subject of criticism by the Labour Party in a statement issued by our leader, Mr. Calwell, in March, 1962. I ask for leave to have the statement incorporated in “ Hansard “ for the purposes of the record.
– Is leave granted?
– Leave is not granted.
– I think it important that the matter set out in the statement should appear in “ Hansard “. It represents the condensed thinking of the party in relation to this committee of inquiry. I regret that leave to incorporate the statement has been refused. I shall read it. The report, which is dated 8th March, 1962, reads -
The central fact about the report of the Wool Marketing Committee of Enquiry is that it pro. poses to leave the grower at the mercy of forces organized to depress prices. Although it recognizes the injury which these forces can inflict it recommends no protective measure and it rejects, without exception, every plan put to it to strengthen the position of the seller.
Growers now see fulfilment of the prediction that the Government would use the Committee to stall until after the elections the request of their organizations for a ballot on the vital issue of a reserve price. Having side-tracked that request by this device the Government has now obtained the kind of report it sought, namely one which will suit every overseas buying organization benefiting by manipulating the Australian wool market.
The Government may now find satisfaction in thus establishing a position in which it can either use the Report to block the demand for a reserve price ballot or else rely on the findings of the Committee as ammunition to defeat such a ballot.
But 90,000 woolgrowers will surely find no satisfaction in the prospect of continuing to be held to ransom by the overseas monied interests which are undermining the free auction system.
The Labour Party recognizes the full right of the woolgrowers to decide the method by which their wool shall be marketed and a Labour Government is pledged to the holding of a poll of growers on the question of a reserve price auction system which we believe the large majority of growers desire.
But this right of the growers should be untrammelled whereas it appears that the Government is again determined to destroy any reserve price plan just as it did ten years ago in the interests of big wool buyers who are its friends.
Study of the Committee’s Report shows that although it contains 270 pages and voluminous information it makes no contribution to the problem of a payable price for wool which is most urgent both for the growers and for the Australian people, who may already have lost £500,000,000 in the absence of such marketing organization, since every one penny a pound fall in price costs £7,000,000 in export income. The fears expressed when the membership of the Committee was announced have been more than justified for the Government has indeed obtained exactly the Report it sought. The recommendation that the existing free auction system be maintained without any protective measure is staggering in the light of all the evidence of the abuse to which that system is open and in the light of the Committee’s own recognition of these abuses.
Indeed the Committee over and over again in its Report recognises the existence of these abuses.
It finds that “stabilisation of prices would be an advantage to the industry “ that, “ pies do exist and they depress the market “ that, “ the present system of wool auctions does leave the grower in a vulnerable position should further concentrations of buying occur “, and there are many other such references.
But in every case it promptly proceeds to administer a soporific. While pies depress the market it would “ seem “ that the effect is not great even though “ the extent to which prices are reduced cannot be determined “. Centralised national buying has not “ yet “ become so far reaching as to justify measures to counter it, and so on.
The general value of the Report as a guide to growers may be judged by the statement of the Committee that it could not ascertain the extent to which wool prices are artificially reduced. The fact is that the Committee was helpless to probe these matters lacking power either to compel the attendance of witnesses or to ensure the production of documents. Yet the Committee never at any stage sought to obtain this power.
The opinion is unavoidable from studying the Report that the Committee was far too receptive to the opinions of overseas wool buying interests which it consulted everywhere on its tour round the world while it failed even to visit New Zealand or South Africa to examine the operation of reserve price systems in those countries.
While the Committee could not avoid recognising the actual and potential aggregation of wool buying power overseas and the possibilities inherent in centralised national buying its extraordinary complacency is akin to seeing a bush fire blowing up but recommending that no action is needed till the house is surrounded.
When the development of unitary buying arrangements in blocs of countries such as the Communist bloc is plain to see and the danger of future centralised buying for a European Common Market is apparent, the money and time lost in producing this futile Report - futile in the vital marketing sector - represent a near tragedy for both wool-growers and the Australian people.
In other sections the Report undoubtedly is both informative and valuable but the Labor Party sounds an immediate warning against the nature of the proposal to aim at creating a wool Commission “ which could speak with final authority on all matters affecting the industry “. The manner in which it is proposed that this Commission would be created would remove it from any direct control whatever by the growers who might well find that their power to conduct their own affairs through their own organization had been replaced by an all powerful bureaucratic edifice imposed on them.
This Report will surely be welcome only to those who are more interested in buying than in selling wool. While other primary producers have their stabilization schemes, wool growers are to continue without any protection.
This is in line with the action of the Government last session in increasing the tax on wool from 53/8 to 103/8 a bale to promote the sale of wool in competition with synthetics, while at the same time it enabled, by by-law, the entry into Australia of nylon yarn at 7½ per cent. duty instead of the scheduled duty of 50 per cent.
The Labor Party will adhere to the wool marketing policy which it set out fully in the recent election campaign, and will give the growers themselves every opportunity to bring about the establishment of a statutory wool marketing organization providing for a reserve price system similar to the war-time JO plan which ultimately paid nearly £100 million profit to the growers.
In particular a Labor Government will guarantee through the Commonwealth Bank £25 million towards the financing of such a system.
– There is a vast difference between your plan and I.O.
– Yes, but it is based on J.O. I want to refer now to a third aspect before I proceed directly to the bill. That is the recommendation that was made by the all-party select committee of this Parliament consisting of members of both major parties from both Houses.
– On what?
– On organized marketing, the marketing of primary products. I am referring to paragraph 875 of that committee’s report. I point out that, with a qualification which I will announce in a moment, that was the unanimous decision of the twelve members of the committee.
– Would you tell me when the committee met or when it was constituted?
– It was constituted by the Parliament.
– On what date?
– In 1956, and it brought in reports in November, 1958, and October, 1959.
– That was the Constitutional Review Committee.
– That is right. I have said that twice.
– I did not hear you say it.
– I said it twice. It was the Constitutional Review Committee. The qualification upon unanimity that I must express was Senator Wright’s comment that he accepted the proposal as to organized marketing, as set out in paragraph 875 of the report, provided section 99 of the Constitution is amended to prohibit discrimination as well as preference in interstate trade. So that recommendation is unanimous, with one qualification. It is set out in paragraph 875 of the Constitutional Review Committee’s report as follows: -
Let me say that that was a pattern for an orderly marketing scheme to be recommended by the Parliament. It is one that has the unanimous approval of the Australian Labour Party. Every member of the Australian Labour Party is bound to support a referendum to uphold that arrangement. We know how weak every organized marketing scheme is whilst there is a division of power between the Commonwealth and the States and whilst section 92 operates in relation to interstate trade, binding both the Commonwealth and the States in the matter. That recommendation indicates what the Labour Party has in mind for the organized marketing of primary products. We were supported by our colleagues on the committee. They played as full a part as any Labour member did in evolving that particular recommendation. But the Government has done nothing about it. Above all, it has left this great and vital industry, the wool industry, the one upon which the economy of this country swings and depends, without protection despite the common knowledge that under the present auction system our growers are at the mercy of overseas buyers who care to combine.
– There would be an absence of constitutional power, except over external trade, if a marketing scheme were required as the result of a poll of growers.
– The proposition I submit to the Senate is that organized marketing is urgently needed in this industry, for the sake of the wool-growers and also for the sake of the Australian economy.
I have indicated Labour policy and have stated what we think of the findings of the. committee appointed by the Government, which brought forward no marketing proposal. I say that the wool-growers are entitled to look to the Australian Government for leadership. The growers should be given an opportunity to consider a well thought out and well documented plan, evolved only after conferences with those engaged in the industry, and then propounded by the Government. The plan should be allowed to lie for a while and then be submitted to a poll of the growers. If 60 per cent, of them agree to it, it should be put into practice.
-Brock,nan - Sixty per cent, overall?
– Yes. That is the recommendation of the Constitutional Review Committee, with which we as a party agree entirely.
– One man, one vote?
– I did not state the matter in those words at all. I say to the Minister that there would have to be a minimum production figure upon which the right to vote would be based.
– Could you tell us whether the Labour Party has ascertained that minimum figure?
– Yes. At the moment we have put it at ten bales of wool, which would mean between 400 and 500 sheep, I understand. We are not adamant about the figure of ten bales.
– Ten bales, one vote?
– I am not putting that proposition at the moment, either, but that would be the beginning of entitlement to vote. I am not carrying the matter any further than saying that we have not a closed mind to reduction of the qualification below ten bales. We would be prepared to consider that.
I agree with the Minister for Health that it is unfortunate that there are so many bodies in the field, representing woolgrowers. I lament with him because the industry cannot speak with one voice and there are warring organizations. I concede to every wool-grower the right to join the organization of his choice. One cannot deny him that, but we of the Australian Labour Party think that it is wrong for the Government, in this legislation, to select two of those conflicting organizations and give them such a major say in the future of the industry through the conference that is established under this bill.
– Is it not the exclusive say, the sole say?
– Yes, it amounts practically to that. The Minister, in the course of his second-reading speech, gave a long list of functions of the conference. They include recommendation of the amount of the levy, advising on appointments, and making nominations. Actually, the conference is the mainspring of activity in many important directions. But as everybody in the wool industry and the various organizations of growers is aware, it certainly does not amount to a complete coverage for the wool-growers of this country.
The bill takes a step towards the securing of some degree of unity and co-operation in the industry. To that extent, one raises no objection to it. The basic objection is that it fails in the vital objective of providing for organized marketing and for the protection of the growers regarding the price they receive for their commodity. What does the bill seek to do? It provides for the appointment of a board of eleven members which is to take over the functions hitherto exercised by three bodies, namely, the Australian Wool Bureau, the Australian Wool Research Committee and the Australian Wool Testing Authority. There may be good grounds for coordinating the activities of those bodies, and advantage may be derived from doing so. We do not argue against that proposition, or against the constitution of a new board armed with proper powers.
The board is to consist of eleven members and is to be called the Australian Wool Board. There is to be a chairman. There are to be six members who are to be appointed by the Minister, on the nomination of the Australian Wool Industry Conference. As the Minister has indicated, the conference is to be a nonstatutory body. It will be a voluntary coming together of two bodies, the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation. They will come . together and each appoint 25 members to the board:’
Those two bodies really will nominate the key grower representation on the board. There is to be one member appointed by the Government, and three members, who shall be concerned with finance, economics and matters of that kind, to be appointed by the Minister from a panel of five names submitted by the non-statutory conference which will be representative of two woolgrowing organizations.
We of the Australian Labour Party say that unquestionably there should be on the board a representative of the employees in this great industry. In this modem age, is there any legitimate argument against that proposal? Is not the modern tendency to see capital, or management, and the labour involved in an undertaking, as partners in i!? Who would deny that from the ranks of those employed in all the many phases of this great industry it would be possible to find thinkers, men capable of constructive thought who are not merely earning their living in the industry but are interested in its welfare from a national point of view? Would it not be a good idea to have such men represented on this body? The Labour Party does not ask for domination of the board by employees. It asks for one member to be appointed, and at a later stage I shall move an amendment to that effect.
If such an appointment were made it would give to all those at the employee level in the industry the feeling that they were recognized by the Government as participants in an industry of vast national importance. Such a step would act as a stimulus to them to think about the industry and talk about it. They would be active in pushing their ideas, through their representative on the board.
– Could not they do that on the conference?
– What provision is made for representation of employees on the conference? It is purely a growers’ conference, an employers’ conference. There is no provision for the employees to have a say on it.
– The conference is to be composed of bodies concerned primarily with the development and promotion of the wool-growing industry.
– That is correct. We of the Opposition feel very strongly that there should be no hestitation in accepting the suggestion that it would be a modern, a proper and a useful thing to have a representative of the employees on the body that is to play such a major part in the future of the industry on which the employees depend. We object to the idea of this conference, which, the Minister has been so careful to tell us, is to be a non-statutory body and can admit other bodies on the sanction of a twothirds vote. Anybody who knows the politics of the various organizations engaged in the wool industry would know what would happen after that. The Australian Primary Producers Union would be clamouring for admission to that body. The truth is that if its representatives got there you would simply transfer the jealousy and the competition from the arena it is in at the moment into that smaller and confined area of the conference. In the committee stage we will put forward proposals that will have the effect of eliminating the conference and any reference to it. That is one of the great offences the Opposition finds in the provisions of the bill.
We agree there should be consultation between the board and the various organizations in that field. We recognize that and the good that may come out of it. If honorable senators will refer to our circulated amendments, they will find that we have thought about that and have drafted an amendment that will require the board annually to confer with organizations each of which has a membership of wool-growers, defined as I indicated earlier, of at least 1,000. So we recognize the need for consultation and provide for it in the amendment we will submit.
As an Opposition, we are disappointed that the Government has abdicated responsibility and sheltered behind the committee of enquiry. Although it was appointed to submit a marketing plan, it did nothing of the kind. We feel the Government has dodged the vital issue. It has gone around it. This is only circumvention action to avoid passing on to what is the crucial thing for the wool-growers themselves. The success of the new board will be determined largely by the human factor. It will depend on the chairman to a high degree. The chairman has to be appointed by the
Minister on the nomination of the board as constituted in the way I have indicated. If he is the right man, if the right men get on the board and are backed by a competent staff, it can be a success. But success will not come from them alone. It will not be won unless they have the quality.
There is the other factor of money. We of the Opposition feel that this industry so vital to Australia’s best interests is entitled to get the backing of the community. It is not enough to say to the wool-growers, “ You pay a levy out of the proceeds of your wool to promote your sales and encourage the development of your markets “. That is all very well but I think they are agents for this economy. They run a vast national service. The rest of the community which derives great benefits from these activities should be prepared to help in the financial field if it cannot do otherwise. We feel that the National Parliament should be prepared to pay a subvention equivalent to what the growers themselves put in for wool promotion. In other words, we, the Parliament, recognizing the great national contribution they make, should be prepared to say to the wool-growers. “ If you are prepared to put into wool promotion 10s. a bale, we on behalf of the nation are prepared to match your contribution “.
So with men, with adequate money and the new board, the industry could well use the additional money amounting to nearly £2,500,000 per annum and would really be able to mount a proper promotional campaign in a world that is getting tougher every day for wool. The threat of synthetics is rising all the time. It has ousted wool altogether from some fields, as the Minister has said. We do not want to wait until that threat gets bigger and bigger. It must be met with intelligent, vigorous, tough promotion activities directed by intelligent people and backed by adequate financial resources.
The matters I have referred to form the basis of some fifteen amendments which I had circulated early this evening. At this stage on behalf of the Opposition I propose to move an amendment to the motion we are discussing for the bill to be read a second time. I move -
At end of motion add - “ but the Senate, having in mind the great impact of the wool industry on tha Australian economy, is of opinion that woolgrowers should not be called on to provide the whole of the funds required for the purposes of the Bill and that a matching contribution of not less than ten shillings per bale should be made by the Commonwealth “.
– It is said to be a very good thing when commencing to talk on any subject to have a measure of agreement with your views in your audience and the potential opposition. I, and indeed, I think, the whole Senate, agree with the opening remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) concerning the importance of the bill and the importance of thd wool industry in general. So because of the limited time available to us, I do not propose to repeat or emphasize any more the importance of the’ subject we are discussing. However, I should like to comment briefly on some of the other propositions that the Leader of the Opposition submitted to us. He took the opportunity of criticizing the past actions of the Government on wool marketing. Thanks to Senator Wright, the Leader of the Opposition took up a great deal of time reading a lengthy statement covering the Australian Labour Party’s expressed viewpoints on the Government’s attitude to wool marketing. However, I should like to comment on the criticism the Leader of the Opposition made of the failure of the Government to conduct a ballot.
Senator McKenna said that the industry cannot speak with one voice. That very fact prevented the Government from submitting any plan to the growers for ballot in recent times. For whose plan was to be submitted? Was it to be the growers’ plan, the Government’s plan or the Labour Party’s plan? We had many voices in the field. Whose plan was to be submitted for ballot? We believe wholeheartedly in the principle of allowing the growers to decide, but we have a very keen memory of a ballot of growers which was conducted after a great deal of careful preparation which decisively rejected the proposals put before them. It is my opinion that had we conducted a ballot at any time in the past two years the proposals submitted would similarly have been rejected and the cause of reform which Senator McKenna advocates would have been put back many years.
I shall not attempt to traverse the present arguments concerning the bill that have been submitted by the Leader of the Opposition. There are others who will do that more adequately than I can. But I want to say that every member of this Parliament is concerned with what this bill sets out to achieve, lt owes its origin to long-standing dissatisfaction within the industry, first, with the apparent ineffectiveness of the work being done to promote the sale of our wool in the face of fierce competition from synthetic fibres and, secondly, with the extent and scope of research currently being undertaken on behalf of the wool industry and the tardiness of application of research findings to manufacturing and processing procedures. Above all, the bill is the result of dissatisfaction with the existing system of marketing our wool.
These dissatisfactions led to the appointment by this Government of the Wool Marketing Committee of Enquiry, which made one firm recommendation which has met with approval from all sections of the industry, and which is the recommendation that this bill seeks to implement. That is the one point of unity upon which the Government has been able to proceed. I want at this stage to pay a tribute to the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) for his persistent efforts on behalf of the wool industry to carry out the proposal of the Wool Marketing Committee of Enquiry and to achieve some degree of agreement between the often conflicting views of the various organizations representing wool-growers.
In most respects, I believe, the bill meets the wishes of the industry. There is one aspect which, to my mind, gives rise to some apprehension. I refer to the appointment upon the nomination of the Australian Wool Industry Conference of the six members to represent Australian woolgrowers. This is the very foundation of the board. The success or failure of the Australian Wool Board, as set up under this bill, will depend on its carrying out the wishes of the majority of Australian wool-growers, which must find expression through the Wool Industry Conference, which could be termed the Parliament of the wool industry, with the Australian Wool Board its executive body.
Those who have followed the difficulties that have occurred in getting the main representative bodies of wool-growers to co-operate and to agree to the formation of the Wool Industry Conference must surely sympathize with the Minister in his efforts to achieve some agreement and some sort of unity, and no vote of mine would in any way upset the degree of unity that has been ashieved. However, it is necessary to express my doubt that we have arrived at the best basis for representing the wool industry. The Wool Industry Conference, as proposed, will not be truly representative of all Australian growers, nor can it be until some way is found to provide that every wool-grower can cast an effective vote for the membership of that conference. I know that a Labour amendment suggests doing away with the Wool Industry Conference, and I would not for a moment support that proposal.
If the foundation is to be truly democratic, however, there must ultimately be some provision for a ballot of growers. Some may say that every grower can belong to one or other of the two organizations claiming to represent their membership, but there is one organization at present excluded and there are, of course, very many growers who do not belong to any organization. It would be as right, in my judgment, to say that no person should be allowed to vote at a general election unless he or she belonged to the Labour or Liberal political organization, that we must not recognize the Country Party or Australian Democratic Labour Party and that we certainly must not have any independents. Or should we provide that no person may vote unless he or she belongs to a recognized party, and then proceed to designate these parties?
There are, I know, many difficulties in providing for an equitable form of voting on a grower basis, but it will be worth while to do everything possible to work out a satisfactory scheme for electing the Wool Industry Conference if there is to be satisfaction within the industry. Because it is urgent that the Wool Board be set up without further delay, I do not want to press the point of view that I have submitted to-night. We have here a measure of progress towards a goal of ultimate unity among those who seek the prosperity of the wool industry. I join, therefore, with other wool-growers in expressing the hope that the Australian Wool Board, as constituted by this bill, will apply itself with great diligence and intelligence to meet the problems of research, promotion and ^marketing for which it is to be established. We can no longer assume with smug satisfaction that the methods of the past will serve to meet the changing demands of the future.
I support the bill.
.- I was very pleased to hear Senator Prowse state that he believed that every woolgrower should cast a vote for the six grower representatives of the board.
– I did not say that. I said that every wool-grower should vote for the Wool Industry Conference.
– Even such a provision as that, I should say, would improve the bill. But the honorable senator disappointed me when he said, in effect: “ I do not want to press the point; I would rather get a quarter of a loaf now than fight to get a full loaf “. I regret that that is his attitude because, when opportunity arises, we should do all in our power to produce the best bill which will serve the wool-growers more efficiently than will this measure. If passed in its present form. It is rather regrettable - I am not altogether blaming the Ministers in this chamber - that for some reason each session a most important bill such as this comes up in the last-
– It is unfortunate that an important bill arrives here in the last hours, or during the last night of the session. Honorable senators then feel more or less circumscribed in debate. I trust that even if we have to do it the hard way, this bill will get full consideration and that honorable senators who want to put forth their point of view will do so, because the wool industry is a vital industry, not only to those who are engaged in it but also to the economy of the country. If it does take us an extra day to finish our business, we should take as much time as is required so that the bill will be given the full scope of debate that it deserves. Wool has played a most important part in the political life of this country. One could recall what governments of all shades of political opinion did for this industry after World War I. and during World War II.
I believe that, apart from enabling us to discuss the merits of the legislation, such debates as this give those of us who are prepared to do some research a kind of exercise which is very helpful to us. In 1921, Mr. Hughes, who was Prime Minister after World War I., following representations made to him by the growers, threatened to issue a proclamation to provide that no wool could be exported except at a certain price. At that time wool was selling at about 9d. per lb. Even though the issue of the proclamation had only been threatened, the price of wool rose immediately by up to 3d. per lb. That happening shows the effect of action by a government after receiving representations from the industry.
After the winding up of Bawra - which was the popular name for the British Australian Wool Realization Association Limited - the wool industry was again in trouble in the depression years, and the wool-growers asked the government of the day once again for help. That government appointed a committee, just as various governments have appointed committees, to inquire into this industry. The committee was chaired by the Hon. John Gunn, the then Labour Premier of. South Australia. The committee’s main recommendation was that there should be a minimum reserve price for wool, provided that the power to declare a minimum reserve price would be exercised only at the request of the executive of the wool-growers’ organization. After a meeting that organization rejected the recommendation. How foolish it was in view of what we know to-day of the pies that exist in relation to the buying of wool!
– Can you tell us the date of that committee?
– Nineteen hundred and thirty-two.
– That must have been after the defeat of the Scullin Government in 1931. The Prime Minister at that time was Mr. Lyons. Mr. S. M. Bruce, who preceded Mr. Scullin as Prime Minister, had played a part so far as this industry was concerned, as will be related later. After the Graziers Council had rejected the recommendation a large section of the growers put their problems before the then government but, unfortunately, that government took no action upon them. So from 1934 until possibly the first year of World War II. the industry battled along on its own. In the first year of the war an agreement was reached between the then government, under the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), and the United Kingdom Government, providing that the United Kingdom Government would buy the whole of our wool clip at a price of 13id. per lb. Fortunately, that price was increased late in 1941 or early in 1942 to 15Jd. per lb. as the result of action by Dr. Evatt, the then Minister for External Affairs, who happened to be visiting London at that time. That meant that an additional £12,000,000 or £13,000,000 was spread among the Australian wool-growers.
At the end of the war the British Government had more than 10,000,000 bales of wool surplus to its needs, and the governments of Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Great Britain agreed that we would buy, I think, 70 per cent, of the Australian wool that was surplus in Britain, which we had sold to Britain for £50,000,000. Then followed the establishment of the Joint Organization, which sold that wool at a fixed price.
– Not at the fixed price.
– No, I am sorry - at the ruling price. It took some years to dispose of that wool, and the remarkable thing was that its disposal did not interfere with the marketing of the current crops. About £93,000,000 was received for that wool sold by the Joint Organization.
So we come to what I believe matters most. I do not believe that the majority of wool-growers want other than an orderly marketing scheme for wool. Where would the wheat-growers be without the wheat stabilization plan? Wool is a much more important industry from the national point of view than wheat is. Yet for some reason all we seem to do is to leave the woolgrowers at the mercy of the auctioneers and the buyers. The wool-growers in the western portion of Victoria want a selling house at Portland. No doubt, the Minis ter for Health (Senator Wade) knows quite a deal about that. The wool-growers, the Victorian Government and the Commonwealth Government have no objection at all to that. The only people who will not go to Portland are the auctioneers.
– The buyers.
– You have no right to say that the buyers will not go to Portland. If the auctioneers will go there, I am certain that they will entice the buyers there. That would help Victoria because the wool from the western districts would be sold in a town where there is a port and where the stores at which the wool was sold would be only a mile or so away from the wharf. That would save the wool-growers having to truck or rail the wool to Geelong or Melbourne. It seems to me that the auctioneers can hold a gun at the heads of people, irrespective of whether they are big or small wool-growers, the Victorian Government or the Commonwealth Government.
A number of members of the Parliament, particularly the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) have taken a great interest in this matter. I am sure that the honorable member for Wannon would not have come into the matter as he did if it was against the policy of the Federal Government. It seems to me that the auctioneers can do what they like.
We should be prepared to do the things that are necessary. To my mind, the main need is to set up a marketing scheme. I think it was Senator Prowse who said that in 1961 the Government set up a committee of inquiry. I hope I am not misquoting the honorable senator. The chairman of the committee was Mr. Justice Philp. Of course, all of us remember him from the Petrov case. The other members were a Mr. Buttfield and a Mr. Merry. That committee took quite a deal of time to present its report. I think the Minister for Health, in his second-reading speech, said that it had nine months abroad.
What did the committee do for the industry? It certainly recommended that there should be more promotion of wool, and it found that there was a lack of co-ordination between the various woolgrowers’ organizations, which is very unfortunate for the industry. The industry certainly is broken up into a great number of organizations - many more than I would like to see. I sincerely hope that it is not long before the wool-growers, for their own good, achieve some semblance of unity amongst themselves. I have some knowledge of what disunity does to a political party. Having that knowledge, I know what it could do among the woolgrowers’ organizations. I remember reading the report of the committee. I hope I am correct in stating that it complained about the lack of royal commission powers to enable it to order people to appear before it and to produce books and documents. But, as a matter of fact, it never asked for those powers. It seems that that committee did not help the position.
It is true that a referendum of the growers on orderly marketing was held and that the growers rejected the referendum proposal. What were the happenings of the day when the ballot was taken? First, a levy of 7± per cent, of their wool cheques from the 1951 clip was imposed on the growers. Immediately after that, 20 per cent, of the growers’ gross incomes was deducted for taxation purposes owing to the inflated price of wool. I can imagine how the growers felt. First, they were hit for 7£ per cent, of the value of their clips, and, secondly, 20 per cent, of their gross incomes was deducted. It is true that that deduction was credited back to them in subsequent taxation years. Then they were asked to vote on a scheme. If anything defeated the proposal it was the fact that the growers were up in arms at the time and did not want any interference from any one at all. They asked themselves: If that happened prior to the vote, what will happen after the vote7 I am not altogether sceptical, but I believe that there may have been reasons why all those things happened.
– They thought that their sheep were better in the paddock than in the butcher’s shop.
– They may have thought that. Unfortunately it was most disadvantageous to the people who supported orderly marketing that all those things just seemed to happen at that time. I know what I would think if such things happened before a political campaign. I would say to myself, “ Hello, the dice is a little loaded “.
– That was not long before the election, you know.
– It might not have been long before the election. I have tried to trace what I believe is the important history of this industry. In the remainder of my speech I will discuss the bill.
The measure creates an all-powerful Australian Wool Board which will absorb the present Wool Research Committee, the Australian Wool Bureau and the Australian Wool Testing Authority. The board will control the wool statistical and testing authorities. I ask honorable senators whether the board will be able to recommend to the Government a satisfactory method for the sale of wool. Nothing in this bill can achieve for the growers a satisfactory marketing scheme for their wool. It is true that under the bill the board is required to establish a wool marketing committee. That committee is only to study marketing; it has no power to bring in a scheme. Before a marketing scheme can be brought in, there has to be a ballot of the growers and an act passed by the Parliament. I am certain that the board can do nothing to inaugurate a scheme. It may study a scheme. I have grave doubts whether any change will be made.
– It could only make recommendations, could it not?
– It could. Knowing what the Government said in respect of the recent Tariff Board Bill, namely, that the board ought to keep within its sights the policy of the Government-
– You agreed with that.
– I did not agree with it. I said that the committee ought to be independent. It is a matter for the government of the day to recommend what it thinks is right. I know that the Minister said that the Government had to consider the principle of full employment and the needs of industry itself. When the bill was in committee I challenged the Minister when he said that the board would have to consider day-to-day events. He cannot have it both ways. I doubt very much indeed whether the growers will get. the wool marketing scheme which I believe a large section of them think is essential, not only for their own welfare, but also for the welfare of the industry.
The bill refers also to an Australian Wool Industry Conference of 50 members, 25 of whom will come from the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and 25 from the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation. The conference will nominate the growers’ six representatives on the Australian Wool Board. What about the organization of growers known as the Australian Primary Producers Union? It is to have no representation at all. I shall quote the number of members that the organization has to show that it is a very influential body. The membership of the Australian Primary Producers Union in Victoria is 10,190; in New South Wales, 6,246; and in South Australia, 4,431. In Queensland, where it has just commenced there is no separate count of wool-growers, but I understand they amount to several hundred. In Tasmania the wool section of the union has 3,397 members. The total membership of the wool section of this organization is 24,264. I obtained those figures to-day. That membership represents approximately onequarter of the total number of woolgrowers of Australia. The figures were supplied to me by the secretary of the wool research section of the union who informed me that all figures are backed by statutory declarations or by certified audit figures which have been seen by the Minister.
– Can you tell me what percentage of wool-growers in Australia belong to the other two organizations?
– I cannot. As you know, this legislation has been a little rushed, and I thought I had better find out how many members this union had. I ask: Are they worthy of recognition?
– The other two organizations claim a combined membership of wool-growers of 66,000.
– The Australian Primary Producers Union claims that its wool section represents approximately onequarter of the wool-growers of the nation.
– They are a progressive element.
– I do not know about that. I have no up-to-date knowledge of the politics of the union, but possibly at some future time there may be a need to obtain this knowledge if it is desired to elect a Labour man.
The Australian Wool Industry Conference will recommend to the new wool authority the levy the woolgrowers will pay. Senator McKenna made mention of this. He said that the Opposition wants a democratic election by all wool-growers having a wool clip of ten bales. I do not think the Labour Party is wedded to that figure. If the Government wanted to have a ballot of wool-growers having a clip of five bales, we would be prepared to consider that. The people who have the say should in my opinion, obtain a large part of their income from wool. After considering the matter the Labour Party fixed the figure at ten bales. I hope I will not get into trouble for saying that we will be prepared to consider five bales. I will put up with it if I do, but that figure was also suggested by a very responsible person elsewhere.
I think that all the people in the industry should have a vote to elect their spokesmen. I can imagine what would happen if the Government was to suggest to the trade union movement that only a section of its members should have a vote. We would just laugh. The Government could impose all the penalties on us that it liked, but we would still just laugh. I do not want the wool-growers to be treated in any worse manner. It is not only their income that is involved; the wool industry is tremendously important as an export industry of’ Australia.
Further, this board, under one of the complementary bills, will collect 10s. per bale from the growers for the purpose of promotion and other things concerning the industry. I have been reliably informed by one who takes a very keen interest in our primary industries that there is a very good chance that the new board will adopt a similar policy to that adopted by the Australian Wool Bureau, which openly advocates a levy of £1 a bale. Where do we go from there?
– Up to £1 a bale, I. suppose.
– No fear, the growers will not pay £1 a bale. What about the Government putting in 10s. a bale? All it would cost the Government would be £2,400,000 or £2,500,000. Is not the industry worth it? I can never get out of my mind how the banks fared last year. The Government handed them on a platter £3,000,000 a year. I notice that Senator Scott is frowning. I do not know whether he was in the country at the time or whether he was away. I am sure that if he had been here he would have lined up with the banks as much as any other honorable senator on the other side.
– You have no objection to my going away, have you?
– I have no objection at all. To be honest about it, my only objection to you - and I do not say this offensively - is that you are ever here, although I do not think you do much damage when you are here. In fact, after the way Senator Willesee dealt with you last night, I wish you would speak more often.
As I said earlier, it is not expecting too much to ask the Government to match the contribution by the wool-growers who pay 10s. a bale. The Government ought to match that because this is such an important industry to the nation. I notice that the members of the corner party are not present. I know they never like hearing too many truths about what Labour has done for industries such as this. I have stated that in 1939 the then Prime Minister agreed to sell Australia’s wool clip to the United Kingdom, for the duration of the war and one year afterwards, at 13± pence per lb. and that a Labour government obtained 15i pence per lb.
– Just a minute!
– That is true.
– Not at the same time.
– In 1941.
– Yes. If you want to produce other facts, you are at liberty to do so. All I am saying is that in the first year of the war Mr. Menzies entered into an agreement with the United Kingdom under which the United King dom agreed that, for the duration of the war and for one year afterwards, it would take the whole of the wool clip, and the price set down was 134 pence per lb. In 1941 - or 1942 at the latest - when we were conducting the war so successfully, Dr. Evatt, who happened to be in London, arranged for the price to be increased by 2d. per lb. I said earlier that that meant an additional £12,000,000 or £13,000,000 to the wool-growers of this nation.
– You said earlier that this was in 1942.
– I am not arguing about a year. I said that it was 1941 or 1942. I am merely telling you the difference in the result of the efforts of the two governments. One was 13i pence and the other 15£ pence.
– And the years were 1939 and 1942, not 1939 and 1941.
– What a great difference!
– You are only 33i per cent. out.
– I am correct as to price which is the important thing. In 1945, the Labour Government contributed £1 for every £1 raised by the woolgrowers to finance wool promotion and research work being done by the former Australian Wool Board. All we ask is that, whether wool-growers have a ten-bale clip or a five-bale clip, they be allowed to vote for their own representatives on the board. Let this be a body that is truly representative of the mass of the wool-growers but particularly of those who derive the major part of their income from wool. We further ask, as I have stated, that the Government match the wool-growers’ levy of 10s. a bale. In my view, the Government seeks by this bill to leave about onequarter of the wool-growers without any representation at all, I do not know how it can justify that action. I thought the Government wanted to do something for the mass of the wool-growers. It can do that only by giving them a vote, not by disfranchising one-quarter of them in one fell swoop.
– You are not suggesting that we are cutting out one-quarter of them?
– You are. I do not say that the honorable senator has not read the bill, but I doubt whether he has read it closely enough to understand that if the Australian Primary Producers Union is to have representation on this organization at all, it must obtain two-thirds of the votes of the conference.
– Read the second clause.
– I see that my friend, the great protagonist of the wool industry, has returned to the chamber. I understand that he will be speaking on this bill and I shall be delighted to listen to him if he will only speak in the interests of the wool-growers.
Finally, I challenge any one to state a good reason why the wool-growers should not be granted a democratic vote for representation on this body. We have heard much from honorable senators on the Government side about their ideas of democracy. Here is an opportunity for the Government and its supporters, especially the members of the Country Party, to give a vote to all those who derive a good proportion of their income from wool. I believe that it is possible to give them a vote.
As to the election of board members,i oppose the suggestion that all members of the board go out of office at the one time. I believe that the system of election ought to be somewhat similar to that in relation to the Senate in that only some of the members would go out of office at the one time. My remarks with relation to the board refer mainly to the six government employees. I suggest that three of them should go out of office every two years in order that there might be continuity of experience on the board, and continuity of policy if it is in the interests of the woolgrowers, which I hope it will be.
I say to my friends in the corner: “ This is a great opportunity for you to show your independence in the interests of the wool-growers. Do not follow willy nilly every heartbeat of your friends among the Liberal Party. Take a stand. Do something that will truly designate you as valiant fighters for this section of the producers.”
.- In the last stages of the sessional period, the Senate is called upon to debate a measure which vitally affects the most important industry in this country. The importance of the industry need be neither emphasized nor explained. I believe it would do little credit to the intelligence of the Senate if I were to suggest that it needed to be reminded of the essential factors in the importance of the wool industry. That importance stems not only from the number of growers and others who derive their livelihood from the industry, but also from its value to the national economy, particularly at this time when overseas balances are so important and when the pressures on those balances may intensify.
In January, 1961, the Government appointed a committee to inquire into the! wool industry. The terms of reference of the committee included the following: -
It is to state a fact, if not to pay a great compliment to the committee, to record that its report affords little in the way of guidance regarding an effective marketing system for the wool-growing industry in Australia. It is disappointing to me that the committee did not form a decisive opinion on the matter but contented itself by reporting that there should be an organization, an integral part of which should be a marketing committee whose constant duty it would be to investigate the efficacy of marketing systems.
We have before us a bill along those lines. I believe that this bill demands of us individually the best consideration that we can give to it. The Parliament has passed legislation to establish the Australian Wool Bureau for the purpose of promoting the uses of wool. I am the first to say that the recent report of the bureau, far from being discouraging, is full of justifiable hope in its references to activities in the United States of America, Japan, India and other places. The Parliament also has passed legislation providing for the establishment of the Australian Wool Testing Authority and the Wool Research Committee. The Minister for Health (Senator Wade) stated in his second-reading speech, as did the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) in another place, that -
This bill is designed to create a statutory body to be known as the Australian Wool Board, which will bring under a single direction the functions now performed by three separate instrumentalities -the Australian Wool Bureau, the Wool Research Committee and the Australian Wool Testing Authority.
As a proclamation of objectives, I should not think that that was an achievement of which anybody could be proud, much less a government. The Minister went on to say -
By introducing this measure, the Government desires to assist Australian wool-growers in their efforts to advance the welfare of their industry.
The words “ desires to assist “ express the Government’s robust determination to introduce parliamentary machinery to help the industry to achieve greater efficiency. The statement that the Government desires to assist the Australian wool-growers in their efforts to advance the welfare of the industry compels immediate scrutiny of the legislation, because I believe that, far from this legislation being the proper way to achieve the central authority which undoubtedly is required to express with one voice the views of the industry, it will give parliamentary foundation to the preservation of divided interests and to the almost indefinite exclusion from participation in the plan of a large and substantial section of the wool-growing industry.
The co-ordination of this industry has been prevented by the existence of two dominant bodies which have been irreconcilably opposed to each other on major marketing policy. I refer to the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council, which claims to represent 23,000 growers, and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation, which claims to represent about 43,000 growers. This legislation is submitted on the basis of admitting the claim of those two organizations to have the sole right to express the point of view of the wool-growers. According to the second-reading speech, they are ‘ the organizations to which successive governments have given federal recognition. That is a political term. I should think that the question of entitlement to recognition by the Federal Government would depend upon the merits of the organizations concerned as representatives of the wool-growers. No organization can maintain confidence in itself indefinitely. Whatever its merits, it has no monopoly rights. In another place, we have to-day expounded our policy on the prevention of monopolies. I emphasize that the combination of these two organizations adds not one whit to their entitlement to monopoly rights.
How do the council and the federation stand in relation to the principle that they should, either in combination or otherwise, represent the wool-growers in the industry? Numerically, they represent two-thirds, or perhaps three-quarters, of them. In terms of bales of wool produced, they may represent a greater proportion, but a large section of the industry is not represented by them in any real sense. I am therefore baffled by the proposal, embodied in this bill, that these two organizations, having combined in October to create a conference, shall be given power to do certain things. First, they will have the right to nominate the representatives - the only representatives - of the wool-growers to go on the Australian Wool Board. Secondly, they will nominate a panel of five for the selection of three men by the Minister. They will not be wool-growers but men of commerce and financial experience. But they will have the unlimited and definite right to nominate the panel although the Minister may send for additional names if, out of the first five, he cannot find three acceptable to him.
Thirdly - and this is a provision that is likely to create a spirit of independence if anybody recollects the Boston Tea Party - they have the power, as two organizations in combination in their conference, to recommend the maximum amount of levy to be collected from wool-growers to finance the board’s activities. Not only do they have the power to recommend the maximum rate of levy, but virtually they will have the exclusive right to recommend the actual rate of levy that is to be imposed. That is to say, two bodies combining together - and nobody will claim that they represent the entire industry - are to be given by legislation the sole and exclusive right to say what the rate of taxation shall be. Further, it will be imposed not upon their own members but on wool-growers in the whole industry.
It is said that the new combination is to be the parliament of the industry. That expression was used by my colleague from the Australian Country Party, Senator Prowse. I believe it properly expresses what the bill accords to the conference in this case. Indeed, Senator Prowse made another comment with which I emphatically agree. It is important to notice that the wool-growers’ conference has the right to appoint the dominant factor in the executive of the industry; that is to say, the Australian Wool Board.
They have the power to fix the taxation that is to be imposed upon not themselves but the industry. When it is remembered that the two organizations so combining represent not all the industry but only a section, it is quite unacceptable to me that this Parliament should recognize the combination as so entitled to manage and tax the whole industry.
Mr. President, I would find that a conclusive objection in my own mind for requiring radical reformation of this bill; but it would have more force if the section of the industry outside those two organizations was itself totally unorganized. We find, however, in the outside part of the industry - which the council of the combination excludes - there is a major organization which has a substantial woolgrowing section. I refer to the Australian Primary Producers Union. Speaking in this place as I do with an entitlement to represent Tasmania, I offer no apology for reminding the Senate that in that State, affiliated with the Australian Primary Producers Union which is so excluded, is the Tasmanian Farmers Federation which has a substantial section of the wool-growing community of Tasmania. Am I to sit by and in silence acquiesce in the exclusion of the members of the Tasmanian Farmers Federation from the parliamentary constitution of a board to manage and tax the industry?
But, Mr. President, it is not merely that. The Minister for Primary Industry has said - and I was pleased that his representative in this place, the Minister for Health (Senator Wade), emphasized his words - that he desired that the industry itself should decide the composition of the parliament of the industry. When the Minister used the term “ industry itself “, surely he did not by inadvertence lapse in the next sentence to use those words as a synonym for a section of the industry! But I am afraid that that is what has happened. For my part I recoil from the idea that two vested interests, having inbuilt themselves into the industry and having obtained a major dominance, should be equated with the industry itself, and be given rights of government of the industry to the exclusion of others with the importance I have referred to.
I can assure my leader, who is interjecting, that I am quite familiar with the matter he refers to and the statements made last night, and before the debate is finished we will have the whole lot on the record. I have seen some lobbying and some effectual lobbying, but I will not comment further on that. I have said that the Minister as spokesman for the Government has stated that it is desirable that the industry itself should decide the’ composition of the government of the industry. The bill accords to this one section of the industry that right. In the charity with which I bring my mind to an interpretation of these political expressions, I can only think that the Government itself, through the Minister, has not taken sufficient care fully to understand the terms of the constitution of this conference - that is, the combination of the two organizations to which it has accorded these rights.
The Government urges that it would be appropriate if an agreement were reached between all organizations to enable a complete voice to be expressed through the conference. If one looks at the constitution which was adopted, one finds that the bill shows the date of its adoption as 24th October, 1962. At that time no doubt discussions were going on between the representatives of those two organizations and the Minister formulating the bill. This constitution was produced on 24th October, 1962 - about six weeks ago. It was after this constitution appeared on the table that the Minister found himself able to say hopefully
Those are words which immediately acknowledge that a complete industry voice cannot be expressed through the conference. But, Mr. President, the constitution provides that the Australian Wool Industry Conference is to consist of two organizations, namely, the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation, each with 25 representatives. The Minister finds reason for an expression of hope, and notes with approval that the constitution makes provision for the inclusion of other organizations.
The Minister used terms which I hope he did not write himself. He said -
The terms set down are that the conference shall consist of the two organizations and - admission of a new member organization shall be subject to the following procedure . . .
What is the definition of a member organization? It is one which everybody knows precludes the Australian Primary Producers Union from conforming to it. The definition of a member organization is, I think, designedly framed - I say that with some knowledge of the minds of the architects, the council and the federation - so as to preclude admission of the union in terms of the constitution. Why? Because the member organization that is to be admitted must be established on a federal basis, comprising organizations established in four or more States. That is denied in respect of the A.P.P.U.
– No, it is not.
– I think the interjection came from outside the Senate, so I shall ignore it. The next point is that they must be organizations which are directly concerned with the development and promotion of the wool-growing industry. So any organization the prime concern of which is not with the wool industry - is not competent to join. Finally, the admission of a new member needs a vote of two- thirds of the 50 representatives from the federation and the council.
With that knowledge before one, how unconvincing and, indeed, false - but of course not deliberately false: - is the pious hope that with Parliament fixing rights of this character upon a conference of that sort, you can ever achieve the aspiration of the Minister that agreement would be reached between the two organizations to enable a complete industry voice to be expressed through the conference?
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMuIlin). - 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.
– I do not depend for those submissions upon my own judgment I quote from the Philp committee of inquiry report -
There are three voluntary non-statutory federal associations of growers - the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council (the Council), the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation (the Federation), and the Australian Primary Producers Union (the Union). These bodies are separate and they frequently have divergent views on matters affecting the industry. Apart from these bodies there are other associations of growers . . .
Later, the report states that to establish the council and the federation as a conference would obviously continue the irreconcilable situation that has bedevilled the industry for the past twenty years.
So, Mr. President, when you get a conference formed of the two vested interests, when you get it framing a constitution effectually to exclude all other interests, it seems to me to be the type of interest which should not be recognized as entitled to govern the whole industry. The bill itself is also framed to ensure that neither of these considerable sections of the industry, that is to say, the union and the Tasmanian federation gets a representative on the board. The six wool-grower representatives must be nominated by the conference and the three other members are to be appointed out of a panel submitted by the conference.
Why is representation in this instance important? I have heard the word “ democracy “ used here to-night. I am not so disillusioned as not still to hold hopes for the benefits of democracy, even politically. Senator Kennelly asked: Who, in a political sense, would have the effrontery to-day to put forward any franchise which withheld from a single individual his right to vote? But that concerns political status. In the industry, when you give a right to vote, you give a right to vote affecting your livelihood. There arc many people who value their obligations to families and others, who think that their right to live by their own work and their own interests and assets are matters upon which, when it comes to industry organization, they are entitled to vote, which is much more important than their political rights.
So far, therefore, because a monopoly is given to two sections, to the exclusion indefinitely of a another substantial section of the industry, the scheme should be condemned. But if we examine the conference internally, we see elements within it that make it urgent for it to be improved before parliamentary powers to govern this important industry are given to it exclusively. All sorts of care has been taken to equate the representation of the federation and the council. So, as to major matters of difference which have been notorious in the industry for twenty years, stalemate will be preserved.
– Or obviated by those arrangements.
– Be fair, Mr. Minister. If I have omitted anything, I shall be very indebted to you for an exposition of my deficiencies. I just want the Senate carefully to examine the proposition that I am putting that an examination of the entity itself and the internal constituents shows that the bill is preserving and perpetuating a stalemate.
– If you will not listen to me, listen to what the Philp committee had to say. I will quote from paragraph 680 at page 130 of its report, where the committee said -
The Council and the Federation suggest that fundamentally this body, which they refer to as the Conference, should be composed of 40 members, 20 appointed by each organization. The obvious danger in this suggestion is that the Conference may be split into factions on an organization basis and perpetuate the unhappy situation which has obtained in the Wool Bureau.
– Would another organization make it any better?
– Well, the Philp committee thought so, and recommended the addition of nine members to the conference, emanating from the breed societies. I have not heard any reference to that or an explanation in the Minister’s speech as to why that element was discarded.
– Most of those will be encompassed by the council.
– That may be so obvious to Senator Hannaford, to whom I am greatly obliged, but I am only performing the humble function, not of attempting to interpret or justify what the Philp committee said, but of telling the Senate what it said. That is a humble role, and one in which I take some credit, because the members of that committee were men of merit. They included Sir Roslyn Philp, the manager of the Australian Mutual Provident Society, Mr. Buttfield, and Mr. Merry. They said-
Senator Spooner. - If I may be pardoned for interjecting, you walk away. You do not face up .to the main situation.
– You are not pardoned for making an interjection of this sort. I will not permit any one to interject on me and say that I am walking away from the matter. I am putting an argument, and you have the opportunity to answer it.
– You are not putting an argument.
– I am saying that the Philp committee said that the conference may be split into factions. It introduced representatives of the breed societies as an additional element to prevent the split, or solve it, and that principle has been discarded without explanation. I am not attempting to justify that addition. I am only inviting an explanation of it at the proper time.
– It sought what was perfection. If you cannot get perfection you must take the next best thing/
– Order! It is difficult enough to have interjections without haying interjections on interjections.
– The committee went on, in the quietness accorded it, to consider the appropriateness of elections by growers generally to the board. It said there were suggestions made that would be of advantage. At paragraph 684 the committee said -
We have some doubt on this matter and would prefer that there should bc on the Conference some representatives of other organizations to neutralize bloc action.
I repeat those words -
We . . . would prefer that there should be on the Conference some representatives of other organizations to neutralize bloc action.
This raises such disquiet that I believe that the thing should be amended. I want to go on and acknowledge that there is some chance, notwithstanding the constitution of the board, of overcoming the contingencies of doubt and hostility and contention I have referred to. The constitution of the conference does require votes to be taken by secret ballot. That may afford a member of the 25 delegations at the conference the opportunity to have the courage to express his individual vote-
– That means a courtcontrolled ballot, does it not?
– There is no question of a court-controlled ballot. Then, Mr. President, it is said that the Government, with this report before it, in which the Philp committee states that both the council and the federation accepted the principle of the central authority, feels that it is bound to accept the very machinery that those two organizations agreed to. It is most desirable to get agreement. It usually oils the wheels of action; but I deny the right of the council and the federation to stipulate in every detail the machinery that should govern this central authority. Once the principle is good it is the Government’s job, in the national interest, to evolve machinery that will give justice and proper representation to the whole industry. I suggest that the Government is bound to make the machinery fair to all sections.
It is for those reasons that I feel that an improvement is needed in the constitution of the central wool authority. The Philp committee was obviously anxious about the whole thing and, as I said, after considering this conference it suggested the breed societies to act between the two vested interests. It did consider whether or not election by the growers generally was an acceptable method of constituting the board. It referred to that in paragraph 682 at page 130 of its report. I think it is due to the committee that one should pause for a minute to consider the reasons why the committee did not recommend that method of constituting the board. It said -
We have considered the possibility of the members of the Conference being elected by growers generally, but, apart from the expense involved and the difficulty of defining such matters as the qualification for voting, we think that such an election would be likely to result in the choosing of persons less competent than those likely to be appointed by organizations.
So there are three reasons. One is expense, the second is the difficulty of defining the qualifications of voters and the third is the opinion that a producer poll is likely to produce less competent representatives than those produced from elements of the two organizations. I do not think that those reasons are sufficient. I say so, having considered the matter, and I am bound to state my individual opinion.
I find some support for what I say in the fact that in its legislation of 1944 New Zealand had no difficulty in constituting its wool board by electing growers at a producer election.
– You could count the wool-growers of New Zealand on the fingers of two hands.
– I do not think it is a proper outlook to say that you could count the wool-growers of New Zealand on two hands. I think it is not a worthy remark. I find also some strength in my statement as a member of the Liberal Party by reading to the Senate a piece of the platform of the Liberal Party. Paragraph 49 reads -
Provision, where practicable and desirable, for orderly marketing and intensive sales promotion schemes at home and abroad; no such scheme to come into effect without the approval of the producers in the industry concerned;
– Without the approval of a majority of the producers, or just the producers?
– Certainly a majority. It says that no scheme is to come into effect-
– That relates to a marketing scheme.
– No, it does not. Had you listened to me, you would have heard me emphasize that. I do not want to take time in repetition. I said -
Language could not be calculated to indicate more nearly the wool industry that we have in hand.
Thirdly, I find the idea of producer election strengthened because the Government itself says that, if this board is set up and a wool marketing committee has the constant duty to investigate marketing systems, the Government finds satisfaction in the announced policy of both organizations that such a system would not be introduced into the industry without a referendum. So the practicability of a referendum for the purposes of marketing schemes is acknowledged. Equally, practicability obtains in relation to a’ grower poll to establish this system of management.
Then, if we examine other Commonwealth legislation, we find that a producer poll was provided in relation to the wheat industry stabilization plan and in relation to every one of the overseas marketing boards - wine, dairy produce, dried fruits, apples and pears, eggs and canned fruits - provision is made for a producer poll. What is more appropriate to this situation is that this Government, in regulations promulgated in 1951, provided for a producer poll on the question of a reserve price plan and the discontinuance of the Joint Organization. I do not say that those regulations are models. I have sug gested elsewhere that the proper qualifications in a producer poll are a matter for intensive research in the Commonwealth, the States and other countries in which agricultural producer organizations have been encouraged. Those are the reasons why I believe that this legislation is deficient.
Some people will say that the time element is urgent. I acknowledge that. Too much delay has occurred already. We constituted the Australian Wool Bureau in 1953. Its efforts have been developed by the hostility that this measure is designed to continue. Even so, pressures have been coming on the wool industry in the last two or three years - others are threatening at the present time - of such importance that we should not lose any time. For that reason, Mr. President, I would be quite prepared to let the present proposals operate for a limited time, say, until 30th June, 1964. That would provide the means whereby the method of election could be hammered out, all arrangements could be made and an election could be held, and then an elected board could take up the running from 30th June, 1964, and give, in the words of the Minister, a complete industry voice properly established.
I believe that in this instance we have a recommendation for the establishment of a central board on an unstable and unreliable basis. On past experience, the board does not provide any basis for confidence that its future efforts will be directed undividedly to achieving unity in the wool industry. I say these things with a considerable degree of hesitation. Of course, I put my views for the judgment of the Senate, having formed them after full consideration. I say that I put them with hesitation because I am as conscious as anybody in this Senate is of the earnestness and competence of some of the men who at present are participating in the management of this industry. If I felt that representation of the minor growers was likely to exclude some of those men - I have in mind particularly such men as Mr. Donald von Bibra of Tasmania who is giving excellent service to the industry - I would hesitate. But I believe that producer polls are just as manageable as political polls and that judgment and competence will attract the support of the majority of wool-growers on a matter such as this. The idea of giving a conference of this character the right to tax an industry is unacceptable to me.
I wish to add only two things. Last night in another place I listened with great interest to a speech in support of this bill by the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser). To-night I listened to my colleague from the Australian Country Party, Senator Prowse. It should be noted that a bill that can evoke support on no grounds better than those that they have stated should cause the Government to hesitate. Mr. Malcolm Fraser announced that the exclusion of the Australian Primary Producers Union was unjust. He criticized the irreconcilable interests as stemming from prejudice. He detailed intensive negotiations over the last four months in order to get the union represented, and said that despite the intensity of those negotiations they all failed. He bewailed the exclusion of the union.
Senator Prowse said that the Wool Industry Conference was not truly representative of Australian wool-growers. He said he hoped that ultimately provision would be made for a ballot of the growers. I agree with those two gentlemen’s reasons. Those reasons induce me to come to the conclusion that an amendment of an important character, such as I have circulated, is required, and to say that our duty demands that we should not leave the industry to look only to this board for its future efficiency.
– Members of the Government must feel that the wool has been pulled over their eyes by their advisers, after hearing the withering criticism of this measure that has been presented to us so thoroughly by Senator Wright. If this debate were to finish at this moment, the record would show that a great opportunity had been presented to the Government to set up an authority to unite the wool industry and that the Government had failed to achieve that purpose. Instead of bringing unity, the Government is sowing the seeds of disunity in the industry.
The introduction of this measure was a consequence of the report of the Wool Marketing Committee of Enquiry. That committee, this measure and this debate emphasize the weaknesses of the growers down through the years in not being able to get together for a common purpose. Any industry to-day can ill afford to be without a plan and without a purpose in its operations. On the surface, by setting up a wool board it would appear that the Government has, to a degree, accepted its responsibility to assist the industry. However, the basic weakness of this legislation is that in setting up the Australian Wool Industry Conference the Government is perpetuating disunity in the industry. The personnel of the conference is to be selected in a most arbitrary way, and the fact that no specific marketing plan has been outlined by the Government is also a basic weakness.
The history of the wool industry is ona of division, the wool-growers being divided amongst themselves. It would appear that power seekers have kept the industry in this state of affairs. It is only the great advantages that the industry enjoyed prior to the development of man-made fibres that have enabled it to carry on. With the expansion of man-made fibres the industry is now faced with competition. In the long run that competition may well prove to be an advantage if it brings the wool-growers to realize that united they stand, but that divided they must surely fall.
The fact that the wool industry returns only a little more than 2 per cent, on capital invested is a terrible reflection upon those who have been responsible for its destiny. We must lay the blame on the traditional guides of the industry, the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation, for allowing the industry to remain divided and accept a margin of 2i per cent, profit on capital, at a time when every other field of investment - even government bonds - returns up to 5 per cent, and 6 per cent, per annum. That in itself indicates that the industry has been weakly organized.
I consider that unity could have been achieved in the industry had the Government adopted a strong policy. I accuse the Government and the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) of being weak. Had the Minister given a lead, and had he viewed the whole situation from the point of view of the industry rather than of the two dominating influences - the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation - things might have been different. These two organizations have virtually imposed blackmail on the Minister. He should have taken the initiative and laid down the rules for the setting up of this authority to control inc industry. Over the past months the Labour Party has had conferences with members of the Australian Primary Producers Union, and on every occasion the representatives of the union have indicated that they wished to co-operate with the Government and with the other two organizations. However, arrogance has been displayed by the people in the two major organizations without any explanation being given for that arrogance. The Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation had to battle for recognition over the years. Now that it has, so to speak, broken through the sound barrier, it is fighting as hard as the other organization to maintain the status quo. These organizations should do their thinking on a national level. Instead of doing justice to this tremendously important part of our economy they are working in a very narrow circle. The claim that they were the first organizations in the field seems to be the only reason they have for taking up the attitude they are adopting at the present time.
The suggestion has been made that if the Australian Primary Producers Union was to be admitted to the conference it might use its position to hold the balance of power. I submit that as the union represents approximately 25 per cent, of woolgrowers it is entitled to be in a position where it can cast its vote in the best interests of the industry. If the organization did hold the balance’ of power no harm would come to the industry. The other two major organizations have imposed blackmail on the Minister by saying, in effect, “ If you do not exclude the Australian Primary Producers Union we will walk out of the conference and undermine the whole project “. The Minister should not allow a small body of men to say that. The spokesmen for these organizations are very prominent men. They have the facilities and the time available to assist their organizations, but it is not always that such men speak on behalf of all the members of their organizations. I believe that they are assuming a role that is most unusual in a democratic country when they say, in effect, to a Minister who is doing his level best to help the industry, “ If you do not carry out our demands you will not have any authority at all”. To me, that is a very reprehensible stand to take, but it is on record that those were the terms that were insisted upon by the major organizations in order to exclude the Australian Primary Producers Union. The Government and its supporters must take their share of the blame because this question has evidently been debated in their party rooms. They, like I, must have had many representations submitted to them individually from the Australian Primary Producers Union and the Tasmanian Farmers Federation. They must .know how sincere are these organizations in their efforts to participate in the setting up of the board.
This is too serious a matter to be left in the hands of people who are prepared to destroy the whole concept of the scheme if their will cannot prevail. The Boston Tea Party has been mentioned to-night. The members of the new organization will have authority to impose levies; in effect, they will virtually have authority to impose taxation and surely the members of the two objecting bodies have learned from history that people strongly resent taxation without representation. That resentment will increase unless the present position is rectified. In my opinion, the position is mads worse by the Minister who made a concession to these people by telling them that provision would be made at a later date for representation by other wool-growing interests but only provided that extra representation was agreed to by a two-thirds majority of the conference. In this country we look upon a vote of 50 per cent, plus one as being a majority. Yet here, two organizations, each having 25 members at the conference, and both having shown most conclusively that they will not have a bar of any other organization, are insisting that they alone shall be represented at the conference! The Minister seems to expect the impossible to happen. He expects that twothirds of the representatives of those two objecting bodies will vote for the inclusion of representation from a third wool-growers’ organization. By writing into this legislation the requirement of a two-thirds majority of the conference, the Government is perpetuating an undesirable state of affairs. lt would appear that this conference has been, stacked to give continuing authority to a majority which does not by any means represent a true majority of the woolgrowers and to exclude a high percentage of men who are the backbone of the industry. We know that there are some who are fortunate enough to have wool clips running to 200, 300 and 400 bales. We admit that they are doing a big job as wool producers in this country, but there are also very many who produce 20, 30 and up to 50 bales of wool - many war service settlers produce 50 bales - who are members of the Australian Primary Producers Union. All these people should have a voice in the future of their industry for they are citizens of this country who are just as important as the largest wool-growers. Any suggestion that representation should be proportionate to the number of bales produced should be thrown out immediately. As with any organization in the country, the plebiscite should be conducted on a system of one man one vote. After all, any grower who is producing ten bales or more is grazing between 450 and 500 sheep and therefore can claim with justification that he is making an important contribution to the wool industry.
– A good deal of wool is produced by growers who produce only five bales. If you are going to state a number, why not get down to a clip of five bales? That would include the men who run about 200 sheep.
– That is so, but if we came down to five bales, some might ask, “ What about the men who produce two bales or three bales? “. Again, the man who keeps half a dozen sheep as lawnmowers and puts the wool into a sack might want to claim representation. You have to draw the line somewhere. The point I am making is that no plan will succeed until all the wool-growers of Australia are given adequate representation. The only way to ensure representation on as wide a basis as possible is to have all the woolgrowers of all States elect their representatives to the conference. These representa tives at the conference could then elect the board. The alternative to that is to adopt the amendment proposed by the Opposition and provide for election of the board by the growers through a Commonwealthwide ballot.
The Minister for Health (Senator Wade) stated in his second-reading speech that few will doubt the advisability of having a single body to control the industry. This industry has been disunited and divided for far too long. I believe, too, that it has been mis-informed. If the new organization is such as will unite the industry and restore confidence to those engaged in it, the organization will serve a good purpose. It is my firm belief that the whole archaic system of auctioning wool will retard the prosperity and expansion of the industry. The wool-growers must face up to the fact, that in this day and age the auction system has gone by the board in every other field. At the moment, the only goods being sold by auction, apart from wool, are second-hand goods such as furniture and the like. It is an archaic system. I am reminded that tobacco also is sold under the auction system.
– And so are livestock, fish and a thousand and one other things.
– As the report of the New South Wales committee of inquiry illustrated, the auction system has lent itself to combinations of buyers. The number of buyers operating is being reduced. The wool-buying countries are approaching the purchase of wool in an organized way. If there is in such a country a body which controls the volume of imports, surely it will say to the woolpurchasing firms, “ Get your heads together and divide up lots “. As we know, that is called the pies system. It has been operating for years. In these days, when the technique is to get the most possible for the least expenditure, especially when monopolistic organizations are operating, there is a tendency to extend that technique.
This measure has been fairly well canvassed in the Senate. I am most disappointed that a bill dealing with an industry of such importance could have the effect of weakening, rather than strengthening, the position of the industry. The seeds of disunity have been sown. If this measure is passed by the Parliament, that disunity will be given parliamentary approval. I think the Government will regret having submitted to the virtual blackmail of two powerful organizations. It seems that the Government is prepared to sacrifice on the altar of expediency the very fine body of people in the Australian Primary Producers Union.
– 1 think that all honorable senators who have spoken in the debate have referred to the importance of the wool industry. Each has stressed the earning potential of the industry and the number of people who gain their livelihood from it, either directly or indirectly. Because of the magnitude of the industry, and because so many people are involved in it in one way or another, there are many ideas as to the way in which its affairs should be handled. Some people, who either buy or sell wool, believe that things should be done in a certain way, while others, who grow the wool, have different views. In nearly every instance, the views put forward by each honorable senator who has spoken have been different from those of the speaker who preceded him.
Senator McKenna opened the debate for the Opposition and put forward the views of his party regarding the way in which the affair’s of the industry should be handled. He mentioned his party’s policy on orderly marketing. He said that this Government had Hone nothing to prop up the industry by providing for an orderly marketing scheme. I wish to make a few comments on the Australian Labour Party’s views on an orderly marketing scheme for wool, as enunciated by Senator McKenna. As I understand the matter, the plan put forward by the Labour Party is based on a cost of production price for the proportion of the clip that is used within Australia, while that part of the clip that is sold overseas would be disposed of under the auction system at the best price we could get for it. I understand that the Labour Party would advance to the industry a certain sum of money to help finance the scheme. While the industry was using the money advanced to it by a Labour government, that government would have the final say regarding the cost of production figure.
I also understand that, before the plan began to operate, it would be subject to a vote of the growers. I do not agree with the Labour Party plan, but if that is the party’s proposal, I respect it. However, I do not think that the plan would ever get beyond the stage of having a “ no “ vote recorded against it by the growers. The 1951 plan, which was a far better plan than that now advanced by the Labour Party, was turned down because of the element of government interference which some wool-growers saw in it. Surely then, there would be much more government interference in the plan ^proposed by the Labour Party. I am of the opinion that it would be rejected by the wool-growers. We should then be left in the present position. Plans for the orderly marketing of the Australian wool clip would be doomed to failure for many years to come.
I think that many of us have missed the point of this legislation and of the reason for its introduction at the present time. The legislation is the outcome of an inquiry which was requested by the wool-growers, and is based on the sole recommendation of a committee which spent many months, both in this country and overseas, investigating the marketing of the Australian wool clip. I stated, some time before the committee was appointed - and my comments are on record - that I could not see any reason for that inquiry to be held. All the information that it could put forward was already available in the Department of Primary Industry, as a result of previous inquiries that had been made from time to time. However. I did see one good point about the appointment of the committee. It brought together for the first time since 1951 the two main federal woolgrowing bodies of this country. Since those two bodies came together and agreed to ask the Government to do certain things, it was incumbent on the Government to go ahead and do as they had requested.
Let us go back and have a look at the circumstances in which that inquiry was instituted. Why was it undertaken? The committee was appointed because one particularly large federal organization of growers for some years had been approaching the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) and asking for a change in the present marketing system. When the Minister sought the views of the other major organization which was recognized by the Government, and asked, “ What do you people think about it? “, he was told, “ We want no interference with the present system “. But the first body kept coming back to the Government and saying, “ We want you to do something about it “.
As the price of wool continued to fall over the years, people in other organizations started crying out that they wanted something done about the selling system. The United Graziers Association of Queensland came out with a scheme and the federation produced its scheme. Yet the other main federal body recognized by this Government said it wanted no interference. When these two federal bodies approached the Government with a request - that there be an inquiry into the wool marketing system - they made one other request also. It was that when such a committee was set up it should have a member of the judiciary as chairman.
The Government gave them the inquiry. It set up a committee and appointed Judge Philp as chairman. This committee took evidence from any one who was interested in the marketing of the Australian wool clip. It went overseas to look into the prospects of Australian wool and how it was handled there. But so far as I am concerned, it did not go to the countries where a successful marketing scheme was operating. It is true that it sent a member of the committee away and it had information placed before it; but if it worked along that line in one connexion, surely it could have worked on the same line concerning the position overseas.
I get back to the point where the committee finally made one recommendation. It reported to the Minister and the Minister reported to Cabinet. Cabinet decided to release the report to the industry. So far as the Government was concerned, it had done what the growers had asked it to do. It was then up to the growers’ organizations to study the report and accept it in whole or in part or reject it.
After some months of discussion among the growers’ organizations and representatives of the Department of Primary Industry, we have a plan before us which the two main growers’ organizations have asked re Government to put into operation as soon as possible. The Australian Wool
Industry Conference is to appoint members to the new Australian Wool Board and that board is to set up a marketing committee to have a look again at the marketing of the Australian clip. I have here a copy of “ Muster “, the journal that is published by an organization which some little time ago was opposed to any alteration in the present auction system. Now it asks -
That in view of the present marketing situation of wool and likely developments therein, this Association recommend to the proposed Australian Wool Board that it take action to secure, as soon as possible, a full investigation of methods of marketing wool by acquisition or appraisal, with sale at fixed quota and/or negotiated prices, and on a guaranteed yield based on core test.
Now the emphasis, as far as I am concerned in the setting up of the wool industry council, is to try again to get some proper selling system operating to deal with our wool. There may be some proposals in the proposition before the Senate which will not be acceptable to all. Speaking to-night, Senator Kennelly referred to the orderly marketing of wheat and he asked where Australia would be without the present wheat stabilization scheme. The first scheme for orderly marketing of wheat was totally different from the scheme that operates at present, but it was something to start with. Once the growers got it into operation, they were able to see its weaknesses and make suggestions to overcome them.
Here is an opportunity for us to set up a scheme for the wool industry. As time goes by and we see weaknesses in it, let the growers come back to the Government, state the reasons why it is not operating properly and suggest methods of improving it. I am sure the Minister for Primary Industry will be willing to listen to them and to try to make the scheme operate properly.
Now I turn to some of the statements that have been made in this debate. A great deal has been said about the democratic right of the individual “growers. Let us consider how a man will gain a position on the Australian Wool Industry Conference. First he will have .to. be a member of a branch of the organization in his State. Having been a member of the branch, he may bc elected to the district council. To do that, he must get the support of the people in his own branch.
They have to have faith in him and think that he is a man worthy of representing them.
– But they are only a section of the growers.
– All right. Let us go further into this proposition. After the man has been appointed to the district council, he must be elected to the executive of the State body. A place on the State body does not go to some one who is irresponsible. He has to be a man of capacity who is willing to express the views of his organization. From the State executive, he is appointed to the federal body. In most cases, he has to face a secret ballot. When he gets to the federal body, again he has to face a secret ballot to be sent on to the conference that is to be set up. Then he has the faith not only of his State but also of the whole federal organization. Perhaps he will be one of the six representatives on the Australian Wool Board. Surely that system covers a wide area.
– It is still only a section.
– The honorable senator may express his opinions later.
Senator Wright and, I think, some other honorable senators made a point about taxation without representation. In recent years and, I think, on two occasions in the past twelve months, we have had before us legislation to increase the levy for wool promotion. On the last occasion we extended the levy for twelve months. Did I hear Senator Wright say anything about the Australian Primary Producers Union not being represented in relation to that? No. Where did that agreement come from? Where did the Minister get the idea of increasing the levy from 5s. to 10s. a bale and of extending it for twelve months? He got it from the chairman of the present Australian Wool Bureau, who made a request to the Minister after consulting the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation and the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council. Over the years since the establishment of the old Wool Board in 1936. the Government has recognized these two bodies as the two main bodies. There has been, to my know ledge, no request in this chamber that the A.P.P.U. should have a say.
– If you look at the “ Hansard “ record for 1957, you will see a big debate on it.
– We have progressed from there.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wedgwood). - Order!
– I now turn to another matter. It is true that the committee recommended that the breeders’ societies be represented. I understand from talks with persons in the industry that the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation have discussed this point with the Minister. I understand that the council has given an undertaking to the Minister that it will appoint some of the stud breeders inside its organization to the Australian Wool Industry Conference.
Senator Wright made the point that the Tasmanian organization was without representation on the conference. I understand that this point, too, has been discussed, not only with the two organizations I have mentioned, but also with representatives of the organization which the honorable senator has mentioned. It is expected that a representative from Tasmania on the Wool Bureau will more than likely be appointed as a representative on the new Wool Board. That will give Tasmania direct representation on the top authority in the country.
– More than likely?
– It is just about a foregone conclusion.
– We are dealing with legislation.
– You leave Tasmania to look after itself. Mr. Donald von Bibra is the nominee of the Tasmanian Farmers Federation, which is affiliated with the council.
– All of us cannot get our nominees appointed to the final six. In the legislation endeavours have been made as far as possible to bring every one together and get the organization started. Senator Wright and Senator
Kennelly have cited amendments to the constitution of the Australian Wool Industry Conference and said that there was no provision for the A.P.P.U. to come into the conference unless it got the support of a two-thirds majority of the conference. I refer to clause 31 (2) of the agreement between the council and the federation, which provides -
The Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers’ Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers’ Federation give an undertaking that after the first annual meeting of the conference they will meet in three years’ time to review the constitution of the conference. At this meeting voting on any alteration to the constitution will be by simple majority.
I know that there is a time lapse.
– That is an undertaking one to the other.
– This is outside the authority of the Parliament. It is not a statutory body. This is an agreement between the organizations. Some honorable senators have done them an injustice by saying that because there have been differences of opinion in the past they will continue to bicker. This is something in black and white to which they have agreed. At this stage, we should give them our confidence in the hope that they will try to make something of it.
I support the legislation and hope that from it we shall see great things come, particularly a marketing system whereby our wool will be sold at something like its true value.
– The amendments foreshadowed both by Senator Wright and the Opposition are necessary and commendable. The second-reading speech of the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) contains assurances that conferences have been held, but nothing has been said to get over the fact that 33$ per cent, of the Australian woolgrowers will not be represented on the non-statutory body which will have more influence on the wool industry than will the legislation itself.
– Are you looking after the Western Australian section?
– I am looking after the Australian wool-grower and the marketing of an Australian commodity in a world market of organized buyers and disorganized growers. If that is effectively achieved we shall serve the Western Australian grower as well as the Tasmanian grower and all Australian growers and we shall have a national outlook. If we put the wool industry in a strait jacket by legislation whereby 334- per cent, of growers are not represented on the new authority, only as a result of the goodwill and magnanimity of two strong bodies will the voice of those growers be heard at all. Some interests are vitally concerned not to disturb the status quo in the industry. We are merely doing by legislation what, on the admission of the Minister and other Government senators, these two organizations have successfully done for nearly two decades.
I raised in the Senate previously the matter of the poor representation on this body and of the strong influence of a big influential section, not only of growers but of buyers. I also spoke of the inter-woven structure of the wool industry in Australia, quite apart from the growers, which has been quite patent to the growers and the Government. It has also been made patent here to-night that there is a big, strong influential section of the wool industry in Australia that does not want the status quo upset. It is putting the wool industry in a strait jacket and the status quo will not be upset unless that influential section has its wishes gratified in the process. That section can hold out for an indefinite period while there is no assurance from the Government, or in the legislation, that the disfranchised section of the growers will ever get representation. There is no guarantee in this legislation that a marketing system will be organized on a basis whereby the industry will be protected. There is certainly no chance of the industry as a whole being able to interfere with the organized buying of wool that is developing overseas.
The report of the committee on this matter has been inordinately delayed, and this legislation will not satisfactorily adjust the position of the grower in relation to the marketing of wool and many other facets of this industry which is so important to Australia. The legislation will certainly not allow us, within a reasonable period, to establish industries that are subsidiary to the wool industry. It is a disgrace to this Parliament that, because the Government has been pandering to a section of the industry outside the growers - that is, buyers and overseas intermediaries - this legislation has been so inordinately delayed. That section of the industry has been operating to the disadvantage of many other sections of the industry.
This measure has come to the Senate at a time when, in the normal course of events, we would have already gone into recess. It has to. compete with other legislation for our attention. Yet we wasted our time in this Senate for the last week speaking on measures which the Opposition did not oppose or seek to amend, making a parody of the Parliament, while important measures have been delayed in reaching us. As I have said, this measure has been brought in here when normally we would have been in recess had the Government presented business to the Parliament in a proper way. This bill could have been before the Senate at least a week ago. I say that the Government is putting pressure on this Parliament to accept its measures so that we may hasten into recess.
– You cannot deny it. This measure has not been properly presented to the Parliament. It has been delayed, and the Government cannot possibly give a good reason why the measure could not have been before the Senate and another place early enough to provide a reasonable time for the Parliament to give it the attention of which it is worthy.
I support the amendment because, although it will not perfect the bill, it will improve it markedly, and I hope that the carrying of the amendment will give some indication to the wool industry that we want the status quo broken to the advantage of the industry - not just for the advantage of Western Australia, my State, but for the advantage of the whole of Australia. In has second-reading speech the Minister told us how vital to Australia the wool industry is. He devoted almost two pages of the roneoed copy of his speech to that matter. He said -
Over the past forty years the proportion of our export income earned by wool has never been less than 30 per cent, and indeed in many years has been around SO per cent.
– We have read that.
– Can you read?
– Then, by Jove, you do not understand what you read, because this measure is disastrous to Australia in many respects. The Government is handing power to a non-statutory body, which represents only two-thirds of the persons that the Government says it is trying to protect. It is giving that body important duties in relation to marketing, prices, representation and the election of officers. That non-statutory body could change like the sands on the beach. The Government has done nothing but follow a policy of laisser-faire. It tells us that it is not prepared to take responsibility for this great industry which, according to the Minister himself, provides about 50 per cent, of our export income at times.
The time is late, and I would be prepared to continue if I felt that what I had to say was going to be effective, but I know that we are battling uphill. We have good amendments which, if accepted, will improve the legislation. Although the legislation even as amended, is not perfect I am satisfied it will be improved by the amendments, and I would be prepared to vote for it.
Sitting suspended from 11.56 p.m. to 12.38 a.m. (Friday).
Friday, 7 December 1962
– Because of the lateness of the hour I hope the Senate will bear with me if I make no reference now to matters that have been, raised and will be discussed and examined at some length in committee. I crave a few minutes of the time of the Senate to deal with some of the matters that I might well describe as major issues. Those people who criticize the bill have a purely academic approach to it. They have no sense at all of the realities of this industry. I make the claim that I live as close as anybody does to this industry. I know what the industry wants. I know what the industry is thinking. I know that this Government has produced this legislation at the direct request of the industry.
I make it abundantly clear right from the start that amending this legislation is tantamount to rejecting it. I do not say that because this is a piece of Government legislation. I say it for this reason: I want to emphasize that this Government has given a solemn undertaking to the majority of the wool-growers of Australia that it will implement legislation sought by them. That is what the Government intends to do. If and when the time comes, as it may well come, when amendments to the legislation are sought by the industry, this Government will be ready to acquiesce in those proposals.
– Or at least to consider them.
– I said “ acquiesce “. I said that deliberately for this reason: How can you be consistent and give the woolgrowers the legislation that they ask for and then, in the next breath, take away from them the right to manage their own industry as they want to manage it under our legislation? The policy of this Government always has been and, as far as I am concerned, always will be that the primary industries shall have the right to manage their own affairs.
I repeat that, because of the solemn undertaking that has been given to the industry, an amendment of this legislation would be a rejection of it. The people who speak with such fluency and with such an academic approach to the problems that confront the industry will have to accept the responsibility for setting the progress of this great industry - the greatest primary industry in this country to-day - back twenty years. For my part, as I stand here, I make it abundantly clear that the Government is determined to press to the utmost the claims of the wool-growers in this matter and is determined, as far as is humanly possible, to write their needs into legislation.
– Do you mean that the rejection would be by the industry?
– 1 will have it both ways. I will say that it would be rejected by the Government, and the industry itself would take an amendment as a rejection. If I may amplify that statement, I say that those honorable senators who have criticized this measure to-night have not produced one tittle of written evidence to support their criticism. I challenge them to contradict me when I make this statement: From the correspondence that I have received I know that there are critics of this measure - of course there are - and those people who criticize it finish their submissions to honorable senators by expressing themselves in these terms, “ Get such and such an amendment if you can, but on no account allow the legislation to be defeated “. I challenge any honorable senator to contradict me on that statement. Those honorable senators who stand in their places and profess to speak for sections of the industry or for individuals and express their points of view, as they are quite entitled to do, should remember that the points of view that they express, if they move to reject this legislation, are their own points of view and not the points of view of the industry.
The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) waxed eloquent when he described, at some length and in some detail, the wool policy of the Australian Labour Party. It is true, as he said, that his party gave this matter a good deal of consideration prior to the last general elections. It formulated a policy that it believed would be popular. There was a great deal of talk in the industry in favour of a reserve price plan. So the Labour Party decided to jump on the band-wagon. It promised a reserve price plan, and it dangled a bait of £25,000,000 with that promise. What did the wool-grower say? He said, “No”. Even the £25.000.000 did not tempt him, because he knew that that amount indicated government interference and government control sooner or later, and he would not have a bar of that. Instead he has turned to this Government, which has a great record of service to primary industries, to meet the needs of the wool industry. The wool-grower is ever mindful of the successful operation of the Australian Wheat Board, which is operated and managed by a majority of wheatgrowers. The wool-grower looks at the Australian Dairy Produce Board, which has the same organizational structure, and he knows the success of the dairy industry. So, he has pinned his faith on this Government to produce the legislation that he wants for the sake of his industry.
Senator McKenna went further. He quoted from a document which described the report of the Wool Marketing Committee of Enquiry as futile. That was a very popular description of that report about six or nine months ago. “ A futile report” was a very popular catch-cry. What has been the outcome of that report? That report has been the means of bringing together at least two sections of the wool industry for the first time in the history of Australia. Those people who would ask, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? “ should have another thought about the good that will come out of this report if this Parliament is prepared to endorse the submissions of the industry.
Members of the Opposition have been lamenting because they say that this Government has been dilatory in this matter; that it has not faced up to its responsibilities; and that it should have produced a marketing plan. Whose plan? What plan? Has anybody yet produced a plan that could be described as a perfect plan to meet the needs of the wool industry? Has anybody who advocates that sort of approach to this problem and criticizes the Government for its stand in this matter stopped to think for just one moment that the wool-growers are the most independent-thinking section of the community? Have those people who advocate foisting a plan on the wool industry thought of the disastrous effects that that would have upon the unity approach to the industry?
Any government - I do not care what its political colour is - that took unto itself the right to formulate a marketing plan and to say to the wool industry, “ There it is. You can have a referendum on it. Of course you can. At least we will have a semblance of democracy in our approach to this problem “, should know as well as I do that that action would split the industry from top to botton and do the greatest possible . disservice to the industry. This Government - and particularly the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) - has made a magnificent contribution to the wool industry. With patience, perseverence and tact, Mr. Adermann has brought together at least two major sections of the industry. Let us regard that as at least a very worthwhile starting point.
Now I shall refer very briefly to the Wool Industry Conference. Senator Wright appeared to be quite agitated when he spoke of the dictatorial powers vested in the conference. His excitement even grew when he was bemoaning the omission of the Australian Primary Producers Union from the conference. He made great play on the dictatorial powers of the conference. But what, in effect, was he advocating? He was advocating that the Government adopt a dictatorial attitude, that the Government should say to the industry: “You are not properly married. We will give you a shotgun wedding. Here is another partner for the conference.”
– That is bigamy.
– I do not know whether it is bigamy or not, but it is a dictatorial attitude that will never be supported by this Government. I will be very interested to see whether Senator Wright is prepared to destroy this legislation. This Government quite properly has said to the wool industry, “You shall manage your own affairs “. This Government refuses to say to the industry, in effect, “ You shall have A, B, C or D as partners in this undertaking “. The Government has said quite plainly, through my second-reading speech, that it deplores the fact that even the progress it has made has not gone far enough from the point of view of unity. It has specifically stated that it hopes the day will not be far away when these people whom Senator Wright has chosen to champion are included in the conference. I remind the honorable senator, with great respect, that his utterances do not do him credit. They do not stamp him as a man big enough to speak for the A.P.P.U. because as recently as 5th December the A.P.P.U. made a very forthright statement that indicated that that organization puts the interests of the wool industry above its own. Surely that is an attitude that is worthy of the highest commendation.
In case there be any misunderstanding, I quote, not from a newspaper report, but from a copy of a statement delivered on 5th December over the signature of J. P. Heffernan, federal president of the A.P.P.U. In spite of the lateness of the hour I am going to read it so that it will be recorded for all time that a body of people are big enough to put the industry first. I suggest to those who criticize, and who would destroy this industry, that they have a look at the motive that prompted these people to subjugate their own personal opinions for the sake of the industry. The A.P.P.U. goes on record as saying -
The A.P.P.U. believes that .the well-being of the wool industry of Australia is of paramount importance, and with this thought in mind recognizes that any action taken by the Union which would delay setting up of the proposed Wool Board would not be in the interests of Australian woolgrowers.
May I repeat that - any action that would delay setting up of the proposed Wool Board would not be in the interests of Australian wool-growers.
– We heard you the first time.
– I hope it registers, because it is most important. The statement continues -
The Union is, however, fully aware of its responsibility towards its members and therefore feels strongly obliged to continue its efforts to obtain membership of the Wool Industry Conference at the earliest opportunity, and with every means at its disposal. The Union feels that such a Conference, fully representing all Australian woolgrowers, would be a powerful means of promoting grower unity.
If I may interpose there, may I repeat that here is an organization that is striving for unity. Some of the people in this chamber who have spoken to-night with such abandon, as far as unity is concerned, have rendered, and will continue to reader, a disservice to the industry and to unity if they repeat the utterances that we have heard to-night. The statement continues -
In addition to this the Union wishes to explore fully, at the highest level, the possibility of achieving effective unity of all sections of Primary Industry through continued negotiations between the National Farmers Union and the A.P.P.U. at the earliest opportunity.
In fact the President of the National Farmers Union (Mr. A. F. Havard) and myself have asked Mr. Mills, the Chairman of the Unity Study Group to call a unity meeting at an early date.
If any one in this chamber has any lingering doubts as to how he should cast his vote on this issue, I suggest to him that that document is an indication that men who are vitally interested in the organization, and in securing a voice on the conference, have in a forthright statement said in the plainest terms, “ Whatever you do on this measure, do not delay it”. Have I got to repeat what I said earlier? Rejection or amendment of the measure can have no other result.
There is one other matter to which 1 should like to refer, and again I quote Senator Wright. With some agitation he referred to lobbying. It is true he did not explain it. He did not need to do so. The inference was as plain as a pikestaff. The inference was that here were accepted leaders of an industry - and he quoted the numbers they boast of representing - who were so devoid of principle and so weakkneed, that they permitted themselves to be lobbied, badgered and pushed into a position of surrender. As a member of the Australian Primary Producers Union of many years’ standing I take the greatest exception to that inference. The suggestion that these men produced a statement under duress is an affront that is not worthy of further consideration.
– I did not use the words “ devoid of principle “ or “ duress “.
– I used them. You used the word “ lobbying “ and you made your purpose perfectly clear. If you trade in these things, Senator Wright, you will reap the dividends.
I want to make one other reference to something that concerns me, that is the reference to taxation without representation. I challenge anybody in this Senate to rise in his place and advocate such a policy. This is nothing more than muddled thinking and an attempt to create confusion in people’s minds. If those who talk along those lines stop to ponder on what they say, they must know that the taxation that has been raised for the wool industry has been raised at the specific request of the industry itself, and that every penny that is raised in taxation is spent for the industry by the industry. To suggest that this Government had any part in levying taxation without representation is deliberately to confuse the issue.
Finally, I want to come to the amendment that has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition. He advocates that the Government should make a contribution of 10s. a bale for wool promotion. I say with great respect to the Opposition that it can be very generous when it is not in office. Of course it can say that this is only a minor issue. The plain hard facts are that never once in the history of the wool industry has it asked any government for one shilling for promotion - never once. Of course, this is a golden opportunity for the Opposition to say, in effect: “ You do not know what is good for your industry. By way of this amendment we will make available to you an extra 10s. a bale. It is true you have not asked for it. It is true you have not said how you can use it, but we will see that the taxpayers of this country provide for you an extra £2,500,000 a year even though you have not asked for it and even though you have not declared how you want to use it.” I repeat that the Government has always recognized that these people are independent people, who, with a sturdy independence, have been determined right down through the years to manage their own affairs and that no government interference shall sway them in their determination to frame and carry out their own policies. No mention at all has been made of the fact that the Government does make a contribution of £2 for every £1 contributed by the industry for research. I emphasize that the Government has always declared that research is the field in which it can make its most valuable contribution. I say again that the industry has never asked for a contribution towards the cost of wool promotion, and, if I know the industry, it will hesitate before it ever does ask because it values its independence so greatly. For that reason I suggest, indeed I urge, the Senate to reject the proposed amendment and to vote for the bill as submitted.
– I rise to speak to the amendment. I have had an opportunity to consider the proposal which expresses the viewpoint that the whole of the cost of wool promotion should not be the responsibility of the woolgrower. This proposal gives expression to the principle that I have advocated in this place for some two years now. In view of the emphasis that has been placed upon increases in tariffs for manufacturing industries, and in view of the fact that exports cannot be subsidized, I urge that at least the primary export industries should be relieved of these promotional expenses.
– Order! I point out to the honorable senator that he has already spoken, and that as he spoke after the amendment had been moved, he was speaking then to both the amendment and the motion at the one time.
– I submit that I spoke only to the motion for the second reading of the bill. An amendment to that motion has been proposed. I submit that I am entitled now to speak to the amendment.
– Order! If an honorable senator speaks after an amendment has been moved to the original question he must be taken to have addressed himself to both the amendment and the original question.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be added (Senator McKenna’s amendment) be added.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 (Short title).
– May I take the opportunity to indicate the course that the Opposition, with the permission of the committee, would like to follow at the various stages? Fifteen Opposition amendments are listed. They do not all relate to separate clauses. I propose that the first and second amendments be taken together. I shall be moving at the appropriate time that consideration of clause 6 be postponed, and I shall give the reason for doing so at that stage. I propose that amendments Nos. 3 and 4 be taken together, and that they should be voted on together. Amendment No. 5 will be considered by itself. I propose that amendments Nos. 6, 7, 8 and 9, all of which deal with clause 11, be debated together and voted on together unless an honorable senator makes a request that they be dealt with separately. Amendment No. 10 will be put separately. Amendments Nos. 11 to15 are consequential on earlier amendments. If the earlier ones are not carried, 1 wish to put each of them in order to record the pattern of the Opposition’s approach to this measure. The Opposition will not be devoting very much time to amendments Nos. 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15 if our earlier proposals are negatived.
– It seems to me that Opposition amendment No. 2 is inseparable from amendments Nos. 6, 7, 8 and 9. My approach to those amendments will depend upon their connexion with each other. I request that the committee consider amendment No. 2 with amendments Nos. 6, 7, 8 and 9.
– I appreciate the honorable senator’s difficulty, which is similar to my own difficulty about amendments Nos. 1 and 2. Clause 6 is the definitions clause. If we deal with that clause we must embark upon the substantive clauses that follow. It seems to me that the convenient thing to do is to postpone consideration of clause 6.
– That course is acceptable to the Government.
Clauses 1 to 5 agreed to.
Clause 6 (Definitions).
– I move -
That consideration of the clause be postponed until after consideration of clause 11.
I do so for the reason that there are two difficulties. It is not worthwhile to discuss the definitions except in their context. I think, therefore, that we should proceed to the clauses of substance and come back to clause 6 later. By that time, we may find that there is no need to debate it.
– We have no objection to that procedure being adopted.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Clauses 7 and 8 agreed to.
Clause 9. (1.) The board shall consist of eleven members, namely: -
– by leave - I move -
Leave out “ eleven “, insert “ twelve “.
At the end of sub-clause (1.) add the following paragraph: - “ (e) one member to represent employees engaged in the wool industry.”.
The clause provides that the board shall consist of eleven members. My first amendment proposes that the word “ eleven “ should be changed to “ twelve “. The explanation of that appears in amendment No. 4, which proposes to insert a new paragraph (e) to provide for the appointment of one member to represent employees engaged in the wool industry. If an addition is made to the membership of the board, the new member will be one to represent the employees. It will be noted that the amendment does not suggest a method of election.
If that amendment is carried, I shall move a consequential amendment to clause 89, the regulation-making provision, which would be expressed in something like the following terms -
Without limiting the generality of clause 89 as it stands, the regulations may prescribe matters incidental to such an election or selection.
At the second-reading stage, I addressed an argument to the Senate on this subject. I state it very briefly indeed when I say that the Opposition is strongly of the view that, if it is desired to have comprehensive management of this industry, there ought to be representation of the employees. The industry will not succeed if only the proprietors are represented on the board. The proprietors are bound up in the industry with the employees. If the employees were represented by one member on the board, that would be a relatively token representation, but it would be of vast importance to them. They have much to contribute to the industry. They live where the wool is grown, where it is handled and where it is shipped. This is a principle which the Opposition strongly favours. I should be surprised if anybody could find it in his heart to contend against the principle that those engaged in an industry of this kind should not have at least one representative through whom their thoughts might flow for the good of the industry. When all is said and done, the employees have as big a stake in the industry as have the proprietors and the employers. I strongly commend to the committee those two amendments which are designed to achieve the one purpose.
.- I shall be brief on this matter, as the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) has been. The amendments are not acceptable to the Government for two very good reasons. We do not reject them because we are opposed to the principle involved in them. Far from it, There are other reasons which we must take into serious consideration. I said earlier in the evening that the Government had set out to allow the industry, as far as was humanly possible, itself to set up the structure under which this organization would function. To accept these amendments would throw completely out of balance all the points that have been made so carefully in the negotiations with the Government. When I inform the honorable senator that the work of the Australian Wool Board will consist mainly of wool promotion, the recommendation of expenditure on wool research, the investigation of wool marketing and the testing of wool and wool products, I think he will concede that that work lies largely outside the field of industrial activities with which trade unions are concerned. I think one would be hard put to it to justify in general terms the inclusion of an industrial representative on this board. For those reasons, the amendments are not acceptable to the Government.
– Following the example of brevity, may I say to the Minister that he has affirmed the principle for which I have contended on behalf of the Opposition. Let me test the strength of the Government’s adherence to the principle. Did it in fact put that to the wool-grower organizations in the discussions that preceded this bill? If it did, what was the reaction of the organizations?
– I can give the honorable senator an assurance that this proposal was discussed with the industry, and its recommendation was that the board be constituted as set out in the legislation.
– Following the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) and the Minister for Health I wish to add my thoughts to the debate. I believe it is essential in the interests of the industry that we should have complete harmony within it. As a great number of people in the industry are employees, some consideration should be given by the industry to the incorporation of employees on the Australian Wool Board.
Recently, I was in Lima, Peru, when a trade delegation representing the Canadian timber industry was there to promote the sale of Canadian timber. The delegation included a representative of the timber workers union as well as representatives of the industry. The union representative was one of the most outspoken members of the delegation in trying to promote the sale of timber. If we gave employees of the industry representation on the board, they might wish to keep the industry alive in their own interests and might donate something from their salaries to help promote the sale of wool. They could strike a levy or agree to a levy with other members of the board and give, say 10 per cent. or 5 per cent. of their salaries towards the promotion of wool throughout the world so that they as well as the producers would get a higher standard of living.
– I wonder how stupid certain people can be. I have just listened to a speech that belittles this institution more than anything I have heard in the nine years I have been a member of the Senate. Is it the Government’s intention through some of its back-bench members to keep us here at this time to make the Senate a laughing stock? We have had discussions and I am one to keep a bargain to which I am a party, but if the Government allows that sort of thing to go on just to ridicule the workers in this industry, let us have boots and all from now on.
Question put -
That the amendments (Senator McKenna’s) be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Senator K. M. Anderson.)
Majority . . 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Motion (by Senator Wright) agreed to -
That further consideration of the clause be postponed until after consideration of clause 11
Clause 10. (1.) The Chairman shall be appointed upon the nomination of the Board. (2.) The last preceding sub-section does not apply to the appointment of the first Chairman or an appointment to fill a vacancy in the office of Chairman that occurs before the expiration of the period of appointment of the first Chairman, but the Minister shall, before making any such appointment, consult with the Australian Wool Industry Conference with respect to the appointment.
– I move -
Leave out sub-clause (2.).
Clause 9 provides that the actual appointment will be made by the Minister, although the board will make the nomination. Our objection is to the intervention of the Australian Wool Industry Conference at all. This is the first time that it makes its appearance, and the purpose of the amendment is to record a protest against the establishment of a conference in the scheme of this bill. Other amendments are directed to the same purpose. We object to the appearance of the conference, constituted as it is, not representing the whole of the wool-growers. We heard the argument that the two main bodies have agreed. The backing that they have from individual wool-growers is open to question. How has their opinion been expressed? Is it a case of the leaders leading bodies? Who can speak for the mind of some 60,000 woolgrowers whom those two main bodies that constitute the conference represent?
There is only one way to test their mind, and that is to have a poll, for which we contend in relation to clause 11. For the reasons that I have given, as well as those that have been expressed by one Government senator, whose arguments I support, we shall vote against the inclusion of subclause (2.).
– It would follow, in the logic that has been put to us by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) that this clause, too, should be postponed until we decide the substance of clause 11, because the Opposition’s object there is to displace the conference by an election. I submit that it would be more orderly if this clause were postponed.
– I am happy to do that.
– It would save time.
Further consideration of clause postponed until after consideration of clause 11.
Clause 11. (1.) Each member to represent Australian wool growers shall be appointed upon the nomination of the Australian Wool Industry Conference. (2.) Of the six members to represent Australian wool growers first appointed -
– by leave - I move -
In sub-clause (1.), leave out all words after “ appointed “, insert “ by Australian woolgrowers after a poll of such woolgrowers to be conducted by the Chief Electoral Officer of the Commonwealth “.
After sub-clause (1.) insert the following subclause: - “ (1 a.) A candidate for election as a member of the Board to represent Australian woolgrowers shall not be eligible for appointment to the Board unless he -
is a member of a woolgrowers organization which, at the date of close of nominations for the election of a member of the Board, includes in its membership not less than one thousand woolgrowers; and
is nominated by at least twenty woolgrowers who are members of a woolgrowers organization as defined by paragraph (a) of this sub-section.”. In sub-clause (2.), leave out paragraphs (a), (b) and (c), insert the following paragraphs: - “ (a) three shall be nominated for appointment, and shall be appointed, for two years; and
three shall be nominated for appointment, and shall be appointed, for four years.”.
In sub-clause (3.), leave out “ three “, insert “ four “.
I suggest that these amendments be debated together and voted upon together unless any Senator desires a separate vote on any one of them.
(Senator Anderson). - There being no objection, that course will be followed.
– This clause deals with the very important body known as the Australian Wool Industry Conference, a non-statutory body that is projected into this scheme to perform vastly important functions which are mainly advisory. Its great power is that at least nine members of the board cannot reach there until they are screened by this body. Our objection is that the body is not truly representative of the whole field. The four amendments I have moved are difficult to deal with in isolation. Perhaps the easiest way in which I can put the argument for them would be if the committee had regard to clause 11 and I read it as amended by the four amendments. It would then read -
– (1.) Each member to represent Australian woolgrowers shall be appointed by Australian woolgrowers after a poll of such woolgrowers to be conducted by the Chief Electoral’ Officer of the Commonwealth. (1a.) A candidate for election as a member of the Board to represent Australian woolgrowers shall not be eligible for appointment to the Board unless he -
The proposed amendments acknowledge the principle of rotation of board members and, in the early stages, of varying the terms for which they are appointed. They provide for a poll as a condition precedent to the appointment of members of the board, those to be elected by the wool-growers. It could be said that the situation is urgent and that one cannot wait for a poll of wool-growers on the point. It might be said that expense is involved. I remind the committee that the Minister said, “ Here is a proud industry thatdoes not want any money and has not asked for any money “.
– I did not say that it did not want it. I said that it had not asked for it.
– Perhaps that is a correction that I should accept. I thought the Minister expressed with some pride the fact that it had never taken any.
– It has never asked for any.
– The industry would take it if it were offered. Is that what the Minister is telling me?
– I am not saying that at all.
– I cannot catch him.
– What about the delay?
– This has gone on under the nose of this Government for every day on which it has been a government: lack of unity in the industry, a need to do something about it, and a need to face up to the real problem of the industry, namely, the question of organized marketing. If we have waited thirteen years for the Government to move in a position that has been as acute all down the years as it is to-day, we can wait a matter of a few months, or whatever period is involved, just a little longer, to do the right thing and give a say to the wool-growers of the country, instead of selecting the leaders of a section of them and putting the vast power to elect six members in their hands. That is our objection. We discard any argument on the question of delay. It is entirely without merit when one looks at the history of the matter.
I hope that the committee will consider the amendments and give the wool-growers themselves the opportunity to cast their votes in this manner. Instead of postponing, we would go directly to the heart of the matter, to clear this industry of the competition, argument and disorder that, we are told on all sides, has plagued it for many years. The surest way of curing that is to put this power of election immediately in the hands of the wool-growers. Then you would not have the contention between the leaders of the organizations. The sooner that is done the better. You can bypass all that vested interest which has all the power and prestige fiat goes with leadership of these great organizations. Probably most of the trouble in that area comes from the top. Once you get men selected by the growers themselves the growers will give these men their loyalty. I should think that the cleanest, quickest way to get rid of the obstructions that are encountered would be to accept the proposal of the Opposition.
The rest of the principles in the amendment are in accord with what the Government proposes. It will be noticed that we propose that a candidate for election should be a member of an organization. There is a reason for that kind of proposal and for the requirement that a candidate must be nominated by twenty members of his organization or of similar organizations. In an Australia-wide poll on this matter there could be a vast field of candidates. There could be irresponsible candidates who would clutter up the ballot-paper, and the Opposition’s thinking is that a candidate ought to belong to some organization if he deems himself worthy to represent his fellows. Heaven knows, there are plenty of organizations available in this industry of which candidates could be members, and if a man is public-spirited he would certainly belong to one of the organizations. There would also be the odd candidate who was publicity-minded, to put it mildly, who thought that he would get a grand cheap advertisement out of nominating as a candidate. If there are enough of such people you will get a ballot-paper infinitely more confusing than the ballot-paper at Senate elections sometimes is. We seek to insert this provision for that reason. These are the reasons for amending the clause to produce the result that I have read to the committee.
– The amendment is not acceptable to the Government. Having said that, I go further and say that the principle involved is clearly one that few people could quarrel with. There are very good and valid reasons why at this time the amendment cannot be accepted. The Leader of the Opposition has said that there is a degree of urgency in this matter. There is an even greater degree of urgency than he would acknowledge, because it is the desire of the industry to see this legislation implemented and functioning prior to the next selling season. When I remind honorable senators that this sort of problem would have to be solved between now and then, they will see that the magnitude of the task is so great that acceptance of the amendment would dislocate all the proposals. Who is going to decide who shall vote and what their voting strength shall be? Who is going to say whether the grower shall be entitled to one vote if he produces 10 bales of wool a year or whether he will have one vote only if he produces 100 bales a year? To throw this provision into the arena when efforts are being made to obtain unity on all fronts would be to do a great disservice to the industry. Who is going to say how State representation will be based? It could well be that New South Wales, and to some extent Victoria, with large numbers of growers could completely dominate the poll, Tasmania would not have a look in, nor would Western Australia with its small population. It could well be that the organization with the most powerful financial backing could win the day. On the other hand, the organization which had the greatest number of members, although its members might not produce even 50 per cent, of the wool, could dominate the poll.
I want to impress very clearly on the Senate that, when we are moving towards the unity we have been seeking for so long, to force a ballot on the growers - because they have sought to avoid a ballot at this time - would start up sectional war in the industry which, I predict, would completely destroy the result of the efforts that have been made. Would you have a compulsory poll, or a voluntary poll in which perhaps only 50 per cent, of the growers might take part? Would that be a democratic solution of the problem? I suggest that Senator Drake-Brockman made a worthwhile contribution to the debate on this issue and other issues when he pleaded for the legislation to be given a trial so that remedial action could be taken later in respect of any weaknesses that appear.
I know the genuine concern in the minds of some honorable senators on this issue. I should like to say deliberately, on behalf of the Government, that once the marketing committee has recommended a scheme which would result in the Australian Wool Board becoming a marketing board, the Government, as in the case of other market. ing boards, such as that in the wheat industry, would be prepared to have producer members elected. Because of the desire of the industry to proceed along the lines provided for in the legislation, and because of the degree of urgency to have this scheme functioning before the next selling season, I appeal to the Senate with all sincerity of which I am capable to reject the amendment and to support the legislation as it stands.
– I wished not to be heard too much on this matter, but it is a matter of great importance, and whatever the hour I feel bound to put my point of view. I am indebted to the Minister for the acknowledgment that he is sensitive that there is a feeling in favour of producer elections. I feel that he could have gone further in his statement to the Senate that when the board proceeds so far as to evolve a marketing plan the Government would be prepared - I think he said - to submit the matter to a poll. I thought that the Minister’s second-reading speech contained a definite assurance that at that stage nothing other than a poll would be the means of adopting or rejecting the proposal. I recall that passage in the second-reading speech and I invoke it with pleasure, because it is a plain acknowledgment that that is the proper way by which an industry should be organized, whether for promotion of marketing or whether for the actual executive function of marketing. Therefore I am bound to say that for reasons that I did not lightly consider, and which I expressed in my speech on the motion for the second-reading, the principle of producer election is to my mind incontestable. I am not speaking merely academically, because I have ‘had the advantage of close consultations with the three sections of tha industry that have been referred to to-night. I am also speaking out of my own judgment of the practical viewpoint that is entertained by a great many responsible growers.
As I explained in my second-reading speech, there were three reasons why the Philp committee rejected the idea of a general poll of the growers. The first was the expense involved. I do not think it is a great tribute to that committee that that should be referred to. I do not know whether the Minister can tell me what the expenses of the poll were in 1951. I do not see why a producer poll on this occasion should be any more expensive than on that one. Dear, oh, dear, the issues involved in this matter are much more important to the nation and the industry than were the issues in 1951.
I am not prepared to form a final opinion on, and I am not prepared to accept straight out the proposal involved in, amendment No. 6, in view of the qualifications of the grower vote. As I suggested earlier in the committee stage, these amendments are inseparable from the proposed qualifications to be introduced by amendment No. 2.; that is to say, that any wool-grower who produces not less than ten bales a season shall be a grower. My view in this matter is that there should be a weighted vote, giving value according to the quantity of production. This is a difficult .matter, as the Philp committee said, and one which I am not prepared, and would not be prepared without very close consultation with the various units in the industry, to resolve. In my mind that is the determining consideration as to why the proposal involved in Senator McKenna’s amendment should be rejected.
Of subsidiary importance is the matter involved in amendment No. 7; that is to say, the eligibility of a candidate for election. I have heard no discussion on whether a candidate must be a member of a voluntary association in the industry. I am disposed to think that he should be, but I am not firm in that thought. I am also disposed to think that 1,000 members is a sufficient qualification for an organization; but on the other hand there would be people who would contend that the Farmers Federation should be excluded on that criterion. Thirdly, Mr. Temporary Chairman, I am not satisfied that we should accept twenty wool-growers as the number for the purposes of nomination. Because of those details, I believe that the proposal involved in the amendments should not be accepted.
– I am obliged to the Minister for what he said, but I believe that his argument might have been addressed equally as well to the proposition that we should never have a poll of wool-growers.
He said that if one were to raise the question at this stage one would stir up a sectional war. That confirms the very statement that I have made all along. Surely, in a situation like ‘that, it is the responsibility of a government to step in and resolve the matter. One of the troubles in this industry is the Government’s failure to step in. We cannot let the seeds of war germinate without doing something about the problem.
I ask the Minister what would be the estimate that he would make, perhaps after consulting his officers, of the time it would take to prepare for a poll if a start were made now. I invite him to tell me whether it could be done in six months.
– 1 do not think it could be.
– I would be very happy if the Minister were in a position to make an estimate.
– My officers say about six months.
– So we are considering a delay of only six months. Is there something vital and critical, considering the sectional war, which will arise if we say a word on this subject and which could not be cured by the Government by having a poll forthwith? We will have some kind of sectional war for six months, but the moment we let the wool-growers elect their representatives direct we will have very largely ended the war. As we say, the casus belli will have gone. That would be the best thing in the world for the current situation and the quickest way to resolve the differences. Instead of backing away from a sectional war, the Government should adopt attack as the best procedure and walk in and deal with the problem. The Government seems to be very reluctant to do that.
The Minister asked me a number of questions as to how eligibility would be determined, what would be the weighted vote, and so on. I point out ‘that, if this amendment is carried, I have a clause drafted, providing that those matters would be dealt with by regulation. That would invite the Government to accept its proper responsibility, knowing in advance that it will never get agreement between all the contending forces in the industry.
.-I shall reply to Senator Wright and Senator McKenna. Senator Wright asked for the cost of the ballot in 1951. My officers cannot advise me on that matter. I will find out the cost for the honorable senator and advise him. I make this point: In relation to a ballot the Government expense does not enter into the Government’s consideration at all. As I said earlier to-night, we are endeavouring to set down in legislation the considered opinions and desires of the industry. That is why we are not accepting this amendment.
It is true that my officers say that the actual machinery for a poll could be accomplished in six months. But before a poll could be contemplated so many matters of such a highly contentious nature would have to be resolved that at this point of time -I emphasize those words - in the history of these negotiations and the progress that has been made towards a common goal, that could well set the legislation back not months but years.
Question put -
That the amendments (Senator McKenna’s) be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Senator K. M. Anderson.)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
– This is an appropriate time for me to submit my amendment to clause 11. The amendment was circulated first in a somewhat abbreviated form. I refer to that form of the amendment to indicate that my purpose is to provide that the six members to represent the Australian wool-growers first appointed shall hold office until 30th June, 1964. That will give the Government, not six months, but eighteen months, within which to make arrangements for a poll. That is, after 30th June, 1964, the six members to represent the Australian wool-growers shall be elected by wool-growers in accordance with the regulations.
The expanded amendment that the Parliamentary Draftsman has obligingly produced for me is to the same effect. I move -
Leave out clause 11 with a view to inserting in lieu thereof the following clause: - “11. - (1.) The six members to represent Australian wool growers first appointed shall be appointed upon the nomination of the Australian Wool Industry Conference for a period ending on the thirtieth day of June, One thousand nine hundred and sixty-four. “ (2.) If a vacancy occurs in the office of a member representing Australian wool growers before the thirtieth day of June, One thousand nine hundred and sixty-four, the member appointed to fill the vacancy shall be appointed upon the nomination of the Australian Wool Industry Conference. “ (3.) The members appointed to represent Australian wool growers, other than a member in relation to whose appointment sub-section (1.), (2.) or (5.) of this section applies, shall be persons elected, in accordance with the regulations, by Australian woolgrowers, and a member appointed after being so elected shall be appointed for six years. “(4.) Notwithstanding the last preceding subsection, of the six members to represent Australian wool growers appointed to hold office on and after the first day of July, One thousand nine hundred and sixty-four, three of those members determined by the Minister in accordance with the regulations shall be appointed for three years. “ (5.) If a member representing Australian wool growers, being a member appointed to hold office for a period commencing after the thirtieth day of June, One thousand nine hundred and sixty-four, ceases to hold office before the expiration of his period of appointment, the Minister shall, before appointing another person in his place, consult with the Board.”.
The operative clause provides that after 1964 the six members on the board to represent Australian wool-growers shall be elected by wool-growers in accordance with the regulations. I have adopted that pattern, providing for all problems involved in the election to be decided by regulation. I have followed the New Zealand Wool Board Act 1944, and also the provisions that we made for a ballot of wool-growers in 1951 in relation to the base floor reserve price plan, the regulations providing for a ballot under the Wheat Industry Stabilization Act and a poll of producers in connexion with various export marketing boards. I recited them in my second-reading speech. I do not wish to repeat what I said then in respect of the principle of election.
All that the Minister said in relation to the last amendment confirms, I submit, the fact that an election complies with the proper principles, and is the proper method by which to construct this board. The Minister cannot plead that my amendment, if adopted, would cause any delay in the implementation of the central authority. The amendment that I have advanced enables the Minister to proceed according to his own plans, and according to the provisions of the bill for the next eighteen months. That gives him three times the period that he himself has said would be required to conduct an election. In view of all that it seems to me that the principle and the details of this amendment should meet with no objection whatever.
The amendment avoids, too, the difficulty of qualifications for voting. That is a matter that can be discussed in detail and resolved after deliberation before the regulations are promulgated. Upon that basis I submit that there is every opportunity provided for the Government to maintain that degree of consultation with the industry which the Minister in charge of the bill insists upon.
I therefore urge the Minister not to think, because one speaks from an isolated part of the country, not as an active woolgrower, and not merely as an academic person, that he should not give some consideration to this amendment. I ask him, as a Minister who has some maturity in these matters, to give consideration to a properly reasoned submission. Unless there is a proper case against the amendment, I ask the member to accept it. It is a tribute to the maturity of the political experience of a Minister in charge of a bill if he makes himself available for the acceptance of ideas that come to him from the floor of the chamber. If he wishes this bill to be implemented on a proper basis I have shown that this amendment will accommodate him. On that basis, I would ask him not to oppose practical experience to academic argument, but to give sound reasons why the amendment should not be accepted.
– Even at the risk of being accused of still wallowing in political immaturity, I can state cogent reasons why Senator Wright’s amendment should not be accepted. All sections have expressed a desire for unity. There are signs that it will be attained. If it is attained, as we hope it will be, are we to foist upon the growers a method of constituting their conference from which there is no outlet at all? Is it suggested that we tell them they have to accept the proposal submitted by Senator Wright? I do not think we would do the industry a service if we did that.
I do not propose to traverse all the points I made when Senator McKenna proposed his amendment, which was on somewhat similar lines, but I do want to make one other point at this stage and at this hour of the morning, and in doing so I have no desire to be provocative. When I read in Senator Wright’s proposal the suggestion that representatives shall be elected in accordance with regulations, I was amazed. Senator Wright, who has spoken more words in this chamber than any other senator about the dangers of regulations is now suggesting that the representatives be elected in accordance with regulations! Only this week we saw evidence of the impact his opposition to regulations had made upon his colleagues and, what is of more importance, upon Ministers. Yet he proposes an amendment suggesting regulations that can be so widespread, so embracing and so powerful in their effect that the industry would rise up and condemn them! I need not say any more. I cannot accept the amendment.
– I think the Minister is now in the position where he cannot allege delay with regard to this matter. We have been told that it would take six months to conduct a poll. Senator Wright’s suggestion proposes a period of eighteen months. So there is no rushing, and one cannot help but feel that if the Minister rejects that principle the Government does not really want a poll of woolgrowers at all and is afraid to grasp the nettle that exists in this industry.
I think the point with regard to regulations might be well taken by the Minister in connexion with paragraph (3.) of the proposed amendment, but that is very easily cured. On behalf of the Opposition, I would suggest to Senator Wright that the Opposition would be prepared to accept and support his draft if he would agree to a variation of paragraph (3.) of the amendment that he proposes. I suggest that he might think fit to amend it by deleting the words, “ in accordance with the regulations, by Australian wool-growers “ and to replace them with the words “ at a poll of woolgrowers conducted by the Chief Electoral Officer in accordance with the regulations.”
The paragraph, as amended, would read -
The members appointed to represent Australian wool-growers, other than a member in relation to whose appointment sub-section (1.), (2.) or (5.) of this section applies, shall be persons elected at a poll of wool-growers conducted by the Chief Electoral Officer in accordance with the regulations.
– I ask for leave to amend my amendment in the terms suggested by Senator McKenna.
– I suggest that that at least cures one of the difficulties I saw in the original draft. If the matter were left to regulations it would be possible to provide that a certain number ought to be elected by the council, a certain number by the federation and some by the Australian Primary Producers Union. In providing that it has to be done by a poll of wool-growers we are providing that it must be done by an Australia-wide poll, and there is some definition about that. The Opposition will be happy to support the proposal in its amended form.
.- If I understood Senator McKenna correctly, he implied, if he did not actually say so, that the Government does not want a poll of growers.
– I said it looked like that if you resist our proposals on the ground of the delay involved.
– I will accept the actual words you used. I want to repeat the undertaking I gave earlier in connexion with this matter. I want to make it clear to honorable senators that this Government is not opposed in principle to a poll of wool-growers. Once the marketing committee has recommended a scheme which would result in the Australian Wool Board becoming a marketing board, then, as was the case with other marketing organizations, such as the Australian Wheat Board, the Government is prepared to agree that its members shall be elected. I emphasize that this Government is not opposed to that principle at all, but it realizes that the present is not the time for departing from the expressed wishes and submissions of the two major organizations that have come together at least to make a determined start to effect the much desired unification of a great and valuable industry.
, - I am very pleased to hear the Minister’s assurance with regard to the taking of a poll once the marketing board is established. I might say that I was very attracted to Senator Wright’s proposal because I agree with the principle that the growers in any industry should have the right to elect their representatives by a poll. By referring so capably to the number of organizations to which the primary producers elect their members Senator Wright has demonstrated quite clearly that the principle that he suggests we should adopt here has proved successful in practice. I know that it has been a success in north Queensland and for that reason I was pleased to have the Minister’s assurance that the Government has it in mind to agree to the election of members once the marketing board is established.
One other point emerges from Senator Wright’s remarks. He referred to those wool-growers who are not members of the two major organizations interested here. Do I take it that the Government has it in mind that some method will be evolved whereby every wool-grower, irrespective of whether he is a member of the two major organizations, will have an opportunity of taking part in the poll when the marketing board is established?
– That very ready answer given by the Minister does not quite provide the solution to the dilemma because I am sure that he will not deny that so long as the present Australian Wool Board operates, and until the marketing committee evolves a marketing system to take the place of the present system, the growers outside the council and the federation will have no representation whatever, on the marketing board or the marketing committee. Certainly no undertaking that they will have representation before that time has yet been given. I point out that the deliberations of the marketing committee might take five or ten years, and during the whole of that time the wool-growers outside the council and the federation would be disfranchised and excluded from having a voice in the control of the industry. The very reason for this bill is that the efforts of the Australian Wool Bureau to find a proper marketing system have been ineffectual. The Philp committee failed to provide what now seems to be an urgent necessity.
– You are now going against your previous statements.
– No, I am not. I am emphasizing the failures of the last ten years and am addressing myself to those members of the committee who want to fulfil the purpose of this bill, which is to give to the wool industry a central organization that will get cracking on a proper basis, instead of being stalemated by old, rancid hostilities and prejudices. I am addressing myself to what I think is a legitimate concern for representation of growers outside the council and the federation. Until the board, which is predominantly controlled by those organizations and wholly controlled by them so far as representation of the growers is concerned, evolves a system of marketing, no election will be undertaken in which growers who are outside the council and the federation can participate. I think there are honorable senators in the chamber who would be interested to know whether the Minister is prepared to undertake that a poll will be conducted within a limited time, say, within two years. I am not fussy about a year or so, having regard to the tardiness experienced by this industry. If we can achieve effectual unity during my stay in this Parliament, which I think will be more than two years, I shall be satisfied. I should like the Minister to address himself to that matter.
The Minister made a remark with regard to provocativeness. I did not know whether he was disclaiming it or espousing it.
– He was disclaiming it.
– Then I shall come down one key and follow the Minister into the basement. He referred’ to my concern for regulations. I am gratified to think that he attributes to me a persistent concern to prevent the growth of subordinate legislation in inappropriate cases. I made it abundantly clear to the thoughtful, during my speech at the second-reading stage, that I had adopted this formula, to give the Government a primary opportunity, in consultation with the industry, to evolve ways and means of arranging the election, and to renounce the presumption that I could solve the problem alone, having regard to the fact that the Philp committee had pronounced it to be a pretty difficult one. The second point that I hope I made clear was that my suggestion would give the Government the right immediately to put this legislation into effect, since it has been insisting that it is important to do so. The Minister has made a derogatory comment on my concern to see that regulations are used only when it is proper to do so. I am proud of that concern.
I pointed out at the second-reading stage that the formula I have mentioned is the very one that is used in New Zealand and which was used by the Menzies Government in 1951. It is the formula for a producers’ ballot that has been adopted in every export control bill that has been passed during the life of this Parliament.
– It is a different proposition altogether. It is a single proposition, as against electing six people distributed all over Australia. There is no similarity at all.
-I am anxious that that interjection should be fully considered. I should think that, upon consideration, it would be found to contain not the slightest weight. It seems to me that a poll is much more appropriate to the election of the board, than it is to decide acceptance or rejection of a reserve price plan. When we are creating an export control board and evolving regulations for that purpose, the parallel is complete.
The fact that the Minister has accepted the principle that a referendum should be held to decide whether or not a marketing scheme should be accepted, involves him unmistakably in acceptance of the principle that a poll should be conducted in the creation of a board which is to have such wide powers in this industry.
– (It seems that I am in the peculiar position of being able to decide whether this measure is passed or not. Having listened to the speeches of honorable senators, and having read the opinions of others who have expressed views on the matter, it seems that all organizations concerned with the wool industry want this measure to be passed, whether they are for it or against it in certain aspects. I appreciate the sentiments and also the logic of Senator Wright’s speeches, but I think there is one factor which must be considered in relation to this bill. For the first time, we have two warring sections in the wool industry deciding that they will work together. That is a very important matter for the industry. We should do all that we possibly can to keep them together. They should not be given the opportunity to fight one another again, as they did over the years. As I. have said, my vote may decide this issue. I cannot take the responsibility of destroying the bill.
– Senator Wright suggested that a marketing board might not be set up for five or ten years. To adopt such a negative approach to the objectives for which we are striving is not to adopt the right approach.
– What are the objectives for which we are striving?
– We are striving for unity. Of course, I cannot give an undertaking that a marketing board will be set up in five years. However, events are moving pretty swiftly in the wool industry to-day, and it would be a brave man who would forecast what the next move will be.
Question put -
That the amendment (Senator Wright’s) be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Senator K. M. Anderson.)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Postponed clause 6.
In this Act, unless the contrary intention appears - “ the Australian Wool Industry Conference “ or “ the Conference “ means the organization known as the Australian Wool Industry Conference which was formed on the twenty-fourth day of October. One thousand nine hundred and sixty-two;
– by leave - I move -
Leave out the definition of “ the Australian Wool Industry Conference “ or “ the Conference “.
After the definition of “ wool “, insert the following definition: - “ ‘ woolgrower ‘ means a person who produces in Australia not less than ten bales of wool in the respective growing seasons to which this Act applies;”.
This clause deals with the Australian Wool Industry Conference and we propose to insert a new definition of a wool-grower. Both amendments are irrelevant now as clause 11 has been agreed to as printed. The Opposition’s amendment was defeated and I formally move the amendments I have circulated.
– The amendments are not acceptable to the Government.
Clause agreed to.
Postponed clause 9 agreed to.
Postponed clause 10. (1.) The Chairman shall be appointed upon the nomination of the Board. (2.) The last preceding sub-section does not apply to the appointment of the first Chairman or an appointment to fill a vacancy in the office of Chairman that occurs before the expiration of the period of appointment of the first Chairman, but the Minister shall, before making any such appointment, consult with the Australian Wool Industry Conference with respect to the appointment
– This clause, consideration of which was postponed, contains a reference to the Australian Wool Industry Conference. Merely as an indication of the Opposition’s attitude I move -
Leave out sub-clause (2.)
– The amendment is not acceptable to the Government.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 12 agreed to.
Clause 13. (1.) This section applies to the members referred to in paragraph (d) of sub-section (1.) of section nine of this Act. (2.) The members to whom this section applies shall be appointed -
Senator McKENNA (Tasmania - Leader of the Opposition [2.46 a.m.]. - I move -
Leave out sub-clauses (2.) and (3.).
This clause contains a reference to the Australian Wool Industry Conference and I formally move the amendment to record the Opposition’s attitude.
– The amendment is not acceptable to the Government.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 14 to 19 agreed to.
Clause 20. (l.) The Minister may remove a member from office for inability or misbehaviour. (2.) If the Australian Wool Industry Conference requests the removal from office of a member representing Australian wool-growers, the Minister shall remove that member from office.
– I move -
Leave out sub-clause (2.).
This clause also contains reference to the Australian Wool Industry Conference and I formally move the amendment on behalf of the Opposition.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 21 to 23 agreed to.
Clause 24. (1.) The functions of the Board are -
– I move -
In sub-clause (1.) (b), leave out “Australian Wool Industry Conference”, insert “Minister”.
This clause is in the same category as those immediately preceding it and I formally move the amendment to register the Opposition’s attitude.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 25 to 34 agreed to.
The moneys of the Board may be applied - (a)…..
Amendment (by Senator McKenna) negatived -
Leave out paragraph (d).
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 36 to 85 agreed to.
The Board shall, as soon as practicable after a report furnished to the Minister by the Board under section eighty-four of this Act has been laid before both Houses of the Parliament, afford the Australian Wool Industry Conference an opportunity of consulting with the members of the Board for the purpose of discussing the activities of the Board.
– I move -
Leave out “Australian Wool Industry Conference”, insert “several wool-growers organizations as defined by paragraph (a) of sub-section (1a.) of section eleven of this Act”.
Since the committee has agreed to clause 11, the amendment is irrelevant, but I move it as a part of the pattern to record the Opposition’s attitude.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 87 (Board may provide Conference with clerical assistance).
– I move -
Leave out the clause.
Hoping to eliminate all reference to the conference, we naturally objected to the provision of clerical assistance for a body that we hoped would be non-existent. I have proposed this amendment merely to complete the record of the whole scheme that the Opposition intended to formulate by way of amending the bill.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 88 and 89 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 2.52 to 3.2 a.m.
– I ask for leave to incorporate in “ Hansard “ a statement made in another place by the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) relating to Britain’s Common Market negotiations.
The purpose of my statement to-day is to inform the House, before it goes into recess, of the present position in Britain’s negotiations for possible accession to the European Economic Community.
These negotiations which had been adjourned on 5th August were resumed in October following the Meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers.
The position reached in August and the discussions thereon by the Commonwealth Prime Ministers were described in the statements which the Prime Minister and I made in Parliament in October.
At that time - to summarize the position - very few items of interest to Australia had been negotiated by Britain with The Six, though they had of course been extensively discussed between Australia and Britain.
It had been provisionally agreed between Britain and the E.E.C. that Commonwealth preferences on “ hard “ manufactures would be phased out and disappear by 1970. Imports of these products from Australia into Britain would then be dutiable at the rates laid down in the Common External Tariff.
Certain broad understandings had been reached about international trade in temperate foodstuffs.
First, Britain and The She, at the time of Britain’s accession,, would declare their intention to call as soon as possible an international conference to endeavour to negotiate world wide agreements for wheat and other grains, meat and dairy products and sugar.
Secondly, there would be a declaration by the enlarged Community expressing its intention to pursue in respect of its own agricultural production “ a reasonable “ price policy. This policy - and I quote - “would offer reasonable: opportunities in its markets for exports of temperate agricultural products”.
Since the resumption of the negotiations,, discussions have continued on the whole range of issues involved. Little progress has been made. lt now seems that the negotiations will continue for at least some time in 1963.
There are, of course, other major questions- to be settled besides the- complex of trade issues affecting various members, of the Commonwealth. There is the question of the adoption of the British system of agricultural protection, based on a policy of cheap food imports and deficiency payments to ils producers,, to the Continental system.
The Continental system, as. it has been applied in individual members’ of the E.E.C. and as it willi be applied under the E-E.Cs Common. AgrAcultural! Policy, would make subsidies to United Kingdom domestic producers no longer necessary or permissible because duties and levies wilt be used, in place of subsidies to- raise internal market prices to- levels high enough to. be considered profitable to- producers, in. the enlarged Common Market.
This change in Britain from Low prices phis subsidies to high prices protected, by tariffs and variable levies: would be the most fundamental change in British trade policy since her abolition of the Corn Laws, more than. 100 years, ago.
To cushion this change, Britain has proposed te The Six that deficiency payments to farmers in Britain should be phased out during a transition period of several years.. Thus, the change to- the Common. Market’s Common-. Agricultural Policy with its system of variable levies, sluice gate prices, etc. would be more gradual. If this were not so, a sudden increase in the price of many basic commodities would be inevitable’. The consequential impact on the British economy and the cost of living of such a sudden and dramatic change could indeed be serious and an embarrassment to the British. Government.
For example, it has been calculated that if deficiency payments had’ to be suddenly abolished, the market price of English wheat would have to be increased by about one-third over the average level of the past couple of years in order to provide the producer with a return equal to the present British guaranteed price. Similar calculations for fat cattle and fat sheep indicate increases of about 25 per cent, and 40 per cent., respectively. These calculations assume that production grants could still be made by the British Exchequer.
I emphasise that these calculations refer to the extent of the immediate increases in British market prices that would have to be brought about - presumably by levies on imports - to ensure that the present guaranteed prices to British producers were made effective. No one yet knows the levels to which British market prices would have to move to harmonise with prices in an enlarged Common Market at the full Common Market stage.
The necessity for Britain’s request - to be able to move slowly from her low food price policy to a high food price policy is obvious - though apparently not yet to The Six.
The Six have made the counter-proposal that. Britain should abandon its present support system and adopt theirs immediately upon entry into an enlarged Common Market. The Six are concerned to see that British farmers are not placed in a more favourable position than those in. the European Economic Community countries and that the British economy does not get the benefit of having lower food prices than other members of the Community. The Six suggested that temporary consumer subsidies be introduced m Britain to off-set the abrupt effect of higher market and bence higher consumer prices. They have not indicated how these subsidies would operate.
Britain, understandably enough, is anxious to avoid any sharp rise in. consumer prices foi food. She has informed The Six that the proposal for consumer subsidies is not acceptable.
An important factor in the pace at which the negotiations in Brussels can be carried on is that The Six themselves must concurrently deal with a wide range of matters affecting the evolution of their Common Market. Moreover, the negotiations about safeguards for the treatment of Commonwealth trade in temperate foodstuffs have to take into account the stage reached by the Community in the development in its own agricultural policy.
The Community has within the past several months brought into effect regulations dealing with trade in cereals, eggs, poultry, pigmeats, wine and fruit and vegetables. These regulations have turned out to be no better from our point, of view than we had anticipated. They clearly represent a giant stride towards- a completely regulated market, insulated from reasonable competition from efficient and economic traditional exporters. The Community has, however, still to settle the regulations that will govern trade in such important products, as1 beef and veal, dairy products, and sugar. The prospects in regard to- these regulations seem no better, at this stage than I have indicated in the past.
It seems that the sugar regulations may not be completed before Britain makes her decision whether or not to join the Community. This, of course, is a matter of particular concern to us.
However, as I recently announced, Britain has agreed that the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement should be extended for a further year - that is up to the end of 1970 - so as continue to maintain it in operation for eight years ahead. I should also mention that Britain in its negotiations is adhering to the position that the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement should be continued, if Britain joins the Community, or be replaced by an arrangement giving equivalent benefits to sugar producers in the Commonwealth.
Before referring more particularly to the discussion of Australian trade interests in the recent negotiations, I will briefly mention some other issues that involve the trade interests of other members of the Commonwealth.
The question of association of British dependencies and certain Commonwealth countries with the European Economic Community has been the subject of further discussions between Britain and The Six.
It will be recalled that the Community has offered associate status to British dependencies and to the independent Commonwealth countries in Africa and the Caribbean. Nigeria, Ghana and Tanganyika have notified Britain that they have no wish to accept this offer. Britain is therefore discussing the position of alternative arrangements for these countries.
Britain has proposed, and The Six have agreed, that there could be trade agreements between these Commonwealth countries and the Community. The possible form and substance of such agreements and hence the degree of safeguard they would provide for the trade interests of the countries concerned has not apparently been discussed.
The European Economic Community has also agreed to leave open to these countries the opportunity to apply for association should they opt for it later on, and have agreed to a zero tariff on tropical hardwood timber, which is a major export item for Ghana and Nigeria.
In the context of the arrangements being made for other producers in the Commonwealth of tropical products, this Government is continuing to watch the interests of Papua/New Guinea. We are concerned that means should be found that would enable this Territory to market its exports on fair terms as compared with like exports from British dependencies that gain associate status.
Arrangements for India, Pakistan and Ceylon have also been under further discussion since the negotiations were resumed.
The Six had previously offered to negotiate comprehensive trade agreements with these countries by 1966 at the latest. In the meantime, transitional arrangements were envisaged that would involve the phasing out of preferences in the British market on products produced by these Commonwealth countries. This means that they would face a worsening of their terms of entry to Britain ahead of the completion of negotiations for the comprehensive trade agreements.
Since the resumption of negotiations, Britain has asked that the progressive application of the Common External Tariff to the trade of India, Pakistan and Ceylon should be suspended until the promised trade agreements are concluded. This request has been refused by the European Economic Community. It has, however, been agreed that negotiations for the trade agreements would begin within three months of Britain’s accession to the Community.
With regard to the problems affecting Canada, Australia and New Zealand, the provisional agreement regarding “ hard “ manufactures, to which I have already referred, still remains the only one which has been completed. This is the only sector of our trade where we have had clearly presented to us the situation we shall face after the end of the transitional period. That means 1970. it is true that some broad understandings, as I have mentioned, have been arrived at about trade in temperate agricultural foodstuffs. But in actual fact, all we have at present in regard to our major bulk foodstuff items is a possible framework within which solutions may or may not be found after the whole of our preferences had gone.
I shall say more in a few moments about the Government’s policy to obtain better international trading arrangements for primary products. (Before the Prime Minister’s Conference the European Economic Community had agreed that transitional arrangements would apply to the trade of Commonwealth countries in commodities for which there is a levy system under the Common ‘Agricultural Policy. On those cereals on which there is a preference in the British market (barley 10 per cent.) and oats (£3 per ton) but not wheat, the Commonwealth countries would benefit until the end of 1969 from a diminishing proportion of the preference that the members of an enlarged Community would extend to each other.
This diminishing preference over nonCommonwealth suppliers during the transition period would not be as valuable or as effective as our existing preferences. Our present form of preference would be lost to us as soon as Britain joined the European Economic Community.
As far as wheat is concerned all that The Six have offered by way of transitional arrangements is the general assurance that it would review in consultation with countries of the Commonwealth the application of the intra-Community preference if that preference caused a sudden and considerable alteration of trade patterns in the British market. This assurance is expected to apply to all products for which the Community would use a system of import levies.
The Community has not been prepared to give any undertaking as to what, if anything, it might do by way of remedial action in such circumstances.
It has not yet emerged from the negotiations what The Six may be prepared to do even by way of transitional arrangements - other than the general assurance I have just mentioned - for such important commodities as beef and veal, mutton and lamb, and dairy products. The British preference on our beef and veal is id. per lb for chilled, id. per lb. for frozen and 20 per cent, for boned and boneless. Canned beef and veal enjoys a preference of 20 per cent, as do beef extracts. Mutton and lamb do not receive a duty preference. For dairy products, our butter receives a preference of 15s. per cwt. whilst the preference on cheese is 10 per cent, for blue veined and IS per cent, for other.
If The Six apply variable levies on these produals - as has been proposed in the case of beef and veal and butter - our preferences, on the current proposals, would go and we would enjoy a temporary preference of a different type for a limited period of time.
As honorable senators will appreciate, Australia has a very large interest in the British market for mutton and Iamb and dairy products, but New Zealand has a greater interest at stake. Apart from wool, New Zealand’s export income depends almost entirely upon these products. The Six have recognized that New Zealand has a special problem but have not agreed on any solution.
In his statement in the House of Commons on 7th November, Mr. Heath, the chief British negotiator, stated that when the general arrangements for butter, cheese, mutton and lamb had been negotiated, it would then be possible to say what additional requirements were necessary to meet the special needs of New Zealand.
There is here the prospect that The Six may agree to arrangements for New Zealand products that would not apply to like products from Australia. We have made it clear to Britain that we would expect that there would be no discriminatory treatment as between Australia and New Zealand. Britain has assured us that her object is to avoid such differential treatment.
Up to the time of the Prime Ministers’ Conference, there had been no discussion at ministerial level during the Brussels negotiations about what arrangements might be made in respect of processed foodstuffs of interest to Australia and Canada and New Zealand.
In our case this category of items embraces such important commodities as canned and dried fruit. Only recently have the Ministers in Brussels got to grips with this sector of the negotiations. The Six have opposed the proposition of tariff preference quotas which was put forward by Britain in line with our own ideas of what would represent a reasonable solution consistent, as we saw it, with both the G.A.T.T. and the Rome Treaty.
Their opposition would appear to be based not on any legal grounds but merely on doctrinal dislike of preferences.
Their proposition is that all preferences should be phased out during the transitional period.
They are disposed to abolish or suspend the common external tariff on kangaroo meat, rabbits and fish liver oils.
This has been their response to Britain’s request for safeguards for our important interests in the category of foodstuff items subject to the common external tariff.
Before she commenced her negotiations Britain herself had made it crystal clear that safeguards would have to be found for our important trading interests before she would finally decide whether to join the Common Market.
There is, it has to be acknowledged, no prospect that Britain will be able to secure tariff preference quotas of indefinite duration over the whole range of our commodity interests. In fact, if The Six maintain their completely unyielding attitude towards preferences, even the preferences that are so crucial for such important items as canned and dried fruit would be whittled away within the space of a few years.
In arguing for the continuance of preferences we are opposed not only by The Six but by the United States. It has its doctrinal objection to preferences. It has also its own trade interests in products like canned and dried fruit.
However, despite our difference of opinion on the preference question, we have been able to enlist strong American support for action with The Six which would limit the degree of protection afforded in the Common Market to the production of certain items of critical importance to us and of importance also to the United States of America. These items embrace the major bulk foodstuffs, the major processed foodstuffs and certain raw materials.
The United States is now willing to put its negotiating strength behind getting worthwhile reductions in the common external tariff on a number of commodities of concern to us. I welcome this support. These matters were discussed by the Prime Minister and myself in Washington earlier this year and the United States support is the direct outcome of these discussions.
The forthrightness of American support is heavily evidenced by the clear and unequivocal statement recently made in Paris by Mr. Orville Freeman, the United States Secretary of Agriculture. This statement has been reported widely in the Australian Press. The attitude of the United States, coming as it does after those discussions is very heartening evidence of the improved prospects for a renewed and successful attack on the problems of trade in agricultural products and raw materials to which I have many times drawn attention in the House and overseas.
Another important part of the negotiations concerns the treatment of certain raw materials of interest to Commonwealth countries for which duties are at present provided in the common external tariff. Items of interest to Australia, as I have pointed out in previous statements, are lead and zinc metal and aluminium. There is still an impasse in Brussels. The British requested zero tariffs. The Six opposed this. It cannot be said at present how this impasse may be resolved. But here again American willingness to enter into negotiations for reductions in the common external tariff may prove of inestimable value.
In making this report to Parliament I cannot at this juncture offer any opinion as to when Britain will be able to conclude her negotiations or add to what I have said in earlier statements about the impossibility at this stage of making an assessment of what will be the effect on Australian trade.
The British Government knows - the Governments of The Six know - what we have regarded - and still regard - as being the sort of arrangements that would safeguard our trading interests.
At the time of the Prime Minister’s Conference there was no evidence that adequate assurances would be obtained for our trade interests. That is still the position.
Of course it will be for the British Government to weigh up the outcome of its negotiations. It rests solely with the British Government to decide whether it has carried out the assurances which it gave before it began its negotiations - and which it has repeatedly affirmed.
We for our part have looked for arrangements that would clearly and definitely protect our trade. And not just for a transitional period.
I have mentioned broad understandings about trade in temperate foodstuffs.
We do not think that Britain should rest her judgment on what constitutes adequate safeguards for our interests on the basis of general assurances only. If she does, then the Commonwealth will have good grounds for feeling that this is less than it was entitled to expect from both Britain and The Six.
It is the view of the Australian Government that we are entitled to expect of Britain, and of The Six, that they will demonstrate a willingness to begin to translate their statements of good intent into practical terms before Britain joins the Common Market.
They will have ample opportunities to do this.
I mention three that are in the offing. There will be - on the initiative of the United States and Canada - a Ministerial meeting of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade early next year. That meeting, it is proposed, will pave the way for a further round of tariff negotiations following the recent passage of the United States Trade Expansion Act. It will also consider the equally important questions of how to improve international trading arrangements for primary products - agricultural and mineral - and how to ensure better access to international markets for the products of less-developed countries.
Then there is the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade Cereals Group. Starting from a French initiative, this seemed to offer prospects of getting to grips with the whole complex of problems affecting international trade in wheat. These problems have been thrown into much sharper focus and made more urgent by the common agricultural policy of The Six and Britain’s prospective membership of the Common Market.
Indeed, many of the problems would be the direct outcome of the formation of an enlarged Common Market responsible for the greater part of existing world trade in many items of concern to agricultural and raw material producing countries.
But when this Cereals Group met last February it was the attitude of Britain that was the factor - more than any other - that frustrated progress. We do not intend to let the matter rest there.
I believe that progress is possible if Britain will join in further discussions in a constructive and realistic manner. The crux of the problem is simple. It calls for a willingness on the part of Britain and The Six to give to external producers what they have promised to their own domestic producers, that is, remunerative and more stable prices.
Britain has accepted that membership of the Common Market would involve the abandonment of her cheap food policy. The argument I have pressed in all my talks in Britain is that, whilst it is Britain’s business to decide how much it is prepared to pay for what it imports from Common Market countries, it is not equitable to pay us less than a remunerative price.
Finally - in the opportunities we will have to advance the Government’s international commodity policy - I mention the prospective world conference on trade and development. This proposal has commanded widespread support in the United Nations. It is a challenge from the underdeveloped and developing countries to the more industrialized nations to translate into concrete terms all the worthy declarations that have been made that international action must be taken to ensure that world trading arrangements are such as to provide fair and balanced opportunities for all countries.
Britain, as the principal importer, should be in the position if she so desires, to show us that real progress in the trade policy field is a probability and not just a hope. We want to know - we are entitled to know - whether there is any real meaning in the general assurances which The Six have given and to which Britain has subscribed.
In conclusion, I would say this.
Britain assured its partners in the Commonwealth that it would not join the European Economic Community unless it could make arrangements to safeguard their vital trading interests.
She is the one who is doing the negotiating, not Australia. She is the one who will have to make the judgment whether or not to join the Common Market.
If she joins without adequate safeguards for us, then, however serious the consequences, we shall be compelled to adapt ourselves to this new international trading situation.
We will not be defeatist. But let no one think that there will be any easy solution to our problems.
We are entitled to expect reasonable access to world markets at prices remunerative to efficient producers. Other producers outside the Common Market have similar entitlements.
The Government has pressed and will continue to press with vigour the case for better international trading arrangements for primary producing and developing countries.
In pursuing this objective, we have, in the past, not succeeded in attracting the support of some major importing countries and certainly not sufficient support within the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade to make real progress.
However, it is heartening that this position seems to be changing.
In the United Nations, in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade itself, there is very clear evidence that we are moving in company with the great majority of the countries of the world towards a common objective.
But it will not be easy to reach this objective.
Especially is this the case in the face of the frighteningly protective devices already being used and in prospect on the Common Market in respect of trade in many primary products.
It is encouraging for us to hear Mr. Freeman representing the views of the United States Administration. In the statement to which I have already referred he said: “ The actions the Community is now taking are going to be the largest single factor in determining whether the agricultural systems of the world are mindful of the need for international harmony or whether agriculture retreats into a shell of nationalism . . We have been sharply troubled by the mounting evidence . . . that the European Economic Community, instead of moving toward a liberal trade policy for agriculture, actually is moving backward with regressive policies that could impair existing trading arrangements. We can not be internationally minded in the industrial areas of our respective economies and nationally minded and protectionist in the agricultural sectors . . . My Government, of course, is aware that one way to deal with some of the troublesome agricultural trade problems would be through the negotiation of international commodity arrangements. … We think that a pragmatic approach is best, one which undertakes to examine, commodity by commodity, beginning with grains, the possibility of using commodity arrangements as a means of maintaining trade. . . . Greater attention must also be paid, both in the short and long-term, to the effect on agricultural trade of non-tariff obstacles: import restrictions, quotas, subsidies, dumping, export aids, and various other non-tariff devices in use by member countries, including my own “.
I recognize in much of what Mr. Freeman has said the sort of things which I have been saying for years.
It is encouraging to hear them said by a member of the United States Administration.
It is encouraging also to have the knowledge that the United States is closely co-operating with us ina variety of specific ways to contain and limit the serious damage which would otherwise be inflicted upon us by the accession of Britain to the Common Market and the adoption by Britain of its frightening array of protective devices.
I have said before and I repeat: There is nothing that we are fighting for on Australia’s behalf which we are not equally fighting for on behalf of all the young countries of the world.
This Government is entitled to take some credit for the new attitude towards world commodity arrangements.
There will, as I have indicated, be ample opportunities for us and others to see whether there is a will to translate this new attitude into action.
When it comes to particular commodities - wheat for example - we shall concert our approach with the United States and the other big wheat exporters. We are indeed keeping in close touch with the United States and other important producing countries over the whole range of our common com modity interests that stand to be affected by the developments in Europe.
The international trade convulsion - and it would be nothing short of that - which would be brought about by the establishment of an enlarged Common Market in Europe would in itself create a new situation where fairer trading conditions for all countries must be seen to be essential.
In any event we will not let our own producers down whatever the economic problems they may face.
There may well be for some industries difficult problems of adjustment - problems not of our seeking, but thrust upon us. As the Prime Minister has expressed it: “We are not going to wander away from these industries.”.
I lay on the table of the Senate the following paper: -
Britain’s Common Market negotiations - Statement by the Minister for Trade, dated 6th December, 1962.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland) [3.3 a.m.]. - I move -
That the paper be printed.
I ask for leave to make my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– I ask for leave to incorporate in “ Hansard “ a statement by the Minister for National Development relating to the report of the Coal Utilization Research Advisory Committee.
The Prime Minister in his policy speech in October, 1958, said: - “ Deeply concerned as we are with the problems which modern automation brings, we will assist the expansion of research into the use of coal.”
As a first step in giving effect to this statement, the Government appointed a committee called the Coal Utilization Research Advisory Committee and asked men well experienced in the different aspects of coal production and utilization in industry and the Public Service, to serve on it. The chairman was Mr. W. W. Pettigell, O.B.E., general manager, Australian Gas Light Company.
The committee’s terms of reference required it to make a survey of research and investigation into the uses of coal in progress overseas as well as in Australia, and to make appropriate recommendations to the Commonwealth Government on lines of research which should be either further encouraged or initiated. All types of coal, including brown coal, were under consideration.
Honorable senators will have doubtless been awaiting with interest the finalization of the report of this committee and the Government’s proposed action on any recommendations which might emerge from the committee’s deliberations.
The committee finished its work in March, 1962. It concluded that “ if the coal industry is to retain its markets and to increase the tonnage of coal consumed it is imperative that everything be done to maintain and increase technical and economic efficiency in both production and utilization aspects “. To this end the committee recommends considerably increased expenditure on research and development of which one major objective would be to develop an economic process for complete gasification of coal.
The committee has outlined the sort of research programme it considers should be followed by the various organizations. It emphasizes that it cannot see any substantial additional or new uses of coal being achieved in the short-term as a result of any research, and proceeds to point out that a national coal research programme must therefore be primarily concerned with long-term objectives. The committee has set down for resolution various problems in basic laboratory studies, in mining and preparation of coal, and in the industrial use of coal. It draws attention to the requirement for pilot-plant facilities for the development of new processes for utilization of coal and makes special mention of the likelihood of these being required for the development of processes for the complete gasification of coal for application in the town gas industry. The committee has also outlined a considerable number of problems which in its opinion require further study.
The committee recommended that a national coal research council, comprised of representatives of the coal producers and the major coal-using industries, together with certain Commonwealth departments and organizations, and representatives from the universities, should be set up to review all coal research activities and to advise on the expenditure of Commonwealth funds in this field. It recommended also mat national coal research laboratories should be established, in which all the States, whether directly or through statutory authorities, and the coal-mining and coalconsuming industries would be represented. The objective would be, whilst maintaining support tot fundamental research, to increase the facilities available for research and investigation into the engineering and economic aspects of processing operations.
Coal is one of our most valuable and vital indigenous resources. It is a key commodity in our economy, an important commodity in overseas and interstate trade, and an essential commodity in any plan of war preparedness. The mining industry and industries using coal as a raw material or as fuel, undertake annually a high level of capital investment and directly and indirectly give employment to a large number of people.
There is no doubt that the Australian coal industry has in the last few years recovered a degree of the stability which it had appeared to be losing through most of the ‘SO’s. This has been reflected in rising production, improvement in quality, and falling pit-head prices. However, coal is meeting competition from imported oil and other energy sources, and is losing its share of the total Australian energy market. This share has fallen from 65.3 per cent, in 1953-54 to 53.1 per cent, in 1960-61. The Government is willing to assist in establishing whether or not intensified research can restore some of coal’s ability to compete for markets in Australia with other forms of energy.
The committee by its analysis of ofl-from-coal processes and costs has demonstrated very clearly that the time when consideration might be given to the establishment of an oil-from-coal installation in Australia is still a long way off. Even if we are successful in finding (in Australia) significant quantities not only of oil but also of natural gas, we would still want to see the best use made of a vast national resource such as our coal.
Under the guidance of the Joint Coal Board in the last ten years and assisted by taxation incentives provided by the Commonwealth Government in 1961, the industry has invested much of its profits in plant and equipment to increase its efficiency. In addition to the steel companies’ own research activities into coal, which are substantial, the independent colliery proprietors, representing about one-third of the industry, have built up an organisation, Australian Coal Association (Research) Limited, for co-operative research, not only into methods of increasing efficiency, but also to find wider use for coal. The current research programme of A.C.A.R. covers such fields as dust control, spontaneous underground heating, mining practices, coal quality, and work arising from the organization’s fuel advisory service to coal consumers. The income from the colliery proprietors and other sources available to A.C.A.R. in 1961-62 was approximately £161,000. The scale of A.C.A.R.’s research effort should, in the opinion of the committee, be intensified to a degree which would require Commonwealth encouragement and assistance.
The Commonwealth, through the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, has already assumed the responsibility for a major share of Australian coal research. C.S.I.R.O. carries out most of its coal research at the Division of Coal Research at Ryde, New South Wales. In certain specialised fields, use has been made of the facilities and specialist staff of the Division of Chemical Engineering in Melbourne. C.S.I.R.O.’s research programme is an extensive one. A primary aim of this programme is to determine with some precision the physical and chemical properties of the coal in all worthwhile Australian seams, in order to understand their behaviour and to assess their suitability for industrial processes. C.S.I.R.O. is aware of the necessity for improving the attractiveness to industry of coal as a fuel in competition with imported petroleum fuels, and conducts research on more efficient combustion and its conversion to gas. The expenditure on coal research by C.S.I.R.O. in 1961-62 was £325,500.
The committee has estimated that the total expenditure in Australia in 1960-61 on research and development relating to coal production and utilization amounted to £870,000. This includes work on the survey of the properties of Australian coals, fundamental studies of coal constitution, investigations of processes for the utilization of coal and products derived therefrom, mining engineering research, the operation of coal testing laboratories, and development work on coal and gas using appliances. Individual State Governments, either directly or through their instrumentalities, undertake investigations of various kinds. The above expenditure does not include that on geological and drilling programmes associated with exploration of coal reserves, neither does it include normal plant control work in the major coal consuming industries. The split-up of expenditure between black and brown coal studies was estimated to have been £560,000 and £310,000 respectively.
The committee points out that the exclusion of the work of the various coal testing laboratories and of that connected with developing new and more efficient appliances for the combustion of coal, briquettes, or gas, would reduce the expenditure of £870,000 to something of the order of £660,000 for programmes of research of the type normally carried out or supported by the Commonwealth Government. Of this expenditure of about £660,000, the Commonwealth’s contribution amounted to £346,200 which is 52 per cent. of the national expenditure on coal research.
The Government has accepted the committee’s conclusions with respect to the setting up of the Research Council and the establishment of the national laboratories. In relation to the additional expenditure that may be required for an adequate coal research programme, the Government has in mind to provide additional funds for this purpose on a continuing basis, equal to the sum of the additional contributions which may be made by the States (either directly or through statutory authorities) and by industry. An accompanying proviso would be that the amount actually provided each year by the Commonwealth, and its distribution between C.S.I.R.O., the proposed national laboratories and other research activities, would be determined by the Commonwealth on the recommendations of the proposed research council.
The Commonwealth Government proposes to seek the views of State Premiers before convening a conference with State and industry representatives to canvass the extent of financial support that can be expected, and to discuss ways and means of giving effect to the proposals (including membership of the council and of the body appointed to manage the laboratories).
It is also proposed to discuss with the Australian Coal Association the recommendation of the committee that the proposed national coal research laboratories should incorporate the activities of that Association’s research laboratories.
It is hoped that the support which the Government is prepared to give to the committee’s recommendations will result in the well conceived and properly co-ordinated programme which the committee regards as an essential prerequisite to success in a coal research and development effort.
I lay on the table of the Senate the following paper: -
Coal Utilization Research Advisory Committee - Report dated 20th March, 1962, together with a statement by the Minister for National Development.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland) [3.7 a.m.]. - I move -
That the paper be printed.
I ask for leave to make my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– I ask for leave to incorporate in “ Hansard “ a statement made by the Acting Attorney-General (Mr. Freeth) relating to proposals for control of restrictive trade practices in Australia.
As the House is aware, I have been engaged for some time in considering the need for legislation to control monopoly and restrictive practices in the business community of Australia, and in devising a scheme of legislation which would protect free enterprise against such of these practices as were harmful to it. As part of this undertaking, I have been in consultation with the Attorneys-General of the States in an endeavour to induce their concurrence in that scheme of legislation and their willingness to propose to their Governments legislation to complement that of the Commonwealth so as to make the desired control effective over the whole range of Australian business activity.
I do not propose to detain the House to describe the extent and complexity of the task or to recount the nature of the large volume of information which has been gathered as to the existence and operation of a wide variety of business practices in Australia, many of which can fairly be said to be restrictive. Nor do I need to pause to discuss the close examination which has been made of the legislation of other Western countries and the manner in which such laws operate. In addition, the distribution and limitations of constitutional power in Australia have had to be both explored and respected in the consideration given to a possible scheme of legislation.
The Government, having been furnished with the results of my efforts in this connexion, has concluded, andI think few, if any, will deny, that there are practices current in the community which by reason of their restrictive nature are harmful to the public interest - that interest being in the maintenance of free enterprise under which citizens are at liberty to participate in the production and distribution of the nation’s wealth, thus ensuring competitive conditions which tend to initiative, resourcefulness, productive efficiency, high output, and fair and reasonable prices to the consumer.
Accordingly, the Government has decided that legislation should be introduced to enable such harmful practices to be prevented. However, the drafting of such legislation, towards which much work has already been done, is necessarily a highly complicated technical process which, particularly having regard to current demands on our drafting resources, cannot be immediately brought to completion. Also, in devising legislation of this kind, itself a matter of grave and heavy responsibility, the views of interested parties and of members of the public generally ought to be known before final decisions are taken as to its ultimate form and content. Consequently, as was foreshadowed in His Excellency’s speech at the Opening of this Session of the Parliament, it has been decided that I should make this statement disclosing the basic outlines of what is in mind in such form as will enable public discussion, and individual or group representation to be made.
I might perhaps be allowed to say, Mr. Speaker, that I welcome this decision, as I hold the view that the course I have so far taken in the case of such bills as the Matrimonial Causes Bill, the Marriage Bill and the Patents Bill has proved itself most effective in enabling the Government to make its final decisions, after public discussion and representation by interested persons has completed its knowledge of the subject-matter and of the various, and often opposing, considerations which ought fairly to be in mind. I would expect it to be so in this instance.
Before outlining the scheme of legislation which the Government has in contemplation, 1 ought to indicate broadly the philosophy which underlies it. In opening the second session of the twenty-third Parliament, the Governor-General indicated that the Government desired to protect and strengthen free enterprise against tendencies to monopoly and restrictive practices in commerce and industry. I have already referred to the place competition has in the maintenance of free enterprise. The Government believes that practices which reduce competition may endanger those benefits which we properly expect and mostly enjoy from a free enterprise society. But the Government is also conscious of the fact that the lessening of competition may, in some aspects of the economy, be unavoidable, and, indeed, may be not only consistent with, but a proper ingredient of, a truly free enterprise system. This is more likely to be so in such a state of growth as we are experiencing, and particularly when we are gearing ourselves more and more for the export of secondary goods. In short, the Government does not subscribe to the view that there are no circumstances in which public interest can justify a reduction in competition, but on the contrary believes that there may well be some practices, restrictive in nature, which are in the public interest. Consistently with these views, it is scarcely possible to specify legislatively the precise practices which are unacceptable and directly and unconditionally to proscribe them. All that the legislation can do is to define certain classes of practices that may be unacceptable and to provide for their examination in the light of a criterion or test designed to determine whether, in the circumstances of a particular case, a practice is acceptable or unacceptable and to be prevented. The criterion or test would be expressed in as clear language as the subject will permit, and would be applied to particular practices by an independent umpire with fairness and an overall knowledge of business and of the economy.
The criterion or test which accords with the Government’s philosophy and its understanding of the needs of the economy as a whole is that a practice which in its operation substantially restricts competition, either in a particular area or areas of business activity or generally, and which cannot be shown to be justified as either conferring a public benefit or as having no public detriment, is harmful. Expressed in legislative form, the justification may be said to be that the practice is not contrary to the public interest. No doubt expressions such as “ against the public interest “’, or “ contrary to the public interest “ lack complete precision and inevitably leave some room for policy making in the individual or body which has to apply them to particular facts. But they are words having much tradition behind them, and I think they are as precisely expressive of what is presently in mind as any words which could be found. In any case I would propose that the words would be accompanied by explanatory provisions indicating at least the main elements which the Parliament desired should be considered in this connexion.
It will be seen from these remarks that the Government has not favoured the philosophy of the American legislation, which leaves little room to justify any reduction in competition.
I ought also to say in passing that many seem to see in the mere size of a business undertaking an occasion for censure and a challenge to dismemberment. Indeed, one suspects that behind the original American legislation was the fear that industry, if it obtained sufficient dimenson, would be a threat to Government and likely to overawe and control the legislature. Whilst any such tendency cannot be ignored, nor its possibility excluded from mind, the Government has not to any extent based its approach to the proposed legislation upon any such view. The emphasis is placed by the Government on what an organization or business undertaking does in harming free enterprise, rather than upon its dimension. But of course the dimension of a business undertaking does give scope for action which is not available to undertakings or organizations of lesser size. Consequently, the Government has not confined itself to the British approach to the problem of restrictive practices. The British legislation places the major emphasis on combination, on agreement between two or more, The scheme I will outline covers bilateral and multilateral arrangements for restrictive action, which are probably the most common source of restrictive practices, but the scheme goes further and covers unilateral’ action of a restrictive kind taken by the individual. In this way, harmful actions by business undertakings or organizations which are large and powerful, or enjoy positions of advantage in the market, will be prevented.
I mentioned, Mr. Speaker, the heavy responsibility involved in the introduction of legislation to deal with restrictive practices. Whilst the experience of Western countries is available to us- all the principal of them have already ventured into this field - that very experience underlines the difficulties which beset the legislature, and the administration in this connexion, and perhaps, more significantly, throws into relief the risk of doing more harm than good by adopting illconsidered and too widely sweeping legislation. None of the legislation existing elsewhere is, in my view, appropriate for enactment en bloc here. I think, therefore, that, without in any way attempting to discuss the matter exhaustively, I should now indicate what I have considered to be some of the prerequisites of a scheme of legislation for Australia in this field.
The primary prerequisite of such a scheme is machinery that can be effectively used to halt practices which deprive, or tend to deprive, the community of the benefits of free enterprise and the individual trader of business opportunities that ought fairly to be open to him.
Secondly, there must be certainty for businessmen as to what they may or may not do. This, to my mind, is important in relation to any economy, but it is imperative in our case. We are in a stage of development which calls for courage and initiative on the part of our businessmen. Our growth and the prosperity of all of us can only suffer, and suffer grievously, from uncertainty and resultant timidity on their part.
Thirdly, there should be a minimum use of the criminal law. Whilst I have said that the ultimate touchstone of invalidity of a practice is its antipathy to the public interest, I do not think every breach of legislation in this field should brand the businessman a criminal. No doubt there are some events in which there must be a criminal penalty for breach of the law, but this should not be the general consequence.
Fourthly, the application of the criterion or test by which the separation of the harmful from the justifiable practice is made should be by a tribunal which has a minimum of legalism, both in its attitude and approach and in its procedures, and a maximum of business and economic knowledge and understanding. But its independence both of business and of government should be complete.
Fifthly, there should be finality in the application of the criterion to particular cases and therefore a minimum of opportunity for review of, and appeal from, the decision of the tribunal which applies the criterion.
Sixthly, any scheme must take account of two particular circumstances. One of these is our limited resources of personnel for the investigation at large of business practices; the other is the undesirability of business being deflected from its task by the need to accommodate itself to, or to avoid, constant suspicion, investigation and enquiry. A law which is beyond our capacity to police and enforce invites disregard and tends to bring the law and its administration into disrepute. There should be no exposure of business to needless harassment and vexatious action, whether by officials or by members of the public, particularly by those who may have mixed motives for their conduct.
Now may I describe the scheme which isin mind, and which has been discussed in the broad and to a great extent in detail with the AttorneysGeneral of the States, for the purposes I have indicated. May I say that, as a result of these discussions, I have reason to believe that at least a clear majority of the State Attorneys would recommend to their Governments the introduction of complementary State legislation to implement the scheme of legislation I describe.
Mr. Speaker, I have prepared a document which is self-contained, and which sets forth the elements of the scheme in what I think is both a convenient and readily assimilable form. If I might, I would introduce it at this point of my statement as a description of the scheme, and, with the concurrence of honorable members, I incorporate it in “ Hansard “. I shall then proceed to discuss, for the benefit of the House, parts of the scheme thus outlined.
ELEMENTS OF THE SCHEME.
A list of practices required to be registered.
limitations on right to membership of trade associations. and acts done in pursuance of such arrangements.
discriminatory dealing, including -
N.B. In the case of refusal to deal, it would be necessary to state in some considerable detail objective tests whether refusals are justifiable or prima facie undesirable and therefore registrable.
Certain kinds of mergers and takeovers of companies, firms, &c.
practices unrelated to the control or distortion of the market, e.g. observing recognized standards.
Registration will protect the parties conpletely in respect of a practice which is fully disclosed and covered by the registered document, but continuance of that practice after the document has been de-registered, or ordered to be varied so as not to cover the practice, will be unlawful prospectively as from the date of deregistration or order to vary the document.
The main functions of the Registrar will be -
to have substantial powers of inquiry and inspection of documents.
A Tribunal, able to sit contemporaneously in divisions, each division being composed of a Presiding Judge and lay members being drawn by the President of the Tribunal (being the senior of the Presiding Judges) from panels of laymen set up in each State.
Proceedings for de-registration of registered documents.
The Tribunal to deregister any document which it is satisfied covers a practice which substantially reduces competition, unless it has been shown to work no detriment to the public or to be otherwise justified (see paragraph 12).
that in relation to a resale price maintenance agreement it could be shown that the imposition of a fixed resale price is necessary to prevent the use of the supplier’s goods as loss-leaders, that is, their sale at unprofitable prices in order to attract shoppers for other goods, or is necessary to discourage misleading advertising of those goods by the retailer, or to discourage the provision by him of substandard services in connexion with the sale of those goods, or is necessary because the turnover of the supplier’s goods depends on maintaining a certain price.
The superior Federal and State Courts, within the respective limits of their jurisdiction, to have power to restrain the continuance of any unregistered practice which falls within any of the descriptions in paragraph 2.
The Tribunal is also to have power to certify any fact which has been established before it and such certificate is to be binding in any Court in which proceedings in relation to the practice may be taken.
The first step in the scheme is to list practices which will be described with as much certainty of language as possible. These will be practices which are understood by the Government as likely to be restrictive of competition but not incapable, in particular instances, of justification in the public interest under the criterion which I have set out.
These practices are listed in the’ document setting out the elements of the scheme; but it will make my comments easier to follow if I indicate broadly what the list covers. It covers arrangements between two or more persons, firms, companies or organizations for -
There must necessarily be some practices excepted from the generality of this list, e.g. practices already regulated by law, such as activities within statutory marketing schemes, industrial agreements, and contracts of employment regulated by industrial arbitration. Likewise, the activities of proprietors of industrial property in the form of a patent, trade mark, design or copyright which are in relevant respects already covered by federal law. Also practices which are unrelated to the control or distortion of the market will be excepted. It may well be that further discussion will indicate that there should be other exceptions.
It will be observed that there is no dragnet in the list of practices required to be registered (which I shall refer to in this statement as list A) nor would there be in any other list of practices in the legislation. The endeavour in this respect is not merely to contribute to that certainty for the businessman of which I have spoken, but also to keep questions of policy in the hands of the Parliament and not commit them either to the ordinary courts or to special tribunals under the legislation. For out purposes, one basic defect of the American legislation, as I see it, is that, because of the use of general words in the original enactment, the policy of the legislation has had to be worked out by the courts. That is not, in my view, their function. It is for the Parliament to determine policy and as far as practicable to express it so as to leave it to be carried out, within the confines of the legislation, by the courts and the special tribunals which the legislation may set up. But of course language is frequently inadequate fully and precisely to express policy and thus to confine the courts and tribunals. By interpretation and by the need on the part of the legislature to use such expressions as “ the public interest “ or “ public benefit “, the policy of the Parliament may be both enlarged or diminished. By making a specific list of practices, as unambiguously defined as may be, and by avoiding a dragnet, I would endeavour to reduce the area in which such enlargement or diminution may occur. But, by so doing I make imperative the need for fairly frequent review to see that the list as currently in force does not omit harmful or potentially harmful practices which experience may have exposed, or include practices which in the course of time prove inapt for inclusion. It will be seen, I think, that whether or not what is being done by the businessman is within the list can readily be decided but in case of doubt the businessman can give himself certainty by registering a document on a register which I proceed to mention.
The scheme, as the next step, provides for a register in which may be placed documents descriptive of a practice which is or is thought might be a practice included in list A. The register will be an Australian Register with appropriate State sub-registers. Access to this register can only be obtained by the leave of the commission of which I shall speak in a moment. That leave will only be given if the applicant for it is either the Attorney-General or a person affected by a restrictive practice with an economic interest to see a document registered in respect of that practice in order to protect himself against its consequences or take steps to have the document deregistered. Thus, whilst the register would be a public register, it would not be open to indiscriminate public inspection.
The next step is to make it an offence to carry on a practice within list A unless a document covering that practice is, and remains, registered. In addition, failure to register such a document would be an offence.
The scheme would provide that whilst a document, which fairly and frankly described a practice, was on the register, pursuit of the practice so described would not be unlawful even though it fell within list A. Of course, a practice which went beyond the disclosure of the document would remain unlawful, notwithstanding the registration of the inadequate document.
The purpose of restricting access to the register and of allowing registered practices to continue pending their consideration is, on the one hand, to encourage frankness and voluntary disclosure, thus conserving our limited resources of personnel for investigation, and on the other hand to avoid uncertainty and confusion in business. Once a document fairly describing a practice is registered, the businessman need be in no doubt as to whether or not he may carry on that practice.It will not be unlawful to do so, as long as the document remains registered. But, upon its deregistration - the process for which I shall soon describe - further pursuit of. the practice from that time forward will be unlawful and carry the consequences of the legislation. Deregistraation will have no retrospective but only a prospective effect. It will not put a person in breach of the law for what he has already done but it will expose him to action for continuing the practice thereafter. But if a practice falling within list A is carried on without a covering document being registered, the persons involved will be immediately liable to criminal prosecution, and on proof by the Crown, in the ordinary way. of their having carried on the practices, will have no defence of absence of public detriment available. To be able to justify one of the practices in list A there must be a covering document registered. lt will be seen that this use of criminal liability and the denial of any exculpatory defence is part pf the attempt to induce frankness and to avoid both the inconvenience to business and the expense to government of extensive and persistent investigation. There will, of course, be need for investigation, particularly after complaint, of practices in respect of which no document or an inadequate document is registered. But it is hoped that on the one hand the benefit of the certainty derived from registration and, on the other, the severity of the consequences of failure to register will keep such need for investigation to a minimum and within our resources of personnel.
In addition, the registration of a document will not constitute any admission or any evidence that the practice it describes is restrictive; thus, as I have said, if a person is in doubt as to whether what he is doing falls within the list he can achieve certainty without risk of penalty by registering a document covering his practice. Further, the register will not be receivable in evidence in any court in any proceedings other than proceedings under or to enforce the provisions of the act.
In what I have said, Mr. Speaker,I have referred to the registration of a document rather than to the registration of an instrument or agreement, because the list of practices, list A, will be seen to include unilateral activity as well as activities deriving from bilateral or multilateral agreement. Therefore, opportunity must be given to a person who is following a proscribed practice of his own accord and not as the result of agreement, to register a document descriptive of what he is in fact doing or proposing to do. As the House will remember, this scheme is not confined to restrictive practices by combination.It attempts to strike at the harmful act whether or not it springs from agreement, or from a position of power or of monopoly advantage.
Also I should mention that where there is multiplicity of documents in the same terms, registration of a specimen along with prescribed particulars will be acceptable. No doubt other techniques will emerge in due course for reducing the volume of the documents which may be placed on the register.It is quite apparent that the function of the register, central as it is to the scheme I propose, will result in the registration of a great many documents, many of which may not disclose harmful practices. In order to avoid the register becoming unwieldy before an appropriate staff to deal with it is built up, it may be necessary to consider, as I have already to some extent considered, the wisdom of putting the scheme into operation progressively, dealing first with the more frequently found and likeliest to be harmful practices.
I now turn to the next step in the scheme, the process by which a document may be deregistered. Deregistration will result from the application of the criterion I have described to the particular practice covered by the document, seen in its relationship to the economy as a whole as well as to those business activities it will immediately affect. For this purpose, there will be a tribunal able to sit contemporaneously in divisions in different part’s of Australia, each division to be presided over by a judge and to consist of two or four other members who shall be laymen drawn from panels to be set up in each State for the purpose.
The senior of the judges would be the president of the tribunal and would be charged with the function of determining the composition of each division of the tribunal and the assignment to it of the work to be done. Questions of fact would be decided by the tribunal by majority but questions of law would be for the exclusive decision of the presiding judge. It is thought that a tribunal of this kind would have both the independence and the business knowledge fairly to apply the criterion I have described to cases brought before it. I will not pause to describe the various powers it must have to enable it to function effectively. It is enough, I think, for present purposes to point out that it would have power to deregister the document in whole or in part, or to order its variation or reformation as a condition of the maintenance of its registration. The tribunal would be able to order costs of the proceedings to be paid by any party including the registrar or the Attorney-General.
The scheme provides for a commission to be composed of laymen with a registrar and deputy registrars in each State. The registrar would keep and have access to the register and would bo obliged to consider all registered documents with a view to determining whether or not the practices they disclose ought to be challenged before the tribunal. To assist his consideration, he would be given adequate powers of inquiry and of access to records. And, of course, in order to obtain expedition in his consideration of the documents, and to minimize the time which may elapse between registration of a document covering a harmful practice and its deregistration, a considerable and competent staff would have to be provided for him.
Having determined for himself that any given practice should be challenged, the registrar, before launching proceedings before the tribunal for deregistration of the document, must obtain the leave of the commission, which, before granting it, will need to be satisfied, without attempting to decide the case, that there is sufficient warrant to commence proceedings for deregistration. This requirement will ensure that so significant a decision as the decision to launch such proceedings shall not rest with the official alone. I should add, at this point, that where a member of the public has complained to the registrar of a registered practice, and the registrar has decided not to seek leave to take proceedings, or having obtained leave has not gone ahead with such proceedings, he, the member of the public, may apply to be given leave himself to commence proceedings for deregistration, but, of course, at his own expense. No doubt an element in considering whether he should have leave would be his ability adequately to prosecute the proceedings and to carry out his obligations in the event of failure. The Attorney-General may also be given leave to commence proceedings for deregistration. Thus the case of a meritorious but impecunious applicant, as well as the public interest generally, can be safeguarded.
I now turn to some characteristics of proceedings before the tribunal. First let me say that in the detailed planning of its procedure I would hope to eliminate as much technicality as possible, and to introduce as much informality and expedition as is consistent with a due, thorough and impartial investigation and consideration of the case.
In the proceedings for deregistration of a document, the Registrar, Attorney-General, or member of the public, as the case may be, applying for de-registration would carry the onus to show that the practice which the document covered would substantially reduce competition either particularly or generally. In this connexion, as I have mentioned, the fact that the document was registered would not constitute evidence that the practice would reduce competition. It would evidence no more than the practice it described, thus relieving the applicant of proof in that respect.
Upon the applicant making out the case that the practice in operation would in the circumstances substantially reduce competition, the respondent would be at liberty to show that nonetheless the practice was justifiable according to the criterion I have mentioned. No doubt many of the facts and circumstances which bear on that proposition will be peculiarly within the businessman’s own knowledge and, consistently with the common law, he would have the task of making good his justification.
It is part of the scheme that the tribunal’s decision should be final and not subject to review or appeal of any kind in point of fact (much of which will be economic fact); but, in order to keep the tribunal within its charter, it will be subject to the supervision of the superior courts. In addition the opinion of such courts on a point of law arising in the proceedings may be taken by the tribunal if it so desires, and must be taken during the proceedings if one of the parties insists.
As I have already mentioned, upon deregistration, further carrying on of the practice covered by the document will be inexcusably unlawful. Civil remedies by way of injunction to restrain its continuance, and for damages caused by the practice carried on after deregistration, and criminal proceedings for having so carried on after deregistration, will then be available.
In order to facilitate the operation of the scheme and as part of the denotation of the expression “ the public interest “, I have thought it desirable to nominate a number of circumstances which at least prima facie would justify the maintenance of the registration of a document although the practice has been found to be restrictive of competition. A somewhat similar provision is to be found in the so-called “ gateways “ in the British legislation. The circumstances or grounds . which I propose are wider in scope than the British provisions and are considered more suitable to Australian conditions. I should emphasize that the presence of public benefit, or at least absence of public detriment, is always the predominant consideration, and that in some cases it may prove, though 1 would not expect it to be so generally, that notwithstanding the existence of one or more of these grounds or circumstances, the decision of the tribunal would be against the practice because of preponderant public interest.
These grounds or “gateways” are quite fully described in the document which has been incorporated in this statement. It is not easy to give their full effect briefly and I commend the study of the document to the House. These grounds represent an endeavour on the one hand to protect the interests of the public and on the other hand to achieve a proper balance between the need to maintain a competitive basis for free enterprise and the proper need of business in Australia to engage in justifiable protective action in certain circumstances to assist and develop the economy of the country.
The tribunal may find, for example, that a practice which is restrictive is nevertheless reasonably necessary to protect the public from injury or that, without the restriction, the public as consumers would be denied specific benefits and advantages. It may find that the practice is necessary to counteract other restrictive measures or to enable the parties to engage on fair terms with a powerful buyer or seller. It may find that the abandonment of a practice would cause serious unemployment or would adversely affect export trade; that the practice is reasonably required in connexion with another practice that is not contrary to the public interest; that it is likely to contribute to more efficient supply and distribution, or to increase the efficiency of existing enterprises or encourage new enterprises, or is likely to contribute to the fullest and best use and distribution of labour, materials and resources. Again, an agreement may be reasonably necessary to protect the goodwill of a business which is transferred; or it may relate purely and simply to proper business co-operation as defined; and finally it may be necessary to combat certain unfair business practices.
In addition to these gateways specifically prescribed, it will be open to the party supporting the practice to endeavour to show any other clear and specific public benefit.
There is one category in list A to which I must direct the House’s attention - namely, mergers and take-overs. It will be obvious enough, and indeed experience abroad has demonstrated, that where two or more may not lawfully agree to engage in restrictive practices, they may, by merger so as to become one entity, do the very thing that was forbidden to be done by agreement. Part of this consequence is guarded against in this scheme by legislating against harmful acts done unilaterally as well as those resulting from agreement between two or more. To this aspect I have already adverted. But, it would, in many instances, be preferable to intercept an intended aggregation, whether of assets or of proprietorship, where it was but a substitute for an agreement to carry out a restrictive practice or where it was itself a mechanism to reduce competition or to take a step towards ultimate monopoly whether of supply or of demand.
The scheme I propose would seek to deal with the situation by providing an opportunity for intervention by the commission, established under the act, through the registrar, before the merger took place. In the uniform companies legislation, we have gone a considerable distance in requiring companies contemplating merger or take-over to furnish to the respective shareholders a great deal of information about the companies concerned, and about the merger or take-over proposals. This scheme would require like information to be given to the registrar together with certain further information pertinent to the question of the purpose and effect of the merger or take-over. This information would have to be given broadly within the same time-table as in the case of the companies legislation, and the registrar would have the right within a limited period to approach the tribunal for a finding that the proposed merger or take-over was a substitute for a restrictive agreement, or would itself work a substantial reduction of competition without justification, or was a significant step towards the creation of a monopoly. As, pending such a finding, the proposal would be halted, the time within which the registrar may intervene must be short. After the lapse of that time, without intervention, the proposal to merge or to take over could proceed, and the registrar would have no further right of intervention, unless the material supplied by the parties was false or misleading in a material particular.
It will be apparent that if such a scheme were so universally applied as to require examination of every merger or take-over, however small the assets or capital involved, it might well become unmanageable. Accordingly, all mergers or takeovers which did not involve more than a certain aggregate amount of capital or assets would be excluded. I would not propose to fix that figure at present, but I would indicate that a figure of the order of £250,000 would probably be appropriate.
So far I have been dealing with practices which can be conceived to be justifiable in particular circumstances, but there are other practices which are felt to be inexcusable in all circumstances. The scheme deals with these by describing them, as in the document which has been incorporated, in a list which I shall call list B, and by prohibiting them absolutely. The practices in this list are -
In connexion with these practices, there is no question of registering a document or of the application to them by the tribunal of the criterion to which I have referred. They are forbidden in all circumstances. To carry on one of them will inevitably attract process in the. ordinary courts, civil or criminal, or both. Here, usual rules will apply, and the elements of the offence will have to be made out by the Crown.
As to monopolization, the scheme will spell out our existing legislation, removing known deficiencies and accommodating it to the decisions of the courts, including the courts of the United States.
Monopolization will be defined, broadly speaking, as acquiring or using monopoly power with the intention of preventing a person from entering, or expanding a business, or in a manner that is unreasonable and detrimental to consumers of goods or services. Monopoly power, for this purpose, will be defined as the power to fix, or influence substantially, the market price of any kind of goods or services, or to prevent persons entering or expanding businesses. Mere possession of monopoly power would not, of course, be unlawful.
I have already said that in this scheme the Government has concentrated on harmful acts, rather than upon the mere possession of power to do them, and what I propose in relation to monopolies as such will be in conformity with this view.
I hope it is plain to honorable members that much study and thought has already been given to the problem and that the task of expressing in legislative form a sensible and workable scheme of control of harmful restrictive practices in Australia is under way. Discussion or representation, which I hope my statement will excite, will no doubt have much influence upon the final form that expression takes. But the goal of the Government will remain, namely, to enact legislation to safeguard our system of free enterprise by maintaining its competitive basis, whilst ensuring that our economy as a whole expands and develops for the good of all Australians.
I lay on the table of the Senate the following paper: -
Proposals for Control of Restrictive Trade Practices in Australia. - Statement by the AttorneyGeneral, dated 6th December, 1962.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland) [3.10 a.m.]. - I move -
That the paper be printed.
I ask for leave to make my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The following answers are supplied: -
Asbestos, blue (Crocidolite),
Ores of -
Manganese (battery grade),
Ores of -
Changes in designation. - Ores of - Antimony in lieu of “ Stibnite “; “ Manganese oxides “ in lieu of “ Ores of Manganese (battery grade) “; “ Chromite “ in lieu of “ Ores of chromium “.
The reason for the additions was the desire of the Government of the day to encourage the production of minerals and metals then in short supply in Australia.
In Statutory Rule No. 23 of 1955, Cobalt was prescribed for purposes of section 23a of the act. This followed a decision by the Government that the list of metals prescribed for purposes of section 23a of the act should coincide with the list prescribed for purposes of sub-section (p) of the section 23, as both provisions were designed to stimulate the production in Australia of essential metals and minerals in short supply. Cobalt had been prescribed for the purposes of section 23 (p) since 1947.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The following answer is supplied: - 1 to3. - (a) There are no loans made to the States from the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
There are, however, some advances made to the States from the Consolidated Revenue Fund under the Housing Agreements Act 1956 and 1961 in respect of houses to be occupied by members of the services. The amounts of interest collected annually on these advances are -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The following answers are supplied: -
– I lay on the table the fifth report of the Printing Committee.
Report - by leave - adopted.
– I have received a letter from the Leader of the Government in the Senate appointing Senators DrakeBrockman, Hannan, Vincent and Wright, and a letter from the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate appointing Senators Bishop, Cohen and McClelland, as members of the Senate Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television.
WOOL TAX BILL (No. 1a) 1962.
Consideration resumed (vide page 1789).
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
WOOL TAX BILL (No. 2a) 1962.
Consideration resumed (vide page 1789).
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Paltridge) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill presents a scheme for the provision of additional assistance to the gold-mining industry of Australia and the Territories of Papua and New Guinea. The scheme relates to payment of development allowance to mines not in receipt of subsidy under the existing Gold-Mining Industry Assistance Act.
As honorable senators are aware, the gold-mining industry is one of great importance to Australia. The annual value of gold production is in the region of £17,000,000. As well as making a substantial contribution to the national income, the value of the gold output has a direct effect on the balance of payments. Except for a small quantity of gold which is used for industrial purposes, all the gold produced in Australia and the Territories represents an addition, in one form or another, to our international reserves.
In its consideration of measures of assistance for the industry, the Government has also attached great weight to the vital importance of the industry to a number of outlying areas, particularly in Western Australia. It is no exaggeration to say that some such areas are dependent on gold mining for their economic survival.
A scheme of subsidy assistance for the industry has been in operation since 1954. This scheme was introduced against the background of rising costs in the industry and a fixed official world price of gold. In the case of the larger gold mines, the scheme has operated to pay them, subject to certain conditions, subsidy equal to threequarters of the amount by which their costs of production have exceeded £13 10s. per ounce of gold produced. The operation of the subsidy scheme, which is governed by the provisions of the Gold-Mining Industry Assistance Act 1954-1962, has been extended from time to time, and under the existing legislation continues until 30th June, 1965.
Since the subsidy scheme was introduced in 1954, gold production in Australia and its Territories has been maintained at a relatively stable level of about 1,100,000 ounces a year. Almost 30 per cent. of this production has qualified -for subsidy assistance and this proportion represents, in effect, the production of mines which might not have been able to carry on without the assistance of the subsidy scheme. It is clear, therefore, that the subsidy scheme has made a major contribution to the stability of the gold-mining industry.
Earlier this year, however, representatives of the industry expressed to the Government their firm view that, despite the value of the subsidy scheme, the industry as a whole was in need of further assistance. In particular, they pointed to the fact that over recent years there has been a serious decline in the proved ore reserves of the large unsubsidized mines in relation to their rate of treatment of ore, and emphasized that, unless this trend was reversed, the future of the industry in the longer term could be in grave jeopardy.
The Government therefore made a full review of the whole position, including the employment outlook in the areas largely dependent on gold-mining. As a result it decided, as announced in the Treasurer’s Budget speech, to introduce legislation to provide for the payment of development allowance to gold mines not in receipt of subsidy as a means of assisting the mines to step up the rate of their development work and so to increase their proved ore reserves. The bill now before the Senate presents the detailed provisions to give effect to that decision.
Some of the provisions of the bill are rather complex. However, the general principle of the development allowance scheme can be quite simply expressed. It is that, commencing with the current financial year, a mine approved for the purposes of the scheme will be eligible for payment of an allowance equal to the amount by which its allowable expenditure on development of the mining property in a year, as defined in the bill, exceeds a defined base amount, which normally will be the average annual amount spent by the mine on development during the three years preceding 1962-63. For the purpose, expenditure on development means, broadly speaking, expenditure on the location and investigation of ore bodies and the preparation of ore bodies for mining operations.
The rather involved provisions of the bill are designed to define the precise manner in which the general principle is to be applied in all the situations that may arise in particular cases, and also to define the conditions and limits attaching to the payment of development allowance within the framework of the general principle. The complexity of some of the provisions is due, in large part, to the need to cover the possible establishment of new mines and possible changes in the ownership of mining properties or parts of mining properties.
Under the heading of manner of application of the general principle, I should say first that development allowance will be payable only to approved producers in respect of specified mining properties and only in respect of approved programmes of development work. In exercising his power of approval of producers, the Treasurer must be of opinion that the circumstances of the particular mine are such that the undertaking of development at an increased rate would make, or could reasonably be expected to make, a substantial contribution to the continued production of the mine. This provision is considered necessary to meet the case where the undertaking of additional development, with the assistance of development allowance, would not be justified in the light of the available evidence about the nature and extent of ore bodies in the particular mining property. The requirement for the approval of programmes of development work is dictated by the consideration that development allowance should be payable by the Commonwealth only in respect of programmes of development which are judged to be reasonable and appropriate in the particular circumstances.
The manner in which allowable expenditure on development is to be determined for the purpose of payment of development allowance is set out in clause 1 1 of the bill. The most important provision in that clause is that, if the cost of particular types of development work by a mine in a year exceeds the cost which the Treasurer determines would have been the cost if the work had been carried out by the mine during the three years preceding 1962-63, the actual amount of expenditure on development in that year will be subject to reduction by an amount not exceeding the amount of the excess. This provision is designed primarily as a safeguard against the carrying out of an approved programme of development in a wasteful or otherwise uneconomic manner. Special provisions are also included in the clause to deal with the case of a new mine.
The base amount which is to be deducted from the amount of allowable expenditure on development by a mine in a year for the purpose of ascertaining the amount of development allowance payable in respect of that year is defined in clause 10 of the bill. Payment of development allowance on the general basis I have described will be subject to a number of conditions and limits.
I shall now briefly summarize the more important of these conditions and limits. It is not intended that development allowance should be payable in respect of any development undertaken by a mine that results in the mine’s supply of proved ore reserves at the end of a year, expressed in relation to the quantity of ore treated in that year, being more than two years in excess of the number of years of supply as at 30th June, 1962. Provision is accordingly made in the bill for an appropriate reduction in the amount of development allowance payable in that eventuality. A special provision has been made to cover mines coming into operation after 30th June, 1962.
The amount of development allowance payable to a mine in respect of a year is to be subject to an upper limit of an amount equal to four shillings for each ton of ore produced by the mine that is treated in that year. This limitation was proposed by the industry itself as a means of containing the cost of the scheme within reasonable bounds.
If a mine’s allowable expenditure on development in a year is less than the denned base amount, the deficiency is to be deducted from any future amounts of development allowance that become payable to the mine. This is to cover the situation where there is a fall in the amount of development work undertaken by a mine, with consequent adverse effect on the mine’s reserves position.
The amount of development allowance payable to a mine in respect of a year will be subject to reduction to the extent that the mine’s income in that year is increased by sales of gold at prices in excess of the official price of £15 12s. 6d. per oz. There is a comparable provision in the Gold-Mining Industry Assistance Act relating to the payment of subsidy.
As I mentioned earlier, development allowance will not be payable to a mine in receipt of subsidy. The relevant provisions in the bill are expressed in a manner which will give each particular mine, in relation to each year, the choice of claiming either subsidy or development allowance.
The bill also contains a number of miscellaneous provisions relating to such matters as the making of advance payments of development allowance, the supply of information by mines which have been paid or claim development allowance, inspection of mining properties and offences against the provisions of the bill. These provisions are similar to corresponding provisions in the Gold-Mining Industry Assistance Act.
The Government believes that the measure before the Senate will make a notable contribution to the future well-being of the gold-mining industry by the very considerable stimulus it will give for the undertaking of an increased rate of work in the location, investigation and preparation of gold ore bodies. This increased rate of work should in turn be reflected in an improvement in the quantity of proved ore reserves and hence to an improvement in the longer term prospects of the industry as a whole. The present situation with regard to proved ore reserves gives cause for concern, particularly from the viewpoint of the future welfare of, and employment opportunities in, some outlying areas of Australia. If the development allowance scheme assists in improving that situation it will have served an important purpose, and I have pleasure in strongly commending the bill to honorable senators.
– The Australian Labour Party welcomes this bill with open arms. I am sorry that we cannot open our arms a little wider because we think that the gold-mining industry is very important, and should receive even more assistance than this bill provides. I know that the Government is used to hearing such pleas. One of the difficulties in regard to mining, which is a wasteful form of production, is to know just what weights and value you should take out or leave. The Australian Labour Party’s policy is to keep the gold-mining industry in business in spite of the problems that are outlined in the second-reading speech of the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge). This bill adds another chapter to the history of Commonwealth assistance to the gold-mining industry. I know that we have debated a number of these measures since 1954, and of course, assistance was afforded to the industry long before that year.
I notice one of the technical restrictions applicable to the provisions of the bill. I think this money will be provided for developmental purposes such as diamond drilling, the building of cross-cut, winzes and rises and that type of thing, but the measure specifically excludes the sinking of shafts. I realize that if this exclusion is found to be unsatisfactory the mining industry will quickly bring the position to the notice of the Government. I am inclined to think that this particular matter will have to be reviewed.
This bril represents a new venture into the gold-mining field. Assistance has been given to the mines on the basis of production, which has been maintained at a fairly steady rate since 1954. This bill, however, moves into the field of development, and that is timely because of the importance of gold exports to our overseas balances. Practically all the gold produced in Australia is exported and therefore it is a valuable earner of export income. Most of the gold mined in the Commonwealth conies from Western Australia. This is one of the few bills on which honorable senators from Victoria do not speak about Commonwealth grants for roads with particular reference to Western Australia. Apparently they do not mind when their State shares the benefit derived from gold mined in Western Australia, and certainly it is an important income earner.
The Kalgoorlie municipality is the biggest municipality in the State, and Kalgoorlie-Boulder easily has the biggest aggregation of people outside the metropolitan area in Western Australia. I give that information in passing to indicate the importance of the gold-mining industry in supporting large towns and populations.
Having regard to the lateness of the hour, and to the fact that we get many opportunities in this chamber to discuss gold mining, I do not think it is necessary for me to emphasize the importance of the industry, its history, its problems and the control of the price of gold exercised by the United States of America. Suffice it to say at this time, and at this hour, that the Australian Labour Party supports the bill whole-heartedly. We urge the Government to keep the position of gold mining constantly under review, particularly the developmental programme. We do not know what the future holds for us economically, particularly in view of the European Economic Market negotiations at the present time. It may be a good investment to extend the assistance to be provided by this bill a little further, with the object of taking slightly lower values out of mines and thus greatly increasing the output.
– I congratulate the Government on the introduction of this measure which is designed to assist the gold-mining industry of Australia. I think it can be said with a great deal of truth that since 1954 the Government has taken a very keen interest in the gold-mining industry. As we all know the price of gold has been fixed and has not altered for 25 years or more although the industry has been confronted during that period with increased costs. Because of these increased costs, and the low grade of ore that was being treated, some mines went out of existence. One of the biggest mines in Australia known as Big Bell, went out prior to 1954 with the result that some 1,000 people were thrown out of work. A community of an even greater number, who were living in the town, were deprived of a livelihood, and the town itself is now more or less a ghost town.
Later, the Government decided to provide a subsidy in order to keep marginal mines in production. It introduced a scheme which now involves the expenditure of a considerable amount of money each year by way of subsidy which is paid either to small producers or to large mines that are not making a profit. The aim is to keep a mine in production, and that, I believe is very important. This measure 1856 Gold Mines Development [SENATE.]
Assistance Bill. is an endeavour by the Government to assist those mines that are riot receiving a subsidy by enabling them to maintain their ore reserves at the level at which they were able to maintain them a few years ago, notwithstanding the fact that costs have increased so considerably. The increase in costs has been so great that the ore reserves of some of the major mines have fallen from five or seven years down to as low as three or four years. If this assistance were not given by the Government their ore reserves would go down to such an extent that they would have to apply for a subsidy.
When the benefits of this measure are completely availed of by the mining people of Australia the Government will be involved in an annual expenditure of about £500,000. It could amount to anything up to £300,000 in the first year. In view of the lateness of the hour, I do not wish to say any more than that, in Fiji for instance, the administration has spent £1,000,000 on new equipment and development work to keep in production a mine that employs some 1,500 people. There it is said that for every person employed in the mines five others are provided with a means of livelihood. I have much pleasure in supporting the bill.
– As stated by Senator Willesee, we do not oppose the bill. In fact, we welcome this proposal to grant assistance for the carrying out of development work in the gold-mining industry for that was part of the Labour Party’s policy at the 1961 election. But I am somewhat concerned at the fact that development work, as defined in the bill, does not cover the sinking of shafts, and I refer in particular to the larger producers at Kalgoorlie which do not now qualify for subsidy. I point out that these mines were developed originally on a production of about 10,000 tons of ore a month. Some of the mines have now increased their production to 60,000 tons. The winning of the extra tonnage of ore has been made possible by the installation of modern machinery but, generally speaking, the mines are in much the same condition as they were in 1893 and 1894. The taking out of greater tonnages of ore has resulted in the working faces of the ore bodies moving further and further away from the shafts, thus making ventilation of the mines more difficult. It is proposed by this legislation to assist these mines in carrying out more developmental works which will mean that the working faces will get further away from the shafts and become even more difficult to ventilate. By and large, the incidence of silicosis in the mining industry is not decreasing. If these mines continue to develop and the working faces get further away from the shafts, the mine engineers will find it more difficult to get air into and out of the mines - you can only take in as much air as you can push out - and it is possible that the incidence of silicosis in the mining industry will increase. For those reasons I would have liked to see shafts included in the definition of development work.
As an example of the need for including shafts in this definition I refer to the Fingal mine where it is known that, at depth there is a large body of ore. To exploit that ore a deep shaft is required. If this mine could get assistance to sink a shaft, another good producer could be brought into the field. Unfortunately, shaft sinking is not included. Even if the stripping of shafts as distinct from the sinking of shafts qualified for the development allowance, the airways could be enlarged to assist in ventilating the mines. I do emphasize to the Senate that you cannot continue to expand development work underground unless you are able to ventilate the area where the work is being done, and that ventilation can be provided only through the airways going into the mine. The general practice in the mining industry in Western Australia is to use the shafts for more purposes than ventilation alone. They are also used for lowering and raising men, timber and materials; so that in actual fact only about one-quarter of the shaft area is capable of being used for ventilation purposes. Because of this, there is a limit to the distance development work can be extended away from existing air inlets and outlets. We support the bill.
– I appreciate the Senate’s reaction to the presentation of this bill and I want to make only one brief comment in relation to the important matter raised by Senator
Cant. He expressed concern at the exclusion of shaft sinking from eligibility for the development allowance. Senator Cant would want to know, and I now inform him, that this important matter was discussed with the Chamber of Mines during our negotiations before the bill was framed. I certainly do not seek to controvert in any way what Senator Cant says about the importance of shafting for ventilation purpose:; and the importance of shafting in further development work in such undertakings as the Fingal mine to which he referred, but, it was acknowledged by the representatives of the Chamber of Mines in their discussions with the Government that, essential as it is, a shaft, as such, is nota developmental work but is basic part of the actual mine. For that reason, the Chamber of Mines accepted the proposition that shafting should not be included in the definition of development work.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Paltridge) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill is presented in order to obtain the approval of Parliament to an agreement betv/een the Commonwealth and the State of Queensland relating to the provision of financial assistance to the State for the development of an area of land of approximately 4,271,000 acres of the Fitzroy River basin, in Queensland, for the purpose of increasing the production of beef cattle and other primary products and the supply of beef for export.
The Treasurer’s Budget speech this year, in referring to the measures taken and proposed by the Government to assist a range of important developmental projects in the States, indicated that an amount had been included in the Budget for the provision of financial assistance to Queensland in respect of the first stages of a scheme to open up and develop to full production a vast area of the rich brigalow lands in the Fitzroy basin of central Queensland. At the time of the Budget, a detailed agreement with the State had yet to be worked out. Since then, the two governments have conferred about the project, the outcome of the consultations being the agreement to which the approval of Parliament is now sought.
Investigation by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics has demonstrated that the brigalow lands of the Fitzroy basin offer very great potential for development, particularly for the production of beef cattle for export. Although these lands are immensely rich, they are at present in a relatively undeveloped state and for the most part are covered by dense brigalow and associated scrub.
After the State Government had outlined to us its proposals for development of the area over a period of five years, we decided that the provision of Commonwealth financial assistance for the implementation of those proposals would be fully warranted. The proposals envisage direct governmental expenditure of £7,250,000 over the five-year period, and it was evident that the State would not be able to go ahead with its plans unless Commonwealth financial assistance was provided. I should mention here that the estimate of £7,250,000 by no means represents the full cost of development of the area. It merely represents the governmental content of the programme; expenditure by land-holders in the stocking and full development of individual properties will involve an amount which, in the aggregate, will be well in excess of the governmental content of £7,250,000, while further substantial indirect expenditure by State authorities will no doubt be involved in respect of the provision of community services.
The proposals of the Queensland Government are outlined in the second schedule to the agreement. The area of land to be developed is at present divided into 115 holdings. The State proposes to re-subdivide the area into a larger number of blocks of land - between 250 and 350 blocks - byterminating the existing tenancies and redesigning the area. The principle to which the State is working in the re-subdivision is to ensure that each holding is capable of carrying a minimum of 800 head of cattle. It is at present estimated that there will be 278 re-subdivided blocks, but that number will be subject to upwards or downwards adjustment as the detailed replanning work proceeds. The re-subdivided blocks will then be re-allocated by the State. Some will be offered to the existing lease-holders and not less than one-quarter of the remainder will be sold at auction, on a conditional purchase basis, for private development. The blocks then remaining will be allocated, on a conditional purchase basis, to applicants selected by the State, and the State will offer to develop the blocks on behalf of the successful applicants and at their expense to the extent of clearing and burning a proportion of the scrub on the blocks, sowing to pasture the cleared land and providing minimum fencing, cattle tick control facilities and water points. Blocks so sold and allotted will be subject to conditions requiring development to minimum standards laid down by the State. Adequate roads are to be provided in the area. As I have already indicated, the State proposes to carry out the whole programme of development over the period of five years ending 30th June, 1967.
The particular works in respect of which Commonwealth financial assistance is to be provided are listed in the third schedule to the agreement. These works constitute, in effect, the direct governmental content of the overall programme. There is provision in the agreement for variation of the detailed description of the works to the extent that the State may propose and the Commonwealth approves.
Commonwealth financial assistance is payable to the State, on a repayable interestbearing loan basis and subject to an overall limit of £7,250,000, in respect of expenditure by the State on the works during the period of five years ending 30th June, 1967. Of the amount of £7,250,000, not more than £1,650,000 is payable during the current financial year. Repayment by the State to the Commonwealth is to be made in equal half-yearly instalments over a period of twenty years commencing in 1968. No repayments by the State will thus be required until after completion of the project. Interest will be payable by the State on each Commonwealth payment at the long-term bond rate in force at the time each payment is made. Interest accruing in respect of the period before 1968 will be capitalized; in effect, interest falling due during that period will be treated as though it were an additional advance by the Commonwealth to the State.
In accordance with the arrangements that apply in the case of the provision of Commonwealth financial assistance for beef cattle roads in Queensland and Western Australia, it is provided in the agreement and in the bill that expenditure by the State on roads in the brigalow area out of the finance provided by the Commonwealth will not be taken into account as expenditure by the State for the purpose of the matching provisions of the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act. The agreement also contains the usual provisions included in other comparable agreements relating to such matters as efficient execution of the works, the payment to the State of working advances, the supply of information by the State and the auditing of expenditure.
I would like to say, in conclusion, that both the Commonwealth and State Governments are completely satisfied that the project is one of great importance, not only for the opening up of a sparsely populated area of central Queensland, but also for the national benefits which, will accrue from the project in terms of increased export earnings from beef. The programme has been devised by the State Government and the implementation of it will be wholly in the hands of the State Government. While the Commonwealth’s participation is restricted to the provision of financial assistance in order to enable the State to carry out its programme, we are glad to be able to contribute in this way to the attainment of the valuable objectives I have mentioned. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
– The purpose of the bill is to lend to the State of Queensland the sum of £7,250,000 for use in clearing, certain lands now partly covered by brigalow and associated scrub. The Opposition has studied the bill and the schedules very carefully and finds there are no grounds on which it could reasonably oppose the measure. Therefore, we intend to support it.
– I rise to support the bill. Having in mind that it is nearly ten minutes to four in the morning, I shall be as brief as I can, but there are one or two points I wish to make. I do not think there are any risks associated with this development. The area concerned is a very safe one. It is good country. Its potential is well known, because the Fitzroy River basin is a fine portion of the brigalow lands. Some very heavy scrub is to be found there. Approximately 14,000,000 acres of brigalow country in Queensland have already been developed.
Thu programme for this project is related to grain farming and beef cattle production. I understand that each property will be cut from 6,000 acres of brigalow in the better areas and up to 10,000 acres where the scrub is not so good. The properties will be designed to carry a minimum of 800 head of adult cattle. This area is capable of producing good quality wheat. Winter rain is necessary, but unfortunately not much rain falls during the winter months. However, it is a very safe area for the production of grain sorghum. In fact, I think it is probably the best area in the State for that purpose. The present system of land tenure will go in this State and these areas will finally be on a freehold tenure. I believe this will cause quite a demand for this type of land, and I am sure there will be no shortage of capital to complete the development which the State started. The State Government has taken the lead in showing what can be done, and I think it is to be commended for this. I believe it wi’.l spend up to £25,000 on each holding, and the incoming landholder will be required to have £12,000 to carry on and complete the development.
It is provided also that 25 per cent, of the area will be thrown open for private development. 1 should like to see this encouraged because I do not think at any time in the State of Queensland have we called on security of tenure basis for land development, and I am sure that there will be any amount of competition for these blocks. The system of balloting has been changed. They normally went to an open ballot in the State, and now they will go to a selected ballot. In other words, the Government reserves the right to select, and I am sure it will get a better type of tenant on this basis.
The method of clearing the brigalow is ordinary tree-pulling with heavy tractors, and 25,000 acres are under way now - I believe work started last Monday week. I understand that the pulling costs will be about £1 per acre although cleaning some of the heavier stuff may cost as much as 30s. an acre. The danger in this country, of course, is suckering. Brigalow does sucker very readily, provided that conditions are right for suckering, and they are made right, of course, if you fail to get a strike with the pasture grasses. I believe that in this area there is quite a conflict of opinion on how this land should be developed. Some say it should go right to the plough stage with provision made for a crop in the first instance to recoup some of the extra cost.
The pastures to be laid down by the State are, I think, Rhodes grass, Green Panic and Biloela Buffel. To offset the risk of suckering some of the area at least should be brought to the plough stage and, as I said earlier, some recovery in cost could be made by cash crops such as grain sorghum or even sorghum almum. Sorghum almum is quite a good crop and it would give a quick return, because I believe in this area store cattle would be available and thc-re could probably be a turn-off of fat stock in the first year, if grass was established well. Normally in this area there is a rainfall of about 25 inches, but there is some evidence of a complete run down of nitrogen after the complete removal of brigalow scrub. I think a better scientific approach could be made by the use of legumes. There are two suitable legumes, desmodium or seratro. Probably seratro is the better one. It was propagated in Brisbane by Dr. Mark Hutton of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and has had world recognition. It is very drought resistant and is a very good fodder crop. I know that this legume is not completely frost resistant, but 1 think this is relatively unimportant because it is of twofold benefit to have a legume. One benefit is the fodder value itself, and the other is the contribution to keeping up the nitrogen level, which results in very good pastures indeed. When this legume is combined with grasses they are frost resistant up to a point, and I do not think that not being quite frost free would matter very greatly in that area now.
Lucerne also does well and stands of up to four or five years have been cut from this area. I am speaking now of the ordinary lucerne. I do not think Townsville lucerne would grow there. Although the rainfall is high, the country is a little bit rich. But this area is one which, I think, does lend itself to younger beef. I think the turn-off could be at from two to two and a half years. This beef would probably go into the home market to release meat to the export market, and of course the programme for development would work out just the same. There are no problems about marketing the meat because the whole of the area is within about 250 miles of an existing meat works which runs only about 50 per cent, of the overall time. This, of course, is an export works.
So far as the legumes are concerned, we are going to run up very soon against the shortage of seed, and particularly of seratro. I would advocate that the State Government encourage at least some area in the production of seratro seed. I think at the moment this seed is selling at about £4 per lb.; the normal price should be about 12s. 6d. I am sure that this legume will be successful there. The only seed project that we have in the State at the present time is at Cooktown, where it is operated by Mr. Ken Morris. I think that about 100 acres have been cleared now and have been producing legume seed. It does present a harvesting problem, but I understand that there is machinery in this area now which can cope with this and produce a very good recovery of seed.
All in all, Mr. President, I am sure that this is a good development and one which will give very quick returns. I am sure that the decision to put this money into this area is a wise one, and I support the bill wholeheartedly.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Paltridge) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to seek the approval of Parliament to an agreement between the Commonwealth and the State of Queensland relating to the construction of roads in that State to be used for the transport of beef cattle.
Honorable senators will recall that, as one of a number of measures the Government took last year in a drive to increase our export earnings, a bill was introduced and approved by Parliament, providing for a Commonwealth grant of £5,000,000 to the State of Queensland for the construction of beef cattle roads in that State. The grant applies to the five-year period commencing on 1st July, 1961, and is to be spent on roads selected by the State and approved by the Commonwealth Treasurer, which are - I quote the words used in the act - “ likely to result in a substantial increase in the production of beef”.
As provided for in the act - the Queensland Grant (Beef Cattle Roads) Act 1961 - the State duly selected, and the Treasurer approved on behalf of the Commonwealth, a list of roads on which the Commonwealth’s grant is to be spent. In all, nearly 1,000 miles of road are involved. At the time the State submitted its proposals, its plans over the period provided generally for the construction of roads with a good gravel surface, although it was intended to provide a bituminous surface on some road sections - for instance, where bad flooding was to be expected at certain times of the year. At this point I should make it clear that the selection of standards - which of course governs the length of road that can be built for a given expenditure - was left entirely to the State Government and its roads experts.
Earlier this year, however, the State Government informed the Commonwealth of its desire to provide a bitumenous surface on all of the roads, partly to provide a bitter surface for the heavy vehicles that would be using the roads, and partly to avoid the heavy annual maintenance costs thai, the State would incur in maintaining gravel roads at a satisfactory standard. The: additional cost involved was estimated at E3.30O.0O0 and further financial assistance to this extent was sought from the Commonwealth.
Although high-standard gravel roads would, with adequate maintenance, go a lon.j way towards improving transport facilities for beef cattle, a bitumen-surfaced road is undoubtedly the better proposition, both for road users and for the State Government, which would have to find the money for heavy annual maintenance of gravel road’s. No doubt the State Government would have sealed the roads at some stage following completion of the construction wo :lc - that is, after 1966 - as money became available for this from normal sources, and as traffic on the roads increased. However, the potential for increased beef production and turn-off from the areas in the State served by these roads, and the resultant potential increase in our export earnings, are so great that the Government considers the State’s proposal to seal the roads immediately a sound one, warranting increased Commonwealth assistance over the period to enable this to be done The State has indicated that it would be able to find the necessary resources of man-power, materials, and equipment to get the additional work done by 1966 or 1957.
The Government has therefore entered into an agreement providing for additional financial assistance of up to £3,300,000 to enable the roads to be sealed. The State Government has agreed that this additional assistance should take the form of an interest-bearing repayable loan, as economic studies made by the State have indicated that the sealing of the roads will be of considerable financial benefit to the State, in thi; way of savings in annual maintenance costs that would otherwise be incurred.
For administrative convenience the agreement, which comprises the schedule to this bill, has been drawn to include not only the road scaling loan of £3,300,000, but also the initial grant of £5,000,000 already authorized by the 1961 act. This avoids the many complications that could arise from having two Commonwealth acts covering assistance in respect of the same roads over the same period of time.
The agreement therefore provides for overall Commonwealth financial assistance to the State, for beef road works, of up to £8,300,000. Of this amount, the first £1,700,000 paid to the State is to be a straight-out grant, and all payments after that are to be on the basis of 50 per cent, grant, 50 per cent, interest-bearing repayable advances. This will preserve the intention that, of the overall assistance of £8,300,000, £5,000,000 will be a grant, as provided for in the Queensland Grant (Beef Cattle Roads) Act 1961. The interest rate applicable to the loan portion of the assistance will be the appropriate long-term Commonwealth bond rate. Repayment of the loan will not commence until 1967 (when it is expected that the roads will be completed), and will be spread over a period of fifteen years from that date.
Other provisions in the agreement relate to such matters as the machinery by which the money will be paid to the State, namely, on a reimbursement-of-expenditure basis, alhough with provision also for working advances, the provision of information and estimates of cost concerning the work from time to time, the audit of accounts, and other provisions which are now more or less standard in agreements between the Commonwealth and the States covering various developmental projects. The roads to be constructed, and the standards of construction are set out in schedules to the agreement.
The agreement also includes “ saving “ provisions to embrace what has been done since 1st July, 1961, under the Queensland Grant (Beef Cattle Roads) Act 1961, and to repeat certain other provisions in that act, provision for the repeal of which is included in the present bill.
The Government considers that this measure represents a further step forward in its plans to increase our export earnings, and, at the same time, to help with the development of our northern areas - plans in which the beef cattle industry, and the construction of good roads which will serve the industry, play a big part. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
– I can recall that not long ago a similar bill was before the Senate to construct a road between Julia Creek and Normanton, a distance of 267 miles. Some of the work has been completed. A gravel road was built and I pointed out at the time the measure was before the Senate that it was tantamount to wasting money to construct a gravel road through that territory because of the nature of the soil between the two points. It is well known that unless you have a clay sub-soil it is really a waste of money to put down a gravel road because it is not long before heavy loads are put on the road and to use a colloquial term it corduroys. Vehicles driven on the road develop a peculiar up and down motion.
In this particular area, money would not be wisely spent on gravel roads. The heavy rains wash out the gravel and later dry winds blow the material away. So I am pleased to see that the proposal before the Senate is for the purpose of having the road sealed. When it is sealed there will be a good road from Julia Creek to Normanton. Not very far from Normanton there is an excellent fishing ground at Karumba. It will be used by tourists and others proceeding from the settled portions of Queensland1 to the Gulf country. I approve the bill. There is nothing new about the terms of the loan and the Opposition supports the legislation.
– I have pleasure in supporting the bill and congratulate the Government on a piece of imaginative legislation. One could talk about this proposal for an hour. It is a pleasing story of what the Government is doing for Queensland. The Government is realistic in assisting the State Government to put a bitumen surface on these roads. Senator Benn referred to the waving that occurs in the road surface. Actually in the western area one of the troubles is that the metal has a tendency to powder and blow away. The treatment with bitumen will make the venture much more successful. The Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator
Paltridge) stressed an important aspect of this proposal when he said -
The Government considers that this measure represents a further step forward in its plans to increase our export earnings and at the same time to help with the development of our northern areas, plans in which the beef cattle industry and the construction of good roads which will serve the industry play a big part.
The building up of our export trade is extremely important, particularly with the development of the European Common Market. The beef cattle roads work could assist our overseas earnings materially. Therefore it is wise for the Government to take this action to help to build these roads. The construction of these roads will not only help to increase our exports; it will also help to preserve a national asset in livestock, which would quickly die in drought periods if they could not be moved. The provision of good roads, of course, will mean a quick method of moving stock from drought-affected country, and this, I believe, is a very important matter.
These beef roads in Queensland have been well chosen. They have been planned to connect with railheads so that stock can be transported by rail to abattoirs and meatworks on the coast. Another important improvement is that with the provision of better roads, particularly roads with a bitumen surface, there will be less bruising of stock. This is particularly important from the point of view of meat for export, because we should always try to have the primest meat coming forward for the overseas market. The Government is providing £8,300,000 for this work, and a very pleasing feature, from Queensland’s point of view, is that £5,000,000 of that sum will be in the form of a grant.
I do not want to take up too much of the time of the Senate at this hour of the morning. Having said those words of commendation and appreciation of the Government’s action and of its farsightedness, I support the bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– Last night we discussed a bill relating to Western Australian beef roads, and the Minister was kind enough to tell us that as Western Australia is a claimant State … the project will cost it nothing, in effect. Queensland is not a claimant State. It will get £.5,000,000 as a grant, and it will have to find the interest on the balance of £3,300,000. As the Government lost more seats in Queensland than it did in Western Australia at the last election, can the Minister tell me how it proposes to balance the position between the two States, having regard to the fact that Western Australia will t;et its money back through the Commonwealth Grants Commission whilst Queensland, not being a claimant Stale, will have to pay up?
– There are so many Commonwealth projects coming before the Parliament at this time that it is quite understandable that the honorable senator has mixed up his projects. It is obvious that when he referred to my remarks of last evening he meant certain remarks that I passed in respect of the construction of a jetty at Derby. I am pleased that he has reminded me of this, because I have the opportunity to tell him that if he looks at the provisions that have been made by way of grant and by way of loan, he will find that the proportions are almost precisely the same in respect of each State. Western Australia, of course, being a claimant State, has afferent accounting procedures, which are considered by the Commonwealth Grams Commission when the State’s claim is made to it.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Gorton) read a first time.
– 1 move -
Th E.t the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to give effect to a request from the Australian honey industry for legislation to provide for the establishment of an Australian Honey Board with powers to engage in promotional and research activities and to regulate Australian exports of honey. It has been evident to the leaders of this industry for some considerable time that an orderly marketing scheme is necessary to enable the industry to meet increasing economic problems and to place producers on a more stable basis for the future.
During the past six years the Australian production of commercial honey, which fluctuates with seasonal conditions, has averaged approximately 35,000,000 lb. per year. On average about 40 to 45 per cent, of production has been exported. Over the same period export prices have declined, although during the past two years they have remained fairly static at a low level. It is interesting to observe that the level of prices recently prevailing has been some 20 per cent, below prices realized for New Zealand honey, the sale of which is controlled by a statutory marketing board. In the Australian domestic market, prices have been maintained and are now considerably higher than export values.
There is no Australia-wide organization that equalizes local and export prices of honey and there has been a quite understandable tendency on the part of individual producers and packers to concentrate on the local market. In this situation a slump in local prices might have been expected but this has been prevented mainly by the existence of producers’ co-operatives which have borne the brunt of the low-priced export markets. The only two export markets of any consequence for Australian honey are the United Kingdom and West Germany, which between them take over 90 per cent, of Australian honey exports.
A considerable quantify of Australian honey imported into West Germany is admitted free of duty under the classification of industrial honey and the United Kingdom allows us duty-free entry with a duty preference over non-Commonwealth competitors of 5s. sterling per cwt. which approximates 5 per cent, ad valorem. This position will, however, be changed with the development of the European Economic Community. The common external tariff for honey in the European Economic Community is to be 30 per cent. ad valorem, and this import duty will apply to all types of honey including that classified as industrial. Therefore, in respect of West Germany, our producers and exporters are faced with the strong probability that the application of a 30 per cent. duty will severely reduce, if not eliminate, their opportunities in that market.
The actual terms and conditions to apply to processed foodstuffs, including honey, in the event of the United Kingdom accession to the European Economic Community have not been finalized, but it is likely that the present competitive position of Australian honey exporters in the United Kingdom market will deteriorate. Thus, our honey producers and exporters are likely to find it increasingly harder to sell honey in the United Kingdom, over the years that may constitute the transitional period in any British arrangements with the European Economic Community, than it has been over the past six years when prices declined.
The Australian honey industry, of course, cannot be classified from the monetary point of view as one of our great primary industries; nevertheless, it is a valuable industry to the economy of the country. The beekeeping industry produces about £2,500,000 worth of honey and beeswax each year and export income amounts to about £75,000 per annum. The real value of the industry, however, lies in the dependance of so many important plant crops on the pollination carried out by the honey-bee. It has been estimated that Australian production of insect-pollinated crops averages around £30,000,000 a year, and the major part of this pollination is done by the honey-bee.
Australia ranks fourth among bee-keeping countries, both in the number of hives and in total honey production, and Australian production at over 100 lb. per hive is the highest in the world. The honey industry appreciates the necessity to make intensive efforts in the search for other markets but it has reached a judgment that the first line of attack on the difficult problem now facing it is to ensure that it can get the best results possible from the most important markets, namely, the Australian domestic market and the European markets. To cope with this situation the industry has advanced a twopoint plan - now familiarly known as the Mitchell plan, named after Mr. Keith Mitchell of Queensland, the president of the Federal Council of Australian Apiarists Associations. The two points are -
Since these proposals were first placed before the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) some two years ago by the Federal Council of Australian Apiarists Associations, which is representative of the principal beekeeper organizations in each State, it has been examined and supported by the State Ministers for Agriculture in the Australian Agricultural Council and, at the council’s request, amplified by the industry in consultation with the Department of Primary Industry.
The honey marketing plan which has finally emerged from these lengthy negotiations and which has been approved by the State Ministers for Agriculture, the Federal Council of Australian Apiarists Associations and this Government, has beenembodied in the legislation now before you.
The principal feature of the Honey Industry Bill 1962 is the establishment of an Australian Honey Board which will be empowered to engage in promotional activities in Australia and in overseas markets, and in research into industry problems, including those of production, grading, blending and marketing of honey. In addition, it will be a function of the board to control the export of honey through powers which will enable it to prohibit export unless terms and conditions prescribed by regulation are complied with. In effect, the board will not be able to trade in honey but will be given the same powers in respect of exports as are currently held by other regulatory boards such as the canned fruits, dried fruits, wine, and apple and pear boards.
The board itself will comprise ten members including a chairman who will be appointed by the Minister to represent the Commonwealth Government. Five producers’ representatives are to be appointed by the Minister from persons nominated by the Federal Council of
Australian Apiarists Associations. As there will be one representative of bee-keepers from each mainland State, provision has been made for the respective State apiarists’ associations to submit nominations to the federal council. On the commercial side, there will be four representatives of honey packers, one from each oE the States of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, who are to be appointed by the Minister after consultation, wherever practicable, with representative associations or groups of packers, exporters and co-operatives.
The federal council did not recommend the appointment to the board of packers’ representatives for Queensland or Tasmania, because it considered the volume of production in and export of honey from those States did not warrant such representation. I understand that the council, when it examined this aspect, was mindful, in view of the cost factor, of the need to keep membership of the board to a minimum conducive with reasonable overall industry representation.
It was considered by the council that, because of the very strong rank and file support in the industry for the establishment cf the Australian Honey Board, a poll of producers on the question was unnecessary. State Ministers in the Australian Agricultural Council agreed that there was no necessity for a poll, provided that enactment of State legislation was not required, and that the functions of the board were of a regulatory and promotional nature, and acquisition of honey was not contemplated. As you can see, these conditions are fulfilled in the legislation now before you.
There is, however, some feeling in the industry that the producer representatives cm the board should be elected by ballot rather than appointed by nomination. The Government has fully considered this aspect and decided against elections primarily because the cost to the Commonwealth of elections conducted in each State every three years would be exceedingly high. The Government was also mindful of the fact that, because of the strong position held in the industry by the principal State organizations, the persons appointed by nomination would most likely be the same persons appointed by ballot.
The honey marketing plan also envisages that finance for the board’s administration expenses and promotion and research activities will be drawn from an account under the control of the board, to which will be appropriated the proceeds of a levy to be imposed on sales of honey for domestic consumption in Australia. The beekeepers’ federal council has requested the imposition of an initial rate of levy of id. per lb. which will provide an income for the board of approximately £40,000 per annum. In its earlier discussions the council considered a rate of1d. per lb., but it was felt that this would be regarded as an undue burden on the industry before any benefits from the board’s operations would be received.
The persons who will be responsible for the payment of the levy may be included in three general categories, namely -
The levy will be payable on honey sold by honey packers irrespective of whether they own the honey or act as selling agents on behalf of producers, but exemption from the payment of levy in respect of export sales may be claimed by the respective packers provided that documentary evidence is furnished that the honey has been or is to be exported.
In the case where a producer sells honey directly to consumers or retailers, the producer will be liable for the payment of the levy but only in respect of such sales. Any surplus honey he sells to a packer or consigns to an agent for subsequent sale, will be leviable when it is actually sold. In cases when persons who use honey in the manufacture of other goods, purchase honey from producers, those persons will be required to pay the levy.
I will subsequently place before the Senate three bills dealing with the imposition and collection of the levy and consider that these could conveniently be considered concurrently.
I commend the bill to honorable senators.
– I must compliment the Minister on the way in which he read the secondreading speech to the Senate. I think it was the fastest piece of reading I have ever heard here. It is a wonder that, on occasions, he did not meet himself coming back. As the Minister said, somewhat hastily, the purpose of the bill is to give effect to a request from the Australian honey industry for legislation to provide for the establishment of an Australian honey board with powers to engage in promotional and research activities and to regulate Australian exports of honey. To that extent, the Opposition concurs wholeheartedly with the Government. We believe that this industry has been a Cinderella industry for some time - one that has not, perhaps, had the consideration that its importance demanded. As one who comes from one of the major honey-producing States - South Australia - I am naturally glad to see that some move is at last being made in the direction of what might be called an orderly marketing scheme for honey.
I want to foreshadow, at this stage, that the Opposition will move an amendment to clause 16. To save repetition, and with your concurrence, Mr. President, I shall indicate the form of the Opposition’s amendment. I shall not, of course, repeat myself when I move it at the appropriate time. The purpose of the amendment will bc to reduce the minimum levy provided in the bill from id. per lb. to id. per lb. and to reduce the maximum levy to be paid by the merchant from Id. to id. per lb. la effect, what we suggest is that the Government provide some form of bounty or subsidy for the establishment of this board and its activities. By so doing, it could make a major contribution to the distribution of honey both inside and outside Australia.
In the second-reading speech emphasis was laid on the question of export and not enough consideration was given to the question of local consumption. No better healthgiving food than honey is produced in Australia. I have been informed that some medical authority recently made the state* ment that honey was a very good sleepinducing agent. No doubt if honorable senators had some of it bandy they would like to take it now, not particularly because I am speaking, but because legislation by exhaustion, with which the Senate has had to contend to-night, seems to be a necessary accompaniment of every final sitting before the Christmas period. One hopes that we do not have a repetition of it in future.
My sincere regret - I say it without levity - is that a bill which is so important as this bill and on which one could expound so much should reach the Senate at 4.30 a.m. on a Friday, when the Senate is not responsive to argument and is perhaps not in a fit state of mind to give the bill the consideration that is due to it and the factors surrounding it. I believe that the honey producers of Australia are entitled to something better than that. One hopes that, in future, when bills of this character are presented to the Senate, 4.30 a.m. will not be considered an appropriate time for their presentation. I leave the matter there and indicate that later I shall propose an amendment to clause 16.
– I intervene only for a few moments to direct attention to a matter affecting Tasmania. I became aware of this only within the last hour or so. It appears that at the 57th meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council a suggestion was made by the Standing Committee that the Commonwealth explore the possibility of exempting Tasmanian producers from the levy which is proposed in this bill or, if that were not possible, of rebating the proposed levy by special legislative provision to enable the money to be applied to research and promotion in Tasmania. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann), in a press statement dated
J 1st July, following the council meeting, referred to this matter in this way -
The plan has the support of the leading apiarists’ associations in all States except Tasmania and the question of exempting Tasmania from its operation will need to be examined.
Tasmania produces a particular kind of honey called leatherwood which brings a very high price in West Germany, approximating £150 a ton as compared with the ordinary price of £90 a ton. There is a very high premium on this honey. The quantity is not vast but it is very important to the Tasmanian beekeepers. The danger to them is that the honey which is well known in an established market in West Germany will lose its identity as Tasmanian leatherwood under a Commonwealth-wide scheme and that the price may be affected grievously.
It was suggested to-day to the Minister in another place that he exempt Tasmania from the operation of this bill and from the imposition of the levy. The suggestion was answered by a reference to section 51 (2.) of the Constitution which states that taxation may be imposed but not so as to discriminate between States or parts of States. Tha: is true, but if one had a little more time one might be able to evolve a formula to discriminate between types of honey and not between States. Other cases have proceeded successfully on that basis. The alternative would be to make a grant either to the State or to the apiarists’ association in that State, rebating to it the tax which had been collected. That was done in 1938 under the Flour Tax Act. The rebate was tested in the High Court and it was upheld as being valid and as not infringing the provision of the Constitution relating to taxation. The case went on appeal to the Privy Council where the rebate was again upheld.
Having regard to the facts as I have put them, I ask the Minister in this place to present our suggestion to the Minister for Primary Industry and to ask that, even when the bill is passed, he have another look at the situation. If he would like to consider my suggestion about getting over the difficulty, I would be prepared to make available to him whatever talents I possess.
– in reply - I think we shall leave the question of the “amendment until we reach the committee stage. As to Senator McKenna’s suggestion, it is. true that the Minister for Primary Industry, on advice, believes that it would be unconstitutional to exempt Tasmania from this scheme. However, the Minister has been in touch with the Tasmanian apiarists’ association and with the Tasmanian Minister for Agriculture. The apiarists’ associa tion told him that it does not wish to endanger the implementation of this proposal and that it would like the principle to be accepted of the levy being collected in Tasmania and then refunded to the industry. The Minister has no doubt that he can do that administratively and he has undertaken to bring the matter to the board’s attention when it is established.
– Does the Minister say that it can be done by the board administratively?
– That is what the Minister has said, despite the grunts of disapproval coming from my right. He has made that statement publicly. The amount of the levy involved will be approximately £600 a year. Tasmania’s honey production is less than 1 per cent, of Australia’s total and its exports are .05 per cent, of Australia’s total. I have been told that there is no danger of the special brand of honey which comes from Tasmania losing its identity, because it will not go into a pool.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I refer to clause 16 and move -
That the clause be postponed-
As an instruction to the Government -
To so amend the bill that the rate of levy imposed by the act shall be id. per lb. of honey and shall not exceed id. per lb. of honey, and in addition to enable a provision to be inserted in the act requiring the Government to match the sum levied by an equivalent sum from Consolidated Revenue.
The purpose of the amendment is to give the honey industry something more than the Government proposes under this bill and to place it on a sounder footing than at present. The Minister may say that the Government has gone as far as the honey producers have asked it to go, but an industry which has been a Cinderella industry in the past may have been very modest in its requirements and not have asked for the ultimate. The Opposition feels that if the amendment is accepted honey will be sold on the home market more cheaply and more Australians will be able to enjoy this health-giving food. The industry will benefit. I commend the amendment to the Senate.
– I hope that if I quote from Shakespeare in relation to honey bees and their form of government, without casting any reflection upon our own at this hour of the morning, my efforts may be more successful. This is what Shakespeare had to say in “ King Henry V.”-
Therefore doth Heaven divide
The state of man in divers functions, (Setting endeavour in continual motion);
To which is fixed, as an aim or butt,
Obedience: for so work the honey-bees,
Creatures that by a rule in nature teach
The act of order to a peopled kingdom.
They have a king, and officers of sorts,
Where some, like magistrates, correct at home,
Others, like merchants, venture trade abroad
Others, like soldiers, armed in their stings,
Make boot upon the summer’s velvet buds.
– All I can do in reply to the contribution made to us so eloquently by Senator Wright is to quote back to him some words from the immortal bard which begin -
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Senator Toohey’s motion is not acceptable to the Government for various reasons. There is no board of this kind to which the Government gives a matching grant for promotion activities undertaken by that board. This would be a complete departure from the pattern of all other boards of this kind. I have no doubt that after this board has been set up it will wish to engage in various research activities. If it does and makes an application to the Government for the sort of treatment that boards receive, I dare say that the application will be considered sympathetically then.
Question put -
That clause 16 be postponed.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Senator K. M. Anderson.)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Gorton) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
As I mentioned in my second-reading speech on the Honey Industry Bill, the Government has been requested by the federal council of Australian Apiarists Associations to impose a levy on honey sold for domestic consumption in Australia for the purpose of financing the operations of the Australian Honey Board.
The Honey Levy Bill (No. 1) which is now before the Senate has two purposes, the first of which is to impose an initial operative rate of levy of id. per lb, which may be varied by regulation, on the recommendation of the Australian Honey Board, to any level within a maximum rate of Id. per lb. Secondly, the bill provides for the persons who will be responsible for the payment of the levy.
Basically, the legislation places the responsibility on the first purchaser of the honey from the producer for the payment of the levy, but it has been found necessary to make special provision for the case where a producer uses an agent, who is a honey packer, to sell honey on his behalf. As such sales are often made by the agents direct to retailers and in these instances the producer, as the owner of the honey, is liable for the payment of the levy, provision has been made in the bill for the agent to pay the levy on behalf of the producer.
No legal right has been given to the persons responsible for the payment of the levy to pass the incidence of the levy back to the producers. However, producers are alive to the fact that a rise in the local price of honey would counteract promotional measures to increase consumption and that, in actual practice, they must expect to bear the incidence of the levy if the plan is to have any chance of success. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
HONEY LEVY BILL (No. 2) 1962. “Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Gorton) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill, which is complementary to the Honey Levy Bill (No. 1), is to impose a levy on honey used for manufacturing purposes. The operative and maximum rates of levy provided in the Bill are identical with those imposed by the first bill. Under this legislation the person who uses the honey in the manufacture of other goods will be responsible for the payment of the levy, in respect of honey he purchases directly from a producer.
I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Gorton) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to provide for the administrative machinery for the collection of the levy on honey. The bill provides that the levy is payable, 28 days after the end of the month in which the honey was sold, to the Secretary of the Department of Primary Industry. In practice, the respective State offices of the department will be the collection points. All persons responsible for the payment of levy will be registered by the department and will be required to furnish returns in accordance with a form to be prescribed by regulation.
General provisions for authorized officers to enter premises and inspect records and accounts relating to sales of honey, and for the imposition of penalties, have been included in the bill in accordance with standard practice of other legislation dealing with the collection of levies of primary products.
I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives without amendment.
Reports on Items.
Senator HENTY (Tasmania - Minister for Customs and Excise. - I lay on the table of the Senate reports by the Tariff Board on the following subjects: -
Automotive instruments, etc.
Sulphuric acid produced from sinter gas. and reports by Special Advisory Authorities on the following subjects: -
Television deflection yokes.
Evaporative air coolers.
I ask for leave of the Senate to make a statement on these reports.
– There being no dissentientvoice, leave is granted.
– The Government has accepted the recommendations in each instance.
It is proposed that a regulation be made in the near future under the Sulphuric Acid Bounty Act to enable the Tariff Board’s recommendation for the payment of bounty on sulphuric acid produced from sinter gas to be implemented.
The Tariff Board report on automotive instruments, &c, recommends increased protection on decorative exterior body mouldings. To accord this protection 1 have made by-laws under Part 16 of the Customs Act which will, from to-morrow, make the goods dutiable at the recommended rates.
The Special Advisory Authority’s report on television deflection yokes recommends a temporary duty of 7s. 6d. on each yoke and pro rata rates on parts but that the temporary duty shall not apply to such goods in direct transit to Australia on 9th November, 1962, which are entered for consumption on arrival.
The remaining reports call for no legislative action.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The Minister for
Primary Industry has advised as follows: -
Motion (by Senator Spooner) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave of absence be granted to every member of the Senate from the termination of the sitting this day to the day on which the Senate next meets.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till a day and hour to be fixed by the President, which time of meeting shall be notified to each senator by telegram or letter.
– I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
I am certain that among honorable senators on both sides of the chamber it will be appreciated that the shorter the time for which I speak on this motion the more sincere my feelings will be. 1 wish to you, Mr. President, to my colleagues who sit behind me, to the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) and those who sit behind him, to the Clerks at the table, to our colleagues who are absent through illness and those who are overseas, to the “ Hansard “ staff and to the attendants in the chamber, a very happy Christmas and a very pleasant recess until we meet again.
– I join with the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Spooner) in his expression of goodwill to you, Mr. President. I think that I speak for everybody in the Senate when I say that the past year has seen you just as firmly entrenched in the respect and regard of everybody as when you began your term of office. 1 realize that without the aid of those whom the Leader of the Government has mentioned we could not function effectively in this place. Certainly, the Opposition could not. I am most grateful to all of them. I extend to the Leader of the Government, his colleagues who sit behind him, with particular mention of the two who are ill - Senator Marriott and Senator Vincent - and on my own side, Senator Aylett and also Senator McClelland whose mother is dangerously ill at the moment, very best wishes for good health and happiness in the festive period.
We of the Opposition, perhaps, may be pardoned for saying that although we think we win all the debates in this place we never seem to get the decision. I am looking around very carefully on my side for somebody who can develop the quality of the amoeba which is capable, I understand, of dividing itself into two and can proceed to function as two complete entities. Until that miracle takes place I am afraid we will be trailing the field in the race for winning divisions.
I say to my own colleagues how much I appreciate the fact that they have been able to put up with me for another year. I thank them for their co-operation and loyalty at all times. I think it will be agreed that the accretion of new talent and new strength to the Opposition as from July is very good. I am looking forward - even if Government members are not - to the time when we come back and I can let our new colleagues off the leash at honorable senators opposite after they have cut their teeth. It is very pleasant after a strenuous year to finish, even at this late hour, in a spirit of goodwill without bloodshed and without rancour; and I will look forward very much to coming back and renewing the contest with the people on the Government side in the New Year.
– I thank Senator Spooner and Senator McKenna for the kind personal remarks they made about me. I heartily reciprocate their Christmas good wishes. I, too, express our thanks to the people who have made it possible for us to go through this year in the way in which we have - the officers of the Parliament, officers of the departments and particularly those people in the refreshment rooms, who have worked very hard, and those people down below in the workshops. Particularly this year I pay a tribute to the gardeners for the very fine show they have arranged. It has been a great delight to us whilst we have been in Canberra.
I wish particularly to say how much I appreciated the opportunity to visit Nigeria. I trust that my attendance at the meeting of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in that country will prove of benefit to the association.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 5.2 a.m. (Friday) till a day and hour to be fixed by the President.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 6 December 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1962/19621206_senate_24_s22/>.